Thanks for all the kind words and sorry for the delay, I had to see the ToB highlights before I could do anything else; nice one Cav.
Right, so what do I think of my new ride........ I think it's quite something, no wonder these bikes are popular.
On the road, much like the Caygill, you know you are riding a rigid, but the worst of the roads imperfections, (and there certainly are plenty of those around here) are soaked up, just leaving the bigger bumps to live with. I could already feel that the steering is very fast and direct but without being twitchy or nervous.
Into the woods and onto the gravel path and considering these brakes (yes, they are V Brakes) have never worked with the Kappa rims before, they all seemed to get on famously, giving me nice effective braking, predictable power and fine modulation. Again the razor sharp steering showed itself, and much to my surprise the Nobby Nic's gripped brilliantly and performed with aplomb.
I have had the SRAM Attack shifters paired with the M900 mechs before, so I was confident that when things went up, so would I, but the DeKerf made the transition from sitting to standing a very easy and natural one, and the sharpest climbs were ridden, if not with ease, certainly with a lot less drama than with a couple of the other thoroughbreds in my stable.
Once through the last double sharp climb we came to the switchbacks, which were easily dealt with; and so to the long rocky climb, which, just to add some interest, was also wet and slippy so becoming the long wet rocky slippery climb, oh joy!
Actually, it was. I first noticed on the gravel path, but the rocky climb really showed that the front end of the DeKerf is nailed to the ground, not heavily, but just sort of held there by some kind of weird framebuilder magnetism or something. What this meant was that I was able to exploit the razor sharp steering to avoid some of the worst bits and it also meant that although the back end was sometimes kicked off line, the front end pretty much stayed put the whole way, nice.
Past what is know as the snake tree... no idea why, and onto the wriggly gravel path.. easy peasy Japaneasy, great brakes, sharp steering, responsive back end. Nuff sed.
The fast rocky uphill was taken... fast. Not blistering ononononon like the CATS WISKAS, but just a nice fast pace in a gear longer than is usually the case. The back end has enough compliance and spring to soak up some of the worst bits and to stick to the floor, allowing all the effort put into the pedals to make it to the ground, as so often the most tiring part of a rocky climb is the wasted effort of lost traction and bumps that throw you up and out of the saddle.
Onto the fast bridleway, and this was just eaten up, as I had emerged from the rocky uphill so much faster.
The next test is the short sharp rocky rooty climb, and I was a bit worried about traction here. I did get a couple of slips on the way up, but made it up without any real drama.
My usual route now takes me along a fast wide bridleway, through some boggy bits and then gradually uphill, but I thought a third encounter with a small group of OAP's with their dogs may be pushing my luck with them a bit, so I chose to leave the woods on an alternative, much more rocky path. There were a few bumps and minor slips along the way, but the DeKerf gave me such a feeling of confidence, I really did not worry about falling off at all.
Down the banzai hill home and the kick up into my road was deliberately taken a gear too high, but there were no issues, and every ounce of power pushed into the pedals (and an ounce is about as much as I can manage) found its way to the road without the slightest hint of flex or twist.
So, where does the DeKerf sit in relation to the others? It's pretty much on a par with the Fuquay in many respects, as it's fast and quick steering, light as a feather yet constantly grounded. It is not nearly as nuts as the CATS WISKAS, although it did remind me of Ringo's CATS in a few places, but the DeKerf never really encourages you to go faster, it just allows you to make that choice. It would be interesting to try fitting an Exotic carbon fork at some point, I think the slight flex of the Exotic would take what little shock you get at the front out. However, I would worry about making the front end too light, as at present it is such a well balanced bike, that a lighter fork may upset that.
Overall, it is a really fantastic bike, it is stable and grounded without feeling in the least bit heavy, it steers precisely and quickly without being twitchy and although it feels rigid there is enough compliance front and (especially) back to give a really comfortable ride and to allow the bumpy stuff to be taken at a good pace. It will be a welcome addition that I think I will be using a lot this winter as it is a real riders bike.
How the previous owners ever managed to be parted from this bike is a mystery, but in the end, my good fortune, thank you all.
EDIT: I just downloaded the ride from my Garmin, and because of the route change I only did 7.5 miles, but that includes 900 ft of climbing and my max speed (on the banzai road back home) was 40 M.P.H.
Now, I wonder how a Brodie would compare.....
ALONG THE GRAVEL PATH
IN THE WOODS