So, having built my Lynskey Sportive frame up into a bike, what is it like to ride? The focus of this review is on its suitability for long distance audax events, these are cycling events covering distances of 200km and above and for me involve at least 8 hours in the saddle. A bike therefore has to be comfortable on all the pressure points (hands, feet, bum); have predicable and neutral handling (some events are >24 hours so I’m riding when very tired, I don’t want the bike to be doing anything if my attention wanders a bit); be efficient (I don’t want my efforts wasted by an overly compliant frame or excess weight).
Obviously this is not just down to the frame but involves a combination of many parts, in particular the saddle, handlebars and wheels and the way they interact. All the parts used in building up the Lynskey came from my previous audax bike, a Van Nicholas Yukon, and are tried and tested over many, many hours and kilometres of riding. I rode the Yukon on a 1000km, 1500km, 3 x 1200km rides as well as many shorter events in total adding up to around 20,000km. Apart from the odd saddle sore and some temporary numbness in my hands and feet it was very comfortable.
The other bike I have ridden long distances on is my carbon frame Orbea Onix, though generally these have been rides of 200km or 300km. Over longer distances the stiffness and harshness of the frame makes itself noticeable resulting in blisters, soreness and general fatigue. As I said above, the Lynskey has been built using tried and tested parts from the Yukon, the main variable is therefore going to be the new frame.
The geometry of the Lynskey frame is slightly different to that of the Yukon. In particular the top tube is slightly shorter and the head tube is slightly longer. This gives the rider a more upright position compared to the Yukon. Although in my case, as I was using the forks from the Yukon, I had to reduce the height again as the fork tube wasn’t long enough to accommodate the 25mm stack height from the Yukon. This was reduced to 15mm on the Lynskey so the hub centre to handlebars distance remains the same as on the Yukon. The rear triangle is a bit smaller as is the wheelbase potentially making this a more nervous handling bike.
Firstly, in my opinion, this has built into a great looking bike. Generally I’m not a fan of compact geometry but this is not too aggressively compact and if anything gives the bike a more purposeful look. It also seems to show off the elegance of the Campagnolo drivetrain with particular effectiveness. OK, so I think it is pretty, how does it ride.
I have to say, I’ve ridden a fair few bikes over the last year or so but never have I noticed such a difference on riding a new one for the first time. As soon as I sat on this bike and pedalled off down the road it felt smooth. It just seem to iron out irregularities in the road surface. The second impression was one of instant response, press on the pedals and the response is immediate. It doesn’t feel as if any of your energy is going to waste. It really was a revelation, you just wanted it to go faster.
My first ride was a local 45km training loop that includes a couple of hills and some long fast sections: this normally takes about 1hr 40min on the Yukon and 1hr 35min on the Orbea (with lightweight wheels). It took 1hr 36min on the Lynskey for about the same level of effort. This is an efficient bike and seems to encourage you to put just a little more effort in. The stiffness at the rear was very noticeable on the climbs, particularly when climbing out of the saddle there is no apparent flex from the frame. This is achieved without the ride feeling at all harsh, there is clearly some clever trickery engineered into the frame. The handling is quick making the bike very nimble but it always remains stable, never feeling that it is going to do anything untoward. On the contrary it never wanders on the road and isn’t easily deflected by bumps and minor potholes – I’ve never been very good riding with ‘no hands’ but this bike makes it easy. Conversely, it responds to the lightest touch, just a small shift in weight is enough to get the bike turning. These characteristics are most apparent going downhill, you choose your line and the bike follows it, bumps and irregularities don’t shift it off line. I was immediately comfortable and confident at speed with this bike.
While instantly comfortable, there were some niggles on the first ride, the most obvious is that it felt cramped – the seat/bars distance was set the same as the Yukon but my legs didn’t feel as if they had enough room. So for my next ride I raised the seat by 1cm.
On the following weekend I had planned to do two 200km rides, both with a significant amount of climbing (each ride would have two climbs of >300 metres) on consecutive days. This would be a good test for the bike. My first impressions from the shakedown ride were confirmed, this is a comfortable, stable and fast bike. Both of the major downhills on the rides were ridden without using the brakes and speeds in excess of 80km/hr achieved and the bike remaining completely steady with no hint of a shimmy. In fact, if anything you don’t feel as if you are travelling as fast as you actually are. There were a number of occasions when I felt I ought to be moving faster for the effort but a glance at the computer showed I was travelling quicker than I appeared to be. This bike really inspires confidence with its mixture of stability and nimble handling.
On the flat and on rolling terrain it is easy to keep the bike moving along at a good pace. On rolling terrain the bike will carry the speed from the downhill sections helping you over the rises. This is similar to the Yukon where once the bike was up to speed you can ease back on the pedals a little and keep the pace constant. On the Orbea you have to keep the effort level up to keep the bike moving, ease back and it slows down and on rolling terrain momentum was easily lost on the rises.
After the first 200km ride the cramped feeling still remained so I raised the seat a bit more for the second ride. It improved matters but didn’t solve it. My next change will be to move the seat rearwards a little. Other than that, the contact points were good with no numbness or soreness.
In conclusion, to say I’m impressed is an understatement, this is a significant improvement over the Van Nicholas Yukon giving me the comfort of the Yukon and the speed and handling of the Orbea coupled with a level of stability greater than either of the other two bikes. The only downside being the slightly cramped feeling but I’m convinced that can be solved with a bit more adjustment in position. In fairness to the Yukon, it probably isn’t the best bike to be comparing it to, the newer Zephyr is likely to be a better comparison. However, the Yukon does remain one of the favourite bikes for long distance riding.