Ride Bucharest

Cycling in Bucharest

Cycling in Bucharest

Im on holiday! A week in Bucharest; That’s a big city in Romania if you were wondering. I am here looking after some business and enjoying the spring in the far east of Europe.

As city’s go it is fairly normal. Big, crowded, noisy, smelly and full of cars. In fact I have rarely seen a more clogged city in Europe. Paris’ legendary Arc de Triumph has nothing on its copy here in Bucharest [Named after deGaule] where the 4 hour morning rush hour blends into the 4 hour evening rush hour and some cars are rumoured to have been trapped in there for eternity.

The big surprise is the cycling infrastructure, and the fact that it is used. Oh, that’s the first surprise; the second is that the car drivers, even in their most ragged rush hour moments seem to mostly respect the bikes on the road.

Cyclists share painted on lanes on the wide pedestrian side walks, weaving between the locals. Some in lycra, some in jeans and just as many in skirts. There is no social or gender limit on cycling here in Bucharest. All ages seem engaged in just using their bikes.

TallBike at Biciclop, Darobanti, Bucharest

TallBike at Biciclop, Darobanti, Bucharest

This afternoon while resting in a street cafe, sipping espresso I watched a carbon, disk wheeled TT machine speed down the Cale de Dorobanti in one direction while a 3 year old rolled up to the pedestrian crossing on her trike, patiently waited for the green man and pedaled across the eight lanes of respectfully resting traffic. Her mother walked behind carrying the shopping. Teen aged boys on 29ers cruised down the road jumping the kirbs but avoided the old woman selling flowers from a carrier bag on the corner of the street. Bikes of every shape and size, some with peeling paint and dysfunctional gears and others gleaming rode next to each other. There is even a Tall Bike.

This place is a paradise compared to any city I have ridden in England. OK, its not perfect; The roads are often in a terrible state. If you dare to ride on the road you will find the lane markings are at best advisory and cars will randomly stop anywhere that suits their needs. To survive you have to set aside your English pre conceptions of how traffic should behave and join in with some “Zen And The Art Of Riding In Traffic”.

Personally I love the sport I have come to know as “Traffic Surfing” and Bucharest has some of the best waves I have found anywhere in the world.

When I needed some papers delivered to me from the other side of the city I discovered that Bucharest is also one of the few places in the world where there is still a job for the cycle courier and many are to be found earning their money on the streets.

Im coming back later in the summer and when I do I will bring the GoPro, the body armour and a big smile. Stay tuned!

26″+ The best of all worlds?

dePhuse project-1.3 with Reggie and Ronnie wheels

dePhuse project-1.3 with Reggie and Ronnie wheels

There is no doubt that having the right bike for the task at hand is wise and I have been on a mission to make a fast trail bike. The trail in question is a 7.5mile circuit that follows the coast of a small local lake. Its more or less flat.

The total climb is less than 100ft but it is made up of five short, steep climbs that come in the first two miles. After that the rest is a cruise!

Not quite; if you are going to get a good time round this little loop you have to pedal non stop, you will discover there is no where to rest, its relentless and if its not presenting you with a short killer hill its another of the 20+ hairpins!

To get round here quickly you have to keep the power down, keep it flowing through the hairpins and attack the climbs. This means you need grip, lots of it. You dont need [much] suspension. you need strong legs and you need to be able to accelerate, lots. Breaking it down there is less than a minute between each significant effort.

When the body isnt enough to close the gap I start looking at the gear. What am I riding?

This bike is an Easton tubed hard tail street trials frame with a 1 x 9 drivetrain using XTR parts for the back wheel and shifters and RaceFace for the cranks and chain wheel. Its got RockShox Silver forks that have seen better days and need replacing up front. Untill recently I have been running Easton XC One wheels with appropriately chosen tyres for the prevailing conditions. The bike feels fast and in general has been.

What has been clear as the trails dry out and the tyres get slicker and harder is the bike reaches its limits very quickly, violently breaking traction at any opportunity! Hard cornering and powering up those short climbs the back end is skipping round but then half the circuit is smooth, flat and fast so the low rolling resistance is a distinct benefit. What needed tackling was the lack of traction without compromising the fast rolling tyres.

I decided to run an experiment; I got in touch with Mike at Onza for some Reggie and Ronnie drilled trials rims built on to some Tension Aerosilk hubs. They arrived yesterday!

Our new Cray Brothers rims from Onza

Our new Cray Brothers rims from Onza

I was so excited I didnt even bother weighing them [I’ll do it next week]. To insure I could make a fair comparison I swapped not only the cassette and disk from the Eastons but the tyres and tubes as well for the new wheels. I normally run these tyres at about 40psi on the Easton rims but in this case I went strait in at 20psi front and rear and went for a ride!

Two early morning runs, one in each direction were immediately impressive, the bike felt fast but dead! It was a lot more comfortable and the power transfer was amazing! Normally I would be standing in the pedals for most of the run but I found myself seated for 80% of the circuit and noticing the saddle was to low!

I had to go to work so uploaded the runs to Strava and got on with the day, thinking all the time. By the end of the day I had reached the conclusion I needed a little more air in the tyres to make it feel a little more lively and I need to put the saddle up a little so I could get the power down while seated. This done I headed out for another evening run.

I had increased the tyre pressures by 5psi and I think that was a bit much, Ill drop them to about 24 front and 22 rear. The seat can still go up a little but the main thing is a stack of PR’s. I got my fastest time ever on the circuit!

Whats the benefit?

  • 26″ wheels accelerate faster than any of the new 650b, 27.5 or 29″ wheels.
  • The wide rims from Onza allow us to increase the air volume of the tyre without increasing the size of the tyre and as such we can run a lower pressure.
  • Lower pressure tyres conform better to the ground so power transfer to the trail is improved.
  • Larger volume tyres absorb minor trail bumps better so the bike doesnt skip about.

So 26″+ bikes rock in Suffolk!

If you want to know more or have a ride get in touch!

 

 

dePhuse project 1 starts to take shape.

a dePhuse project

a dePhuse project

A dePhuse bike. Made in Suffolk

A dePhuse bike. Made in Suffolk

dePhuse project 1 starts to take shape. This is a teaser view of the first frame in its bare paint finish before receiving its varnish. The paint comes from our spray.bike range and we have used;

We will over coat with Transparent Varnish to make it more hard wearing.

Stay tuned for more buid details as project 1 comes together.

dePhuse project 1 Teaser 2

dePhuse project 1 Teaser 2

dePhuse project 1 Teaser 3

dePhuse project 1 Teaser 3

dePhuse project 1 Teaser 4

dePhuse project 1 Teaser 4

 

Quick Release problems I have seen this week.

Warning! How to use the quick release

Warning! How to use the quick release

Recently there has been a lot of talk about problems with quick release levers used to hold the wheels in to most modern wheels.

Most of the discussion in the news has revolved around some badly designed and specified components fitted by manufacturers to their new bikes but this week I have seen two cases of QR Abuse that were clearly not the fault of the manufacturers.

The quick release lever has been around for long enough that most people who own a bike should have used one by now. They are, in the main, safe and secure and by far the most convenient way of securing the wheels to your bike.

When installed properly they will shrug off all attempts to dislodge the wheel but when you want to remove the wheel you can do it with one hand and no tools.

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Check your quick release faces backwards.

I serviced a cyclocross bike this week that had in my opinion, only one dangerous fault; The QR for the rear wheel had been installed facing forward [click the image for a closeup];

  1. Firstly a forward facing QR can catch in the bushes, especially on this cyclocross bike; a simple catch on a branch could flick it open releasing the back wheel!
  2. The second problem is that the tip of the lever is actually hard up against the frame [chain stay] which has prevented it from closing properly.
  3. The third problem comes when trying to open the QR. There is no way you could get your fingers behind it and that could lead to all kinds of frustration when its cold and muddy!

Always ensure your quick releases point backwards and that the lever is clear to close properly without catching anything. In the closed position you should be able to get a gloved hand in behind it to open it.

The Seatpost Clamp

Next; when out for a cycle I stopped to chat with two guys, I noticed the seat post clamp on one of the bikes was open and pointed it out to the rider. He seemed a little confused and on closer inspection I discovered why. I didnt have my camera with me at the time so I have re created the problem with an identical Hope Seatpost clamp on my road bike pictured below.

IMG_1196The problem isnt the fact that its a Hope clamp, the rider had bought the bike like that and could not understand how to adjust the height of his seat post. The clamp had been done up tight by screwing it in using the lever as a handle untill it was tight enough to hold the seat post in place but it had now ceased itself in that position and no amount of jiggling it was going to undo it.

When I tried to turn it I discovered it was totally locked in place. The only way to release this seat post clamp was to get some grips on the nut end of the mechanism and ease it off while turning the handle on the other end back and forth. It made a bit of a mess of the clamps nut but we can replace that for a few pennies. In case you are wondering, here is the before and after;

The Hope seat clamp done up wrong

The Hope seat clamp done up wrong

The Hope seat clamp correctly closed

The Hope seat clamp correctly closed

Before You Ride; Simple checks you can do for your own safety.

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Is your bike safe?

Its more than just a good idea to check your bike before you ride; Your comfort and safety depend on how well you look after your bike!

Follow these tips before you ride to ensure you have a safe journey;

  1. Stand back and look at your bike.
    1. Does it look right?
    2. Is anything hanging off?
  2. Come in closer and visually inspect your bike, start at the front and work your way back looking at the contact points;
    1. Tyres; are they in reasonable condition and pumped up?
    2. Steering; stand with the front wheel between your legs and hold on to the bars with both hands; apply moderate force, can you spin the bars without the wheel moving? If there is any movement seek advice before riding.
    3. Brakes; check the action of both front and back brakes. They should have about the same amount of travel and stop the wheel before the lever gets to the bar.
    4. Saddle; are the bolts or seat post clamp holding the saddle to the post tight and is the post tight in the frame? Is the height right? Its safer to have the saddle too low rather than too high but there is a sweet spot between the two where the riding is easiest.
    5. Pedals and Cranks; holding a pedal turn the crank back to where the pedal is at the top, then try bending the pedal in and out of the frame, do this on both sides. Does it move, rattle, squeak? If it does seek advice before riding.
    6. Chain; is the chain in place and does it allow the cranks to turn smoothly when you spin a pedal backwards? Often a chain that needs servicing will stick to the crank gear or jam up when you turn it backwards rather than running smoothly.
    7. Racks, mudguards and accessories; These should all be securely fitted and functional. If your not using those mounts for the lights you lost last year, remove them!
    8. Gears; If you have them do they work? This is usually best tested when riding and as this is the last check you can hop on and gently ride. Find a quiet space and work your way up and down the gears. A well adjusted gear set should change cleanly between gears at any speed, if yours isn’t you should service them before you head out.
  3. Personal Safety; It is commonly accepted that the bare minimum is a crash helmet. Assuming you are going to wear this can I suggest adding some eye protection and gloves?
  4. Be Seen; Having a safe bike is half the battle, the other half is ensuring you are seen. Being another statistic is not cool. Wear high-vis clothing, use lights, ride bold and own the road.
  5. Your ride survival kit;
    What do you carry with you on a ride? For every rider this is different; if you don’t mind walking home then your free to ride without any kind of survival kit but for most of us a few basics packed into a seat bag or in the bottom of the basket are essential. These are some of the essential things I carry;

    1. Pump
    2. A spare tube
    3. Tyre lever
    4. Multi tool
    5. Change for coffee
    6. Phone

Here are a few pictures to help you identify some issues [click the image for a close up];

Image 1; Brake balance

Image 1; Brake balance

In Image 1 note how the V-Brakes are not evenly balanced. In this case we discovered there was no spring tension in the right side lever of the V, we took the pair off, de greased them and centred the adjustment on the springs before re fitting.

Image 2; Saging Gear Cable

Image 2; Saging Gear Cable

In Image 2 can you see how the gear cable droops away from the frame? In all cases, even when the gear selected is at the bottom of the travel the cables should have just enough tension in them to hold their shape and not dangle like this. It could be badly adjusted, stretched or it could be the derailleur is ceased.

Image 3; Frayed Gear Cable

Image 3; Frayed Gear Cable

You will see in Image 3 how the other end of the cable was all frayed where it met the derailleur. We replaced the entire cable but not before removing, de greasing and re oiling the derailleur.

Image 4, Worn Brake Blocks

Image 4, Worn Brake Blocks

Note the level of wear on the brake blocks in Image 4. They are borderline but as this rider knows how to change them we elected to leave them on and they will change them at their own discretion.

Image 5, Are these scratches cosmetic?

Image 5, Are these scratches cosmetic?

It is not unusual to scratch your bike but deep gouges like this on the brake lever in Image 5 can indicate a bike that has had hard life and deeper issues. In this case we didnt find anything to worry about.

Image 6, Is your QR like this?

Image 6, Is your QR like this?

 

Here is an interesting one [Image 6] and in my opinion the only serious problem with this bike; The quick release on the rear wheel looks normal but it has been closed facing forward causing three potential problems.

  1. Firstly a forward facing QR can catch in the bushes, especially on this cyclocross bike; a simple catch on a branch could flick it open releasing the back wheel!
  2. The second problem is that the tip lever is actually hard up against the frame [chain stay] which has prevented it from closing properly.
  3. The third problem comes when trying to open the QR. There is no way you could get your fingers behind it and that could lead to all kinds of frustration when its cold and muddy!

Always ensure your quick releases point backwards and that the lever is clear to close properly without catching anything. In the closed position you should be able to get a gloved hand in behind it to open it.

 

Maria Has A New Bike – A spray.bike Project

Maria Has A New Bike - A Raleigh Caprice from 1987

Maria Has A New Bike – A Raleigh Caprice from 1987

Maria bike is thought to be a 1987 Raleigh Caprice. It came to us as a tatty blue wreck, we could have left it like that but to be fair first gear didnt work and it was grossly over geared. The brakes didnt do much and the front wheel bearings were falling out. We mechanically restored it, serviced the head set, bottom bracket, brakes and cranks. I built a pair of new wheels for it and put a newly reconditioned Sturmey Archer 3 speed AW hub gearbox in it but it still looked like a tatty blue wreck.

Marias blue bike

Marias blue bike

The tatty blue bike had a certain shabby chic appeal but was never a great advertisement for what we can do so plans were formed for a makeover. At this point I was looking at a colour pallet Mondrian would have approved of but Maria didnt!

Maria settled on spray.bike Plumstead with details in Gray’s Inn.

And so it was that on a Saturday morning I stripped the bike back to its bare frame, degreased it [use a bucket of hot soapy water and a liberal spray of Mr Muscle Kitchen cleaner], and got the power tools out.

IMG_1101Depending on the state of the paintwork on your bike you might get away with a light sand but in this case the paint was in such a sorry state we had no choice but to take it back to bare metal. This is a time consuming process but the time spent preparing the frame shows in the final finish so be patient and you will get a great result.

In this case we removed most of the paint with a power sander. This is the ‘random orbital‘ style of sander, I used it because I had it there and I had sufficient sanding disks. The power sander is fitted with fine abrasive disks to ensure we dont scratch the surface of the steel under the paint.

We also used a drill mounted wire brush to get in to the corners and finished off with a sanding disk folded in half and a bit of ‘elbow grease’. I used about 5 disks for the entire bike frame, fork and chain cover.

Using the power sander to take the paint off

Using the power sander to take the paint off

You could equally well use conventional paint stripper or take the frame and other parts that need the paint removing to a commercial paint stripper who will return the parts to you in gleaming fresh steel.

If you are working on a steel frame it is worth making sure you remove any rust at this stage [not sure if its steel? if a magnet sticks to it, its steel]. In this case the action of sanding the frame was enough to remove all traces of the light surface rust but you may have to do more. If you are unsure of what you have found under the paint take a snap and email it to us to check out.

Dont forget to look at all the parts you have removed from the bike while you are doing the prep; forks, chain covers, racks, stem, pumps, even the wheels could be colour coded to match the frame at this stage. It is often easier if you can work with someone on this job; take it in turns to sand the parts or clean and prepare the components you are going to refit.

Marias Bike In Bits!

Marias Bike In Bits!

In this case we painted the forks, chain guard and rack at the same time as the frame but decided to fit new mud guards [which we will paint to match when they arrive]. All the other components are going to be checked, serviced and cleaned before they are fitted back to the frame.

We are planning to paint Marias bike in two colors; the majority of the parts will be ‘Plumstead’ but details are picked out in ‘Gray’s Inn’ so we need to plan what gets painted first to get the effects we are after.

Setting up for paint.

Once everything is ready it is worth spending a few minutes setting up for the paint. We had already hung a plastic sheet up to protect our working space from dust and dirt during the sanding so we had a quick sweep up, put the tools away, hung the frame from the roof beams so we could get to all sides without having to handle it and made a coffee before we got started.

The paint we are using is supplied by spray.bike, the first ever range of bicycle-specific colour coating designed for both amateur and professional use. You can use the range of colours to personalise, change or refresh your ride, creating something unique to you. The paint is supplied in 200 and 400ml spray cans and one 400ml can is enough to do one frame and leave spare for accessories and touch ups.

Before you start make sure you have the following; Eye protection, a disposable face mask, disposable gloves and plenty of ventilation. You may also need masking tape and scissors or a sharp, craft knife. I also had a roll of kitchen towel that proved useful for masking larger areas.

I asked Gareth from spray.bike for his advice on application and this is what he told us;

Spraying

As Spray.Bike cans are pressurised, there’s an optimum distance at which the paint is effective on leaving the nozzle: 5-12 centimetres. In this ‘window’ the paint is semi-wet and the pigment is perfectly primed to do its job properly. Under 5 centimetres, faults can occur. After 12 or 14 centimetres the paint will have turned into a dry powder dust with little adhesion at all.

Always move your hand continuously while spraying, as this ensures an even coating. Touch-ups can always be done later don’t over-apply the paint in a single coat.

If re-using the paint after storage, test spray first. If the paint seems to splatter, replace the nozzle as the existing one is probably clogged.

Problems

Getting areas where the paint has landed as a powder (and has a rougher surface) will happen but this is easily solved. Leave the paint to completely dry, then using a soft cloth rub gently to smooth the surface.

If you do make a mistake (e.g. put colour in the wrong place or over-apply the product), wait for the spray to completely dry (max 2 hours). Then using a very fine sandpaper or other abrasive material, slowly rub away the paint. Don’t use a traditional solvent paint remover though as it will damage the acrylic compound in Spray.Bike and you’ll end up making more mess.

Drying

For best results, don’t be impatient! Although the coating does seem to dry rapidly (touch dry in a few seconds), it’s always best to let the paint completely dry over a 12 hour period before re-building the bike.

Masking and stenciling

If using masking techniques (with, say, masking tape) or stenciling after an initial coat, always wait 20 minutes before adding masking or a stencil to make sure the paint is dry enough not to be pulled away on removal. Masking can sometimes create lines where paint has built up against the edge of the mask: again wait 20 minutes so as not to pull that build-up away on removal of the stencil/mask. Leave for at least 2 hours to dry, and remove excess colour coat by rubbing down with a soft cloth.

Masking difficult areas

Sometimes masking small or intricate areas (such as head badges) can be tricky. When simple masking tape can’t be used, there are alternatives. Thick grease can work really well, as it acts as a barrier between the surface and the paint. We’ve also experimented with margarine and even toothpaste with great results.

Surface texture

Because of the reflective pearlescent particles, the fluro colours are slightly grainier than the other ranges. Rubbing down about an hour after painting with a soft cloth is highly recommended.

Blending

Use the Pocket Clears for blending as they can produce rapid and unusual colour change when used in conjunction with (i.e. on top of) solid colours (especially Fluro Clears on top of solid Fluro colours). The Pocket Clears are a solid pigment with a transparent base layer, so the final colour is based on the combination of solid/clear used, e.g. Fluro Yellow Clear on top of a blue will become a green. Use on junctions where 2 dramatic colours meet to create a fade. Give it a bit of practice for great results.

Storage

Spray.Bike paint lasts in its can for up to 10 years. Store upright and below 50°C so it will always be there for scratches and touch-ups.

If you have followed these simple stages you should now have a beautiful painted frame hanging from your garage roof. Let it rest for a while then gently rub it all over with a soft cloth. You can leave the frame like this and the paint will have a satin finish but if you want a gloss finish a final coat of Transparent Varnish will bring the colour out under the gloss varnish.

Now leave it over night to properly harden, tomorrow you can put it all back together. The images below [click for high res] are of Marias bike without its new mud guards as they are still on their way. I will update these pictures as soon as we have the final ‘bling’ delivery.

The total cost of this makeover?

Some of the tasks required to make a great job will need professional help, removal of head sets and bottom brackets can be challenging and getting them back in without damaging your new paint needs special tools. See our price list for a breakdown of service costs and consider that if you were to ask us to take your machine and do all this for you we would probably charge about £230. including materials. Marias bike needed a number of repairs and upgrades to get it to this stage and I would estimate the entire investement including new tyres, tubes, brake blocks and a complete set of cables to be around £150 plus labour costs. Maria also fitted a new saddle and grips to finish it off!

The back story for Marias Bike is here.

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Road Test The New 2016 Fulcrum Racing Quattro LG Wheel Set

The 2016 Fulcrum Racing Quattro LG wheel set

The 2016 Fulcrum Racing Quattro LG wheel set

I finally managed to get out and do some miles on the new Fulcrum Racing Quattro LG wheels, [unboxed here] its only 30 miles but I found a route with a bit of everything. It was a solo effort starting in town traffic with the usual mixture of roundabouts and red lights to practice wheel stands and accelerating away from the lights. We then have a few longer climbs out into the country for ten miles of broken tarmack, mud and tractors on the back roads. A fast run into Felixstowe and a coffee stop before heading back to Ipswich on the seven miles of “TT” track. Back in Ipswich we have a few miles of traffic and a short cobbled section. All in, its a reasonable test route on roads I know.

The Ribble fitted with its new Fulcrum Racing Quattro LG wheels

The Ribble fitted with its new Fulcrum Racing Quattro LG wheels

I am riding my usual 2012 Ribble Sportive Racing and I even have my usual 23mm Continental GrandPrix IIs rubber on the new rims. The sky is clear, the sun is trying to shine but the temperature is only just above freezing.

The Test Route

The first section of this route is with the traffic and most of my concentration is on not being killed by the sunday drivers. Within two miles I am wondering if I should head back to base and get some more layers but I decide to press on and hope to get some feeling in my fingers before I get out of town.

These first few miles are mostly uneventful but the ride is feeling harsh and my frozen hands are complaining, I pull over and drop the tyre pressures down to about 80psi before setting off again, its a little better and I now have circulation in my fingers so I press on.

The last time I rode this bike was a week ago, on the same route but with Bontrager Aeolius 5.0 rims and these same tyres. I have ridden the carbon clinchers for the last six months and was growing to love them so these Fulcrums have a lot of convincing to do before I accept them into my fold.

After five miles or so I am leaving the traffic and weaving my way through the country lanes, this is more like it, the road surface is broken and loose and we are rolling through the short sharp climbs and following rapid descents with their hair pin bends at the bottom. I know the road so I am pushing quite hard.

Everything on the bike is buzzing and ratting.

The New Fulcrum Racing Quattro LG wheel Set

The New Fulcrum Racing Quattro LG wheel Set

Up to this point I have been trying not to hate the Fulcrums. Fact; they have a harsh ride compared to my old carbons and its spoiling my fun. But now im into the sharp climbs and suddenly I am aware of how well these wheels power up hills. I am pushing hard on the pedals and the bike is just flying up the hills. As it flattens out I find myself thinking more positively about these ally clinchers. Ten miles in and its level betting.

We now have a few miles of well sheltered flat roads so I get in the drops and start driving the speed up. I dont use a bar mounted cycle computer so at this stage my legs are the gauge and they are feeling good.

I catch and pass a couple of other riders with ease.

Dropping in to Felixstowe the bike is feeling fast and responsive. Now I have a little confidence in the wheels and my legs have warmed up I am accelerating harder and throwing the bike around. Braking is getting better as my blocks bed in to the nicely machined surface on the rims. I did notice when I unpacked them they have stickers warning about keeping an eye on brake surface wear but as far as I can see there is no way of visually assessing the condition of the surface; No dimples or radial grove, we must ask Fulcrum how we are supposed to asses the wear?

I lean the bike against a lamp post and stop for a coffee and a ponder. The coffee is good and the wheels are not so bad. They look good on the bike but the quality of the stickers betrays their low price, I have a feeling they are going to look tatty quite quickly.

A couple have joined me; he is riding a no name frame with 100mm deep section rims, I look at the Fulcrums 35mm and decide they look a lot more sensible than the sails on my new friends bike. Its a windy day today, gusting 20mph and a lot of it has been side and head winds so far, the 35mm profile of the Racing Quattros have behaved very well, only once reminding me of their ‘aero’ profile and that wasnt dramatic. I think the Bonts’ 50mm would have been more apparent and those 100mm sails would have been a nightmare.

Refueled and back on the road Im on the long[ish] climb out of Felixstowe, the wind is on the nose and my legs have forgotten how to turn the pedals. Ease up a little, re focus and compose myself. I turn left and im out of the wind. There is now seven miles of nearly flat tarmack ahead, 70ft of climbing in total and I average 19.4mph without much effort. If I had someone pacing me it would have been significantly faster but this is an individual effort and I am now having fun.

As I get on to the only climb on this section, about 400yards of 2.5% I get out of the saddle and hang over the front of the bike to keep the power on and the speed up and for the first time on this ride I am close enough to the front wheel to hear it buzzing.

Dropping back in to Ipswich there is only one more test; the cobbles and after a couple more miles of traffic surfing I am on them and blasting through without a care. I actually came off the cobbles and set a KOM in the next section.

So what did I think of the new Fulcrum Racing Quattro LG wheels?

I like them. They are harsh compared to my older carbon rims and I am not used to having numb hands and feet at the end of a relatively short ride but that could have been the cold as much as the wheels. I am also conscious that the new Fulcrum Racing Quattro LG wheels have been designed for a 25mm tyre and I am running a 23mm, I am going to keep these wheels, run some wider rubber and put some more miles on them. I also know they may be a bad match for the Ribble frame but I can’t imagine they will get less harsh with an ally frame?

Fulcrum Racing Quattro LG wheels front hub detail

Fulcrum Racing Quattro LG wheels front hub detail

They dont feel heavy and they accelerate well. The clever 2:1 spoke pattern and wide drive side flange on the rear hub really do live up to the claims Fulcrum make for them delivering the power without any discernible flex. On my scales the rear came in at 951g, exactly the same as the Bonty and the front at 806g is just 80g heavier than the Bonty. The hubs run well straight out of the box so we will see what they are like after a couple of hundred dirty road miles. I loved the detail in the front hub, especially the steel inserts to grip the dropouts.

The supplied skewers are just odd; their quick release lever stands out 10mm further than any other skewers I have recently played with. I used them as they came with the wheels, they do up nicely and they held the wheels in place without any drama so on a functional level they pass but on an aesthetic level they are a big fail.

The Fulcrum Racing Quattro LG Wheel Set sell at £299 and is available now for £269 in our store.

The route; https://www.strava.com/activities/504312206

 

Unboxing the new 2016 Fulcrum Racing Quattro LG Wheel Set

Update – First road test here.

I am cramming the miles in this spring trying to get fit again and since I sold my winter bike to a friend I have been riding on £2,000 worth of carbon rims for the last few weeks. Not wanting to destroy them before the summer I have invested in a new set of winter or training wheels.

The 2016 Fulcrum Racing Quattro LG wheel set was the clear choice based on price, for £299 they seem to offer great value for money. That’s good and bad news from this reviewers point of view, they are very affordable but I dont know how objective I can be getting off the 50mm carbons and getting on to these.

Lets see what’s in the box and give you some first impressions.

Unboxing the 2016 Fulcrum Racing Quattro LG

Unboxing the 2016 Fulcrum Racing Quattro LG

  • Nice looking skewers supplied with the 2016 Fulcrum Racing Quattro LG

 

In the very substantial box [no joke, even the box said quality] we find the following;

  • A pair of wheels, both with plugs in the ends of the axles.
  • The accessories envelope.
  • A pair of skewers.
  • The cassette spacer.
  • Fitted rim tapes.

Everything in order, neat and tidy.

This is what Fulcrum have to say about their wheels;

  • 35mm is not just any number.
  • Every tiny detail of the Racing Quattro LG has been painstakingly optimised to offer the rider perfect balance and performance in all situations.
  • Aerodynamic and easy to ride these road bike wheels are ideal for long level straights, but still deliver outstanding results uphill.
  • Versatile and aggressive, these wheels are perfect for riders who enjoy putting themselves against a different type of route every day.

The rim

  • New 35mm aluminum road bike rims with a wider section: ETRTO 17C, external width 23,2 mm.
  • Developed to strike the perfect balance between aerodynamic efficiency, handling and lightness, the 35mm rim profile increases torsional and lateral stiffness compared with a conventional profile, for improved high speed stability.

Hubs

  • Oversized hub body in aluminium provides a high degree of lateral stiffness and reduces the weight to a minimum.
  • Adjustable ball bearing system in ultra high quality steel for reduced friction and maximum performance even after extensive use.
  • Quick and easy to adjust.
  • Aluminium axle reduces the overall weight of the wheel.

Oversize flange

  • Oversized flange on the drive side provides greater torsional stiffness, increases reactivity at any change in rhythm of the pedal stroke.
  • Exclusive processing system of the 5 axis hub. This allows the spokes seat to be created perfectly in line with the tensioning line.
  • This solution allows equal tension values to be obtained at every point of the spoke; it reduces stress on the rim and the spokes and keeps the road bike wheels balanced.

Spokes and nipples

  • Double-butted steel spokes (18 front, 21 rear) with aero profile enable maximum aerodynamic penetration.
  • Aluminium nipples make it possible to reduce the peripheral mass of the wheel to the minimum, thus increasing its reactivity.

Fulcrum also list 5 key benefits as follows;

Dynamic Balance™ – Aluminium rims

  • For top models, this is obtained by a special operation on the section of the rim opposite the rim joint.
  • For entry-level models, Dynamic Balance™ is obtained by using two oversized spokes in the section opposite the joint. The result is a wheel with perfectly balanced rotational dynamics.

2:1 Two-to-One™

  • When you push on the pedals, the rotational force on the sprocket induces a slackening of the freewheel spokes with a consequent loss of rim tension. This results in undesirable flex of the whole wheel and an unavoidable loss of energy. Fulcrum® has solved this classic cycling problem with its 2:1 Two-to-One™ Spoke Ratio patent, by doubling the spokes in the critical zones.

Anti-Rotation System™

  • This new system raises the concept of spoking to a new level of performance for road bike and triathlon wheels.
  • The Fulcrum® engineers have redesigned the spokes and the hub housings to create a solid and unmoveable whole. The result is that the spokes
    a) will never lose their initial tension, thus keeping the wheel perfectly reactive and centred
    b) will remain in the position that have been studied in the wind tunnel tests to ensure the best aerodynamic penetration possible.

F.I.C. Fulcrum Identification Card – 100% HANDMADE QUALITY

  • Right from its inception Fulcrum® has been marked by feature that continues to this day: that is to design, prototype and industrialise all the wheels characterised by the red “F”.
    Indeed these take shape inside of the R&D, the leading-edge department that represents the beating heart of the Italian company.
  • Every single component of the wheel, the materials chosen and the technologies applied are the tangible result of the effort that Fulcrum® makes every day to give you maximum performance and reliability.

Traceability

  • A guarantee of quality
  • The keyword for our products is: rechable.
  • If you find a little label attached to any Fulcrum® product, do not remove it. It will provide you a guarantee in case of an ascertained defectiveness of a production batch, and so the component needed or wheel will be traceable.
  • All this because, devoted to its mission, Fulcrum® demands the absolute perfection and safety for its customers.

Next stop; I fitted them to my daily road bike with the tyres removed from my usual carbon rims and headed out for a real world road test.

spray.bike samples are here!

spray.paint samples

spray.paint samples

Our first small sample batch of paint from spray.bike is here and I am very excited! Now all we have to do is find a little time to do a proper job of testing this lot. We have a vintage step through to paint and some more modern parts we want to experiment with re-coloring.

We have one each of the following;

  • Excelsior
  • Plumstead
  • Battersea
  • Grays Inn
  • Goldhawk Road
  • Coventry red
  • Flouro Yellow
  • Transparent Finish

I had to do a test so here is a two tone Grays Inn – Goldhawk Road experiment. One side is in the original matt and the other has a transparent gloss over it. What do you think?

IMG_1013 IMG_1014

Stay tuned! Updates will follow.

 

Fitbit Blaze

nexus2cee_FitbitBlazeJust announced at CES and not even sampled for review yet is the new Fitbit Blaze.

There isn’t much to tel about it yet, all we can do is look at the pictures and compare it to the Surge. This I can do with some competency as I have been wearing a Surge for the whole of the last 12 months.

I chose the Surge over all the other wearable fitness trackers as I wanted 24/7 heart rate monitoring and built-in GPS in a device that didn’t have to be tethered to my phone to work.

The Surge doesn’t need reviewing here, it’s a great piece of tech backed up by good service and I like it in all respects except one. It looks like a brick tied to my wrist.

The new Blaze is clearly aimed at people like me, it seems to do everything the Surge does but looks a lot better. This has upset some reviewers though. I have seen the new device slated because it looks like a smart watch but doesn’t have an app store. Well I don’t care, I bought the ugly Surge precisely because it does one job and it does it very well. I don’t want a smart watch, I want an activity tracker and I am clearly not alone as Fitbit outsell Apple and Samsung combined any day of the week. Its clear to see, and justify the benefit of an activity tracker, a smart watch is in most cases nothing more than an extension of your phone.

What is clear from Fitbits advertising is their new tracker is designed for the fashion conscious and is no longer just a fitness tracker for people like me who want to analyze their training. Take a look at Fitbits Blaze web pages and you will see four out of five images of the new watch are focused on fashion. Check it out here – Fitbit Blaze Lookbook

The new blaze and the other Fitbits are available from the Wiggle Online Cycle Shop!

Im looking forward to getting my hands on one of these [Are you listening Fitbit?] for a full extended review.