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Shimano 105 5800 – big news for lots of us

Unless you’ve not been paying attention for the last day or so, you’ll have no doubt heard the announcement of the new generation of Shimano’s 105 groupset that will launch in the second half of 2014.

Mmmm, 11 speeds

Mmmm, 11 speeds

I think it’s fantastic news for those of us who don’t have as much money as we’d ideally like to be able to spend on cycling. Why? Well it brings 11 speed technology to a new and lower price point than Ultegra 6800 did (or Dura Ace 9000 before it). You may not be bothered about 11 speeds but frankly I’ll take all the gears I can get. In fairness, I don’t think the 11 speeds are the biggest news here.

New improved and lighter front shifting is good news

New improved and lighter front shifting is good news

One of the big improvements is going to be the front shifting, which should be a lot lighter than the current 105 gruppo. It’s the end of the legacy of what began with Dura Ace 7900 and Shimano concealing the shifting cables under the bar tape. Whilst it tidied up the front of the bike, shifting quality decreased in my opinion and I still think that when I ride 5700 105 – the front shifting takes too much effort. Well that’s going to be fixed with 5800. The new design for the cranks with the 4 arms is a big step forward too as it  standardises the BCD size and means you just change the chainrings if you want to move from double (53/39) to semi-compact (52/36) or compact (50/34) – no more having to buy a new chainset for a trip to the Alps.

Silver remains an option too - alongside black

Silver remains an option too – alongside black

Braking is improved too and the new standard calipers will now fit wider rims and tyres – which is important as that’s where the wheel and tyre market is shifting.

New caliper brakes with more width for wider tyres and better performance

New caliper brakes with more width for wider tyres and better performance

Hydraulic disc brakes compatible with mechanical shifting gruppos - this could be big!

Hydraulic disc brakes compatible with mechanical shifting gruppos – this could be big!

More big news is mechanical hydraulic disc brakes. I spent a bit of time on disc braked bikes last year and good disc brakes are really, really good but I don’t think they’re a solution for the high-end of the road bike market. For me they make most sense at the mid-range of the market – bikes you ride a good chunk of the year and in all weathers – not your lightest best summer bike. So I’m excited about these brakes. Right now, if you want hydraulic road brakes you’ve got to stump up for an Ultegra Di2 groupset to fit R785 calipers – nice if you can, but most of us can’t.

Very sleek looking hydraulic brake shift levers

Very sleek looking hydraulic brake shift levers

These new brakes will work with mechanical gruppos including, 105, Ultegra and Dura Ace – now you’ve just got to find your frame to go with them. Expect to see them on quite a few 2015 road and cyclocross bikes. A bike like the Rose Xeon DX (http://girodilento.com/rose-xeon-dx-review/) that I tested last year would be perfect for these. As would a bike like the Kinesis 4S, which is something I’ve been saying to Kinesis for a while now (and I’m won’t have been the only one). That’s just a couple of examples but I reckon they’ll be loads of interesting bikes with discs at Eurobike in September – now at a price point more of us can afford as this should also make good disc brakes a more economic option for bike manufacturers too.  These brakes could be the tipping point for the disc brake market. Personally I think they’ll be best with road frames with clearance for wide tyres along with mudguard and rack mounts – all rounders, let me know if you agree?

105 5800 will bring direct mount brakes down a price point too...

105 5800 will bring direct mount brakes down a price point too…

So – I’m excited about Shimanos new 5800 105 groupset – it’s going to bring a higher level of engineering and performance to a lower price point, making it applicable to more people and more bikes. Sure there’s going to be a weight penalty over Ultegra, but you’re unlikely to be talking about more than 1lb on a complete bike. We’re going to get a wider range of gearing (thanks to 11 speed), better braking and shifting and more choices in how we run it. To me, it’s looking like a home run for Shimano as no doubt it’ll also be reliable and cheap to run/service.

The newly improved 5800 rear mech has new springs for better shifting

The newly improved 5800 rear mech has new springs for better shifting

Thanks for reading and as always I’d welcome any comments

The standard 5800 STI levers

The standard 5800 STI levers

Feedback Sports Rakk bike stand holding a road bike

Feedback Sports Rakk bike stand

Bike stands are an incredibly useful piece of kit and probably something you needs multiples of if you have more than one bike in your family. Sure you can lean your bike up against a wall but it’s generally not that stable and can scuff your shifters and bar tape – not to mention just falling over.

Feedback Sports Rakk - folded for storage

Feedback Sports Rakk – folded for storage

For the last few months I’ve been using a Feedback Sports Rakk bike stand and have been thoroughly impressed with it.

Firstly it takes a bunch of different wheel sizes no problems, it also works with disc braked bikes and caliper bikes. You can attach several of them together to store several bikes close together (making a more efficient use of space) and when you’re not using them – you can fold them flat for storage. The ability to fold flat also makes them useful for travelling with as they don’t take up a lot of room.

Feedback Sports Rakk stand ready for a bike

Feedback Sports Rakk stand ready for a bike

To use you simply roll your bike backwards into the stand and then wheel it forwards again to remove. It couldn’t be much easier.

Feedback Sports Rakk stand holding a 20" wheeled Islabike

Feedback Sports Rakk stand holding a 20″ wheeled Islabike

It’s not a work stand but you can easily oil your chain before you ride using the Rakk.

Feedback Sports Rakk holding a disc braked Kinesis Pro 6 cyclocross bike

Feedback Sports Rakk holding a disc braked Kinesis Pro 6 cyclocross bike

There’s not a great deal more to add. It you want a well-made, highly versatile stand that can be put away when not used or connected together to store a bunch of bikes, the Feedback Sports Rakk should definitely go on your list. They’re not the cheapest of stands but they’re built to last and I have really valued the versatility. For me it’s a keeper and I’ll be adding more over time.

For more information visit: http://feedbacksports.com/shop/RAKK-Black-P17.aspx

They’re widely available for sale including here at Wiggle: http://tidd.ly/7a63e263

Feedback Sports Rakk holding a caliper braked Stoemper road bike

Feedback Sports Rakk holding a caliper braked Stoemper road bike

Thanks for reading

The Feedback Sports Rakk in action

The Feedback Sports Rakk in action

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First look Hestra Tracker and C-Zone Gauntlett gloves

Recently I took a decision to upgrade my gloves for cool and cold riding. I had been recommended Hestra gloves before and ended up ordering both a pair of the Tracker and C-Zone gaunlett gloves to cover my riding from around 10 degrees Celsius down to below 0 degrees.

Hestra are a Swedish company established in 1936 and they only make gloves – now about 2 million pairs a year! Hestra is a family run business, now with the 4th generation of the family calling the shots. The company is probably best known for it’s ski and outdoor/mountaineering style gloves but now makes some cycling specific gloves as well.

The nice thing about going to a manufacturer who specializes in a particular product is that, for them, the stakes are higher in a transaction.  By that I mean that when I bought my Hestra gloves, if I didn’t like them, then that’s a challenge for a company that only makes gloves to overcome. The positive side for Hestra is that, they’ve spent about 80 years just making gloves and I’d wager they’d be confident they’re as good as anybody at it.

Fortunately for both Hestra and myself – first impressions are extremely positive. The gloves look great, the materials feel fantastic and they feel terrific on my hands. I’ve done 3 or 4 rides on the Tracker gloves now with temperatures between 2 degrees and 10 degrees and they’ve been superb. The Tracker are windstopper gloves (Gore fabric) with neoprene cuffs. I choose the Yellow/Black colour scheme as I thought the yellow would be a plus when I’m indicating and you know, flouro is all the rage.

One of the things I learnt when I got the gloves from NordicLife is that, I’ve typically bought gloves too small. You need to have enough room for air to fit around your fingers as it’s the air that’s crucial to keeping you warm. If your gloves are too tight, when you grip the handlebars you’ll be forcing warm air out and be defeating a lot of the purpose of the gloves. With that in mind I’ve sized up a touch and I’m reaping the benefits of warmer hands. Of course the other bonus of wearing gloves with more room in them is that you might be able to use a liner glove for really cold days.

Hestra Tracker glove - yellow/black

Hestra Tracker glove – yellow/black

For me the tracker is now my go to glove for Spring/Autumn riding when the ride starts cool and warms up a bit as you go on. That 5-10ish degree range needs a good glove that works well when it’s at the colder end of things but doesn’t make your hands too hot and sweaty when it hits 10 degrees or so. So far, the Tracker has been perfect for this kind of riding.

Hestra Tracker palm side up

Hestra Tracker palm side up

You can find out more about the Tracker here:

http://www.nordiclifeuk.co.uk/products/gloves/109/555/bike/P-hestra-bike-tracker-windstopper-gloves

https://hestragloves.com/en/gloves/mtb-bike/windstopper-tracker/440100/

Hestra tracker packaging

Hestra tracker packaging

At the time of writing there’s a good special offer on the Trackers at Nordic Life, which is an even better reason to get some J

I also got a pair of Hestra C-Zone gauntlet gloves for cold days out on the bike (or for walks). Rhodri from Nordic Life suggested that these come into their own at below 5 degrees (unless you suffer from really cold hands) and to date, the weathers warmed up and I’ve not had a chance to ride them yet – I sure that’ll change soon enough though.

Hestra C-Zone gauntlet winter cycling gloves

Hestra C-Zone gauntlet winter cycling gloves

The C-Zone gauntlet are a softshell, waterproof and windproof glove that’s also designed to be breathable. Once again the build quality is superb at first glance the materials feel very high quality. I went for the gauntlet version over the regular cuff to give me a bit more coverage at the wrist and with my riding/winter jacket. A pleasing aspect of the C-Zone gauntlet is that they’re not bulky. My last winter gloves were quite thick and padded and that restricted movement a touch and feel. The C-Zone gauntlet is surprisingly thin given it’s cold weather credentials so there’s very good movement while you have the gloves on.

Hestra C-Zone palm view

Hestra C-Zone palm view

You can find out more on the Hestra C-Zone gauntlet here:

https://hestragloves.com/en/gloves/mtb-bike/czone-gauntlet/

http://www.nordiclifeuk.co.uk/products/gloves/108/555/mountain/P-hestra-czone-bike-gauntlet

My first impressions of both of these gloves is excellent – really high quality, well designed, great looking and a pleasure to own. Gloves are another important part of winter riding and these gloves give me confidence that they’ll be essential companions from now on.

No doubt the British weather will give me some opportunities to test the C-Zone gauntlet soon as well as spend some more time in the Tracker !

Thanks for reading

The challenge of dual power & heart rate zones

Wattbike training update – my recalibration phase

I’ve just started week four of my Wattbike training plan. After week one I caught a cold. I did a couple of rides in the second week, whilst I had the cold and then rode week two in the third week, if that makes sense.

Last week saw me complete week three of my plan which included four Wattbike sessions. Then for good measure I rode 100km with a friend on Sunday to finish off the week and I really was finished after that ride.

Today I’ve done my first workout of week four, which was 90 minutes in zone two and I’ve finally clicked about something I was finding incredibly frustrating. No it’s not to do with the tedium of training indoors, which I’ve not found too bad so far, although 90 minutes did seem like a long session today.

The way you train on the Wattbike is that you ride in both power and heart rate zones. So for example, if you’re riding in zone two you have both a power range and a heart rate range to ride in.

I’ve been getting increasingly frustrated that if I ride to the power zone, my heart rate pops over the heart rate zone – by up to 8 bpm, which is quite a lot. If I back off the resistance or the RPM to bring my heart rate down into the correct zone, I drop down a power zone. Frankly it’s been really winding me up! When I ride on the road, it’s always my legs that run out of power before my heart rate goes into the red. On the Wattbike, it seems to be the opposite – my legs feel fine at low intensity but my heart rate is blowing out (relatively speaking).

I finally clicked today on what the problem is. I had some guidance from a couple of people who said my heart rate would come down with more low intensity riding. The fact is, I do very little low intensity riding. Mainly I just crack on at zone 3 to zone 4 pace on every ride. Probably not ideal for my riding but that’s what I do and part of what this Wattbike experiment is designed to flush out. I also live in an area of rolling countryside and I’ve always found it very difficult to climb at low intensity. This is part of the problem – my body is not used to riding at low intensity, so more of it will hopefully help.

However, the problem’s actually more simple than that I think. My heart rate zones are different now. For example, the maximum for zone 2 that I always used before was 142bpm. It’s now 135bpm using the Wattbike method. My zone 1 now tops out at 117bpm and before it was 123bpm (I think). I think this is the big difference and why I’m struggling to recalibrate. I’m asking my body to deliver the watts effectively at a lower heart rate and it hasn’t been a light switch, so I’ve been feeling frustrated with myself.

To ride within the heart rate zone, I’m having to ride at a reduced resistance to maintain a good 90rpm. That’s dropping my power output down a zone. Today I was riding at the top of zone 2 for heart rate at the top of zone 1 for power. It was a 90 minute workout and for the last 20 minutes I managed to do a decent amount of riding in the bottom of zone 2 for power with my heart rate at the top of zone 2. That felt like a win. Progress.

So basically I’m going through a recalibration to increase the power I’m delivering at low intensity for a given heart rate. Part of it is that I don’t do much low intensity riding, so my body’s not used to it and the other part is my heart rate zones are now a chunk lower.

The funny thing about it for me is that you think of indoor training being about intervals and high intensity riding but for me, the low intensity part of my programme has been a real challenge to date.

I am really enjoying having the Wattbike, it’s so easy to just jump on and ride. Once my body gets the hang of the workouts, I hope I’ll be starting to get some performance benefits. I’ll write again in another couple of weeks and update on my progress.

Thanks for reading.

http://wattbike.com/uk/

Clemént Strada LGG tyres on Campagnolo Neutron Ultra wheels - very classic

Clemént Strada LGG tyres first look review

Clemént tyres is an old cycling brand with a rich history in the sport. Originally French, the company was founded by Gustave Adolphe Clément-Bayard in 1878 to manufacture bicycles and began making tyres 10 years later in 1888.

Following World War One, the company moved to Italy and most people (if they do recall Clemént tyres) will like think of them as Italian. Clemént tyres were the premiere race tyre for decades and it’s thought that more Tours de France and one day “Classics” have been won on Clemént tyres than any other brand.

The Pirelli Group bought Clemént in the 1980s, moved manufacturing to Thailand and ran the company until 1995 when Pirelli lost interest in bicycle tyres and licensed the brand to a competitor. Once this license lapsed, Donnelly Sports negotiated a way to bring the brand back to market.

Clemént Strada LGG tyres on Campagnolo Neutron Ultra wheels - very classic

Clemént Strada LGG tyres on Campagnolo Neutron Ultra wheels – very classic

With the new Clemént tyres the core focus has been cyclocross or off-road tyres and at present there is only one road tyre – the Strada LGG Road, which I have been sent to test.

The Strada LGG is available in two different thread counts, 120tpi dual compound which I have to review in 25mm width and there is also a cheaper single compound version with 60tpi. The Strada LGG is available in 23, 25 and 28mm versions and also a 25mm tubular.

On the 120tpi dual compound version I have, there is also a slight textured tread for good grip in wet and dry conditions and a Kevlar bead to bead puncture belt.

Clemént Strada LGG tyres fitted to my Stoemper Taylor for LBL training

Clemént Strada LGG tyres fitted to my Stoemper Taylor for LBL training

The LGG name is taken from the airport code for Liege in Belgium as it’s the home to the fantastic Liège-Bastogne-Liège (LBL) spring classic. As I’m planning to take my Stoemper to ride at LBL at the end of April – these seemed like the perfect tyre to use for this adventure.

With that in mind I’ve fitted them to my bike in anticipation of both training and riding LBL with them.

First impressions are very positive, they feel like a high quality winter race tyre and remind me quite a lot of the Vittoria Open Pave as they’re a similar weight and feel and that is a very good thing as I rate the Pave’s very highly indeed. The retro style graphics of the Clemént Strada LGG looks fantastic on my bike and matches it perfectly.

Clemént Strada LGG tyres tread pattern

Clemént Strada LGG tyres tread pattern

These were not tyres, I’d heard of before to be honest with you. The distributors 2Pure were effusive about how good they are and the few people I’ve found who have tried them have been very positive.

Retail pricing for the folding tyres is £27.99 for the 60tpi version and £32.99 for the 120tpi version that I am trying out.  The tubulars are £89.99.

Clemént Strada LGG tyres - rear 3/4 view

Clemént Strada LGG tyres – rear 3/4 view

I’ll report back on how I’ve got on with them after LBL. In the meantime, you can find more information on the tyres here: http://clementcycling.com/strada-lgg-road or http://www.2pure.co.uk/

Thanks for reading

2014 Trek 1.5 - a fine bike for the money

2014 Trek 1.5 review

My time with the 2014 Trek 1.5 is about to end. Over the last few months I’ve ridden over 500km on the 1.5 exactly as it arrived except for my own pedals and bottle cages.

I’ve ridden over all kinds of road conditions and surfaces and along flat roads as well as over steep and rolling hills. To cut to the chase, I’ve found the new Trek 1.5 a thoroughly likeable companion and I genuinely feel it’s an excellent step forward over the old one and for me, is a fine buy at its £875 price point.

2014 Trek 1.5

2014 Trek 1.5

In case you haven’t read my first look post (http://girodilento.com/2014-trek-1-5-first-ride-review/) I used to own the previous generation Trek 1.5, which I bought after a strong recommendation from a bike shop owner. After riding 1,000 miles on it through winter, I just didn’t like the old one to keep it. Trek have certainly fixed this with the new one and it’s been a really pleasant companion. The ride quality is smooth, the handling is composed and assured at all times. It does everything well. For the price point of £875 at retail running a Tiagra 10 speed drivetrain except for the long reach brakes (and FSA cranks) – everything works as well as you’d think it should. It’s not a super light, super stiff race bike but that’s not what it’s designed to be either.

Really a bike like this should be bread and butter for Trek and it feels like that as a product. I’m a big fan of the Trek H2 geometry as I feel it’s a sensible tweaking of race geometry for the everyday rider without going all “Sportive” and running a really high headtube. On the 56cm model I was riding, the head tube length of 170mm is actually shorter than a Cervelo R5 (in size 56cm) and it has the same head tube length as a Specialized Tarmac S-Works SL3 had – so it’s far from lofty or lengthy. I’m labouring the point a little as I’ve seen a few comments over the last few years criticising the “high” headtube on the H2 geometry and I think that’s both unfair and simply wrong. It’s certainly a height that works for me and allows me to run less spacers than a more aggressive front end would and is perfect for the target market for the bike.

Wearing some fancy Reynolds Attack wheels and looking good - Trek 1.5

Wearing some fancy Reynolds Attack wheels and looking good – Trek 1.5

The update to the frame with some Kammtail style tube shaping on the top tube and the downtube give the frame a nice modern look as well as having transformed the ride. It’s UCI certified too, which is nice if you want to race one – although I don’t think this is where the bike is at its best.

To me the new Trek 1.5 is great in a range of circumstances. I think it’s a terrific beginner’s bike – it’s comfortable, smooth riding, does everything well and so makes a great bike to find your legs on. For those of you that have now found your legs, I still think the bike has a lot of appeal. It has long drop brakes and huge clearance for running full mudguards, so can become a fine winter training bike and I do think it has a lot to offer here. The smooth riding, comfortable, good nature of the bike is perfect for winter riding. In the compact gearing I rode the bike in, it features a 12-30 cassette, which is low enough to climb the steepest of hills. I reckon it’d even make a good Audax bike – although I won’t get the chance to find out. It has rack mounts too for commuting or riding to the shops, (or carrying cakes on for your mid ride stops!) – especially once you’ve fitted your SKS Chromoplastic mudguards, which would be a perfect match for the bike. In fact it has so much mudguard clearance I reckon you might be able to get 28mm tyres and full mudguards on this bike – definitely 25mm and full guards.

The 1.5 seems very well made and finished as you’d expect from Trek and the colour scheme has been something I’ve really enjoyed too. It’s fairly masculine, but I’m a guy and I like it!

On the way up the Ashdown Forest

On the way up the Ashdown Forest

So it can’t all be perfect can it? Well no obviously, nothing is perfect but I think for the price point this is a bike I’d be happy to spend my own money on (I did once before!) There are some things I liked less about the bike, but unless you’re doing a no expenses spared dream build there’s usually a compromise or two.

For me the bits I liked less were really only the wheels, brake pads and the handlebars. Wheels on most bikes at this price point are not the finest. The Bontrager approved hoops that come with the 1.5 are a bit portly and not the most lively but they roll wheel and I’ve not managed to knock them out of true through a wet, wet winter that seems to have had far more of its fair share of potholes. These wheels would be something I’d upgrade, especially if you wanted something more sprightly for the summer – but they do the job adequately. For commuting and winter training they’d be just fine till your wore them out. The brake pads weren’t great and they seemed to be a bit harsh on the rims. If it were my own bike, I’d quickly swap them out for some Koolstop Salmon brakepads – which are my favourites. Very easy on the rim and lovely brake feel – not something you could say about the stock ones.

Waiting for a friend to start a ride...

Waiting for a friend to start a ride…

The only bad thing I could find to say about 10 speed Tiagra, which shifts fantastically for the money is that I noticed when riding in the dark that the exposed cables can get in the way of the beam from my front light. They can also rattle against the bars a bit on what is otherwise a pretty quiet bike. Very minor quibbles that you don’t get on 105 level Shimano or higher as the cables are run under the handlebar tape. I didn’t find the shape of the bars quite to my liking either, they feel wider than their 42cm sizing and I found both the reach and the drops deeper than I’d like – but they do the job just fine and I probably wouldn’t change them if it was my bike.

Overall though, I’ve really enjoyed this bike. It’s smooth, comfortable, versatile, dependable and makes a fine riding companion – especially for the money. Given the fact that the frameset has a lifetime warranty – I think it’s good value too.

Out on a ride in Sussex

Out on a ride in Sussex

If this had been the 1.5 I’d bought personally back in 2012, I’m almost certain I’d still own it today and would have travelled many thousands of miles on it by now. For sure, I think it’s fine winter bike for anyone who doesn’t want to go crazy and spend a fortune on one. It’s comfortably under the £1,000 cycle to work threshold, which will make it interesting to a lot of riders in the UK. As a first bike it’s perfect because once you get fit and decide you want something lighter and faster, chuck some mudguards on this and keep it as your winter trainer. So many cyclists, myself included buy a bike around this price point, then sell it to step up to something fancier then end up looking for a winter trainer – buy one of these and that’s a job ticked off from the start. The 2014 Trek 1.5 is a fine bike for the money, I’ll miss it.

2014 Trek 1.5 - a fine bike for the money

2014 Trek 1.5 – a fine bike for the money

More info from Trek here: http://www.trekbikes.com/uk/en/bikes/road/performance_race/1_series/1_5/#/uk/en/model/features?url=uk/en/bikes/road/performance_race/1_series/1_5

If you’re interested in buying, you can click through and order one from Evans Cycles (and this site gets a small commission that helps keep it running): http://tidd.ly/7f5b7cce

Thanks for reading

The Wattbike is here! The experiment begins

The beginning of my Wattbike experiment

Last September at the Cycle Show at the NEC I had a fascinating conversation with Matt Moran from WattBike, which has led to this post and the start of this experiment.

The context for it was as follows:

I’ve ridden reasonably regularly (i.e. at least a couple of times a week) since late 2008. I’ve now ridden over 20,000kms mostly around Kent, Sussex and Surrey.

At first I found my performance would just improve by riding more and in 2011, I reached a bit of a peak where I could average 29kmh on a rolling solo ride over 2-3 hours. After that, no matter what I tried I couldn’t go faster. An injury here and there (most often shoulder) meant I’ve had a few periods of about 6 consecutive weeks off my bike in a row, which have knocked my fitness and speed each time.

I’ve ridden up to about 750km in a month with plenty of climbing and at best, I might get to that 29kmh average again but never more.

Last year I averaged about 500km a month, which is the most I’ve achieved yet. Still no faster than 29kmh an hour though. I hired a coach for a while, which made me realise I’m not very good at following specific instructions and I found it much more difficult than I thought to ride to instructions over rolling countryside.

All the while my main riding partner has religiously used his turbo trainer 2-3 times a week all year round. My turbo is extremely unloved and only gets dusted off in extreme weather or situations.

Interestingly my friend, who is a very good rider anyway, has got faster and faster. He now comfortably rides at averages of over 30kmh on the same (if not hillier) rolling countryside that I ride on – also on solo rides.

So with that as my background, the chat with Matt from Wattbike at the Cycle Show was in simple terms about how using a Wattbike might allow me to make some elusive improvements. The precision of the Wattbike’s power metre and the fact that it’s recording data 100x a second makes it a powerful tool for structured training in a way that just training with a power meter (if you have one) is very hard to do. The Wattbike gives you a controlled environment and platform that enables you to ride very specifically to hit exact training goals and routines.

As a part of the standard programmes that come with a Wattbike, they all begin with a fitness test, then you test again part way through the 16 week programme. This is important because in the first 6 weeks or so of training on the Wattbike you should improve your performance and power (according to WattBike), so you test again and adjust your heart rate and power zones as you move on – allowing your improvements to build upon themselves during the course of the programme.

I thought this was all fascinating. I had been coming to the conclusion that structured training was an important next step in my cycling to see if I can make some gains and improvements in my power and riding. Considering that old saying that if you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got, I thought it was time to try something new. I’m also not going to be able to spend as much time riding this year as I need to find more work that pays me rather than being out riding my bike (sadly as I am still yet to win the lottery).

So I made a pitch to Matt at Wattbike to see if they’d be up for loaning a far from elite athlete like myself a Wattbike and allow me to follow one of their standard programmes for 16 weeks, I’d like to see what improvements I (a MAMIL) could make. If you follow Wattbike, you’ll no doubt have seen all the elite, national, international and olympic level athletes that use them, which is nice. I wanted to know how someone much more ordinary might get on with one. So now we’ll get to find out – admittedly this is a sample size of one.

The Wattbike is here! The experiment begins

The Wattbike is here! The experiment begins

I’m also hoping to ride Liege Bastogne Liege (LBL) in late April and the Wattbike is now a key part of my training, but LBL falls at week 11 of 16 of my plan. It’ll have to be a good progress indicator.

Now speaking of progress indicators, I already have a couple of interesting points of reference.

This time last year at the London Bike Show, Jaguar were kind enough to let me have a go at the Bikeradar training hub, which was the first time I underwent a fitness test (http://girodilento.com/the-london-bike-show-bikeradar-training-hub/ ). The result from that was a Maximum Minute Power score of 295w and a maximum heart rate of 175bpm.

Since that test, I’ve ridden about 6,000km with my longest ride being at the Tour of Flanders sportive last year (http://girodilento.com/the-tour-of-flanders-from-the-gutter/), so a good year of riding with a 6 weeks break for a shoulder injury again.

The day after the Wattbike arrived I did a 3 minute aerobic test on it. This consisted of a 20 minute warmup and then riding as hard as I could for 3 minutes and then the same 20 minute warm down.

I have to say I was delighted with the result. A maximum minute power of 339w and a maximum heart rate of 180bpm. So this is my starting point. I did the test just once – it was enough and my score was good enough to suggest I should choose the Sportive level 4 plan for my 16 week adventure.

After my first 3 minute aerobic test

After my first 3 minute aerobic test

I started the plan last Sunday and promptly came down with a cold on Monday (in fairness it had been on the verge for a week or two). So whilst it’s not auspicious start, I have begun.

Once you have your fitness score, Wattbike have a calculator on their website which has calculated my heart rate and power training zones. Following the plans on the website (which can also be downloaded as a pdf) I now have heart rate and power zones to train in for each session.

Before each session, I need to work out what fan setting I use (which adjusts the resistance of the unit). The gear table gives me power output at certain RPM levels for each resistance setting. So then I know if I ride at a certain RPM, I need to keep my heart rate at a certain level.

Different zones of riding seem to be done at different RPM levels according to the worked example. For example a recovery ride is at 70RPM. Zone 1 seems to be at 80 RPM etc, etc. So before I get on it, I seem to end up with a bunch of sheets of paper, working out my resistance setting along with my power zones and heart rate zones. It’s not difficult and gets easier each time. However, it would be nice if the Wattbike had all of the sessions stored in the machine and you could just work through the programme from workout to workout after it had filtered through your heart rate/power zones after your test. But it doesn’t do that. Not yet anyway. The great thing about software is that it can be updated and apparently Wattbike have a pretty good record at updating the software regularly.

The paperwork I need to work out my RPM, resistance settings and heart rates zones for each session. Easy!

The paperwork I need to work out my RPM, resistance settings and heart rates zones for each session. Easy!

So anyway in my first week, I’ve done 3 sessions and my test. It’s all been recorded both in the Wattbike itself and I’ve synced my Garmin Edge 800 with it and I’m uploading all my workouts on to my Strava profile (http://www.strava.com/athletes/girodilento) to keep a log. I’m going to do an update blog every two weeks, through to the end, so you can track how I do at following instructions and if and how I improve. At the end of week one, Strava tells me I’ve ridden 100km on the Wattbike.

For me this is genuinely an experiment. I’m going to follow the instructions as closely as I can and spend as much time as I should riding the kinds of sessions the Wattbike programme outlines. From there hopefully it will show what an ordinary and reasonably committed rider can achieve in 16 weeks and what it’s been like to switch from riding outdoors to doing more indoors.

With my heart rate zones, my Garmin, a drink & a tea towel!

With my heart rate zones, my Garmin, a drink & a tea towel!

I hope you’ll find it interesting too. Please do leave comments with any questions you can think of and I’ll either reply or cover them in the next training update.

Before I sign off, blog posts like this were interesting food for thought too, when I was looking at arranging this:

http://wattbike.com/uk/blog/post/how_to_ride_a_sportive_40_minutes_faster_than_last_year

Thanks for reading and thanks to Wattbike for giving me the opportunity to do this.

For more information – you can visit Wattbike here: http://wattbike.com/uk/

Kinesis Aithein side view

The girodilento 2014 Core Bike Show favourites and highlights….

One of my favourite bits as a blogger is being able to attend trade shows and speak to the people inside the bike business. This isn’t a news site, so I have the luxury of reflecting on each show before I post some thoughts like this.

2014 was the second year that I’ve attended Core Bike and it’s the 10th anniversary for the show. It’s continued to grow and there were more brands and exhibitors this year than last and I had a series of companies I wanted to see as well as products.

Following are some of the things that stood out to me and I hope they might interest you too. For some reason, I didn’t have a good day with my camera so a lot of the shots I took aren’t good enough to use and I apologise for that. There’s no particular order other than it probably reflects how I walked around the show J

Kinesis Crosslight CX Disc wheels: It’s the 3rd generation of these great wheels and in their latest guise they drop 250gms of weight add 11 speed Shimano compatibility and now weigh under 1600gms a pair – all for £299 retail. These are a bargain in my opinion. I’ve ridden them and have been very impressed. A great wheelset for your road or ‘cross bike

Kinesis Crosslight CX Disc wheels

Kinesis Crosslight CX Disc wheels

Kinesis Aithein

If you’re looking for an affordable frame for crit racing or riding as hard as you can – the Aithein is worth considering, not least of all for how nice it looks here in orange! A terrific build that I think weighed 6.8kg with Dura Ace 9000 and the new Reynolds Assault SLG wheelset. Tasty!

Kinesis Aithein side view

Kinesis Aithein side view

Kinesis Aithein detail

Kinesis Aithein detail

Kinesis Aithein logo

Kinesis Aithein logo

Kinesis Aithein sporting new 2014 Reynolds Assault SLG wheels

Kinesis Aithein sporting new 2014 Reynolds Assault SLG wheels

Kinesis 4S

Yes, that’s the new name for the much loved TK3 (reviewed by me here: http://girodilento.com/kinesis-tk3-review/ – Whilst the new black and blue paint scheme has just a touch of the Team Sky about it, it still looks terrific – so good in fact that I’d happily own one (again). The 4S is a great bike and definitely a one bike for the whole year if you want something sprightly with race bike feel for all seasons.

The Kinesis TK3 has become the 4S with new colours

The Kinesis TK3 has become the 4S with new colours

Kinesis 4S badging - 4S for 4 seasons

Kinesis 4S badging – 4S for 4 seasons

Kinesis T2

For a relatively small company who doesn’t have quite the buying power of a major brand – the T2 as a complete bike for £999 is very impressive. It’s also Kinesis’s biggest selling bike, which might tell you something about how well it rides too.

Kinesis T2 - full bike for £999 - a classic winter trainer/all rounder

Kinesis T2 – full bike for £999 – a classic winter trainer/all rounder

2014 Reynolds Wheels

I’ve waxed lyrical about these before (http://girodilento.com/reynolds-launch-2014-road-wheel-range-affordable-aero/) as I think that the new performance range brings what is likely a major step forward in aero performance and not much over £1,000 retail for full carbon clinchers. I expect the new Assault SLG in particular to fly off the shelves and I believe the first shipment has done just that! Great to see them in the flesh and the quality looks great. I can’t wait to ride them (although I have been fortunate enough to review the disc versions already: http://girodilento.com/2014-reynolds-assault-slg-disc-wheels-review/ ). I was also excited to see the new Aero 46 wheels in person as 46mm is considered by Reynolds to be their signature depth for optimum aerodynamics across the widest range of conditions. They should be fast in every situation.

The new Performance range from Reynolds for 2014

The new Performance range from Reynolds for 2014

Reynolds Aero 46 joins the range as the signature depth

Reynolds Aero 46 joins the range as the signature depth

The new Stratus Pro alloy wheelset which will retail for £649 was on display too. These weigh in at 1445gms a pair and feature a Reynolds own design alloy rim with a 28mm depth, CFD optimised shape and are tubeless ready. They look interesting to me and are also available in a disc specific version.

Stratus Pro, alloy, tubeless and aero shaped

Stratus Pro, alloy, tubeless and aero shaped

The last bit on Reynolds is the new brake pads – Cryo Blue Power. These are a completely new design and promised significantly better braking performance in wet and dry conditions. They’re shipping with all new 2014 carbon road wheelsets but also available now separately if you already have Reynolds wheels

New and much improved brake pads and braking for Reynolds owners....

New and much improved brake pads and braking for Reynolds owners….

NeilPryde Zephyr & Alize

My old friends at NeilPryde’s endurance racing bike, the Zephyr, was on display with new distributor 2Pure. I wasn’t sure about the white but the version with the matt black and flouro was stunning. Like all “endurance”/sportive bikes, it’s a big longer in the headtube and wheelbase and a bit shorter in the top tube. I’d like to try one.

2014 NeilPryde Zephyr in white

2014 NeilPryde Zephyr in white

 

NeilPryde Zephyr Matt black/flouro details

NeilPryde Zephyr Matt black/flouro details

 

NeilPryde Zephyr chainstay

NeilPryde Zephyr chainstay

It was great also to see the fabulous new colour scheme for the 2014 NeilPryde Alize too. They’ve really nailed it and I thought it looked fantastic – better than the 2013 frameset I have here to build up L Still one of my favourite bikes ever and I’m looking forward to getting my new one on the road soon.

NeilPryde Alize 2014 Ultegra

NeilPryde Alize 2014 Ultegra

Cinelli Experience

2014 Cinelli Experience

2014 Cinelli Experience

I have a thing about this bike and the 2014 colours are great. It’s an affordable aluminium Italian frameset or bike that supposed to be responsive and fun to ride, whilst still taking 28mm tyres for some comfort. Also available as a £999 Campagnolo build making it a pretty cool Cycle to Work Scheme bike. Very nice.

Cinelli Experience front end

Cinelli Experience front end

Cinelli Experience rear triangle

Cinelli Experience rear triangle

 

Thomson and Katie Compton

Good enough for Katie Compton

Good enough for Katie Compton

Nice to snap a photo of some Thompson bars signed by Katie Compton at the i-ride stand

Red Ant Bike care products

I had a very interesting chat with the nice man from Red Ant who told me that it’s a new set of cleaning and care products for bikes, which brings the car detailing ethos and attention to ingredients to the bike market. That makes perfect sense to me and the fact that there are specific products for cleaning and protectin matt carbon frames is very interesting. I hope to try some at some point – they had a good story and I know lots of fussy bike owners with very expensive kit who this could be perfect for.

Red Ant bike care products available soon

Red Ant bike care products available soon

New 3T Aeronova and AeroTundo aero handlebars

New 3T aero road handlebars - Aeronova and Aerotundo

New 3T aero road handlebars – Aeronova and Aerotundo

Another product that stood out to me – 3T have designed and are about to launch aero road handle bars. Not the first to market I’ll admit but 3T bars have a great reputation and with so many more aero bars on the market – these make a lot of sense. They’d also go perfectly on my upcoming NeilPryde project(not subtle I know!) They’re due in the Spring I believe

Catlike Mixino

2014 Catlike Mixino

2014 Catlike Mixino

Just look at those vents. Often it’s hard to get too excited about a helmet but the Catlike looks great and there is some clever thinking in the design. Very well vented and it even suits my head. The nice man from Catlike took a picture of me modelling a pink one, so I’m not sharing that though. Sadly my pictures of the new POC Octal helmet which was also really interesting didn’t come out clearly, so I can’t add that. Both it and the Catlike are products I’d happily own and it’s great to see companies pushing a strong design language as well as putting serious thinking into the safety aspects. Strangely I think they both look their best in white!

Continental GP4000s II

Continental GP4000s II now with colours and 28mm

Continental GP4000s II now with colours and 28mm

More of a makeover than an upgrade – the mark II version of this extremely popular tyre seems to have colour options as a key change but it also sees a 28mm version – great for your Cinelli Experience! But seriously, 28mm tyres are great perhaps apart from summer. I ran some GP 4 Seasons in 28mm last winter and really liked the ride quality.

Storck Aernario

IMG_6578Lots of Storck bikes in a big room and lots of the new Aernario in particular and I thought it looked really good – either as a normal road bike or in the disc version. Storck being very German (it’s a compliment) had analysed braking forces on the fork between both cailper and disc brakes.

Storck Aernario Disc

Storck Aernario Disc

I was told 45x more force went through the disc version, so quite different engineering was needed. It still looked and I happily took a brochure away to peruse at my leisure. Sadly though for me, Storck’s geometry is a touch long and low for my particular short torso, long legs build. My loss I suspect. Lovely bikes!IMG_6576

Lightweight Urgestalt

Lightweight Urgestalt with Ultegra 11 speed Di2 and Lightweight wheels, bars and cages

Lightweight Urgestalt with Ultegra 11 speed Di2 and Lightweight wheels, bars and cages

I’m a big fan of the Lightweight brand, I’ve had a few conversations with them over the years and I like the people as much as the product. Sadly my finances don’t allow me to become a customer yet, but the wheels one display were as beautifully made as you’d expect. It was the first time I’d seen the handlebars in person too and they have their weight (168gms) written in very large lettering on the box! It was also my first chance to see the new Urgestalt frameset too – it’s beautifully made and I thought it looked fantastic. The packaging was outstanding too. Given that you’d really need to pair it with Lightweight wheels (which the design is optimised around), it’s a chunky investment for most people. The guys at Lightweight told me that it’s been such a success since the recent launch they’re struggling to make them fast enough. A fine problem to have.

Nice packaging!

Nice packaging!

Lightweight Urgestalt front end

Lightweight Urgestalt front end

Nice detail

Nice detail

Fabulous wheels .... and lots of them!

Fabulous wheels …. and lots of them!

But how much do they weigh?

But how much do they weigh?

 

A nice box to take home - along with matching wheels of course

A nice box to take home – along with matching wheels of course

Cipollini Bond

I’m not a big fan of Mario, which would make it hard for me to own one of his bikes – but I loved the sheer Italian exuberance of the flouro Bond on display – for the Alpha Male for sure! I like it – but I couldn’t own it. There’s a more subtle white and silver too. They made me smile.

Subtle .... er no, but what would you expect from Cipo!

Subtle …. er no, but what would you expect from Cipo!

A little bit quieter in white/silver

A little bit quieter in white/silver

Ritte Bikes

Ritte Bikes now under a larger distributor for the UK...

Ritte Bikes now under a larger distributor for the UK…

These have now been picked up by a bigger distributor in the UK so expect to see them in more shops and being reviewed by the press soon (who knows, maybe even by me too!) Ritte’s a small California company with a reputation for off the wall marketing and great paint jobs. The Vlaandaren certainly lives up to that and looks great. I can’t say how they ride or their progeny but they ace the looks department.

This is a particularly nice colourway...

This is a particularly nice colourway…

Ritte Vlaandaren headtube

Ritte Vlaandaren headtube

IMG_6607

Supacaz

Supacaz bar tape - lots of colours and feels good to the touch

Supacaz bar tape – lots of colours and feels good to the touch

A new brand of bartape owned by a Mr Sinyard from California – no not the one who owns Specialized but a direct family member. So there is a strong background of getting a great product to market. Also interesting as they’ve already signed a certain Mark Cavendish to use the tape for the 2014 racing season. I have some to try, so I’ll post some thoughts during the year.

Novatec Wheels

Another brand that’s been picked up by a large distributor. Novatec is a well respected Far Eastern brand, probably more known for their affordable but quality hubs who have some tempting wheelsets at interesting prices. For me the standout were the Novatec Sprint alloy wheelset weighing in at 1455gms a pair and retailing for under £500 a set. It’ll be interesting to see how they rate in the press during the course of this year.

Novatec wheels - now in wider distribution in the UK

Novatec wheels – now in wider distribution in the UK

To be fair there was a bunch of other things I saw I liked and would be telling you about but for camera issues. Again, apologies for that but I hope you found the above interesting….

Thanks for reading

Open Street Maps featured image

Open Street Maps for Garmin first thoughts review

When I took the plunge and bought my Garmin 800 a couple of years back, I really went for it and bought the all singing top of the range bundle with heart rate monitor, cadence and full European City Maps. Up until recently I’ve been blissfully happy – everything’s just worked and I’ve racked up over 13,000kms with my Garmin.

Just before Christmas though I noticed a weird issue – for some reason the two “drives” that show up when I connect my Garmin to my PC after ride had become just one. Then I noticed that my map view on rides had changed – in fact the mapping seemed to have disappeared. I contacted Garmin who kindly said, take out your memory card as sounds like it’s corrupted, send it to us and we’ll see if we can reload the data. Great I thought, except it wasn’t. Apparently I’d broken the card somehow (strange as I’d never removed it) and I needed to buy a new copy of the Garmin City Maps if I still wanted to use them. Whilst disappointed that my maps license was locked to that specific memory card that was now damaged, and without dwelling on the fact that I don’t think that’s a good model for customers, I started to consider what might be a plan B.

One of my riding buddies who bought exactly the same spec Garmin as mine – including the City Navigator, never even plugged those maps into his Garmin (he probably should have bought a cheaper version!). His preferred mapping option from day one was Open Street Maps – an open source mapping community solution that offers you the chance to have comprehensive, routable and free mapping suitable for Garmin cycling GPS devices like the 800.

I ordered a couple of new Micro SD cards for the sum of about a tenner as I needed a new memory card for the experiment I was about to make (and I wanted a backup).

I then found this fantastic blog post from the amazingly thorough DCRainmaker site that walks you through the entire process in some detail. In fact if you’re not especially technically confident, I’d just follow this process step by step (I did):

http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2013/05/download-garmin-705800810.html

You’ll end up on this site for choosing the actual maps you want:

http://garmin.openstreetmap.nl/

In my experiments, setting up most of Western Europe was about 2.5gb of data and the UK maps only are about 570mb. I’ve now got both 4gb and 8gb MicroSD cards on hand – so there’s an abundance of space left after the maps.

Following the instructions from either DCRainmaker or the Open Street Maps site – is pretty straight forwards. As is copying them onto a Micro SD card and plugging them into your Garmin.

Once they’re installed – it just business as usual. If you’re using routes you’ve created yourself or downloaded from somewhere – everything is just like it was – you’ll probably just notice more colourful maps with a few more feature markers like symbols of trees to represent woods/forest etc.

I’ve been using the maps I downloaded for over a month now, which is about 500km and they’ve been great. It’s hard to imagine switching back and right now, if I was to buy a new Garmin (I’d have no hesitation in buying another Garmin by the way), I’d probably just buy a base unit (I do quite fancy an 810!).

If you’re thinking of a Garmin Edge 800 or 810 and you have the budget – then yes, why not go for the full fat bundle with City Maps too. However if price is an issue – rest assured you can buy the unit without the maps and be confident that Open Street Maps is a good solution. It’s food for thought as the difference between the pricing on the base unit and the bundles can be significant.

Thanks for reading

Kinesis Tripster ATR - ready to get dirty and looking great!

Kinesis Tripster ATR mini review

A little while ago I had the good fortune to get to have a play on a Tripster ATR from Kinesis. The “ATR” stands for Adventure Tour Race and Kinesis describe the bike as a brand new concept for their range – a bike that’s designed for you to be able to do pretty much anything on: “adventure cycling, distance racing, touring, sportives or cyclocross”.

IMG_6278The frameset is beautifully made from custom drawn 3AL/2.5v titanium, is disc specific and has clearance for big 40mm tyres and 45mm guards! It has the same delightful machined and curved headtube (as seen on the GF_Ti v2) which is matched to a monocoque carbon tapered fork with massive clearance and disc mounts.

It also features rack and guard mounts and comes with a titanium seatclamp and a tapered headset (when you’re buying it as a frameset).

Curves are good!

Curves are good!

The geometry is new and interesting. Kinesis say that it’s intended to give a “sporty feel, alongside comfort and stability for long distance”.  Given its intentions of being an off-road/on-road adventure bike, the Tripster ATR has been given a low bottom bracket, long head tube, more relaxed head (steering angle) and is designed for short stem lengths. So it’s definitely not “normal” road geometry but nor is it “normal” cyclocross geometry, which matches perfectly with the intention of maximum flexibility and literally go almost anywhere (except perhaps challenging mountain bike environments).

I had the bike for a couple of weeks and mostly rode it on the road – I am a roadie after all! I did take it around some gravel trails in my local forest (Bedgebury) but that was with my 8 year old son, so it was hardly gruelling and only off road in the sense that the surface we rode on wasn’t covered in tarmac.

Rear clearance - Tripster ATR

Rear clearance – Tripster ATR

I was lucky enough to have the bike with both the brilliant new Reynolds Assault SLG disc wheels (http://girodilento.com/2014-reynolds-assault-slg-disc-wheels-review/) but also with a set of the also excellent Kinesis CX Disc wheels: http://www.kinesisbikes.co.uk/products/wheels/crosslight-cxdisc

IMG_6272One other fantastic feature of the build I was excited to try was the excellent TRP HY/RD cable/hydraulic disc brakes, which I’ll write separately about – but to cut the chase – they were fantastic and by far the best disc brakes I’ve personally tried to date – lovely feel, modulation and great stopping power.

TRP HY/RD disc brakes

TRP HY/RD disc brakes

The rest of the bike (especially with the Kinesis wheels) was largely a standard Kinesis build for the bike: Shimano 105 shifters and mechs, FSA finishing kit including cranks and Kinesis branded saddle. On my ebay scales of semi-truth the complete bike with the Reynolds wheels weighed in about 10kgs, so not especially light, but it’s not a bike that’s designed to be weenie – rather it’s designed to be comfortable, strong and a good companion.

The same Tripster and Reynolds Assault SLG Disc - now filthy after some good autumnal riding!

The same Tripster and Reynolds Assault SLG Disc – now filthy after some good autumnal riding!

105 to me, is a perfect match to this bike with it’s aspirations of big mileage anywhere in the world – you want super reliable components, that are easy to maintain and replace worn out parts. The FSA stuff was solid too – no complaints other than my personal preference would have been to spec different cranks – say Shimano 105 or equivalent Shimano ‘cross cranks, but that’s an easy fix if you were to take the plunge.

Big front clearances for mud and mudguards

Big front clearances for mud and mudguards

I’ve been lucky enough to ride a lot of the Kinesis range in the last few years and right away the Tripster ATR did indeed feel different than any I’d ridden before. Certainly, every titanium Kinesis I’ve ridden so far looks great and this bike did too (especially with those Reynolds wheels).

Tripster ATR frame details

Tripster ATR frame details

Whilst good looks are great – they’re not everything. On the road riding the Tripster ATR felt different almost immediately – you can really notice the difference in the geometry over a normal road bike and it particularly manifests itself in the steering, which feels quite different – slower. It doesn’t have quite the nimbleness of a road bike – but why would it? It’s something I specifically noticed on the first ride but only for the for the initial say 30 minutes or so. You adapt almost immediately – a bit like you do when you first ride a road bike with disc brakes.

I also immediately noticed the comfort – to my backside it was a noticeably more comfortable ride than the GF_Ti v2 and to me that’s a win. I like smooth, I like comfort and for me, the Tripster ATR delivers both.

It gets better though because the next thing the Tripster ATR felt to me – was fun. I really enjoyed riding the bike and found it a fine companion. With the Reynolds wheels it was capable of really good speed (even with me riding it), so the 10kg curb weight showed itself to be largely irrelevant on the road.

Tripster ATR Chainstay detail

Tripster ATR Chainstay detail

When I talked to Dom about the design when I collected it, he sort of implied that it wasn’t a climbers bike thanks to the geometry and the long head tube (18.5cm on the size 57 I rode) but I found it just fine to climb on and attacking a challenging local climb, I managed to set a personal best.

I rode the Tripster ATR on a short course sportive and set a Gold time on a breezy autumnal day with lots of greasy lanes – the Tripster was really in it’s element here and the TRP HY/RD brakes were wonderful on wet slippery, leaf covered descents and I could carve through other riders in complete control – that was a moment I look back on particularly fondly.

For my short foray off-road I swapped back to the Kinesis wheels and the WTB tyres. On the loose surfaces with my son, I rode like an 8 year old myself- lots of skids down hills and around corners and lots of big smiles. The geometry felt a bit more at home off tarmac and it was great fun.

105 rear mech - a good choice

105 rear mech – a good choice

Sadly as is often the way with test bikes, I only got to play with it for a couple of weeks but I’m very grateful for the opportunity.

There’s no question in my mind that the Tripster ATR successfully achieves it’s very broad goals – it’s a comfortable, fun companion that you can ride pretty much anywhere on. It’s a bike you’ll enjoy whenever you ride and wherever you ride it. If you’re used to just riding road bikes, it’ll feel different at first but you’ll adapt very quickly, I imagine that’ll be the same if you mostly ride ‘cross bikes. Whilst you could certainly race cyclocross races on it – I’m not sure that’s the best use for it.IMG_6017

If you’re the type of rider who wants to really explore – across all kinds of terrain and you wants something with the beauty and the ride quality of titanium, then the Tripster ATR is a tempting proposition. I personally think that it’s going to be best for someone who wants to ride a lot, for long distances and over all kinds of terrain (often on the same ride).

If you’re the kind of person who starts out on a road ride but sees a bridle path so jumps on that and then decides to ride over a hill to maybe get back to a road – this might be perfect! But it’s going to be no problem knocking out your road miles or attempting a UCX or whatever really.

I really enjoyed my time on the Tripster ATR and to me Kinesis have certainly achieved their objective of building a bike that “will perform across many disciplines and types of terrain”. I’ve certainly never before ridden a bike with such a wide ranging versatility.

Kinesis Tripster ATR - ready to get dirty and looking great!

Kinesis Tripster ATR – ready to get dirty and looking great!

For more information on the Tripster ATR, please visit the Kinesis site:

Frameset details: http://www.kinesisbikes.co.uk/products/decade/tripster-atr

Full bike details: http://www.kinesisbikes.co.uk/bikes/decade/tripster-atr

Thanks for reading