I am very pleased with the bike, but there are things which I didn't know which might have made a difference to my detailed specification.
Also things which I didn't know which turned out to be an unexpected bonus.
- (*) Tubus Cargo rack - good solid rack supplied as standard, however there is a variant, the Logo which has an additional bar to mount the panniers lower, which allows stuff to be put on the top without interfering with the pannier fixing. For an extra £15 I would have opted for this had I known.
(*) Drop handlebar alignment - having only really ridden bikes with flat bars I wasn't fully clued in about drop bars. The bars as fitted are angled so that you can ride easily on the hoods, but when on the drops you can't reach the "brifters". This seems to be a design choice because I ride with someone with a Surly Long-haul Trucker which is set up exactly the same. I would prefer to be able to brake on the drops when going downhill, and change gear on the drops when flogging uphill. Personal preference but I wan't aware of the issue.
(*) Handlebar tape - following on from above, I also had no idea that you should only tape the handlebars with temporary tape until you had finalised the riding position. A tricky one for the shop because the purchaser may not be happy to tape the bars themselves. Logically it is straightforward to re-tape the bars but stripping spanky tape off your new bike has emotional overtones.
(*) Steerer - this is a biggie. The Spa bikes come with an uncut steerer and a load of spacers. This looks weird in the pictures but does allow you to experiment with the riding position and bar height until you are happy. I had no idea that most bikes have their steerer cut down before sale. Why they cut before fitting the bike to the purchaser escapes me.
(*) Cantilever bosses on a disc brake frame - according to the blurb the frames have cantilever bosses so that you can fit cantilever brakes in an emergency if away from the level of civilisation that understands disc brakes. Cool idea, no? However the rims are for disc brakes and nicely coloured and sloped so I am pretty sure that cantilever brakes would not work well (if at all). Had I realised the difference between the rims for disc brakes and rim brakes I might have discussed a compromise rim which was suitable for both. I do like the idea of secondary brakes, especially for long downhill slopes.
(*) Ability to fit a prop stand - again, having always had bikes with stands, I had no idea that this might be an issue. However there isn't space where the chain stays meed the bottom bracket to fit a stand, and the cables are in the way anyway. When I asked about this on the forum the response was "Lean it against something!". Had I known that it might be an issue I could at least have discussed this.
(*) Brifters - I am used to mountain bike style trigger shifters which have indicators to show which gear you are in. I find this very useful when I am not sure which combination of gears I am using. Forum response was "You should know which gear you are in without looking.". Umm....yeah? and "Just look down." but I have difficulty seeing if the chain is on smallest or next smallest cog most of the time. Besides which I like to be looking forward along the road, not back somewhere behind my ankles. I thought I would just have to suck it up but then saw some "brifters" with indicators built in. Again, not aware that this might be an option, not why it isn't there as standard.
(*) Disc brakes - TRP Spyres are fitted as standard. It was only some time after buying the bike that I became aware of Brucey's very definite opinions on the long term reliability of the TRPs. Having said that, they seem fine so far.
(*) Lights - I (sensibly, I think) opted to have a hub dynamo because they are expensive to fit afterwards. Very pleased (although I haven't ridden in the dark yet). General comment is that I am very visible during the day. I only learned some time later that a more expensive version comes with a USB socket for charging stuff. That could potentially come in useful. I am now looking at an additional fitting to charge a power bank. For an extra £30 I think I would have gone for the USB equipped one.
To be edited further as I remember stuff!
Addendum - things that I did know:
- Low gears are good - I had the 32 tooth lowest gear swapped for a 34 tooth and I have used this on numerous occasions
Fatter tyres are good - I swapped the 700 x 32 for 700 x 38 which required wider mudguards. Haven't regretted it so far.