it could reasonably be argued that the very value of an item is intrinsic and not, (if such a word exists) extrinsic. the value placed on goods that we require or desire is extrinsic, in that it is separate from any inherent value they may have. this latter value will, obviously enough, vary depending on the society in which it is placed, or from which it is observed; and the value will also be different to those who find themselves disinterested in whichever genre is under discussion. extrinsic value can be said to be the value someone else places upon an item in order to have it properly aligned in the firmament. these two values are, whether they like it or not, complementary.
my first road bike (a nice, red 531 steel machine) was worth rather a lot to me, because at the time, it was the only one i owned. i'd spent more than an hour or two choosing the components and assembling all in a sort of ham-fisted way, that likely hasn't improved too much since then. in retrospect, the total cost of the bicycle was less than the cost of my current pair of wheels, but, like i said, it was worth a lot to me, a value that, while complementary to its financial cost, was actually greater. if i came across the same machine tomorrow, i'd be very unlikely to be impressed.
i hope all is beginning to become clear.
the follow through from all this is capitalised by desire; it may well be the case that a campag record rear derailleur accomplishes very little more than that in the veloce group, but if it's record that you really, really want, the substantial difference in cost is largely academic; it's the intrinsic value that attracts, the extrinsic value that decides whether it can be afforded or not. so when somebody tells you that a bicycle has appeared for sale in harrods at a starting price of £21,995 ($35,600), it makes everything else look like loose change.the bicycle in question is the factor 001, produced by beru systems about which i have written before. it was developed ostensibly to provide cyclists with the ultimate training machine, replete with electricals and measuring devices that would enable the rider to receive up to the minute data during the ride, rather than have to wait to download to a computer. the machine is all new from the ground up, and includes carbon spoked wheels, a variant that departed the peloton a number of years back. however, the inclusion of hydraulic disc brakes (which naturally renders it illegal in all uci events) may have necessitated use of such hoops.
i don't doubt that at least a part of the cost of this £22,000 bicycle is contained in the development; everything has been designed and built from scratch by a company more used to hiring its services to formula one, a sport not noted for its thriftiness. thus those wheels are all new, and new again. the frame has undergone several changes through its short (unridden) life, even since the version displayed at the science museum earlier this year; witness the split seat-tube: the original was split from top to toe. however, that's not all that's changed.
suddenly it has lost its italian accent and gained a japanese one; the original gearset featured campagnolo levers and tiso derailleurs, which have been cast aside for shimano di2, albeit with bespoke carbon lever hoods (likely to contain the hydraulic pots for the brakes). and while we're on the subject of brakes, the original specification, and earlier photos i had, showed the bike with carbon ceramic rotors. take a look at the photos on this page and see that the rotors are now of metal. additionally, that front brake is on the drive side of the bike, while the rear, assuming my eyesight to be fine, seems to be on the left. something they know that we don't?
however, the one question (which i have asked) is just what separates a bicycle of £22,000 from such as the £4,000 focus tested earlier in the year with di2? according to the spec of the basic bicycle, electronics extend only as far as fitting red leds at the back and white at the front, and pre-wiring in case a windfall allows you to upgrade to the boeing, boeing, boeing edition. there's no word as to the cost of the factor001e as opposed to the 's' version, but rest assured that you may need a pilot's licence and a degree in physics to operate.
thus, returning to my opening gambit, the extrinsic value is north of £20,000; the intrinsic depends very much on how much you really want a bicycle like this. it seemed to me that selling it through harrods rather diluted beru f1 systems proposition that the factor 001 was aimed at serious athletes. however, nothing costs nothing anymore, and whether or not you see the point in producing such a superbike development costs have to be recouped from somewhere. technology account director, nick bailey, told me that sales enquiries have come from two markets: professionals and affluent enthusiasts; harrods are taking care of the latter. if i'm really lucky, i may be able to test one of these in the new year, and i'll be in a far better position to let you know what the real difference is, should it be apparent to mere mortals.
if you have a large amount of money burning a hole in your musette, you can contact bf1 systems through the factor 001 website.
posted wednesday 9 december 2009..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
as i must have said more times than either you or i care to remember, i really don't get out much. for starters, any sort of evening social life has to fit round the hours spent sitting on the leather chair of an evening writing all that you see before you. doubtless there are many of you who wish i would just go out once in a while, but we all have our crosses to bear. however, to what i really refer is the fact that i rarely remove my person from the island, and when i do, it is even more rarely in the company of the team colnago. so, by implication, i have little or no need of any sort of encasement to ensure its travelling safety. because it doesn't travel much.
what does need to travel, however, is the seemingly endless supply of shiny new colnagos that gratifyingly head in my direction for a few weeks' holiday on the hallowed isle. these, along with the other bicycles i have had good fortune to test/review, usually arrive in cardboard boxes, from the enormous containers preferred by wiggle (on which it is likely council tax is due), down to the more conveniently proportioned boxes sent by almost everybody else. cardboard is a marvellous material, as it costs relatively little, weighs not a lot, and can be recycled when empty. what it doesn't do to quite the same degree, is shed water, remain in pristine condition for more than a few days at a time, and perhaps most importantly, resist the earnest bruising of haulage contractors, railway employees and aircraft baggage handlers.
i have been very fortunate that none of the considerably expensive machines transported to washingmachinepost cottage have suffered any damage whatsoever, but one feels that it's only a matter of time. so when visiting the cycle show at earls court in october, i happened upon bike box alan, displaying rather sturdy looking plastic boxes capable of swallowing a road bike and its wheels in one gulp. this seemed like the very item about which you should know, particularly after yesterday's post regarding all those exciting randonees, continental rides, sportives etc. for which you will all now require a safe method to transport your velocipedes.
but how to test?
i'm none too sure that you'd take me too seriously if i simply popped the c40 into a red box and took it on the bus to portnahaven and back. that would prove very little, other than the fact that islay's bus drivers have to put up with more eccentricity than they're really paid for. so i spoke to the folks at colnago and arranged, with their full co-operation, that alan would ship an empty box to colnago uk, and they'd place a shiny colnago clx 2.0 to suffer the infractions of the carrier from gosport to glasgow, and glasgow to islay. and when the road test is over, it'll go back in the same manner, but the opposite direction.
so just a few weeks ago, the big red box arrived off the carrier, having been tastefully decorated with colnago logos and transfers to match its contents.
the box itself is manufactured in the uk from fairly heavy duty recyclable plastic, moulded on one side to accommodate the two wheels. there are two sturdy metal latches on one end, one on the top, and another on the opposite end, keeping the whole shebang tightly closed. since the lid slots in under the base, there is little or no chance of anything falling in, or out, in transit. the latches close over metal loops allowing the use of padlocks for additional security. there are sturdy castors on the bottom of the case, cleverly inset into the moulding, with the front set steerable. two grabhandles are also moulded to make it easy to manhandle in the safety of your own forty-foot trailer. while the box weighs around 5kg or so, assuming the bicycle inside isn't hitting the bump stops, lifting isn't too strenuous an affair.
the box is waterproof to the extent that leaving it out in the pouring rain for an hour or two (i left it for half an hour just to check) won't cause any distress to bicycle or owner; however, submerging in the sort of floods various parts of the uk have suffered recently would give you a wet bike.
to fit a bicycle inside the box, the seatpost needs to be removed, as do both wheels. the latter fit into designated places in the lid, hiding behind a thick piece of shaped foam padding. the base has, securely affixed, a steel tube that rests in a dimple moulded into the lid, thus preventing anything from crushing the two sides together. the bicycle wouldn't like that. this latter fits through the main triangle of the frame, and numerous velcro loops are available to strap the frame into terminal immobility.
in the colnago's case, the bars had been removed from the stem and sat on top of the frame, while the forks and stem had been turned sideways. the seatpost and saddle were velcroed in place. test bikes never arrive with pedals, but if they did, those would also have to be removed. alan told me at the cycle show that he had frequently demonstrated the strength of the boxes by standing on their sides while something expensive was sleeping inside. and so did i. in fact, i jumped up and down a few times (it's ok, i cleaned my feet first). best i can do is tell you that the colnago is being ridden scuff and scratch free.
we are strange creatures when it comes to our bicycles: we're happy to spend ludicrous amounts of money on them that has little or no chance of making us much, if any, faster. yet when it comes to protecting our not inconsiderable investments, we either pop it in one of the aforementioned cardboard receptacles, wound with a bit of bubble wrap, or it goes in a fabric bike bag with a shoulder strap. i used to work at an airport when i was a student, and several of my fellow students worked in baggage handling. assuming the standard of student hasn't changed too much in the intervening years, i wouldn't transport a bike in a soft case by plane.
the bike box does exactly what it says on the tin: safe as houses. there are various options available, including a degree of customisation (such as the very effective colnago livery on this review model), starting at £389. i will very happily entrust the colnago clx 2.0 to the open arms of the islay-glasgow carrier, safe in the knowledge that when they pass it on to the chap delivering it back to gosport, both box and contents will arrive in the same condition they left me.
very impressive, it's red, and it says colnago on the side.
bike box also offer a wheels case built to the same standard for only £175.
posted tuesday 8 december 2009..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
robert millar's favoured photograph shows him, in black and white, setting off through the streets of glasgow on a daily training ride. and though we don't do so in monochrome, unless you work for rouleur, most of us can identify with this daily (we wish) pastime, either with real training in mind, or training entirely in the mind. of course, for those of us not on the headhunters list for team sky, that's just the way it has to be; off into the hinterlands for a couple of hours, before turning up at the office waay too late with one of those sheepish grins written all over the visage.
nobody reads this, right?
but nowadays, in the world of the paperless society, the internet, and tyre levers made from milk duds, it's only the paupers of the cycling society who (like me, and not like the wiggle brothers) spend hour upon happy hour pedalling over the same roads in our locale, merely acquainting ourselves with far flung locations through rapha catalogues and the comic. for while we have been conditioned to the cycling boom that currently envelopes us all, it appears that this may have grown into a b'boom, with a rapid increase in the necessity and wherewithal to take body, soul and bike to regions previously inhabited only by johnny foreigner.
it seems a worthwhile consideration to inquire as to where those living at roubaix and flanders go for their overseas tyre tracks.
and having smoothly seguayed into two of the finest classics on the calendar, it behoves me well to bring to your attention the opportunity to expose yourselves to both, all in one swell foop. my very good friend and finest mechanic on the planet, graeme freestone king, aside from following pelotons of cyclists from the back of a white van, is rather a fine egg at presenting the very same pelotons with some of the finest routes on which to ride. i mention this now because, should you find the following to your fancy, you may have to send some money rather quickly to meet the december deadline.
basically what's on offer is a twelve day trip to paris-roubaix and the tour of flanders, riding both routes; flanders by way of the sportive, and a roubaix reconnaissance alongside one of the pro teams (either cofidis, ag2r or quick step). a deposit of €300 needs to be with alain cordier by 20th december, and the balance of €1000 by 1st february. you can grab more details by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org .
however, if you need any more evidence that the b'boom has truly invaded, you need only take a peek at the 2010 london-paris ride. although there are now a myriad of these on the cards, i don't think i'd be too far wrong in parading the hot chillee organised event as the first on the block. this is the very event i took part in for two years in succession, ironically through the ministrations of the aforesaid mr freestone king, and i am more than happy to vouch for the quality of the event. last year, the eagle-eyed may even remember a couple of advertisements in the comic, entreating those with the desire to sign up for the event; this because, though it did eventually complete its personnel, completion wasn't instantaneous.
this year, after another increase in the number of national sportives, and the much publicised sky rides, the event sold out in twenty hours. the riders who put their names on the line didn't just come from the uk; china, usa, australia, hong kong and mainland europe make up the l2p peloton.
this, unlike the ride of the falling rain (i'll get that newsletter out soon, i promise) is the luxury end of the market, perhaps indicating that there are a lot of us with expensive carbon fibre and a few pounds change left over to pedal it somewhere exotic. i only wish i was one of them. this page has long trumpeted, by way of a banner ad, phil deeker's cent cols challenge, which took place earlier this year. a mere doddle for the super-fit like mr deeker, this involved churning over 100 climbs in ten days before going back to work for a rest. this year's event more or less had enough applicants to have run two of them; next year the number of events has increased, with two shorter 50 col events for those with less money and/or time. the 2010 alps 100 col event has virtually sold out, and the companion events are filling up steadily.
but having partnered with phil for the inaugural cent cols challenge by entering their own team, rapha have taken the mountains by the horns and implemented their own, rather exclusive, randonees. these, run in companion with la fuga, will be limited to twelve people per ride (it doesn't get much more exclusive than that) with prices starting at £2500/$4000 per person ((gulp). of course, being rapha and la fuga you can be sure that you will want for absolutely nothing during those seven days of hard riding. and just while we're hovering about the connection with perren street, word has it that there may be the opportunity to experience rapha continental style rides in the usa, though these won't necessarily come from rapha. i'll tell you more when i know more.
so it all seems a far cry from my slogging up the storakaig road in the rain this morning (it was work, honest) and that monochrome photo of robert on glasgow's roads. am i allowed to say that it all seems to have grown to epic proportions?
posted monday 7 december 2009..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
if you've watched the tour de france at anytime during the last decade or so, it cannot have failed to impress that the behaviour of the fans, particularly towards the summit of mountains, is well nigh exemplary. ok, so we have to forgive the fact that they crowd in round anyone on a bike, leading to shouts at the telly of 'get out the flipping way', something no doubt circulating inside the heads of those actually on the bikes. this first came to note in the pyrenees where those orange and green clad lunatics from the basque country would quite literally cheer anything on two wheels, including, it seems, the blokes on the motor bikes. given that they have their own team in the race (euskatel), one would expect them to be a mite more restrained when riders not wearing orange happen to pass by; but no, fanatical to the last, they seem engrossed in the sport. and this is very much to their credit.
because those of us in the west tend to be a lot more partisan: there are still those who maintain that the very worst thing to happen to the tour was lance armstrong's seven years of victory. cadel evans has come in for perhaps more than his fair share of criticism in latter years, and i often get the impression that alberto doesn't always get everyone's vote.
but everyone loves george.
the man whose single greatest exploit is probably not winning paris-roubaix, a fact that almost overshadows his chaperoning of lance over those seven victories. when the queen of the classics is on eurosport or cycling.tv, you can almost feel the whole world willing the man towards that big lump of stone on the podium. and his demeanour does him credit too; if george had been around in the sixties and seventies, he'd have been a member of the doobie brothers; any more laid back, and he'd be horizontal.
so it seems like a stroke of genius, allied with a bit of marketing nous from his clothing company, to animate george enough to provide what amounts to an insightful interview on the bike. and like many of the best ideas, you kinda wonder why nobody has thought of this before. at one point during the motion chat, george actually admits that his heart rate is running a tad higher than it should be. judging by how easily he seems to answer questions, while travelling at a pace that would likely leave more than a few of us breathless, it was probably straining to reach anything north of 90.
the movie is written, directed and edited by chusy (anthony chaney-jardine), a man born in venezuela and apparently renowned as a director of commercials. such knowledge could, perhaps, prejudice the viewer's opinion of what was to come, given that the hincapie sportswear logo is prominent on the back of the dvd case. however, other than the company's legend appearing in the opening and closing credits, if this is, in fact, a subliminal commercial, then i fell for it. it has an eccentricity all of its own, from the principal gambit of interviewing a bike rider on his bike (and on more than one training ride), to the eclectic choice of music accompanying the film.
fortunately, this was filmed before team columbia high road opted for those god awful yellow outfits, so while we watch the soundman impose that big furry microphone on our vision now and again, george is clad in the far more palatable pale blue jackets, jerseys and gilets that are, by now, simply a fond memory.
the movie is divided into three parts: backpedaling; cresting and dismounting. thus we have george's life to date, followed by the riding of the bike bit, and finishing with his view to the future, his loyalty and the odd lighter moment. there are points during the interview where it descends into smash hits territory, to wit: what do you dream about?; what are your five favourite things?; what have been your five best moments? exactly. however, it would stretch even the creativity of chusy to make 81 minutes of a bloke in a car asking george some questions into a compelling documentary, and thus the foregoing scenario is interspersed with opinions and commentary from the likes of lance, phil liggett, paul sherwen and the delightfully eccentric dave zabriskie. now that's an interview i'd pay to watch.
before this dvd turned up, courtesy of bromley video, i was given to believe that the soundtrack was a bit on the cheesy side. but on the contrary, i found it well-matched to the subject and treatment thereof. granted, there were times that the music seemed a bit on the loud side, relative to the voices it was accompanying, but in retrospect, i rather enjoyed this aspect. bizarrely different.
the sub-heading to a ride with george hincapie is 35 years, 667,000 kilometres, 81 minutes. the last number refers to the length of the dvd, and to be honest, it's the only one that is actually too long. according to my opinion, one hour would have been quite sufficient. this is more a reflection on the descending quality of the questions rather than george's ability to answer them; it's an insightful documentary which can do little but underline why everyone loves george. and if it does affect you in a subliminal way, then you can relieve this by purchasing from the range of hincapie sportswear also stocked by bromley video.
i'm not sure that this is a must have dvd, but it's worthy enough to earn a place in your already bulging collection of cycling films.
a ride with george hincapie is available on dvd from bromley video at a cost of £19.99. bromley also carry a substantial selection of hincapie sportswear.
posted sunday 6 december 2009..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
with the implementation of the 2009 tour series, along with the regular diet of british road racing, this past year has been a very good year for uk-based professionals. 2010 looks as if it might be even better; the tour series continues, improves and promises even more than we got this year. and though lots of us are sick to the back teeth of the endless rumination over what team sky are or are not doing, the financial investment in uk cycling must surely be at an all-time high. television coverage, cleverly negotiated by my chums at cyclevox, can only have had a positive effect; if a sponsor knows there's a good chance of being seen on the box, return on investment is a doddle to justify to the board.
if the phrase success breeds success is true, and it seems very likely that this is indeed the case, competition may be fierce before the series dates have even been announced (early january). and since the number of teams involved is being restricted, some folks aren't going to be lucky. one of the new kids on the block hoping for a place on the start line is the recently announced pendragon/lecol/colnago team (hopefully they'll come up with a snappier name before racing begins). they're targeting the premier calendar races, the nocturne series, national circuit series and, assuming the invitation arrives in the post, the tour series.
yanto barker rode the tour series in 2009, but as part of the sigma sport team, where he was required to ride a specialized rather than his favoured colnago eps. for 2010, the entire team will be outfitted with colnago cx-1 frames and vision wheels (though yanto intends to continue riding an eps) provided by colnago uk. you will perhaps understand my sense of joy at this point. yanto barker returned to professional racing in 2009 to promote his new le col clothing brand, and now steps even further up the ladder by joining not only as a team leader, but as a title sponsor. this means we have assos, rapha, endura and le col fighting it out on british roads; does it get any better than this?
so to find out more about the project, about le col, choice of bicycle, and himself, i coaxed yanto into a washingmachinepost interview. read it here.
posted saturday 5 december 2009..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
i have already detailed at length how much of a dog's dinner the last eleven and a bit months have been. not to disparage any particular collection of days, since the year has been a particularly good one with a wide variety of bicycles and their associated paraphernalia to keep the obsessive cyclist hard at work with a smile on his face. it's just that, as circumstances become more congested (you really wouldn't believe how much more washingmachinepost there is in my daily life), it is hard to escape the nagging thought that more order is required; a modicum of organisation, if you will.
set out like that, it doesn't seem too hard to follow, or indeed, put into action, and likely for a neat, tidy, organised person that's just how it would be. unfortunately, i am none of the foregoing and thus the term dog's dinner gains a greater depth of field. at this point, i really do have to present my sincere thanks to apple computer for having the foresight to design the ipod touch. because without its ability to set a morning alarm, tell the time in countries in which i am not resident, and offer up a daily diary with beeping reminders, i'd be hard pushed to know which month this is. or isn't, as the case may be. so there is an overweening need for as many organisational aids as can be found to assist. and should they have even a faint affinity with cycling, then so much the better.
something like a calendar, come to that.
granted, calendars don't fill themselves in unaided, but between the ipod, the support of a caring family, and a suitable degree of aid memoir, i'm sure i can get myself into the habit of filling in those lines or squares under the rather distinctive photographs adorning said calendar(s). and that brings me rather indirectly to the point. well, sort of.
since the next paragraph or two pertain only to those living across the pond, those us not under the direction of president obama can but search for for american colleagues or friends who possibly are, and well disposed to sending this way. it's a couple of years since chris king components in portland, oregon have favoured the great unwashed with a wall calendar. i had the great good fortune to contribute a few words to the last offering; for 2010 the theme is mud, black and white, and pink. the latter colour is that associated with the susan g komen for the cure breast cancer foundation, already reflected in chris king's pretty and strong pink hubs, headsets and bottom brackets.
but the absolute best bit is that all the photographs are contributions from pdxcross.com. if you've ever perused their website at length, or are the proud owner of a copy of dirty pictures, you will not need me to tell more. the pity is that, currently, the calendar is only purchasable in the usa for a simple $15. a small price to pay for the benefit that sales will bring, and to have twelve months of pdxcross photography on the wall. and there are plenty of well-sized squares under each pic to help keep my year organised.
brought back to earth for the present, it seems only pertinent to point out the availability of a non stars and stripes calendar for the rest of us. the prendas ciclismo/photosports les memoires du peloton calendar to which i have previously referred, will soon be available to prepare for january 1st wall hanging. featuring a sizeable collection of the greats, spread across january to december, including merckx, hinault, lemond, millar, de vlaeminck, pantani; it's likely to take me just that smidgeon longer to fill in the lower portion, but what's a small amount of day-dream time, compared with an organised life.
of course, this degree of optimistic administration could conceivably go the way of the dodo and new year's resolutions; there is no cast iron declaration that 2010 will be any more co-ordinated than 2009 has been, but at present, i'm just thinking that with all this cycle art on my walls, who really cares?
the chris king calendar is available from their website at a cost of $15 but only in the usa; les memoires du peloton on the contrary, will be available worldwide before the end of december at a cost of £9.50; buy three or more and the price drops to £7.50 each. maybe i need one for each room?
grateful thanks to mike davis and fran genovese for the pdxcross calendar photos
posted friday 4 december 2009..........................................................................................................................................................................................................