Last weekend I visited Strada Cycles in Bristol to look at their bikes. I already enjoy walking around hardware shops and checking out the tools and materials, smelling the freshly sawn timber and inspecting the new gadgets and gizmos. Bike shops have now entered this realm and I can spend good amounts of time looking at bikes, squishing saddles and generally poking around.
Last Saturday I had a mission – to find a new bike. A proper racing bike. The guys in the shop were really helpful and we inspected and talked about lots of their potentially suitable bikes until we arrived at the Merkx EMX-3. It was a bit over my budget (of course!) but this week they arranged for the Merkx Bikes rep to deliver a demo bike to the shop for me to test ride. And today was the day of my ride.
The bike is beautiful. And an animal. A beautiful animal. I took it out for over an hour and climbed 500 metres of local climbs at an average speed of 18.5mph. Which for me, and especially on such a hilly route, is very fast. Much faster than I’ve ever ridden before. I’d strapped my Garmin onto the demo bike to allow me to gauge my pace and I set personal bests on all my climbs. This was the beautiful part.
The animal part was that I was completely unable to take it easy on the bike. Halfway up one climb I was beginning to suffer quite badly. Before I knew what I was doing I was up and out of the saddle thrashing it even harder. I actually exclaimed “Oh f**k!” as if Eddy Merkx himself had been there shouting at me to man-up and climb harder, and I was left with no choice but to comply.
I am also slightly embarrassed to say that I actually threw up a little bit at the top of Belmont Hill. I had to stop and rinse my mouth out. The bike is an animal!
Back at the shop I was presented with two options.
A) The bike I had ridden – white paint job, Campag Athena groupset, Fulcrum Racing 5 wheels, and various other blingy bits of seat post and stem plus “free” shoes and pedals.
B) The red bike – same frame but different paint job, Campag Centaur groupset (one below Athena), Fulcrum Racing 7 wheels (slightly inferior) and slightly less blingy bits of seat post and stem, and no freebies, but for £400 less.
I’m sleeping on it tonight. The red bike was already a little more than I’d wanted to spend so the white bike is obviously a little bit more than a little bit more than I’d wanted to spend! But the red bike but isn’t such a good deal with all the inferior equipment. Either way I think it’ll be a beautiful animal to enjoy for some years to come. Sweet dreams!