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ritchey bicycles - built from life ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

the smithcast

brian smith

i stated about a week ago, that i would maintain radio silence over the three weeks of the tour de france, writing about velocipedinal subject matter other than the goings on in denmark and france. this i till intend to do, predominantly on the basis that pretty much every other cycling website will be doing precisely the opposite, and i really have very little to bring to the party. however, my scottish friend, colleague and twice british road race champion, brian smith, relieved of his usual eurosport duties, is independently providing a précis of each stage on a daily basis.

for those who wish to avail themselves of his insightful and expert daily analysis, i'd suggest that you follow him on twitter (@brismithy) or vimeo. i'll remind you on a daily basis.

brian smith's analysis of tour de france stage three

monday 4 july 2022

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rapha powerweave bibshorts

rapha powerweave bibs

the first cycling specific garmentage that i purchased, in the early nineties, was a pair of tights from deesside cycles. i'm not even sure they still exist. not only were they not bibtights, but as i recall, they featured no pad either, but persistent reading of the comic had brought the likely realisation that, if one intended to become a bona-fide roadie, then riding in mtb shorts or jeans, was never going to cut the mustard. sadly, unable to find a pair of plain black tights, my leg coverings resembled little more than an explosion at a dulux paint factory.

rapha powerweave bibs

i remember being embarrassed to even wear them on dark evenings.

it was quite some time before i plucked up the courage to buy a pair of 'proper' cycling shorts, in the first instance, with a real chamois pad. the latter was comfort personified when new, but bore a striking resemblance to a brillo pad after only one wash. habits incurred at that time, have me never leave home without using chamois cream to this day, despite manufacturer protestations that the latter is unnecessary on the modern day synthetic, two-layer pads.

rapha powerweave bibs

once again, these shorts featured only an elasticated waist, for it took a long time on the approach to bibshorts. when considering the latter, for way too long did i procrastinate about whether bibshorts ought to be chosen on the basis of waist size or height. i have a rather narrow waist; my jeans are invariably of a 30" waist and, it transpires, my height of 5' 10" allowed me to order size small in pretty much any brand of bibshorts, a situation that persists to this day, i'm pleased to say.

rapha powerweave bibs

but then potential complications arrived in the shape of rapha's 'powerweave' bibshorts which, according to their website are, elite-level race bib shorts. though, in my head, i'd be the perfect shoe-in for a contract with jumbo-visma, the reality is somewhat different, and the notion of wearing bibshorts designed for a level of cycling so far removed from my own, confers almost as much embarrassment as those deesside cycles tights from last century. and while reading the small print under the heading of key features, i note that they promise a 'compressive weave' to optimise muscle support, a feature that no doubt proves very handy if you have actual muscles.

rapha powerweave bibs

everything points to these being rapha's top level bibshorts, originally released around this time last year, but in rather restricted numbers. this year, it would appear stock is rather more plentiful, but the price tag of £295 is not one that will appeal to everyone. so what, to enter the colloquial, is the buzz? is that a price worth paying for any pair of bibshorts, no matter how fast you think you are?

i opted to plump for size small, after all, and hope that the compressive properties and the power-weave would not have restricted the usual excellent fit offered by the other bibshorts in the rapha range. thankfully, it was a prudent choice. i have always maintained that any pair of shorts ought to offer a bit of a struggle to put on, if anything, confirmed by the power-weave bibs. i confess i'm more in favour of the mesh bib straps on rapha's classic shorts than the elasticated braces on these, but in use, you'd scarcely know they existed.

rapha powerweave bibs

and that's true for the shorts overall. there's no gripper at the hem to speak of, yet they grasped onto my thighs like a moray eel. and entirely unlike a regular pair of shorts, when removed, there's no evidence of them ever having been there. according to rapha, the powerweave shorts are 20% lighter than even their pro-team bibs, a fact i can cheerfully confirm, for in use, you'd be forgiven for thinking you'd left home without them. i am of insufficient power to offer comment on whether the compressive fit offered any improvement to my speed, but they are remarkably comfortable and the pad's multiple layers obviated any discomfort, even over the roads that we reserve only for special occasions.

rapha powerweave bibs

my only real criticism would be over the light grey colour (even if rapha describe them as dark grey). without going into too much detail, if you've taken the opportunity for a natural break mid-ride, there's every likelihood the evidence will be clear for all to see at the coffee stop. and let's just leave it at that.

whether you're someone happy to be left with only a fiver change out of £300 on purchasing a pair of these is between you and your bank manager (which may be your other half). combine a pair of these with the new pro team criterium jersey and you're looking at the better part of £500. however, when you have colnago releasing new bicycles in excess of £12,000, it appears perceptions may have changed. the price, however, does not obviate the fact that these are a remarkable pair of bibshorts, arguably the very best i've ever had the pleasure of wearing. if you happen to be a tad younger, faster and involved in the competitive milieu, the benefits could perceivably be far greater than experienced by yours truly.

that does not, however, exclude those of you with the financial wherewithal and a desire to ride in the best that money can buy.

rapha's powerweave bibshorts are available in navy/green or dark grey/dark navy, in sizes ranging from xs to xxl (small size reviewed). price is £295 including free standard delivery.

rapha powerweave bibshorts

monday 4 july 2022

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quoc pham cycling footwear ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

and this season's brownie points go to...

rapha brevet gore-tex paclite jacket

school holidays have me thoroughly confused. i truly have no idea why school pupils require quite so many breaks across the course of the year. teachers who are friends of mine are in receipt of between 13 and 14 weeks' holiday per year, less at their behest, but to the benefit of the pupils they teach. nor do i understand why these holiday breaks rarely line up across the different regions, nor why england's school holidays are entirely different from those north of the border.

though the local schools on islay finished for six weeks on friday past, my daughter, who is a primary teacher in glasgow, went off on holiday last weekend. yet i still don't understand why school holidays are quite so frequent. it often seems that the children have only just returned to academia, before their studies are interrupted once again. for instance, islay's schools return from summer holidays on 17 august, before being favoured with another two weeks at the beginning of october. that means they've only suffered a period of around seven weeks of lessons.

would that the rest of us could have a holiday schedule like that.

however, as a colleague and i returned from a bout of froth supping at debbie's on friday afternoon, he mentioned that we were probably now in for six week's of crap weather (not that it's been particularly clement up till now), an allusion to the commonality of wet and windy weather appearing whenever the schools go on holiday. in truth, that's probably a bit of an exaggeration, but it seems to feel like a truism more often than not.

and i don't doubt that any cyclist worth his or her salt, and keen to ride at each and every opportunity, will be well acquainted with the farce that is frequently referred to as the 'weather forecast'. as an isolated but not singular example, earlier this past week, the forecast for friday was less than welcoming; brightish in the morning, but wet in the afternoon. as it transpired, the opposite was the case. and saturday's forecast showed a bit of rain in the morning, precipitation that was due to relinquish its grasp by eleven o'clock. unfortunately, that turned out not to be the case.

having departed the croft at around 10:30am, i still had baubles of rain rolling off my jacket as i arrived at debbie's nigh on mid-day. and though the rain abated for a period while i had my swedish recipe double-egg roll (private joke), on departing after a soya latte and a square of millionaire's shortbread, the rain continued intermittently.

however, as i approached the cottages at saligo on the atlantic coast, the brightening weather offered a sliver of optimism that i might remove my rapha brevet goretex jacket, immediately dashed by a shower of heavy drizzle that appeared from nowhere. it was a kilometre or two later that the weather did brighten sufficiently for the jacket to be removed, scrunched up in to its bright pink wrap and unceremoniously stuffed into a rear pocket of my personalised black, classic jersey.

and it is that very goretex jacket to which i bestow this season's brownie points. i've had this jacket since mid-april, posting a favourable review at the beginning of may. and to be honest, it's a garment that i had hoped to have dispensed with by now, given that we're already into july, when you'd kind of hope that waterproofs would be persona non grata. granted, nobody with any sense goes for a lengthy bike ride in the hebrides at any time of the year without a waterproof in a jersey pocket, but the general hope is that such a garment will not be required.

i have to admit, however, that i have worn this paclite goretex jacket almost every week since it arrived, often with very good cause. it is probably the best packable jacket i have ever possessed; it is simplicity itself to stuff in a back pocket, and no matter how badly scrunched, or how roughly handled, it performs perfectly when needed. i spent an hour and a half in persistent heavy, soaking drizzle on saturday morning, yet on arrival at bruichladdich, jersey and armwarmers were bone dry, from both rain and perspiration. and in the grey, low visibility that infested the entire morning, its relatively bright, autumnal colours and reflective hoops meant there was little danger of smidsy.

i cannot deny that it's very much not the cheapest waterproof jacket on the market, but few of us would expect goretex to be cheap-as-chips. and in my experience, you almost always get what you pay for. if you're going to get wet as frequently as i usually do, rapha's brevet gore-tex is an investment well worth making. and seeing as you asked, rapha don't actually know i've written this.

yet.

rapha brevet gore-tex paclite jacket

sunday 3 july 2022

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rapha ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

do we get what we pay for?

pound_coins

following on from yesterday's oblique appraisal of the release of shimano's electronic 105 groupset, in a sort of related matter, the inestimable jack thurston, he of the excellent lost lanes series of books, asked on twitter what sort of chain cost £100, pointing out that, according to colloquial research, the best eleven-speed chain was priced at around £20. he then went on to say that "...if you've gone 12 speed, then you've got nobody to blame but yourself." the winking smiley face appended to the end of his tweet would suggest that he was only kidding about the latter, but then again, maybe not.

in truth, he's absolutely right. i do ride a twelve-speed campagnolo record groupset, and i cannot deny that it's my pride and joy. even as i neared the croft, following this afternoon's paper-route, the smoothness with which the cranks rotate and the ease with which the gears shift (considering the whole enchilada was fitted and maintained by yours truly), actually made me smile. but quickly jump over to google and check the price of a campagnolo super-record twelve speed chain (it's the same chain for both record and super-record), and you will soon learn that a replacement intem will lighten your bank balance in excess of £50. the campagnolo chorus twelve-speed chain retails at a more amenable £40, but that's still double the price of mr thurston's best-price eleven-speed chain.

and which self-respecting campyphile doesn't also own the necessary tool to fit a twelve-speed chain, no matter the flavour of choice? there goes at least another £140, or, if you're lucky enough to ride an ekar gravel groupset, i've seen the 12/13 speed chain tool with a £190 price tag. depending on how often you change your chain, and how close you live to an authorised campagnolo dealer, you may wish to balance the cost of purchase against dropping the bike at the shop (always assuming you have the mechanical skills to change a chain). someone will always point out that there are power links available for campag's eleven and twelve-speed chains, obviating the need for the expensive tool, but for starters, that's likely to void any warranty claims if it breaks.

and if saving money was the object of the game, we'd probably never have fitted campagnolo in the first place.

when it comes to such matters, where a moan over the price of campagnolo's italian engineering arises, i'm always reminded of my mother's favourite epithet 'pride bears no pain'. someone will inevitably allude to sram or shimano as being a cheaper option. a price well in excess of £300 for a super-record twelve-speed cassette is surely guaranteed to bring tears to your thighs, but a dura-ace cassette is priced very similarly, as is that for sram red, so maybe we ought to moan in japanese as well as italian.

but are we getting value for money? after all, the latest twelve-speed dura-ace di2 is priced comparably to campagnolo's super-record eps, so there's little room to manouevre in the comparison stakes at the top end. it's difficult to make direct comparisons further down the field, for campagnolo only produce a singular electronic groupset (super-record), while shimano now have electrons attached to all three of their principal groupsets. yet that scarcely obviates my original question, which is particularly related to the number of gears on the cassette. other than the professional classes, who actually needs twelve sprockets on their rear wheel. or eleven come to that?

are we, therefore, being effectively sold down the river by all three of the major players? and if we knew that to be the case, would it actually change anything? irrespective of your brand affiliation, and no matter which particular groupset chosen, it's quite likely that it is your pride of joy. perhaps those who buy centaur ultimately aspire to record or super-record, an aspiration that may or may not be requited. similarly those who are about to splash out on shimano's latest 105 di2; possibly the end-game would be dura-ace, but perhaps not.

all that said, i still harbour a sneaking suspicion that the continual addition of just one more sprocket has more to do with marketing than technological advancement. i don't remember cycle racing being any less exciting when the peloton was on seven or eight gears. i was going to say that i definitely don't need twelve gears, but on reflection, given my diminishing, age-related power output, maybe i need twelve much more than does tadej pogacar or wout van aert.

however, i'm pretty sure i can't afford to move up to thirteen, though oddly enough a thirteen-speed ekar chain costs around £10 less than super-record's twelve. but i doubt such economy will be maintained when a thirteen speed super-record groupset arrives. perhaps there's a clandestine internal competition between manufacturers to see who can offer the highest priced box of trinketry? and to think there are those who intend to boycott shimano for having the nerve to release a twelve-speed 105 di2.

buy what you like, don't let anyone tell you any different, and enjoy every kilometre.

saturday 2 july 2022

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rouleur

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the trickle effect

105 crankset

a quick look at campagnolo's website will enlighten the velocipedinist searching for an electronic groupset that, a bit like a vegetarian scanning the menu at islay's lochside hotel, there's only one choice. and sadly, that singular choice commands a retail price of close to £3,500. in today's market which features some alarmingly expensive bicycles, that's perhaps not as scary a financial outlay as would once have been the case. but let's face it, for the majority of us, it's still a gearchange too far.

i have made my opinion plain on just what i think of electronics allied to bicycles on previous occasions, but i'm not afraid to reprise those for those suffering from insomnia.

my ritchey logic is outfitted with a mechanical campagnolo record groupset, gearchanging being activated by brute force and ignorance. as those of you who are also living in the alleged dark-ages will know all too well, it's hardly the most onerous part of cycling to flip a lever to change gear, as opposed to pressing a switch. it surprises me no end that there haven't been extensive uci funded exercises to determine just how many watts are consumed by those on electronic groupsets, as opposed to those riding mechanical. should such a study exist, i seriously doubt there would be a huge disparity in the final numbers.

and, as with almost anything within the cycle industry, there was no way anyone was going to stop at simply actuating the gears with electrons. now, i am reliably informed, there are all manner of programming options via the ubquitous smartphone apps. and while i could cheerfully spend many a joyous moment watching the front derailleur shift from inner to outer ring, programming it to do so on each occasion of a full moon, still seems a somewhat redundant process.

however, while campagnolo maintain that the sole market for electronica is at the upper level, shimano are hoping to prove the precise opposite, having now announced the existence of a di2 version of their 105 groupset, which arrives replete with wireless shifting. with a recommended retail price of around £1,700, it's almost exactly half the price of super-record eps and almost exactly the same as my mechanical record groupset. the hierarchies are often difficult to compare; generally speaking, most of us would equate super-record with dura-ace and sram red, while ultegra would be the equivalent of chorus or sram force. sram rival and and shimano 105 would seem happy bedfellows, but i'm not sure of my ground comparing 11-speed campagnolo centaur with an 11-speed 105 groupset.

interestingly, it is notable that sram force e-tap is on sale at a few hundred pounds less than the projected price for 105 di2.

nonetheless, from a personal point of view, i'm much happier with record mechanical than i would be with the new di2 version of 105, but that's almost entirely at the behest of my luddite tendencies. but while the di2 version of 105 has adopted the twelve-speeds to be found on ultegra and dura-ace di2, shimano are rumoured to be persisting with their eleven speed mechanical version, a situation that is converse to their philosophy with its top two groupsets, where mechanical has allegedly been consigned to history.

so does this mean that shimano has perhaps experienced a blip in its future strategy? for where the release of the latest di2 versions of dura-ace and ultegra were positioned as the future of electronica, the retention of mechanical 105 maybe signifies a company hedging its bets. campagnolo has maintained the mechanical version of super-record, though there have been rumours that when the next (13-speed?) super-record appears, it will be eps only.

i have ridden and reviewed several electronic groupsets and i cannot deny that they work precisely as designed, but i continue to think of them as the solution to a question that no-one actually asked. shimano introduced a di2 groupset in 2001, but it first achieved commercial success in 2009, meaning that there may well be riders in the professional peloton who have never ridden anything else. and with 105 di2 about to enter the market, it's possible that experience will only increase. i imagine the circle will be complete when either shimano or sram introduce a set of electronic gears that find a home on an e-bike.

it will be interesting to see whether campagnolo's contention that there was little point in electrifying both record and centaur, because the majority of their customers were likely to opt for super-record eps, is reflected in future sales from both shimano and sram. i tend to think that won't be the case; campagnolo has long had a reputation for higher price points, while shimano's command of the original equipment market has made them all things to all people, and at price points that suit a majority of wallets.

obviously enough, anyone such as yours truly, who prefers mechanical over electronic, need simply ignore the existence and prices of electrons. here's hoping that continues to be the case.

friday 1 july 2022

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design is a good idea

colnago prototipo

i have been fortunate in having been commisioned by two distilleries and one gin company to design cycle jerseys for sale in their visitor centres, with a distinctly different approach from them all. one supplied a 92 page manual dictating what could and could not be done with their logos, lettering, placement and colour, all of which had to be strictly adhered to. however, there was always going to be dissension at some point, in this case, over the amount of yellow included in the design.

though the whisky label on which the jersey was based did, in fact, feature yellow, a particular shade which was duly incorporated into my design, the man at the top of the tree responsible for signing off on the project, was of the opinion that the submitted design was not entirely on brand. i did argue the obvious point that we were designing a cycle jersey and not a bottle label, but he invoked the 'he who pays the piper, calls the tune' mantra, and the jersey, in my opinion, suffered accordingly. it now features too much black and grey, in my opinion, not only from the point of view of visibility, but ignoring the fact that yellow has particular significance to cycling aficionados.

that said, it is a fine jersey and matching bibs, even if i do say so myself.

more satisfyingly, the other distillery simply suggested colours they'd like me to use, along with supplying the appropriate artwork. i offered them a couple of options, one of which they chose without so much as a quibble, and said jersey is available for purchase from their visitor centre even as we speak. the gin company was every bit as agreeable, the process involving a few back and forth discussions prior to final choice. i confess, however, that i know not whether the final item has yet been delivered.

there have been occasional consultations with others, but those are still in limbo at present.

given that all three sell distinctly scottish products, it will come as little suprise that each jersey has been supplied by scotland's endura custom kit. if you're a graphic designer, as i like to think i am, it's a simple matter of downloading the jersey template from endura's website and undertaking the subsequent design work in adobe illustrator. submitting to the client and eventually, endura, is, as sergei would say, "simples".

having visited several framebuilders in my career, i well know that i could never follow in their welding rods. i have a perennial vision of stepping back to admire or critique my work, and innocently putting the acetylene flame through the gas bottle hoses. with no wish to blow myself to pieces anytime soon, i think it better for all concerned that i don't attempt to build bicycle frames. i have thus confined myself to learning the skill of wheelbuilding, one that i think exists on a par with framebuilding, but doesn't involve any explosive gases.

however, had i pursued a framebuilding career, at some point in time, i would have had need of decorating it in some manner or other. this would have entailed either a subtle, plain version, or something a tad more visible in the style of colnago's art decor. and it's either a very contrived means of my reaching the point of my dissertation, or a happy coincidence that the conversation has turned to cambiago's finest. i'll leave you to decide which.

i mentioned fairly recently that colnago had developed five versions of its so-called prototipo bicycle for the forthcoming tour de france, all of which are to be available for two time winner, tadej pogacar. colnago are now inviting all and sundry to submit unique designs for the official tour de france bike, which are to be based on the prototipo. whichever final design is chosen by colnago's technical jury, will then appear on a unique version of the bike which will be ridden by a member of team uae on the final stage to paris before subsequently being auctioned for charity.

for those of you who fancy your chances as a velocipedinal graphic designer, it's a simple matter of clicking here and following the instructions. you have until 10 july to enter, and the final result will be announced on 14 july. unfortunately, there seems to be no indication of the winner's prize, other than perhaps the smug satisfaction of having designed the offical tour colnago.

thursday 30 june 2022

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every which way but loose

traditional grip

the local secondary school has a habit (one that may be replicated elsewhere, for all i know), of implementing the new timetable in early june, following the sitting of annual exams. thus, pupils who are technically still in second-year, move onto the timetable and classes they will inhabit when finally reaching third-year in late august. thus, my wednesday afternoon drum tutoring has brought me a new intake of students.

granted, two of this intake were formerly under my instruction for national five certificates (both passed), but now rejoin the happy throng to study for their highers. the remaining three students have, till now, had their school year mercifully clear of my influence. as i begin each year (i've been doing this for six years), it is my habit to point out that, while there is no right or wrong way to play drums, there are easy or hard ways to approach the instrument.

for instance, after many, many years as a pipe band side-drummer, i personally tend to favour what is referred to as traditional grip. this was originated by the very first military drummers, whose marching drums were held by a shoulder strap, but left free to swing about the drummer's left knee (assuming him to be right handed). since this entailed the drum head lying at a rather extreme angle, rather than march with their left elbows pointing skyward, the drummers effected a grip that mitigated such contortions.

since the early jazz drummers were often drawn from military circles, you need only look at photos from the 1930s, to see that said percussionists often angled their snare drums to replicate those flailing military drums and allow continuation of the traditional grip. however, with contemporary drumset hardware, there is no excuse for not setting angles to suit your preference and nor is there any cogent reason to persist with traditional grip, in favour of matched grip. the latter, as you may have derived, means holding both sticks in the same way, similar to that of a hammer.

however, those of us who have endeavoured to move onto matched grip, often find it difficult to do so, reverting to the traditional left hand grip after but a few tunes.

but having dealt with the intricacies of grips (i encourage them all to adopt the matched version), there comes the not insignificant matter of choosing which hand will play which drum and in which order? several of the exam pieces feature quite complex fills, negotiation of which requires astute reading skills and dextrous movement about the kit. in essence, i don't mind at all in which manner they achieve this, provided the end result is likely to satisfy the head of department and subsequently, the examiner.

of course, one always hopes that they find one of the easier means of so doing.

so what of cycling? i daresay there are easier and harder ways of cycling, few of which we ever investigate unless forced to do so by a coach or trainer. which beggars the question, should we? for instance, when teaming up with the mighty dave-t, he taught me the very means by which i might successfully draught behind his wheel when heading into a wind. granted, when doing so as an individual, there is little option but to grovel in the face of the elements, but it changed my cycling a great deal to learn about the principles of the echelon, given the persistent winds that strafe the principality.

and what of riding position; surely road bikes would not sport drop bars if the intention was not to ride with hands firmly planted on the curves? as it transpires, doing so is a rare experience, the bulk of a roadie's day being sat with hands on the lever hoods. the late lord carlos of mercian spent most of his time in the drops, and suffered greatly from doing so, rarely reaching a nearby rear wheel on which to echelon.

but surely the centre of any riding instruction ought best centre around appropriate use of gears. on the last occasion i rode the hot chillee londres-paris, it was painfully obvious, at least within the peloton in which i rode, that any sense of gearchanging had yet to be acquired. on approach to any ascent, taught by years of riding non-indexed downtube levers, i would shift down through the gears to maintain cadence when reaching the gradient. sadly, many of those around me seemed inclined (pun intended) to rely on riding as far as they could in whichever gear they had started, before desperately scrabbling for any gear they could find. this happened even to those whose bicycles featured electronic shifting.

there was occasional carnage when everything failed and several now static cyclists, crashed into each other on the climb.

my age-old training also advised not to run big-ring to large-sprocket, not ony to prevent chain wear, but also because doing so inevitably duplicated a ratio that could be found by switching to the inner ring and a less-toothed sprocket. nowadays, i see many cyclists running big-ring to big sprocket on the hills, even the professionals, though admittedly the latter have little reason to worry about replacing a worn chain.

no doubt there are facilities where the aspirant roadie can visit for appropriate training in the easier ways of getting about by bicycle, though a cursory search would tend to suggest that the majority have mainly competitive aims in mind. there are, of course, training schools that endeavour to teach adults to ride a bicycle, but in line with the statement that vehicle drivers learn first to pass a test, then they learn to drive, i fear that such instruction, despite being undeniably essential, may replicate that situation.

there is also the more traditional means of learning; joining a cycling club and being berated, cajoled, harangued yet ultimately instructed by the more senior members of the club. tales still exist of the chain-gang heading out for an 80 mile sunday ride on which anyone tailed off is left to their own devices and means of getting themselves home.

let's just call that the traditional grip.

wednesday 29 june 2022

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flattery will get you nowhere

vittoria air-liner

solid bicycle tyres have been 'a thing' for quite some time, with several different iterations having been seen or announced in recent decades. many have claimed to offer the same resilience as an air-inflated tyre, but so far, these have failed to gain a substantial foothold in the bicycle market. there are a few brands that have made inroads into wheelchair circles, but it has to be admitted that the performance demands of the average wheelchair scarcely compare with riding a bicycle on britain's roads. so far the air-filled tyre continues to rule the roost.

the only major intrusion into the bicycle tyre market in recent years has been that of the tubeless tyre, which often seems to have gained traction (if you'll pardon the pun) through sheer bullishness, rather than serious technological advance. i have mentioned more than just once that i find the faff involved in fitting a pair of tubeless tyres to far outweigh any promised benefits. i'm aware that i'm possibly in a minority in this aspect, though i know of several colleagues who share my distaste for tubeless tyres.

while one of the major advantages of tubular tyres has alwys been a reluctance to roll off the rim when punctured, evidence would suggest that tubeless tyres are less resilient in this respect, though i'm happy to admit i've had no first hand experience of such a malfeasance. however, i can attest to having ridden considerably further than i ought to have on a punctured clincher, without suffering the slings and arrows of a rolled tyre.

i cite evidence for the apparent likelihood of a tubeless departure from the wheel rim, straight, as it were, from the horse's mouth. for vittoria tyres have announced a substantial investment in so-called run-flat technology by integrating its tyre insert supplier, deaneasy. to quote from the italian tyre manufacturer, "The Vittoria Air-Liner, launched in 2018, is a a reusable insert for tubeless-ready tyres, which prevents the tire from falling off the rim and acts as a run-flat solution."

run-flat technology covers a multitude of sins, with various strains having been implemented in car tyres over the years, ranging from pliable inserts similar to that produced by deaneasy, to expanding foam injected into deflated tyres. the latter is of similar ilk to the gloop required to seal a tubeless bicycle tyre, not only providing the initial seal for inflation, but reputedly filling any small nicks in the tyre tread suffered during daily cycling. the next step may be to replicate the most recent car tyre developments, involving an open, honeycomb structure that completely replaces the need to inflate the tyre in the first place. several car tyre manufacturers are already working on such developments, though whether they will prove transferable to the cycle market is a question yet to be answered.

however, i confess to finding myself somewhat dismayed and confused by this increased adoption of tyre liners. to the cynical eye (who me?), it looks like a desperate attempt to bolster a technology that has, so far, not necessarily proved fit for purpose. though the world's cycle tyre manufacturers seem to have thrown their entire marketing budgets behind tubeless, it seems odd that in a relatively short period of time, it has been found necessary to resort to tyre inserts and some highly questionable repair solutions. does this mean that the original idea was found unsuitable after release on an unsuspecting velocipedinal public? are we in effect, being used as beta testers?

for racing cyclists, the tubular tyre has proved its worth on more occasions than anyone could count; if it ain't broke, don't fix it. for the rest of us, without the benefits of a following team car, or the patience to glue them to a pair of sprint rims, there's the clincher with its inner-tube technology. this too, has proved its worth over many a long year. yes, it may be a pain in the tyre lever to fix a puncture by replacing the inner tube, even on dark, wet and windy days, but with improvements in both clincher technology and inner-tubes over the years, it's hardly the worst thing to befall the average cyclist. so once again, if it ain't broke, why spend time trying to fix it?

as cleverer folks than i have said, "when you've sold double-glazing to everybody, what do you sell them next?"

tuesday 28 june 2022

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

endura cycle clothing ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

galloway cycling

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hot chillee ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

world bicycle relief

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campagnolo ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

wheelsmith ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

prendas ciclismo ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

showers pass ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

wabi woolens ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

as always, if you have any comments, please feel free to e-mail and thanks for reading.

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