I’ve had the bike for 10+ days and today was my first chance to ride it doing what it will be doing, being my commuter workhorse. After I’d got it ready for commuting, I should have taken it to Wales last week but I didn’t because of my Hip Flexor problem. Anyway, it was perfect day for riding today so it was a great opportunity to put the bike through its paces to work and back and test my hip too. Here is how it went.
As I left the house it was very, very cold this morning. As I turn out of my road there is a slight rise up to some crossroads which I usually do out of the saddle. Immediately I noticed the bike felt it had a bit more zip than my old Kinesis. I dropped it through the gears on the brief downhill after the junction and noticed a real crunching noise in one of them but I’ll talk about that in a bit. Within a mile I hit the long drag of Brookhouse Lane up and over the Lickeys. I don’t know if it was me been off the bike for nearly a week or the bigger, round 50T chainring but it felt pretty sluggish uphill but as I crested the top, a glance at my Garmin showed it wasn’t any slower, in fact, slightly above average I would say. The descent of the steep, Fiery Hill on the other side gave me a chance to give the big gears ago and test the brakes.
The disc brakes (105 R7000 Hydraulic) are excellent. Despite being very powerful, the modulation and feel they offer is really, really good. You can comfortably feather the brakes. They offer a smooth power delivery without the snatchiness you might expect from discs. I was pleasantly surprised. The lever grab was quite a big pull though as my cable brakes are usually setup quite tight but I’ll talk about this aswell in a bit.
As I got onto the flat it was evident I was too stretched on the bike. I knew by just looking at the reach that the Ribble Level 1 bars supplied are deeper than the BBB and Deda bars I use on my other bikes. The reach isn’t specified when you order so I ordered the bars blind.
I stopped on the way to see if I could adjust the gears as the crunchy sound was quite loud. It sounded like it was rubbing on the front mech but a gear either side and it was quiet. Seemed odd. Strapped for time I just carried on and decided to look at it lunchtime.
I took my normal route to work and despite feeling sluggish after checking my morning commute times on Veloviewer since Nov 1st, the time was in the top 3rd so it was better than I thought considering I’d had time off.
Lunchtime I checked my gears and it appeared it was simply the gear tension was too high. When I collected the bike, I rode it up my road and it had a chatter then which I put down to a stretched cable, so I tightened it half a turn. As it happens it was overtight in the first place and I’d made it worse. I reset them and they were fine on the way home.
The ride home confirmed again I was too stretched, despite raising my bars at work too. My back and between my shoulder blades began to ache so I need to sort my reach out ASAP. The best bit though was the climb up the steep Fiery Hill. This really showed the excellent power transfer the bike has with its tighter rear triangle, stiffer thru-axle and slicker Conti tyre. It felt much faster uphill than my Kinesis. Much Faster. I compared my ride home times too and again it was in the top 3rd so generally the bike is faster than most of my commutes have been. Happy with that!
When I got home I double-checked the gears. They were fine and I adjusted the lever reach on the shifters which I hope helps stop an annoying hum from the right-hand shifter which was buzzing a bit more than I’d like.
Lever reach is simply adjusted with a 2.5mm allen key on the side of the shifter
Overall, I’m very impressed with the bike so far. I’ve ordered some shorter-reach bars tonight (Deda Zero1) to fix my reach instead of shortening the stem. I think a 100mm stem looks better than 80mm and I believe in sticking with what you know works anyway. Compared to my Kinesis, the bike is more compliant and comfortable without compromising speed. You could argue its faster. Plus, plus.
A quick mention about the tyres and saddle. The Conti Ultra 28mm tyres roll really well and probably contributed to my speed. They soaked up the bumps really nicely and gripped the (dry) corners well. No complaints despite being quite a cheap tyre. Stock saddles supplied on bikes are a lottery for comfort but for at least the 40 mins to work and back, no issues and no need to change it. Happy with that too!
I’ll report back soon when I’ve got the bars sorted and done some more riding on it including offroad but first impressions are excellent.