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Bicycle buyer’s guide #1: What type of bike should I buy?

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When you’re looking for a new bike, it’s easy to become overwhelmed,

and it can be hard to figure out which kind of bike to buy. Designers are forever offering new and different products, and marketers dream up bamboozling buzzwords to describe them. The modern capitalist society offers almost infinite choice, and the bike industry is no exception: do you need disc brakes or rim brakes? A step-thru or a step-over? How many gears do you need? It’s enough to make you hyperventilate.

In this post, I will attempt to simplify things; to cut through the marketing hype and give you the key information to help you to find the right type of bike for you.

The right tool for the job

Bikes are a bit like kitchen knives. All knives cut things, but the knife which would best cleave a lamb shoulder is different to the knife you should use to dice a kiwi fruit. Sure, you could get through a lamb shoulder with a small fruit knife, but it would be pretty tedious, and the results may not be very good. Similarly, all bikes move forward when you pedal, but the bike you would need to compete in a road race is a very different to the bike best suited to pick up the kids from childcare. All bikes have different characteristics and intended uses, and finding the right tool for the job will make your cycling life a lot more enjoyable.

What do you want to do?

Your first task on your journey to buying a bike is to think briefly about what type of riding you envisage doing, and what kind of rider you are. Here are the key questions you should consider:

  • How confident am I on a bike?
  • How fit, strong and flexible am I?
  • How much, and what kind of luggage do I want to carry?
  • How far and how frequently do I want to ride?
  • How fast do I want to ride?
  • What surface types do I want to ride on, eg: sealed, gravel, rough trails?

Armed with the answers to these questions, you should be able to narrow down your choice to one or two categories of bike. Here’s an overview of the different types of bikes out there. There are many bikes that could straddle two or more of these categories, but this is a start.

Rocky mountain bike soul 20

Rocky Mountain Soul 20 Mountain Bike

Mountain bikes are purpose built for rough terrain and off-road use, and are characterised by flat handlebars, wide, knobbly tyres and suspension. They are generally sturdy bikes that are fantastic for off-the-beaten-path riding, however they are slow and heavy on sealed roads compared to most other bikes.

Mountain bikes can be used as commuter bikes though, as changing to a slick tyre will drastically increase the speed of a mountain bike on sealed surfaces. Indeed, a decade ago when there weren’t many other options available, the ‘hard-tail-with-slicks’ was a very common commuter.  Mountain bikes can also be a good bike to learn on, as their relaxed riding position and wide tyres can help beginner riders with their confidence. Finally, their sturdiness and compliance makes them good for heavier riders, who are less likely to have mechanical problems on a mountain bike than some other bikes.

Some mountain bikes have eyelets for carrying luggage or child seats.

Brown Jersey Islington small road bike

Brown Jersey Islington road bike

Road bikes are all about speed. Characterised by narrow tyres, drop handlebars and low weight. They are sleek and efficient, allowing you to cover long distances in a short time. Road bikes need some skill and confidence to handle, as well as the strength and flexibility to maintain the aggressive (leaning far forward) riding position they encourage, and are therefore suited to experienced riders more than beginners. They are designed for long rides on open roads more than a short city commute, and are generally not good for very heavy riders or large amounts of luggage.

Road bikes should generally be ridden on sealed surfaces, though confident riders may be able to ride them on gravel. In recent years, however, many ‘road’ bikes have come onto the market fitted with wider tyres, plus other features that encourage mixed-surface riding. These developments have broadened the appeal of road bikes and stretched the capabilities of the category.

Jamis Coda Comp Femme 2018

Jamis Coda Comp Femme commuter bike

The most popular choice for people making a regular ride to work/uni/school, commuter bikes are a “jack of all trades” bike. They are reasonably fast, though sturdy enough to carry luggage or children, and usually come with mid-width tyres and a wide range of gears. They can handle a bit of gravel, and have a ‘moderate’ riding position that balances comfort and speed. Commuter bikes are our highest-selling bikes at Velo Cycles, and are suited to a wide range of uses, often fitted with mudguards, rear rack and lights.

Flat-bar road

Kona PHD flat bar road bike mustard

Kona PHD flat bar road bike

A flat-bar road bike shares many of the characteristics of a road bike—low weight, narrow tyres—but with flat handlebars instead of the drop handlebars found on road bikes. This makes them better suited to city or casual riding than a road bike. You could also think of them as a speed-oriented commuter bike. They’re good for people who want to get around quickly, ride mainly on sealed surfaces and don’t want to carry much luggage.

Hybrid

Jamis Citizen Hybrid bike

Jamis Citizen Hybrid bike

Hybrid bikes are comfort-oriented commuter bikes, and are more suited to gravel or mixed surfaces. They have front suspension and wide-ish tyres, making them slower and heavier than a commuter bike, but they provide a smoother ride and greater control on uneven surfaces. This, combined with their relaxed, upright riding position, makes them good for beginner or casual riders. Some hybrid bikes feature a step-thru frame design (see below).

Jamis Renegade Escapade gravel adventure bike

Jamis Renegade Escapade gravel adventure bike

Gravel/adventure bikes have drop-handlebars like a road bike, but are much more versatile. Compared to a road bike they have wider tyres, sturdier components and a more relaxed riding position for comfort and endurance. Many also have luggage mounts. Gravel/adventure bikes are one of the most versatile bikes around, being suitable for commuting, road riding, all-surface riding, light touring or bikepacking. If you want to get an idea of what a gravel/adventure bike is capable of, check out this review of a Jamis Renegade.

Surly Disc Trucker grey

Surly Disc Trucker touring bike

Touring bikes are made for long-distance travel on two wheels. They are very sturdy and very reliable, can be ridden on varying surfaces and can carry heavy loads. They can fit wide tyres and have many attachment points for bags, water bottles, spare spokes etc. They have a wide range of gears and usually come with drop handlebars. These capabilities also make touring bikes a popular choice for a commuter or everyday-type bike, particularly if you need to carry heavy things, however they tend to be a a little heavier and slower than most commuter bikes.

Check out this inspiring journey by Velo customer and photographer Dan Marsh, who ride around Australia on a Surly Disc Trucker touring bike. Or for a rundown on the fine distinctions between gravel and touring bikes, check out this post. 

Kona Coco yellow

Kona Coco step-thru bike

Step-thru bikes are characterised by a low-slung frame that allows you to ‘step-thru’ the bike rather than over it, which makes them very easy to mount and dismount. This is great for people with physical limitations that make it hard to get a leg over a traditionally shaped bike, as well as being better if you need to ride in a long dress or skirt. Generally, step-thru’s have a relaxed, upright riding position, which reduces strain on the back and neck, and are often classically styled, which gives them an old-world charm. They usually have mid-width or wider tyres, allowing them to be ridden on gravel surfaces, as well as providing good traction and comfort. Step-thru’s can be great bikes for beginner riders. Most step thru’s are able to carry a moderate amount of luggage. The downside of many step-thru bikes is that they can be heavier than other bikes, and are difficult to ride into a headwind or up a big hill. Although this yellow Kona Coco pictured here bucks that trend, being one of the lightest step-thru bike on the market.

Surly Steamroller single-speed bike yellow

Surly Steamroller single-speed bike

Single-speeds are typically ridden by uni-students and young people more generally. This is because they are cheap to buy and maintain, require greater fitness to ride, and can be neglected with fewer consequences than geared bikes (though no bike should really be neglected). They are light and fast, can be loaded with a small amount of luggage, and generally have narrow tyres. Single-speeds are fast, fun, and make great city run-arounds. The downside of a single speed is that you will constantly be accused of being a hipster.

Kona Ute cargo bike

Kona Ute long-tail cargo bike

Cargo bikes are peerless at carrying heavy and/or bulky luggage, or multiple children, or both. You could devote a whole article to these alone, because they come in radically different designs, each with their unique pros and cons—so it’s hard to make generalisations. Many families find them to be a fun, comparatively cheap and convenient alternative to the family car. Others with specialist requirements—such as trades or delivery people—are adopting them in greater numbers for the same reasons. And obviously, more and more manufacturers are bringing out electrified cargo bikes – watch this space.

An electric bike (or ‘e-bike’) is any bike that’s assisted by a battery and a motor, which allows the rider to cover distance and climb hills with much greater ease than with a regular bike. E-bikes make a brilliant commuter, as it’s entirely possible to ride to work sweat free.  You can then choose the level(s) of assist to ride home again, should you still want your workout – pedal hard, or hardly pedal.  It’s all up to you.  They’re also great for older people, or anyone who may need assistance due to medical issues, as well as those who may need to carry heavy luggage, or have a long commute. E-bikes come in a wide range of styles—commuter, step-thru, folding, cargo or mountain. Although they can be ridden switched off, e-bikes are quite hefty due to the battery and motor, and will generally have a narrower range of gears. Check out Catherine Deveny’s ten reasons to get an electric bike. 

Brompton folding bike aqua

Brompton folding bike

Folding bikes can be folded into a small package for transport or storage. The appeal of a folding bike is its enormous convenience; they can be taken easily on public transport, put in the boot of a car or safely stored under a work desk. For these reasons they’re a fantastic companion to city life. They’re generally not as good as a full-size bike for riding long distances at speed (although there are speed-oriented folders, and tour-oriented folders, and cargo folders, and…)

All of them, however, give you the possibility of easy one-way transport, and so really change how a bike can aid you in getting from place to place. Have a look at our resident folding bike guru Cory’s reasons why he chose a folding bike. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope that’s made the expansive world of bicycles more readily understandable, and that you have been able to narrow down what type of bike to buy. Remember, if you’re unsure about anything, nothing beats talking to a friendly and experienced bike shop staff member.  And a test ride or three. Feel free to pop into our shops in Carlton North, Melbourne, or call us on 03 9481 0088.

 

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Which Brompton should I purchase?

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From our recent article about how to choose a bike, if you found a folding bike ticks your boxes you may have considered a Brompton. We are Australia’s highest-selling Brompton dealer, and late 2018 we refitted our shop to become Brompton Junction Melbourne.

If you then do some internet searching, a very commonly asked question is “Which Brompton is the best one?” or “I’m 5 foot 6, which Brompton should I buy?”  Many, quite well-meaning people write vast tomes on why one handlebar is better than the others, or why you should only consider a particular gearing.

Of course, the correct answer is that the best Brompton is the one which suits you most.

This isn’t something that can effectively be determined at arm’s length.  A consultation and a test-ride is what is required.  We’ll want to know the type of riding you’ll be doing (commute, recreational, transport), the surfaces you’ll be riding on, your expectations with speed, and of course, what types of hills. Every Brompton is hand-built in London to a custom set of chosen specifications – working in conjunction with Brompton Australia we pre-order many of the common variants however you can have something unique built up just for you (read below).  To work out what you need, these are the key things we’ll be determining when you visit us with the prospect of purchasing a Brompton

Brompton 2017 bars

Brompton handlebar heights.

Bar height

There are four different types of handlebar, but generally most people are going to choose between the three standards, H, M and S.  It’s useful to think of these as different bar heights, instead of different bar shapes, as that’s really what’s happening.

When looking at a person’s height, the S bar suits shorter people, the M bar suits average height people, and the H bar is good for taller people.

However, it’s not quite as easy as that, as the height will also change the ride feel and performance for any given height.  So, if a person is of average height, the S will have a livelier sportier feel, whilst the H will have a more upright stance and a relaxed ride.  We’ve put 200cm (6’4″ in the old money) people on S-bars – they were after an aggressive riding stance and they love the result! We’ve put shorter riders on M or H bars, so they can have a straight back.

The grips are another part of a Brompton which get a bad rap on the internet.  If you choose a comfortable bar height, the standard Brompton grips work really well – the dense foam taking out the buzz from the road.  If you find your hands have too much pressure on the bars, then aftermarket grips can be a great solution, and Ergon’s GP1 is a common choice, which can now fit straight onto the post 2017 bars.

Finally the one we haven’t covered in as much detail, the P bar is reminiscent of ‘Butterfly’ bars found on many touring bikes in Europe. They provide a large number of hand positions, and two main heights, with your controls at the upper level.  To that end, they are well suited to long hours in the saddle, and the inherent flex in the bar can aid in soothing the hands for a multi-day tour.

More than any other aspect, once your saddle height is set, the correct choice of bar height is really only determined by a test ride. Or two. Or more.

Seatpost

This is one that is directly proportional to your height, or more correctly, your leg length – a Brompton can fit from a 66cm to a 99cm inside leg.  Both the standard and the extended seatpost are a steel tube.  When you unfold, you can bring it up as high as required and then clamp it using the seatpost lever.  If the standard seatpost doesn’t quite go high enough, the extended seatpost offers 6cm more height.  We can also adjust the pentaclip (Brompton’s seatpost clamp) to give a little more height, as well as adjust how fore or aft the saddle is – changing the reach for your handlebars.  And with each of these options, we can install their saddle height insert.  Once you know your preferred saddle height, this product will stop the saddle coming up any higher than you need it to.

Finally, there’s also the telescoping seatpost.  This is a good option if you require even more height, or when folding you want the saddle to be as low as possible.  You can also easily remove the saddle and top portion of this seatpost, for ease of packing.

Gearing

The gearing chosen does affect the final price, but what’s more important is that it matches how you’re going to use your Brompton.

The single speed is simple – just the one gear, all of the time. It’s the ultimate in simplicity. You have your pedaling directly connected to your speed. Pedal harder, and the bike will take off with its direct drive. Reach a hill, you’ll have to push harder to keep momentum.

The two speed almost rides the same way as a single speed, except you won’t need to get out of the saddle as often on rises, or you won’t run out of ‘gear’ and spin as quickly down the hills. Many people find the two speed gives them the single speed styled ride, but in an easier and more versatile package.

The three speed is the classic Brompton gearing, and is still the most plentiful on the planet.  Many people find three speeds ample for Melbourne. They utilise a 3-speed Sturmey Archer  internally geared hub and so also are very low on maintenance.

Finally there is the six speed, providing the rider with the widest range of gears for versatility. A six speed is often the choice for people riding in hillier areas.  The 6 speed borrows from both the 2 and 3 speed – it’s actually a 2 x 3 to give you the six speeds.  The two cogs from the 2 speed, and an internally geared hub for the 3 speeds – although this one has a wider range.  In fact, moving through one through to sixth gear gives you around the same range as many 18 and 20 speed commuters now have.

And of course, the more gears there are, the heavier the bike.  Some people choose the less versatile 2-speed wholely and solely because it results in a much lighter Brompton – great if you regularly have to lug it up a few flights of stairs.

Finally, there’s a range of standard chainrings available from Brompton, which will change the ultimate ride, no matter which gearing option you choose. Smaller chainring for easier hill climbing – or larger chainring for higher top speed with less pedalling.  We can work with you to determine what suits you best.

Schwalbe Marathon Plus, showing the kevlar belt, and foam core

Schwalbe Marathon Plus, showing the kevlar belt, and foam core

Tyres

We stock four different options.

The Schwalbe Kojak is the speedy option.  Lighter, and stickier, it is the choice if you are after straight line performance and aggressive cornering.  It will make any Brompton feel lighter and faster to ride.  This comes at a cost, however, as it is lighter on puncture resistance.

The standard Brompton tyre is what most Bromptons are supplied with, and so currently we still have quite a few in stock.  However, it has been discontinued, which Brompton has replaced with the Schwalbe Marathon Racer, which we should see coming into Australia very soon.  Both of these tyres are a great compromise between weight, performance and puncture resistance.  That is underselling it a little – it’s many Bromptonauts’ favourite tyre.  There’s a kevlar belt to aid in resisting flats, and so they can be very long-lasting and are capable in many conditions.

The Schwalbe Marathon is next step up.  It’s got a thicker tread, with better puncture resistant kevlar, and includes a layer of slippery foam which means any debris which may get caught in the tyre won’t be attacking the kevlar each rotation, but may also just fling out.

At the top of the heap is the Schwalbe Marathon Plus.  This ramps up the Marathon, with an ever thicker foam section and better puncture resistance.  Its tread pattern resists wear and provides great grip with low rolling resistance. This is generally our recommendation if you have a daily commute which may encounter some glass on the roads or paths.

All of the options have reflective tape built into the sidewalls, so great for being more visible after dusk.

Two-colour Bromptons allow for one colour for the main frame, and a contrast for the extremities

Two-colour Bromptons allow for one colour for the main frame, and a contrast for the extremities

Colour(s)

Hey, you have to love your bike.   And around a third of our customers love Black.  Raw Lacquer, Red and Racing Green are also high sellers.  But Brompton always has many options when it comes to colour, although they do change the ones on offer every few years, so if you search online don’t fall in love with a discontinued hue.

Each year there’s also some limited edition bikes, which may have some exclusive components, but also revolve largely around colours.  The Black Editions are in their fourth iteration, and generally arrive in Australia in early Summer.  They swap out all the alloy/silver/chrome components, and replace them with black.  The Black Edition has a limited number of frame colours available each year, and of course black is one of them.  This year we were treated to orange, turkish green and new, premium ‘Black Lacquer’ which was a tinted take on the regular Raw Lacquer.  That most sort-after colour sold out quickly.  Another special edition, the CHPT3 will be back in a release 2 within weeks.  These, literally, rolled out the door.

If you’re after something relatively unique, we can order you a custom combination of colours using two of any of the standard colours.

Luggage options

Brompton luggage attaches to the front of the bike, above the front wheel. Unlike regular panniers or many front baskets, Brompton have designed their luggage system so that the weight is carried on the bike’s frame, not the steering.

While not a vital factor in determining which Brompton bar height to choose, it is worth noting that two of the Brompton bags with larger frames are not compatible with the S bar.

The most popular bag worldwide is also the most versatile.  The T-Bag is great for touring, but also as an adaptable bag for shopping and has a handy drink bottle holder.  It’s one of their older bag designs, and along with the S-Bag and C-Bag, provide larger volumes.  A few years back, Brompton greatly increased the range of luggage, with a number of different bags which will fit a bit larger than an A4 folder, some oriented ‘landscape’, others ‘portrait’.  And, just like the bikes, from time to time there’s special editions.  We generally have a full range of Brompton luggage, as well as a number of quality after-market options so again, drop through and see what suits your needs.

Fittings

The first Bromptons were designed to be as adaptable as possible and so came with mudguards and a rear rack.  The rack can, of course, carry items.  However, it’s main use is so you can transport the bike in ‘trolley’ mode on four easy-spinning rollers.  Any Brompton which comes with a rack and guards will have its model designation ending in R.

The L spec has guards but no rack.  You can still wheel it along trolley style, with two of the rollers from the R style, and a smaller roller on the guard. The guards themselves are great – fully enclosing the tyres and with a large flap at the rear of the front guard to keep your shoes dry.

Finally, the E spec has neither guards nor a rack.  If you’re wanting to keep your weight down, like a sportier look or you’re confident you’ll never ride in the wet, then an E may be the Brompton for you.

Which Brompton fittings you choose will depend upon how you want to use your bike.

Summing up

So there you go.  We’re confident that if you come in and speak with us, and have a test ride or three, we’ll match you to your perfect Brompton, and perhaps some accessories.

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A local’s guide to Melbourne’s Capital City Trail

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The Capital City Trail (CCT) is one of Melbourne’s best bike rides. A 30km loop through inner Melbourne, it’s scenic, varied, and takes you past some of Melbourne’s best sights. It’s a great half-day out on the bike, providing an interesting cross section of the inner-suburbs.  There’s drinking fountains at regular intervals, and there are plenty of places to grab a bite to eat and a coffee.

It is a shared path, and takes in parts of various other paths, such as the Main Yarra Trail, the Merri Creek Trail and the Moonee Ponds Creek Trail. Being a shared path, you will likely see bike riders and pedestrians, joggers and dog walkers, so ride with consideration. You may also encounter exhibitions or events in/around the CBD. Sometimes sections are closed for track or road maintenance, but generally all is A-OK. There’s also one, or perhaps two sections where you have to get off your bike, so be prepared for that (more detail later).

One ongoing problem with the Capital City Trail is that at times the signposting leaves a lot to be desired. (It runs through various local councils, some of which have good signage, whereas other don’t). So, let us help you out with this guide – there can be variations depending up on which side of the river you ride, and where you turn, but this route will get you around no probs.

Starting from Velo Cycles, where you can grab one of our hire bikes, you can go either way—clockwise or anti-clockwise. We’d suggest setting aside around 3 hours, but it does depend upon your pace, and how often you stop. We’ll start with the guide for going clockwise, and if you’re going the other way, scroll down or click here to see the anti-clockwise guide.

Melbourne’s Capital City Trail map & guide—going clockwise

The map above is interactive – roll your mouse along the path and you’ll see the corresponding part of the gradient of the Capital City Trail.  You can also download a file so you can follow using most common devices. And there’s also suggested locations for picturesque stops, or something to eat/drink.

Starting from Velo Cycles, head east, crossing Nicholson Street at the lights and continue on the trail.

Capital City Trail Velo Cycles

Follow the green arrow

 

You’ll cross a few intersections and in 1.3km you will come to Rushall train station. Turn left immediately after the platform entrance and go under the underpass.

Capital City Trail Rushall

 

When you emerge on the other side, continue straight—do not take the bridge to your left. You are now on the Merri Creek Trail. After 1.5km you will come to a short but incredibly steep hill – a good chance to test your gear range or the torque in your e-Bike. At the top of the hill, turn left.

 

After 1.3km, take a sharp left.

Merri Creek Trail Clifton Hill

 

You will immediately come to a bridge across the Merri Creek. At the end of the bridge, turn right.

Merri Creek Trail bridge

 

A few hundred metres further on, turn right onto another bridge.

Merri Creek Trail bridge

 

After the bridge, to your left, is Dights Falls—not exactly Niagara Falls but a good place to stop and have a sip of water. To continue on the trail, stay to the left and the path will take you down close to the river. You are now on the Main Yarra Trail.

After a kilometre or so you will pass the Collingwood Children’s Farm and Cafe, and the Abbotsford Convent. It’s a lovely spot to stop for a coffee, see some farm animals, or check out the historic convent buildings and gardens.Collingwood Childrens Farm

About a kilometre further on you will come to three flights of rather steep stairs. Yes, you are still on the right track, and yes, you need to get up the dreaded ‘Gipps Street stairs’. If you think it’s ridiculous that one of Melbourne’s busiest bike paths has such an obstacle, contact the minister responsible: Victorian Minister for Roads and Road Safety Luke Donnellan. He can be called on 03 8392 6150 OR emailed at luke.donnellan@parliament.vic.gov.au

People have been campaigning to replace these stairs for decades – and there’s been plenty of promises, but still no change. Whilst successive Victorian governments continue to throw billions at roads, bike paths get bugger all, despite their incredible cost/benefit ratio.

At the top of the stairs, double back onto the bridge that crosses the river.

Main Yarra Trail stairs

At the end of the bridge, take the second right. This path will take you up next the Boulevard Road.

Main Yarra Trail bridge

About a kilometre further, turn right into what looks like the bush.

Main Yarra Trail Kew

Shortly after you will reach a bridge. Cross the bridge, then double back and go down the ramp to your right.

Main Yarra Trail Kew

At the bottom of the ramp, continue straight. Stay on this trail for about 10km. It meanders following the Yarra River and you won’t have to make any turns. Very close to the city centre at Birrarung Marr, the path abruptly stops. Simply continue over the gravel area next to the river until it becomes paved again. A short uphill will bring you to Princes Bridge. On your right is Federation Square, one of Melbourne’s most popular attractions and its main public square, featuring award-winning modern architecture. Ahead is Flinders Street station, and on your left, the Yarra.

To continue on the trail, turn left on to Princes Bridge. This is still shared path, although the next few kms are likely to be high on pedestrian traffic, so don’t attempt to break any speed records.

Capital City Trail Melbourne

 

At the end of the bridge, turn left down the ramp. Yes, there’s steps, but if you turn early there’s none.

Capital City Trail Melbourne

Don’t worry – that safety barrier isn’t generally there

 

At the bottom of the ramp, swing a broad, 180-degree left and go under Princes Bridge, following the river.

Capital City Trail Southbank

Continue along Southbank Promenade for about 2km. As mentioned, this area is shared with pedestrians, so ride carefully. There are many shops and places to eat and drink along here if you feel like an ice-cream or something more substantial.

A short distance after the historic boat Polly Woodside, ride onto Webb Bridge, also known as ‘eel-trap bridge’ to your right.

Capital City Trail Southbank

 

At the end of the bridge, cross the road and turn right.

Capital City Trail Docklands

 

Take the next left.

Capital City Trail Docklands

Continue straight for 1.8km. When you see the huge Costco on your left, take a right across the main road. Thankfully, the on-path signage is pretty good here.

Capital City Trail Docklands

Capital City Trail Docklands

The trail continues on the other side. You have now entered the scummy section of the Capital City Trail, otherwise known as the Moonee Ponds Creek Trail. If you enjoy unpleasant odours, or have ever wanted to see the underside of a freeway, this is for you.  On the plus side, plenty of waterbirds, the odd eel, and a pair of black swans can be frequently seen, and there are some pleasant vistas if you stay on it and head further upstream.

However, after 2.7km you will come to Flemington Bridge train station so to stay on the Capital City Trail you’ll need to double back and go up the ramp towards the station, then double back again to get onto the Upfield Bike Path.

Capital City Trail FlemingtonCapital City Trail Flemington

After 1.3km including a downward slope, a wooden bridge and then a climb, cross the road and turn right towards Royal Park train station.

Capital City Trail Parkville

 

Cross the tram tracks, cross the train line, and immediately veer left up the hill. To your right is the Melbourne Zoo. Capital City Trail Parkville

 

The track will level off, with a green oval to the right.  There is a turn to the right and a turn to the left in quick succession. Keep going straight, going downhill and through the tunnel.

Capital City Trail Upfield

 

Continue straight for another 2km , until you reach Velo Cycles. You’ve now circumnavigated Melbourne on the Capital City Trail! Reward yourself with a bite to eat and a cold adult beverage at Park Street cafe/bar, located just behind Velo Cycles.

Park Street Dining

Melbourne’s Capital City Trail map and guide—going anti-clockwise

The map above is interactive – roll your mouse along the path and you’ll see the corresponding part of the gradient of the Capital City Trail.  You can also download a file so you can follow using most common devices. And there’s also suggested locations for picturesque stops, or something to eat/drink.

Starting from Velo Cycles, head west on the trail.

Capital City Trail Velo Cycles

Follow the green arrow

Crossing a few roads, and going under another couple (check out the street art), after 2.5km, you will come to Royal Park train station. On your left is Melbourne Zoo. Cross the train tracks, then the tram tracks.

Immediately after the tram tracks, turn left and cross the road. Continue straight down the slope, across the bridge and back up again.

Capital City Trail Parkville

After 1.3km you will come to Flemington Bridge train station. Double back down the ramp, then double back again onto the path alongside Moonee Ponds Creek. Capital City Trail FlemingtonCapital City Trail Flemington

You have now entered the scummy section of the Capital City Trail, otherwise known as the Moonee Ponds Creek Trail (it does have more picturesque vistas upstream). If you enjoy unpleasant odours, or have ever wanted to see the underside of a freeway, this is for you. On the plus side, keep an eye out for various waterbirds, the odd eel, or even a black swan couple who frequent along there.

After 2.7km you will come to an intersection with the Docklands Highway, and an off-ramp from CityLink. Thankfully, this section is well signposted with informative path markings. Cross over, heading for the giant Costco building.

Capital City Trail Docklands

On the other side of the road, turn left, passing Costco on your right, headed towards the CBD.  This bike path numbers about 4,000-5,000 riders one way, at peak times of the year, returning again of an evening.Capital City Trail Docklands

Continue straight on the trail, passing the waterfront to your right. After 1.8km, take a right.

Capital City Trail Docklands

Take a left immediately afterwards.

Capital City Trail Docklands

Go across Webb Bridge (also known as Eel Trap Bridge) ahead of you.

Capital City Trail Webb Bridge

From the exit of the bridge, continue straight along the waterfront for 2km. This section is known as Southbank Promenade, and has many shops, and places to eat and drink if you feel like an ice-cream or something more substantial. You will share this section with many pedestrians, so ride carefully.

After crossing under Princes Bridge, do a wide, 180-degree turn to the right and take the ramp up to the bridge.

Capital City Trail Southbank

Capital City Trail SouthbankCapital City Trail Southbank

This ramp has steps at the top, but if you move towards the right of the path you’ll see it’s just ramp.  Cross Princes Bridge (that is a contraflow, shared path), and at the end turn right.

Capital City Trail Princes Bridge

To your left is Federation Square, one of Melbourne’s more popular attractions and its main public square, featuring award-winning modern architecture.

Go down the short hill along the river. When the river leaves the paved path at Birrarung Marr, swing right onto the gravel, following the river. The path will magically re-appear a little further on.

Capital City Trail Birrarung Marr

Continue along on the trail for about 10km. You won’t have to make any real turns, it just meanders alongside the Yarra. This part of the Capital City Trail is known as the Main Yarra Trail and is Melbourne’s highest-trafficked bike path of a morning. You will eventually come to a ramp going up and to the left. Go up the ramp, and at the top, double back onto the bridge. Main Yarra Trail KewMain Yarra Trail Kew

 

At the end of the bridge, turn left. After another few hundred metres, turn left again.

Main Yarra Trail Kew

The trail follows the Boulevard Road down hill. At the bottom of the hill, turn left away from the road.

The trail follows the Boulevard road down hill. 

A few hundred metres on, turn left onto the bridge.

Main Yarra Trail Kew

At the end of the bridge turn left, then left again and go down three flights of rather steep stairs – the dreaded ‘Gipps Street Steps’.

Main Yarra Trail Stairs

Yes, you are still on the right track, and yes, you need to get down those stairs. If you think it’s ridiculous that one of Melbourne’s busiest bike paths – the Main Yarra Trail, and part of the greater Capital City Trail – has such an obstacle, contact the minister responsible: Victorian Minister for Roads and Road Safety Luke Donnellan. He can be called on 03 8392 6150 OR emailed at luke.donnellan@parliament.vic.gov.au

People have been campaigning to replace these stairs for decades, and there’s been plenty of announcements over the years, but still no change. Whilst successive Victorian governments continue to throw billions at roads, bike paths get bugger all, despite their incredible cost/benefit ratio.

At the bottom of the stairs, continue straight back on to the Main Yarra Trail. After a kilometre or so you will pass the Collingwood Children’s Farm and Cafe, and the Abbotsford Convent. It’s a lovely spot to stop for a coffee, see some farm animals, or check out the historic convent buildings and gardens.

Collingwood Childrens Farm

Another kilometre further on you will come to Dights Falls—not exactly Niagara Falls but a good place to stop and have a sip of water. Stay to your right and cross the bridge. At the end of the bridge, turn left. Main Yarra Trail

About 200 metres further, turn left down towards another bridge, then turn left onto the bridge itself. Main Yarra Trail

Immediately after the bridge, take a sharp right up the hill. You are now on the Merri Creek Trail. Continue straight. 
Merri Creek Trail

After 1.3km, take a right down a very steep hill – signed accordingly. Be careful to keep your speed in check , as there is a tight corner at the bottom.

Merri Creek Trail Clifton Hill

Continue on the Merri Creek Trail until you get to Rushall train station. Don’t take the bridge to your right. Turn left and go through the station’s underpass.

Once on the other side of the station, turn right and you will see a sign for the Capital City Trail. Capital City Trail Rushall

Continue straight for 1.3km until you get to Velo Cycles. You’ve now circumnavigated Melbourne on the Capital City Trail! Reward yourself with a bite to eat and a cold adult beverage at Park Street cafe/bar, located just behind.

Park Street Dining

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David’s custom flat bar Soma Fog Cutter

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David wanted a custom, do-all, ‘last-bike-he’ll-ever-buy‘ kind of commuter bike. Over a 10-month period he chatted to our staff member Ed, who took him through various options. He looked at the Jamis Renegade series, but decided he wanted to go with flat handlebars for the extra comfort they afforded. He thought about a Soma Wolverine as well, a bike that we’ve done some amazing builds with. But in the end he was smitten by the gorgeous red paint job of the Soma Fog Cutter.

And it was a flexible enough platform for the kind of build he wanted to do. It had ample clearance for the 32mm tyres plus the Velo Orange black hammered fenders that you see pictured (the Soma Fog Cutter can clear 700X42mm tyres without fenders). It had eyelets for the mounting of a rear rack. And the Tange Prestige tubing and matching carbon fork provided a supple, comfortable ride quality.

It’s a high quality build, with Shimano Deore XT hydraulic disc brakes, a matching drivetrain, and hand-built wheels using Mavic Open Pro rims. Comfort was a high priority for David, and as such he went for a swept back handlebar, in this case, a Salsa Bend 2. We fitted them with his choice of the super comfy Ergon GP3 ergonomic grips, which provides ample wrist support and an alternative hand position at the end of the bars. And for seating he opted for the Selle Royal Scientia, a saddle that’s become popular amongst our customers for its posterior-friendliness.

And last but not least, this Soma Fog Cutter has been fitted with a Shutter Precision dynamo front hub, which allows David to charge his devices via USB while he rides, and perhap opt for integrated lighting in the future. Go on, feast your eyes.

 

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Bargain bikes! EOFY sale 2018

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It’s end of financial year sale time, and we’ve all gone a bit troppo. We’re having an EOFY sale, and bikes that hardly ever go on sale are heavily discounted! Save hundreds on the following bicycles, or pop in through the store and look for the red tags to see more of what we’re clearing out.

Surly bikes on sale

It truly is a rare day when you see hundreds of dollars slashed from the price of a Surly. A premium brand that hold their value well, when you buy a Surly you’re buying “a bike for life.” Quality steel construction, versatility built into every frame, and strength.

Surly Straggler complete—was $2600, now $2100 SAVE $500

Sizes available: 42, 50, 52, 54, 56

Get on the gravel bandwagon with one of the most capable bikes in the category. The Surly Straggler complete comes with a SRAM Apex 2X10-speed drivetrain, Hayes mechanical disc brakes, plenty of luggage mounts and heaps of tyre clearance. Commute, tour, gravel grind, road…get on it!!

Surly Straggler

Surly Disc Trucker complete—was $2300, now $2100 SAVE $200

Sizes available: 46, 50, 52, 54, 56, 58, 60, 62

The most popular touring bike in Australia, and one of the most popular in the world, the Surly Disc Trucker will take you there, and back. Just check out this phenomenal ride by photographer Dan Marsh, and his amazing images of outback Australia. For the road less travelled.

Surly Disc Trucker grey

Surly Disc Trucker touring bike

Surly Troll complete—was $2400, now $2000, SAVE $400

Sizes available: small only

The last word in remote area, off-road, long distance touring, the Surly Troll is one of the most capable conventional bikes ever produced. With incredible strength, a huge gear range and about five million ways in which to attach luggage, it’s a dead-set expedition vehicle. But hey, it will get you to work just fine as well.

Surly Troll pea green

Fuji bikes on sale

Fuji Touring—was $1500, now $1300, SAVE $200

The Fuji Touring was already the best value touring bike on the market, and then we cut $200 from the price. Need we say any more?

Fuji tour 2018 black

Fuji Finest 1.1 Disc—was $1549, now $999, SAVE $550

Sizes available: 46cm only

An excellent entry level road bike with disc brakes, we have one Fuji Finest 1.1 Disc left on the shop floor. It’s been there too long, and it’s got to go. We’re probably making a loss on this sucker!

Fuji Finest 1.1 disc 2017

Rocky Mountain bikes on sale

Canadian company Rocky Mountain make some sweet mountain bikes. Get out on the trails with these discounted fun machines.

Rocky Mountain Soul 20 (27.5)—was $899, now $799, SAVE $100

Sizes available: XS, S, M, L, XL

A great entry into the mountain bike scene, the Rocky Mountain Soul 20 is a versatile beast. Pedal it hard, take it on some rough stuff, have a blast.

Rocky mountain soul 20

Rocky Mountain Fusion 40 (29)—was $1299, now $999, SAVE $300

Sizes available: S, M, L, XL

A fast rolling, efficient 29er, the Rocky Mountain Fusion 40 is for those who want to roam far and wide. It could even be used as a commuter, that you can have some serious fun with.

Rocky Mountain Fusion 40

Rocky Mountain Growler 40 (27.5+)—was $1599, now $1299, SAVE $300

Sizes available: S, M, L, XL

With plus-size wheels and progressive geometry, the Rocky Mountain Growler 40 is an all-out, balls-out fun machine. Made for bombing downhill, blasting through stuff that makes your hair stand on end, and for generally zesty activities.

Rocky Mountain Growler 40

Velo Cycles bikes on sale

Velo Carlton—was $599, now $459, SAVE $150

Sizes available: 15, 17, 19, 21

Designed by us, for you, the Velo Carlton is a no-nonsense, no-frills commuter bike that’ll take you there and back. It’s simple, reliable, and at $599 was already great value. Now it’s $150 less!

Velo Carlton

Velo Carlton

Jamis bikes on sale

Jamis have been our highest-selling brand since the dawn of time (10 years ago in the Velo Cycles universe). Jamis can be summed up with the following qualities: high reliability, exceptional design, and excellent value.

Jamis Renegade Explore—was $1399, now $1199, SAVE $200

Sizes available: 54, 56, 58

Your starting point in the gravel bike universe, the 2018 Jamis Renegade Explore is built around a 6061 aluminium frame and comes with basic components that perform solidly whilst being easy on the hip-pocket. It gives you a chance to dip your toe in the water without mortgaging the house, offering the gumption of a gravel bike at an affordable price. It can be a gateway drug—if you will—to the all-road scene, but is still good enough to be a long-term workhorse if that’s what you’re after.

2018 Jamis Renegade Explore

2018 Jamis Renegade Explore

Jamis Renegade Expat—was $1699, now $1599, SAVE $100

Sizes available: 56cm only

With mid-level 10-speed Tiagra shifting and the well-regarded TRP-Spyre mechanical disc brakes, the 2018 Jamis Renegade Expat is a cracking build for the price. At its heart is a Reynolds 520 steel frame—a value tubeset with a rock-solid feel—and a Jamis ECO carbon fork. The end result is a smooth, sturdy and sharp-handling bike that hits a sweet spot between price and performance; affordable enough to be an entry into the gravel bike market, but equipped well enough to be a satisfying ride in the long run.

2018 Renegade Expat

2018 Renegade Expat

Jamis Renegade Exploit—was $2999, now $2599, SAVE $400

Sizes available: 56, 58

The 2018 Jamis Renegade Exploit gets a more refined tubeset—Reynolds 631—which cuts down on weight, provides a snappier ride and smooths out road buzz beautifully. It’s also specced with Shimano 105 11-speed shifting and Shimano hydraulic disc brakes, so you get razor sharp gear changes and powerful braking. Other upgrades from the Expat include eyeleted rims and sealed bearing hubs. If you do a lot of miles, and you appreciate a little refinement, the Renegade Exploit may well be worth the extra dosh, and are only available Australia-wide from Velo Cycles.

2018 Jamis Renegade Exploit

2018 Jamis Renegade Exploit

Jamis Renegade Escapade—was $3999, now $3499, SAVE $500

Sizes available: 54, 56, 58

The big daddy, the 2018 Jamis Renegade Escapade comes with the same great frame and fork as the Exploit, but with the high-performing Shimano Ultegra groupset, as well as upgraded wheels—WTB Frequency Team i23 rims laced to Formula sealed-bearing hubs. The shifting and braking of the new Ultegra R8000 groupset is truly world-class, and will provide an incredibly smooth, efficient ride. If you want the feel of your high-end road bike on a go-anywhere beast, the Renegade Escapade is your answer. And again, we’re the only shop in all of Australia who has them.

2018 Jamis Renegade Escapade

2018 Jamis Renegade Escapade

Kona bikes on sale

North-American company Kona began in mountain bikes, and have grown to be one of the largest bicycle brands in the world. Known for their forward-thinking design and wild colour schemes, Kona offer quality bikes in every category.

Kona Rove ST—was $2199, now $2099, SAVE $100

Sizes available: 52, 54, 56

Back and better than ever, the new Rove Steel sees through-axles and flat mount disc brakes. A first for the model, and a feature normally found on far more expensive bike. Another interesting development is the inclusion of tubeless valves with the bikes! Meaning it’s never been easier to ditch the tubes and go with a lighter more supple ride. The other big bonus of tubeless is the ‘self-heal’ nature of the latex fluid that fights of punctures! It still has the great ride characteristics that made the previous model such a winner, and with a clean one by eleven drive-train this is the perfect drop-bar bike for Melbourne, both in and out of the city.

Kona Rove ST 2018

Kona Rove DL—was $1449, now $1199, SAVE $250

Sizes available: 54cm only

The Kona Rove DL is very orange. Oh yeah, and with a quality Shimano drivetrain, disc brakes and a lightweight aluminium frame, makes and awesome drop-bar commuter bike. And if you want to hit the road on the weekend, it’s got you covered there too!

Kona Rove DL orange

Soma bikes on sale

Soma make some of the best mass-market frames, period. Made from quality, lightweight Tange steel, their finish is top notch, their design beautiful, their capabilities many.

Soma Buena Vista frameset—was $750, now $500, SAVE $250

Sizes available: 50cm only

Indeed it is a “Buena Vista.” The Soma Buena Vista makes a beautiful, classic, lightweight step-through bike. For those looking for function with a touch of elegance.  We could build this up for comfort, for speed, or for an ultimate commuter with a bit from each column.

Soma Buena Vista

Tern bikes on sale

Drawing on their DNA from Dahon bikes (Tern is Dahon’s son) we’ve stocked Tern folding bikes for longer than any other.  They provide a great balance between price and functionality, with the versatility of folding bike.

Tern Link B7 – was $700 now $600, save $100.

The entry-level Tern Link B7 provides the versatility of a telescoping handlebar post, when combined with the long seatpost can accommodate riders from 142-190cm.  A comfort-oriented saddle, 7 speeds and balloon-style tyres with mudguards gives you everything you need for urban living, or something for the camping van.

Tern Link B7

Tern Link D8 – was $1025 now $900, save $125.

The Tern Link D8 makes a great daily commuter, with Tern’s patented ‘N-Fold’ technology, a wider-spaced 8 speeds, and Schwalbe Big Apple tyres.  You also get the Tern Andros stem, allowing tool-free adjustment of height and reach.

Tern Link D8

Tern Link D7i – was $1200 now $1100, save $100.

The Tern Link D7i swaps out the Link D8’s external derailleur for the low maintenance, low risk of damage internal hub.  This year it also comes pre-equipped with a rear rack and a dyno-hub powering the front light.

Tern Link D7i

Tern Verge P9 – was $1899 now $1300, save $399.

Tern’s Verge series are their lightweight 20″ folder.  The P9 is built for speed with sealed bearing hubs, 9 speed derailleur, cadence-oriented saddle and stiff allow pedals.

Tern Verge P9

Tern Joe P27 – was $1525 now $1400, save $125.

Looking for a full-sized bike which folds?  Tern’s Joe is now back in stock, and this year it’s sporting 27.5″ tyres, 3×9 gearing and hydraulic disc brakes.

Tern Joe 27

We also have 20% off all Tern accessories.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Why ride a steel bike?

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Carbon fibre. It’s like putting a magic wand in the hand of bike designers. You can make it very light. You can make it very strong. You can make it stiff in one place, flexible in another.  You can mould it into aerodynamic shapes. Tune into the Tour de France this year and every rider will be on a carbon fibre bike. It’s easy to get the impression that bikes made from other materials—such as steel—are simply inferior. But steel bikes have made a resurgence in recent years. Brands such as Surly and Soma, plus countless small frame builders have ushered in a new era of popularity for the humble iron and carbon alloy. So what’s making this old-school material popular again? In an age of carbon fibre, why would you choose a steel bike?

The first thing to keep in mind is that most of us are not professional racing cyclists. We use our bikes for a number of different purposes. We might ferry a kid to childcare. We might lug home a load of groceries. We might pack our life up and pedal across the country, or across the world. For many of these activities, steel is still a standout material. But even if you do race, there are some very fast steel road bikes out there. The pro team Madison Genesis, for example, race on steel bikes. It’s a versatile material.

What makes steel such a good material for bike building?

First, a disclaimer: the following properties are generalisations, which can vary somewhat depending on the design and build quality of an individual steel bike.

Steel bikes are cheap

Ok, this point needs a little qualification. There are some cutting edge ‘super steels’ around today that are very expensive, but in general, steel bikes are good value for money. It’s much easier to make a decent quality steel bike at a reasonable price than carbon fibre.

Steel bikes are durable

Adding to the value factor is the potential longevity of steel. Within the tolerances that it was designed for, steel doesn’t fatigue. This means that, barring major damage or rusting, a steel bike can last a very long time. That’s why you sometimes see 70-year-old steel bikes still being ridden around. Compared to carbon, steel is also less susceptible to damage from the rough and tumble of everyday use. If you ever need to throw your bike in the back of a ute, or sometimes park it a bit roughly against a bike hoop, a steel bike may be a better option. This durability makes steel the prime choice for load-carrying bikes such as touring bikes or cargo bikes.

Surly Big Dummy - Dark side of the Maroon

Surly Big Dummy – Dark side of the Maroon – available now at Velo

Steel bikes are safe

Due to its durability, steel bikes are less likely to crack or fail than other materials. Just as important, though, is the way in which steel fails, if it does. If a steel bike is structurally compromised, there will be visual evidence. It may be hard to spot, but there will almost almost certainly be a dent, bend or crack somewhere. Second, if something is giving way, it tends to do so over a period of time. This often manifests itself in ‘weird’ handling—you turn into a corner and it doesn’t track quite right, you pedal hard and the bike ‘squirms’ slightly. Other signs include otherwise inexplicable gear shifting problems, or brake rub. The point is, if you’re reasonably attentive, you can pick up on these signs before the bike falls apart on you.

Brompton's hand-brazed frames are key to the bike's performance and reliability

Carbon, on the other hand, can be damaged without any visual evidence. If you’ve, say, had a crash and you want to be sure it’s not damaged, the only way to find out is to get it scanned, which can be expensive. Also, carbon can fail without warning, suddenly and catastrophically. My aim here isn’t to scare people; lots of people ride carbon bikes every day quite safely. But it does, very occasionally, happen.

Steel bikes have a good ride quality

Ride quality is what steel devotees often get most enthusiastic about, and it’s also one of steel’s least definable properties. People go a little misty-eyed when describing the ride quality of a good steel bike (as I might do in a few sentences). This can sometimes tip over into snobbery—but bear with me, there’s something to it.

Seireadan explains steel’s wider elastic limit

The most substantial straw to grasp at is the nature of steel itself. It has more inherent flex to it than other materials, which lends the bike a subtle springiness, or a ‘wider elastic limit,’ as described by our mechanic and frame fabricator Seireadan. This tends to smooth out a choppy road surface, providing a more ‘forgiving’ ride which increases comfort, reduces fatigue, and makes the material good for all-road or gravel-type riding.

But that’s not all. At the same time as smoothing out the road surface, good steel manages to give you feedback about it. You can ‘feel’ the road through your handlebars—how granular the ashphalt, how chunky the gravel stones. I think of it as like running your hand lightly along the road surface as you ride. It creates a subtle simulation of the road for your fingers, and your whole body, if you are alive to it.

This feedback, along with steel’s springiness, lend steel bikes ‘liveliness’ according to many. Some even interpret this as a bike’s ‘soul'(my eyes mist over). Carbon is fantastically light, efficiently rigid, and can be as cold as the dead eyes of a killer. Steel is a little more mercurial.

Steel bikes have a low environmental impact

Steel is among the least carbon intensive of frame materials, and can be readily recycled when at the end of its life. Add to this its longevity, which reduces waste, and steel makes a lot of sense in a low-emission, resource-constrained future.

Steel bikes have style

It’s totally in the eye of the beholder, but steel has a some class to it—that is if you don’t put ridiculous carbon wheels and flouro yellow bidon cages on it, like the trashy example below that happens to belong to your trusted correspondent. Steel’s classic, clean lines contrast sharply to modern carbon bikes that are characterised by weird shapes and loud branding. Like I said, all in the eye of the beholder—carbon bikes can look great too—but steel has a degree of timeless appeal that other bikes can’t match.

Rossin steel road bike great alpine road

Plenty of space for bottles and a frame bag

Steel bikes have space in the main triangle

Due to steel’s skinny tubing, it tends to leave more room in the main triangle for frame bags, water bottles, pumps and other accessories, as per the example above. This is particularly true of the frame has a traditional shape with a straight top-tube, rather than a more modern ‘compact’ shape with a sloping top tube. Very handy for bikepacking.

The future of steel bikes

It’s clear that, barring the invention of another new wonder material, steel has a long future ahead of it in cycling. With its many advantages, could this ‘classic’ material take back ground from carbon and aluminium? Could it become the new ‘modern?’

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Nic’s 27+ Surly Ogre with SRAM Eagle

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If there was a category of bike called ‘Apocalypse bikes,’ the Surly Ogre might be its poster boy. Bikes like the Surly Ogre—or its sibling bike, the Troll—are the Kalashnikovs of the cycling world. They are designed, simply, to work. To work on pavement and off, in driving rain and desert heat, now and in the long-distant future. If I was travelling to an unknown planet, and could only take one form of transport, the Surly Ogre would be up there in my consideration. You’ll find no exotic materials, just overbuilt strength and nuanced versatility at every design turn, wrapped up in a high quality finish.

Occasionally on this blog I have been critical of Surly bikes, due to their sometimes sluggish handling and dour aspect. But this doesn’t mean I don’t like them. I do. Yes, there are more pulse-pounding bikes out there, but there are few as durable, versatile and potentially long-lived on the mass market as many Surly bikes. They are bikes that you can live with, long term. Bikes that can change their spots, and adapt to life’s many twists and turns.

Perhaps the best way of illustrating this point is to simply list the number of parts and accessories that the Surly Ogre can get along with. And it’s worth mentioning that all the things listed here will not require improvisation or jerry-rigging; they all have dedicated  accommodations or mounting points. There are so many eyelets on the Ogre it looks like someone sprayed it with a machine gun. Here goes:

Wheels

  • up to 29X2.5
  • up to 27.5X3

Drivetrain

  • derailleurs—single, double or triple chainring
  • hub gears, including Rohloff
  • single speed

Brakes

Rear hubs

  • 135mm QR
  • 142mm thru axle
  • 148mm boost thru axle

Racks

  • front (lowrider, porteur, mini)
  • rear
  • baskets

Mudguards

Bidon cages (up to 7)

Anything cages or similar (up to six)

Trailers

Virtually any bikepacking bag

 

Anyway, we’re here to talk about Nic’s semi-custom Surly Ogre. Here it is.

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Build highlights

  • Frameset: Surly Ogre XL poo brown
  • Drivetrain: SRAM Eagle 1X12 10-50 tooth
  • Wheels: Novatec sealed bearing rear hub, SP dynamo front hub, DT-Swiss XM582 rims, DT-Swiss Competition double butted spokes
  • Tyres: WTB Ranger 27.5X3
  • Brakes: Avid BB7 mechanical disc
  • Handlebar: Jones Loop H-bar
  • Stem: Thomson
  • Other: Sinewave Reaction USB-charger plug

 

What made Nic choose a Surly Ogre?

I spent a bit of time chatting to Nic about his new(ish) bike, and why he went for what he did.

“So long as you’re ok with a bit of weight, you can do everything with the Surly Ogre,” says Nic. “I like the idea of a bike that I can tour on as well as commute. An everything vehicle. It can be rebuilt in more ways than most bikes.”

Indeed Nic is working on a different wheelset for commuting.

“I’ve still got the stock 29er wheels. I’m going to swap out the rear hub to be able to fit a Sunrace 12-speed cassette on it. I’ll also fit some slick tyres—Compass Antelope Hill in a 700X55.”

The standout feature of Nic’s bike is probably the 12-speed SRAM Eagle drivetrain, a one-by system that gives you a massive 500% range. What made him go down that road?

“I was always keen on one-by systems. I liked the look of them. And when SRAM bought out the Eagle GX, the price was a lot more affordable.”

And how does it perform?

“The range is really good for touring/bikepacking. The shifting is good. Shifting up is super easy. It’s nice.”

Speaking of touring/bikepacking, where has he been on it so far?

“I’ve only had the bike for about 8-months so far. Before the summer was out I did a bit of touring around Daylesford, Castlemaine, Woodend area (in central Victoria). It was mostly on gravel roads, with some trail stuff.”

The Surly Ogre is obviously not going to be really fast on roads, but that didn’t bother Nic.

“I don’t try to be a super quick rider so I was happy to just cruise along on the roads. It’s awesome on trails. The tyres just feel like they’re going to grip and ride up anything.”

What else has he used it for?

“I use the Ogre to get around town. I commute from Preston to Barkley Square in Brunswick for work. I also use it to ride down to the shops. I can fit a week’s worth of shopping in the basket.”

One of the other standout features of Nic’s Ogre is the basket up front, and in particular, the bag that sits in it.

“The basket is a Wald 139, sitting on a Rawlands rack,” he tells me. “The bag is made by Overland Gear Australia. I asked them to make it for me, and I got to be part of the design and build process. It was fun. It’s made from Cordura material, and holds 30-something litres. Often I’ll go home past the shops and buy some groceries. There’s plenty of room in there. The bike is really a car replacement.”

And that, in a sentence, sums up the Surly Ogre. It’s not going to win you any races, but it will be there when you want it, ready to realise whatever idea is in your head. I can dig that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2019 Kona bikes have landed!

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2019 Kona bikes have just landed in Australia. At Velo Cycles we’ve received delivery of three models, the Rove ST, the Sutra, and the Sutra LTD. Come in for a test ride any time, or have a chat to a friendly staff member on 03 9381 0088. Here are some pretty pictures and words to go with them.

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If anybody says “swiss-army-knife-of-bikes” one more time I might stab my eyes out and run screaming into the night. But the cliche wouldn’t exist without a kernel of truth. Light enough to zip around on, sturdy enough handle moderate load-carrying duties like bikepacking or grocery-carting, The Kona Rove ST can be applied to many different tasks, and carry them out with aplomb. The big change from last year is the wheel size. For 2019 they’ve gone for 650B wheels with 47mm tyres (the excellent WTB Byways). This wheel and tyre combo gives you efficient rolling but with more grip and cushion than the old Rove ST, which had larger 700c wheels with a narrower tyre (for a great wheel-size explainer, check out this post). It also looks very different, with tan-wall tyres and a glittery green lick of paint. Take it out into the sunshine and it really pops!

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The 2019 Kona Sutra LTD uses the same frame as Kona’s heavy-duty touring model, the Sutra, but comes with a ‘gravel’ rather than ‘touring’ build kit. To use Kona’s marketing jargon, “it’s what you get when a mountain-biker imagines a touring bike.” So what do you get? Hydraulic brakes, a ‘one-by’ (single chainring) drivetrain, lighter wheels and tyres, and clearance for up to 2.1-inch rubber. Yeah yeah, but what do you really get? A bike you can load up for a cross-continental journey, but is still fun to ride. A bike with the capability to realise your wildest adventures, that you can also whip around town on. An expedition worthy rig that doesn’t feel like a truck. And that, frankly, is awesome.

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If you’ve ever wondered what a bike would look like if it was squeezed out of a tube of toothpaste, wonder no more. The 2019 Kona Sutra may remind one of dental hygiene, but it’s a very tough, very capable, very well-appointed bike. It comes with all the bits and bobs you often have to pay extra for, like a rear rack, mudguards and a Brooks B17 leather saddle. This means that it’s ready to roll off the shop floor and into the blue yonder. The Kona Sutra is the kind of bike that whispers irresponsible things to you in the quiet hours: quit your job. Play the boss’s head like a bongo drum. Pack up your life. Pedal away. See what’s out there. 

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2019 Jamis Renegades are nearly here! New models revealed—world exclusive.

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2019 Jamis Renegades are arriving at Velo Cycles over the coming months, and we can exclusively reveal the new models to the world. The Jamis Renegade series are considered one of the best value gravel/adventure bikes, and a leading example of the genre. Velo Cycles is Australia’s largest Jamis Dealer, and for 2019 we’re stocking more models than ever, starting with the Renegade Expat at $1900, and going all the way up to the Renegade Elite at a cool $6000. So whatever your budget or style, there’s a Renegade for you.

In this post I won’t go into what a gravel/adventure bike is, because we’ve done that a few times already:

Here, we want to talk about new models for 2019. The most notable change is the groupset on the Exploit and Escapade models. They now have SRAM 1×11-speed hydraulic groupsets, instead of the Shimano double chainring systems they came with in 2018. The best-selling Renegade Expat remains relatively unchanged, apart from a great new colourway. And for the first time at Velo, we’re going to be stocking the two carbon-framed models, the Renegade Expert and the Renegade Elite. Ladies, gents and non-binary individuals, it’s time to put down your glasses, may we present the 2019 Jamis Renegades. If any of them take your fancy, give us a hoy on 03 9381 0088 and we can take a pre-order or notify you when they arrive.  There’s only limited numbers and once they’re gone, they’re gone.

2019 Jamis Renegade Expat $1899

2019 Jamis Renegade Expat

2019 Jamis Renegade Expat

With mid-level 10-speed Tiagra shifting and the well-regarded TRP-Spyre mechanical disc brakes, the 2019 Jamis Renegade Expat is a cracking build for the price, and is the most popular of the Renegade models. At its heart is a Reynolds 520 steel frame—a value tubeset with a rock-solid feel—and a Jamis ECO carbon fork. The end result is a smooth, sturdy and sharp-handling bike that hits a sweet spot between price and performance; affordable enough to be an entry into the gravel bike market, but equipped well enough to be a satisfying ride in the long run.

The build on the Renegade Expat has proved to be a winning formula, so it remains largely unchanged from the 2018 model. It gets a new saddle, updated rims, and a slightly larger cassette (11-34 instead of 11-32). Note that although the tyres have different branding on them, they are actually the exact same excellent tyre as last year – same across the entire Renegade range.

We’re getting the Renegade Expat in the widest range of sizes, from the teeny 44cm with 650B wheels to the lofty 61cm. So no matter what your height, there’ll likely be one to fit you.

2019 Jamis Renegade Exploit $3499

2019 Jamis Renegade Exploit

2019 Jamis Renegade Exploit

The Renegade Exploit has themore refined Reynolds 631 tubeset, which cuts down weight, provides a snappier ride and smooths out road buzz beautifully. And new for 2019, it now comes with a full SRAM Apex hydraulic 1×11 groupset, which is a big change from the previous Shimano 105 double chainring group. It means a lighter weight, simplified drivetrain. The trade-off, however, is bigger jumps between each gear, and a slightly smaller overall range. The smallest gear, however, is actually even lower now, so you’re only losing out on high-end speed (though of course we can always change the chainring size to suit your riding style). This biases the bike more towards a bikepacking/gravel/commuting application rather than a road cycling application where higher speeds are common and cadence more important. It makes sense for these steel-framed models, as steel is a preferred material for bikepackers and commuters due to its toughness and longevity. The Renegade Exploit also gets updated rims, now “WTB ST light i23 TCS 2.0” rather than “WTB ST i23 STS TCS.” I’m guessing that it’s the new version of the same rim, and maybe a bit lighter? That’s all I can decipher from the interwebs at the moment.

2019 Jamis Renegade Escapade $4199

2019 Jamis Renegade Escapade

2019 Jamis Renegade Escapade

The Renegade Escapade shares the same Reynolds 631 tubeset as the Exploit, and also gets a SRAM groupset for 2019. This time it’s SRAM Force, except for the cassette which is from Shimano. Why run a Shimano cassette with a SRAM drivetrain? My best guess is that it’s to keep costs in check, and the price competitive. It’s no biggie. Those big SRAM cassettes are things of beauty, but they’re pricey, and there’s nothing at all wrong with their Shimano equivalents. The wheels are a big jump—Stans Crest S1 Team tubeless rims with Sapim spokes and Neo hubs. Sounds ace. The colour is still an evil-looking stealthy charcoal (nu-nu-nu-nu-nu-nu-nu-nu-Bat-maaan).

2019 Jamis Renegade Expert $3999

2019 Jamis Renegade Expert

2019 Jamis Renegade Expert

With the 2019 Renegade Expert you’re moving into carbon territory. Overall it’s a lighter, stiffer bike than the steel-framed Renegades, which makes it faster and snappier, but perhaps a bit less suitable for rough-and-tumble  bikepacking duties. You’re also fractionally sacrificing some tyre clearance—700X40c rather than 700×42 on the steel versions. For 2019 it’s equipped with the new Shimano 105 7000 series 22-speed hydraulic groupset, which will give you super-crisp shifting without completely blowing out your budget. There’s also a couple more teeth on the cassette, which goes to 34 instead of 32. The Renegade Expert is a great bike for those who want the performance of their road bike in a more versatile, gravel-maiming package.

2019 Jamis Renegade Elite $5999

2019 Jamis Renegade Elite

2019 Jamis Renegade Elite

The 2019 Jamis Renegade Elite is an even ‘fancier’ carbon, and has a further-upgraded groupset and wheels. Shifting and braking is taken care of via Shimano’s Ultegra 8000 series 22-speed hydraulic groupset, including the brand new Ultegra clutch derailleur. This will give you truly world-class gear shifting and stopping. The wheels are new for 2019: Stans Crest MK3 PRO tubeless wheelset with Sapim spokes and Neo hubs. And there’s the 11-34 cassette that’s now coming on all the Shimano equipped models. If you want the feel of your high-end road bike on a more versatile platform, the 2019 Jamis Renegade Elite is your rocketship.

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Made for cities – also for 300km Around the Bay in a day

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In 1975 a guy in London developed a bike that speedily rode around town, but would also fold up so it wouldn’t get stolen. Today, the Brompton is still mainly used for short trips, sometimes also including public transport, the boot of a car or storage under a desk. But how far can you actually ride one in a day? Well, our general manager Stu, will go some way to answering that question when they embark upon the 300km course of Around the Bay on Sunday October 7th, mounted aboard a 2-speed, S-bar Brompton, all to raise funds for The Smith Family to support disadvantaged kids in accessing education.

Around the Bay (in a day) is Australia’s largest mass-participation bike ride and has been running every year since 1993. The first event attracted 2,700 riders, and over the years numbers grew until 15,600 rolled off the start line in the 2009 event. In recent years, different ride distances have been added, putting the event within reach of casual riders and families – with a distance to suit your level, or your goal. This year there are 10 options, starting at a child-friendly 20km and going up to the punishing 300km route.

The new 300km Around the Bay route – it’s easy to see the brutal addition

The monstrous 300km course is brand new, perhaps reflecting the recent ultra-endurance riding trend, and offers riders a next-level challenge. As well as doing the full loop of the bay, incorporating the rolling hills near Portarlington from the 250km route, the course detours up the famous Arthur’s Seat climb, before heading over to Flinders on the ocean side of the peninsula and then back over at Red Hill to the bay. That’s right, not comfortable with adding one steep climb for the elites for the first time in Around the Bay history, they’ve added two!  This should get the carbon crew into their lower chainrings well and truly!

Lucas and Stu, astride Brompton M2L bikes, ready for the brutal 300km Around the Bay challenge

Lucas and Stu, having conquered the 210km route, were stepping up to the new, brutal 300km challenge – but Lucas has had to drop out, leaving Stu to ride SOLO!

But Stu won’t have that option because the steel-framed Bromptons they are riding have only one chainring. And, it’s only him!  He was go be accompanied by Lucas again this year, but a niggling knee twinge means he’s not wanting to aggravate it. So, one rider, one Brompton, but he does have the choice of two gears (he again chose this model over the 302% range 6 speed, for lighter weight) but it’s his sheer tenacity which will likely get him over the hills. Yes, it’s an epic undertaking, but he’ll be well-served by their experience of last year’s event, where he did the 210km course on the same spec bikes. And again, he’s raising money for the Smith Family, so if you have a dollar or two to spare, head over to their fundraising page. Proceeds will go towards resources to help disadvantaged kids with their education.

We know that the world’s best folding bike will get you around the city, and last year Stu and Lucas proved that they can take you on the long haul. This year Stu will be pushing his boundaries of Bromptoneering again. Will he make it?

(If you see him, let him hook in behind you for a few kms – provided you’re going fast enough for him of course. Hey, he can always fold and jump on the train, cab or Uber – but somehow we don’t think that’s gonna be an option).

 

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