2011 Winter bike further thoughts thanks to Rich Land

Following my last post on choosing a winter bike for the coming winter, I was absolutely delighted that Rich Land (@sprinting4signs) blogged with his own thoughts and guidance on my post: http://sprintingforsigns.posterous.com/the-perfect-winter-bike-the-quest-for-the-uni#!/

Not surprisingly Rich makes some excellent points that has given me some more to think about and I wanted to put those thoughts down on the blog as part of the journey.

In the setup part of Rich’s post he made a number of points that I wanted to publicly agree with:
– Living in the UK, it’s worth putting some proper thought into your winter bike as you’ll probably end up riding it more than you think. My Dad (who doesn’t ride) lives in Queensland Australia and he gets 300 days a year of sunshine – so a winter bike isn’t ever going to need a lot of thought. However we get a few less than 300 days of sunshine here – so it is important. It’s also important as you can ride through most of the worst of winter if you have the right gear, meaning bikes as well as clothes. 
– A really important point to me is Rich’s suggestion that you spend half the value of your summer bike on your winter bike. I’ve seen countless posts on forums recommending the cheapest, nastiest winter bikes – but as Rich says, if you have a fabulous summer bike you’ve been enjoying a certain level of quality that I don’t see why you’d like to forgo in the winter months. Ideally I’m still looking for a bike I can love rather than endure. I’d hoping to find a winter bike I can also look forward to riding.
– I also agree on a lesser groupset as frankly you’d have to have more money than sense to ride a top end groupset through a northern European winter. 
– It’s also an interesting point on using the same finishing kit on your summer bike. I like the FSA SLK Carbon bars on my NeilPryde a lot – it would be nice to have them on the winter bike – but it depends which winter bike I end up with (and at what price point). 

Rich then kindly ran through my previous shortlist (see: http://girodilento.com/2011-winter-bike-build-shortlist) which I really appreciate, both because I was struggling to cut the choices down myself and also because I know Rich has probably forgotten more about geometries than I actually know about them.

To cut to the chase, although great bikes, Rich suggested dropping the Genesis and the Enigma off the list, sort of for the same reasons – questions about the geometry and the fit. I’ll come back to that shortly. Rich does however support the Kinesis choices, probably especially the TK2 due to it’s clearances and flexibility. Rich also was pro the cross bike and even suggested a mountain bike(!), which I know depends on the riding I end up doing. 

I know I’m looking for a Unicorn myself by looking for a bike I can ride on cycle paths with my kids and also do winter training on the roads on. I also know that the reality is, I’ve done very little riding with my family (perhaps the kids have been too small so far) and this may continue into the next few years. I think it’s quite likely that during the winter they will be even less keen to go cycling than they are in the summer. If I’m only occassionally riding off road on paths with my family I want a bike that will handle this ok at least for enough times that we work out what direction this riding is going in. So I’m reasonably certain my first priority is road riding, so to me this rules out a mountain bike. Certainly for this winter, I’ll only have one bike for these things and it feels 50:50 at best that a cross bike is the right answer.

Talking about the geometry of the Enigma maybe not quite being right and seeing the picture in Rich’s blog post of the fabulous Hampsten, brings me to my next point. If I’m going to get a really great frameset with good clearances, good geometry and comfort not to mention mudguards and rack mounts, it may make sense to look into custom framesets. In the grand scheme of things, these may not even cost a fortune. I had a Brian Rourke (http://www.rourke.biz/index.shtml) in Reynolds 853 recommended to me and Enigma do custom frames as well. The challenge is mostly the wait. I spoke to Brian Rourke on Saturday and he said they were on a 6 month waiting list for custom frames at present and I’ve heard it’s 3 months with Enigma. If this was a path to follow (and it could be), it won’t be for this winter but for next. 

In an odd way it leads me back to the same choices as before – Kinesis or the CAADX. In the case of Kinesis – it perhaps suggests the allrounder that is the TK2 to not spend too much on the frameset for this winter, but it would keep me out on the road and clocking up the miles, it would also be fine for the family stuff too regardless of what kind of riding it ended up being.

Here’s a nice picture of a Brian Rourke Audax frame from Road.cc’s visit to the Bristol Handbuilt show this year. It’s more food for thought for a Sunday evening.
More to come soon, no doubt. I’m hoping to get down to Enigma this week to have a look at an Ethos (even after Rich’s comments, so I can talk to them about the fit/geometry) and I’d like to work out what stock Kinesis have just in case too.

Thanks for reading.