Thursday, February 28, 2008

Rapha Racing

I've been scoping out Rapha's products for a while now, and recently decided to check some out firsthand. I ordered a pair of their Bidons (water bottles) and was happy to see that they were offering free shipping from England! They arrived the other day in this fancy package.

Unfortunately, one good squeeze and part of one of the letters flaked off one of the bottles. Needless to say I was a bit disappointed. So I e-mailed Rapha to let them know that one of the bottles was a little defective, and that I was concerned that my impression of the company had been tarnished. The next morning I received an automated FedEx e-mail stating that Rapha Racing had shipped a package to me. I picked the package up from FedEx this evening and found that they had shipped me one replacement bottle and a complimentary copy of the Rouleur 2008 calendar as well! I'm quite impressed, especially since they got it to me so quickly.

In the meantime I had ordered a pair of their bib shorts and crocheted gloves from Competitive Cyclist. They arrived today and my first impression is that they are of very high quality. I'll have to post a follow-up once I've had a chance to break them in, but I think I'm going to be very pleased with both items.

Saturday, February 23, 2008


My winter commuter this season has been a Univega mountain bike that I picked up used for $90.

In the photo you can see that I'm sporting the SON hub with some homemade headlights. These are the Cree headlights I put together based on the work of Joe Gross (thanks Joe!). There's a reference to his work in a previous post on this blog. Anyhow, these lights are amazing; I couldn't be happier with my lighting solution. The Planet Bike taillight is insanely bright too.

I just ordered a second Brooks saddle to put on my road bike. I decided that it deserved the B17 with the fancy rivets. Besides, I really wanted a B17 on my commuter. I liked the Terry Fly well enough, but when I sat down on the Brooks I knew I had done the right thing. It just feels great. Now I just have to break in the new one. I gave it a good rub-down with the Proofide last night. Now I just have to put some miles on it.

Speaking of the road bike.... I just finally got the Salsa Casseroll back after it had been sitting in the bike shop basement for 4 months. I was the victim of a negligent driver at the end of September. This person was too busy talking on their cell phone to realize that they were turning left in front of me. So I crashed into their fender and went over onto the hood of the car. Basically it resulted in some major damage to the car and my bike. We had some trouble getting a replacement fork, so I had to wait a while. I'm pretty happy that I ended up with a carbon fork to replace the original steel one that came with the frame. The IRD Mosaic is a perfect solution as it accommodates the long-reach brakes and fenders that I had on the bike. I also took the opportunity to upgrade the broken Centaur controls to Record. I haven't gotten used to it yet, but I think I'm going to dig being able to sweep the entire cassette with one motion.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Midlander

I rode the Midlander last week with my dad and my brother. Here are the facts:

We missed one turn.

We skipped Bopple Hill.

I stopped to rest about a dozen times going up Gannet (but I never walked the bike!).

My top speed was 46.9 MPH!

We bailed out and headed back to the start about 43 miles into the ride, when it was 49 degrees and raining. In the end we road about 50 miles.

It was brutal and lots of fun at the same time.

Next year I plan to train and be about 30 pounds lighter.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Lumotec Fly review

I went out for my first good ride with the new Lumotec Fly headlight and the SON dynamo hub. I should preface this review by stating that my night vision is really pretty poor. I say that because I was a little disappointed in the light output and I think someone with better night vision would be more impressed than I was.

Before it got truly dark the light wasn't much help. It got better as it got darker but I still found myself unable to differentiate between the asphalt path and the grass on either side. It would probably help if the grass were green instead of brown right now, but anyhow. Things got a lot better once I got to the section of the path with a yellow line down the middle. Then I had no trouble keeping it on the path. Aside from that though I came dangerously close to riding into the canal and I even missed a familiar turn because I couldn't see it.

About the light unit itself - It's really just a typical plastic light. It's made in Germany but if I didn't know better I would guess that it had been made in China. I say that with great regret because I love German stuff. Being of Dutch and German heritage I always go for the German product, if there is one. Maybe it was made in Germany using Chinese equipment, I don't know. But it's lightweight and it seems sturdy enough so I guess I can't really complain about the construction quality.

I was surprised to see that it didn't come with any kind of paperwork. There is some information on the outside of the package, but no instructions of any kind. I guess it's more or less straight-forward, but it's not entirely clear what the four connections on the back are for. Which reminds me that I was less than thrilled to see that the main hook-up wires are attached inside the unit. That will make it more difficult if they need to be replaced.

The beam pattern is a little unusual. I was prepared for it to be less focused than that of an E6, but it takes on kind of an eagle type shape. It's difficult to describe and I haven't tried to photograph it yet. I think it's fine though. I was a little put off by the stray light that made its way to the ground directly below the bike and up into the trees, but then I realized that the light that's leaking on the sides probably makes me a little more visible in traffic. I guess that can't be bad.

The standlight seems very useful. It's bright enough that I would feel pretty confident that drivers would see me from across an intersection. Another nice thing about the standlight is that it's separate from the halogen unit. You can remove the halogen unit to replace the bulb and the standlight will provide a little bit of light so you can see what you are doing. There's some of that German goodness.

All in all I guess it will do the job. I'm happy knowing that I have parts on order to build a couple of Cree headlights though. I'm expecting them to be noticeably brighter. I think I should experiment with mounting the light on the fork too. Having the light on the frame didn't bother me when I was using a 20 watt halogen, but with this light there isn't enough light on the sides to help me see when I'm turning.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Second choice headlight

Well, I decided to call Peter White today to see if they could switch my order. They had the Lumotec Fly Plus in stock so I'm going with that. It might actually be a better choice than the standard Lumotec I had ordered originally. They promised to ship it out today, so maybe by Friday I'll be hooking some lights up to the bike.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Ellen Allien lives in Berlin

I'm a big fan of Berlin. I would say it's my favorite city in the world. I recently picked up Ellen Allien's The Other Side Berlin presented by Time Out (Deaf Dumb + Blind Recordings). I bought it mostly because it comes with a DVD that outlines some of Ellen's favorite spots around Berlin. Turns out the CD is great too! I highly recommend it.

In all its glory...

Schmidt's Original Nabendynamo. My very own SON wheel. Very exciting my friends. A true work of art that works. Well, not mine, not quite yet...

I would be out lighting the canal path right now if weren't for the fact that I am down one dynamo headlight. I ordered on from Peter White, but the model I wanted is out of stock. I really wish they had let me know so I could have ordered a different one. I'm sufficiently anxious to get it going that I probably would have ordered an even more expensive one! Oh well, I know they're busy. Too busy to throw some rim tape on my nice Velocity rim too. That surprised me. At first I thought maybe the Velocity rims don't need rim tape, but that's crazy. Otherwise they would have never invented the Veloplug. So I need one headlight and one rim strip before I can see this thing in action.

I did get my Busch & Müller 4D Lite Plus:

Once again, useless until I get the headlight. Oh well, I'm not riding to work in the dark just yet.

This headlight is really just a temporary fix anyhow. I have designs on a double Cree setup, following the excellent work detailed here. I ordered some junk from Cutter in Australia and a couple of nFlex boards from this dude in California. I'll have to swing by Radioshack and Home Depot to see if I can come up with the remaining supplies. I'm still trying to wrap my brain around the whole project, but I'm confident I can get it working. I'll try to document the whole thing in detail here as I go.

Just to make it clear, this wheel is going to do double duty on my recumbent and my winter bike. I have a Bacchetta Giro that I ride most of the year and I just picked up a new winter bike yesterday. I've been riding my full-suspension Trek Y3 the last few years and I'm tired of the suspension sapping me of my strength. So I found a mid-90s Univega Alpina 503 the other day. It's really a pretty nice mountain bike. It has all (low-end) Shimano stuff and some sort of Mavic rims. Anyhow, it'll make a great winter beater once I get the SON hub on there.