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Category Archives: Gear and Tools

Kudos for Silca

I own a number of Silca products.

T-Ratchet + Ti-Torque Kit
Phone Wallet
Seat Roll Premio
Tire Levers Premio
EOLO III CO2 Regulator

The quality of the Silca items I own reflects the brand’s commitment to its customers:

Our commitment to you, our fellow cyclist, that we will continually strive to design and build the most perfect products possible.

https://silca.cc/pages/about

That commitment extends to customer support.

One of the reasons Silca calls their CO2 inflator head a regulator is because the spool valve seals the pierced canister.  No CO2 escapes until you depress the SilEOLO IIIspring-loaded valve.  Which means that any unused CO2 stays in the canister.

The spool valve on my EOLO III started leaking CO2.  I emailed Silca customer support to ask if there was a way I could stop the leak.  The response was perfect.

This showed up on my doorstep yesterday.

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A free replacement for my defective EOLO III.

Silca items are not the cheapest of their kind.  However the design and build quality of their products, coupled with outstanding customner support, make Silca products true value for money.

Fabric Chamber Ratchet Head Multitool

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Dorel Sports is one of the world’s leading bike portfolio companies. Their brands include Cannondale, GT, Schwinn, Mongoose, Sugio, Guru, and Fabric.

Fabric creates unique and innovative cycling products. Like the Chamber Ratchet Multitool. I like my Silca T-Ratchet + Ti Torque kit a lot. However, the waxed cloth case makes the kit too bulky to fit in my KEG Storage Vessel. I had been carrying a rusting Lezyne multitool, and the Fabric Chamber looked like a good replacement.

The base of the cylinder unscrews to reveal a set of double-ended stainless steel bits.

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Photograph courtesy of fabric.cc

The cylinder is 99mm tall and 25mm wide.  In a holder in the base are 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5 and 6mm hex bits, T10 and T25 Torx bits, SL3 and SL5 flat head bits, PH1 and PH2 Phillips head bits, and an 8mm hex adapter.

Apart from the small size, I was attracted by the two-way ratchet head.  Bits can be positioned centrally in the ratchet.

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Photograph courtesy of fabric.cc

Or at one end of the bit for a longer reach.

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Photograph courtesy of fabric.cc

The Fabric Chamber Ratchet Head Multitool has replaced the Lezyne multitool in my KEG Storage Vessel.  The Chamber Ratchet Head is smaller than the Silca T-Ratchet + Ti-Torque kit.  It weighs less too, at 170gms compared to 232gms for the T-Ratchet.

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Photograph courtesy of fabric.cc

The Chamber tool lacks a torque function.  However, I feel this does not detract from its usefulness for repairs while on the road.  Loose bolts can be tightened just enough to hold until the end of the ride.  Tightening to specification with my Silca Ti-Torque wrench can be done once at home.

The Fabric Chamber Ratchet Head Multitool is a good-looking design that fits inside my KEG Storage Vessel along with tire levers, a spare tube, a CO2 canister and an inflator head.

Neat, tidy, and ready to roll.

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?