mind games

bruichladdich distillery courtyard

thewashingmachinepost, long before it was called thewashingmachinepost, began life as a one-off article in our local newspaper, valiantly pointing out how practical and economic it would be for the nuclear family of four to park the car in the garage and buy four bikes instead. i based the potential savings against the cost of britain's most popular car of the time (ford escort), taking into account the cost of decent clothing, waterproofs and bike luggage. unsurprisingly, it made not one whit of difference to the local transport habits.

naive and undaunted, i continued along this track, organising dr bike afternoons at the local primary school, an easter bunny hop to encourage kids and adults alike to join me for a ride through and over the undergrowth, and accompanied the local constable to each primary school to offer an illustrated talk on cycle safety for the children. a few years later, a colleague and i once again visited the primary schools to feature afternoons of cycle fun in the playground and we held a regular saturday morning club for kids of all ages to learn how to ride properly, bike handling and short guided trips along the nearby road.

once again, you will be totally unspurprised that this made no difference whatsoever; there were no more folks riding bikes for practical purposes than there had been before.

then, a few months ago, enter ralph jessop, the cycling uk big bike revival fellow for scotland. he arrived on the isle for a few days, visiting those who might be counted upon to support the above mentioned cycling project, including yours truly. he also paid a visit to bruichladdich distillery, which, as the island's single largest employer, appeared keen to get behind this initiative and not solely for selfish reasons. a number of the distillery employees already cycle to work and, aided by the parent company's (remy-cointreau) desire to reduce their carbon footprint, they agreed to hold a bruichladdich big bike revival day, the basis of which already featured on the post a matter of weeks past.

the event was held last saturday, unfortunately confined to a small space at the side of a distillery warehouse, because it unfortunately clashed with a cpc truck drivers' safety course being held in the distillery on the same day. irony at its very best. thus, having planned to have the bikes in the large courtyard at the distillery, the later was full of the vans and cars of those attending the driving course.

however, ralph had arrived off the friday afternoon ferry accompanied by three electric bikes for eager members of the currently non-cycling public to try at their leisure. these consisted of a gents hybrid-style bike, a step-through ladies version and a folding bike, all manufactured by the aptly named volt. sadly, all three featured front suspension, a distinct lack of appreciable aesthetics (in my opinion) and a weight that gave the impression they'd been bolted to the ground. quite what the point of the folding bike was, i have little idea.

early saturday morning was peppered with the occasional shower, and the wind was a prescient reminder of what we can look forward to for the remainder of the year. not the ideal conditions in which to entice cycling newbies onto the bike. we had a chap there to demonstrate bike maintenance and provide information on maintaining your bicycle, a puncture repair point, where another fellow was to have demonstrated how to efficiently carry out such types of repair and my role was ostensibly to take attendees on a guided, six mile round trip to port charlotte and back. disappointingly, but not entirely unexpectedly, nobody turned up, other than a few individuals who fancied trying out the electric bikes.

the event had been advertised around the distillery by means of posters, an advert had appeared in the previous edition of the local paper, accompanied by an explanatory article and i'd popped a small reminder of the event on the back page of the current edition. nobody can say we didn't try.

the three electric bikes will remain at the distillery for the next month, allowing anyone on islay to borrow them for a short period. it remains to be seen how much, if any, difference that will make. i would love to appear more upbeat about such matters, but, in short, cycling uk have no greater profile amongst the island's population than do i, so official 'blessing', if i might phrase it as such, carried no more weight than my haphazard attempts to achieve the same end result. many simply cite the weather as a reason for not cycling, but if pressed, almost all will agree with the need to have more folks walking, on bikes or using public transport, but it's just not practical for them to do so.

no doubt ralph is far more used to that state of affairs than i am. i don't suppose our persuasions will end here. cycling is a fabulous activity, not only for mental and physical health, but because you can ride shiny carbon fibre and metal, pretty much anywhere you want. and, to quote graeme obree, "you can't golf or tennis to work". i actually believe more people would love it if they only gave it a chance for long enough. hence my continued poking at the idiotic concept of a bike to work day.

monday 19 august 2019

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revolube bicycle chain lubricant


in a world that has apparently woken up to climate change, allegedly caused by greenhouse gases and a planet that is in danger of turning into a large, spherical rubbish skip, dave brailsford's marginal gains, knowingly or otherwise, are now being directed towards day to day living. nowhere is this more prevalent but in the realm of transport; according to environmental scientists, the greatest contribution towards global warming made by the average individual, is from the pollution exhaled by their motor car. by simple extrapolation, the more efficient the vehicle, the less pollution incurred by the environment. that, i believe, is the theory.

this has extended to vehicle legislation, or at least as far as the nomenclature describing such. in this past week police scotland has been occupying the twittersphere, intent on busting several myths suffered by the cycling fraternity, the first of which concerned that old chestnut why don't you lot pay road tax?. as they rightly pointed out, road tax, as was, ended in 1937; car owners currently pay an annual emissions tax. the lower the proscribed emissions, the less money paid to the exchequer. upkeep of britain's roads is paid for from general taxation.

on that basis, where cyclists emit no emissions whatsoever, imposition of such a tax upon the cycling public would be highly iniquitous, not to mention just a tad contradictory. but persuading the motoring public to leave the car at home and cycle, instead is a task equivalent to ascending mont ventoux on a unicycle. yet, the fact that the bicycle is considerably more efficient than the motor car is scarcely in doubt. and just to head off that particular discussion, a bicycle chain transmission is reckoned to be, on average 95% efficient, while a diesel car engine, under ideal conditions, will max out at 41% (though in the real world, it's closer to 30%).


however, leaving aside the whole bicycle v car argument, in order to maintain the majority of the chain's 95% efficiency, some sort of lubricant is required. brand new chains generally feature a thin coating of grease, not necessarily for lubrication purposes, but more to maintain a shiny persona in the bike shop. few of us would be inclined to shell out for a new chain, were it blemished by one or two orange rust spots. according to laboratory tests, a chain is not at peak efficiency when brand new; the biggest gains are seen in the first few hours of use, while the chain beds in to its new home.

bicycle chain links consist of eight individual components: outer and inner plates, rollers and pins, creating seven surfaces that slide against each other. appropriate lubrication is thus required to prevent those surfaces scraping together, creating friction and lowering the efficiency on offer. revolube is a product that claims to chemically bond to the outer surface of the component parts, offering protection from both water and solvents. a common complaint (frequently voiced by yours truly) is often the black, oily coating that the chain suffers after being 'oiled'. perhaps, a bit like soapy bubbles, this oily blackness offers evidence that the lubricant is doing its job, but for those of us who desire a bright, shiny chain at all times of the year and in all weathers, it's not a good look.

revolube promises that it will leave your chain dry and as such, impervious to the dirt and dust that contributes to the aforementioned black oily coating. revolube also contend that their particular brand of lubricant prevents material loss from the chain's constitution, thus minimising what is generally referred to as 'chain stretch'.


in order to test the veracity of their claims, when adding a pair of campagnolo bora wto carbon wheels to the ritchey logic, i fitted a brand new chorus twelve-speed cassette and matching chain. revolube recommend that the chain be thoroughly cleaned down to bare metal, prior to applying the lubricant. the latter arrived in a small, 50ml bottle with an eyedropper in the lid and just like the good old days of three-in-one, apply a single drop to each and every link of the chain.

rather obviously, to verify each and every claim made by the manufacturer, it will take a lot more than a few weeks of pedalling. for instance, revolube state that it prevents oxidation, meaning, no more rust. i have tried manfully to retain the west of scotland's reputation for wall to wall precipitation, but so far, failed miserably. all the rain we've received recently has been overnight, when i'm safely tucked up in bed. the chain has suffered a brief shower, but nothing that would have even troubled a dousing of wd40.

i'm chuffed to say that, despite a few hundred kilometres of riding so far, the chain looks almost as shiny as it did when removed from the packet. and given its continued silence of operation, i must assume that its lubricating properties are working exactly as designed. revolube is definitely not cheap: one 50ml bottle retails at £47, so, in the words of one colleague "it had better be bloody good". i'll get back to you when i've found out.

revolube chain lubricant

sunday 18 august 2019

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showerspass rainslinger waterproof hip pack

showerspass rainslinger

as distinct from touring cyclists, their modern equivalent, the bikepackers and arguably certain corners of the mountain biking world, us roadies, who inwardly believe that we are simply temporary refugees from the peloton, are pathologically predisposed towards 'not' carrying luggage. one member of the sunday morning peloton rides a titanium bicycle festooned with one mudguard (after a ride of the missing bolt), a rear rack and a zipped box sort of thing that sits atop the rack. what he keeps in that luggage, we're all too scared to ask, but none of us are going in there without first alerting the coastguard.

velominati, by way of their rule #29: no european posterior man-satchels, positively decry any cargo augmentation other than the three rear pockets on the average cycle jersey. no real mention has been made of the now mandatory, fourth zipped version. yet, despite that tablet from on high, here is portland's waterproof specialists, showerspass offering the very item that the man from velominati has banned.

showerspass rainslinger

that said, as far as possible, i'm keen to over-ride style with pragmatism when the situation requires. i surely cannot be the only cyclist to have handed over a soggy fiver for coffee after time-trialling in the rain? islay and most of west scotland, has much in common with america's pacific northwest, particularly that of rainfall. i believe the hallowed isle overshadows portland by only a few millimetres per year, so, from a velocipedinal point of view at least, we are every bit as much in need of waterproofing as our north american counterparts.

clothing is pretty much taken care of by any number of purveyors, even showerspass themselves, but on those days when it becomes necessary to carry a smidgeon more than just a mini-pump and coffee money, there's a limit to the capacity offered by those jersey pockets. the problem is magnified when precipitation falls, so despite our sporting aspirations, perhaps a european man bag would be the very answer, even if it originates from across the pond, rather than the channel?

the pack itself consists of fully welded construction with a weatherproof outer coating, featuring a main zipped compartment, divided internally into two pockets. there's a second, smaller zipped pocket outboard of the latter. the entire pack is surrounded by a cordura strap, stitched to the outer face of the rainslinger. it is this adjustable strap that ultimately fastens around your waist to keep the hip pack where you'd intend it to be. according to showerspass, the main compartment is capable of carrying a hardshell rain jacket and a pair of waterproof trousers, or two water bottles.

showerspass rainslinger

personally, i carried a windproof jacket, an inner tube, mini-pump, a compact digital camera and a spare pair of gloves, with a few cubic centimetres to spare. from my own experience, that may have been too much from a weight point of view. the cordura strap and buckle is adjustable, so it's relatively easy to tighten it sufficiently before clambering aboard your bicycle. however, i found that everything slid downwards just a bit, in the face of only moderate pedalling. ramp up the activity, bumping around on gravel and there was definitely some noticeable slippage, mostly due to a slight loosening of the strap.

over the top of a waterproof jacket, it was harder to keep it all in place, though things might have been different with less weight. (it was the camera wot done it.) worn over a regular cycle jersey, maintaining the initial position was easier. that said, the pack never slid to the point of impracticality or discomfort; it never got in the way and was a lot less swot and hetty than a regular backpack. i'd agree that there's a great danger of my making mountains out of molehills, because despite a major amount of inept thundering through the undergrowth, the rainslinger pretty much achieved what showerspass intended.

my only real, genuine complaint is allied to the 'two nations separated by a common language' paradigm. there's a slot in the outer face of the strap in which to pop a (supplied) flashing red light, but unfortunately, for those of us in the uk, that light sits on the left side of the pack. i say, unfortunately, because motorised traffic passes us on the right over here. to offer a more international flavour, it would have been perhaps more practical to have a slot on both sides, or compromise and place it dead centre.

showerspass rainslinger

despite my contention that the average roadie would be less than attracted to the showerspass rainslinger, in truth, we are scarcely the target market. witness this quote from the showerspass website: "Suitable for mountain biking and gravel rides, but also perfect for those city bike commuters looking to keep what they need to carry dry". it is the latter group i feel would suffer most from the 'misplacement' of the rear-facing flashing light.

i'm not entirely sure about its suitability for mountain biking/gravel riding, based entirely on its inability to stay put in the face of aggressive activity, but for the commuting cyclist it appears almost perfect, with a well-judged carrying capacity and 100% waterproofing (just to check, i carried a paper handkerchief, here, there and everywhere in the rain and it still came out bone dry).

showerspass (almost) at their very best.

showers pass rainslinger

saturday 17 august 2019

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shiny objects

battaglin portofino premium

i am, at present, metaphorically kicking myself. some four or so years ago, i assembled a drum workshop 'buddy rich/gene krupa' drumset, after acquiring a larger bass drum to encompass the (very much) louder music i had been invited to play. though messrs. krupa and rich had 24" kick drums at their disposal, something that size would likely prove a tad unwieldy for someone bereft of motorised transport. thus, not that you actually care, i had purchased a 22"x14" drum covered in vintage marine pearl. so attractive did this appear in front of my bass drum pedal, that i ordered 13"x9" and 16"x14" toms to match, later augmenting and matching those with a 14"x6" cherry wood snare drum.

battaglin portofino premium

with dw's collector series, it's possible to place an order with the nearest authorised dealer for a drum of specific size and finish, wait a couple of months, and a delightfully impressive example will arrive at the drum shop.

at the risk of alienating the majority on the other side of the computer screen, i might point out that buddy rich sported two floor toms on his set, both identically sized, but the rearmost of which spent most of its life topped by his towel. despite this entailing rich playing essentially a four piece kit such as my own, i still harboured a desire to add a second floor tom to my own setup, a potential order over which i have procrastinated for many a long year. the reason that thoughts have turned to 'kicking', is, now that sterling has sunk against the dollar, any order placed will cost me considerably more than would have been the case had i acted positively, several years past.

battaglin portofino premium

were i to return, once again, to the life of a studio drummer, none of this would matter much. recordings are blissfully devoid of visuals; if my third tom had presented itself in red sparkle, only the engineer and i would know. the same cannot be said of my gigs at a local hostelry where my pride would scarcely allow the playing of a drumset on which even one drum did not match the others.

in 2003, i purchased a colnago c40hp in a blue variation of their highly attractive art decor paintwork. at the time, the landbouwkrediet colnago team were riding similar machinery (admittedly, a lot faster), coloured in a highly attractive red scheme, after which i don't mind admitting that i lusted. however, it transpired that an order for such a frameset was likely to take several months (it seems, italy does not rush) and my virtue of impatience would not allow me to wait. so a blue colnago it was.

battaglin portofino premium

in the grand scheme of velocipedinal and percussive things, colour really ought not to matter as much as it appears to do. a drum sounds the same no matter its external colour, and according to the laws of physics, bicycles do not depend on their paintwork for their speed. that, embarrassingly enough, does not preclude uncontrollable drooling over a frame that comfortably inhabits the world of 'to die for'. in today's mass-produced market, framebuilders have to try very hard to distinguish the product of their ingenuity from the framebuilder next door. how well they succeed, depends a great deal on your own sense of aesthetic appreciation.

battaglin portofino premium

commendably, however, the folks at italy's battaglin bicycles have ushered in an entirely new and highly desirable finish for their portofino lugged steel model. aside from being the first steel frame to accommodate the oversized columbus spirit hss tubing via oversized lugs, the premium edition can now be acquired in a 'cromovelato' finish.

alessandro battaglin described this new finish as " Italian finish typical of the bikes from the 80s that creates a translucent color over a chrome-plated steel frame.
"It is achieved by polishing the frame to a mirror shine before the chrome-plating process and then painting the chrome with a colored lacquer. The final result is a coloured mirror-like effect like no other paint.
"With the Portofino Premium, the owner will be able to personalize the frame with their favorite cromovelato colors, creating a truly one-of-a-kind custom steel bike."

as this were insufficient to tempt purchase of the €3,200 frame, until 31 august, each new premium owner will receive a a replica polka dot jersey, signed by giovanni battaglin. there really is little better in the world of bicycles, than coloured shiny stuff.

battaglin portofino premium

friday 16 august 2019

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cycling anatomy (2nd edition) shannon sovndal, m.d. human kinetics paperback 246pp illus. £20.99

cycling anatomy - shannon sovndal

in 1994, i was involved in a road traffic accident, resulting in two weeks in a glasgow hospital and a sizeable skin graft on my right forearm and shoulder. aside from the loss of skin, i lost more muscle than i'd have preferred, added to which, having my arm sit uselessly in a sling for several months, meant that, as the healing proceeded, there was not only the necessity of rebuilding the forearm muscle, but learning to straighten the arm at the elbow. the latter process took nigh on nine months.

during that period, aside from practising latin american conga technique (a series of relatively complex rhythmic patterns that provided untold benefits), for the only time in my life, i clambered aboard a turbo trainer, in the hope that it might engender some sort of recognisable physical fitness. however, i might remind you that i was unable to fully extend my right arm, entailing my left having to take the bulk of the strain. thus, while frantic and unstructured pedalling took place, leaning ever so slightly to the left became an unfortunate corollary of my situation.

never has the phrase 'old habits die hard' rung so true. for even to this day, i involuntarily place a greater percentage of my weight on the left arm/hand, both at work and while perambulating the estates of a weekend. though i frequently take note of and correct this imbalance while sat at my computer, 'tis but a matter of minutes before i have reverted to my lopsided posture. it's harder to effect any corrective procedures when cycling, and i cannot deny that my latimus dorsi muscle frequently has cause to grumble as the kilometres whizz by (a guy can dream, can't he?)

i can tell from hushed mumbling in the ranks, that you are impressed by my technical definition of the offending back muscle. sadly, this is a skill not of my own making, for i have been reading shannon sovndal's second edition of cycling anatomy. within the 200 plus illustrated pages of this excellent manual, not only is there a comprehensive explanation of just how the muscles of the human body do their stuff, but just where they are and ultimately, how to train them to do the sort of stuff you need/want them to do.

"Once you understand how a muscle works, you'll also understand the optimal muscle position and, hence, the importance of proper form during your exercises."

that above quote offers at least a partial insight into the rationale behind mr sovndal's comprehensive book. on that basis, i might suggest to the publishers that they amend the title a smidgeon. on receiving the review copy, i was expecting an academic and technical dissertation on the anatomy of the average and perhaps, not so average, cyclist. while that is still true, the principal raison d'etre behind cycling anatomy is a substantial range of gym exercises that offer to hone the various muscle groups in a structured and logical fashion. i think it worth pointing out that this juncture, that i have tried precisely none of these exercises.

this is hardly because i consider my perfectly honed physique to need no further honing, but more because the majority require the possession of a gym membership card, an item which does not occupy real estate in my wallet. though i'm generally in total agreement with a 'can do' attitude, i was concerned that i might do more harm than good without the appropriate equipment. the giveaway sentence is probably that within the opening paragraphs of chapter one...

"To excel as a cyclist, your body must be well conditioned, strong, and balanced. [...] This book explains the anatomy of cycling through various training exercises."

following an expounding of strength training principles, each chapter deals with the differing parts of the body: arms, shoulders and neck, chest, back, core etc. however, rather than deal with these individual regimes in isolation, each section relates the exercise to a specific, cycle-related activity, detailing the muscle groups involved and how to proceed with the workout, complete with any variations on offer.

though 'cycling anatomy' can be used as a diy manual, it would also benefit those who work with a coach or trainer. assuming the latter identifies areas in which you may be deficient, it would seem a simple matter of undertaking the appropriate exercises to bring about a greater overall balance. for those of us well past the point of submitting to an exhaustive training system, the obvious immediate chapters to pick would be numbers eight and nine, which concentrate on the legs. of course, remembering my admission of historical, one-sided back pain, chapter six might prove a tad more beneficial.

"Developing a strong and fit back is paramount to your cycling fitness, health and performance. [...] The best strategy for a healthy back is to proactively condition your back muscles to avoid any problems before they arise."

possibly around twenty years too late in my case, but arguably, nothing's impossible.

sovndal was team physician for the garmin-sharp professional race team for several years, so his experience with top level cyclists is hardly in question. but combined with exhaustive medical and physical expertise, comes a relaxed and informative writing style. what the big bang theory's, sheldon cooper described as 'squishy stuff', is not usually a subject with which i prefer to associate my reading habits. but in this particular case, intrigue took over, as, i would imagine, will be even more the case for those of an age to benefit from the potential improvements to be gained. a thorough investigation of the chapters on offer is made easier by the inclusion of an index of exercises at the back of the book.

cycling is positioned as a healthy and occasionally physically strenuous activity. it therefore makes perfect sense to condition your anatomy to take advantage of the bicycle for as many years as possible. this could be the very means of achieving that.

thursday 15 august 2019

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specialized turbo creo

in the early years of the tour de france, and quite possibly any number of early 20th century single day cycle races, cheating was not entirely unknown. boarding trains in one town and alighting at the stop nearest the stage finish was eminently possible and allegedly took place on more than just an isolated occasion. unlike modern times, cycle races were not beset with a flotilla of helicopters scurrying overhead, with state of the art motion picture cameras recording every strategy, oddity and sleight of hand. reporting was confined to the pages of yellow or pink newsprint, often featuring great elaboration on by reporters who witnessed remarkably little of the events elaborately described.

had team cars existed in the form that they do today, vincenzo nibali's attempt to reach the front group a few years ago, by hanging onto the window pillar, would undoubtedly have succeeded. as it was, carrying out such an illicit move, in full view of the tv helicopter overhead, was perhaps ill-advised, resulting in his ejection from the race. of course, there are numerous white lies taking place throughout the peloton: sticky bottles, magic spanners, sheltering behind cars, etc., etc., but since everyone does so at one time or another, the playing field arguably remains even.

as one utterly devoid of the competitive gene, i have no regrets about coming last in any given bike ride, as long as the latter has provided the expected level of enjoyment. yet, the purported stigma of wearing the lanterne-rouge, as last man to arrive in paris, is still considered less than onerous, in a sporting sense. however, in the nascent years of le tour, those in competition for last place, would frequently hide in side streets or feign illness or difficulty to ensure victory (if you see what i mean?) with no frame-by-frame coverage and journalism designed more to sell newspapers than provide accurate reportage, bending or breaking the rules was a darned sight simpler than it is now.

for that, in a purely competitive sense, we should be truly grateful. there have been several kilometres of print and pixels devoted to the iniquities of doping in the peloton and how it can be viewed as little other than downright cheating. claims that "everyone was doing it" do little to mitigate the taking of banned substances. it would be a true eccentric who sees nothing wrong with the latter; transgressing a set of applied rules, whether you agree with them or otherwise, is the very definition of the word 'cheating'.

but what of those riding e-bikes? is that cheating? and if it isn't, why are so many e-riders faced with regular accusations of so doing? for cheating to take place, i think it fair to assume that one party must feel unfairly treated by a second party, the latter having broken a real or implied rule. but if two of us head out for the sunday morning ride, i aboard the lovely basso diamante reviewed yesterday, and they riding a bicycle propelled by an electric motor, should i feel cheated? after all, i have pretty much the same opportunity to take advantage of pedal-assist as do they. and if i prefer to undertake a more strenuous workout than my companion, where's the problem?

oddly enough, it may be the manufacturers who are complicit in this apparent subterfuge. while i still struggle to comprehend the commercial market of e-road bikes, i note that the more recent entrants to the fold have strained every research and development pound note to make their e-road bikes as similar to their analogue brethren as possible. admittedly, 'aero' is the word on the street; the less demonstrably chunky is a road e-bike, the more slippery it will be through the air.

but are those corporate attempts to conceal the battery and attendant motor, quite as innocent as they seem? is the constant striving to minimise the profile and weight of the battery, all the while aiming to increase the storage ability of same, simply to fool the cognoscenti into mistaking e for a? legislation demands that, in the uk at least, e-bikespeed is capped at 25kph, but if that forms the median speed for the majority of sunday riders, those with battery assist will be fresher when the finishing sprint hoves into view, rested, and more than capable of turning a heavier pedal towards the hypothetical finish line.

however, in the interests of obviating a descent into factionism, riding an e-bike of any style or flavour, is not cheating. i'm right, you're wrong.

unless, of course, you're a tour de france rider.

wednesday 14 august 2019

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basso diamante road bike - disc version

basso diamante disc

italy's basso bikes are something of a well-kept secret, almost since being founded in 1977 by alcide basso. currently based in san zenone degli ezzelini, treviso, italy, they offer a wide range of carbon cycle frames covering the worlds of gravel, triathlon and road. and with a nod to tradition, there's also the beautifully simplistic 'viper' steel frame.

basso diamante disc

unlike many other italian-based manufacturers, basso have not chosen to outsource their carbon construction to the far-east, continuing to lay up toray, high modulus carbon fibre in different weaves, strengths and specs, depending on the model under consideration, in their italian factory. as marketing manager, joshua riddle pointed out "...we know what goes into our frames and how it they are laid up because we do it all ourselves." i mentioned to joshua that their competitors had mostly shifted production to taiwan for economic reasons, so how does this impact their bottom line?

basso diamante disc

"Well, it doesn't give us a greater profit margin, that's for sure. It's a cost, however, that we don't pass on to our customers. We're happy to absorb the cost in return for 100% assurance over quality control and protection of Basso's intellectual property rights.
"We don't cut corners in terms of build-quality or craftsmanship. We try to save in other areas allowing us to pass along a product that we are totally proud of. Basso doesn't have a huge team, nor gigantic marketing budgets to support them. But still we make great bikes that make happy riders, from the most demanding pro to the Sunday rider."

basso sent me a beautifully detailed, metallic blue diamante, kitted out with a campagnolo super record eleven-speed mechanical groupset, featuring vicenza's hydraulic disc brakes matched to a pair of bora one 35mm carbon wheels. the latter were shod with treadless michelin pro4 endurance 700x28c tyres. bars, stem and seatpost are all in house basso products, the latter being teardrop shaped, rubber gusseted and fastened in place by two allen bolts recessed into the rear of the seat tube. the comfortable slotted saddle is, i have been informed by a reader, manufactured by astute.

basso diamante disc

the carbon frame and forks are positively organic in concept, with one 'tube' seamlessly merging into the next. the top tube features a cut-out up front, allowing the stem and spacers to drop below the surface. this eccentricity provides an intriguing profile, coupled with a cutaway on the lower portion of the seat tube to accommodate the rear wheel. in keeping with current trends, the seatstays join the seat tube a couple of centimetres lower than the rear of the gently sloping top tube. nowadays, it seems almost unnecessary to mention that all cables are routed internally.

the head tube marries with the carbon forks by way of the ubiquitous integrated headset, starting out at 1.125" at the top and flaring out to 1.5" at the crown race. the bottom bracket is of the press-fit variety.

the only other idiosyncracy worthy of mention is the thru-axles keeping the bora wheels in place. while the majority of these components simply thread tightly into the threaded portion of the right fork and rear triangle, those on the basso are threaded in just so far, with the remaining slack taken up by means of a quick-release lever. odd indeed, but it works.

basso diamante disc

going for a ride

it would be foolish to think that a mere 400km, or thereabout, are sufficient to gauge the quality of any bike, let alone machinery capable of assisting riders to competitive victory. though entirely of in-house carbon monocoque construction, the diamante is not the lightest bicycle i've come across. that, however, is less of a perceived disadvantage than common lore would have us believe. for starters, on smoothly reaching (my) terminal velocity, the basso had little difficulty staying there, even in the face of adverse weather conditions. it's a hebridean summer, so the rain (when it arrives) is warmer than usual, but there's still enough wind to make life interesting. that said, the all-up weight is nothing to complain about.

basso diamante disc

the arrival of the basso diamante coincided with this year's ride of the falling rain, definitely a reviewing opportunity not to be missed. however after a first ride that confirmed the bike to be formula one stiff, and undoubtedly a race bred machine through and through, the word 'trepidation' was uppermost in my mind. i am haunted by patrick levevre's statement that he doesn't pay his riders to be comfortable, and though the chaps at deceuninck quick-step are not aboard basso bikes, stiffness is usually a common thread running through professional road bikes.

basso diamante disc

the diamante is, as expected, a noticeably stiff frame, though its metallic blue paintwork provides it with a loveable personality. it's hard to repress a smile when opening the bike shed door in the morning. however, that rigidity is expertly placed; stamping hard on the pedals does nothing other than propel the bicycle forward with an impressive degree of acceleration, even from my spindly legs. yet, after riding the 140km covered on the rotfr 'conversational ride', i had still sufficient energy to tow a colleague ten kilometres into a stiff headwind, without feeling any adverse effects.

basso diamante disc

though my bum seems generally quite agnostic towards the saddles fitted to review bicycles, in this case i enjoyed posterior comfort throughout the entire day.

the positive stiffness seems politely augmented by the tapered alloy stem and the bars entrusted to its care. despite pre-ride misgivings about the relatively low position of the bars, while others complained of shoulder and neck pain, apart from the odd niggle, i had none whatsoever. the chunky-looking metallic blue carbon forks were noticeably accurate in the steering department and arguably saved me from head-butting a pick-up met on a blind corner on a wet single track road. i've no idea who got the greater fright, and i did manage to briefly lock the back wheel, but both of us lived to ride another day.

basso diamante disc

campagnolo would appear to have cleverly calculated that 35mm of deep carbon rim is close to the ideal depth to cheat the wind. though we're hardly into galeforce territory just yet, even when caught by a stiff crosswind, they deviated not one millimetre from their intended route. if i have a single complaint about the bora one wheels, it is the loudness of their freehub. this is remarkable only in comparison to the bora wto version, which is almost silent when freewheeling. they too are decidedly stiff, but once again in a good way, offering the diamante the ideal matching aesthetic.

islay is bereft of any long and winding climbs, but it does possess an often irritating selection of short, sharp climbs, the sort of gradients on which it's difficult to remain seated all the way to the top. since i know just how well (badly) i can climb, the ease with which a few of those were despatched can only be placed at the door of the basso. though my ritchey logic currently rides on twelve campagnolo rear sprockets, the collection of eleven super-record cogs were remarkably snappy in operation. (as an aside, there is an appreciable difference between vicenza's eleven and twelve-speed groupsets). when push comes to shove and it's necessary to stand while climbing, the basso has that much-desired, delightful spring in its step from the bottom bracket region.

basso diamante disc

it's many a long year since i have ridden michelin tyres, and the pro4s rather underline what it is i have been missing. not only does their 28mm of width take the sting out of the rough stuff (of which we have copious amounts), but appear to almost stick to the road in both dry and wet. it is worth my pointing out that they were every bit as complicit in avoiding the aforementioned pick-up, as was the diamante's directness of steering and the modulation afforded by campagnolo's disc brakes. the latter comprise 160mm rotors, affixed to the hubs by means of chromed lockrings, but disappointingly squeal rather loudly when wet. the only saving grace is that they appear to have been tuned an acceptable number of tones apart, offering an almost pleasing harmonic when applied together.

basso diamante disc

though not in any way affecting the review, the brakes have been cabled euro-style, with the rear brake actuated by the right-hand lever.

i have had the great good fortune to ride a number of expensive, quality road bikes, to which the basso diamante undoubtedly belongs. if the opportunity to try one ever presents itself, grab it with both cleats and don't let go until the tyres wear out. there will undoubtedly be a part two in the fullness of time; it would be rude to leave it at this, after the bike travelled all the way from treviso to the hebrides to experience that reputable west of scotland vibe.

basso bicycles are available at cycle republic stores throughout the uk. though it is possible to spec the frame as you see fit, by my reckoning, the review model would retail at approximately £7,500.

basso diamante disc road bike

tuesday 13 august 2019

twmp ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................