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Growing an Unfortunate Collection

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Photograph courtesy of

The photograph above, minus the tri-spoke carbon number, could be of my collection of mismatched wheels. It is not a collection I prefer to have. But I have three odd wheels, courtesy of lumps of stone on the roads and “wheel catcher” drain gratings.

By lumps of stone on the roads, I mean stones like this, dropped from lorries transporting crushed rock from quarries or concrete ready-mix trucks. An all too common occurrence in Malaysia, as car owners with windscreens chipped or broken by stones thrown by vehicles ahead, can attest.

You could argue that I should see stones like this and avoid them. Many times this has been true. All it takes though is just a glance at say your bike computer, and “bang.”

Photograph courtesy of

The first rim I cracked by riding over a stone was a Boyd Cycling Vitesse.

Boyd Cycling has a crash replacement policy, as do many other wheel manufacturers. Terms and conditions vary, and some are more onerous than others. I bought the Vitesses direct from Boyd Cycling, and so was able to replace the damaged wheel at a discount. The only problem was that Boyd Cycling had discontinued the Vitesse and replaced it with the Altamont. Now my very first road bike has a Vitesse rear wheel and an Altamont front wheel. Read on for the story why.

I don’t think anyone has noticed the mismatched wheels. I must admit the Boyd name does stand out more than the Vitesse and Altamont labels.

The next victim of a loose stone on the road was a one-month old Fulcrum Racing Zero Competizione. The Racing Zeros were an upgrade to the bike I bought in 2015.

Replacing the damaged Fulcrum wheel was tedious, to say the least. The local Fulcrum distributor initially said I would have to buy a full wheelset. It took some persuading by Jeff at The Bike Artisans to convince the distributor to sell just a rear wheel. Jeff did ask if it was possible to buy a replacement rim. No chance.

Lim, a mechanic at The Bike Artisans, said that he would try to source a replacement rim. It would be a shame for the barely used spokes and hub to go to waste.

That was in June 2018. A combination of the difficulty in buying just a replacement rear rim and Lim’s lack of time to rebuild the wheel using the spokes and hub from the damaged wheel meant that I picked up the repaired wheel yesterday.

Interestingly, the replacement rim does not have any decals. I like the stealth look.

Another hazard on our roads is gratings over drains like these.

These are on Jalan Tiara Kemensah 3. There are gratings on the edges of the road that are aligned in the non-wheel grabbing direction, but I didn’t notice those the first time I came down this road. I was able to bunny hop over the gratings. I’ve seen accidents where front wheels got caught in gratings like these, with damage to both bike and rider.

Gratings like these cover the drain in front of The Bike Artisans.

I have ridden diagonally over them countless times. But all it takes is one moment of distraction.

I was on the first road bike I owned. As I was riding off the pavement someone called out my name. I looked around and of course, I rode my front wheel into the gap in a grating. I was going slowly enough that I didn’t hurt myself when I tipped onto the ground, but the front rim was kinked beyond repair.

So now I have just the rear wheel from the set of eleven-year-old Easton EA90 SLX’s that came with that bike.

This wheel is hanging in my bike store. Like the Racing Zero is. Both ready in case of emergency.

This one collection which I hope doesn’t grow anymore.

Photograph courtesy of Magda Ehlers from Pexels

Oh 🔥💀💣💩⚡!!

I started riding a road bike in January 2010.  Since then I have ridden more than 28,000 km.  I have had some close calls, but had never crashed.  I commented on this fact last week to my biker chick.  Perhaps a bit too smugly.  I should have known better.

About a dozen of us were at the mid-point of the Janamanjung Fellowship Ride.  We had just restarted a pace line after a rest stop.  I was second or third wheel.  I don’t know why, but we started to slow down.  31.5 kph became 20 kph over the span of about 60 metres.  I don’t remember slowing down.  I do remember glancing to my left for a second to look at a rider who seemed to be struggling.  That split second of inattention was all it took.  I touched wheels with Mark, and went down.



I landed on my left thigh and hip, and banged my head hard on the tarmac as I rolled at least once onto the grass verge.

Once I got over the initial shock I checked for damage.  I had a grazed left knee, a long graze on my left hand, a graze on the point of my left hip, a rapidly swelling bruise on my upper left thigh, a small cut on my left eye brow, scratches on both palms, and a long graze on my right forearm below the elbow.

This photo was relatively soon after the crash.  The medics hadn’t arrived yet, and I was still in a bit of a daze.

Photograph courtesy of Keat Wong

Photograph courtesy of Keat Wong

The medics were soon on the scene.  Thy put iodine on the visible grazes, and a bandage on my knee.

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

If I were a true cyclist I would have checked my bike for damage before worrying about myself.

Immediately obvious to me was the broken right brake / shifter body.  The shifter was twisted inward, so it took a hefty hit.

JMFR 2014 Crash Shifter

Fortunately the brake and shifter still worked, despite the body being held in place by cable tension.

My buddies noticed that the chain had slipped off the chain rings and below the chain catcher, and that the front derailleur was out of alignment.  They whipped out hex wrenches and very quickly got the chain back onto the big ring, and running clear of the front derailleur.

As bike and I were getting patched up, I was told that Chon, also went down behind me.  He had a broken right shifter too.  Chon’s son, Kai Yang, and Jason had in turn ridden over my bike, but stayed upright.  Kai Yang had a flat tire to deal with as a result.

I did two little repair jobs.  The first was to straighten my handlebar, which was facing left of centre.

The second repair came after I got going again.  The front wheel was out of true.  As I was fiddling with a spoke wrench (never leave home without one), Jason told me that he had ridden over my front wheel, and that Kai Yang had too.

Needless to say I am impressed with the durability of my Boyd wheels.  The only evidence that two guys had ridden over my front wheel, apart from it being out of true, are some marks on the brake track.

JMFR 2014 Crash Front Wheel

No broken or loose spokes.  I was able to reduce the wobble enough for the wheel to turn without rubbing against the brake pads.  And that wheel carried me the remaining 60 km to the finish line.

I took a look at the rest of my kit once I got home.  My helmet did its job.  The damage looks cosmetic only, but this is a good excuse to get a new helmet.

JMFR 2014 Crash Helmet

I landed hard on my left hip and upper thigh.


I would have expected a hole or two in my cycling kit.  What surprised me was that my bib shorts show no sign of scraping along some tarmac.


It was fortunate that I had arm screens on.  I am sure those helped me keep skin on my arms.  I have some grazes on my right elbow, and some marks on the back of my left upper arm, but again, minimal evidence of a fall on the arm screens.  A small hole in one arm screen is all.


I’ll be writing to both Boyd and Rapha to commend them on the durability of their products.

I am not as durable.  I’ve been pretty sore for a few days.  The good news is that the doctor at Gleneagles Accident & Emergency confirmed that I haven’t broken anything.  It is just a matter of waiting for the haematoma on my thigh to reduce.  I also have a slightly separated shoulder, which will sort itself out on its own.

Some would say that given the amount of group riding that I do, a crash was inevitable.  My crash was the result of a schoolboy error on my part though.  I would have avoided it if I hadn’t been distracted and took my eyes off the rider in front of me.

So my mantra while cycling will be . . .

Graphic courtesy of Rouie at

Graphic courtesy of Rouie at