Big Boys Toys: On ya Bike!
With the Grand Depart of the 2014 Tour de France in Yorkshire and longer, lighter days here at last there’s never been a better time to get out and ride.
British cycling has been enjoying an upsurge of success thanks to Olympic and Tour de France triumph. So, to keep with the patriotic theme our resident lycra expert Martin Kersey – a qualified mountain bike leader and former bike mechanic – gives you the low down on three British bikes to tempt you out of the kitchen and onto the open road.
Boardman Road Sport 2014 – £499
Chris Boardman’s range of bikes has gained a reputation for both performance and great value. Solid, comfortable and specced with reliable components that won’t let you down. The range includes; mountain, commuter, road and cyclocross bikes at just about every price and most have a women’s specific version too.
The Road Sport is very versatile, capable of a work commute, blasting out big miles on your day off or even a Sportive event, it has eyelets on the frame which allow for fitting mudguards and a pannier rack for light touring if you so wish.
It has a lightweight aluminium frame which features curved seat stays designed to flex and improve comfort. Comfort has also been considered with the 25mm tyres, rather than the usual 23mm. The seat features a decent amount of padding and there’s plenty of spacers to enable you to get the handlebar height just right.
The 16-gears will help get you up all but the steepest of hills and the Tektro dual-pivot brakes provide plenty of stopping power for on the way down.
Hoy Shizuoka .001 City Bike – £550
Flat-bar bikes, sometimes referred to as urban, commuters or hybrids, eschew the traditional drop bars to allow a more upright riding position. A flat or straight handlebar reduces the number of hand positions you have; drop handlebars have 3 – the tops, the hoods of your brake levers and the drops for when you’re putting the hammer down or trying to reduce the impact of headwind. You can add another position to your flat-bars by adding bar ends which can assist on climbs or just let you change position for comfort reasons from time to time.
The Hoy range has been designed to be above all else, fun. Sir Chris Hoy set this as the most important aspect before his bikes were designed, because he wants more people riding bikes. Distributed by Evans Cycles, its staff are trained to be specialised “Hoy bike fitters” making sure you leave the store with the bike set up perfectly for you.
The Shizuoka .001 is the cheapest in a range of four city bikes and is designed to be versatile. It features a lightweight, triple-butted aluminum frame and fork, enough to take on rough roads, towpaths and gravel tracks – although you’ll want tyres with more tread on if you’re venturing off the tarmac regularly or in muddy conditions.
The frame gives a zippy ride and eggs you on to go faster, luckily there’s a set of powerful hydraulic discs to ensure you come to a swift and controlled stop.
Although it only has eight gears, the ratios have a reasonable range suitable for commuting or a leisurely ride. If you want to up the pace, or go touring upgrade to the Shizuoka .003 which has an extra chainring up front and a 10-speed wide range cassette at the back. The .003 also has a full carbon fork which is lighter and stiffer, and will absorb more imperfections in road surface.
Genesis Day One Alfine 8 – £999
Genesis is part of a much bigger family of brands which include, Ridgeback and Saracen who have been making hybrid and mountain bikes for over two decades, and is stocked by many independent bike shops and the Evans Cycles chain.
Reliable and versatile the Day One will take whatever you throw at it. Part of the “Urban Cross” collection it’s a low maintenance, adaptable, and perfect as a bike for all seasons.
Featuring a Reynolds steel frame, disc brakes and an 8-speed hub gear the bike can stand up to plenty of neglect and abuse so it’s suitable for commuting, touring or even light off-road duties.
The tyres are a generous 32mm wide and along with the natural flex of the steel frame and fork allow the bike to easily absorb the bumps and potholes of poorly surfaced roads and lanes.
The Madison Prime seat never leaves the rider sore and the Hayes disc brakes give you plenty of stopping power, whatever the conditions and, even if you are fully loaded up for touring. A tough 32-spoke wheelset keeps everything rolling straight and true.
And now to the hub gears; technology has moved on since Sturmey Archer 3 speeds and the Shimano Alfine hub has proven itself to be a reliable and efficient drivetrain in recent years. The eight ratios are spread quite widely and give a similar range of gears to the Boardman. You can even change gear when you’re stationary unlike on a traditional derailleur set up.
If you hanker for more gears or have a bigger budget then there’s a higher spec version with an 11-speed hub, an electronic shifter and a lighter steel frame available for £2,199.