Bikes: Specialized Cirrus Comp
will spend a lot of time on the bike during the tour. For that
reason I feel the quality of that bike and its modification to
your requirements is one of the pivotal factors when it comes
to your enjoyment of the tour. I think its fair to say the quality
of bike provided on a tour is going to be representative of the
standard of other key elements that go to make a tour special
rather than just average.
know the old saying "you get what you pay for" , well
when it comes to bike quality there was never a truer saying.
What is the first thing you do when your friend shows you their
new bike ? ,,, you walk over and ,, and pick it up. In that moment
you make a fundamental judgment about the bike. Invariably you
will find lighter bikes sport better quality components. This
quality complements the frame and fork material.
use Specialized Sirrus Comp bikes. Combining their E5 Alloy frames,
carbon fiber forks, Machined Swiss rims and top end SRAM shifters
gives you a bike that weighs in at 8.5 Kg. They cost €1000
each and you wont find any other tour company offering such bikes
. They come in five different frame sizes so you are assured of
a prefect stand over height and optimum leg extension.
have gone trough so many makes and models of bike before arriving
at what I now consider the best bike for exploring the West of
Ireland. Its probably safe to say my family and many of the locals
in my village were beginning to tire from my obsessing about which
bike would be best for the 2013 season. Even the guy who helps
out on the family farm from time to time did not escape the never
ending comparison of features and components (sorry Mike).
quality of these bikes lies in the attention to detail that prevails
in their design and construction. Little details like Zertz shock
absorbing inserts built into the carbon fiber forks smooth out
the road by eliminating high frequency vibration from the coarse
chip and tar surface. This allows us to run the tires at 90 psi
greatly reducing rolling resistance.
is an example of the detail that won me over to the most expensive
bikes I have supplied on the tours over the past 14 years. The
hubs are ground with cutting paste by hand after their manufacture
to make them super smooth before the ball bearings are fitted.
This helps the bikes to just roll forever.
its all very well having the best bikes but that's only half the
battle. Proper fitting and adjustment is the other half of the
equation. The wide variety of frame sizes helps but one of the
main issues when fitting out people with a bike for the tour is
handel bar height. Over the years I have found a preference for
an upright riding position favored by most tour participants.
I have modified these bikes slightly
to accommodate a wide range of handel bar height settings. All
the brake and gear cables have been replaced with longer cabling
to facilitate the insertion of a device called a steering tube
extension and adjustable stem. Its amazing how many people get
their bike shop to replicate this modification to their own bike
when they return home from the tour. Shoulder pain / discomfort
is eliminated when you adopt a more relaxed upright sitting position.
That's not to say some people prefer to get the handel bars in
a low position to replicate the dropped bars one finds on a racing
photos to the laft and right display the range of handel bar adjustment
available on the bikes. The example on the left depicts the highest
setting while the photo on the right gives you an idea of how
low they can be set. If necessary the bars can be set even lower
by moving the spacers above the adjustable stem.
you will find some of the features that set these bikes
apart from other touring bikes
Zert inserts in the carbon forks help to reduce high frequency
vibration which facilitates a more comfortable and controlled
refit the bikes with stainless steel pre tensioned brake
and gear cables as they don't react with the salty coastal
air these bikes encounter during the tours. This exemplifies
the attention to detail you can expect on this tour
bikes come with a compact 20 speed gearing system. This
equips you with all the ranges you will need throughout
the tour. The SRAM X 7 derailleurs give faultless precise
shifting at all times. The bikes feature internal cable
routing to help reduce environmental contamination of the
supply 3 types of saddle. Two are comfort gel saddles with
sprung rails for extra comfort.
racing saddle option has all the forgiveness of a thinly
upholstered brick, for the experienced only.
can opt to fit any of the saddles with gel seat covers for
the bikes came with excellent tires I was not satisfied
with their puncture protection. This is why I upgraded the
tires to puncture proof Schwalby marathon plus700 X 28c
offer bullet proof reliability and facilitate 90psi thus
reducing rolling resistance. The performance of the bike
is further enhanced by their lightweight construction from
advanced (expensive) materials. Remember "an ounce
off the wheel is a pound off the frame"
may seem like a small detail but the small chain catcher
installed on the down tube saves you from the potential
of a dropped chain following a hurried change of gears.
the right an example of one of the gel seat covers which
equip the bikes with regular pedals such as the one on the
you prefer to ride with cages we can fit pedals such as
the one on the right.
don't supply SPD or LOOK clip less pedals but we will fit
yours if you bring them.
bikes come equipped with a detachable handlebar box which also
houses your daily map. The the box is sufficient in size to carry
some lightweight rain gear and a camera. You can easily fit a
SLR camera in there. Better to store the cell phone we provide
you with for the tour in one of the outside pouches so you can
easily hear the phone ring if we call you during the ride. We
spend as much time as it takes to set the handlebar grips, bar
ends and the gear levers to your preferred position.
wide range of gearing ratios are delivered by a drive train developed
to be precise and lightweight.
tours are supported with two Ford transit mini busses. Just in
case of a breakdown we also have a spare bus equipped with bike
rack and ready to be called into service at a moments notice if
required.Each bus is capable of accommodation 14 passengers and
up to 20 bikes which can be securely fitted to the custom designed
roof racks in a few minutes. We never have to use the full capacity
available as we limit group sizes. However it is comforting to
know if bad weather threatened to disrupt a days cycling we can
just load up the busses and head off to visit a few castles. The
countryside is dotted with some fine examples of Norman castles
and Tower houses.
castle in the background of the photo on the right is Ashford
Castle in Cong County Mayo. We were due to ride from Clifden to
Maaum Cross that morning. Unfortunately it was a particularly
windy morning so the group elected to visit this fine castle that
morning. After a 40 minute sightseeing ride in the busses we had
lunch in the castle and then proceeded to cycle a good 25 miles
that afternoon when calmer conditions prevailed. We rarely loose
even half a day to bad weather but its nice to know we have sufficient
capacity to transport the entire group if necessary. We also have
a luggage trailer with lots of capacity, so bring the kitchen
sink if you think you may need it.
Supporting the group with a motorcycle allows us to have lots
of contact with everyone, even though the group spreads throughout
the day. This is particularly reassuring on the first day of the
tour, as you are coming to terms with cycling in a different country,
and getting accustomed to looking for the arrows painted at the
junctions to guide you.
tried supporting the group with a guide on a bicycle (as all guided
tours do) and found we just couldn't provide a similar level of
contact for everyone in the group.
chap could ride a century in just over 5 hours, and would cycle
back and forth all day, he was still unable to achieve quarter
of the contact with all of the participants as we now can with
the motorcycle. You are also provided with a cell phone which
allows you to contact the guides at any time.