I’ve always had some connection with push bikes – from the early days having to cycle to school each day. I even had one at University in Durham and used to cycle in from Langley Moor when it was too wet for the motorbike.
I did quite a bit of running when living in Sussex but got into mountain biking when I had some issue with my knee. First MTB was a Specialized Stump Jumper – front suspension only and V brakes (rim brakes). This was fine, but as I used to ride in all conditions I found the brakes limiting in wet/muddy conditions. So wanted to upgrade (like you do) to a bike with discs and full suspension (as that was supposed to be better) – that was an Ellsworth Isis (a £3k bike when new) which I had for 20+ years and only recently sold. In retrospect I think the frame size was a bit big for me and I didn’t really need the full suspension. In the old days I used to time my routes and have heart rate monitor etc and it was faster than the hardtail, but only because you could sit down and keep power on over roughish ground. Brakes were great though.
Over here I did some MTB stuff but for some reason switched to road riding and put some road tyres on it.
Then when my American friend Roger GALE was selling up I found my self the owner of a “racer” – a Specialized Allez Sport with ridiculously thin tyres running at bullet hard pressures, loads of gears, drop handlebars, alloy frame and carbon fork. A kind of upper entry level road bike. Compared to the MTB this was a revelation – much lighter and easier to climb hills – but the most surprising thing was that it was more comfortable so it was easier to ride longer and further. Doesn’t make a lot of sense as everything about the road bike is stiffer and harder. Maybe just the design and I think the frame size (Medium) seemed to fit me better.
Have been using it quite a bit recently as I’m trying to keep up some sort of exercise regime and it’s too hot for running – I even find cycling cooler than walking in this 40 degree heat.
Things I don’t like about it…
It’s dangerous !
1. all riding is on the road (traffic risk)
2. in my normal riding position (on top of the bars) it is not an instant grab to get on the brakes and when you do they have some effect on the speed of the bike, but not much.
As usual I’ve been looking at other options…
There seem to be a hybrid category of bike (sometimes called trainer or fitness bikes) which are similar to a racer but have MTB style flat bars and conventional at your fingertips controls – and are available with disc brakes. They also tend to have bigger rims and tyres.
I should add that my interest in riding is just as another form of exercise (that can be fun as well) and I never just go out for a ride – I always head to someone’s house or a cafe and then come back – typically half an hour each way (Prayssac) – Montcuq is 45mins and I think Cahors might be an hour.
So I’ve specced my new hybrid bike –
Lighter than an MTB – no suspension, not as many gears.
Easier to ride than a racer – flat bars, more upright, fatter tyres.
Plus disc brakes.
Seems like a great concept to me but doesn’t seem to be catching on…
When to a dealer today to check out frame sizes etc. They had loads of bikes in stock except the hybrid model I was interested in, but they did have one in for servicing that we looked at. Decided on spec and size and put it into their system – not available in my size in the whole of France. Possibly an issue with the French being generally smaller the XL frame size is hard to find.
Getting one shipped over from the UK…
Bike arrived more or less OK – broken reflector on one of the wheels and a couple of small dings in one wheel rim.
Looks amazing – carbon frame which looks black but is very dark purple. Other features…
Flat bars – more upright and comfortable riding position
Right size frame
1 x 11 speed gears – no front cogs to mess about with
Hybrid tyres – not as chunky as MTB but a lot bigger than the “racer” rubber bands
Shock absorbing spring built into the headset
For low rolling resistance and minimum effort maintaining speed the old bike was better – mainly due to the tyres, for everything else this one is brilliant. Fantastic brakes, comfortable riding position, no bent neck, one set of gears – no fiddling about changing chain rings I’ve only used gears 4-11 (11 is top gear). Much better cornering and confidence on the bigger tyres. Better ride.
And a fantastic gear change – just flick, click, next gear – seems to be assisted going up and down. No fiddling about just click and go.