Monday, August 13, 2018

I Came, I Saw, I Passed

As a semi-professional blogger it is my duty to review exotic and/or category-defining bicycles.  Exquisite wooden Fred sleds:


Go-anywhere adventure machines:


And of course cutting-edge, disruptive re-imaginings of the road bike itself:


Nevertheless, it's important not to lose sight of the sheer utility that a good old-fashioned reasonably-priced drop-bar bicycle--such as one built upon Milwaukee's road frame--has to offer:


As the workhorse among my vast velocipedal holdings the Milwaukee has served me well in a variety of capacities ranging from mixed-terrain rambler to be-fendered winter trainer.  However, since taking delivery of it in April of 2015 there is one role it has not played, and that is full-on Fred racer.  Oh sure, there was an aborted attempt earlier this summer, in which I got dropped almost immediately:


This time, however, I was determined to give the Milwaukee the passing grade it deserves, so I made some small modifications in order to make it more Fredworthy.  Already having swapped the mountain-style pedals for road-style earlier in the season, I also traded the 28mm Paselas for a pair of tragically unhip 23s--you know, the kid of tires Jan Heine says are slow but really aren't.  I also changed the Brooks Cambum C17 for one of the many plastic saddles I have laying around.  While I have a deep and abiding love for the Cambium, it is also not ideal for high-speed Fred racing for a few reasons: it's a bit wide, it's a bit soft, and when the cotton cover gets wet (it's been raining here pretty much constantly) your Lycra shorts tend to stick to it like Velcro.  

Thusly attired, I entered both myself and the Milwaukee in the velocipeding contest which took place in Brooklyn's Prospect Park this past Saturday, and I'm pleased to report we passed:


Sure, passing involved my sitting limpet-like on the ass-end of the field for the duration of the race, but a pass is a pass, and toiling up front is hopelessly déclassé

So how does the Milwaukee compare to the Renovo, which I've used for pretty much all my other competitive Fred outings this season?  Quite favorably.  Sure, the Di2 shifting is more precise, but I'm also guilty of neglecting the Milwaukee's drivetrain, and a quick tune-up would probably erase much of the gap between them.  (Maintenance is everything: I was getting mis-shifts on the Di2 until replacing the chain recently, so there you go.)  The Milwaukee also has less headtube, which put me in a racier position than the Renovo, and I can't tell you how delightful it was to have a goddamn bottle cage on the downtube.

In all, as a racing bike the Milwaukee left me wanting for very little, and when you consider that when configured as above it costs about a quarter of what the Renovo does in addition to accepting wide tires and fenders (a dry cyclocross race isn't even out of the question, though you'd have to deal with the under-the-top-tube cable routing) it makes for a rather compelling bargain.

Then again it's not terribly difficult to put together a solid racing bicycle: reasonably light and aero wheels will take you most of the way there, and the rest is mostly a matter of rider position.

None of this is to say it doesn't feel really good to parade around on an absurdly fancy bicycle like the Renovo, but it's also not even remotely necessary.

And most remarkable of all, the Milwaukee doesn't have so much as a gram of crabon fiber anywhere on it.

Incredible.

47 comments:

Watch and Camera Guy said...

Podium?

Anonymous said...

Milwaukee passes in a gas.

HDEB said...

Please race on the Drysdale : )

Anonymous said...

Your skewers are not in an aero position. It would've saved you .02 watts.

pbate has dura ace taste on a sora budget said...



so you are saying the Di2 system is pretty darn slick, but probably really isn't 7x the price slick, over what looks to be a 105 5800 driving train?

as some one trying to resist the urge to splurge ..that is reassuring to know one of the world's most revered authorities on racing, bike aesthetics and gluten-free delis has given his approval to the kind of ugly, but very sensible and bullet proof 105.

do they do any bikey races that have rules like L'eroica where you have to run old steel and DT shifting etc...?

you need to race that clydsdale drysdale.



JLRB said...

Where's the second water bottle? or is the Renovo shortfall the location, not the number?

Do they make wooden water bottles?

Skidmark said...

No carbon fiber? 23mm tires? What are you, a madman?

BikeSnobNYC said...

pbate,

Ultegra Di2 isn't all that expensive, and is very pleasant to use, but absolutely 105 is like 90% of the way there (assuming proper adjustment, reasonable maintenance) and certainly for a racing bike that's going to go through a lot of crap it makes more economic sense.

Really the most mind-blowing thing about Di2 is the *front* shifting, which is like *wow*. But as in happens these local park races involve no front shifting. (There are no big climbs requiring a front downshift.) So the difference between electronic and mechanical is pretty negligible.

JLRB,

Location, location, location. If you're only going to have 1 bottle it should be on the DT.

--Tan Tenovo

leroy said...

My dog gave me a good price on the Titanium valve caps I'm running on my Milwaukee. They're very aero and make up for the increase in weight viz the plastic caps.

The Cambium saddle is wearing out though.

Anonymous said...

Seems to me one of the best thing about a wooden frame would be the ability to "braze on" accessories wherever you want with a drill and a couple of wood screws. I've tried drilling my titanium and steel frames and it's really hard. I keep denting the tubes with the center punch.

N/A said...

While I pretty much celebrate the entire catalog of bikes that you've curated, the Milwaukee is my fave. Looks the best, and my retro-grouchy tendencies favors the classic stylings and steel materialway.

Spokey said...

what?

top tennis?

Spokey said...

The Milwaukee also has less heatube

i don't think I have any heatube on any of me bieks so i'll continue my lifelong racing abstinence.

Spokey said...


mr leroy

my original is too. but i like it enough that i think i'm going to get another c-17. if you ditch the c-17 though, save the screws. i lost one on my second c-17 and the replacement was $7 + ship.

mr jlrb

a proper biek should really have 3 water bottle cages.

Unknown said...

Jan Heine only says wide tires aren't slower than skinny tires, your inference is bullshit.

Now, if you gave up your shitty 28mm Paesela's for a narrow good tire, that is entirely another matter. It has to do with quality, not hype. But you are a terminal Fred and I am wasting my time.

Race on. Yer awesome!

Anonymous said...

Steel is all the rage but it feels like a bottle in a cage?

BikeSnobNYC said...

Unknown 2:00pm,

Paselas are not shitty, though of course I realize the only way to get maximum performance is to purchase Jan Heine's Compass tires.

--Tan Tenovo

Geebusiness said...

Compass tires are made by panaracer. But you probably already know that.

Jan did not invent the supple, light weight wide tire - he just aggressively pitched its benefits. Which are real and wonderful to behold.

The first tires he sold at Compass came from the Japanese bike shop Grand Bois. These tires are also made by panaracer in conjunction with Grand Bois. They use the exact same casing and rubber compound that they use on the Compass tires - the tread being the only appreciable difference before you get to the price tag and the hype. Compass tires cost more than twice that of the Grand Bois.

But all partisanship aside, if you haven't tried the 650bx42mm light tire thing yet do so - it's a hell of a lot of fun. Makes me feel like its 1979 again and I'm on my Red Line Proline with a fresh pair of snake skins.

Grump said...

23's are more than wide enough in a race situation. I would race on 22's, and do my training with a 23 in front and a 25 in back. I'm behind the times with only 10 cogs, but I only have two wheels that would take 11 cogs.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Geebusiness,

Yes, I assumed they were made by Panaracer.

I don't doubt them at all, I just think a narrow, firm tire is still going to be the "fast" choice in certain situations. (The backlash is so strong these days you'd think road tires were like wearing concrete shoes.)

--Tan Tenovo

1904 Cadardi said...

I just noticed that the 1 (one!?!?) bottle cage on the Renovo was on the seat tube? WTF?

Even my 1983 Trek 970 has two bottle mounts, including one on the down tube.

pbateman slapped it some skin said...

paselas crappy? never heard that before. what are those? PTs? seem fine to me though i don't race and also don't have the advantage of shaving off those extra gluten grams.

compass tires? is that not just gravel kings (or pacenti paris motos which are just gravel kings without the extra casing). all panaracer with different fun names.

and even though i said i don't care for skin walls on my tires recently, i literally just ordered some gravel kings in the 32mm girthway for this rb1 build. i think they will look real dang classy on there and god dang it, i'm a classy guy.

Geebusiness said...

Without a doubt Tan T., without a doubt. Fat supple tires are great, but they'll never be as fast as a sew-up on a roadie.

In regards to trends in the market... it'll just be a matter of time before this all-road thing is passe and the bike industry pushes the virtues of sub-26's. Time to take off the fat squishy tires and reclaim the solid road-feel of 140psi that you've been missing!

bad boy of the south said...

Not racing Ol'Piney?

Anonymous said...

When is Fairdale sending a Goodship for review?

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 4:47pm,

Hadn't heard about that bike, just checked it out.

Crabon fork? Integrated headset? Tacky!

(Just kidding, looks nice.)

--Tan Tenovo

bad boy of the south said...

I was remiss.congrats on passing with the 'waukee.

Steve Barner said...

Paselas rock. They are, hands down, the best in terms of bang for your buck. Supple, straight casings; a wide range of sizes; lots of options in terms of bead type and flat protection; decades of production--the Pasela is an excellent performance-oriented tire at a reasonable price (though it has been creeping upover the past few years. Not to mention that it's available in gumwall! If you tend to hit things, or you have to impress your friends, the Pasela is not for you, but if you want a really nice tire that costs less than the ones on your car, look no further.

Drock said...

I missed all the talk about Ti, where is it.
Ti rulz!!

Anonymous said...

When I supplemented the steel steed with a carbon cousin, the only real difference I found was on short explosive climbs. Any difference between the Renovo and Milwaukee there?

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 6:28pm,

I'm both flattered and amused you think I can ride explosively.

--Tan Tenovo

Anonymous said...

Tan Ten,— what is the percentage of freddy racers with Pie Plate brakes in the amateur ranks?

Some guy from upstate said...


Acceptable bottle cage locations are: 1. on the downtube where it belongs, and 2. some other location(s) that can hold an extra bottle until the one on the downtube is empty, and then get switched with the empty bottle on the downtube.

Question about the Paselas - do you (or anyone else out there in commentariat land) find that they run a little fatter than other tires in the same size? I have a set in 27 x 1-1/4 size on my standard commuting bicycle, and they are noticeably fatter than the previous random other brand 27 x 1-1/4 tires I have used. I'm pretty happy with the Paselas, at least for commuting duty (it's hard to find good tires in this antiquated size), but I did have to do quite a bit of Dremel work on my fenders to cure the rubbing, and I still get some contact when standing on the pedals. Just wondering if this was unique to this size or if the 700x28 Paselas are also a little fatter than other 700x28s.

Anonymous said...

BikeSnobNYC @ 6:38PM
Ah, must be your writing, not riding, that’s explosive. All the better.

JLRB said...

Not my writing, nor my riding that's explosive. Just my flatulence.

All this talk about wide squishy tires reminds me of an off color joke that I will not type.

Pist Off said...

Panaracer makes the straightest roundest tires in cycling, and they have good value options in most sizes. The Cinder-X is pretty good all-around for dirt/snow/pavement in 700x35. I like fatter tires than the commentariat here I guess, but I’m not racing. Trying out a pair of Special Ed Sawtooths in 700x42 right now, closer to 44 actual width. They’re fast af and smooth like butter. I like.

janinedm said...

Snob, what's the link you use to find violations from a plate number? After work on Friday, I was headed up CPW (I know) and I was pushed out of a bike lane by a livery cab driver (I know). I rode several blocks out of my way to give him several pieces of my mind and take down his license number. Side note: a small crowd gathered asking what he did and I was able to stand there yelling at him long enough that his fare got out. I was able to do one search where I found 4 violations since May (1x NO STANDING-COMMERCIAL METER ZONE, 2x NO PARKING-STREET CLEANING and 1x INSP. STICKER-EXPIRED/MISSING). The latter 3 are all in the last 10 days. Since there are no tickets for standing in the bike lane, I'm sure that means he's never done it before and not that he parks there all the time and NYPD ignores it.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Janinedm,

You can search by plate on this page:

https://data.cityofnewyork.us/City-Government/Open-Parking-and-Camera-Violations/nc67-uf89/data

Or if you have a twitter account tweet @howsmydrivingny and it will pull it up for you.

I have no experience with the Reported app but you can use that to report livery cab drivers. I gather there's a bit more accountability with the TLC.

--Tan Tenovo

janinedm said...

I already reported him on 311. I was just curious about his record.

leroy said...

As long as this is becoming a Reddit thread on tires...

I used Pasella Panaracers on my Milwaukee for about two years (not the flat resistant model). Boy were they comfy! But they didn't hold up well on NYC streets. I changed to Continental Gatorskins about five months ago. Not as comfy, but still good, and not one flat so far (knock on wood).

JLRB said...

I was afraid to admit that I am a Gatorskin user/abuser, until the esteemed Leroy broke the ice. A boringly high % of my riding is to and from work, where all kinds of city shrapnel lurks, and one route takes me along sandy/dirty cobbles of the tow path, so I've stuck with the Gatorskins to ward off the flats, which sometimes works. Last Friday being an exception. Nothing like the pffffftttt noise when you are within 2 miles of home running late on a Friday evening.

Unknown said...

Actually Tan, the Paesella is a pretty shitty tire. Kind of surprising coming from a self-proclaimed princess who claims to "feel" 2cm in wheelbase, yet can't tell the difference from a casing that is like iron versus something that doesn't suck.

But keep up yer blather. You amuse me. Like a clown.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Unknown,

Yes, longer chainstays make no difference in bicycle handling and clearance and Paselas suck but rebranded Paselas are sublime.

Instead of rubbing your scranus with tires like the bear in the Snuggle commercial you should spend more time actually riding them.

--Tan Tenovo

Pist Off said...

I am amused by the love for “supple” tires. Sounds sorta sexy maybe but it’s as cliched as laterally-rigid-vertically-compliant (LRVC if you’re into the whole brevity thing.) Feel free to pay more for weaker casings and thinner softer rubber, but don’t act like it’s clearly better. A stiffer casing with liners or flat protection can be run safely at lower pressures than weakling tires and be just as, um, supple. It’s nice to to just ride instead of fixing punctures from thorns, or glass, or snakebite, or sidewall cuts. Event tires suck, unless you’re posing in front of a bike shop with your equally pro-racer buddies.

Wesley Bellairs said...

Conti tires made in India suck and I charge $10 extra to mount them. Panaracers, Clement and Kenda seem to be superior as far as the mechanic part goes.
Tires should be round, 622 BSD and hold up to whatever job they are designed for.
The Clement LGG wire bead 32 seems decemt.

Wesley Bellairs said...

Flying to Japan 3x per year is not for people who can only afford $25 Paselas. Jan needs that extra $40/tire to fund his "research"!
BTW, putting a larger tire on a bike changes the trail measurement and that's why we need 700a and 700b rims right now. (Joke).

Anonymous said...

Try this with crabon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDOWOT_tq7c