Darren and Mike visited the Madison/Sportline show launch of their 2020 models. We are excited to be adding Ridgeback and Genesis bikes to our brands initially. Ridgeback have some nice tourers and utility bikes and Genesis continue producing great adventure and road bikes including their signature Croix de Fer in steel and Titanium. A couple of highlights from Ridgeback were a cargo bike and a new crank drive ebike system at an excellent price and lighter Shimano Steps edrives with increased range. Because Madison import Shimano, most components on these bikes are Shimano branded unlike competitors who substitute alternative components. We have already supplied Ridgeback bikes on the Green Commute cycle to work scheme, the high build quality and finish is impressive. We are delighted to be building a new Genesis Equilibrium steel frame in the workshop into a nice winter bike for a customer.
Adam is riding a Wilier Cento 10NDR supplied and prepared by Riley’s Cycles in the Race Across America, 3000 miles in 8 days is a massive challenge for bike and rider. You can track Adam and team Antonia’s Friends 2019 as rider T808. Adam is raising money for the Tusk charity. The Cento 10 has an aero frame with variable shock absorber built into the rear frame so will be fast and make the long hours in the saddle more comfortable. Electronic shifters mean accurate shifting even when the rider is tired and disc brakes will mean confident braking even in the rain on mountain descents.
The new Dawes Galaxy Chromo is a great value bike at £899, with well chosen components and attention to detail from a quality British brand. It is suitable for commuting or adventures. https://dawescycles.com/product/galaxy-cromo/
The Cento1 Hybrid was designed to re-imagine the traditional limits of usability of a high-level racing bike: a product that combines the special distinctive traits of Wilier Triestina products with the cutting-edge intelligence of the lightest servo-assistance system on the market. The result is a true racing bike with pedal assistance which weighs just 11,9 kilograms – a record in the e-road category.
The first intelligent racing bike created with a specific mission: to give as many people as possible the opportunity to enjoy the emotions that only a high-end racing bicycle can offer.
Cento1 Hybrid was designed for you, whoever you are: Get yours!
Since 2006 Wilier Triestina’s history has been full of important achievements and acknowledgements at an international level. The victories of Alessandro Ballan at the Tour of Flanders in 2007 and Damiano Cunego at the Amstel Gold Race in 2008 and at the Giri di Lombardia in 2007 and 2008 are unforgettable. The apotheosis was reached in September 2008, when Alessandro Ballan won the world championship in Varese riding the mythical Cento1, followed by his teammate Damiano Cunego.
Also in the last great Tours, Wilier Triestina has led the way together with two first-class athletes. In the Tour de France 2010 with Alessandro Petacchi, who managed to win the green jersey, standing out as the leader in the points classification. Just one year later, in 2011, Michele Scarponi won his first Giro dItalia (a victory awarded after the disqualification of Alberto Contador). Wilier Triestina then continued its era of Best Sellers with new two-wheeled jewels. Cento1: light, stiff, fast and receptive. Sales really took off with this model. Granturismo and GTR: for those who love pedalling with the utmost comfort while still enjoying the performance offered by the most receptive racing bicycle. TwinBlade: the time trial bike with a completely innovative aerodynamic design. Zero.7: the lightest frame ever built by the Rossano Veneto based manufacturer. Less than 800 grams. Cento1SR and Cento1AIR: the sum of all the distinctive features of the previous models. Aerodynamic, light, with torsional rigidity and comfortable. A continuously evolving range of models, consolidated by the results and experience of the professional teams sponsored by Wilier Triestina. Relying on the strong combination between quality products and professional results, in the last decade Wilier Triestina has increased and consolidated its international presence with double digit percentage increases in terms of turnover and bicycles produced.
A tale that is more than a hundred years old, with the certainty of many more achievements to be told by Wilier Triestina in the future. This explains the sentence written on the cover of the Collection 2014 catalogue.
Darren and I have a challenge where we guess the weight of the bike. We can usually guess within a few hundred grammes, but the most recent challenge Darren won hands down by guessing exactly.
A long term project has been rebuilding a steel racing bike with modern components. I always incorporate learning opportunities in projects to gain the most value and expand our skills. This project had three learning points: 1. test methods for removing a stuck bottom bracket from a fragile frame 2. try out a new paint system 3. see how light we can make a classic steel racing bike in comparison to carbon fibre bikes.
When steel was the main material for bike building, British Reynolds tubing was used to build world beating bikes. Reynolds still produce some of the most advanced steel tubing available. 531 was most popular, but 753 was lightest and this exotic, delicate tubing was only available to approved frame makers who built world beating bikes for professional teams and cycling cognoscenti. When I found a Ribble 753 project on eBay I took a punt. Terry Dolan made some of these frames originally and I assumed he had retired, but I speculatively emailed Dolan Bicycles to ask if they could burn out the rusted in bottom bracket without damaging the frame. I was delighted when Terry himself called me and undertook the work successfully. For Point 2 I experimented with different paint removal methods and used the Spray.bike paint system in the jersey colours of Sherborne Cycling Club. For point 3 I scoured used component sources including bike jumbles and online adverts and assembled components over 12 months.
The finished weight of the project bike was bang on 8.5 kg. Earlier, when I compared weights of carbon, aluminium, and modern Reynolds 853 steel bikes on our blog; the carbon bike was 8.78kg. The “team” bike is lighter than the carbon example, so the project was a success showing a steel bike can be as light as a production carbon bike.
Where is most benefit achieved? Wheels, Frame, Rider?
An opinion I frequently hear is that many amateur riders could shed weight for no cost by dieting, but saving 100 grammes off a bike can cost getting on for £1 per gramme. Without breaking down exact costs, this is an example of Pareto’s principle or 80/20 rule, say I can shave 1kg off a bike, the first 800g costs 20% of our budget, but the last 200g costs the remaining 80%.
Manufacturers build bikes to meet a price point and there are two approaches. Decent brands like Merida start with a good frame and adjust the components to create different priced models, riders can upgrade parts as they wear out and the bike will be as good as a more expensive model. Other brands offer what appears to be a more attractive bike with higher specification components, but the frame is often inferior and based on a generic older design. The truth of the matter is you get what you pay for and the frame ultimately decides a bike’s capability. Bikes made with cheaper frames known as open mould have their place, but it helps to understand where your hard earned cash is targeted when making an expensive purchase and looking for a competitive edge.
So where did I save weight on the Ribble? First I found alloy Dura-ace wheels and shod them with lightweight Hutchinson tyres and tubes, then added a carbon seat post, handlebars and saddle, a carbon chainset, Time pedals and titanium skewers. The final choice was a SRAM Red groupset and Dura-ace titanium cassette, about the lightest transmission available. This may seem profligate, but all items were used and bought at bike jumbles or surplus from Pro riders who were upgrading and I reconditioned them. I also had a dry November and lost a couple of kg from my waistline.
A cyclist’s adage says to go faster “ride up grades, not ride upgrades”, meaning time spent climbing hills will achieve more benefit than spending money and time changing parts. Sherborne Cycling Club run two indoor cycling sessions a week for members and I can assure you instructor Andy puts us through our paces including simulated gradients. The most zealous weight savers are hill climb competitors, their bikes are stripped of every gramme possible, bar tape is discarded, seat posts and handle bars cut down, even saddle covering is removed.
Psychological Benefit or Facts and Physics?
It is accepted that the most bang for buck upgrade is new wheels, so another project to test the hype rife in the cycle industry was to build a set of carbon wheels. Darren and I had many discussions trying to justify a cost difference of around £500 to save 250g on a wheel set. Eventually I decided our wheel builder, Paul would learn how to work with the latest wheel technology and I would achieve real-world experience to serve and advise customers better. Paul carefully assembled a custom set of wheels at similar cost to a production set. Another learning point was ticked off by fitting tubeless tyres and when I rode the bike with the new wheels, it was transformed. There may be a tendency to justify this kind of expense with a sort of Emperor’s new clothes mindset, but I found real performance gains and greater comfort and even tested their durability riding cross country at night in the New Forest by accident. Before splashing out on wheels I recommend trying different tyres as this can make a big difference to the feel of a bike.
Weight saving is not always the most important factor for a bike and on a touring bike strength is essential, however even tourists succumb to weight weaning and cut down their tooth brush handles for example.
As I wrote this Geraint Thomas aka “G”, coasts across the line in Paris to win the Tour de France; bicycle makers and sponsors names will get the limelight, but without a good set of “hoops” the result would be different. Around the course you see wheels held aloft at strategic places and carried on cars, these are neutral service wheels which riders can access if they have a failure. I found so much to share on the subject that it needs two articles, so I will discuss wheels this month and tyres next.
The bicycle wheel is an impressive piece of engineering design. Each rotation a spoke changes from pulling to pushing; at 400 rpm, that is 24,000 squeeze and stretches per hour. A wheel may weigh 1 kg or less, but a pair will support a load of 100kg or more.
Our store above the workshop is full of many wheels, there are many types varying in application, size and material.
Most modern rims are aluminium. They do not rust and improve brake grip. The downside is braking surface wear which riders may not notice until the rim is so thin it splits. To extend the rim’s life wash the bike or wipe road grit from the rims and pads, also better quality pads are less abrasive.
Carbon fibre (CF) is seen as a wonder material for bicycles, but requires caution. Under hard braking rims heat up, the combination of softened rim and increased tyre pressure can be catastrophic. My opinion is that carbon wheels are best reserved for disc brakes where the brake is separate from the rim. disc brakes also avoid rim wear.
Steel wheels still have their place especially for vintage bikes, but the wheels that pique my interest have wood rims as made for generations by the Ghisallo family in Italy.
In a previous career I worked on product development in wind tunnels, I learned about aerodynamics and saw early drag reducing skin suits and helmets tested for skiers and cyclists. In the quest for speed, bicycle manufacturers realised drag becomes the dominant resistance at relatively low speed, so concluded drag from wheels should be reduced. Bladed spokes, shaped, deep rim sections help the rider seeking performance gains. However, the real world is not a wind tunnel and a side gust from a gap in a hedge can push a rider with deep rims across the road, so they are best kept for suitable conditions.
The route home included a big hill on the South Downs and I learned there the benefits of good hub bearings. Tucking elbows in and freewheeling downhill I overtook other cyclists who were pedalling. So how did I gain this speed boost? The answer is balls of steel – ball bearings are graded and at Campagnolo’s factory where my hubs came from, they selected the best of the highest grade to use. So when servicing vintage Campag hubs we don’t replace ball bearings automatically, but carefully clean and inspect the originals because they are best of the best.
Many modern wheels use sealed cartridge bearings and the quality of these can also affect the ride. We choose replacement bearings with good seals to keep the dirt and wet out and the grease in.
Servicing hubs is advisable especially if ridden regularly in the wet, they last years if cared for, but when a hub bearing surface is wrecked by lack of grease the wheel is written off.
The Wheel Builders Art
Building wheels takes patience and concentration or lacing can be messed up. That is why I let retired friend Paul do any complete rebuilds. We replace broken spokes and true wheels in the workshop, more than that is impractical as we have to stop when interrupted. Mass produced wheels laced by machines have reduced wheel costs, but the human touch is used to tension and true the best wheels.
Repairs and Truing
Truing involves adjusting spoke tensions so the wheel spins without deflection. It is a skill developed through experience. We have an ancient truing jig and a modern one with dial gauges, but it is interesting that results with the old jig are pretty good, because the “feel” of the mechanic is an important factor.
I was chuffed recently when asked to true a steel wheel. I had kept an old rim setting tool despite others telling me to get rid of it, thinking it would be useful, it worked a treat to fix a ding in the rim. The old jig I am using in the picture was easy to move outside for the photo and houses a stock of spokes and tools; on top is a spoke cutter and threading tool so it is a handy item to keep. Don’t think we would work on your modern high performance carbon wheels with this though, in the workshop is a modern Park tools jig bristling with dial gauges and a tension tool.
Looking after your Wheels
It is surprising how people are often unaware they have a wheel problem, a quick inspection will tell if something is failing. Before a ride, while static, grasp parallel spoke pairs and squeeze to feel the tension, work your way round and you will feel any slack spokes, look at the spokes to spot damage, grasp the wheel at the top and wiggle side to side, if there is slack then hubs need adjusting. With the wheel off the ground, spin and listen for noises, a rumble indicates bearings need attention, visually check for a buckled rim by watching for deflection by the brake blocks.
A common problem occurs if rear gears are incorrectly adjusted and the chain comes off by the spokes. The rider is unaware the chain has partially cut the spokes and some miles later a spoke will break.
As I finish this article, I am reminded it is 5 years since I took over the cycle shop and I am grateful for the customers who have supported me over the years and also for Peter’s help with the previous cycling articles in this excellent magazine.
Scottish inventor John Boyd Dunlop made the first practical pneumatic tyre in 1887 to prevent his son getting headaches riding on rough roads. Since then we have enjoyed greater comfort but at the risk of the dreaded puncture. Early tyres had heavy inner tubes and a simple valve which relied on a piece of rubber tube prone to perishing. Pumps were basic devices and the way to check you had enough air pressure was to press the tyre with your thumb.
Since Mr Dunlop’s invention, manufacturers have tried many wheel sizes, both metric and imperial so the range of tyre sizes is huge and also the applications and tread patterns have increased, which means we must carry stock of hundreds of tyres and tubes to be able to provide a replacement on demand.
Modern tyres offer so many choices even including colour. As well as the size, manufacturers provide ratings for puncture resistance, grip, durability and rolling resistance which a rider must select from. On high performance bikes, weight is also a factor and aesthetics is becoming more important for some.
We have been experimenting with tubeless tyres for road bikes, as off road riders give glowing reports of their performance. Results are promising on mine and Darren’s wheels. Key points we found are: high performance, light tyres are not suited for heavier riders on our poor roads, so best to choose a more durable tyre; sealants are not all equal; the thinnest tyres road are not suited to tubeless use; achieving the initial seal either happens first time or takes ages and careful preparation can save frustration.
Modern road bikes have lighter, narrower tyres and tubes with reliable valves to hold higher pressure, so old techniques for inflation and testing are not suitable. It is not possible to stop punctures totally, but you can reduce the likelihood significantly. There are two types of puncture, penetration (caused by a sharp object like thorns) and pinch (caused by hitting a bump when a tyre is under inflated and identifiable by 2 small adjacent slits which give it the moniker of snakebite puncture). My advice about avoiding punctures is:
Maintain correct tyre pressures. The minimum pressure will be embossed on the tyre wall, e.g. “min 50 – max 85 psi”on a hybrid. A tyre at 30psi (which feels like a lot of pumping when using a basic plastic pump) will feel hard if squeezed with your thumb, but the recommended range of pressures on a narrow road tyre is likely to be from 80 to 120psi, so the thumb test is not sufficient. A good pump and a gauge is easier and accurate.
Fit good tyres with a puncture protection barrier – lightweight Kevlar reinforcement is a popular choice. Do not leave the tyres until they are wearing through the rubber; during routine inspection look for cuts, splits or holes, these can indicate the tyre is worn out or perished.
Good tubes – better tubes have more butyl in their composition which slows the rate that air molecules escape, so require less frequent inflation. An old tube with patches on is likely to leak, so replace it and keep it as a reserve.
Inspection and cleaning – wiping off tyres before and after rides allows you to spot bits of glass or grit which may lurk and worry away at the tyre while riding until they penetrate the inner tube.
Rim condition – steel rims may rust internally and cause punctures from within the wheel. There is also a rim tape to protect the tube from the spoke heads, these can deteriorate so check them occasionally. Rim tapes must be in good condition to perform their job of protecting the inner tube from the spokes.
Avoid debris and holes– there is more debris on roads during and after rain which washes stuff onto the roads, objects stick to the wet tyre and have more opportunity to penetrate. Don’t ride in the gutter or too close to the kerb as debris accumulates there. Look ahead to help avoid stones and pot holes.
Sealant – Cleverly formulated products added to the tube which are effective at sealing punctures, a little air may leak out before the sealant takes effect so the tyre may need a top up of air. We use the latest generation of sealant which does not contain latex and lasts longer.
Solid tyres which behave in a similar manner to a pneumatic tyre are available from Tannus as the ultimate puncture protection, but they are expensive.
Plan for the Worst
Punctures happen at the most inconvenient or unpleasant times, so be prepared and it might act as your anti puncture charm. Carry a repair kit of at least one inner tube, tyre levers, puncture kit and a means of inflation. If you are using tubeless tyres carry a tubeless repair kit. Try out your pump or CO2 inflator to learn how they work and practice replacement of an inner tube at home so you know what to expect.
Recovery service – carry a £10 note to call a taxi if you are stuck, the new notes are also useful as an emergency repair stuffed in the tyre when the tyre is badly cut. Carry a mobile phone to phone for help if you are stuck miles from home. Regular cyclists might consider Lexham’s recovery service, a year’s cover for £15 is cheaper than you would expect.
We are changing things around in the workshop to improve access and storage. When we tidied up I found we had a workbench! We repurposed an Edwardian desk to provide drawers and a nice back board to show off some of our specialist cycle tools.
We are having our Google panoramic photos updated for Streetview and this web site on Wednesday so we are making a big effort to tidy up and display our bikes.
You will also see the web site products section is being updated and our new bike stock added by new assistant Sam. Andreii has been publishing posts on Instagram and we are setting up a new Point of Sale system to work with the web site so you will be able to see the large range of stock we hold. The web site has been moved to a new server and there are a few bugs to sort out, so there is plenty going on.
Watch out for exciting news of a new brand at Riley’s!
I am excited to have have two bamboo bikes being exhibited at the Ride London Exhibition. The frames are made by Booomers in Ghana. We have City Bike and Gravel bike versions on display. The picture in our yard is the City bike in an early version before completion, but it shows the beauty of the frame. Kwabena Danso the CEO of Booomers International is unpacking the bamboo balance bikes, trike and bmx frames. There are also adult frames customised with the local Kente fabric. https://booomers.com/