We’ve looked at some of the best value for money road bikes, great road cycling routes near London and why you may want a road bike. A couple of commenters have asked about what it is like to ride a road bike around London. As I’ve been testing the Trek Madone 3.1 this would be a good opportunity to give my initial thoughts on both the bike and owning one in London.
Trek Madone 3.1
Going from a £200 second hand hybrid bike to a £1300 Trek Madone 3.1 road bike was always going to be a huge leap. Fortunately, not in the difficulty of riding. Even a friend of mine who has not ridden a bike in 8 years was able to hop on the Trek Madone and ride without difficulties.
The main change is in the riding position. For someone going from the sit-up-and-beg position to get-your-head-down-and-ride it was always going to take a few rides to get used to the change. After riding with the Trek Madone I found myself missing the drop bars on my hybrid bike.
The Madone 3.1 uses the Tektro R540 calliper brake combined with the Shimano 105 STI levers. In practise this combination didn’t deliver as much braking power as I would have liked. Especially for riding around London. A place well known for cars swinging out of nowhere. However, an inexpensive upgrade to the stock pads is likely to make a big difference.
Whilst the Madone may struggle to come to a halt, it certainly doesn’t struggle to pickup speed. In a couple of unscientific tests around Regents Park I saw a jump in my average speed from 13.5 mph to just above 17 mph. In practise, riding this bike around central London, the difference is unlikely to be so dramatic due to all the stopping and starting. None the less, on longer rides such as from London to Brighton, this will make a huge difference to your time.
The speed boost can be attributed to a number of factors. The lightness of the bike means there is less weight to have to push around on your pedals, the riding position is optimised for speed and the higher-end wheels, combined with thin 23c tyres deliver better performance.
Overall, from my first few rides, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the Trek Madone 3.1. My full review will follow a few months from now.
The fear of locking up the Trek Madone and crossing my fingers that it will still be there when I return
The Trek Madone 3.1 is unbelievably fun to ride. It is speedy, comfortable and looks great. However, those three factors also make it highly expensive and highly desirable. In other words: Highly attractive to thieves.
Take for example a recent summers day spent in Battersea Park. After a while lounging around we decided to checkout the food festival. It was time to leave the bike unattended but locked to the railings. Needless to say, I was a nervous wreck.
To calm my nerves there are a couple of things I could do. I could get my bicycle insured and I could also purchase lockable components. However, the bike is on loan from Trek for less than 12 months so such expenditures seem unnecessary.
If I was riding to work and leaving my bike in a secure garage then I’d feel far more comfortable. But that’s not my reality – my bike goes everywhere with me around London. This beautiful, expensive road bike is therefore relegated to the occasional use, when I know it will be in my sight. Ultimately, this is what would put me off riding one around London all the time.
Also from road bike week: