Challenges And Opportunities Of Yorkshire Hills: Part 2

This post will make more sense if you read the previous post – part 1 – first. Done that? Good. Then I’ll begin…

I had certainly heard people mention Pennine Cycles before ever having discovered that it was the nearest dealer in Bianchi bicycles to where I now live in West Yorkshire. One of those mythical cycling Meccas with a long pedigree of serving the cycling community dating back to the days when shops were given the names of the people who ran them rather than something that goes down well with a focus group. In the case of Pennine Cycles, it was ‘Whitaker & Mapplebeck‘*, the name which is still proudly displayed above the wonderfully cluttered window of the shop in Thornton Road, Bradford. The chap on the right is the owner, Paul Corcoran.

[*If you are interested in the history of the shop, read this article from the Bradford Telegraph & Argus that appeared in the newspaper a few months before the arrival of the Tour de France in Yorkshire back in 2014.]

In fact, if you prefer your bike shops to be more, well, ‘Evans‘, you’d be better off staying well clear of Pennine Cycles. The place is small with just a very limited amount of stock on display (mainly the Bianchi bikes I had come here to find out about), a row of colourful handmade frames hanging from the ceiling, lots of signed cycling memorabilia on the walls and a stockroom-cum-workshop which rivals the Steptoes when it comes to organisation. It was clearly an establishment run by someone who knows their cycling stuff. Cue Paul Corcoran.

I remember going into bike shops a few years ago when I knew precious little about cycling and feeling ever so slightly as though I was there to be instructed. Nowadays I can talk the talk when it comes to cycle touring, but still struggle when it comes to road cycling. Paul, however, had the comforting knack of treating me as an equal. I explained my predicament (as set out in part 1 of this post) and he started to talk… As a teacher you sometimes have to ‘wing it’ with the kids. There was no risk of Paul having to ‘wing’ anything. Here was a man who not only knew his stuff but had the honesty to tell you what he thought, even if it was something that could impact on his bottom line. I’m struggling to think of the last time that I met anyone who was so unassumingly confident about the thing that he was trying to sell. I recently bought a new fridge freezer from Curry’s. When I asked a question, the woman who ‘served’ me told me to read the information on the front of each appliance. Err… thanks. Paul was at the other end of the sales spectrum; he talked through each of the models, each of the options, didn’t treat me like the numpty that I am when it comes to road cycling, digressed when appropriate to do so, was patient with my questions and, as already noted, hearteningly honest about the products he was trying to sell. He was a joy to listen to. I spent about 90 minutes in the shop talking with Paul. On two occasions he excused himself to deal with someone who had come into the shop but within a few moments was back with me, advising. The guy should win an award for his customer service. In fact, earlier this year, he did just that:

So, what about the bike…

Well, here is the model that Paul and I spent most of our time standing over and chatting about; the Bianchi Vertigo Veloce. This is a 2015 bike and, should I go ahead and make the purchase (I’ve yet to come up with an argument that will change my mind!), the 2016 bike is no longer called the Vertigo, but, I think, the Intrepida. Paul assures me that little else will change:

The main technical option is whether to opt for a Shimano groupset or a Campagnolo one. When I got home after my visit to Pennine Cycles I posted a simple Shimano v. Campagnolo poll on Twitter (yes, I know other groupsets are available, but not for the Bianchi Vertigo/Intrepida). The result is… Shimano.

We live in a Shimano world… But I’m with Paul on this one; the Shimano groupsets are just as good as the Campagnolo ones and vice versa, but if you are buying an Italian bike, why would you not want to use Italian components? At this point you are thinking to yourself “…he’s deluded! A Bianchi bike is about as Italian as stir-fried rice…“. Well, OK, true. What affordable mass-produced bicycle in 2015 isn’t made in Taiwan? (Brompton. Any others?) Read this page from the Bianchi website for more information about the Italianness of the Bianchi bicycle.

Another option is the saddle. I’ve now had my Brooks saddle on Reggie for several years and very comfy it is too! But Brooks haven’t (yet – apparently they soon will) produced a road bike saddle. Paul recommends fi’zi:k (that must be a real pain to type if you work for the company) and they do look good. I trust they are comfortable too. Interesting to point out that fi’zi:k are now the owner of… Brooks so probably not too long before that Brooks racing saddle appears in a bike shop near you.

There are also choices to be made when it comes to pedals. Prior to my visit to Pennine Cycles I was under the impression that there were two options; use SPDs (Shimano again!) or don’t use SPDs. I was wrong… Paul isn’t a fan of SPDs and he carefully explained why. He talked about the three other options he has available (I’m sure there are probably more) but the one shown in the pictures above – the round one – is, apparently, the most knee-friendly. As someone who has knees that do occasionally creek, this is the one for me.

What about the brakes? Disc or caliper?” I asked. Again, it’s hard to fault Paul’s logic on the matter. Disc brakes are the fashion but are they the best option? Are they the easiest to mend? Do they do anything fundamentally different to what the tried and tested caliper brakes have been doing for years? He accepts that in a few years’ time it’s likely that the disc brake will be the standard but until that point…

Finally the colour. I do like the black…

So, what’s next? Well, I’ll be back at Pennine Cycles at some point in January to take things a step further. Paul would like to see my current bike so Reggie will get one trip out this winter at the very least (although it may be in the back of my car…). Then I’ll no doubt be measured in a way that people are rarely measured by non-medical people, decide definitely which options to take and place my order. I could be riding my new bike by the end of January. At which point I’ll start tackling the hills of Calderdale a little more frequently than is currently the case.

Thoughts, comments and advice are, as always, welcome below!

UPDATE: December 24th:

Here’s an interesting article published earlier this year by about the new Bianchi bikes for 2016, including the Intrepida Veloce.

And here’s the full technical spec…

Technical features

Product code: YLB4BI1J

Color: 1J

Sizes: 48-51-54-57-60

Frame: Intrepida Carbon, 1,5″ headtube, sizes 48-51-54-57-60cm

Fork: Bianchi Full Carbon, 1.5″ head

Headset: Fsa Orbit C-40-ACB

Shifters: Campagnolo Veloce Ergopower Power Shift 10sp

Rear derailleur: Campagnolo Veloce 10sp

Front derailleur: Campagnolo Veloce 10sp

Crankset: Fsa Omega MegaExo Compact, AL7075 chainrings, BCD 110mm, 50/34T, crank length: 170mm-48/51cm, 172.5mm-54/57cm, 175mm-60cm

BB (Bottom bracket): included in the crankset

Chain: Kmc X10 Ept finish

Sprocket: Campagnolo Centaur UD 10sp 12-27T

Brakes: Reparto Corse RC-471 Dual-Pivot

Brake levers: included

Wheels: Reparto Corse Road Runner

Rear hub: Reparto Corse Racing B130

Front hub: Reparto Corse Racing B100

Tire: Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Slick 700×25

Stem: Reparto Corse Alloy 6061, rise -7°, height 41mm, 1.1/8″, ext: 90mm-48cm, 100mm-51cm, 110mm-54cm, 120mm-57/60cm

Handlebar: Reparto Corse Compact, Flat Top, Alloy 6061, diam. 31,8mm, reach 126mm, drop 77 mm, size: 400mm-48/51cm, 420mm-54/57cm, 440mm-60cm

Seatpost: Reparto Corse Alloy 6061-T6 shaft, two CroMo CP finish bolt, Alloy 6061 forged head, 15mm offset, L. 350mm, diam. 31,6mm

Saddle: Selle San Marco Era Start, steel rail, 277x145mm

Rotor: –

Pedals: –

Waterbottle: Celeste w/Bianchi logo

Water bottle hanger: Alloy

Kickstand: –

Rear carrier: –

Front carrier: –

Front light: –

Rear light: –

Categories: Cycling

5 replies »

  1. Andrew a thought about pedals. Shimano SPDs are more tolerant of poor technique for releasing than all of the road pedals. It’s not that road pedals are harder to release, it’s just you have to be a bit more precise with the action. So it’s a good idea to get the pedals first, fit them to Reggie and go for a few practice rides before going out on a shiny new bike.

    As for saddles it’s a very personal thing. My Cannondale came with a Fizik Arione which was awful, like sitting on an axe! My personal favourite is the Fabric Scoop. Also as you lean further forward the shape of the saddle you need changes!

    Hope you enjoy the new bike


  2. Are you sticking with the 12-27 cassette ? Living in the same area as you I’m well aware of the hills around here – I’m running 11-30 on my CX bike and I feel it, lol.

  3. Colour? Must be celeste! It’s a Bianchi!

    Stick with Campag!

    Pedals? I considered Speedplay but went with Look. Speedplay are slightly raised and I’m long-legged.

    Stock Bianchi saddle has worked superbly for me.

    And, of course, when you’ve chosen pedals, you’ve got to choose shoes. Fizik got my vote. Top for personal comfort; very stiff carbon soles; can be moulded to your foot!

    And yes, I went to a tiny two-man shop (Windmill Wheels near Melton Mowbray). But they don’t break off to serve another customer. One at a time and you just wait. Excellent jig and bike fitting.

    I went back to the same shop twelve months later for my custom Enigma.

  4. Good luck with the new bike. When I bought a replacement road bike (to replace my entry level start bike) I went with the very un-scientific approach of “ooh I like that colour it matched my main jersey”. Fortunately Trek make great bikes and I think I’ve been lucky!

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