Tuesday, 9 August 2016

it just gets better

Apologies to gufftowers visitors, you may see some familiar views in this post and references to my previous go to bike. The Boardman CX Team has been replaced by a Boardman CXR 9.2. (thru axle flavour) Are there differences? Yes, some good and some bad. The great thing about the CX Team was its ability to cover ground without making much of a fuzz. The CXR certainly has the ability to cover ground, but it makes an absolute racket in the process! The large carbon tubes, especially the squareish section downtube acts like a drum. Small stones bounce off with a satisfying ding, the big stones create an unnerving whack. On a few occasions I've had to stop and check that everything is ok.

The CX Team did begin to make its presence felt in the lower back after an hour or so. I put this down to the box section alloy chainstays and wishbone seatstay. The CXR has similar sections and wishbone arrangement, but the carbon's ability to absorb the bumps does make for a more comfortable and relaxed ride. The CXR also has an incredible ability to transfer what little power I have to whatever surface I'm on, it really does shift. A few other gripes are toe overlap. This came as surprise as the head angle is slightly slacker, I'll have to go back and compare geo charts to see what's behind it. The other gripe is tyre clearance. The CX Team had no issues with WTB Nano 40mm. The CXR is bordering on challenging Hoy's track bike for clearance. I'll have to change the tyres for something smaller, pity as the Nanos on the Hunt 4 Seasons wheels are truly excellent. The comfort and compliance with this set up is going to be difficult to improve upon. The Hunt wheels are still spinning and looking splendid. They've been ridden over surfaces that are more appropriate for an MTB, but they don't complain and just keep doing what they do. I'm really impressed, not only with their durability, weight, ease of setting up tubeless, but for the money there is not much out there to challenge them. They also look excellent on the already very easy on the eye CXR.

Today's route was a true mix of surfaces and the first real test of the CXR. The last ride was pretty scary. There's an infamous road in these parts called the Khyber Pass. I was descending a lumpy, damp and gravel strewn section when the front brake lever came all the way back to the bars (bleeding/set up issue). Not particularity good when you consider the pace and hairpin bend that was getting closer and closer. For those of you that are questioning discs on the road, all I will say is that the power and modulation of the back brake (Shimano BR785) enabled me to stay upright. The Nanos also played their part, they never broke loose. The tree I had chosen to stop my pace never did have the opportunity for a hug, I want to keep it that way. It is not surprising that earlier in today's ride I was a tad ginger on the descents and applying the front brake. It didn't take long for the confidence to return. It was then that I could begin to feel the benefit of the thru axle forks. The front end of the CXR is a joy. Not only does it go where you point it, but if the steering is knocked by the surface you are on, it doesn't become unsettled and start to wander off in another direction with the added plan of sending you over the bars. This was very noticeable on a section of the John Muir Way. There are sections around the Burncrooks Reservoir that are very steep and have hairpin bends doing their best to reduce the gradient. Whoever designed this section obviously had a plan to make you work whether going up or down. The surface has yet to bed in and it does make for an entertaining experience on a stable and quick cross bike.

With the sun out and a favourable tail wind helping you home it does make you take stock of what is on your doorstep. This guffer is pretty bloody lucky. With the West Highland Way, the John Muir Way, Sustran cycle ways and a host of other paths to choose from, the CXR will no doubt become my go to bike. There are a few tweaks to be made that will make it even better, but I'm pretty happy with the initial set up.

Stay upright

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