Tuesday, February 03, 2009

I love my bike

The Orca is a lovely bike. I haven't ridden road bikes since I was about 14 so I don't have much to compare it to, but it certainly delights me. I love the acceleration when you get up on the pedals. I look forward to short sharp hills that on a mountain bike would drop me down to a snails pace, but on the Orca I put in a burst of effort in and fly up them at 20mph. I like going down long hills and finding that there are about 2 more small-cog gears than I expected. And it looks lovely.

I remember coming back to Hursley from Romsey after an 18 mile ride and finding that I could put in 3 seconds of effort to go 2mph faster, then maintain that pace comfortably for a few seconds, then again put in the effort to go 2mph faster again, then maintain that pace, and then again one more time. On a mountain bike, putting extra effort in seems to make very little difference to pace, and if you do get some extra then it disappears very soon after. The Orca lets me hold on to the pace for much longer.

I've only done one "long" ride so far - most of my rides are high energy affairs as I find I can't go slowly on the Orca. It just wants to be ridden fast and is so rewarding to do so. The furthest I've been is 38.7 miles. 2 hours and 20 minutes, average speed 16.5mph, average heart rate 158bpm. Total climb height about 1000 feet. I went through lots of picturesque villages including some I hadn't seen before. It was great. My back was slightly sore towards the end but was fine was fine when I got off the bike. I think I just need more practice.

The frame is all carbon and does an impressive job of smoothing out the bumps. The tyres are the thinner ones (700x23) and I pump them up to about 90psi so there isn't much cushioning from them. But most road surfaces feel smooth and I've hit some potholes that I thought would be nasty but the bike took them in its stride. The only surface I don't like can be found along Poles Lane where the surface seems to induce a vibration that feels almost resonant - the space between the bumps in the road must the perfectly wrong for the bike. On a mountain bike you wouldn't think twice but it's annoying on the Orca. But there are very few roads where I've had this problem.

I got a standard double crankset (52&39 teeth) with 10 cogs at the back: 12 - 21,24,27 If I were to buy again I'd opt for the compact crankset. I find that my normal speed on the flat is about 20mph where I'm in the big ring at the front and about the 4th cog at the back. That doesn't leave many cogs at the back to handle slight uphill gradients. It's rare to need the smallest 2 cogs at the back (although it is fun when I can use them). I think a compact crankset would give me a better set of gears for normal riding and a couple of extra gears for climbing. Some hills can be quite challenging with the standard crankset - but then it's rewarding when you manage them.

I cleaned my bike the other day. The shapes and lines in the frame are simply gorgeous, especially at the back end.