Posts Tagged ‘Sigma Sport’

I’ve seen the light – rechargeables are a massive waste

March 31, 2015

Photo 28-03-2015 22 43 40

A couple of months ago I bought a pair of Cateye lights. They look ridiculously massive because they’re not USB-rechargeable. But who cares? They work. Of course, USB rechargeables are supposed to be better for the environment, but not in my experience. Because all the ones I owned have ended up in the bin.

In the past two years I’ve owned four sets of USB-rechargeable lights made by four different manufacturers, and all of them went a bit Tour Of Beijing. The first set was a tiny pair which I picked up for a tenner. After about a month, the red one refused to charge. Then I bought two Knog Blinders; straight out of the box, the front light refused to switch on, so the good people at Sigma Sport replaced it – but a few months later the thin rubber strap broke when I attached it to the steerer of my Glider. I replaced it with a Moon Comet, which seemed much brighter but it kept running out of juice after little more than an hour. I retired the white Moon and red Knog after upgrading to a pair of Lezyne Microdrives, which I had been using up until a couple of months ago when the front light decided it wasn’t going to turn off no matter how many times I pressed the button.

Well, so what? I’m just unlucky, right? These things happen. Well, they shouldn’t. Because unlike gloves, a bottle cage or most other optional extras, a pair of lights are supposed to save your life, and I expect them to be reliable because we’re legally required to use them at night. And even if I have been a victim of bad luck, it seems to me that the concept of basic, small USB-rechargeable lights is flawed anyway. Unlike the rechargeable batteries I use for my Cateyes which I only need to top up once a week, all of the small USB lights required constant charging due to relatively short burn times. If I forgot to plug them in when I got to my desk, then I faced the daunting prospect of a ride home in darkness. If they ran out of power while I was riding, they died suddenly rather than fading out gradually, and I didn’t have the emergency option of popping into a shop or service station to get new batteries.

I suppose I could get a mini-floodlight like the Exposure Race, which I borrowed for last year’s Dunwich Dynamo. I switched it on at 10pm and it cast a powerful beam across unlit country lanes at the lowest setting until I reached the beach at sunrise. It’s an amazing light but I won’t be getting one because, aside from the expense, I would be venturing into “Mr Nut, meet Mr Sledgehammer” territory: when commuting, I shouldn’t need such a powerful light to accompany me along a mere 12 miles of Tarmac, all of which are illuminated by streetlights.

These days you can mount lights on your wheels. There is even a light that projects a laser image of a bicycle on the road in front of you to alert motorists to your presence. Or you could, if you wanted to look like a malfunctioning robot, wear a flashing jacket. Yet none of these products seem to provide any evidence that they are actually safer. One day, maybe, these entrepreneurial types will give up on crummy gimmicks and come up with small, long-lasting, easily-mountable USB rechargeable lights. Until then, I’m going back to stick to my bulky, reliable, battery-powered Cateyes. I have seen the light.

Who is Chris Campbell?

July 19, 2013

Two green Ridley Excaliburs

Sunday was a big day. It was the third and final Richmond Park time trial of the year. My result (28min 50sec, 18th out of 31 in the Men Road category, 56th out of 92 overall) was always going to be of little consequence to me. I was only interested in achieving one goal, fulfilling a unique aspect of what is surely my destiny: this, I knew, was the moment when I, Chris Campbell, would finally meet… Chris Campbell.

The other Chris Campbell has been unwittingly shadowing this Chris Campbell for years. Chris Campbell and Chris Campbell were both Dynamos. For two years in succession, Chris Campbell signed up for the London Dynamo club championships but failed to show, leaving Chris Campbell – me – to ride as the only Chris Campbell in the race. Chris Campbell has also caused momentary confusion in Sigma Sport when I have had to point out on a number of occasions that no, that is not my address, and Pearson Performance briefly thought Chris Campbell’s bike belonged to me when we both had our machines serviced there at roughly the same time. And yet we have never met.

I arrived at 25 minutes to six eagerly hoping Chris Campbell, who is now a member of Kingston Wheelers, would appear in the low-level mist that had covered Richmond Park. I was 17th off at 6:08; the Wheelers’ Chris Campbell would leave the starting line three minutes later. I made a mental note to wait for him at the finish.

Unfortunately I was so knackered by the end I forgot to look out for Chris Campbell. No matter: at the Dynamo social on Thursday, my clubmate Robin Osborne revealed, to my great surprise, that he once knew Chris Campbell. Short and stocky, apparently. Rode a Serotta a few years ago. Zipp wheels.

I waited to see a Wheeler matching that description, to no avail. I asked a couple of Wheelers if they knew Chris Campbell; they didn’t. I was beginning to feel like the protagonist in a Nabokovian meta-prank, hunting for a double who it appeared may not actually exist.

I told former Dynamo Rich Simmonds about my predicament before he accepted his prize for joint first place overall. To my astonishment, it turned out he too knew Chris Campbell… except Rich remembered Chris Campbell as tall and thin, which is what I look like. Was Chris Campbell the physical double of Chris Campbell? Or were there now not two, but three Chris Campbells? After all, I was only assuming Chris Campbell joined Kingston Wheelers after leaving Dynamo; the Wheelers’ Chris Campbell could be a different Chris Campbell altogether. In which case, the three of us could form a club – the Chris Campbell Cycling Club. Or CCCC.

Then I looked at the finishing sheet. It seems the Chris Campbell who is now a Kingston Wheeler may well be the former Dynamo Chris Campbell. For, like the one-time ’Mo, the Wheelers’ Chris Campbell had also not turned up. The only double I got to see was another green Ridley Excalibur.

Curse you, Chris Campbell. Curse you.

Vent frustration

October 3, 2012

Helmets have it easy. As a helmet, all you’re doing most of the time is sitting on your owner’s noggin, trying (and failing, usually) to not make them look like… well, a total helmet. Just maintain a purposeful and protective appearance, while the wearer resembles a bulb-headed alien, and you’re fulfilling the everyday functions of being a cyclist’s crash hat. And to their credit, the helmets I have owned carried out this role with a stoical pride. Until, after many long rides, one cracked. Quite literally.

The fissure on my 15-month-old Specialized Prevail was not the result of a crash or any abuse. I have no idea how it got there. I simply took the helmet off last week, and there it was: a crack right at the front, underneath the vent.

Sigma, who sold the helmet to Jen when she bought it for me as a birthday present, enquired about getting a replacement as it was still within the warranty period. Specialized told them that wouldn’t be possible, because the damage wasn’t the result of a crash. The guy on the other end of the phone told them the same thing had happened to his Prevail. I thanked Sigma for their efforts and rode off in a bit of a huff, wearing a helmet that probably wouldn’t be as much use as it should be in the event of an accident.

To improve my mood, and my level of crash protection, I pulled up at Pearson Performance, went in and tried on a Kask Mojito, a light, compact lid which apparently is the team issue crash hat at Sky. Despite the middle-aged-dad-trying-to-be-cool name, I loved it. The helmet has a leatherette strap and a low profile, both of which remind me of the early crash hats from the ’70s, although the Kask lid doesn’t resemble a hairnet or a bunch of bananas. So I am now the proud wearer of a Mojito. The Mojito’s on me, guys! (Gah! No amount of wordplay is ever going to make that naff name better, is it?)

What this black and white beauty doesn’t have is a vent at the front. And come the summer, I’ll probably miss that nice little gap funneling a breeze onto my forehead as I descend the big hill in Richmond Park. The Prevail, like all helmets, has to conform to safety standards, so I am sure it is up to the job in that respect. But if the man from Specialized is to be believed, this isn’t the first time that the thin part of its structure has inexplicably broken. Let’s see if the helmet with an uncool name lasts longer than the one that leaves you with a cool head…


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