This, Ladies and Gentlemen, is the thoroughbread of bikes. The Red Rum, the Desert Orchid, the Black Beauty of the two-wheeled world. I came up with the race-horse analogy after getting back on the old Emmelle (bought for her beautiful retro looks rather than her performance) last night for the first time since cycling to Brighton on The Specialized Ruby Expert and thought, it’s like getting back on an old donkey after riding a thorough bread racehorse, or like going back to economy once you’ve tasted upper class. How could I ever have considered riding the Emmelle 54 miles from London to Brighton? Lord knows, and thank goodness I didn’t, as it might have been a very different story.
Luckily I sit here, two days after a very enjoyable and relatively easy ride without an ache or pain (or a sore bum thanks to Vaseline and a gel saddle cover). And I know it’s all down to this black beauty, the “lightest, best women’s road bike in the world" according to Specialized.
I must admit it wasn’t love at first sight for me. I like the retro look, and this bike is the embodiment of all things modern with features I’ve not even heard of like a FACT Az1 8r carbon frame, monocoque carbon forks, a pro carbon crankset, Shimano Ultegra 10-speed STI shifters and a Roval Echappee wheelset – and things I have heard of like women-specific ergonomics. But one lift – one ONE-ARMED easy peasy lift – followed by a few turns round West Smithfield and I’d fallen hard. The boys in the office were drooling the minute she came out the box, offering to tinker with her parts, which ended in me taking her to Condor to be fixed, thanks boys.
The first ride to work on her and I shaved 10 minutes off my usual time of 40 without even trying. The ridiculous lightness meant I didn’t even have to change gear on the hills and being able to lift her easily up the steps into my house was a bit plus point, as silly as it sounds. But it was during the 54 miles to Brighton that she really shone. In the starting field she drew admiring glances from guys in full racing gear who obviously knew what they were talking about. Hills were a doddle (except for Ditchling but by that time even the fittest had to push) and we outstripped the pack on most downhills, where I was brave enough to fully let go of the breaks.
It’s a shame that in today’s society there’s no way you could use a bike of this calibre for everyday. You just wouldn’t be able to lock it up outside, even for 10 minutes while you got your groceries, without it getting pinched. But if you’re serious about your bikes and can afford the £2K price tag, then this is the steed for you.
I’m going for one final gallop on Black Beauty before I’m relegated back to the donkey category, for the time being.
The Ruby Expert £1999.99 www.specialized.com 020 8391 3500