this seems to be the time of year when the world holds its bike shows. and since italy is arguably the centre of the bicycle manufacturing world, where we can always expect to see the cutting edge of bicycle design, collaborations between top line manufacturers and formula one technology appear to have been on show in milan.
colnago have a long standing relationship with ferrari and apparently fondriest are linked with minardi when it comes to their carbon fibre output. this is also a week when the comic tested four steel framed bikes in an effort to find out if the 'old' metal still has the ability to hold its own with all the new stuff rapidly appearing on the bicycle catwalk. all this worries me slightly. steel will always be around because it is relatively easy to weld, braze, bond etc (i still have a book in the bookcase upstairs that explains, step by step and in great detail, how to build a bicycle - i never owned a meccano set when i were young, so it doesn't mean a great deal to me, and i've never had the desire to try it out in the bike shed.
i haven't read the steel bike tests in the comic in great detail but it appears that they largely agree and that steel has become the new carbon fibre because of it's rarity. i think i have droned on at length about the dedacciai 16.5 steel tubing used by de rosa, pinarello, fondriest et al. and the bike test in the current issue of procycling by marcel wust is of a fondriest aluminium team bike (ludo dierckxens very own, no less) and at one or two points he mentions that the bike suffers from being 'a bit old fashioned'. this is the bike, you will recall, that took rumsas to third place overall in the tour and let bertogliati win the first road stage of the same race. so if it looks old fashioned, so what?
the worrying aspect of this is that my all time favourite machine, and one to which i still aspire, could also be said to look old fashioned, though its method of construction is anything but. i of course refer to the colnago c40 and worry turned to mild panic when a press release came in from colnago regarding their new c40 hp. the press release merely stated that they had done something slick to the chainstays (and one seriously wonders what on earth can be done to chainstays) but that the standard c40 would remain in the colnago line-up. ah well, panic over.
and where would we all be without the comic? in this week's issue, there is a photograph of the new colnago c40 hp with a close up of what they've done to the chainstays. bluntly put, there's a hole, the shape of a parallelogram about midway between the bottom bracket shell and the dropout. and i have to ask myself why? according to the accompanying text, the 'hole' increases the frame's comfort and its resistance to lateral forces. after the milan show, they're giving out four of them - one to oscar freire, one to paulo bettini, one to eric dekker and one to yaroslav popovych - so that they can play on them at the world's road race in zolder.
now, as you will have gathered, i seriously question the effectiveness of this change, and eagerly await colnago to send me a 53cm version of each c40 so that i can compare at my leisure and report to the washing machine post reader. are you lstening ernesto? however, on the very same page of the comic, is a picture of the new bianchi ev3, which has an aluminium main triangle and carbon rear triangle (which is now de riguer - colnago have done the same thing to the previously all alu dream). and there, in almost the same place in the bianchi carbon chainstays are frighteningly similar holes to those in the new c40. so have colnago and bianchi been copying each other's homework, or is there really something in the holy chainstays, something that has only recently been brought to light during construction of the international chainstays?
so we have a look at the new offering from pinarello, though some of you may have had an inkling if you've been watching erik zabel in the vuelta on eurosport. the front forks have gone the shape that they would do if you put theem in front of one of the funny mirrors you find in fairgrounds, while the rear triangle (yep, you guessed, carbon fibre) has gone all squiggly. now pinarello have taken all a stage further by building the main triangle out of magnesium (anybody remember the kirk bikes of about a decade ago?). magnesium is apparently pretty cheap because there's stacks of the stuff around on our lonely planet but it suffers from the downside of being somewhat prone to corrosion.
here's me desperately trying to find the ideal frame material to resist the corrosion that is inherent to living on an atlantic island, and pinarello nip of down the bike shed and produce one that generally corrodes easily. however, we must give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they have cured the corrosion problem, though they will doubtless charge us plenty for the privilege. interestingly, the bike is called the dogma, and we must hope that it means something more exotic in italian than it does in english. much as i admire the output from pinarello's bike shed, i wouldn't buy a bike that was called 'dogma'.
but i still have this nagging suspicion that the road bike trade has come over all mountain bike and started twiddling with bits of their bikes for novelty value and to keep marcel wust happy rather than continuing to produce reliable, exciting road bikes beloved and unaffordable by us all. i shall be sitting by the letterbox, waiting for a big parcel with a colnago postmark on it and i'll let you know.
Remember, you can still read the review of 'the dancing chain' the utterly excellent book on the history of the derailleur bicycle by clicking here
any of the books reviewed on the washing machine post can probably be purchased from amazon.co.uk or amazon.com
as always, if you have any comments on this nonsense, please feel free to e-mail and thanks for reading.
this column almost never appears in the dead tree version of the ileach but appears, regular as clockwork on this website every two weeks. (ok so i lied) sometimes there are bits added in between times, but it all adds to the excitement.
on a completely unrelated topic, ie nothing to do with bicycles, every aspect of the washing machine post was created on apple macintosh powerbook g4, ibook and imac computers, using adobe golive 5 and adobe photoshop 7. needless to say it is also best viewed on an apple macintosh computer.