ART IN THE WOODS.
First proper test ride of 'Art'.
My usual ten mile on / offroad test track that includes road, hardpack gravel path, rocky climbs and wide forest bridleways.
On the road the Caygill is a dream, it soaks up the worst of the roads surfaces, but is smooth and steers easily. This is also a good sign of the characteristics of the Charge Splashback 1.8's that are fitted front and back.
First problem (well, this is a shakedown run) was with the handlebars.. which rotated slightly, as I had forgotten to tighten the stem.
Good job I always have allen keys with me.
Into the woods and onto the gravel and two pleasant surprises; first, I have loads of grip and second the XT canti's are working rather well. They ain't V brakes, as they are much softer in feel, but never the less they work well enough to be safe. On the down side, changing down too fast causes monster chain suck, not something I have experienced before. This happened twice, once due to a late change downwards and once while in a low gear on a very sharp climb. Note to self, watch those low gears and fit an anti chainsuck device ASAP.
On the plus side, the steering is sharp, without feeling insecure or like it might wash out, so those who thought the forks were too long, I would have to disagree. On the long rocky climb, although I was being jolted around a little, certainly more than with a bit of suspension on the front, I was able to pick my line pretty much inch perfect. The climb itself was straightforward, and the last 500 yards was ridden on the middle ring, almost 2 x 10 style.
The next section is a gentle downhil twisty gravel path through the trees, this was just a pleasure, with the bike tracking perfectly and feeling very sure footed.
Onto the fast rocky climb, which can be anything from crazy fast (on Ringo's 94 CATS WISKAS) to steady but traveling (on my 2002 Yates 853). In the case of the Caygill, it was fast all the way, not nuts like the CATS but certainly faster than the Roberts DB that I was riding a couple of days ago. Into the forest and the short sharp rocky climb caught me out, but by then I was being a bit too careful with the granny ring, so that was my own fault, then onto the bridleway and here the Caygill had an uncanny similarity to my DB; tracking well, swift predictable steering and capable of carrying plenty of speed on the slight inclines.
On the banzai road decent to the bottom of Worlebury Hill, everything was rock solid all the way down, and on the sharp climb back into my road, I was able to remain sitting all the way up the hill.
So, all in, a really nice ride; stable but at the same time quick steering and with predictable tracking, so you are not constantly trying to figure out where the bikes going to take you next. Nice and light on the front, without feeling like it was going to pop an unscheduled Sagan... I mean wheelie.
Suprises: Pleasant; the Splashback tyres, the Ritchey foam grips... why do we bother with skinny rubber? The brakes; not earth shattering, but certainly a lot better than I was expecting. Unpleasant; chainsuck, possibly caused by the pretty low gearing, or maybe the thumbies, but easily cured with the correct device.
EDIT: Just looked at the causes of chainsuck, and before I do anything else I think I'll have to take a look at the granny ring and see if it's hooking the chain.
"Try not to punch any clowns"