By Nigel Wynn
Job: Deputy chief sub editor
Bike: Singular Peregrine super commuter
Price: £565 frame and fork
This month: All change, front and back!
I've had a busy couple of weeks in the workshop with the Peregrine, changing it from a spares-box medley to the bike it was always meant to be. Most noticeable is that the North Road bar (with those gawd-awful clashing blue grips) is no more, replaced with a super-compact women-specific bar from Trek and drop-bar ‘brifters’.
The Bontrager Race VR-S bar is one I took a liking to when I tested the women’s Trek Lexa a while back and Trek kindly sent me one to try on my own bike — I’ve been itching to put it to use ever since as it’s the best I’ve found for small hands in terms of reaching all the controls.
As for those brake-shift levers? They’re a Taiwanese brand called Versa from Sussex Enterprises. And what are they shifting? Yes, that’s an Alfine-11 hub at the rear now — and about time too. I’ve been wanting to upgrade from Alfine-8 for over a year now. The shifters were a bit of an unknown quantity — made specifically for the Shimano hub, but not by Shimano itself. Why Shimano doesn’t make a brifter for the Alfine hubs I don’t know, but it was a relief to find the Versa-11 shifter is a more than adequate solution. They’re solidly made and surprisingly easy to set up and index perfectly.
In use, not only are they comfortable, but the shift action is spot-on — I love how on the hoods I can upshift by giving the smaller paddle a little nudge with the side of my knuckle. Mis-shifting isn’t a problem, but the system feels a bit strained shifting under too much load — best to back off the pedals a touch uphill to get the best out of it.
And what of the 11-speed hub itself? Well, I couldn’t say with any certainty that I need those three extra gears, but as it weighs a touch less than the eight speed, I might as well have it as not.
The Peregrine didn’t feel right at all as a flat bar — it felt too big for me and unwieldy with the over-long stem. That’s gone now and has been replaced by a beautifully engineered short (90mm) and stiff shiny aluminium number from Thomson.
This conversion has seriously unlocked the Peregrine’s potential: it fits perfectly, it’s comfy and compliant and with this set-up it just keeps on going and going with minimal maintenance. It’s steadily racking up serious miles on the daily commute and weekends.
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