Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Test ride: Tern Eclipse X20

Does it come in Black? 


Tern's 2012 Eurobike Award-winner, the Eclipse X20

For my next bike, I've pretty much narrowed it down to a 24" foldie from Tern.
The question was: "Which one?".
I've discussed with Joshua Hon of Tern Bicycles at length about the future of the 24" bike which he is an advocate of.
Josh told me that the product development team led by Eric Lin was on a project called the "Eclipse X20".
Basically, all the good stuff on a 24" award-winning frame.
It took me more than a year in waiting to receive my new bike and sometime in July, I was contacted by the local distributor K2 Asia about the availability of the bike.

A learning process

It was really easy to set up the bike.
But I don't have much experience tuning the gear shifters.

This is my first 20-speed bike using a front and rear derailleur.
The last time I rode a bike with such a feature was a Raleigh 14-speed road bike (1986 - 1997).


The FSA 50/34T chainrings
I took the bike for a short spin and realised that it yields a lot of power.
The gearing ratio is that of a road bike and if you are fit enough, you can actually keep up with a roadie when he's cruising at speeds up to 30km/h.
So, in short, this bike is built for speed.
It took me a while to get used to the 24" wheel size and the transition from riding a 20" folding bike to the larger 507mm (24") wheelbase.
On a flat road, it takes little effort to crank it up to 27km/h at a normal cruising speed.
I took this bike to work and found that it was real fun riding it.
Later, I realise that there was a creaking sound and a trip to Master Johnny Ng's store in Bandar Utama had solved the problem.
It turned out that a plastic spacer in the left crank arm was the cause of the matter.

Look ma! So few spokes!

One of the head-turning feature on this bike is the Kinetic pro wheelset with its aero-spokes. There are only 14 spokes on the front wheel and for a class 5 Kaiju (Japanese for Giant Beast) like me, its like gambling on the wheel holding up with much abuse.
My perception on the kinetic pro wheelset actually changed when I test-rode the Tern Verge X10.
That was also the deciding factor on me ending up with a larger high-performance bike from Tern. 
I took the Eclipse X20 out for longer rides and noticed that the fewer spokes on the front and rear wheels actually held up very well.
Eric Mah, Tern Bicycle's Marketing man told me that if the spokes are properly set and tuned, they are as strong as those found on normal wheelsets.


A thing of beauty: the Kinetic pro wheels
Living up to its high expectations...

The Eclipse X20 folds in a zip (less than 30 seconds) and weighing in at 10.7kgs, there's no issue lugging it around.
I found the lock-up on the OCL joint and Physis 3D handlebar latches rock-solid.
Learning from past experience, Tern had improvised the Physis handlebar and stem.
And on higher-end bikes, Tern uses the VRO syntace steering system.
This allows you to set the angle of the flat bar and a pair of Ergon GS-2 grips gives you full control of the bike.
A pair of Kinetic pro brakes with Ashima Aero brake shoes yield enough stopping power on any road conditions.
In short, this bike is responsive and really smooth.

SRAM Force rear derailleur

Sturdy: The VRO Syntace steering system

Respectable: the American Classic rear hub
Good bikes are meant to be ridden hard and far...

I must say that my level of fitness is below par.
And with such a good bike, my motivation is to shed more weight and gain more fun with the "Pirate-Ninja" as its fondly known.
The Eclipse X-20 is a bike that is never shy among larger bikes and if you ride it along with a group of fellas on 700cc and 26" bicycles.
Since it also folds really compact, I don't see any reason why 24" bikes cannot be used as a multi-modal commute vehicle.
All you need is a carry on cover and you are in business..
From the design and functionality point of view, I see a lot of potential for bikes such as the Eclipse to take on the road.
Everything on the Eclipse X20 is just right and for a pricetag of RM8K, I don't think its too far fetched.

Cycle to work: I rode the Pirate-ninja to work on a public holiday

Hill training with Kevin Tan, captain of the StarMetro cycling team
A little upgrade..

I've added a pair of MKS step-in urban pedals on the bike.
The MKS MTE-EZY pedals that came with the Eclipse X-20 are being kept as spares.
For safety, I've also mounted a Cateye Rapid 1 and Rapid 3 on the bike's seatpost.

Summary

The Tern Eclipse X-20 is a high-quality bike. 
It's simple and no-frills approach is meant to give you endless hours of fun on the road.
And like any other high-performance rides, the bike will have to be periodically-maintained for you to get the best out of it.

Availability

Five bikes were shipped in by Tern Bicycles to K2 Asia.
Two went up to Taiping and another three was sold in the Klang Valley.
K2 Asia said they are only bringing in the bikes later this year and would send out a new order for 2014. 
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