Thursday, April 29, 2010


From BikeHugger, this Piet Mondrian saddle. So, you grab your Look bicycle, mount this on it, buy the "La Vie Claire" kit from Prendas, and your rolling Hinault/De Stijl tribute is complete.

SPEZI 2010

Velovision has this quick rundown of the recent SPEZI show, with LOADS of pictures.

Spezi is a show for Recumbents, Quads, Tandems, Trikes, Folding Bikes - those slightly out of the ordinary things that you don't see all that often in most bicycle media. Worth a look.

Simon at La Gazzetta Della Bici shares this post on wrapping handlebars. From an original post by Simon's friend James, the method he uses to make custom finishing tape produces a *really* nice effect. (Manufacturer finishing tapes are crap, as James rightly points out, even, and it pains me to say so, Fizik's).

For wrapping the bars, I think it's hard to beat the guide on Park Tool - use the "self tightening" method described in their advanced tips. And do melt the ends of the finishing tape as both Park and James recommend.

TRAILERS is always an interesting place to look for utility cycling inspiration.

They cover a DIY project today, this trail maintenance trailer.
"Dean found that walking to different parts of trails that required maintenance and carrying tools took way to much time out of the day, and sometimes when you only have one day a month do to trail work time is of the essence. Dean felt that pre-made retail bike trailers where not cost effective, So he decided to design a bike cargo trailer that he could attach to his mountain bike and that would allow him to carry the tools he needed for effective trail maintenance."
They also link back to an older post, using the BOB trailer for tool carriage (and as a barbecue grill, as it happens).

I'm not sure it's even worth linking to BSNYC because EVERYBODY reads it, but on the offchance that you might miss his Portland write up...
"Yes, that's another Rivendell (with wooden fenders to boot), which people apparently even use to ride to the store here. I don't think I've ever seen two Rivendells in a single week in New York City, let alone in the space of a day or two, and I've certainly never seen one locked up outside. ... If I ever were to see more than one Rivendell in a day in New York I would just assume some kind of beard convention was in town."
It's vintage stuff.

Urban Velo review Joe's new book, the follow up to "A Dog in a Hat". "Come and Gone" is;
"...not the book of a champion, but rather of the guy who had a few good rides over thousands of races. This is something that most bike racers can relate to. He talks about cycling in America’s competitive cycling heyday, the 90’s. Most of the races that he competed in are long gone."
Charlie Brooker reviews last night's;
"According to some polls, Cameron won, or at the very least tied with Clegg. Which is odd, because to my biased eyes, he looked hilariously worried whenever the others were talking. He often wore a face like the Fat Controller trying to wee through a Hula Hoop without splashing the sides, in fact."

Shutt Velo Rapide Shorts - First Look

You can blame me for it.

I'd decided to buy some new shorts, as I couldn't face Summer in my SPEG seconds again. (These had been cheap, discounted because some customers had found the pad uncomfortable - sadly I was one such customer. My experience was that the pad was not so much "uncomfortable" as "abrasive", you try that for 60 miles).

Two weeks of good weather convinced me that shorts season was nearly here, even for the early morning cyclist. My one good pair of shorts (Nalini six panel, we do not push the boat out here at Monkey Towers) clearly needed supplementing.

So I made my decision, placed my order, and the shorts arrived on the day the sun got shy, and disappeared behind those grey clouds.

I like Shutt Velo Rapide. I like their philosophy (British made & sourced where possible - for lefty, low carbon reasons, as well as supporting a general idea of manufacturing things here) and I like them - they're on twitter, active on facebook, and engage like anyone else as opposed to seeming to be there to push product at you constantly.

I am not in their pay, and received no special treatment, and no discount on my purchase that you couldn't get yourself (sign up at their Clubroom page for one such handy money off code).

As I said, at Monkey Towers we do not push the boat out. There are no Assos shorts lurking in the bike stuff drawer, and Castelli have yet to grace my form. I do own a Rapha cap, but this is because hardly anyone makes Winter caps with peaks anymore, for reasons that I am unaware of. Whilst we draw the line at the stuff peddled by certain continental supermarkets[1] , we are not averse to, say, the second least expensive item in most online stores. and yes, for shorts, they have to be bibs. Waist shorts are rubbish, you know it and I know it.

Fortunately for me, Shutt offer an alternative to their Pro Bibshorts, in the Standard Bib Short, and it's these that I bought. (Which is not to say that the Pro Bibshorts don't offer value for money - but we'd spend that sort of money on one of Shutt's excellent sportwool jerseys. If we had that sort of money right now).

Lore has it that bibshorts are sized according to waist measurement - you match this & order accordingly. (Somewhere between a 32" & 33", depending on how much chocolate I've felt necessary for recovery in the week of measurement, since you ask). This places me in the "L" size, confirmed by a couple of brief conversations via facebook comments. (Shutt's facebook page is here).

The order was placed on Tuesday lunchtime, and had been delivered by the same time Wednesday. Excellent service.

Branding is understated & classy, consisting of this ShuttVR ribbon on the thigh If you like your shorts to have the manufacturers' name emblazoned across your backside, these are not for you.

Shutt Standard bib shorts on the left, Nalini six panel shorts on the right. Nalini shorts are a size 4. Shorts are similar across the waist, but you can see that the bib and legs are shorter on the Shutt Standard.

Compared to the Nalini six panel (size 4) the Shutt shorts have a shorter bib/shoulder strap, and slightly shorter legs. (This has led to them being christened the "Sean Yates" shorts, according to the website).

The Shutt Pad (left) and dhb's pad (from the "Merston" bib 3/4s) The shutt pad is larger in all dimensions, and thicker.

The pad is streets ahead of the Nalini one. It's bigger (extends forther forward and back, is wider, and seems plusher) than my current favourite, the pad in Wiggle's dhb branded 3/4 bibs). The real test of the pad will be some rides on the Pro Logo Nago PAS, a saddle that pushes the boundary between "firm" and "oh my christ this is utter bloody agony" like no other I've ridden. If the Shutt Standard can tame that beast, they will have been worth every penny.

The lycra in the Shutt standard is nicer to the touch than the Nalini lycra (softer in feel, and seems stretchier) and the mesh back will, hopefully, make them cooler than the solid backed Nalinis.

Which will be nice, if the sun comes back.

Ride report will follow, because we have to get a summer this year, don't we?

Ride Report now here.

[1] Although, if we're honest, this is at least partly because of the frankly bizarre sizing scheme employed. The shorts from such places would fit a cyclist built along the lines of "Big Daddy", not a spindly monkey like myself. Or anyone who wasn't a Saturday afternoon wrestler. Just saying.


You've seen some of these before, but this is a nice round up of Movie Infographics, from "The Bonus View".


Standing in front of their cars, my brother and I asked them if their truck had the iconic Tour de France car horn. They didn't understand what we were asking. I mimicked the sound, that sound that I hear in my sleep during hot July nights after days of watching the Tour. Over the years, I've developed a Pavlovian response to it. The horn means watching races, it means riding in short sleeves. That sound has been bouncing around in my head since I was seven years old, and I listened to the Tour on the radio for the first time. Once I mimicked the sound, the guys finally understood what I meant. They honked the horn, I recorded it...and now I share it with all of you as my gift.
From the Cycling inquisition blog.

Left ponders, Bike Commuters points you to Bikeway Central, which aims to be;
"a clearinghouse for U.S. bike maps and advocacy groups — and he’s asking for your help to add more to his lists. If you know of a good bike map produced by your local/regional/state planning groups or advocacy organizations that deserve some extra recognition, please let him know by using the “Contact Me” buttons on the Bikeway Central site. "
Is how Flowing Data aptly describes Infochimps' Twitter data repository. It's an enormous set of data subsets, some of which can be accessed for free, and some of which are paid for.

You'll be pleased to know that "users by background colour" is in the free set.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


In September, Belgian TV channel Vitaya is launching a reality TV show about a group of women who are preparing for a cycling race in Italy.
The participants will be getting training help from the Quick-Step team, and ride Eddy Merckx cycles. Sounds better than "X Factor", don't you think? More details here.


Spotted by the Epicurean Cyclist, this video featuring Rivendell's Hunqapillar makes me want to go out and ride. Wonder if I can get the afternoon off?

From Urban Velo - the "Zaftig" cargo fork allows you to swap out the fork on your old beater to a new one that takes a 20" wheel, with a sturdy porteur rack as part of the fork. Lots of pictures on the manufacturer's site of this thing carrying CRAZY load. Cargo bikes are cool.

My love/hate relationship with Copenhagenize enters a "love" phase once more, as they begin another interesting series of posts (a la Dave Horton's excellent "Fear of Cycling" series).

This is another 5 parter, Iain Boal's "Green Machine" history of the bicycle.

"Why Do Women think cycling makes their butts fat?"

Spotted by Urban Velo, these lovely Schwinn ads.

There's some truth in this too. City centres and neighbourhoods that aren't tyrannised by speeding traffic are more pleasant places to be.

Gimondi or Merckx?

(Merckx, obviously).

Pez Cycling news have an interesting preview of this year's Giro D'Italia. Top quote;
"Oh, and if this one doesn't end in a sprint, I'll eat a tubular."
I love the classics, but the Grand Tours will see the strong teams, and different riders come to the fore. I can't wait...

Cyclocosm has another good piece today, this time looking at an interview M. Hinault has given prior to the Grand Tours. Are Astana a better team than they get credit for?

Also, a top quote from cosmo in the comments;
"Hinault is certainly an acquired taste. But I like that he still swings a frame pump in a sport awash in politics, tact and nuance."
Lines and Colors blog has a lovely piece on the illustration of Virginia Frances Sterrett - beautiful, art nouveau inspired work.

Doug at Savagechickens draws wonderful, limited format (each cartoon done on a single post-it note) comics. And he has a great way with a pun. Today's cartoon is one of my favourites so far.

I love steel framed bicycles. It also follows that I love Mercian, who've been making beautiful steel frames in Derby, UK since 1946. I see Mercians occasionally on the train I get, and they draw admiring glances and occasional chat about the bikes and frames from cyclists and non cyclists alike. The frame above (a stock 953 lugged frame) featured on the Mercian Blog recently, and is particularly lovely, a primus inter pares. Something like this will probably form the basis for my dream bike/lotto winners bike. Until I see the next piece of gorgeous metal they come up with, of course.

The Mercian Cycles homepage is here.

Monday, April 26, 2010


SKETCHING mentioned this great set of posts from Mark Kennedy. Titled "A Kick in the Head" they're intended as reminders for working artists, but work pretty well for those of us doing this for fun.

On a lighter note, wouldn't you like to know how to cure ANY weakness in your art in one easy step? SEE HERE!

I like NPR. But I have to wonder what they were thinking of here, specifically this section;
Riders beware, though: Urban cycling is not for the faint of heart. You respectfully share the road, of course, but you will be confronted by reckless drivers and the occasional angry pedestrian. But you're a warrior, so ride like one. Don't forget to bring your battle gear: a helmet, some LED lights and, of course, a dose of healthy aggression.
You aren't a warrior. You're someone on a bike, usually up against someone in (at least) a half tonne of metal. Claim your space on the road, ride predictably and considerately. No warring or aggression is required.

Read on that one of my favourite riders, Sylvain Chavanel, will be out for 8 weeks after his crash in Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Chavanel sustained a fracture to the base of his skull, potentially very nasty indeed. He's an exciting rider to watch, and I love his attitude to the sport;
You know, I just want to race! That may sound simplistic at first, but I'll explain: In this Tour, I get the impression that nobody really races. I mean, everybody is saving their energy for later, for the final week.
But I don't care about later... I don't care about a top 15 placing. That's not why I'm here. Cycling would be quite a sad affair if everybody was speculating like that. I mean, you shouldn't be afraid to take a blow. It's also much more exciting for the spectators: they want us to attack - and if we blow up on the next day, it doesn't matter! At least, we gave everything on the day we really went for it.

That's what cycling is really about in my opinion. We're not here to wait in an armchair for things to happen. I'm not here to win the Tour - those riders are in a different position. I just want to race and make things happen for me! Who cares if I suffer later... And I will, that's for sure. Today, I feel a bit more tired. I hit the pedals hard yesterday, and I was in a break already on Sunday, so there's no wonder.

(Excerpt from his Tour Diary on Cyclingnews, 2008). Get well soon, Sylvain.

PARIS-ROUBAIX - The Untold Story
From the cycling inquisition blog, comes this tale of what happens when you try to take a replica trophy (that is, essentially, a large rock) through airline security.
Without putting much thought into it, I told the TSA agent that the rock was part of a trophy for a bike race, which takes place on cobbled roads. "And you won the race then?", he asked. "Yes, yes I did", I told him. How else would I explain the fact that I have this weird trophy? Why would I actually pay for a replica of a rock/trophy? I had to tell him I had won, in order for him to believe me.

In essence, I had just told this guy I was Fabian Cancellara .... As soon as I said it, I imagined further interrogation in a dark room somewhere in a JFK basement. I imagined TSA agents comparing my face to pictures of Cancellara, and me being forced to stick out my jaw to match his brutal underbite.
From flowing data comes this visualisation of US Tax Brackets over the past century. Now, for a non resident, that's not a matter of pressing interest, but the graphic produced is gorgeous.

I'm really enjoying the commentary on Cyclocosm lately. This piece, on the reaction to the podium at the Giro Del Trentino is thought provoking.
I think it’s pretty clear that the real villains in this tale of two podiums are the fickle cycling fans and commentators, and I think more people need to adapt the attitude taken by Fleche Wallonne winner Cadel Evans: some athletes in every sport will always cheat to win, and no amount of wristbands, invasive testing, or draconian punishment is going to change that.


Dave Moulton has another great historical piece on his blog, this time about the Campagnolo Cambio Corsa derailleur system. I really enjoy Dave's pieces on the history of bicycles, and this is another great example - look at the way the system solved the problem of tensioning the chain - fascinating stuff.

From Flowing Data, a real time visulaisation of Twitter conversation.

Add another piece to the ever-growing list of twitter visualisations. What makes Moritz Stefaner's Revisit different is that it focuses on the conversational threads between Twitter users over time. Tweets (symbolized by authors' avatars) are stacked vertically and organized by time horizontally. Tweets that have more attention via @mentions are closer to the middle.

It's a lovely piece of work.

Carlton Reid has put a copy of J.S. Dean's 1947 work on road safety, "Murder Most Foul" on Issuu. Dean argued that the responsibility for avoiding road "accidents" should lie largely with the motorist.
".... In the first place this "education" is the worst possible training for the children as the drivers of the future since it teaches them to believe that the driver is the master of the road and that the only role for the other road-users, including the youngest children and the oldest and most infirm persons, is to keep out of his way and that if they are killed or maimed through not doing so this is something they deserve..."
You only need to see the DoT's "Tales of the Road" campaigns to see that we're still following the same path Dean warned us about over 70 years ago.

Are you fed up of it yet?

If you're a cyclist, please consider joining CTC's "Vote Bike" campaign. This urges your political candidates to state clearly where they stand on six key cycling issues. If you're anything like most of us, this won't be the sole basis for awarding your vote, but you can help move cycling up the transport agenda, and hopefully have a clearer view of where your candidates stand.

The CTC "Vote Bike" page will provide a form letter to send/email to your candidates, which you can personalise. The letter asks them to state their position on the six issues. Once your candidate replies, CTC will tabulate their answers to help you, and other cyclists know where they stand on the issues.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Scott C's "Great Showdowns" series is utterly wonderful.

A nice feature on kid trailers - why not ask the kids what they think? From Bicycle Trailer Blog.

About 22 minutes in, still on iPlayer here.

"Interviewer - "Your factory is located in Chiswick, one of the most expensive parts of London. Is that wise?"

Will Butler-Adams - "No. Completely barking"

(He does go on to explain why it makes sense).

Panaracer's Pasela is a good, and surprisingly reasonably priced tyre for commuters and tourers - I ran the TG flavour on one of my old bikes and really liked them. Now you can now get a practical tyre in a fancy colour, see here.

Another set of Cycling Rules has popped up, to join rules of the euro-cyclist et al.

Of course, the only rule you really need obey is JUST BLOODY RIDE. All else is secondary.


From Flowing Data, one of my favourite infographic and data visualisation blogs comes this round up of Good Magazine's Neighbourhood Infographics competition. The winning infographic is about biking in Minneapolis - I particularly like the "Sightings" of different sorts of cycle.

From Brendadada out of off of Twitter, this amazing set of wedding photos shot on 35mm film.

Link on Fredmiranda Forums

I used to love using Black and white film, and although I've shot the occasional "Once in a lifetime" set using it, I don't think I'd have the bottle to do something as high stakes as a wedding. shows how digital has spoiled us, I guess.

Get better battery life from your N97 Mini. Smartphones EAT batteries - especially if you're using the GPS to track your rides, the internet to faff about on twitter, &c This article gives you a little checklist of things you can do to prolong battery life.

Also, if you have an S60 Phone, want to use GPS to track running, cycling, walking, ski-ing (you get the idea) and don't yet have Nokia's Sports Tracker, you should grab it.

The new release on SymbianTweet's site.

Sportstracker for 3rd Edition Devices.

The last Beta Labs 5th Edition Release.

Ok, it's a bit early to start thinking about this in this hemisphere, but Treadly & Me has written a good article on bike lights that you can read here.

Bicycle Design has this, pointing you towards the Tyrell company and their rather nice looking road bike. The frame is based on the slant frame of their 20" mini velo frames. It makes for a striking looking bike.

Tyrell Bikes.

From Drawn! comes this idea - take your favourite book, turn to p.100, draw it.

The original article has what more talented people than I have done with the idea. I'll try to get my head around it and post what I come up with.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


From sashae's Flickr stream comes this interesting New York Magazine piece on bicycle messengers, originally published in 1986;

"Fast Company: Wheel Tales of Manhattan's Bike Messengers"

"...they are fast becoming folk heroes - the pony express riders of the eighties."
La Gazzetta Sportwool Jerseys now available. Made in the UK by the EXCELLENT folk at Shutt Velo Rapide, La Gazzetta's jersey is now available at a special pre-order price. If you've never tried a proper merino jersey, you're in for a real treat - synthetic jerseys will never seem quite as good to you again.

The Pre Order Page is here;
"La Gazzetta Sportwool Jersey"

I believe there isn't really such a thing as a "do it all" bike. This is why it's ok for me to have three, and be thinking about the purchase of AT LEAST another two.

Fortunately, Salsa disagree, and showed some interesting takes on the idea at the recent "Sea Ottter" show.

Singletrack World has a good run down of the new stuff coming our way from Salsa. The attention to detail is really nice in their new line - swinging dropouts on the bikes (allow single speed or geared setups without the use of half links for the former), and rack beds contoured to hold roll shaped luggage like karrimats or sleeping bags are the standouts for me.

There's a nice looking seat stay/seat post mounted rack too that would make an ideal support for a large saddle bag. Interesting stuff. has a "first look" piece on the "Vaya" road bike too.

Is "Adventure by Bike" a better slogan than "Ride and Smile" though?

It's Marcelle Holt's birthday today. She's splendid, and deserves a large cake, SO I DONE HER A PICTURE.