round things with rubber on the outside. a stunningly simplistic way of describing a pair of wheels, and in terms of visual appeal, it's a difficult description to argue with. but you and i are members of the cognoscenti, less inclined to deal with such marked simplicity. not for us the immediacy of stepping into a reputable bicycle emporium and asking for a pair of "round things with rubber on the outside", safe in the knowledge that the answer from behind the counter may not be the one we were looking for.
the very best wheels not only own, but may provide a subtle yet expansive range of emotions and characteristics to a bike ride, depending very much on the components used and just how they are put together. the ubiquitous carbon fibre has invaded the upper regions, and latterly the mid-range offerings from many of the principal suppliers. and where at one time it would have been a case of carefully selecting a wheelbuilder from within your locale, there are now almost as many providers of off the shelf solutions as there are profferers of bicycle frames. this increased variety does not, however, come without its own considerable baggage, frequently concealed behind a creatively designed aesthetic.
be careful you don't choose your wheels on looks alone.
for if we're to return, albeit briefly, to the skilled wheelbuilder, their primary concern is that of the purpose to which the prospective wheels will be put. as we're talking cognoscenti to cognoscenti at this point, i will not insult your intelligence by disseminating the latter statement; i know you know what i know. but, on the off-chance that one or two civilians are accidentally eavesdropping, i will elucidate. wheels, in similar manner to the bicycle frame, can be called upon to undertake many velocipedinal tasks, not all of which will push them to their limits. you don't honestly think that ivan basso would walk all the way to the supermarket when there's a cannondale leaning against the garage door?
however, there is likely no real need to be so utterly pedantic. when choosing from the wide range of factory-built wheels, it is simply an astute move to carefully consider in what style of riding you intend to participate. additionally, budget might be something to keep at the back of your mind, though maybe not in that of your significant other.
i was alerted to the provenance of cole wheels by the inestimable richard sachs, whose cyclocross team has raced most successfully on the cole brand for the past three years. as quoted in the current cole wheels catalogue "for the 2009 season, i changed out only one component from the year before (my wheels). by december i'd won six races and finished first in the usa cycling's men's masters cyclocross ranking. cole t24 wheels rock atmo."
you can be reasonably sure that mr sachs can trouble a pair of wheels a great deal more consistently than i, and it's that very fact that makes these the ideal subject for review; how well do they behave for the less valiant in battle? i however, would be guilty of betraying my amateur roots, were i to have requested a pair of the t24s. for the pre-fix to this particular model signifies the necessity of gluing tubulars to the rims. though i may conceivably have given the impression that i am all things to all bicycles, fitting a pair of tubs from the ground up is, in fact, one of the many gaps in my armoury. thus, the cole wheels under consideration below are the latter's clincher sibling, the c24 lite, classified by the manufacturer as suitable for racing and training; the number twenty-four in the title signifies a 24mm depth in an all aluminium rim.
in an all but saturated market, each eager participant does well to project a unique selling point, for excluding the very expensive all carbon offerings at the stratospheric end of the chequebook, it's possible to consider that a wheel, is a wheel, is a wheel. the weak link, should it be considered as such, of the traditional wheel is the 'j' bend at one end of the spoke where it threads through the hub flange. with a constant diet of stressing and de-stressing while in use, it is not entirely uncommon for spokes to break at this point. though no doubt encouraged by the simplification of the lacing procedure for construction by machines, this is arguably the the single most important contribution made by the genre of the factory-built wheel. however, the removal of the spoke bend has a not always positive effect on the resilience of the wheel; road buzz and vibration has now a straight path along which to travel.
at the hub end of cole's swiss steel spokes are round, flat brass coloured 'nipples' into which each spoke is threaded. the proprietary hub flanges feature large round slots into which these fit, effectively allowing the spokes to self-centre irrespective of the cross pattern or the stresses imparted to the wheel. at the rim end, the spoke threads into a more standard-looking nipple. cole designate this dynamic spoke alignment or dsa; the unique selling point. cole's araya produced rims are of standard configuration; a rim tape (supplied) is a necessary requirement. weighing a commendable 1650g per pair, they are available in either shimano/sram or campagnolo (reviewed) models, sporting a minimal 16 aero-style spokes at the front and twenty at the rear.
allowing for the fact that islay's roads have not experienced a miraculous recovery of late, and that the intention was to scare the heck out of the coles, one had to choose one's tread pattern carefully. in this case, i relied on a tried and trusted pair of vittoria open pave cx clinchers; it would be negligent of me not to have at least one safety net. both were inflated to around 110psi.
it is something of an undeniable fact that pretty much any wheel offered to the paying pelotonese these days will run smooth and true along the average highway, even if routed through the abbatoirenberg forest. i may not have been fighting with the great and the good for first position into a drain bedecked corner, but i had no real intention of avoiding the crappy bits purely out of self-interest. it is far easier these days to select the very road that might just cause a pair of cole c24 lites to pine for their plushly lined wheel bag.
so i did.
i cannot tell a lie; i have ridden more comfortable wheels. these ageing bones do rather like their comfort, but they do also like the satisfaction of travelling at speed on a bicycle, fully aware of every twist and turn in the roads being hammered. the infirmity of my local road surfaces has become an occupational hazard, one that shows little sign of improving in the foreseeable future. thus, we return to a need to choose those wheels carefully, that an equanimitable balance can be agreed between the incredible lightness of being, and unimpeded forward motion. pootling about the numerous backroads and cattle-grids hereabouts provides a reasonable overview of the impressive intrinsic qualities provided by the coles, but surely the ideal would be a whole day in the saddle, trammeling such nooks and crannies in more extended and sequential fashion?
the ride of the falling rain.
though there was disturbingly little sign of sustained precipitation on the appointed day, six hours plus in the saddle of an eager colnago master provided an inspired opportunity to assess the veracity of an admittedly visually attractive pair of wheels. and though their comfort has been bettered, they have an impressive ability to roll across and through pretty much everything placed in their path. including the herd of cows that inhabits the mid-point of the carrabus road. i cannot lay claim to the same atmosphere as mark cavendish when it comes to launching myself towards an imaginary line across the road, but it didn't take every last ounce of restrained effort to bring all up to victorious speed. (it entitled me to sit on the comfy sofa).
if i am allowed to dispense with the imaginary formalities of the conscientious reviewer, these wheels were better than great. you can chuck them anywhere you like, and give as much welly as possible when the road heads upwards. my thoroughly unscientific method of measuring lateral displacement (have the brake calipers as close as possible without rubbing) bore little tangible result; the pads were left untroubled. i have bounced these across more cattle grids than most of you will see in a lifetime, taken great care to explore the inner reaches of a wide variety of sheep devouring potholes, and thrown them round sketchy downhills (where does all that gravel come from?) without managing to even make them sneeze. i have hit the brakes hard in the pouring rain while impersonating a calmac ferry, and lived to tell the tale. and i have cheerfully ridden in company with the mighty dave t during the ride of the falling rain, enjoying his unique take on life without losing all feeling from the neck down.
richard sachs might be onto something.
a pair of cole c24 lite wheels costs £274.99 and comes with a pair of q/r skewers and a padded bag for both wheels. cole wheels are exclusively distributed in the uk by evans cycles
posted monday 8 august 2011..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
on the first saturday of august every year, for the last twenty-five years, islay has played host to a local half-marathon, running from bowmore village to the high road, out to the airport link road, and back along the low road to bowmore. it's somewhat obvious to state that this is over a thirteen mile distance; my idea of purgatory.
many, many years ago, when i started kidding myself that the cyclist's rite of passage necessitated the undertaking of an annual century ride, i noticed that many of those entered for the marathon either travelled here by bicycle, or their support crew did. thus, if i was going to ride around the isle for those 162.5 kilometres, it might be nice to have some company, and that it was conceivable that such may arise from this running community.
as it turns out, at the time, i was unfortunately mistaken. nobody joined me for years, and when two riders eventually did, neither of them had any intention of running thirteen miles on the previous day.
of course, things have changed a lot since then; my poor attempts at century riding have transmogrified into the ride of the falling rain, an event that has now become a weekend, incorporating a cheekily easy looking hill-climb to the corner on the conisby road. and as of this evening, a rather fabulous chilli meal at port mor centre for a portion of those about to ride a lot further tomorrow. i will not embarrass myself by acknowledging just how many soya cappuccinos were supped in the course of a very wet afternoon.
it's not called the ride of the falling rain for nothing.
however, even more embarrassing was the result of the afternoon's hill climb. while the weather may have put off one or two from standing around in the rain while waiting to race for the grass line (i kid you not) on the road, the man who took top honours had already run the half-marathon in the morning, finishing twelfth overall out of a field in excess of 150.
it's not right you know.
due to tomorrow's ride and an evening of scoffing as many kilos of pasta as is humanly possible, there will be no post for sunday, so enjoy your day off, and i'll see you on monday.
posted saturday 6 august 2011..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
last winter on islay was probably one of the coldest i've experienced in the twenty-four years i've lived here. i'm well aware that the rest of britain suffered the hardship of snow and ice of a magnitude greater than this little rock in the atlantic, but it was not only the severity of the islay winter, but the unexpectedness of it all. the house opposite washingmachinepost cottage has a palm tree growing in the front garden; the growing of such tropical verdantry reputedly exists due to our interruption of the gulf stream. thus, heavy snow that necessitated completion of the rapha festive 500 aboard a hakkalugi cross bike was not the christmas card scene one expects in the hebrides.
now don't get me wrong, a week of snow deep enough and cold enough to hang about for a while was quite a lot of fun. aside from building snowmen in the front garden with the kids that mrs washingmachinepost looks after, falling off at least twice on the road to mulindry was excellent fun; or at least it was until i'd to alter the handlebars to get home in a straight line. still, the ride across uiskentuie strand in several inches of snow was worth doing just to send photos to scot nicol at ibis.
however, eventually that gulf stream had its revenge, and everything turned to mush and icy puddles; falling off in that was touch more treacherous. after a week or so, it had all gone, leaving a virtual desert of sand all along bowmore main street and copious amounts of gravel on pretty much every road on the island. islay's roads have never rivalled the surface of the bowling green at bridgend, and the toll of snow and ice did very little to favour that becoming the case. in fact, quite the opposite.
roads that were formerly difficult were now perilously close to impossible, potholes appearing on a daily basis providing a simalucrum of a lunar surface. how apt it is that the current discussions over the origins of the less than smooth dark side of the moon with accompanying illustrations, bear an uncanny resemblance to the west carrabus road. moaning about it is probably as far as we can realistically go at present, for the money required to restore the island road network to pristine condition is a darned sight greater than the entire roads budget for argyll and bute council.
i'm more than happy not to be the local roads engineer.
the silver lining that apparently is a part of every cloud, currently favours happenings at thewashingmachinepost. how cool and pragmatic is it that i have my own personal paris-roubaix over which to test tyres, bicycles, wheels and bits liable to be pulverised by heavily grained road surfaces? with so much gravel congregating in the more strategic regions of singletrack, determining the efficacy of brake calipers and italian rubber is more easily, if less comfortably attained.
as cyclists, we are probably in a transportational minority, very definitely so on islay. therefore i need not kid myself that any attempts at repair have anything to do with skinny wheels and bendy bars. in fact, having reported a rapidly disintegrating cattle grid for its less than welcoming habit of devouring tyres and inner tubes at speed, it is of great disappointment, yet little surprise to find that more than three months later, no action has been taken. however, something has to be seen to be done, if only to stave off growing accusations of negligence.
that something may just be the painting of scenery to convince that things are other than they seem. and i mean this quite literally. for over the past few weeks, apart from several tons of completely unnecessary gravel being added to the highways and byways, painted markings have appeared on one or two roads at strategically convincing locations. these, on the face of it, have as much to do with contemporary signage and comprehension as the untranslated markings on the plains at nazca in peru. but that, i'm sure is the whole point in them being there in the first place.
were these white and yellow painted markings to advertise their true message, one would have a better handle on their significance or insignificance. as it is, their inscrutability lends credence to unfathomable promise. do they mean that argyll and bute council roads department are on the point of providing unparalleled smoothness between one set of markings and the next, or are they simply a red herring (not that they resemble fish, you understand) to make us think that?
my money is on the latter.
posted friday 5 august 2011..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
always one aiming to provide an element of choice and variation when it comes to the daily chore of reading, today's subject has a couple of options relating to the video at the bottom. you can either watch it before you read, or you can trudge through my narrative and then watch the movie as a reward. does it get any better than this?
what we like to describe as a wheel is, rather obviously, merely a collection of bits, those bits consisting of a hub, some spokes and a rim. proud as i am to point out that which is stunningly self-evident, putting the three together involves a modicum of forethought and some particularly nasty mathematics. the forethought is the easy bit, for assuming that all three components have been well chosen, the number of spoke holes on the hub should match the number of spoke holes on the rim. a frenzy of tautology i admit, but it might surprise you how often such a simple correlation goes awry.
the nasty mathematical bit relates to the length of the spokes, a calculation i will admit to being less than au fait with. when it comes to building my own wheels, i confess to using the spokes that i bought last time round. i can almost feel the sharp intake of breath from the purists; though front spokes will be the same length on both sides of the rim, the rear ought to have shorter ones on the drive side, due to wheel-dish. ok, i know we're only talking millimetres, but if those millimetres are threatening to punch through the rim tape, no matter how great the wheel looks, inner tubes are not going to last too long.
the world is well-served with experienced and expert wheelbuilders, notably big al in the wilds of scotland, jude kirstein of sugar wheelworks in portland, and darren at strada wheels. to this far from complete list, we need to add martin muller at condor cycles in london. when there are so many aspects of bicycle construction, design and maintenance to be studied and practiced, is martin a career wheelbuilder, or was he simply standing too near the truing stand when the job tickets were handed out?
"I started building wheels the same way most people start and then just took it a step further. I read a Sheldon Brown article on wheelbuilding, bought all the components, borrowed a Park Tools home mechanic stand and got going. I laced the wheel up and took it down to Brixton Cycles, my local bikeshop and asked 'is this right?', then took it back home and carried on. Later it was Art of Wheelbuilding and Bicycle wheel books, internet research and obviously asking those more experienced. And of course trial and error; a lot of trial and error."
That is likely the way most folks with the ability to build wheels got started, though in my case, not having a local bike shop, i'd no-one to ask. to be honest, i would never have had the guts to ask a more experienced builder if i'd got it right. sadly my period of trial and error still continues. additionally, there's not a huge call for wheelbuilding on the inner-hebrides, so by the time the next pair trundles along, i've pretty much forgotten the approach i took last time. condor cycles is in a somewhat busier locale, so on average, how many wheels does martin build in a day. "On average probably around 4-5 sets."
ben leighton is a movie-maker whose main contribution to the world of moving pictures is that of both editor and online editor. his principal bread and butter involves commercials and promotional works in the cinema and factual tv industries, yet as an editor of some fifteen years standing, a movie about wheelbuilding is the first thing he's shot for himself. was he professionally schooled, or was it a case of figuring out the process for himself? "Bit of both: The filming I did instinctively; no pre-production or shot list or anything. I was looking forward to editing it while I shot, so I had a good idea about what I wanted; lots of close-ups of the parts, tools and the builder's body as he used it. It's interesting to me how he used his hands and fingers, knees, arms, eyes and ears to do all the things needed to make the wheel. I wanted to capture all the sounds of clanking of the rim, twanging spokes, scraping on the truing stand, to make them the narrative audio of the film."
so what made him opt for the subject of wheelbuilding? "I fancied editing something a bit different, in something that interested me, and to use some new edit kit I'd just acquired. My partner spotted an event run by The Crafts Council / V&A called 'The Power of Making', an open entry film event about craft. I'd been fiddling about with tensioned leather saddles for a while, stamping people's names in the hide and trimming and tying them, so that seemed an obvious choice of subject. But that would have meant filming myself, and to be frank I'm a bit bored of saddle stuff.
"Something got me thinking about the sheer craft of wheelbuilding. I had just finished a road set myself, in a pattern I'd never tried before (half radial rear, radial front) for my newly built road bike. As I struggled to true it to my satisfaction (I eventually got a pro to finish those wheels), I was reminded just how skilled a good wheel builder is. I've built a few wheelsets before by myself with pretty good results, like building 3x track wheels with no dishing, but when it gets a bit more complex, it takes a lot to get it right. The last rather good quality and expensive wheels I built last year, were built up by Martin before he was at Condor. So he seemed a good person to ask if I could film.
"One of my motivations for this was to show the skilled use of tools and one's senses, in a kind of mathematical but very dynamic, analogue sort of sphere; bending spokes around each other and tensioning them to make a wobbly uneven thing round. A lot of people on a certain forum I inhabit, build wheels for a few quid for their friends, but much less than shop prices. People there sometimes moan about shop prices for their wheels; I wanted to to remind everyone just what skilled people they are and by implication ask what their time and craft is worth. I think it's usually really good value."
while few would disparage that a professional wheelbuilder owns not only a skilled pair of hands, but a commensurately sharp brain, it seems that the influx of the factory built wheel, particularly now that many arrive with a new bicycle from the shop floor, may well have diminished the demand for 32 spoke, three-cross. does martin feel that the factory-built has decreased demand for the number of wheels he is requested to build? "I'd say it definitely has. however, it depends on what you need the wheel for and which end of the market we are talking about. if you're a racer or have more money than sense, then a high end factory wheel will be better for you, because that's where the money is these days. They will be stiffer, lighter and blinger than a handbuilt set will ever be.
"But getting spares will be an expensive, time consuming process, as not every shop carries them, and your wheels won't last as long. If you'don't fit the above description, perhaps you're a cyclotourist, urban rider, commuter, bike messenger or you're just riding road for fun, then I'd recommend handbuilt all the way. These will be serviceable, fully customisable, with spares more readily available and they will last longer. Plus you'll probably know the person who built them and that they spent a good couple of hours making them to the best of their ability.
"I'd personally avoid lower level factory wheels like the plague."
martin makes a good point above, about probably knowing the person who built your wheels. though i'd be the last to criticise the upper reaches of the factory-built, professional builders have one glaring advantage over a machine; a sense of pride. in my earlier attempts at building, it was all too easy to end up with the valve hole between a pair of crossing spokes, not something that affects the intergity of the build, but a factor that can obfuscate the process of tyre inflation. it would have been simple to turn a blind eye, but i'd have been mortified to think that someone else would notice (and either cringe, or laugh). i am far from being a professional at such a black art, but builders such as martin put heart and soul into the construct: you are very unlikely ever to receive a wheel of which both of you are not proud.
with this in mind, which aspects of martin's work was ben intending to portray?
"The care and skill that goes into this crucial element of a bicycle, one that most casual users or non-cyclists would never really consider. The definition of a 'craft' that I was working to, is the confluence of knowledge with creativity. I find wheels totemic of my love of building bicycles up. A nice wheel set is an absolute must for me, probably you, and no doubt most of the people who read thewashingmachinepost. I love older wheels, particularly the hubs; ancient Airlites, Campagnolo high flange hubs with the oil ports, those old chunky Mavic track hubs, and the older rims. The road pair I just built have CXP14s on which are really stiff and lovely. I have an early pair of steel-barrelled touring six speed bolt-on Phil Wood hubs that I literally adore. The rear one is a Hi-Lo just to really get my inner-nerd frothing. Phils were the first cartridge hubs I think, and these are wonderful. I have built them with Sapim Strong on the DS so they're more evened-out in tension."
since the factory build has its designs set on conquering the mainstream, often providing startlingly good looking wheels at low prices, does martin find he is asked for a wider variety of specifications, or is 32 spoke three-cross still king? "Mostly it is 3x on both wheels, but sometimes I'm mixing patterns/spoke gauges on the rear wheels to offset for the high dish. Twenty-eight spoke and less are obviously 2x,1x or radial and any hubs with large flanges or smaller rims are laced with fewer crosses. what about the bizarre spoke patterns at one time beloved of cycle messengers? is martin willing to accede to requests for such trendy stuff like snowflakes?
"Personally I think snowflakes are pointless and they look horrible, but if someone wants them Im happy to oblige as long as they are aware of the fact that their wheel will be less stable, will fatigue more and difficult to work on afterwards. The one exotic pattern I like the look of is Spanish three cross, but I'd never use it on my wheels."
much of contemporary cycling is infused with carbon fibre; wheels have not been excluded from this trend. has martin had experience of building with carbon rims? does it make the process harder or easier than with alloy rims? "I've built a couple, and yes it's definitely more difficult. The rims were very deep and full of junk so lacing was trickier. They mostly use internal nipples so both the measuring process and truing are more time consuming. additionally you have to have your trusted tension meter at the ready, because nobody wants a £300 rim to go 'POP'"
different builders use varying methods, taking differing amounts of time to complete a wheelset. some view it as a leisurely experience, a skill that takes the time it takes to complete the ultimate pair of hoops. how long did it take ben to complete filming? "35 minutes: as long as it took for Martin to build the wheel, probably slowed down a bit by me sticking a camera up his nose all the way through. I didn't set anything up or ask him to stop and wait or re-do things. I just wanted him to get into his normal rhythm of it, and tried not to distract him too much. When he finished, I just rushed home and started editing immediately."
what about martin? was it fun or nervewracking to find himself at the object end of the camera lens? "im one of those people who, as soon there is a photo or video camera around, starts asking ' How stupid will I look in the end product?' But it was alright, since wheelbuilding for me is an absorbing process and i didn't have to think about it." was ben a demanding cinematographer, or did he pretty much let martin get on with the job? He said just to build the wheel and not to worry about him. The only tricky moments were when I wanted to put my tools down, or to move myself or the wheel somewhere where his mic/camera was."
having completed a rather successfully made movie about wheelbuilding, has ben leighton any plans to make more, covering other aspects of bicycle ephemera? "Maybe. I have an idea for another, but it would take some time to achieve, unlike the wheelbuilding. I love cycling. I sometimes wonder what life would be like without cycles and I feel a shiver of dread. So I give thanks every day I get to ride." and what's the lifecycle for this one? "Entered at the Power of Making exhibition and I'd like to submit a longer version to the Bicycle Film Festival for 2012, more accurately representative of the process for the discerning cyclist."
and since he knows just what he'd be getting inside the wheelbag, does martin ride his own wheels? "always:-)"
posted thursday 4 august 2011..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
the original volkswagen motor car, designated as the type 1 was more commonly referred to as the beetle, nomenclature comfortably used by vw on release of the modern equivalent, disappointingly featuring a front engine but with a dashboard mounted receptacle for a flower. (who says they've no heart these days?)
though the beetle has served many a motorist for a sizeable number of years, the type 1 was never really considered ideal for transporting more than four at a time, it's shape not only mitigating against accommodating an extended family, but also restricting its use as a vehicle for even small amounts of cargo.
dutch volkswagen importer ben pon paid a visit to wolfsburg, home of vw, soon after the end of the second world war in 1946. having seen an improvised vehicle used to move parts around the factory, he figured there might be a more flexible solution and sketched drawings the following year. this was of a van based on the floor plan of the type 1, able to carry just under 700kg and placing the driver bang up front, but maintaining the engine at the rear as in the beetle. the latter was still at full production at the time, so pon's sketches had to wait; there was no extra capacity to make them a reality.
eventually, production space became available, and the internally recognised type 29 reached prototype status in a remarkably short three months. initially based on the beetle's floor pan, when that proved not equal to the task, a ladder chassis replaced it, though with the same wheelbase as the type 1. various detail changes were made to the original prototype, and in may 1949, volkswagen's new chief executive (they had those in the forties?) approved it for production and the type 2 to which it was now referred entered production in november 1949.
initially the range consisted of only the kombi with a couple of side windows and removeable middle and rear seats, and the commercial which pretty much did what it said on the nameplate. however, in may of the following year, the microbus was added, joined by a deluxe version in 1951. in year one, volkswagen built just over 9,500 of the blighters.
the type two, relatively unlike its type 1 cousin, featured an almost endless variation of technical, practical and cosmetic improvements, resulting in a wide range of variants: panle van, nippen tucket, caravelle, samba bus (with a cloth sunroof and skylight windows), westfalia camping van and a pickup, to name but a few. it gained major popularity during the latter years of the sixties amongst those with flowers in their hair, while a considerably more modern version, referred to in north america as the vanagon, was the model on which the animated mystery machine in scooby doo was based.
scroll down the home page of the swiss cycle clothing firm cervo rosso to access the link for worldwide shipping, and accompanying the typography is a red and white type 2 volkswagen van decorated in cervo rosso's corporate colours of red and white. emblazoned along the side is the company logo. at the time of my initial contact with carlyle ware, cr's proprietor, that vw bus existed only as a set of small pixels. having asked if just such a vehicle was locked in his garage, carlyle said "no, but we are looking". the period of looking has now ended, and carlyle is about to take delivery of a 1966 edition to be subsequently rosso-fied. once the painting and re-fit has been completed, the bus will be seen at the majority of cervo rosso group rides and events.
the latter have been the company's way of building a community around and between admirers and wearers of the brand, the opening salvo having been this year's ronde van vlaanderen, now followed by the tour of gruyere in switzerland at the end of this month and a group ride in stoke on trent (i believe the cheese is better in gruyere) in late september. utilising the reach of social media, target of my own personal venom and irritation, commonly known as facebook, to promote these events, riders have a chance to win a year's supply of cervo rosso clothing if spotted wearing an item of cr apparel during the course of the day.
distribution of the range is about to take several steps forward, with carlyle intent on increasing retail presence in uk stores as well as having finalised a distribution agreement with tst, responsible for both ridley bikes and carrera helmets in switzerland. both moves ought to make it a tad simpler and easier to get hold of cervo rosso apparel.
liz hatch and veronica andreasson of the belgian lotto ladies team have partnered with cr to support all aspects of product development relating to the women's range. as carlyle has intimated "the initial test program has just wound up, and we'll introduce a number of new items to the cervo rosso autumn/winter collection."
perhaps we've much to be grateful for to those pesky kids.
posted wednesday 3 august 2011
few of us have to think about the option to go out for a bike ride. if the opportunity of a half-day or a day off from work presents itself unexpectedly, how many of us think of weeding the garden, washing the car (if you own one), mowing the lawn or any other number of necessary chores that have been waiting an age to be either started or completed?
i'm not seeing very many hands in the air.
i arrived home early(ish) today with the firm intention of carrying out gear cable replacement on a friend's bicycle, only to discover that the packet of gear wires in the cardboard box by the window, was nothing of the sort. universal brake cables, now that you ask.
thus a few extra hours suddenly presented themselves, and the immediate thought was of extricating the colnago or cielo from the bikeshed and paying an unaccustomed visit to deb's for an unexpected soya cappuccino. sadly that particular thought, happy though it was for a brief moment, was subsumed by a requirement to go shopping for eggs (lemon meringue pie, apparently). in a rather abstract fashion, this gives credence to the epithet 'you know what thought did'.
it has long been a central theme of science fiction writing, that humans may eventually develop the technology to control machines with the power of thought, either through vastly improved mental processes, or by some intermediary techno-whizzery. assuming my incidental researches are not being undermined by a highly sophisticated fabrication of the truth, the very notion described above may be a lot closer than at first thought (if you'll pardon the pun).
much as i find it hard to come to terms with accepting any handouts from the motor industry, such as land rover and bmw badged bicycle shaped objects, and built-in bike racks from vauxhall, it is undeniable that car manufacturers have considerably more money to invest in pretty much anything, than similarly profiled bicycle companies. witness the rather startling amounts ploughed into formula one by both honda and mercedes. toyota, who have been also guilty of running away to join the circus, are currently the almost darlings of the environmental lobby, with their offering of the perhaps overly praised prius hybrid car, allowing the use of an electric motor for the man or woman about town, and an infernal combustion engine for those breaks in the country.
all that under the one hood, as north america would say.
toyota usa are attempting to spread the word of prius far and wide, not necessarily confining themselves to the niche world of the motor car; blue sky thinking on a grand scale if you will. such practical ruminations are cloistered under the heading of prius projects, ranging from what is the plural of prius? to a prius art contest. click the prominent read more web buttons however, and there's no getting away from the fact that this is little more than a sophisticated and doubtless expensive method of advertising the prius motor car. in fact, the more time you spend clicking buttons on the website, the more you realise that the word projects in the title is somewhat devoid of concrete definition. all, that is, apart from number eleven.
and that is precisely where we learn what thought did.
on the announcement of shimano's release of ultegra di2, i was moved to state my degree of underwhelmness with the whole edict of electronic gear-shifting. after several years commercial release in the bag with dura-ace di2, and thousands of man-hours invested by campagnolo in their own version of electronic shifting, it still seems to me to be a solution looking for a problem. and i also find it hard to believe that the single biggest development of di2 since its release was the addition of the so-called sprinters' buttons allowing gear changing from more than the oem positions defined by an off the shelf boxed set.
surely with the advances made in processors and electronics generally, separate from the inward looking world of the bicycle, the process of electronic gear-changing should have been edging ever closer to science-fiction than that of remaining perilously close to perfunctory acceptance? perhaps shimano have no great desire to enter this outer-worldliness, happy to remain closer to bicycling magazine than wired.. the prius project knows little of these hypothetical boundaries and, aware of their complete lack of expertise in the area of cycle construction, sub-contracted, in a manner of speaking, to bob parlee, a man who has probably forgotten more about carbon monocoques than toyota ever knew in the first place.
it is at this point, however, despite apparently fastidious documenting via imagery and motion picture, that my suspicions are not altogether sated. for prius project number eleven purports to have conquered the art of gear-changing by thought process.
the white carbon fibre monocoque produced by bob parlee, fitted with dura-ace di2, incorporates an integrated pod on the stem cossetting an iphone reclining in landscape mode. the video footage makes great play of the wiring inhabiting the inner recesses of the parlee's tubing, spouting forth from the steerer and wriggling in and about the bottom bracket shell. the iphone screen, plain for all to see, displays the words up and down, just the very lexicon designed to change gears across a ten speed block. however, though finger pressing will accomplish the electro-mechanical servitude, this would be but a cooler way of doing what shimano accomplished in the first place.
the trick here, as almost glossed over by the narrator, is that the iphone app is designed to also change gear by means of human thought. demonstrating a rider wearing off the shelf technology - a so-called neuro headset - the dura-ace gears are changed by thinking change up or change down. if this is reality, then it is quite a neat party trick. if it's a spoof, then it has been well managed and almost seamlessly produced. the concept and its reality has been covered in-depth on wired.com, but i can't help thinking that, if the technology really is that simple to co-ordinate, surely there are more worthy uses to which it could be put, than simply changing gear on a bike?
my cynicism, bordering on suspicion, was further enhanced by the movie showing only a rider with his neuro headset partially concealed below a cycle helmet, riding the thought controlled parlee on a turbo trainer. credence would have been better served seeing said rider on the open road. (and what on earth does he need a helmet for on a turbo trainer?) unless clever shielding can be developed, such as a lead-lined giro helmet, it is unlikely this technology will be seen in the professional peloton. can you imagine a poor, hapless agglomoration of di2s trying to decide which mental command should be obeyed?
perhaps andre greipel could spend more of his training regime working on having cav's gear mech head in the opposite direction of the eleven sprocket in the last few hundred metres. this places a new emphasis on the mental toughness required to be a racing cyclist.
file under not convinced.
posted tuesday 2 august 2011