Saturday, February 25, 2012

Journey to "The Darkside".

Nope, not the Force and no Darth Vader is not my father. It's a review about riding the Giant TCR Advanced 0 road bike. I was fortunate enough to be handed a big cardboard box with the shiny new bike in it a little over a month ago. I was excited to be able to finally be on a Giant road bike and even more so one with the new Shimano Ultegra Di2 groupset. Setting up the bike was a snap. I watched a youtube video, read through the brief instructions and had the whole thing up and going in about 40 minutes. The automatic indexing of the Di2 made the job so simple even I could do it.
Anyway, I get the thing out on the road and take it for a spin. The first thing I noticed was how well it shifts under load. My chosen loop for the day was Winn Road and it has a couple of pinchy little climbs after long descents. You hit the paddle and it just does what it's supposed to. You can be cranking it up a hill and need to drop a gear or two and away you go. Punch it, bang, there's the gear. Very snappy.
Any comment I make about geometry probably won't mean that much. I am not an experienced road racer and really only a masher at best. The bike feels very comfortable on the 70km rides I have done so far and I really like the way it climbs. The acceleration when you stomp the pedals seems good with the power core bottom bracket nice and stiff and the massive down tube allowing you to grab the bars hard and give them a good wrench for leverage.
In an interesting move Giant is using an in house wheel system and tyres. Again any comment I could make on this is probably not really all that informed except that the wheels feel stiff and responsive and the tyres roll quite nicely. My only negative comment in fact is levelled at the tyres. We have had a lot of rain here lately and they are  quite slippery with moisture on the road. The wheels are branded all over with Giant but the literature that is cable tied to the the skewers is DT Swiss. Read into that what you like.
All in all the bike is a really tidy looking unit with the internal cable routing and the reduced amount of control cables from the cockpit. The battery for the Di2 sits under the non drive side chainstay and there is even the neat "Ride Sense" unit built into the chainstay too. Ride Sense is an ANT+ sensor unit that talks to any device that is enable with the technology. In my case it is my Garmin 705 and it sends cadence and speed data to the GPS unit. Very neat.
I have to give a big shout out to Matt and Brent from Giant for hooking me up with the Advanced 0. I'm a very lucky chap. I can't say my foray into the darkside is complete because I still love my mountain bike. Riding around on the TCR Advanced 0 has certainly made the choice of what bike I will ride as a matter of choice much more difficult now though.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Insert cricket noises here.....

Yep, it's been pretty quiet around the old bloggosphere. It might lead you to think I haven't had much going on but the truth is the exact opposite.
January is a month of birthdays for our family. My son Jack turned 9 and received his first full sized 26 inch mountain bike. I think I was more excited than he was. It took nearly a fortnight for him to want to get out and ride the bike though. Finally we took off for a run along the rail trail near home. There is a walkway we normally use to get back to the bike path for the trip home but some construction work had it closed. It made this part of the journey pretty hazardous as it took us onto a busy road and Jack was less than keen. I offered the option of a bit of single track instead to get there. While Jack was a bit sceptical about the single track he was really not keen on the road. We did it. Before I knew it he was flying along down the trail and climbing like a champ! I reckon he needs a little more practice with the shifters and he will have it nailed.
A couple of red frogs later, away we went.
For the last couple of years January has also been crazy busy with work. We delivered a news set for a local TV bulletin in the last week of the month. It looked pretty cool and all went really smoothly. I know it isn't about bikes or family but it did keep me away from both. The video is a time lapse of the removal of the old set and install of the new one.
I got an early birthday present too. Matt and Brent from Giant handed me a spanking new TCR Advanced 0 road bike. Yep, a road bike. There will be a detailed review soon but suffice to say it is great to ride. It has the new Shimano Di2 electronic groupset and boy does it make changing gears easy. The weather here has been pretty wet and so I haven't put any really serious miles in on it yet but it's great to have a bike that fits with nice kit hanging from it. I look totally pro in the new Ronde kit too. Here's the goods....
And right now. Well I made a promise to myself that every day this month I would ride. So far so good. I also have stopped drinking alcohol completely for an extended period. Feels pretty darn good so far. I am really looking forward to the end of the month to plug all the numbers in to the Garmin Connect and see how my totals come up. I know it won't be huge but after the amount of time I have spent doing everything but ride it should still bring a smile.
Anyway, stay tuned for the review on the roadie and as the race season heats up for more of my ramblings about riding bikes. I reckon this year will have a bunch more stories about riding with the kids given the look on Jacks face after the his first ride on the big bike.