2017-10-29

Bike Review: Windsor Clockwork Plus (Part 3)


Well, today’s post ought to take you back a few years. Four and a half years back, in fact. It was March 2013 when last I blogged about my Windsor Clockwork Plus bike. (Read Part 1 here.) Back then, I promised a subsequent review once I’d had enough time to ride the bike seriously. One would hope that in four years I’ve had enough time to do just that.

And I have. I’ve ridden hundreds of miles on my Windsor bike, most recently putting in about 60 miles on it every weekend, and more during the week if I find myself working from home. (My commute is too far to take my bike to work with me for workouts.) Each week, I seem to get a little faster. Keep in mind that I am quite a novice when it comes to cycling. I have the physical ability to cycle well, but I have very little experience. More on that in a moment.

How has the bike held up over the years? Let me say a few words about the bike’s components. Piece-for-piece, you’d have to spend about $800 to get a similarly-equipped Bianchi track bike. I spent $300 on mine, and they are still being sold for about that price. Meanwhile, the only thing I’ve had to replace so far is the rear inner tube. Once. That means that after four and a half years and hundreds of cycling miles, everything has held up superbly. Even that one inner tube I had to replace only wore out this year. Everything else is fine, beautiful even.

What are the weak links? Well, the reflectors never really tighten up. They don’t need to be rock-solid, of course, but you can move them around with your hand, if you want to. Big deal. They’re reflectors.

The other thing is the brakes. Now, look, I’m not an expert cyclist, so who knows what a real biking god would tell you? These brakes work just fine, even now. I’ve had to come to some sudden stops, and these brakes have worked perfectly. But they don’t feel great. They feel a little... I’m not sure. Cheap maybe. It’s hard to call them cheap brakes if they’ve held up for this long and this many miles, especially since they continue to work great. But they don’t have a very luxurious feeling to them.

Consequently, I think perhaps if and when I start making upgrades to my Windsor Clockwork Plus, the first thing I’ll do is upgrade the brakes and put on a fancy new grip.

But now I’m talking upgrades, future upgrades at that. What about the stock components? The seat is comfortable. I bought some biking shorts and now I can ride 30-40 miles in the stock saddle with comfort and ease. I’m utterly certain I could go twice that far without really hurting in the saddle region. The wheels are still beautiful. The tires might be wearing down a little, but still seem fine to me.

Long story short, this has become one of the best $300 purchases I’ve ever made. Who could have imagined that I’d have so much fun and bike so far in a $300 internet track bike? Amazing. You must buy one of these things.

Wait a minute: What about curb appeal? I mean, what do people say when they see my bike? To be honest, the other cyclists out there are pretty skeptical. They often want to know why I’m riding a “fixie.” (Note: The Windsor Clockwork Plus comes with both a fixed cog and a normal cog, which means that it can be both a fixie and a standard single-speed bike.) On the downhills, they leave me in the dust. It’s so easy to bike fast when you’ve got a few extra heavy gears on tap. Pedaling as fast as I can, I can get up to about 25 miles per hour. It’s fast enough for me, but the other cyclists out there can get going much faster without any effort at all. As I gain more experience, I’m learning how to keep up with them. A lot of this is about confidence. When you’re not used to biking at car speeds, it can be a little unnervering to ride that fast on a single-speed bike with your pedals flailing. But I’m getting there.

The real fun begins on the uphills. Okay, pumping hard up long hills isn’t for everyone, but all those fast downhill bikers eat my dust when I’m climbing hills. When you get accustomed to a single-speed bike, you become a master of hill work. This is great.

Have I said enough? This bike is so much fun. I recommend oneto everyone. Buy! Buy! Buy!