as a drummer of long standing (well, sitting mostly) it has always annoyed the heck out of me that certain drumming personalities, who shall remain anonymous seemed to change not oly the brand of drums they played, but also the cymbals with a regularity that rather defied comprehension.
in one catalogue you would have said personalities espousing the unique properties of the wood, plastic or metal under their sticks as being of the highest quality imaginable and a major contributing factor to their unique sound, when a few months later, they would appear in a rival catalogue or advert saying similar about their latest endorsement.
needless to say, my own personal drumming hero has stayed faithful to the same brand of cymbals and drums for well over twenty years - i know how to pick 'em.
unfortunately, in a commercial world, this unfortunate trait appears not to be confined to drummers as the cover of this week's comic will attest. for the past few years, during the height (and, unfortunately, the depths0 of his career, marco pantani has ridden bianchi bikes, has arguably contributed to the fashion for sloping top tubes due to his diminutive stature and seems to have been solely responsible for their move from bianchi blue, to having some of their top line bikes issued in matt black - a move bound to upset the traditionalists.
coupled to this was il pirata's use of campagnolo groupsets as seen on the poster stuck on the wall behind me at this very moment (ileach decor is most adaptable), which is even the subject of a poster available from campagnolo's website. however, as you may have garnered from my earlier remark, all this has changed.
pantani has reverted to the make of bike he cycled before he became 'famous', wilier triestina, and fitted with shimano dura ace. so i think, at least in marketing terms, marco will now be espousing the benefits of his current benefactors being very careful not to mention the former.
similarly, cipollini has moved from saeco cannondale to aqua e sapone (which i am led to believe means something like 'soap and water' though, since i don't speak any italian (apart from fluent colnago) i could be the victim of a wind-up. at any rate, after the last few years of cannondale marketing pointing out that the only frame strong enough to support the power unleashed by cipo in the final sprint being their very own product, he has now started doing the very same sprinting action on a specialized bicycle - and has already won this month. mario has had, however, the good sense to remain with campagnolo so he has not completely betrayed the faith.
so how much of this do we all believe? i've often heard it said that miguel indurain could have won the tour on a raleigh shopping bike, which is either being very magnanimous toward raleigh shopping bikes or very unfair to the other riders from indurain's era. i think we probably all realise that, at the top level, it's the rider and not the bike, though counter arguments were in full swing when boardman took gold on the lotus carbon. so if we all secretly agree that it's pedal power and not carbon fibre, why do campag, shimano, canonndale et al, spend inordinate amounts of time and money persuading us otherwise?
when lance won the tour de france for the first time, shimano celebrated long and hard, since it was the first time that a shimano equipped bicycle had won the tour. this seems a little unfair since it is more than likely that lance would have won if his bike had been equipped with string and rubber bands (i own the patent on that). granted i am rather fond of watching the results of mapei and rabobank because they ride colnagos and have lost some of my faith in team coast because they have ceased riding colnagos (though they have taken over marco's bianchi endorsement). i think we can feel confident that, at top level competition it has a deal more to do with team commitment and rider fitness and any advertising is exactly that - advertising and as such is not necessarily based on fact.
at our own, more human level, however, i think the advertising might help at our more human level, if only because, in the dim distant past (when there were enough of us on islay to have time trials from the round church to the airport and back) i did manage to win by a substantial margin because i had fitted a zipp carbon fibre wheel on the front. a few years later, i was beaten by my reader in the campbeltown triathlon principally because he had two carbon fibre zipp wheels fitted to an ex-casino time trial bike (ok, so he was actually faster than me but the wheels undoubtedly helped). suffice to say that he was a minute faster than me and i was three minutes faster than third place (i was on my standard colnago and third was on a top of the range giant triathlon bike).
however, if it wasn't for the adverts, we probably wouldn't have pro cycling, cycle sport or the comic so it obviously comes in handy for something.

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 or

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 ibook and imac computers, using adobe golive 5 and adobe photoshop 6.0.1. needless to say it is also best viewed on an apple macintosh computer.