With the new year almost upon us, and the prospect of several more months of dismal weather to come (remember the ‘Britain in drought’ wheeze?), we put the finishing touches to the RCUK winter bike build.
Here’s a closer look at the steed on which we’ll complete the majority of our miles until the weather improves (next August, if this year is a guide).
At its heart is the Kinesis TK3 frameset, one billed by designer, Dom Mason, as a four-seasons frame, equipped with mudguard eyelets and clearance for tyres up to 28mm, and so ideally suited to our task.
The frame is fashioned from 6000-series aluminium, equipped with a ‘power bulge’ (really) in the top and seat tubes to increase the real estate at junctions with the head tube and bottom bracket respectively. The Tracer fork is full carbon, with a 1.5 inch lower bearing, a further indication of stiffness at the front end, if previous experience is a guide.
The groupset is almost entirely Shimano 105: one we had stored in the RCUK parts bin from the summer’s Dunwich Dynamo expedition. At the upper end of the components you might use to spec a winter bike (Shimano’s excellent Tiagra group would, perhaps, have been more appropriate), the readiness to hand of our 105 components won the day.
We’ve deviated from 105 only at the brakes, and that’s because the group doesn’t include a long drop caliper. Sticking as closely as possible to our preference for matched components, we’ve fitted Shimano RS650 long drop calipers which have provided ample accommodation for our 25c tyres (more of which below) and the Portland Design Works anodized aluminium mudguards, arguably the winter bike’s most attractive accouterment, and ones that fitted with a bare minimum of fuss. Chapeau.
Steering duties are handled by a 40cm PRO LT compact handlebar (another holdover from the Dunwich Dynamo bike) and a 110mm Cinelli Vai handlebar stem: a budget offering from a reputable supplier, and so meeting the requirements of a considered winter bike.
The aluminium cockpit is countered by the presence of carbon in the seatpost and saddle: a necessity with an aluminium frame, in our opinion. The Easton EC90 post is a loan from RCUK’s Tech Ed, Tim O’Rourke, and the PRO Falcon saddle is one of the many items sent to RCUK Towers for test. The two birds, one stone scenario offered by its inclusion in the winter bike build project was too good to miss.
The rolling stock falls under a similar heading. At £300, Fulcrum Racing Quattros are at the pricier end of what you might choose to equip a bike intended for the rigours of winter, but not too far in excess of that evergreen winter selection: Mavic Open Pros on Ultegra hubs. A set of Mavic Aksium is heading our way, and may yet slot into the winter bike when testing of the Quattros is complete.
The wheels are shod with Panaracer RibMo 700 x 25c tyres, lightly treaded and with a puncture protection belt. Their no frills appearance positively bellows ‘robust’. We’re hoping so. The majority of their usage will be on rural roads: frequently potholed and occasionally stony.
Pedals are this correspondent’s trusty LOOK Keo Blades, a platform that travels from test bike to test bike: broad, positive, and seemingly impervious to wear.