Forgive me if this turns into a bit of a stream of consciousness rather than my normal finely honed prose, but I’m still in a state of nirvana following my first ride on the new bike, and I’ve just drunk the most part of a bottle of Sicilian Fiano. As Richard Hammond once said on Top Gear after climbing out of a McLaren F1 and into a Veyron, “not a bad day, as far as they go”.
So… exactly how did it go? Well, lets start with the first things first. Shortening, and fitting the chain. This was made embarassingly easy by the Sram instructions, so I just got on with it. By 9:05 this morning the chain was fitted, and I had itchy feet, but still had a days work to do. So I got my head down, drunk several really good cups of tea, and by 11:30 I’d finished all the work I had planned for the morning, so I got my shoes on, got the bike out of the garage, and headed off into the unknown. Within 50 metres two things were immediately obvious:
- The frame & forkset are beautifully light and responsive
- The handlebars are at entirely the wrong angle
The bar adjustment was easily fixed, as I’d remembered to pop a couple of Allen keys in my shirt pocket, so I stopped, angled the bars back a bit, and got back on with it. And the next 25kms were really a complete joy. Obviously riding around The Fens I don’t get much in the way of hills, but I do plan my rides to make the most of what I’ve got. So, when I got to the bottom of the Col du Snailwell I popped it down a couple of gears on the rear sprocket, stood on the pedals, and felt completely exhiliarated as the bike accelerated away from me, and sprung up the hill like a whippet on dexedrine. At this point, I had an inkling that the grin on my face was about to become a permanent fixture for the day.
And of course, what’s the next best thing to climbing up a hill? Coming down the other side… So, when I got to the top, I took a couple of swigs from my water bottle, got my head down, and started turning the pedals rhythmically and smoothly. 400 metres later I was easily pulling a 50×11 gear with energy to spare, the sun on my back, and a mind full of superlatives, all of which I’ve completely forgotten now. The amount of vibration reaching me from the road surface was noticably less than with my aluminium framed Giant, which bodes well for some rides up into the Peak District later in the year, with their Northern road surfaces. And then the road flattened out, turned hard left, and straight into the Fen headwind. And it’s fair to say that while Drew has undoubtedly made a masterpiece in this frame & fork set, a good headwind is more of a test of character than of engineering. And I suffered, as much as I did on my ‘old’ bike, and as much as I would on any other bike.
After about 50 minutes, I was back home again. If I didn’t have an afternoon of work ahead of me, I’d have stayed out for another hour, which on a windy wet day is as good an endorsement as I can give. So… what will I change in the future?
- Brake lever reach. Easy enough, thanks to the Sram Apex groupset making this a three minute job.
- Possibly move the levers further back up the bars a few mm. I’m not sure about this yet, I need a bit more time on the bike.
- Seat post. The one I have is rubbish, cheap, and always was just a stopgap. I know what I want, and I just have to start saving.
- Stem and bars. Nothing functionally wrong with the ones I have, but I just don’t like the way they look.
- New Q/R skewers. Again, I just don’t like the way these look.
- Ultimately, a pair of deep section carbon rims. But that’s pie in the sky.
I’d like to sum up with a short witty summary, but really, that’s not what this whole project is about. I’m looking forward to a long relationship with this bike, and many long, lazy rides across the UK and further if I get the chance, a few sportives, and maybe even a time trial or two. This isn’t the end of the story – it’s really just the start.