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Category Archives: Gear and Tools

Selle Italia SP-01 Superflow

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The best cycling-related advice I have ever been given is “Make sure the bicycle frame you buy is the right size for you.”

The second-best is “If your saddle is comfortable and isn’t giving you trouble, don’t change it.”  I got the advice about saddles from a salesperson at Condor Cycles in London.

In 2012 fi’zi:k launched their Kurve range of saddles.

Fizik Kurve road cc

Photograph courtesy of road.cc

There were three models, in the range: the Snake, Chameleon and Bull.  Each shape was designed to suit where your bodyweight was positioned, as determined by your flexibility.  That was sufficiently geeky to attract me. 

I walked into Condor Cycles ready to buy a Kurve saddle.  The salesperson asked me which saddle I was using at the time, and if I liked it.  My first road bike came with a Selle Italia SL saddle.

Selle Italia SL

Photograph courtesy of Selle Italia

I said I had no complaints about that saddle.  Which is when she told me that she wouldn’t sell me a different saddle.

When I got my second road bike I went with a Selle Italia SLR Superflow saddle.  Which was essentially the SL with a larger cutout.

SLR-Superflow-S

Photograph courtesy of Selle Italia

Fast forward a few years, and my SLR Superflow was showing its age.

Selle Italia SL

There was a cut right at the tip on the left side.  A memento from a crash.  Riding in the rain with wet and gritty bibshorts had abraded the cover on either side of the nose.  And the blue elastomer insert under the rails at the front had been squeezed out of shape.  It was time for a new saddle.

Last July Selle Italia announced the latest iteration of the Superflow saddle.  The SP-01.

Selle Italia SP-01-TITANIUM superflow

Photograph courtesy of Selle Italia

Immediately noticeble is that the rear frame is divided into two parts.  This allows the saddle to adapt and flex subtly to different riding positions and shifts of rider weight from side to side and front to back.  That was sufficiently geeky to attract me.

The avice from the Condor Cycles salesperson was ringing in my ears.  But I figured I was safe by keeping my new saddle choice in the Superflow family.

I’ve had the SP-01 Superflow for a couple of months now.  I like it alot.  I still have an SLR Superflow on my Ritchey Break-Away.  So I have been able to compare the two saddles.  This is a subjective assessment, but the SP-01 Superflow does feel a bit more comfortable and compliant than the SLR Superflow.

The SP-01 Superflow meets that main criteria for any saddle.  I have a

Happy Bottom

Photograph courtesy of worldofsigns.com

Check With Your Doctor

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Ticket to Ride banner

Every now and then newspapers and especially social media carry reports of a cyclist succumbing to a heart attack or cardiac arrest mid-ride.  The cyclists are usually men in their 40s or older.  The latest happened three Sundays ago during an organised century ride.

These events generate a flurry of conversation about cycling being risky for older individuals.  Despite all the research showing the health benefits of cycling for older adults.

I am not implying that precautions are not necessary.  My Biker Chick is very very supportive of my cycling habit.  With one proviso.  I must pass a full health screening every year.

Ticket to Ride medical assessment

My annual medical examination includes the usual blood and urine tests, a pulmonary function test, a resting 12-lead ECG and treadmill stress test, a chest x-ray and a full abdomen and pelvic ultrasound examination.  This year I added a full skin analysis since I spend a lot of time in the sun and had a squamous cell carcinoma a few years ago.

Ticket to ride all clear

I’m good to go for another year!

 

What causes your flat tires?

I’ve had four punctures in the past eight days.  Which made me curious about the common causes of punctures amongst cyclists.

If you want to share your experience, please click on the link below to respond to my survey on the subject:

Link to my survey

Thank you.

 

Caveat Emptor **

 

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Whether to buy from a local retailer, or from an overseas online merchant, often depends on the perceived need for after-sales support.  An item may cost more locally than it does online, but you can expect easier access to support from a local retailer than you would from an offshore online merchant.

However, buying locally does not guarantee after-sales suport.  A recent post on social media highlighted such a situation.  An individual had bought a new bicycle frame from a local seller.  When the frame developed a fault, the seller told the buyer that he had to sort out a warranty claim himself.

The seller was a parallel importer, and not an authorized retailer for that brand of bicycle frame.  In the eyes of an uneducated consumer, the only difference between a parallel importer and an authorized retailer is that the parallel importer can offer a cheaper price than the authorized retailer can.

Unfortunately for the consumer, there is downside.  A downside which can have a major consequence, as the seller referred to above found out, at considerable personal cost.

What is parallel importing?  Parallel imports (sometimes referred to as gray market goods) refer to branded goods that are imported into a market and sold there without the consent of the owner of the trademark in that market.

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In the example cited above, the trademark owner has appointed authorized retailers for its bicycle frames in Hong Kong, and in Malaysia.  A parallel importer had acquired the trademark owner’s frames in Hong Kong, and brought them into Malaysia.

Consumers in Malaysia thus have the choice of buying the trademark owner’s frames from a local authorized retailer, or buying an identical frame from a parallel importer.  The attraction of the parallel import, as I mentioned above, is the lower, often significantly lower, price.

What is the downside?  The downside is that the parallel importer cannot provide any after-sales service.

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Cartoon courtesy of Ted Goff

The authorized retailers in Malaysia will not provide any after-sales service either, as the frame was not bought from them.

In this case the buyer’s only option was to contact the trademark owner himself.  The only assistance given by the parallel importer was to advise the buyer to tell the trademark owner that he had bought the frame in Hong Kong.  I can only assume that this was to cover up the fact that it was a parallel import.

The trademark owner’s response was predictable.  Bring the damaged frame to their retail shop in Hong Kong for warranty procedures.  The parallel importer’s response, when the buyer shared with him the trademark owner’s reply, was also predictable.

“You have to pay for the shipping.”

                         **B39EC4BD-7C1C-41AA-AD63-2D7B360F8968

The Strava Effect

Strava Banner

Graphic courtesy of Road Bike Culture

There is no doubt that Strava has driven the phenomenon of social cycling, and sociable competition.  Millions of cyclists track and share their rides on the Strava website.  And in doing so, many strive to better their times on each ride, thereby hopefully outdoing their friends on a favorite sector, or even claiming a coveted King of Mountain or Queen of Mountain crown.

How many millions exactly?  With secrecy typical of a Silicon Valley start-up, Strava does not disclose precisely how many users it has, preferring to say that it has “tens of millions”, with a million joining every 40 days.  Wikipedia reports that as of March 2015 there were an estimated 1 million active Strava users.  Extrapolating from Strava’s own estimate of the rate at which people join, there are about 126 million active users today.

Not bad for a company which was founded in 2009.

Rapha festive500 Banner

Graphic courtesy of 2wheelchick.blogspot.my

Companies selling cycling-related products have noticed the ever-increasing popularity of Strava, and are using the app to connect with existing and potential customers.  One such company is Rapha.  In 2010 Rapha launched the #Festive500, an event in which participants challenged themselves to ride 500km / 311mi between Christmas Eve and New Years’s Eve.  That year there were 84 participants.

In 2011 Rapha started offering woven fabric roundels to everyone who successfully completed the #Festive500 challenge.  Strava was an obvious partner because their app made it easy for participants to record their rides and track their progress, and for Rapha to manage the challenge, from sign up to verification that participants had successfully completed the challenge.

Rapha Patches

Roundels courtesy of Rapha

To say that this partnership is a success is an understatement.  The modest number of  #Festive500 participants, 84 in 2010, had mushroomed to 83,130 in 2017.

Rapha Feastive 500 (1)

Data courtesy of Strava and Rapha

There were 19,120 successful finishers for the 2017 Rapha #Festive500.  That is a lot of roundels for Rapha to ship out.  Each one creating a link between Rapha and a cyclist.

In recent years Rapha has capitalised on the increasing popularity of the #Festive500 by offering prizes for the best #Festive500 stories.  The 2017 prizes included a Rapha Travel trip and Leica D-Lux camera, a 3T Exploro Team road bike, a Wahoo Bolt GPS Bundle, and a Wahoo Kickr Snap turbo trainer.  The winning entries can be seen here.

In 2017, the year-on-year growth in #Festive500 participants leveled off.  Perhaps because of the very cold winter in the northern hemisphere.  That has not deterred the folks at Rapha.  They have already asked roadies to make the #Festive500 their end of year challenge for 2018.

I wonder what the 2018 roundel will look like?

Specialized KEG Storage Vessel

An article titled 6 of the best: saddle bags, which appeared recently on bikeradar.com, reminded me of a post I wrote last year about how to carry everything that you need while on a bike ride.

When I wrote that post, I was using a Silca Seat Roll Premio under my saddle to carry a spare tube, tire levers, a CO2 regulator and gas cartridge, patches, a multi-tool, and cleaning wipes.

I’ve recently switched to using a Specialized KEG Storage Vessel instead of the Premio.

KEG Storage Vessel

Photograph courtesy of Specialized

Not that there’s anything wrong with the Premio.  Far from it.  The Premio is an excellent piece of kit, and there will be times when I use it again.

When I go on overnight credit card tours, my Apidura Saddle Pack takes the place of the Premio, so I need an alternate way to carry a spare tube, tire levers etc.  I could put them in the Apidura, but opening the Saddle Pack mid-ride is not particularly convenient.  I have used a top tube bag a number of times, but found that the bag gets in the way when I am out of the saddle.

The KEG sits, out of the way, in the bottle cage on my seat tube.  It has the additional advantages of being extremely easy to open, it does not need to be removed from the bike like a saddle roll, and items can’t fall out like they may from a saddle bag.

Items inside the KEG are held securely by a pocketed “tool wrap,” which also prevents rattling.

KEG Storage Tool Wrap sigma sports com

Photograph courtesy of sigmasports.com

There are always a compromises when it comes bicycle components.  On the minus side, the KEG occupies a bottle cage, leaving me with room for one water bottle instead of two.  Which is not a problem, as there are lots of places to refill my bottle where I usually ride.

On the plus side, I have lots of exposed seat tube where I can mount one or more rear lights.

The Specialized KEG Storage Vessel is now my preferred way of carrying flat tire repair essentials.

I give it Two Thumbs Up

 

Una Leggenda Italiana

Pegoretti Italian Classics TBA.png

Photograph courtesy of The Bike Artisans

The Fiat Seicento, an update of the Cinquecento, is a classic of the automotive world.  Dario Pegoretti, on the other hand, is a bicycle frame building legend.  He is one of the most revered and respected steel frame builders in the world.  His frames, exclusively in Columbus steel, are unique.  Frames which are turned into works of art by paint that expresses his artistic passions.

The Bike Artisans brought Dario to Kuala Lumpur to meet his fans, and more importantly, to take orders from aficionados eager to own a custom-built DuendeMxxxxxxo, Responsorium, or Big Leg Emma frame.

Pegoretti Banner 3

Graphic courtesy of The Bike Artisans

Over two days Dario measured and interviewed more than thirty individuals.  He suggested which of his frames would suit each person’s build and riding style.  Then, each customer had to decide whether to have that frame finished with a stock paint scheme, or to go for the “surprise me” option of a hand-painted Ciavete design.

Pegoretti Measure 1

Photograph courtesy of The Bike Artisans

The Bike Artisans very kindly organised two events to mark Dario’s visit to Kuala Lumpur.

The first was dinner on Saturday night at Timbre, conveniently located next door to the bike shop.

It was an opportunity for Pegoretti owners to get their bikes autographed by Dario, for wish-we-were-owners to ogle the bikes and frames on display, and to get a photograph with the master.

Pegoretti Bikes 10 Alvin Lee

Photograph courtesy of Alvin Lee

Pegoretti with Dario Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

The second was the Pego-Raduno Asia Edition ride, from The Bike Artisans to Genting Sempah and back.

Pego-Raduno Ride Griffin Yong

Photograph courtesy of Griffin Yong

Pego-Raduno Ride Marco Lai

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

It has been unusually cool over the past few days.  Which helped make the Sunday morning ride very pleasant.

The ride ended with a satay lunch outside The Bike Artisans.

Pegoretti Satay Alvin Lee

Photograph courtesy of Alvin Lee

And the opportunity to look over what was probably the largest collection of Pegorettis ever assembled in Kuala Lumpur.

Pegoretti Marcelo MxxxxxO 8

Photograph courtesy of The Bike Artisans

Pegoretti Bikes 15 Alvin Lee

Photograph courtesy of Alvin Lee

Pegoretti Bikes 11 TBA

Photograph courtesy of The Bike Artisans

Pegoretti Bikes 14 Alvin Lee

Photograph courtesy of Alvin Lee

Pegoretti Bikes 13 Alvin Lee

Photograph courtesy of Alvin Lee

Pegoretti Bikes 12 Alvin Lee

Photograph courtesy of Alvin Lee

The thirty or so who ordered frames now have a ten month or so wait while Dario cuts and welds tubes, and paints frames in his workshop in Verona.

Perhaps Dario will visit Kuala Lumpur again at the end of the year to deliver those eagerly awaited frames.

Pegoretti Dario

Photograph courtesy of The Bike Artisans