The Test Rig

A consistent chassis is important for testing new kit, and we believe that the test rig should be useable in all weathers, all seasons, year in and year out.

A ‘control bike’, familiar in all its idiosyncrasies, is an important tool in the hands of a tester seeking to isolate the performance gains or losses made by the introduction of new wheels or components.

This is the 2010 Equilibrium 20 frame, with pretty much all of the original components gone to make way for our tester’s personal preferences. Let’s have a closer look.

An Ultegra SL chainset and matching bottom bracket provide a good match for the spindly frame. An Ultegra SL rear mech shifts across an 11-25 cassette. The STI levers are the original 105 units, a testament to their durability and usability. The wheels that came with the bike were instantly removed and transferred to a single speed hack bike. The hoops that are in use all year round are DT Swiss builds, hubs from an old set of 1450 Mon Chasseral laced with DT spokes to RR415 rims. Wrapped in Schwalbe ZX tires at the moment, they will probably be made ready for winter by changing to Continental 4 Seasons at some point.

Braking duties are carried out by the faithful Bontrager Speed Limit units. These have been customised to make space for fixed mudguards. Longer, fixed guards make much more sense for keeping road spray off in our experience.

Up front, the carbon bladed fork is plugged into a dependable Hope headset, with a Thomson stem holding the Easton EA70 Aero handlebars. The bars are wrapped (admittedly in impractical white), in PRO tape, which has proved durable and comfortable. The superbly engineered stem does great work in combination with the fork and bar in soaking up road buzz so we can chomp through some long miles. This is a bike that has proved itself capable of 200-mile, one day routes in complete comfort.

A light weight Thomson Masterpiece seatpost does an excellent job holding up the slightly race and ride worn Specialized Toupe 143 saddle. Look pedals and various bits from Garmin can be seen on the frame as well as reliable Bontrager bottle cages which have proved able to hold full large bottles over rough surfaces.

All in all, this is a well-used beast. The photos show it after a speedy local 70 mile loop. While neither a super light race machine, or touring steed, it is an immensely practical cycle and one which serves as an excellent year round test mule. It is certainly a bicycle which keeps our feet on the ground, in between the pleasure of the high end machines which arrive at RCUK Towers.

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