quinta-feira, 25 de junho de 2015

Livro - "Miles from nowhere - a round the world bicycle adventure"

Sobre a Autora

Tal como vos tinha prometido (aqui e aqui), finalmente partilho convosco esta mensagem sobre um livro de cicloturismo escrito por uma mulher, Barbara Savage.

Esta mulher decidiu partir à aventura em 1977, acompanhada daquele que era, então, o seu namorado (Larry) e fazer a volta ao mundo em bicicleta, tendo viajado juntos por 25 países, incluindo Portugal (a que ela chamou o Paraíso Português).

Esta mensagem tem um sabor um pouco agri-doce, porque, ao contrário da Nancy Sathre-Vogel, de que vos falei neste outro post, a Barbara já não se encontra entre nós, tendo falecido já depois da sua odisseia planetária, vítima de um acidente com um automóvel (truck) bem perto da sua casa, enquanto treinava para uma prova de triatlo.

Nós só temos acesso ao livro porque o Larry (que entretanto se tinha casado com ela) decidiu publicar o livro que a Barbara estava a preparar (ou, melhor, tinha já concluído, mas ainda não o tinha dado à estampa) quando foi vitimada.

A publicação deste livro foi, portanto, uma forma de prestar homenagem à memória desta mulher, pelo seu marido.

Pelo que li, mesmo no final do livro, o Larry chegou inclusivamente a criar um prémio para publicações de novos autores, o "The Barbara Savage Miles from Nowhere Memorial Award, supporting unpublished books by first-time authors was established in 1990".



Sobre o Livro





Este livro representou para mim (que na altura não sabia que a Autora tinha morrido de forma tão infeliz) uma verdadeira viagem, primeiro pelo nosso país do final da década de 70, depois por países mais exóticos como o Egipto (em que a Barbara e o marido não tinham um momento de paz e de privacidade), o Nepal, a Índia e a Nova Zelândia, entre muitos outros.

A técnica de escrita, a fraseologia utilizada e o próprio conteúdo do relato são mesmo muito bons, conseguindo, por um lado, oferecer uma perspectiva realista da viagem e, por outro lado, manter sempre um ambiente muito enérgico e bem disposto ao longo de todo o livro.

Cada vez que "abri" o livro (entre aspas porque o li em versão Kindle) fui transportado para a viagem deles por este nosso planeta em que somos todos verdadeiramente iguais - irmãos.

E, quanto mais leio e mais faço cicloturismo mais me convenço de que a bicicleta é o meio de transporte mais inocente e genuíno e é considerada pela maioria como o meio de transporte mais inofensivo. Uma bicicleta carregada de material de viagem permite-nos alcançar o lado bom das pessoas que connosco se cruzam.

O William Weir, de que vos falei aqui, já instava o seu incrédulo amigo a "Let's initiate kindness" quando era mesmo necessário um local para pernoitar...

Através deste livro "Miles from nowhere - a round the world bicycle adventure" escapei do meu quotidiano, pedalei pelos Himalaias acima e estive no restaurante Tailandês em que o dono não quis manter o preço da refeição inicialmente acordado com um seu empregado, e que, no final de um longo regatear de preço, esteve quase a perder as estribeiras com uma faca enorme na mão e a olhar fixamente para o casal e para o outro cicloturista que os acompanhou (o Geoff)... (Já agora, acho que fizeram bem em deixar o troco com o dono do restaurante e sair rápida e discretamente dali!)

É uma leitura inspiradora, bem disposta e bem escrita (o que nem sempre sucede neste tipo de publicações).

A versão que eu li é em Inglês e ainda não encontrei qualquer versão traduzida para Português (o que é uma pena, porque o livro é mesmo muito bom!).

Se já tiverem lido o livro ou se o lerem na sequência desta mensagem, deixem, por favor os vossos comentários aqui!

Boas leituras e boas pedaladas.

quinta-feira, 18 de junho de 2015

Rose XEON RS 5000, the review (Finally!) - (Pt 3 of 3)

De acordo com o prometido, aqui fica a última mensagem feita pelo meu amigo P., sobre a Rose XEON RS 5000.

Na próxima quinta-feira, publicarei uma mensagem sobre um outro livro de cicloturismo e, na subsequente, uma mensagem sobre uma rota de cicloturismo mundialmente famosa: a Coast to Coast, no Reino Unido, feita por um outro amigo meu!

Boas leituras!


**** **** ****


Before getting into the actual review, I mention that Rose make all types of bikes and use a wide range of materials. Road bikes come in either aluminium or carbon fibre. The XEON RS range is a ‘cousin’ to the CRS range which, as suggested by the letter ‘C’, is made of carbon fibre. All reviews suggest that the XEON CRS and Rose’s other carbon fibre bicycles are also seriously worth considering.



It may be of interest to list the spec of my bike. This follows some customisation, notably the wheels:

Frames
7005 T6 Ultralight Aluminium, triple-butted, anodized black, 57cm
Fork
XEON Modulus Fullcarbon 11/8"-1.5", UD-carbon
Wheels
Mavic Cosmic Carbone SLS WTS
Chainset
Campagnolo Chorus 36/52, 11-speed, carbon, 175mm
Rear Derailleur
Campagnolo Chorus 11-speed
Sprocket
Campagnolo Chorus, standard, 12-27
Shift Brake Levers
Campagnolo Chorus 2-/11-speed, black
Chain
Campagnolo Chorus 11-speed
Front Derailleur
Campagnolo Chorus Chorus 2-/11-speed
Rim Brake
Campagnolo Chorus D-Skeleton
Seat Post
Ritchey WCS Carbon Monolink FlexLogic, black, 27,2mm
Saddle
Selle Italia SLS Kit Carbonio Monolink, black matt/middle stripe black matt, Standard
Handlebar Tape
fi´zi:k Microtex, black + fizik logo
Stem
Ritchey WCS 4 Axis, black/matt, 110mm
Spacers
Xtreme Carbon Spacer 15mm(1x5mm+1x10mm)

I mentioned in ‘Part 1’ that the Xeon RS is a modern aluminium bike. This essentially means some thought and design has gone into it. It is not simply the lower end of the range that Rose Versand make. My understanding is that the intention behind the RS range was to offer a non-carbon fibre alternative to those who want to race. As such, and being a modern aluminium bike, it borrows some features of carbon fibre frame design. Therefore, expect not only a fairly wide down tube but also a fairly ‘beefy’ bottom bracket shell, suitable to house an integrated BB86 unit. Of course ultimately the aim is to provide stiffness in the area. Not too long ago ‘beefy’ bottom bracket and aluminium frame implied a lot of extra weight. Modern alloys, welding and butted tubes means that this is not the case.


The RS, like other modern aluminium ready-for-race bicycles, are usually touted to criterium racers. The crowded, ‘violent’ and fast nature of such races has led to a number of (Anglophone) crit racers to abide by the saying “if you can break it, don’t race it.” Falls are frequent on the amateur crit circuit, usually leading to pile-ups. Carbon fibre is more likely to break that metal. This does not mean that the RS is a one-trick pony. With the standard equipment supplied by Rose, it is hard to make any bike in the RS range heavier than 8kg. My RS 5000 (57cm frame) weighs 7.8kg ALL included. That includes pedals, two bottle cages, two empty bottles, cyclo computer mount (with cadence sensor) and the Mavic SLS WTS wheels (not heavy wheels, but neither the lightest). This makes the RS supremely capable of fast climbing too, of course assuming that the rider is willing to do their part is going uphill fast.

 The XEON RS range is made of aluminium in Taiwan. Up until 2014 (i.e. including the bike I am riding) 7005 / 7051 aluminium was used. [I believe the 2015 range is made of 6066 aluminium which allows for thinner tube walls and therefore lighter frames]. This resulted in my 57cm frame weighing 1,205g (my own measurement), light and competitive with some similarly priced carbon fibre frames. Rose claim that the 2015 6066 version is very close to 1 kg for the frame; that is impressive! My opinion is that bikes made in the Far East should not be dismissed. It is true that you can get some crap, but it must also be kept in mind that the Far East, particularly Taiwan (courtesy of Giant bikes) has decades of experience is mass bike production. 

The fork is Rose’s own design and is shared with the CRS range. It is a very light, full carbon steerer, 330g fork.  As is standard these days (and f**ck you very much bicycle industry for forever changing  fork steerer widths etc and other component sizes ) 1.1/8 inch (28.6 mm) at the top and 1.1/2 inch (38.1 mm) at the bottom. Badmouthing the cycling industry aside, I actually like this head tube sizing. I ride 1 inch and 1 1/8 inch bicycles. I do feel that the thinner at the top and lower at the bottom head tube offers that little bit extra in stability. Of course this also assumes that everything is assembled solidly and competently. This is the case on the RS. 

The riding experience is much improved if the front end of the bicycle is solid and responsive. To explain this is less jargonistic terms, imagine moving at speed on a long descend with bends. The narrower diameter head tubes often add a sense that the handlebars and fork are too bouncy, not a good feeling when going fast. Additionally, the extra tube width helps to make steering more responsive. On the RS you definitely get the feel that as soon as you turn the handlebars there is a response. Whatever the scientifically measurable advantages the RS’ head tube adds to the ride, it surely adds a confidence boost associated to steering which is invaluable. 


The RS has very thin seat stays. This is nothing new in the bicycle industry and is widely used by a variety of manufactures, particularly on carbon fibre frames. See, for example, various Cervelo and BMC models. I find it optically pleasing. More importantly, it is a good way to add – that bastard of a word – compliance. Real bicycle science shows that some flexibility in the seat stays does not measurably affect the efficiency of the power transfer which makes your bike move forward. I am not sure how this works, and I won’t pretend too much that I do. 


However, make the rear end of the bicycle too stiff and the machine will bounce on the road. The more time spent bouncing, the less time the rubber on the tyres is in contact with the road surface propelling your forward. Long story short, and before I get lost in my own pseudo-scientific explanations about bicycles, the RS is a very comfortable ride. No doubt in my mind that the seat stays add to this experience. I can confidently compare the ride to good quality carbon fibre frames and equally confidently say that it is more comfortable than my old aluminium Bianchi.




Another important contributor to the RS’ comfort is the 27.2mm seat post. The bicycle industry has gone up and down with the diameter of this part of a bicycle. Different diameters have different merits or are necessary depending on the rest of the structure, and / or intended use of the bike. However, the easiest way to put some ‘compliance’ under your backside is to have a smaller diameter seat post. Wider diameters tend to be stiffer, in an area where too much stiffness is not helpful.












The Campgnolo Chorus 11 is an excellent groupset and certainly a well-matched companion to the RS frame. With the Chorus you get all the functionality of the more expensive Record / Super Record groupsets. The only tangible difference is the weight. There are about 220g difference between the Super Record and Chorus. The weight saving will cost you an extra EUR 1000. You decide if that is necessary. The great thing about the top three groupsets offered by Campgnolo are that you can shift-up three gears and shift-down three gears if you need it. I went for a 52/36 crankset, however, 53/39 and 50/36 were available. All my other bikes had 53/39. Pushing past the middle part of my 30s, and starting to possibly lose that extra spring in my legs, I thought that a 52/36 would be an appropriate ‘step-down’. 

Coupled with the 12-27 eleven speed cassette this provides me with ample options for all kinds of terrain. In an ideal world I would have a 53/36 or I would own a 53/39 and a 50/36 crankset and swap as needed. The latter is possible, but not a cost I want to bear at this time. The former has been tried, but achieving a 53/36 ratio is technically challenging. I prefer to go riding rather than spend (more) time on fiddling with my front derailleur.  (PS: Shimano’s and Campagnolo’s new four-arm cranksets now mean that you no longer have to swap the entire 53/39 for a compact crankset. The BCD of the four-arm cranksets allows one to swap standard, semi-compact and compact ratios on the same cranks simply by changing chainrings. Much cheaper, assuming you already have a four-arm crank).

However, let us not forget the all-important (if not most important) contribution the wheels have. As indicated in the bike spec listed earlier, I got my bicycle with an upgrade of Mavic Cosmic Carbone SLS WTS, compared to Campagnolo Zondas which come with the RS 5000 as standard. This pair of Mavics is a deep rim (52mm)/  aero rim. It is the lowest priced Mavic aero wheelset but still retails at around EUR 850 to UER 1,000. As the name suggests, these wheels have some carbon fibre on them, but are not entirely made of this; alloy plays the most vital structural role. I will not dwell on the Mavic SLS WTS in this review. I will say that they noticeable add speed, particularly on flat ground. The down side, is that they are stiff and also add a fair amount of bounce when the road surface is not very smooth. This has an effect mostly on the comfort of the ride. Unless these wheels are used on endless kilometres of very rough and badly maintained tarmac, the net speed gain will be much greater than the loss of speed caused by bouncing around. 

For the sake of comparison, I have also extensively ridden the RS with a pair of Campagnolo Neutron Ultra (usually retail between EUR 600 and EUR 700. I bought these in late 2013 and, ever confusingly, are the 2014 model. These wheels are the best I have ever had. They are shallow rim (23mm deep), lightweight (less than 1,500g without tyres and inner tubes) and bomb-proof. They have a carbon fibre hub while the rest of the construction is alloy. Most importantly, you can effortlessly get them to start rolling and similarly effortlessly get them to continue spinning. The Mavic SLS WTS will keep help me to move fast on the flatter parts. However, when you have proper mixed terrain (for those in the local area in Portugal, throw Montejunto in the mix) the Neutron Ultra will spin fast uphill as well as on the flat. Additionally, the Neutron Ultra strikes a good balance between stiff and comfortable. Descend as fast as you can or accelerate off the saddle without feeling the front wheel flexing excessively (the stiff part). When I added the Neutron Ultra’s to the RS the bicycle was able to eat-up and smoothen out those rougher roads, the ones which years of neglect have left full on holes, cracks and bumps. 

I should point out that the reason I did not go with the Campgnolo Zonda offered with the RS 5000 at no extra price was the fact I already own a pair which I use on the Bianchi. Again, this is not the place to review the Zonda’s but for the price of EUR 300 to EUR 350 for which they usually retail for, you could not ask for a better wheelset.

Other small bits and pieces that I like on the RS include:
-          A bridge between the chainstays, close to the bottom bracket: This is not a new trick but one which carbon fibre has rendered unnecessary. You tend to see such bridges on older steel bikes. In older bikes this added piece of metal also served as an anchoring point for mudguards. As mentioned earlier, the RS is designed for racing and is not designed to take mudguards. Those who don’t like having a wet arse will be disappointed.
-          Internal cable routing: From a maintenance point of view, external cabling is much easier to deal with. However, the ‘clean’ look of internal cabling is vastly cooler. I could also say more aerodynamic but that 0.5 seconds per 50km you save it probably will matter to whoever is reading this (disclaimer: these figures were not obtained in a wind tunnel!). Also, the internal cabling on the RS is designed to take both Shimano and Campagnolo electronic groupsets, should you like to swing that way.

-          Paint work: My one is an anodised matt black finish, with minimal decals which looks great. However, if you get any of the gloss finishes you will not be disappointed. In fact, you may find that it is hard for the casual observer to even notice you are ride an aluminium bike. Unlike the anodised black, the gloss finish hides the - already very tidy welds - very effectively.

-          For Weight Weenies: If you like spending money on getting less (weight), a light pair of wheels, and carbon stem / handlebars will easily take the weight of the whole bike to closer to 6kg. However, and this applies to most bikes the majority of us buy, the super-light wheels alone may cost close to or more than the bike itself.


So what are the bad parts of the RS and specifically the RS 5000? Some, but none too important in my opinion. I list them below:

-          The Monolink saddle system: This is the option I went for; you can get the normal two-rail saddle if you want. The Monolink is easy to adjust, easier than the traditional seat post / saddle system. It is also, allegedly, more aero. This is a dubious claim and not often repeated by wiser people. Too much happens to the air before it reaches the seat post / saddle joint to make a measurable difference to the aerodynamics. My gripe is that the Monolink system is more uncomfortable. I think that the traditional way a seat attaches to a seat post (i.e. using two rails) allows for more flex and hence a more comfortable ride. Also, as the market is now, should I break the seat post and or saddle, replacements will come at a significantly higher cost and difficulty to source. Not to mention that if you are the happy owner of many bikes, you cannot simply swap-in your favourite two-rail saddle. 


-          It is not carbon fibre: I know that this will be a sticking point for some. Get over it!


So how does it ride after almost 5,500km? Amazingly, thanks for asking.  I think describing ‘the feel’ of any bike is highly objective. However, I have never had a bad moment on the RS.  I’m a tall (1.89m / 72kg) rider and ‘relax’ when I feel that I’m riding aggressively. No problem for the RS. Fast descends, steep climbs, flat roads, bad roads, good roads, wet roads etc. all handled aptly. A good bike gives the rider a robust base and solid feeling; which allows one to push their limits. The RS does this more than capably. For example, if I am riding a steep uphill, out-of-the-saddle and full power, I know that as much power as I can hope for is being used to push the bike forward, and not twisting the rear end, resulting in the brake pads rubbing on  the wheels or even the wheels touching the seat stays. Going downhill also feels solid; no wobbles and, as indicated before, the steering is responsive and predictable. Going for flat road speed? My experience is that on a Sunday morning, before you know it, you will be overtaking a bunch of fellow cyclists who will be hanging on to your rear wheel. Assuming that you are physically up for it, the RS will ensure that none of them will be able to take a turn at the front. Of course that might be seen as a bad thing; who does not like drafting? But I take infinite pleasure in having unwanted rear-wheel guests - riding carbon fibre worth as much as small cars or big motorbikes – who are barely holding on and huffing/puffing for dear life.  (Note to all local riders: If you want to draft behind someone at least offer a friendly ‘ola’; it’s a Sunday ride in the Oeste, not the TdF. Leave you silent ‘game-on’ faces for another time! And please take a turn in the front!)

I’m sure that the RS would also perform well as a grandfondo / sportive bike. The comfort is there and you can adjust it to a less race-prone position fairly easily. However, I would say that there are more directly applicable choices in the market (some from Rose Versand even) for those wishing to enjoy less furious, long rides.

So, to repeat the theme, don’t forget about aluminium. The XEON RS wears it and wears its very well!

quinta-feira, 11 de junho de 2015

Why Aluminium and Why Rose Versand (Pt 2 of 3)

Car@s leitor@s, como tínhamos combinado (aqui e aqui), publico agora o segundo de três posts do meu amigo P.

Para quem estava mais distraído, a primeira mensagem está aqui.

Espero que apreciem a leitura. Eu sei que eu gostei muito.


Making My Way Towards Aluminium

In early 2014 it became apparent that my also aluminium frame / carbon fork Bianchi Via Nirone 7 C2C was simply not enough bicycle for me anymore. This despite the countless upgrades which resulted in a staggering weight reduction from the original 9.9kg to around 8.6kg. I needed more; more accurately I needed less weight, more stiffness, bigger bottom bracket, wider head tube, etc. etc. 

Big “f**ck you” to the bicycle industry for helping me believe I needed (and will always need) all your quasi-scientific improvements. Yes, it takes two to tango, and I accept this dance despite my intelligence and ability to spot a sales-pitch from a mile (or 1.6km) away. But I digress. Point is I wanted a new bike and wanted one which offered best value for money. This is where the ability to partially ignore bicycling marketing ‘science’ was useful. It quickly became apparent that a well-designed and well-made quality carbon fibre frame comes at a cost. The cost is that you will need to sacrifice the spec of your bicycle components. Mr Bontrager (same dude who makes your bicycle components of the same name), once famously said "strong, light, cheap. Pick two”. I wanted it all. It seemed obvious that a carbon fibre frame would have to wait for another day.


Picture from the manufacturers website: http://www.rosebikes.com/

 To give an example of what was available in the market, a EUR 2,000 BMC Teamachine, with a Shimano 105 groupset (with all due respect to what are excellent components for their price range) and equally entry-level wheels, where not enough for me. I did look at the BMC Teamachine with the aforementioned spec. However, I did not want to spend that amount of money only to end up with something that was as heavier than my post-upgrade old Bianchi. Moreover, my irrational side has a love affair with Campagnolo; I wanted that, in fact I NEEDED it! And speaking of Campagnolo, Veloce, Centaur or Athena was not going to be right. Ideally it would have been Record, Super or just the plain version. That said, Chorus is only 200 grams or so heavier and with all the functionality of its more expensive brothers.


Several hours, probably too many, were spent searching the web for this mythical bike. As suggested earlier, it was quickly apparent that a carbon fibre frame was drifting far from my budgetary ambitions. Responsibly, for the sake of my children and wife as I like to think, I had to stick to the budget. EUR 3,500 would have got me that carbon fibre, at least-Campagnolo Chorus etc. However, that extra EUR 1,000 was also several months of child expenses, and other family costs, both essential and not. I could not be selfish, even though for – the record – my family, probably seeing my budgetary anguish, would not have opposed me spending more than the budget. I persisted. Sometimes it’s important to stick to a plan even when most mainstream indications suggest that it is pointless.

Raving reviews of Canyon’s (also a German bike company) aluminium range and equally positive reviews of the Kinesis (a British company) Aithein aluminium frame caught my attention. These bikes not only were light but were also good looking, often a compromise when it comes to making an aluminium frame. They were also on the correct side of my budget. Inspired, I searched the subject more. This led me to the RS. Again, excellent reviews. Who knew that Rose not only sold cheap cyclo-computer parts, but also had their own range of bicycles. However, there was something I could not get over. That was aluminium itself. When was the last time a big race was won on such a frame? Pantani? Yes, but with a little help from his intravenous friends (allegedly, supposedly…). [Short history; compared to steel or carbon fibre, aluminium made only a brief appearance in the professional peloton, generally in the 1990s. Some riders skipped it all together. Le Monde, for example, went from steel to carbon fibre, and this was even before the 1990s]. 


Rationalising more I thought, pro peloton or not, aluminium is less breakable that carbon fibre. “Surely this is a plus,” I thought to myself. However, it is only a partial plus. Yes, drop an aluminium bike on a sharp corner (the edge of the pavement is a good example) and it is less likely to suffer serious structural damage. Do that with carbon fibre and the results can be potentially bad. A crack, or an important amount of resin (the only stuff that holds the fabric-like carbon fibre in one solid, stiff piece) scrapped off is grounds enough to at least lose confidence in the structural integrity of the frame. However, these days, you are very likely to find someone to repair carbon fibre professionally and at a reasonable price. If you are brave and skilful you can even try a home-repair. You can get appropriate resin and carbon fibre from Ebay (just make sure you don’t burn your hairdryer in the process of finishing off the repair). An aluminium tube crack, bend or break is not easily repaired, even by someone with the appropriate welding equipment. Also, and here comes some semi-science, everybody surely knows – because the cycling sector marketing guys tell us – that carbon fibre can be made “compliant yet laterally stiff”. This phrase if often repeated when you are reading about bicycles made of any material. It essentially means that when you push your 600W (as all non-professional cyclists are totally able to produce…) into the pedals your “stiff” machine will mostly use that to move forward, not flex from side to side. But as it is also “compliant” it means that your ride will be comfortable. So this bicycle will make you ride fast yet like you are flowing through a soft layer of clouds; you will not even know that your own backside is on the saddle; that smooth! However, and more correctly, good bicycle design can result in compliant yet laterally stiff frames. It is true, carbon fibre might have an advantage in that the fibres can be aligned in different ways so some parts of the frame are stiff (i.e. bottom bracket) but others can absorb more shock (the seat stays). However, a good designer can do this with any bicycle-suitable material. Of course, a good pair of wheels and a suitably good pair of tyres can also do wanders. Both for speed and comfort (more on this later).

Making My Way Towards Rose Versand

As you might be able to tell from this already long text, my head was going to explode with bicycle-related information. I needed a road (bike) to Damascus moment. This ultimately came in the form of Rose Versand. And it was not just the quality of their bikes. Operating mostly on an internet sales model, Rose keeps costs down by not maintaining several shops. Also, they do not sell through other retailers, so again more savings – for you and Rose – for not having to send several bikes to several shops which may or may not get sold. So, good prices for a good level of quality. Most importantly for me, Rose offers a higher degree of customisation than any of its internet sales rivals (e.g. the more than very respectable Canyon), and even shops. Vitally, this customisation is either included in the price. For example, I am tall and like (although do not need) to have 175mm cranks. I also prefer non-compact chainsets (because 50 teeth are for children’s bicycles. More on this later; spoiler alert, I am joking about the children part). Rear cassette? I don’t know, but give me choices. I will still select (for eleven speed groupsets) something in the range of 12-27, but I want to believe that I might be ‘man enough’ for the 11-23, or have an easy day on the 12-29 (12-32 if you play with Sram).  I am a fan of shallow, smooth curve handles bars, not ‘anatomically’ shaped ones. I like to select what saddle I will place my ‘junk’ on, and I even like to be given a choice of all colours of handle bar tape (so I can select either black or white). Stem length? Don’t know, it depends but let me choose! The most vital choice of all? Wheels! Wheels and wheels!

I have to emphasise. Rose is not unique at offering these choices. But all of the ones I mention, except for the wheels, are at no added cost. When I bought my Bianchi, I tried to explain to the man in the shop that I wanted 175mm cranks and a 120mm stem instead of 110mm. His response was to say “I don’t need them” but that they were available at what was a considerable cost. Maybe I did not “need them” but I WANTED them. The added cost was of course due to the fact that the store receives fully built bikes with little or no alternative components. Want longer cranks and stem? Buy a bigger bike. Want different wheels? Buy a different pair in addition to what’s on the bicycle. I admit, maybe I went to the crappiest and least customer-friendly shop. Maybe I am just an over-demanding client. But then again maybe companies like Rose do it (selling bike) better than most, especially in the age of the internet. 





To add to the above Rose offers attractive guarantees on its frames and components. Look up the details on their website. I assume the company is not unique at providing this service, but it is good to know it is there. A summary of some benefits offered to buyers of Rose bicycles are listed below:
-          Bicycles can be returned to Rose within a month if unused for a full refund. This is fairly standard for anything bought online.
-          I am almost sure that I was given an option to swap to a different size frame within a month if I needed to. This would have involved shipping the bike back to Germany where the components on the original frame would have been put on the different sized one.
-          Five-year guarantee on frame. This includes free replacement of the frame if it develops a fault, or half-price replacement if it is broken as a result of an accident / crash. The latter also covers racing and professional use (e.g. cycle couriers), which not all companies do.

In my experience, the staff at Rose where helpful. They swiftly replied to my several emails (I could have called too – they speak several languages there, English definitely not being a problem) and helped me to accurately decide what frame size I needed. There was also plenty of helpful info on their website regarding sizing, and everything else. I am a seasoned cyclist and already had a good idea of what size frame I was after. However, I felt that even a less experienced rider would have been helped to reach an accurate conclusion regarding frame size, stem length, etc. 

quarta-feira, 10 de junho de 2015

Será que o médico pensou que os condutores dos velocípedes tinham menos direito à via pública por estarem a fazer desporto e não a trabalhar?

Esta notícia sobre a condenação de um condutor de automóvel a 5 anos de prisão (nos EUA) por ter tido uma condução perigosa e ter deliberadamente "ensinado uma lição" a duas pessoas que se deslocavam de bicicleta travando bruscamente à frente destes (algo que lhes causou, a um, dentes da frente e nariz partidos e cortes na cara e, a outro, um ombro deslocado) é interessante.

_S1G1212

(imagem publicada no Los Angeles Times, neste link)

Há, contudo, no texto da notícia, uma mensagem quase subliminar de que ciclistas e automobilistas devem resolver os seus problemas de forma pacífica. Esta é, de resto, uma postura que eu tenho visto muito também no Reino Unido.

Eu acho que a questão está mal colocada.

Eu vejo condutores de veículos diferentes (automóvel e velocípede) e há um idiota que por ter o veículo maior / mais rápido quer impor a sua vontade ou descarregar a sua frustração a outros dois condutores que, na sua opinião não têm o mesmo direito a utilizar a estrada.

Parece que toda a lógica está errada!

É evidente que a via pública tem regras de trânsito (descansem que eu não me vou pôr aqui a debitar artigos do Código da Estrada) que se aplicam a todos os veículos e outras que se aplicam apenas a alguns tipos de veículos.

Aquilo que eu não consigo perceber é a origem da atitude agressiva e violenta que este condutor (médico, por sinal, e portanto uma pessoa pelo menos letrada - mas não civilizada) tem, como tantos outros com que nos cruzamos na estrada, para com quem se desloca de bicicleta.

Não me parece ser a velocidade da deslocação, pois há veículos que são mais lentos do que as bicicletas e perante esses a generalidade dos condutores de automóveis não reage da mesma forma: as carroças puxadas por animais e alguns tractores, por exemplo.

Interrogo-me se é por haver o estereótipo de que apenas se utiliza a bicicleta para desporto e que, portanto, não se deveria estar a "importunar" (atrasando) quem quer ir à sua vida, à sua velocidade?!

É que, caso não seja, então eu só vejo uma outra explicação: PURA ESTUPIDEZ!

Espero que a pena (a ser verdadeira a notícia) lhe sirva de correcção e que sirva de exemplo para tantos outros que diariamente hostilizam os utilizadores da via pública mais vulneráveis (ciclistas, peões, motociclistas de ciclomotores, etc.)!

quinta-feira, 4 de junho de 2015

The Journey to Choosing the ROSE XEON RS 5000 (Pt 1 of 3)

Tal como vos tinha prometido há uns tempos, publicarei aqui três mensagens escritas por um bom amigo que teve a paciência de fazer um texto a propósito da bicicleta de estrada Rose XEON RS 5000.

Como vos expliquei aqui, as mensagens são em Inglês porque o meu amigo (ainda) não escreve em Português.

Aqui vai, então. Boas leituras!

***

Bicycling 2012 have asked me to review my Rose XEON RS 5000 Road bike. This is the aluminium frame road bike I ended up buying in 2014 with my EUR 2000 to EUR 2500 budget. This is as much a review as a three-part tale of my personal journey to get to the Rose Xeon RS. If you don’t have the time to read through this ‘epic’ then the summary is: DO NOT ignore aluminium. Carbon fibre is great stuff but just because pros and your neighbour have it between their legs, it is not God’s gift to your cycling experience or your pocket. Read this not only as a review of the Rose XEON RS but also as a tale of being open-minded and sifting through bicycle industry marketing crap.

Also, I know that I large constituency of Bicycling 2012 readers are Portuguese. Unfortunately, at this stage I speak the language to the level of somewhere between my 2 year old son and 4 year old daughter. I understand it better than both of them (for now) and can write more Portuguese than them (again, for now), but that is of no help here. If it’s of any consolation, English is not my original language either although it has always been my ‘professional’ one.

Disclaimer: I have issues against the bicycle industry’s numerous attempts to promote ‘scientific’ changes to bicycles which make us all faster and better. I very sincerely recognise that some of these do lead to measurable improvements. Others, are just designed to sell us more crap by making last year’s frame slightly incompatible with this year’s components. Do not always take me seriously when I course the bicycle industry. However, I do hope I encourage those who are not familiar with the marketing tactics to think critically. 



For starters
I had promised the good people of Bicycling2012 to write a review on the Rose Xeon RS 5000 (which for the sake of brevity I will know simply refer to as ‘RS’) road bike a long time ago. The trials and tribulations of professional and family life have kept me from completing this task. That is until now…
Of course, like any lover of cycling, neither family nor work have managed to keep me off my bike. So the upside of delaying my review has been that I have put in more miles on the RS.  Early in the morning on weekends before the family is fully awake, and during lunch breaks from work; all otherwise ‘dead space’ time-gaps which have been utilised well: riding the RS for ‘research’ purposes of course.



The RS is a ‘modern’ (I will explain my interpretation of this soon) aluminium frame road bike, with the ubiquitous, these days, carbon fibre fork. My one is a 2014 model, which rather confusingly means it was released around September 2013 (thank you bicycling industry for all your bullshit marketing tricks). My RS 5000 has been in my possession since around May 2014. It is equipped with a 2013 Campagnolo Chorous 11 Speed groupset. The various other bits and pieces will be looked at in due course.


This an opportune time to mention that the number which proceeds RS, i.e. 5000 refers to the components added to the frame. So the 5000 comes with Campagnolo Chorous. For example, the 4400 is Sram Force equipped, while the 4000 with Shimano Dura Ace. Electronic groupsets, as well as lower down the range groupsets (105, Ultegra, Athena) are available too.





For most people, particularly those outside Germany, Rose Versand (www.rosebikes.com) might not be an obvious choice if you are after any type of bicycle. However, the company has been around since 1907 and has been selling bikes remotely since 1982, via a catalogue initially and these days through their website. Should you find yourself in Germany, they also have a large store and assembly / logistics facility. [For those interested in Rose’s history, visit their website]. 





I came across Rose by chance, around eight years ago when an internet search for a specific cyclo-computer component suggested that the company has the cheapest price, even after adding the postage cost. As keen as any cyclist is for a bargain, I trusted this company with my credit card details and sure enough I had my cyclo-computer part a couple of days later.

quarta-feira, 3 de junho de 2015

Livro - "Changing Gears: A Family Odissey to the End of The World"

Sobre a Autora

Nancy Sathre-Vogel é, em primeiro lugar, uma mulher, em segundo lugar mãe (de gémeos), em terceiro lugar ex-professora de secundário e, em último lugar, e durante uns anos, cicloturista a tempo inteiro.

Faço esta hierarquização porque é esta a opinião com que fico depois de ler o seu livro "Changing Gears: A Family Odissey to the End of The World".

É também uma figura pública no cicloturismo, em grande parte devido ao extraordinário feito que relata no livro de que hoje vos falo.

Deixo-vos aqui algumas intervenções públicas de Nancy Sathre-Vogel.

Esta foi nas conferências Tedex



Esta foi num Ingnite


Sobre o Livro



Aquilo que eu gostei mais sobre o livro (que li em formato Kindle) foi a desmistificação do cicloturismo em família: uma família de 4 partiu do Alasca e terminou na Terra do Fogo, na Argentina. É, portanto, possível!

Ainda para mais, a família tinha dois gémeos que quando partiram tinham menos de 10 anos.

Perguntas como "como é que é possível suportar financeiramente a viagem?", "é preciso ser-se rico para poder fazer a viagem?", "onde dormiam?" e "o que comiam?" são respondidas de forma muito simples e despretenciosa.

Confesso que algumas preocupações (e orgulho ou admiração) de mãe são transpostas vezes demais para o livro. Mas isso é desculpável por ser perfeitamente compreensível: o que temos de mais precioso são os nossos filhos e é natural que numa aventura épica como a que a família Sathre-Vogel realizou nos deslumbre com a coragem dos nossos filhos e nos esmague com a preocupação de estarmos a fazer a escolha correcta ao partir num périplo como o deles.

Pensando melhor, lembrando-me de algumas peripécias que a Autora relata no livro (em que foi a intervenção benevolente de estranhos que os ajudou num momento de necessidade), talvez o que acabo de dizer não tenha sido justo: estar a escassos metros de um urso pardo adulto ou correr o risco de se acabar a comida ou a água numa autoestrada com centenas de quilómetros entre povoações pode ser realmente preocupante!

:)

Acho sinceramente que vale a pena a compra do livro e a leitura e penso que depois de o ler vão sentir que fazer cicloturismo em família, ainda que numa escala mais reduzida (em termos de tempo e distância), não só é possível, como cria laços tão profundos e puros entre pais e filhos (e entre os membros do casal) que se dirá que há um momento "antes do cicloturismo em família" e outro "depois do cicloturismo em família".

Como aperitivo da leitura do livro, deixo-vos aqui ainda mais dois vídeos, precisamente da viagem que é relatada no livro.



Boas leituras!