Review: Shimano IceTech Disc Rotor

The reason I got this because I suspected the Brakco disc rotor I had was replica version. The Brakco rotor was also a floating rotor and I wasn’t sure how secure were the rivets. I had no choice but to quickly replace it before anything bad happened to me. Since I am using Shimano XT brake set that comes with IceTech technology, I thought of giving the IceTech Disc Rotor a try then. It is also a floating disc with 180mm.

I have been using it for almost a year now and I find it subpar. Why? There are 2 reasons behind this:

1) The disc will warp even I pressed the brake for just 1-2 secs but it did get back to shape after it cools down. Even the replica Brakco disc I had did not have this issue unless I pressed the brake for a long time. I have asked some friends who are using 180mm Hope disc to understand if they have the same issue. They replied “NO”. Hmm…. I guessed I need to upgrade again or stuck with this until I replace it.

2) The 2nd issue may or may not due to the rotor disc. It could be a XT brake set that Specialized shop sold to me. I noticed the brake cables are different from original XT set and the braking feel is completely different from my friends’ bikes that uses XT Brake. The braking power is very weak since the day 1 I got them. 😦

Verdict:

Yes, this is cheap comparing with Hope or other brands within the same range but the disc rubbing sound is very annoying. So, definitely I won’t get the 2nd pair again.

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Review: Trek Emonda SL6 Roadbike

Today, I am reviewing the Trek…

EMONDA SL6…

 

BIKE SPECIFICATIONS

Frame:                  Ultralight 500 Series OCLV Carbon, DuoTrap S compatible

Fork:                      Emonda full carbon

Groupset:            Full Shimano Ultegra 6800

Crank:                   50/34 (compact)

Bottom Bracket: BB90

Cassette:             11-32, 11 speed

Seatpost:             Bontrager Ride Tuned carbon seatmast cap

Handlebar:         Bontrager Elite VR-C, 31.8mm

Stem:                   Bontrager Pro, 31.8mm, 7 degree, w/computer & light mounts

Saddle:                 Bontrager Montrose Comp

Wheels:               Bontrager Race Tubeless Ready

Tires:                    Bontrager R3 Hard-Case Lite, aramid bead, 700x25c

Weight:               7.4kg (with 2 bottle cages), 52cm size (excluding pedal); Trek website posted 56cm – 7.43 kg

About EMONDA

Every company has their own way of defining their carbon strength and technology. For Trek it is called OCLV or Optimum Compaction Low Void and it is patented. It is actually breaks down into 2 areas – Optimum Compaction and Low Void. In short, it is Trek processes of how they cut, mold, heat and compress the carbon. All Trek OCLV carbon frame is given a limited lifetime warranty. Emonda models comes with OCLV 300, 500 and 700. The SL6 is OCLV 500.

Emonda is not new anymore and it has been out since 2014. But, it was a newly added model into their lineup. The bike design is definitely meant for a purpose – climbing (and I would said endurance too). From the picture below, you can see the massive downtube that helps in climbing.

The tested bike was equipped with a full Shimano Ultegra groupset. There aren’t many bike companies would give out a complete groupset. Many times there are doing a mix match components to gain maximum profit. There is a slightly cheaper version that comes with Shimano 105 groupset. I am a bit of reserve of that… so, go for Ultegra and you won’t regret it.

 

Another thing worth to note here is the seat tube. It defied the conventional way of designing. Part of the seat post “extended” out from the frame. The purpose? To reduce the weight of the seat tube as it can designing it thinner.

All cables are all internal routed and nicely hidden. Whoever cleans the bike will definitely appreciate it.

Since cables are hidden away, can you do without cable tie also? With the DuoTrap S Compatible, you can now. So, no more messy cable tie for your speed and cadence sensor. The sensor is now nicely tuck into the frame.

A complete bike without pedals but with 2 bottle cages and stock wheels weights 7.4kg. It may not be an ideal weight as a climbing bike. Probably it was due to the heavy wheels. Published spec for the wheels are 1720g. Changing to carbon wheels probably can shed off 300-400g but that increases the price of the bike. If you are weight wheenie, get the Emonda SLR 10 that weighs 4.88kg only!!! And, it is a large frame with 56cm! Moreover, it is on sale now.

This is the weight of the bike without the wheels (of course, tires and tubes too).

This bike comes with 2 colors – Matte Dnister Black or Matte California Sky Blue. What I had tested was the Sky Blue. Ain’t she pretty with the high profile wheels?

THE RIDE

I believe everyone question now is can this bike climb as what it claimed. Personally, I find it average on climbing. It may be due to 2 reasons. 1) I picked the wrong time of the day to cycle as it was superhot (37C) to cycle and probably not my best performance. 2) It could be due to heavy wheels. Why? As the temperature cools down, I managed to gain speed and earned a Personal Record (PR) on one of the segment. It is a 3.6km path with small rolling hills. Secondly, each time when I was off the saddle and pedal, it did sprint. So, that tells me the bike is very stiff during the climb.

A bike is good if it can perform uphill, downhill and flat. Basically we wanted it all-rounded.  What about downhill and flat then? I definitely love the handling when coming down the hill and through each cornering. It has a superb handling and again, I have another PR. The steady frame and the 25mm tires helps a lot. On a flat road, I can feel that I need to put on a bit more effort but still manageable.

This bike is definitely set for endurance and comfort. The headtube length is 140mm for the tested bike vs 128mm for my Cervelo S3 and a chainstay length of 410mm. Also, the stack is 547mm. All these couple with 25mm tires, it was really a pleasure for me to ride that day. It was so comfortable that I can’t feel much of the road vibration even with a long stretch of road constructions during my ride. That earned the endurance title from me.

The wheels aren’t so bad as it didn’t flex so much when I was standing and pedal. Though it is heavy but a much better wheels than the 2 Mavic wheels I had tried on.

Beside the wheels, the only other thing I dislike about this bike is the handlebar. It is too wide for me. I find it not suitable for Asian size but this can easily settle by changing it.

Make sure you do fitting before deciding which size fits you well. Every single brand will have their own way of sizing. Trek personnel is happy to explain and get you fitted.

The price tag for this bike is RM12,499 before discount. The SL6 Pro comes with Vision Metron 40 carbon wheels. The 40 is indicating the 40mm depth and it weighs 1,490g without the quick release. The price tag of this bike? RM15,499. Is RM3k worth the upgrade? Hmm…. Probably, because you can’t get RM3k for carbon wheels. How it perform? You may have to test it out on your own as tested bike comes with standard wheels only.

Verdict

If you are looking for comfort and long ride that doesn’t taxing you. Also, most of your rides are rolling or climbing hills such as Cameron Highlands, Fraser Hill, Bukit Hantu or Peres. Then, this bike is definitely for you. Otherwise, you may want to consider Madone.

Trek Shop

There is a Trek concept store in Penang. It is called Treknology and you can actually borrow and test ride the bike. The criteria’s are simple. 1) You are genuine buyer that wanted to test out the bike before buying. 2) You are out in the group ride with them and you do not have a bike. They can lend you 1. You just need to bring your own pedal and spare tube during the ride.

There are 6 models that you can borrow and try it out. All you need is to fill up this form. And… Get a friend who knows Trek personnel very well to borrow the bike. Well, these are expensive bikes and they need to make sure you do take care of the bike and return in 1 piece. Oh… this program is also available in KL if you reside there.

Enjoy your ride… (I know I did :))

Review: Shimano CE-S40RS Sunglasses

I am wearing prescription glasses so getting a sunglasses is quite a troublesome for me until I find this pair from Shimano. I have friends got other brands that prescription glasses stick to the sunglasses and some of them complaint about the dizziness as it is curved according to the sunglasses. Shimano sunglasses are different from others as the prescription glasses is a clip-on. The clip-on actually do support a number of Shimano models. So, when you are bored with the sunglasses, you can change it anytime without changing your prescription glasses.

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Opening up from the box, it comes with a hard and soft casing and 2 pieces of glasses – clear and dark. So far I only use the dark glasses. It works fine in early morning and even better under the hot sun. Of course, the glasses are not as good as those polarized lens but it just works for me. Also, I find it very stylist and it fits my features. Lastly, it is cheap as I got it from CyclingExpress for <Rm200 and the Shimano prescription frame for <RM60.

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Yes, I would recommend to anyone who is in tight budget or doesn’t want to spend that much for a sunglasses.

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Review: Bike Accessories Shop

Lately there is booming of bike shops in Penang. I guessed there are more and more people starting to cycle here. This is quite true comparing 3 years ago when I started cycling as there aren’t many cyclists on the road. Nowadays, you can see them everywhere and anytime. Also, motorists are more aware of their present.

So, which shop to go since there are so many of them? I am sure each of you in Penang has your own favorite shops to go. Me? I shop for best deal or parts availability. Of course, service is important too. Lately, I have been to 3 shops to either get my bike serviced or purchased parts. Let me do a review for each of these shops.

NP Bicycle & Accessories

Lately I got few things from their shop such as tires, skewer, 180mm disc rotor, disc brake adaptor and power gel. The shop is run by 2 partners, Mr. Lim and Mr. Tan. Mr. Lim is the technical guy who mainly does all the bike services.

I am very careful when comes to spending and I notice this shop their prices are quite reasonable. Like some of the stuff I bought is ~3-6% cheaper than majority of the shops in Penang.

Not only am I happy about the pricing but the service I got. They helped me to install the disc rotor on my bike and fortunately they did. The rotor somehow was bent partially and it kept rubbing the pads when installed with my Magura’s brake. It took them hours to troubleshoot it and finally told me they have to order another piece to replace this one. And, this time they ordered the color that I wanted. Unfortunately, the rubbing still happens even with the new rotor. I guessed I am not in luck with Brakco rotor. 😦

They do carry quite a number of branded stuffs like Maxxis, 3T, Cateye, Shimano and Selle Italla. The other 1/2 of the items you can see here are online purchase from China.

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I would definitely come back to this shop for more purchase.

Address: No 609K, Jalan Balik Pulau 11500 Air Itam, Penang

Phone: 012-586 7307 or 016-556 6847

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Bikerz Depot

This is another shop opens not long ago and they are the distributor for Wheeler and Author bikes in Penang. These are the European brands but the brands are not moving well here.

I am not going to say anything about the bike here as I am going to write about the accessories they carry. They carry lots of Brakco disc rotor and many other accessories. They are not the cheapest but I will say quite reasonable comparing with many other places. They have torque wrench, bike working stand, bicycle rack and many more. You ought to come here and see for yourself.

I bought a Maxxis Crossmark from them and a bottle of mineral oil for my brake. Their pricing is about 10% more than most shops. I am just happened to be around that area and I need it urgently.

Good selection of products but bit pricy. The owner is very helpful and able to converse in English very well.

Address: Jalan Trengganu, 10460 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia

Phone: 04-283 3407

H&H

This is another place I have blogged about them weeks ago and you can find the link here.

These are shops that pops out past few months or past year except for H&H. If you happen to find a better shop or pricing, do let me know and I can start to explore.

Review: MTB Hydraulic Brake Service

It has been awhile my MTB had a brake issue. Somehow the brake fluid was leaking thru somewhere and left me with no brakes. Not many people in Penang know how to service or have the tools to service the Magura brakes. Most of them know how to service Shimano, Tektro and Sram Avid only.

As far as I know, there are only 2 shops in Penang Island that know how to do this job. They are Specialized and H&H Cycle. The reason being so is because Specialized and Cannondale higher end bikes use Magura brakes. I tried to service the brake on my own but I could not find anyone who sells the bleeding kit. So, I have no choice but to send to H&H Cyle for service. Why H&H? Well, my last service in another shop almost got me killed. The chief mechanic wasn’t the person who performed the bleeding but another person. My brake pads were oiled and the brake wasn’t filled up properly. The brakes were softening after a few rides which didn’t serve me any good.

So, this time I gave it a tried to H&H Cycle to service the brake. I find the owner very pleasant and helpful and I got my brake serviced within a few hours. It was cleaned, filled and feel right when I applied the brakes. Well, the 1st few braking was making noises as he sprayed some cleaning device on the pads. Once the pads were bedded the noises were gone. I felt more confident when I did a downhill at Mt Erskine on the same afternoon.

How much does it cost? RM40. This is pretty much standard cost here unless you do it on your own. Let me use it for a while and I will update here again. Stay tune…

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H&H Cycles

1-1-26, Tingkat Mahsuri,

Bayan Lepas, Penang

Tel: 019-448-5839

Review: Boardman’s Team Carbon

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The Boardman’s Team Carbon is an entry level of their carbon bike and it is British brand but Made in Taiwan. I believe majority of the bike companies are asking Taiwan to make bikes as they are like a bike hub nowadays. The Boardman’s are pretty diversified company like Specialized or Trek. They sell bottle to carbon bottle cage to everything that a rider needs every day.

They have MTB, cyclocross, road and Hybrid bikes. What I am reviewing today is a road bike and it is a 2013 model. The 2013 model has a matte black frame with a striking Boardman wording on its aero frame.

I had a few short rides (~40km) to get myself accustomed to the bike and on a final run I used it during the CFAL event (~84km) to test out the ride.

CFAL1 CFAL

Bike Specifications

Frame:       Unidirectional carbon monocoque

Fork:          Carbon Steerer

Groupset:   Shimano 105

Crankset:    FSA Gossamer Pro compact, 34/50t alloy rings

Cassette:     10 speed, 12-25

Bottom Bracket: Pressed-fit BB30

Saddle:       Fizik Arione

Seat Post:   Boardman Carbon

Wheelset:   Mavic Aksium Race

Tires:         Vittoria Zaffiro

Stem:         Boardman Pro

Handle bar: Boardman Pro Alloy

Weight:       8.6kg small frame (18.96lbs)

Price:          MYR7250 (retail price)

Components

For a bike that cost slightly more than MYR7000, it comes with Shimano 105 groupset which is already costing MYR1800. The wheelset cost MYR880 and the saddle cost MYR390. That goes almost 1/2 of the bike priced already. This is considering a great bargain.

This bike comes with full Shimano 105 except for the crank which is FSA. The Shimano 105 is definitely not light comparing with its rival. It is 285g heavier than the SRAM Rival (minus the crank).

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The rear brake is placed nicely behind the seat stays to have better aerodynamic.

The drivetrain setting is exactly the same I had for my previous bike. It is a compact crank with 12-25 cog which is meant for speed and it is still good for climb.

Vittoria tire is another weight contribution to the bike. It weighs 340g each and comparing with Continental GP4000s which is only 210g.

The Mavic Aksium Race is definitely not the lightest wheel that you can think off. It weights 830g front wheel and 965g rear wheel or total is 1795g. This is almost the same as the groupset weight which is 1790g after minus the crankset. But, it is a good training wheel to strengthen your legs.

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The Ride

In terms of fitting, I will have to say it is not my best fitting as this bike does not belongs to me but the reach and ride I can still handles it pretty well. My previous bike top tube length and stem is 530 and 100mm respectively. The Boardman’s measurement is 540 and 110mm. So, overall is 20mm more. Surprisingly I didn’t have any back or shoulder ache.

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This bike is very stiff as I gained a lot of Strava personal records pretty much of the whole course. On a flat and climb it just gained speed as it was like asking for more. The only thing that lacks of response is the off the saddle pedaling. This could probably due to its longer chain stay (410mm) yet it is not stiff enough. Also, it could be the wheels.

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The Team Carbon is very stable during a straight run (thanks to its long wheelbase) and with the aero frame it just gaining speed. There is a slight difficulty in controlling the bike during cornering at higher speed. It may not be as nimble as my previous bike as I had to slow down a bit. Ok, may be the size is not right for me too.

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Now, I can make a comparison and review both the Shimano 105 and the SRAM Rival as I had used both of them. I can now concluded that shifting experience is much better on 105 as it takes less effort to shift and engaged faster too. Also, it was much quieter during the shifting. But, I prefer the hoot on the Sram as it nicely fit into my hand and reach for the brakes. The braking for 105 is better also as it grips on the wheel when pressed. The full 105 is just 380g heavier than Rival.

Since this is a very stiff bike which means all the vibrations will absorb through my hands and feet. The 1st few times I tried this bike I had no issue at all as I rode 40+km only. It was when I covered 84km ride both my hands and feet were numbed especially on a rougher roads. Fortunately the seat post is carbon as it absorbed pretty much of the vibration.

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The wheel is probably the only complains I have. It could be out of true or it is just very soft as it was rubbing the brake pads when I was pedaling up hills or off saddle. It was waste of energy and time there. If it is really out of true then I am very surprise as the bike was hardly ridden. It was ridden less than 10-20 times only and all of them were short distances (<40km).

Conclusion

Boardman’s Team Carbon is a very good race bike as it is stiff, aero bike and a climber yet it didn’t make a big hole in your pocket. This is definitely a good entry level carbon bike for any person new to roadbike.

If I do get this bike the only thing I will change is the wheelset as it flexes so much. Other than that, it is a pretty good bike.

If you are weight weenies person then this bike may not be for you or you will need a lot of upgrades. Total weight is 9.18kg which includes pedals (256g), Lezyne bag (115g), Cateye safety light (61g), Cateye headlights (94g) and Cateye Micro Wireless Meter (26g).

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Review: Specialized StumpJumper Comp

I had laid eyes on this bike for a long time. I got a 2013 model earlier this year with 2 months of waitlists but it was a worthwhile waiting.

My Stumpjumper

My Stumpjumper

Specialized was a major American brand and founded in California. In 2001, Merida Taiwan has bought over 49% shares which explains why most of their bikes now are Made in Taiwan (I guessed it is for cost effective also). This includes my StumpJumper.

This is an all-aluminum bike and if you are weight weenies, it is not much different from the carbon bike. The StumpJumper Carbon Comp is just ~500g lighter than this bike. My bike weighs <12kg but that is with top tube bag, 2 bottle cages, Maxxis Crossmark tires (heavier tires), Wellgo Magnesium pedals and it is a medium size (17.5”). For a 29er and medium size frame, this is light!!!

For my height at 173cm, I can either pick medium or small size frame but I prefer the medium frame as it looks nicer with big wheels.

This bike comes with:-

Frame:       M5 fully manipulated alloy

Rear Derailleur: SRAM X9

Front Derailleur: SRAM X7

Shifter:      SRAM X7

Brakes:     Magura MTS, Hydraulic disc (160mm rotor)

Fork:         RockShox Reba RL 29 with 90mm travel

Crankset: SRAM S-1250 with PF-BB30 bottom bracket

The Ride

The M5 frame is the highest aluminum grade that you can find for Specialized MTB. It is quite a stiff bike but it does flex at areas it supposed to which gives it a very comfortable bike to ride for hours. For its class, it has one of the shortest chainstay length at 435mm.

Going down the trails with the 680mm flat handle bar gives you a better control and yet you can still steer clear from obstacle around the trails. But, I have reduced the size by 10mm in total for better gripping.

Coming from a 26” bike and not a super strong rider, I find that I need an extra effort when going uphill. If you are a strong rider then it will not be a problem as the big wheel momentum will help you go faster and faster. 1 thing for sure is 29er can gets you going through rocks and tree roots without coming down and push over. Going downhill, 29er will definitely push faster than the 26”.

Bike Components

I love this bike so much that I am still keeping all the original components to date. The only thing I have changed is the tire which I am currently using Maxxis Crossmark that adds another ~250-300g to my bike weight and it is still considerable light.

Shifting gears of this bike is as easy as shifting automatic gear in a car. I have used Shimano XT, Deore and Shimano non-series and they are nowhere come close to SRAM shifting. By pairing with the SRAM X7 shifter and X9 rear derailleur all you need is just lightly tap and it will accurately shift to the gear that you want. X9 rear derailleur comes with a lock actuation that eases when removing the rear tire. Not much said on the front derailleur as it works as good as the rear.

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Also, this X7 shifter has something similar with Shimano Rapid Fire. It allows you to downshifts (to a larger sprocket) 4 gears in 1 go.

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This bike comes with 2 chainrings only (38/24) and for a 29er this is more than you needed for. I have tried other 29er bikes with 3 chainrings (that normally you found on your 26” bike) and I find the middle gear is pretty much redundant (add weights). With 2 chainrings it gives you 20 speeds only. But, that doesn’t stop you from doing an average speed of 35km/h on a flat road and still able to go up on a 20-30° gradient hills.

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I suspected that Specialized was given the exclusivity of selling the Magura MTS brake for 1 year only as you don’t see them previously except Specialized bike. Right now you can purchase the MTS directly from Magura. The MTS brake was actually designed off from MT4 with very minor modification and reduced ~10g in weight. Those of you who come from Shimano families may not like this brake as Magura MTS does not bite as good as its rival. But, if you are looking for good modulation and light weight then you are at the right place. It weights ~320g (incl rotor) comparing with its rival Shimano SLX weights ~454g.  I have heard stories about brakes failed when it heated especially those who are using DOT fluid.  I came down a hill dropping from 768m to 32m (above sea level) in 10 mins, the brake works as it should. The only setback is the rear brake does make a lot of squealing sounds and that can easily resolve by replacing them with aftermarket pads. The good thing about Magura caliper is you can see your brake pads worn out without taking them apart.

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Some may have commented that this fork is too short. Well, it really depends on the trails that you are going and your body weight. If the intention is to have huge drop or going downhill with huge rocks in your path then obviously you will need a longer fork. So far I have no complains over it.

The Verdict

Don’t look at this bike as aluminum as you can hardly feel it is sluggish and cornering through the trails are fun. Most importantly it keeps within your budget for XC bike at MYR6300. I would recommend to anyone who wants to get a bike for race or cycling with your buddies.

Review: Merida TFS 900

After I have sold off my XDS’s bike, I have yet to receive my replacement bike as it was on a long waitlist. While waiting for my new bike to arrive, I borrowed a bike from a very good friend mine while he was away to China for 2 months.

It was Merida. It is a very well established bike company in Taiwan and they make entry level to mid-high end bikes. They are based in Taiwan with factories in Taiwan, China and Germany. They also hold a large chunk of Specialized company shares. Enough said for the company… Bike that I am going to review today is the Merida TFS 900 (2012 model).

Merida TFS 900

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Features

  • Alloy frame (~13-14kg for M size)
  • Rear Derailleur – Shimano XT
  • Front Derailleur – Shimano Deore
  • Shifters – Shimano Deore
  • Brake – Shimano Deore
  • Crankset – Shimano Deore Hollowtech
  • Fork – Fox Float CTD with 100mm travel
  • Tire – Schwalbe Racing Ralph

This is one of the highest end 26” aluminum MTB from Merida. It is not really a light weight bike but once the bike rolls it sure gets going. Again, this is a 26” wheels and going uphill is a zippy.

The rear derailleur is Shimano XT 10-speed and changing gear for this comparing with my previous bike’s gear Shimano Acera was like a magic. All you need is just a light tap and it changes already. Also, it is dead accurate. 10-speed gear helps a lot when going up a 20-25° gradient hill which my previous XDS bike lacks off. The smallest sprocket is 11 and the largest is 34T.

Shifting front derailleur (FD) is a bit tougher but how many times do you usually shift the FD? Almost like none? So, you can rest assure this is enough for you unless you are always in a competition.

The bike comes with Shimano Deore Rapidfire which is in mid-lower end products. The shifting may not be as smooth as the higher end Shimano SLX/XT shifter but I do not have any problem shifting when I was in the roll. For those who want to have rapid shifting, then this comes in very handy. You can shift 3 gears up for your rear derailleur at one go. For anyone who uses SRAM shifting before, you may not like the shifting feel as it will need a longer throw before each shift. Also, you will need more force to push the shifter comparing with SRAM.

If you want strong stopping power yet it does not put a hole into your pocket, then Shimano Deore brake suits you very much. I would say it is very close to it’s 2 elder brothers brake – SLX and XT. The hydraulic brakes make the braking very pleasant as you do not have to throw in your whole fingers to get your bike to stop.

The crank is triple chainset with Shimano Hollowtech technology. This is not a light crank but you get what you paid. It is much cheaper than its rival SRAM crank.

Unfortunately, I can’t write much about this fork as most of the trails I tried is cemented or pave road. Since this bike is belongs to a friend mine and I do not want crash it. But, it works well in an uneven road or when I hit a bump or holes. I never get a full experience of the 100mm travel as the trails that I rode do not trigger it. Also, the air pressure was set to my friend’s weight.

The Merida had the Schwalbe Racing Ralph as its tires. In my mind, this tire does not suit for single cemented track. It often loses traction when the cemented road is wet or it has slight patch of green moss. It will be kept spinning all the way up a hill. It is not what it advertised on the website. Better rolling? Not really too as I had tried a better rolling tires. And, 26” hardtail bike comes with a 26”x2.10 tire. This is waste of energy. I would recommend you trade in your tires for 26”x1.95 and other better grip tires. Unless you always go downhill and by then you will not pick this bike for sure.

The Merida TFS 900 is a slightly cheaper bike than the Giant XTC in Malaysia but the rides for both is almost the same. Giant XTC is lighter bike and better response but TFS-900 has better controlling going downhill. Just try them out before you buy.

Review: XDS MX-896

So far all of my rides are limited to mountain bikes (MTB) only. These are the bikes I have ridden long enough or still riding to give some comments.

1)   XDS 2012 MX-896

2)   Merida 2012 TFS-900

3)   Specialized 2013 StumpJumper Comp

XDS MX-896

My 1st bike

My 1st bike

XDS

This is a China made and the factory is in southern part of China, Shenzhen. XDS bikes have very striking colors, nice design and normally gives a better components than others for this kind of price range. It is definitely bang for the buck if you have limited budget or don’t want to spend much (read Which Bike To Pick For A Beginner).

The XDS was my 1st MTB and it was a very good training bike for anyone who does not want to spend so much for a bike. As I mentioned, for this price range (~MYR1400) you can hardly find a bike with hydraulic disc brakes and 27 speed. Normally, these ranges of bikes come with V-brakes or cable disc brakes and 24 speeds.

Features

  • Alloy frame (14.5kg for 16” frame)
  • Shimano Acera 27 speed gears
  • Tektro Draco hydraulic disc brakes
  • Suntour XCT V4 spring suspension (Travel: 100mm)

The bike geometry suits Asian size very well as we normally have a smaller body frame. Their measurement is very close to those bigger brands like Giant or Merida.

Through the months, I have used the bike for exercising and my weight lost programs (read How I Got Into Cycling). The bike performs well on a flat road, paved hilly roads and I have even used it for Penang round island. It is a bit on a heavier bike but with the 26”x1.95″ tires helps. Well, don’t expect much on a good rolling especially a bike that cost ~$1400. On a flat road, it can still easily bring you up to 23-25km/h on average and with drafting someone behind it can easily achieve 28-30km/h. This is mainly due to the heavier wheel sets and cheap hubs. The wheel sets does not turn very well even with a free turning but it was not so bad until you cannot ride at all.

The energy transfer from the crank to the rolling of a bike may not be superb comparing with a RM4-5k bikes. You can feel the resistance on the bottom bracket but this will help to build up your legs muscles and lose weight.

Some of you may ask if 27 speeds are sufficient especially nowadays bikes come with 30 speeds. For an average person or above, you can throw them any bike and they can still cycle. I had a bit of struggling when I 1st used it but I wasn’t any sportsman, weight 93kg and my height is 173cm!!! So I survived through with the bike and it should not be a problem for anyone too. Anyway, the 27 speeds Shimano Acera is good enough to get you up a hill with 10-15°gradient. The front derailleur shifting is a bit tacky but it can be easily overcome it by continue pressing on it until it change.  The rear derailleur is smoother in changing but sometimes you will have to press on it before it changes too.

I have used this bike a few times on off roads and cemented single trails. It can still get you to where you want to be but the Suntour XCT spring forks may not play very well in this condition. Both the forks may not response at a same time and it may cause the bike to imbalance especially going downhill.

The Tektro Draco hydraulic disc brakes works well. It uses mineral oil instead of DOT oil. If it is DOT oil you will lose the braking power when the oil heats up. Tektro may not have the stopping power that you may have experienced with the more expensive Shimano Deore brakes but it is there when you needed it. Some of the users complained about the braking noises/squeal but it is easily resolve by changing the stock brake pads.

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Before I retired the bike after 5 months of pedaling, I thought of gave it another go. The little rear hub finally gave up on me and started to wobble. This could probably due to constant uphill and with my heavy body weight. Instead of upgrading the components, I upgraded the bike.

Summary 

Overall, this bike is a good for normal exercise, cycling in the park with your children and occasion 50-70km ride on a pave road. I would recommend this bike for a beginner or someone who doesn’t want to spend much for the 1st bike. But, I wouldn’t recommend this bike if your intention is to go for hardcore riding as the build of the components is not meant for it.

Stay tune for other’s bikes review…

Which Bike To Pick For A Beginner?

So, you have wanted to start cycling and you are in a dilemma on which bike to pick. Mainly there are 3 types of buyers here:-

1)   You do not want to spend so much.

2)   You have limited funds.

3)   You have the $$$ to splurge.

You do not want to spend so much

Well, in this category of people, I believe that you have the money to get any average bike that you want. But, you are holding it back just in case you hated cycling in future and you do not know what to do with the bike. Or, you are very thrifty with your money.

I was in this category when I started to shop for my 1st bike. It wasn’t a tough choice for me because I have set a budget of MYR$1500 for a new bike. And, that includes a helmet, bike and cycling pants.

For this range of bikes, you can find XDS, Raleigh, Exitway and Volcano. But, bang for the buck, I picked XDS Model# MX-896 as my 1st bike and it was a very good training bike. It was a bike Made in Shenzhen, China. It comes with Shimano 27 speed gears, hydraulic disc brakes, XCT fork (spring suspension) and quick release for the wheels and seat post! Also, the local bike shop (LBS) threw in a bottle, bottle cage and lights for the bike. It was a bargain!

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Some may argue why I am wasting money to get a low end bike and upgrade in the future. Should have gone for a mid to higher end bike. I believe I have made a right choice in doing that and some of my friends agreed too. Why? After riding my XDS bike for 750km off road and on a road. I found that it has limitation in off road as the fork stiff up in a bumpy road, hard to pedal up on a steep hill (bicycle weight and cheap bottom bracket), geometry, etc. And, I had a complete different feeling when I borrow my friend’s bike. From here, I learnt to understand a bike more and their limitation. So, when you have plans to upgrade in future you will understand more about your bike and how to configure it. You will definitely appreciate your new bike more.

Don’t get me wrong about XDS bike. I used it to train my stamina and lost a lot of weight! Read my blog in How I Got Into Cycling. It is a good bike for you to do a day to day commuting and leisure cycling. But, that particular model was just not meant for hardcore pedaling.

So, set a target price that you are willing to pay for. The higher the amount, the more choices is open up for you.

You have limited funds

So, you have limited funds but you want to get an above average Joe’s bike. A used bike is always another option. There are many websites you can purchase a used bike from. Such as bicyclebuysell, ebay, LBS, Mudah, Lelong, etc. A friend of mine got a great bargain for a Giant XTC with Shimano XT derailleurs (rear) and crank, Epicon air spring fork, Avid hydraulic brakes and so on for a price of MYR3300. And, it was in a very good condition. A new bike like this will easily cost MYR4500 and above.

One thing you have to be very careful when getting a used bike. Check for cracks (if you are getting carbon’s bike), ask if you can test ride the bike making sure it rides smoothly, shift gears to ensure it still works, test the brakes, watch out if the wheels bending, check if the rear hub is wobbling side to side, etc. Best if you can bring someone who has knowledge about bike.

You have the $$$ to splurge

Well, I don’t think I have to say much here except for this: GET WHAT YOU LIKE! If you can, test ride the bike to ensure the bike fits your body geometry. Or at least get on top of it.