Monday, 4 July 2016

New bike!

Well, not brand new anymore - I've had it for a a number of weeks now, but I wanted to hold off for a while before expressing my opinion.
I am mostly a commuter. Yes, I ride for fun and enjoyment, and yes, I do the occasional sportive, but the vast majority of miles I do are commuter miles.

For the past several years I've been commuting on road bikes. My commute is 15 miles each way, unless I take the long way round, something I do whenever I get a reasonable chance to do so.

Around 8 of those miles are on rural roads, which vary from OK to rather iffy. Especially in winter, the rural lanes can be debris-strewn but even in summer they are bumpy, often full of muck and occasionally potholed. That simply means my road bike takes a beating and on average I find I wear through a set of rims in around 9 months.

My road bike came with 700cx23 tyres as standard and I upgraded to 700cx25, which are the biggest tyres it would take.

For a long time now I've been wanting a fast touring bike - a bike that can take full mudguards and a rear rack, with gearing that can cope with the Devon hills I face almost daily and with bigger tyres. I toyed with the idea of building such a bike myself.

And then someone on Twitter (actually a few people) suggested I look at a Genesis CdA 20. It is marketed as an "adventure" bike, though the reality is it's a CX bike with 700cx32 road tyres. The CdA has an aluminium frame that can take a rear rack and full mudguards. The forks are carbon, with an aluminium steerer tube, and quite surprisingly can take a front rack.
A Sora groupset means it's a 9-speed and further it has cable disk brakes for predictable braking even in the wet.

As you'd expect from a CX bike, it has a more relaxed geometry than an outright road bike and it is very, very comfortable to ride.

The CdA is a bit heavier than my road bike, and that weight difference would show on the hills. Despite this, it remains quite a fast bike. I've done almost 600 miles on it so far and I like it more now than what I did when I first got it.

The CdA is not perfect though: cable routing is strange and perhaps even untidy. Other that this, to have been almost my perfect bike, I'd have preferred a hub dynamo in the front wheel - a pity this isn't even an option.
I accept not everyone shares my idea of the perfect bike, but having a hub dynamo to me would be a great bonus, as it means I never need to worry about charging lights up. Considering that 6 months of the year I commute in darkness, this would be a big step forward.

In addition to dark winter commutes, I also organise something called Darkmoor - an annual through-the-night bike ride and I usually ride the Exmouth Exodus - a very smoothly organised through-the-night ride. Darkmoor is only 87 miles, while the Exodus is 108 miles. On rides like that you need to keep changing battery packs for your lights, and dynamo lights would be very welcome indeed.

I'm being unfair towards the CdA, of course, expecting far more than what I reasonably should. Besides, the cable routing really is no big deal at all, and of course nothing stops me from buying a hub dynamo and relacing the front wheel around that.

Overall I'm really happy with the CdA. It's a tough bike, ready to take whatever I can throw at it (within reason - it's not a downhill MTB!) and come back for more. In addition, it allows me to quickly and easily add racks and mudguards, allowing me to go touring with it.

The biggest litmus test for me of any product I buy is this: after having owned and used it for some time, given the choice, would I buy it again if I knew then what I know now. In the CdA's case, the answer is a simple and resounding "Yes!"