That bike has had a difficult birth. The frame turned up a little early, but the build went on more than a little late. Much of my afternoon was laid waste while I was forced into using four wheels to tour the county’s bike shops with my new frame. A frame that lacked certain important features such as a proper thread into which it’s traditional to screw the cranks into.

We’ll be back to that, but first pray a reverent silence for the sad news that the Kona Jake has left the building. I’d almost convinced myself not to sell it until opportunity knocked and offered handfuls of hard cash to take it away right then. Of the many bikes sold this one did illicit odd feeling of guilt, because not much had changed since I’d originally bought it. To explain, so many of the (many) bikes I’ve owned (rented) were bought (leased) in a crazy juxtaposition of eye candy and perceived want. And every time they were passed on, I sighed the relief of a man determined not to make the same mistake again.

Ahem. But the Jake was different as it had a dual remit of getting me to work and getting me to go forth and find local trails. Fast-ish on the roads and more than capable on woodland singletrack, it was the perfect hybrid of having to go somewhere and then having fun when you got there. But I rode it off road about three times, and went exploring just the once – that being the day it first came home.

But even with a reduced remit, it was a fine commuter – never let me down and sped through awful conditions for over a year with nothing more than a change of tyres. I could almost justify keeping it for those horrid days when riding a nice road bike feels like bicycling sacrilege, but the counter argument states that I’d just take the car instead whatever two wheeled weather bashing bikes I had hanging up.

And yeah, money talks. So it’s gone, to be followed by the old Kona in the Spring. Until then I’ll be putting a good number of miles on the ST4 assuming the chainsuck it exhibited on the bike stand isn’t a portent of things to come, or my shoddy building skills are not outed in some painful face-plant on the inaugural ride to be undertaken tomorrow. And yet I was entirely guilt free asset stripping the Cove for two very good reasons.

The first is that having ridden the Pace at Afan on consecutive days, it’s absolutely clear that full-suss bikes allow me to ride a whole lot longer and little bit harder. I was pretty surprised at how good I felt after the spine pummelling final descent on the Wall, but less surprised on the leg-weariness of my hardtail riding pal. And yeah, it might be close to cheating and an alternative would be to build up stronger back and leg muscles and stop whinging, but realistically that’s not going to happen.

The second reason is also rather good. The Cove may be nothing but a frame with a few accesorised hangers on, but it’s neither wall art or for sale. A stealth rebuild awaits converting others’ cast offs into another bike to ride when I’m in the mood for a stiff rear end*. Because one thing I do know for sure, and something that has nothing to do with justifying multiple bikes, is that a Hardtail for MTB’rs are like Alfa Romeo’s for petrolheads. You’re not a proper one unless you actually own one.

Whether it’ll get ridden will depend on if the ST4 is anywhere near as good as I remember.

* And as a man of a certain age, this can happen at any time.

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