Bicycle Gear Question & Answers - 1

We have a Q&A session every Sunday on Instagram. It is an extremely interesting session and as a cyclist you're welcome to partake. I am listing all the question and answers here for posterity's sake. Because, due to space constraints in Instagram I cannot go into as much detail as I'd like. These answers are better, longer, come with relevant images and links. Cheers!

1. Any update about the launch of Sigma Computers in India?

Nothing yet alas on the ROX GPS range yet. India needs a better Sigma Sport distributer. Sigma Sport this is just getting ridiculous.

2. What's your crankset / setup for now ?

Im running the default GRX 40T (FC-RX600-1) crank with an 11-46 SLX cassette for the winter. Winter with snow here in the Himalaya needs slower speeds and lower gearing to avoid the rear wheel from slipping while climbing Out Of Saddle (OOS). Hence the cassette change from the default 11-40 that comes with my United Gavrill.

3. Whats the length of stem you use and what's degree?

Stem measurements explained
Stem measurements explained

There are three important measurements for a stem

  1. Length - How long the stem is.The length of the stem determines how far forward of the steerer tube the handlebars are.
  2. Degree/Angle/Rise - Rise refers to the angle of the stem relative to the fork’s steerer tube and typically ranges from six degrees to 20 degrees. Stems are often designed to be flippable, so depending on the amount of rise, you can angle the stem down to achieve a lower, more aerodynamic position, or up to put the handlebar in a more upright position.
  3. Clamp Diameter - What size handlebars it will clamp to. The most common handlebar diameter is 31.8 mm also called oversize. Other common diameters are 35 mm (latest mountain bikes), 25.4 mm(old bikes) and 22.2 mm(BMX)

The current setup on my gravel bike is a 70mm stem with a +-7 degree tilt clamping to 31.8 mm Scolarian SCW Mud Adventure Bars. My stems are often set in a negative rise so -7 in this case.

I find 7-9 degree stems to be optimal to keep the bars parallel to the ground as most head-tube angles are around 70 degrees.

4. Is the site up yet?

Yes! the Gear Lama Ver 2 is up and running. We made the V2 live at January 16th 1000 hrs. Sorry about missing our deadline by one day.

5. What do you think special about cycles in Netherlands. Particularly the hub?

As someone who has lived in The Netherlands for 10 years and still spends a few months there every year I think I am very qualified to handle this question.

The biggest difference in cycling culture between Western Europe vs America's or Asia is that cycling is not a sport but a way of life. People use bicycles for groceries, kids to school, commute, lugging gear, moving houses or more. This translates to everyone owing upright bicycles with mostly Internal Gear Hubs (IGH) and coaster brakes (again not exposed).

The reason for these choices is reliability. Because a bicycle is used everyday, irrespective of weather (it usually always drizzles in the Netherlands) an internal gear hub and coaster brakes require the least amount of maintenance. Both these components are covered and the IGH runs in an enclosed oil bath.

Most old bikes have 3or 5 gear Sturmey Archer or Shimano Alfine hubs. New city bikes now use the Pinion or Shimano crank based gear systems. In India, Scolarian Bikes is the only one that imports and builds bikes around Internal Gear Hubs. I think they're an excellent investment for a city bike!

6. One bike to do it all? 

As clichéd as it may sound a gravel bike is the jack of all trades master of none. Take my own example. I had 6 bikes in 2020 now I'm down to only 2. One gravel bike - the United Bike Gavriil and a fattie - Salsa Cyles Mukluk (which is currently doing rounds in Africa with a friend).

A gravel bike may not excel at anything but it does everything competently and unless you're racing you need a bike that you need not the one that you want. 🙂

The mistake I see most people make is that they tend to quantify things and buy cheap despite having the money. Cycling is a hobby, as with any hobby you will spend time and money on it. There are worse ways to spend both. Like I'm fond of saying -

Life is too short to be riding shitty bikes

7. Planning for Decathlon Gravel adult road bike 120, is it any good? 

The Decathlon Gravel 120 is excellent value for money as long as you're aware of what it is and what it offers. An upright relaxed riding position geared for longer rides than fast rides.

  • The components are decent for what they cost. The 1x drivetrain is perfect for newcomers and experienced cyclists who appreciate simplicity.
  • There are enough low gears to go around.
  • The drivetrain isn't as slick as the GRX but you're paying half the money than a GRX equipped bike.
  • Mechanical disks if well maintained are sufficient and with sintered pads/rotors are easy and cheap to upgrade. 
  • Tubeless ready rims is another plus.
  • I would invest in some good tyres and set them up tubeless from day 1.
  • Yes the derailleur has no hanger and hubs etc are nothing great but they will work and in an year or more (depending on your mileage) can always be upgraded. 

8. The 2022 Trek Marlin 8 is 90k, 2023 is now at whopping 1.1L, any major changes you can spot?

For 2023 I wouldn't even consider the marlin 8. It's a perfect case study of how to ruin a good vfm product. If you can live with a 10 speed drivetrain (I can) and coil spring suspension (again I can) and an extra 1kg - the Roscoe 6 - 2023 is a far better choice.

  • Better frame (gold vs silver)
  • Boost spacing (141 vs 135)
  • tapered headtube vs non tapered
  • 32 spokes vs 28
  • same dropper post
  • thru axle up front
  • same brakes
  • Shimano drivetrain is cheaper to maintain 

Plus the Roscoe 6 is ₹ 25,000 cheaper. That is nothing to sneeze at. In fact I would go so far to say it's the best mountain bike Trek India sells for under 1L in 2023. Now that they know they will probably jack up the prices.

9. Trek Domane AL 5 vs Scott Speedster gravel 20. What's your pick? 

Scott speedster gravel 20 bike

For where I live and the kind of riding I do I will pick the Scott Sports India Speedster Gravel 20. 3 important reasons for my choice - 

  1. The GRX drivetrain with a clutch (shadow plus) is better fo bad roads than the 105
  2. The Speedster Gravel 20 comes stock with 45c tyres and has wider clearance than the Domane (38c)
  3. I love the matte green colour (never underestimate the extra 500 watts a better looking bike provides 😀)

But neither of them is a bad bike just bikes with different applications. To sum up - if your usage is 80% gravel and 20% road rides pick the Scott Speedster Gravel. If it is 20% gravel and 80% road endurance riding pick the Trek Domane.

10. Can we get deep section wheels 40mm or more without tyres under budget range < 40k?

Im not aware of anything as deep as 40mm thats available in India. But if 30mm rocks your boat then look at custom wheels with Velocity Deep V Rims

Velocity rims are excellent quality and you can build a custom wheel around it given YOUR specifications and budget. That way you get to choose your hubs, nipples and and customise it indefinitely. Happy Earth India and Vitti Trading both have excellent wheel building capability.