OK I’ve been lusting after a custom steel bike for ages. The question has now boiled down to not whether I should get one, but rather, whether it should be a cross frame, or a pure road frame. Both have heaps of appeal. A cross bike would be great fun for off road action, and ideal for fast commutes to work in all weather. I could envisage it with a straight blade steel fork for the ultimate in durability, but with a trade off for weight. I’ve been dwelling on these builds.
This Donhou belt drive single speed, built from a mix of Reynolds 631 and 725, looks close to the ideal urban bike. It’s also pretty much what I would want in a cross bike but with normal derailleur shifting. I’m still a bit unsure about the need for discs, although it’s probably not the right place to go into that thorny issue.
This also looks spectacular. I think I found the image on one of the North American Handbuilt Bicycle Show (NAHBS) reviews - it looks fast and functional. Could be almost as fast as a road bike with the right tyres.
And I’m in love with the look of these Speedvagen cross bikes by Vanilla Bicycles. They make a great looking road bike too (see below).
I’m also lusting after these Gaulzetti bikes - this one is aluminium, which doesn’t quite fit with my steel mantra, but it sure does look cool and would no doubt weigh a bit less, which would be great for CX racing. Working against this is the improbability of getting my hands on one - there would be the shipping costs (from the US) and then import duties of about 15%. Nevertheless, a great style guide.
On the other hand, a road bike is where my heart truly lies. Something reasonably light and tight with snappy road geometry.
There is this beautifully simple Donhou, this pretty much ticks all the boxes. Donhou are based in Hackney, London.
Of course Vanilla Cycles make excellent looking road bikes as well, like this Speedvagen built for the Leave it on the Road ride (featured by Prolly is not Probably).
And here’s another excellent looking road frame from Vanilla Cycles, this time with a steel fork. Sweet.
Gaulzetti also make a somewhat traditional, yet beautiful looking steel-frame (Columbus) called the Cazzo, with the added touch of arguably the best looking forks around, from Enve Composites.
Finally, it would be remiss not to include an example from a local builder, Ewen Gellie over at Gellie Custom, who makes a variety of interesting and beautiful frames. This one has S+S Couplers and Sram Red. Very nice!
First, you’ll need a solvent. I use a biodegradable and water-soluble cleaner. Oomph (purchased from Bunnings) does the trick nicely, though there are plenty of others. You can get it from a cycling shop, but you’ll pay much more for the same thing! No need for those nasty petroleum-based cleaners, which are hard to hose off and nasty for the environment.
This is available from Bunnings - cheap and highly effective.
Next, you’ll need a chain cleaner. You could decant the degreaser into a spray bottle and go over the entire chain with a toothbrush, but this is laborious and messy. A chain cleaner contains the mess and does a quicker and more thorough job. I’ve used several over the years, but have never looked back since buying the Park Tools model; it contains a sponge to trap excess solvent, and a small magnet to collect metallic particles.
The Park Tools chain cleaner is very well built. Mine is about 4 years and still going strong.
Pour solvent into the cleaner, and clean the chain by turning the cranks backwards for at least 20-30 revolutions. For a complete clean, pour some solvent into a spray bottle and carefully spray solvent onto the chainrings (inside and out), avoiding the bottom bracket area. Use an old toothbrush to scrub off accumulated grit and dried lube. Hose down the chain by turning the cranks backwards, avoiding spraying the bottom bracket area. Using the fine ‘mist’ setting on your garden hose trigger (definitely worth getting one with variable settings from the hardware store), lightly spray the cassette to wash off any solvent and loose grit (the aim is not to do a thorough cassette clean here, that’s a separate job, just to get rid of the excess solvent).
Spin the cranks backwards rapidly several times to remove excess water - dropping the bike gently also helps shakes off excess water. Run the chain backwards through a clean dry cloth until fairly dry, then allow to dry completely (several hours usually) before applying a fresh coating of lube. Let the applied lube dry for several hours, or overnight (if you don’t do this you’ll get wet lube flicking all over the place, kind of undermining your hard work).
I highly recommend ProGold ProLink lube for road applications - see my earlier blog entry.
Ritte bicycles. Vlaanderen (top) and Bosberg (bottom) - damn sexy.
I kind of like this geeky blog. They feature a variety of kits, some suss, others pretty good. Now branching out further with their own branding and this clever take on the original z-team jersey, which also featured as a cover on one of the first Rouleur editions.
The wtf kits T-shirt
Reissue of this jersey at Prendas
And the cover from Rouleur Issue 16.
This is a very well designed rear light. I’ve used many over the years and this is the brightest, in fact so bright that I use it on the 50% power setting for group rides (and it still beats my excellent Cateye light for visibility). The light somehow manages to produce a ‘soft’ glow whilst at the same time really packing a punch, I think a function of its well designed lens. A multitude of modes (steady/flashing) cover all bases. It also has an excellent and simple seat-post mounting system (with hidden angle adjustment) - a seat rail mounting option is included as well. All this capped off by low weight. If there’s a downside it might be shorter battery life than my other lights, but not really a big problem as it uses simple USB charging. Perfect for my road bike, with minimalist looks, high visibility and light weight.
I purchased mine from Cell bikes for about $36.
As I was listening to the Tour de France commentary last night, during my catch up viewing of the individual time trial, I was reminded just how fit these guys are. Whilst watching Cadel Evans, Phil Sherwin was saying that he’d be putting out an average of about 450-460 W during the race. Evans is one of the top guys, but still finished 21st, 2:30 behind Tony Martin, with a time of approx 39 min (Martin managed 36:29). Then I was thinking about my own measly efforts on the spin bike - I won’t say exactly how much I do over 45 min, but lets just say it’s a lot less than those top guys, even when I’m really fit. Of course, I guess being 15-20 yrs younger, and training specifically for the event etc would all make a big difference. However, that’s still a big gap.
Cadel Evans finished 21st in the Stage 11, Avranches - Mont-Saint-Michel ITT (33 km).
Richie Porte came in a creditable 4th.
Still being curious, and incredulous, I did a bit of quick Googling. I this interesting article on The Conversation:
"The use of aerodynamic equipment and body position will reduce drag, allowing riders to reach higher speeds for a given power output – more than 400 watts for time trial specialists, double what a recreational cyclist could produce for long periods – and consequently decrease their overall time on the 42.5 kilometre-long course.
Nutrition will also have an impact on the power generated by riders during the Grenoble time trial. Prior to the race, ingesting a small dose of caffeine can allow the riders to obtain a significant improvement (around 5%) on the power that they will be able to produce. During the race, the riders will also ingest carbohydrate-rich sports drinks – such as Powerade or Gatorade – at regular intervals, allowing them to produce 2-3% more power than if they were drinking water only.”
I also found some interesting info on the Training Peaks website, which shows that, essentially the best time trialists can produce about 360 W over an hour (that is Functional Threshold Power, a rider’s maximum sustainable power output for a 1-hour maximum effort).
So before your next big hit out, consider a coffee - but maybe not if you’re planning a long ride because then you’ll just have to stop for a nature break.
Yeah yeah, I know it was in May, but I just discovered these amazing photos on cyclingtips.com.au. Obviously a very tough race.
David De La Cruz is assisted after the stage 2 finish that saw riders competing in 44-degree heat en route to a mountain-top finish. Two riders were transported to local hospitals following the stage for heatstroke, sparking debate over what should be done with the race in extreme conditions.
Big Hair Superfan hollers to the racers outside Santa Barbara. Many of the race fan’s alternate identities have become fixtures of the race, from Big Hair Superfan to the Antler fan to the faux Pope.
Overall winner, Tejay van Garderen, photographed in Livermore, CA.
Check out their blog for some other cool shots, including this beautiful track bike.