Took the Rourke out yesterday.
As it is not really suited to my local 'test track' I went for a really good 15 mile on/offroad try out around a plantation where I regularly ride my horse.
On the road it is a dream, much faster than an mtb, but with the slight rolling resistance you get from knobbly tyres. Interestingly, on the way home I rode down a steep tarmac road that I know well and have ridden on my road bikes. On the Rourke I was able to brake less and later, come off the brakes earlier and take the corners much tighter. This may just have been how it felt and actual measurements of speed would be needed to confirm it, but that's how it felt.
The bridleways around the plantation are pretty wide, but they are also quite rocky, both solid and loose, as last year really scoured a lot of the soil away. I found that the combination of longer (road) gearing and quite steep rough rocky climbs meant riding them was a no no, so off I hopped and a push carry was in order. I also found that some really rough rocky descents were pretty challenging on 440mm wide drops. What helped here was the fact that the Rourke is completely sure footed and that the steering is sharp but not overly sensitive or twitchy.
All the other climbs and descents, muddy trails and fast sections were easy to ride and great fun. I had to double back at one point, as I realised my dark glasses had dropped out of my jersey pocket, so I got to experience a couple of section twice and in both directions.... which was nice.
The road ride home was a breeze, not quite as free rolling as a road bike and I avoided the worst climbs back up the hill to home, never the less by the time I got home I'd done 1300 ft of climbing, so despite what my legs were telling me, the Rourke does climb.
I think I may try a slightly more mtb rear cassette in an effort to be able to ride, rather than push, some of the steeper bits, but I do realise this is the nature of cx style bikes. I also really like modern cx canti's, they are easy to set up and just as powerful as anything I have fitted to any of my other bikes, and they allow really precise levels of braking...nice!
Overall, I'm still absolutely chuffed with this build, and feel it really does suit the frame very well.
Sorry about the angles of the saddle in the photos, I can't have had the clamp done up as tight as I thought. All sorted now.
Oh and a little plug for No1 son's hand made tool roll; it took all the rocky bumpy bits in it's stride. This is a preproduction semi prototype, but he's going to start selling them very soon. I have no idea where he gets his enterprising spirit and drive from, not me that's for sure.
"Try not to punch any clowns"