Saturday, August 29, 2009

Cynicism at Bay

I'm composing this on my ePhone (like an iPhone, but much better, becaue it's mine). I've tried every smartphone that has come through Evil Labs, including models by Motorola, HTC and Samsung. The iPhone is by far the best. I am NOT an Apple fan, so praising their product does not come easily. Of couse, like I said, because it's mine, it becomes the "ePhone", far superior to a run of the mill iPhone.

I'm finding it hard to be too cynical right now. Not that there's not plenty of crummy stuff ( queue The Ramones) going on in the world, all of which may or may not be part of my Evil Master Plan. However, I'm not ready to get into politics quite yet on this corner or the blogsphere. In my little world, insofar as cycling is concerned, things are as they should be.
I had contacted SpeedPlay about my exploding pedal, and the were very good about providing Return Authorization. I sent the pedals in on Friday, and Ill let you know when they come back. In the mean time I am kind of enjoying the Crank Bros. Quattros.
The latest issue of Bicycle magazine came the other day. Plenty to ridicule, so stay tuned.
I still chuckle when I look at the old issue that calls Lance Armstrong "Mr. Millimeter"

-Evil C.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Weekend Update

Last Weeks Miles: 116
Last Weeks Road Kill: 3

I'm the Evil Cyclist and You're Not.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

New Hotness: Pics!

Many of you have been slavishly waiting for pictures of my new ride, slobbering, drooling over the prospect, hoping that just seeing my incredible mount will somehow bring you closer to me. The wait is over. I have enough miles on it to unveil it. Like many primitive tribes who wait to name children until they are sure they will survive, I waited to unveil this bike until I knew it was right.

A little background: As you may recall, I had been riding an all aluminum Cannondale frame for somewhere in the neighborhood of the last 15 to 20 thousand miles. That frame finally cracked. No hard feelings, lesser beings have cracked earlier under the weight of my evilness.

That long term ride had no components from the factory left on it. All components had been replaced over the years. Let me make an important point about replacement items for me. Everything on there was on there because it earned the right to be there. Almost everything on that bike went through several iterations before I arrived at the component that worked best for me. I don't really care what it cost ( compared to a car, anything you put on a bike is still cheap, as long as you are not a fad follower ), weight was never a huge factor, I don't give a rat's ass if Bicycle Magazine or my local bike shop recommended it ( in fact, that was usually a negative, as I was then sure those recommendations had been bought and paid for) and generally only took the advice of my fellow riders with a grain of salt. Really the only "pro" whose opinion I really listened to was the late Sheldon Brown.

Why? Because a bike, more so than almost every other means of transportation, is a highly personal device. I'm not like any other rider. I'm not nearly the same size as the "average" rider. I don't ride like many riders. I'll not a sucker for the latest fad, flash or fashion. I don't race. And...I don't care what other people think. I put the very best components, based on true function, fit and durability on my bike, then I ride the snot out of it.

So the new ride has most of the same old components. Only real change was the front derailleur, as it was a clamp on, and the seat tube sizes were different.

The "new hotness" is really based on an "old school" carbon and aluminum bonded frame, the Trek 2300. I was looking for a steel ,lugged Italian frame, but this one caught my eye, and after more than 500 miles on it, I am delighted with the choice I made. Shocked its not some cutting edge, flashy, "just like Lance's" bike? Then you haven't been paying attention. Go stand in the corner. Naughty, naughty minion.

First, it is not a stiff as the old frame. This surprised me. Not that is was less stiff, but that I could actually tell. I knew it would be less stiff, but I assumed that this would be rather imperceptible, and would only show up if I cared enough to time myself in controlled circumstances to see how efficient the power transfer was. Trust that I would never care enough to do that. However, I can actually see the lateral flex when try to flex the bike or when I stand up to pedal. But, I just don't care. Why?

Because it is SO DAMN COMFORTABLE. This bike is an order of magnitude more comfortable than the last bike. Now, granted, the geometry is somewhat different. How different? I don't know, because I don't have the specifications sheet for either, and I don't feel like getting a protractor and a tape measure out and measuring it myself, but it is different. I can not only feel it, but the steering stem needed different spacers, so I have objective proof they are different, even though both are 62cm frames.

Comfort is often difficult to measure on bikes. Partly because it is so subjective, but also because you are often comparing apples to oranges. You ride your old bike into a bike shop and try a new bike. Its a new saddle, new handlebars, new pedals, etc. Soooooo many variables. My change was different. Everything was the same EXCEPT the frame. So, I know any comfort changes were not due to the pedals, the saddle, the amount of padding on the handle bar, etc.

The new hotness rocks. Now it just needs a name.

In writing this piece, I realized that I may need to spend some future "blog-inches" going over my choices for the various components, but I really worry that then the blog starts to sound like an infomercial. ( Like some others). Can't have that.

-Evil C.

Monday, August 17, 2009

New Hotness?

Last Weeks Miles: 104
Last Weeks Road Kill: 4

What, no pictures of the "New Hotness" ride yet? Slacker.

-Evil C.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Checking In

Last Weeks Miles: 172
Last Weeks Road Kill: 0 ( Quite frankly I am surprised)

First day back on the Crank bros Quattros. They do work well, but are slightly harder to get into than the Speedplay Lights. You need to do more "aligning" before they catch. Once in, they feel good.

-Evil C.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Speedplay Light Action

I switched to Speedplay Light Action pedals about 500 miles ago. I had been riding Crank Bros Quattros for thousands of miles before that, and Shimano 105 old school Look compatibles before that. Now you know my my pedal history; don't you feel all warm and fuzzy?

I had snapped the spindle on my right Quattro this spring. I was not angry, as it had many miles on it. Crank Bros. quickly replaced it under warranty, and while waiting, I bought another pair so I was not without a bike. However, it got me thinking about a switch.

Although I had ridden the Quattros for thousands of miles, I was never thrilled with them. I often had trouble clipping in after stopping, especially on critical uphill starts. The cleats seemed to wear out often,and it appeared the Crank Bros were going to discontinue the Quattros.

I did not want to go back to a single sided pedal, despite the latest Shimano pedals getting good reviews. Since my biggest complaint was tough clip-ins, I wanted something better in that area, and a single sided pedal did not seem to provide any advantage.

I have friends who ride the Speedplay pedals and they swear by them, so I decided to give them a chance. Based on a conversation with a sales guy who had never ridden with me and who had no idea how I ride, and clearly didn't care what I bought, I was talked into buying the Speedplay Light Action pedals. This decision was partly determined because the difference between the X series and the Zero series was , well, unclear and partly because the Light Action were in stock and on sale.

First, I am annoyed that none of the seemingly similar Speedplay pedals are compatible. Come on guys...

So, I buy them and install the cleats on my shoes and the pedals on my bike. The right pedal seems okay. Slightly different action for clip in and clip out than I am used to, but that is to be expected. Occasionally a hard clip in, but that may well be the occasionally dirt or gravel bit. However, the left pedal is like its from another planet. It often comes unclipped randomly with no apparent reason. About once every mile, my foot just slides out. I had about five hundred miles on these pedals, I have lubed, cleaned, tweaked, uninstalled, reinstalled, but still, foot just jumps out. Note that there is no real adjustment possible on these. There are shims you can add for foot position, but no way to change the release value. The only guidance the instructions give for this type of issue is to make sure the four mounting bolts for the cleat are not too tight, as they warp the plate. I checked this. Several times.

So, I am planning on going by the shop, where hopefully the same guy who blindly sold me these pedals can give me advice, but before I get a chance: POW! I'm riding a short lunchtime loop and am almost back, maybe a mile away and the right pedal ( the one that has been OK) seems to explode. The whole pedal platform becomes about a half dozen pieces. Note that this was not during a climb or anything, just flat pavement. It appears one screw came out and then the whole thing disintegrated.

I am going to contact Speedplay and see about a replacement. While I do have the original box, not sure about the receipt. I will let all my minions about how that experience goes, but I am not sure, even if they are replaced, whether I will use them again. They were certainly no better in the usability or comfort department than my Crank Bros, and they definitely did not last as long. However, choices are slim. I would consider the X or Zero series, if I could get an honest opinion on the difference between the two, other than that they don't work with each other. You seems to be able to "fix" the float on the Zeros. Big deal. Does anybody ride with no float? I mean anybody who wants to walk in their old age?

In the mean time, I am riding the Crank Bros. Quattros again. I had the replacement that they sent back, which only had a few miles on it.

-Evil C.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Lance Armstrong: The Millimeter Man

Bicycling magazine, September 2009, Page 55:
"Only then do I remember one of Lance Armstrongs's nicknames: Mr. Millimeter."

Really, and he's proud of that?

-Evil C.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Product Review: Bought and Paid For

Or: The Editors at Bicycling Magazine are somebody's bitches.

Bicycling magazine, September 2009, Page 57: "Editors Choices: These Five Saddles Are Proven Winners" should read "Editors Choices: These Five Saddles Ponied Up the Cash to be Featured"

My preference for Brooks saddles is well known. Let me be perfectly clear: A Brook B-17 saddle changed my life. Period. If I had not found the comfort of the Brooks, I would not be riding today. Also, to be perfectly clear, I have no affiliation with Brooks or their parent company. They probably have no idea I exist. I paid for my Brooks saddle and have never received any compensation, endorsement, candy, Christmas cards or ANYTHING from them. They have my endorsement because they EARNED it.

However, I suggest that Specialized, Sela Italia, Selle San Marco ( Brooks Parent?), Fizik and Terry, all paid for the endorsement by Bicycles editors. Now, it should come as no surprise to anybody that magazine editors have to walk a fine line between product reviews and their high paying advertisers. Your subscription fees don't pay their salaries, advertising dollars do.

But annoyingly, not a mention of the Brooks saddles among all those soul-less ass-boards that they do recommend. Reeeaaallyy? I know a Brooks is not for everybody, ( for example: any of the typical losers who attend "Burning Man", because they clearly have their heads up their asses, so no saddle will fit) but it clearly out ranks some of the trash that was "recommended". Proven winners? Find out how many Race Across America riders have chosen Brooks. Yes, I know a B-17 weighs about twice as much as the heaviest saddle they recommend. So what? Is the extra 240 grams worth the long ride comfort? You know how I feel about "Gram Whiners".

Thus, my minions, I put it to you that you can't trust anything Bicyclist editors say. Just like my respect of Brooks was earned, your trust in their judgment must be earned. This article does not even provide a down payment on that....

-Evil C

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Usually, I'm all for this..

Typically, I love it when somebody calls a retailer/manufacturer/politician to task for being less than honest. However, when you do so, please remember two words:
Your credibility goes down the tube when your e-mail looks like it was written by a three year old. Even I make occasional typos, but in general, I do proof read.

Example of truly awful found below. Its so bad, I am actually wondering if the typos are intentional, to make some type of point. If that is the case, and the joke is on me, so be it:

"intersting that my post was deleted so quickly guess those honmest folks at perfromance dont wnat everyone to knwo what si goign on there...i have had a dozen emails this mnornign replying thta they had the same exeporience there
gues sthta pretty well sums it up...

Hi everyone...i usually dont do negative posts but my experience yesterday leads me to this...i went to perfomrmce bikes with my girlfriend and took my specialized hardrock bike with me...
we wanted an adjustable stem for it so we could get an optimal position for my girlfriend...james a mechanic there tells me that we dont need a stem we need swept back bars...course thta doesnt addreasss the issue fo her wantign to be more stretched out and then he also points out that the saddle is inappropriate( even tho he hasnt asked the fundamental question fo what ehr riding agenda will be,)
and says we need a tractor style saddle with springs...interesting becuase when i went to performance some months before i was sold the wtb womens saddle and was told it was very comfortable...
he then says that it will cost $133 for the handlebaqr because the cables are too short and the bars wont fit...i had just done a compelte overhaul on the bike and when i put new cables on i added extra length to accomodate a stem or handlebar that was his 2cnd lie...the seat was actually the first...then he says you probably wont want to fix this bike as it will cost a lot of money to fix up...theres a lot wrong with it.i asked "well specifically what?" he said "lots."
what specificfally is asked again...he says he can "see" that the bottom bracket cup is loose...if a cup is loose the crackset has side to side play...its simple physics ...i had it in my park stand the day before when i did a complete overhaul and there was no
play whatsoever...on the fixed cup there was not one tenth of a millimeter space between the cup and the bottom bracket shell...but this joker can "See" that its loose?????james problem is that i was a mechanic for four years and managed a bike shop...he didnt know that and what he was saying about the condition fo the bike was total fabrication...
then he tells my girlfriend that what she really wants to do is check out a new performance bike so he hauls out a 289 dollar hybrid with a frame too large for her and the handlebars a foot higher than the saddle...just the thing she needs for 20 mile group rides...:-) right on James!!!
the bike is eight pounds hevier than the specialized and the shock is a cheap coil type and the compoments and wheels are crap by comparison to the specialized but he keeps bad mouthing the specialized ....
so he wants us to get rid of the porsche and buy a vw...I suspect jamers is used to soccer moms coming in and he lays the line fo bs on them thta eh was gicving ne and their eyes glaze over as they get the checkbook out...
gotta hand to to performance i have bought bikes from them shoes helmets clothes etc...but never again...any organization that lets con artists like this exist within their community isnt deserving of the publics trust or money..
he doesnt work in a vacuum...i suspect that there is a commission for every new bike sold and probalby on repairs as well...a great system for performance but not so good for us bikers that seek an honest and professional opinion.
i have been to allstar rei and used to go to spin cycle and have never heard the outrageous line of self serfving lies and bullshit in any of those shops that i was served at performance bikes yesterday...
Gordon Gross
Rasleigh nc
" [sic]


-Evil C.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Cycling a Team Sport? Really?

I can't help but notice that the whole team is somehow missing from the podium. In this case, lets change "team" to "support crew" for the sake of honesty.

-Evil C.