The ultimate commuter bike

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I don’t want lots of bikes, one is a good number,  and it has to be a commuter/trail bike that can go anywhere and look good parked in my office, so after about a year researching and dreaming, I picked up my Bulls E-Stream Evo 3 FS 27.5 from Karl at Bulls Bikes in Taupo. It  wasn’t actually the bike I was aiming for in the first place,  I really had my eyes on the hard tail version because I quite like carrying my day gear in panniers, but luckily they ran out before the shipment was packed and so he offered me the FS model instead.

 

My first thought was “Would I look like a sad old fart trying to look cool in a sports car”, but then I rode it and realised that if you can get past the thought that it’s built for young buggers to fly down vicious DH single tracks, then you realise it is actually exactly the right bike for chaps like me, who like to have as much fun as their old bones can handle, but who also need some (OK, a lot of ) comfort on a bike. Add the fact that switching on the power is like strapping a racing cyclists legs to my bum and I’ve got a comfortable, practical, go anywhere bike that helps me imagine what it would be like to be a Tour de France winner. On drugs.

 

This thing is the RangeRover of bikes, and like most big 4WD  cars, it will not see a lot of off-road use. I ride trails for fun, not down hill single tracks, and most of the time it’s my city bike, so it’s wildly over-specced in some respects, but in reality, it is actually competely fit for purpose – a comfortable commuting bike which can handle the trails and get me up the hills.

Comfort on a bike

The sub title of this site is “Bike for comfort, not for speed”, and now that I’m riding this  beast, I’m really getting into this full suspension lark. I’ll never take it where it’s capable of going (superbly, I’m told), but when I bump up kerbs, or take the cross country alternative through an empty paddock, or just go over speed bumps and potholes, I am not only safer, but I hardly notice them. So I go faster, which is not necessarily safer, but the big grin happens so who cares.

 

Even so, I was sure I could make this thing fit me better.  

 

The saddle

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First things first, look after your bum, so the quite good saddle that came with the bike was changed for old faithful, a molded to me and me alone  Brooks Flyer .   The  extra spring in the Flyer actually helps anyone with a fragile glass spine like mine, and combined with the full suspension I reckon I’ve got it as good it can get.

 

I now get either knowing looks of respect or sniggers from my commuting fraternity, but I also get a very comfortable ride. 80K in a day during the first week of about 200k around Hawkes Bay, and not a twinge of newbikebumia.
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The bars

IMG_20161118_074619243Those straight handlebars are all very well on the Red Bull Rampage, but most of us older mortals can’t hold our arms out wide and that out of shape because we’ve already buggered our wrists with a variety of boyish activities all our lives. Salsa Bend 2 came out top of all the surveys, forums and reviews so I tracked down the local agent, Cyclewerks, down Kapti way who happily sent me a 23 degree version with a promise to exchange it if it wasn’t right for me.

No worries, it is better than I thought it would be, wrists at a very natural angle but not so bent that my elbow are digging into me. It’s very easy to go elbows out for those odd exciting moments, but for the rest of the time it’s a very relaxed posture.

Later: I tried the 17 degree version for a while but they weren’t quite as good for me, and Jill likes the 17 better so we’re both happy

 

I think the snigger quotient might have gone up a notch. Philistines. Hard asses.

The grips

IMG_20161125_142052427Next, the grips. Ergon GP1 Locking of course, but their whole range is great because they actually understand the medical stuff and it shows. My arms have never felt better, and because I’m comfortable, I’m always in control and ready for murderers on four wheels. The bike actually came with Ergon Round Grips, locking of course, but these just take it up a notch.

Pedals

I wouldn’t have believed what a differrence the Wellgo MG1’s have made. I’m more stable, there’s more grip on my Teva sandals (standard footwear – closed toes versions please) and I don’t gark my shins on them. Plus they look great. http://en.wellgopedal.com/products_detail_4_300.htm

The splashes

IMG_20161125_142205929 AIMG_20161125_142212435nd because this is my commuting bike and I don’t want to arrive with an embarrassing brown streak up my bum, I found the best recommended mud guards, MudHugger and strapped them on too. Now they can all snigger, but wait for the rainy days when I overtake them up the hills and show them my nice clean derriere.

 

IMG_20161125_142238264Security

For commuting I will park it in my office, but if I have to park it in the street for any length of time I want it to always be there when I get back, so I’ve included the heavy, but unbreakable Kryptonite lock. It’s a pain when I go down to the supermarket though, and I’m waiting for my Ottolock for quick stops, and if we’re just cruising about for the day my partner, Jill, has the same bike, and a regular cable lock. We never leave them alone anyway. Sherlock might be worth waiting for too.

 

Safety

Because there are inattentive or aggressive idiots out there, and because I like gadgets, I bought an Orp horn/light combo. Like most of the reviewers, I would have preferred to have a more bell-like sound for the low powered warning, but the combination of flashing headlight with a screeching, big car sized horn has already saved me some grief. And given the aforementioned idiot heart failure.  

Actually, it’s useless on shared trails because pedestrians think it’s a bird behind them and completely ignore me. The super-loud option works a treat though on those arm in arm strollers who have found this lovely wide path to block.