review bicycles tend to arrive in one of two formats. they are either completely assembled with only the bars to attach and straighten, or they are encased in endless amounts of bubble wrap and polystyrene held together with enough zip-ties to attach the space shuttle to the international space station. additionally, the former is packaged inside a carboard box bearing an uncanny resemblance to a glasgow tenement and which probably attracts a commensurate amount of council tax. they're the ones that give me the biggest headache, because i've nowhere to store the box until such time as the bicycle is due to return to its rightful owner.
the bubble-wrapped version, though quite possibly the more tedious of the two, is the one i prefer. despite the fear that modern cycling technology is beginning to get the better of me, having to fiddle with cables, derailleur clamps, disc brakes, saddles and the like, provides an enticing insight into the operational possibilities that the fully assembled cycle might offer.
long gone (i hope) are the days when an internally routed rear brake cable meant hours of considerable faff and the learning of several (loud) new swear words trying in vain to get the darned brake wire to come out the other end. nowadays, at least in the case of the most recent delivery, there are nifty transparent cable liners pre-inserted into the frame to ease the process. and the whole spaghetti junction can then be hidden from view and from damage by means of a carbon plate under the bottom bracket.
isn't progress wonderful?
there then ensues what i might euphemistically refer to as calibration time when precious minutes of bike riding are squandered, trying to comprehend why the chain runs smoothly from small sprocket to large sprocket, yet stubbornly refuses to head in the opposite direction. in the good old days, affixing the cable to that rear gear mech was simplicity itself; nowadays, in the case of sram at least, there's a short length of wire already in place to describe a more complex routing. but in the manner of the instruction manual accompanying almost anything, i failed to pay any attention before removing it, turning an easy process into an agatha christie mystery.
assuming that all the foregoing does not meet itself coming back in the opposite direction, it is time to saddle up and head off into the sunrise.
but, at the risk of pointing out the glaringly obvious, all the above has been carried out on a workstand, bearing as much resemblance to real-life as does training on the turbo. getting the kilometres in is almost bound to throw up both major and minor deficiencies in my mechanical knowledge, ranging from a few millimetres askance on the saddle height, to a set of handlebars that don't quite point in the same direction as the front wheel. and that's precisely where an appropriately sized multi-tool comes in.
distributed in the uk by edinburgh's 2 pure, unior tools offer the snappily named 1655fh multifunctional bicycle tool set containing the majority of doohickies that the cyclist would need to perform minor mechanical duties. except, there are two items the purpose of which i simply cannot fathom, despite reading the list provided on the back of the sales card.
however, the tools that i can identify, and there are eleven of those, proved invaluable for what might be termed fettling-on-the-fly. there are even a couple of spoke keys built into the chain rivet extractor. couple the 1655fh's versatility with its impressively compact and bijou form factor, occupying one small corner of a rear pocket, you'd need a darned good reason not to own one of these, especially at the particularly attractive price of around £25.
though i generally carry a multi-tool in my saddle pack on each bicycle, unpacking that every time there's a minor adjustment to be made is just too much hassle. reaching into a back pocket is a far more amenable use of energy when there's still cycling to be undertaken.
and the chrome is so shiny, you can check for mud on your face after cyclocrossing, but before coffee.
sunday 24 july 2016..........................................................................................................................................................................................................