The information below is in addition to my main CHR review. Make sure you read that one first to get the details of my impressions of the bike. This page documents the upgrades and changes I have made since that review was written.
Updates for February 2019
As I noted in my main review, the front disc fork that came with the CHR frameset was far too big. You could just about fit a knobbly mountain bike tyre in there. This had two consequences: 1) the front of the bike was raised about 3 cm higher than it should be, greatly affecting forward vision on the most laid back seat position, and 2) The fork was so wide it was impossible to run a straight chain line from the chainrings to the idlers under the seat, because the fork legs got in the way. This meant the chain had to bend round the fork using a chain tube which is clearly not optimal.
How much power does a slightly bent chainline rob you of? To be honest, I think it is almost negligible. There is some friction in the chain tube, but it isn’t a huge deal. However, if weight weenies think they can improve performance by saving a few grams with the use of titanium bolts (which makes no measurable difference whatsoever), then surely this is at least something measurable worth doing. Even if it saves 2 watts, that’s measurable and might constitute around 20 seconds over a steady 1 hour for me. Over the course of a hilly sportive that might be anything between 30 seconds to a minute faster, so possibly worth doing if you’re concerned about being as fast as possible (which I am occasionally, although I have no illusions as to the previous ‘less than optimal’ history and current condition of my ageing and slightly vintage motor).
In any case, I wanted the seat as flat as possible and I needed to lower the front of the bike, so I replaced the front fork with something more practical. Dieselgeezer on BROL recommended a Condor Pioggia carbon disc fork which was an excellent recommendation. As you can see, it has a much better fit. This fork lowers the front of the bike by around 3 cm, meaning that forward vision is greatly improved. I had tried the lowest seat pillar on the previous fork, and I hit 3 potholes in under 5 minutes because I literally couldn’t see where I was going. Very dangerous. With the new fork, vision is about the same as it was previously on the middle seat pillar, which means not too bad. It’s similar to the Fuego with the open cockpit bars in terms of visibility and is more than good enough for me, providing you are more careful when you have to pick your way through road debris at slow speed.
The Pioggia fork is much narrower too, which means that my chain line is now almost perfectly straight – hurrah! There is a slight rubbing between the chain tube and the fork which I need to sort before it gets any worse, it’s already slightly marked the finish on the new fork.
I have tinkered with the chain line endlessly (as seems to be the norm with many CHR owners online), trying to get it as friction free and noiseless as possible. I briefly tried an over/under setup with no chain tube, but there was just enough fork obstructing the chain occasionally that it wasn’t going to work, even with the Pioggia, so I’ve gone back to the raised return chain. There was also still a lot of chain / wheel interference in this configuration, and that’s one thing I just don’t want to have to think about. The chain line is pretty good now, and I reduced the noise by spacing the idlers under the seat a bit better.
I now have the seat in the lowest position (I ordered the frameset with both the small and medium pillars). I like this position more than the medium pillar. I find very reclined positions much more comfortable on the glutes, and it more or less removes the possibility of recumbutt for me. Your weight is more spread out along your back, so less pressure on all contact points. I do not suffer any loss of power at this angle – I don’t intentionally brace against the seat back, even when putting out threshold intensity – and there’s more space in the cockpit between your torso and the bars. An all round win situation!
The only downside is the reduced visibility which I sorted with a more compact fork. Putting on a smaller fork has meant the recline of the seat is also a bit less as the front of the bike drops by 3 cm, so it’s still fairly close to the middle pillar setting on the old fork, a little more reclined but nothing outrageous. The whole front of the bike is now lower and more compact. Theoretically if I was at the same recline as before but with a slightly more compact vertical profile, I should be slightly more aero. My rides to date haven’t really suggested any improvement, although I have Durano tyres on just now so it’s hard to tell.
I have struggled with mirrors on this bike. The bars are so small there’s not a lot of real estate. I originally ran a B&M Cyclestar mirror which David at LBB added on for free. This is an excellent choice as it puts the mirror quite far out to the side giving great rearward visibility. However I didn’t like the aesthetic so I took it off. I tried helmet mirrors too – not too bad, but a bit of eye contortion required and lets face it, you look a bit daft with a big bit of plastic sticking out of your head. Eventually I went back to the tried and tested Zefal Spys which I have on all my other bikes. They are so small and lightweight, you can more or less hide them behind the bars for negligible aero penalty. The only thing is the bars are so narrow that you don’t get such good rearward visibiity. To see behind you requires you to turn the bike slightly to the side as you ride otherwise all you see is your shoulder and neck. Nothing I’ve tried really appeals to me, so this is something I need to play with further. I’ll probably go back to the Cyclestar in the meantime.
I originally had my Garmin wrapped round the bars with the rubber band mount, but this sticks up into the wind a bit, so I put the ‘out front’ mount on, but I point it backwards and tilt it slightly downwards. So it’s more of a ‘in your face’ mount when lying back on the seat. This position puts the Garmin quite close to my face and hides it out the wind completely, at the expense of having slightly less space to sit up in when negotiating things at low speed. Speaking of Garmins, the battery in mine is pretty much dead. It barely lasts 2 hours now, even with everything non-essential turned off. It’s lasted 3 years of heavy use which isn’t too bad. It has a cracked screen, and some of the electrics are a bit dodgy as the charging socket cover fell off some time back and I sometimes forget to put a bit of tape over it when it’s raining. I think it’s going to be relegated to ’emergency backup’ status very soon.
The bike now feels pretty much dialed in. I’m just waiting on the Angletech Aeropod Lowracer seat bag to arrive. In the meantime I will continue to use the Fastback Double Century bags which work great, but perhaps catch the wind a little.
Riding the M5 with all the modifications hasn’t been too much of a change. The whole bike is slightly lower and more compact and the line of sight is slightly different, but it all seems OK so far. Unfortunately the roads are still covered in salt and other assorted mess so I’m not taking the M5 out much just now. I’ve had one decent blast round the Innerleithen loop on it and it was all working very nicely. The best purchase so far has definitely been the Sram R2C bar end shifters. I just absolutely love them. I’ll update more once I’ve had some proper time on the bike and put the faster tyres back on. I’m hoping for a small speed increase to justify the expense of the new fork…..
Updates for March 2019
I’m going round in circles. I got the bike last summer with the fixed tiller, then put the Nazca lifting tiller on quite soon after. Over the winter I decided to put the fixed tiller back on, but I’ve now decided that this isn’t worth the extra hassle, so I’m putting the Nazca one back on again 🙂 For the sake of saving at most 2 or 3 hundred grams in weight and perhaps a tiny aero improvement due to a slightly lower profile, I don’t think the fixed tiller gives any added benefit.
On the other hand it adds significant handling issues when doing things such as balancing at low speed, and most significantly, seeing what is coming at a junction. When you can’t sit up at a visibility-impaired junction, it’s hard to tell if anyone’s coming and you end up unclipping, putting a foot down and then checking which is laborious and kludgy.
I’ve resprayed the Nazca tiller black to fit in with the overall M5 aesthetic and it’s turned out pretty nice. I used the first piece of the Nazca stem (the bit that attaches to the base, and then the second piece of the M5 stem and the M5 bars.
With the tiller lifted you can sit up and edge forward at really low speed without unclipping and oftentimes you can move off without needing to put a foot down. Balance is so much improved when you can sit right up, and you can see round a junction earlier to make the decision on whether or not to go or stop.
Can I ride with the fixed tiller? Yes. Could I get used to it? I’m pretty sure I could. But I don’t see the point in deliberately making a bike harder to ride for no perceived advantage. Maybe if I was a high powered super athlete then the incremental improvements that the fixed tiller may offer in terms of rigidity and aero improvement would become important, but for plain old me, it’s just not worth the bother.