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Epic Rides

Ellie’s Week of Cycling in Paradise – Gran Canaria

Is there really anything better than riding your bike in the sunshine?

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Feeling the hot sun on your skin, the summer breeze on your face, smooth glistening tarmac roads and wearing nothing but shorts and a jersey…day dreaming yet? Well I certainly have been since the minute I returned to Glasgow.

We stayed in Tauro which is located on the south east side of the island which offers a much quieter setting than the ever popular cycling hotspot of Maspalomas. By no means were we missing out on the action though our hotel, Anfi Tauro, used to be the home of the Tinkoff Bike Academy. Where the likes of Peter Sagan and Alberto Contador amongst others stayed for their winter training.

Definitely not Sagan or Contador…

We arrived late on the first day so unfortunately no riding. However we did have time to unpack our bikes from the shops awesome Bike Box Allan travel cases. Being as vertically challenged as I am and a huge bike nerd it was essential that I brought Suzy, my custom Cannondale Supersix Evo. Sean was also able to bring his beloved Cervelo S5 thanks to the shops new Aero Bike Box Allan which accommodates for saucy integrated cockpits!

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Hire our Bike Box Allan Travel Cases

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Suzy the Supersix
Sean’s Cervelo S5

Riding our own bikes in the sun on beautiful roads for the first time in years, due to you know what, got to our heads a bit…on the first day we attempted one of the hardest climbs on the island – Soria. Bearing in mind we had came from -2 degrees and snow the day before to 33 degrees and I had not ridden as much as I’d promised myself in the lead up to the holiday, its safe to say it was a shock to the system. Nothing a can of full fat coke and a hand full of Haribo couldn’t fix though. 2.5 sunny hours in the legs followed by an afternoon by the pool was a welcome change from the depth of Scottish winter regardless of the sore legs.

Just look at that tarmac though…

Day 3 consisted of another mountainous day from Tauro – Maspolomas – Ayagaures, where we had a beautiful 10 mile descent! before returning via the coast to the hotel. This was my favourite day of the trip, not only because of the huge sweeping descent, as the scenery was sublime offering a convenient distraction from my lack of climbing prowess. However there was inevitably another bonk which was again revived by emergency roadside sugary goodness.

Miles and Smiles

The remainder of the week was tackled at a more relaxed pace with a few cafe stops and unfortunately our big plan to ride to the highest point of the island was trashed due to a Marine Weather Warning (high winds). We did try to go for it anyway, but after nearly being blown off our bikes, we thought otherwise.

Leche Leche or Cafe Bon Bon a delightful Spanish Coffee

So with no surprise to anyone, a great week was had topping up our cycling tan, consuming amazing coffee and riding new roads. Is it to soon to book another flight out? I am seriously considering it, Turbo miles just don’t hit the same as Spanish ones…I cannot recommend cycling in Gran Canaria enough so make sure you head out if you can! Thanks for reading everyone, i’ll see you in the next one.

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Check out Ellie’s vlogs from her week of cycling in Gran Canria on Youtube below

Categories
Buyers Guides Product Reviews

The Ultimate Road Bike?

Cannondale Synapse Carbon Ultegra ‘Off the Shelf’

The Synapse Carbon perfectly blends practicality, speed and style. Ideal for long rides and sportifs, as well as a reliable winter training bike. Keep reading to find out why we believe the Cannondale Synapse Carbon really is the Ultimate Road Bike.

Being a city centre Bike Shop we often get asked, what bike can I ride to work everyday AND have fun on at the weekend? Our answer is always the Cannondale Synapse Carbon. It is very rare to find a bike that excels in both the everyday grind and those epic bunch rides and/or events. Cannondale’s lightweight yet stiff frameset pairs with their proven endurance road geometry to offer great ride performance. This, combined with hidden mounts for mudguards and wide tyre clearance, is the reason the Synapse has successfully been the ‘one’ bike our customers are always asking for.

As much as we all dream our cycling lives are all full of picturesque rides, on days where there isn’t a cloud or a pothole in sight, the reality is most of the time your bike needs to be suitable for rough roads, sh*t weather and getting from A to B without any issues. For this reason the Synapse usually leaves our shop fully kitted out for anything the Scottish climate and road conditions have to throw at it. Normally including NiteRider Lights and a set of SKS Mudguards on top of the ‘off the shelf’ spec, which has 30c tyres and hydraulic disc brakes.

Cannondale Synapse ‘Everyday’

However when the time comes for the decent weather and light nights to draw back in, or even that long anticipated Cycling Holiday in the sun. All it takes is ripping those lights off, removing a couple of bolts and a wheel swap to transform your Cannondale Synapse into the perfect dream bike that makes you feel like you’re a TDF Pro Rider every time you swing your leg over it.

Cannondale Synapse ‘Fast’

Gone are the days of Road bikes solely being for young whippets in skinsuits riding only for podiums, the Cannnondale Synapse is built for the modern day rider looking for a blend of comfort, versatility and performance. One bike, every occasion. Everything you could ever want in a bicycle neatly compacted into one convenient little package.

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Product Reviews Staff Bikes

The Genesis Fugio

It had been 18 months of cycling without drop bars since I sold my beloved Glencoe gravel bike. 18 months of trying to turn a 29er mountain bike into a do-it-all mountain and gravel bike. And after much fiddling about with various wheel and tyre combinations (and even trying to fit a set of drop bars) it didn’t really work out.

I may not have created the beast I was hoping to with Saracen’s Zenith LSL however I did put together an awesome enduro hardtail. I can’t emphasise enough just how awesome an aggressive geometry 29er hardtail mountain bike really is. With all of the fiddling with wheels that has gone on as well, I now have the bits to run it 29”, mullet style or even full 27.5”. And not to mention all the tyres to add to the mix, I can really have a good mess about with the set up of this bike to tailor it from anything to enduro, to XC, to gravel riding to even seriously aggressive commuting.

The Saracen Zenith set up with 29″ wheels for gravel and XC on the left, and fitted with the mullet set up on the right for enduro trails.

However the one thing that this bike really put into perspective was how much a drop handlebar and being in a good “road position” makes pedalling and maintaining a higher pace just so much easier. Which brings us on to what this blog post is actually about – the genesis Fugio gravel bike.

So earlier this year I finally admitting defeat, and I was resigned to hunting for a new gravel bike – oh woe is me! And it just so happened we had a Genesis Fugio 10 sitting on display in a 52cm, just my size. The Fugio was a bike that I had initially been interested in when I bought the Glencoe many moons ago, and it had been a tough way-up between both bikes with them being so similar. Both built for maximum comfort and versatility, wide flared handlebars, 1x groupset, the ability to run either 650b or 700c wheels courtesy of spacious tyre clearance, and more lugs than you know what to do with. 

The Glencoe won in the end, really due to the fact that it’s a frickin’ good looking bike. It also had a slightly better spec for the money, and just generally carried a bit more of a racey feel with it’s lower front end, shaped tubing and well, italic logos. For me it was a case of rally car vs tractor, and when the brief for the bike was mountain bike with racey CX geometry it had to be the rally car. 

The Glencoe V1 in all it’s handsome glory.

I would like to clarify that tractor is by no means an insult, it just means more relaxed, more upright and leisurely, enjoying the miles and the views as opposed to smashing past them. But also it means more timeless, classic and even industrial, with it’s traditional style steel tubing, which is totally what Genesis are all about. But in the case with the Fugio particularly, rugged, with it’s big chunky 650b tyres. Let’s face it, steel frames and bigger tyres are just way cooler. 

Plus, commuting to work on a tractor could be the most badass thing ever.

I went for the base model of the Fugio 10 as I wanted to do a bit of messing around with the spec, which means I got the aluminium version of the Fugio frame as opposed to the steel frame that comes on the higher models. The 10 does however come with Genesis’ lovely carbon gravel fork which, when combined with the nice wide tyres that the clearance accommodates, has provided ample cushion whilst clattering down rough fireroads. After racking up a number of miles now on the Fugio, comfort has never been an issue. Which leads me to assume the steel counterpart must be mind-bogglingly comfortable.

When it came round to tampering with the spec of the Fugio not all that much was required to tailor it to my fussy requirements. The first thing though was to replace the brakes for Hydraulic versions. Hydraulic brakes are a case of once you’ve tried them, cable brakes become a thing of the past. The difference in power between the two is staggering and it’s a bit disappointing that this particular model doesn’t come with them to be honest.

Cable vs. hydraulic disc brakes.

With brakes changed the other key change I had to make was banging in a set of bombproof wheels consisting of Hope hubs laced into some super tough DT-Swiss XC MTB rims. The wheels that come on the Fugio models as standard are a sound gravel wheel, I just wanted something fancy and the DT-Swiss rims combined with noisy hubs ticked that box nicely. And finally set up tubeless with a set of tyre clearance testing Vittoria Mezcal XC tyres. One thing that I have learnt whilst experimenting with tyres on the Glencoe and Zenith is that cross country race tyres make an incredible gravel tyre.

The super grippy Mezcal tyres built onto DT rims with Hope hubs.

Although I haven’t tinkered with the Fugio all that much, with wheels and brakes it is now officially and adequately pimped (paint job pending). Despite not being an insult, I still feel bad comparing the Fugio to a tractor, it’s definitely not slow and cumbersome. It feels punchy on climbs and in general the acceleration is super snappy and feels like it just wants to let rip. With the wide bars, 650b wheels and big tyres the bike provides excellent handling – stable and planted on rough and sloppy terrain the bike feels lively and nimble giving the urge to hop off of every lip in the terrain. 

A great gravel route near Adgarten.

Even without the upgrades the Fugio is one rapid bike, and would leave my Zenith in the dust (dust being weather dependent). With some great off road miles under the wheels and the fit tweaked to suit, it’s definitely resembling the rally car. But I prefer the term Pimped Out Tractor. 

The Fugio 10, ready for shredding.

The Fugio for me really highlights what’s so great about gravel bikes and really defines what makes an excellent gravel bike. Maximum versatility. The range of options on gravel bikes is nearly endless. Pretty much anything goes and gravel allows for any wheel size, frame material, tyre width, groupset or brakeset to be fitted to a drop bar bike. And it doesn’t even have to be a drop bar bike. Gravel is a bit like an episode of Wacky Racers and a large part of my enjoyment is seeing all the different creations people come up with – you may remember all of the different versions of the Glencoe we put out through the shop that I had mentioned in the blog post I wrote “A Year With The Glencoe”.

For me the awesomest gravel bikes should have a frame that offers the ability to switch up as many of these options as possible, allowing the rider to really tailor the bike to what they want from it. This is where the Glencoe, Topstone and Fugio absolutely smash it. I find it hard to understand why this bike isn’t one of the most popular bikes within the Genesis gravel range.

For more info on the Topstone, check out Ellie’s blog on her Carbon Topstone here.

While I wasn’t sure about the Fugio at first, after each ride I love the bike more and more, and it could only be made better by opting for one of the steel models. Not only with the steel frame will the ride be much improved but the bike will come with the essential hydraulic disc brakes, a slicker gearing option and a well more bling paint job. 

The Fugio 30, for more info check it out here.

You could argue that Genesis are responsible for the modern gravel bike with the influence that their Croix De Fer has had over the years. A road bike that 13 years ago when it first launched, had the ability to take wide tyres with full length mudguards, and all the lugs needed for commuting and touring. The “Iron Cross” bike for a long time had been THE one bike to do it all. With gravel bikes having gained so much popularity over the past two or three years, the number of options has dramatically increased with the vast majority of bike brands providing a gravel offering. Despite all of the extra competition Genesis are still up at the top making one of the best (and coolest) gravel bikes available. 

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Buyers Guides Product Reviews Staff Bikes

Habit Neo 2 – Four Rides In

Cannondale Habit Neo 2 in Glasgow Green

Working in a bike shop, you have a varied choice when it comes to borrowing a bike for a ride, but I’ve had my eye on the Cannondale Habit Neo 2 since it came into the shop and over the space of a week, I’ve had it out 4 times to put it through its paces.

It’s had a varied few rides, some tarmac, some flowing trails with berms and drops, and some more technical sections with roots and ruts. This bike has not missed a beat.

My first ride on the Habit was at the trails at Cathkin Braes. We were cycling from the shop and I was happy to be able to play with the power modes on a solid surface before hitting the trails. After some initial fiddling around with modes, I found Tour mode to be the best for the cycle from the shop, as it adapts to the surface and riding style, pulling the power back on the flats and still making you work.

The first thing I did when I got on the trails was crank it to turbo – big mistake. Too much power for those tight turns, especially for a newbie like myself. I was overshooting and skidding out of corners so caution is advised with that much power at your fingertips – there’s no real need on the way down.

And breathe… boss man @neil and @steesh taking a breather at Cathkin.

Uphill is a different story however.. I’m very new to trails but having that power behind me for going uphill really made the going easy, and easy is what I am looking for. While the rest of the team were puffing away on steep climbs, I was able to shift down, crank up the power and make it back up to the top easily.

The battery makes the bike heavier than a standard MTB, but it wasn’t a dead weight. I was able to lift over gates fairly easily. This came in handy when I had the bike up at Callendar Estate in Falkirk, on our staff Tuesday ride.

The beauty of having that power on demand is that it gets you up the hill and back to doing the fun stuff more quickly.

The rest of the guys at Callendar Estate, Falkirk, on one of our weekly staff rides.

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The Techy Section

Bike Components:

The components on the Habit Neo 2 are high quality, which is to be expected for a bike of this standard and price range.

The drivetrain is Shimano SLX 12 speed, brakes are Magura hydraulic disc with 220mm rotor on the front and 203mm on the rear. The frame is Cannondale’s BallisTec carbon layup. Rockshox front and rear suspension.

Front Rotor
Rear shock
DMR V8 in Fools Gold
Bling DMR V8 in Fools Gold

@liam-d set it up tubeless and with a lovely set of bling Gold DMR V8’s

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How the E system works:

The Kiox colour display is bright and packed with functionality, with power, cadence, rpm, bpm, avg/max speed, distance, range, calories and route planning capabilities (route planning via the connected phone app).

Power is delivered from the Bosch Performance CX drive unit in 4 modes – Eco, Tour, eMTB and Turbo.

Eco is as you’d think. Fairly restrained with a gentle curve upwards up to a maximum of 40Nm of torque

Tour+ is the new mode which adapts to your riding style, allowing you to forget about switching between modes, whether on flat tarmac or climbing a steep ascent. Tour+ gives you the full 85Nm of torque.

eMTB holds back slightly on power delivery initially then gives you the full guns. Depending on pedal pressure, progressive motor support perfectly to the riding situation. Start-up behaviour is much finer and more sensitive – especially in low gears.  

Turbo is self explanatory – full power delivered as fast as possible. Not advisable on loose surfaces but definitely advisable all the way home after riding 🙂

Shamelessly TURBO all the way home and still with 50% battery.

Summary

This bike is all about one word – fun. Spend a bit of time setting the positions of the shifters, dropper lever and brakes, play about with the modes for a bit then just have at it. I had absolutely no shame having it on Turbo when cycling back from Cathkin to the shop and it was definitely a help at the big hills and for getting away from lights sharply.

On the trails it’s something else entirely, an absolute machine for getting you back up to the top quickly and ready to do the fun stuff again – flinging yourself down a hill at speed 🙂

We have these in various sizes in the shop so give us a shout if you fancy taking one for a spin round the Green.

Categories
Buyers Guides Product Reviews

E-Bikes: The non-biker perspective.

I may work for a bike shop, but an avid cyclist I am not..

I’m the kind of biker that needs to be dragged out on a ride, grumbling about somewhere I have to be, some imaginary appointment that I may miss if we are out for too long.

That all changed on Saturday after spending a few hours with a Ridgeback X2 e-bike, courtesy of Alec at the Ardrishaig bothy.

Instead of making excuses to avoid going out, I was coming up with reasons to take the bike out over the weekend. Nipping down the shop to get the morning rolls, going on a couple of rides with the kids, popping out to get another bottle of milk (wine).

“I’ll go!!”

The motor doesn’t propel the bike, it “assists” with pedal rotation. It’s a strange sensation, but quick to feel natural. On e-bikes, pedal assist usually comes in several levels of power. On the X2, it’s Eco, Standard and High, depending on how much assist you want, and if you need to conserve battery on a longer ride. I did briefly try the lower modes for comparison, but happily fired it up to high for the rest of our outing, leaving the kids in the dust, complaining about having cold fingers or something.

On the flat, you could easily have it on eco or standard, but if you are like me (lazy) you’ll want the bike to be doing most of the work, most of the time.

In all seriousness, I was blown away by how much fun it was. I hate hills and the ebike makes them fun. You can do as much or as little work as you want. If you are looking for more of a workout, turn the assist down or, if you are insane, off.

I had it cranked up to the max and loved it.

I’m all for something that encourages us to get out on the bikes and the e-bike certainly does that. Fresh air, exercise, tired and quiet children. What’s not to like.

There’s nowhere quite like Argyll ❤️

The Ardrishaig Bothy is a brilliant resource for Mid Argyll, lending bikes to encourage cycling and getting outdoors. Give Alec a shout if you are local and you’d like to try a bike – https://www.facebook.com/ArdrishaigBothy

Give us a shout at the Glasgow shop if you are thinking of buying an e-bike, or indeed any bike – https://www.facebook.com/billy.bilslandcycles / https://www.billybilslandcycles.co.uk

Tip for Ridgeback – Needs a drinks holder.

Tip for Parents – Remember to take gloves for the kids.