Lance’s Giro Bike

Not sure about this, but here’s Lance’s bike for the Giro.  I like the SRAM levers.

A few more snaps including the TT bike here.

Carlos Ashtray’s TdF Jersey

On eBay with 48 minutes to go.  A snip at £1,220.  And no postage rip-off so get in there!

Shopping!

“Lynn, I’ve been bad”.  In the words of Alan Partridge. 

I’ve bought one of these

And one of these

If you are tempted by the latter, go for a size smaller that you think.  Even the medium is pretty big on me.

Garmin Edge 705

I’ve had my Garmin for a year or thereabouts so this seems an apt time to say a few things about it.

I’ll make it easy by splitting into the good and bad things as I see them.

Good

  • Route Guidance The main reason I bought the unit was to make my life easier when riding unfamiliar routes.  I quickly tired of putting routes together online then carefully creating a ‘route sheet’ noting down every junction.  Not only was this time-consuming but it was very tedious on the road having to keep checking I was going the right way.  I’m now able to download the route directly on to the Garmin and see the route superimposed on to the map on the screen.  Simple and brilliant.  The only time I go wrong now is when I forget to look down!
  • Not just a GPS The Garmin is not just a GPS device.  It also measures speed, gradient, climb, heart rate, cadence, power (if you bike is suitably equipped with a PowerTap or SRM) – in fact everything that a self-respecting cyclist might want.
  • Display options The display options are brilliant.  The ‘mode’ button can be used to toggle through the main display and the map.  The display has two views and each can have up to 8 different parameters (speed, cadence, etc) which are entirely customisable.  The map page (as pictured above) works likewise with wholly customisable options.
  • Magic It’s quite infeasible that Garmin have managed to pack so much into such a small (albeit not by bike computer standards!) package.  Postcodes, addresses, stations, routing, altimeter, routes, history, etc, etc.
  • Updates After a shaky start, Garmin responded quickly with firmware upgrades correcting early problems.
  • Service I had a problem with my unit displaying cadence.  I sent it off to Garmin and, to my surprise, received back a brand new unit with heart rate monitor, cadence unit, etc.

Bad

  • Cost There’s no hiding behind the fact that the unit is pretty expensive.  In addition, unless you get a bundle in the first place, the additional items (cadence unit, stem mount, etc) can cost more than a new bike computer!
  • Confusion Waypoints, trackpoints, GPX, courses, history, tracks, routes… What does it all mean?  To be honest, I still don’t know.  The documentation is poor to say the least and, despite many hours of research, I never fully got to grips with what it all meant.  It took me a long time to find a solution to downloading a route from Bikely, getting it onto the Garmin and setting it up in such a way that the unit didn’t screw it up.  This might all work much better now with subsequent releases of software, but having invested so much effort in finding an acceptable solution I can’t be bothered to get back to basics are start afresh.
  • Bracket Mounts The handlebar mounts are rubbish.  They only last a couple of months, are made of flimsy plastic, and cost about a tenner to replace.
  • Maps Why does the map alone for the unit cost more than the entire unit with the same map for a car!?
  • Basemap The unit comes with a basemap which is a complete pile of shit forcing you to buy additional maps.  This seems a bit unreasonable to me.
  • Reliability I’ve had quite a few issues with the unit and have twice had to send it back to Garmin.
  • Software The software for the PC is pretty dated and, frankly, poor.  And confusing.  Different bits of software, some desktop, some online, doing seemingly overlapping things.  The software doesn’t even seem to ‘read’ formats that come directly of the unit for goodness sake.
  • Acquiring Satellites The start of my rides are often marred by waiting for the unit to ‘acquire satellites’ which is pretty irritating.

Overall

Overall?  The Garmin is expensive.  And it has quite a few irritating faults.  But I think it is a totally brilliant bit of kit.  It has a bit of a ‘first version’ feel and you expect to pay a bit of a price if you are an early adopter.  But Garmin seem to be a good company and quickly responded to the unit’s early issues.

I would genuinely struggle without it now.  Last weekend I went to the Brecon Beacons; I was able to download two great routes from Bikely – created by others – in no time at all and was able to explore a completely unknown area without a second thought.

If you haven’t got one already – go buy one!

Campagnolo

Campagnolo? Campag-no-no more like.

When I built my winter bike I had to choose a ‘groupset’; this is cycling code for gears, shifters, brakes and chainset.  Much like the computing world there’s a three-way tussle roughly along the lines of Shimano/PC, Campagnolo/Mac and SRAM/Linux.  To be honest it breaks down a little with the last one there, but otherwise the parallels are amusing and instructive.

Shimano is the most popular choice and is sensible, cost-effective and pragmatic.  Tour de France’s (grammar?) have been won using Shimano gear.   Pros use Shimano gear.  There is clearly nothing wrong with it.  Shimano users mostly, I guess, aren’t excessively passionate about the kit, but rather very happy that it quietly does a great job for them.

Campagnolo is about the “legend”.  It is expensive, is made in Italy and embodies the passion and history of the sport.  Tour de France’s have been won using Campag gear.  Pros use Campag gear.  Again, nothing wrong with it.  Campag users though, tend to believe they have the moral high ground too; a little like Mac fans (though not as bad thank Christ!) there is a sense that they are making an ethically and aesthetically superior choice.  I saw on a forum some cock had a signature “rather walk than use shimano” for  goodness sake.

All of my previous bikes have been equipped with Shimano and I was very happy with it.  Using mostly a combination of the best (Dura Ace) and second best (Ultegra) levels of kit and it has performed well and without issue.

So what do I think about my first foray into Campag equipment?  A couple of points to note however.  First, I have not been using the kit for long.  Second I’m running the 2009 Centaur groupset, which effectively is the third level of equipment, though as expensive as Shimano’s second level, if you see what I mean.  Third, I’m immune to high ground of any variety :-) .

Shifters

I’ll be frank.  I don’t like the new Ergo levers.  They are a funny looking shape and are not very comfortable.  In fairness they are not the classic Campag shape so this criticism may not extend to their other kit.  Campag ‘got there second’ on the combined brake/gear shifters and it shows.  Shimano have a very neat solution for the gear shifting, Campag have the second choice which is an ugly ‘thumb lever’.  Damn you patents I say.  Whilst on the hoods I find that I have to shift my weight and move my hand to change up a gear which is very irritating.

Brakes

The brakes are terrific actually.  My ‘summer’ bike has FSA calipers which are comparitively poor.  Maybe this is due to brake blocks, or the braking surface on the wheels.  But probably the Campag brakes are just better.  Though I’ve got some Dura Ace calipers for my summer bike so maybe this view will change.

Front Derailleur

No, no, no.  Terrible.  Apparently a bit of grit got into the shifter.  This caused it to lock up with increasing frequency when I tried to shift until the pressure eventually snapped the bracket, ending a ride.  It’s been back to the shop and is better but has locked up one more time.  My local bike shop (LBS), in this case Geoffrey Butler, have adjusted the mechanism and now every fourth of fifth time I change to the smaller ring the chain ‘locks’ causing me to have to pedal backwards to unlock it then continue on my way.

Rear Derailleur

No, no, no.  Absolutely awful.  My LBS have now had two attempts to get this right.  I prefer to choose when I want to change gear and I do not like the constant surprises that I get.  The problem is exacerbated by the fact that more force makes this ‘auto-shifting’  more likely, which is especially infuriating when I get out of the saddle on a climb.  K-chung followed by “for fuck sake” is now a constant companion on my rides.

In short, this Campag kit has been a disaster really, brakes aside.  Yes, I can give it more time.  Yes, my LBS may be a factor.  Yes, I’m a pragmatist.  But no, I will not again equip my bikes with their gear.

Campag-no.  Shiman-yo.  If you see what I mean.

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Lance’s Madone

It took me quite a while to realise and appreciate the aesthetic quality of cycling. Not any more. Check this little beauty; it’s Lance’s custom Madone.