Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Jagwire cable review & thoughts on the Tour

Hey!  It's me, Blackie Bike here again.
Two things on tap for today.  First is thoughts on the Jagwire Racer cable set that Buttercup put on me a couple of weeks ago.  We've been riding it enough now to offer some insight, especially in our situation.

These things are awesome!  They are Teflon coated wire in Jagwire's special housing.  The kit comes with everything you need to replace all the cables on your bike.  You will need a cable/housing cutter.  Spend the $ on the special cutter- it's worth it.
These were no more difficult to install than any other standard cables- making them a good bit more attractive for the home mechanic than the sectional style ones that are best left to a pro.  So it didn't take any more time than your usual cable change.
How do they work?  Perfect.  I have Shimano Tiagra shifters.  They are a little touchy about shifting once in a while (though overall they are great for the price point), but the smooth shift of these cables really makes them seem like higher end gear.  I bet if you are using them with high end gear, they'd be the bee's knees.  What, BC?  Don't talk about bees?  Why not?  What do you mean they don't have knees- otherwise how the hell would their legs... nevermind.  Anyway.  The coated shifter cables are awesome.
This kit also includes coated brake cables.  Those are great, too!  But as a road bike, BC and I aren't really on the binders that much- do we really need Teflon coated brake cables?  Probably a little bit of overkill.  But nice all the same.
Verdict?  Totally worth the price.  These are an easy way to upgrade your shifting without upgrading your shifters!  Next time, we'll probably splurge again on the nice shift cables and stick with standard $5 steel cable for the brakes, though.

You may have noticed that none of us bikes have been commenting on the Tour.  BC has been watching, but none of us race or are really THAT into it that we feel like we need to pitch out a daily opinion on the dog, or Cadel not defending as well as everyone was hoping.  All that being said, we do have a couple of minor "outsider" observations now that it's over.

  • Hopefully the Tour officials can figure out some way to get some competition involved in it again.  Nibali making deals with dopers, and teams packed to overflowing with talent makes the thing a damned snoozefest.  The efforts put in by all of the riders were really impressive- and are feats that very few athletes could match.  Absolutely.  But to shake hands on the road and then go suck wheel for the rest of the week was weak.
  • Hopefully the teams can start putting 3rd party gag clauses in contracts.  What bike or fan gives a flying shit what a rider's girlfriend/wife/mother/kids/dog/hamster/or family cockroach thinks of that day's stage.  Oh wait.  None.  The rider's tweets and posts are sometimes funny (Voigt) or at least vaguely interesting- but YAWN at all the bickering and infighting.  When the Tour becomes a reality TV show, it's disheartening.
  • Lastly- what to do about the REALLY rowdy fans... I don't envy anyone trying to keep the cool factor of having fans so close to the athletes in balance with keeping out the psychos and dangerous people.  Beijing showed us just how shitty bike racing would be without any fans.  What a horrible situation for a sporting body to be in...
Ok- no more chatter.  See you on the road!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Sailing again...

Hi all- Blackie Bike here (or am I supposed to be using my new name?).  So I've resigned myself to just reporting the happenings- whether I like them or not.  Buttercup and his Bride left us bikes again this past weekend to go sailing.  It was the 20th annual Screwpile Regatta in Solomons, MD.  We hate these stupid sailing things, since we all get left behind and just sit in racks waiting for fat boy to get back home with the extra weight he'll have gained eating pizza & Chinese food and drinking unhealthy amounts of beer.
But they evidently had a great time.  He took running shoes and clothes with him in a show of good faith, but after a long day in the sun on the race course and a full night of drinking each of the days- no running was done.
But we do have some cool pics:

Here's Buttercup trimming the spinnaker- that thing is seriously no-shit big:

Here they are in pursuit of Pursuit:

and the start of the subsequent douse as they head for the leeward mark rounding:

Cool, right?  (Thanks to the Screwpile.com site for the awesome pics!)

Then, lastly- each boat captain is given a limited number (usually 3) of red hats from the regatta that you can't get anywhere else.  You can't buy them and there are only a limited number from that regatta or race.  Tradition is that the skipper usually keeps one for him/herself and gives out the other two as thanks for a job well done to a couple of crew members.  Well evidently the skipper thought BC did an ok job with that big kite...

Just as a quick side note~ one of these hats will get you free entry and full access to the Mount Gay Rum distillery in Barbados.  BC and his Bride evidently went there a few years ago and he had one of his old dirty hats on and they smiled and fawned a little over him and it and suggested that his Bride fork over $$ to get in.  She grumbled about how many of those hats she had at home, or even in the hotel room... and they eventually let her in, too.  (check out the Red Hat Community video on their website)

Ok- that's it for now, hopefully the next post is back to stuff about BIKES.  Dammit.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

I've got a name! and the back story...

Blackie Bike here!  I've finally got a name of my own!  As you'll recall, I'm just a blank carbon frameset- right?

Well guess what??  Buttercup finally got me some cool decals so I don't look quite so naked!
Check it out!

What the hell is Scandalli, you ask?  Here's the back story on how I came to be...
So Buttercup is a musician by trade and training (he's actually got a degree in it).  And when he was in high school, he bought this cool old Accordion at an estate sale for $150 with thoughts he might learn to play it some day.  Well, he never really got around to it, but he still drug that stupid accordion all over hell with him. Then, when he was cleaning out his office a couple of years ago, he decided it was time for the old accordion to go.  Trash or donate?  Better check Ebay first.  Holy shit.  Could that be?
Turns out that the make model and vintage of his accordion is the one you have to have if you are a serious accordionist.  It was a 1950's Scandalli Super 6.  That $150 he spent on it?  In concert condition, it's now worth $10,000.  Time to sell.  He didn't get quite top dollar for it since it needed a little repair, but he did get plenty to buy my frame, wheels, and various parts.  Plus plenty left over to buy a carbon fiber guitar.  Nice!

So in homage to the old accordion (which some guy from Brazil bought), it was time for decals for me!  I also got a new chain, and all new teflon coated Jagwire cables.  Sweet!

Watch out this coming weekend and early next week for sailing updates while BC and his Lovely Bride are crewing on the Bad Cat in the Screwpile Regatta!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Friday 'not quite so' fuel injected, with Ingolstadt.

Um.  Hello?  Is this thing on?  Ahem, Ingolstadt here with a couple of thoughts this week.

First, let me introduce myself since I don't say much here.  I'm a 1973 Schwinn Suburban that belonged to Buttercup's father.  He was kind enough to give me to BC to be sure I'd continue to get used and loved.  Nice guy- we had a good time together over the years, but I digress.  Anyway- I got some upgrades when BC got ahold of me.  I've now got an 8 speed internal geared hub drivetrain, 700c wheels with messenger tires, and mountain bike style handlebars.

Blackie and Blu Bike have been talking for a long time about this 200 mile ride, right?  Well it was last Saturday.  And it was 100 degrees and very humid out.  Poor Buttercup really struggled with his decision of whether or not he should ride.  He's attempted this ride once before- didn't make it.  But he had trained really hard this year and was lighter, stronger, and felt ready.  But when the event organizers sent out a note saying that everyone except the very fittest riders should really consider doing the 200km version, that pretty much sealed the deal.  If the very fittest riders were going to have to really work to finish the 200 miles?  No way was our poor BC going to make it.  Even after losing 20lbs so far this year, he's still 15-20 over what he should be.  He's pushing 40.  So let's be honest.  It just wasn't going to happen.

So today I want to talk to you about being smart.
Every year we hear about high school football players dropping dead from heatstroke during "2-a-days" in August.  Or we read about people having injuries from doing too much too soon, because they are all excited about getting in shape.  Or people who eat wacky diets (there was one I heard of where all people ingest for days is water and milk.  hold on while I vomit 2% all down the front of you.  blech).
I was really proud of BC for deciding not to ride.  He put in the training miles, he's been eating much better, and he's been committed to finishing the 200 miles since he got SAG'd last year.  Not riding was a bitter disappointment.
And while dedication is admirable, I want to impart a little Classic American Steel wisdom- and make sure you all are smart about it.  It's supposed to be fun, remember?

All right.  Last thing.  BC and I took the MayaCycle trailer out for a spin this week to the grocery store.  I figured I would give you some of my reactions to the product.


  • There are 2 attachments provided.  A quick release and one that worked with my threaded axles.  Nice touch.
  • It was barely noticeable when towing.  Never even knew it was back there (actually had to adjust the mirror to double check once in a while since it was our first time out with it).
  • The bag is big enough for a pretty good grocery haul.
  • No noticeable changes to bike handling at all.
  • The overall attachment system is a pain in the neck.  The quick release ends up being REALLY long.  The wing nuts are difficult to work with.  Even if you want to leave the attachment on the bike and disconnect the swing arm from the trailer: total pain in the ass.  But I bet all trailers have some issue with the interface to the bike.
  • The small wheel does not easily accommodate a modern bike pump head.  Only possible to fill it from one side, and even then it's tricky to get everything in around the spokes.
Overall: Good purchase.  You may recall that their ordering process wasn't the best, and there are some minor issues with the details of the trailer- but overall it is easy to ride with for a reasonable price.  And that's really the trick, right? 
Improvements they could make on it?  A custom cargo box (due to the odd shape of the cargo area) would be a nice offering.  I think BC would spring for that.