Surly Pugsley Review

Resident bushwhacker and fellow beard cultivator Gareth found the lure of the fat bike too much to resist and took the plunge headlong onto the world of Surly Pugsleys. Here is his review after a couple of months of ownership.

Surly Pugsley-1

“Oh wow, they are some big tyres!”

If hearing this slightly more than obvious statement from everyone who sees you on a fat bike sounds trying, don’t bother with one of these beasts. However, if you want to have the most fun you have had on a bike since you were doing skids and wheelies on your back pedal brake BMX with your mates after school, then read on.

I came on to a Surly Pugsley after months of agonising over which bike would be the most suitable for me for long distance off road rides. I looked at 29ers, drop barred touring bikes with fat tyres and steel framed mountain bikes. All styles had their advocates, benefits and drawbacks. For me, I needed something that was fun, robust, and capable. I didn’t want to be riding something that would be great on the bitumen, but hold me back when the going got tough.  I am, after all, a mountain biker at heart. I had never ridden a fat bike, but piecing together the wealth of information on the internet made me feel like I wouldn’t be disappointed by one. Trusting my gut, and egged on by Angus, a yellow pug was ordered.

The initial rides had me feeling pretty good about my decision. The strange looks given around the suburbs as I test rode the yellow beast only enhanced the fun that I was having. It rides like an oversized BMX, and handles well for something with a much greater mass than anything I had ridden in a while. Stable and confidence inspiring, it needed a proper test. Fortunately, the Dwellingup 100 was just around the corner. Not a bad introduction for the Pug to WA trails!

It wasn’t as fast as a standard mountain bike, but I wouldn’t have changed my bike choice for the day, I was there for  fun, not a podium.  A few of the tight corners on Turner Hill were a challenge, although the Pug seemed to be more capable than some of the flash carbon hard tails that it passed. There is something particularly satisfying about riding past someone on a race rig when you have little preparation and 4 inch tyres. I wasn’t alone on the day, with at least 5 other rider making use of Surly’s fat offerings. A few contributed to the development of the stereotype that fat bikes are for nerds with beards…

The real purpose of the bike for me was realised when I set off on a mini adventure on the Munda Biddi Trail. I would urge all West Oz riders to have a go at this masterpiece of a touring route, which saw me travel around 700km in 8 days, taking in some of the great sites of the south west. Lightly loaded, the trail was a pleasure, despite heavy rains and many fallen branches. Many of the people who I passed on the journey were complaining bitterly of the mud, but I barely noticed that as a problem. The big tyres at a low pressure provide an elegant solution to trail chatter without the need for suspension, and the stock Surly kit operated well in all circumstances. It isn’t all roses though, with some of the hills a bit of a test of patience with the added rolling resistance. The payoff though was speeds on the descents that I won’t mention for fear my Mum might stumble across this write up. Stable indeed, even with all the camping gear!

So, if I was going to buy another bike for off road camping adventures, would I choose another? Well, maybe yes now that Surly ECR has been released. It comes with the mounts that Cycles Bespoke were able to install for me, and has a deep appeal to my inner bike nerd.  I would definitely recommend to anyone who loves fun bikes that they give a pug a roll. It is certainly a good way to release your inner child, and ticks all the boxes for me. And for those tyre commentators? Have a chat, you might just meet someone nice!

Surly Pugsley-2

Focus Izalco Team Sl 4.0 Review

We have recently put one of our riders on a new Focus Izalco Team Sl 4.0  for this seasons road racing. This is his review of his new steed…..And I stress his review!!….

Normally, when the purchase of a new bike is to be made, you have an idea of what you want in your head and you go to the shop and nothing changes your mind no matter what. Well… that’s what usually happens for me.

I went in with the above plan, however my eyes were soon opened to an alternative ride by Mr Cole and Mr Jones.

One look at the new Focus Izalco Team 4 Pro SL and I was semi erect. It has great classic lines, with subtle intricacies that hint at great quality and much style, just like my fro. The subtlety of the features makes you take a second look – from the headset internal cabling, to the concave top tube (from a birds-eye POV) and stylish paint scheme which I really love – just look at it… and you will then look again.

The branding is kept minimal by clever use of colour and the orange racing stripes catch you from a distance… making you come in closer and take that longer look, of which you will then see mesh based shapes of dark grey, against a block-black background and striking orange pinstripes. I have had so many people noting to me that the paint scheme is bike porn.

I have now ridden the bike for the last 4 weeks and completed 3 races on her. I have my trusted and favoured SRAM Red all over it and yes I have upgraded the wheelset from standard along with the bars. The frame however is extremely light, nimble and stiff. Over the last few weeks I have taken a few hot dog corners, had a couple of ‘chucks’ up a few threshold hill efforts and descended at speed. I have always seemed to catch people on the descents without effort and with great stability at high speed. The bike is responsive and agile to turn at the front, alongside having the rigidity to keep the power down at the back end when accelerating. It is a shame it can’t help with the engine. Maybe the German made Focus guru’s can give me some advice on how to improve my efficiency and precision to their standard.

If bang for buck is what you are after, with more BANG than BUCK, then this bike could just be the Viagra the doctor ordered.

Bravo Monsieur Miller! I am not sure whether I feel informed, inadequate, aroused or awkward….and maybe a little of each!!



Lezyne Lights

The lady of the house who goes by the name Mrs Jones recently put together this little review for us on the lights she uses. You can find Lady Jones doing hill repeats on Mount St on any given day either that or tearing the legs of people on her evening commute home.
It’s that time of the year again where you have to put lights on your bike or you face the wrath of do-gooder cyclists and the terror of negotiating dark lanes… well… in the dark. the problem with bike lights is:
a) finding where you put them
b) realising that the lights you do manage to find don’t fit the brackets on your bike and
c) having to find batteries when you realise they’re flat.
I was so stoked to discover that Lezyne Micro Drive 150 lights can not only be charged directly from my laptop with clever little whizz-bang USB ports, but they don’t need brackets and just flick onto the handlebar and seat stem with thick elastic straps. They pop on and off the bike so easily and are small enough to put in my pocket, so I’ve yet to lose them (though I’m sure I’ll give it a red-hot try!), yet despite their size are surprisingly effective at doing what they are supposed to do. I have a feeling those dark lanes and do-gooder cyclists are not going to be nearly as scary this winter

Paul Components

We have recently begun to import, direct from the US, a small batch, high-end parts and accessories manufacturer in Paul Components.
The more I follow Paul Components, through various social media outlets, the more I like about them. One of the things I like the most is not only do they make beautifully crafted parts in their Chico, California plant but that the owner, Paul Price, is at the coal face designing and manufacturing the components he puts is name to.

These guys don’t make fancy, gaudy products, what they do make is beautifully machined and finished parts to compliment any bike build.  As they put it:

“We believe that the right components can make your ride more fun and interesting. We’re proud of the parts we make and stand by them.”

The quality is obvious in the crispness of the edges, smoothness of the bearings and the simplicity of the design.

Being that we deal direct we can keep the pricing down and competitive with pricing found anywhere on the net. We are ordering with them with increased regularity so in-shop availability it getting better and better.

One of the final things I like about Paul Comp is that along with fine bike parts they also  seem to have a penchant for beer…..another one of my favourite pastimes!

Royal Flush Cranks

NDCC / Cycles Bespoke Race Report By Chance Boudreaux.

Chance Boudreaux is fast becoming a literary giant in the bikecycle journalism bloggering social commentator world. We have been lucky enough to be graced with his unique perspective on the Perth racing experience.

Angus asked me to write up a narrative of the NDCC criterium today. I think Angus’ initial intention was to get a quick audio file on his iphone, but as you can see from the photo’s (taken by “papparazi”), he didn’t manage to get the kind of coherent summary he was after. I think I heard someone describe the “interview” as an indiscernible rant of profanity and jibberish.

As you have probably worked out from the attached, um, gallery? I didn’t win the race and I was upset about this fact. Obviously I needed to calm down after a disappointing performance from other riders who didn’t enable me to win. Therefore, I went home, lit some scented candles, ran a nice hot lavender bath and listened to my Enya/Dido relaxation mix, I mean, hauntingly beautiful, amirite!?

So having calmed down I can now tell you about how the race unfolded. Obvoiusly I was racing B grade, which, about half way through the race, I was really glad of when I spotted the green and gold bands of Luke Durbridge cruising in to register for A grade. The course was Hasler Rd in Osborne Park, which is flat, flowing and usually has a touch of wind on the straights (head one way, tail the other). Being so flat and flowing, it’s the kind of course where the riders have to create the selection and that is exactly what happened today.

Obviously, there was an attack virtually from the gun and about four riders went up the road. Initially I was joking with another rider about how those early attacks never work yet people do them every time. However after about a lap or so it occurred to me that the move had most of the strongest legs in the race and I should try to join it. I was quickly chased down and with that initial breakaway now fairly close the bunch worked to bring the race back together. Soooo, attack attack attack (not by me) and another breakaway settled in. This move again had some strong riders and they straight away started working coherently together. Back in the bunch there were attacks, some riders worked on the front, but none of it was consistent enough to reel in the 3 riders away. So congratulations to those riders who stayed away for the win!

Now I’m sure there were plenty of people after the race saying things like “no-one in the bunch wanted to work” etc… like this is a negative. But in my view, the race was a really good one, tactically as well as physically. Certainly it was a quick race, I don’t know the average speed but riders were attacking the bunch around 50km/hr and I hope you would agree that’s a sign of some good legs. Tactically, the breakaway did a great job, they got a gap, opened it up and worked well together, not looking back at the bunch or each other. On top of their tactics, the break obviously had good legs, which is great from a B grade race, obviously I can’t just rely on riders out the front to get tired and come back to the bunch by themselves (bummer).

In terms of the way the bunch worked, I think it showed that there are some smart riders in B grade who know that they shouldn’t burn up all their energy helping other riders in the bunch and that their best bet for a result was to make it into the break themselves. So well done to them also.

As for my race, I spent time attacking, pulled a couple of turns after the Keady Humble Tognini guys did so much work on the front and eventually, I caved to the heat and trudged the last two laps solo. Que tantrum.

Thanks for reading.


Jonesy’s Pivot 5.7 Carbon Review.

Well, after spending the best part of the last 7 months on Pivot Cycles best selling platform, the trail hungry Mach 5.7, I thought  it about time to put finger to tablet and share my thoughts with cyberspace. As a side note to this review, I switched from the alloy version of the 5.7 to the newer carbon model around a month ago. Suspension layout and geometry are identical between the 2 and apart from an upward bump in stiffness and a downward bump in mass, the 2 bikes feel very similar and for the purpose of this review I will stay away from the small details and focus on the comparable attributes. Feel free to contact me at the shop and I will bore you at length with all the details.

As the name suggests, this Pivot has 5.7 inches, or 140mm, of DW link actuated travel, and pairs perfectly to a 150mm travel fork up front. All the usual frame fitments are present. Zero stack tapered head tube, PF92 BB, direct mount front derailleur, guides for a dropper, and 142 12mm rear end fitted with post disc mounts.

The geometry feels very modern with a slack laid out front end, perfect for aggressive trail riding. The front of the bike really wants to be pushed hard at speed, and seems to respond better the more aggressive you are with it, the bike feeling super planted when really pumped into and out of turns. At high speed, through sketchy, rocky terrain the thing just bombs. Super stable and very comfortable while being pushed deep into the shock stroke. At slower speeds and through more fidgety terrain, you certainly need a firm hand on the bars with the bike really wanting to be told where to go and needing to be steered through a turn. But at speed the chassis is so balanced that I found myself working the bike from the middle, using equal amounts body english and steering input to keep the bike pushed hard into its travel to keep the shock energized and weighted. The shock always felt most responsive when settled in and loaded up. I found myself generally using more rebound damping than I’m used to in order to keep the rear of the bike in its sweet spot.

The shock is amazingly supple through the mid stroke sucking up any trail chatter and simply erasing square edge hits as if never there. It ramps beautifully at the ending stroke and I have never had any  harsh bottoming despite using full travel on almost every ride, and even when gravity has exceeded ability.

The balanced feel of the 5.7s frame really lends itself to the newer style of trails being built at the moment. The natural flow of the track and proliferation of features and trail furniture encourages the rider to continually switch left and right looking for any take off point or launch pad. A trail like the new Lancaster really allows the bike to shine turning the trail from a series of moves into one continuous flowing downhill line.

You will probably have guessed by this point that I really love the way this bike handles and feels. What is even more incredible is the way it climbs back up again. Simply put, the climbing ability of the bike is abnormal. I cant think of any other way to put it. The DW link always remains hooked up and constantly seeks out traction, rarely, if ever, breaking free. Unsurprisingly for a near 6 inch travel bike, if you get sloppy and start stabbing the pedals out of the saddle, you might not find favour. But stay seated and low over the front end and the Pivot is amazingly quick up just about anything put in front of it. I never touched the platform switch on the RP23 for the simple reason that I never felt the need to, leaving it in full open mode all the time. Watching the rear shock while pedaling up a loose choppy climb shows how little power is being lost through shock movement, and at the same time how much traction is being gained.

I suppose, to summarize the 5.7, I would say it perfectly represents the modern interpretation of a mountain bike. It manages to excel on virtually any type of terrain and gives the impression of being several bikes all wrapped into one. It can flow through twisty singletrack,  dole out grins by the bucket load when pointing down, and it can unerringly get you back to the top to do it all over again. And in my humble opinion, that is exactly what a mountain bike should do.

Giro Ionos Helmet

Giro (and in this case helmets) are one of those brands synonymous with cycling. I remember walking into bike shops when I was a wee nipper and wishing I could afford one instead of my Stackhat…which was on sale…. because it was pink…..those years were tough….but that’s for my shrink to sort out. I digress.

So anyway it was a most splendid day when we took the plunge and decided to stock Giro.
I was in need of a new knoggin’ protector and fortunately a customer had just placed an order for Giro’s flagship Ionos. He swore by the Ionos particularly for the X-Static padding that with the help of microbial properties (tiny sweat eating Jabawokies) and there washability, reduce stinky helmet syndrome.
The seller for me was the fit. In most helmets I sit right between a medium and large and thus they look a little too big or a little too small. The Ionos is the first helmet I have tried that a medium fits fine with room to tighten the Roc-Loc5 fit system.
So with trembling hands I made the call to Sheppards (importer) and placed the order for a conveniently shop coloured new lid.
On it’s arrival I tore the box open like the rabid beast that I am and bathed on the glory of a matte finished black, red and white Ionis. My immediate reactions on placing it on my head were “my how handsome I look” and “damn it’s light”. Significantly lighter than my previous lid due to the design and 21 large vents, I definitely find it more comfortable/cooler especially in warmer temps.
The RocLoc5 sytem is easy to use on the fly. The dial allows even adjustment with one hand rather than 2 ratchets on each side that can result in lopsided tension. The dial tightens in very small increments to allow for precise fit.
A nice touch the Ionis also comes with a mesh insert to protect your head from sunburn if you are folliclely challenged.
Importantly the Giro has passed Australian standards so is race legal and from an insurance standpoint that has you covered.
Race looks and comfortable fit you can’t really go wrong. RRP $299.00


Jackie Wheels review of the Velocity P35, 29’er rim.

After riding a few sets of the Velocity A23 rimmed wheels we have built for customers and being impressed by the feel of the wider footprint, higher air volume/lower pressures and more upright sidewalls of the 23mm rim and 23mm tyre combinations I was excited to trial the Velocity P35 29″ MTB rim on my own bike and see if the feeling could be transferred to the dirt riding.

The factory wheels that my MTB came with were an eyeletted, box style ‘Deep V’ with about a 21mm wide bead clamping area, they were built up with double butted spokes and while not being particularly light had a similar feel as far as the tyre contact as most other alloy clincher MTB wheel sets I have ever ridden and had been pretty reliable.

I built the Velocity P35’s using the existing hubs but decided to go to straight gauge spokes for a bit of extra rigidity and reliability. The total wheelset weight would be somewhere in the vicinity of 250gm heavier than the stock setup with nearly double the rim width. It looks impressive!

When Jonesy asked me what colour I would like and reeled off a few of the options available, the maniacal laughter emanating from the workshop as I settled on Anti-freeze Green was nothing short of concerning. I love it now I have seen them in the flesh, while black might have looked kinda badass the fact that they are bright green adds to the impact of the rim width and adds an element of (miniscule)street cred that my 29’er was severely lacking.

Although we are already on to the next revolution in wheel sizes (27.5″/650B, it’s actually really good, get on it!), most people are probably aware of the benefits of a 29″ wheel being that they were the flavour for the last couple years. They ‘roll over stuff good’ and have been known to ‘smooth out the trail, and stuff’ while ‘giving you a higher speed on wide open sections of trail, more climbing tyre grip, and all that business’.

Some of the main detractors of the wagon wheels are, they make you look like you should be riding the cycle path to the CBD with a baby seat on the back and a basket on the front(chortle). They do actually compromise the geo of the frame compared to the traditional MTB standard by trying to fit the big wheels into a compact frame design and while trying to add some suspension travel, and, they have a high rotational mass compared to true MTB wheels which makes them harder to wind up, turn and slow down.

The Velocity P35 brings out the worst and best features of the 29’er platform. I found in my initial testing around the Garvey Park dirt crit circuit near the Perth domestic airport they do exceptionally well in the mud with the more square tread contact patch and the increased air volume/lower pressure. I was carving the deep mud and gathered water up with no worries, the bike gliding through most of it much easier than I have ever experienced before. I did notice the increased rotational mass at higher speeds and under sustained pedaling, it wasn’t so bad with acceleration but on false flats and in the harder gears of the cassette it was definitely there.

The trail test around the Kalamunda circuit was going to be the real benchmark as it’s where the bike will see 99% of the action. We parked at Farrell Grove and rode up the Dell, Muffin Tops to the Black Stump, back to the Camel Farm and Kamikaze, Lancaster and back to the car again.

The wheels as before definitely feel like they are dragging more at high speeds and on the false flats but the ability to roll over everything feels at least twice as good as before, rocks and roots are easily disposed of and I was through the rougher sections on the Kamikaze trail before I had realised they were even there. Jumping and landing felt great and I probably had more confidence in these hand built wheels than I ever did in the factory wheelset. I found the acceleration out of corners to be on par with the previous wheel set, if not a little better with the straight gauge spokes.

I did come-a-cropper in one of the Kamikaze berms, with the big rains we had the day before the trails were amazingly grippy and I pushed it in low enough that I ended up on the side wall as opposed to the corner of the tread where I would have been normally, which I found the hard way is now a possibility with the more square profile of the tyre’s tread and sidewalls and the reduced deflection without the hour glass shape.

On the whole this is a definite improvement for a fun oriented 29″ trails bike, where the bike was good before(Monster truckin’ over stuff, acceleration, comfort and tread grip) it is now better. Where it was bad before (tight turns, switchbacks and agility), it is about the same as the previous wheelset and something new to come of the P35’s is the drag you feel at higher speeds. Definitely worth it though as far as my own riding is concerned but unless ENVE were to offer this size in a carbon fibre rim I would never put it on a race bike.

Happy trails,

Jackie Wheels – Cycles Bespoke Wheel Builder and Mechanic

Focus Bikes And The 2013 Range.

Word may have gotten round that we are now stocking Focus. The rumours are true and we are loving having zee Germans on board to help with our plans for global domination. Now don’t be alarmed we are still stocking Cannondale, Focus is here to compliment not replace it.
However it was like asking a lover to enter into an “open” relationship when considering another brand. It’s cheating, kinda, but we we asked permission right!?

We have been looking for a second bike brand for a while but nothing has fit the bill or been available that we deemed appropriate. With a change in distribution the dudes from Focus showed up at just the right time. The range for 2012 looked great, and 2013 even better. The quality is there and the pricing, exceptional. The paint jobs look fantastic and quite different from Cannondale’s. The spec is different and interesting with a lot of 3T finishing kits, Fulcrum wheels and even a few Campy equipped models to differ from the SRAM and Shimano norms. The carbon Cayo Ltd with Campy Athena @ $2499 and the 2013 Izalco Team SL-3.0 w/ Record EPS @ rrp $8199 are “bullshit good!” to use a phrase uttered a lot around here.

I may even be tempted to sneak off for a dirty weekend (offroad that is) with one of the Rapha-Focus Team issue Mares CX-1.0’s and leave the beloved ‘Dale Evo in the rack. Speaking of ‘dirty’ the Focus mtb range looks pretty good too. The $1999 Black Forest 29er 1.0 w/ SRAM XO and Reba RL fork is amazingly good value.

I can harp on like a used car salesman all day but I wouldn’t inflict that on you. At the end of the day we are very excited to have Focus on board and think it will make a good stable-mate for the Cannondale range.

Check out Bike Radar for a looksie at the 2013 range.


The new SRAM Red review

Resident speed merchant Monsieur Miller is our man out and about on the new SRAM Red. Here are his impressions thus far. Cheers Matt!!

Riding competitively and honing my abilities via a structured coaching program over the last 12 months or so has invariably caused me to open my eyes to alternative components, in the never ending search for that ‘competitive edge’. Your friends can talk all they like to you about how they find ‘this and that’ but you never really know until you bite the bullet and try things for yourself.

Angus and Chris certainly knew what I should be looking at when it came to groupsets, so I bit the bullet and went for the new SRAM Red.

Coming from a history of using a well known European groupset, I was cautious in the first instance to make the change, however my first ride with the new SRAM red eased all of my fears quicker than that of a diving soccer player, who hasn’t even been fouled.

“Short, sharp and extremely attractive” were qualities that I first thought that Angus and Chris saw in myself, as I dropped off the bike for the conversion. Fortunately the fellas were not talking about me, but that of the characteristics of the new SRAM red… and they were not lying. I have now had the pleasure of riding this groupset for the last 4-5 weeks.

The gear changes are shorter than the dwarf from Jackass, trigger finger sharp, you get that grippy “thhhhhhuuuuuuunk” when it slams down the rear cassette and it looks better than Scarlett Johanssen in tight leathers. The single pivot braking works a treat and puts on the anchors with a fair amount of fury, which is great for blokes like me who like to throw the bike into corners.

I do not have the advantage of riding the previous SRAM Red groupset, so I can not compare new with old. What I can do however is argue that it is streets ahead of its European cousin. If SRAM are claiming a much evolved, outstandingly refined and improved groupset in the new SRAM Red – I am already convinced. I know from feedback within the peloton on the streets of Perth that SRAM needed improvements to front derraileur shifting in the new SRAM Red. I treat the gears on my bike with distain and I’m not a rider known for my climbing ability, so my front chainrings get a smashing most days. I can advise you that the front derrailuer hasn’t let me down once and the new yaw system has made chain rub non-existent no matter what gear is selected.

I raced the new SRAM Red at a local criterium on Anzac day and the double tap system was far more intuitive than anything else I have ever ridden.

Go and get the new SRAM Red – NOW!

Not sure where this photo came from. Possibly Tony Lendrum.