Bicycle trials has been around for 2 decades now; although it?s still not a very mainstream discipline in the cycling scene in Singapore, it?s becoming more common to see riders on trials bikes in recent years with the more widespread availability of trials frames and parts in the local market.
You might be asking now, ?What exactly is bicycle trials?? As summarized in https://www.biketrials.com/intro/what.shtml, ?Bike trials is an individual sport that incorporates the use of a special bicycle which the rider must maneuver and balance on in order to complete specially designed artificial or natural “sections.” The objective is to pass through the sections with as little physical contact with the ground as possible, hence obtaining minimum penalty points.?
You can also click on the above link for more info and history on bicycle trials, but for now, let?s get back to the review.
Togoparts.com was fortunate enough to get their hands on 2 fine trials bikes from Runwin Bikes to test and review. One was a Apachesuperlight Trials stock (26-inch wheels) bike, while the other was a Modified (20-inch wheels) bike.
Before we received the bikes for the review, our impression of the bikes weren?t that great as we had heard that they came from China. However, we did keep in mind that another trials company, Echo, actually also started from China too, and has now infiltrated the international trials market with their superb trials frames and parts.
Our reservations were totally thrown out the window when we saw the great workmanship, striking frame graphics and very good parts on the bike. In fact, the frame graphics, not being stickers, impressed us quite a bit. The weld beads are also pretty neat and even, being on par with many of the frames out on the market today. The bikes looked extremely promising, and we couldn?t wait to start riding once we tweaked the brakes, and checked all the bolts for tightness.
The Runwin Mod (Modified) bike
On initial inspection, the mod bike has the following to offer:
1. Thin grips, for better grip on the handlebars for trials;
2. Box seat and chainstays, ensuring greater stiffness for better power transfer and riding precision;
3. Long handlebar of 27.5 inches, a very nice length for trials;
4. Freewheel attached to the crank, like in the other mod bikes on the market;
5. Disc brake tab on the fork, for possible upgrade to mount a front disc brake;
6. Very trialsy looking tyres- Kenda 2.20inch front, 2.35inch rear;
7. Cable housing that looks steel-braided, adding to the bling factor;
8. Tektro brake levers, Alex Y-22 rims, Cliff stem, V-brakes and hubs;
9. The bashplate mount is very precisely made and welded on, which gives a clue about the quality and time injected into designing and making the frames.
10. The frame also incorporates a seat collar, where you can install a 27.2mm seatpost and seat for those ?ride to somewhere further? situations, and remove the seatpost at your destination with just an Allen key.
So it was time to go out and ride the bike! The mod bike felt really light compared to our mountain bike rigs when we lifted it up. The long handlebar and roomy cockpit felt inspiring to go hop around, and we couldn?t wait to load it into the lift to go downstairs. The only thing that we noticed that was lacking were the brakes. We had to put in quite some effort to lock the brakes, but this didn?t stop us from going downstairs to continue with the bike testing. Perhaps grinding or putting tar on the rims would help quite a bit with this.
Riding a mod bike initially for a beginner might feel funny, as the geometry is totally different from what you?ve been riding before. Add in the fact that it runs on 20inch wheels, and these factors might take some time for the rider to get used to the bike. However, what we can say about the Runwin Mod bike is that the steering of the bike is fantastic. It feels really natural, much better than the mod bikes that we?ve ridden before. For the mod bikes that we?ve ridden before, the front end tends to feel like it?s going to dig in when you?re turning, and throw you over the bike. Furthermore it also feels like you?re constantly trying to fight to try to steer the bike. However, we did not find this trait on the Runwin mod bike. This presents itself in a real thumbs-up situation when you need to ride to places to play around the bike, instead of transporting it on a car like the pros do. The rider would also spend less effort during steering the bike at slow speeds and concentrate more on obstacles ahead. This could be attributed to the 140mm stem that is shorter than other stems found on mod bikes on the market. It could also be due to the grippy Kenda tyres on the bike- the steering feels precise even when cornering at relatively higher speeds.
One of the most important and basic skills in trials riding is doing the trackstand. This bike is easier to trackstand as compared to the mod bikes we?ve ridden before. This can be attributed to the relatively short stem and the long handlebar in the steering cockpit.
The next test would be one of the most important ones- the pedalkick test. Initially, pedalkicking the bike to get it onto the rear wheel was a tad bit more difficult than usual for a mod bike. After a while, we realized that the axle of the rear wheel was not at the shortest setting in the horizontal dropouts.
We then took the bike upstairs and shortened the chain and the effective chainstay length to see whether it would make a difference. And to our expectations, it did. The bike was so much easier to get onto the rear wheel this time due to the short 14.5inch effective chainstay length. The bike still feels stable on the 2.35 inch rear wheel even though the rear tyre is not as wide as the 2.5inch tyres available on some other mod bikes on the market. But you could always get wider tyres, as the frame can accommodate a 2.7inch tyre in the rear, and a 2.35inch tyre in the front without any issues at all.
Pedalkicking forward on the bike was easy too, given the long handlebars, thin grips and great trials geometry. The bike handles very well on the rear wheel, on par with many of the available brands available on the market.
It is also interesting to note that our feet never slipped off the pedals once throughout the whole review. The pedals which look like they?re made of plastic, are actually made of metal, and should stand up to more abuse as compared to plastic ones.
The only gripe we had was that we couldn?t push the bike to its full potential due to the brakes performing under par. During the testing, there was this one time that Mas landed on his rear with a loud thud when he did a pedalkick to get the bike on the rear wheel and the rear brake did not lock up. Thus we feel that an upgrade in the brake department would really make this an outstanding trials rig to ride. In fact, changing the brake system would still bring the price of the whole bike to around the price of a single trials frame on the market today.
The Runwin Mod bike performed way above our expectations, and we would recommend it to anyone who is interested in trying out bike trials. Even if the rider decides that mod trials isn?t his or her forte, the money forked out would be significantly less than buying a more branded mod bike. If the rider does feel that riding Mod trials is his or her forte, just by upgrading the brakes, the bike would perform on par with many of the high end mod bikes available on the market today. By adjusting the stem spacers to be above the stem, the bike can also have a more competition-biased geometry with a lower front end. The bike really gives a lot of bang for the buck, and we?re surprised that this company didn?t come out with a Mod bike sooner.
Runwin Trials bikes specifications
Headtube angle: 71 degrees
Chainstay length: 14.5 inch at shortest setting
Handlebar width: 28 inches with grips
Stem: 140mm, 40degree rise
Wheelbase: 1040mm at shortest setting
Seat tube diameter: 27.2mm