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Saturday, 9 June 2012

Equipment Review

Given the number of miles I put in during training and the ride itself I thought it might be worthwhile to do a bit of a review of the bike/equipment I used.


I think the Genesis Equilibrium frame and fork were brilliantly suited to the task – yes, I had to get p-clips to attach the rack but once it was fitted it was fine. The ride quality and handling is the best of any frame I have ridden and I’m sure it helped me feel less fatigued than I would have done on another bike. The Dura Ace 7800 shifters combined with Ultegra 6600 mechs were a revelation in terms of the precision and smoothness of their gear shifting. The levers have a much lighter action than anything else I've used and once the gears set up back in February they didn’t need touching until the last couple of days of the LEJoG some 2,500 miles later. 

I wasn’t as pleased with the braking performance of the levers combined with Tektro R536 brakes though – I have fiddled around with the set-up and changed brake blocks but the stopping power has never been that good compared to the standard drop Shimano105 brakes I have on my other bike. I might look at changing the brakes for some Shimano R650’s and if that doesn’t solve the problem I guess it’s just down to the performance of long drop vs standard drop brakes. These were all linked with white Fibrax cables although it’s difficult to say whether these had any positive or negative effect.

The cassette I chose for the end to end was a Tiagra 4600 12-28 10 speed which was great as it gave me an extra low gear for lugging my panniers up hills. In terms of price to performance ratio I think the Tiagra cassettes are hard to beat. This was coupled with a KMC DX-10 chain which I purchased as it has a reusable link that enables easy removal and re-fitting and again was good value.

In full touring mode on day 1

The rack I used was a Tortec Ultralite combined with B’Twin City 9 litre panniers. The rack was a bit of a faff to fit due to needing p-clips as the Equilibrium doesn’t have eyelets but once fitted did the job fine. The panniers had plenty of room for what I needed to carry but aren’t the easiest to fit and remove due to lengthy Velcro fastenings. Also they're not waterproof meaning you have to pack things inside plastic bags and I'm sure the extra weight of sodden panniers didn't help when it was raining!

The chainset was Specialites TA Vega cranks and had a 48/34 Zephyr chainrings which I think is a good combination if you aren’t racing. This was coupled with a Campagnolo bottom bracket which works fine providing the crank bolts are adequately tightened – if not the crank arms can work loose as the chainset and bottom bracket are not strictly compatible due to slightly different tapers. Although this is a square taper set up which is now considered out-dated, with new systems seemingly  being introduced every year, it does mean it's simple to fit and you don't have to buy any new tools. I have Shimano M520 pedals fitted to the cranks which although are technically mountain bike pedals work well if you want to combine them with a shoe that is good for walking in.

The wheels were Ambrosio Evolution rims with an Ultegra front hub and a Tiagra rear hub of unknown mileage as they were off my brothers bike. These are good solidly built wheels that served me well throughout my training but unfortunately the rear rim developed a crack on the second to last day of the LEJoG – the rim was pretty worn and coming to the end of its life by this point and that combined with poor road surfaces meant the end of the road for the rim. The Continental Gatorskin 23mm tyres were again of unknown mileage and I only had two punctures throughout the 2,700 miles I rode them when the rear tyre started getting worn out. 

On the last day with R540 rear wheel and no panniers
My old Shimano WH-R540 rear wheel with a Bontrager Racelite Hardcase 23mm tyre stood in for the last day – for wheels with only 16 spokes they are pretty sturdy but obviously you have more of a problem if one of the spokes breaks compared to more conventional wheels. The Hardcase tyres are much less supple than the Gatorskins so the ride quality suffers as a result but I have never punctured with them and they seem extremely durable. As ever with tyres it's always a compromise but I think when (if?!) the Hardcase tyres wear out I will replace them with 25mm Gatorskins for a good balance between comfort and puncture protection. I am currently running another set of Ambrosio wheels - Evolution rims and Zenith hubs - that I picked up second hand as it worked out cheaper than getting new rims put on the old wheels.

The Madison Prime saddle is one of the comfiest I’ve ridden but then saddles are a very personal thing. I was glad to find one that wasn’t causing me too much discomfort over long rides though and will probably be getting another one to go on my race bike. The seatpost, handlebars and stem were Genesis branded and did the job fine whilst the bartape was from B’Twin and was well cushioned but a little slippery when wet. 

The SKS P35 mudguards are easy to fit if you have done it previously and do their job well with one exception – the rear mudguard is quite short to facilitate the easy removal of the rear wheel and comes without a mud flap. This is fine if you are riding on your own but it you are riding in a group it will soon annoy the rider behind you, I added a flap fashioned from EPDM to mine.

Post LEJoG with new wheels - stem lowered but steerer still to be cut!

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2 comments:

  1. Where did you get white hoods for Tiagra levers?!

    ReplyDelete
  2. They're Dura Ace 7800 levers, the white Hudz came with them when I bought them second hand.

    ReplyDelete