Recently launched by Bristol-based Temple Cycles, their Adventure Disc model encourages exploration beyond the limits of paved road surfaces; opening up route planning to include bridleways, dirt roads and gravel tracks. It seemed therefore fitting to test the bike’s abilities on an appropriate parcours with Rapha Manchester’s ‘A Day In Hell’ proving the perfect setting for putting the Adventure Disc through its paces.
A tribute to Paris Roubaix – one of the Monuments of the European racing calendar and affectionately referred to as the ‘Hell of the North’ – riders left the city centre clubhouse on a testing 66.6 mile loop before returning to beer, frites and the closing kilometres of the race. With Rapha referencing this moniker in their own event branding, the cobbles of Castlefield and Hocker Lane to the south of the city offered a flavour of the continental pavé with the additional challenges of riverside gravel and dirt farm tracks. A mixture of surfaces to test both bike and rider alike.
After the previous day’s torrential rain, it was with some relief that I woke to low-lying mist on the morning of the event but with the promise of clear skies. The Adventure Disc had been easily set up following delivery; rotating the handlebars, inserting the seat post and attaching the front wheel all that was required before the bike was ready to ride. Attractively finished with glossy dark grey paint and an elegant headtube badge, the Adventure Disc never failed to receive favourable comments on its appearance. Perhaps an unimportant aspect compared to the quality of its ride but nevertheless gratifying.
With a Shimano 105 groupset, mechanical disc brakes on handbuilt wheels and a Brooks saddle nicely complementing the brown leather bar tape, the competitive pricing reflects the direct-to-customer sales approach favoured by Temple Cycles. To such an extent that you’re encouraged to discuss your needs and ride requirements prior to making a purchase and your bike being built.
With the addition of a rear rack I’d commuted on the bike for a week prior to our ‘Day In Hell’. Whilst not exactly lightweight – a stock build on a medium frame comes in at 11.5kg – this perhaps misses the point of its intended use and I always looked forward to every ride. With each twenty mile round trip including 1,500 ft of elevation, the compact chainset and 11-32 cassette made climbing surprisingly comfortable and it’s important to remember that, unlike a stripped down carbon racer, the Adventure Disc is designed to cross continents on a variety of surfaces. It has a relaxed and smooth stance that irons out any imperfections in the road and proved an absolute delight when descending.
Although the frame has bosses for mudguards, rightly expecting our tribute route to be muddy I decided to leave clearance free and rely on an ‘ass saver’ to keep me dry. With SPD pedals in place and rolling on the supplied 35mm Schwalbe G-One tyres, I set off through the Manchester suburbs enroute to the Rapha clubhouse.
Located in the shadow of St. Ann’s Church, the bikes arranged in formation outside the clubhouse entrance suggested a good turnout; a hum of conversation carrying down the pink painted stairwell that leads you up from the ground floor workshop to the cafe area above. With coffee in one hand and a croissant in the other – this was a tribute to a French cycle race after all – discussions ranged from tyre width to who would eventually triumph later in the day at the Roubaix Velodrome.
Our start was a little less frenetic with groups setting off along Deansgate following a pre-ride briefing before we immediately reached our first ‘sector’ of cobbles in Castlefield. Once a thriving area of mills and warehouses interwoven by canals and railway sidings, it’s now home to bars and apartment living but still conveys a strong sense of the city’s industrial past.
In this setting the Adventure Disc was in its element. Handling the variety of surfaces – both wet and dry – with surefooted ease before we left behind the city centre along the gravel pathway that edges the Bridgewater Way.
Approaching Sale, the canal towpath was substituted for quiet suburban streets and it was here that I paid a slight penalty for my heavier tread and wider tyre profile; riders on standard road rubber finding the going a little easier.
This however proved a temporary advantage as we soon reached the next off-road section; a delightful dirt path that wound its way through wooded copses before emerging out onto a farm track. Arrow straight and bisecting hedgeless ploughed fields; the dark, peaty soil in the still lingering morning mist giving more than a passing impression of the fields of Flanders.
Without the penalty of rim brakes collecting the heavy mud left over from the previous day’s rainfall and the added confidence of wider profile tyres, the gaps to riders ahead began to close as I chose my line without fear of slipping or sliding on the unpaved surface. An off-road affinity that was once again demonstrated on reaching Hocker Lane; a cobbled farm track located immediately after our midpoint coffee stop that I can easily imagine prompting envious appreciation from Les Amis de Paris-Roubaix [The Friends of Paris-Roubaix].
What followed was a concertina of progress as I was distanced by riders on the linking road sections before reeling them in again when the surface became more challenging. In part supporting the Temple Cycles’ premise that, although the bike is designed to embrace off road adventures, swap out the heavier tyres and you’re good to go on the weekend club ride.
Considering the weight advantage I was giving away, not even the 20% ramps of Beeston Brow could halt my progress; the Adventure Disc taking this cobbled climb out of Bollington in its stride before a descent down from Pott Shrigley and the final stretches of disused railway lines and riverside pathways before we once again fetched up at the clubhouse. This time to be greeted by a fish & chip van; a welcome indulgence whilst watching Peter Sagan drop the hammer.
On reflection this proved a well-organised and enjoyable event made all the more pleasurable for riding Temple’s Adventure Disc. It’s performance over a range of surfaces – cobbles, gravel, dirt – was always assured and never skittish. And with the frame having mounts for front and rear racks together with full mudguards, there really aren’t any limitations to where the Adventure Disc can take you. Factor in the numerous appreciative comments the bike receives and though you might not cross the finish line first, when you do I can pretty much guarantee you’ll be smiling.
*Feature image by Alex Duffil
*Ride images by Martin Wilson
Frame detail by @openautograph
*With kind permission of Rapha UK