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Old 12-15-15, 01:37 AM
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I have put some 80 km on the bike so far. Not a lot, but I have taken it over a nice variety of conditions on routes I know well, so I think it is a good time for an initial review.

I'll reiterate where I'm coming from first, because I will be comparing the new with the old a lot. For the last few years I've been riding a Cannondale Six13 Pro, size 58. It fits me well as far as the contact points go and it rides well. I've been riding long enough that I'm well used to it, so that I find nothing in particular that stands out about it - other than very sensitive steering and a light feeling front end, for lack of a better word. Nothing drastic, but it always took a ride or two to regain full confidence after some time off the bike. I would like to point out that I don't think this was necessarily a problem with the bike itself as much as the combination of my body proportions and its geometry that didn't yield the right weight distribution for it to ride properly.

The word that came to mind first when I took the Bowman out for the shake down ride is "sharp". It feels a little easier to accelerate and especially easier to change directions. It is an interesting contradiction - the Bowman's steering isn't as sensitive to small inputs, yet the Cannondale doesn't take to quick successive turns as eagerly.

There is a pronounced feeling of dropping into a lean on the Bowman, and of rolling over a defined edge when changing directions and switching the lean from one to the other side. This is especially apparent when riding no-handed, and it makes the bike feel strangely tall. It is not a bike that's really easy to ride no-handed, at least not without some acclimatization, as it starts turning with a slight movement of the hips and then it's easy to overcompensate.

These were the impressions after the first ride around the block. With the winter almost here, it took some patience, but after a few days without rain I was eventually able to take the bike out for a more serious ride on dry roads on a loop that includes some rolling hills as well as varied road surfaces. For the first half of the ride there was nothing in particular to be noticed. The bike feels fine going up or down, or just rolling around on the flats. It was on a longish descent on a poorly paved bike path that it really gave me a big positive surprise. Now, I've never thought of my old bike as lacking on less than perfect roads, and I've ridden it on cobbles, gravel and cracked pavement without a second thought. You could even say that it's remarkably smooth on poor roads. However, I never really understood what they meant when they say that a bike feels "planted" until I took the new one down that bike path. I didn't even realize at first how naturally it would take and hold whichever line I'd see between the manhole covers and the unevenly paved patches, without a second thought. I don't think I would've noticed this if I hadn't ridden through this section many times before on the old bike, that's how natural it felt.

Finally, in the last third of the loop there are a couple of descents, not really long or very steep, but the best approximation of a proper descent I have close by. There are a few harder corners that can be taken without braking, but demand some attention and forethought. One thing I've learned when riding there on the Six13 is that I need to put most of my weight on the outside foot when leaning the bike into a fast corner in order to feel the best connection with the surface and to have a lower balance point. What I've noticed when taking the Palace on the same decent is that I can go faster and lean the bike further before I feel the need to push into the outside pedal like that. Remember when I wrote that the bike feels tall when riding no-handed? Well, it definitely doesn't feel like that when cornering hard, nor indeed when descending fast in a straight line, which was a weak point on the Cannondale. To the contrary, the Bowman seems to feel more stable the faster it goes.

All in all, I'm very pleased so far. I can't wait to put more kilometers on it. I'm also looking forward to trying it out on some gravel and proper pavé, possibly with some wider tires as well.

Last edited by Fiery; 12-15-15 at 01:41 AM.
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