Friday, August 17, 2018

New Outside Column, Same Great Taste!

Good morning from the Jewel of the Willamette!

In fact, between my starting this column and finishing it an Australian tourist in New York City was killed after a livery cab driver pulled into the bike lane in which she was riding, and while I may be a lazy writer that is not the way I like a conclusion to fall into my lap.

Anyway, having fortified myself with a greasy non-artisanal breakfast I will now set forth into the hustle and bustle of this booming metropolis.

Until then,

I remain,

Yada yada,

--Tan Tenovo

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The Lap of Luxury

Today's post will be brief as I'm preparing for a short trip out of town.  I'm not telling where I'm going, but let's just say it's a city in Oregon that's the subject of a comedy show starring Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein:

So why am I going to Portland?  (Aw, shit, I just gave it away.)  Well I'd love to say I'm going out there for a lovely relaxing weekend of getting my beard oiled and having stars tattooed on my person, but the reason for my visit is STRICTLY BUSINESS and I'll be working on a piece of ostensible journalism.  Still, Portland really wants me to get a tattoo though:

Jesus, Portland, I'm just trying to book a goddamn hotel!

In other news, you'll be pleased to know I got some Jones time in today:

At this point in my life I sometimes catch myself feeling inadequate: no Nobel Prize yet, I'm still flying commercial, and I'm no closer to owning that second home in St. Barts.  However, every so often I realize I've got it made, because I've got ready access to one luxury of which most cyclists in New York City can merely dream.

That's right, I've got a hose:

And what's even more decadent than having a hose?  Having a hose and barely washing your bikes anyway because you're a lazy dirtbag.

Oh yeah, I'm living the life.

Finally, a new contender has emerged for dorkiest commentator ever, and it's this person who's obsessed with tires:

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.

August 14, 2018 at 9:12 PM

Jeez, these Jan Heine disciples are really touchy.  Sure, 2cm of wheelbase is meaningless, yet one Panaracer tire sucks whereas a differently-branded Panaracer tire is the be-all end-all of cycling bliss.

Makes sense to me.

By the way, if you don't think 2cm is a lot, here's a test: move any part of your bicycle 2cm from where it is now and tell me if if makes a noticeable difference.

I bet it does.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Crunching the Numbers

Further to yesterday's post, in a fit of extreme dorkitude I delved deeply into the geometry numbers of the Milwaukee and the Renovo to see if they indeed quantified my impressions of how each performed in a race.  Here's the Milwaukee product page:

And here's the Renovo page:

Furthermore, by way of having a full-on Fred racing bike to compare them to, I used a Specialized S-Works Tarmac:

By the way, here's the Milwaukee in its current state, plastic saddle, excessive road grit, and all:

Anyway, here's what I found:
  • The front ends of the Milwaukee and the S-Works are pretty close in terms of geometry, meaning the reach, stack height, etc. are all within a couple millimeters of each other
  • While the front end of the Renovo is more upright than the other bikes, the Milwaukee has the longest chainstays and wheelbase, followed by the Renovo, then the S-works
  • Dr. Pepper is delicious
So what is all this supposed to mean?

("'Supposed to mean?'  'Supposed to mean?'")

Well, to me the Milwaukee felt "racier" than the Renovo when putting the hammer down (by which I mean giving it all I had to keep dangling off the back), which I guess makes sense given the reach and stack height.  In this sense the Renovo's aero profile and demeanor are a bit like the spoiler on a Toyota Corolla, whereas the more sedate-looking Milwaukee is indeed the racier of the two.  (Renovo do describe the Aerowood as an "endurance" bike, so there you go.)

Yet as spirited as the Milwaukee is it's got like two centimeters in wheelbase over the S-Works, plus those mid-reach brake calipers, which accounts for the ample tire clearance and competence on those mixed-terrain rides that are so popular with the millennials today.

All of this is to say I'm kind of falling in love with the Milwaukee all over again--though I'm also waiting for the ground to dry out so I can get back out there on the Jones.  Indeed, between the two bikes I'm like 99.9% covered in terms of all my recreational riding (plus the Milwaukee and the Jones together still cost like half what the Renovo does), which is another way of saying I'm like 500% over-biked.

Oh well, what are you gonna do?

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.


Thursday, August 9, 2018

This Just In: Biek Reveiw!

As promised, here is my comprehensive mainstream publication review of the cutting-edge new Drysdale Special gravel/adventure/all-road bike!

Here's the TLDR:

Buy It If: You like to reach down to shift

Forget It If: You think "lug" is WASP for "schlep"

Get yours here!

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Bicycles Old And New


It's been a wild 24 hours of hot and wild cycling action here at BSNYC/WCRM/TT headquarters--hot because it's been like 90 degrees every day, and wild because yesterday I did this:

And today I did this:

The first top tube pictured is of course that of the Drysdale, which I review in detail in a forthcoming Outside column.  Pending that, I'll just say I've really fallen for this thing in a big way, and it's kind of becoming my daily driver (for road rides anyway):

If your'e wondering why the elegant Silca frame pump is not on the bike, it's because as I sat down to take this photo three riders approached me and asked to borrow it.  I proffered it immediately, and what do you know, it's not compatible with a Presta valve.  (I guess all the cool kids must have used Woods valves back in the '50s.)  Anyway, I was happy to find out the easy way, and not the hard way, which would have been far from home with a flat and child pickup time rapidly approaching.

Thank you, wayward Freds.

Anyway, so much do I enjoy the Drysdale that I've even grown sort of fond of the whole shoe/pedal arrangement.  While I started out riding road bikes in sneakers and crappy plastic toe clips like any other nascent Fred, clipless pedals were already the standard when I got "serious" about it, so prior to the Drysdale I had no experience with old-timey cleats and straps.  (At L'Eroica in Italy I used these, which aren't the real deal.)  Now though I'm pretty much used to them, and loosening the toe strap in anticipation of having to put a foot down has already become second-nature.  (Though I'm still bound to fall over sooner or later.)

As for the ride on the Jones, I squeezed that in this morning while my phone was being repaired at the Apple store.  Hey, I'm not crazy about malls, but sometimes having one immediately adjacent to your favorite riding spot is incredibly convenient:

Say what you will about Apple, but they earned their trillion-dollar market cap today by giving me an excuse to ride.

Speaking of the Jones, yesterday I shared my first impressions of the Saris SuperClamp EX, and in that post I wrote the following:

Now though axles are getting fatter and wider, and with a 150x15mm front thru-axle on the Jones there's no adapter currently existing that's going to get this thing on my fork mount roof rack:

Well, Jeff Jones himself subsequently wrote in to let me know that indeed there is:

This doesn't meaningfully alter the calculus that resulted in my procuring a hitch rack, but it is very good to know, and if you're in a similar predicament and want a relatively inexpensive solution well there it is.

And finally, I'm Canada:

Here's the story:

I contributed virtually nothing to that otherwise solid report, but hey, I'll take it.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

First Impression: Saris SuperClamp EX Hitch Rack

Despite our mutual appreciation for bicycles, David Byrne and I don't have very much in common.  For example, he's had a long and successful music career, whereas my own was short-lived, comprised entirely of my disastrous audition to become Metallica's bass player after the departure of Jason Newsted:

I totally nailed the intro to "Peace Sells," but unfortunately it turns out it's not one of their songs.

Another thing we don't have in common is that David Byrne does not own a car, whereas I do.  Oh sure, I don't really own the car until I finish paying the bank back for it, but for practical purposes I might as well.  Still, for the purposes of clarification, I should probably be sporting this sticker on the rear windshield:

Ironically, the reason I've had a car for most of my adult life is because of bikes.  For many years the car was almost entirely a cycling accessory for me.  I never wanted to have to scrounge for a ride in order to do an out-of-town bike race or go mountain biking, and if I was going away for the weekend I always wanted to be able to bring a bike along with me without disassembling it and stuffing it into the trunk of a rental or pore over the MTA's sometimes bewildering bike policy.  (I have been thrown off a Long Island Railroad train for bringing a bike onto a no-bikes train.)

Sure, New York City is a lousy place to keep a car, but since I've never depended on it for day-to-day travel it's never been terribly onerous.  The main problem is that after over a decade of blogging I have come to understand how brainwashed I've been and how shitty cars are, and in recent years I've really, really come to hate them.  Yet when my previous car succumbed to a rust condition and had to be retired back in 2014 I went and indentured myself all over again, which either makes me a victim of an auto-centric culture or a massive hypocrite, depending on how you look at it.  (I'd say 20% victim and 80% hypocrite, but ultimately it's all subjective.)

But let's set aside the angst for a moment and consider that as a cyclist and driver I do want to be able to take my bicycles places.  Granted, this desire is less pressing for me now than it used to be, for two reasons:

1) I haven't been racing cyclocross, which in the past probably accounted for like 50% of my motor vehicular mileage;

2) In 2012 I moved from Brooklyn to the Bronx, which put me within easy riding distance of good mountain bike trails.

Still, every so often I want to carry a bike over a long distance in order to ride it.  Furthermore, as a confirmed bike weenie, I want to be able to carry all my bikes.  (Not all at the same time, but you know what I mean.)  And bikes are changing.

There was a time when I could easily carry all my bikes with a roof rack.  For a city-dweller, roof racks are convenient for a number of reasons: you can parallel park with them, you can load bikes onto them even if someone else is parked three inches behind your rear bumper, and when you don't have a house with a garage you don't have to worry as much about forgetting that the bikes are up there and driving them into the wall.

Now though axles are getting fatter and wider, and with a 150x15mm front thru-axle on the Jones there's no adapter currently existing that's going to get this thing on my fork mount roof rack (edit: there actually is):

As a plus-sized tire enthusiast I really like the idea of simply hoisting a bike onto a rack, and I'd also like to be able to carry non-sporting bicycles such as our family's WorkCycles if need be, so I've been gradually coming to terms with the fact that it's hitch rack time.  Indeed I mentioned as much in a recent post, and wouldn't you know it, Saris tracked me down and offered to let me try their SuperClamp EX:


I'd already ducked into a large retailer of outdoorsy supplies that happens to be adjacent to my regular mountain bike spot and checked out the comparable offerings from Thule and Yakima, so I knew the Saris compared favorably to both in terms of price and features.  (Carries two bikes, comes with both locking hitch pin and bike locks, compatible with 1 1/4" and 2" hitches, accommodates 3" tires...)  Also attractive was the simple single-bar design, since I live in an apartment building and storage space is at a premium.  Of course I also knew about Küat, the Rapha of hitch racks, but the comparable higher-end model was considerably more expensive than the others, whereas the lower-priced one didn't have as many features as the competition.  (You've got to buy locks separately, as well as certain extras if you want to carry a bike with chubby tires such as the Jones.)

Plus, the Saris is made in Wisconsin for added smugness points, though since we're talking about a car rack those smugness points are not redeemable with certain people:

All of this is to say that I responded to Saris's timely offer with an enthusiastic "Fuck yes!"

Of course using a hitch rack requires a receiver, and I recently ordered one from a popular online retailer and had it installed by a mechanic.  Maybe if I had a driveway and a garage I'd have taken a crack at doing it myself, but it's probably a good thing I didn't.  Nevertheless, I look forward to the Hitch Freds telling me why I chose the wrong one.

As for the Saris itself, assembling it was very straightforward thanks to the video, and if you're able to change a lightbulb or erect a beach umbrella you should be able to have this thing together and sticking out the back of your car in about 15 minutes:

Just slide it in (leave the adapter on for a 2" hitch), thread in the pin with a ratchet, and lock it up.  Here's what the pin/lock combo looks like:

Once I'd installed the rack I took it out for a trial run by making a gratuitous trip up to Westchester:

(I apologize for the make and model of my car, but it's what I'm legally mandated to drive owing to my age and demographic.  I look forward to the Car Freds telling me why I chose the wrong one.)

Racking the bike was a ten-second operation, and it probably would have taken half that without the ratcheting wheel straps.  (I'm fairly certain you don't even need the ratcheting wheel straps unless you're carrying a bike over a certain weight or one with fenders, but they were on there already and I figured what the hell.)  Heres' how much space there is between the bike and the car if that sort of thing matters to you:

And with a simple pull of a lever it tilts down allowing you to access your supplies:

In this case I didn't bring any supplies, and instead simply rode in my jorts and t-shirt, which were promptly soaked owing to the fact it was like 90 degrees and humid.

After the ride, removing the rack again was a simple matter of unlocking it and undoing the bolt with the ratchet, and I had it off the car and into the bike room in no time.

In any case, my first impression is quite favorable: easy to set up, easy to load, and best of all my bike was still there when I arrived at my destination.  I'll let you know as soon as the family and I hit the road with multiple bikes.  Now if you'll excuse me I'm going to go apply by "One Less Car*" sticker.