I was late to the road scene, but I think it’s fair to say I made up for lost time…
The List – Part II: The Road Bikes
If you read Part 1, then my Cannondale Synapse – officially my second dabbling in the road scene, but number one on ‘The List’ – came about around the same time that my Yeti 575 and I parted ways. It was bought as a method of getting fitter for the longer MTB rides and races I was attempting at the time. Now that the upgrade bug had bitten the bog standard Cannondale own brand stem, saddle and seatpost made way for carbon upgrades, and the naff new-fangled ‘compact’ crank made way for a fancy Ultegra ‘Ice Grey’ standard (i.e. normal) chainset. But it didn’t last long – I was still too much of a dirty biker.
The next instalment wouldn’t arrive until I moved to London, and MTBing became too much of a hassle to get to. It arrived with a bang.
Omega Enigma. Titanium, full Campag Chorus, USE finishing kit, carbon bars, Look forks, Fulcrum Racing 1 wheels, and an excess of silver and grey colouring. With its massive saddle-to-bar drop it hurt like hell to ride, and there wasn’t even clearance for a rear tyre any bigger than a 20c because the chain stays were so short – but I was a roadie now, and this bad boy turned heads! Eventually that drop got too much though.
I moved all of the parts across onto a Cervélo Soloist Team frameset that I’d picked up. Perfectly colour-coded and wearing an upgraded fork, this is probably still now one of my best looking bike builds. I loved it, but that aero post didn’t like to stay still, and the lure of carbon got the better of me…
That carbon desire took hold on my Cervélo R3, and my first carbon wheels appeared then too – albeit still clinchers at this stage. This was the bike that I clocked up my first 200km ride on, and probably the one that sucked me into the road scene the most. By now I’d developed an aftermarket brake fetish, and this was running a set of girder-like M5 calipers. But my drop was still pretty big. When I was asked if it was going begging I came up with a cunning plan.
I bought this CAAD9 as a complete bike. I’d heard great things about the ride quality, and by shifting all of the components across to my R3, and everything from that onto the CAAD9 I’d ended up with a decent bike with slightly better suited geometry – and all cost-neutral. well, until I found a 3T fork in white which looked better than the stock one and dropped a good few grams off of the weight. As it turned out, those rumours about the ride quality were most definitely true. I loved this bike, and clocked up my first 250km ride on it, but then it needed warrantying.
Whilst the warranty on the CAAD9 was being sorted I continued my love affair with Cannondale when I found this SystemSix.
An odd machine, being a combination of a carbon front end which was basically paired with the CAAD9 back end. It was smooth as silk to ride though. My first set of EE Brakes landed on this bike after I ran out of patience with the lack of adjustability of the M5s. That saw me through until my return to Ti.
My Lynskey R330 appeared at about the same time as my first set of tubular wheels. My SRAM Red group made it’s way onto its third frame and my EE Brakes onto their second. Except this was all now accompanied by an aftermarket chainset too – a kind of ‘earrings & necklace’ to my matching seatpost and stem ‘collar & cuffs’. I’d used tape for the tubs though, which made them a lot more hassle than they should be. They went off to a mate, and the frame moved along not long after when I discovered a frame that better suited my own long-leg-short-torso-average-arm-length proportions.
Enter the Look 585 Optimum – that all important last word being the difference between the standard, racier Look 585 and this version with its shorter top tube and longer head tube. Back on carbon, and a set of 46mm carbon clinchers joined in the fun for a while. I loved this bike, and it’s still one of the few I wish I hadn’t sold – mainly because it fit me so well and without any compromise. But it, and any other bike I’d owned, was about to be upstaged. Big time.
Along came the Baum. A custom titanium Corretto with integrated seatpost, PressFit30 BB and integrated Di2. Originally built with a set of custom Black Edition carbon clincher wheels from Lightweight, and a set of Rotor 3D+ SRM power meter cranks. It had been a long-running decision to arrive at this option, and an even bigger ordeal to arrive at the finished build kit. Except I never did really ‘finish’ it – problems with the Tune Cappy ISP topper design (sharp edges that were ruining my bib shorts) had me constantly trying to resolve that, and saddle choice proved challenging as nothing that was comfortable on other bikes seemed to work with the ISP on this. The chainset and stem were both chopped and changed a few times too. Undeniably beautiful, an amazing ride but ultimately plagued, this has been a tiring love affair…
With the arrival of the Baum, my Look suddenly felt dead. A ‘nothing’ ride. Perfect for training, except I didn’t want to use anything but the Baum, even for the most menial of rides. In an attempt to try something that would offer a viable, more interesting alternative I tried a Pegoretti Duende – the supposed ‘mythical, magical ride’ must surely be an equal for the Baum? No. Perhaps if I’d got the Marcelo, but not the Duende. The back end felt too sluggish for me, and lacked the snap that I’d grown used to.
By this time I was working in a bike shop, and the price I was able to get a ‘winter hack’ for was too good to ignore, although the Kinesis ‘GF_Ti’ was perhaps at the more luxurious end of the ‘winter hack’ scale. It was a great bike too, and that bargain staff price made the 45mm stack of spacers I needed to make it fit me much easier to bear. It was the fourth and last bike to wear my SRAM Red groupset, and it got sold as a complete bike when we relocated to Australia.
Another Baum – a steel Ristretto – joined the Corretto shortly after we arrived in Sydney, but it was to be a fleeting relationship as problems resulted in a refund. The bike that replaced it has become a cherished friend.
My Gaulzetti Cazzo gave me all the ride quality of both Baums, with a bit more exclusivity and uniqueness – and at a cheaper price. Modern steel at it’s best, and perhaps the bike the Pegoretti should have been. Ok so it’s perhaps less pretty than a Baum or a Pegoretti, but I like the subtleness. Besides which i can always repaint it! I still struggle to leave it alone, but it’s heading to a place where I can’t improve on it (aside from obscenely expensive wheels). That’s no bad thing!
Finally, my 2013 Cervélo R3 brings us bang up to date, completing the circle from right back near the beginning, and one last (for now) return to carbon – although that has already made way for something else.
Add in a fixie,
a singlespeed commuter…
and a delicious Brompton along the way and that’s the full set.
It’s been quite a ride…
A little while back, my good lady wife’s bike was in need of a spring clean so I took the opportunity to finally cover something I’ve been meaning to do for ages – cables. But this is not so much a ‘how to setup and tune your brakes and gears’ and more like ‘how to keep…Go on then, tell me more...!
It’s every rider’s little dirty secret. I’m sure it’s the same theory for all activities, but for cycling deep in the back of every cyclist’s mind they secretly like to think themselves as being ‘hardmen’. Some just think it, others are quite overt about it but either way it lingers there, simmering under the surface.…Go on then, tell me more...!
I’m allergic to production bikes. Ok, that’s not strictly true, but I will generally avoid most production machines – usually based an irrational dislike of the brand, a less irrational dislike of the available colourschemes, ill-suited geometry or a combination of the above. Recently, on the hunt for a new project, I had a (rather…Go on then, tell me more...!
I bet that title caught your attention!? Let me expand on that. Bicycle ‘design’ is boring and I mean both in terms of visual appeal and in terms of design and designing. It’s funny when you think about it but somehow, in the world of bicycles, we seem to have ended up with a never…Go on then, tell me more...!
At the London round of the Rollapaluza National Series during the week a conversation got my cogs whirring… Nick Hussey, Damien Breen (of that most excellent In The Saddle blog) and myself were talking – it was like a mini bloggers convention (although not ‘mini’ in that any of us are particularly short I might…Go on then, tell me more...!