Tag Archives: bicycle

bye bye brooks

If there’s one brand synonymous with Audax and long distance endurance cycling then it’s Brooks England. They manufacture traditional bags and saddles with the majority of their original designs made from leather.

b17
challenge saddle bag

They’ve also moved into more modern materials.

scape saddle roll bag
c17 cambium

Ever since I’ve come across Audax and started researching bikes and gear I’ve wanted to get a Brooks saddle. The traditional leather versions don’t react well to prolonged exposure to rain so not suitable for Irish weather. The Cambium range is made from rubber to give the same comfort benefits of the traditional models but more weatherproof.

There are a number of models in the Cambium range. They are pretty much the same design in various different widths for different riding styles. There are also “carved” versions with a central cut out to reduce pressure for anyone prone to numbness. The most popular options seem to be the C15 and slightly wider C17.

I’d pretty much decided that the C15 would be the best option for me but there was a discussion on the Audax Ireland WhatsApp group and one of the guys had an almost unused C17 for sale for €50. As this is a massive saving I jumped at the chance to try out a Brooks without gambling too much money.

My first ride was a simple 40km and it was quickly apparent that this saddle required a very different position compared to the original one that came with the bike.

My main issues were that I was sitting much too far forward on the saddle, putting way too much weight on my hands and over stretching at the bottom of the pedal stroke. This was creating discomfort in my lower back as well as numbness in my hands. Advice from the group and tinkering over the next few rides improved all of this but on my last 75km ride I decided that unfortunately Brooks is not for me. I’m unable to get rid of the hand issues but I’m sure I could if I got my bike fit tweaked professionally but my major issue is that I can’t seem to prevent sliding forward. The saddle has a scoop shape that seems to disagree with my posture on the bike. The only way to prevent this is to tilt it up at the front which then creates numbness in a more sensitive area and something I don’t think I’ll ever be able to contend with.

Shortly after buying the saddle one of the other guys posted the GCN video below that discusses flat v curved saddles for different postures. This confirmed my feeling that the curved saddle won’t suit me.

If the current spell of wet and windy weather ever passes I’ll be switching back to the original saddle that came with the bike (Selle Royal Seta RS). Thankfully I took lots of photos and measurements before removing it. There was a lot of interest when the C17 came up for sale so I should have no problems selling it on for what I paid for it.

selle royal seta rs

gear review: clug bike holder

From the manufacturer’s website:

The Eurobike award winning CLUG is the world’s smallest bike rack. Working seemlessly with your floor to store your bike, CLUG is used to store your bike either vertically or horizontally.

For the last few months I’ve been using a vinyl coated hook screwed into the wall to hold my front wheel and store my bike vertically like the first image in the graphic above. It wasn’t great though as the wheel had a tendency to tilt to one side making me nervous about it possibly falling over. In fact I haven’t used it at all since I got my new bike.

A while ago I saw an ad on Facebook for a better option. One of the comments slagged it off saying it was a rip off of the Hornit CLUG and it definitely looked like a solution for my situation. I bought it direct from the website for £14.99 but see it for sale now on Wiggle and other sites from £11.99.

CLUG comes in a range of different colours and 5 different sizes depending on the width of your tyres and therefore your bike type. It was a roadie for me and plain black on black.

Installation is pretty simple. The box has an integrated template to line up with your tyre and mark the wall. I was using a block wall so had to drill and use the provided rawl plugs.

The holder comes in two parts. The outside collar screws to the wall and the inner clip, that holds the wheel, clicks in to it.

Shane Millar has a YouTube video if you want to see one being installed.

Overall it is very simple, tidy and most importantly, very effective 👍

Value: 10/10 especially if bought at £11.99! It’s well made, well packaged and holds your expensive bike safely and securely.

Durability: 9/10 but only because I’ve only just started using it. Materials seem well made and robust. No cracking during installation and hard to see how it could break or wear out.

Effectiveness: 10/10 it simply does what it’s designed to do, holding the bike safely and securely.

Overall: 10/10 highly recommended.

Manufacturer’s Website: https://hornit.com/collections/clug

new bike day

Yesterday evening I collected my new bike and had it fitted having handed over my old bike. Today I was off work and got to ride it for the first time. It was fantastic! There’s nothing quite like riding a brand new bike.

It’s an Orbea Avant M20 Team that comes with Shimano Ultegra disc brakes and 11 Speed groupset. I upgraded the wheels and went for the optional FSA Powerbox power meter.

This is a big upgrade for me and has some new tech for me to get used to. I’ve gone from an entry level aero styled carbon frame to something more mid-range but with endurance geometry that will better suit my riding style and preferences.

Disc brakes are a change I’ve been looking forward to for a while now but especially over the last couple of weeks as the weather turned wetter and I was riding every day. Lots of times I’ve yearned for the control and stopping power of disc vs rim brakes.

The Mavic Cosmic wheels are tubeless which is a change I was less sure about until experiencing the incredible comfort of them today. I was nervous about the ability to seal punctures and I’m still concerned how easy a roadside puncture repair will be but so far the feeling of them is winning out.

The final piece of tech is the power meter. Changing from riding by heart rate to riding by power will take a bit of getting used to. I did do a Zwift FTP Test back in April so I have some information to set training zones but I’ll have to complete a road test and do some more research before I really know what I’m doing and get a score that is up to date. For today I was pleased to see power data and pleasantly surprised to see my average power output.

© strava

To get a feel for the bike I kept my maiden spin to 50km, long enough to know how it feels and short enough in case anything feels off. Nothing did! It was pretty much perfect and such an enjoyable ride.

It’s wonderful to ride a brand new bike, everything just works perfectly and it’s so quiet. The change from 105 to Ultegra is really noticeable with smooth, sharp gear changes, 105 is good but Ultegra is great. The smooth, comfortable feel of the tubeless tyres combined with the improved shock absorption of the frame was amazing. Virtually no discomfort or numbness simply allowed me to enjoy the ride.

It’s a beautiful bike and a pleasure to ride. I’m looking forward to many more rides and testing it on some proper long distance endurance spins.

click the image to view on strava

bicycle evolution

I’ve been able to ride a bike since I was about 10 years old and I used to ride a bike to get to work and college until I got my driving licence and my first car. A bike back then was a way to get around and was soon ditched in favour of the car.

Living in England my bike was stolen from the back of the house but I was riding it so little (never!) that it was gone at least a week before I noticed! It wasn’t until we were married and back home in Ireland that I bought a replacement but I think I rode it less than 10 times in about 10 years.

In February 2013, at the end of 3 months of unemployment I going stir crazy and decided to give cycling a go. 4km on that cheap, heavy MTB nearly killed me and I still had to cycle back home! I kept cycling on a reasonably regular basis but the bike was holding me back. For my 40th birthday I traded in the Barracuda and upgraded to a pretty decent hybrid Carrera Crossfire 2 from Halfords.

I celebrated my birthday by cycling the Great Western Greenway from Achill to Westport.

I put in a lot of miles on that hybrid working my way up to 50km in one spin by the end of the Summer and finally 100km by the end of August 2014.

At this point I decided that I had reached the point where a road bike was the next obvious step and thanks to the Bike to Work scheme I was able to buy a Giant Defy 3 2014 aluminium frame road bike while still holding on to my hybrid for rougher stuff or cycling with the boys.

It was at this stage that I also joined the local cycling club Finn Wheelers which was probably the point where cycling became a permanent part of my life.

In 2016 bits were wearing out and I was easily convinced that a bike upgrade was more sensible than spending money replacing parts. I’d gotten to know the Halfords bike mechanic quite well and he sourced me a great bargain on an end of line carbon road bike with aero styling and a much improved Shimano 105 groupset. The brand was 13, an abandoned experiment by Halfords to create a new brand, and the model was an Intuition Beta.

I’ve had some fantastic times on this bike. Over 4 years I’ve ridden almost 13,000km, got into long distance Audax, completed the Four Provinces Challenge and cycled 210km in my longest spin. Unfortunately through 2019 and the start of 2020 my cycling dropped away considerably but this last month I’ve rediscovered my cycling mojo and enjoyed this bike to the fullest.

Today however, was my final, farewell ride. Tomorrow, I collect a new bike and trade in this one as part payment. Today was about enjoying that final spin and saying goodbye to my old friend.

click the image to view on strava