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Winter bike saga – Part 1

Firstly… this is a bit of a retrospective… I shoulkd have posted this back in early December 2014, but what with this and that the Mombee Posts went awry… so here’s my attempt to catch-up, I trust no-one minds too much.

As we headed into the winter I was getting nervous… I was really concerned about running the Sempre through the cold and rain.

I had overcome that early dread of wanting to avoid my Italian beauty getting cold, wet and muddy, and I’m now happy to spend a fair bit of time washing the muck off of the bike. But what really worried me was the risk of dropping the bike down a wet and/or icy and scuffing it. I know that it’s an occupational risk of all-year cycling, but it would be a disaster if the frame took a bad hit… not quite so bad if it was just a brake lever or chainset that got scuffed, but not the frame… or my Selle Italia Giro D’Italia saddle… or the bar tape, as that’s always so tricky to replace… or those Fulcrum Quattro wheels? You get the picture?

Getting a second bike opened up no end of options, so let’s just try and keep it simple:

A cyclocross bike would have been great for the winter and I’d love to try disc brakes… and I’m pretty sure that I could snatch a few KOMs on the local trails on a fast 700c cyclocrosser. But heading in December a ‘cross bike seemed like quite a bit of money again, with a decent bike (like Cannondale’s CAADX 105, which is lovely) coming in at a £1000.

So I asked myself how many long rides am I really likely to do in the winter? In all fairness, if it’s a howling gale blowing the rain horizontal then any plans for a four hour tour to Chepstow and back are going to get put on hold. But if the sun’s shining and the roads aren’t icy, then I was hoping to be getting the Sempre out for a winter blast. So in reality I was only really going to be looking at short blasts somewhere between one and two hours, probably including a café stop.

I was also working on the assumption that the weather’s absolutely foul and/or it turned into a new ice age, then it’d be mountain bike territory anyway… there’s nothing like a mountain bike in the snow.

So would I get away a single-speed as my winter bike? It’s simple, I probably wouldn’t notice the lack of gears too much and if I did then the harder work would probably be good for me.

So that’s where we stood at the start of December, the winter bike was going to be a fixie and the search began. I’m never one to settle for the mainstream option so, while the On-One Pompino and Spesh Langster were out for starters, the Fuji Track bike (℅ Evans Cycles at £325) was ideal. The hitch came when I spotted a Lemond Fillmore fixie on ebay – everything looked fine, it was a much-loved bike, and the Fillmore is one of those much covetted niche bikes that goes unoticed by most people. So I bought myself a secondhand Lemond Fillmore for the princely sum of £188 – allowing for some new bar-tape and a chain, it was around £200… job done I thought… and then it all went horribly wrong.

Winter bike saga – Part 2” will follow shortly and outlines why you should be very very careful when buying bikes remotely, it’s a fascinating tale, and will also explain how I went full circle ending up with a ‘cross bike.

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