it's when it came time to wash my hair after the ride was over that i realised why the woman on the couch at debbie's seemed in somewhat of a hurry to drink her cappuccino and leave. at least, i think that may have been the reason. of course, it could be simple paranoia. i seem to have brought a substantial portion of bridgend woods home in my ponytail. imagine the embarrasment of munching my cheese and pickle roll looking like a body double from the beechgrove garden. the reason was all too obvious; that little climb to the old cottage was approached with way too little speed, and it was a foregone conclusion i'd end up exploring the undergrowth from a horizontal aspect.
soft and green.
heading into the woods from bridgend stores (after the bus had moved out the way), i wouldn't usually pull on the brakes. a slight gravelly uphill is immediately followed by a turn to the left and a short downhill to the bridge over the river sorn (great title for a movie). my legendary bike handling and steely reputation would obviously have me speedily freewheeling through the tunnel of trees and patchy mud with fingers discarding any propensity to touch the sram brake levers. i laugh in the face of danger.
however, mindful of my responsibility to thoroughly test the trp cantilevers under every conceivable condition, i reluctantly (honest) grabbed handfuls of lever and gently rolled through grass and mud. there are no spectators; my reputation for pushing the envelope remains spotless. say anything out of school, and i'll deny every word. nor, come to that, is there any judder or propensity to lock wheels. smoothly approaching that rickety wooden bridge across the river, it looks as if it would benefit from a by-pass.
you have to get into the woods early on a saturday morning because it is later over-inhabited by dog-walkers, with rarely a restraining leash to be seen. at that point, brakes are not so much a luxury but a necessity. dogs have a curiosity for bicycle wheels that borders on rudeness, as their owners politely nod greetings, nervously returned without taking eyes off pooches in dangerous proximity. again, no juddering, squealing or wheel-locking. nor barking, come to that. at this point, i'm not sure who is interrupting whose saturday morning.
unlike formula one, the correct mode of riding offroad seems to be a laying off from the brakes entirely, judging corners and downhills with exacting ease, leading to a smooth circuit and little lost time. but that's for racers; bereft of a number on my back, i'd really rather take in the scenery when the sun shines. the eurox magnesiums behave just the way i'd prefer; i can recall being regaled by a rider many moons ago who felt that discs were a necessity because he was unable to lock the wheels when the situation demanded. i, however, cannot foresee any situation where a locking of wheels becomes necessary or desirable.
a serious scrubbing of speed i can come to terms with, and that was accomplished with ease; it may be an improved setup on behalf of my mechanic (me), but the alloy version of the same brakes gave a tad less bite coupled with a bit more effort at the levers. having recently reviewed a pair of magnesium road calipers from trp, i am not unnaturally ascribing this improvement to the material, which appears to own an improved degree of rigidity. i cannot deny this is a subjective judgement, but it has proved repeatable over the period of this review, so i feel confident in underwriting my statement.
and since we were almost discussing brake setup, that is something else that has improved over the alu alloy the magnesiums have currently replaced. my previous experience with cantilevers has involved setting the straddle wire to give me the degree of stopping power and clearance i'd prefer to have. however, in order to leave enough slack for wheel removal, this has often meant a compromise between too close and not close enough. trp have solved this dilemma in one fell swoop by providing a lockable barrell adjuster at one end of the straddle wire, allowing the length to be set for tyre clearance, then adjusting for proximity to the rim. i've no idea if this is a trp invention or not, but it's one of those stunningly obvious features that should be on every set of cantilevers in the world.
setting of the pads is a double bolt affair, where the rotation is altered via the principal allen bolt above the pivot frame bolt, backed by a 13mm nut. to adjust the pad angle, there's a 4mm allen bolt at the end of the shoe stud. not being one to read anything resembling a manual, it was a lot less than rocket science to figure out how it worked, though true to form, mechanic error on the rear setup produced a screech that i believe called out the local coastguard. even in the middle of nowhere, it took mere seconds to effect correct adjustment.
and once set, there are a couple of mini-bolts to hold the straddle wire in place, and another mini allen bolt to hold the lever wire in situ. this latter is, to my mind, an immense improvement over the clamping for the alloys; these use a 5mm allen bolt with a nut at the rear to do the necessary which is, quite honestly, a total faff. rarely do i have a suitable spanner with me when ploughing perilously close to flocks of sheep on uiskentuie strand, should adjustment become an immediate necessity. user-friendly would be an appropriate apellation.
aesthetics have not been forgotten, for though they may well spend much of their working life covered in gloopy mud, those reviewed were bright white with gold anodised hardware, though strangely the trp website shows only a red/white option. even fitted to a lime green hakkalugi, they both blend in and stand out at the same time, which has to be some kind of achievement in itself.
though the uci have relented and allowed disc brakes in cyclocross competition, i'm of the opinon that braking of such ferocity is a requirement only of downhill mountain bikers. it may well be that discs remove the rim from the stopping equation, but discs introduce problems all of their own, to say nothing of increased complexity if hydraulics are involved. cantilevers will continue to do it for me, and doubtless many others. these are pretty much all you'll ever need, whether the 'cross bike is used for racing or just flinging yourself about scrubby bits of bridgend woods. they even come with a set of carbon specific pads should you abide in the upper regions of cyclocross.
a set (two pairs) of trp eurox magnesium cantilevers retail at £219.99 ($349.99). i am very much indebted to paddy at upgrade bikes for supplying the review set.
posted saturday 10 september 2011..........................................................................................................................................................................................................