Well, I am all paid up and there is now only the new year celebrations to go before the training starts in earnest.
Four months to swap the ‘a’ in fat to an ‘i’!
Having spent a lot of 2014 relatively immobile following my bike crash straight after the ‘Ouka’, I am amazed at how much larger I am – not good. On the bright side the Brompton has also grown proportionally. Having had the trusted folder, veteran of two Marrakesh-Atlas Etapes, stolen from the boat in September, I decided to replace it with a Pacific IF Reach – the ‘IF’ standing for integrated fold.
Was this wise?
On paper the Reach looks the business (and the RRP of 1.6k means it should be). Reality has proven to be slightly different. The integrated fold is ingenious, however, the magnet solution to hold the two folded halves together does not work (note to self, must buy a bungee). The cables get in the way and can jam the brakes are on when folded, meaning the bike will not wheel. Often, when unfolding, a cable will get jammed between the joining parts.
In an effort to make the folded footprint small, the handle bars also collapse – as the clip for this requires an additional velcro safety strap to hold it in place, it also means they are in danger of collapse when cycling!
Despite all the cleverness, the folded version is still large, fragile and awkward to move around – the handle being as likely to break fingers when the bike unfolds itself (due to magnet) at every opportunity.
Add to the list that the supplied seat post is too short, it is hard to get tyres to fit in the UK, the plastic pedals need replacing and rack and mudguards need to be imported – still something I need to get around to which means I arrive everywhere with a sweaty back (from pack) and a wet bum (London rain).
None of the compact and robust benefits of the old ‘go anywhere’ Brompton then.
Despite all the negatives, however, once unfolded the Reach is a joy to ride. The long wheel base make it cycle like a proper bike, yet it is as nimble and responsive as a folder and, although the mountain bike gearing feels like a lack of flat-line ‘omph’, it is faster than the Brompton.
All-in-all, it is like riding a ‘thoroughbred’ – equally, there is all the trouble that goes with this as some of the more ‘mad professor’ ideas backfire in reality.