So, while locally, we’re coming to terms with dropping temps, ice and snow, others are basking in the approach of summer. Some friends of our, Kyle and Shauna Gross, moved from Kamloops BC all the way to Australia a couple years ago. If you’ve ever been to Kamloops, then you know it’s one of the best mountain biking areas you could ever ask for, with dry, rugged foothills giving up miles and miles of endless downhill and singletrack fun. Now in Australia however, Kyle finds himself in a more road bike focused scene, and recently picked up a new ride. It’s funny how much ‘bike talk’ always comes around to our desire for that next new ride. Getting a new ride is always exciting to think about, and you can’t help but be a little envious when someone else is actually makin’ the move.
Guest Post by Kyle Gross
A brief look at my foray into the bike world…
A couple months ago I decided it was time for a new sport as my fitness has been lacking of late. With a busy work/home lifestyle I thought taking up biking would be a great way to have the option for a quick ride any time I liked, and it’s flexibility will allow me to work it in to my existing schedule. The first question was road or mountain? Eventually both, but how to choose?!
I grew up in Saskatchewan on the banks of the South Saskatchewan River (not literally) so mountain biking was all I had done. I enjoy the trails and the feeling of being immersed in trees while riding, but road biking appeals to me as well. I currently live in South Australia, where there is stunning coastline, beautiful vineyards and rolling paddocks all within biking distance from my house. The lack of mountains combined with the abundance of scenery, not to mention the smooth asphalt (no real winter here!) led me to choose a road bike for my first “real” bike.
Beginning to shop for a bike I knew nothing about was a bit daunting! This was a different experience than my last bike purchase 15 years ago when “shopping” meant walking into the local shop and picking the cheapest Norco mountain bike. When you’re not familiar with lingo such as Tiagra, 105, etc., a bit of homework is required…
I started by consulting two friends, Ken and Sheldon, who were a great resource to get me on the right track. It was a costly email exchange as the summary was to get the best bike I can within budget! It was great to get some advise from someone other than the salesperson, and they both had some helpful tips to get me started. I decided that as it was an investment I do not want to replace soon, an alloy frame with carbon forks running 105 was the way to go. I headed to my local shop and got down to business.
I was disappointed (though not surprised) that bikes in Australia are 10 to 25% more expensive than in Canada! There is a similar trend with most items i.e. vehicles, fuel, clothes, food, and so on. As many bikes and components are imported from North America, the weaker Aussie dollar means higher prices down under :(
After pricing out all the “big brands” and some European models with 105, I came across a beauty made by EMC2, which I hadn’t heard of. I learned that EMC2 is a company owned by Eric Mackenzie, New Zealand’s most successful cyclist, who after retiring from racing in Europe set out to design bike frames. After learning more about Eric’s passion for bikes, the quality of his products and the success of his business in Australia, I thought an EMC2 would be an awesome souvenir to bring back to Canada when I return.
Another draw to the EMC2 was I lucked out to find a 2009 model (Etape Pro) in stock and have them knock 25% off the price tag! This resulted in the best deal of all the brands with comparable components.
After a spin on the trainer in the shop and some adjustments to the bike, followed by some more shopping for all the extras (spare tube, tool kit, pump, etc.) it was nearly ready to go. An important change was switching the front brake to the left hand! Although Australian riders, and many European countries have the front brake with their right similar to motorcycles, I grew up with right hand rear braking on bikes so it was too engrained for me to make the switch. There are pros and cons to setting it up either way, but for me front brake on the left allows my left to remain on the primary brake while I use my right to reset the computer, grab a drink and give hand signals (as we ride on the left).
I went for my first ride recently and love the smooth feel of the bike and how it handles. I’m enjoying commuting to work on the new bike and look forward to many long rides on the weekends. With quality components on the Etape and a life-time warranty on the frame, I’m set for many, many kilometers of fun!
Ride on, Kyle! Ride on!