Monday, 28 November 2011

ACCESSORY & COMPONENT REVIEW

BROOKS SADDLE - BAG & BAR TAPE IN HONEY
 I thought that as we are approaching the month of December I would just look back over some of the accessory and component changes that I have made over this past year and update you on my current feelings now that some considerable miles have been completed.


I will start with the Tifosi Audax/Training Bike because that is the bike that I ride most often. 
I purchased this bike about twenty months ago and the only parts that are original are the frame, stem, bars & seatpost - oh, and the fenders. Everything else has been replaced to either improve it's looks or performance or a mix of both.
The Brooks Swift Saddle with the Bag and Bar Tape, all in a gorgeous honey colour was a good buy.
The saddle has taken a bit longer to break in than the Team Professional that I fitted to the Revolution Tourer, but it is getting there. 
The Bar Tape was easy to fit and went on nice and tight and I really love the way that it is already getting a wonderful used looking patina.If you want a bar tape to fit and forget for thousands of miles this is it. 
As for the Saddle Bag...well that just seems to complete the classic look. 
I really love these Brooks items...I love the way that they look and I love the way that they seem to improve with age both in feel and appearance. A good purchase and I will give it 10/10.
PRO-LITE BRACCIANO WHEELSET
The Pro-Lite Bracciano wheelset has now completed a good few thousand miles. 
These wheels are very stiff with high tension & tight laced spokes. 
I bought these because of all the fantastic reviews that I had read about them in the cycling press. 


These wheels made an immediate improvement to the bike....acceleration improved as did the bikes hill climbing ability.
Descents feel safe and predictable with no nasty surprises through fast bends. 
These wheels have proved to have been every thing that I could have wished for in a wheel upgrade. 
Another great purchase and another 10/10. 


I also fitted a Shimano 105 Groupset on the Tifosi a few weeks ago......still a bit early to make a full review, but the gear changes do seem to be much sharper than the Sora group that was originally fitted to the bike and I must admit to preferring the cosmetic appearance of the 105.
FIZIK DUO BAR TAPE
 Now I will look at the changes made to the Revolution Tourer. 
Like the Tifosi, only the frame, stem, bars, seatpost and fenders remain as original. Everything else has been changed with a top of the range touring groupset having been fitted about 21 months ago. 
This years alterations have been a lot less major but significant never the less. 
The Fizik Duo Bar Tape that I fitted before riding back from Gibraltar has now covered about 2,000 miles. 
It feels nice and thickly padded on the bars which is a pleasure to use on a multi day tour. 
It is starting to show signs of wear on the tops now, but all things considered I would say that it is a good bar tape with a comfortable feel to it and a super colourful appearance 7/10 for the tape then. 


The Ortlieb Front Roller panniers and the Blackburn Custom Low Rider front racks have now been used on two extended cycling tours in France and they match together perfectly. 
As far as the Ortliebs are concerned I would certainly say that these are about the very best panniers that you can buy. My advice to anyone in the market for panniers is 'Buy Ortlieb'. 10/10 for these then. 


The Blackburn racks have also performed well... only one moan about these is (the same as  everyone I know that has purchased these has noticed) a slight twist on the right hand side rack....this seems to occur during the manufacturing process but doesn't cause any problems in use other than the 'I know it's there' factor. 8/10 for the racks.
UNIROSS MINI TURBINE
Remember the UniRoss HY mini Windcharger that I had such high hopes for? 


I have now used this over about three thousand miles. 
It does produce power, but just like the massive wind turbines that have sprouted up in lots of our once beautiful wild places -  not enough....! 
You need to cover a lot of miles at some speed to generate enough power with this to make it worth while. 
I found that I could generate more power with the solar panels that I use....This doesn't mean to say that I won't use the UniRoss Windcharger but I would say that it is really only suitable as a backup to other forms of power generation.....A pity..because I really liked the idea of this little turbine. 
I will continue to use it, but as a support/safety backup only. Only 4/10 for this!
PANNIERS...RACKS & THE RSP RACKLIGHT
Then we had the RSP Racklight that my mate Peter Calcutt had told me about. 
What a little winner that has proved to be. 
This is a Very...Very..bright light. It has been proved to be water proof during very heavy rain in France and this little baby only cost £12.95. 
An absolute 10/10 for the RSP. 
I would recommend this with no hesitation at all....if you want a rear light that fits to your rear rack...a light that you don't have to remove whenever you leave your bike locked up to those railings, because it is bolted to the bike.....buy this NOW..!!


Last but not least we come to my FELT Z1 sportive bike. 
Being a high end top of the range machine, this bike has not needed any upgrades at all....indeed there is nowhere you can upgrade it to apart from the Di2 Electronic Gears....but if you are a regular reader of this blog you will know only too well my views on electronic shifting. 


No...the only item that has been changed is the saddle. 
The bike was supplied with a Felt branded saddle....but after a few months it became obvious that my rear end and the Felt own brand perch were going to have to part company. 


I changed it for a Fizik Arione and I found this to be fantastic...a good mix of comfort and long distance support....ideal for the Sportive style of events that I use this bike on. 
However, after my radiotherapy treatment, for some reason this saddle just didn't seem to be comfortable any more. 


I really did persevere with it but it seems that the treatment had affected both the skin and the shape of my rear (this being part of the area that the treatment was aimed at). In the end I had to admit defeat so I sold the Arione on Ebay and obtained a Fizik Aliante Gamma. 
This has proved to be the right decision. 
The treatment had obviously changed me from a 'Snake' to a 'Bull' (check out the Fizik site if you don't understand what I am referring to here). 
The Aliante has been really comfortable on all rides of all distances and it also matches the bike better than the Arione as it is finished in Black & White. 


I would have given the Arione a 10/10 before my treatment but only a 4/10 afterwards. This was the fault of me though and not the saddle. 
The Aliante gets a 10/10 also and has remained so all year. 


So there you have it...a look back on the items bought for my bikes this year. 


I don't think that I will be buying much for the bikes next year as each bike is now perfect for the use I put them to. 
The Tifosi and the Revolution have had major changes in the time that I have had them...not that anything was actually wrong with them in the first place...but the changes have just made these bikes more my own....the Felt was virtually there from day one....


Perhaps next year I will spend the money on more events and tours instead, now that my bikes are spot on for me.

9 comments:

Steve A said...

Two questions:
Is the 105 the new "under the tape shifter" or the previous style?

Do they offer Arkel widely in the UK as competition for Ortlieb?

Trevor said...

*Steve A*
I stuck with the previous style....I've read too many bad reports of poor shifting due to tight
cable routing.
Having said that I have 'under the tape' cable routing on the Felt with the DuraAce and I have never experienced any problems.

Arkel panniers are available in the UK but do not appear as popular as Ortlieb. It seems that this side of the pond the preference is for a simpler less fussy design.

Mr. Paparazzo said...

These are very useful accessories.
I like the Brooks saddle very much.
My grandfather had one like this, but it was not Brooks.
Have a nice day!

Trevor said...

*Mr Paparazzo*
Yes..the Brooks saddle is a really nice item. I love it....over time it just becomes so comfortable to use.

jeff said...

Now that I have the new saddle on my Surly, your picture makes me think I need a new bag, or at least new bar tape.

Chandra said...

I love beautiful bikes, period. Great job, Trevor!
Paz :)

Trevor said...

*jeff*
Go on Jeff...go the whole way - bag and tape. You know you want to....

*Chandra*
I do too....Thanks for that comment.

Andrew said...

I have just had a lovely browse arond your wonderful blog (I found it via Adrians)

Trevor said...

*Andrew*
Thanks for your visit Andrew....