6 Bikes to see at the Cycle Show 2015

I had a walk around the Cycle Show and I reckon these are a pick of some of the stand out bikes on display to check out when you visit:

  • New Trek Madone

This is one of my favourite new releases for 2015 and this exact bike is on the Trek stand for you to take a closer look at:

It’s one of the bikes that I’ve most thought if I could afford it, I would buy this year.

  • New Canyon Ultimate CF SLX

New Canyon Ultimate CF SLX 9.0 Aero

New Canyon Ultimate CF SLX 9.0 Aero

Seen here in the currently top of the range Ultimate CF SLX 9.0 Aero build with Dura Ace Di2 and Zipp 303’s – it’s a stunning looking bike  and further enhanced by the new one piece bar and stem. Well worth checking out in person – especially as you can’t see them in store.

Canyon Ultimate CF SLX complete with Zipp 303s looking very good indeed
Canyon Ultimate CF SLX complete with Zipp 303s looking very good indeed
  • New Bianchi Specialissima
Bianchi Specialissima
Bianchi Specialissima

I have to confess that Italian bikes don’t normally turn my head but in the “flesh” this Bianchi looks fantastic. If you do get to the show – pick it up too – The black bike is incredibly light.

Amazingly light - pick it up and find out for yourself
Amazingly light – pick it up and find out for yourself
  • New Kinesis 4S Disc
Kinesis 4S Disc - incredibly versatile and affordable for many at £650 for the frameset
Kinesis 4S Disc – incredibly versatile and affordable for many at £650 for the frameset

I reckon this is a fantastic real world bike and hugely versatile. I owned the original TK3 version of this bike (before it was renamed the 4S and really enjoyed it). This new one can be built with disc or caliper brakes and mechanical or Di2 groupsets. Hugely versatile and room for full guards and up to 32mm tyres. I reckon it’ll sell like hotcakes. The new Kinesis GF_Ti Disc was also getting a lot of interest:

New Kinesis GF_Ti Disc
New Kinesis GF_Ti Disc
  • Mason cycles Definition and Resolution
On an easel like the work of art it is...
On an easel like the work of art it is…

Not strictly new but it’s the first time lots of people (myself included) have got to see former Kinesis designer Dom Mason’s striking new bikes.

Mason Definition complete bike
Mason Definition complete bike

They’re well worth checking out in person to at the very least see the enormous detail that’s been considered in the design and finishing of these frames – right down to the lovely brass head tube badges. Beautifully finished and carefully considered design – what’s not to like! Also on show is Josh Ibbett’s Transcontinental winning Mason and that’s worth a look as well.

Josh Ibbett's Transcontinental winning Mason bike
Josh Ibbett’s Transcontinental winning Mason bike
  • New Cannondale Slate
Cannondale fascinating new Slate - well worth checking out on the Fabric stand
Cannondale fascinating new Slate – well worth checking out on the Fabric stand

Cannondale’s striking and intriguing new Slate is on show on the Fabric stand and I reckon it’s well worth looking at. With it’s lefty fork, it’s an unusual look but I think it’s a fascinating piece of innovation that’ll sell well.

Obviously there is loads and loads more to see but I thought these few standouts might be of interest. Find out more, including ticket info for the Cycle Show here

Thanks for reading

Bontrager Men’s RXL Bib shorts review

Last year I tested the Bontrager Race Thermal bib shorts and I liked them so much, they became one of my favourite pieces of riding kit. As I said at the time, I still think these are the best shorts I’ve ridden for less than £100. In fairness, I’ve now worn them so much that the lycra on the chamois where it meets the saddle has “bubbled” a bit but I’m still happily riding them – they’ve worked hard.

After testing the Race Thermal’s I couldn’t help but wonder what the next model up the range would be like? So with that in mind I arranged for a pair of the £100 Bontrager RXL bib shorts to try.

Now after a few months of regularly riding in them, I think what you get is an excellent and higher performance bib shorts option over the Race Thermal. For those of us, who struggle to pay into three figures for a pair of bibshorts, I reckon you can buy these and be very happy.

DSC02152Compared to the more affordable Race Thermal bib shorts there are a number of upgrades for your extra money. These include a higher spec chamois pad, the Inform RXL, which Bontrager describe as multi-density, 3D seamless, with 4 way stretch and an anti-microbial top sheet. In practice, I’ve been very pleased with the pad, it’s a sensible thickness, giving a firm and comfortable ride. I’ve happily spent 3-4 hours out in these shorts without any discomfort. The colouring of the pad is a touch “unusual” with a red and white colour, but out on the bike – it works very well. If you can ride without even thinking about your shorts or comfort, as I did with these, then things are as they should be.

As with the Race Thermal bib shorts, Bontrager describe the fit as “fitted – streamlined for all round cycling performance” and I think this  is a good and fair description. They are fitted and streamlined for performance but they’re very comfortable on.

DSC02156The RXL do feel more like a “race” short than the thermal as they have more of a compression (higher performance) fit (including leg grippers) thanks the combination of Profila Power(compression) and Profila cool fabrics work well for warmer riding conditions and hold their position well when you’re riding. The seamless lightweight straps also work very well and add to the feeling of comfort. In fact you’ll probably not even notice them whilst riding. The Profila fabrics seem to wick well and also dry quickly after rain showers when you’re out riding.

The shorts are topped off with reflective elements for greater visibility. Additionally there are two colour choices available black (whichI have and has some white elements on the straps) and white, which is still largely black apart from bands at the base/gripper ends of the shorts and straps for greater contrast … or to match your other riding gear.

DSC02157Last but not least, Bontrager offer a 30 unconditional guarantee, so if you buy some and you don’t like them, you’ve got 30 days to return them for exchange or store credit. I think it’s unlikely you’ll want to do that – but it’s great to have the option.

DSC02147The RXL bib shorts are another winner from Bontrager, making it two out of two for my experiences with the company’s bib shorts in the last year. I happily recommend these if you’re in the market. They’re a higher performance short than the also excellent Race Thermal’s and are perfect for long or short rides and are excellent for days where the temperature is high enough that you don’t need a thermal element.

More information on them here: http://www.bontrager.com/model/11505

Thanks for reading

Rose Bikes Bike Town Munich visit

On our way to the 2016 model year “press camp”, Rose took us to their own shop in Munich. Launched late in 2014 it’s designed to help customers who would like to see a Rose bike in the flesh before ordering it online, to get help ensuring they’ve chosen the right spec – or simply to have their bike delivered and set up in the shop or getting their bike serviced. In fact for any Rose bikes order, local customers can choose to collect it for free in the Munich store.

A wide selection of Rose’s bike are on display at Bike Town Munich

Rose have a massive showroom at their Bocholt headquarters and the Munich Bike Town is relatively small in comparison. It features a selection of Rose’s most popular models each with a dedicated iPad enabling customers to choose every aspect of their build, either on their own or with help from the store’s staff. Once the build is chosen it gets transferred to a big screen for final review and ordering. The order then gets sent to the Bocholt HQ and the big is built as production schedules allow and then either shipped back to the store for collection or directly to the customers house.

The small workshop space that prepares customers new bikes prior to collection or undertakes servicing

The store manager told us that they had been surprised at how far customers are travelling to the store including Austria and Switzerland. As you’d expect, many of the visitors had arranged a trip to Munich around visiting the store and ensuring they were choosing the right size and spec before placing their order. This is particularly attractive for less experienced cyclists and I’m not surprised to hear that the store is doing well.

One of the biggest sellers at Bike Town Munich – the Rose X-Lite CRS
The other big seller at Bike Town Munich – the Rose Pro SL

The most popular sellers via the store are the entry level Pro SL, which is also extremely popular in the UK and the X-Lite CRS carbon road bike.

Bike Town Munich also features accessories and it was interesting to see a range of dynamo lights on display. Rose also feature their own clothing, saddles and shoes. They had a very cool 3D foot scanning system that measured your feet in all dimensions and then can choose the best fitting model of shoes (also digitally scanned into the system) from every model Rose stock (from all brands).

Learning about the 3D modelling of feet for choosing the best shoes for you. (Not my feet on screen!)

I think stores like this for direct sales brands are an excellent idea and it was nice to see how Rose have interpreted it for their own customers. You can find out more about the Munich Bike Town here: http://www.rosebikes.com/content/about-rose/the-rose-stores/rose-biketown-munich

Bike journalists mid shop tour

Thanks for reading

Dynamo lights - not something you'd expect to see in your average UK bike shop!
Dynamo lights – not something you’d expect to see in your average UK bike shop!


2016 Genesis Road bikes – New Datum, Delta and updates galore…

Recently I visited Genesis bikes to find out what they have in store for the coming year. I’ve been a fan of Genesis for quite a few years and was interested to know what they’d been working on – quite a lot as it turns out.

Interestingly, the new models for 2016 represent 10 years of Genesis bikes, which is a great milestone and an interesting inflexion point to move into a second decade of designing and building bikes focussed around UK conditions.

Below are the highlights that stood out to me – it’s far from exhaustive but I hope you find it interesting.

The big news and the star of the show is the new Datum carbon adventure bike

Genesis Datum 30 Di2
Genesis Datum 30 Di2

Genesis say that their new Datum carbon road bike isn’t a gravel bike but more a wide tyred road bike that’s fast and versatile for UK riding. Let’s be honest, the UK doesn’t feature a lot of gravel roads (comparatively speaking) but our road surfaces are often poor, so greater comfort and the ability to handle rough surfaces is only getting more and more important. The design of the Datum began by taking the Equilibrium geometry as a starting point to create a wide tyre, lightweight, fun, versatile carbon road bike.

Genesis Datum 20 105 5800 and flat mount disc brakes
Genesis Datum 20 105 5800 and flat mount disc brakes

The end result is a really interesting bike (and frameset) available in three different complete builds.

The carbon frame at the heart of the Datum features 24/30 ton high modulus carbon with compact (equilibrium inspired) geometry, a BB86 pressfit bottom bracket, mudguard eyelets with generous clearances, a 27.2mm seatpost for comfort, Shimano flat mount disc brake and dropouts.

Genesis Datum 20 Flat mount rear disc brake
Genesis Datum 20 Flat mount rear disc brake

Genesis have shaped the seatpost much like you’d see in an aero frame but on the Datum this is to enable clearance for up to 33mm tyres and 45mm mudguards without having to make the chainstays too long. This flexibility that carbon brings was one of the key reasons the Datum is made from this material rather than any others.

Rear 3/4 view Genesis Datum 30 Di2
Rear 3/4 view Genesis Datum 30 Di2

The matching full carbon tapered steerer fork features a 15mm through axle design, mudguard eyelets and again Shimano flat mounts for disc brakes.

Big clearances on the Datum
Big clearances on the Datum

I asked Albert Steward, the designer who he thought the Datum was suited for and he told me that he thought it’s a great bike for anyone not racing. It’s a bike designed for the realities of UK riding – potholes, broken surfaces, wet and slippery as well as dry and fast. It’s also designed for those short punchy climbs we’re all used to. Versatility is a big aspect of the Datum too.

Genesis Datum visual details
Genesis Datum visual details

The builds the Datum will launch with are:

Datum 30: £3,199.99 Ultegra Di2 50/34 & 11/32, 33c Challenge Strada Bianca tyres, Shimano R785 Di2 shifters and RS805 flat mount disc brakes, Fulcrum Racing Sport DB wheelset and a new Genesis RandoX short reach, shallow drop flared bars (R70mm x D125mm).

Datum 20: £2,099.99 Full 105 5800 groupset 50/34 & 11/32, 33c Challenge Strada Bianca tyres, New Shimano mechanical shifters and RS505 flat mount disc brakes, Fulcrum Racing sport DB wheelset and the new RandoX short reach, shallow drop bars.

Datum 10: £1,799.99 Full new Tiagra 4700 groupset 50/34 & 11/32, 33c Challenge Strada Bianca tyres, TRP Hy/Rd mechanical actuated, hydraulic disc brakes, Fulcrum Racing Sport DB wheelset and the new RandoX short reach, shallow drop bars.

Genesis Datum 10 Tiagra 4700
Genesis Datum 10 Tiagra 4700

The Datum will also be available as a frameset at a compelling £999.99 price.

I think this could be a really interesting option for people and I hope to ride one.. It strikes me as more of a road bike than off road, so possibly more suited to more roadies than some of the more cyclocross influenced “gravel bikes”. It may not be your one bike to do it all – but having a Datum in your collection might on lock a lot more riding adventures than your road bike alone would.

Of course, I’ve enquired about trying one and hopefully I’ll get to do that.

Updates to the Zero bring lighter weight

2016 Genesis Zero Ultegra
2016 Genesis Zero Ultegra

The carbon race bike, the Genesis Zero has been updated for 2016. Genesis tell me the model has sold well as both a complete bike and frameset to date but the designers have been hard at work improving it anyway. For 2016 the frame and fork gets an upgrade in the carbon used in manufacture to 30/40 modulus unidirectional carbon and this helps weight of a medium frame drop by 120gms compared to last years 24/30 version. The official frame weight is now 960 gms for a medium size.

Genesis Zero Ultegra
Genesis Zero Ultegra

Additionally a completely new full carbon fork has been designed for 2016. The tapered fork design has been revised to deliver more comfort, better aerodynamics whilst also providing a good aerodynamic transition to the down tube. The new fork also drops 90gms over the old version, meaning the frameset is over 200gms lighter than the 2015 model.

2016 Genesis Zero Di2
2016 Genesis Zero Di2

For 2016 the Zero will be available as a frameset or in three different builds – Ultegra Di2 for £2999.99, Ultegra mechanical for £2099 and 105 for £1799. All models feature a 52/36 chainset and an 11/28 cassette, which to me is almost perfect for most fast UK riding. All Zero models also feature Fulcrum wheels and Continental tyres as well as Genesis finishing kit which I found to be excellent on the Equilibrium I previously tested. The frameset will retail for a reasonable £1099 and they sold out in their first year according to the guys at Genesis.

Genesis Zero Z.2 105
Genesis Zero Z.2 105

Also for 2016 the colour schemes have been updated and to my eyes, the Genesis graphic designer has done a terrific job – the colour schemes look great and I particularly liked the Ultegra mechanical colour, which is silver with a hint of gold. Very classy.

I’ve not ridden a Zero (yet) but reviews have been very positive about the ride and the quality of the framesets, these new improved models should only strengthen this perception.

A shift to stack and reach based geometry

Across the range, Genesis have revised their geometries to a stack and reach based system to bring a more uniform and incremental shift between each size of bike. It also means that in simple terms Genesis can offer fewer sizes that fit a wider range of people. Stack and reach is one way of getting around the fact that head tube or top tube length sizing approaches don’t take into account head and seat angles, which can almost cancel out changes in tube lengths. To understand this better than I can explain you can read a useful overview of stack and reach geometry here on the Cervelo site.

Genesis believe that this will help customers find a better fit on their bikes going forwards.

New sizing and more for the Genesis Equilibrium

The switch to stack and reach sizing as outlined above has meant for example that the very popular Equilibrium gets its first geometry tweak since launch.

Genesis Equlibrium Disc 2016
Genesis Equlibrium Disc 2016

The Equilibrium disc models have all been revised for flat mount disc brakes and feature a completely new straight blade carbon fork with clearances for a 28c tyre and 40mm guards.

New Equilbrium Disc fork and bigger tyres for 2016
New Equilbrium Disc fork and bigger tyres for 2016

The more expensive disc bikes also feature Challenge tyres, this time in a 27c width and two different framesets (Reynolds 931  or 725) are available at £1599 and 549 respectively.

Silver components and gum wall tyres for caliper braked 2016 Genesis Equilibrium
Silver components and gum wall tyres for caliper braked 2016 Genesis Equilibrium

On the caliper braked Equilibriums new gum wall tyres feature to fit the slightly retro styling which also extends to silver groupsets, which are back to Shimano after a dalliance with Campagnolo last year.

The Equilibrium keeps it's retro styling for 2016
The Equilibrium keeps it’s retro styling for 2016

New Genesis Delta alloy complete bikes

At the entry level it’s good to see  a new alloy Genesis Delta road bike available with the smart new Tiagra groupset for £799.99 complete or Claris for £599.99.

Genesis Delta 10 Claris
Genesis Delta 10 Claris

The new frameset features some modern tube shaping, is made from fully formed hybrid 6066/6061-T6 double butted aluminium to create both comfort and stiffness according to Genesis.The matching fork features a tapered steerer and is topped off with a zero stack headset.

Genesis Delta 30 Tiagra 4700
Genesis Delta 30 Tiagra 4700

Full mudguard mounts, with long drop brakes and clearance for 28c tyres with mudguards, could make this a good beginners bike (or commuter) that can switch to winter bike duties as and when you get the bug and buy something more expensive. This could be  a great bike to work scheme bike and looks solid value.

Genesis Delta front fork clearance (for guards)
Genesis Delta front fork clearance (for guards)

New Titanium Croix de Fer

Titanium Genesis Croix de Fer frameset
Titanium Genesis Croix de Fer frameset

The Genesis Croix de Fer has always been a big seller for the company and for 2016 there’ll be a titanium version to tempt you with. Available in either a full bike build for £3k or as a frameset £1800. The titanium Croix de Fer features a full carbon tapered steerer disc fork, whereas the rest of the range (frames made from Reynolds 725) features a straight blade cro-mo fork with newly expanded clearances and a 50mm offset.

Titanium Genesis Croix de Fer complete bike
Titanium Genesis Croix de Fer complete bike

New Genesis kids bikes …. Including a fat bike for kids!

2016 Genesis Alpha 24
2016 Genesis Alpha 24

Genesis are expanding their selection of kids bikes for 2016 with new Beta drop bar road and CX 26” disc brake models as well as a more traditional cantilever 24” Alpha hybrid road/CX flat bar bike. There’s also a brand new Caribou Junior fat bike in addition to the exisiting Core 24 & 26 hardtails. They all looked pretty tasty in person and worth considering if you’re like me and like getting your kids as nice a bike as you’d ride yourself.

2016 Genesis Beta Road 26
2016 Genesis Beta Road 26
2016 Genesis Caribou Junior
2016 Genesis Caribou Junior

For more news on the range you can also try:


Thanks for reading

2016 Rose Bikes – New road models and updates

German direct to consumer company Rose Bikes, looks to capitalise on growing success in the UK and elsewhere with three completely new models for the 2016 model year and significant updates to two more.

Rose’s well received and reviewed current road range has helped the company to a record UK sales performance in 2015. However the product development team has been hard at work developing some interesting looking new choices for customers for 2016, including a new aero road bike, a Time Trial/Triathlon Bike and a completely new Cyclocross bike. Alongside the new models, two of Rose’s best-selling models have been given a significant update.

I was lucky enough to be invited by Rose to the stunning Tirol region of Austria for a second year to see and ride some of the new models.

New X-Lite CW Aero bike

DSC02073Roses striking new aero bike is also the first aero frameset that I’ve seen that will be available in disc or caliper brake versions – buyers will be able to choose which braking system they’d prefer and the company had sample bikes on display in both brake configurations. Rose say they’ve focussed on a more aerodynamic shape for the new bike and claim 8% less drag than their existing model with stiffness gains of up to 20% (at the tapered 1 1/8 to 1/5” head tube).

The caliper brake version uses direct mount brakes with the rear brake position under the bottom bracket, whilst the disc bike features Shimano’s new flat mount standard, along with 12mm through axles front and rear and 160/140mm disc rotors.

DSC02138Interestingly for an aero bike the disc version has clearances for 28mm tyres, with the caliper version 25mm thanks to a width restriction with Shimano direct mount calipers (they’re not designed to accommodate wider than 25mm tyres) even though the frame itself has plenty of room for wider tyres.

DSC02077Design features include shaping of the seat tube around the rear wheel for better aero performance, a flippable 180 degree seat post allowing customers to use the bike for TT/Triathlon riding as swapping the seat post around changes the seat angle for 74 to 76 degrees. The monolink seat clamp also enhances saddle adjustability, according to Rose, to get your position dialled in.

DSC02066There also variable bottle cage mounts on the down tube to enable you to tweak the bottle position, whether you’re using one or two bottles and the cable routing has been integrated as much as possible for cleaner looks, better aero performance as well as easier maintenance.DSC02145

The X-Lite CW will be available in 5 sizes from 51 cm to 62cm and the frame weight for a size 57cm frame is reported to be 1050 gms. Certainly even the disc build on display with SRAM Red and Zipp 303 wheels felt very light to pick up.

The Xeon Team CGF gets a significant update:

DSC02087Rose’s very popular endurance bike, the Xeon Team CGF has quite major updates for 2016. I had ridden the previous model and enjoyed it but my first impressions on the revised bike are that it’s noticeably better than the current model.

DSC02113The company has worked to lower the weight of the frameset and in part this is due to a new EPS manufacturing process, that whilst more complex and expensive to manufacturer means a much cleaner inside of the carbon frame, higher product quality as well as reduced frame weight. During the same process that meant new moulds were required, Rose have also modified the dimensions of the downtube and seat tube, modified the bends on the seat stays and widened the head tube area for greater front end stiffness. Tyre clearances have been improved and the Xeon Team CGF can now run 28mm tyres, so the fork design has been adjusted too for the wider clearances required. The dropouts have also been revised and optimised for easier handling and wheel removal. Cable mounting and routing has also been improved and the Xeon Team CGF now features the cable management system from the top of the range X-Lite Team frames for easier maintenance and cleaner aesthetics.

DSC02090Interestingly Rose said they changed the amount of bend in the seat stays as a result of customer feedback, some of whom struggled with the looks of the previous generations bent seat stays, so this has been reduced in the redesign.

DSC02096With the lower weight and boosted stiffness, Rose say there is an overall improvement in stiffness to weight of 10% over the current model.  The new frame weight for a size 57cm is 970 gms with a fork weight of 320 gms.

DSC02097There is also a new extra size for big guys and this new 64cm frame option brings the total range of sizes to seven.

DSC02111Even with only a short 30-40 minute ride on the new Xeon Team CGF in the 3100 spec (Ultegra Di2 and with DT Swiss R23 Spline wheels) and I was very impressed with the improvements in the ride that all of these updates collective provide.

DSC02117On a loop that incorporates everything from smooth tarmac, to broken surfaces and potholes, gravel surfaces with descents and climbs in the amazing Kirchberg countryside, the new Xeon Team CGF was very smooth, very comfortable, had better handling and was frankly a lovely bike to ride on first acquaintance. If you’re considering an endurance style road bike for next season, this one should go on your shortlist.

Pro-SL – Rose’s biggest selling road bike get a major makeover

DSC01985The entry level alloy PRO SL has had a significant redesign to improve aesthetics and ride quality for 2016. The down tube gets a new modern shape, the seat stays have been lowered, allowing the seat tube to be shortened, which in turn allows more seat post to be exposed. Together this improves the comfort of the bike through the rear end over the existing version. Cable routing has also been improved including a new cable guide system that makes replacing the internal cables much easier. Tyre clearances have also been expanded with space for 28mm tyres front and rear.

DSC01987For what’s a very affordable model in the Rose range, the PRO SL also features the company’s excellent full carbon tapered steerer road fork, which weighs in at 320gms. This fork is not only light but very smooth and a very good good fork that Rose use right up to their top of the range X-Lite Team bikes.

DSC01989In the flesh the new frame design looks great – particularly in the matt black finish Ultegra spec bike that was at the launch. I managed to get out and ride this updated version and it was a very likeable bike. Lively with a firm but comfortable ride, the PRO SL did everything well for an entry level bike, it climbed, descended and cornered well and even with the relatively portly Mavic Aksium wheels on the demo bike, the bike felt light to ride. This is definitely worth a look if you want a fine road bike, that rides well and won’t cost you a fortune. It’s another example of a good alloy frame. The existing bike with a full 105 groupset and Aksium wheels sells for around £800 complete. Whilst I’ve not ridden the old one, the new one should be priced similarly and looks like being a great bike for the money.

DSC02081The PRO SL will be available in 9 sizes from 48 to 65cm frames and the frame weight for the 57cm size is 1.35kg, which is very respectable for a bike at this price point.


New Rose Team DX Cross bike

DSC02050Rose are also launching a totally new Cyclocross bike for 2016 – the Team DX Cross is an alloy framed bike designed for the new flat mount disc brake standard and also features a brand new tapered full carbon fork with 15mm through axle compatibility and internal cable routing, including for a dynamo system.

DSC02051The new frame design includes modern tube shaping and a new geometry designed to be in between traditional cross racing and the trend towards gravel or all road framesets. According to Rose designer Juergen Telahr, the new geometry is perfectly suited to racing and a wide range of riding and this flexibility was a key part of the design objectives.

DSC02062In the process of the new design, Rose have worked to improve the ride quality of the bike while increasing the versatility. The new bike features mudguard mounts and mounting points for low-rider panniers, enabling customers to consider the Team DX Cross as a commuter or even randonneur bike as well as a comfortable Cyclocross racer.

DSC02059For customers looking for the versatility of a Cyclocross bike without resorting to the traditional low and long riding position of a racing frame, the Team DX Cross might be just what you’re looking for.

DSC02061As well as bikes specced for Cyclocross, I got out for a first ride on an “all road” version of the new bike at the launch. This featured 32mm tyres (there is space for up to 42mm tyres) and a deeper section alloy wheel set along with an Ultegra mechanical drive train and Shimano’s brand new flat mount brakes.

DSC02052Whilst being a bit heavier than the pure road bikes I tried, the Team DX Cross rolled along well, handled rough surfaces with aplomb and had a position that didn’t feel too stretched out (with a 110mm stem). The geometry felt a little more aggressive than the endurance bike I rode before it but it did everything well on my short ride leaving a good first impression.

It’s my opinion that bikes like this are only going to get more popular as more and more riders look for the versatility they offer. To that end, the Rose Team DX Cross looks like a very solid contender into this landscape.

New Aero Flyer TT and Tri bike:

DSC02130The Aero Flyer is Rose’s second new aero frame for 2016 that’s UCI legal for racing and the frame, stem handlebar and fork were all designed together to look like they a one piece design. Combined with “invisible” cable routing – particularly on a Di2 build the front of the bike is cable free and very clean to look at. The mechanical version only requires one short external piece of cable run, so is also clean through the front end.

DSC02136The integrated brakes on the Aero Flyer are Rose’s own design to help maximise the aero profile of the bike. If running Di2, the battery is mounted inside the frame in the seat tube as the seat post is too slim to fit it.

DSC02135The one piece handlebar and stem can be adjusted for position (vertically) using 30mm or 60mm spacers and the new slim profile head tube features a tapered steerer.

On the top tube of the new frame is a mounting system for nutrition allowing a box to be fitted and the team at Rose are currently looking at whether a second one may be able to be fitted to the stem prior to final production and they’ll have more news on this at Eurobike.

DSC02131The Aero Flyer has been designed to fit all wide rims currently available including Zipp Firecrest and Firestrike and up to 30mm wide disc wheels.

Rose poised for greater success

In addition to the PRO SL, Team CGF and the Team DX Cross bikes I tried, I also managed to get in a ride on the Xeon CDX which has been a big sales success for the company since it’s launch. It’s also been a strong seller in the UK and it’s a little surprising how fast UK riders are making the leap to discs and the Rose is a strong choice offering low weight, compelling prices and a good ride.

For me though, the star of the show is the revised Xeon Team CGF. I was really impressed with this bike. I rode the previous version and liked it but I feel that the extensive list of updates has taken a fine bike and looks to have turned it into a very good one indeed. If I’m lucky I might get the chance to review one in more detail on UK roads during the next year. The new PRO SL also impressed, especially if you’re look to spend £1,000 or less but if you’re budget can stretch higher and like me, you’re not looking for a race position, the Xeon Team CGF looks like a terrific choice.


My thanks to Rose Bikes for inviting me to the launch and thanks for reading.

Keep an eye on the Rose website for more information in due course including pricing, which I don’t have as yet. Rose will be sharing more information on their 2016 information at Eurobike.

6 Great reasons to ride more Sportives

As the days have got longer and warmer, many of us are spending more time on the bike and riding new roads.

One of the easiest ways of doing this is riding a Sportive.

Whilst there may be some readers who are “sniffy” about Sportives, I reckon for beginners and experienced riders a like, they have a lot to offer and are well worth considering adding to you schedule.

Here are 6 reasons I recommend considering adding a sportive or two to your calendar:

  • Ride new places:

Sportives are a great way to get out of your routine and ride in different parts of the country without having to spend time guessing your route. Sportive courses tend to favour quiet and scenic roads that help you find the best spots in an area,  allowing you to simply get on with enjoying the ride, whether you’re simply trying to get round or go as fast as you can.

  • Easy social riding:

Sportives can make the most fun if you’re riding with a group of friends. None of you need to know where you’re going (you’ll all follow the signs) and being somewhere different can be a leveller as you’re all riding new roads. Bikes are great for camaraderie whether you’re going for a course record and smashing out a chain gang pace or simply spending quality time together in the great outdoors.

  • They’re good for perspective…

It doesn’t matter how fit, slow or fast you are – on a sportive there will always be someone faster or slower than you. In fact even if you’re not feeling that fast, you’ll probably pass loads of people. If you’re slow on the flats, you might well find you pass people on the climbs but even if you don’t there’s always someone else to ride with, say “Hi” to or chase up a climb. It’s hard to be lonely on a Sportive.

  • Don’t discount the short route….

Even when I’m riding at my best, I have some friends who are fast and experienced riders that deliberately choose the short course rather than the “Epic” route. We ride as fast as we can for 2-2.5 hours – it’s fantastic fun and even better on roads we don’t know. Some of these rides have been highlights of my riding year.


  • Just focus on riding

The course is signed, there are feed stops, mechanical support if you need it, timing chips, it’s all there. Sportives are some of the most hassle free riding you’ll do. Turn up and ride at whatever pace you like, on your own, or with some friends, learning new parts of the country on roads that have been hand selected for your enjoyment. To me, it doesn’t get much better than this. The hardest part is getting up early in the morning to get there on time.

  • Ride some of the most iconic rides in the world

Some of the world’s greatest races also run Sportives the day before, allowing you to ride the course on Saturday then watch the Pro’s race it on Sunday. Examples are the Tour of Flanders, Paris Roubaix, Amstel Gold, Liege-Bastogne-Liege and there’s the Etape de Tour each year as well, so you can try a Tour de France stage. Italy has Granfondos, which are high speed rides over stunning terrain, or if you want more climbing there’s the Marmotte or multi-day event’s like the Haute Route. Adventures of a life time are out there if you’re ready for them.

Have fun and enjoy!


girodilento interview: James Olsen bike designer

For me, part of loving great bikes also involves being interested in how they are designed. I’m fortunate in that thanks to this site I’ve met a number of the UKs leading designers over the last few years and I thought it might be of interest to find out a bit more about the some of the people behind the bikes we ride.

Pre-production Pinnacle bikes ready for sign off
Pre-production Pinnacle bikes ready for sign off

With this in mind I reached out to James Olsen, who is currently the man responsible for the design of Evan’s cycles increasingly well regarded Pinnacle range and Sir Chris Hoy’s Bike range. Prior to Evans, James spent many years at Genesis bikes and was responsible for the terrific Genesis Equilibrium and Croix de Fer, which have been big sellers and loved by owners since their launch.

Early days and Genesis

I began my discussion by asking James how he ended up designing bikes and he told me that it was being in the right place at the right time when he was working at Madison. James had already had a couple of custom frames made and was interested in frame geometry. He was given a chance to design a frame as a side project for the Ridgeback brand around 2006/07. This work led to the creation of the Genesis range, which launched with around 6 models. Interestingly, James’s current employers launched the Pinnacle brand at around the same time.

Genesis was originally focused on mountain bikes and the Equilibrium came a little later. The idea of Genesis was to compete for a different buyer than the traditional Ridgeback customer. James explained that he put together bikes he wanted to build and ride. Then when they got dealers and their staff to try them, they liked them and bought them. In fact a number of the early models quickly sold out, which helped give Madison and the team confidence to move forwards.

James told me that the Equilibrium and Croix de Fer were big surprises in how successful and popular they were. Neither were the first steel bikes with drop bars, and the Croix de Fer wasn’t a typical Cyclocross style bike as it was more designed for exploring rather than racing. The Croix de Fer has gone on to be a big seller and a well-loved bike for Genesis but it polarised people in the early days who either loved it or hated it.

The Equilibrium emerged from some of the custom frames James had previously had made for him. Whilst James liked the idea of a titanium frame he was also keen to see if they could produce a cheaper steel frame that could ride just as well and offer comfort at a lower price. The 520 Equilibrium was the second design and launched in 2009 at the same time as re-launch for the Genesis brand.

The Genesis Equilibrium 20 I reviewed in 2014

James’s view is that brands like Genesis and Pinnacle have benefitted from the growth in cycling in the last 5-10 years bringing new riders into the sport. Not only that but the recession helped brands like Genesis and Pinnacle thanks to good price points, the cycle to work scheme and cycling being an escape from the day to day for many people. There were also more people looking for second bikes or touring/commuter bikes and this was all good for the UK cycling industry.

James sees the UK cycling market as becoming less race oriented over time. Wider tyres and disc brakes are helping people see that they don’t have to a have bike like pro racer to have fun, go fast, be comfortable and have adventures on. James advice to us all is to buy a bike that works for you than necessarily what you see pro cyclists racing on.

Sportives also continue to increase demand for non-race bikes and whilst the race side is still there, there is a big swing to making great bikes for people focussed on enjoyment rather than pure speed.


Pinnacle Dolomite 6
Pinnacle Dolomite 6

Pinnacle had begun back around the time of Genesis’s launch with a big range of bikes and had perhaps brought a different mindset to the Genesis strategy. James said that after moving from Genesis where they’d designed bikes they wanted to ride, he had to get his head around a different approach at Pinnacle. This meant looking through the range and designing bikes for other people.

Pinnacle were working on a re-brand when James joined the business and his first focus was to simplify the brand, which is also reflected in how the bikes look now – with strong colours and simpler aesthetics.

James focussed on designing Pinnacle bikes that are fun to ride, good value and suitable for everyone from beginners to experienced riders. Once again, as well as making them fun, James worked on making the Pinnacle range bikes that he wanted to ride too.

Proof of the success of this, James told me that there are now a large number of Evans staff personally buying and riding the Pinnacle bikes and that they don’t get extra discounts over other brands the shops stock – they’re simply liking them enough to buy and ride them.

James told me that working with Pinnacle has got him enthused about aluminium as a material and the quality of ride and comfort they’re able to engineer into the bikes now. Pinnacle frames for 2015 feature more extensive butting, with thinner walls and lighter weight but also have an enhanced ride quality.

2015 Pinnacle Arkose 4
2015 Pinnacle Arkose 4

It used to be that it was more expensive to build with aluminium than steel but that’s now reversed and with aluminium James says that they’re able to produce a lot of the comfort of steel but at a lighter weight.

James told me he’s been very pleased with the reviews the Arkose and Dolomite have been receiving from the press and customers and that he’s very happy with how these bikes ride and are specced now. The model that suits James own riding preference is the Arkose and he told me that he happily has these in his garage and that he chooses to ride a lot more miles on them than he expected.

Hoy Bikes

James told me that he felt it had been a real privilege to work with Sir Chris Hoy to design the range of Hoy bikes. He also said that it was the first time he’d felt like a custom builder as his task was to take what Sir Chris wanted for the bikes and create designs that brought this to life in the riding. Sir Chris’s key criteria was performance and one particular aspect was getting the bikes to corner just right.

One of the memorable moments of working towards the launch was taking some bikes to a track and riding with Sir Chris and following him to learn how to corner as they made sure that the bikes were exactly right for the Hoy name.

Hoy Fiorenzuola track bike
Hoy Fiorenzuola track bike

Sir Chris’s attention to detail went as far as making sure that each size frame has a level of stiffness right for the size of rider and that the resulting bikes are something that James is very proud of.

Hoy Kids bikes

Designing bikes for children was hard as James had no personal point of reference. They started with the 650B bike as a scaled down adults bike. The goal was to make the best kids bikes they could and do them in the way that they believe will be best for the kids who ride them. An example of that thinking was using push button shifters as they felt these would be easier for kids to use. Feedback so far is that this is the case.

James said that they feel that Evans should be a great family bikes retailer but the success of the Hoy children’s range has surprised them in a good way as parents have really taken to the products. Great kids bikes help kids feel good about riding, so it was a satisfying part of the range to design for. The Hoy childrens bikes are made to the same quality and in the same factory as the adult bikes, which is something a lot of potential customers will be interested to know.

A photo from Jame's solo ride to Eurobike last year. Better than flying!
A photo from Jame’s solo ride to Eurobike last year. Better than flying!

I asked James what bikes he was personally most fond of and he told me that he’s really enjoying the current Arkose 2 and 4 with the Equilibrium a high point back in 2010. James also told me that he’s been really pleased to find that the Evans Cycles senior management are all keen cyclists and have completely supported in him in building quality bikes at good price points rather than solely focussing on profit. High quality is key to the growing success of Pinnacle and Hoy and James is delighted at how the staff at Evans have also got behind the product, choosing to buy and ride the bikes themselves and becoming enthusiasts too.

Interestingly, Evans Cycles have just released a video featuring James as well:

Great aluminium bikes that are fast, fun and affordable*….

Over the last few years I’ve been fortunate enough to try bikes in almost every material. Aluminium, steel, titanium and carbon fibre across a variety of price points.

As someone who has budget challenges and can’t spend as much as I’d like on bikes, I’m always trying to work out what will give me the best bang for my buck on bikes and I figure that there’s lots of us in this position.

I seem to have got to the point that if I could share the knowledge I have now with the me when I was beginning I would have pointed them to a post like this.

It’s my view that there have been some terrific aluminium road frames released in the last couple of years that provide fantastic performance for the money and my list of these follows.

Some I’ve ridden, some I’ve not but they all should make for a fantastic road bike that is light, fast, comfortable and won’t require a second mortgage…. for many of us (myself probably included) they’re all the bike and performance we’ll need to really enjoy our riding.

Rose Xeon RS 3000


I was lucky enough to try a new Xeon RS 3000 at the Rose Bikes press launch last summer. Lucky also that I got lost when out on this bike, so spent a bit longer riding it. I was blown away with how good it rode in this build with full Ultegra and Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheels. Light, fast, smooth, comfortable with a really nice ride feel – it did everything well. Rose say that a size small frame is around 1,000 gms making it super light for an aluminium frame, with a matching fork that weighs in around 300 gms. Impressive. Only available as a complete bike but amazing value at around £1400 delivered to you, considering that the wheels and groupset alone will cost you around £1,000 if you shop around. This is a seriously good bike for the money: http://www.rosebikes.co.uk/bike/rose-xeon-rs-3000-748264/aid:748387

It’s a bike I’d be very pleased to own. The only catch with Rose is you have to be comfortable buying online. On the plus side you can tweak almost every aspect of the build, but the standard spec is good enough that you might not feel the need. A terrific choice (and particularly fetching in the anodized black finish)


Bowman Palace


Another very fine aluminium frameset I’ve been lucky enough to ride is the Bowman Palace (you can read my review here). Selling for a competitive £650 as a frameset (frame, fork, headset and seat collar), buying a Bowman is a chance to support a small new company, which most of us don’t normally get a chance to do. If you choose to, you’ll be rewarded with a frame that’s light, fast, comfortable and fine handling. I thoroughly enjoyed riding the Palace and was sad to see it go back as I think I’d still be happily riding it. For a first frame to market for Bowman, it’s an impressive and fine riding debut that gave a good ride quality and road feel, terrific road manners and a lightweight at around 1200gms for the frame.  The only downside I could find with the Bowman is that it’s externally routed, so no Di2 compatibility. It’s a minor issue as most people would build this up with a great mid range mechanical groupset like Ultegra or SRAM force. One plus for the Bowman most others on this list will struggle with, is clearance for 28mm tyres (no mudguards though). Wider tyres will make a big difference to comfort although on the bike I tested even with 23mm tyres, I was really impressed by the comfort.

Find out more here: http://bowman-cycles.com/palace/

Kinesis Aithein


Kinesis have over many years of designing great all weather aluminium race bikes for UK conditions built a well-deserved following and fine reputation. The Aithein is their own super light alloy frameset that’s had terrific reviews. I have to confess that I’ve never ridden one but I know owners who love them and I’ve been impressed with the ones I’ve seen in the flesh. I was originally led to believe that it was a frameset designed for riding flat out for a couple of hours with no quarter given to comfort but I’ve seen reviews and spoken to owners who’ve said they’re actually surprisingly comfortable.

DSC00663Available in some fantastic colour choices including Sweet Orange Metallic and Sick Green Metallic as well as an attractive anodized black, the Aithein, weighs in at 1200 gms for a 56cm (with a 330 gm tapered carbon fork), retails for £650 and includes a matching tapered carbon fork and a headset. The only catch with the Aithein is the weight limit of 14 stone or 89 kgs. I’ve heard of a few people being caught out by that. If you are, but still fancy a Kinesis – the 4S is also a terrific all-rounder (I owned and reviewed the 4S when it was called the TK3)

More info on the Aithein here: http://www.kinesisbikes.co.uk/products/racelight/aithein

Trek Emonda ALR


A new entry to the high end lightweight aluminium frameset market is the new Trek Emonda ALR, available as a frameset for £700 retail or as a complete 105 build for £1300 or an Ultegra version for £1700. Like it’s super light carbon cousin, the aluminium ALR drops weight to an impressive 1050 gms for a size 56cm frame, complete with a lifetime warranty and 275lb (124kg) weight limit for the rider. Trek say they’re using an invisible weld technique that reduces the amount of metal needed but increases the strength. I’m tempted to believe them given the weight limit and the lifetime warranty. The Emonda ALR also uses Trek’s excellent H2 geometry which I’m a big fan of. It’s a good choice for all but the fastest and most aggressive riders and fantastic for a weekend warrior like myself. Comfortable, fast and fine handling, it’s a geometry many riders will quickly be at one with. Personally I’d build it up from a frameset but it’s great to see a couple of solid build choices available. It’s a new model, so I’ve not ridden one or seen one in the flesh yet, but I was excited to see it launched. I expect to read good reviews on this bike in due course.


More info here: http://www.trekbikes.com/uk/en/bikes/road/performance_race/emonda_alr/

You can order one here and here

Canyon Ultimate AL SLX

ultimate-al-slx-9-aero_c1044Another highly respected lightweight aluminium frameset is from another German direct brand – Canyon. The Ultimate AL SLX is available as a frameset or in a number of builds. With a frameweight of around 1200 gms – it’s once again bang on as a super light contender. Currently the frameset is on special offer at £560 and there’s even a tasty Dura Ace build featuring a pair of £1300 Reynolds Assault carbon clinchers for £2475 including delivery (and not forgetting a Dura Ace groupset is the best part of £1000 on it’s own, you’re getting the frame and build for a couple of hundred pounds! It’s also a complete bike weighing in at under 7kgs! Even the more modestly specced Ultegra version (similarly specced to the Rose above) weighs in at 7.25kgs complete (according to Canyon).




You can find out more about the Canyon here: https://www.canyon.com/en/roadbikes/series/ultimate-al-slx.html

Cannondale CAAD10


The CAAD10 is somewhat of a modern classic and can perhaps be argued was the frameset to start it all. It’s looking a little long in the tooth now as the design is a few years old and most of the contemporaries here are much more modern. However it’s still got a fine reputation, it’s light and the price for the frameset has got cheaper over the years to now be  £700. The geometry is a little low in the front end, so check that’s going to work for you – it’s a bit aggressive for me personally but I see plenty of happy riders out on them. Even if it’s getting on a bit, it’s still a fine, well-respected and well-proven choice. Also available in a number of builds including 105 for £1299 and Ultegra for £1699.


You can find out more about the Cannondale here: http://www.cannondale.com/uk_gb/2015/bikes/road/elite-road/caad10

Any of these fantastic aluminium frames will give you a bike that you’ll absolutely love riding. They’ll be fast, fun, engaging, involving and you won’t have to worry so much about looking after them as you would a carbon bike. For those of you out there that only consider carbon frames, you’re missing out. Ignore these and it’s your loss.

Thanks for reading, and please ask any questions in the comments.

*I appreciate that we all have definitions of what’s affordable.

Islabikes Beinn 26 Small Review

As I did more cycling, I soon realised that it was much more fun to ride on a good bike than a bad bike. I also learnt that within reason you get what you pay for and that buying better may not cost you more over the lifetime of the investment.

I’m far from wealthy but I take this same approach to bikes for my family as I know that better bikes will mean they enjoy cycling more and that we as a family will ride more.


When my son got big enough for his first bike, my searching for the best kids bikes led me to Islabikes. They had a reputation for being light, easy and fun for kids to ride, well-proportioned including the controls and appeared to have terrific resale value.  We duly placed an order for a CNOC 14 back in 2009 and it was a tremendous kids bike. Our son learnt to ride on the CNOC and it became one of his prized possessions.

When he outgrew it, I worked out that I should get around 70% of what I paid for it back thanks to the popularity of Islabikes, which I was over the moon about. I ended up selling it to some family friends and we reinvested in a new Islabike, this time a Beinn 20 Large, which again provided sterling service and in fact still is, as this bike has recently been passed onto my daughter. She moved to it after beginning on a Specialized and she tells me the Islabike is much, much better to ride. Sadly we lost 2/3 of the money we’d spent on the Specialised when we sold it on too, which was a big disappointment.


My son is about to turn 10 and this time I did look around the marketplace and saw that there are some more good choices out there. We were quite impressed and tempted by the Hoy bikes for example.

However, there were two key reasons that helped us decide to buy yet another Islabike.

  • We know they’re great bikes: light, well designed, relatively light and the kids have loved riding them. For our family, they’re well proven.
  • We know that resale values are high, so we can buy with confidence knowing we’ll get a decent chunk of our money back (Islabikes will even do a buy back). This means they don’t cost nearly as much over time, especially if you reinvest back into another Islabike each time.

Using the sizing chart and a quick confirmation by phone with Islabikes customer service, I placed my order for a new Beinn 26 Small.


Yes it’s a big investment in a kids bike but I’m confident I’ll get at least half my money back and maybe as much as 70%, so the cost of what should be two years riding, won’t be that much. We know this is true from our previous Islabike purchases.

My son is nearly 10 and around average or just above height for his age. Whilst the size chart says from age 8, he’s got plenty of room to grow and actually I wouldn’t have wanted to try him on a bigger size as he found the change up from 20 inch wheels to 26 inch, a little tricky as it was. He loves this new bike though.

Most other bikes we looked at for his age were 24 inch wheels and the only other 26 inch bike we tried (a Trek) was just a little too big.


This bigger bike certainly weighs more than his old one at just over 9.5kgs but my son is very happy on it and for him it’s really just a scaled up version of his old bike. The gears and brakes work the same, the bike look similar, it’s just much bigger.  This made it a learning curve of about 20 minutes to adapt to the new bike.

As a parent, I’m delighted we’ve made the investment in another Islabike, it’s nice to support a specialist company that’s a big part of why kids bikes are improving in quality each year. Islabikes started that move and all three of the ones we’ve bought have been completely trouble free to own. I take great pleasure in knowing that I’ve invested in great bikes for my kids (as I do for me). I couldn’t imagine not choosing bikes as good as I want to ride for my family, even if it’s meant saving up to buy them each time.

You can find out more here: http://www.islabikes.co.uk/

Any questions, please leave me a comment and thanks for reading.


Trainerroad first look review

Last year was a revelation to me in that I discovered indoor training. Thanks to the folks at Wattbike, I trained indoors consistently and rode better than I ever have (you can read an overview of that story here: http://girodilento.com/learnt-2000km-wattbike/).

Until that point, my turbo was just an expensive thing that gathered dust in my garage. However now I’m a convert to indoor training all year round and a little while back the folks at Trainerroad got in touch and asked if I’d like to try using their system. Obviously I said yes.

I already knew of Trainerroad and had friends who are using it and I think it’s a clever idea.

Trainerroad is a computer training platform that allows you to take speed, cadence and heart rate information from your turbo trainer (or power meter) and it then gives you a dashboard with power output and cadence targets to ride using one of their now hundreds of training sessions.

It’s a clever idea to create an online platform for this, but even better they’ve gone and measured the power curves of lots of common turbo trainers to give you a proxy power output when you train. So this means you can train with a power meter even if you don’t have a power meter, or the funds to buy one.

Some of the nearly 1,000 workouts available on Trainerroad.com
Some of the nearly 1,000 workouts available on Trainerroad.com

To get started with Trainerroad, what you need is:

  • To sign up for an account (US$10 per month or $100 per year)
  • A computer or iPad/iPhone
  • A turbo trainer or Power meter system (like a Wattbike in my case)
  • A speed and cadence sensor
  • Optionally a heart rate monitor
  • An ANT+ dongle to read the data from the sensors above for the Trainerroad application to use.
  • An appetite for suffering indoors to go faster.

You’ll need to download the Trainerroad software or app once you’ve signed up and created your account to run when you’re riding.

Given that many of us have most of the items on the list above, all I needed to buy was an Ant+ dongle (amazon link) to get my data from my sensors to my laptop.

In practice you can either choose a pre-selected plan, base or build, triathlon or…. Or choose from any one of around 1,000 workouts.

If you have sufferfest videos you can drop them into the Trainerroad app and it will enable you to  ride them to power outputs, which is cool and probably a more precise way to train for greater benefit.

The strategy I had in mind for trying Trainerroad has not gone to plan so far. I had been going to use it to train for the first quarter of the year to ride the Paris Roubaix sportive but two back to back chest colds that each took me off the bike for 3+ weeks at a time, ended my training and saw me lose almost all of my fitness.

So now I’m trying to get fit again and am using Trainerroad as part of this process. For the cycling training plans there are low medium and high volume plans for how much time you can commit to each week. For base training there is traditional base (longer, lower intensity) or sweet spot base training (higher intensity based around your FTP threshold) – you choose your preferred approach.

To begin with you need to do a fitness test to establish your FTP. If you’ve not done one before, they’re pretty horrible. You right as hard as you can maintain for the duration of the test. Not pleasant but it establishes the baseline to train with.

You then work through your chosen plan doing workouts each week to start building strength, power and fitness.

When I trained with the Wattbike, it uses both power and heart rate zones, which in simple terms begins with workouts that are relatively low intensity to try and equalise your heart and power zones. I started off riding in zone 3 or 4 heart rate when riding zone 2 power. If I droped my intensity to bring the heart rate down to the right level, my power dropped out of the zone it was supposed to be in. It was frustrating but over 4-6 weeks everything aligned and I noticed that I was already faster on the road.

A peak into a training plan but you can also create your own from the workout library
A peak into a training plan but you can also create your own from the workout library

Trainerroad somewhat surprisingly to me after that experience ignores heart rate completely. It’s just about riding to the power output and cadence required by the session. In that way it feels more like a blunt instrument and now that I’ve lost fitness, I’ve had situation where riding a sweet spot session (based around intervals at 88-94% of my FTP (not max power) where my heart rate is at 90% of max (or more). I think I got to 93 or 94% or Max heart rate on one base training session.

To me this has felt a bit too full on, given my lows levels of fitness so I’ve been mixing it up (and going off programme) by also putting in some of my zone 2 equaliser rides, where I’m riding at the top of my zone 2 power output and trying to keep my heart rate in the vicinity of where it should be.

I suspect that Trainerroad would say that my heart rate should come back down as I get fitter and I would agree that this should be the case. I just haven’t expected to feel beaten up by base training.

In fairness to Trainerroad I should probably re-test my FTP which has no doubt dropped, so I’m probably riding to a power output above where I physically am right now.

My patchy progress to date, showing the career views each rider gets
My patchy progress to date, showing the career views each rider gets

So my first impressions are that it’s a fantastic idea and the platform itself works really well for me. Now that the platform is up and running there’s no end of the kind of programmes they can add (and I hope they continue to). If you’re not fit, you’re going to find it hard though. Even the base training can be very demanding.

When you’re riding, most workouts have a text commentary telling you to what cadence to aim for when to ride one legged etc, etc, there seem to be quite a few drills within workouts. Personally I find the drills a bit annoying but that could just be me. I’m working hard enough just to keep up, I don’t need the extra brain teasers.

A friend and colleague who’s also using it has also moved to mix up his workouts too. This decision maybe slowing down or reducing the gains we make but my body isn’t in a place to try harder or hasn’t been. I’m struggling a little to get my head around high intensity base training.

In summary, in the early days or my time on Trainerroad which has been stop/start, I love the platform and how it connects your turbo time to a data system, I’m just not as won over by the actual training plans personally, but the sheer volume of workouts is fantastic for the USD$10 per month. I have no expertise as a trainer, so my thoughts on the plans are just an opinion. Regardless, I’m going to stick with it and update you as I go.

Any questions or comments, please let me know.

Thanks for reading.

Road cycling equipment, reviews, fitness & riding