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.
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 gear cables
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 Specialized Nimbus 700 X 28c tires
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 we
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.