Posted by: Ian | April 29, 2012

A new – faster – bike for Paula

A couple of years or so ago I wrote about choosing a new bike for Paula. Then, we picked out a Trek Madone, which was a nicely spec’ed bike from a good company that we felt would be comfortable for recreational rides and sportives. More recently, Paula’s focus has been on triathlons and rides that are shorter in length – typically around 40 km – and generally a bit flatter than a normal south Somerset ride. When we were in Corsica last Summer, Paula hired an aluminium Giant that, while not as advanced as her Trek, felt livelier for this sort of cycling. Since then she’s been thinking of getting a new bike; besides the change in ride style, she’s been very keen to have a red one.

When she went to our LBS, where Paula got her Madone, they could only recommend a Trek Project One. This was a miserable suggestion for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it’s hard to escape the thought that they were pitching to her, because she’s a female rider, the bike whose defining feature is the ability to pimp its paintwork. Moreover, it misses the point about what Paula could get from a new bike. She can sacrifice a degree of the Madone’s comfort for a ride that’s less neutral, stiffer and faster.

My first thoughts were that Paula should look at an aero bike. Maybe one of the Cervelo S series (when I was comparing the R3 to the S5, Paula’s instincts were towards the S5), which will always be hard to beat. Maybe a Felt AR: they look hardcore and Felt deliver a great bike. Or maybe a Cannondale SuperSix – just because they’re, by all accounts, simply so good. All are far more exciting choices for a Madone owner than another Madone.

Having put together these suggestions, I remembered that TriUK in Yeovil stock all three brands. Despite this, I was loathe to go there as my experiences of the shop previously were dreadful. The first time I went was in 2006 when I ended up buying a Specialized Tricross from Evans in London. Beforehand, I’d been to TriUK and experienced a kind of anti-service that left me resolved never to return. Just because of its convenience, I have been back once or twice and have taken a visceral dislike to its “triathlon warehouse” vibe and the radio muzak that they pump out at the volume once used by the US military to torture Noriega out of the Panamanian papal embassy. But as TriUK are the sole local stockists of all three of the brands I was advocating to Paula we really had to go.

Visiting the store again, it again generated a poor initial impression. They have no Felts, they have Cannondales but not SuperSixes and radio torment was still being practised. They do, though, have a huge stock of Cervelos including more than one of the ludicrously expensive R5CA frames. One of their staff came over and told me, illustrating his point with hand gestures, how much better these are than my lowly R3 (which, to make conversation, I had told him I had recently bought). I didn’t ask him why, if that were so, Team Cervelo have chosen to ride only R3’s and S5’s in the Spring Classics but I’d be curious to know.

Despite all of this, our TriUK experience was redeemed by one of the guys on staff who pointed us towards the Scotts. While we didn’t adore the looks of the bikes they have in stock, I’m very inclined to like Scotts and he made a good case for the Foil range. On every detail, what he said chimed with what made sense to me and he was much more attuned to what Paula wanted from her next bike than the usually excellent staff at our normal LBS had been. He even supported (without me saying a word) my minority opinion that you don’t want to blow a chunk of your budget at this price point on ugly, heavy and unnecessary electronic gears. With an upgrade of wheels to black-labelled Fulcrums, Paula was sold on the Foil 30.

One issue that initially confused me was how Scott could advertise this as an aero bike given that the tubing lacks the familiar tear-drop profiling on the down tube. Scott’s marketing material explains that you get most of the aero benefit from the lower half of the tube shape and they save weight at no material aerodynamic cost by not following the normal aero shape through on the upper profile.

Compared to my months of deliberation over each detail of my R3’s build, the process of choosing this bike was astonishingly quick, yet no less satisfactory. It arrived quickly too, and on Friday Paula went and had a fitting – a proper fitting, with video and much tweaking – and the Foil is now installed in the bike room.

Here it is:

The bike that had to be red

It looks fabulous and the short clip-on try-bars enhance its palpable sense of purpose and aggression. I really wish I could ride it myself. We’ll only find out how successful it is when Paula’s had a chance to put in the miles. Today, which was the first free day to take it out, we’ve had torrential rain and the roads nearby are flooded. The Foil sits in the bike rack, brooding, waiting to break out.

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Responses

  1. […] I was not at all surprised to hear that he’d bought it from the sales guy at TriUK in Yeovil who had spoken with a note of derision about my cheapskate […]

  2. Really very nice; not cheap though. More expensive than any of your frames I guess, still she must be worth it.

    • Interesting point. It’s indeed more than I paid for any of my bikes (Astraeus, Felt, Tempo…) – until my Cervelo R3. I’m not sure which is the more expensive frame but buying the Scott as a complete bike you get a great all-in price. In contrast, when I got my R3 I specified every component myself and the whole bike discount from Condor, though welcome, didn’t match the kind of reseller discounts companies like Scott pass on. And the Zipps didn’t help make the R3 a budget buy.

  3. She’s a beauty, although it’s an unusual shade of red. Ms BikeVCar has just bought her first road bike so we’re looking forward to cycling together too. 🙂

    • Having just read about you climbing up that hill 17 times, I’m not surprised that your wife wants to tag along when you go cycling, if only out of curiosity. That’s a phenomenal amount of hill miles you turned in.


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