I generally have a pretty monogamous relationship with Devastator, my Stumpjumper. He’s confidence inspiring, fun to ride, and lovely to look at. But sometimes, I get curious about other bikes, so it’s great when demo day season kicks in.
Sadly I missed the Specialized demo day this year, but I hit the Leisure Lakes one the following week. It was a glorious orgy of bikes!
I attended last year’s Leisure Lakes demo day as I was helping to man the Chase Trails tent. I was also five months pregnant, so restricted myself to a Haibike Sduro ebike. This year I started off the same, only a slightly smaller Sduro (35cm instead of 40cm). It made for a more comfortable ride, but the smaller Haibikes are only available with the Yamaha motors, due to the battery – the Yamaha’s slide out sideways, whereas the Bosch lift up – and there’s not enough room in the frame for that.
Not that the Yamaha motor is a problem – I avoided the demo loop that took in the last few sections of Follow the Dog, due to fear and cowardice, instead heading down the blue. I hoped to do the short blue, and hoped I didn’t run too much over the allocated 30 minutes. 20 minutes later I was returning the bike with a big grin on my face, having cackled merrily all the way up a hill.
Bizarrely, I probably get more out of breath uphill on an ebike than on a regular bike – on the latter, I have to go into an easy gear and spin up hills, due to my substandard knee cartilage and lack of ligaments. It’s a big strain on the legs, but not so much cardio wise. On an ebike, I’m pedalling like the clappers and guffawing as I fly uphill. Lovely stuff!
Second bike was a bit off an odd choice – a small Orange P7. There’s something lovely about a nice, simple hardtail (Mr Toast has a gorgeous SIngular Swift). As I rode out with Chase Trails’ trail builder and noted Apple fanboy Will, it became fairly obvious that ‘small’ in Orange wasn’t quite small enough.
Again avoiding the demo loop, we rode to the start of Section 12, which marked my first attempt at riding any of FtD for over a year. The P7 felt a bit skittish and unwieldy, but that was down to the too small, rubbish rider. I literally stopped on a descent that has no drops and is a straight line (and is in no way off piste, ahem) because I panicked over what might happen. Boooo!
Third bike was a Specialized Turbo Levo, Spesh’s full susser ebike. Despite my better judgement, I ended up on the women’s ride, which was going around Follow the Dog. So, after being off FtD for well over a year, there I was, on an unfamiliar bike, in a group ride (so putting myself under loads of pressure).
It wasn’t a complete disaster, but I was very, very nervy, and massively struggled with… corners. Downhill switchbacks, uphill ones – I’m normally pretty bad with them, but that day… yeesh. I did also nearly come a cropper just before the Rollers, when I took the ‘easy’ side of the rock feature, over cooked slightly, headed towards the drainage ditch, hit a stump, but miraculously managed to correct myself. My heart was in my throat, but I was quite pleased at my save.
I did Twist & Shout, hovering at the back. However, I was painfully conscious that I was a) on the only small Turbo Levo they had to demo, and b) holding everyone up. So I bid the ladies farewell, and headed back to Tackeroo. I was alternating between frustration and satisfaction – I felt that I’d embarrassed myself a bit, and recognised that I’ve got my work cut out to return to my previous level, but at the same time, I’d got back on the red route, ridden Tackeroo, etc.
My cunning plan was to next demo a Cube ebike. However, the small was out. Did I want to demo a standard bike? Sure, why not. So I demoed a 13.5″ Cube Stereo, and it was actually rather lovely.
Emboldened by my earlier efforts, I took the Cube to a different part of the Dog, and did the Bomb Hole. And you know what? I actually did it in a half decent time (for me). I’m guessing it was because the Cube was a good size for me, very nimble, and more like what I’m used to.
So, overall musings – Orange P7 was a bit useless for me as it was too big. The two ebikes were really good fun, and it was interesting to see the difference in the motorised assistance. The Specialized felt like it kicked on the first pedal stroke, giving you instant zoomy fun, whereas the Haibike felt like it took a few pedal strokes to kick in, a bit more subtle. On climbs, however, the Haibike felt like it gave quite a bit more assistance – however, that could have been because I’d been riding for a while and was possibly a bit knackered by the time I was taking the Levo uphill! Either way, I’d definitely love an ebike for exploring.
For trail centre riding though, I definitely felt more comfortable on a normal full susser – which is fortunate, as I have an excellent one in my Stumpy!