core exercises

rapha core range

by and large, we are at the mercy of the whims and machinations of our betters. i might qualify that statement by pointing out that those 'betters' are not there by dint of their intellectual capacity or aristocratic bearing, but due more to a predilection for looking far enough ahead to provide that which we may have thought about once or twice, but didn't truly realise we needed/wanted. it's a service that often comes with a price tag attached, but to be honest, doesn't everything nowadays?

for many a long year, cycling apparel seemed to exist more at the behest of the professionals' needs than the considerably lesser demands of the sunday morning ride. even the average club kit, apparently decorated by the least visually perceptive member of the committee was not of a standard that might distinguish itself in the heat of battle. more often than not, the matching of jersey, shorts, windjacket and casquette assumed a greater importance than any potential functionality.

rapha core range

thankfully, for the self-assurance of the sport, those days have seemingly faded away in favour of cycling haute couture. this has arguably been achieved at a price (in both senses of the word), but it only requires a casually perceptive glance over the myriad offerings of what i truly believe to be the best-served activity on the planet, to note that the unattainable has had a noticeable effect on the affordable. there have been moans directed at the price of many, but mostly by those without the wherewithal to indulge their desires.

cycling, however, is scarcely alone in that respect. no doubt there are carbon golf clubs and pringle sweaters the price of which would bring tears to your eyes. and i daren't even consider the cost of a competitive le mans sports car, let alone the price tag attached to a pair of flameproof overalls.

rapha core range

but in the manner of a benevolent regime, now and again, a few breadcrumbs are thrown in our direction. those in the ivory towers can benefit from the most exotic of furnishings, but on occasion, the clamouring of the great unwashed becomes too loud to ignore. this appeared perhaps to be the case earlier this year with the release of rapha's core range, a quality offering at a more amenable price than we have come to expect from imperial works.

by way of illustration, a rapha pro-team jersey retails at £130, though if it's the cutting edge of weatherproofing you're after, a short-sleeve shadow jersey will relieve you of another £90. a short-sleeve core jersey is a far more wallet-friendly £75, precisely the same price, now that you ask, as a pair of shadow kneewarmers.

rapha core range

i have previously reviewed and indeed continued to wear on a regular basis, rapha's core shorts and s/s jersey and am firmly convinced that if they'd advertised the cost as similar to that of the pro-team range, most of us would scarcely have raised a leftmost eyebrow. in my humble opinion, it's that good. but it could also have remained firmly in the category of proffered breadcrumbs, a means of satisfying the clamourers while being allowed to continue with more pressing and ultimately more expensive matters. thankfully, not only for the company's credibility but for our greater benefit, that seems very much not to be the case.

the recently released trio of team sky jerseys commemorating the victories of chris froome on the ventoux in 2013 (see above), geraint thomas' stage victory at paris-nice earlier this year and ian stannard's second omloop victory in 2015 are all part of the core range. i am reliably informed that the much admired rapha team canyon colours will be available on a core jersey in the foreseeable future, while the autumn/winter range will likely add a long-sleeve version.

despite somewhat elitist murmurings on the forums (fora?), those of us with smaller piggy banks are pretty darned grateful for such sartorial largesse that is beginning to acquire a life of its own.

rapha core range

monday 18 july 2016

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a mug's game

richmitch caricatures: eddy

i have been watching with interest and intrigue, the race that i promised not to mention, as no doubt have many of the rest of you. but what has intrigued me perhaps more than the oddities transpiring over the course of each stage, has been the visual accuracy of the commentators. i have little doubt that messrs. kirby and kelly are every bit as alert and precise as their counterparts on itv4, but despite my paying the folks at eurosport a tacit sum each month for the privilege of watching cycle racing on their web player, i've been enjoying the first tour de france outing for the partnership of ned boulting and david millar on itv4.

richmitch caricatures: robert

thewashingmachinepost household is fairly modest in its needs; aside from an ageing combination of vhs recorder and dvd player, our television set is surely no more that 32" in aspect, just an ideal dimension for our sitting room. that is quite some number of centimetres greater than the monitors provided for the tour's commentary teams of whichever nationality, and though they may be sat a tad closer to the screen than mrs washingmachinepost and i, their almost unerring accuracy in identifying individual riders is most impressive.

it may be, of course, that i flatter them too much. perhaps each rider has distinctive idiosyncracies in their pedalling style, even when viewed from several hundred feet above by the helicopter camera. over the course of three weeks' perpetual monitor watching, it presumably wouldn't take a genius with the visual acumen of an eagle to identify those in a pelotonic crowd. but then again, am i undermining the skills of these obviously superior beings?

richmitch caricatures: marco

several years ago, convinced that this commentating lark was not all it is cracked up to be, i viewed some race footage with the audio switched off and attempted to provide my own commentary. let's just say that the exercise did not end well. those folks deserve all the plaudits they receive, possibly even carlton kirby, though the jury's still out on the last one.

however, this visual accuracy is not solely the preserve of the television cycling commentator. capturing the essence of any individual, particularly when said individual has no notable distinguishing features, other than a propensity to win finish-line sprints, climb as if gravity did not exist, or frictionless time-trialling, is hardly a common facility. seemingly, illustrator richard mitchelson has had none of the above pointed out to him, for he has become an artist with a serial habit of doing exactly that which the rest of us would find difficult, if not impossible.

richmitch caricatures: mario

the evidence for my unchallengeable contestation can be seen on the web pages of just click on shop and follow that by selecting categories. there, midst several other options, is one entitled cycling mugs. so successful and individualistic has been rich mitch's talent, that there have been more than one or two attempts to copy his style. those particular thieves have been banished and made to watch live coverage of snooker, cricket, football or golf, depending on how heinous their crime.

it well behoves the cycling obsessive to acquire their cycling caricature mugs solely from the rouleur online shop.

richmitch caricatures: miguel

unless you happen to be a fan of the four recently mentioned sports, it is likely you will have friends, companions who think little of dropping by unannounced at the very point you've finally managed to remove the campagnolo power torque chainset from its bottom bracket (no mean feat in itself). it would therefore be most inhospitable not to offer them a warming beverage (it's summertime after all) while you figure out how to replace the bearings on the inner face of the chainset.

plain white mugs are simply not an option.

just how many of these superbly illustrated mugs you opt to purchase will depend mostly on a) which of the illustrations that take your fancy; b) how necessitous it is that you collect a complete set of everything; and c) how many potential or actual friends you have.

sometimes the periphery is every bit as marvellous as the competitive reality.

richard mitchelson cycling mugs

sunday 17 july 2016

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flandrien: the change will do you good

stephan vanfleteren: flandrien

for a few days in april 2007, i was in london for a number of reasons that i'd now be hard pressed to recollect, but i do recall one of my stopping points to be that of rapha's original imperial works in kentish town. it's a building in which rapha began their illustrious career, occupying one half of an almost symmetrical upper floor, reached either by a substantial, but rather rustic looking elevator, or via the steel central stairway. buttons had to be pressed and announcements made at the main door before access would be granted.

stephan vanfleteren: flandrien

there's nothing worse than having velocipedinal riff-raff wandering in and out of the office while you're trying to work.

the former piano factory was home to the raphalites up until a few years back when they outgrew the premises and shifted lock stock and barrel to tileyard road, only a sprint train lead out from st pancras station. however, at the time of my 2007 visit only a matter of years after the sportwool folks had entered the peloton (so to speak), one of those in residence was the esteemed mr guy andrews who was in the process of being editor and sole factotum for rouleur magazine, a publication that began its illustrious career within the rapha stronghold.

it would be hard to underestimate my naivèté in those days, specifically pertaining to cycling's great heritage that is now frequently trotted out as a badge of honour (frequently by yours truly). yes, i was perfecty au fait with the grand tours and had enjoyed many editions of paris-roubaix, but, it turned out, purely on a superficial level, lacking any appraisal of what cycle racing was truly capable of. nor indeed, was i any better informed as to the importance the sport held in certain enclaves of mainland europe (yes, belgium, i'm looking at you). frites and mayo was more likely to engender mental images of a european comedy duo in similar vein to that of morecambe and wise.

stephan vanfleteren: flandrien

in this respect, i cannot thank guy andrews enough for perhaps inadvertantly setting me upon the correct path, one that has had the beneficial effect of making me less likely to create a major pixelated faux pas in the years that have passed since. and though i currently speak in what are no doubt somewhat vague terms, to put some flesh upon ephemeral bones, the spark was stefan vanfleteren's exquisite little book 'flandrien', a review of which i posted in june of that very year.

mr andrews handed me a copy to peruse while he undertook whatever duties it is that editors undertake. life has not been the same since. i have a copy of flandrien within easy reach at all times.

i do not propose to reprise my original review here, at least, not in so many words, but its initial effect has kept everything since that time in a manageable perspective. and though i haven't an earthly whether the photographers to whom we have been introduced since, have gained inspiration from vanfleteren's impressive imagery, his use of monochromatics have proved highly prophetic in the interim.

i'm sure many of us have had, if not eureka moments, then certainly those that removed the net curtains from our viewpoint concerning all sorts of matters. i have no idea if vanfleteren's flandrien is still in print some nine years later, for the section of the gentleman's website purporting to offer the opportunity to order seems not to be working in a foreign language. but if the opportunity presents itself, i think you should heed my advice for once, and order yourself a copy.

then maybe we'll all be singing from the same hymnsheet.

stephan vanfleteren

saturday 16 july 2016

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rapha shadow armwarmers + kneewarmers

rapha shadow armwarmers

there was, last time i looked, a shop in glasgow central station featuring the decorative legend that spelled out the word 'accessorize'. though i can only blame the vicissitudes of an ever-changing education system, i would, on this side of the pond, have replaced the 'z' with yet another 's, but i believe that the oxford english dictionary would be inclined to prove me wrong on that particular point. however, the matter in hand is not the spelling of the word, but just what it was/is this particular establishment offered for sale.

it transpires that the branch of 'accessorize' to which i refer, is not a standalone retail outlet, but one that is a small part of a far greater organisation, featuring a head office in london's notting hill village designed by a prizewinning group of architects. however, what is of particular interest in relation to my point, which is not too far away now, are the products to be seen in the group's shop windows.

rapha shadow armwarmers + kneewarmers

we are a race often besotted with paraphernalia and trinketry, most often purchased after the fact and by way of complement to a singular idea. though i may be in danger of tarnishing an entire gender by way of a generalism, many are the members of the female sex who purchase a dress or coat in full knowledge of the fact that such will subsequently need to be accessorised with a handbag, a pair of shoes and perchance a matching or contrasting hat and gloves set.

the male of the species is not exempt from such habits, though more often than not, pertaining to items other than clothing. my son purchased a rather sporty looking motor car a few years ago, a vehicle that apparently demanded a set of wider alloy wheels with matching low-profile rubber. i think it may only have been the onset of domestic bliss and the acquisition of a dog that prevented further modification by way of bucket style seating and the sort of seat harness most often worn by the likes of jenson button and lewis hamilton.

however, when related to the repelling of inclement weather in the pursuit of ever more satisfying cycling, it seems only right and proper that we dispense with the word 'accessories' and substitute 'necessities' instead, fully confident that the general public will immediately notice the difference and offer their wholehearted approval.

rapha shadow armwarmers

the allegedly warmer weather that arrives with a british summer, can be every bit as fickle as that pervading the winter months, encouraging liberal application of sun tan lotion in the morning, yet have us reaching into a back pocket for a wind jacket just after lunchtime. i am appalled at my own level of optimism prior to last saturday's bike ride when i covered knees, legs and arms with the ambré solaire prior to departure, only to have most of it washed off in the afternoon's torrential rain. i am, however, mightily impressed with my foresight to pack a pair of armwarmers with which to accessorise my short-sleeved jersey while battling bad-assedly through that very same rain on the homeward leg of the journey.

here, unfortunately, comes the weak link in the chain (if you'll pardon the pun.) though there are several cycle jerseys available nowadays that profess to remain oblivious to rainfall, you could count on the arms of one sleeve just how many armwarmers fulfil a similar function. rapha must admit to being previously complicit in this matter, by releasing their excellent pro team shadow kit in the first week of january this year; rarely the month in which many cyclists in the northern hemisphere can be seen plying their trade in short sleeves.

rapha shadow kneewarmers

though it has taken a matter of some six or seven months to remedy this situation, the solution is every bit as welcome and effective as the apparel it now necessarily accessorises.

the shadow fabric, just to recap, is composed of nylon threads coated in a water repellent prior to being woven into lengths of material. the latter is then shrunk to minimise the gaps between each thread before being once more treated with a durable water repellent (dwr). the end result is an item of cycle clothing that simply forces the rain to roll harmlessly off its surface, offering a visual stimulus that can be quite distracting and fascinating at the same time.

as yet, there is no sign of a long-sleeve version of the jersey, nor that of bib three-quarters or bibtights manufactured to slip into the shadow range. that is hardly an iniquitous situation to be in, given the time of year, but i fervently hope that any limitations the fabric might harbour do not prevent the arrival of any of the above. however, summer showers being what they are, a pair of shadow arm and knee warmers are a more than welcome addition to the range, performing every bit as well as their forebears in the water repellency stakes.

rapha shadow kneewarmers

however, though occasionally a nomenclature inadvertantly misused, both items promise not only a level of waterproofing previously unseen in the sunday morning peloton, but by their very apellation, a certain concomitant degree of insulation. in an ideal world, the summer months ought not to require any level of heat retention whatsoever, but oddly, the north atlantic would seem to disagree with that premise, playing straight into the hands, arms and knees of rapha's shadow offensive.

despite needing to be flexible in the face of human joints, both sets of additional waterproofing coped admirably with intermittent, yet substantial rain, offering visual confirmation by way of myriad water droplets on the surface that dispersed to the wind when playing the hokey-cokey stood outside debbie's. of course, if more verifiable evidence were required, arms and knees were as dry as the far corner of the mojave desert (according to common lore).

thus, whether summer or winter, until rapha see fit to offer their customers the aforementioned bib threequarters, bib tights and long-sleeve jersey, world domination in the face of adversity is ours to own and flaunt in the face of the elements.

rapha's shadow armwarmers are available in sizes small, medium and large at a cost of £70 per pair, while the kneewarmers can be had n the same sizes for £5 more. rpaha also offer full-length leg warmers at a cost of £85.

rapha shadow range

friday 15 july 2016

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channeling our energies

the bike channel

1985 i think it was, the year after george orwell's jura written handbook on how the preceding year ought not to have turned out and the very year that my daughter was born. thus, in thewashingmachinepost household of the day, we had both 1984 and animal farm. that was the year that channel four, bless their ankle-length cotton-socks, began broadcasting an half hour daily show from the tour de france, breaking a silence of no regular television coverage in the uk since the race began in 1903.

the bike channel

for those of us who almost religiously walked to the newsagent each and every thursday to purchase our ordered copy of the comic, it was a complete revelation. it was one thing to read purposeful descriptions of each stage in an era when our only hope of a mention in the mainstream press was left to the handlebars of sean yates or robert millar, but a whole 'nuther bucket of bidons to see moving pictures of the selfsame event.

yes indeed, there had been broadcasts from the race over previous decades, often from the bbc, but generally taking the form of a compendium on saturday lunchtime, just before the football or wrestling took over. here now was a daily journal of recorded footage, made all the more palatable to a largely uncaring public by the inimitable gary imlach, quite possibly the presenter with the longest association with la grand bouclé, and now promoted to itv4.

the bike channel

it is, to recite the well-worn mantra, a different state of affairs that reigns nowadays. even on saturday past, the gentleman who lives opposite washingmachinepost croft, stopped me on my quest for provisions to ask how mark cavendish was faring, as the race that i promised i wouldn't mention, took to the hills. these are changed times and very much for the better. look back scarcely a decade ago and many of bowmore's population would more likely have crossed the street just in case i regaled them with bike-related tales of derring-do in central france.

a chap has to persevere you know.

bike channel

and this different state of affairs has brought us extensive televisual delight of a velocipedinal nature, one that not only provides extensive coverage of those three weeks in july, but a good few weeks in may and august too, to say nothing of the spring classics and track events. all at the behest of traditional broadcasters and those who parlé online. the oft repeated wiggo-effect allegedly kickstarted this uk resurgence of interest in cycling matters, particularly related to the competitive mètiér. and yet it shows no signs of curtailing its enthusiasm.

we've already been regaled by a series or two (or three) of the bike show, latterly presented by channel 5's matt barbet and now there's a whole channel devoted to bicycle stuff, rather imaginatively named the bike channel. this channel was formerly only available to those willing to present rupert murdoch freesat with a monthly stipend, but as of tuesday past, the bike channel has made an appearance on freesat channel 251. as to subscription fees, the clue is in the name freesat.

however, the possibility now exists that we may have to install a night-shift for actual cycling, as daylight hours are beginning to look rather full. and now i can watch smiffy on cycling's equivalent of the x-factor.

the bike channel | freesat

thursday 14 july 2016

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brake shield

brake shield

many of you will not recall the halcyon days of yore, when bottom brackets were finicky little doo-dads featuring square-tapered boron steel spindles onto which the cranks were attached. perhaps you'd have seen rapha's very first print ad in rouleur magazine all those years ago that simply featured a jar of peanut butter and a campagnolo 15mm crank-bolt spanner. this was based on the premise that, in the dead of night, after the whole team had gone to bed and the mechanics were still fettling for the next day's stage, for much needed sustenance, they would scrape some peanut butter onto bread or toast.

not entirely surprisingly, mechanics's trucks rarely come with a full complement of bone-handled cutlery, a breach into which stepped vicenza's finest.

brake shield

however, removing crank bolts prior to persuading the crank arm to release its firm hold on the spindle was possibly one of the least onerous tasks relating to bottom bracket maintenance. unlike the press-fit or outboard cups on contemporary machinery, the original premise consisted of an adjustable cup on the left and a fixed cup on the right. the latter, on an english-threaded bottom bracket frame, was born with a left-hand thread and a scarily thin outer edge onto which a similarly anorexic spanner would be placed.

as the elderly amongst you wil well know, the so-called fixed cup was well named, purely on the basis that it mostly seemed to have welded itself in place with scarcely a by-your-leave. you will also know, possibly through seriously skinned knuckles, that a dedicated fixed cup spanner was often as much use as a chocolate fireguard. after several years of frequent hand injuries trying to remove cups that someone had thought it perfectly acceptable to thread in place without so much as a sliver of grease, i searched for an alternative tool.

brake shield

and i found one.

though i have no idea if the chap is still amongst us mel bentley cycles of leeds offered a brute of a home-made bottom bracket fixed cup tool. this featured a clamp that slotted over the cup, placing two sturdy flat edges on the cup's less than sturdy flat edges. a substantial, knurled handle would then be fitted through the left side after the easier to shift, adjustable cup had been removed where it screwed onto a centre bolt in the clamp. also welded to the clamp were two diametrically opposed, plastic-coated handles allowing the mechanic to place as much pressure as he or she wanted upon the recalcitrant fixed cup. should brute strength prove insufficient, it was a mere matter of resorting to an industrial-strength hammer and the cup stood no chance whatsoever.

brake shield

though the bottom brackets of contemporary society are of an altogether different hue, at the time, i never once came across any of the major bicycle tool manufacturers offering something so ingenious, practical and darned near foolproof.

proving once more that not only are (some) bicycle folks possessed of a generous helping of lateral thinking, but that the simple ideas are more often than not, the best.

and though it sits nowhere near the bottom bracket, eat my dirt's brake shield embodies the same joined up thinking, but on two different, yet related fronts. as the name would suggest, a device called brake shield has the inherent ability to shield brakes, in this case, we're talking disc rotors. the large plastic device slots in behind the cassette cluster occupying around half the wheel's diameter. when you're degreasing the chain and sprockets prior to re-lubricating, every second day as we all do, the device prevents any spray degreaser or lube from contaminating the hapless rotor on the other side, given that it has nowhere else to be at the time.

brake shield

were that its sole purpose in life, one or two of us might be inclined to state 'big whoop'. however, its genius is not purely tied to the advent of disc brakes, offering its services to both the cantilevered and dual-pivotally inclined without discrimination. for the brake shield features a small bath, for want of a better description, which safely collects all the dripping excess lube/degreaser for more harmonious disposal post fettle.

i am fortunate in that i have a rear garden in which fettling can take place, but many of today's pelotonese are domiciled in inner-city flats, probably three or more floors above humanity and thus rather restricted when it comes to emptying half a can of degreaser over the rear sprockets. as long as you remember not to lean the bicycle against that new wallpaper in the hall, the brake shield ought to prove sufficiently adept at keeping the contents of the same half-can away from any plush, deep-pile carpet.

though perhaps slightly ungainly in appearance, the brake shield retails at a very amenable £15, apparently a lifetime price, as eat my dirt are proud to point out. for if you manage to inadvertantly break it, they'll replace it free of charge.

and your knuckles ought never to be in any danger at any time.

eat my dirt

wednesday 13 july 2016

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does my chainset look big on this?

campagnolo chorus

if you, like me, are an island dweller served by a lifeline ferry service, you'll be well aware that the complaints raised about such a service are probably not only quite repetitive, but remarkably frequent. after last month's tender process for the west of scotland ferry routes, caledonian macbrayne (calmac) thankfully retained the service they have provided for more years than i have lived here and thus retained the dubious distinction of continuing to be an easy target for arrows of discontent.

aside from an apparent lack of pressing need to make anything like an operating profit, generally speaking, calmac are pretty darned good at what they do, though there are always the fundamental flaws that have you wondering, 'what were they thinking?'

campagnolo chorus

the current manifestation of this is a predilection for apportioning the two oldest ships on the fleet to the islay route as succour for the far newer mv finlaggan. these two boats (the mv arran and mv hebridean isles) are both past their sell-by date, yet the company's shipbuilding programme seems to have failed to take this into account. and while i make mention of said programme (such as it is), it seems there is scant regard as to whether the new boats on order will actually fit the piers from which they have been custom designed to operate.

this was a salient factor that came to light when the mv finlaggan took over principal duties on the islay route some five years ago. major engineering works had to be carried out at the mainland pier at kennacraig and the two ports on islay: port ellen and port askaig. at kennacraig, the passenger walkway is sited too high to be used with sailings on the mv arran and passenger have to embark and disembark via the car deck. at port ellen, it seems not to have occurred to anyone that a gangway would be needed at all, taking several weeks to instigate one that is only of use if the ferries berth on the leftmost side of the pier. and even then, it is the equivalent of scaling mount annapurna.

port askaig required to have a new linkspan installed (the ramp by which vehicles enter and leave the car deck). but though the back door on every ferry is mounted in the centre of the ships' hulls, for reasons no-one can fathom, the linkspan was built in against the pier wall, meaning both private and commercial traffic had need of favouring the outer edge of the linkspan. this ultimately led to the hinges wearing unnacceptably on one side and requiring replacement after only a few years of use.

campagnolo chorus

for those of us not well-acquainted with maritime procedures, it would seem rather obvious to point out to the powers that be, that surely the solution to this dilemma would be to order boats of largely similar dimensions, thus saving considerable millions in ongoing alterations. and indeed, several have been known to make precisely this point, one which caledonian maritime assets ltd (cmal - they build and own the boats; calmac simply operate them. yes, i know, i know...) answered by saying that if this was the mantra by which they stood, there would be no progress whatsoever.

and rather disappointingly, they are probably correct.

it's an answer i would expect to receive from the fellows and fellowesses in the world's principal and probably not so principal, component manufacturers. i say this because i have recently had hankerings after one of those (to me at least) rather delectable campagnolo chorus, four-arm carbon chainsets, which would look particularly impressive on my colnago master. though the gearing currently getting me from a to b with great alacrity is a campagnolo centaur ten-speed setup, the chainset was not sourced from vicenza. and now i would like it to be.

thankfully, for both my bank balance and fortitude, a friend of mine at velotech cycling probably knows more about campagnolo than does valentino campagnolo himself and it seemed prudent to inquire as to whether an eleven-speed chorus chainset would play happily with its more elderly schoolmates. let's just say that his answer was not the one i was looking for.

campagnolo chorus

my own logical thinking, conditioned by the knowledge that an eleven-speed chain is narrower than its ten-speed counterpart, it seemed likely to me that the eleven speed chainrings would cope with a few millimetres of sloppiness with stoic cheer. what i hadn't taken into consideration was the fact that campagnolo took the opportunity presented by a narrower chain, to bring those chainrings closer together. this, i am reliably informed, would likely lead to a smattering of chain tinkle in certain ring/sprocket combinations as well as a possible propensity for chain suck.

it also transpires that, with a chainset featuring more closely spaced rings, the ten-speed front derailleur might be somewhat prone to throwing the chain to the four winds rather than onto the massive outer ring that i would of course, have fitted.

if only it stopped there.

though i have managed to reach my stately age without once coming across the following information, let alone having taken it into consideration, it seems that not all frame manufacturers offer us, the great unwashed, a similar size of rear triangle on our framesets. according to velotech, colnago's rear triangle is pretty darned close to the minimum demands of campagnolo's specifications. in short, this means that the popular compact combination of 50/34 fares considerably less well in the precise-setup-stakes than the 53/39 of yesteryear. it transpires that the bicycle would have its biggest grin were i to fasten a 52/42 about its person, but with those sort of ratios, i seriously doubt that yours truly would ever grin again.


campagnolo chorus

the cycle industry has never been known for its conciliatory approach to any form of compatibility. granted, there are some odd combinations that just seem to work when they probably shouldn't, but as componentry becomes ever more expensive (a campagnolo eleven-speed groupset retails at something north of £700) are any of us really willing to simply make do? i am well aware that combining a sram ten speed cassette with an eleven-speed shimano chain linked to a couple of modified nine-speed bar end shifters offers coffee shop bragging rights, but that will be the very combination that fails miserably in the pouring rain not a stone's throw away from nowhere in particular.

a campagnolo chorus four-arm carbon chainset would relieve me of around £250 and it might just work well enough to justify its coolness factor. but a bit like an ice-lolly in the oven, that won't last forever. and if it hiccups when brand, spanking new, cast your mind forward a year or so when things have worn a bit.

whereas the incompatibility syndrome once seemed only to affect an illicit mismatch of componentry, it seems now that certain frame specifications can have every bit as much effect on smooth running as which make of chain i opted for. and to think i once had undying affection for road bikes on account of the apparent simplicity offered by six-speed friction shifting and brake levers on which the cables sprouted from the top.

i will now order a copy of 'particle physics for dummies' direct from amazon.

grateful thanks to velotech cycling's graeme freestone king for his invaluable assistance with this article. the cycling world would be very much the poorer without him.


tuesday 12 july 2016

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