Category Archives for "Bikes"

Titanium Road Bikes

Titanium Road Bikes: 2013 Genesis Equilibrium Titanium Review

“Reviewing Titanium Road Bikes’ Genesis Equilibrium. How would you rate this bike? Read about it now!”

The Equilibrium Ti is a fine machine but one that will perhaps suffer by comparison with the excellent Reynolds 725 version in the opinion of riders who already own the steel incarnation. We expected more zip, more vim, more vigor from this new, more expensive Equilibrium. Instead, we received another helping of the considered, dependable, straight talking and fun handling so beloved of our 725 ‘Test Rig’. While this Ti version lacked the springy vitality of its steel brother, it was lighter, and will doubtless offer greater longevity from its inherent resistance to corrosion.

Titanium Road Bikes

Titanium Road Bikes

Let’s take a closer look.

The frame is fabricated from the easiest of the titanium alloys to work into the shape of a bicycle frame: 3Al/2.5V. Here, it is double butted and seamless. The front end starts with the now sadly departed, XX44 oversize headtube from the titanium Latitude Ti bike (fear not, road friends – this is fabulous heritage, and not to be sniffed at).

The oversized top and down tubes look simple in comparison to the beautifully sculpted chainstays which are squeezed vertically to provide clearance at the bottom bracket, and in the mid section are flattened horizontally to increase the ‘dissipation of vibrations’. Neat cowled rear dropouts finish off the chainstays and connect to the super thin seatstays, also flattened to enhance comfort.

The Equibrium Ti handled every bit as well as it’s steel stable mate, largely due to a shared geometry. This makes the Equilibrium a superb descender regardless of the cloth from which it is cut; one that felt well connected to the ground in corners. Neutral handling can be dull, but the Equilibrium does not fall into this category; it is instead dependable, providing sufficient feedback through the carbon fork and titanium rear end to inform the rider what is going on beneath the 25c Continental tyres.

While the front triangle is stiff, the rear has a degree of compliance. We found it a very comfortable ride, wholly suited to long days in the saddle.

We were broadly satisfied with the components. Shimano’s R650 brake caliper would perhaps have made a better choice than Tektro R317s; the former offering greater stopping power and more progressive braking in our experience. The compact bar felt a little spindly underhand when riding on the ‘tops’; a double wrap of tape would resolve this minor complaint. The wheels (more of which later), are ideal for winter miles. They rolled well and held their momentum when brought up to speed.

Opinions on the grey fork varied among riding colleagues. Gloss black would have provided a ‘collars and cuffs’ match for the stem and seatpost. Genesis may have baulked at such a commonplace selection, but we suspect it may have set off the clean lines and natural titanium finish to greater effect.

To return to the wheels: for our final ride, we swapped the supplied rolling stock (notably heavy 105 hubs laced to DT Swiss 450 rims) for a set of Mavic Ksyrium Elites, newly arrived for our winter bike project, and shaved just over a kilo from the weight of the whole bike, reducing it to 8.2kg. Our reason for the change? Genesis intend the Equilibrium Ti to be an all-season cycle, and so one required to hold its own in a fast moving summer pack as well as carry mudguards through the winter months. The former use would in our opinion necessitate a wheel upgrade (not unreasonable for a Ti-framed package retailing at £2,300; the frame costs £1,500). As might be expected, the lighter rolling stock improved acceleration and performance uphill. Additionally, the Ksyriums demonstrated how accomplished the frame is in corners.

If you don’t already own a steel Equilibrium, and want a machine with its vaunted qualities but lighter and more resistant to corrosion, this is the bike for you. It is very good. Owners of the 725 steel incarnation may choose to delay an upgrade until sampling the 953 Volare in the Genesis pipeline. More at Genesis Equilibrium Ti – review

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Bikes

Bikes: How to Choose Wisely

“Things to consider and remember so you can choose your bikes wisely. Read it now!”

The best triathlon bike for you if you are just starting out in triathlon will be any one, so long as it has two wheels and brakes that work!

Bikes

Bikes

Even a mountain bike will do, but generally people will compete on traditional-style racing bikes with drop handlebars.

You can spend anything from £200 – £20,000. The more you pay, the lighter the bike becomes due to better quality (lighter and stronger) components.

How Much Difference Does The Cost Make?

This depends on how competitive you are. Generally the more expensive the bike, the lighter it is. If you’re happy just to get round a race then the weight really doesn’t matter – it will still do the job. If you’re serious about improving times then a lighter bike will help.

The difference between a heavy, inexpensive bike and a light, more expensive bike is noticeable. It’s a bit like driving a luxury car compared to a cheap one.

You don’t need to pay more money if you are particularly tall or short. You can make any bike fit you.

A more expensive one will last longer because of the higher quality components. This becomes more relevant the more you plan to ride your bike. Even a cheaper one will last a long time if you look after it and don’t ride it for hours every day!

How To Choose A Bike

The ideal way to choose the best triathlon bike is to go to a reputable bike shop and get advice.

The sort of questions they should be asking you, or information you should be giving them are:

What are you wanting to do on your bike (ie race fast vs complete course, race Ironman vs sprint triathlons)

What distances will you cover

How much training do you plan to do

What type of riding will you do – hilly or flat

What is your budget

Do you have any back problems (this might restrict your mobility and therefore a smaller/shorter bike would suit you better so that you are more upright).

Our general advice is to buy at the upper end of your budget and get the best triathlon bike you can afford, because you will notice the difference in quality.

Gears

Most modern bikes will have at least 18 gears. Many will have 20 – 30.

If most of your riding is going to be on the flat then you don’t need to worry too much about the number of gears.

If you are very experienced and well trained then you don’t need a lot of gears. This is because the extra ones are usually lower gears which you probably won’t make use of.

If you are going to be doing a lot of hilly rides or you are particularly unfit, then you will want more gears. This is because they will give you lower ratios which will make the hills easier.

‘What’s a ratio?’ I hear you ask….

The gear that your bike is in at any one time is determined by the interaction between the front and rear cogs, which is called the ratio. The more cogs (also called sprockets) that your bike has, the more gears it has.

So if you hear someone saying they rode in 53 x 13, then they mean that the chain was on the front cog with 53 teeth and the back cog with 13 teeth.

A high ratio gear is 53 x 13, whilst a low ratio gear is 34 x 25. The closer the ratio is to 1:1 the easier it is to ride, but the faster you have to pedal to move.

Carbon Frame or Aluminium?

Whereas carbon fibre frames used to be reserved for the elite cyclist, nowadays there are a lot of carbon fibre frame sets around.

So what’s the best triathlon bike frame to go for?

Carbon fibre is generally lighter, but cheaper carbons offer no advantage over a similarly priced aluminium frame and may even be heavier.

What you choose comes down to personal preference: do you like the look, and does it fit well are more important that whether the frame is carbon or aluminium.

Generally we would advise you go for an aluminium if you are going for the cheaper end of the price range. This is because when a carbon frame get damaged it is harder to spot because the damage is often internal. Also, if they fail they tend to fail spectacularly. If an aluminium frame gets damaged it is usually easy to spot.

Bars

Another thing to consider is aero bars, also known as tri bars. These are add-ons to conventional bars that enable you to get into a more aerodynamic position. Some people find riding more comfortable with them. Again it is really a matter of personal preference and whether saving a little bit of time through aerodynamics is important to you or not.

There is a plethora of different brands to choose from. They all do essentially the same job and different designs will suit different people. So it’s worth trying a few different ones to see what suits you best – there is no one best triathlon bike aerobar.

Generally you would get your bike set up without aerobars. You want the bike to fit so that you can control it effectively before adding extras. More at Best Triathlon Bike

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Affordable Road Bikes

Affordable Road Bikes: Avanti Monza vs Giant OCR Zero

“Reviewing two affordable road bikes: Avanti Monza vs Giant OCR Zero. Which is better? Read on and find out!”

Colnago, Bianchi, Pinarello, De Rosa … let’s face it, we’ve all dreamed of one day owning a high-end road bike, lovingly crafted by hand in a small factory in Italy. Sadly, for most of us the dream will never become a reality.

Affordable Road Bikes

Affordable Road Bikes

However, in recent years, the gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ has been significantly reduced by bike companies such as Giant and Avanti, which have taken advantage of efficient production runs and sheer volume of sales to revolutionise bikes for the entry-level buyer.

There is no doubting the value for money, but what about the ride quality? Can a mass-produced frame from a young company based in Asia really compare with a company from cycling’s heartland that boasts one hundred years of bike-building excellence?

Avanti Monza
With no less than 17 road bikes in its range, New Zealand-based Avanti has made a big impact on the Australian market. While its top-of-the-range bikes boast a carbon monocoque frameset, its entry-level offering is the aluminium-framed Monza.

One of the striking things about the Monza is its unusually shaped downtube. The triangular cross-section provides additional stiffness, as well as a small aerodynamic benefit. The bike also has a tight rear triangle, thanks to Avanti’s traditional sloping top tube. This usually translates into sure handling and the Monza was no exception.
Out on the road I found the Monza to be really responsive. The bike was quick and lively and responded immediately when asked to accelerate. After a short period of adjustment, I was cornering confidently at speed and indeed I was more comfortable attacking corners on the Monza than the more expensive Giant.

Ride comfort was not quite as good. There is no doubt the carbon fork and cleverly chosen carbon seatpost contribute a little to softening the ride, but I still felt the bumps in the road more than I have become accustomed to on my own carbon-fibre bike.
I guess this is the trade-off you make for having the sure, responsive ride delivered by a stiff aluminium frame. The importance of comfort really depends on what sort of riding you have in mind. For the speed and handling required for short races, I am a big fan of aluminium. However, it has to be said that at the end of an endurance event such as Around the Bay in a Day, the extra jolting can enhance fatigue levels.

I can’t finish without a note on the Shimano Sora groupset. Sora is the budget product in the Shimano range and it’s fair to say you get what you pay for. This is not to say the groupset is bad. It’s just that the attention to detail leaves a little to be desired, such as the ergonomics of the brake hoods and the placement of the thumb lever you use to change gears.

Again the impact of this comes down to your riding plans. Sora is perfectly fine for a weekend warrior, but if you plan to ride a lot of miles consistently, then I would give some serious thought to an upgrade.

All in all I enjoyed the bike. Okay, it’s not the lightest, most comfortable offering on the market, but if you are entering the road market for the first time, it’s hard to beat the value for money offered by the Avanti Monza.

Giant OCR Zero
Giant has established a dominant position in the road market in recent years. It seems every second bike along Beach Road bears the Giant brand. It therefore felt strange that despite being an active cyclist for more than 15 years, I had never ridden a Giant before this test. I was looking forward to putting the OCR Zero through its paces.

The first thing I noticed out on the road was the smoothness of the ride once you get the OCR rolling in a straight line. The ride quality really was superb. This is no doubt largely attributable to the composite rear end of the bike – the rear stays feature carbon-fibre which, as noted above, helps absorb a large amount of jarring.

The disadvantage is that the rear end is not as tight and responsive and this was really noticeable when going from the Monza to the Giant. I have to say that under strong acceleration, the bike felt a little sloppy. For most social riders this is not a factor – you might only notice it if you are sprinting to latch onto the back of a passing pack – but for a rider with ambitions to race, it is a little more significant.

Back to the positives, the frame is amazingly light for a bike at this price point and I found it climbed really well. It is always a good sign when you are putting a test bike through its paces if you are riding up familiar hills in a gear higher than you are used to and that was the case with the Giant.

The other great feature of this bike is the Shimano Ultegra groupset. It seems hard to believe it is possible to buy an Ultegra-equipped bike for under $2,000. The purists out there will scoff at me, but I am hard-pressed to notice any significant difference between Ultegra and the top-of-the-range Dura-Ace. I have heard people complain in the past about the durability of Ultegra, but I have ridden an Ultegra-equipped bike for over 4000km and not had a problem with it. The value for money is amazing.

I want to finish by talking about the seat. Many people overlook this important feature when shopping around, but please don’t under-estimate its importance! A bad one can totally ruin a day in the saddle, especially if you are facing a journey all the way around Port Philip Bay. I found the Velo model on this bike extremely uncomfortable and the first thing I would do before buying this bike would be to replace the seat with my preferred option. More at Avanti Monza rrp vs Giant OCR Zero

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To conclude, I was suitably impressed by the value for money

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