those of you who have visited islay and others who have braved their insomnia and read most of my daily output will well know that the principal method of travel to the island is by caledonian macbrayne ferry. granted, you can get here a darned sight quicker on the flybe saab from glasgow airport, but aside from carrying a price premium, that's hardly the ideal way to bring a bicycle and definitely not an option for motorists.
the largest ferry on the route is the recently built mv finlaggan, the one with a flux capacitor in the centre of the coffee lounge. this boat is mostly aided and abetted by either the mv arran or the mv hebridean isles, both of which are past their sell-by date and a tad smaller than their big sister.
it is a condition of maritime safety that each and every one of calmac's boats return to dry-dock once a year for what the company terms a re-fit, but is basically a service and m.o.t. test. since they have almost exactly the number of ferries required to ply the western isles, but with one to spare, this means moving boats around over the winter period to cover for whichever vessel is in dry-dock. the finlaggan was therefore left all on its lonesome for january and most of february while the others held the fort elsewhere in the hebrides.
last year, the boat for which the finlaggan was substituting was late in departing dry-dock, meaning the easter week islay traffic was transported by the two older and smaller boats, one of which broke down on the tuesday. by wednesday, it had been repaired, but on thursday a boat further north broke down and they took one of our ferries away. this had a serious knock-on effect, with families visiting for easter either arriving over a day late, or leaving up to two days late.
our local newspaper ran with the headline 'grim ferry tales'.
this year, in order to prevent calmac gaining more adverse column inches, the finlaggan went in for its own service a couple of weeks before this past easter weekend and very much against expectation, it returned to the route, as promised, on wednesday of last week. you'd have thought such planned service was worthy of at least a few plaudits, but then on monday morning, the boat broke down, cancelling all its sailings for the entire day and leaving one of the smaller, elderly boats to deal with irate travellers hoping to be back home in time for work on tuesday.
you could almost hear the collective 'told you so' across the island.
at least a part of this narrative could almost have been applied to the pedals offered by the brothers crank at one time in their recent past. included in each box was usually the inevitable warranty information in 63 different languages, accompanied by the suggestion that each pair of crank brothers pedals be stripped and rebuilt at east once a year, or perchance a tad more often if weather conditions were particularly nasty. it's not entirely unheard of for precision components to receive at least an annual service, but in the real world, who has the time, patience, skill or inclination so to do?
the situation was not, as i have repeatedly brought to your attention, helped by the particular strain of needle bearing fitted to the inboard end of the axle, which has displayed an almost suicidal tendencey to disintegrate without rhyme, reason or warning. though crank brothers have known of this for many a long year, it wasn't until last year's interbike, that they showed a revised model featuring an igus glide bearing, essentially a quality plastic bushing that offers, to my mind at least, improved performance while minimising the need for an annual maintenance regime.
and yes, you have heard from me regarding these candy #7 pedals on previous occasions, for i first rode them last november, and i'm still riding them now. in the interim, the black and silver candys have cyclocrossed, been frequently submerged during a few weeks of localised flooding, found home to more than a single pair of footwear and generally been treated with the disdain that seems to befall almost every set of offroad pedals you care to mention.
but unlike the mv finlaggan, the candy #7s have yet to skip a beat. the have featured at the end of the cranks on both a ridley x20 and a specialized crux e5, carrying out their duties with aplomb. i have just switched them back from the specialized to the ridley and in the process, checked their frictionless bearing (if you'll pardon the double-meaning).
aside from the grubbiness you'd likely expect on a pair of pedals that have seen over four months in grit and grime, they function every bit as well as was the case when first extracted from the polybag in which they were sent (these were essentially pre-production models and thus devoid of crank brothers usual smart, practical packaging.)
though i'm sure the operational board at caledonian macbrayne breathed a sigh of relief when the finlaggan returned to active service last week, they'd have been less cheery when they made it to their corporate desks this morning. but at the risk of emulating their short-lived self-satisfaction, allow me to congratulate the chaps and chapesses at crank brothers who seem finally to have provided us with the pedals their reputation deserves. and gracious thanks to the folks at extra uk for providing the review pair.
my easter riding was just fine thank you.
crank brothers candy #7 pedals retail at £130 per pair.
tuesday 29 march 2016..........................................................................................................................................................................................................