it has always seemed, to me at least, that the heritage of our beautiful sport is not often approached with anything close to equanimity. the exploits of the great and good feature highly in the self-education of those swinging a leg over a road bike for the first time. there are, of course, those leaning heavily towards the philistine, those who have purchased cheaply from a reputable dealer, heading off into the sunset caring not one whit for the campionissimos, and to be blunt, it is desirable that such ought to remain the case for as long as it can. any activity that demands an academic approach to participation is unlikely to grow organically or successfully.
however, for the many or the few (i have no statistics to prove either correct), detailed analysis of the sport's rich heritage adds more than just a superficial frisson to their velocipedinal joy. knowledge of garin, bobet, anquetil, bartali, coppi and merckx surely can't but enhance the act of withdrawing the bicycle from the bike shed of a sunday morning and clipping in noisily before treading the path well-travelled. but there's another, less appreciated facet of cycling's history that pertains almost exclusively to the bicycle itself.
there are many young riders nowadays, even midst the professional ranks who have never experienced the frustration of index gear shifting, of the original ten speed racer, of toe-clips and straps and perhaps of anything other than carbon fibre frames. lost on them was the need to place an oily rag under the bottom bracket when removing a hard to displace fixed cup, in order not to lose any of the quarter inch bearings eager to experience the great outdoors. that in itself brings me to point out the very difference between the modern-day luxury of contemporary componentry and its 'less accomplished' past.
i have placed the latter phrase in inverted commas because there are times when modernity can be found wanting. returning briefly to that bottom bracket, the ability to simply replace a set of bearings from a fifty pence packet could be seen as a tad more equitable than an expensive set of bearing cups with no user serviceable parts. it is a sad fact that many of today's bits when worn, can only be thrown away. sometimes an easily effected repair would be a lot easier and more economic. and for more than just a few of those unspecified fixes, a small sachet of sugru offers a particularly effective means of repair.
if, like me, you'd never heard of sugru before, it bears an uncanny resemblance to coloured play-do, the sort of stuff that your kids manage to spread all over the carpet and upholstery. not only will it stick pretty much anything to anything else, it forms a non-conductive, flexible and moldable silicon rubber that can be used on cycling footwear, saddle edges, bottle cages, mudguards and any number of other cycle related uses.
of course, it's not the sort of substance that will replace a worn-out bottom bracket.
for the purposes of reviewing, it is perhaps unfortunate that i had nothing mechanically or cosmetically untoward happening on any of my bicycles, but its usefulness extends past the point of simply repairing stuff. on my kask helmet, i was careless enough to lose one of the spongy silicon pads from the rear cage, something that was simplicity itself to replace with sugru. though the hardened product (after 24 hours) remains flexible, there's no getting away from the fact that it doesn't emulate the softness of the missing pad. however, having ridden with the helmet tightly in place, the replacement part molded by yours truly offered nothing in the way of discomfort.
and you know those pre-electric gear and brake cables that wear an unsightly portion of that shiny paintwork? well, placing a carefully molded piece of sugru at the side of the head tube will not only prevent the cable from rattling, but maintain the integrity of the decor. in fact, after having added a piece to the cielo's head tube, it dawned on me that i could have rolled a piece around the cable itself, something that would perhaps have been a more smooth solution.
you live and learn.
the package i have in my possession contains eight mini packs of sugru in red, yellow, blue, black and white. this costs a particularly amenable £12.99, and though i've not tried all the reported properties, it apparently bonds to aluminium, steel, ceramics, wood and some fabric and plastics. holes in shoes can be repaired with inherent waterproofing, and discomfort at the heel can be alleviated by fashioning a profiled insert where necessary. and in the majority of cases, the sugru can be easily and cleanly removed when no longer required. in short, it is a highly versatile product that really ought to be at the fingertips of every cyclist, even those who have little or no idea of quite how their bicycles work. in some ways, quite miraculous.
monday 23 june 2014..........................................................................................................................................................................................................