The road bike. Built to be ridden quickly by racing snakes in lycra, sat in cafés discussing their Strava feeds at the end of each ride, punishing themselves on the climbs & descending at lightening quick speeds on tyres the width of a rubber band!
I must admit, it never really appealed to myself.
Ever since I started riding, it’s always been the silly things you can do on a bike that has really got my juices flowing. I cut my teeth in dirt jumping, bmx and 4x & eventually this led me into the world of downhill & freeride. There’s nothing quite like throwing yourself off a 15ft sheer drop and hoping you can ride it out!
Fast forward a few years.
A bit older, not necessarily much wiser but slowly starting to realise that the sillier side of riding that I have loved for so long, is starting to become harder & harder for to enjoy. I will admit, I’m nowhere near as ballsy as I used to be & the idea of ending up in hospital in plaster or under the knife after a bad spill is not particularly appealing, I have started to mellow a little bit in my old(er) age.
Also spare time is becoming harder and harder to find these days, so weekend trips up to Scotland or down to wales where the better riding is are becoming rarer and rarer. So as you will read in my other Blog, I decided it was time to buy a trail bike.
So where does the roadbike come into it you ask?
Don’t get me wrong, I love riding, but it’s always really been downhill up until last year. I’m probably one of the most unfit guys in the shop and I don’t get to ride anywhere near as much as I’d like to these days. During the winter months, mountain biking is limited to the weekends and the odd night as your bike, your kit, your lights, everything wears out in the harsh, wet, gritty and cold conditions of Yorkshire.
Any mountain biker will probably agree, the worst thing about evening riding is getting home late on, soaking wet through, covered in mud and having to clean your bike down, get undressed on the doorstep in the freezing cold and then getting your kit sorted out before getting a nice hot shower and a hot brew!
A couple of months before Christmas, our owner, Tony approached a few of us in the shop and asked if we would like a team bike for the year? Safe to say we all nearly tore his arm off & jumped at the opportunity. The burning question was, what kind of bike do I want?
I pondered this for a while and decided that it was time to get something sensible I could use day to day, without all the hassle of the mountain bike. I’ve had a couple of fixed gear bikes as well as hybrids for commuting on over the years, but I have never owned an out & out road bike.
3 Months later, there’s a call from the warehouse saying my new bike has arrived! Safe to say it’s like Christmas & I spend the next day or so picking all my new kit, shoes, pedals and getting more and more exited for my new toy to be ready.
If I was a customer I would have been the guy who rings every single day asking if his bike was ready & when told not, being really disappointed he has to wait another 24hrs! (Those customers, I really do sympathise with you, the guys who work in the trade are EXACTLY the same as you when it comes to new bikes!)
Finally, it comes up to the shop, 2 hrs before I leave for a 2 week holiday! I am one happy Bunny!
There are a lot of road bikes on the market these days, ranging from your basic aluminium starter bikes right through to the stupidly light and stupidly expensive out and out road bikes. I toyed with the idea of an aluminium bike, but I do like my shiny kit and after a week or so of trying to find something that tickled my fancy, I opened up a giant catalogue and there it was!
The 2014 Giant Defy Composite 1 was the bike which ticked all the boxes. At £1599.00 it’s not the cheapest carbon Framed bike on the market, but it probably one of the best spec’d Carbon starter (I use the word “starter” loosely) bikes on the market.
With the new 11spd Shimano Ultegra Groupset, a superbly constructed Carbon frame, dripping in giants good quality own brand finishing kit, this was the perfect bike to introduce me to the world of road riding. The biggest selling point other than the spec is the Defy’s frame geometry. It’s not an aggressive frame like some of the Giant TCR’s, http://www.allterraincycles.co.uk/Search?q=tcr the Cannondale Supersix http://www.allterraincycles.co.uk/Bikes-Road-Bikes/?filter=true&categoryid=2632&sortby=title&brandid=1479 or even the Trek Madone Ranges http://www.allterraincycles.co.uk/Search?filter=true&q=madone&sortby=title&brandid=1715 . It’s designed to suit the rider who wants a more upright, comfortable road bike. Weekend warriors, Long distance riders or like me, the novices who want something they can use day in day out, the Defy is one of our most popular bikes, and suits 90% of the people who come in looking for a road bike.
As anyone I work with or ride with knows, I rarely tend to buy out of the box bikes, I’m very picky with my set-ups and I do enjoy the shinier things in life! Although new to riding road bikes, I do know quite a lot about the set ups and componentry, and being a bit of a technical geek the first thing I always tend to swap on the bike are the wheels.
If you want to make a big difference to the way a bike rides and lose a fair chunk of weight in the process, wheels are always going to make the biggest difference. A lighter set of wheels will improve acceleration and handling and rolling weight is always going to be the biggest issue most people with have with their bikes when trying to slim the build down.
We have a HUGE range of wheels in the shop, but there is one brand in particular that caught my eye. We have just started stocking a range by a company called Swiss Side and we are the only shop in the UK who is selling them. The quality of build is second to nun and when compared to brands like Mavic and Dt Swiss, not only are they up to the same quality, they do come in substantially cheaper.
The Swiss Side Heidi Shadow
wheels I have now fitted are the direct competitor to the Mavic Ksyrium Equipe S with an RRP of £390.00
, the Heidi is only £229.00!!
Ill be running these over the next few months, so there’s nothing like a long term test to see how the bike, componentry and new wheels (as well as my body!) stands up to the punishment of day to day riding on the roads in and around Leeds & Bradford. I’ve got my lycra, I’ve got my Spd’s ( This is Going to be interesting) & I’ve Downloaded Strava.
Time to get riding I suppose!