I agonised over buying a new bike. It had been on my mind for about six months but I was overwhelmed by choice. Choice of frame material, brand and budget – the more I researched the more frustrated I became.
They all looked great, sounded great, but I had a big issue to overcome. The Trek 1200 I had been riding for eight years had never really felt right. I’d been through bike fits, three stems, all in search of the perfect position. I couldn’t find it.
In turn this had given rise to a fear of buying another one that wouldn’t fit. It’s a lot of money to spend, and it has to be right. Thankfully, frames have changed in the past decade and where the short head tube on my Trek had me bent double just to reach the drops, newer bikes come with more of a comfortable cockpit.
Following test rides that ended in disappointment, and expectations dashed, I went on holiday to Majorca still no closer to the purchase. My friend Richard, who lives on the island, had arranged to hire a couple of bikes and do a route into the hills. I didn’t give it much thought.
“I’ve got a couple of Specialized Allez, with triple chainsets,” he said on the phone. “We’ll need them round here.” Next day I was in the car and driving from Port Andratx to Soller to meet him. The plan, as I found out, was to try and ride “up to the reservoir”. To the rest of you that’s the ascent of Puig Major – 15km at 6.5 per cent – and one of the all time classic climbs on the island.
No sweat, I thought, it doesn’t matter how far we get – I’m on holiday and happy to just give it a go. But we did ride it – from sun drenched farmers’ fields at the base, through a hundred bends and into the cloud base and the rain.
It was an epic climb, the best I have ever done on a bike, and a good test. OK, so we were getting passed by most people, but I absolutely loved it. And loving it with me – the trusty Allez Comp that so far had cost just 20 Euros for a day’s hire.
|Rupert (left) and Richard (right) on Puig Major|
That was the only ride I did on the holiday but it had helped me get much closer to an important decision. When I returned to the UK, I paid a visit to Rick Green Cycles in Handforth - a family run business, with a decent reputation. It also sells the Specialized brand.
Following a brief chat about frame size and riding style, I was on a test ride. It was a far cry from the spiritual mountain bends of Puig Major – I was on a housing estate in Cheshire – but I felt exactly the same. Riding this bike bought a smile to my face. It was the bike I needed to buy. Because it felt right.
So now I own one – a 2011 Specialized Allez Comp. It’s white and blue – a wicked colour scheme - and it’s full Shimano 105. I have changed nothing out of the box, including the wheels, which are Mavic CXP – these are tight, straight and fast.
Quite simply, I love it, and have enjoyed hundreds of miles on the road like never before