Since 2014, I have completed a number of running races including eight 10ks, eight half-marathons, three marathons and a few other events including the City Mile and pacing for the Richmond half-marathon. Looking for a fresh new challenge in 2015, I signed-up for the London Duathlon way back in September last year (early-bird entry!). Despite being a newbie to the Duathlon, I was still tempted to go for the ultra distance; 21km run, 88km bike ride, 10km run. However, my logical side appealed to me and I decided to go for the standard distance of a 10km run, 44km bike ride, 5km run. This seemed like a fair challenge and the sensible option for my first Duathlon.
Reasons for purchase I have not done much by the way of cycling training, and simply put, my main motivation for purchasing a road bike was to get some proper Duathlon training done. I have tried to get myself conditioned to the whole “run-bike-run” ordeal. My training efforts for this have consisted of running to the gym, cycling on the Wattbike and running back from the gym. This has proved to be really useful, particularly running immediately after the Wattbike session.
Although the Wattbike is an amazing piece of gym equipment, there is no substitute for real road cycling. Furthermore, my training has been more specific to ‘sprint’ efforts, and I am now looking to increase these distances over the summer to more accurately reflect the true nature of the Duathlon distance. To this end, I knew it was time to purchase a road bike. This has not been an easy task. Being new to the biking world, I was a little overwhelmed by the choice of bikes available and the terminology involved; shifters, derailers, cranksets, cassettes, etc.
Deciding what bike to buy After much browsing (and agonising) I finally nailed my choice down to the Orbea Avant H50 and Orbea Avant H30D. Last week, I called the Cycle Surgery store at the Velo Park in Stratford and they kindly ordered these two bikes in for me to test ride. The main differences between these models are the brake/gear shifters, crankset, cassette and brakes; the H50 uses traditional rim/V-breaks and the H30D has mechanical disc brakes.
The price of the H30D that I had selected was a whopping £999.99, but as this is a 2014 model, was reduced to £699. This seemed like a great price, and being new to cycling, felt no need to have the latest and greatest. In fact, my thoughts are that it is much more cost effective to go for a previous year’s model where there are some great savings to be had, as well as getting a higher-end bike with more bang for your buck! Referenced directly from the Cycle surgery website, here is a breakdown of the basic specs of the H30D.
Admittedly I am still a little unsure about how these components will perform under race conditions, but my aim at this stage is simply to get into road cycling, for which I am sure these specifications will perform reasonably well. I do plan to upgrade my new ride as time goes on, and my working knowledge and understanding of road bikes increases.
Buying experience So I called Cycle Surgery at around 1pm, and they told me that the H50 and H30D bikes were now in-store and ready for me to try! Excited as ever, I made my way down to the Velo Park in Stratford. After a brief test cycle on each, my mind was definitely set on on the H30D. The H50 was a very smooth ride, but the overall feel of the H30D was noticeably superior, with with handling and breaking power. I’d by lying if I didn’t say that the disc breaks also look that little bit sexier! (and shinier)
Cycle Surgery were generous enough to provide some basic pedals to ride out with (apparently bikes don’t come with pedals these days…). I swapped these over for the DMR V8 flat pedals. I am not planning to ride with cycling shoes/cleats, and wanted flat pedals, in no short part as these will help with the transition between run-bike-run transitions during Duathlons. The DMR V8s are very solid and weighty, with ridges to help grip your trainers. I have no problems with them, and my feet felt very comfortable throughout. I also purchased a water-bottle holder in-store, which they also fitted for me.
Recording bike rides If you have followed my previous posts, you may remember that I have reviewed and blogged about the fenix 3 and Garmin 920XT, which I use to record my runs and upload to Strava. Both watches are also capable of recording bike rides (as well as swims). To this end, I will be using these to upload my road bike rides to Strava. I have been using it since January 2015 to record and analyse my runs, as well as manually add my Wattbike sessions from the gym, too.
The main issue one faces when riding with a GPS watch is having it strapped to your wrist. It is quite inconvenient (and dangerous) to keep looking at your wrist whilst riding, particularly if you are a a little obsessive about your training metrics. So, I have mounted my Garmin watch on the handle-bar of my bike using a Garmin wrist watch bike mount. This will allow me to recored my rides without having to fork out for a dedicated biking GPS unit. I have covered the capabilities of the fenix 3 extensively, and am confident in it’s ability to handle my bike rides. Perhaps in the future I may invest in a cadence sensor, but until then, I am content with seeing my time, distance and speed.
I also invested in the Quad-lock mounting system, which appears to be one of the most popular accessories to mount your iPhone to your bike. I’ll be doing a more complete review in due course, but can report that on my first (brief!) ride, the Quad-lock held up very well. My iPhone felt very secure, even when going over some bumps and rough terrain. Venturing out on long bike rides will also necessitate the need to carry my phone and I am very happy with the quad lock.
I took out my new bike for a quick spin later in the evening. It was a slow, easy ride to get used to the bike and controls. Having not rode a bike for many years, it was a very new experience, and I suspect it may take a few more days to get into the swing of things! (was very cautious of motorists, despite not venturing too far out…)
Conclusions Not knowing enough about bikes at the stage, I cannot reach any firm conclusions about how good the H30D is as a road bike, as I have no previous bikes to compare it with. However, I felt that it provided a very smooth ride, and although things feel a little unsteady at the moment, I am sure that I will be cruising in no time! The aim over the summer is to get some more hands-on experience with the H30D, and of course, to be fully confident and ‘fast’ (faster?) for the London Duathlon in September! I’ll be blogging a little more about how I get along, and of course, any bike accessories I come across!