During a few years working in the bike industry while I put myself though university I was fortunate enough to be able to test ride a large number of bikes. From the latest carbon superbikes to £500 commuters, I’ve found that no matter the price point there are some bikes that make sense straight away and others that you really have to work to like. I can honestly say that the road disc bike Qoroz have built for me to ride in the Trans Am Bike Race falls into the former category.
As it turns out, this was just as well. A busy week at work after collecting the frame from Qoroz meant that my first ride was the Dean 300km Audax. I’m fairly confident in my mechanical abilities but even so I was slightly nervous about riding a new bike on such a long initial test run.
I really shouldn’t have worried – the bike worked flawlessly and I don’t think I’ve ever been so comfortable after a long day in the saddle. Not only was a pain free after a hilly 190 miles, the bike climbed like a rocket and cornered on rails. I appreciate that quite a few reviewers use similar terms to describe lots of road bikes (and I’d have to agree that lots of bikes are designed to climb and corner well), but it’s rare to find one that can combine sure handling and a serious turn of speed with genuine all day comfort. A large portion of the praise for achieving this combination has to go to Qoroz’s Chris Davies.
When I sat down with Chris in January to talk through the design of my race bike, we wanted to produce something that would allow me to go faster for longer. Taking the stock Qoroz Road Won as a template to work from, we shortened the chain stays and used a larger diameter down tube – effectively decreasing the wheelbase and adding stiffness to make the bike faster. Unlike some carbon bikes that implement seriously stiff layups to make bikes responsive, our changes didn’t have the effect of making the bike noticeably harsher to ride.
Prior to partnering with Qoroz, I’d been using a Genesis Croix de Fer as my distance bike – while its steel frame and relaxed geometry make it a comfortable bike, it isn’t in the same league as the Qoroz when it comes to laying down fast miles.
Since its maiden voyage I’ve managed to put more than 1000 miles in the saddle of my Qoroz. I’ve ridden it on fast paced local training rides, on hill climb sessions, and on the 400km ‘Buckingham Blinder’ Audax. It’s continued to perform absolutely flawlessly and I’ve got complete confidence that it’ll continue to do so when I take it to America in June.
The Avid BB7 disc brakes add a small amount of weight but are well worth the penalty when the additional durability and stopping power are factored in, while the Ultegra 11spd groupset is reliable and slick.
No bike is complete without a good set of wheels and I’m pleased with my decision to go with HED Belgium + rim, Sapim CX-Ray spokes, a DT Swiss 240s rear hub, and a SON delux front dynamo hub. The dynamo adds a bit of weight, but again will be worth the penalty when it comes to getting in the miles after dark in the USA. For the Transcontinental last summer I used Stans 400 rims – they were more than up to the job and got me across Europe without issue – but the HED rims are noticeably stiffer and consequentially considerably faster.
So far all my gear decisions are working as expected and I have confidence that I’m not going to be held up by my equipment in the USA.
I’m now into the final stages of preparing for the Trans Am Bike Race and just about have my training between now and then planned out. I’m going to ride up to Yorkshire and back to see some family over Easter – that should be around 230 miles up there on the Friday and another 230 on the Monday with two family days in the middle. Then on the 30th May I’ll start a ride from London to Rome – I’ve found that there’s no substitute for big multi-day rides when training for a race like the Trans Am and I hope that my adventure down through Europe will help me get my head in the right zone for big miles in the USA. I’ll be posting some more info on my planned route a bit closer to the time, along with some more thoughts on the bike and information on my gear setup after the trip.
Full disclosure: As some of you will have noted, Qoroz is supporting me for the Trans Am Bike Race. However, rest assured that the opinions expressed above are my own and Qoroz have in no way influenced my review. Part of my role is to help provide honest and accurate feedback so Qoroz can continue to design and produce great bikes — I wouldn’t be doing a good job if I just noted the positives!