Friday, May 30, 2008

The ten best things about my bike.

Every bike is a reflection of its rider's tastes and priorities. Every stock standard bike that's wheeled off the floor of a bike shop will gradually evolve over time to reflect who rides it and how. These are ten of my favourite things, the things that make my bike my own:

1. Brooks leather saddle.
Hadn't tried one until a couple of years ago, now I can't live without it. The B17 is a bit heavy and looks a bit old fashioned but there's nothing more comfortable. And when you're riding lots, comfort is a must.

2. Campagnolo levers.
I tried Shimano levers, but I find the cable runs ugly and I'm nothing if not an aesthete. My Campag Veloce levers are about one-third the price of the equivalent Ultegras, feel better, work better and look better. I use a Jtek shiftmate adapter so I didn't have to change my wheels, deraillieurs, cluster etc. It all works a charm.

3. Connex chain.
Pricey but smooth, with the added bonus of a tool-free joining link so it's easy to get on and off for cleaning. Just replaced my first one after 4,000km.

4. Cateye Strada wireless computer.

I've tried a bunch of cycle computers over the years. My long-time favourite was a cheapie I bought in New York in 1996 which finally gave up the ghost a couple of years back. The Cateye is small and smart and would be perfect if there was some way of ensuring all my ride data wasn't erased on the odd occasion I slump over the handebars on a break.

5. Schmidt hub and E3 light
Nothing beats a generator hub. I've raved about this before. With barely noticable drag, this hub and this light are the perfect combination: ready to provide light any time they're needed. No batteries to recharge. Nothing to forget. Ride any time you like.

6. Handbuilt wheels.
Most road bikes these days have machine-built reduced spoke count wheels, which are fine for racing but in my opinion no good for commuting or audax riding where strength and reliability is more important than weight and aerodynamics. With many wheels these days, if you break a spoke, you're walking home. I made these wheels for myself from some vintage 36 hole Wolber Super Gentleman rims . They're true and strong and fast. Just like their owner.

6. Mudguards
Winter in Hobart can be cold and sometimes rainy. A spray of water up the date doesn't make a rainy commute any more fun. And my Soma Eurotrip 'fenders' are dead stylish too.

7. Musette.
These were big in the 80s, but you don't see them much any more. One of these in a jersey pocket means you can turn a trip to the shops into a decent ride. Each weekend when we ride we manage to pick up dinner, the paper and a bottle of wine in town before heading back to our mountain lair. I picked up two for $20 at Clarence Street Cycles on my last trip to Sydney. they must have been the cheapest items in the shop!

8. Zefal HPX pump
These are good, reliable pump. I just replaced my first one after 20 years of use because I accidentally stepped on it and bent the body. These pumps are really good at getting tyres up to high pressures. And they have a reasonably hefty business end, which is good for whacking dogs, and I imagine would do quite some damage to a car's side window if ever wielded in anger. Try that with your minipump.

OK, these next two aren't part of the bike, but they are part of the overall experience:

I'm a bit obsessive about tracking my mileage, but it's a means unto an end - keeping my motivation up and my weight down! The good thing about bikejournal is that if you're not consistent you drop down the rankings like a brick. I was nudging my was towards a top 1,000 spot a couple of weeks ago. Now I'm 1300+. Time to get back on the bike.

10. Bike blogs.
Good for rainy day contemplation and time wasting at work. There are some cracking bike blogs out there and more popping up all the time. A decent feed handler like Google Reader will keep them all in line. In no particular order, my favourites:

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off for a ride.


Anonymous said...

Love those musettes

NancyBoy said...

Nice list Dave,

Particularly like the Zefal HPX. I've got four compact pumps and I've been sold every one of them as "the one the works". You may notice what pump I've still got on the bike.

The other reason for plummeting Bike Journal ranking is that it's getting warmer in the Northern Haemorrhoid. We'll catch back up around October.

Love the Soma guards.

Mike Dayton said...

Good list, Dave, and a very sharp Surly.


Grant said...

Similar tastes, and I love my B17 too -

Tim said...

OK now you have set up a challenge!

1 Totally agree, but we could argue which model is best.
2 Yes but I still prefer the the way Shimano levers work (when they do) The perfect shifter IMO would have the down shift Shimano style, up shift Campag style.
3 This were we part company! Go Rohloff! I am surprised you get so few kms from a chain Over the years I have got over 12,000km from SRAM chains, more from a Rohloff.
4 Dont take bike computers that seriously
5 Absolutely - cant beat that combination
6 Proper wheels to take the knocks, can't beat them
6 Mmmmm sorry I will rave about my Berthoud s/s, they give better protection, will outlast and look better than any plastic ones
7 Ok you beat me here, I have never used one.
8 Oh yes, i have lost count of the number of times I have lent me HPX to someone struggling with a toy pump.
9 Lost me there
10 Why wait for a rainy day?

David Killick said...


I'll have to come over and try a Rohloff hub sometime. Not sure why it's taken me this long.

I don't reckon the ideal shifter has been made yet. I love the convenience of the brifters, but I like the simplicity of the down tube shift lever. Can't have everything I gusss. And now we're on the cusp of the era of electronic-assisted shifting. Who knows what nightmares that will hold for the unwary?

As for the chain, it had a pretty hard life. It was jammed once between the crank arm and chainring and became a bit bent and never seemed to be the same again. It's a ten speed chain too, they're not the most robust of creatures. A for the stainless mudguards, yours look great, I'll give them a try next.