Advertisement

Sign up for our newsletter

Advertisement

Jaegher Interceptor review

4 Aug 2016
Verdict:

We review the Jaegher Interceptor - chosen bike of Kristoff Allegaert, the Belgian dominator of The Transcontinental.

With The Transcontinental, an unsupported bike race between Geraardsbergen and Istanbul, currently winding its way through the roads of Europe, we thought it would be a good idea to look back at our Jaegher Interceptor review. Why? Because two-time previous winner and all-round Belgian hard man Kristoff Allegaert is well ahead of the rest of the field and on his way to victory number three. And he's riding this bike. 

transcontinental.cc

Review

Carbon is for fishing rods,’ says Diel Vaneenooghe. It’s a contentious opinion,  but just what you might expect from  the grandson of the founder of Jaegher,  a Belgian bike brand that specialises in steel.

Belgians know a thing or two about racing. Even  more so in Flanders, where local races are at a high enough level that you can find Tom Boonen lining up against amateurs to battle it out on rough roads in foul weather. That Flemish identity is apparent in Jaegher’s flagship model, the Interceptor, which is designed to  be light, stiff and tough enough to cope with cobbles. These qualities may seem at odds with the reputation  of steel as being heavy and flexy, yet comfortable, but  Jaegher has had plenty of time to hone the art of tuning steel to the needs of racers.

Jaegher was founded in 1934 when Diel’s grandfather, Odiel Vaneenooghe, began building bikes. He won the hardest stage of the Tour of Belgium in 1932 and two  years later set up a shop in the town of Ruiselede,  where Jaegher continues to build bikes today. With  an 80-year pedigree in steel, the family business specialises in bespoke geometry and fit.

Jaegher Interceptor decal

‘We love made-to-measure bicycles – they’re more comfortable, sustainable and are so much cooler,’  says Diel Vaneenooghe. ‘Steel cycles are for life.’

With that in mind, it’s no surprise that Jaegher encourages people to use its custom service, which determines the geometry and frame size that suits the rider’s proportions, but for those less fussy customers the company still has 14 stock sizes of frame to choose from. It also does a very fetching paintjob.

It’s clear from first glance that Jaegher knows about aesthetics. ‘That’s a fine cafe bike,’ was the reaction  of one of my clubmates on first seeing the Interceptor.  Sure enough, rolling up to a cafe, the Jaegher was  quickly surrounded by enthusiastic bystanders. The Interceptor’s understated graphics and sparkling grey paint scheme flatter the bike no end. But this  bike is about more than just looks. 

The hard and the harsh

It’s never easy to review a bike as winter truly kicks  in. It’s cold, it’s wet, you’re inevitably ill, and the air  just seems thicker and slower. This meant that I had  a lukewarm start with the Interceptor. My first impression was that it’s a little on the hefty side and  too robust for my tastes, crashing harshly over potholes and bouncing me around. But the bike grew on me.

Jaegher Interceptor frame

From the outset, despite my reservations, I felt  assured that the Jaegher was a well balanced frame.  The name Jaegher is a twist on the Dutch word for  hunter, jager, which seems to suit is demeanour. It  doesn’t always feel blisteringly quick, but manages  to combine a racy stance with enough comfort for cruising around. It’s what I might describe as an aggressive endurance racer. It’s fairly neutral  geometry but in this set-up it’s erring on the more aggressive side, pitching me forwards over the pedals  in an aerodynamic tuck and seeming to entice me to make all-out, handlebar chewing efforts.

To prove the point, Jaegher put its metal frame  to the test in one of the most demanding events in  the world. Jaegher’s headline sponsored athlete,  Kristof Allegaert, competes at the highest level  of super-endurance cycling events, having won  both the gruelling Transcontinental and Trans- Siberian bike races. He took victory in the latter  last year by an impressive margin of 13 hours from a total duration of 319 hours. The more I rode the bike, the more it became clear why if someone wanted to race  for 9,000km they might choose a Jaegher.

It isn’t a bike that offers exceptional comfort – rather it creates that slightly otherworldly sensation that steel is treasured for. At more moderate speeds on fresh tarmac, the Interceptor truly glides. Silently and smoothly, the bike generates nothing but the gentle and encouraging rumble of steel. If this were my preferred pace and  my most commonly encountered road surface, that sensation alone would be enough for me to fork out  for a Jaegher. However, when the road gets a little rougher, the Interceptor is less forgiving.

Jaegher Interceptor seat stays

Over soft disturbances the bike swallowed up  much of the road’s imperfections, but it was harsher  over the more testing bumps or holes in the road,  feeling as if there was no real flex in the system, specifically in the front end.

Steel has a reputation for softening the ride, but  any material scientist will point out that steel in fact  has a Young’s modulus figure (its measure of stiffness) nearly three times higher than that of aluminium.  This means it has the potential to be a great deal  harsher than aluminium or carbon, as the Interceptor demonstrates in some situations. That said, the  rigidity responsible for the harshness also means  the bike sprints with far more vigour than I’d expect from a steel bike. Just be prepared to stick on some  thicker bar tape for rougher surfaces. 

Jaegher meister

Jaegher Interceptor review

Compared to many carbon bikes I’ve tested, the Jaegher is neither as light nor as aerodynamic. Yet if I were I looking for a race day steed it might still be my choice. A little like a finely tuned racing car that sacrifices some top-end speed for better cornering, the Jaegher makes up for its deficit when flat out with an ability to handle extremely well where it counts. It corners precisely, descends sharply and responds obediently to any inputs. On short climbs it also holds its own, with enough lateral stiffness to reward out-of-the-saddle efforts. The weight does become more noticeable on long climbs, but at 7.83kg  it’s certainly not criminally heavy.

While I can’t agree with Vaneenooghe that carbon is just for fishing rods, it’s easy to sympathise with the adage that ‘steel is real’. Jaegher is clearly a proponent  of that ethos, and I salute its commitment to steel as  a fundamental part of cycling. The Interceptor is steel  as it should be: honest, responsive and tough.

Jaegher.com

Price: 
£1,600 (frameset)

Read more about: