The New Ride

When the frame on my Blade4 died in early 2017, its replacement was sitting on the floor of the local bike shop: a beautiful Scott Sub 30. The Sub30 has also succumbed to long miles on the road.


Replacement was not so easy this time. Steel frame bikes are scarce due to Covid shortages. Eventually, I visited a shop in Adelaide to inspect a very expensive Curve Kevin, which was not my first choice owing to its carbon forks. I discovered a Bombtrack Arise Tour next to it, even though their website said none were in stock.  I bought it on the spot!


Drop bars! This has been a bit of a challenge to my back, and took a bit of fiddling and adjustment on the first few rides, to find the best setup.  Currently, I have settled on a slight downslope for the saddle, using an old Selle Glider from the shed. I've retained the Kenda Kwick Tendril tyres, which roll noticeably faster than the Schwalbe Marathon Tours on the Sub30. The reach and stack feel as though they proved a slight mechanical advantage over the Sub 30, and combined with the tyres, I have a faster ride overall.

Bottom gearing is close to the same as the Sub30, using a Microshift "mullet" drive train, using two rings at the front and a ten speed cassette at the rear. The bar end shifters are surprisingly easy to use, although they prevent the use of a bar end mirror. I have a fork mounted mirror which is not much use, and may give in and buy an expensive but robust EVT Safe Zone helmet mounted mirror. My cyclist daughter tells me that a helmet mounted mirror will be a sign that I am truly old! Her observations match my own: I've never seen anyone other than old grey beards using them.

Brakes are TRP Spyre-C which are a cable actuated disk brake, but with two pistons. Unlike hydraulic disks, these will require adjustment, although it is very simple and more robust than a hydraulic system. I never felt comfortable with a handle bar bag against the brake cables on the Sub30; this is now not an issue. 

The Bombtrack has dynamo lights. The headlight is surprisingly bright, and means I need to carry less in the way of batteries on multi day rides.

I've now brought up around 1350km on the new Bombtrack, on sealed and gravel roads.  It is a bit twitchy on slushy gravel, which I suspect is partly a function of the slightly narrower handlebars, but may also be due to the lighter tread on the tyres. On bitumen, especially at high speeds, riding in the drops means it is actually more stable than the Sub30, especially around corners.

I've done a couple of 200km + trips, and I appear to be travelling 1-2kph faster on long rides. The tyres seem good—no punctures yet, despite a lot of gravel.  They seem not to be available in Australia, so it seems I will be looking elsewhere for their replacement. I'll keep the Tours for any long, hi-gravel trips.

I've added a carrier insert which means I can fit my Topeak trunk bags to the rear pannier. That pannier doesn't take my current touring panniers, so I have some Ortliebs on order. The Sub30 pedals were a bit worn, so I took them off the Bombtrack and added some Shimano PD-ME700 SPD pedals, which would allow me to ride without cleats, not that I will. I've bought them because, compared to normal SPD, they should spread the pressure on the ball of the foot while wearing cleats.  The expense is not over yet. My frame-bag won't fit, so that will mean another purchase.

The new pedals provide more real estate to collect rock hits from the road, although it's clear this is made worse by the fact that the bottom bracket is lower than on the Sub30.  Lifting the inside pedal on bends is now important. But overall, that lower ride cancels out the manoeuvrability of the flat bars of the Sub. On twisting paths like the Linear Park, the Bombtrack is more stable, and this is when riding on the hoods, not the drops.


The photo is at the north end of Research Road, in the Barossa.


I've made a small bracket to allow the pannier to carry my Niteflux RedZone 8s. You can see the red of the dynamo taillight sitting just above it. Although the bike has been leaning against the tree for two or three minutes, the light is still pushing out a bit of red from the system capacitor which provides light while stopped in traffic! In the first photo, you can see I've added my Cateye Volt 800 to the handlebars for backup. Here here, you can also see my specialised tool for dealing with the poor quality control of Topeak's trunk bags. I have three different models of these. One fits the insert perfectly, and the other two rattle, just as they did on the Sub.   So a small Eucalyptus twig from the May Street Reserve on Third Creek has solved the problem!

Meantime, the poor old Sub sits in my shed, waiting to hear if Scott will honour the frame warranty. Like everything else in this Covid time, it's taking an age.

(Posted 2 Jan 2022)


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