the price of admission

vintage cyclist

following the purported furore over shimano's imposition of di2 and hydraulic discs on their new twelve-speed 105 groupset, the subject of affordability raised its ugly head. for as mentioned by several commenters, 105 was the groupset usually recommended as the ideal starting point for the aspirational roadie. normally, i would shy away from the subject of beginning road cycling for one demonstrably obvious reason; relevance. i think it highly unlikely that the current generation would be likely to click on a weblink leading to a site entitled thewashingmachinepost. from whence the name originated is unlikely to be particularly obvious to a contemporary youngster in much the same way that bill bruford and john bonham are totally unfamiliar to my drum students.

but then, if i'm ready and willing to make the point that 105 di2 might no longer be the appropriate entry level, just how much (or little) is the price of admission nowadays. though there are many means of divining just how much anyone needs to pay as an apprentice roadie, at the risk of incurring the wrath of many of these methods, i tend to take a look at the evans cycles website, with the caveat that others options are easily available.

at the time of writing, the lowest priced road bike available from evans, is a ceres rd 2, priced at £269, though there are indications that this may have been reduced from £525. the ceres features an aluminium frame with carbon forks and a microshift eight-speed groupset. if you've not heard of microshift, you're not alone, but they appear to have become constituted in 1999, with manufacturing capabilities based in china and taiwan. according to evans, "If you're out to compete in races, if you obsess over every gram, or if you need the highest tech available, then this probably isn't the bike for you. But if you want a reliable, no-frills bike that can give you pace on the way to work and out at the weekend, then this is it."

as far as quality is concerned, the lowest price where something recognisable appears on the groupset front, is specialized's allez e5 elite, featuring sram rival. but even at around £1600, shimano's tiagra is the best you're likely to get. the first bicycle i discovered featuring 105, and admittedly not the di2 version, was a £1900 trek domane al5, perhaps obviously enough, with an aluminium frame. interestingly enough, cannondale's synapse carbon model, at £2,400, features shimano tiagra. it's perhaps no wonder that so many wannabe roadies have an entire book of questions to be asked.

but, pretending that the bicycle question has been asked and answered, that's perhaps when the realisation that that's only the beginning begins to dawn. though in my experience, one of the biggest barriers to cycling is the thought of being seen in lycra, i have often parried this aspect by pointing out that very few folks would opt to go swimming wearing a pair of levis 501 jeans; swimming is simply not for what they were designed.

described as 'an all round pair of bibs for the everyday cyclist', lusso's primary bibshorts have a price tag of £60, five pounds lower than their pro gel waist shorts. that compares well with rapha's core bibshorts at £90 or waist shorts at £75. bear in mind, however, that, if you intend to cycle throughout the year, those shorts will have to be augmented with at least one pair of bibtights.

when it comes to jerseys, there is a huge range from which to choose, ranging from a mere £50 (there may be lower cost jerseys, but i looked for something that might last more than a single wash), to something over £200 (assos), but i'd imagine that the beginner would err towards the lower cost item, just in case it turns out that they prefer scrabble, or the bank manager is non-too happy about the cost of the bicycle. so, so far, we've bought a bicycle, a pair of bibshorts and a jersey. if our hypothetical beginner has gone for the cheapest on offer, the bank balance has potentially been reduced by less than £50.

i'm hoping that anyone who opts to approach the world of road cycling is at the opposite end of the sporting spectrum from those who might choose golf. (or snooker: with a 12ft table retailing in excess of £11,000.) but just for comparison, it's possible to buy a set of golf clubs for around the price of that ceres road bike, though the cost of joining a local golf club could bring the ceiling up towards the £500 mark. golf shoes don't seem too costly (average seems to be around £55 - £65), but if you opt for cycling shoes capable of accepting a set of cleats, prices can be as low as £35 (dhb from wiggle) to a cost in excess of £300, something that would surely only be the choice of a hedge-fund manager deciding to join a cycling club.

all that said, if you do choose to spend as little as £500 to join the happy throng, the chances are that you'll enjoy yourself every bit as much as the rapha clad rider on the pinarello dogma with dura-ace di2 and carbonsports lightweight wheels. they might conceivably ascend a tad quicker than you will, but don't bank on it. i recall riding the late lamented braveheart ride in central ayrshire on a colnago c40 with campag record, amongst colleagues similarly equipped, when we were passed by a fellow on a shopping bike, wearing jeans, jacket and a pudding bowl helmet, cheerfully bidding a good morning to all and sundry.

i'd imagine the majority of those reading are particularly well catered for in both the equipment and apparel departments, but i'll bet that wasn't always the case. just ensure that you welcome all those wishing to join the party, whatever they happen to be riding and whatever they're wearing while so doing.

monday 18 july 2022

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campagnolo 50th anniversary rear derailleur

i mentioned recently that i had spent a pleasant eighteen minutes recently, watching a youtube video depicting the marrying of a vintage detto pietro steel frameset, with a 50th anniversary campagnolo groupset, originally issued in 1983, and coincidentally the year in which tullio campagnolo passed away. i confess i'd not previously come across the name detto pietro, but a modest level of research brought to my attention that, aside from producing limited numbers of bicycle frames, pietro's main claim to fame is production of quality leather cycling shoes. this is not the sort of velocipedinal footwear to which you'd affix a set of three-bolt cleats, but cream-colour, leather soled shoes of which eddy merckx would be immensely proud.

as if only to confirm my oft admitted luddite tendencies, the sight of such marvellous footwear on the detto pietro website (yes, they still make them), had me scrabbling for reasons to acquire a pair. perhaps they would make a perfect match for my chater lea grand tour pedals, if only i owned a suitable bicycle on which they could be affixed. worthy of a smidgeon of research, methinks.

however, not only did the video harken back to a day when cyclists were cyclists and bicycles were bicycles, it highlighted the wide gap there is between historical mechanical and engineering excellence and what passes for the same thing nowadays. in this respect i am obliquely referring to a number of recent videos presenting some of the 'new tech' from the 2022 edition of eurobike, the major european cycle exhibition in frankfurt that ended today (17 july). it's an exhibition that i once harboured a desire to attend, and probably should still do so, but the older i get, the less predisposed i am to indulge in travelling any great distance.

however, designed to obviate such reluctance and on more than just my behalf, are the video'd explorations of gcn and global mountain bike network (gmbn), detailing what they think to be the highlights of such an enormous show. not that it's intended as any form of criticism, but having watched these presentations in previous years, i find it curious what occupies the interests of those reputedly embedded in the industry. i can't help thinking there is a certain amount of produc placement involved.

however, it is surely indicative of the contemporary approach to cycling, that invariably the titles of such videos include the word 'tech'. this, i have assumed, is either to bolster the collective egos of those responsible for producing said 'tech', or because they genuinely contend that they are on a par with nasa, or those responsible for developing quantum computers. i'm confident that, had there been a voice-over appended to the detto-pietro video, the word 'tech' would have been conspicuous by its absence.

the same approach has become common in relation to the bicycles and componentry featuring at each year's tour de france. though the peloton is indisputably to be seen riding bicycles, the latter is simply the current colloquial term applied to an assembly of 'tech'. ironically, in the 1950s and early sixties, when all bicycles were the result of steel tubes inserted into cast steel lugs, it was the latter that were employed as identifiers, helping distinguish between the various marques (think curly hetchins) componentry also displayed a modicum of individuality, where rear derailleurs often resembled sculptures, as did the lever ends of q/r skewers. this is effectively where campagnolo gained their reputation for being somewhat over-engineered.

yest, despite several decades of development, there is little to distinguish the current crop of road bikes other than colour and logo. if they're all asking their computer aided design and fluid dymanics software the same questions, it's more than likely they're all receiving the same answers.

yet such aesthetics were very much absent in one gcn video where shimano road mechs, aside from being essentially all black, were compared almost entirely on their respective weights. though i'm very far from being a weight-weenie, i do worry that a number of grammes equating to one ounce in old money, is regarded as being worthy of a substantial increase in the ticket price. 'tech', it would appear, does not come cheaply.

however, the overwhelming impression gained from watching several of these video presentations, is that the cycle industry will rarely stop at anything to produce new and improved, even if there was truthfully, nothing wrong with tried and tested. and even if the latter was the new and improved but twelve months ago. i do hate to come across as an environmental do-gooder, but as the majority of the western world pays lip service at least, to the target of net-zero, the bicycle industry may have to reconsider its remarkably similar approach to that first seen in the 1950s american automobile industry...

built-in obsolescence.

sunday 17 july 2022

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hot stuff

sand dunes

a couple of years ago, coinciding with rapha's sponsorship (or partnership, as they would have it) of jonahtan vaughters' ef education team, i was sent an ef jersey and matching bibshorts for review. at the risk of looking a gift horse in the mouth, while both items were more than welcome, i did query the logic of sending bibshorts and a short-sleeve, featherweight jersey to a hebridean-based member of the cycling media in mid-january. i was able to review both items by subsuming the jersey in a winter jacket, while wearing the shorts, 'neath a pair of pad-less bibtights, but the accompanying image required my expertise in photoshop to add me into an ef team photo.

in truth, occasions when any apparel manufacturer's light, summer-weight jerseys can be worn al fresco are very few and far between on scotland's western isles, coupled with the fact that i'm a bit of a wimp when it comes to remaining cosy on the bicycle. but such is the global reach of many, such as rapha, assos, le col and endura, that it has apparently become necessary to design and produce velocipedinal apparel that suits customers in hot countries as well as britain. granted, endura make great play of their experience of scottish weather. i will never tire of repeating the gist of the label attached to their gabba inspired jersey, which read, "if you think the spring classics are bad, try scotland."

i've always thought it a shame that they didn't make more of that.

however, it strikes me that the secret of marketing a variety of apparel weights would be to specifically target items in a more intelligent manner. for instance, would it not have made a deal more sense to have sent yours truly a long-sleeve winter jersey and thermal bib tights in mid-january, while somewhere like the antipodes and far east received the lightweight jersey and shorts? i have gained the distinct impression, however, that many of the major players in cycling garmentage, tend to treat the world as a single market, while paying lip-service to the needs of the differing hemispheres.

no doubt there are australian bloggers and vloggers querying why they are being sent goretex in the middle of their hottest seasons.

however, lest you consider that i doth protest too much as one of the privileged few (and i'm not denying that to be the case), the current weather prevailing across europe and the southern half of the uk, has brought into sharper focus, the need to be at least a tad pernickety when it comes to external cladding. for the first time i can ever recall, yesterday morning the uk's meteorological office issued extreme weather warnings for monday and tuesday across southern scotland. and rather than providing advance notice of storm-force winds, or blizzards, as is often the case (though perhaps not at this time of year), these particular warnings relate to extreme heat.

thankfully, the illustrated maps accompanying the warnings show the western isles to be outside the sphere of influence of the impending heat, but forecasts show that it's still likely to be a smidgeon cosier than usual in the hebrides during the early half of next week. however, my concern is not for me, but for those of you domiciled in mainland europe and most of england, as well as the borders region of scotland. if this heatwave comes to pass, it's likely to be outside the experience of most of us, making it necessary to pay a bit more attention if heading out on the bicycle.

at the risk of sounding patronising or of teaching my grannies to suck eggs, if you happen to live in one of the areas warned of extreme heat, make sure you carry plenty of liquid, adding a second bottle cage if necessary, before leaving home. and, milking tautology for all it's worth, ensure that you drink regularly. and no matter how much of hardman or woman you think yourself to be, slather every inch of bare skin with sunscreen. the nhs is already warning that occurrences of melanoma have increased dramatically over the past decade, particularly amongst the male of the species, a situation that has been put down to macho disdain for applying sunscreen.

don't be a numpty.

of course, weather forecasts have a reputation for being often wide of the mark. on checking at the beginning of this past week, the forecast for next tuesday, it altered from winds gusting to 14kph and temperatures of up to 24 degrees, to winds nearer 40kph and temperatures of around 15 degrees. and all that in the space of a few hours. but assuming the current warnings to be correct, please be sensible and take every precaution you think necessary, then a bit more.

if it turns out to be cold and wet, just blame me.

saturday 16 july 2022

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feelings run high

shimano 105 di2

the majority of my mis-spent time on youtube involves watching drumming videos, where those who have never played in a band in their lives, offer cover versions of popular songs, attempting to duplicate exactly, the percussive strokes created by the original drummers. quite why they feel the need to do so is somewhat beyond my ken; i'd be far more impressed if they joined with other musicians to play whichever song they've chosen, but do so in their own individual fashion. quite what is accomplished by mimicking the original is a mystery to me.

however, on occasion, my youtube feed is populated with cycling-related videos, many of which emulate the nonsense you read in these black and yellow pixels, but with moving pictures. these also feature bicycle reviews, generally replicated by several others, but, as once mentioned, the very reason why i rarely, if ever, feature bike reviews on the post anymore, unsure what i'd be bringing to the party. these are not videos that i watch, as a rule, though if i'm going to watch any, it's likely to be those produced by dave arthur on his just ride bikes channel.

however, i have come across several iterations recently, concerning shimano's release of their 105 di2 groupset, seemingly a product debut that has possibly not fulfilled shimano's expectations. i'd imagine that the majority of us are aware of the shimano hierarchy when it comes to road groupsets, but in case there are any interlopers, allow me to offer a brief reprise. dura-ace di2 sits at the top, offering its services to the professional classes, the seriously obsessed, and those with deep pockets. just below that is ultegra di2, the groupset that is commonly thought of as the ideal for the majority, arguably losing out to dura-ace only in the weight stakes.

last but not least, is that recently released twelve-speed 105 di2 groupset, the very one that seems to have caused so much consternation. the basis for the loud murmuring is founded primarily on the appraisal that its predecessor (eleven-speed 105 mechanical) was the de facto entry-level groupset, the very one that members of the cognoscenti would recommend as the starting point for those entering the world of the roadie. the basic version, with caliper brakes, hovers around the £600 price point, adding a extra couple of hundred pounds if you'd prefer disc brakes. reputedly, the purchase price for the new di2, disc-only version, will be £1700, similar to that of campagnolo's record groupset.

though the price of almost everything has risen of late, it's hard to equate that price with the concept of entry-level.

the most recent video watched concerning this situation was something of a free-forming session by a bicycle shop owner, pointing out that a groupset offering electronica as the only option, along with non-optional hydraulic discs, was likely to add a substantial amount to the servicing bill, compared with its predecessor, never mind the price of admission. sitting below 105 is shimano tiagra, a groupset with a starting price of marginally more than £300. this bike-shop owner's monologue questioned whether any of the cognoscenti would be happy to recommend that particular groupset to the apprentice velocipedinist. having never ridden tiagra, i am in no position to comment.

however, discussions such as this are what i believe would be referred to as first world problems. rarely has there been a better time for the non-luddite to be a road cyclist (i have to confess that prior to this particular 105 video, i had watched a bike-shop build of an italian lugged steel frame with a campagnolo 50th anniversary groupset, one that was created long before the advent of indexed-gearing, and featuring downtube levers. bliss). admittedly sram seem also fixated on electronica and discs, but campagnolo, on the other hand have confined their eps system to super-record; record, chorus and centaur are all strictly mechanical with a caliper option. and i am led to believe by the video producer, that there are chinese groupsets ready and willing to step into the ground left vacant by shimano at the entry-level.

more generally, there are videos querying whether shimano is shooting itself in the chainset by removing both mechanical and rim brake options. but then you may recall the hoo-ha that resulted following apple computer's removal of the disk-drive on release of the original imac. whether they created that trend or simply bowed to the inevitable is open to question. and though there are many luddites such as yours truly who will hang onto mechanical gears and rim brakes forever and ever and ever, there's little doubt that fewer and fewer marques are offering frames capable of supporting a pair of dual-pivot calipers.

if maintenance costs of electronic gearchanging and hydraulics are higher than the old way, such is life, whether we like it or not. just think of the impoverished owners of tesla electric vehicles on discovering just how much it costs for a replacement battery.

it's not called marketing for nothing.

friday 15 july 2022

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opposites attract

fast cargo bike

though the occasionally thematic post may give the impression that i have a pre-determined strategy in place, to be honest, nothing could be further from the truth. were i to admit to being a strategist, the word 'random' would surely be the most apt adjective to use. however, as long as you promise to keep that to yourselves, i will proceed.

a few days past, i bemoaned an apparent need for speed, employed with abandon by my sunday morning colleagues, certainly an aspect of cycling that seems determined to gain the upper hand on a far wider basis. from the news that body rocket have acquired substantial finding towards the release of their real-time display of on-bike drag coefficients, to the current trend for hiding each and every cable from sight, it often seems that the sole purpose of any new cycling development is geared towards improving the top line speed of those showing any preference towards riding a bicycle.

i feel the industry may need constant reminding that the bicycle was originally invented as a means of replacing horses as a the sole form of transport. it was not, you might be forgiven for thinking, devised as a manner of achieving ultimate speed as an end in and of itself, as opposed to providing an efficient means of actually getting somewhere. to be totally specious for a moment, consider how inept would be a formula one racing car, should max verstappen decide to take mrs verstappen and the kids on holiday. for instance, where would you place the roof rack, the luggage, or even the mrs and the kids?

the current crop of road bikes, much like their predecessors, may have aerodynamics down to a tee, but the next time eurosport offer a close-up of the peloton's bicycles, take note of the complete lack of rack mounts, mudguards, or saddlebags. though these bikes can undoubtedly be referred to as state-of-the-art, the particular art that they represent is remarkably singular of purpose.

however, as members of the cognoscenti, you may be surprised to learn that not everyone thinks as do we. velominati might well be the keepers of the cog, and protectors of the rules, but for the vast majority, neither of the foregoing are of even minimal importance. can you imagine any commuting cyclist being the least bit concerned over the length of their socks, or ensuring that the saddle, bars and tyres are appropriately matched? yet despite a wide-ranging disregard of the purported need for speed, it still seems to be of importance within the industry that kalas sportswear have formed a partnership with silverstone-based aerodynamicists, vorteq, to create world class skinsuits.

nor indeed are many likely to be impressed that the purveyors of the ubiquitous wattbike have introduced customisation of their 'virtual gearing'.

the rationale behind my surmising is based not on any spurious personal opinions, but on a survey conducted by cycling industry news, who asked several retailers whether their customer profiles were changing. this survey concluded that "There has been a general move away from focusing on the performance cyclist, toward the customer undertaking a journey by bike." for readers of the cycling press, such as rouleur, cyclist, cycling weekly or new kid on the block, stelvio, this might come as something of a surprise.

while we concentrate on how pragmatic it might be to conceal electric gear and hydraulic disc brake cables within the bars, stem and frame, the majority are apparently considering what type of e-cargo bike might best suit their purposes, or what type of tyre might fend off punctures with aplomb, no matter the weight penalty incurred. this latter aspect is one to which i can testify, having reviewed a pair of pirelli winter tyres which fulfilled every aspect of their promise, but simultaneously almost doubled the weight of my wheels.

there will always be a demand for speed and light weight, no matter the financial penalty (a fact surely underlined by the current fashion for road bikes costing in excess of £12,000), but that aspect is beginning to resemble the disparity between a formula one mercedes and the average family car. in a universe not that far away, practicality, batteries and commuting distance are as much a part of the conversation as is our own obsession with whether wout is faster than mathieu, or whether primoz has the measure of tadej.

that's not to deny that our own sunday morning conversations are any less worthy than those leaning more towards the velocipedinally practical, but it might behove us well to recognise that not only are those not the only conversations taking place, but quite likely some distance from being the most important. whether the industry takes note of its frequent isolation in such matters, is a whole 'nuther bucket of lithium ions.

thursday 14 july 2022

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the next step, apparently

shimano ep8

as we've discussed on previous occasions, the world of offroad is not one to which i subscribe, if purely on the basis that there is not an mtb to be found in thewashingmachinepost bike shed. it's not that i have anything against mountain biking; i did spend my first few years in the hebrides, hardtailing it around the undergrowth, but the considerable effort expended riding to and from any meaningful offroad parcours, gradually had me realise that the way of bendy bars and skinny tyres offered considerable advantages.

at one time, i kept one eye on mountain bike proceedings, partly out of self-interest and partly to pretend that i was the well-informed member of the cycling media that i pretend to be in print. however, that's a situation that has lapsed in recent years, and i now discover that there may have been a revolution taking place of which i am blissfully unaware.

a friend of mine who suffers from arthritis, yet enjoys the occasional opportunity to ride offroad, was brought to acquire an electric mountain bike, machinery that allows her to continue riding, even when arthritis would preclude regular cycling. it is for moments such as these that the electric bicycle surely comes into its own. however, i have now garnered the impression that electric mountain biking has become a thing all on its own, with even danny macaskill promoting the benefits in one or two of those famous youtube exploits.

always under the impression that gnarly mountain biking dudes pursued a similar path to gnarly road dudes, where the challenge was mano e mano, it appears my misapprehension may have been over the significance of that letter 'e'. with an electric mountain bike network and rob rides emtb on youtube, along with electric mountain bike magazines, it may be that mountain bikers harbour considerably less embarrassment over the choice of battery power, than does the average roadie. however, if that's the direction the mountain biking fraternity wish to travel, who are we to comment.

after all, while the giro d'italia was playing out on our telly-boxes, there was a parallel race taking place on electric road bikes, featuring several once top level roadies.

when the mountain bike first put in an appearance in the 1980s, true to form, it followed many road cycling traits, such as lugged steel tubing, quill stems, square-taper bottom brackets etc. however, twas but a few years before it started heading in its own direction, replacing the quill stem with dia-compe's a-headset, extending the facilities offered by indexed shifting and anodising everything in sight. many of those advancements were subsequently visited upon the road-going fraternity, such as aluminium frames, oversized tubing and more recently, disc-brakes.

since those early days, migration between the species has worked in both directions, though thankfully we're still separated by width of tyre (though 29ers are the same as 700c) and shape of handlebar. and electronic gear-changing seems still to be predominantly the preserve of the folks in the casquettes. however, it is the latter that shimano appear to have new designs upon, if only visited upon the electric version of the mountain bike.

announced but a few days past, and already the subject of an electric mountain bike network video, is shimano's deore xt di2 with free shift and auto shift via the new ep6 and ep8 power units. via integrated electronics, the japanese componentry giant contends that it is now possible for the rider to concentrate on the trails, while they automaticall control the gear shifting, autoshifting whether riding uphill, downhill or the flattish bits in between. reputedly, this will ensure that you're always in the right gear no matter what, even if you come to a sudden stop, where autoshift will put you in a suitable gear to re-start.

according to shimano's slick video, "autoshift is powered by ep8's advanced processor, algorithms and sensors." communicating with the rear gear mech to shift when it thinks it necessary. the fellow who presents the electric mountain bike network on youtube claims this to be "groundbreaking", also claiming that e-mountain bikes are where all the new technology and people's mindsets are.

it's possible that mountain biking is better adapted to battery power on the basis that many offroad riding is a good deal shorter than even the average sunday morning roadie ride. however, given the, at one time, symbiotic relationship between road cycling and mountain biking, it would be a brave individual who bet against free shift and auto shift becoming a part of the e-road bike scene, probably sooner rather than later. and perhaps the inference is that, also sooner, rather than later, e-road bikes will also become much more of a thing, than they are now.

and for those of you who hold similar views to mine, perhaps the linked video below will offer some degree of solace.

lugged comfort and joy

wednesday 13 july 2022

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but on the other hand...


i mentioned yesterday the possibility of the group of cyclists, once referred to as 'weekend warriors', taking note of their 'actual' status, and questioning the societal need for speed. do not misunderstand; i realise that the very act of purchasing a bicycle featuring drop bars and narrow tyres carries certain implications of a quest for speed somewhere along the timeline, but it seems only pertinent to question its empirical infusion into the velocipedinal realm.

there is a danger, i'd imagine, of speed becoming the overriding objective of each and every ride, during which, little is seen of the surrounding environment. admittedly, there will be some for whom that might be seen as a bonus. sadly, my appreciation of this situation is not based on supposition; a fellow with whom the sunday peloton recently rode, spends an appreciable amount of his time coaching both adults and youngsters. in conversation about cycle matters, he mentioned that a thirteen year-old youngster in the club had arrived one weekend with a power-meter installed on his bicycle.

though i believe the youngster was given an appropriate amount of ribbing for this unwarranted accoutrement, i very much doubt that he is the only lad of that age to be sucked in by constant magazine features implying that those training on feel or heart-rate alone, are very unlikely to follow in the tyre-tracks of the likes of wout van aert.

in the past, i have been fortunate enough to review both srm and powertap power-meters, providing much food for thought, several paragraphs by way of appreciation, but not one iota of comprehensions as to just what it was they were telling me, and even less idea of what to do with their data. the cynic in me tends to think that such a situation is currently being replicated across the country. power meters are expensive enough as it is, even if the investment required is a tad less than it was during my two reviews, but to gain anything from the use of such a device, it seems highly likely that it becomes necessary to engage the services of a qualified coach.

in one sense or another, many of us have already fallen for the subterfuge, not necessarily related to power-meters. for instance, throughout 2021, i rode my ritchey logic outfitted with a pair of campagnolo bora wto 45mm carbon wheels, but i fear their greatest effect may have had more to do with aesthetics than increased speed. in fact, since switching back to standard (albeit handbuilt) alloy wheels, forced upon me by strafing gale-force crosswinds, i really haven't noticed as much of a slowdown as i'd expected.

and though this may seem to be an odd time to interject my luddite opinions on the subject, i do so because matters may be about to become considerably worse. it appears that uk startup, body-rocket has managed to acquire crowdfunding in excess of 200,000 during the first 24 hours of investment crowdfunding. you may echo my wince when you learn that body-rocket is a commercial, on-bike device that offers precise, real-time drag measurement, integrated into the bicycle, effectively offering a wind-tunnel on the move.

considering the often exhorbitant cost of renting a wind-tunnel even for an hour or so, it's perhaps little wonder that any means of replicating a part of that experience for considerably less outlay, would be welcomed with open arms. but on the basis of having read more than a few articles relating to wind-tunnel testing, i am in no doubt that it is a complex affair, realising more data than most will receive on whatsapp over the course of a month. admittedy, body-rocket can hardly be considered a direct replacement.

described as a device, it is in fact a series of sensors on seatpost, stem and pedals. the aerodynamic drag force data is transmitted wirelessly to a garmin device mounted on the handlebar. thus, while cycling, the rider can gain an idea of just how their position on the bike is affecting their drag-coefficient. body-rocket advise that, "After each session you will have a comprehensive picture of your aerodynamic data which you can analyse to identify incremental improvements.". though power-meters display the number of watts generated on an lcd screen on the bike, those are numbers requiring only intermittent glances throughout any bike ride.

at least part of the worry would be riding with eyes fixated on the garmin screen to hone your aerodynamic position, as you ride at full tilt into the back of a car. questions such as "what's my optimal riding position?", will adjusting my saddle/handlebars help me?" and "which helmet is more aerodynamic?" may occupy the bulk of your bike ride, as the scenery whizzes (or not) by, unnoticed.

i can see the potential for professional and competitive amateurs, presumably at whom the device is aimed. but if thirteen year old boys are buying power-meters...


tuesday 12 july 2022

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