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Uncategorized > Equipment Review from 2009

It’s funny but very often one of the first questions that people ask me is about how my bike’s lasted up over the season. I guess it’s a good way to get a real world view of what kit is going to be reliable and what’s not. So with that in mind, and having just completely stripped my bike for a service, I thought I would write down review of how the various parts of my bike have held up through the year. In addition I will be writing reviews of individual parts as they come and go. I’ve been riding my bike on average 5 or 6 days a week,for a year, in some really tough terrain. The Basque Country, from Spring to Autumn, is a lot drier than the UK, although not as baked and dry as the south of Spain, so it has a good mix of weather conditions to test the bike and it’s components. In addition we have a huge variety of trails, from flat out, steep rocky trails that have your brakes smoking, and your suspension components so hot that it’s uncomfortable to hold your hand on, to sandy singletrack along the coast. All these things add up to create a brilliant testing ground for all things cycling. Of course I ride right through winter as well, regardless of the weather, and the winters here are generally very wet, and of course muddy, so my bike sees plenty of that too. Writing this I almost feel sorry for my bikes, luckily I’ve found out that Cove builds it’s bikes hard enough to cope ūüôā Frame: Cove Hustler, medium, white I love almost everything about this frame. It’s good enough up hills but tough enough to throw down anything that I want. I’ve never felt under biked, even when riding with local guys on their 6-7 inch bikes. The bike inspires confidence with it’s slack angles and low bottom bracket and feels dead stable at speed, but still really chuckable in the twisty stuff. I’d heard lots of horror stories about the paint on the Coves, but it has been perfect; there is some rubbing and discolouration along the top tube and a few chips, but nothing unsightly. The decals have seen better days but they could be easily replaced. The frame has been crashed at almost 50mph into chains, ditched onto rocks at speed and I’ve lost count of the number or big rocks thrown from the trail, but there’s not a dent on the bike anywhere. Fantastic! I wish I could say the same of my shins. The only downside is that I had some chain-suck at the start of the season; this was with a new drivetrain which was definitely set-up well. This was cured by going to a 2×9 set-up with a E-13 DRS. Forks: Pike 426 Coil U-Turn These have had a couple of problems but nothing major and have never left me stuck on the trail. I snapped a medium weight spring, which I replaced with a firm. The forks leaked from the motion control knob, however this was easily rectified. ¬†Wheels: 819’s on Chris King ISO Hubs (blue, disc) The hubs first. They have been great and are still running free and easy. The rear had some discoloration of the lubricant on opening at the end of the year, however nothing serious. The rims have been good. I do ride quite fast, although I’ve been told, I ride “light”! The front is perfect, totally true and ding free, but I try not to let my front wheel hit any obstacles. The rear has been a bit more problematic; it isn’t true and has some flat spots, I’ve broken several spokes and it has several dings in it. This could be more due to my riding style, I tend to lift the front wheel and try to pop off the back wheel over stuff, and if I have to will drive the back wheel through things. It still works but next year I will have to replace the rim, probably with something a bit stronger. Headset: Chris King Perfect. I opened it up twice through the year and the grease was still perfectly white. Absolutely no issues with scoring the steerer tube either. Bottom Brackets: Superstar, Shimano XT, Shimano XTR The easiest first, Superstar; appalling. You’d be better rolling up a ¬£50 note and putting it round your crank axel covered in goose fat and shoving that into your frame; it lasted a couple of weeks. Next XT, lasted about 2 months through a pretty wet and miserable winter and into a lovely, fragrant spring! Last, XTR, I loved this, it lasted for ages, on opening it at the end of the year the drive side was totally clean and smooth although¬†the non-drive-side was stiff and dry. I’ve cleaned and regreased the non-drive side but it’s still not perfect, so I’ll have to have another look. Saddle: SGD BellAir Firstly let me tell you, I have quite a big bum! It’s from my mothers side of the family. I’m also about 85kg’s in my pants so not a lightweight whippet. These things tend to mean I break saddles, but this one has lasted a full season and although it’s ripped round the edges it’s still totally comforable. Great! Brakes: Avid Code 203mm Front and Back Fantastic. Bled once at the start of the year and not touched since. One problem, a common one, the pad retaining bolts are very easy to round. I fixed this by forcing a slightly larger Torx key in and it’s been fine since! Pads last well and the stopping power is fantastic; single digit on long, steep descents where the brakes are on all the way down.¬† On the big STD, which is used less, the bearings in the lever have siezed a bit so the lever return is slow, however¬†some oil sorted this quickly. Derraliers: X9, Front and Back Rear mech first, this has had a hard life and has been through the spokes a few times, forcing me to bend it straight again. It still works although you can move it up and down a gear or two using the play in the bushings! The jockey wheels are rubbish though and are a bit expensive to replace. The front mech is a front mech and just works. Gear Cables: Various I’ve found that the type makes little difference. What made a large difference was going to full length cables and now they last very well indeed. Pedals: Straitline I’m in two minds about writing this review. The pedals have been great to use; grippy with a good sized platform. In addition they are still working despite some pretty hard hard pedal strikes. They turn freely and still look OK. So, the other side, is the bushings; they don’t work for an XC pedal in my opinion. They have some teflon washers that stop the outside of the pedals wearing away but in my pedals these washers wore away very quickly, this meant that the actual body of the pedal is worn. This means that there is a lot of movement on the pedal axel which is quite distracting and noisy. I ‘serviced’ them at least once a week but this hasn’t helped their longevity.

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