After a full year of riding my Canondale Synapse 105 disk, here is a quick review.
I bought to bike on the Bike to Work scheme, to replace the one I bought the year before which was stolen. Both were bought for just one purpose, commuting during the winter. My commute is slightly odd, being a 92km round trip that essentially follows the Thames from Walton on Thames to Reading. No hills a bit of suburban riding and quite a lot on unlit “B” roads in the country.
So I added mudguards, rack and hub Dynamo, which meant a new front wheel.
Speaking of wheels. The only really bad thing about the bike is the rear wheel ( the front wheel may also be crap but I never used it). On my stolen bike the wheel broke spokes and then had to be completely rebuilt. The new bike has “only” broken one spoke but the free hub is not true. Even the QR skewers are nasty, threw were not subject to the recent safety recall but have visible signs of rust on them. If I was getting another one I would really try and get the wheels upgraded from day one.
Now despite buying this just for commuting I have used it for a few longer rides, a weekend to Paris and back, a three day trip to Leeds, a 360km Audax and some weekend rides. In total it’s done 9420km.
I’ve found the bike comfortable and the handling ok. Not outstanding like a carbon racing bike but adequate for slogging to work or getting the miles in on a longer ride. If you want a real racing bike this is not it.
The disk brakes are good, very good in the wet but they are not perfect. You have to regularly adjust them as the pads wear, something hydrolic brakes would solve. For commuting in winter though I would not go back to long reach rim brakes needed with mudguards or, God forbid cantilever brakes.
Would I buy one again?
Probably not but only because things have moved on. You can now get hydrolic disk equipped bikes at the same price point and even if they also have shockingly bad wheels I would still be better off.
Do I regret this bike? Well the fact I replaced the stolen one with another gives a clue, not in the slightest.
Riding long distances with a GPS or a phone and you quickly run into problems of charge. How to keep the things charged up. Since my bike has a dynamo the obvious answer is to charge. Here there are a number of options. I chose the cycle2charge as it looked neat and was not outrageously expensive.
I ordered directly from http://www.cycle2charge.de via google translate and within a week it turned up.
Fitting was simple except routing the cable as my forks did not allow the cable to route out of the bottom of the fork crown as they are carbon. Fortunately it was simple to file a small notch in the top of the steerer through which the cable then routes.
Yesterday I got to try it out. It works but with one problem. Since it has no internal battery as you slow the charging stops. Not a problem when charging a phone but a significant one when charging a Garmin 810. Every time to looses USB power, even with auto shutdown turned off, the Garmin starts to shutdown giving 15 seconds warning. When we were cycling along a disused railway track, which being a standard UK cycle path was not tarmaced so muddy and not really suitable for a road bike slowing due to mud the Garmin would shutdown just when I was concentrating on controlling my bike I also had 15 seconds to prevent shutdown.
Using the cycle2power to charge a phone, battery or lights (I have a backup battery light for when the Dynamo can’t be used which charges over USB) works perfectly. It looks reasonably neat but only time will tell how it copes with the British weather. So far I would recommend.
Today I was interviewed by BBC Surrey about the new Cycle facilities that are being built leading to Walton Bridge.
My objections to the scheme have not really changed from the time of the consultation and I hope I articulated them clearly.
Surrey has planned a series of shared use pavement cycle facilities, shared with pedestrians, that are narrow, stop at every junction and require cyclists to cross the main road multiple times to follow them. Surrey claim these are high quality following best practice from the Dutch. On the Surrey website you can see some pictures, mostly of how they new facilities will make things worse for people on bikes and see Surrey gloss over that they are not building cycle paths at all but letting cyclists share the pavements.
One of the goals of the facilities is to reduce injuries amongst people on bikes. However when I spoke to the officers at the consultation they admitted they did not expect existing people on bikes to use them because Surrey conceded they were not of a high enough standard for existing cyclists. Given this it is hard to see how they will result in a casualty reduction.
Of course those people on bikes who do choose to use them will be put into conflict with pedestrians, putting both pedestrians and people on bikes in danger.
Those people on bikes who Surrey don’t expect to use the facilities and continue to use the road can look forward to even more animosity from a small, but significant minority of motorists who will use their vehicles to attempt to intimidate people on bikes off the road.
All in all Surrey are going to spend a large amount of a small cycling budget on a scheme that will make cycling, slower, more dangerous and less pleasant.
Many years ago when cycling through the Alps we were descending the Foscagno Pass when one of my travelling companions had the misfortune to hit a hole in the road or some gravel, loose control of his bike and crash. Since we were young and foolish this happened at speed probably somewhere between 35 and 40 mph possibly more. Not having speed computers back then it’s hard to tell for sure.
They were carried off the mountain by some locals in a white Fiat, at great speed waving a white handkerchief out of the window, while their bikes were taken away by a man in a van and delivered later to the hospital where the white Fiat was taking them. The kindness of strangers is a wonderful thing.
The result of this crash was my friend ended up in Hospital in Bormio with 10 stitches in his head and a very snazzy net covering his head. He was lucky.
His bike was not.
The force of the crash had destroyed the front wheel, forks and frame along with other more minor damage.
Since I was in front when the crash happened I missed all of this and so got to ride to Bormio.
The good news was that he was able to continue the trip after one day out and get over the mighty Stelvio Pass the next day, once we found a bike and converted it from being an Italian racing bike into a going to ride around Europe Touring bike. He took it much slower on the descent.
Did his helmet save his life? No. He was not wearing one. This was 1985 when helmets really did not exist for most cyclists. However if he had been wearing one and survived I would, to this day, be telling everyone that it had saved his life. I would believe it.
Could a helmet have prevented his head injuries? May be. Could it have broken his neck again may be. We will never know but I know it would not have saved his life.
This is my first hand anecdote that makes me distrust helmet saved his/her/my life anecdotes more than anything else.
I realise this post is close to trolling, since any post on bicycle helmets is close to trolling, so if you are going to comment please keep it civil.
Surrey are consulting on what they describe as “continuous, safe, high quality cycle paths”.
I am pretty sure I should feel very happy about The Times campaign to make cycling safe. However they seem to have forgotten their own hand in the problems for cyclists. So here is what I wrote on their campaign site:
First start would be to look inside The Times. Jeremy Clarkson and Matthew Parris have both called for cyclists to be maimed for no other reason that being cyclists.
This attitude needs challenging and having powerful figures in the media presenting stupid and dangerous views needs to end. Time for Matthew “Piano Wire” Parris to write a real apology and get onside to change attitudes & Jeremy Clarkson to grow up and realise that cyclists are not the problem and his childish threats have real consequences when acted out by others.
It’s easy to call for change in others but if you are not prepared to change as well those calls will have little impact.