Tricky-the-test-bike and I have become close friends over the last 2 months and, because Tricky is easily identifiable it has been hard for me to go anywhere with any sense of privacy as everyone recognises Tricky and therefore knows that I will be in the vicinity. Here is Tricky, hanging out outside my flat on bin day:
As a commuting bike, I have been really impressed with Tricky. He has handled all types of surface really well and feels reliable and sturdy. Over the past 7 weeks, I estimate that Tricky and I have done about 200km of commuting and I can honestly say that he is the comfiest bike I have ever ridden. I don’t feel the weight of the panniers on the back, he copes well with mud, ice, rain, gravel, sand, tarmac and anything else thrown at him and, if this kind of thing bothers you, I think he’s quite stylish too. There’s plenty of space on the handle bars for lights, bells, boxes etc and the mud guards are fantastic. My cycling jacket, which usually needs to go in the wash once a week, has not needed to be washed once since I’ve been using Tricky.
As well, as going to work, Tricky has been down to the European Parliament a few times because that’s where I have my music rehearsals. There’s a pretty niche market for people who cycle with a French Horn on their back (!) but Tricky makes it really easy and comfortable. Usually it gives me bad back ache to cycle with the French horn but this was not the case with Tricky and he has made cycling to the Parliament a really enjoyable experience.
As a touring bike, it’s been hard to test him over a long distance. The weather in Belgium in winter is not conducive to long cycles (unless you like rain, wind and freezing temperatures when pedalling) and, of course, the days have been quite short. Today, I planned to cycle to Leuven and back but the adverse weather conditions caused a change of plan. Whilst cycling at full speed up the hill into Terveuren, friend AW and I were battered by freezing cold winds with gusts of up to 60 km/h and the sky grew darker and darker. We stopped for coffee in Terveuren (well, of course…it’s the first ride of the season and you always need to reward yourself for hills climbed succesfully!) and decided that heading to Leuven was daft. So, we headed into the Foret des Soignes, and back to Brussels via a scenic forest route. The whole journey was approximately 40km and, by the time we got back we were soaked and chilled to the bone. My legs had, no exaggeration, turned blue! Further investigation showed that the temperature this morning was 5 degrees, ‘feeling like’ 0 degrees. It turned out to be a good decision not to go to Leuven. Throughout the journey, Tricky was brilliant. Gear changes were smooth, he powered up hills, braked well on the downhill sections and was completely reliable and trustworthy.
Tricky is a true gem of a bike and the comfort he offers really is extraordinary. I didn’t realise cycling could ever be this comfortable and it has been a most eye-opening experience. He’s also nice and light but feels sturdy, which is good when cycling off road and having to carry him up and down steps. I would trust him to serve me well on a long cycling tour and I will miss him a lot when he goes back to Oxford Bike Works. But, would I pay £1200 for him? Funnily enough, I might well do. If I did, though, I would expect the following things as standard:
– double-sided pedals so I could clip-in when touring
– puncture-resistant tires
– a bell
– a ‘teaching’ session when collecting him on how to maintain him and carry out minor repairs i.e. tightening brakes
– a better saddle, specifically made for a woman.
Overall, having Tricky has been a really enjoyable experience. Thanks Oxford Bike Works!
UPDATE: June 2014. After 5 months of fun with Tricky, I couldn’t face parting with him so….I bought him. Having a comfortable, light and sturdy bike is brilliant. In July, we’re off for 3 weeks together on the Eurovelo 6. I can’t wait!