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10:36 29th February 2000 by Bikemagic

Fine Forks

Two British makes that I can vouch for are
Orange and Pace! Why? Because they’re two makes that I know don’t beta-test
on the customer.

What’s beta-testing? I hear you say. Well beta-testing is when the manafucturer
has designed something, they’ve tested it in controlled conditions and
then (and this is the beta testing bit) they put it on a bike and see
if it breaks. That’s beta testing. If it breaks in the big bad world then
they beef it up and try again. The problem is that a lot of manufacturers
use the customer for beta-testing, rather than a test team. That’s why
some people I know won’t buy any new model, be it bike, car, or whatever,
until it has at least a year in the market place without any big problems.

How do I know that Pace and Orange don’t do that? Because Steve Wade and
the Orange team do their best to destroy our bikes before we buy them,
and because Pace sells a limited quantity of pre-production models to
its distributors for them to hammer before the production model is sold
to the public.

That’s how I came to own a Pace RC37 half a year before it hit the shops.

It had its niggles… an over-machined stanction letting the air and fork
oil bleed out, and some threads that stripped in the crowns… and everything
was put straight by the factory in next to no time.

So what’s it like? It’s been maintenance free for over nine months now,
with only occasional grease-port lubrication to ease my lazy conscience.

It’s so laterally rigid that my riding style has changed to make use of
it… two wheel drifting through fast corners with a big grin are the
order of the day, and if the fastest line is through the rocks I don’t
have second thoughts about going for it.

Travel is 12cm or 10cm depending on how you choose to run it, and thanks
to the air chamber helping out the coil spring you can adjust the preload
such that full use of the travel is made available, supple over the ripples
and topping out only when nose-dives have you wondering how the hell you
didn’t face plant that time.

I’ve got friends who run 13cm Bombers and others with 15cm Boxxers and
they’re no better than the Pace through the rough stuff. (However they
do weigh over a pound more which you notice on the ups).

It’s also handsome if you like that machined look of theirs (I do, my
wife doesn’t) and although it’s a tad expensive, you’ll be less likely
spend money in the future on replacement stanctions or fork internals
(Manitou and Rock Shox owners take note). Pace forks seem to age better
than the competition, too.

The current model is basicly unchanged from mine. Some little touches
here and there make it even better though, especially the incorporated
disc brake mount on the left leg.

So if you’re looking for a top quality twin crown, mid-length travel,
disc compatible, fully adjustable fork that won’t be out of date in two
seasons, you could de a lot worse than the Pace.


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11:49 17th February 2000 by Bikemagic

If you have read my previously article about Hope
disc brakes, you may have noticed a reference to ‘fork oil on the disc’. This was
due to my aged Marzocchi Z3′s which would dribble oil onto my disc just when I needed
it the least!

BORDER="0">I used this as my feeble excuse to ‘invest’ in a shiny new set of Pace
EVOIII forks. Said forks were purchased over the internet form Bromley Bike – one
of bikemagic’s banner advertisers – for the reduced price of £360 (plug-plug).

I fitted them myself, which also required the fitting of a new caliper half, and
the unexpected purchase of a new brake piston (seized) and a headset (rusted). With
all this new hardware duly fitted, the brakes bled and the disc and pads degreased,
it was off to hit the trails around Sheffield.

The first shock was the amount of movement, standing up uphill gave about 80mm of
travel, which was distinctly unpleasant. The first mile of offroad was similarly
unpleasant. However I then managed to ride a nasty drop off which I had never yet
cleared since converting to suspension, the steering stiffness allowing me to wrestle
the fork through, just like a rigid fork. My mate behind me went over the bars!!

Once I had decided to stop watching the forks moving up and down, I quickly realised
than the forks were just eating up the terrain. They had an extra 25mm travel compared
to the Z3′s, but most of this is taken up in neagtive sag. This means that the forks
can offer an enormous increase in traction, even over muddy terrain, whereas the
old forks offered only extra comfort. The Paces are very very stiff both in steering
and braking.

Upon reaching the rocky downhills of the route, on Burbage and Blacka moors, the
forks really showed their high speed stuff. It was just so much fun compared to the
old forks, the steering was almost as crisp as rigids, but the extra traction and
comfort as the forks simply absorbed the rocks was superb. The disc brake was also
better than it had even been, partly due to fork rigidity, and partly due to oil-free

As an engineer I was extremely impressed by the construction of the forks. They are
expensive, but you can see what you are getting for your money. Carbon lower legs
offset the weight of the steel upper legs. I think this is an excellent idea, hard
chromed steel is a far better bearing surface for forks, and makes the whole fork
stiffer. Hard anodised aluminium legs, as used by most other manufacturers is much
much softer than chromed steel, and will last only 2 or 3 years hard use.

The aluminium machining was perfect, and the alignment of the magnesium disc mount
also perfect. It was good (and unique) to see bolts coated in copper grease before
assembly – top marks.

Essentially this is not only a superb fork, but a hand made british product (just
like Hope brakes), which manages to remain competitive against the mass produced
competition. I can wholeheardtly reccomend them, despite the high price.



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08:54 25th January 2000 by Bikemagic
This weekend, I managed
to ride an Orange Mr XC back to back with the Marin FRS that I usually ride,
as I’m thinking of buying an Orange Sub 5.

Well a good start was that both bikes were running the same front forks
(Manitou SX ti) so that any difference in feel would be attributable to
the frame. The Orange is a lot plusher – this maybe due to the air shock
– I’ve not ridden an air shocked bike before. But the suspension works equally
as well as the Marins uphill. Where I could feel the small bumps on the
Marin smoothed out considerably on the
Orange the same type of bumps were almost imperceptible. Big bump action
was also better on the Orange – probably due to the extra inch of travel.
The steering seemed quicker and the Orange was lighter and smaller so much
more easily chucked around .

In spite of the frame sizes being 1.5″ different – Orange 18″, Marin 19.5″
I found the Orange was plenty long enough, bars were a little low (risers
would sort this out) but I did have the seatpost about 3/4″ out beyond the
Min Insertion point so I’d need a longer one for any purchase.

Given a choice I’d have taken the Orange rather than my own Marin, – 2000
double butted Marins are much lighter than my 1998 non-butted FRS frame
but the important thing (for me) was to make sure the bike rode in a similar
manner to the Marin and wasn’t going to have any suspension feedback I didn’t

I wouldn’t want to go as far as to say the Orange was better than a new
Marin but to my mind it’s clearly up there as a true alternative in terms
of performance and VFM. I’ll be ordering one later this week.


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13:26 17th January 2000 by Bikemagic


Scott Tigua


Let’s be honest. The Scott Tigua isn’t the sort of bike
that you lie awake at night dreaming about. It isn’t expensive. It doesn’t have suspension.
While the paint job is tasteful, it doesn’t elicit admiring glances from passers
by. The tires are better suited to street use and the odd canal towpath than serious
off-road work. No, this is the sort of bike you buy because it’s reasonably priced
and you think it’ll do the job. The only question is, how well does it do its job?
BORDER="0">The Tigua is the entry point to Scott’s Solution
series: a line of bikes designed for women. The fact that it’s a women’s bike seems
well known. A few times I’ve had people coming up to me to talk to me about it and
ask me how I get on with it.

The frame is straight-gauge 7005 aluminium in a standard diamond. There’s no fancy
bending of seatstay or exotic tube shapes, although there are some nice cutouts at
the rear dropouts. There’s a gusset on the underside of the down tube at the head
tube, but it’s welded at the end as well as along the edges, which concentrates stress
at the end weld. At least it looks the part. It has a plain curved steel fork which
is extra tall, so if you replace it with a suspension fork the geometry shouldn’t
get too messed up. The paintwork is neat, but not very durable: the cables of my
lights rubbed through it on one night ride. It has all the braze-ons for rack and
mudgaurds, although the tall fork would make attachment of a full front mudgaurd
a fiddle.

The wheels are decent, although budget. The “Formula RBP” hubs are alloy,
and there are 32 14-gauge stainless spokes laced to Alex rims. The rims are a simple
U shape, without eyelets, and have an annoyingly narrow braking surfaces, making
precise alignment of brakes a necessity. The surprising thing about the wheels is
that despite the basic components, the quality of the wheelbuilding is excellent.
These are very well-tensioned wheels, and as long as the hubs don’t go belly-up I
expect them to give good service until the sidewalls wear thin. I don’t know if this
quality of wheelbuilding is standard for Scott, or if it was tweaked by the shop
I got the bike from, Bothy Bikes in Aviemore.

Since this is a woman’s bike, it’s worth examining what exactly this means. The distinguishing
characteristic of a woman’s bike is usually a short top tube, since women in general
have shorter torsos and longer legs than men of the same height. I have the 17.5″
model, the second smallest. Its top tube is, according to the geometry charts, 53.5cm
(about 21″) long. The charts for my old Trek 950 list its top tube as 56cm (22″)
long. However in reality, the head tube is the same distance from the seat tube on
both bikes. Trek gives the “effective top tube” measurement, which is how
long the top tube would be if it were horizontal, while Scott gives the actual length
of the tube which is shorter. If you measure the “effective top tube” length
of the Scott you find it’s also 56cm (22″).

So the Tigua isn’t a real winner here, but it is quite short for a Scott. The geometry
charts list the 17.5″ Sport models as having a 55.5cm top tube, and the Racing
versions a 56cm top tube. Assuming the same method of measuring, that would be a
heck of a stretch. In contrast, the 17″ versions of Trek’s women’s specific
6500 and 8000 have effective top tubes of 53.4cm (21″). So if you’re looking
for a really short reach, look to Trek.

Returning to my two bikes, despite being the same effective length, there is a significant
difference in the top tubes on the Trek 950 and Scott Tigua: the one on the Scott
slopes more. Although the seat tubes of both bikes are the same length, the top tube
on the Scott joins the seat tube well below the top. This gives you more crotch clearance
on the Scott, but prevents the use of a big waterbottle on the seat tube. Not a problem
if you’re a Camelbak fan.

BORDER="0">The Tigua comes with a fashionable (although heavy steel) riser bar. At
24″ it’s of moderate width, and it should help to bring the grips up and back
to the rider. However as soon as I sat on the bike I felt way too stretched. It’s
the stem at fault. It’s 115mm long with almost no rise. Since the headset is threadless
and there is only a slim spacer, there is no chance for height adjustment. What is
this doing on a small ladies bike? My old Trek, not specifically designed for women,
came with a stem of the same rise but a centimeter shorter. Since it didn’t have
a threadless headset, I could raise the stem by quite a bit. I wonder if Scott had
some leftover stems from their mens race bikes, and they stuck them on the Tigua
to get rid of them. Whatever, it certainly doesn’t belong. My local bike shop sorted
me out with a stem about 85mm long and with about a 20degree rise. Ah, much better.


y2k update…

The Tigua I have is
the 1999 version. The 2000 version has been significantly revamped. The most noticiable
changes are in the frame, which is used for all but the top bike in the Solution
series, though with different paint. The color and shapes of the frame tubes of the
new Tigua really catch the eye. My bike is a mild-mannered black and white with red
bits. The new Tigua is a vibrant orange and blue-black. You wouldn’t think that tube
shapes would catch anyone’s attention, but these certainly do. They are flattened
and squashed into some interesting profiles that change along the length of the tubes
(Scott calls this Bi-Axial tubing). This certainly adds interest to the look of the
frame, although I don’t know whether it changes the ride of the bike. There are lots
of other changes too when you look closely. Gone is Gripshift, replaced by a basic
Shimano drivetrain. The wheels are now shod in MTB semi-slicks instead of the fat
slicks, which should result in better grip off-road. The threadless headset has been
replaced by an old-fashioned threaded one, although at least the stem is a much more
appropriate 85mm length and can be raised.

The geometry and riser bar seem to be unchanged, so I expect the new Tigua will be
just as fun slaloming down the singletrack. In addition the orange bits and cool
tube profiling will help prevent those boring bike blues. Thus the new Tigua is likely
to be as good an investment as the old: a bike that will get you rolling right away,
with a frame that is worthy of upgrades should you choose to make them.

A quick trip around the block told me that the Scott
Solution saddle didn’t suit me. Now, women usually have wider sit bones than men,
and I certainly don’t have a very slim backside. But this saddle was too wide for
me, getting in the way of my legs and preventing me from getting the weight properly
over the sit bones. So I ditched it. (This is a shame, because the saddle has neat
colour-coordinated stripes.) Instead I put on a plastic-covered Bontrager FS+10 which
I find works well for me: it’s not too wide or narrow, and it has a fair amount of
padding, but not so much that I sink in.

Something that ought to feature on women’s bike, but rarely does, is short cranks.
Some women are quite short, and yet most manufacturers expect them to use the same
crank lengths as tall guys, or at best they put 175mm cranks on big bikes and 170mm
cranks on small bikes. This is only a 3% difference, for an entire line of bikes
typically with sizes 16″ to 22″ (a 38% difference). In fact the big bikes
ought to have much longer cranks and the smaller ones shorter cranks. I find I get
on best with 165mm cranks, and I have put these on my Trek. I can tolerate the 170mm
cranks that come on all sizes of the Tigua, but anyone who’s small enough to ride
the 16″ bike would be much better off with shorter cranks.

After getting the bike sufficiently adjusted to suit me, I slapped on some clipless
pedals and took it for a ride. Quite a few rides in fact, over a couple of months.
At first it impressed me by being quite nimble in the singletrack. It’s not particularly
light (about 28 pounds according to my bathroom scale), but the riser bars really
help with control. My Trek has flat bars, just shy of 23″, with bar ends. I
found with the risers I got alot more leverage to both guide the front wheel and
to lean the bike into the curves. Before trying this bike I hadn’t been a fan of
riser bars, dismissing them as simply the current fashion. But hey, they work. At
least these ones do. I still don’t think I’d get along with the ultra-wide bars you
get on some bikes.


Using Photoshop to tilt the image by
10degrees made Myra look radder than she perhaps wanted…

The bike is at its best in smooth, twisty tracks. Taken out on rough surfaces, you
either find a line between the bumps or you get jolted about and have to struggle
to keep the bike on course.

I was quite pleased with the shifting, provided by Gripshift ESP 5.0 shifters and
rear derailleur, with Shimano sneaking in with an Acera front mech. This was my first
experience with Gripshift, and I found I get along with it very well. I like the
fact the I don’t even have to move my hands to shift: just tighten a couple of fingers
and twist. Simple. Gear changes were usually reliable, but a couple of times it acted
up in the mud, refusing to shift. Similarly, the brakes work fine too, although they’re
currently in a squealing mood and I need to sort them out.

The tires weren’t quite up to off-road riding. Scott seemed to be assuming (not unreasonably)
that this bike would be used mostly on the road. So it came with tires that are almost
perfectly smooth in the middle, with a row of knobblies on the edges. The knobblies
do help provide grip in corners, but they don’t help much when you’re going straight
over soft ground: staying upright becomes more a matter of balance than traction.
For winter use I’ve swapped in some Continental Cross Country 1.5″ tires. They
give far superior grip, and at about 500 grams each, they reduce the weight of the
bike almost 1 pound per tire (the original tires were a porky 900 grams).

In summary, this is a great bike to get you out on the trails. With the exception
of a far too long and low stem, the geometry is good, and as long as you put some
knobbly tires on it it’ll attack the singletrack with enthusiasm. Simply put, it
is great fun. I didn’t expect to like it this much, so I’m surprised to find myself
ignoring my heavily upgraded Trek to take out the Scott when the tracks aren’t too
technical. Since the Tigua has a pretty good frame, you can upgrade at your leisure
to make the bike lighter and more suitable for difficult terrain (via things like
clipless pedals and a suspension fork).

For further details visit Myra’s bike page at


09:07 17th January 2000 by Bikemagic

SIZE="2" FACE="Arial">Have you noticed recently a distinct lack of saddle choice
for bikes? [not really, but carry on - Ed] Everything seems to be either super-heavy
impotence-friendly cutaway monsters, or super skinny flites. Something in-between
would be nice, so about 8 months ago I decided to replace my trusted and battered
old rolls with a new aluminium railed Rolls 2. Then I did something inexplicable;
I decided not to fit it to my road bike, but my mountain bike! This is an out-and-out
roadie saddle, and aluminium saddle rails should last two minutes on an MTB. Anyway,
I decided to give it a go, half expecting to hear a sickening crunch on the first
outing. Well, bearing in mind that I weigh 16 stone (100kg) (YES!) and ride hard,
the saddle is still there after 8 months – the saddle rails are completed unharmed,
and it has proved extremely comfortable!

I can heartily recommend the Rolls 2 as an off road saddle, as it has a drooped nose
similar to the WTB, a tension adjuster screw, a nice tough leather outer which is
riveted on (not glued), and it weighs only 230g. The only problem is that it looks
far too nice to get muddy! It weighs only a smidgen more than a Flite but is substantially
wider and has far thicker padding. It also comes in titanium (for more flex), hollow
cro-mo, and boring steel rail flavours, all slightly heavier and cheaper. This alloy
railed one is approx £32-£35 (a lot less than a WTB) but you’ll probably
have to visit you’re roadie shop to find one. I’ll just have to buy another one
for my road bike now!!


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Members Review

10:07 11th January 2000 by Bikemagic

SIZE="2" FACE="Arial">I bought my Patriot as the shorter travel frame only option
(5" instead of 6") just over three months ago.I’d been thinking about a
more downhill orientated bike for a long time, and seeing Steve Wade (Orange Boss)
ride a Mr XC down the Megavalance course in the Alps made me think that at last there
was a make that was properly tested before being off-loaded onto the bike buying

I already had a Pace RC37 twin crown fork and I had some good strong wheels, so what
was missing I made up from Shimano’s new Deore Groupset and away I went. The two
week wait for delivery was a nightmare! I’d not had the chance to test ride one
before (apart from 30 seconds on Bex’s at the Megavalanche) so I was scared to death
that after spending sooo much money I wouldn’t like it. Thankfully, I did; and every
time I take it out I like it more!

It could be called a heavyish free-ride play bike, or a lightweight downhill bike…it
sort of sits inbetween the two and in the end it just depends on your point of view.
I’ve had it for three months now and it’s gone everywhere with me. WIDTH="180" HEIGHT="34" ALIGN="RIGHT" BORDER="0">

Patriots climbing abilities are mixed. Short sharp ramps (eg. a ten foot flight
of steps), are dispensed of with a huge grin, and even long 20Km forest track climbs
to the top of the world are comfy if taken at a relaxed pace, (a seatpost that can
be raised or lowered makes a huge diference to the versatility of a bike), however
those tricky steep ones have you off and pushing long before your mates on their
XC bikes. On the downward bits it rules, (No, really)!

travel FSR’s with Boxxers and Sintesi Bazookas etc. haven’t outclassed the Orange
on even the most vicious of rain sodden rocky sections, despite their far longer
travel, and it is the bike, not me. It seems to be a lateral rigidity thing, or just
spot on geometry, but ‘unflustered’ is the word that comes to mind, or perhaps ‘forgiving’.
It definately eggs you on, but not in a pushy way. It’s more like a good mate who’s
always going to back you up. You go faster and faster until you do something wrong,
but it doesn’t have you off. Instead you get ’round the corner or make it through
the minefield and the bike sort of tells you, all matter of fact, "You didn’t
do that very well, now did you?" And you think, "No, I didn’t, but cheers
for helping us out."

I took my XC bike out yesterday, a rigid with short travel forks, and realised that
I’m noticably faster overall than I was three months ago. It’s like a friend said
last weekend, "You’re really enjoying your riding again, aren’t you!"


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Members Review

08:30 9th January 2000 by Bikemagic




I recently bought a Gary Fisher X-Caliber from In-Tension,
Crowthorne, Bekshire, where I work.

After seeing the bike in the catalogue I became very interested in it almost straight
away. The quality of the parts on the bike and the price seemed to be a bit wrong
but after checking in the manual it was confirmed that it was £1600. I couldn’t
believe it, a hardtail mountain bike, full hydraulic discs, XTR rear mech, Bontrager
Race Disc wheels, all for £1600. I read a few reviews on the ’99 model which
wasn’t too disimilar and the general feeling was that it was a good bike. This was
enough for me and I layed my money on the counter and the bike was ordered in.

couple of days later I recieved a phoncall from the boss to say that my bike had
arrived and it was ready for collection. When I collected it i was very impressed,
the discs felt good even out of the box and it felt right when I sat on it.

The bike comes with Marzocchi Z3 flylight 100′s, XTR rear mech, Hayes fully hydraulic
disc brakes, Bontranger Race Disk wheels and Race crankset, Rockshox suspension seat
post and an array of other quality parts.

The genesis geometry is actually noticeable on the climbs and on the descents give
a lively and interesting ride. This bike comes alive on the singletrack, making you
want to go faster and faster.

On my first ride, I found that the Gary Fisher Genesis geometry was very noticeable.
The shorter chain-stays made it a quick climber and a fast descender. The discs were
getting even better and the Rock Shox suspension seat pin took the sting out of the
trail. Initially, I was not impressed with the Marzocchi Z3 Flylight 100′s but after
returning to work to fiddle with the air pressure the forks began to work more with
my weight rather than against it.

Four weeks later i am still very impressed with the package. I am in no way being
biased here, although I work at the shop where I bought it from, I can honestly say
this is the best hardtail I have had the pleasure to ride. You can find In-Tensions
details in the "Local" section of Bikemagic.com


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