tweed run

a certain purveyor of natural spring water has been airing a television advert paying testament to the fact that the clear liquid filling their appropriately labelled bottles has percolated through volcanic rock strata for millenia, the implication being that such endless filtering is of far greater human benefit than that emanating from our kitchen taps. and in the light of this, i was perusing the label on a colleague's water bottle at lunchtime the other day, a label that, in the light of the above, surely offered somewhat contradictory advice.

tweed run

apparently, after opening said bottle, it ought to be stored in a fridge and subsequently consumed within three days. what, might i enquire, is likely to happen to the pure contents after three days in the fridge, that had not already impinged over the preceding and advertised millennia? and according to recently announced research, we ought now to discount the cholesterol reducing benefits of olive-oil infested margarine on the apparent alacrity and athleticism of italian pensioners. butter, a spread derived from a natural dairy product, is now thought to be of greater advantage to human bio-chemistry than the chemical mixes we like to think of as margarine.

despite the considerable advances made by science in more than just one or two rivers of modern life, natural products seem to be kicking back with a vengeance, and not just with regard to foodstuffs. changes in cycle clothing attributes over the past few years have undoubtedly given new life to new zealand's merino farms, coupled to a resurgence in the use of leather, cottons and even bamboo.

tweed run

though many of the surges brought to life by a number of cycle clothing providers are derived from the world of cycle racing, with one or two exceptions, there is little that's notable or iniquitous about such a process. many of the technical trinketry currently adhering to the modern motor car are cast-offs from the world of formula one motor racing: limited slip differentials, traction control, semi-automatic gear changing, aerodynamic enhancements. i could go on. (you know this to be true)

but as cycling grows in stature, strains of the activity begin to distance themselves from the sporting milieu, keen to carve their very own cycle path determined by an altogether more distinct persona. harking back to a bygone age, when lead-out trains and peletons were more the subject of science fiction; when owning and riding a bicycle was a more esteemed and salubrious mode of transport, calling for an appropriately sartorial response.

in a single word: tweed.

tweed run

and to celebrate bicycling's unique heritage in this respect, it may not have escaped your attention that a certain section of society is intent on doing so by pedalling around the streets of central london in dapper fashion on a specific saturday in april (the 13th to be presact). in 2013, they will celebrate doing so for the fifth time. it is a few years since i participated in this fabulous affair, dressed in a single malt tweed jacket (currently available from mosquito bikes i believe) and riding a suitably decorated italian-built dromarti bicycle frame as well as a pair of their very fine leather cycling shoes.

aside from riding midst a host of sartorially clothed cyclists, some on beautifully restored cycles from an early age and several with impressively waxed moustaches, tea and cucumber sandwiches in hyde park, to the strains of a string trio have to be some of the more memorable features. if you've not yet joined the tweeded throng, you perhaps ought to consider registration for this year's anniversary waltz which opens on st valentine's day this particular week. on 16th march, a lottery draw will be made to select the successful registrants.

tweed run

the tweed run's birthday celebrations will then roll round the world after the 13th, with rides in st petersburg, tokyo, new york and paris later that same year. not bad for a ride that was originally intended as a one-off.

as cycling's success on an international stage as the activity du jour brings a certain ubiquity to its participants and indeed the velocipedes on which participation is undertaken, there can be little more incongruous than a tweed-encased peloton threading its way around london's roundabouts and through its traffic lights, on an agglomeration of archaic bicycles.

london's roads were once all filled with the sound of pedalled wheels and of the high and mighty falling off their ordinaries. it would be even nicer to think that a perambulation through hyde park would be always accompanied by a trio of string players, but i fear such days are long gone. april 13th ought to be a timely reminder of such halcyon days.

one of those i was there moments, don't you think?

tweed run

monday 11th february 2013


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the route to success

route clothing

fax machines are a less impressive means of electronic communication than was once the case. i recall in my early years on the isle having been offered the opportunity to undertake some isometric drawings for a mainland company of architects. keen to impress them with not only the quality and speed of my artistic endeavours (which weren't that great if i'm truly honest), but also my speed of return, i popped round to the local business centre (such as it was in those halcyon days of yore) and faxed a preview of my graphical skills.

route clothing

such rudimentary means of connection have, of course, been thoroughly superseded by e-mail, dropbox and similar services, perhaps the most advantageous feature being the ability to transmit both grayscale and colour as opposed to the fax machine's simple bitmapping. however, the latter means of transmission did and does still bring with it certain advantages, particularly with regard to logo design.

it is almost a pre-requisite these days, if earnestly considering commencing a new business, to have an appropriately stylish and effective company logo. though rather obviously, time ought to be spent on perfecting the service or items you're prepared to offer the great unwashed, but simultaneously, or even a tad previously, the logo should also be finely crafted. for it is likely that you will need to communicate with those offering finance, look at advertising, send missives to the press and of course, (how could we forget), setup a website. for all those, and a few other variations i haven't mentioned, it is almost compulsory to own a bright and shiny corporate logo.

route clothing

you will, perchance, be wondering what on earth this has to do with fax machines, but let me tell you that their simple black and white means of transmission can aid greatly with logo design. at some point in its life, and the tricky part is knowing just when that might happen, that beautifully crafted and coloured logo is going to find itself faxed to someone. and that is the completely the wrong time to discover that a bitmapped version is all but indecipherable or (true story) looks like a pint of beer.

thus, once the pinnacle of contemporary graphic design has been fashioned for the top right of your letterhead, it behoves well that you perhaps fax it to itself and carefully check the result.

director of glasgow's route clothing, david mcneil may not have personally undertaken any of the above procedures, but the end result is nigh on perfect. only recently brought to our attention in three initial physical manifestations, route's clever selection of t-shirt designs were preceded by a simple website landing page displaying only the route logo. clear, simple and decidedly effective, presaging the quality of the apparel on offer.

route clothing

those three individual designs are screened onto black, charcoal, eggplant or indigo tees depending on choice, but not just your average cotton substrate. two of the route tees consist of 30% organic cotton and 70% viscose derived from bamboo. thus 'tis possible to add the colour green to those representing route clothing. the crash and bicycle designs exist on 100% combed cotton.

it's early days yet, so there are currently only three separate designs each of which will cheerfully identify your pelotonic tendencies. the bamboo derived garments retail at £30 each, while the cotton version costs £26. all in a slim fitting small, medium and large.

i do have certain reservations, however, about printing a black image onto a charcoal coloured tee. subtle it may be, but i think white would have been a more appropriate choice. just saying.

despite a compulsory need to present a hardman/woman image to the civilian population, perhaps by stupidly standing outside the coffee shop in mid-winter wearing short sleeve t-shirts, these are impossibly soft to the touch externally and internally; probably something we should keep to ourselves i'd warrant. the bamboo versions are ideal as baselayers, not only for the softness of touch but a similar natural odour resistance as that of merino. the only caveat in this regard is the lack of a droptail; though the tee is long enough to protect your back when on the drops, the same length at the front tends to bunch-up slightly.

bursting onto a burgeoning uk cycle scene in the wake of the 2012 olympics, and, as a glasgow-based company, the upcoming commonwealth games in 2014 may be perceived as the ideal opportunity for route clothing. but in a cycle world awash with apparel in every corner it might also be seen as something of a brave venture. on the evidence of this initial offering, they're on the right route (sorry, that was unashamedly deliberate) and it'll be intriguing to see what else transpires as the year rolls by.

an excellent first three steps.

route clothing

sunday 10th february 2013


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the greatest cyclist ever

marianne vos liv/giant envie

cycling consists primarily of monuments and heroes. races that have been a part of the sport since not long after a disputed individual invented the bicycle in the first place, races that still form an important part of the modern pantheon. heroes are perhaps a touch harder to come by these days for all sorts of different reasons, not least of which concern interminable doping scandals, an encroaching and invidious professionalism that incorporates the now legendary marginal gains and perhaps the separation of the sport from its working class roots.

marianne vos liv/giant envie

not just a few of the heroes from the forties and fifties used cycle sport as a means to escape the drudgery of agricultural or industrial servitude. even robert millar was an apprentice at weir's pumps in cathcart . the opportunity to make good on this circumvention from menial toil, coupled with even the minimum of national or international travel, produced a small number of individuals who could capture the imagination of those who stood by the roadside, or waited eagerly for words and photos in the press. the uci's globalisation of the sport has led to a few of those long-lived classics falling by the wayside, or finding themselves with lowered status in the eyes of the regulatory body.

the well-informed are no doubt aware of the circumstances surrounding their chosen sport, whether from the inside looking out or, indeed, the converse. the lack of identifiable heroes may bother some more than others, as will the loss of certain favoured races, but to be perfectly blunt, that's life. however, despite such happenstances, few of those on the outside looking in have necessarily fallen by the wayside. in fact, if the much vaunted increase in cycling's popularity both in the uk and across the pond can be accepted as learned fact, it seems likely that we have garnered a few more acolytes along the way.

marianne vos liv/giant envie

cycle racing is cycle racing.

unless, of course, we're talking about women's cycle racing; in the light of the above, it seems eminently possible that the fundamental problem with women's racing is that somewhere, somehow, there is an unwritten rule that conditions this sector of the sport to be always regarded as women's cycle racing. amd at the risk of being unnecessarily contentious, it may be that this is the fault of the women themselves, but i think it not free from external influence in this light.

when the spring classics happen along, i would be more than surprised if the media were to refer to the men's paris roubaix, or the men's tour of flanders. that's patently not how it works, yet in mentioning the giro donne, there's always the subtitle the women's tour of italy.


marianne vos liv/giant envie

there are many other sports in which the women's half of the equation is given the due respect and attention it deserves, where the competitors do not necessarily consider themselves the weaker portion. it is grossly unfair of me to apportion blame to the participants in women's cycle races; they undoubtedly enter the fray with their eyes wide open, or if not, they are doubtless opened in the process of racing. but if the genre were less divisive, and we simply witnessed bicycle racing, devoid of any prejudicial gender description, that would surely be a more equitable situation. i often think it does the common cause less good when i hear or read of the plight of women's cycle sport. the bicycles and the races could care less about the sex of those in the saddle.

giant bicycles however, (the manufacturer, not the size), perhaps in the light of sponsoring possibly the most successful female cyclist ever (see, now i'm even doing it) have brought a women-specific range to market, recognising at last, that the female torso and physique is ever so slightly different to that found appropriate for the male of the species. marianne vos will have at least invaded the british psyche as the woman who deftly outsprinted lizzie armitstead for the gold medal in a very wet olympic road race. for those, like me, who really only sat up and took notice from that point onwards, it has become clear that any other outcome, barring mechanical failure, was never likely to feature. not for nothing has she been described as the female eddy merckx.

marianne vos liv/giant envie

as a member of the rabobank team still sponsored by the dutch bank, she has her bicycles supplied by the taiwanese carbon giant (used in both senses of the word) who are doubtless grateful not only for her continuing penchant for victory, but availability to evaluate the results of their research and development department.

the liv/giant range (no, i've no idea what liv means either) consists of several different oddly named bicycles, the top of the range performance model known as the envie, a moniker that a certain manufacturer of carbon forks might be viewing with a soupcon of suspicion. however, i have no particular intention of dwelling too long on the more savoury points of such machines but rather to point you in the direction of the two short promotional films appended to the foot of this article. though undoubtedly intended to impress upon us that one of the world's finest cyclists chooses to ride giant, they are the work of the inestimable chris milliman whose imagery has been previously featured on thewashingmachinepost.

marianne vos liv/giant envie

i will, if i may, quote from mr milliman himself regarding his good fortune to be in this specific line of work at this particular time. "Working with Marianne has been pretty freaking amazing. She is the most professional, most engaged athlete I have ever worked with. Just incredible." were those words from her sponsor or directeur sportif, i'd have been less inclined to give them too much credence, but from the photographer who, along with others of his profession can often be seen as at best, a distraction and at worst, a ruddy nuisance (could you just ride up that climb once more please?), i think it fair to accept them as a better than fair description.

however, i'd like to shift the emphasis slightly to the left, and outline the craft involved in the movies themselves. like many a photographer nowadays, with the advent of hd video capabilities inside every marianne vos liv/giant envie professional dslr camera, chris milliman has added a second string to his bow. does this mean that he has usurped stills photography with that of moving pictures? "I am combining both. I think clients like to have the option. Some clients are all one, some all the other, and some mix it up. It's pretty fun as they're very different."

it would be distinctly vacuous of me to employ several paragraphs in the pursuit of adequate descriptors for either or both movies. surely a picture is worth a thousand words? in which case watch them several times as did i and marvel at not only one of the world's finest athletes, but at the work of a photographer/film-maker who inhabits a similar altitude in his own field.

chris milliman

saturday 9th february 2013


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l'ultimo chilometro dvd €15.90

the last kilometer

this has, in a convoluted manner, been a less than successful week, though if looked at from another point of view, it's been pretty darned amazing. the less than successful bit started with ned boulting, though it would be most unfair to implicate him too deeply in the situation, for he is but the innocent bystander. at track centre in the sir chris hoy velodrome last saturday eve was the first time ned and i had met face to face; electronic conversation had been the precedent up till that point. and in the course of our glasgow tete-a-tete, i confessed to mr boulting that i had, in fact, never been to a velodrome before.

ignazio moser

it is likely my own fault for giving the impression that there are few corners of the cycling world that have escaped my personal attentions. in fact there are probably a myriad of such. ned was surprised.

but i then had the opportunity to view this rather fascinating italian cycle documentary entitled l'ultimo chilometro, a movie whose title sounds so much more authentic than its english translation the last kilometer. i don't mind admitting that i have every intention of sticking with the former. however, the movie concerns three entirely disparate individuals, one of whom is the son of francesco moser. i confess to being less than clued up on the extensive palmares of francsco moser. i do recall him being the progenitor of disc wheels and holder of the hour record set at altitude in mexico in 1984, and i believe i recall laurent fignon moaning endlessly about how the helicopter following moser in the giro d'italia was responsible for creating a hindering down-draught during the final time-trial.

davide rebellin

all i have come across up till this point painted a less than flattering picture of the three-time winner of paris roubaix. however, perhaps not unsurprisingly, in a documentary at least in part concerning his son, he features regularly, and for me is the highlight of the whole affair. i want to be like him when i grow up, even down to buttoning my polo shirt to the neck.


ignazio moser at 20 is on the upward slope to a career as a professional cyclist, riding for the trevigiani dynamon bottoli team, still learning the ins, outs and strategies of cycle racing, but now having transferred to the bmc developmental team and, in 2013, facing his first full season as a professional. while ignazio is on the very precipice of his career, davide rebellin, now 41 years old, is pretty much at the opposite end of the spectrum, still attempting to continue an illustrious and yet fallible career at the very top. though a rider who has achieved much, he was also the subject of a doping scandal that provided a consequent ban.

the last kilometer

in one telling scene, rebellin's father, driving behind him during a training run in sunny italy, says "the cycling federation want davide to confess guilt. but what guilt? he never told me 'dad, i did this or i did that', so for me his crime doesn't exist at all". i have no idea whether rebellin is guilty as charged or not, and very much to its credit, the movie does not follow this to any length, but it is telling that both rebellin and his father seem content to bury their heads in the sand over the matter.

the other two characters involved in this fast-paced drama are italian tour de france correspondent gianna mura, who provides sagely comments about the tangible difference between the good old days and contemporary cycle racing. he, along with francesco moser provide the glue that creates the scenery in front of which this seasonal drama unfolds. and colouring this scenery from the point of view of a cycling fanatic, is didi senfit, better known as il diablo or didi the devil. he's the scraggy haired and bearded german who has been as much a part of recent tours and giros as the yellow and pink jerseys, jumping up and down at the roadside, waving a home-made trident at passing riders and team cars.

francesco moser

if i have a minor criticism of l'ultimo chilometro it is that switching sequences between rebellin and moser junior are often hard to distinguish, taking a few moments to realise just who is front and centre. but overall, the documentary is a singular triumph; director paolo casalis has kept his direction and narrative entirely transparent, allowing the protagonists considerable talking space to tell their own stories without secondary comment. couple that with some particularly well paced filming, interviewing and editing, and the movie's fifty plus minutes just flash by. just the way cycle racing ought to be experienced.

rebellin is a fish out of water, all the while hankering for the level of success that was once his; a man for whom you feel retirement from the sport will not sit at all easily on his shoulders. ignazio moser claims to have no wish to be judged by his father's palmares, a rather forlorn hope in such a cycling obsessed country and with such a distinguished surname. moser senior seems to have no illusion about that which sits ahead of his son saying "here in the vineyards we always need hands to work".

did senfit

the riders of old often used cycle racing as a means of escaping agricultural drudgery, and it may be that young ignazio is following tradition, though it cannot be said that the trappings and surroundings during his interviews are even close to rudimentary or rustic. rebellin too seems still to enjoy the fruits of his erstwhile success, but i fear more for his future than that of ignazio moser. l'ultimo chilometro is a truly excellent window on italian cycling, commenting without making comment. if you speak italian, you can watch 'au naturale; the rest of us must make do with english subtitles.

very, very good.

the last kilometer is available on dvd for €15.90 (£13.75) direct from

friday 8th february 2013


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what was i talking about again?


i've not delved into the phenomenon too closely, partly not wishing to garner results that i might find less than savoury, but mostly, to be honest, because i forget. each and every day, either because i myself have need of nourishment for my lunch, or perhaps more likely because mrs washingmachinepost has tasked me with buying a red pepper (not green; mrs doesn't like green peppers), a tub of mushrooms and perchance one or two tins of sliced peaches, all the better to decorate my morning plate of porage.

these items can be purchased, it will come as no surprise, from the supermarket just down the street from my desk. but it is necessary prior to relating my mental shopping list, to visit the newsagent's in shore street, from which i may have been asked to buy three copies of the daily mail (don't ask) for the girls in the office. and sometimes a couple of morning rolls. my daily newspaper is an ingrained request, but the others are somewhat peripheral; should i be engaged in conversation the moment i enter the store, it is nigh on guaranteed that i will come out without at least one or two of the aforementioned items. i put it down to age and a busy brain.

however, the worst is yet to come.


on entering the supermarket, it is not at all uncommon for me to stand staring into space, all the while displaying a rather inane grin. for already, i have forgotten for what it was i had gone shopping in the first place. this state of affairs is made even worse if, yet again, i have been spoken to by an innocent but known bystander. subsequent moments are nevertheless occupied wandering aimlessly around the aisles hoping that one or other commodity will leap up and down waving 'buy me'. the humourous aspect of this is that, in the process of so doing, i meet many another individual engaged in an almost identical process.

though i can often recall the lyrics to songs that i favoured in the 1960s, and perhaps even the producer of certain albums, i will often struggle to recall what i had for tea on sunday. for instance, did you know that it was rick wakeman who played mellotron on david bowie's starman or that the selfsame keyboard maestro was the piano player on the pipkins, gimme dat ding? i think it somewhat embarrassing that i can recall such insignificant details, but would struggle to remember the date of my parents' anniversary.


in the course of my readings, i have discovered that there is a cogent theory behind this sometimes startling phenomenon. more than just a few of you must have experienced walking from one room to another only to realise that you've no idea for what reason. current conjecture centres around the invasiveness of doorways to cause such conditions. apparently, walking through a doorway from one location to another is sufficient to effectively 'wipe' short term memory, leading to that quizzical facial expression on entering the co-op. it is supposed that the act of leaving one room and entering another has a deleterious effect on the human brain.

and it must surely be this state of affairs that had me leave it this long before ordering a new chain for the cielo. though i wish not to appear comfortable in my arrogance, the chain problem has become exaggerated since more than one or two bicycles have inhabited thewashingmachinepost bike shed. in former years, when the only means of behaving like a fully paid up member of the peloton was carried out aboard a colnago c40, 'twas a simple matter of noting in one's diary the date three months hence when a new chain ought to be ordered.


luxury, however, has now intervened in the shape of one or two other bicycles, more or less ridden at random, interspersed with an infrequent supply of review models. thus, the three month rule has been of necessity, cast asunder; the act of chain replacement has become less of a science and more of a joke. those of you with a mechanical mind will be au fait with the knowledge that, as the chain wears, so do the cassette sprockets. if left too long, not only will the chain require replacement, but all those expensive teeth on the rear wheel.

though the need for a new chain is ever uppermost in my mind when pedalling the highways and byeways, wheeling the velocipede through the garden gate (that door metaphor again) drives it clean from my rather simple brain. you will, i hope, be currently proud of me however, for only just the other eve i sat down with my web browser and carried out the necessary series of trackpad clicks and availed myself of a new 114 link chain. if i'm really lucky, it will arrive in time for the weekend, and though the roads may be coated in agricultural crap, those 114 links will shine like a beacon outside the coffee stop, and i will have remained lucky enough that the powerdome cassette has remained within the tolerances set for welcoming a new chain.

and now that i have issued this timely reminder, and just before you step through an adjacent doorway, consider that it is most likely the right time for you too to order at least one bicycle chain. because if you don't, it could be weeks before it comes to mind once more.

and i won't tell you again.

thursday 7th february 2013


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trials and tribulations

wheelsmith race 23

i apologise in advance for the generic nature of my opening gambit to this diatribe, but i think it necessary to place this in some sort of modern, every day context, so assuming you've a few moments on your hands, maybe you would bear with me for a paragraph or two. and just to whet the partially confused appetite at this stage, we will eventually be talking about wheels and the building of same. or at least being a good customer to your wheelbuilder.

but until then, let's take a step into a branch of john lewis. for the sake of familiarity and geographical location, we'll do so in that situated opposite buchanan bus station in killermont street, glasgow. more particularly, the branch referred to as being a part of buchanan galleries. before you ask, this has nothing specifically to do with the wheels that we'll get to eventually, but i do have a penchant for scene setting.

sugar wheelworks

as february is the month to host st valentine's day, we will endow our hypothetical (male) shopper with the task of purchasing a gift for his beau on the 14th. aromatic scent would seem an appropriate choice, meaning, if nothing else, that he has no need of travelling further than the ground floor. for here are the counters dedicated to a substantial range of perfumes, staffed by female assistants who, more often than not, appear to have applied their make-up with a garden trowel.

that is, however, bye the bye.

if our hypothetical male shopper is as inept at choosing fragrances for a female lady of the opposite sex as most of us are, at least one of those members of staff is going to be the subject of inquisition. at this point in proceedings, he has placed his trust entirely in the hands of the young lady serving, never once questioning the ability of said femme fatale to deal with his aromatic requirements. obviously enough, there are going to be days when a new recruit is manning (womaning?) the counter, but the innocent shopper will generally be unaware of such a perceptible predicament. therefore, when asking as to which of the myriad of fragrances on display would be ideal for her indoors he is placing his trust entirely in their hands, mostly without question.

so why doesn't that work with wheelbuilders?

wheelsmith race 23

at the risk of stating the obvious, most of those offering their wheelbuilding skills to the great unwashed, have either several years or decades of experience, or the confidence that their slightly more limited building expertise is sufficient to keep the customer satisfied. therefore when those of us with a desire for a smart, shiny new pair of hoops for the favoured bicycle have thoughts and a budget, it is surely a simple case of communicating those to the wheelbuilding chap or chapess?

the experienced wheelsmith will ask a series of salient questions regarding weight, intended use, chosen bicycle and perhaps any thoughts on specific hubset or rims. personally, i'd be inclined to waver not on my hub choice or colour, but be less than specific regarding spokes and rims. for my current set of chris king customs from sugar wheelworks in portland, the only request, apart from the (ceramic upgraded) hubs, was to have the spokes tied and soldered. other than that, i was more than happy to leave spoke, rim and lacing pattern choice to jude.

similarly, a pair of wheelsmith race 23s from derek in larbert are offered as a complete package incorporating hubs, spokes and rims. i continue to completely avoid any forum discussions as to the relative merits of one rim versus another, and the butting section sugar wheelworks of one brand of spoke as opposed to its nearest neightbour. that's derek's job; and if i had no confidence in his abilities, i'd have gone elsewhere. though of a slightly different hue, order a bicycle frame from richard sachs, and aside from choice of colour, you will get exactly what richard deems appropriate; that's why you're buying a richard sachs.

likewise a set of wheels from wheelsmith or sugar; you order them from either jude, derek or your preferred builder because of their reputation and the knowledge that you're going to receive a pair of wheels that will do just as they promise. don't tell them how to do their job, and don't reiterate everything you've picked up on the web.

when was the last time you told the girl at john lewis that word on the perfume forums did not support her sales advice?

wheelsmith | sugar wheelworks

wednesday 6th february 2013


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keeping tabs

colnago forks

it is of great marvel that slots in the bicycle frame can agglomorate the two major components into a comfortable, athletic and solid whole, capable of bearing the weight of a wide variation in rider physique (or lack thereof), eagerly resisting the push and pull of regular pedalling. or at least, that is the desired intent, one that mostly does exactly as it would say on the tin if that's how we acquired bicycles in the first place. the bicycle frame, assembled with its companion fork allows the slotting of wheels into fork dropouts and those on the rear triangle.

the mountain bike is pretty much singularly responsible for the wholesale shift away from horizontal road style dropouts to the more commonly contemporary vertical style. the attraction of the latter is not hard to fathom; popping the rear wheel into a pair of vertically specified dropouts pretty much guarantees its sitting centrally in the frame without any visual checking prior to departure. it's also a darned sight simpler to pop the wheel back out when necessary, without large tyre cross-sections fouling the back of the seat tube or mudguards. and it's hard to have the wheel pull to one side even under untrammeled power.

colnago precisa forks

currently the latter is a problem that features everytime i wish to remove the rear wheel from the cielo. it has a perfectly formed pair of stainless steel horizontal road dropouts (the look of which i much prefer) and screw in axle tensioners/bump stops, meaning the entire wheel requires to be moved a couple of centimetres forwards in order to clear the slots. there is, in fact, no way this can be achieved without first deflating the rear tyre. the vertical dropouts on my colnago master's carbon rear end allow the wheel to simply drop out when the q/r lever is opened. well, drop out after i've got my hands mucky off the chain.

in the relatively recent past, i was party to reviewing a road bicycle with horizontal dropouts, that gave cause to my viewing the tarmac of bowmore main street at the macro level. no matter how tightly i screwed the q/r, the locknut face would not bind on the inner face of the dropout and at the least sign of leg strength, the wheel would jam itself against the leftmost chainstay. impeded forward motion will almost certainly result in unwarranted gravitational pull.

cielo stainless dropout

the front dropouts, however, at the end of a pair of fork legs are of a different hue, and subject to the full force of american litigation. i have covered this subject on a previous occasion, most likely at the time of penning a bicycle review, for the north atlantic legal procedure instigated the integration of so-called lawyers' tabs, little extra bits of metal that prevent the front wheel from dropping out unintentionally if the rider has been ignorant of, or stupid enough to incorrectly close the q/r lever. the legal argument transpired from an individual who neglected so to do and seriously damaged himself, subsequently blaming the manufacturer for not pointing out the errant possibilities.

i would love to take the credit for reviving this topic here in my black and yellow pixels, but in truth, it was a timely missive from a correspondent (thanks peter) pointing out the enforcement of a related uci regulation at the tour of qatar. officialdom now requires that, if these tabs are a part of the commercially available frame, it is now illegal for the riders or mechanics to file them off in order to make race wheel changes as fast as they, in truth, ought to be.

pompino front fork

it has been often stated that the law is an ass, and in this case, perhaps coming as no suprise to most, the uci has presented itself in the full bloom of its undeniable stupidity. though colnago told me that filing the tabs off any of their models would result in voiding the warranty on the forks, it's very unlikely that any professional team is likely to be overly concerned about warranty support. and consultation between the manufacturers and team mechanics will surely have led to an appropriate level of understanding as to any deleterious side effects (though there are none).

so what in the name of bradley wiggins' sideburns is the uci playing at?

as i readily pointed out to my correspondent, i own a cielo with a steel fork that bears no tabs, as well as a modern colnago with a steel precisa fork also bereft of wheel retainers. all the minimal research i have been able to undertake, including asking a couple of professional mechanics, points to there being no legal requirement for these tabs to be fitted; not in europe, nor, surprisingly, in litigation obsessed america. installation seems to be a simple case of manufacturers wishing to protect themselves against rider stupidity and any subsequent legal action.

cxi front fork

i'm willing to concede their affixation at the lower price range, but i'd contest that the prospective purchaser of a contemporary state of the art carbon bicycle, costing in excess of £7,000 or £8,000 really ought to have grasped the principles behind using a quick release lever in the directed manner. it takes only a matter of minutes for the bike shop to demonstrate; any subsequent incompetence is the rider's fault and demonstrably not that of the manufacturer.

as pointed out in the short news article reported on the inner ring website, it is likely that by the time the classics and grand tours arrive, the tabs will likely have been subject to irrepairable wear and tear restoring the q/r to the function for which it was designed.

surely it would take the simple addition of a professional model to every manufacturer's range, identical in every way to the standard version, but devoid of the fork tabs? that way the pros could be supplied with such models without upsetting the ignorant suits in aigle, and the rest of us have the option, dependent on our perceived level of competence.

it is a valid comment on the uci's worth to the professional sport that messrs armstrong and rasmussen can get away with years of systematised doping, yet switzerland is more concerned with whether the team mechanics have the competence to competently close a quick release lever.

believably unbelievable.

tuesday 5th february 2013


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