The new winter training steed has been up and running for a few weeks now, covering some reasonable mileage, and I’m pleased to say it’s been a very pleasant experience.
The old ‘make do’ winter bike was becoming less and less inspiring. Even after a recent component overhaul she would, from her dull corner of the garage, stare at me with the eyes of a frumpy middle aged tax inspector. Sure, she’d unwaveringly get the job done albeit a necessary evil, but inspiring she was not. And when the inevitable pain came, as you can be sure both tax returns and winter training can bring in equal measure, there was just no pleasure or passion to balance the relationship. She had to go. The question was what to go for. After some considerable time scouring ebay I gave up the notion of ever finding a bargain frame that fitted the bill and wasn’t already being stalked by a hundred other buyers all eager to pay over the odds. Unless you’re of either Hobbit or Jolly Green Giant sized proportions, or willing to entrust your life to no name Oriental carbon then it’s a bit of a bun fight.
So, as they seem to get some decent reviews I jumped in and ordered the rather industrial sounding Ribble Evo-Pro Carbon. A couple of mates have Ribbles and although I know they have not had the greatest customer service experience the product itself seems pretty good. Now I know many out there will roll their eyes and point out the virtues of supporting your local bike shop and in turn getting better customer service etc. etc. but unfortunately reality (aka budget constraints and marital harmony) doesn’t always allow for such lofty ethics. So s**t customer service and cheap carbon was the order of the day. To be fair I didn’t experience any problems at all with them. After parting with my hard (well hardish) earned £360 for the frame and forks it did indeed arrive well packaged within their 11-15 day specified despatch time. All good.
I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of finish on the frame and forks as I wasn’t really sure what to expect as the photos on their website don’t really reveal much. In terms of looks it certainly punches above it’s price tag.
So after raping and pillaging the old winter hack she was rapidly built up in a fairly utilitarian guise and ready to roll. The first thing I noticed was the slightly longer cockpit than the previous steed giving a nice stretched out position which after a bit of getting used to is quite comfortable. The magazine reviews quoted on the site paint a picture of a very lively ‘race’ bike but in my opinion it’s a pretty decent mile muncher as well. It certainly doesn’t seem to exhibit that nervy whippet straining at the leash waiting to catch you off guard characteristic that bikes described as lively often have. Over the rough stuff it seems very compliant and cliche like confidence inspiring while remaining sharp and sprightly. Unfortunately at this time (some might argue at any time) of year my legs lack the punch to really give it some and see just how lively it really is, but by the impression it has given so far I would imagine that while it’s not going to set the finish straight alight it would certainly hold it’s own as the phrase capable all rounder springs to mind.
So, as we head into the murky depths of winter, training has regained a bit of sparkle. When the light goes on in the garage gone is the dreary old tax inspector, replaced by a younger, tauter librarian-esque type with a sparkle in her eye.