Rock Rider 8.1 Mountain Bike Review

So after almost a year of trying to convince a friend to get rid of his old bike for a new one I managed to get him to purchase a Rock rider 8.1 by B-twin which is Decathlons cycle company. I didn’t own one but  the specs and bike reviews for this bike where simply great and you couldn’t get better value for money at the time or even today to be honest as Decathlon really do get you great spec for your money.

So once he bought it and I tried the bike my self (be it in a size smaller ) I decided to buy one as I needed to ship my Rock Rider 9.1 to London to keep my training sessions going even when on holiday or on my weekends there.

As usual the day I got the bike I immediately changed the handlebar and pedals. Due to knee issues as you may already know if you have read my review on my Giant TCR, I switched to flat pedals as the bike comes with SPD pedals as standard. I have ridden it with the SPD’s and yes it is faster but for day to day use and when you are doing steep descents with it I much prefer a good pair of flat pedals. Anyway that said lets get straight to the point of this review and see what this bike can do.

Let’s start with the Specs

big_ec17826c4fce433bbfc1688ea800bf30Mountain Bike Discipline : XC (recreational to local race use)

  • Frame Double-thickness 8 series competition 6061 T6 aluminium frame; racing geometry; 1.85 kg in size M. Lightweight and resistant. Its geometry offers an ideal combination for climbs and descents.
    Available in 5 sizes: S; M; L; X
  • Fork New Rock Shox RECON Silver TK 100 mm fork Remote Lock-Out
  • Suspension
  • Drive train SRAM X7 front derailleur
    SRAM X7 rear derailleur; 9 speeds;
    Push pull SRAM X5 levers.
    Shimano Deore M590 22x32x44 crankset with
    SRAM PG950 11×32 9-speed cassette
  • Brakes TEKTRO AURIGA COMP hydraulic disc brakes with 160 mm rotors. Powerful, progressive in any circumstanc
  • Handlebar Comp 600/ 640mm raised handlebar, oversize diameter for greater durability. The position is higher to provide more control and comfort without affecting performance.
  • Stem Rockrider Comp stem, oversize diameter, for more durability.
  • Steering Aheadset headset by VP.
  • Saddle New Rockrider COMP saddle by Velo
  • Seatpost Rockrider COMP seat post
  • Wheels Rockrider Comp 32 hole rims by Rigida Hub JT D041/D142, 2 mm stainless steel spokes Sealed bearings.
  • Tyres Nouveau Pneu Michelin Country Trail

The only thing I really think that is disappointment on the bike is the saddle as its way to hard. I rode the bike from the shop to my place and immediately changed it for one that I knew I was comfortable with. My mate who has the same bike seems to not mind it it even though he admits is a little hard on the bottom on a medium to long ride. I simply changed the handle bars to a pair spare white ones I had (although they have changed many times since depending on the ride I am doing) as I really don’t like black handle bars on a bike (personal preference). And it lightens up the very dark frame. And I then added flat downhill pedals as with a good pair of mountain bike or skate boarding shoes, the grip is just great when bombing down a step hill. However when used with SPD’s this bike is a rocket on the flats and climbs.

I love the SRAM mountain bike gears systems and since I first started using them my Rockrider 9.1, I am now addicted to their levers. I hate the Shimano shifters as I don’t find they are conducive to down hilling. The back and front shifting mechanisms work great and are easy to maintain. The hydraulic brake systems is very good although adjusting them is really hard if you like levers that don’t have to much leeway.

The frame is not the lightest but it is manoeuvrable and reactive. The suspension is good but not the best I have used, however at this price it’s a good fork. If the bike was on sale for lets say 400€ more with this fork I would say it was a rip off.  But at the price the bike is sold with all the other parts is a good fork. Whilst on the price of the bike 1 Euro under 700€, it’s being sold for me under it’s real price which should be closer to the 800€ mark as most of the more well known bike brands sell bikes at the twice the price with lesser specs and the frame quality is slightly better that’s all.

It handles great on the road even with the cross country tyres. On dry off roads single tracks and rocky patches the bikes tyres handle great as they are well suited for that. When it gets moist or muddy this is where the tyres show their weakness. They lack grip in the wet stuff but are great on the dry stuff. The wheels are tough and not the lightest but if you are not going to use the bike in a  semi pro race then they will do you just fine.

So as you can see I have enjoyed riding this bike for the last 9 months or so at least twice a week on 20-30km bike rides in the forests around Paris and it’s perfect for the distances I we do. I have taken it on a Tours of Burgundy where I would use it to get between fishing spots and even did a little downhill with it and it was just great. If you are looking for a good quality bike that you can use to commute with (lever in handle bar to lock out fork) and then hit the trails with as well then this is the one for you. It won’t break the bank, but it will get you wanting to ride more and more trails.

Bargain if you ask me !

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At the top the hill over looking St. Moré village.

Back once again for a blog update !

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So what is there to look forward too in my next blogs ? I have been so busy since I last blogged that I haven’t had time to write any new material and keep you all up to speed on what is going on my small world.

So here are the forth coming topics.

  • Rock Rider 8.1 review
  • Rock Rider 9.1 review
  • Fishing and Mountain Biking in Burgundy France
  • Fishing in Paris
  • Mountain Biking in Paris
  • My trip to Manchester and Ribchester England
  • Restaurant Reviews (London and Paris)

Ok then its time to get back to the keyboard and update you all !!!

Hope you enjoy !!

Zambia August 2013 Fishing Trip

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A couple of my mates that live in Zimbabwe and South Africa go fishing in August on the Kafue in Zambia every August when the river levels are down and the water is very clear. I hadn’t been able to go up until 2013 due to work commitments but this time I made sure that I would be part of the party. So flights booked and new rods and reels purchased for the occasion as the tackle i had was way to heavy for the fishing that I would be doing. I let my mates buy the lures as they knew which spinners worked best in the part of the river that we would be fishing. We were after big mouth bass bream and at night catfish. Up until now I can’t really tell you exactly where we were or what the name of the concession we staying at is called as its not your everyday camp site. Lodged in the middle of the African bush  a good 3 hour drive on dirt roads to get the camps site from the main turn off and you arrive at one of the  most beautiful spots I have stayed at in Africa.Once again the chalets were simple and old school nothing luxurious, but then again that’s what we were after.

So after an 18 hour journey from Paris to Lusaka via Johannesburg in  South Africa I touched down in  Lusaka and my mate and his girlfriend picked me up for what should have been a 5 hour drive to the camps site. But as we found out it would take longer than that when you get a little lost in the African bush at night. So after 7 hours and many detours later we found the camp and arrived at 11pm. By midnight we were unpacked and asleep as the plan was to be on the water by 8am latest to fish.

The next morning everyone was up by 06:30am getting rods and tackle ready and by 8am we had split up into two groups of four fisherman each. I was about to learn how to fish in water infested with crocodiles. Now I am used to fishing with crocodiles around me but from the relative safety of a boat but not when in the water which is a totally different ball game. Plus having to wade against the current with the sharp rocks beneath you made for a very physical fishing week. Luckily a friend brought his inflatable boat for the other days.

Now in  August the weather is still rather chilly as its the end of winter. So the water is cold the mornings are too but by 11am its already 25 plus degrees.The water level being low at this time of year due to no rain having fallen for months means it easier to catch fish when they hide in the deeper pools, but in order to get there you need to wade through the river. At first you find this scary as you expect there to be crocs everywhere ready to attack but as our pro-guide friend who was fishing with us said, they won’t attack in very shallow water as they know we can see them and the water being so clear means they are really way to visible. However we never waded or put limbs on the line in dark green water as you can’t take the chance of a croc being there.

So after my first hours fishing and adrenaline rush in check I started to relax and get down to what I had flown and driven all this km’s for and that was the fishing.

While my friends who had fished these waters before were catching it took me a good three hours to catch anything and once I had I would catch a fair few but not what I was aiming for. We were catching way to many Pike, which are not indigenous to the area and causing havoc to the eco system. However they do give a nice fight. We would feed some to the fish eagle who were all to happy to have a free takeaway meal that required no effort to catch.

So after good first days fishing with the other groups members catching some nice big fish we called it a day and headed back to camp where every night we would enjoy five star barbecues of fresh caught fish cooked by the camp chef and meat from our mates dads butchery braiied (barbecued if you are not from southern Africa). Kudos to him the meat was some of the best I have ever eaten, put it this way Wagyu beef sucks by comparison.

On day two we decided that each day one group would have the inflatable in the morning and the other group in the afternoon. This made getting to hard to get pools much easier but with the river being so low we had to watch out for rocks and sharp objects and Hippos. So we did this on a daily basis and fishing from the boat was much more relaxing and enabled us to recover from the physicality of fishing from within the water.

However boats do have their dangers as we found out on two occasions. After a great afternoon fishing we found a spot where the fish were biting and forgot how far we were from camp and that it would be dark very soon. When we realised this we tried to paddle as quickly as possible to the camps but realized we would be navigating in the dark in a croc infested river and no torch (well I had a key ring torch on me luckily). However what we didn’t plan on meeting was a young hippo. Now hippos seem like relaxed docile creatures but don’t let them deceive you, they are the number one killer of man in Africa (by a mammal). I spotted the hippo looking at us and sounded the alarm, as they are very territorial animals and are known to flip boats. We paddled to shore asap. and waited and luckily he swam to the other side. Adrenaline pumping we decided to really make a beeline for camp and paddled furiously in the 20cm deep water taking risks in regards to putting a hole in the bottom of the boat.  After an hours navigating with a pocket torch we made it to camp for a well deserved beer and to tell our story around the camps fire. Little did we know that this would be only our first encounter with a hippo, our next one would be much more adrenaline pumping.

During the day some of us would give fishing a miss for an hour or two and go for a game drive as the concession were were on is full of game, specifically elephant, various antelope species, lion, cheetah and buffalo. On one of our game drives we spotted both Lion and cheetah. One could tell that this area was well protected from poachers etc. as the animals did not really fear man. At night we would hear the lions roaring on the island in front of the camp where we went fishing from daily.

At night we would use the fat from the steaks as bait for the catfish and we caught about ten in week our largest being 8 kg which was given to to local villagers as thank you for their help.

On the second last day one of my friends girlfriend wanted to come and fish with us on  the boat so off we went. All was fine till we arrived to this deep pool and all of sudden out pops this massive male hippo. Now we thought it was the young male we had encountered the other day which in the end was rather docile. But we quickly realised this one wasn’t as he was flanked by two females which he was prepared to defend and he made it clear by charging to toward us. We paddled like crazy to shore jumped our the boat and pulled it out of the water quicker than you can say the word go …This was all a little to much for our lady friend who’s first experience on the river she would never forget. We took the boat out the water and brought about 50m down stream away from the hippos territory as he was watching us very closely. However we had one passenger that no longer wanted to part of the trip and luckily our friends were driving by to their fishing spot and we managed to stop them from far away and left her and her boyfriend with the other while a mate and i were left to bring the boat home. None of us knew the river but seeing as we had been on the river at night  before we were not going to make the same mistake twice and decided to paddle as close to the camps as possible. Which we did and enjoyed our fishing.

I can’t stress enough how much fun it was fishing in crystal clear waters, and being surround by Africa’s wildest animals and the flora is just incredible. The place is so far from anywhere you enjoy being a lone and at night due to no light pollution you get to admire the universe that surrounds our planet.

I may have only spent a week there, but that was an incredible week of physical fishing, hippo encounters to remember and tsetse fly stings to forget. But that’s what nature is all about and that’s why I would go again. There is nothing better than getting of a plane and heading straight to the bush with no telephone signal, no internet just you vs the wild.

So if you are ever thinking of visiting Africa think about Zambia as like Zimbabwe it has a lot to offer…


Tackle Used

Rod : Shimano Vengence AX Spin

Reel : Shimano Alvio RC 2500RC

Lures : Meeps size three spinners in blue or yellow


 

 

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Sunrise at Camp

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Zimbabwe – Chirundu Tiger Fishing Trip January 2013.

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So as you all know I live in Paris but was born in Zimbabwe where it must be said is the best Tiger fishing on the planet. So my lust for big, hard fighting  Tiger fish drove me back to Chirundu and Tiger Safaris for a four day fishing trip.

Now I only go back to Zimbabwe to see my parents, friends and to fish. Safaris are great but once you have seen them all (the animals) why not tackle Africa’s mighty river fish, is the way I see things. And never forget that from a speed boat you get to see a lot of wildlife.

The last time  I was there (see previous post), I caught my first decent sized Tiger fish and was rather happy and as a result I became obsessed with this form of fishing as it’s technical and when the fight is on you know you will be enjoying the battle.

Unlike the first time out I went better equipped and armed with more experience, as it is said that we only hook 3 out of ten Tiger fish that you get on your line on average. I therefore bought new rods and reels for the occasion  (below are the rods and reels that I used for this fishing trip  to Chirundu) as I wanted to give myself the chance to hook a bigger one than the 4kg plus I caught last time out.

Reels

  1. Shimano Cardiff 401A baitcasting reel (for the big fish)
  2. Caperlan UL20 R5 reel (for the Medium to large sized fish )
  3. Shimanoi Alvio 1000RB reel (bait fishing reel)

Rods

  1. Daiwa Exceler – Ex662XXHFB
  2. Shakespeare Beta Boat Rod
  3. Small no name brand rod for bait fishing.

Hook sizes used : 6-8

Bait : Live bait ( baby bream )

On this trip I mainly used the Shimano Cardiff reel and Daiwa rod combo as the rod is a medium heavy and very flexible which is great for tiger fishing as they jump a lot. On the last day I had to switch to my Caperlan reel as the Shimano Cardiff broke while reeling in the 7kg fish I brought in due to me not having made sure the nuts and bolts were nice and tight (lesson learned and reel fixed).

I went in January 2013 knowing that rain could ruin my fishing as in Zimbabwe the rainy season is between November and April. December and January traditionally are the wettest months.However it was nice and warm at 27°c on average and cool at night, but it was rather cool for this time of year as in January it’s usually 35°c (plus) during the day.

Luckily for me I had good weather 3 out of the four days and despite the full moon the fish were on. The last day it rained buffalo’s and elephants so it was simply a day to relax and read the novel I had brought with me.

I will let the photos do the talking as they will speak for themselves ! So if one day you want to try something new or different go fishing in Zimbabwe and if you have never done a safari combine the two as just above Chirundu is Kariba Town  (game viewing and fishing Kariba lake) or below Chirundu there are camps In the Mana Pools where you can enjoy some of the best game viewing in Africa and you can fish the Zambezi too….Despite all of Zimbabwe’s current political issues it remains for me Africa’s best country in regards to its people, unbelievable weather, fresh water fishing and safaris…Don’t let the press press you into not going as everyone I have talked to that has been there only has great memories.

Enjoy the photos below !


 

Statistics

Total Number of Tiger Fish Caught (do not include fish caught by the other fishermen :

  • Between 5-7 kg’s : 3
  • Between 3-5 kg’s : 2
  • Less than 3kgs : 5

Total Number of Other species caught :

  • Chesa : 5
  • Bream : 2

Total Weight :

  • Tigerfish : 24 Kg’s
  • Other : 6 kg’s

 

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Giant TCR Advanced 3 – Road Bike Review.

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Well as you all know if you read my blog I bought my first carbon fibre road bike in June 2012 and since then I haven’t written any reviews due to the fact that just after I bought the bike my knee problems resurfaced and after a year or pain I have managed to shake it off.

So what do I think about this fabulous road bike ?

Frame : Great responsive frame with a very racing geometry which I found hard to adapt to at first but now that I have gotten used to the frame and the way it feels and how quickly it reacts I have grown to enjoy it fully. I love the frame and the colour just gets me compliments everywhere I go, which is always nice.

Pedals : I have ditched the Shimano SPD-SL pedals I bought for the bike instead opting for my Shimano SPD mountain bike pedals as I commute a lot with this bike to and from work in order to make sure I get a small work out everyday and when stopping starting mountain bike SPD’s are the way forward. For Longer rides I switch back to my road pedals.

Group Set : Well nothing to say really other than the Shimano 105 group set is great. Like all new bikes after 6 months the gears need a little readjustment but that’s normal. I love the brakes as they are really good.

Wheels : The Giant PSL 1 wheel set is comfortable and relatively light and robust. I don’t ride on the most smooth of roads and have to bunny hop a couple of times during my commutes and the wheels are still as straight as the day I bought the bike. Great product.

Seat : The Fizik seat is probably the best seat I have ever used and when you see the retail price on it you understand that at that price they better get it right and they have. It’s comfortable with or without cycling shorts which is not always the case with most seats on bikes.

Ride Sense : The wireless cadence and speed sensor by giant works really well and my only criticism would be the fact that it is really power hungry and I say this as I have changed the battery twice in the last year. But thankfully the Giant Store sells the batteries very cheap so its not really an issue and changing the battery takes no time.

 


 

Design : 9/10

Handling : 8.5/10

Comfort : 8/10

Spec : 9/10

Overall : 8/10


 

Personal Use : Training and commuting

Recommended Use : Training and racing.


On-line bike reviews :  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fTPwK0Skbs


Full Bike Spec :

Frame – M – Frame – Advanced-Grade Composite

Fork – Advanced-Grade Composite, Full-Composite OverDrive 2 Steerer, 1 1/4″-1 1/2″ Bearings

Handlebar – Giant Connect SL, 31.8

Stem – Giant Contact, OverDrive 2

Seatpost – Giant Vector Composite

Saddle – Fi’zi:k Arione w/ Manganese Rails

Drivetrain – Shimano 105, 20 speed

Cassette – Shimano 105 12×25

Crankset- Shimano 105, 39/52

Bottom Bracket – Shimano, Press Fit

Wheels – Giant P-SL1 WheelSystem

Tires – Giant P-R3, Front and Rear specific, 700x23mm


 

 

Back to the World of Blogging after a 1 year break….

Hi there everyone,

 

Well I am back and hopefully I will find the time to write more often as I haven’t really had the time do so this last year or so due to work, and a lot of travelling here and there but mainly between London and Paris as my better half  lives there.

So what am I am going to to be writing about next is the question you may all be asking yourselves ?

Well I will be updating my review on my Giant TCR bike as I have finally (after writing my last post on the bike) managed to sort out my knee problems and have now clocked up a few hundred km’s on the machine to be able to give it decent review. I will be talking about my fishing trip to Zambia last year (2013) and will do a quick review on Mauritius (2013)  as I went back to my third home away from home as it had been a couple of years since I had been there. Of course we will be talking restaurants from my two favourite cities London and Paris. I will also begin reviews on the various gadgets I have bought and think deserve a review and also my new decathlon 8.1 Hardtail X-country bike.

 

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So there will be lots to look forward to so sit back relax and enjoy the read….

Berlin !! Part Two…

So back to Berlin and time for some food. Now like I said in my previous blog Berlin has some great restaurants and with three evening and three diners to eat I was taken to a Spanish restaurants as not to hungry after plane and Airport food a couple of tapas was perfect.

So we went to the restaurant MAR Y SOL which was a very good place as you had the impression of walking into a restaurant in Spain. The service was great,  the food was good and tasty to be fair. I won’t lie I am not a mega Tapas fan but here I enjoyed my self and the food. We took various things and I couldn’t tell you what it was as my friend ordered due to the fact that we were in Berlin and my German sucks or should I say I don’t speak at all.  

As I had just arrived in Berlin and was catching up with my mate I forgot to take pictures of the food for which I would like to apologize, but below are some photos of the restaurant.

Test Results :
Atmosphere : 8/10

Food : 6.5/10

Service : 8/10

Price : 7.5/10

Overall Score : 8.5/10

Would I go again : Yes

Better for Lunch or Diner : Both as in Summer they have a big terrace.

Katz Orange …..

So like I said earlier, Berlin has some great restaurants that are real value for money and Katz Orange is one of the them. This modern eatery  that has a funky decor midway between old style county furniture and more modern items was simply great. I loved the food, the service and the atmosphere. I hope that the next time I go to Berlin I will have the time to go back again. So enough talking let me show you what we ate, as in the end it is the food that needs to do the talking. Enjoy !!

Venison salad appetiser.

Scallop Starter with its peppers…

Pan Fried North Sea Plaice Fish, with a Horse radish sauce and barley.

Roasted Venison from Brandenburg, and Elderberry sauce.

Chocolate Dessert

Test Results :
Atmosphere : 9/10

Food : 8.5/10

Service : 9/10

Price : 8.5/10

Overall Score : 8.75/10

Would I go again : Yes

Better for Lunch or Diner : Diner for sure.

And last but not least one of my all time favourite restaurants is in Berlin and believe it or not the cuisine is traditional German, the decor out of the 60’s and the service just great. I went there knowing that I would leave absolutely stuffed and I wasn’t disappointed. The owner a very nice 60 year lady that has to be one of the nicest people I have ever met. I was greeted with a smile and treated like a king was I was there and my mate who had celebrated his birthday a week earlier and who is a regular at this place had his present from the owner waiting for him. This relationship between the restaurant and its customers is rare today and happy birthday was promptly sung in German. There couldn’t have been a better way to start off the evening.

So as I had never really gone to typically German restaurant that serves all the old style dishes we asked for a mix of all the starters that they have so that I could taste a little bit of everything. Now this is not normally available on the menu but when a good restaurateur see  that’s someone is genuinely interested in their cuisine they make the effort to have you taste it. So a platter with eel, salmon, venison, and mushrooms was served each with there own sauce. MMM yummy…Ohh and may I add that you are served 5 kinds of German breads to go with it, as each type of bread goes with its starter. Below are the pictures of the dishes that we had. As a main I had the most tender roast pork, tasted the Venison dish that they had on offer and then ate with difficulty the huge Profiterole (and we couldn’t finish it. And we were two persons). This was by far my favourite restaurant in Germany and straight into my top five off all time world wide…I still have many places to test but so far top five is not bad as I have eaten at some rather great places.

Starters

Roasted Pork

Venison

Profiterole

Test Results :
Atmosphere : 9/10

Food : 9.5/10

Service : 9/10

Price : 10/10

Overall Score : 9.6 /10

Would I go again : Yes

Better for Lunch or Diner : Diner for sure.

Address : Mommsenstraße 9     10629 Berlin, +49 (0) 30 883  26 76 http://www.marjellchen-berlin.de/