Demo Days

Booked my demo bikes for the Bike Radar Demo Day next month!  Currently my schedule looks like this:

12.30: Lapierre Zesty 514L

13.15: Planning on an on-the-day booking of a Trek Fuel 8 WSD.  EVEN THOUGH IT’S BROWN!

14.45: Santa Cruz Juliana

15.15:  Yeti 575

Really looking forward to it, want to get into the woods sooner though, re-familiarise myself with the trail.  I’m also looking forward to what the different bikes have to offer, and whether I’ll be any more impressed than I was with the ones I tried last year.

In other news, Mr Toast’s head was turned by a heavily discounted GT Zaskar frame.  They were going fast on Wiggle, but he was waiting for some money to come in from  eBay.  Unfortunately, we’ve been in this situation before, and it normally involves the bike selling just before Mr Toast can get to it, and me having to listen to years of his mourning ‘the one that got away’.  So, I bit the bullet and bought it myself on my credit card, and am now the proud owner of an extra large carbon frame!

I was tempted to keep my purchase a secret, but after recieving a miserable MSN message from Mr Toast, saying that the last frame had gone (he’d had the page open and had been hitting refresh every few minutes), I put him out of his misery.  He was needless to say quite pleased that he now owns a) a carbon bike, andb) a Zaskar, the bike he longed for in his youth. Bless.

Incidentally, carbon frames are wrong.  They don’t weigh anything, and sound like plastic when you tap them.  Creepy!

Nobody expects a good comeback from the Spanish Inquisition

Well, you’ve got to hand it to Trek, they keep their eyes open.  Only a couple of days after my previous (slightly ranty) post, they posted a response.  You’ve got to give ’em credit for addressing people’s concerns, and for taking the time to post on a tiny blog!

Initially, although I was impressed that they bothered to respond, I wasn’t overly impressed with the reasoning.  Neither were some of the posters on the Bike Radar forum,  with Supersonic in particular putting TrekChris through her paces.  Chris, however, rose to the challenge, and answered all the questions thrown at her.

Apparently, this is the first year that the high-end Fuels have had the same geometry, and the change was made because the higher-end riders preferred it that way – hence why the WSD models in the lower end of the range still have the different geometry.  To compensate for those who’d still prefer a shorter top tube, there are additional sizes in between the standard bloke’s sizes.

And that makes sense, really – there’s no point in making a product one way if the majority of the target audience wants it another.  So, kudos to Trek for taking the time to explain the research behind certain decisions.  You could argue that the marketing blurb about WSD on their sites is still a little misleading (especially on the US site, which makes a bit more of a song and dance about geometry).  But then again, given that they have over thirty-odd WSD models that do have differing geometry from the standard bikes, and three that don’t…well, it’s just being picky, really.

Now, if Trek could explain the market research that led them to believe that brown was  a good colour for a bike…

And you too, Specialized.   And you, Kona.

I know we ladies have risen up against overwhelmingly pink bikes in recent years…but brown?

Spanish Inquisition, part II

That's me, that is

Well, all credit to Trek, they responded to my email very promptly:

It’s good to see you’re looking at our EX range, they really are a fantastic bike.

You are correct, the EX8 & EX8 WSD have the same geometry.  The WSD isn’t just about the geometry. it also considers things like the brakes, grips and saddles (all of which are more suitable for a women on the EX8). As for the geometry, I would always strongly recommend going into a store and getting properly sized for the bike you want.  

I hope you get the bike you’re looking for.”

So there you have it.  The Trek Fuel WSD is exactly the same as the regular one, but with smaller rotors, slimmer grips and a women’s saddle.  Which, as I’ve ranted on the Bike Radar forum, is a bit cheeky given that the marketing blurb says:

“WSD Bikes are engineered specifically for women. Each bike puts you in a more natural riding position by redistributing weight more evenly between hips and hands. That means more comfort, better control and optimal power.”

Well, maybe I just misunderstood them.  Maybe I though that ‘redistributing weight more evenly between hips and hands’ was a bit of a tall order for the grips, saddle and rotors.  Maybe I somehow confused this with claims of differing geometry, possibly because my head is full of kittens and unicorns.

Or maybe  it’s because of stuff like this:

WSD Fit: A Geometry Lesson

A look at how Trek designs WSD bikes to optimally fit women.

    A WSD steering package with Bontrager FIT components provides improved control and confidence-inspiring handling for safer rides.
    A shorter top tube evenly redistributes weight between hips and hands to eliminate lower back pain and reduce neck and shoulder stress.
    A steeper seat tube balances weight over pedals to maximize efficiency and create exceptionally powerful pedal strokes.

It’s a shame, because their lower end WSD bikes do have differing geometry from their male counterparts.  Even the Fuel 5.5 has different geometry between the regular and WSD versions.  But their higher end full-sussers?  Forget about it.

I’m still going to try one out, as there’s nothing to say that I wouldn’t get on with the bloke’s geometry, assuming I can fit on the  smallest frame.  But it’s a shame that the illusion of choice put forward by the marketing department doesn’t quite match the reality.

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition

I’ve been pondering getting a Trek Fuel, mainly because I love my little Trek hardtail so much.  I tried a couple of Giants and Specializeds WSD bikes last year, and wasn’t really blown away, so I’m eager to try a Trek full-susser.

Unfortunately Mr Toast keeps mithering that the Treks this year are a bit overpriced.  He keeps suggesting that I should test blokes bikes…and pointed out the Fuel 8 actually has EXACTLY the same  geometry on both the women’s and bloke’s version, just a different paint job.  I checked the Trek site…and whaddya know, he’s right.  Not that I doubted him for a second…

I wondered if they’d made a botch up, and accidentally listed the same details, in the same way Scott’s website listed their entry level sussers as being the same weight as their top of the range carbon jobbie.

I checked the 4500 regular and WSD geometry listings, and those are different.  So, I’m sending a quick mail to Trek, asking them if it’s a mistake, or if their full sussers are, in fact the same for both his and hers.

And I’ve just realised I’ve written an entire post about bike geometry.  Shoot me now.

Going nowhere

No, I’m not dead.  Sadly, I’m still not zipping around the woods yet, either – the left knee is still decidedly wonky, and needs some strengthening.  Unfortunately, cold weather doesn’t do my joints any good, so there is only one solution…and it’s now sitting in our living room.

Yes, thanks to the Toast in-laws, we are now the proud owners of a very nice exercise bike.  Unlike the previous pile of crap I bought from Argos, this one is magnetic, the pedals actually turn (smoothly, and with decent floor clearance, if you can believe it!), and  it doesn’t feel like it’s going to fall over if you go hellbent for leather on it.  So, I’m hoping that I can use it to build up the muscles in my legs, strengthen my knees, and generally improve my fitness, so I can throw myself into proper biking when the sun eventually emerges.

I’m still looking to get a full-susser this year.  Apparently full-sussers are less jarring on the joints, so I need one for medicinal purposes.  It’s not so I can have an easier time of it and compensate for shoddy technique with extra travel.  No sir.

Got a few demo days coming up and marked on the calender for this year.  I’m not sure what to try.  My hobbit-like stature continues to infuriate me – I’m too small for the majority of ‘small’ bloke’s bikes, which severly limits the brands available to me, or to women-specific bikes.  And although I’ll confess, I tend to prefer the look of lady bikes, I resent having to pay more for a smaller frame and a prettier paint job – there’s just less choice, and less competition.