Sonder bum parts


Loving the Sonder Camino ti but the stock Saddle and seatpost for me is the weak point so far.

 

Love Brooks but dont really want leather on the ti gravel bike so today I ordered a Cambium C15 saddle in mud happy black.

Screenshot 2016-06-27 19.05.48

review to follow – the ones I have read have been pretty outstanding

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Sonder Camino ti – first ride review


Sonder Camino titanium gravel bike


Now I grew up in South Africa and the word sonder is Afrikaans for ‘without’ but this bike is definitely ‘with’

I pedal home today with a new bike came into the flat changed and went out for a first shakedown ride on the bike – these on my quick impressions after just 30 km

Very quickly I came to think that this bike might be one of those fabled you can do it all bikes. I went down the canal which is gravely with occasional small potholes on to cobbles and then later on into singletrack path weaving through the forest – the bike seem to handle everything with aplomb 


My only niggle was perhaps that the seatpost or saddle was not as comfortable as it could be but still good for the price point. I will be changing out the seatpost for something made of titanium or perhaps something like the Ritchey flexlogic and the saddle well that’s always down to the user and I have a preference for Ritchey WCS or specialised ronin

The bike is quick very quick even on this first exploratory ride I seem to have come home and found out that on Strava I have a King of the Mountain on one section over cobbles – Paris Roubaix might be a walk in the park


The discs brakes mechanicals from avid – I’ve not used avid mechanicals before they seem to do very good job of slowing the bike with excellent modulation when braking, the tires are WTB nano 40 mm tires and the seem to be quite progressive in grip and feedback. This was in the dry and this review is just the 1st (one hour ride) review and shouldn’t really be taking for a long-term review but so far I am completely stoked by the ride of this bike. 


Brandt Richards who is also been behind some of on-one’s bikes in the past seems to have finally nailed it – this is everything I wanted it to be perhaps more than I hoped and definitely a lot lot better than I ever expected it would be

I came home and looked in my cupboard to see four other bikes standing there looking slightly forlorn.

Alpkit give the bike a 10 year guarantee which is amazing considering it’s the first bike that they are doing. this bike is built so beautifully the weld is excellent and everything seems to be is put together as well as any of my Lynskey bikes
Now if only work and kids didn’t get in the way of me doing another ride tomorrow but I will post further reviews once I have a few hundred miles in on this bike

Tyre story – Hans Dampf Evo MTB Tyre – SnakeSkin


  
The new tyre

It has been a while since I reviewed anything so thought I would share my thoughts on something that just seems to work. I am not very swap and try when it comes to equipment I just like good stuff that works well, it might not have the very best of the best quality but has to do what it does well. Take my brake spec on my mtb – I asked Carl at the shop what brakes to get – he was steering me towards hope when I mentioned these should be fit and forget type brakes. Hence the same XTR brakes on my bike for 6 years and apart from 1 bleed and 3 different sets of pads nothing has been fiddled with.

But tyres have had their issues. I was on the misconceived idea that I was sort of racer having tried 3 sets of racing Ralph’s over the years. But grip was pretty sketchy in scotland doing typical riding and sidewall was a painfully thin learning curve having ripped two sidewalls open riding flinty tracks a half hour for the house.

I moved onto maxxis ardent tyres and I liked them a lot more. It was only an issue with a bad thorn and dried up sealant after 2 years of no maintenance that made me think I should take more care. I refilled the sealant and pumped the tyre up hard (60psi) to seal the edges. Max recommendation is 45psi for the tyre width and rim but seriously – I had tea to make and drink when BANG the tyre had popped off the bead was stretched and sealant was on the wall.

So I started shopping for a new front tyre and I decided to go wider and bought a trail star hans dampf 29×2.35 

Fitted pretty easily on stans rim and sealed very easily. 

On the trail the HD is a step up from the ardent – incredible feedback from the front and stays planted on the trail. When railing through berms the slightly worn ardent on the back would start washing out before the front. As for trail speed I didn’t notice a huge drag factor and let’s face it the weakest link in a race setup would be still be me.

  
Was thinking about replacing the worn ardent on the rear in a while and whilst a HD is tempting I have read that it rips easier there and most people seem to suggest a nobby Nick is a good match. More on that later.

New Backpack – Granite Gear


I have been looking for a small light back pack for weekend trips on the trail and by plane to city break / backpacking short trips.

Have an old berghaus which is too heavy and big and a Lowe Alpine TT Amazon Carryon (which although perfect for travel and getting away with stash away straps and different handles can be tiring on the back for long carries over 10 miles.

So just found this (and bought it)

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The Granite Gear Aji 50 is ideal for lightweight backpacking, day hiking or travel. A unique multi-zipper design allows you to quickly put hands on anything you need and an innovative suspension system comfortably carries up to 35 pounds.The panel loading compartment provides ample storage and delivers versatile access to the packbag from almost any direction. A full wrap-around zipper allows the pack to be opened almost entirely for ease of packing and unpacking. Multiple zipper pulls let you decide on whether you want to get into the pack from the top, the bottom or either side. Internal compression straps ensure that contents remain securely in place. External compression straps further cinch down the load and double as gear attachment points. A large zippered pocket located near the top of the pack houses internal storage pockets for ease of organization and a front stuff-it pocket serves as an additional storage space. Twin side mesh pockets are perfect for water bottles or other gear.

This pack is the perfect fusion for someone who is looking for logical, easy access to their gear yet doesn’t like or use pockets. Full round zipper allows complete access to gear while not compromising weight. Also for a frame free pack it is suprisingly comfortable and load bearing when loaded to the max recommended 35 lbs.

PROS

  • Comfortable
  • Durable
  • Great Features
  • Lightweight
  • Roomy

CONS

 

BEST USES

  • Backpacking
  • Day hiking
  • Travel

Looks good doesn’t it? In the UK we get hit with prices as always …. £199

here is guy with a beard designed to carry food explaining it all …..

Ultegra 6800 review


from road.cc – this is my next purchase – I have old Ultegra on the Lynskey and was waiting for it to wear out but 3800km later it is still as sweet as …. well soon then – interesting point about potentially needing new wheels.

Hot Damn. Shimano’s 11-speed Ultegra 6800 groupset is really, really, really good. That’s this review in a nutshell, but in the spirit of drawing things out I’ll write a few more words on the matter. There’s lots to say. But the bottom line is: for the serious fitness rider or privateer racer, as a package, this is as good as a mechanical groupset has ever been.

It was last May when Ultegra 6800 was unveiled (http://road.cc/content/news/82237-updated-prices-shimano-unveil-ultegra-…) and now you can get a huge range of bikes sporting the gun-metal grey componentry. Ultegra always follows the lead of Shimano’s flagship Dura-Ace gear and this incarnation is no exception. It’s eleven speed, it uses the new four-arm crankset and the redesigned symmetrical dual pivot brakes, the STI levers are redesigned and so are the derailleurs, especially the front one. It’s quite an overhaul. There are even some new wheels to cope with the ever-so-slightly wider cassette. But we’ll deal with them in a separate review. Let’s take the parts one by one.

Shifters 9/10

Shimano have been doing a lot of work on the shift feel, and Ultegra 6800 takes on board what they’ve achieved with Dura-Ace. The shift mechanism has been redesigned so that, in theory, the shift from 24 to 28 at one end of the cassette feels exactly like the one from 11-12 at the other. Shimano call it Vivid Shifting (everything has to have a special name) and it’s quite noticeable that the lever resistance doesn’t ramp up anywhere near as much, although you do need a bit of extra push for the big cogs.

The action is lighter, too. That’s especially true of the front shift thanks in the main to the redesigned derailleur but both shifts are easier, and the throw of the lever is reduced, which is good news for smaller-handed riders and for when you’re shifting from the drops.

Shifting is precise and sensitive. Although it’s light you still get reassuring feedback from the lever. It’s still possible to miss a downshift if you accidentally catch the main lever as the mechanism doesn’t engage, which has been an issue for a number of incarnations of Shimano’s STI system. It’d be nice to see it fixed although it’s not a major problem.

Shifting under load is really, really good: so good that it’s almost better putting the power down when you’re shifting – especially down the block – than easing off slightly like you would with a lower-end groupset. Certainly it’s very hard to make an upshift fail even under heavy load, and it’s nigh-on impossible with a downshift.

The lever hood is slimmer, like the Dura Ace one which in turn borrowed its curves from Di2. That should make it easier to grip for smaller hands; mine are like shovels but I still prefer the new shape, which you can wrap your hands round a bit more, than the old.

Front derailleur 10/10

Shimano have done a lot of work on the front derailleur and it shows. The mech now has a much longer activation arm to reduce the shift effort, and it features a support bolt, like the Di2 unit, that comes into contact with the frame to stiffen up the structure. If you have a carbon frame you’ll want to cover the contact point with the stick-on alloy plate to avoid damage. All that work means much lighter front shifts, with an excellent pick-up from the chain and the chainring ramps on the upshift.

Rear derailleur 9/10

The rear dreailleur comes in short- and mid-cage incarnations, the latter able to handle up to a 32T sprocket for the really steep stuff. The spring rate has been tweaked to give a more linear feel to the shifting. Both mechs have been designed to work best with Shimano’s new polymer-coated cables, which reduce friction in the system. We’ve been to the launch and done the pull-this-one-then-pull-that-one test to feel the difference; in real world conditions it’s hard to say how much the reduced friction makes but it can’t be a bad thing, and the rear shifts are excellent.

Brakes 10/10

Another area to get a complete overhaul is the brakes, and the braking is perhaps the most noticeable improvement in the whole groupset.

The brakes are dual pivot, as before, but instead of using the brake bolt as a pivot the Ultegra units have two symmetrical pivots that are attached to a carrier, that then mounts to the normal point. At least that’s one option: Shimano are heavily touting direct mount as The Next Big Thing, where the two pivots mount directly to the frame. That’s been more widely adopted for brakes with chainstay-mounted rear brakes than it has at the front, or on the seatstays, but those bikes are appearing.

On top of all that there’s a new brake shoe compound, and Shimano’s new polymer-coated cables too. Shimano claim that all those improvements add up to a 10% increase in braking power. I didn’t crack out the accelerometer and the calculator, but these brakes really are excellent. The braking effort to stop you is reduced, and that means less arm fatigue on long rides. Haul them on and they’re both powerful and controllable. The improvement over the previous Ultegra callipers is especially noticeable in the wet, which is possibly down to the new brake compound rather than the redesigned body, but everything works very well together here.

Brake shoe wear is decent; they’re not the hardest pads but it’s always a trade-off between pad life and stopping power, and the Ultegra pads are in the happy middle ground of great performance and acceptable wear.

Chainset 9/10

It’s fair to say that Shimano’s new four-arm design divides opinion as far as looks are concerned. Personally, I think it looks smart, but what’s not in doubt is that it’s a very stiff, configurable, and light unit.

The idea behind the unequal spacing on the four-arm chainset is that the arms are placed to deal with the stresses that a chainset endures from your pedalling. You don’t apply equal pressure all the way round the pedal stroke, so by moving the arms and reducing their number by one, you get the same stiffness but for a lower weight.

That big gap between arms two and three wouldn’t really work with a standard single-piece alloy chainring, as the gap is too big and the ring would flex. But the outer chainring on the Ultegra 6800 groupset is two alloy plates sandwiched together, with a hollow centre. As such it’s much stiffer, and able to bridge the gap effectively.

The other thing that’s changed significantly is that the same spider can cope with all the combinations of chainrings that Shimano offer: that’s Rider Tuned, naming-things fans. There’s a 50/34 compact, a 53/39 standard and a 52/36 that we don’t really have a name for. Semi-compact? Faux-pro? Anyway, there’s that. And a 46/36 cyclocross one as well. All use the same bolt spacing, so switching from Standard to Compact is just a case of swapping the rings and nudging your mech. I’ve swapped between a compact and standard set of rings with no issues and minimal faff.

In use the chainset is very stiff, and the shifting at the front is excellent. You can choose 170mm, 172.5mm or 175mm cranks. A chainset is the kind of component you only really notice when it’s doing something bad. This one was stiff, silent and stealthy throughout testing. Examination of the chainrings after a couple of thousand miles shows minimal wear. I’ve used it with press-fit bearings and a standard Hollowtech II external bottom bracket with no issues at all.

Cassette 8/10

You can have your Ultegra cassette in one of five flavours: 11-23T, 11-25T, 12-25T, 11-28T or 11-32T. It’s ever so slightly wider than a 10-speed one which means that you need an 11spd compatible wheelset. Mavic wheels since 2001 should be fine, just lose the spacer. Other wheel manufacturers may be able to supply you with a different freehub for your existing wheels, some (Zipp for example) will want you to send them back for re-dishing, too. You might have to bite the bullet and get some new ones.

Is it possible to just bolt the 11-speed cassette on to a 10-speed freehub anyway? Well, as the new cassette is 1.8mm wider the issues are getting the splines on the smallest cog, and the threads of the locknut, to engage. And after that you might have an issue with your chain rubbing on the frame in the 11T as it’s closer to the dropout. In short: probably not. There’s no official upgrade path for Shimano’s own wheels, either.

Anyway, assuming you have the right wheels to fit it to, the cassette works splendidly well and you can bask in your extra ratio, which in all cases is an 18T cog between the 17T and 19T. Does it make much difference? Not noticeably in everyday use. If you do a lot of time trialling you might be glad of an extra straight-through jump but for most mortals that extra sprocket isn’t that significant a leap. The other changes to the groupset are much more worthy of note. Still though, incremental gains and that.

Chain 8/10

Shimano teased us with directional chains for a couple of years, which I always fitted the wrong way round, and now we’re back to symmetrical ones that any ham-fisted home technician can get right. The big news is that the chain has a new surface coating called Sil-Tec that reduces friction between all the moving parts. In the swing-this-one-then-swing-that-one test at the launch the difference is noticeable and impressive. It’s unclear how long that treatment is supposed to last, although I’ll wager that 2,000 miles in and several scrubbings later, it’s a memory. The chain wear is good though, with the Park CC3.2 suggesting there’s loads of life left in it even after a harsh winter. The chain joins with an extended pin that you snap off, like all Shimano chains do; I’ve replaced that with a SRAM 11spd connector as I find that a much simpler way to join and re-join a chain. It’s probably not allowed, but it hasn’t impacted on performance.

Overall

As a whole package, and assuming that you’re not going to be fuming over your wheels not working with it, Shimano Ultegra 6800 is everything you want from a mechanical performance groupset. It’s light, the shifts are crisp and quick, the braking is truly excellent. At the RRP of just under a grand it represents a significant but worthwhile investment if you’re upgrading; the fact that you can have it for not much over half that online makes it the go-to groupset for anyone building up a nice bike at home. For everyone except the true racers, the difference between Ultegra and Dura-Ace at the moment is so small – both in terms of weight and performance – that you’re effectively giving away nothing by speccing the second-tier kit and saving yourself a bunch of money. Do that.

Verdict

Top-end performance from Shimano’s second-tier groupset: great shifting, fantastic braking.

Michelin pro 4 grip tyres ( or tires)


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From road.cc these look great but are only in a 23mm width…..

Michelin’s Pro 4 Grip tyre is the latest addition to the French tyre manufacturer’s Pro 4 range, and uses a new rubber compound for increased traction in the rain along with a puncture belt to better ward off punctures. The practical upshot is a puncture resistant tyre with great traction in the wet, and little weight or rolling resistance penalty.

That makes it an ideal choice for winter riding. The roads are in a bit of state; the winter hasn’t been kind to them. And the persistent rain calls for a tyre that is grippier than the standard tyre. With a specific rubber compound Michelin claims the Pro 4 grip offers a 15% increase in grip compared to the Service Course variant of the same tyre. There is also a siped tread pattern on the shoulders that the regular Pro 4 doesn’t have.

Another change beside the rubber compound is the profile of the tyre. Michelin say they’ve shaped the tyre to offer a larger contact patch when leaning the tyre over, to increase cornering grip over the regular Pro 4.

The only way to find out is the tyre is indeed as grippy as Michelin claims, is to do a comparison test with the Service Course. So that’s what I did. On a wet rainy day, I rode a set route twice, on the same bike and wheels, first on the Service Course and then on the Grip tyres. I used the same tyre pressure and wore the same kit, to try and rule out any variables.

Firstly, the tyre showed good rolling resistance. Despite its extra weight there’s very little real-world difference, in such conditions, when riding along a straight road and fully upright. Lean over into the corners and push the tyres onto their shoulders, replicating the same lean angles, and there is a tangible increase in grip. You can push the Grip a little harder than the Service Course. But as Michelin’s claims indicate, it’s marginal and the difference between the two tyres wasn’t night and day. Yes you can certainly feel a bit more grip available, the tyre feels more secure and planted compared to the Service Course. Very steep climbs covered in rain water were also another area that showed the Grip to offer just that, more grip than the SC.

Not only is the Grip about offering extra grip, but it boasts better puncture resistance as well. Michelin have developed an Aramide reinforcing ply specifically for this tyre, and it’s located in the crown and shoulder, so that’s protection right across the tyre. They claim it’s 20% more puncture resistance than the Service Course. I’ve been running these tyre on my steel winter training bike, riding daily, for the last few months, and I’ve not suffered a single puncture.

Not a conclusive test I know, punctures have a lot to do with luck and I’m having a good run at the moment. However, inspecting the tyre shows that the surface is in very good condition. There’s a lack of holes, cuts or impregnated glass that a few other tyres on test bikes are showing after riding through the same winter weather.

All things considered, I’ve been thoroughly impressed with these tyres. I’m a fan of the regular Service Course, the Grip builds on that tyre with the extra puncture protection and grippier compound, with really no drawbacks. So it’s a bit heavier, but not so much that you’ll notice, and riding through the winter a little extra weight when it’s used to prevent punctures is no bad thing.

It’s not a slow tyre, so you could fit it to your best bike for winter riding, and take them off for the summer. Equally, they’re a good set of tyres for year-round commuting and touring, where the puncture protection and extra grip trumps outright weight and rolling resistance performance.

The only downside is that they only offer them in a 23mm width. C’mon Michelin, make them in a 25mm.

Verdict
A commendable tyre from Michelin that offers great puncture protection and increased grip in wet weather.

a warm,wild, wet and windy winter day


Whilst the rest of the country deals with flooding and storm damage (and I have sympathy for their plight) but we in Scotland make the most of the weather and so today was Kitesurfing day. Initial plan was too leave early and get a session in before the rain came in at 1pm but the funny thing is that when the wind is westerly the island of Arran off the coast seems to deflect the worst of the weather especially when it is howling.

Barassie beach just to the north of Troon harbour
Barassie beach just to the north of Troon harbour

Kites Best TS 8m and Best Cabo 6m – Got down later probably after 12 then rigged up. Firstly pumped up the 6m kite as it felt like a good 28-32 knots …. but then the wind lulled before i even left the grass so pumped up the 8m (now officially my big kite as i hate cruising on big kite days) and went down to the beach as the clouds passed sucking in even more wind in its tail … so ran back shoved the 8m in the car and out again on the 6m.

Wind was gusty but good 1908936_10152260919789993_1081725259_oyou can see the stats here 18knots gusting 32 when I got on the water and then for the next hour was 17 gusting 28 …. 17 was a bit low for the 6m but in the gusts it was great.

Screen Shot 2014-02-09 at 19.18.08I took the new board down it is a Cabrinha Tronic 137 and it is amazing in the choppy conditions and with the bigger fins (than my last board) it kites a lot flatter so the spray is a bit cleaner and not one eyeful of spray into your eyes …. i love it straight off and the H1 pads and straps are fantastic so comfy.

Out with the old Slingshot Lunacy on the left and in with the new Cabrinha Tronic on the right
Out with the old Slingshot Lunacy on the left and in with the new Cabrinha Tronic on the right

I tried a few little speed sections between the waves and the board felt fast – but only 21.7 knots max so i am sure the 8m will be quicker as the Cabo sits quite deep in the window (well it is a wave kite)