So as I promised on Twitter earlier, I would update on how I felt the Marin Nicasio SS was doing. I also decided to go on a small bikepacking trip to make sure my kit was all good and enable me to make any changes to my setup for jaunts further away from. Typically though as all the forecasts said today was to be the nicest day of the week, it naturally has been below freezing with snow storms, fun times.
My first decision on going bikepacking was to change my tires. I wanted a wider tire and a more suitable gravel pattern than what came on the bike. As such, I decided I wanted a file tread so as to try and have a tread that would work on the road and also off. As such, I went with Continental Cyclocross Speed.
I mainly went the Speeds as you could get a set of them in the folding variety for £40 a pair (you can get them for £30 a pair on Chain Reaction Cycles) and as all the other options I was thinking of cost that amount per tire, I felt they may be worth a shout. They also saved me a 105g per tire and as we all know, cyclists love saving some rotational weight.
The tires have coped well with all Scotland has thrown at them and I do not seem to have lost any speed going from 30mm to 35mm. Admittedly this may be because I had no speed to loose. As you can probably see I went with Apidura bags, the reason being I already had them. The small mountain bike frame bag does let a little bit of air in between itself and the seat tube when fitted on a small road frame but apart from that, it does its job admirably. I did sell a lot of them when I worked in the trade and during that time I never had a customer complain about them and as well know, customers love to complain.
I would also like to add that the 35mm wide tires have helped suck up more of the road imperfections than the 30mm tires. This is no surprise as I have basically just increased the suspension on my bike. Always remember that no matter what bike companies tell you, 90% of your comfort will come from your tires. The added width also gave me a larger contact patch with the ground, this helped my Promax brakes to work more efficiently, which was great on wet, slippy gravel tracks.
Now Urban Cyclist has reviewed the Marin and the review is up on Bikeradar. I have said this before but the fact they complained about a saddle is not really something to mark a bike down for. In the review, they also complain about the bike having a ride that is reliable rather than exciting. For myself, this is because they are ignoring that the bike is designed to carry loads. When I am riding with my bikepacking kit and a rucksack with my works laptop nestled in it, I am not after exciting I want to know that I am not going to tip over.
I have also talked about Road.cc’s Commute Bike of the Year. In it, they gave the title to a bike that is not designed for commuting or even with rack mounts. The Marin for me is a much better candidate for that title.
It is made of steel, drop it and it will not break or crack and will come back looking for more, in fact, it) might just last longer than yourself. Again whilst working in a shop I have seen a lot of steel bikes that have had arguments with cars and a surprising amount of them come out of the fight better than the car. Aluminum over time will develop stress cracks and become soft, this is because of the way aluminum (not alloy, steel is also an alloy) deals with shocks, pot holes can eventually crack your aluminum frame. I have written a little more about that in Trust in Crom.
It is a singlespeed. I feel for commuting, singlespeeds are better for your wallet and also help to teach you how to cycle a little more efficiently. It also has all the mounts and clearances you could want in a commute bike and as you can see if you want to go further afield it will cope with that idea as well. If you use a Cycle 2 Work voucher, you will also have a lot left over for all the bits you will have forgotten you need.
I quite like the bike it could be said.
The one thing I forgot about though when I went out, was a bell. Riding along canal towpaths without a bell is fun. Saying ‘Excuse me’ or ‘On your right’, even in a nice pleasant voice seems to annoy people more than a bell. Which is amazing as a bell is more like screaming ‘Get the fuck out of my way’. People are funny and you will have it explained at great length why you should have a bell, repeatedly, so save your sanity and fit a bell.
Dog walkers will treat you like scum. They will have their pride and joy barking at you, have leads crossing the track and leave dog poo on the path. Somehow though as you pedal merrily along you are the problem, especially if their dog starts to chase you. Presumably, then it must be every cyclist’s duty to fully train people’s dogs for them. I would love to say this does not apply to every dog owner but at the minute I seem to be wrong in thinking that.
As I was talking about Cycling and Getting Older, I enjoyed no longer feeling in a rush to arrive at my destination. I basically meander along and take in the view and Scotland certainly has them. I also magically finished yesterday’s ride beside a Greggs, I will alway advocate for people to stop at places where they sell cakes.
One of the reasons I started to write this blog was to try and help people find out which cycling products may be reasonably priced and help them keep the cost of cycling down. As admirable as this is I seem to spend more time discussing everything else but that.
As such, I decided to try the B’Twin Rapid Fix Cycling Bottle Cage, now that is a name. At £1.99 if it worked it would be a great buy. My main issue was that the plastic backing is a bit of a faff for getting bolts in, the holes being narrower than water bottle bolt heads, meaning the plastic gets eaten by the bolt. I also found that it never really feels secure, they seemed really loose. Now when I was riding with my frame pack on, I could not quite see the cage for putting the bottle in, this resulted in the cage getting bent up at a 90-degree angle. I pushed it back into place and it carried on holding the bottle, but you can see crease marks through the metal so it may be on its last legs. That means it lasted around 3 weeks so not really a cost saving measure.
At the same time, I also bought the B’Twin 300 Cycling Overshoes. As we can see Decathlon do go in for the catchy marketing department approved names. So also after 3 weeks, we have the velcro coming off, this is after only using them for around 5 rides. So again, cost cutting measures may, in the long run, cost a lot more. Now, this has been trying very budget versions of the options between cages and overshoes and I never had high expectations for them and was intrigued by how well they would work, because if they did they would truly be bargains. I will now try the next models up and we can see how well they, work out.
Now for some photos from the adventures, quality may not be high, taking my gloves off was not fun.