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.
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.
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:
Hey Brotard, Can You Spare A Meme? - You'll be [insert feeling here] to know that, further to yesterday's post, I've put a new (old) bottom bracket in the Brown Stallion and it rides like a dr...
1 hour ago