Posts Tagged ‘Specialized’

So I’ve got yet another bicycle…

September 20, 2013

…and it’s only a few months since I bought my Robot Bike From The Future. But I want to make it perfectly clear I am not – repeat AM NOT – having a midlife crisis. I need this bike to get to and from work, and the last one I had broke. Here’s a picture if you don’t believe me.

crack on langster frame

It was a Langster, and I only discovered there was a crack near the dropouts on the driveside chainstay when I gave the dirty old thing a scrub. So there’s a lesson for you, kids: always clean your bicycle on a regular basis, even if it’s just a hack bike, otherwise you might not notice the frame has developed a structural fault that will cause it to snap and send you plummeting towards the tarmac, and possibly A&E.

I’ve heard great things about Specialized replacing frames that are out of warranty, but I didn’t go down that route for two reasons. Firstly, the bike was just a runaround, so I’ve left it unattended loads of times, and who knows what abuse some dozy, bored halfwit might’ve inflicted on the frame? Secondly, as much as I liked the Langster, the aluminium frame and carbon seatpost were only comfortable for short commutes; anything longer was a bit rough on the old knackers.

So for longevity, and because I want to do some long, flat training rides over the winter, I decided to replace the Langster with a steel frame fixie. I used one of the cycle to work schemes, opting to spend £700 (the maximum is £1,000), and voila! This is what I got…

pearson now you see me side

Like my Robot Bike From The Future, I bought it from the Pearson shop in Sheen. It’s part of their own range, and it’s called Now You See Me…

pearson now you see me front

That last ellipsis, by the way, which obviously acts as a transition to the above photo, also happens to be part of the name.

pearson now you see me name

(Also, you may have noticed that to complement the gritty, urban photoshoot which took place just off London’s famous Portobello Road, my team of stylists sprayed the bike with water to give it a rained-on effect.)

pearson now you see me back

I wanted to see how well my Now You See Me… would fulfill its dual role as a commuter and training bike, so for its first outing on Monday morning I did a round trip to Windsor before taking it into town. I am hugely pleased with the results. This bike just rolls. It dives through corners. It’s agile. And I prefer the 48×18 to the Langster’s 42×16: slowing down for a junction is more stride-and-decelerate rather than scamper-and-brake. What I like most about the bike, though, is that underneath the smooth, comfortable ride is a discernible toughness that urges you to give it a bit more welly whenever the traffic opens up to give you a clear stretch of road. The only reservation I have is the saddle: visually, I’ve nothing against the droopy tip, but I feel it might be nudging me further forward than I’m used to. I’ll need to put in a few more rides to judge it properly.

So that’s my impression after four days. And to think I may never have discovered such pleasure if that aluminium frame hadn’t cracked…

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…

The DYNAMITE! Five: The week in cycling, remixed. Issue #3

April 22, 2011

5 DOWN Assos
Despite it’s unhealthy fascination with Fabian Cancellara, The DYNAMITE! Files has never met anyone from Switzerland, so it cannot wholeheartedly vouch for the intelligence of the country’s male inhabitants. Yet this blog is surely not alone in reasoning that Swiss chaps who ride bicycles do not habitually slop dollops of beauty cream on their private areas in the mistaken belief that a cosmetic product sold by a women’s fashion retailer is the same as chamois cream made by a high-end cycle clothing giant, even though the two have near-identical names. So how, then, has Assos managed to ban Asos from using the name in its home country? And to prevent any further confusion, will they drop the terms “knickers” and “tights” from the Assos website? Because those things really aren’t what ladies are looking for when they Google them, fellas. Especially when they’re modelled by a homoerotic mandroid.

4 UP Alberto Contador
The pressures of infamy appeared to have finally got to Alberto Contador on Tuesday when the Clenbuterol swallower was spotted shielding his mouth in a manner not wholly dissimilar to the late Michael Jackson. But let’s not label the poor chap Wacko ‘Berto just yet or concur with the banal explanation that the band of material covering his gob was to help him cope with his hay fever during training, because there is a possibility that El Pistolero was wearing a face mask to take his gun-slinging nickname to the next level. Wardrobe updates to watch out for at his next race: spurs on the heels of his Specialized BGs and a ten-gallon hat glued to his Giro Ionos. Ride ‘em, cow-eating boy!

3 UP Sean Kelly
Speaking of bovines, Eurosport’s one-man humour vacuum Sean Kelly broke out of character on Sunday by deploying the wonderful phrase “done for the deep freeze” as a euphemism for the slaughter and dismemberment of a heifer. He was relating the story of how he won a cow in a Belgian crit and plumped for the latter option when the organisers asked if he would like to take it home alive or dead. That unexpectedly humorous anecdote delivered during a lull in the Amstel Gold would be enough for the Irishman to make The DYNAMITE! Five any week of the season, but he also gets an extra tip-o-the-hat for his steadfast refusal to pronounce the word “leopard” in the embarrassingly feigned manner laid out in Team Leopard-Trek’s infamous dictum to the cycling industry. For that one small act of defiance, he can mangle “classement général” and anglicise “Paris-Roubaix” any time he likes.

2 UP Kebabs
Fabian Cancellara’s choice of recovery food on Sunday produced another fascinating entry in the ever-expanding Dictionary of Fablish: a “Vino kebab”. Rumours that rickety carts bearing the legend “Honest Alexander’s Meaty Treats” were seen near the finish line of the Amstel Gold are wholly unfounded. Nevertheless, if you ever ingest a post-pub meal so toxic that you feel it has done something peculiar to your bloodstream, yet the sense of shame forbids you from ever admitting to ingesting it, then at least you now have a wholly appropriate term for the unfortunate foodstuff. Thank you, Fabian!

1 UP Douglas
You may have missed it, but Mark Cavendish won something last week: the Freedom of Douglas. Perusing the brief list of Manxmen who have previously garnered the same award, one can’t help noticing that Sir Winston Churchill and Norman Wisdom are no longer with us, and one of the three Bee Gees has not been Stayin’ Alive since 2003 – so it is a credit to the borough’s council members for bestowing the same honour on a 25-year-old who can raise the area’s profile among the under-50 age bracket. The Manx missile was supposed to have picked up the gong three years ago but his hectic schedule got in the way, so expect him to start exercising his freedom of his hometown sometime after the 2014 Tour de France.

The DYNAMITE! Five: The week in cycling, remixed. Issue Zero.

March 25, 2011

5 UP – Fabian Cancellara
Funny old place, Switzerland. For generations, the benign dictatorship of Wonka-like chocolatiers which constitutes the Swiss government has been arming its soldiers with nothing more than bottle-openers-cum-screwdrivers in a bid to make the world laugh so heartily at them that it forgets the dreaded phrase “Nazi gold” – and now, in a new wave of comedy propaganda, the country has finally produced a language of its own, courtesy of its top cycleperson. That last bit is not strictly accurate, of course: everyone knows that the old story about Fabian Cancellara racing on a motorised bicycle was total bunkum because he’s not actually a person but an actual machine, soldered together in a top-secret Bern laboratory. Yet it is nevertheless true that RoboFab’s formidably complex central processing unit has fashioned its own tongue, which The DYNAMITE! Files likes to call Fablish. The distinguishing characteristics of Fablishness, as evinced in the mighty mandroid’s tweets during the last few weeks, are a preponderance of phonetics (“Littel nap bevor the tt”, “i taket back”), a creative use of plosives (“o’grady stolen my planket”), everyday expressions rendered as programmed instructions (“Go to bed for sleep”) and an emotionless deployment of double entendres (“Organzier think we are tools… up and down”). Meanwhile, in a different corner of the Twitterverse, there is another robot who has difficulty with his spelling, and the lonely little fella is looking for a friend. If only the friendly Fabster would team up with poor old dmuper so the lovelorn Popjustice droid might no longer feel “soalone”. Ah, if only…

4 DOWN – Testicles
It takes balls to unleash a radical new design on a doubting world – even more so if you happen to be Ken Link, whose gentlemen’s area must surely be in a sorry state if his patented noseless saddle is anything to go by. Despite being marketed with the intriguing slogan “testicles relaxing”, the crescent-shaped contraption appears to invite the user to dangle his precious cargo in the narrow gap between its rails, which would, one surmises, produce an unwanted yank should you suddenly decide to launch a devastating attack, which would surely be devastating for all the wrong reasons. Still, one industry expert seemed quite taken by the “bouncy” ride the saddle produced, and it looks like it would swiftly eject the rider should he hit a pothole, so this radical invention could theoretically ease saddle soreness because you would be too scared to sit on the ruddy thing. Problem solved!

3 UP – Ben Serotta
Nothing seems to surprise jaded hardman Guy Andrews, so The DYNAMITE! Files was tickled to hear that the world-weary Rouleur editor was taken aback when he returned to his Cyclefit stomping ground last week and saw for the first time its not-so-recent transformation into a doctor’s beige waiting room. Guy and his old Covent Garden mucker Phil Cavell had a lot to talk about, judging by the photo on the right, so spare a thought for Ben Serotta, the mild-mannered titan of the titanium world sitting in the background, who appears to be patiently listening to the two opinionated pals bantering in their usual forceful style prior to his sell-out talk. You can’t help thinking that Gino’s canine face must surely express what Ben is feeling on the inside. In other news, Cyclefit have yet to announce the winner of their caption competition. (Number of entries: two. One of them is reproduced above. C’mon – get on with it, fellas!)

2 DOWN – Floyd Landis and Paul Kimmage
Not so much a news item, more of an awkward confession, and the hardcore anti-dopers among you may want to sit down for this bombshell: over many, many weeks, The DYNAMITE! Files has tried, and repeatedly failed, to read the entire transcript of the infamous seven-hour Landis/Kimmage powwow. There. It’s out, at last: this blog is a lightweight. As if you didn’t already know. Now let’s move on, OK?

1 DOWN – A bicycle made by a big printer

It’s been coated in a special hi-tech anti-wind lacquer (not true), the version given to Mark Cavendish has been endowed with additional stiffness (probably not true), and it was the bike HTC’s Matt Goss rode to victory at Milan-San Remo on Saturday (definitely true, because it was on the telly and everything). With Specialized’s marketing strategy producing a stream of piffle peppered with the occasional fact, it’s unsurprising that the McLaren-designed Venge this week eclipsed another unique British innovation: the printed bicycle. A proper rideable bike, spat out by a kind of printer! Made from nylon! Fused by lasers! And as strong as steel! Hurrah! All thrilling stuff, although if you want to prolong your excitement, it’s probably best to ignore the noise at the end of its appearance on BBC Breakfast. Or just tell yourself it’s Bill Turnbull’s joints. Doing Strictly can really mess you up like that.

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