B l i z z a r d  F i r s t  R i d e

3rd June 2007

With the build finished the previous day, the time had arrived to see whether I'd built a monster or a magic bike. One of my favourite rides of all time just happens to start at my front door, so it was out on a sunny sunday morning for a 45 mile loop around the Central/Western Hampshire lanes and trails.

Down at the River Dever, just before its confluence with the Test.

A wheat field near Stockbridge, presumably organic!

First impressions were just how small the frame is! Even with the long stem fitted, it's 3cm shorter in length and 5cm shorter in height than my 18" Klein. This gives a more upright riding position with more weight further forward. The steering is very direct and slightly reminiscent of my late Alpinestars Cro-Mega (but without the wobbling around and falling off part). Second impressions were that brand new Shimano gears are brilliant, and the new 2-way-release shifters are the best improvement they've made in years.

The country must have been much prettier before pesticide

Downhill towards Broughton Down. Not the right way but who cares.

Putting the power down makes the bike lunge forwards, with the 853 frame giving bags of that famous steel "twang". Once off-road, another sensation hits you, or rather it doesn't. Where the aluminium Klein transmits every last bump and vibration straight to your back side, the Rocky Mountain soaks up an incredible amount of trail buzz. I imagine the carbon fibre seatpost helps with that too, but it's a huge difference for the better. The rear Juicy 5 disc started squeaking a little so I re-aligned it and carried on. Then it started squealing constantly instead. Even passing foxy horse riders, very embarrassing.

Parnholt Wood greenery

Terrific views from Beacon Hill near Farley Mount

After a second stop to re-re-align the rear disc (not to eat cake, oh no), thankfully silence was restored. With the brake pads bedding in I took it down some steep twisty trails. Woah. That direct steering plus forward weight equals a hugely grippy front wheel, and the upright riding position makes it easy to shift the bike around underneath you. It's as fast as your supply of spare underwear will let you go. Riding back down the hill into Winchester I jumped off every speed hump I could find, and that was a lot. This bike just wants to have fun. Don't agree on a safe word, and do anything it says.

Secret trails at Crab Wood

Nearly home, just outside Winchester

Verdict: It's magic. Sell your car/house/kidney/mother and buy one.