Archives for posts with tag: Bike

So with nervous excitement on Saturday morning I took off to Endeavour Cycles in Gymea (the Sutherland Shire of Sydney) to get the final sizing and fit for my Cervelo S3. George who owns the store and seems to be hooked in with every cyclist and triathlete in the Shire welcomed me and set up my new steed on the trainer to finalise adjustments. I will write about that experience in another post. After an hour with George, I walked out of the store with a new bike which I am aptly going to name the “Speed Steed”.

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It was raining during the day in Sydney, and so I strapped my new bike onto the roof racks and headed home. The first ride on the new machine would have to wait till Sunday. This was a good thing because it gave me the opportunity to add a few of my personal adjustments.

Making it Mine

Learning from a lot of the mistakes I made in owning my first road bike, my 2009 Trek Madone 4.7, I took to work making all the necessary adjustments for my first ride. Hopefully a couple of these points may help others.

  1. Removal of all the manufacturer stickers about dimensions and safety warnings. I know what size it is, and I know to look at the online manual to see what I need to do. This is cosmetic.
  2. Protecting the frame in key positions. This was a mistake that I made on my old bike, only to learn from it when it was too late. I put tape on the frame on either side of the head tube to block cable rub from the derailleur and rear brake cables. The cables are internally routed, so they are packed tight against the frame. I also put tape on the seat tube on the non-drive side where I keep my bike pump for emergency tire repair. It is important to rub the frame down with alcohol first before applying the tape.
  3. Installation of the bottle cages and pump frame mount. These were transferred from my old bike onto the new one, bit of grease on the bolts for waterproofing and no more than firm hand tightening.
  4. Installation of Garmin mount. The K-Edge unit that I had on the old bike is a pretty good setup. Two key points to be aware of; i) torque wrench to tighten no more than 5.5Nm and ii) Garmin is flush in line with the bars to reduce wind resistance.
  5. Installation of the front light mount. I am no a pro, so when I ride in the early morning or evening, the light is essential. I have a Specialized Flux light, bright but big unit, so I tucked it in close under the Garmin.
  6. Installation of the bell. Yes, it is now law in the great state of NSW that all bikes must have a bell. Never mind the fact that at over 40kph no car is going to hear you ring your bell, nor should you be moving your hands off the bars to “ring your bell”. Safety first?

The saddle bag was packed with a couple of tubes, tyre levers, couple of gas canisters, and a multi-tool. So to christen the wheels, the only thing that was left was to fill the bidons and boot up.

So How Does It Ride?

Three words – fast, stiff, and aero! I am not in the best riding condition at the moment with a persistent chest bug inherited from little Kiki (who brought it back from the centre for disease control – otherwise known as daycare), but it was not going to stop me from putting the hammer down.

This new bike is very efficient in turning every pedal stroke into power on the road. I hadn’t even swapped over my Shimano Dura-Ace C24 carbon laminate clinchers onto the bike and it was very zippy off the mark. I took it for a spin in Centennial Park, and saw three riders ahead of me on one of the false flats that goes up at 2%. A couple of big turns out of the saddle and wham I was up at speed – and IT FELT GREAT!

The stiffness takes some getting used to, and to be honest I thought it was a bit of a marketing gimmick from the Cervelo, “18% increase in the bottom bracket over the previous model”. But it really is something else, and hard to describe. The bike frame doesn’t laterally “wobble” underneath you on each pedal stroke and the energy you put in goes to where it belongs.

The slipperiness of the frame is also surprising. I noticed it when I sat up on a flat section after an average effort. When I looked down at the Garmin, instead of rolling at 23kph I was up at 28kph. I was very attentive to how the bike felt through the air. What was telling was that it was difficult to notice.

I think I definitely have to swap over to 25mm tyres, which may not be a bad thing. From everything I have read 25mm is faster than 23mm, going against the long held wisdom of the skinny rubber. But the reason is not speed but more comfort on the rough Sydney roads.

The speed steed will definitely take some getting used to, but at least I will do it with a smile on my face. The advances in bike technology from 7 years ago for a mid level race bike are pretty amazing and I will have to write a comparison post to explain all subtle changes. Withall said and done, I can’t wait to ride it again!

So life and work (and not necessarily in that order) have put a damper on my blog over the last 6-12 months. The bike has also become a secondary priority. My road steed, my 2009 Trek Madone 4.7, has been getting fat grazing in its stable (or was that its engine). The bike really did open my eyes to a different world of fitness, exploration, and adventure. And with it I had made a whole heap of new friends with a common interest – cycling. But it, like its owner, has become old and creaky. I have taken good care of the Trek and prolonged it use with regular replacement of the consumables. I gradually introduced upgrades to the point where the only original thing left on it was the frame and forks. Now, even with all the TLC, it creaks with every pedal stroke. The mechanics at my local bike shop through the last couple of services have arrived at only one conclusion – the carbon frame is getting long in the tooth.

I have been eyeing up dream bikes and replacements for a few years now, but my fussiness and budget have limited my selection. The criteria: aero but comfortable, aesthetically striking but not garish, fast and stiff, bang for the buck, and clearly better deserving than its future engine.

My dream bike? A Cervelo S3. You know, the one Thor Hushovd won the World Championship with in Geelong. The one that Jack Bauer used in the ultimately futile attempt to hold off the peloton at the TDF. The one a young Dutchman named Dylan van Baarle used to stick it to Kwiatowski and Wiggins at the 2014 Tour of Britain to take top spot. Now with the 2015 models being disposed of to make way for the 2016 models (with the main difference being… a paint job), I am able to pick up an older year model for a bargain. I saw my new steed online a couple of weeks back, got fitted up on it on Saturday, and with the adjustments to the contact points will pick it up later this week. I am giddy like a kid at Christmas – can’t wait!

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This is how I will be spending my insomnia time during the month of July. Vive Le Tour de France 2015!

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My kids have brought me a lot of joy this year, with the addition of number two and our 4 year old son (AKA “the Pok”) with all his crazy antics. One of the highlights would have to be taking my son to the local bike store and putting him on his first pedal bike. He has already been scooting around on his balance bike since he was about 1 1/2 so I was hoping the graduation to pedals would be smooth. I would be lying if I said it was. I had to shave 20mm off of the seat post so he could put his feet down, and the pedals were just getting in the way, collecting his legs as he comes to a Fred Flintstone stop (you know the one that relies on a solid pair of shoes underfoot to avoid gravel rash in your heel).

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I thought that for the first couple of goes I would leave the training wheels on – MISTAKE! He loved them a bit too much and there was much rancor when I pulled them off. Even flat out refusal to ride. The reality is he was scared of falling. So after following him on a couple of rides (translation: running after him to catch him if he fell), he has found the courage to pedal. This is not the first clip of him riding, that will always just be for us, but now look at him motor!

Yes he has a rubber neck, but I am one very proud Dad! The cyclist in me says look at his cadence. The Dad in me says I hope he learns to stop before I have to buy a new pair of shoes. Now to get him primed to go over jumps!

Nothing to say, just the photo from the mobile

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I knew this moment was coming soon, and right now I am blessed with proud parenting moments. My boy, AKA “The Pok”, has very much outgrown his JD Bug balance bike and is ready for pedals. This post has two purposes. Firstly to show how proud my boy is of his new set of wheels, and secondly as a guide for parents buying their children their first bike.

Specialized Hotrock 16

After searching long and hard for my son’s first pedal bike, what I finally landed on was a Specialized Hotrock 16. This bike is the business!

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The Specialized oozes quality all round, like the adult models. And I was quietly surprised at finding this. I thought that I would struggle and would end up having to get a custom 16″ BMX bike made up for him. Check out the paintwork.

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The frame itself is coated in paintwork, not flimsy decal stickers. There are also no dinky infant commercial “tie-ins” to sell this bike – no Thomas the Tank Engine, no Diego, no Ben 10, and no Mickey Mouse. This is a bike, and a Specialized at that.

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The wheels, like the name suggests, are 16″ with a a decent set of strong spokes. Probably slightly overengineered, but you really don’t want to be fixing spokes on your child’s bike. The rubber is decent too, with a good tread pattern and at 2.0″ there is plenty of cornering grip from these shoes. The reflectors on the wheels are big, and that is good because you want your child to be seen on their bike. The great thing is that these 16″ wheels will make it easy for my to replace the rubber when my boy has worn through them (did I hear someone say Maxxis Hookworms?). Oh, and you can inflate these babies to 65PSI if you want to run fast on the road.

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The design of the saddle is smart. There is a handle lip at the rear that assists parents to hold onto the seat as my boy learns how to balance riding. Smart!

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The stem is pretty much a rugged 22.5mm BMX stem. This is fantastic from a longevity point of view, because I will be able to upgrade to a full size BMX stem when he gets older and taller without any issues. It is solid too, rigid and no flex.

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It is a single speed, and the rear mechanicals are covered up well by the transmission guard. This is good because it means that there will be less muck getting into the drivetrain. The rear brake is engaged by pedalling backwards, and I have many fond memories of doing rear brake skids on my BMX bike.

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The transmission guard is well designed and has a smart cutout for chainstay. This is probably the cheapest looking part on the bike, but it is supposed to be a plastic guard to keep the leg from getting caught in the transmission.

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The grips are great for small hands, and the rubber is durable but tactile and not too hard. The front brake lever is adjustable for reach too, again quality.

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And in a final touch of quality, the brake cable is a Jagwire. Who puts Jagwire on kids bikes? – Specialized do.

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I said at the start of the post that this bike is the business and when you have a good look it really is. Probably the biggest thing that I noticed when shopping around for kids bikes was how much lighter it was compared to others. This won’t come out in photos, but is super important for your child. A lot of that has gotta be in the frame design and the wheels. You want them to enjoy the ride not spend their time lugging around an oversized piece of metal.

So if you are looking for the first bike for your child, don’t waste your money on crappy cheap bikes from Kmart or Target. Spend the extra $50 or so and get this one. The fact is the other department store bikes are cheap, poorly designed, and probably weigh more than my dual suspension MTB (I am talking about you Huffy). But also look hard at what you are buying if you go for some of the other big brands. I looked at the Trek Jet 16 and it was very inferior in build quality and design with a whole bunch of unnecessary plastic “extras” – heavy too. I also looked at the Cannondale Trail 16 which was better design, but it was heavy! The great thing about this Specialized bike is that it also comes in a trim for girls too – if only that was the same as the hot pink as Chavanel rode on in last year’s TDF.

And on the most important question… How does it ride? I can’t get my son off of it. The video will come shortly, as soon as I take off his training wheels – he is ready.

P.S. I tried to justify getting a matching McLaren Venge, but then realised that divorce was not a life experience I was looking for.

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