Yep, this is later than I had intended, but I had a few injury issues earlier in the year which caused me to stare at this fully built bike sat in my kitchen, just in view from my TV seat where I was resting the torn ligaments in my right foot. It was deeply frustrating as it was just a stupid injury that I didn't even do on my bike. If you've ever torn a ligament(s) you'll know what the pain is like. There's just no way you can ride a bike in the direct aftermath.
Great intentions oft' go astray... As this short video will attest!
Anyway... I'm back on my feet (foot) again. I built this bike in January and didn't get to really ride it until late in February, so I'll just do a basic run-down of the spec and why it was built this way and in part 2 I'll get heavier into the way it rides.
So I should clarify that my preceding bike was a Bronson CC. The very same bike that Danny Macaskill rode on his film "The Ridge" Same forks, same wheels, even the same colour scheme. In fact, 90% the same bike. An absolutely rock-solid bike that would take just about anything you could throw at it. But I had a problem with it. The more eagle eyed of you will notice that this bike is also (almost) a complete replica of Danny's "Wee day out" bike too. Not a fanboy move, just a preference of the colour red over the other matte black version that was available at the time.
My Bronson was just too much bike in the context of how I use an MTB. I could straight-line anything on that bike and once I'd got used to this, it DID make me faster and more fearless, but I found it a bit of a chore to ride outside of the short bike ride kind of day. I spend a lot of time on my bike in one go. 7 hours, 8,9,10... Bothy rides, overnights, big loops, point to point riding and the like, so I started my research on the 5010, the bike that Santa Cruz launched (originally as the SOLO) with this type of riding in mind.
Everyone remembers the Advert with Steve Peat shredding Torridon's Corrie Lair path?
Outside of a few car park laps on Dirtschool's Andy Barlow's 5010 and a couple of short rides on demo bikes, all I had was my research and the general idea that this would be a bike that would fulfil the following needs.
A:Easier to pedal with a harder actuation of the shock (shorter back-end) meaning less pedal bob and super tuneable with the DPS shock. B: Less "forgiving" on the big stuff and would make me learn how to ride lines and obstacles all over again. C:Just be a better, more comfortable riding position (longer top-tube) with a weight that I could deal with on very long, unassisted rides.
I also have been spending a lot of time stopping and starting and attending to less experienced riders both in my private riding life and my role as an instructor for Ridelines Mountain Bike Tuition. So the burliness and travel range of the (MK1) Bronson was becoming a bit of an issue. I felt like I needed something a bit sharper, a bit less docile and something that would challenge my riding a bit more. I'd had a shot of the new 27+ Tallboy CC and loved it, but it was very XC. Totally manageable, light, flick-able and a really enjoyable bike for covering distance efficiently and chalking up loads of fun miles. But I felt that it got out of its depth very quickly indeed and usually without much warning.
So the 5010 is where I ended up. It really is the simplest of bikes at it's core offering 130mm of VPP travel through 27.5 wheels, boost axle spacing front and rear, a 67 degree head angle (just 1 degree less than a Bronson) and 334mm BB, again just 7mm lower than a Bronson. So, a pretty aggresive shorter travel machin. Stick on a 140mm Pike RCT3and you have a bike you can really get your teeth into on the fast stuff, but will be super hospitable on the everyday ride front.
It's as comfortable is it is unforgiving, as fast and flickable as it is predictable and as light as it is strong and stiff and efficient. It really is quite an engineering miracle that bikes can now be made this light, this stiff and this strong without cutting any corners.
In a quick spec run-down, all I really pushed the boat out on were the wheels. After having the super stiff ENVE 60 Forty on the Bronson, there was just no going back to alloy for me, not at least while I had access to a alternative. The DT-Swiss XCM1200 wheelset is both strong and super light with amazing hubs and race proven pedigree, so there was really no other option for me. The reat of the bike is Shimano M-8000 XTwith the exception of an XTR rear shifter, just because it feels so nige on the thumb.
I guess you could say that a Chris Kingheadset is a luxury? But in this day & age, this product is indispensable as a staple part on any high-end bike that is going to be used as the designer intended. It will outlast a half dozen other headsets and most probably still be on the bike when it eventually moves on from my ownership. Other bits from companies like Race Face, Gamut and KSagain are just hard wearing parts with good pedigree that will likely stand the test of time.
The one other finishing touch I added was from Invisiframe. £70 for this product is a no-brainer when you tot-up the money invested in making all these parts look like your dream bike.
So as a brief introduction to the bike (this particular bike) and why I decided on it, I guess that will do. I've ridden it fairly regularly for the last 3 months and even done an endurance racing event on it. So once I've got some riding photos back, I'll do a follow-up on my component choice and some feedback on how she rides. Probably in a short video.
Get on board with this exclusive demo day offer from Sprockets Cycles in partnership with Ridley bikes.
We have managed to get hold of the UK's only demo fleet of Ridley X-Trail bikes for an exclusive, one day only demo experience at Whitelee Windfarm Visitor Centre on Sunday 30th April.
The X-Trail is a real do-it-all drop bar bike. While the race geometry allows you accelerate quickly, the disc brake wheels with thru-axle can make you stop stable and within the blink of an eye. And with the 36mm tire clearance, you can add a big piece of extra comfort to your already enjoyable ride. Why would you need 3 different bikes hanging in your garage while you can have an X-Trail? Fast on the road, comfy on the trail and a cool factor that is off the scale!
Ridley's own training guru Andy Dodds will be taking you on a preditermined route round one of the biggest on-shore windfarms in Europe, giving advice and answering questions on the latest technology and racing pedigree used to develop the X-Trail
First ride will set off around 10am from the Visitor Centre car park for around 2 hours, the second ride will be after lunch at 2pm for the same route, so please book your required bike for the appropriate riding slot. We won't be leaving anyone behind and we'll be stopping for chat, rests and photos along the way. We'll supply some energy products and make sure you're looked after along the way. You can ask any questions you like along the way and Andy will be more than happy to answer them.
The route is very easy at just 24km (14 miles) with only 255m of total climbing. A great chance to experience the X-Trail first hand. You can download the route HERE
You will have to register for this event and choose a bike ticket for your size and model. Please only register if you are definitely coming as when a ticket is gone, that bike is gone and someone else may miss out. Availability is exclusive to registering on Eventbrite, not through contacting the shop. If you need any advice on choosing your correct size, please click HERE and select the geometry tab for more information.
Electric bikes are quite divisive right now. Not because they don’t work or because they have no place in the market, we think it’s because the main manufacturers launched their product in the enthusiast cycling press, which is proliferated by people who say what they like and like what they say.
It’s cheating, it’s for lazy people and similar opinions are the most popular howls heard from the unknowing masses that simply take their opinion from the online echo chamber or simply refuse to acknowledge e-bikes exist, despite never having been near one. So when we decided to go all-in with e-bikes it raised a few eyebrows.
For a bit of fun, we thought we’d make a short video about how versatile one of these bikes can be, so after the recent morning blizzard in South Lanarkshire, we spotted that the 700m peak of Tinto Hill near Lanark was the only place the retained some snow in the afternoon, so off we went. We chose the Haibike Sduro Full Fat Six full suspension fatbike to give us the best chance of summiting. But not only did we want to summit the hill, we wanted to get to the top without leaving out any of the obstacles in our way. Quite a challenge!
The Sduro Full Fat Six uses the Yamaha PW drivetrain system which pushes out around 44Ib of torque (more than a Morris Minor!) and assists you to just over 15 mph through a few different modes: Eco, Tour & Turbo. It also has 4” tyres and 120mm of suspension travel meaning grip on the trickiest sections should be around the maximum we could expect from the bikes available to us. On the flat, it's just too tempting to whack it on Turbo and just smash along so this is just what we did, there's just too much fun to be had getting up to speed and the power delivery is spookily smooth, but speed won’t help you when it gets technical.
One of the first things that turned us from cheesy grin to determined face was the realisation that Turbo mode is not the only mode. When forcing the bike up the grass & granite steps on the walker's path, the torque was just too much for even the 4” tyres to soak up and resulted in spin-outs and dismounts. But determined not to walk any of the route, we walked it back and attempted the section again. Knocking down the power to the Eco mode actually slowed the torque delivery down to the point that we could mix actual riding technique with the benefits of the assistance from the 250w motor. Once we’d figured this out, we genuinely cleared every obstacle on the hill.
Gary is an excellent rider with a wealth of experience in wild riding, but even he was fooled a few times by the power delivery, using every bit of his skill to prevent wheelspin and oversteer when the grip was challenging the tenacity of the Schwalbe Jumbo Jim tyres. The conditions were actually quite bad. The trail was waterlogged at low altitude and icy at higher levels with the wind playing it’s part all the way up. Although we had to go back and attempt a few sections to get them cleaned, we both thought that on a day with better average conditions that the bike would ascend the whole hill without a stop with no problem.
The weight of the bike is substantial at around 25 kg, but in the right mode, it just pales into insignificance as the Yamaha PW motor carries the bike with such efficiency. The trick is that when you are climbing, you stay in the power-band. Just slow down, keep your cadence high and let the motor do the work. Once you have figured it out, this bike will take you almost anywhere. With real life battery ranges of around 90 miles (130 km) you can rely on the 400w battery to take you where you need to go and probably back again.
At Sprockets Cycles we have a huge range of electric bikes from Haibike, Ridgeback and Saracen. We have demo and hire models so you can try before you buy and see for yourself how versatile these machines really are. You can buy an e bike at Sprockets Cycles from as little as £1599 and we offer performance electric bikes with price tags up to £7000. Here’s a short video about our few hours on Tinto trying out the Haibike Sduro Full Fat Six. It was a genuine surprise that we managed to scale this tricky hill without missing a section.
We're excited to announce that for the first time we'll be attending a public show! Not just any show, the biggest outdoor pursuits show in Scotland! The Scottish Cycling, Running & Outdoor Pursuits show is taking place this weekend on the 10th, 11th and 12th of March 2017 at the SECC and will feature many amazing brands and retailers in the same place delivering the very best representation of how to explore the outdoors right here in Scotland!
We'll be there with Ridley bikes, Santa Cruz, Haibike, Ridgeback, Cervelo, Garmin, Madison and a few more. So come by and see us as we'll have a few exclusive SCROPS offers and activities you can take advantage of.
We'll be having an amnesty in conjunction with Garmin where you can trade in your old GPS fitness band against up to £140 off selected top end Garmin cycling units and watches.
We'll also have some amazing clothing offers from Madison and a particularly "visible" deal on the HUMP Signal waterproof cycling jacket. Usually retailing for £79.99. we'll be selling these amazing jackets at just £39.99! There will be limited stock and we are unable to hold these or re-order, so get along Sprockets stand first thing and pick yours up!
We'll be there with a fully operational Zwift set-up too. Hooked up to a top of the range Elite Drivo smart-trainer, you can have a go at the latest craze in training. With Zwift, you can battle other riders accross the world and take part in competitions with pro riders and weekend warriors alike. We'll also have trained staff on the stand to advise you if you have any questions about Zwift.
So come along and see us at this years Scottish Cycling, unning and Outdoor pursuits show this weekend.
Around a year or so ago, the Lazer rep showed me this helmet in near finished form and I was generally quite "skeptical" to say the least. It was just too weird, too kooky and just did not appeal to any of the dumbfounded guys behind the counter who also felt the same way.
A few months of wearing the MIPS version of the finished article though and I'm actually finding a hard time finding anything wrong with it!
So, the "problem" is the immediate aesthetic. You either want to look like a Rogue Squadron extra from Star Wars, or you don't? From every angle this helmet is different, it just screams different, but I remember when POC released the finished Trabec model and everyone kinda scoffed at what became one of the most popular trail/Enduro helmets on the market. I think that's what is happening with the Revolution, people are coming around.
The unique shape actually helps accommodate a few features that the "Enduro set" will enjoy, such as a huge range of peak adjustment and a very generous rear step in the vent profile so your goggles don't ping off your head!
You have to see this helmet in the flesh really, as it's profile is not as big or "bulbous" as pictures of it might suggest, contrary to that it actually sits very nice and is exceptionally balanced, if not a tad on the heavy side. Not heavy, just heavier than some similarly equipped helmets on the market. (Around 370g for the small size)
It's also customizable. You can by colour coding kits for the peak and ear surrounds to get a bit coordination going with the rest of your gear and the supplied "ear muff" attachments actually make it look cooler in my opinion. These wee blinker type attachments also keep a lot of the cold off your ears when the weather gets chilly.
In the heat though, 23 vents keep the air flowing over your head and the body sits on your skull with what feels like very minimal contact, so despite the small weight penalty, the helmet feels light on the head. Another reason for this is the MIPS system that feels a bit like a second retention device as it's soft material cradles you head like a reassuring yellow plastic, protective hand on your bonce.
MIPS is a revolutionary technology that lets the helmet slide and rotate a short relative distance from the head to dampen rotational and angular impacts. I've been to the Scandinavian lab that developed the technology and I was mightily impressed by the evidence for mitigating some of the trauma caused by these types of injuries. A great addition to any helmet's features.
Also keeping your helmet stuck to your head is Lazer's ATS (Advanced Turn-dial System) that really locks up the shell to your skull without squeezing it in any particular way. The full coverage shell, MIPS system and ATS make sure that the Revolution stays in place on every axis when you're bouncing around on the trail.
Another cool feature is the breakaway Gopro mount. Since the "Schumacher incident" there's been a bit of a debate about helmet mounted accessories in certain circles, but Lazer have put safety first by combining an excellent and MIPS with genuine breakaway mount that will simply detach at any sign of significant impact whilst being strong enough that you don't lose your camera!
Another great feature is detachable chin guard that turns any Revolution model into a full-face helmet ready for Enduro or downhill duties. When it's fitted, the Revolution boats a full ASTM-DH certification, meaning it comes in fully race legal and the weight of a carbon helmet twice the price. Very impressive! The full face conversions also comes with a longer peak to complete the transition to full on Gnarr.
Colours are all over the place from plain old black or white, to full on camo patterns and lovely colour mixes like the one we have on test, and of course there's the option of customizing your ear surrounds and peak.
From the second I put this helmet on I loved it. My inital prejudice dissapeared immediately and out of the 4 helmets I currently have at my disposal its the one I go to first.
I don't think I've ever worn a helmet that's made me feel more confident in the saddle. Ample protection, unique looks and all the features of some helmets that have an extra price premium attached.
Check out the full Revolution range HERE starting at just £99.99 for the standard version.
By far the coolest thing for pre-pedal cycle kids we've ever seen is Wishbone Designs' range of very cool wooden balance bikes, trikes and wheeled buggies. They have been a real revelation to us all here at Sprockets Cycles since they arrived for the opening of our new store.
Prices start at just £79.99 for the Mini-Flip ride along buggy that also converts into a rocking horse with no tools required. Have a look at this cool wee guy in the video below. The Mini-flip can also be customised with different coloured parts, wheels and stickers. Also at £119.99 we have the "Flip" the big brother of the Mini-Flip that is larger, with castor type wheels for bigger kids to steer with their feet. We have them both in store now, so come and have a look!
Wishbone Designs have a very high ethical & environmental standard and even make a recycled version of their popular 3-in-1 balance bike/trike combo. The WIshbone RE comes with the very cool "Rotafix" system that allows you to adjust the middle of the bike lower or higher depending on the inside leg of the user, ensuring you get the most out of the 3-in-1 nature of the product. It's a very cool feature that is quite unique amongst this kind of bike and ensures that you get the best value for money. The 2-in-one version is just £149.99 with the 3-in-one version coming in at £169.99. Have a look at the video below for a demonstration of how it works.
We also have the standard 2-inone and 3-in-one bikes. These are our most popular models starting at just £159.99. They are fully customisable with different coloured stickers, grips & seat-pads, so your little riders can make them unique to their own style.
At Sprockets, we're a fully fledged and fully stocked Wishbone Designs dealer. So come along and see this unique range of bikes, trikes and pre-cycling buggies that will get your wee ones on wheels sooner than you thought was possible!
Every set of pedals that anyone else has ever had have fallen to bits right? But your favourite models have always treated you well though? So you may of had a pair of these that fell to bits, but these ones didn't, so here we go...
With this deeply subjective weight bearing part always in the firing line, whether it be the torque of rotation or the odd crank/pedal strike, the attrition rate between failure and success in pedals can literally hang on picking a bad line on a fairly easy trail. I won't dwell on what everyone knows; that BB's are lower and crank-arms are not getting any shorter in the realm of general specification, so the super slim pedal has been the ongoing "solution" to the problem. The pragmatically named high-end offering from the San Jose component gurus is one of the top drawer attempts at making a difference.
These pedals have been fitted exclusively onto my Santa Cruz Bronson which is probably more the type of bike that you'd expect to see these on. They have been ragged to death with no servicing so far. Dragged through local dusty days, trail centre muddy days and 50 mile back-country rides with river crossings and sandy beaches giving them hell along the way.
These are firstly pretty light for a set of pedals with 4 sets of cartridge bearings and a cro-mo axle inside and with a 298g claimed weight Vs 305g on our scales they'll be at home on any bike where you're worried about that kind of thing. But they're flats though right? so they're probably gonna be put on a bike that will be put through the wringer at some point with aforementioned rock strikes being a daily issue so what's a few grams to potentially avoid that hit that sends you OTB eh?
Some other reviewers have noted that the platform is not big enough but at 100x100mm but you'd think this would be big enough for most feet? The issue is that the inner bearing sits firmly against the crank arm presumably to reduce leverage and allow some axle & bearing girth, this bearing is obviously inside the cage and the cage is where you put your foot. So the first pin you find is around 10mm from the crank arm meaning you have to have your foot in pretty tight to take full advantage of that part of the platform.
Theoretically this means your foot may roll off the outside of the platform. This does make sense "on paper" and is pretty obvious when you look at the product, but to be honest, I have never noticed this as being a problem even with my size ten Five Ten VXI's which have pretty wide soles. I suppose this depends on your riding style?
This all looks very cool too and lends itself to the sleek design, but it also removes the ability for the traditional 15mm fastening method, instead opting for the 8mm Allen key through the back of the crank arm. So don't go overtightnin'
These pedals are just 10mm at their fattest and 8mm at their thinnest, but impressively there are 4 sealed bearings crammed inside each cage which is pretty good going considering some pedals that are just as thin as this still rely on bushes that squeal and rattle after a few hard weeks of riding (granted they are not usually £110) After all this time I've had zero issues with them and they only have a very slight bit of movement which is to be expected, but they don't rattle when you drop the bike, you have to coax the movement out of them by hand.
The pins are super long & super grippy. I've had the soles of my shoes stick to the pedals momentarily (and regularly) which has made my heart beat pretty quick sometimes whilst getting off the bike. They are pretty evil and also hollow, which most likely adds to their effectiveness as mini apple-corers on your shoes.
As good as they function though, the pins are really fragile and bend without much persuasion on just about any significant contact. These are the first incarnation of the Podium pedals and apparently the ones that ship now are coming with heat treated pins, so this should not be an issue moving on. The good news is the pins are available as replacement kits in black, blue, red and silver colours.
I've loved these pedals if I'm honest. I just don't have any issues with them and only came across the opinion on the platform size as I was researching for this article. Hopefully I won't consciously look for this issue when I next use them. They are super grippy, light, low profile and very nicely styled too. The bearings have been great and the finish has stood up rather well considering the abuse they've had.
I suppose at £110 they should do everything I have experienced with them? But really nothing is sold for RRP these days is it, so as with everything else, support your LBS and see if we can hook you up with a deal.
"A great pedal at a price that isn't really unusually high these days. Savage grip and bearing longevity seems to be built in too. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend them."
We're happy to announce that we're now an authorised supplier and fitting agent for Invisiframe protection. If you've never seen invisiframe you'll be amazed at the way it blends into the aesthetic of your frame. We're seen frames protected by invisiframe where you can barely see the product. It's truly amaving and super tough!
Invisiframe kits start at just £71.99 plus £30 for fitting for a full suspension frame already listed on the Invisiframe website. Custom kits are available for any bike too. If you already have your Invisiframe kit, we can take the heartache out of fitting it yourself for just £50.
Check if your bike is on the standard Invisiframe list HERE
The vinyl is a premium quality automotive vinyl, which has been developed to protect car paint from stone chip and abrasion damage. We can’t promise to protect your frame from major damage but the protection kit will protect and minimise general trail wear, scuffs, abrasions, stone chips, storage and transportation mishaps keeping your steed looking newer for longer.
The vinyl will help keep your bicycle paint work looking brand new under the protection. The gloss vinyl can be polished adding to its longevity and in turn keeping you bike looking good. So this means that all of those annoying little scratches crated from muddy trails can be polished out!
About this time every year our industry magazine "BikeBiz" asks customers of independent bike dealers (IBD's) to vote for the shops they think deserve to be included in the annual list honouring the cream of the industry. This year, the response form our customers has been overwhelmingly positive with Sprockets being included in the top 20 list after just 5 years of trading.
If you bear in mind that there are estimated to be around 2500 ACT registered bike shops in the UK we are really humbled to make it into the top 1% of what customers are looking for from a bike shop.
We'd all like to thank our customers for the great tesemonials and your support sinc we opened the shop. Have a great summer and we hope to see you in-store and on-line soon!
Terms and conditions: the 20% offer (the offer) is not available in conjunction with cycle-to-work vouchers, finance payment options or items already on sale. (sale items can be bought at 20% off the original rrp) If you wish to order items not in stock then you must pay in full to take advantage of the offer. The offer starts at 9am 16/4/16 and ends at 5pm 17/4/16. there is no cash alternative.
When our boss came to us with a Santa Cruz Stigmata Cyclocross frameset and a pair of Mavic Crossmax SLR 29er wheels we knew some fun times lay ahead.......Make this work with XTR Di2 he said.
The Mavic wheels were an obvious choice as both Frame & Fork on the Stigmata come with the bolt through axles to keep things nice and stiff, as most of us here are predominantly mountain bikers we know the benefits of having these available.
First things first, had it been done? We couldn't find any successfully completed attempts, or any actual attempts at all! What can go wrong?
A couple of calls to Rich, the Shimano Tech Expert later and we had the ball rolling, half an XTR Di2 Groupset, BR-R785 Hydraulic Road Calipers and ST-R785 Di2 Shifters were the starting point. Not one for keeping things easy Craig wanted a Rotor Chainset with a Q-Ring, but also a Narrow Wide ring to keep the chain in place.
A quick call to the Rotor Crank distributor and we managed to source ourselves one of the New Rotor 3D CX Chainsets with a Ceramic BB, and a QCX1 Narrow Wide Q-Ring, interesting to say the least. Its possibly one of the only chainrings with the Narrow Wide profile that are available above the 36t mark.
We wanted to go with an 11-40t XTR Cassette as it should aid climbing on some tough cross courses, this was the obvious choice as no road cassettes reach to that ratio. This was also one of the main reasons for the Mavic Crossmax wheel choice, 11spd MTB cassettes have a different inner width to road cassettes, and as such will not have fitted on your usual cross wheel.
Another quick wee phone call to Rich and we had ourselves a build day! Rich was kind enough to come to the shop and offer his services showing us how to setup and adjust the Di2 kit and teaching us some of the hidden capabilities the electronic shifting has to offer. So what are the shifting options when you have 2 Di2 shifters and only one derailleur? The options are endless! We opted to shift up on the right and shift down on the left, this can be programmed to shift in any way you can dream of.
Shifting is unbelievably smooth at the rear, and the Q-Ring upfront is definitely going to turn some heads and keep the chain in check.
After Rich had worked magic we set about finishing it off, 3T Ergonomic bars with Supacaz Bar Tape, Shimano PRO Tharsis XC Stem with internally mounted Di2 Junction box, keeps the front end looking clean and cable free, also means the topcap is no longer required, again, thats going to turn some heads! Thomson Seatpost and WTB Saddle finish it off.
So, The answer to the original question, can you run 1 x 11spd with a mix of Road and MTB Di2 parts? Yes, you can.
We would like to thank Rich the Shimano Tech expert for his help, both Dave's from Madison for parts and moral support, Gregor from Silverfish for the Bar Tape and Bar End Caps that don't "Faw Oot" Matt at Mavic for the wheels, Jungle Products for the Frame & Fork.
My initial interest in trying out the Cannondale Synapse HM Black was to test the Shimano di2 electronic gears to check if it was a gimmick or as good as the reviews say.
Well, I can confirm that the electronic Dura Ace shifting set up was even silkier smooth than most of the write ups suggest. But that's only the beginning of the story on a bike that could have been made with tough Scottish road conditions in mind.
I took the Synapse out from Sprockets Cycles in Kilmarnock round some of my regular roads in and around the villages of Craigie and Tarbolton. The council have recently resurfaced some stretches of new Tarmac on some of my favourite climbs in this area. But most of them still have surfaces that could challenge Paris-Roubaix - without a cobble in sight.
The Synapse made light work of even the roughest of surfaces, thanks I'm guessing to the combination of frame & fork cleverly designed to absorb those shocks and made out of Cannondale's highest spec carbon. The chunky 28mm Schwalbe One tyres also played a starring role in that pot hole busting comfort too. It's no surprise that a number of pros use this machine on some of the European cobbled classics.
I have to admit to being a wee bit nervous taking out a machine costing more than £6k out on a howling gale on the back roads of Ayrshire. Think about Ferris Bueller's pal taking his dad's classic Ferrari out in the movie of the same name and you'll understand my trepidation. But the Synapse is the most sure footed bike I've ridden. Ever.
Ok, I only hung up my running shoes a couple of years ago to concentrate on two wheels. But I've tried out a fair few super bikes in that time. And spent a few quid living up to the n+1 stereotype of the new breed of riders!
I started my ride with the rough surfaced and steep climb of Craigie Hill. Just outside of Kilmarnock this is a coveted Strava segment. I pointed the Synapse into a howling headwind and hit the broken surface of the climb. I'm not saying I took the KOM, but even into a severe wind the uphill felt effortless and the bumps that test my own good road bike seemed to disappear. Parts of the climb that I'm usually trying to muscle my bikes up were shrugged off and I was up and over in good time.
Then there is the Synapse's performance on fast descents. I've never felt more confident as I watched the Garmin tip 40mph coming down "Scoots" out of Tarbolton, and didn't feel the Vision carbon rims were being impacted negatively by the buffeting cross winds. With a steady rain beginning to fall the roads were beginning to look treacherous. But again I felt confident leaning into fast corners on the descents. That confidence is boosted by the stopping power of the hydraulic disc brakes. I'm used to discs on my cross and mountain bikes. I challenge the most anti-disc roadie to not fall in love with the Synapse's braking power on a wet and windy Ayrshire day. It's definitely the sensible way ahead for the vast majority of road riders. The Synapse with discs is still feather light, so there goes that argument against discs.
There's no doubt that the Synapse's geometry is more relaxed than racy. But it felt plenty fast and responsive to me. In fact the slightly higher head tube made me think I might have made a mistake by slamming the stem on my own bikes. I was only out on the Cannondale for 20 miles or so. But on tough bumpy roads, with a fair few berg type short sharp climbs and in a punishing wind it was a pleasure to ride even against that triple whammy. In fact I'd go as far as saying it is the perfect high end bike for our infamous British roads. I'd love to get it out for a 100 miler or a testing sportive. To me that's where it'll really come into its own.
The ride comfort of the Synapse is superb thanks to the shock absorbing design, top end carbon and those Tarmac crunching tyres. But a special mention has to go to the Fabric saddle - a carbon railed thing of beauty and comfort. Did I mention the paint job? The stealth black of the HM is subtle, but beautiful. Looking down on the stardust effect top tube makes you feel you're at the helm of a true thoroughbred.
If I could only have one road bike, I'd be saving up the pennies and beating a path to Sprockets for this one.
Over the winter, I competed in cyclocross races, fighting through muddy bomb-sites on my Frog bike, almost every weekend. But now that it’s supposedly British ‘summertime’, the racing schedule has changed.
That’s right, we’re now entering the road race season.
The road season consists mainly of criterium races. These are short half an hour long races, in which you race furiously over short, often technical laps of parks and the like. Throughout the season, there is also the odd short stage race. These races tend to be roughly four stages long, over three days of racing.
My Frog bike, which I was given through my sponsor Craig at Sprockets Cycles in Kilmarnock, has been great over the cyclocross season, and the three crits races that I have already done this season. But I have now grown (a little bit) so the Frog no longer fits me quite as well. That means that I will hand it back in to Sprockets and I'm moving on to a carbon fibre Kuota. This bike should be amazing for Criterium racing, as it is super light, aero and stiff, and the fact that it is equipped with full sized wheels will be a big step up from racing on smaller 26” inch wheels on my Frog.
Also, as if that was not amazing enough, I have just got a new Genesis mountain bike to train on. Hopefully, Chris, Dave and Craig will be able to show me some of the secret trails that they know around Ayrshire!
All in all, it looks like this season is going to be amazing, and really great fun, thanks to the constant help and support from the guys at sprockets’ cycles in Kilmarnock, and not to mention my dad Lindsay and JP and Jo Baxter.
Frog Bikes have teamed up with Team Sky to produce a range of Kids Lightweight Bikes to suit the needs of any Kids looking to get into cycling, wheter it be Balance Bikes or Road Bikes, they have created something for them all.
Personally we think these look amazing! Currently wishing we were kids again!
These will be with us very shortly, just in time for Christmas, but best be quick, Pre-Orders have already started coming in!
Here is a wee snippet of the Official Press Release :
Team Sky Kids' Bikes Designed By Frog, Helping kids enjoy the freedom of cycling
Team Sky and Frog Bikes have joined forces to develop a new range of high quality, lightweight kids' bikes to encourage more kids to get out and enjoy the freedom of cycling. Frog only make bikes for kids and now, with Team Sky, have the ultimate partnership. Together we're making a giant leap forward for kids' bikes!
The Team Sky Kids' Bike Range Giant leaps begin with little wins
Giant leaps come in different forms - from the first moments of gliding on a balance bike to taking part in the first race. Owning a Team Sky Kids' Bike is about learning skills, gaining confidence and, most importantly, having fun! There is a Team Sky Kids' Bike for all kids from ages 2 to 14. The range includes a balance bike, first pedal bike, and variety of sizes in hybrids and road bikes.
With the same great features you would expect from Frog, each of our bikes is lightweight and designed specifically with the younger rider in mind - and of course, they all carry Team Sky's signature blue line. The blue line is like Team Sky's badge, and connects the whole team together in the shared ambition of being the best. It appears on everything - the bikes, kit, cars and even the team bus. With the blue line and distinct Team Sky colours on your bike, you can feel like a pro and part of the team.
Yesterday saw the release of the ALL NEW Genesis Carbon Road bike, ZERO.
We waited impatiently all day for the shipment to arrive, we were like kids at christmas. It finally arrived mid afternoon and we set about building them straight away. First impressions are everything and these bikes do not disappoint. straight out the box the quality of the build is noticeable, the carbon frame is flawless, the shapes and lines on these are amazing, the pictures definitely do not do it justice!
Ranging from £1299.99 for the "Entry Level" spec (entry level should be used loosely, Tiagra builds are far from entry level!) all the way up to the Dura Ace spec ZERO Team edition at £4499.99, there is something for all budgets and you will be hard pushed to find this good a bike for this money in our opinion.
With their first foray into carbon bikes, Genesis have created a range that is not only great value for money but a definite contender in the weight stakes too!
Here is the Official Genesis release :
New Performance Road Race Bike to Debut at Tour of Britain
Today Genesis launches its first carbon range, Zero. Zero has been over 18 months in development and will make its race debut at the 2014 edition of the Tour of Britain starting in Liverpool on 7th September, piloted by the Madison Genesis team.
The Zero forms a range of six models starting at £1299.99 for the Zero.1 and topping out at the Dura Ace equipped Team model, at £4499.99. Crucially, the same frame is used throughout the range, which means all customers benefit from the same great ride characteristics. Zero.1 and the Team edition are available now here, the full range will be available end of August, 2014.
The Zero has been specifically designed to meet the extreme demands of stage racing where reductions in overall weight and aerodynamic improvements can make a real difference; the resulting frame now weighs-in below 1kg. The bike will sit alongside the team’s current 953 Volare providing riders with more choice dependant on the race and terrain faced.
With comfort in mind, we have designed the frame to take a standard 27.2mm seatpost to provide more compliance than found on bladed seatpost designs. The rear triangle features pencil thin seatstays which help to further provide compliance and comfort to the ride.
Zero however, is a race bike at heart. The large Kamm-tail downtube ensures a stiff pedalling platform but significantly provides an aerodynamic advantage, an advantage that is becoming increasingly more important in the modern world of bike racing. The crown on Zero’s custom fork is designed to flow into the downtube. Closing this gap helps to improve airflow and minimise turbulent air behind the fork.
We pride ourselves on making quality, British-designed bikes and have invested heavily in our own moulds to ensure Zero meets our own design standards by having complete control from design, through testing and ultimately throughout the manufacturing process. Zero even comes with a lifetime warranty.
Phil Hamill, Genesis Brand Director said: “We are excited to announce our debut carbon range, Zero. This gives the public and the Madison Genesis team a full choice of frames, which excel in different environments - the Volare will continue to be used in next year’s Pearl Izumi Tour Series whilst the Zero will be used in stage races, such as the Tour of Britain.
“We are really proud with how Zero has turned out. The only way this project could be viable was by doing it our way, with the brand principles we believe in. We have invested heavily in developing our own tooling and moulds to ensure this bike is exactly how we intended it to be. We believe strongly in the Zero, which is why we will be offering a lifetime warranty on all Zero frames.”