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Thursday, 8 January 2015


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Sunday, 2 November 2014

Parlee Altum R

Born from a decade's experience handcrafting the world's finest road bikes, Parlee developed the Altum R. We are very proud to have the very first stock of the Altum R in the UK in this amazing blue colourway.

Aimed at all-around road riders who demand stiffness, efficiency and great handling—whether sprinting for the city limit sign or tackling all-day epics—the Altum R features all of the same engineering and design elements as the Altum, but with varying carbon fiber materials and orientation. With its light weight (810g frame/330g fork), smooth but efficient ride quality and Parlee's Flex Fit sizing system, the Altum R is the right choice for riders seeking the perfect balance of performance and comfort on all types of roads.

We love the vibrant blue with it's subtle grey panels on the inside of the seat stays, chain stays and the fork.

Come in store to discuss your Altum R build. You can also see more photos, shot by Bobby Whittaker, here.

Disc Brakes vs. Rim Brakes

With the recent emergence of disc brakes in the road cycling market we have found some customers are not sure of the advantages and can end up feeling confused about the different systems. In this short piece I will look at the different systems and which one you may want to invest in for your bike.

Firstly the difference between a traditional road caliper rim brake and a hydraulic disc brake. In their simplest form they function very differently, with a rim brake using the pulling force of a steel cable to apply the brakes, compared to the pushing force of hydraulic fluid used in disc brakes, much like the systems seen on motor vehicles.

The biggest advantage of disc brakes is modulation, you may have seen this term being bounced around without it being fully explained. Modulation refers to the lever feel, and the way the power is controlled from the lever. Disc brakes give a much lighter, smoother feeling at the lever, which on long descents will lead to far less hand fatigue as you require less force to brake.

Disc brakes allow for consistent braking performance even when the conditions change. With wet weather riding having significant effects on rim brakes as the water and other dirt covers the braking surface and reduces performance. With disc brakes the rotor location and size makes for very consistent braking whatever the weather. This translates to dependable brakes, so when you have to slow rapidly in an emergency you will be able to control the braking and stop in a shorter distance than rim brakes can allow.

A misconception with disc brakes is that they offer more power, and while this is partially true it is not the whole story. Braking power is limited by the grip each tyre can afford. So creating a hugely powerful brake is counter productive as the user will far more easily lock a wheel under braking. Just like a car, the quickest way to stop is to apply as much force as possible without locking the wheels. This is why the better modulation, lever feel and consistency, not raw power make disc brakes faster stoppers.

Also worth mentioning is that taking the braking surface away from the rim itself gives many benefits, as you can break a spoke and not have to worry about the brakes rubbing. Those using high end wheels will not be wearing the rim through braking. Furthermore, disc specific rims are already seeing a drop in weight as excess material can be trimmed from the braking surface.

One commonly cited disadvantage is heat build up, however much testing has showed that road bikes are not hitting dangerous temperatures even on very long, demanding descents. To boil the hydraulic fluid requires temperatures to hit 280 °C, which even on intense steep descents with continual braking is simply not a possibility. Shimano and Sram have both tested their systems on some of the longest descents with weighted riders continually braking and still found they reached a maximum temperature far below the brake's boiling point.

This doesn't mean rim brakes will disappear overnight, far from it as they still have their place on many bikes. Certainly they still lead in the weight department, and are easier to get to grips with technically for the budding home mechanic.  However disc brakes are seeing growth throughout the road market. The UCI seems to be heading towards legalising them in the pro peloton and the majority of cyclo cross teams are already only running disc brakes these days. Disc brakes offer more control and ultimately more safety on the bike, but questions over their ease of maintenance, weight, expense and aesthetic will no doubt see both systems running in parallel for the foreseeable future.

Come into store and we'll gladly discuss the best options for your build.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Awesome Autumn


I live for weekends like these. It’s Monday and I am still beaming from how good yesterday was. I might as well be in another world, I was certainly in a different place all weekend… I was on my bike.

There comes a point in the season where you feel as though you spend all your time racing your bike and very little time just riding it for enjoyment. I don’t think anyone would describe bike racing as fun, it’s a much bigger thing than that, it’s racing and that’s my only way to describe it.

Autumn is a chance to do things you don’t normally do during the race season, and usually an Autumn ride will include rustling leaves, crisp air, hardy conditions, stories, the odd song, more stories, and with the memory of months of racing in your legs no one is ready to ride easy. That’s what Winter is about, right?

I met up with a few Catford (Jeff Banks’ project) riders in Kingston picking up Massimo of X-Bionic at Giro Esher, fresh with stories of Lamborghini related antics the day previous. Our general plan was to Ride into Surrey and come back to Ottershaw in time to cheer on a few of our friends that were still racing.

We set off toward Shere via Ripley Lane and Shere Road. From Shere we decided to let our sense of direction take the lead and we followed our noses along some sweet roads through Winterfold Forest into Guildford, Woking, then finally stopping at the Circuit near Longcross. We caught the last few laps, where Jake took 3rd, then we rode home. Our party was now doubled in size and included a man almost three times my age. Sunday evening was capped off with a trip to the Olympic Velodrome for a Track League briefing followed by a ‘few quiet ones’ (which definitely weren’t quiet, or few!).

Cycling, our shared connection and passion, is difficult to describe to people on the outside, I think a Bodhi quote from Point Break sums it up:

“It’s a state of mind. It’s that place where you lose yourself and find yourself”

- Nigel MacAodha

You can follow Nigel on Instagram. Nigel is one of our bike fit experts at Bespoke.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Colnago: “Sono nato per fare le biciclette”
“I was born to make Bicycles”

Ernesto Colnago began his apprenticeship with Cicli Gloria, Milano, aged 12. Having served his time as a welder he became head of assemby in the Gloria factory and in 1952, aged 20, he set up Cicli Colnago, manufacturing parts for larger companies like Gloria.

In 1954, the first ever Colnago was built for Fiorenzo Magni. Impressed by the quality of his work, Magni asked Colnago to support him at the following Giro. Since then, Ernesto has worked on 25 Giro d’Italia & 25 Tour de France realising the value of working closely with the best riders in the world.

In total, Colnago has sponsored over 240 Professional Teams, winning World Championships in Cyclocross, Road and Track. Colnago was the first to use Titanium, the first to use Carbon Fibre (with the help of Ferrari F1) and more recently he was the first to build a road bike featuring disc brakes.

To say Ernesto Colnago has been a pioneer in the world of cycling is an understatement… you can view his top ten bikes here.

If you have a spare few minutes I’d highly recommend these two clips on the C60 Frame, you won’t see anything like this going on in a Taiwanese factory!

The paint process is incredible and the levels of skill are astounding.  The masking process is remarkable, true craftsmanship.

One thing I particularly like about Ernesto's approach to design is his refusal to build a frame weighing less than 1kg. All big brands will offer a sub 1kg frame, some as little as 690g. In order to comply with the UCI weight limit of 6.8Kg, World Tour mechanics are often left with the counter-intuitive task of adding ballast to the bike. Colnago are more interested in the performance of the frame than shedding grams at the expense of  other factors.

Colnago has at least 20 or 30 years Pro Tour experience on most of his rivals and on bikes like the C60, V1-r and CX Zero it shows…

Come in and talk to us about Colnago and how you too can ride a legend.

- Nigel MacAodha

Thursday, 23 October 2014

The Assos Winter Wardrobe

With winter starting to bite this week we've been looking to our Assos winter wardrobe for warmth. The heavyweight Assos T.607 S5 Bibshorts are perfect for this time of year, adding extra warmth without the bulk, and twin brilliantly with knee or leg warmers. Assos has developed a 3D air-channel structure creating a next-to-body micro air cushion which results in superb heat retention and dryness by lowering the garment volume and thickness. Assos fit and comfort is second to none and comes as standard.

We also have good stock of the iJ.shaqUno jacket which excels with only a base layer, and can be worn all winter long. Just choose a lighter or heavier ASSOS bodyInsulator or similar base layer and the shaqUno will perform in even the coldest conditions.

The jacket features a double-face construction, with two layers attached at strategic points rather than being bonded together. This improves movement, and more importantly creates an air chamber between the layers to regulate heat. With Assos RX soft fleece as the inner layer, the shaqUno is a pleasure to wear when temperatures plummet.

When things turn wet the rS.strurmPrinz EVO jacket, another Bespoke favourite, assures rain protection as well as a solid barrier against the cold wind. Mixing waterproof panels with highly breathable areas away from key zones, the sturmPrinz achieves the perfect balance between keeping the rain out and regulating body temperature. After all, what's the point of keeping out all that rain if your jacket gets wet on the inside from your own body heat? Indeed this is a common complaint about cheap waterproofs for cycling.  It's usually the lack of breathability that leads to you getting wet rather than the fabric failing to keep out the rain.

 So come in and try them on. We also have a selection of gloves, base layers and more that we will be happy to advise you on. Embrace winter riding with Assos.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

The Trek Émonda SLR 10 Now In Stock

Today we received the lightest complete production bike in the world, the new 4.8kg Trek Émonda SLR 10.

With the Madone becoming a more aerodynamic focused machine (due spring 2015) Trek Factory Racing riders Arredondo and the Schleck brothers required something more in tune with their climbing exploits. Trek began the Émonda project in 2012, 700 prototypes and countless hours of testing later and here we are. The 56cm frame weighs just 690 grams, including a seatmast worth about 50 grams. That puts it ahead of the Cannondale SuperSix EVO by about 20 grams and ahead of the Specialized Tarmac S-Works SL4 by just under 210 grams.

A new seatmast topper saves precious grams by using a carbon clamp and titanium hardware. Team riders will continue to use the old seatmast topper to help bring bikes up to the 6.8kg weight limit.
The Émonda SLR and SL models use the relatively new direct-mount brakes first debuted on the Madone, where they were integrated neatly into the fork and chainstay to improve aerodynamics. But the design has other benefits as well. The new Bontrager-designed brakes are lighter than standard single-bolt Dura-Ace brakes, and the frame mounts are also lighter. The threads can be molded straight into the fork and seatstays, reducing the number of parts and eliminating redundant material. Components from niche German brand Tune, including a carbon saddle with no padding, help keep weight at a minimum.
The new XXX integrated bar/stem saves another 70-100 grams, depending on size. It comes with an integrated modular computer mount, dubbed Blendr, which can be used with a Garmin, iPhone or Node computer.

On the subject of bicycle design, Keith Bontrager famously stated: "Strong. Light. Cheap. Pick two."

Often, when a bike polarises itself toward low-weight, comfort or power transfer, one of these areas become compromised. This is not the case with the Émonda.

Please visit us in store and we'll be more than happy to tell you more about how Trek have constructed one of the finest bikes we've seen for a while. We may even let you pick it up...