condor cycles handbuilt wheelset

condor cycles handbuilt campagnolo/mavic wheelset

i note that there is a gcn video on youtube at present, asking the question, 'which upgrade would make more sense: new wheelset or electronic groupset? for yours truly, there is no question to be asked, for i still regard electronica as a solution looking for a problem. i write, having not long returned from the sunday ride, during which, the very least of my problems was summoning the energy to push the two distinct levers on my campagnolo record mechanical levers.

so a wheelset it is.

condor cycles handbuilt campagnolo/mavic wheelset

yet it behoves me well to point out that when such considerations are to be made, they are inevitably geared (pardon the pun) towards performance enhancement. if, like me, new wheels would simply be replacing an elderly and rather tired pair, performance, while not a particular factor in this instance, certainly wouldn't go amiss. i cannot deny being of an age where any assistance is gratefully received. however, my choice of wheels had far more to do with my noted luddite tendencies and brand proclivities, held together with a large dollop of pragmatism.

i remember back in the 1980s, reading that robert millar (as was) had had a custom pair of wheels built by wheel guru, pete matthews, using pianni rims, royce hubs and only 28 spokes up front. for an extreme lightweight like robert, such a low spoke count (for the period) was not thought to engender any thoughts of mechanical problems, in the days when campagnolo and one or two others, specifically advised against building front wheels with a radial spoking pattern, on the basis, i believe, that it would place too much stress on the hub flanges.

condor cycles handbuilt campagnolo/mavic wheelset

yet here we are, in the 21st century, when bicycle wheels seem to consist of as few spokes as possible, tensioned well above what used to be regarded as the norm, and invariably consisting of straight-pull spokes, without the j bend prevalent in standard spokes. while many of these machine built wheelsets are perfectly capable of carrying out the task for which they were designed, in several cases, the comfort factor appears to have evaporated altogether. and be prepared for additional expense if one of the spokes happens to break.

i recall a pair of review wheels from several years ago, which proved highly effective both on and off road. having spent a day giving them as much trouble as i could muster, following my shower and intending to place the bicycle back in thewashingmachinepost bikeshed, i discovered it would not move, due to one of the proprietary spokes having snapped, apparently while sat still outside the croft, and transformed its shape into one that would have made walkers crisps proud. a replacement spoke cost the princely sum of £14, and when fitting and truing the wheel, another spoke broke.

condor cycles handbuilt campagnolo/mavic wheelset

they were unceremoniously placed in the skip.

so when the wheelset on my ritchey logic showed signs of wear and tear, rather than shell out for replacement cartridge bearings and the necessary tool to fit them in place, i opted to have a new wheelset built by condor cycles in grays inn road, london. my choice was heavily swayed by their having stock of the no-longer-made, campagnolo 32-hole record hubs, which i had married to a pair of eyeleted mavic open pro rims with double-butted stainless spokes built three cross. (if one of those breaks, it's only a few pence for a replacement, a task i am well-equipped to carry out by myself.) i was fortunate that condor had the hubs on sale, thus saving a few pennies, though since i have a strong preference for campagnolo, i would have happily paid full price.

condor cycles handbuilt campagnolo/mavic wheelset

the hubset also sports good old cup and cone bearing adjustment, with the option to replace the bearings in future, when wear demands. once again, it's a task easily undertaken by those with even minimal mechanical aptitude and a couple of park tool cone spanners.

i placed my order with condor cycles on 1 september and was quoted a build time of mid-october. however, it seems that their wheelbuilder was as keen to complete the wheelset as i was to receive it, so on 23 september, i received an e-mail detailing that my wheels were completed and ready for shipping. disappointingly, almost two weeks later, nothing had arrived. on contacting condor, who offer free delivery on items above £30, i was told that fedex, who usually offer quite amenable delivery costs, even to the scottish islands, were looking for close on £100 to deliver my wheels. carriage to the scottish islands has been a bone of contention for many a long year, one that the scottish government continually claim to be investigating, yet nothing ever seems to happen.

all credit to condor cycles, who opted to send the wheels royal mail, despite the insurance available not actually covering the cost of the product. they were commendably prepared to accept the risk, should the items have gone astray. the wheels arrived three days later. this delectable pair of wheels have been shod with challenge strada 700x27c tan wall clinchers, which i cannot deny, were a challenge to fit, though possession of a tyre-jack made the process a darned sight simpler than would otherwise have been the case.

condor cycles handbuilt campagnolo/mavic wheelset

yesterday's sunday ride was my first opportunity to ride the wheels, now satisfactorily fitted to my steel ritchey logic, and the difference is almost tangible. probably due to a combination of rubber, a superb build and 32 normal spokes per wheel, the comfort factor was magnificent. performance-wise, i doubt i was any faster than i had been on their predecessors, but i wasn't any slower either. obviously enough, you can't review a pair of wheels on the basis of one 65km ride, so i figure i'll pen a few more words in a few weeks time, as to how they're surviving on the hebridean gravel we call roads.

modernity may have brought us the machine-built, carbon rimmed wheelset, ostensibly bringing with it, untrammeled performance at the behest of hours of wind-tunnel testing, but a real pair of wheels are not only far more aesthetically pleasing, but a great deal more practical, given the ease of truing, should they ever wander slightly out of shape. maybe, just like vinyl records, proper wheels will will soon be a thing once more.

condor cycles

monday 17 october 2022

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endura pro sl waterproof shell jacket

nathan somevi trio

this year's lagavulin islay jazz festival took place three weeks later than its usual mid-september slot in the calendar, apparently at the behest of a delay in producing the box for lagavulin's limited edition festival bottle (£220 in case you were wondering), a delay that took it out of the earlier portion of autumn and into the bit where the leaves fallen from the trees are starting to turn to mulch, the wind has a tendency to blow harder, and precipitation is on the increase.

endura pro sl waterproof jacket

that said, saturday afternoon, when i formed one fourth of saxophonist, laura macdonald's quartet, was fairly amenable. the few showers that appeared were spaced far enough apart, that my bike rides to and from the car rental in bridgend remained pleasantly dry. however, the same cannot be said for sunday.

with heavy rain and galeforce winds on the rise overnight, sunday was considerably less pleasant, leading to cancellation of all but one ferry sailing. that left several musicians and sound crew stranded on the hub of the universe for an extra day, and prevented mercury prize nominee, fergus mccreadie from playing at his own gig on sunday evening. keen to experience all the jazz i could manage to cycle to, i had arranged to ride to the rspb visitor centre at aoradh (pronounced oorig) to experience the substantial guitar skills of nathan somevi, accompanied by niall ford on drums and rachel duns on saxophone.

endura pro sl waterproof jacket

the visitor centre is around 15km from the croft, offering a 30km round trip in the aforementioned galeforce winds and, at times, torrential rain. clad in cycling apparel that wouldn't mark me out as too different from my peers in the audience, i opted to embrace my torso in endura's pro sl waterproof shell jacket, highly visible in its fluorescent yellow version. despite the greyness of the day and any vehicles having their windscreen wipers on maximum, it was unlikely that i'd blend into the background.

endura pro sl waterproof jacket

overall, i probably spent the better part of two hours in those conditions, predominantly due to the womanly struggles of my compatriot on the journey. on arrival at aoradh, the merino wool jersey that nestled below the jacket was commendably dry, but it seemed likely the return trip into a rising headwind would be the strident test not only of the pro sl's waterproofing, but its accompanying breathability.

endura pro sl waterproof jacket

as the majority of you will be aware, breathable fabrics rarely display much in the way of stretch, so, if carrying any stuff in those three rear pockets, the hope that the size of the jacket will encompass all, while still allowing the rider to breathe, is a fervent one. the medium size provided more than enough wiggle room. part two of any waterproof equation, from my point of view at least, is the length of the sleeves. there's little point in benefiting from impeccable waterproofing, if there's a noticeable gap between cuffs and gloves. box number two successfully ticked.

endura pro sl waterproof jacket

however, as mentioned in previous reviews, remaining dry on the outside is all very well, but of little benefit if suffering from the notorious 'boil in the bag' experience. i am very happy to report that the pro sl seemed to have dispensed with the majority of any internally generated moisture en-route. suffice it to say, though i had wet feet, straggly wet hair, gloves and legs, my torso remained dessicated.

endura pro sl waterproof jacket

though this first baptism by rain ride offered no respite, and therefore no need to stuff the jacket in a rear pocket, subsequent rides did. inside the collar is an elastic loop, meaning that once rolled up, it's a simple matter of sliding into the loop before packing inside a pocket. disappointingly, the jacket is minus a means of hanging the jacket on a hook, something that, despite my continually making mention, endura seem to ignore. however, that is a minor gripe, particularly in the light of the overall efficacy of the jacket, and its extremely light weight.

there are many stowaway waterproof jackets on the market, but not too many that would survive hebridean weather for as long as did endura's pro sl jacket. given that we're but a week away from the clocks changing and ending british summertime, there's a strong likelihood that this jacket will see a great deal of use.

and scottish rain.

sunday 16 october 2022

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cycling cures everything

track cycling 4000m pursuit

as i perused my twitter feed around lunchtime yesterday, there was an unfortunate chap asking those doing that same as i, what cure might we be able to suggest for one whose enthusiasm for life appeared to be a in a bit of a rut. all he needed, the tweet implied, was something to kickstart a feelgood period that might set him on a better trajectory. and though to the naked eye, my response may have come across as rather trite, i suggested going for a bike ride. for, as most of us will be aware, nothing's ever worse after a bike ride.

though others showed support for my reply, i'm none too sure if the original tweeter was amongst them.

however, during the two years of the covid pandemic, many individuals in lockdown turned to the bicycle, not only as a perceived safe means of transport, but as a method of clearing their heads of any despondency, presumably having become aware of the healing properties of even a temporary velocipedinal existence. thanks to furlough my own place of work was reduced to two employees daily, one of which was yours truly. the responsibilities heaped upon both of us were considerably multiplied, always with the distinct possibility that the business might not survive economically. getting out on the bike at the weekend was an absolute godsend.

and given my somewhat estranged location, allied to only a lifeline ferry service, the hebridean world was still my oyster.

as i write, a matter of hours previously, prime minister, liz truss, had sacked her chancellor of the exchequer, kwasi kwarteng, a fact that seems a tad unfair, considering she and he together were responsible for trashing britain's economy. given the parlous state of the country following a brexit that has undeniably assisted in creating the present financial situation, and the mess that westminster seems intent on creating, the cost of living and energy crisis that impinges upon us all, scarcely gives cause for good cheer.

and if you're domiciled north of the border, holyrood still maintains that it will hold an independence referendum next year, despite the previous edition in 2014 being labelled a 'once in a generation opportunity'. i would imagine that most of us who voted no to independence, primarily on the basis that the snp seemed reluctant to answer the most basic of questions, despite the overwhelming importance of the vote, thought that was it over and done with for several decades at least.

it seems we may have been wrong.

however, if you think my monologue geared towards increasing any sense of depression, there is light at the end of the tunnel, a light that arrived shining brightly on thursday evening, straight from the world track championships at vélodrome national in saint-quentin-en-yvelines, france. despite, or perhaps because of, filippo ganna having placed the hour record almost out of reach last weekend, britain's 4,000m pursuit team beat the italians in the gold medal final. ethan hayter, dan bigham, ethan vernon and ollie wood managed to finish 0.2 seconds ahead of the italian team and relegate them to the second step of the podium and silver medal.

it may be that we're now reconsidering how many colnagos we can afford to buy this christmas, and whether a gravel bike is really necessary after all. but cast that aside, for once again, britain, which might no longer be actually great, has offered bragging rights in the face of everyone who could probably care less.

in that sense, at least, life's great.

saturday 15 october 2022

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maybe not so gravellous after all

avenvoggie gravel

i will readily admit to harbouring more than just a soupcon of cynicism towards the present gravel trend, and the purported need for the entire genre of gravel bicycles. to reprise the bulk of my sniping from the sidelines, i see little material difference between the cyclocross bicycles that have been included in many cycle ranges for many a long year (canyon, ridley, colnago and specialized, to name only a few). and if a tangible example were required in evidence, the fact that my own specialized crux 'cross bike currently wears a pair of hutchinson tundra 700 x 40c gravel tyres would surely fit the bill?

i have several conspiracy theories as to why this has become the case, some of which are related to the words jumping and bandwagon, but the fact that the current range of specialized crux models sits under both the cyclocross heading and that of their adventure and gravel section, probably tells you all you need to know. the ever-present round-the-world single-speed rider, markus stitz has done, and continues to do a marvellous job of highlighting gravel routes across scotland, predominantly from the bikepacking point of view, where the gravel bike is married to rarely aesthetic bikepacking luggage, encouraging the average cyclist to spend their leisure time exploring the undergrowth near to home, keeping as far away from traffic and its congestion as possible.

despite my distaste for many of the items produced by apidura, ortlieb and their peers, i do understand the desire to head into the wilderness for a bit of peace and quiet, while pitting bike handling skills against the topography and the elements, but i seriously question whether we needed a new style of bike to do so. however, as with many personal velocipedinal reservations, i did think myself to be in the minority, at least until recently.

with the sport's governing body, the uci, having exorcised their fear of missing out by inaugurating a series of gravel world championship events, it must surely have done a purportedly emerging branch of cycle sport little in the way of favours to have the recently crowned male gravel world champion, gianni vermeersch, achieve his crown on a road bike (a modified canyon ultimate cfr) and that third place went also to champion cyclocross and road rider, mathieu van der poel on similar machinery. the nail would surely have been hit well on the head, had wout van aert opted to participate. with several world tour races having incorporated stretches of gravel ridden on bona-fide road bikes, the need for a specific range of gravel bikes must be teetering on the precipice.

but suddenly, for once, it's not only me that is calling gravel into question. gcn have already posted a youtube video entitled 'is gravel racing now officially ruined? (spoiler alert: they figured possibly not), while their tech show asked 'does anyone actually need a gravel bike? and cycling tips has asked the obvious question 'how 'gravel' is the uci gravel world champs? then there's yet another gcn video, posted prior to the gravel championships, asking 'who cares?'. the inestimable dave arthur of just ride bikes has also asked 'what was the uci thinking' in relation to their gravel worlds events, and 'can a road bike do gravel?', an obviously rhetorical question, considering the championship result has proved that to be true.

at this point, i feel the need to repeat for possibly the hundredth time, that the north american rapha continental, constituted in 2007, spent many a happy kilometre riding 'the road less travelled' on america's almost endless stretches of gravel tracks. and they did so on continental 28c road tyres fitted to handbuilt steel bicycles. and before all that, there were mountain bikes, admittedly with flat bars, but capable of achieving pretty much everything the current gravel bikes are purportedly capable of. after all, a 40mm tyre width equates to 1.6 inches: mountain bike territory.

i consider this a personal victory (of sorts), but could this be the beginning of the end for perhaps the shortest-lived bike craze ever?

friday 14 october 2022

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so what do i do now?

british cycling + shell

in my inbox yesterday, i received an e-mail from wikipedia founder, jimmy wales. lest you think me guilty of name-dropping, let me assure you that this e-mail was unlikely to have been solely directed at yours truly, given that the subject heading claimed that i was one of wikipedia's rarest supporters. rare, because last year i opted to heed their request to send financial support for the world's largest, independent and ad-free encyclopaedic resource. this e-mail was rather humbling, not only because apparently only 2% of wikipedia users chose to do likewise, but because my donation was hardly excessive. in fact, it was possibly the minimum amount.

i confess to using wikipedia almost on a daily basis, mostly for fact checking, but occasionally for additional information relating to an article on the post. and hopefully, so doing makes me seem a tad more intelligent than is truthfully the case. for those reasons alone, i feel i can hardly continue to make use of the resource completely free of charge. however, it would appear i am outnumbered by the other 98% who apparently disagree.

i do not, however, wish to create the impression that i enjoy an unblemished character. for instance, despite protestions to the contrary, i continually forget to removed the bottle tops from p.e.t. bottles before placing them in recycling, and i never attempt to mend a punctured inner tube, opting to replace it with new. however, i am of a mind to make stand against british cycling's announcement that they have signed an eight-year partnership with shell, with ceo, brian facer stating on the bc website, "We're looking forward to working alongside Shell UK over the rest of this decade to widen access to the sport, support our elite riders and help our organisation and sport take important steps towards net zero - things we know our members are incredibly passionate about."

now i'm particularly poor at reading between any lines that may previously have been up for discussion, but it strikes me that british cycling are either desperate for funding, despite trumpeting their apparently ever-increasing membership, or they are guilty of a woeful lack of understanding of the ideals held by a large proportion of that membership. voiced on twitter, one respondent said, "British Cycling are partnering with very same oil and motor interests that have kept cycling underfunded and side-lined for decades. An absurd decision and (a) greenwashing coup for Shell" that, i believe, was engendered by the knowledge that shell petroleum have a vested interest in supplying vast quantities of fossil-based fuels to the uk motoring public, a practice that hardly provides them with particularly green environmental credentials.

but then there's shell energy, the website of which claims that this branch of the energy giant is a provider of 100% renewable electricity as well as gas and broadband. but even that might be a contentious position. were i to sign up with shell energy to supply my own electricity, it would arrive through exactly the same power lines as has been the case since i moved into the croft. and to be honest, i have no idea precisely how that electricity is generated; it might be from a coal or gas-fired power station, nuclear, or, indeed, renewables. but i'm pretty sure that shell energy would be just as unsure as am i. however, if i correctly recall the small print at the foot of their tv adverts, the "100% renewable claim" is justified by the practice of 'carbon offsetting".

is that really the sort of sponsor we want providing the financial wherewithal to aid membership benefits and future success on the international sporting platform? given that i only joined for the included third-party insurance, should i simply cancel my membership in protest and join cycling uk, with which my cycling proclivities and aspirations seem better aligned? doing so may, of course, be a vacuous protest; it seems highly unlikely that the board of british cycling will immediately call ben van beurden (shell's ceo) to say that they'd had second thoughts because the hebridean scribbler of a cycling blog had revoked his membership.

of course, if we all resigned en-masse, it may give them cause for re-consideration, but unless all bc members were in touch on a daily basis, how would we know? that said, if i can figure out how to do so, even at the risk of losing my recently paid membership fee (let's face it; i'm never going to race anyway), i might just do so, immediately joining cycling uk as a more suitable alternative.

whether you do likewise is entirely up to you and your conscience, though for those who do race, there's no doubt that british cycling membership is mandatory to maintain a race licence.

but that said, eddy and tom raced with bp badges on their sleeves as did raymond poulidor; bernard thevenet sported esso logos, and robert millar preceded british cycling by nabbing the tour's king of the mountains while advertising shell on his jersey. all of which are revered as collectable retro jerseys.

did i mention double standards?

join cycling uk

thursday 13 october 2022

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chased by pandas. my life in the mysterious world of cycling. dan martin. quercus publishing hardback. 325pp illus. £20

chased by pandas - dan martin

the career of a sportsperson of any particular discipline, must surely be comparable to that of the aspiring musician. when a complete naiveté at college, though at one time responsible for providing the beat in four bands, the notion that at least one if not all of those would be touring the world and selling copious numbers of albums, was taken for granted. it's only after several years of playing the same songs in the same venues to the same audiences for the same remuneration, that reality began to make itself known.

and how.

it is a salient fact that 'making it', relies every bit as much, if not more, on being in the right place at the right time, as it does on having the musical ability to take advantage.

the same can surely be said of the 'mysterious' world of cycling, as it is described on the cover of dan martin's autobiography. there are surely more cyclists who apparently possessed the the necessary cojones, stamina and skills who now 'enjoy' the sedate perambulations of the sunday ride, than there are those who subsequently performed on the international stage with the security of a contract in a jersey back pocket. it therefore behoves those who reach the even the foothills of the professional milieu to maximise their recognised potential. enter dan martin.

the book's title refers to the circumstances at play during the final metres of martin's major claim to fame as winner of the 2013 edition of la doyenne'; liege-bastogne-liege.

"It was here that I was chased by a giant panda. Well... by a man dressed as a panda.
"Why was he chasing you?
"I don't know."

the incident is illustrated on the back cover and attested to in the book's photo section. there is also the faint suggestion that martin spent the remainder of his career attempting to discover the identity of that man in a panda suit. sadly, no satisfactory result is revealed.

it seems to be a continuing trend amongst cycling biographies, to commence with the rider's highest profile victory, before settling down in later chapters to relive the life events that led up to that point. i do comprehend the tactic, but i do feel it's a device that has had its day, particularly when there is a more than a soupcon of melodrama included for good measure.

"On the morning of the race, a thought popped into my head: 'I'm going to win today.' [...] This thought, this vision, wasn't an attempt at self-persuasion on my part, and certainly not a moment of misplaced pride. It was a premonition of what I was going to experience. I accepted this omen that sprang from within me."

this approach continues to the introductory paragraph of chapter two; "When I felt the rear wheel slide away in the final corner, I had no idea what was happening. Time seemed to slow as the catastrophe unfolded. I registered the microsecond when the tyre lost its grip on the road surface..."

thankfully, from that point onwards, the book gains a firm grasp of reality and regular prose, redeeming its import in the eyes of this reviewer at least (though i do harbour a few qualms over the chapter headings).

as a noted climber, with the enviable ability to let loose on the steepest of ascents, martin appears keen to instil this first and foremost in the mind of the reader, dividing several pages of chapter two to enlighten us of the climbs that helped shape his psyche and ability to head upward at speed. ("In those beautiful early years, the mountains were already on my horizon.") the first of these is the 65 metres that constitute tamworth pass near birmingham, the city in which martin was born in 1986. this is followed by alpe d'huez, the 21 hairpins of which were experienced by martin junior and senior when on a french holiday at the turn of the century. the alp's 1850 metres are closely followed by the comparatively fewer 121 metres of the mallory park climb, on which a young dan martin clambered through his first race to second place. two years later, he clambered once again, but this time to the top step of the podium.

martin makes no bones about the fact that his cycling hero was dad. "I was my dad's most fervent supporter almost from the moment I was born. [...] He was my role model. My father taught me all about hard work, honesty and courage."

with a distinct predilection for road racing as opposed to the track, despite several successes, an early meeting with british cycling supremo, dave brailsford, brought the realisation that this distaste for riding in circles would mean no official support for his nascent career. it seemed the sole means of help would be to adopt irish nationality, a practical reality due to his parents originating from the two countries. john herety was astute enough to provide contact with frédéric rostaing, manager of vélo club la pomme marseille, a team coincidentally featuring martin's cousin, nico roche, son of tour winner, stephen roche.

the year was 2005 and the beginning of martin's professional vocation.

written in conjunction with pierre carrey, 'chased by pandas' eventually becomes an intriguing read, detailing the twists and turns of what turned out to be an intriguing career, if not definably mysterious. martin was a member of jonathan vaughters' slipstream world tour team, riding alongside current itv4 commentator, david millar, instantly enamoured with this entry to the upper regions of the professional sport, following a self-imposed extra year in the ranks of the under 23s.

"You'll start at the Tour of Ireland. Your first pro race will be in your home country."

as has become commonplace in many cycling biographies, there's comes the necessity to deal with the elephant in the room: drug-taking. martin deals with this through his close friendship with the aforementioned david millar, who served a two year ban for epo use prior to a time-trial in which he was predicted to have taken a drug-free victory. martin expresses not only a distaste for so-called medical assistance, but even for taking painkillers for everyday ailments such as headaches. thus was the encouragement for joining team slipstream who proposed to race clean and eschew use of injections for any purpose.

'chased by pandas' is a self-effacing account of a successful career as a professional cyclist. martin's palmares includes stage wins in all three of the major tours, the tour de france combativity award (2018), the liege-bastogne-liege victory in which the panda first appeared, along with the tour of lombardy and british road race champion of 2008. the book may be a tad on the long side, but few readers could accuse him of self-aggrandisement. and his disappointment with pogacar's team emirates ("It's fine like this, we've always done it this way, for twenty years.' That meant we were twenty years behind our rivals.") was possibly magnified by comparison with his previous position in the well-prepared and self-described 'wolfpack'; patrick lefevre's quickstep.

if you harbour aspirations to become a professional cyclist, this book will not only educate you to the realities, victories and disappointments you'll likely experience, but inspire you to welcome them with open tri-bars. despite its overly melodramatic beginning, 'chased by pandas' is a good solid read, and an excellent testament to a successful career.

dan martin's 'chased by pandas' is published by quercus on thursday 13 october.

wednesday 12 october 2022

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shifting sands

evri branding

it's difficult to understand just how fickle we are as participants in the commercial aspect of cycling. to paraphrase howard walowitz from the big bang theory "apple keeps altering the size of its iphones, and we keep buying them", the insinuation being that, other than the colour and size of their most popular products, there is little to distinguish them from their predecessors. of course, there is likely a great deal more to it than that, but is it actually enough to justify an upgrade and/or the price of so doing?

in the velocipedinal world, unlike that of computers, technology does not necessarily improve in a straight line. we have reached, as far as i know, the cutting edge of breathable, waterproof garmentage, and at the risk of shooting myself in the cleat, cycle jerseys have remained pretty much the same for many a long year. arguably the last innovation to appear on the jerseys you and i can purchase, was the addition of a fourth, zipped security pocket adjacent to the three that we've all known and loved forever. following a brief, but admittedly cursory glance across the apparel on offer to the intrepid cyclist, it seems that many purveyors have resorted to following apple's lead; keeping the garment exactly the same, and changing the colours every year.

sitting in thewashingmachinepost bike shed, is a specialized crux elite cyclocross bike, resplendent in fluorescent orange and green, with a smattering of white. it is, admittedly, six years old, but it's still every bit as much fun and mechanically sound as it was when new. currently, specialized do not offer an elite model of the present day crux, the cheapest being the £4,600 comp model, though featuring sram rival gears and brakes as did the elite. six years ago, the cost was £2,700, compared with £4,600 for the comp. but none of the current range appears in fluorescent colours; 2022 seems more content with the subtle appeal of pastel shades (though the crux pro is available in a zazzy combination).

but my question would be whether any of us are drawn towards spending several thousand pounds to upgrade, based predominantly on colours and the latest groupset? would doing so measurably increase the sense of fun and enjoyment of the bike ride? i tend to think not. so the latest trend to catch my eye recently has me similarly confused, featuring echoes of 'the artist formerly known as prince'.

though none of this concerns major corporations of which we will all be aware, ironically, that fact simple serves to add to the confusion.

i am referring to the corporate re-brand, a feature that seems largely unnecessary unless there's a merger or takeover. for instance, what was once known as morrison's bowmore distillery, subsequently became simply bowmore distillery when morrisons sold out to japan's suntory. the latter subsequently bought out america's beam spirits to become 'beam suntory'. and while the continually, yet subtly re-logo'd bowmore distillery stayed essentially the same, re-branding for the parent company seems to have continued apace.

that said, given the appalling reputation acquired by delivery firm, hermes, i doubt anyone is surprised that they're now known as evri. (that said, the offical explanation is quite comical: the studio wanted to find a way to represent all the "different people, different parcels, different places, different communities" which interact with the brand and its messengers.

however, london-based indoor bike brand muoverti, which seems to emulate wattbike and of which i had no previous knowledge, has apparently rebranded as muov, a decision that seems, to me at least, utterly pointless. and, once again, in my humble opinion, a rebrand that i think really ought to be reconsidered, involves the online marketplace velomatch, now wishing to be known as really? and while we're on something of a roll here, respected sportswear brand proviz, responsible for an excellent array of hi-viz cycle and running clothing, aside from changing its senior team, has also announced an upcoming rebrand, though apparently still retaining the proviz name, a statement that has me somewhat confused, having previously thought rebranding to include an inevitable name and logo change.

so will we be likely to fall for this 21st century equivalent of the emperor's new clothes? is there anyone out there who has refrained from buying an indoor bike from muoverti that has now seen the light and intends immediately to purchase from muovi? and having previously stayed well away from velomatch, concerned that it simply wasn't for you, has the name change to fulfilled the founder's hope that it will now appeal to a wider audience? or, until i mentioned them, had you ever heard of either? does anyone out there own a muoverti indoor bike that they now feel pressured to upgrade to a muovi?

when i moved to islay, the office adjacent to the local averagemarket was known as the nature conservancy council (ncc), but after a few years, it was rebranded as scottish natural heritage (snh) and but a couple of years ago, it became each name change involved altering the branding on their vehicles, the brass plaque outside the office, the jacketage provided to members of staff, websites, stationery and probably a whole host of things i haven't even thought of. yet throughout the past 35 years, the tasks carried out from that very office have scarcely altered at all.

obviously enough, this is a state of affairs hardly constrained to solely those mentioned above, but in an era when businesses are reputedly counting every penny, what on earth is the point? are we really that easily manipulated?

answers on a postcard.

tuesday 11 october 2022

twmp ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................