Longtermers: Andy Jones's Colina Four titanium winter bike

Longtermer: adj, one serving a long term. Our new series looks at staff bikes that have evolved with them over time. Kicking things off is CW photographer Andy Jones’s winter ride, a Colina Four

The Colina Four – called the Montura Four when it first arrived with me, such is its age that the brand name has since seen a metamorphosis – is a titanium beauty that has been in my bike family since 2012. 

The new name takes its inspiration from the Spanish word for hill, which makes a lot of sense when considered alongside its location, nestled in the Hope Valley in the Derbyshire Peak District. I’ve since had the decals changed accordingly, which wasn’t quite ‘new bike day’ but was close enough for a limited outlay. 

It was an off-the-peg 54cm frame, though Colina’s owner and designer-in-chief Pete Collins will produce custom geometry on request. These days, this model is available with disc-mount options only, unless you go custom. This being a machine dating back to a simpler time, it’s sticking with its rim stoppers.

Once a bike I had on test for the now-defunct Cycling Active magazine, I later decided that I liked the feel and ride quality of the Colina Four so much that I’d buy it. In the almost nine years since, I’ve made assorted component and spec upgrades to keep it in good nick. It has been my winter bike for many years, with the odd summer ride thrown in when the British weather dictated.  

 So what have I changed, and why?

The maintenance upgrades

Winter riding takes its toll on various components, especially when your servicing and maintenance facilities are not in abundance. I live in a first-floor flat, so outside space for bike washing is limited. There have been numerous times I’ve resorted to using the kitchen floor for repairs. It's old lino and cleans easily and there’s only me anyway.

Even if you’ve got your own workshop, components will wear out. 

The original wheels were Hope RS-SP alloy deep section rims on Hope hubs. I had a new unbranded rear rim of similar section built onto the original hub about four years ago, thanks to a particularly cavernous pothole and general wear. For the winter of 2020/2021 I invested once again. The Hope RS-SP is no longer available, so I went for the similarly profiled Halo Devaura top end alloy rims. The old stainless spokes were re-used but new nipples were put on due to excessive corrosion from salty winter roads.

Continental has always been my choice of rubber, and I run the Continental Grand Prix 4 Seasons in 25mm. The youth of the Cycling Weekly tech team tell me that trends are moving in the wider direction of 28mm tyres and beyond but I’d consider 25mm more than enough. The Grand Prix 4 Seasons’ Vectran breaker helps make them more puncture resistant, ideal for winter riding. Touch wood, I’ve had very few punctures but when I do, it’s nice to have these Contis which seem easier to persuade over the rim in freezing weather with numb fingers. This rim and tyre combo feels perfect and they really do roll well. Best not to skimp too much on the wheel department.   

Drivetrains always suffer in the wet, muck and grime of winter. This year I noticed that my chainrings had taken on a menacing-looking shark’s tooth profile, so I replaced them. I have of course replaced the chain and cassette several times over the years. Doing this more often might have allowed the chainrings to have a longer life, but I’d argue they had a good innings. A new rear Ultegra derailleur was another splurge I made a few years ago.

The original mudguards for this bike were damaged a few years ago, and I replaced them with a new unbranded model sourced by Collins. So far they’ve been rattle free, thanks to a direct Allen bolt fit at the frame points. Clip on/clip off mudguards have their place - but for me a full, permanently set up pair is the only sensible option for a dedicated winter bike. 

Quick braking, especially in the wet, is one of the arguments for swapping to discs, and I have indeed been through plenty of sets of brake pads over the years. I have used the cheaper replacement pads in the past but I find it’s better to spend a bit more on the genuine Shimano spares. They seem to have more depth of rubber on them and the compound just works better in my opinion.

Aside from new decals, the frame has endured very little meddling. The beauty of a titanium frame is that it makes the bike look as new - and it rides as new, too. 

Future changes

What’s in store for the future for the Colina Four? Honestly, there’s not much I would change on this bike, it has served me well in its current guise. 

It’s nice to have the best you can afford for a winter bike but not essential. That’s why we have ‘best bikes’ to spend our money on. 

The crank arms do look a little rubbed and polished from my overshoes brushing over them, so maybe a new chainset will be on the list for the future and I’d go for my preferred 170mm crank arm length as opposed to the 172.5mm fitted.

Andy's riding

These days, my winter riding consists of a couple of hours, two or three times a week. I’m listening to my body and these days it’s telling me not to attempt the distances I once did in cold weather. Regular 50 to 80-mile rides were commonplace but that doesn’t happen these days. I do enough to keep fit, keep relatively warm and enjoy the riding I do do.

Still, these shorter rides have some good memories. With living in Sheffield I am fortunate to have the Peak District on my doorstep. The ride out from home means I’m soon out of residential Sheffield and into farmland. I’m then over the wilds of Burbage Moor above Ringinglow village and I will only have done just under five miles to that point. The descent to Hathersage in the Hope valley and across to one of my favourite roads, the Abney road over to the Camphill Farm glider airfield and Great Hucklow. That road is generally quiet, has good views and it’s always fun to see the airfield activity over the top there.

There have been times on rides when snow drifts by the roadside have made the Higger Tor climb (Fiddler’s Elbow) feel like you are riding a classic snowy mountain stage of the Giro d’Italia over the Stelvio. Well, you can dream. It also has one of the best views across the Hope Valley from that point.

The Spec

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We'll be profiling a new longtermer every month in 2021 - so keep your eyes peeled for more!