My Storck has been tempting me all winter, sitting there looking wonderful in the garage. Each time I’ve gone into the garage I’ve walked past it for my mountain bike or winter hack. I resisted getting it out in the recent spell of good weather as I knew that once I rode it then I wouldn’t want to put it away again for the inevitable bad weather that would follow. Today I decided that enough was enough and it was time to fettle it up and take it for a spin. Was it worth the wait?
My winter hack is actually a fairly decent bike, just an old one. It is a Giant Peloton Super Lite (PSL) that I bought sometime in the mid 90′s. The only original components are the frame, forks and handlebars. I refreshed the rest of the components to a mix of Ultegra and 105 back in 2009. It was originally designed as a full on race bike. It is very long and doesn’t have much in the way of concessions on it i.e. no rack mounts or space for anything other than the thinnest mudguard. It has also done quite a few events and races, including 10 and 25 mile time trials and the Etape Caledonia twice. In fact last year I averaged just under 20mph on the Etape Caledonia on it because delivery of my Storck was delayed. All in all, it is a great bit of kit that cost well under £1000 when I bought it new.
In comparison my Storck Scenero is a piece of German designed loveliness. It really does look the business and is noticeably much lighter than the PSL. It cost around £2600 including upgrading the wheels to a pair of Easton EA90′s. Most of that money has gone into the frame and forks. It is beautifully designed and is rigid and flexible in all of the right places. The groupset is the 2011 Shimana 105, which has been brilliant and all-in it is a great package.
Now onto the meat of the article. I pulled the Storck out of the garage this morning, pumped the tyres and oiled the chain. It felt much lighter than the PSL straight away and just riding it to the end of the road I could feel that much more of my leg power was reaching the back wheel. This is exactly as you would expect from such a pedigree of race bike. Throughout the entire ride you feel that all of your power is making you go faster and it isn’t being lost through a bendy frame. On the PSL sudden sprints are noticeably dampened by the frame flex and you can feel it bending any time that you get out of the saddle. Conversely the carbon frame is designed so well that the Storck also absorbs bumps in the road more effectively than the PSL. From my experience with early carbon bikes I seem to remember early carbon frames doing totally the opposite, and being very uncomfortable on anything other than perfect tarmac. The Storck also has a shorter wheelbase, making the reach a bit less lengthy and the position a bit more comfortable for distance. Although somehow this doesn’t translate into a twitchy ride due to the angle of the headstock and position of the front wheel. I find it to be a very neutral handling bike and can position it exactly where I want it on the road.
Possibly the most important question that you are all asking is “did it make me go any faster?” The answer in this case is that it didn’t, much to my surprise. However, this is probably explained by the fact that I wasn’t going flat out. I was trying to pedal at the same perceived effort that I ride with on a normal training ride and my average speed ended up being exactly the same as I would have expected on the PSL. The bike gave the impression that it would be much more efficient when pushed harder than my PSL, leading to faster times when ridden in a competitive manner.
Is it worth the money? To me the answer is yes. This is because I find the Storck a joy to ride and a pleasure to look at, in short it is very nice to have a bike that looks the part. I also like to have a bike that I know wont detract from my performance when I want to ride competitively and I’ll be seeking to set another good time on a number of Sportives this year, as well as a few time trials.
Is the expensive bike ncessary? I would say no. They are wonderful to own, but spending any more than £1000 is really overkill and you should only do it if you can afford to do so. The sub £1000 market is incredibly competitve and you’ll get some brilliant machinery for that price. Saying that, one of my frequent riding partners just spent £4600 on a new bike and no doubt I’ll be cooing over its shiny bits as much as anyone
The one thing that nobody warns you about though is that the first few months of owning an expensive bike are fraught with terror! Every time a stone pings off the frame you’ll want to check for a chip. You wont want to leave it alone in the garage and everyone that looks at you is a potential thief. I even took out bicycle insurance, as the Storck is way over the limit for my home insurance. Looking back on it this was overkill and I wouldn’t do it again, as I find bicycle insurance to be incredibly inpractical. Now I’ve calmed down and settled in to my usual routine of lubing the chain before each ride and ocasionally giving the bike a wash.