Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Russ's Review of the White Prototype

Milky Milky

Mark kindly lent me one of the prototype Milk bikes to try out for a weekend. I got the flat barred one,  medium frame, 8 speed Alfine, Avid BB 7 cable discs, front hub dynamo with Supernova lighting and one of those nice belt drive systems.

I commuted around 3000 miles last year on a Dawes Audax but that has a few limitations as a serious commuter – primarily 25c max tyre size and the normal road brakes which are poor in rain or foggy conditions. The transmission has also been completely replaced in the four years that I’ve had it, and some components more than once (ISIS BB anyone)?

I remember answering Mark’s original “perfect commuter” questionnaire a while ago so was keen to see what he’d come up with.

First Impressions:
It looks like a proper bike – slightly sloping top tube, but pretty much a traditional geometry. Not a hint of toe overlap, even with the SKS mudguards on.

The Pearl White paint is lovely, and hard wearing as it turns out. Attention to detail on cabling etc is fantastic, and the compact Tubus rack a nice detail. Easton finishing kit is the usual high standard.

It’s not the lightest bike ever, but considering it is fully equipped with lights, rack, disc brakes and a toolkit it is not overly heavy either.

On The Road:
First off it’s almost silent. The belt drive is a dream, and gives an almost Fixed feel to the transmission as there’s no backlash in the drivetrain. There’s also no chain grease or oil to glue grit to the bike or wear out the transmission.

The Alfine hub shifts instantly and can be shifted without pedalling which is great at the lights. There’s no freewheel noise either. The Alfine shifter works in reverse to a normal one which takes a slight bit of getting used to but the big Plus sign on the up shifter is a good idea.

The ride is super comfy on the 700x32 Continental Touring and pot hole avoidance becomes much less of a necessity. I chose to swap the Brooks saddle for one of my own for testing so can’t comment on that.

The flat barred version leans towards an MTB feel at the front – especially when up out of the saddle. I found the original bar position a little so high so I’d flipped the stem which suited me better. I found the initial response to steering input was sharp but the bike was never twitchy probably due to the overall wheelbase being fairly long.

There was plenty of braking performance available from the Avid BB7’s although that took a bit of a mindset change from grabbing as much as you can to stop on my normal bike. I didn’t get to try them in the wet.

Having the dynamo front light on at dusk was reassuring, as was not having to worry about the battery as I currently have to on my three hour round trip to work. The rear Fibre Flare and reflective sidewalls on the tyres are also nice details on a commuter at this time of year.

There are also three sets of bottle bosses and a set of rack bosses as standard, one of the bottles currently holding a toolkit.

I put around 30 miles on it over the weekend before an unseen patch of black ice sent me crashing down and ending the ride with an injured hand. To my relief, the only mark on the bike was a slight scuff on the rear rack!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the review, Russ - hope the hand heals quickly! Cheers, Mark