hope you guys like it,
if you guys don't like his (boardmans ed.) reviews maybe you'll like my review of my new giordana xl. it will involve blatant name dropping, lies, half-truths and astute observations.
the cervelo r3 is one of the more remarkable bikes to come out of the bastardized womb of bicycle industry. the product of engineering coupled with the confusing bitch session "suggestions" of a picky former epo abuser who now runs some danish cycling club, and the modern marvel that is high-tech carbon fiber production in a renegade chinese province; the r3 is a fine bike. it's ugly; the geometry isn't all that well thought out in the sizes diminutive spaniards ride; but as they're not as prone to whining about equipment as their larger latin neighbors; the thing is good enough. it's lighter than just about any frameset i've yet to try and the thing goes where you point it and doesn't have the nasty propensity to replicate overcooked gnocchi when pushed hard into a corner. the head tube stays parrallel to the seat tube when you're pulling on the bars; and that puts it in a category of a number race bikes that even i can count up to.
so all's well in the world and i'm on a ride with forty of my closest friends and some guy who got shot and then won the tour de france or maybe it was the opposite or maybe it was both when all of a sudden it feels really hard to pedal; like the brakes are dragging. my first thought is that some pal of mine we'll only refer to as "stevep" is grabbing on to my shirt but as the feeling is not simoltaneously occuring with blabber about high stakes roller racing i figure it must be something else.
turns out the bottom bracket shell has delaminated from the frame and is spinning around in the frame. by the time i finish the ride and put the bike on a workstand back at the shop, i can barely move the cranks with my hands. luckilly i can still move the cranks with my legs. you see i'm a cyclist and while i have wimpy little arms, a swallow like chest and an upper body build that can only be described as neo-srebenica meets gimp, my legs work ok and my feeble mind figured i'd just keep the thing in the 54 tooth chainring on my next ride and that way i wouldn;t have to spin the bottom bracket shell around as many times to go the same speed or the same distance.
long story short, i rode the broken bike for another ride with some handsome guy i met on the internet and all seemed pretty well untill the whole bottom bracket shell had crept right out of the left side of the frame and now the drive side crank was rubbing the chainstay. i finished the ride; got the piece of junk back to my shop and figured i was done riding for the year.
then the same brain that had spawned the wonderful idea to ride the broken bike in the first place came up with another great idea. i would strip the cervelo frame down and put its parts on a $350 giordana frame i had built up as a fixed gear.
i'd love to say that i had been inspired to build a fixed gear bike so i could pick up art school girls with men's haircuts and share their bourbon and vegan sandwiches with them but that is not the case. in fact, the thing had come about during the painful realization that my strength endurance intervals had a higher average speed than my threshhold intervals....in other words, as cadence and heartrate increased speed decreased. i figured i needed to work on my spin; so i called up some guy and asked him what the cheapest frame he had was that i would be willing to be caught dead riding to the gay bar on.
it arrived and it was a giordana xl painted in a weird green and grey backammon board looking scheme. it was made of excell tubing which as all conniseurs of the ancient art of racing bikes know, made some of the finest steel tubesets ever. then the owner of the company got lost at sea or something and the only remaining source of this legendary tubing is a large cardboard box located next to another large cardboard box containing cartons of polish sourced marlborough lights underneath dario pegoretti's frame allignment table. excell also made some not so fine; but perfectly adequeate steel tubesets, the only source of which is a gigantic wharehouse full of'em in charlotte north carolina. fortunatly, these are already brazed into lugs, have matching steel forks of the proper rake and can be had very cheap; hence my coming into possession of this giordana xl. plus, a steel frame that fits me had better be made of cheap tubing; otherwise it'd be probably too light and flexy. one must wonder how many 58cm plus slx framesets really had an slx tube in'em; those extra few bucks probably kept the de rosa's fat throughout a good portion of the nineteen eighties and early nineties.
so i moved over all the parts from the r3 carcass and built up the giordana. not all the junk fit. i needed to scrounge up a threaded headset, an italian bottom bracket a 140mm quill stem and a matching handlebar.
so now the thing was together and ready for its first ride. i put on the ipod, the imitation prada glasses, a long sleeve skinsuit from some team that i wasn't ever on and pushed westward. the first thing i noticed was that my knees didn't rub the toptube on the thing and that was pretty weird. the second thing i noticed was how stupid looking new campy levers look on a cinelli 65 handlebar, but that somehow they're still in the right place and even though they appear to be sticking out to the sides my wrists didn't think so.
riding the bike i found no discernable flex in the bottom bracket area nor anywhere else for that matter. climbing out of the saddle at the start of an interval caused the rear wheel to hop in the air a little bit, but it always does that on new bikes untill i get used to them and i probably had the wheel a bit too far forward in the drop-outs.
the thing felt stable and predictable at all speeds and sprinted fine. its added heft (21,5pounds) wasn't noticed. as for the "steel is real" thing i must be too dense to get it....it rode like a nice race bike made out of any material. i didn't find it smoother or harsher than my r3. it felt like a bike and after a few short kilometers i wasn't noticing anything except my ipod's awesome abilty to follow up the magnetic fields song "when my boy walks down the street" with dr. dre's "bihacs ain't shi'ite but hos and tricks" followed by the replacements "androgynous" followed by the dwarves "dead brides in white".
so there's my review.
the jerk thinks your stem is too short!
So I think I'm about to break a sweat when Pablo waves and calls, "Yoo-hoo!" and I pull to a stop, roll back 50 yards beyond his position, and then thunder by him 5 or 6 times, all racer-boy tendons (and sucked in gut) until he gives me the thumbs up. I stop and wait for him to pack up his gear, climb into his rented Hyundai, and rattle off along our pre-arranged route. I give him 5 minutes head start to get set up and check his light meter, while I cool down and actually start to shiver in the disappointingly cool late afternoon breeze. Then it's off again up the 6% grade, wondering how I'll describe this black-with-hideous-accents plastic phenomenon for my eager fans (and highly paid editorial staff). I mean, when has a race bike ever needed to be more than a 74-degree head tube angle, nice and stiff drivetrain and some good reliable bits to keep the thing from falling over? I had that back in the 80s. Yes, the bikes are lighter now, but that only counts for the top 5 climbers in the world and recreational riders over 45 with big check books.
And yet here I am, scanning the horizon for Pablo so I'm not surprised by the "yoo-hoo!" just as I start to think happier thoughts, clicking through the totally fine Record gruppo and not flexing the solid Kysiriums and wondering if my cycling lexicon is running dry. Do I lack imagination? Have I lost nether-region sensitivity? When I read people gushing about unique frequency response and road feedback and taut frames with a mellow edge should I not be confused and disgusted that they don't know a functional tool when they ride one? No, I have no reason to lack confidence in my view. I once held the hour record and won stages in major tours. I know bikes.
"Yoo-hoo!" Damn, lost in thought again!. Now he wants the switchback shot that demonstrates I actually know how to climb out of the saddle, but the light is fading so we need to get it right the first time, or maybe the second. "Oh, so sorry, your eyes were half closed and your thigh was blocking the downtube logo. Please roll down the slope and come around the switchback again." I make sure to keep my eyes glaring open and pedal in an uneven cadence as I round the switchback the second time so that Pablo has a better chance of getting an unblocked logo. I succeed. Yay for me.
Usually, the descent after the climb is a rider's reward for a hard job well done. With Pablo fighting the light and desperate for a descending shot to accompany whatever I can invent about handling properties on this black not-so-beauty, the descent means I have to stop, quickly climb back up a hundred meters, and roll down again and again (keeping that logo unblocked of course) until my taskmaster says he is done. Maybe if Pablo made bikes they would be new and different, but no, he'd probably keep making variations of the same old theme, kind of like his pedestrian photos. I can't blame him. There's nothing new in bikeland and there's nothing new in cycling shots. We're just spinning our wheels, literally and figuratively.
Finally back at the hotel, and three drinks to the good, it's time to write 300 words on what I think of the bike. How about 2 - who cares? Maybe that's the booze talking. After all, this gig keeps me top of mind for commentating jobs at the Tour where my unique brand of cynicism, I mean insight, brings a refreshing contrast to those, "turning pedals in anger," guys. Tour after Tour - so many angry pedals.
Which brings me back to the bike. And suddenly I have an insight. It's the sameness of these bikes that make them special and that buyers should find reassuring. Society has reached the pinnacle of bicycle design, so any bike that is truly different would by necessity be worse! If this bike seemed just like all the others, light, stiff, good components, it means that it's just as good as the best. As they say in the toothpaste ads, "There is no more effective cavity fighter on the market." They don't mean their dentifrice (had to hit the dictionary for that one) is best, they mean it's just as good as the best. It is my job to assure the buying public that the world's bike makers have not lost their touch. I am humbled by my contribution to global bicycle satisfaction.
I wonder where they'll send me next time? I hope it's a little warmer.
i'd love to say that i had been inspired to build a fixed gear bike so i could pick up art school girls with men's haircuts and share their bourbon and vegan sandwiches with them but that is not the case. [/i]
LOL... best line in the whole thing.
Giant's engineers are masters, as I felt like the bike was transferring every watt to the road, all while somehow giving me a perfectly comfortabe ride. I am a huge fan of Giant's engineers because of the effort they put in to their frames (and the money they pay me to gush over their latest creation, speculating how it provides the perfect balance. Mysteriously this is the same perfect balance as the last carbon bike. Oh no though, aluminium has to be so much harsher than carbon. It is impossible to have a comfy aluminium bike.)
The geometry fitted me like a glove, which guarantees everyone will fit one of their 3 frame sizes. It could not have handled better on the descents and the 73.5 degree seat tube gave me a good position for climbing. The Dura Ace groupset was once again flawless. The Ksyrium wheels, oh how we can't get enough of them. This is the 87th bike in the last year with Ksyriums that we've tested. They are soooo aerodynamic, soooooo stiff and soooooo comfortable, complementing the frame nicely. To add a final word to the computer-stored template used to review this bike I would just like to say thanks to all the stupid readers who believe the crap we reviewers pour out, you keep us in business.
Hmm I dunno, but I think that fis many major reviews, minus sarcasm and ranting.
Visiting South West Australia? Visit Crank n' Cycles!
I've owned a number of carbon (and other exotic material) bikes over the last 15 years. I love the ride of carbon and I could tell my C50 from my Cramerotti (Deda carbon tubeset) blindfolded by the difference in their ride qualities.
However, my most comfortable bike is probably my steel Independent Fabrication with S&S couplings, steel fork and threaded headset. Why all this heavy stuff on a 2004 bike? Because I want something that's hard for the airlines to damage. It weighs over 21 pounds but the geometry (knocked off from an Italian aluminum bike that handled well even though it rode like a truck) works and it was great in Tucson and Italy this year.
Next year's project? Have IF copy the current one in a Factory Lighweight with a carbon fork, Record compact, etc. Just trying to figure out the colour.
Next year's project? Have IF copy the current one in a Factory Lighweight with a carbon fork, Record compact, etc. Just trying to figure out the colour.
Who cares what color it is........that'll be a nice ride. Do like Nexi did with DP, let them pick or give them some guidence like; "I like the red on a 1964 vette". My wife has an IF CJ and she told them she had a favorite color of toe nail polish (I know it sounds dumb) but it came out great. The only thing she said was...."I like that color, surprise me" The thing was is so dark purple it is almost black and has crazy pink flames on it. She told them she liked "the Fink's" artwork too. You'd be surprised what they can come up with.
Q-FACTOR IS A RED HERRING
There is a certain feeling that I get in the cockles of my heart when I see "Made in Italy" (followed by the Chinese characters to translate that phrase) stamped on a chain stay. Call it nostalgia. Call it Romance. Whatever it is, I know that the company has paid tens of thousands of dollars for advertising to my magazine which contributes to my bloated salary, and it makes me giddy.
As I take in the latest Xxxxxx carbon frameset, I am struck by the brilliance of 'open-source' molds for the cycling industry. With every company in the bicycling industry now outsourcing all of their production to the east, and those Asian manufacturers utilizing the same molds for every one's frames it gives the parent company in Europe more time and control over the precise carbon layups to create the best ride possible. Unfortunately, as most of those companies employ more painters than engineers, there is little chance that they will take advantage of this unique opportunity.
On the plus side, the 46 color paint scheme with an elaborate airbrushed pattern and Grateful Dead-inspired prismatic pearls makes me not care about the wrinkle in the cosmetic surface layer of carbon that a careless 8-year-old didn't correct before placing the frame in the oven to cure. I assume that child will be killed if the frame actually fails, and so I am reassured that there is nothing to worry about with the structural integrity of the bike.
Swinging a leg over the bike and heading out of town on my favorite loop - which I've dubbed H-P-H after the famous L-B-L - the Home-Pub-Home route challenges all of my skill and fitness as a squishy, former racer.
Starting out at a brisk spin to get the blood flowing, I flawlessly flick my way through the gears on the latest and greatest from Campagnolo. Soon enough I'm rolling over in the 53-11 headed for the first section of cobbles, and my first climb. Fortunately, the Pub is only .4km from Home, and after a grueling ascent of the sidewalk ramp I am treated to the respite of a luke-warm pint.
As I set the bike up in the corner on a turbo that the barkeep lets me stash for just these occasions, the true greatness of the Xxxxxx really shines through. People in the pub are actually hitching their normally smooth drinking motions to take a look at this machine. With my photographer and mother both snapping pics like paparazzi on crack, and this cool bike (also maybe from the full team kit that I am wearing with my contract from from Ol' Rog pinned to my back like a race number) some of the patrons who don't see me here every day are actually murmerring that I might be a pro.
While I spin in the corner and toss back pint after pint, it becomes quite clear that the wheels and tires of the bicycle are doing exactly what they are supposed to - propping up the front end of the bike, and providing an efficient link between the gearing and the resistance unit on the turbo. These are clearly the most perfect wheels around. When I sober up, I'll have to look at the labels I say to myself.
Five pints and an hour into this ride (from Home) my support man (barkeep) comes to offer me a bit more libation. And as is tradition at this point in my ride he offers up our traditional plum to get the crowd interested again, "So was it the Hour Record or the Olympic Gold that meant more to you," he says well above conversational tone.
After a few minutes of name dropping and listing out every win I have ever had from my first criterium, right down to beating my wife on the townie bike last week, I tell him that they were all equally important.
As I sip my English Ale, I notice that our little show has had its desired effect, and a husky housewife is getting up the courage to come talk to me. As she approaches, I nod my head at tip my helmet. (Yes, I wear a helmet even on the turbo. Unlike most old pros I actually get hurt more when I crash while riding drunk. It probably goes back to that time I was leading the Tour de France prologue by a huge margin and then crashed in the rain and shattered my ankle.)
As the lass nears, I stick out my hand for her. Strangely, she does not genuflect and kiss it, but merely shakes it. "You're that pro cyclist aren't you laddie," she says.
"Why, yes I am mum, but I don't like to be noticed, so I try to keep inconspicuous," I say, while sitting up and swinging my arms wildly to attract as much attention as possible.
"Well, I just think it grand, Mr. Obree, that you beat that mental illness. It's really inspiring."
No sooner does my glass shatter against the stone floor, than the tires show their true mettle, by not puncturing from the flying shards. The agility of the bike coming out of the turbo and weaving through the staring crowd as I carry it out in full temper tantrum flight make me begin to truly understand why the machine is so excellent.
With my heart rate pegged, I set out for Home...
"Organization is for the simple-minded, the Genius controls the chaos." - Jens
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