Posts Tagged ‘Pearson Performance’

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…

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.

A wheel hassle

May 10, 2013

Freehub remover

I recently attended a bicycle maintenance course at Look Mum No Hands!, where I was taught many workshop-related secrets by an affable anarchist named Digger. I wish I could tell you those secrets, but sadly I can’t, because I’ve forgotten most of them. What I do remember, though, is Digger’s insightful response when I told him it was my dream to one day remove a cassette and chainring.

“What you need to do,” he concluded sagely, “is dream bigger.”

And Digger’s right, of course. To experience a fulfilling, meaningful existence, a human being must aim for an achievement far greater than the removal of a drivetrain (even though doing so allows you to give it a good scrub and get the whole thing looking extra sparkly-clean, which is always nice). Nevertheless, I am pleased to say that thanks to Digger and subsequent research on YouTube, I was able to take the sprockets off a wheel last week and transfer them onto a brand new one (the chainring business will have to wait for another day). It’s literally half a dream come true!

The path to realising your dreams is often paved with cobbles, and so it proved with my cassette-removing odyssey. Firstly, I went to a hardware store on North End Road run by an idiosyncratic Cypriot who refused to sell me an adjustable wrench until I took off my bicycle helmet and sunglasses. “I can’t see who you are!” he complained as I reluctantly removed my prescription eyewear – which, ironically, prevented me from seeing him.

A bigger problem occurred after I purchased a chain whip and lockring tool from a branch of a well-known bike shop chain near Southwark Bridge. The lockring tool didn’t fit. This is because it was actually a freehub remover (you can see it in the photo above resting on top of the cassette instead of slotting in). To spare their blushes, I won’t name the shop that doesn’t know the difference between an FR1 and an FR5. Although you don’t need to be a brain surgeon (see what I did there?) to work out who they are.

So after a delay of one day caused by being sold the wrong tool, I set about removing the cassette. Pull the chain whip clockwise around the cassette, turn the wrench anticlockwise, and behold! With one little tug, you have begun the process of liberating the cassette from its wheel-bound home. It’s piss-simple. As with most things cycling-related, I should’ve done this years ago.

Shimano Ultegra 10-speed sprockets removed

The next step was to lay all the sprockets and spacers out in order and clean them – the most satisfying part of this whole process – before attaching them to a Shimano Dura-Ace C24. (Yes, Campagnistas. First came the Shimano shoes, then the 10-speed Shimano electronic groupset, and now Shimano wheels: I am ‘turning Japanese’ in a way that is almost as unsightly as the activity described by that euphemism.) You’re probably dying to read my review of the C24 wheelset, so here it is: they’re very responsive but not as smooth as Ksyrium Elites, and the levers are what I imagine the ‘RELEASE BOMBS’ switch on a fighter jet’s control panel might look like.

Shimano Dura-Ace C24 quick release

That’s about it, really.

I’ll draw a veil over what happened next. Suffice to say, I am grateful to the ever-helpful Pearson Performance for being open early on a Saturday, and I didn’t realise the C24s are built for 11-speed when I bought them.

The important thing is, I achieved my sprockets-removing goal. I can now dream bigger.

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…