A tale of two chassis

Head to Head

During a long-forgotten bicycling epoch I think of as my “klepto-insanity” period, nine partially assembled MTBs covered a few niches and quite a lot of floor space.

My coping strategy was to occasionally sell one, even more occasionally ride a few and far too often add yet more by simply mixing eBay with beer. After a particularly difficult whittling session, this approach left me with four 80mm forked hardtails. Two of which had only one gear.

I cherish the memory that my honing strategy had cured me of bicycle buying obsession. Which it had in the same way a 50-a-day man proudly explains – while not exactly stopping – he’s cut down. To 48.

The revolving door acquisition policy now mostly rotates around a paltry remaining five. Four of which have realised “faithful old retainer” status after clicking round multiple years. And the young buck of the bunch celebrates a year in the shed next month. This happy news is somewhat mitigated by it being a second road bike of course.

But Woger Wibble has been the mainstay of my commuting life, and the second incarnation of the ST4 the same when dirt is involved. The Boardman only comes out on sunny days, the little DMR diminished to a kids accompaniment, and the Cove largely forgotten.

Until last week. The Orange had put me into the red with post Pyrenean component replacement, and was left sulking in Nic’s workshop waiting for, well, everything to be fixed. So out came the Cove sporting ambitious summer tyres and spiky flat pedals.

The occasion was my birthday; a ride which started in the Forest and ended in the pub. As all proper rides should. 30km+ of lush singletrack finishing on the final descent of the new blue trail. It would have been a fantastic ride in any circumstances because dust, sunshine and drinking/ridding buddies will guarantee that.

Yet this felt rather special – and not just because of my surprise at being able to still turn the pedals having had another year creep up on me – a stolen ride, loafing about on deserted singletrack while others were at work, new trail nuggets being shown and falling back in love with my hardtail.

Far from my worries around a lack of talent compensation and unclipped feet being ejected trail front, the whole experience was nothing short of fantastic. I had forgotten the whole ‘corner by thought‘ tautness and simplicity of a well sorted hardtail. Sure you work a bit harder, but the reward is more than worth it.

Back on flats, I rode at least one nasty little roll down that’d have me pausing for thought on the ST4. And a light Ti frame draped with nice bits is pretty quick in any direction, including sideways on well sculptured berms.

More fun as well on the final rollers and zip-line like descent. Properly involving especially with the Avid brakes offering all the modulation of an rear thrown anchor.Over a number of beers, I enthused what a superb reconciliation ride that had been, and how the Cove would be the bike of choice for a while. If only to delay financial ruin triggered by endless bearing purchases.

That was a week ago. Since then I’ve ridden four more times. And every one on the newly repaired ST4. Come winter tho, the hardtail will be sacrificed to the gloppy gods.

And it does just go to show what we’ve always known; while all bikes are ace, some bikes are just more ace than others.

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