due to the antiquity of the television masts on islay, even on freeview we are somewhat restricted in the channels that are available. while the rest of britain (more or less) can view fifty television channels, four hd channels and listen to 24 radio stations, access on islay is rather more limited. the alternatives of course, are to pony up for a satellite dish and freesat box, or pay rupert murdoch enough money for sir dave to order another death star.
as my own television watching habit is far less demanding than even islay's freeview access, and mrs washingmachinepost seems quite happy with her soaps, i think we'll survive as we are. however, i'm aware from even those who do watch their televisions via a dish from the dark side, that despite more channels than anyone truly knows what to do with, on certain evenings there is simply nothing worth watching. one of those evenings happened along on sunday past.
though i could have occupied my time switching between melodramatic replays of andy murray playing tennis in slow motion, or the ned and chris show reliving the day's pyreneean tour stage that i'd seen that very afternoon, you know what? i couldn't be bothered. youtube however, offers a means to occupy an evening in earnest and nostalgic viewing; in this case, stars and watercarriers, jorgan leth's film of the 1973 giro d'italia.
if ever there was an antidote to the sometimes clinical riding of modern times, and the excruciating commentary that often accompanies it, stars and watercarriers is surely it. one need only cast a quick glance at the comments appended to the youtube page to find that one is not alone in a secret desire to have a bicycle with downtube levers sat in the bike shed. the film may not have aged as well as it might in terms of remaining colour-fast, but to watch merckx and ritter time-trial on standard road bikes as opposed to the formula one, wind tunnel tested carbon of present times was pretty much as cool as it gets over a sport-infested weekend.
perhaps the most notable feature, however, was the headgear. or, as in most cases, the complete lack of. one or two of the riders across various participating teams wore the traditional cycle cap, emblazoned with the sponsor's credentials; molteni, scic, bianchi, et al. and to this day, i still have no idea how those caps remained in situ when perched on the very top of an unruly crop of hair. how come it doesn't blow away in the wind? it was also intriguing to note that neither peak up nor peak down constituted the way of the hardmen. both variations were frequently on display.
but it's a notable feature because it's no longer something seen in the professional peloton. initially, uci rules dictated that the riders must all wear approved helmets, at least until reaching the final climb of the day, at which point there was often seen a mad rush back to the team cars to dispose of the often unwanted dod of polystyrene. that lasted about one season i believe, and it is now incumbent on all professional cyclists of whichever league, to wear a helmet at all times.
we, on the other hand, are not under such an enforcement.
however, simply to invite a distinct perspective on such matters, if those who ride bicycles for a living, at speeds we can only dream of, and over roads closed to regular traffic are required to wear cycle helmets for safety reasons, whither the civilian? though bicycle use has undoubtedly increased over recent years, this may well have been matched by a similar if not greater increase in the number of cars on the road (take a look at the wall to wall cars parked on your street of an evening; is the number more or less than it was ten years ago?)
for the sake of wearing an often brightly coloured, lightweight chunk of polystyrene on your head, i'm often astounded at the arguments against doing so. however, my point here is not to necessarily argue the case for or against, but simply to introduce one of those chunks of polystyrene that not only gives my kitchen scales very little trouble, but would do little damage to an innocent bank account into the bargain. if i have any criticism at all, it would be the confoundingly naff identity applied to such a comfortable, convenient and stylish lid.
as i understand it, c originals have been manufacturing helmets for others for around twenty years, but have now decided the time is right to bring their light out from under its bushel. however, in this day of branding consultants, and visible corporate identies, not only is the name c originals eminently forgettable, it provides a less than impressive decal on such a glorious looking helmet. and to add insult to injury, they've called it the sv888. aaaargh.
for the incredibly wallet friendly price of £99.99, c originals offer a 240g helmet, with an excellent, one-hand adjustable retention system and a remarkably easily adjustable, padded chin strap. add to that copious amounts of internal padding and enough vents to cope with the current heatwave, and you have a helmet that would challenge several of the better known and more expensive brands on the market.
the only feature i am somewhat loath to test is just how well it fares should i happen to land on my head in an inappropriate gravitational situation, but that's something applicable to each and every helmet that has passed through the croft. much like an insurance policy, you hope you'll never have need of its countenance.
the sv888 holds en1078 certification thus complying with the european personal protective equipment directive, also the basis of an identical british standard. in use it's pretty much invisible; i guarantee that at some point i will leave debbie's cafe only to return figuring i forgot to put the helmet on. the retention system allows an almost perfect head fitting even before fastening the chin strap, particularly confidence inspiring in this respect, and the fact that it looks rather good (and fast) does it no disfavours.
the review helmet is quite plainly a rather fetching yellow, and though i believe it is available in a selection of colours, unfortunately i can only find sight of a white with red flashes on the website. however, it also arrives in one of two sizes: small/medium (55-58cm as tested) or medium/large 58-61cm.
i would respectfully suggest that c originals have a serious think about not only their brand name, but those they've applied to their seemingly excellent helmets. with so many offerings on an international market, it's quite possible they will get lost in the melee. i know i'd pay scant attention to the brand if i came across it in a magazine or online advert, and on the evidence of the reviewed item, that would be a huge mistake on my part. i'm all for not judging a book by its cover, but that in essence, is a two way street.
wednesday 10th july 2013