next step is going to be working out what bike I am going to ride for
the event. despite owning what some people consider an obscene number
of bikes I don't actually have a mountain bike or even a hybrid
suitable for some of the off-road sections of the route.
Needless to say I am excellent at avoiding procrastination when it comes to looking at bikes.
It did not take me long to be certain that I did not want to ride my lovely Trek Pilot, the wheels are just too nice to risk on the terrain the C2C includes. I would spend much of the ride worrying about the bike rather than enjoying the countryside.
There seemed to be three options (I was going to say sensible options but decided that was a step too far).
- A hardtail mountain bike. Perfectly capable of doing the whole route (maybe requiring caution on the most off road downhills – but then I am not an experienced downhiller so would be unlikely to test it's limits. Can easily fit a rack for flexibility. Cheap. However, I was able to convince myself that it does not add a great deal of versatility to our stable of bikes. So I sort of ruled it out (going for the obvious and cheapest solution seemed a bit tame )
The one is definitely not such an obvious choice. I looked in a lot of detail at a Yuba Mundo work bike.
This may well seem to be odd. However, it is a bike that adds a great deal of value to our fleet. It is also very very strong with huge floaty tyres so would be more capable than a hybrid bike on the off road sections. The main disadvantage on the C2C would be it's weight and limited gearing options which would make the very steep uphill sections a real challenge.
This would be a great bike for shopping and for carrying large loads around for work. But for those tasks and for the C2C it would need much wider gear ranges than it is supplied with. Currently you can get it singlespeed (as pictured) which is clearly no use for us. Or you can get a six speed dérailleur version, that is still too limited but it can be upgraded to 18 speed by switching to 3 chainrings and adding a front mech – however, you then lose the chainguard which is so handy for riding in normal clothes.
I looked into buying a single speed and fitting it with hub gears (a combination of 5 speed workbike rear hub gear and a Schlumpf Mountain Drive – a 2 speed gear in the bottom bracket) but I would have lost some of the workbike strength as it normally comes with a 14mm back axle but all the hub gears would require a change down to a 10mm axle thus reducing the weight carrying ability significantly. So the best option seemed to be to add a Schlumpf Speed Drive (gears up instead of down) to the six speed dérailleur version. With a wide range cassette and carefully chosen chainring size a wide range of gears should be possible without losing strength or the chainguard. Unfortunately all the 2008 bikes are sold and the 2009 bikes are not due until March and so I was getting a little concerned about the timing.
A full suspension mountain bike. Sadly a more expensive option (but then the Yuba was starting to get expensive with the cost of the Schlumpf gear). I bought a magazine and visited all the shops I could (the Specialized store in Fort Dunlop in Birmingham had some lovely ones including one discounted to only £1,200). I am very aware that cheap full suspension bikes are heavy and the suspension does not work yet wears out quickly. In the end though our local bike shop (AJ Cycles, part of Express Autoparts in Rushden) offered us a really good deal on a Giant Yukon FX2.
That deal included an upgrade to Deore brakes and while the price could have been beaten by an online retailer I wanted to support my local bike shop (who are moving to larger premises in the next month).
Now I know that I do not need a full suspension bike for the Coast to Coast. I know I have paid more to have full suspension and for the same cost could have got an excellent hard tail. But we decided that having a full suspension bike that three of us can share would add more fun to our bike stable. While the weight (33 lbs) will not make the uphill bits of the coast to coast a delight it was not very different to the hardtail bikes I looked at (as I would have spent less on a hardtail rather than go for the equivalent money). As the coast to coast is a supported ride I won't have to carry anything other than needs for the day so the lack of rack won't be a problem.
So there you have it. We now have a gimicky full suspension bike to play with and the first ride indicates it will be a hoot (see separate post).