New Dave Hinde L'Etape Road Bike

Well here it is my new Dave Hinde L'Etape Road Bike.

For the past 2 and a half years I've been riding a Dave Hinde L'Etape. It was my first ever road bike (previous to that I was messing about on a Carrera Kraken mountain bike which I even completed the Manchester to Blackpool on) and after finding my feet (for want of a better word) on the road, I decided to go for a road bike.

Living in Northwich I decided to give the local bike shop a try. Dave Hinde is a specialist bike shop dealing in bespoke road bikes. At the time I was still getting my head around everything and Dave Hinde offered me a lot of good advice and guidance. I went for the entry level L'Etape with a Tiagra groupset which served me well. I upgraded to Mavic Aksium wheels a year ago which really made an all round difference.

The Frame

Now 3 years on I was looking for an upgrade. My frame was looking a bit battered and the Tiagra, although dependable, was heavy and could be clunky to work with. I considered a carbon frame however after speaking to Dave he said that it wouldn't be worth looking at it at my level. A lot of low price carbon bikes have a poor quality carbon weave which means under stress, especially climbing, the frame is all over the place. Aluminum is a lot stiffer and dependable.

Even though it is an entry frame, I can certainly concour from my experience with the L'Etape, that it is incredibly stiff. Every pedal stroke runs through it and goes out the back wheel. I remember the Manchester 100 and the bike was just flying past everyone. Although not as sexy as many carbon frames out there, it does have a gorgeous classic look about it.

I spoke to Dave about a re-spray however he said that for the money, I would be better going for a new L'Etape frame. The Dave Hinde Carbone frame albeit gorgeous, and the top of the range aluminium D7.9, were totally out of my price range, but I had no quarms, the L'Etape had served me very well. The L'Etape is made from Columbus Zonal Aluminum weighing in at around 1200g.

The Groupset

I was originally looking at upgrading to a 105, the next step up from Tiagra, however after some sums, including trading in my old Tiagra L'Etape, Jim Edwards at Dave Hinde was able to build me a L'Etape with a full Ultegra 6700 groupset, carrying across my old Mavic wheels. Ace!

I decided to keep with a compact chainset (50T-34T) for the time being to get me up the hills. Hopefully now with a 10 speed it will give me more scope on the flat and descent. I decided to go with a 11-28 cassette for more range.

The Ultegra 6700 is the younger brother to top of the range Dura-Ace and shares many features. A "neat" feature is that all wiring is hidden away and the carbon gear levers have a nice feel, the hoods themselves are wider and feel sturdier compared to the Tiagra.

Getting Fitted & First Impressions

The whole experience was excellent, it took a good hour of personal service. Dave Hinde measured me up on the fitting bike upstairs. I had issues that on my previous L'Etape that, although not a major issue, I was stretching when riding on the hoods. Dave recommended a 54" frame and a 11" reach.

Jim walked me through the options and basically I've got a brand new L'Etape frame with Ultegra groupset, new Selle Italia saddle, new Pro-Lite bars and 2010 Ambrosio forks. Normally the bike would come with Pro-Lite forks however they were out of stock.

The bike was ready the following weekend. Dave and Jim were on hand to make sure everything was ok. They put me on the bike and Dave made sure the fit was right with the saddle.

On first impressions the bike is incredibly light, it is surprising just how much lighter the Ultegra groupset is. The gears click through with good assurance and the new bars are "wide" giving a good solid stance. The frame dependable as always and the new standard paint job gives it a nice fresh edge. The brakes are also ultra responsive and I feel better now I've had the rear brake transfered to the right.

I'll keep you updated on how I'm getting on.

If you're thinking of getting a new bike it is definitely worth a visit to Dave Hinde's. Also make sure you check out Phil Jones' blog and follow his journey to a new bike.

Getting Back In The Rhythm

It is the weather that Saturday brought us that makes you appreciate being alive healthy and well. Although cold, the clear blue sky and hazy sunshine made everything cosy, a welcome break from the dingy winter days. I've said many a time on here that I am very fortunate to live surrounded by stunning Cheshire countryside; Friday and Saturday it was simply glorious.

I am also very fortunate that as part of new employee incentives work gave me my birthday off as an extra days holiday. Luckily this meant an extended weekend, even better the weather was fantastic.

Due to the poor January weather, weekend rides have been restricted. Due to work being busy at work, together with poor January motivation, turbo sessions have been minimal too. I've noticed that my technique has suffered because of this, more like plodding and stabbing on the pedals in big gears rather than smoothy swiping round.

On Friday, I managed a decent 2 hour non-stop session (including arriving at Tatton Park just as the gates were opening, riding through the middle of the estate and having it all to myself was just breathtaking), Saturday an hour and a half and Sunday an hour.

By the end of Friday's session I had got my rhythm back, smoothly pedalling at a high RPM. I'm still way off the fitness I had built up last summer but I'm getting there. A good couple of weeks of rides, together with some more hills and I'll be on my way.

I'm also getting leaner and I'm not eating heavily before or during rides. I want to get my body used to feeding off the energy already in there than depend on being fed constantly.

iPhone Has Arrived

Don't worry, this isn't turning into yet another Apple love up blog, but I have to tell you that my iPhone has arrived. And for those of you out there still considering: please do believe the hype. It is brilliant.

It was a close run call, I was considering the iPhone alongside the Blackberry and HTC Hero. A recent tweet saw over 40 people reply that I was bonkers/stupid/idiotic to even suggest thinking of anything else but an iPhone.

I've spoken in length to one of my best mates Tom Golden about the iPhone, and wondered what all the fuss was about. I could understand Tom as he is a top designer, much like the boys at One, they live their lives on Apple machinery and sometimes it can get a bit heavy on the Apple love. It was only when his wife Emma started harping on about it that I knew something was going on (she doesn't even have a Facebook account for gods sake!).

I now know why Tom and the Apple gang go on about iPhones and iMacs so much. The design, the functionality, the way something drags, moves, actions on the screen is just sublime. The user experience is second to none.

All the social media that I'm involved with comes alive and makes even more sense with an iPhone, with Twitter and Facebook coming a live through push notification. The applications are excellent, very nifty and useful if you use the right ones.

It's easy to use too, I was worried it might be a bit sticky but typing is better than I thought, especially on landscape.

I'm only one day in and I can already see how this iPhone will change my life...well no not change my life...not as strong as that, but aid me in my daily routine. I feel bad that I've not been part of this earlier, mainly due to being caught up in a contract, but in a social media sense, everything is coming to life, making my day that little bit easier.

I urge anyone upgrading, considering, thinking or dreaming to get one. You won't regret it.

Cheers Tom!

iPad - I like it.

So the world's worst kept secret finally was confirmed last week. Apple are launching a tablet or the "iPad".

I was quite surprised at the amount of negative feedback towards the iPad, most of it alligned at the fact that "well I've already got an iPhone and a laptop why do I need an iPad".

I think the question that needs to be asked is "why do I need a laptop"?

I can see where Apple are going with this and to be honest I'm interested in it. Notebooks or laptops are quite clunky things, however the tablet is thinner and sexier. I'm not a designer, I'm not a gamer, I'm not making movies - I don't need power. If I'm on the move I can type on the screen and then back at the office put it into a docking bay, use it as a screen and use an external keyboard.

I'm surprised at how people got caught up in it 'just' being a competitor to the Kindle. It will be more than that but yes it will be a nice big screen to stream newspapers, magazines or read books on to. Notice I said 'stream'. The iPad will change how we read media, no longer will a newspaper have the same headline for 24 hours, it can change throughout the day. News stories can be uploaded continuously, pictures will be movies.

The iPad will change how we view the internet, no longer will we be scrolling around and clicking with a mouse. We will be emotive, no longer huddled around a laptop on a 2 inch touchpad. We will be gliding content around on screen, swiping website content around and with this websites will change to be an even bigger experience for the visitor such as this example from Ikea.

I believe the iPad will be the death of the notebook, then following that the "tablet" genre as a whole will kill off the computer, and by that I mean the big bulky thing sitting under your desk. You see with Cloud Computing, there won't be the need for a processor, memory and graphics card. All you will need is a screen, keyboard and mouse - the processing power will come from above (or a server farm in a discreet location somewhere in America). You could running a mega powerful applications on your existing set up, thus you could run powerful applications from a tablet.

Cloud Computing is the future and it is coming. In the next few years we won't buy DVD's or games, we'll just download movies instantly like we do with music now. I imagine the way we watch television may change too, we won't have schedules just simply a list of programmes available to stream instantly.

Of course, this is just my opinion, I may be totally down the wrong track but I'd put good money on that it does.