Well that was interesting

Some of you might know, I have been looking for a new bike.  This has involved many, many hours on the internet researching.  Many long conversations with mates about wheel sizes, shock designs, maintenance, travel and more.

So where have we got to.  The thinking is it has to be 650b or 29 er wheels (or clown-lite and clown wheels as they will be know).  26 seems dead to me. I know not everyone agrees but then beer was once always served warm and we all know how nice a cold pint of Jarl is, dont we.  So this weekend i managed to get 2 bikes to test: Both 29ers, but very different:

  1. A Specialized Camber with 110mm of travel and relatively steep angles – this is a good xc bike
  2. An Orange 5 29 with 140mm with slacker angles  – a great all mountain bike

The test venue was the Innerleithan xc loop with some “choice” extras thrown in to make things more interesting.

IMAG2319So what were my thoughts?  Well it was all a bit of a surprise really.  Both bikes are great.  I had been warned the Camber was twitch with a steep head angle but it was more fun than i thought.  It was let down by its tyres which just didnt inspire confidence.  The shocks were a bit hard for my liking as well which made it hard to manual the bike.

The big surprise was the 5.  There is no disguising the fact it is a big bike, but it was fast on the climbs. Probably faster than the Camber.  This is most likely due to the position you end up in on both bikes.  On the Camber you feel “in” the bike which seems to make it hard to move around and shift your weight. The 5 is the opposite, it is easy to shift around and consequently it feels fast everywhere.

I suppose it could have been the wheels and tyres that made the 5 seem fast. It was tubeless with quite grippy rubber. But i was genuinely shocked that a slack 140mm rig could out climb/sprint a steep angled 110mm xc rig. The job of deciding which bike to get has just got harder, or possibly much, much easier.


New Ride – Son of Ken is born

Kinesis Pro6 review

I am relatively new to cross and wish i had found it sooner. Cyclocross is just plain fun. Faster than mountain bikes, but with less control. I raced the 2011 season on a battered Kinesis 5T that i picked up for £320 on ebay and had a blast. It is hard to explain, but it kind of reminded me why i ride. Furious Ken, as he became known, never let me down but most of his components were close to worn out and he needed some serious TLC if he was going to be competitive in the 2012 season. Over the winter i had also got carried away and had entered the 3 Peaks Cyclocross race. If you don’t know what this is, then follow the link, all you really need to know is that it is probably the toughest cx race out there. All this added up to a new bike purchase, or at least it provided the thinnest veneer of a reason to get a new bike.

Choices, Choices, Choices

I set my mind on discs. The arguments continue as to the advantages of discs and some seem to be waiting for the hydraulic discs to improve before switching. I thought mechanical discs would be alright, even if only 1 pad really moves on most systems. After much deliberation it came down to a choice of 2 rigs; the On One Dirty Disco and the Kinesis Pro 6. I was sceptical about carbon fiber, but you really cant ask for a better advert than Mike Hall can race around the World on one carrying his kit on a Dirty Disco. However the Pro6 edged it. Why? Well it was a bit cheaper and had rack mounts meaning I could use the bike as a fast tourer as well as a weekend cx race bike.


With the frame secured from my local cx friendly bike shop, The TriCentre, i could start planning the build. The next biggest decisions was wheels. After a chat with a mate who also had a Pro6 I plumped for Hope Hoops. These were Pro2 EVO hubs on Stan’s Crest rims. Technically a 29’er wheel-set they are pretty bombproof but still light and tubeless ready. I think going for mtb wheels is a good idea as cx racing is really tough on kit, you end up power-washing the bike after races, well in Scotland at least. Brakes were an easy choice, Avid BB7’s. Just note that you have to get the road version if you intend to use them with road levers. I forgot and at one point had 6 calipers under my desk at work due to some internet shopping excitement. The drive-train is pretty standard run of the mill stuff. Utilitarian kit that doesn’t break the bank, CX70 chainset, 105 block/chain, 105 shifters (you are going to crash a cx bike so don’t waste cash on fancy shifters) and 105 mechs. The finishing kit consisted of a Ritchey seatpin, a bargain RSP saddle and some second hand stem and bars from Colin May.

Sorted, well almost. Tyres. Tyre manufacturers have not quite realised that many riders want to race tubeless but dont want to run tubs. There are a couple of blogs with recommendations of which tyres work as tubeless systems and i opted for Schwalbe Racing Ralphs. Do they work? Yes, but it took a couple of days and a hell of a lot of sealant to seal the sidewalls, the thread count may not quite be high enough to be tubeless ready out of the box.


So how does it ride? Well, i think it rides as good as it looks. You just have so much control than with canti’s. The geometry is exactly the same as the 5t and it is spot on in my opinion. Aggressive but stable. I suppose the only thing that i could criticise it for is the lack of mud clearance t the front. There is plenty, but there could be more. On the 3 Peaks it performed admirably. The conditions were horrific this year (video) and having discs was a great reassurance. I slashed a tyre on a rock which was unlucky. The only issue i had with the bike was that the seat clamp snapped during a remount. Why do manufacturers insist on making seat collars out of mag-alloy? They must save, what, 3 grams over solid aluminium. I have since replaced the seat collar with a nice bit of jewelry from Superstar. The old one will be going back to Kinesis with a comment.


Pro6 in action at Knockburn Loch – image courtesy of Shand Cycles

So we are now 1/2 way through the cx season and the Pro6 continues to deliver. I am yet to test it’s load lugging touring capabilities, but that may have to wait until the summer. If you are looking for a no-nonsence, versitile bike that is just as at home touring as it is cx racing or bashing out winter miles, look no further. The Pro6 is great.

Total build cost: £1350




The clocks have changed, it’s dark when you leave work, all getting a bit depressing.  So, what do you do?  Mope? Catch a film at the cinema?  That would be too easy, much better you head out into the woods and have a special Halloween cycloross race complete with fancy dress.



The TriCentre organised Hallocross in Craigmiller park.  A great little course, not too technical, partly open and grassy with a swoopy, spooky wooded section. Top it off with mild, dry weather and you couldn’t ask for more.  The race was eventually won by Gareth Montgomery, with David Lines in second and Colin May in third.  The Edinburgh Uni Cycle Club (EUCC) cleaned up in the fancy dress competition thanks to a crow and a banana.