Second chance for a cargo donkey
Yes... I've got another bike. Yes, yes, I've 2 road (CX actually) bikes now. No, I cannot ride them all at the same time... I'm perfectly aware of that.
I'm not going to explain here the N+1 rule. If the cycling bug bite you already, either you already know the theory, or you soon will know about it.
I'm going to talk about my (not so) new bicycle, a Saracen Hack 2 (2015 model, which is not currently available on Saracen's website, but here you have a review of that model: http://wideopenmag.co.uk/2014/11/saracen-hack-2-review )
Why the f*** do you need another bike??
This is probably the question most of you would be asking right now. Well, the main reason behind the idea of getting another bike is that we travel a lot from Lugo (where we live) to Vilagarcia de Arousa (where Dolo's parents live) and every time we go there, I bring the Jake with us. That means preparing the bikes rack on the car and some extra packing before leaving. It also means driving 200-and-something kms with the bike exposed to rain, mosquitoes and all kind of other things.
Something that can be done, but not something you want to do too often, specially in winter in a place like Galicia.
So, the idea of getting another bike that could stay in Vilagarcia came to mind. Something not too expensive (initial budget idea was around 400 eur) and maybe look for something used, try to find something a bit older, with good components and in good shape, instead of gettting something new with really cheap components and probably not so good on the mid-long term.
And so the search began... as soon as posible, as I really wanted to have the spare bike here and ready for mid-november. Betabug was going to come for a visit (one of our work sprints) and having the bike here already would mean going out together on some rides.
If you are into cycling and you like bicycles I bet you know that feeling, that sensation of "wooohooo, let's look at bikes and bikes and bikes!!. Endlessly, creating lists of posible bikes to buy, compare them, look for more bikes, compare a bit more, then try to find some good offers...
I don't know how it would have been 10 or 15 years ago, without the Internet, but nowadays you have soooo many options right there, in your computer...
There are plenty of online websites that sell all kind of bikes, new bikes, new bikes from previous years at incredible discounts, used bikes, vintage bikes, refurbished bikes...
I don't know how many bikes I looked at, or how many sites, but in the end I started to make a clearer picture of the bike I'd like to get. If you read the post I wrote about the Jake, you already know that back then I had to make a choice between the Jake and the Genesis Croix de Fer 2014, so I started looking for second hand croix de fer on the online markets.
There are plenty of websites where you can look for used bikes in the UK (I aimed at that specific market, as it should be easier to find Genesis bikes there) but in the end I found myself always looking in ebay.co.uk. I started conversations with some of the people that had their bikes for sale there, specially because shipping those bikes to spain could be an issue for some of them (I even remember one that did not let me enter my bid because my ebay account was registered in Spain). The problem with the Croix de Fer (and even some other models like the Equilibrium) is that, even used, they are not cheap. Most of them were simply out of budget for me. So I kept myself looking for it.
And, just one day, I found this Saracen Hack 2 bike. The starting bid was low, 300 pounds (400-something euro), a lot cheaper than the stock price for it new (around 950 pounds, 1300-something euro). I didn't know that model (or even the brand) then, so I looked up the specs on the Internet and I looked for some reviews. It turned out that it was a CX bike with specs quite similar to the Jake (quite, quite similar) so it really catched my eye (also, I totally fell in love with the look of it ;-P).
I went again through the page on ebay, checking the description (sounded good) and the pictures (not so good, really dark pics). The auction was going to end in a few hours, so without too much thinking I did bid and I totally forgot about it.
Next day I had an email from ebay - "Congratulations, you won this auction!"
"WTF!" - I thought - "How can it be??"
I had set a really lower bid but nobody else bid, so I won.
First thing I did afterwards was get in contact with the previous owner of the bike (Matt), to arrange payment and shipping. We arranged the shipping with sendbike.com, a small company based in the UK that sends bikes all over the globe (using UPS). They have really really nice prices and they can even provide you with all you need to pack the bike. They have also very good support, in case you need help with anything. I totally recommend them if you need to ship a bike from the UK.
And then, one day, the bike arrived.
But... at first sight, after pulling it from the box... I got totally dissapointed. Completely dissapointed.
Matt did mention some minor scratches in the top tube, he even provided me with some pics, but the scratches looked much worse in person:
And he forgot to mention a big, big scratch on the head tube (it looks like something caused by cable friction):
Also, the specs of the Hack 2 say it should have a Shimano Tiagra 4601 rear derailleur, but this one came with a low-end Shimano Sora 3500 (not sure if the SS or the GS though) instead. This was nasty, as it was not something described in the description of the product in ebay, and Matt did not mention it in our previous conversations.
Finally, he had told me that he would include rack and fenders too with the bike, which sounded cool when I did read it on his message, but wasn't so cool when I realized the screws attaching the rack to the bike were damaged severely. So severely that I wasn't able to remove the rack at all. One of them was even broken, without head.
The wheels were not in the box. Matt was not able to put them inside as there was not enough space for everything, so he sent the wheels in a separate package that arrived one week later. Later on, when I found out about the problem with the rack and the screws, I did realize why he could not remove the rack (which probably caused the problem with not having enough space in the box).
When the wheels arrived, I realized that the back wheel was not the stock one, but a Mavic Aksium Disk One and the bar tape wasn't also the stock one (black), which I found quite strange, for a bike bought on late november, 2014.
And so I started to be worried about it. Really really worried. I couldn't stop thinking that maybe the bike suffered a big crash, which could have led to those replacements (back wheel, rear derailleur, bar tape) and the scratches all over the top tube. A big crash could also explain the damaged screws on the rack...
So I talked about it with Matt, who was really really nice and answered all my questions fast and politely. He even sent me the receipt/invoce from the original seller, as a proof of his ownership.
Basically the poor thing was used as a cargo donkey through the streets of London. Used for commuting and to carry on one of those child/kid seats you put on different places on the bike. It got some small hits when putting the cargo on/off and it seems the tiagra rear derailleur wore off.
What could I do?. I liked the bike and all, I got it on a really nice price... but I was really worried about it. So next step was to bring it to the LBS (MTC bicis) for a complete checkup. When I went there again to pick up the bike, they told me the bike was ok. The frame was perfectly fine and those were simply minor scratches. The gears and breaks were ok (front disc break was a bit bent, but ok) and they couldn't find anything to be really worried about.
They removed the rack, sawing the screws. I won't be able to put a rack again on it, but that was not the idea to begin with. One nice detail is that the rack survived the surgery, so it can be used in other bikes (spare parts!).
And so I did ride it.
And I had lots of fun riding it, really. The bike feels good, almost the same as the Jake, with some differences. It is a bit shorter/smaller (a couple of cms here and there) and it feels lighter (maybe being a bit shorter + the carbon fork?). The gears work perfectly fine and the disc breaks work quite good (with the same issues as the ones on the Jake, noisy and easily deadjustable). One thing I did change as soon as I got the wheels were the tires. I replaced the stock Schwalbe Spicer 35mm with the Freedom Ryder 32mm that came with the Jake (which has now Continental 4 Seasons 28mm).
We had some nice rides during betabug's visit (but that's another story) and after some riding, we found out (well, r0sk actually found out) that the breaks were in the opposite position, that is, the rear break was on the left hand and the front break on the right hand, just like in a motorbike.
It seems the position of the breaks is related to the way of the road we drive, so it is different in brittish countries (UK, Australia, etc). More info, here:
Fun fact: I did not realize at all about it. Lucky me I did not end on the floor because of improper breaking.
Myth busted: You can go fast as crazy on your disc-breaks bike and then pull strongly only the front break, you won't jump over the bike and crash on the floor (tested!).
After such a finding, I got the bike again to the LBS, to change the breaks (and ask how it could be they did not notice the first time I brought it there!). As the breaks cables go directly below the tape bar, I replaced the blue one with a new one in red, which (imho) fits the bike better.
Then we brought the bike to Vilagarcia, to its new home, and I did a test ride by the Ocean, just for fun!
I think this has been quite a change for this bike, from London commuting to mid (and hopefully soon long) rides on open roads by the sea and the Ocean...