BEGINNING to make plans for a wee bike trip up the length of the Western Isles next month, from Vatersay to the Butt of Lewis.
I did this trip a few years ago as a bike and hike for the BBC – the programme was called the Hebridean Trail, but this time my old pal Hamish Telfer and I will be purely cycle touring.
Much as I’m loathe to ignore my trusty Ridgeback Panorama touring bike this time I’ll be using a bike from the Edinburgh Cycling Co-op.
Their Revolution Country Premier is new on the market and it’ll be interesting to see how it compares. I picked it up yesterday and haven’t really had a chance to get to know it yet but hopefully I’ll get a few big rides in before Hamish and I head off from Oban early next month.
The Revolution bike has multi-position ‘butterfly’ ergo bars, offering a wide variety of riding positions, and pretty good gear shifting, courtesy of the latest Shimano Deore LX 3×10 shifters and gear mechs.
There’s also a good spread of gears, so vital in a touring bike, courtesy of its 48/36/26 chainrings and Shimano 11-32 10-speed cassette. This setup offers a higher top gear than a regular mountain bike transmission with 42/32/22 chainrings to enable a quicker burst of speed on the road.
The frame is good old Reynolds 525 Chromoly Steel and although the bike is slightly heavier, by about 1kg, than my Ridgeback it does initially feel a bit more lively, but we’ll see. Time will tell.
I think the big difference for me will be the disc brakes. The rim brakes on my Ridgeback are not brilliant – that’s the one downside of that otherwise excellent bike, but the Revolution Country Premier has cable operated disc brakes – Avid BB5, mechanical disc brakes which roll on ball bearings to ensure smooth engagement and release. Being brake cable operated (same as cantilever brakes) mechanical disc brakes are less daunting for the likes of me to deal with than hydraulic disc brakes.
Like the gear shifters, the brake levers are mountain bike style. In this case a handsome pair of Tektro 4-finger levers with comfortable Kraton rubber non-slip rubber grips.
Road contact is through Continental 700 x 32 Sport Contact Tyres which offer a good blend of low rolling resistance for speed and sure grip for stability.
Finally a word on price. The Revolution bike retails at just under £800. That compares well with the £1200 or so that a Ridgeback Panorama now costs, but will it be as good? I’ll let you know as soon as I can, plus what other gear I’ll take along, including lightweight camping gear.