Easing In With Jaaaake!! (Ryan)
Got my first couple hours in on the Jake today with a combination of rail trails, roads, and PA shit roads. There was a lot of good to be had, and a little bad (although from what I right it seems like there was more bad).
The Good: The frame has much more compliance and give than I anticipated. I expected a harsh aluminum ride, I got forgiving. Then again, I'm pushing 2 bills right now, every bike/chair/floor has some give. Anyway, whether it was going from 100 psi road tires to 35c cross tires, there was some nice cush for the push.
More Good: The wheels seem to spin up way faster than my (now) vintage Bontrager road wheels that came on my old 2004 Trek road bike (now gone), even with cross tires! The Conti tires also seem to roll smooth on pavement but grip the shit/dirt when in needed. Durability = suspect. The fork seemed pretty darn OK too. Better than steel? Who knows? But I'm not bitching right now, so that is a bonus.
The Bad: Granted, I am using this bike as a gravel/shit road/randonneur type bike and NOT as a cross "race" bike, so take this for what its worth, but the down tube bottle mount is WAY LOW. Reaching the DT bottle is like trying to touch the ground whilst riding. Not horrible, but still sort of a nut crusher to lean that far over. The 10 speed gearing... Give me 9 speeds! The 10 speed cassette shows as a dramatic lag between say gears 6 and 7 or so. Very noticeable. The 105 shifters are good, but still not as crisp as my older '04 Ultegra bitz. Not BAD, just not as good But again I am can be critical due to the SUPER crisp SRAM shifting of my mountain bikes.
Canti brakes: Ha! "Brakes" they give the illusion of braking, but the lag between braking and stopping is VERY much noticeable compared to disc brakes, road brakes, and V-brakes. Also, during steep descents back off the saddle, my meaty calves seem to brush the rear brake. Not a big deal, but noticeable. I really did enjoy the bike, even with all my bitching. It rode nicely, felt compliant, and should be just the ticket for XXCross events, and what not. I plan to to some more rigorous testing tomorrow.
One more complaint (all my fault): I was using my Mountain Feed Bag today. Not sure why I think I can get it to work on road/cross bike but it doesn't. The problem is that if I need to climb out of the saddle my knee brushes the bag. I tried to flop it so it would be further a way from the knee, but that didn't work out. Maybe getting a left handed bag and using it on the right would work? Hmmmm.....
Anyway, it was fun to get the bike out, and I am happy with the purchase, but I still long for a Ti/steel CX bike, with disc brakes (and a canti option) room for up to 40c tires. In the future I think that I might ditch the 105 rear derailleur for a MTB derailleur and a bigger cassette. This SHOULD be an option with the lower cost SRAM/Shimano 10 speed MTB offerings in the works. Again, NO cross racer would care to do this, but I'm not talking about racing Cross, I'm talking about epic shit road stuff.
More feedback to come.