It’s been about 3 months of waiting. That’s 3 months of second guessing, review hunting and component checking. Not that I had any hesitation about the Smuggler, but there are still decisions to be made about bars, stems, drivechain, brakes, rims, tyres and so on. And 3 moths to review every aspect of anything to do with a new steed, sometimes even delving into page 2 of google searches.

As a riding group, we have all reached certain collective conclusions about our bikes. We all adopt certain standards as they become available and accepted. Examples include wider bars, bigger wheels, 1×10 drivechains, dropper seatposts, and tubeless tires to name a few. So if you can tick at least some of those boxes, given a certain price point, and a fairly recent manufacturing date, its unlikely you will end up with -dare I say it – a lemon.

Pleased to report that the Smuggler is certainly no lemon, and the Plastow ride, while not offering any thrills (beyond the outstanding food – thanks again for arranging Mark) that the bike feels completely neutral and comfortable. When I did cash in a pink ticket for a brief blast down Yogurt Pots, it really did feel very good indeed. I won’t try and define in words why, short to say I felt a bit like a passenger on a wild train ride. I got spat out at the bottom of ‘pots, and had to go and have a sit down under the trees to compose myself. It was a solid strava pr, and while I could not match the feat on Barry’s, this was more down to me getting tired (South Africa’s cheap beer and beef took its toll). I was left wanting more, and that, at the end of the day, must be the best litmus test of any bike.


The smuggler’s new inside shrine home. The only two areas of consideration, those pedals are bottom of the Shimano range, so hope they hold up (not the one’s I asked Tom to get, but he forgot). I am also still thinking about the lack of an extender cog, not sure if I am doing myself any favours on the steep stuff.

*With some exceptions – I’ll not name names.