soukesports graphene l/s fleece jersey, lightweight windproof gilet, winter bibtights and padded winter gloves

souke sports autumn/winter

time was when scarcely a week passed without yet another cycle clothing company appearing on the metaphorical shop floor. and though at the crossover of the last two decades, cycling in the uk had acquired a popularity and profile not seen since the late 19th century, it would have been hard to deny that it remained a distinctly minority sport. it is still the same today, though it's likely that the minority has grown just a tad in the interim. since those halcyon days of yore, several of those apparel purveyors have gone the way of the dodo. some of them undoubtedly deserved their fate; many were copyists, some were simply attempting to jump on the bandwagon; only the tough survived.

souke sports autumn/winter

the big boys were never going anywhere: assos, rapha, castelli, santini, endura etc., i will spare the departed any further embarrassment. yet it seems there are still those who view the cycling market as an opportunity, not necessarily to displace any of the foregoing, but perhaps to join the merry throng. china-based souke sports are one amongst the few, a marque featured on the post almost exactly one year ago. those previous offerings were well made, but perhaps slightly misdirected when it came to seasonal appropriateness, so i was more than willing to take a second look at this winter's offerings, recently sent from china.

souke sports autumn/winter

this time around i received a maroon, fleece-lined, graphene, long-sleeve jersey, a contrasting, yet complementary lightweight gilet, a pair of fleece-lined bibtights and a pair of water-resistant winter gloves.

according to souke, the construction of the jersey does, in fact, include 26% graphene, ostensibly allied with the fleece lining to offer enhanced thermal insulation. not a property i was aware graphene provided, though the souke website also states that graphene has important anti-bacterial properties. with this jersey, i was impressed in a way i wasn't expecting; i had intimated to souke that a medium size would be the most appropriate, but i was sent a size small. and though it proved an exactingly close fit, it did actually fit in a way that others would describe as race-fit. sadly, that's rarely a description often applied to yours truly, but the jersey fitted more comfortably than expected.

souke sports autumn/winter

the sleeves were immaculately adjudged for length, and the jersey's fleecy constitution made for insulated comfort and joy. the usual three rear pockets comfortably swallowed all that i stuffed within them. they're augmented by a fourth, zipped security pocket. if i have a criticism, it's that the collar could have been a smidgeon taller for an autumn/winter garment.

over the course of my bike rides, even though we're in the midst of an uncommonly mild hebridean autumn, the jersey's breathability was most welcome, as was the comfort provided by what i had presupposed was a jersey too small (i'm 5'10" with a 38" chest. if you prefer a more relaxed fit, i'd suggest upsizing.)

souke sports autumn/winter

the bibtights (also size small) were a superb fit, aided and abetted by ankle zips, something seen less and less these days, but a factor that eases both fitting and removing. they include a wide, reflective hem, along with thigh mounted souke logos. the bibs are of a mesh construction and the internal pad, which felt a smidgeon bulky when first worn, transformed into that mythical magic carpet ride in the saddle. these are every bit as good as anything on the market today.

souke sports autumn/winter

the fly in the ointment, so to speak, was the lightweight gilet which i had chosen in orange in order to improve my visibility on grey islay days. not only does this garment include three, smallish rear pockets, but stuffs into the centre of the three to pack away when not in use. unfortunately, the size small gilet seems to have been woefully undersized. though i had been concerned that the small-sized jersey may have been a tad restrictive to wear, fitting the gilet on top of the jersey proved almost impossible.

souke sports autumn/winter

i did manage to wear it briefly, but when the rear jersey pockets were filled with mini-pump, tyre-jack, digital camera and spare gloves, it was impossible to connect the full length front zip. thus, if permabulating the countryside and finding it a bit chilly, donning the gilet would hardly be an easy option without transferring everything from one set of pockets to another. that would surely indicate that, were you to buy a souke long-sleeve jersey, it would make sense to upsize when choosing the gilet to ensure it fits. from my point of view, it was a bit of a shame, because the gilet is well designed, well made, unbelievably lightweight but too small to fit over a similarly sized jersey.

souke sports autumn/winter

and surprisingly enough, the, padded gloves, also supplied at size small, fitted quite comfortably, allowing not only the prestidigitation to change gear, but made to allow operation of bar-mounted, touch-screen gps devices. the whole range of clothing described above is very economically priced, from the £116 jersey and similarly priced bibtights, to the £63 gilet. souke sports are currently offering all three of the above at £268, a saving of £27. the gloves too are well priced at £18.

souke sports autumn/winter

lastly, though i'm happy to recommend the quality and constitution of all four products, one aspect has me quite confused. i believe i'd be correct in assuming that though the phrase 'keep pedalling' is probably a corporate maxim (it's highlighted on the back of the jersey), yet it concerns me that this, and other so-called inspirational phrases, are included in a subtle backgound pattern across the torso and sleeves of the jersey. and to make matters worse, all these phrases are in a mishmash of typefaces. in my opinion, this is completely unnecessary, only serving to cheapen the jersey's profile. we're cyclists, we really don't need this call to arms all over our cycle jerseys.

that said, this is very good cycling apparel at excellent prices.

souke sports cycle clothing

monday 14 november 2022

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the great boffo. frank dickens. isola press hardback. 29pp illus. £16.99

the great boffo by frank dickens

"It's not surprising Boffo wins all his races."

originally published in 1973, i first reviewed this book in july 2015, following which, all copies sold out (not necessarily because of my review, you understand) and was rather pleased to hear from james at pursuit books, that it had now been reprinted with red and white stripey end papers. since i fear i would be unable to surpass my original review, i have opted to update and reprint it below, following which i have provided a link from whence it can be published.

according to james, the book is suitable for those four years old and above, which i think, covers most of us. it's every bit as brilliant now as it was in 2015 and 1973. if you missed out before, now's your chance to excuse the purchase by saying it's for your kids/neighbour'skids/ neice/nephew (delete as applicable).

a friend from school, with apparently more perspicacity in the realm of contemporary rock music of the time (early seventies, to be appropriately vague) owned a copy of the yes album, which did occasionally lead to quizzical enquiries as to why any band would name themselves yes. if in answer to a specific question, i never found out what that question might have been. my late father, more inured to the world of classical music with little tolerance for 'a bunch of long-haired louts' insisted on referring to them as the yes, even though the album cover categorically omitted the definite article.

the great boffo by frank dickens

however, i bring this to the conversation because it led to my first real hero, if such an apellation can be related to a musician who became more famous for later leaving the band than for his subsequent progressive (in both senses of the word) career.

bill bruford played the drumset in a manner i hadn't come across previously, though i'll readily admit that my record collection of the time had only one stand-out percussionist; joe morello on dave brubeck's take five. that was jazz; this wasn't.

i followed bruford's career throughout my years at art college and well into my fifties, through various incarnations of king crimson, occasional reunions with members of yes and his own constantly changing line-up of earthworks. i stayed and admired throughout the days of playing melodies on recalcitrant simmons electronic drums, to his ultimate idiosyncratic setup prior to retiring a few years back. i never quite embraced the stage of having posters on my bedroom wall (then or now), but i do have one or two signed dvds, and i was introduced to the man by his bass player after a concert on glasgow's renfrew ferry.

the great boffo by frank dickens

i won't bore you with my odd attempts to emulate his singular style of playing despite my own gigs most often consisting of 40 second radio jingles or the first dance at a wedding. it takes some of us longer to adapt to reality than others. of course, there have been other drum heroes since, but bruford's the chap that made the biggest difference to my own percussive aspirations, even if you'd be hard-pressed to notice.

cycling heroes i've had none, at least not in the same sense. robert millar was and still is a great influence, but the only thing i had in common with robert (pippa) is a ponytail and having been born a glaswegian. i'm somewhat ashamed to admit that during the time that eddy merckx was earnestly earning his cannibal nickname, i was totally oblivious to his exploits. coppi, bartali and anquetil were all before my time; though i hold all three in great esteem, i was too young at the height of their careers to be in any way aware of their greatness.

with reference to the merckx era, i count myself in the same class as many i have observed during europsort's coverage of the grand tours, stupidly turning away from the racing to wave to the camera behind them. having stood on a mountainside pretty much all day, when the opportunity to appreciate today's heroes, they squander it all for a few seconds of dubious fame. perhaps hero worship isn't what it once was?

the great boffo by frank dickens

it is likely something of a truism that heroes are identified in the years of innocent youth, before we all grow up (well, some of us) and realise that the great champions aren't born in cradles with the word hero engraved on the headboard. by the time realisation dawns, the act of hero worship has already accomplished its purpose. first published in 1973 the great boffo lays waste to the oft repeated advice that you should never meet your heroes. illustrator frank dickens, progenitor of the record-breaking cartoon strip bristow (it ran for 41 years) was apparently an outstanding cyclist as a young man, with aspirations towards the professional milieu. however, drawing cartoons proved a potentially more successful career move.

the great boffo is so brilliant in concept and illustration that i'm seriously considering petitioning the blazers at the uci to make it a compulsory purchase for anyone with the faintest notion to become involved in road-cycling. who hasn't at sometime or other coveted "...the most beautiful bicycle the boy had ever seen. It was painted red, the handlebars and the wheels gleamed in the sunshine, and it had the name 'Boffo' written on it."?

the great boffo by frank dickens

it would surely be tanatmount to informing all and sundry that the butler had indeed done it, to reveal the whole story line, but suffice to say that the young boy (whose name is oddly never revealed) does not suffer unrequited hero worship and inadvertantly not only saves the day, but indirectly causes the problem from which the great boffo requires to be saved. for those of a nervous disposition, it does contain mild reference to broken lemonade bottles and a delivery bicycle with a basket on the front.

pursuit's james spackman originally published this beautifully presented edition "for the Wiggo generation", but it's equally pertinent for the pogacar/van aert generation. it is prescient that dickens foresaw the naming terminology for one of cycling's heroes of the 21st century. surely it cannot be coincidence that boffo and wiggo both refer to two of cycling's great heroes?

the great boffo

in 1973, i was just a tad too old to have the great boffo read to me at bedtime, though as my parents had no cycling tendencies whatsoever, it's stretching credibility to think they might have done so in any case. however, i did present my youngest grandson with a copy in the hope that his parents would help indoctrinate him into the ways of the great boffo. now nine years old, he holds an unfortunate predilection for football, but there's time to turn away from the darkside yet. and the kids who were under the care of mrs washingmachinepost on a daily basis have hopefully subsequently grown up watching eurosport, hoping to identify the great boffo from the helicopter shots and wondering why carlton kirby hasn't yet made mention of his sterling efforts.

i still live in the forlorn hope that james spackman's pursuit publishing will issue an a3 sized poster of the great boffo and his gleaming red bicycle for mounting on the wall above the bed. though ostensibly a children's book, i'll admit to having read it more times than i'd care to admit (several times, out loud), but you musn't tell a soul. order a copy immediately and organise public readings in the clubhouse or coffee stop.

"The machine is not as important as the man." the great boffo.

buy a copy of the great boffo

sunday 13 november 2022

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velco smart bike white paper

we've already had the first hyperbike foisted upon us and now we have the smartbike; presumably the singularity moment will arrive when the two become one, though it seems likely that such a coalition is someways off. the smartbike, perhaps obviously enough, is based on the ubiquitous e-bike, but connected. i assume the moniker is derived from the nomenclature that began with the smartphone. it may, however, be worthwhile approaching this latest trend with a healthy degree of reservation, since the descriptive white paper of which i have a copy, is published by velco whose business plan involves providing connective solutions for e-bikes.

it's also worth noting that, in the contents to the white paper, the e-bike is described as 'the undisputed world market leader' while associated text states that the described connectivity is "reinventing the cycling experience for cyclists..." there's no explanation as to why the cycling experience is in need of being reinvented. and despite mr buchel's pronouncement (see yesterday's post) that the industry may experience future difficulties, velco are prophesying that, "while the automotive sector was the unbeatable giant of the last century, annual bicycle sales will be more than double new car registrations by 2030.

so what exactly is a 'connected' bike? (velco suggest rephrasing that particular question to read 'what is not connected (yet)?'.

the smartbike is only one strand in what is often described as 'the internet of things' (iot); a trend displaying interactive, immediate, 100% service devices. sales and sector supply statistics nothwithstanding, this is a future we are allegedly approaching which includes smart cities within which, velco contend, smartbikes take on their full meaning. i should point out at this juncture, that i will take come convincing that this is indeed the ideal way forward. there is more than just a faint whiff that there are factors afoot that are being done because they can be, rather than because there is any perceived demand in the first place. however, there's no denying that this is something that affects many different strands of contemporary life.

there seems to be little thought given to the possibility that folks might want to ride an unconnected bike because it gives them some 'me' time, free from the travails of a life that often seems connected in every other direction. i found the following paragraph to embody the very nightmare i have tried so hard to avoid. "like any modern consumers, cyclists will have service requirements related to their e-bike during their journey: search for information, purchase, riding, parking, maintenance, etc. it is no longer a bonus but a prerogative, cyclists want to live a riding experience. now a real 'statement', the choice of a smartbike is the extension of a connected, modern, lifestyle."

i fear i will not sleep tonight, but i do wonder from whence originates their presumption that this is, indeed, what cyclists want. should that perhaps be re-phrased as what commuting e-cyclists want (assuming that to be the case)? should we all be lumped together under a single heading? should cycle commuters really be searching for information? i'm presuming this references online searches during a hypothetical journey, something that seems particularly ill-advised in traffic. the paper continues by stating, "connected electric bikes offer to revitalise and modernise e-bikes to make them the bicycles of the future."

the most worrying aspect of the above is that they may well be right.

my late father's later years in employment embraced the first of the carphones and subsequently the early mobile phones, all of which he refused to consider, proclaiming that travel time was his time, not that of his employer. in my past, when i lived several kilometres from my place of work, i undertook to commute by bicycle, during which i had time to separate myself from the vicissitudes of the daily grindstone. the thought that all this might be eroded by imposed connectivity is not something that i would find equitable. when at work i have a phone at my desk, when at home, i am, once again, adjacent to a telephone. when i'm out on my bike, i certainly do not want anyone to phone me.

the velco paper does set out many reasons that favour their connectivity solutions, several of which are hard to argue against: bicycle theft, rider safety and pointing out that connectivity would allow (anonymised) analysis of cyclists' traffic flows, decisive in guiding the choice of safe facilities for cycling. when you learn that bosch, shimano, ananda and many others are committed to revolutionising e-bikes through connectivity, it seems more than likely that this is less of a white paper and much more a fait accompli. of course, for those of us who prefer to remain apart (aloof?), we can surely continue to ride our analogue bikes with mechanical gears and rim brakes. unless any laws are passed outlawing the latter, we ought to consider ourselves safe from the internet of things.

or are we?

when attending an early version of bespoke bristol held in a former brunel building at the railway station, friends of mine had to park almost two kilometres from the venue because the local parking required payment by smartphone (which they did not have). and the last time i flew abroad, i almost ended up on stand-by because i had been unable to check-in online prior to arrival at the airport. though i still do not possess a smartphone of any description, i am genuinely surprised i have been able to do so for so long. so much so, that i have now become particularly obtuse in my denial.

and so it might become the same concerning bicycle connectivity. though we continue to be free to ride our analogue bicycles more or less anywhere we darned well please, it would suprise me not if that were to change in our connected future. it seems somewhat ironic that manufacturers are keen to portray gravel bikes set against the unlimited, car free countryside that they persuade us will offer escape from the cloying rat race, yet simultaneously adopt the permanent connectivity of the so-called smartbike.

who's willing to bet against the permanently connected smart gravel bike?

saturday 12 november 2022

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poor marques

yamaha e-bike motor

i have frequently been heard to ask quite what double-glazing companies will sell, when pretty much everyone has double-glazing? the answer, or at least the obvious retort, is that they sell triple and quadruple glazing, wth many purveyors have actually done so. to an extent, that seems akin to the continual addition of one more rear sprocket to a bicycle gearset, or an even larger iphone, but there has to be an ultimate point where that strategy no longer works. in the case of the bicycle cassette, it seems highly likely that there is a physical point beyond which adding yet one more sprocket becomes mechanically impossible.

but each of the above has not only physical limits, but marketing limits too, one that may already have been passed in terms of the number of gears made available. i recall several decades ago, when i was in the business of actually selling bicycles. at that point, many of my younger customers demanded that their mountain bikes feature 21 gears, in the far gone days of seven-speed cassettes and triple chainsets. the reality, however, soon dawned on collection of those bicycles, when almost all asked how to operate the gears.

those 21 gears were being demanded on the basis of the fashion of the day, and most certainly not from the point of any deeds-of-derring-do that were subsequently to be performed.

my point, obscure as ever, is that the number of gears on a bicycle make little difference to the majority in the market for a new bike, or those already in possession of one. while we may be eager to embrace the jump to thirteen sprockets in the full knowledge that twelve is probably at least five more than any of us really need, we are, contrary to the x-files slogan, alone. as one of the generation reared on the ten-speed racer, i cannot truthfully say that ownership of a 24-speed racer has made cycling any more enjoyable (though, as the bones age ever more, year on year, i can't deny that i rely more and more on the bigger ones).

in the grand scheme of things, the pelotonese are a very small part of the velocipedinal firmament.

with the advent of the mountain bike in the early 1980s, there are many who would testify that it was the saviour of an industry in the doldrums. the modern-day equivalent would surely be the e-bike, though a few have nailed their colours to the gravel flag. and there are a few signs, continual e-bike development notwithstanding, that the industry as a whole is relying on electrons to once again, save their businesses. if you harbour doubts over the veracity of my observations, i might point out that the presenting sponsor of the chicago area bicycle dealers association (cabda) is yamaha. firstly, the latter have entered the market as makers of e-bike motors and secondly, and arguably more importantly, yamaha have entered the bicycle market.

though sales of high end bicycles have apparently remained buoyant, what is rarely pointed out is that the high end bicycle market is a very small percentage of that market. and though e-bikes may have re-educated the great unwashed as to higher price points (allegedly the average amount spent on an e-bike is £2,700, despite most of us having been regaled with exclamations of 'how much?' when riding our own 24-speed racers.), i'm sure i detect a certain level of complacency creeping in; that, no matter what, e-bikes will save the (bicycle) world.

should an apparently healthy industry need a saviour?

the latter ideology might be observed in a recent statement by president of the world bicycle industry association (wbia), erhard buchel, where he claimed "the next year 'might be difficult for the bike industry' but interest in cycling 'will not disappear". if that seems a tad contradictory, i would tend to agree. surely if interest in cycling is not in danger of evaporating (and i doubt that it will), then the industry is poised to take advantage? and if the future is electric, apparently at the behest of interlopers in the industry, might it be that it's the more 'traditional' manufacturers who might experience 'difficulties'?

to underline that point, the annual turnover of specialized bicycles is $500 million compared to the yamaha corporation's $427 billion. and bear in mind there are a great deal more potential bicycle customers who couldn't give a seasonal fig about whether their latest purchase features a carbon, alloy or steel chainset.

i believe that's known as 'the bigger picture'.

friday 11 november 2022

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missing the point

active travel

i have, i believe, mentioned on previous occasions, the case of the new town of stevenage, situated in hertfordshire, england. in august 1946, it was designated the first new town under the eponymously named, new towns act. one of its original claims to fame was the inclusion of a cycling and walking infrastructure entirely separate from the town's road system, enabling pedestrians and cyclists to access virtually every part of this new town without the danger of meeting unexpected motorised traffic.

however, it soon became apparent that this innovative infrastructure was remarkably little used, which modest research showed was almost entirely due to the roadway system being every bit as convenient to use. thus, in similar manner to water always finding its own level, the new residents of this new town simply used their motor cars to get about because there was no perceived advantage to either walking or cycling. it might be pertinent to point this out as the very opposite effect of the modern-day 'build it and they will come' philosophy often attached to proposals for better cycling and walking infrastructures in areas bereft of either.

however, that might be seen as a rather sweeping generalisation. only last year, a mixed use path was opened on islay between the villages of bruichladdich and port charlotte, a distance of around 4.5km. that particular path has been remarkably well utilised despite my having wondered what the point of construction really was. in all the years i had cycled that stretch of road, i had very rarely come across anyone walking, and figured it may result in it becoming a white elephant. thankfully, i was entirely wrong.

however, the blight that afflicted the new town of stevenage, if nothing else, proved that the lack of any tangible incentive is likely to result in a less than favourable uptake. this is immediately pertinent given the campaign being presented at cop27 by several cycling and transport organisations urging a serious rethink on the forms of transport prioritised in policy and funding. the big problem is, believe it or not, the enthusiasm with which cycling organisations promote the mode of transport that occupies their daily musings. it often seems they assume that, with a bit of gentle nudging, everyone will see things as do they.

for instance, as part of the campaign mentioned above, to demonstrate the case for walking and cycling, a report was commissioned from economic research firm decisio which highlights the benefits to be gained from walking and cycling and the concomitant potential for "...climate, air quality, health and wellbeing." the problem is one of incentive. though education and intelligence levels vary quite dramatically even within so-called civilised societies, does it really require yet another commissioned report to tell folks what they already know, but rarely act upon?

as a species, we are demonstrably far less active than in the past, leading to additional health problems and obesity across the world. we know what causes many of those health problems and we know what causes obesity; we have done for quite some considerable time, but that knowledge hasn't stopped the situation from worsening. there are many, many individuals in the western world who would not disagree that cycling, for example, provides several health benefits, yet still drive their cars over remarkably short journeys. and many of those who have dipped their toes in the water, have done so aboard e-bikes, rather than expend additional effort and thus additional exercise, riding analogue bikes.

the report by decisio has, once again, highlighted the fact that over 60% of all urban journeys are under 5km and 25% are under 1km, information that we've known for many a long year, yet those statistics pervade, no matter how many £millions are thrown at the problem under the banner of active travel. it's not that the problems go unrecognised by those who indulge in those remarkably short journeys undertaken mostly by car, but if there's nothing to stop them, why would they? even the recent substantial rises in fuel costs seem not to be seen as an obstacle.

as a tangent, the scottish presbytery are intent on closing down and selling off two of islay's churches. this is not only due to declining congregations, but also to raise some much needed cash. however, the congregations under threat have argued against closure on the grounds of sentiment and heritage, neither of which address the reasons the presbytery wish to sell.

therefore, if governments and cycling organisations truly wish to address the problem, there needs either to be disincentives to car travel, or major incentives to walk or ride; the argument has to be the same. if you're a car driver, you perhaps don't want to cycle because it will be cold, or wet, hard work, or inconvenient. yet cycling organisations spend their time, money and endless reports pointing out the health and exercise benefits - an entirely different argument.

meanwhile the proposals continue at cop27 calling on governments and cities to prioritise and invest more in walking and cycling, through integrated and coherent strategies, including plans and concrete actions for infrastructure, campaigns, land use planning, integration with public transport and capacity building.

you see my point?

thursday 10 november 2022

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how low can you get?

sound frequencies

modern-day bicycle technology, colloquially known as 'marketing hooey' does not, you may be surprised to learn, exist in isolation. there are other strands of modernity that are every bit as afflicted with similar levels of hyperbole. unfortunately for my reading public, the only comparable example with which i have experience, is that of the drum world.

traditionally, drums have been made with wood, almost invariably that which is most common and available in the drum manufacturer's country of existence. for instance, drum workshop's collectors series predominantly features maple wood, one that is in relatively plentiful supply in north america. what would once have been their peers in the uk, the premier drum company, manufactured the majority of their product using birch, which is more common on this side of the pond.

for those unfamiliar with drumshell production, the logs resulting from tree harvesting are rotary cut, providing a very thin sheet of wood from whichever tree is under discussion. several plies of these are glued together and placed into a heated press that eventually produces a shell of the required diameter. once the hardware is affixed and drum heads tensioned, striking the playing surface will produce the very sounds associated with drumming.

john good, dw's vice president, is renowned as a wood guru, travelling worldwide to select often rare and attractive woods to create ever more exotic drum shells. this, he contends, offers a wide variety of acoustic sounds, providing greater choice for dw's customers. like me, for instance. and as if that were scarcely sufficient, he subsequently developed several wood-ply configurations, in which some plies feature the wood grain running horizontally, some vertically and some diagonally, allegedly creating various depths of tone.

somewhere on youtube is a video where a naysayer similar to myself took a range of drums all of the same dimensions but of differing woods and plies, tuned the heads to the same pitch and defied anyone to tell the difference between them all. i own four drum workshop snare drums; two are 14x5, one is 14x5.5 and one 14x6. one is maple, one mahogany/poplar, one mahogany/maple and one cherry wood. though i can detect subtle differences between them all, i'm pretty darned sure that, in any gig, anywhere, they'd all sound exactly the same. in all my years of playing, i have never had anyone come up after the gig and compliment me on the specific sound of my cherry wood snare drum.

and i doubt i ever will.

if wood type, number of plies and grain orientation really do make the ultimate difference, why do drum workshop and others, sell drumsets made from plexiglass, which sound every bit as good as do their wood sets? and are we really expected to believe that six plies of maple, each interspersed with a layer of glue, produce their unique sound due to the variations in wood vibration? if we crafted a wooden shelf in similar manner, i'm sure we'd all be crestfallen if it vibrated to any particular degree. if nothing else, the youtube video mentioned above, demonstrated that the choice and type of drum head had far more bearing on sound than any number or type of differing wood plies.

the bicycle science equivalent is the much-vaunted profiling of carbon tubing, depth of rim and whether the bottle and cage is exposed to turbulent airflow.

however, if i might, for a moment at least, once again refer to dw's wood ply configurations, while the audible sound of the many variations might sound remarkably similar to the average audiences' ears, perhaps i am being hoist by my own petard when it comes to very low frequency (vlf) sound. megan trainor may have protested that it is, indeed, 'all about the bass', but scientists have recently conclusively proven that she may have been right on the money.

in order to test whether concert and disco goers were truly more likely to move to the beat if the bass were inaudibly enhanced, canadain scientists conducted an experiment during an electronic music concert. according to neuroscientist, dr daniel cameron, "this is [...] validation that the bass really does make people dance more". by switching in or out vlf speakers which generated bass frequencies inaudible to the human ear, the scientists from canada's mcmaster university conclusively proved that such frequencies really got folks up dancing, and 'into the groove', to coin a well-worn phrase.

if you relate this to the maxim that 'nothing is ever worse after a bike ride', is it possible that cycling, especially in an atlantic gale, surreptitiously creates a series of very low frequencies generated by the interaction between frame, wheels and large volumes of rushing air? that would seemingly explain why even a brief bike ride puts the average velocipedinists 'in the groove'. if that is indeed the case, perhaps all those hours spent in the wind-tunnel are actually looking in the wrong place?

sure, the aerodynamics of the bicycle may arguably be advanced by such aero-based scrutiny, but is it not possible that if those very low frequencies are actually being generated without our knowledge, it might explain why race victors often cite just how good they were feeling during the event and were convinced they would achieve victory while still many kilometres from the finish line? if this does indeed turn out to be the case and becomes commercially exploitable, remember from which groove merchant you heard (or didn't hear) it first.

wednesday 9 november 2022

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light headed

giro ethos

though the safety standard known as bs6102/3 may possibly have been superseded, it was once the principal directive requiring front and rear reflectors on a bicycle, along with pedal reflectors and perhaps advising that a set of reflectors on the wheels wouldn't be such a bad idea. those were/are compulsory fitments after the hours of darkness, but nonetheless led to brief moments of panic that the police might stop me because my rear reflector had fallen off.

however, all the foregoing are designed to have the cyclist seen by motorists and pedestrians, and certainly not to allow the un-named individual to actually see where he/she is going. that is a facility covered by the fitment of lights. bizarrely, bicycles are not legally required to display lighting when stationary, even at night, explaining why dynamo lighting is perfectly acceptable, though many contemporary systems feature a 'standlight' to cover those stopped moments.

flashing lights on bicycles need adhere to the above mentioned bs6102/3 standard in terms of illumination. in other words, they must flash between one and four times per seconds and must emit at least forty lumens, though the jury is out on whether that might be a tad on the bright side for rear lights. in case all that seems remarkably sensible, be aware that, if your flashing light has a 'steady' mode, even if you never use it, it has to adhere to the standard set for lights that don't flash.

don't you just love it when officialdom demands that something adhere to prescribed standards, even if the feature in question remains unused? it confirms our faith in our betters. it is my understanding that motor vehicle lights have minimum standards of illumination, the sort of thing that's checked during the compulsory annual ministry of transport test on vehicles of three years of age or over.

along with many sunday morning pelotons, the velo club is in the collective habit of featuring flashing rear lights on our bicycles, even in the height of summer. (i should point out that, in the hebrides, the height of summer isn't actually saying too much - certainly not this year, anyway). there will be many times during that season, when the brightness of daylight precludes motorists from noticing the small pinpoint of flashing red, but there may well be moments when we're in the shade of trees, buildings or cattle, when a flashing light will enlighten following vehicles to our presence.

on saturday, while returning from kilmeny, en-route to the croft, it dawned on me (unintentional pun) that, now that british summertime has officially ended, my saturday cycling sorties will soon suffer from dimming light a lot earlier than would formerly have been expected. i'm very rarely ever out on the bike after the hours of darkness, so there will be little pressing need from my portland design works front light which emits a sufficient number of lumens to convince oncoming traffic that they have strayed onto the airport runway. however, i do possess a small flashing front light that will identify my presence as dusk falls ever harder.

and now, though hardly first to market with the idea, giro helmets have released two versions of their ethos helmet, featuring integrated lights and indicators. these are aimed squarely at the communting cyclist offering front white lights and red rear lights activated via a handy set of buttons affixed to the handlebars. all can be recharged via the now more or less mandatory usb-c connection, and the lights sport 25 lumens up front and ten lumens at back when in flash mode, increasing to a front-facing 40 lumens and 25 rear-facing lumens in steady mode.

in general, i'm very much in favour of this development, and though others have produced variations on this theme in recent years, giro's standing in the cycling firmament and wide reaching marketing will hopefully sell the idea to those who tend to be a tad lax over the fitment of lights to the bicycle. arguably fewer velocipedinists leave home without their helmets, as opposed to leaving their lights on the kitchen table. the only additional obstacle would be remembering to charge them.

yet i do wonder whether motorists will pay sutiable attention to these enhancements, where such enhancements have rarely been seen previously. pedestrians, cyclists and other motorists are all accustomed to viewing indicator lights on cars, but certainly not on cyclists' helmets, particularly when they are situated considerably higher than on any motor vehicle. it also behoves the wearers of such helmets to remember to use them regularly, or the whole point will be lost.

if you regularly commute during the hours of darkness, this might be an innovation worth exploring.

giro ethos helmet

tuesday 8 november 2022

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