Today we’re going on a journey of cycling irrationality and a case study in my taking a massive morning dump on my own advice. At some point recently I have said, and I think even typed something like this:
“If you’re in the market for a new road bike, you’re absolutely better off waiting at least 9-12 months (i.e mid 2017) and holding on to what you have, then jump in on the third generation Electronic group sets matched to disc brakes that are more sorted and approved for racing…”
I’m paraphrasing there, but I have actually said that shit to others. I even recently went as far as taking a gasoline fuelled golden shower on the Road Bike market, raving on about how difficult and uninspiring it was. Given all this, there is clearly NO way I was even considering buying a new road bike right?
This is very important context for the cuntiness that is to come ahead. Grab a glazed sugar coated muffin, we’re about to go full road retard.
Whilst it may seem that this story starts with a German, it actually all kicked off with a Swiss Miss on a cold winter’s day. The BMC SLR01 to be exact:
No, it wasn’t on one of those nights in Zurich where you wake up the next day and can’t work out if thats the taste of chocolate or ass on your tongue… Instead, it was a good hard thrashing up the Aka’s in NZ on a random mid-winter mission.
I set out on this borrowed steed, intrigued as to what it would be like and convinced that I wouldn’t be able to even pedal its 53/39 chainset on 172.5 length cranks. My inner road nerd/cunt of course likes to run the 50/34 compact combo on 175mm cranks. WTF you shriek… And yes, I’m not 6 foot tall either.
Looooong story short, I danced up the Aka’s in a state of disbelief and bewilderment as to how easy it felt. Yes, a lot of that was due to the superb SLR01 Chassis and rabid Enve 3.4 Carbon Clinchers, but I chose to ignore those obvious examples of excellence and instead came to a simple, but weird as fuck conclusion:
I needed 170mm cranks on my road bike
But I needed some scientific validation of this crazy though… It came along soon after when I pulled up at some lights and a homeless dude who was running a head for meth exchange programme stopped his work mid blow to provide me with the feedback of “Cunt, your cranks are way too long“.
I spent the rest of the ride slowly riding past mirror window shops to admire my semi PRO form and confirm if Monsieur Homeless was indeed correct. And fuck, he was… It was time to lock this in as a fully blown champagne crisis.
I then used the internet in one of its most powerful ways: by finding articles that validated my newly acquired delusional state. The Internet was more than happy to indulge my crank length anxiety…
By this stage I should have done what most normal people would do which is to either A) Ignore the crazy voices in my head and get on with riding FFS or B) Buy/Borrow some cheap 170mm cranks to see if there really was a difference before consumption cuming in my Rapha shorts.
Or, alternatively, I could have moved to Syria and got some real life problems to deal with. I decided to do something even more expensive than that – And here is the result of the great Dirty unravelling and logic explosion:
Yes, that would be the Focus Izalco Max Disc – Also known as the long way round to getting shorter cranks. Its customised to fuck of course because I’m allergic to just buying a bike and riding it like a normal person, but more on that below, first let’s delve into some carbon porn and all its related juice.
Rather than me giving you the low down on this bike, I thought it best to pass this honour over to Jorge the German, I’m not sure if this is a marketing joke or someone thought it was genuinely a good idea, but I give them kudos for getting a dude who looks like he’s spent a week without sleep in a German sex club to give the run down on the flagship model, this is what we need more of, especially with that homemade porn vid feel to the shoot:
If that accent doesn’t make you want to buy one, then fall back on my main excuses: The colour scheme is DN compliant and the cunt was cheap. Bear that in mind, as there is probably a reason for the last part. But that aside, in person it looks fucking good, especially once you get rid of that gravel bike seat.
Given how fucked up and absurd this head explosion purchase all is – Yes, I could have got a Santa Cruz Hightower and Stigmata instead, this is going to need two posts. So, consider this a first Dirty look and mini Rantview so to speak.
I’m going to make you read all the nice & fuzzy stuff first before we tuck into a sweet dessert of hating on shit. So roll tape on the rad aspects to this random project first:
Wheelworks Maker 35 Disc Wheels
First up in the delicious and sensational stakes, are these hot little numbers… Drool inducing custom wheels all the way from the artisanal as fuck Lyall Bay Wheel studio of Wheelworks in New Zealand, the Maker 35 Disc wheels:
Disc specific 35mm carbon rim, laced to DT 350 hubs by an artisanal craftsman who more than likely does a shit load more riding miles in a year than you can even dream about. This is my second set of Wheelworks wheels, which seems to be my 2016 addiction. However it will be the first time I get to use a set in anger (my default setting), given there is still epic amount of fucking about trying to get a Hightower and/or Tallboy 3 up and running.
Awesome build aside, perhaps the clincher (pun sort of intended) is the chance to give your inner narcissist a reach around with the custom graphics…
Dura Ace x Praxis heaven
If you’re out there right now hating life in the Western World because your Bottom Bracket is determined to ruin you, then stop what you’re doing, finger banging included and get busy ordering a Praxis ceramic BB NOW for your pressfit cuntwagon.
Its so smooth and silent you’ll actually start to think pressfit is a good idea. Mated to the Dura Ace cranks and Groupset and suddenly life starts to make sense. I am trying my best here to suppress my shame for not riding Campagnolo on the new machine, but more on that later.
Its the Santa Cruz of Road bikes
Well, sort of… More like the weird German step brother to be fair. Yes, same family, but clearly not quite as rad as a Hightower, Nomad or a Stigmata. This bike shares the same parent of Pon Holdings, which when you’re as sycophantic as me, that’s more than enough of an excuse to double down on a Focus.
Sure, the Dutch ownership means your bike is mildly depressed 30% of the time, but there’s something comforting by keeping all that weirdness in the family so to speak.
Cunts love it
Cycling weekly rated this thing the “Bike of the year”… Oh wait, sorry! I mean best disc brake road bike of the year 2016, beating out a Giant… Tough crowd.
When you’re a website that reviews bikes its essential to create as many categories as possible for awards, thus allowing you to wank off as many bike companies as your wrist strength will allow for.
This in turn garners you more invites to product launches, where you then exhibit the usual human bias after someone has flown you to the French Alps/Spanish coast/Anywhere in Italy to rim the product managers in amongst doing a faux-review that just so happens to be glowing more than chernobyl semen. Harsh? But fair… The industry is relatively small and personality driven, so if you piss in the pool, or worse, a code brown, then you won’t be invited to the next BBQ.
Bike Radar and Cycling plus also queued up at the coffee table to fellate the turd as well… It seemed that a quick Google session turned up much frothing for the Izalco Max Disc. Tune in below as I start to invalidate these “unbiased cycling media endorsements” using something called ‘authenticity’.
DN Global Collective endorsed
I tapped into the seemingly unlimited power of the DN Global Collective and found not 1, but 2 bad motherfuckers who had gone from Cannondale Evo’s to Focus Izalco Max rigs. Granted, not the disc version* of course, but their commentary was gushingly positive about the move.
And I’m not talking about low end cunts either, I’m referring to a couple of hard pipe hitting whiggers who wouldn’t even know what a Mountain Bike is. These two Road brothers outlined to me that the Focus was able to outclass the Evo across the board, bold claims yes, but given they were club members inside the circle of trust, it was a big tick. Make room on the Bandwagon boys!
*turns out this is a key point…
Right, you’ve been patient and sat quietly through the small talk and niceties, so thank you for that. Now its time to get nasty… Or authentic, depending on your perspective. Yes, I have a stack of First World Problems to unleash on this new bike buzz and kill it until it’s dead.
FWP #1 – The Weight
In beating off on-line about this bike, Bike Radar described it as an “Ultra light disc-equipped race machine“. Yeah… Ok, well, I guess if I was 92kg’s like the ‘test rider’ I would consider it to be ‘Ultra light’, but let’s be blunt here for a moment: The cunt is fat (The Bike, not the Bike Radar Tester… Well…)
I’m talking post tour winning Jan Ullrich fat, where after wiping his balls across Mr 60%’s face in 1997 he went on a strudel & cream rampage the likes a binge eating Scot couldn’t even hope to replicate.
Yes, we all know that currently Disc braked road bikes weigh a little bit more. This example was advertised widely as tipping the park tools scales at 7.4kg. Ok, so some may consider that to be ‘good’, but when you’re the owner of an Evo, you look at that number and think: PIG.
But, I had a cunning plan, which as it turns out became a cunted plan. Yes, I decided to spend several thousands of dollars on reducing weight before taking delivery through these methods:
- Lighter wheels
- Lighter tubes (WTF)
- Lighter Cassette
- Lighter crank
- Lighter handlebar
- Some other shit I can’t remember
Using a thing called ‘Maths’, it was a fucking slam dunk this MotherFUCK was going to come in well under 7.4kg’s. My smugness was making The Donald even look low key. So, you can imagine on debut my utter screaming Roadie horror to see this flash up at anal retentive weigh in time:
I was reeling and my 6.4kg Evo was laughing… I can only assume that when Focus weighed their one that they were so busy being rimmed by Bike Websites, that they forgot to install or even mention the absence of any of the following parts:
- Bottle cages or even bolts
- Garmin mount
- Probably set up tubeless… Or without tires
- Bar tape – Just grip that carbon tight
- Cable outers?
- No BB perhaps? Chainless as Gwin in Austria?
Quite possibly they also weighed the 50cm sized bike. Its like doing a mail order bride based on the photos where you expect Kate Upton to arrive on the flight from Kiev and instead Miss Piggy is waiting for… Too late to send it back and get it down to your dream weight seems rather painful and expensive.
FWP #2 – I cunted it up
Yeah… So, I did that thing where you buy “Off the shelf” and then fuck about with it so much that ultimately it looks nothing like the original package and idea.
Much like a Bank buying software, I like to choose the one that makes some sort of sense, then piss money down the drain changing everything until no one recognises it any more. The faffing around outlined in FWP 1 was so epic in the end it became more of a chore than an exciting experience… Mainly thanks to Toll couriers you fucking clowns.
As the costs and stress of logistics and timing started to team up, my new bike buzz got more and more finger banged… And that was before Shimano got involved.
FWP #3 – Horrendous timing
The day of delivery, yes, the actual day…. This happened:
Yeah, that’s right… I decide to finally jump on the “New Dura Ace” and before I can even take in that new DA smell, it gets covered in obsolescence shit. Ignoring the fact the new stuff looks like STX Mountain Biking gear, those new Dura Ace specific disc hoods with their reduced profile and weight were burning my eyeballs out of my skull. Which was handy, as it left ample openings for the new lighter disc brakes to skull fuck me as a follow up.
I screamed “cunt” a lot… New bike buzz was taking a hammering before a wheel had been turned.
FWP #4 – Unintended consequences
It didn’t occur to me during my acquisition fever that we may end up with some compatibility faffing and drama on account of moving to Discs and Thru axles. Here are the things you won’t have thought about too much:
- How the fuck do you get the wheels to stay in place in your eye wateringly expensive Italian bike case? Which of course is drilled for traditional QR’s
- Watch as your equally ball shrivelling expensive Wahoo indoor trainer tells your new bike to fuck off (I shall elaborate in part 2 more). Focus then e mailed me back telling me to tell the Wahoo to fuck off back. Splendid
- Quick release car roof rack set up? Better get shopping!
Ok, so I only really give a fuck about the first point, but given I was on a rampage, I pretended like I was actually using my Wahoo and double pretended I had a car to increase my hating to DEFCON 1 levels.
FWP #5 – Its the Vibe
But wait, we haven’t even really got started yet. There are two things that freak you out when buying a Disc Road bike:
- Will it be too heavy? Check
- Will the discs drag or be problematic? Well… yeah… Check:
To say that the opening rides were underwhelming would be like saying only cockbags vote for the Donald, rather an understatement. I’m not sure if I had expectations that were unrealistic and yes, there is always a shake down and settling in period with a new bike, so I can be accused of being hasty.
But, as context, this was my first fully new road bike in 8 or 9 years and mainly I think this was my initial problem as the shakedown k’s ticked away:
It didn’t feel transformational
Ok, so it was slightly tighter and fresher than the Black Inc Evo, but it not like I got out of a Audi and into a Ferrari shall we say? I kept waiting for it to assault my senses and blow my mind to pieces so that it dribbled out my ears and I could have a legitimate excuse to never have to read a PowerPoint preso ever again.
But that didn’t happen. Multiple brakes bleeds aside to stop constant rotor rub, I suddenly started to realise I had brought a bike that needed to be somewhere that had actual downhills to utilise the massive braking power… Which then occured to me to be ironic given that to maximise on that benefit, you have to get the pig to the top first. It was feeling slightly dull.
There was also a distinct lack of passion. Not everyone needs that aspect when buying a new bike of course, many of us see them as mere tools to hurt ourselves and others relentlessly and that they should be as functional as possible. But I still think these machines should engender some form of feeling and passion, they should incite you to ride them and escape to remote locations where you both unleash your best in order to fuel the frothing. It was feeling more “Meh” than “Moooore!”
I won’t work through every angle in part 1, the wheels are amazing and to be fair its incredibly smooth to ride and that new/old Dura Ace is crispy and light, but I was left feeling hollow and with the dreaded buyers remorse like I had brought a Specialized. Did I even need a new road bike?!
I would even wake up at 2am sitting bolt upright in an equipment panic wondering what I could do and being bombarded with abusive messages from Das Wolf all the way from the Big Apple telling me to “Strip that cunt and build up a Stigmata with the parts“… A valid proposition.
Part of the problem has been the fit and sizing. The bar drop is fucking massive compared to what I’m used to, and this is with me sailing into epic spacer cunt territory under the stem. Yes, its as PRO as fuck to be slammed, but the geo on this bike just reminds me how un-PRO I have become.
As I set out trying to redeem my German load shooting, Toby from Bike Fit Asia was deployed to take to Mein Pig with a pair of pliers and a torque wrench as he set about alleviating cuntery. He even managed to get it into a trainer, even if we did swear more than a Tarantino movie getting it sorted:
Thanks to Toby’s toil and changes (Seat swap, 100mm stem, a slew of position adjustments), plus throwing a third handlebar at the situation and we finally got the baseline sorted out.
In summary, its a bit like German Software then – Seemed like a semi-good idea, was a total cunt to set up, required lots of remediation work and then just turned out to be expensive and underwhelming. The only thing for it was to try and ride my way out of the new bike weirdness.
So then, 830km’s later, what’s the low down? Well, like some form of foot fungus last seen in Stalingrad, its growing on me. I’m going to save a lot of the details until Part 2 of this Rantview, but suffice to say that once sorted, the Shimano discs are phenomenal, but more on that later.
Right now I am back to working out how to stuff Herr Piggy in a bike box. Yes, its about to be rolled out on its first international mission deployment, where it will get put through its paces on some fucking serious terrain… And its fate will be decided once and for all.
To finish on a bright note: The 170mm cranks are awesome.
Stay tuned for the sequel