Saddle Sore – Reviews, Rides & Rablings – Cycling Blog

Mason BokehTi 214 Mile Shakedown

I took a long time choosing and it took a long time coming but last Thursday my Mason BokehTi arrived, along with an addition set of wheels.

On Saturday I had a 300km Audax (Wonderful Wessex which I have ridden before) and I wouldn’t normally take a new bike on such a long shakedown ride but I didn’t have much choice – I’d already sent off my old bike.

I hadn’t ridden anything over 100 miles since April 2015 so it would be interesting to see how I got along, relatively unfit and on a new bike.

For this I obviously chose the 700c MASONxHUNT 4Season Disc wheelset with tubeless Schwalbe G-One Speed tyres fitted and left the MASONxHUNT 650B AdventureSport Disc wheels with Rocket Rons at home for the South Downs Way at a later date.

The instant I got on the Bokeh it felt a perfect fit, something I had struggled to find the more I rode my previous bike, which was a prime reason for buying a new one.

I have a rule that I don’t like to buy products whose name isn’t 100% intuitive to pronounce; that’s why I’ve never had a Nissan Qashqai. I had to break that rule with the Bokeh – Bow Ke (as in kettle)?? Bocker?? But to quote Shakespeare “A bike by any other name would ride as sweet”.

The quality and detailing of the frame is obvious, with the polished MASON logo on the downtube a clever touch – something that everyone who looked at the bike immediately picked up on. The finish on the titanium has a delicate feel to it, achieved through bead-blasting which also de-stresses the Ti to increase toughness and durability; what Mason calls a ‘Structural Surface Finish’.

Don’t be fooled by its excellent aesthetics, form is certainly not over function. Take a look at the titanium 3D printed dropouts to get an idea what’s going on inside.

About 30 miles into the ride I experienced some knee and hip pain so dropped the seat about 5mm the knee pain went straight away, the hip pain continued for a while but eased quickly over the next few miles. The only other discomfort I experienced was from the seat, not that the Fabric saddle is to blame; that’s what happens if you put unconditioned buttocks on a new saddle for 200 miles. The saddle is attached to a Mason Penta Seatpost that allows for refreshingly accurate adjustment – particularly on the tilt.

The Hunt wheels and tubeless tyres in conjunction with the BokehTi frame are a revelation. I’ve always used 700×28 or 32cc Schwalbe Marathon Pluses because I valued puncture resistance over weight or control. Tubeless seemed to offer puncture resistance along with better grip and less weight, they didn’t disappoint. I genuinely didn’t know you could corner so fast without sliding or twitching about. I was encouraged to go for the G-One Speeds by Cal at Mason Cycles and I’m glad I did. The wheels and tyres coupled with the ability to stop with no effort using the SRAM Force HRD hydraulic brakes could make for some dangerously fast descents. The wheel\tyre combo also makes the feedback from the road nicer, rather than shouting what’s going they reassuringly whisper it to you. Less Brian Blessed, more Joanna Lumley.

The SRAM XG-1180 wide range cassette gives me 10-42, paired with a 42t chainring it provides a 1:1 ratio which was more than enough for the hills, on this ride at least. I can swap the front ring for a 40t if need be when venturing off-road. I think I only slipped onto the 42 on a few occasions.

Moving to a 1x groupset wasn’t much of a change as I never really moved the front once the tone of the ride was set, but the SRAM DoubleTap took a bit of getting used to. I was often too heavy handed for the upwards gearing and end up going down. Having the brake operate separately from the shifter was nice, having come from Shimano where braking and shifting could occasionally interfere with each other.

For the handlebars I took inspiration from Josh Ibbett’s round the world rig (he’s also using a Bokeh) and went for Ritchey WCS VentureMax, they have a flared drop which feels so much more natural to hold.

Other than not being able to pronounce Bokeh, this is my only small niggle: There is no bridge on the chainstays and thus no mudguard mount down there, however there is one on the seat tube. Mason being Mason though there is undoubtedly a good reason for this. Having spoken to Dom about this there is a good reason, Dom says ‘reason for this is to give maximum mud clearance and remove the ‘shelf’ that is caused by a bridge. That bridge is actually quite redundant, it doesn’t do much for rigidity and also it can lead to cracking on the inside of the stays where the welds are. So, especially for Ti frames, it’s best to leave it off!’.

I love the BokehTi, it instils a sense of adventurous confidence that allows you to take it that little bit faster and further: It’s never going to be the Bokeh that limits me. It wouldn’t be the first time that I’d been let down by what’s between my legs.

Being a whole, complete new rig it is difficult to attribute appropriate praise to the deserving parts so it has to go to Mason as a company; for designing the frame, their collaborations, their suggestions and the people (Dom, Cal and the others behind the scenes) who have brought it all together.

I look forward to giving it a good test off-road in July on the South Downs Way.

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Matt

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