Tuesday, 16 May 2017

The one stint 400 mile bike test!

Last year as we ended the #300North ride on the Thompson Capella after 24 hours of riding in almost perfect conditions and started thinking about pushing on in 2017 with a 400 mile ride taking us to Scotland. So May 13th (just last weekend) would be the 400 mile ride.

With rain and high winds on the cards it was time to plan for the event with the key first bit of  kit for any long overlander style ride has to be the right bike!  Now 400 miles in one hits a lot of miles, your looking at 24 hours of riding time! This is not touring or maybe it is adventure touring in the new era? but the days of panniers and rack mounts and up right riding positions are not what you want if your covering a lot of ground fast! I wanted a frame that was low weight without being fragile, It needed to had some compliance yet was agile in handling and also very stiff in the bb area as i want every watt to power me forward!


On the 300 i picked the Capella from Thompson bikes, The Belgium brand have a almost Rapha style cool to them in there home lands but very few in modern times have landed on our shores till new importer/distro Greenover sports started working with the brand last year and have been getting a cult status here in the UK. The 300 North showed what a great bike it was and on the 400 three new Thompson customers following that ride were now Capella mounted and ready to go further than they had before! So with more climbing and harsher weather would it still be the best bike for the challenges on this adventure?

I went with the " if it ant broke don't fix it" idea and having put some time of a dale and Spec went back to the Thompson, But this time i went for a size smaller (small) as i felt this was the way big hitters like the late and great Mike Hall had done, bringing my elbows more in to my mid section giving me a more aero position with no draw backs as the Capella has a very planted and stable feel on any downhill section. I tested the bike out on the Gravel roads of the Tour of the Black Country a few weeks before and found all my section times to be some of the fastest ever posted on strava and this was my first time at one of these mixed surface events. It was time to pull the trigger and see if i had made the right choices..

Over the 24 hours of riding we pushed hard, Set a very strong early pace and forced others to hunt us down and hold my wheel as we pushed in to the dark and on to some perfect flowing roads around Wales and also some unsurfaced section where the very good tyre clearance and Panaracer tyres helped as the rain came down. In fact the tyres were the only product i switched off the product build, When your as picky as a rider like me for gains just shows what a great complete build it is, In to the Lakes on the final 100 miles and the wind was blowing on the high hill tops but the rims round profile kept us in good shape over deep dish wheels and the advantages of disc brakes was clear from the early sections when i could brake later and get away from others on the twisting roads to the ever changing conditionsin the night gave me a confidence unmatched by standard brakes. I think i picked maybe the perfect bike for this type endurance rides/races that are gaining ground around the world, Maybe i would of picked a tricker bar/stem combo and seat post to bling it up? maybe but im not sure it would of powered me any faster than the online custom build option right off the website that i smashed the 400 miler on and any customer can order. Its just going to make it harder to find more gains for my next adventure!