My Cambridge odyssey continued today with an unannounced visit to Outspoken delivery of Ronald Rolph Court, A rather smart little group of industrial units to the East of the town centre.
I wanted to see the operation behind the customised Burrows 8 Freights which I had seen speeding around the city.
I was greeted most warmly by Rob King who runs the business with his brother Pete. Hot on the heels of the offer of tea came the offer of a test ride on one of the 6 bikes that Outspoken operate. Each is fitted with a bespoke aluminium box (made locally for about £500 each) which enables the firm to carry anything from an envelope to six A4 Boxes without changing bike, and is easily wrappable to carry sponsorship or Outspoken's own graphics.
Needless to say I jumped at the chance and found the "8" very easy to ride. It's low centre of gravity making it very stable and the 8 Speed twist grip SRAM gears were very precise. I never really liked twist grip gears but these seemed perfectly set up and changed right on the click.
The steering though precise takes a little getting used to. You simply cannot turn an 8 foot bike on a sixpence. I was glad of the very effective drum brakes as a wall loomed and I could not turn tightly enough to avoid it! I'd hate to write off £1250 of someone elses work bike!
As my brief ride ended Rob pointed out that the stand has to put down AFTER you get off and AFTER you have put on the park brake on your left hand. Then I really embarrassed myself by trying to throw my leg over the back, CLONK. With a step through frame and a big ally box behind you, you must STEP THROUGH.
Rob was critical of work bikes in general and seemed to feel that the 8 Freight is the best of a bad lot. "They're all crap but this is about the best" is what he actually said. I wonder where the company name came from :-). Admittedly Outspoken's bikes are worked hard. They regularly cover 70 miles each day carrrying upto 100Kg. The aluminium frames have often cracked (and outspoken have added their own bracing plates in problem areas) and the rear tyres (Schwalbe big apple) wear astonishingly quickly. Rob would like to see the former problem resolved by making the whole thing in titanium. (How Much????)
"Cambridge's only specialist courier" can be contacted on 01223 719594 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Their courier prices range from £2.80 +VAT for a small local next day delivery to £64+VAT for Cambridge to London via bike-train-bike. My thanks to Rob for his hospitality at zero notice and for this, the first ever OLV road test.