Saturday, October 31, 2009

Pro Bike Pron: Coppi's Bianchi

Well I guess this had to come at some point- Il Campionissimo's Bianchi. Credit due to Rouleur for bringing this one to the table, in the absence of a visit to Treviglio. The man is an obvious legend for his exploits on the bike, but in the history of cycling, can there be a better example of brand promotion through user endorsement? Think Coppi, think Bianchi. Think Bianchi, think celeste green. And over 50 years on, books are still being written about Coppi, Bianchi still makes bikes in celeste and they still sell. The bike itself has evidently seen better days, but it seems fitting that it sits 'unrestored' in the Bianchi factory as a genuine slice of history. For all it's significance, I fail to get as excited about this bike as something like the Merckx Colnago, with the exception of one detail: the headtube / headset / fork crown interface:- just a stunningly beautiful piece of artistry. Form meets function in the most glorious way.
Some more nice photos and Coppi tales here.

Friday, October 30, 2009


Nice new home page image for


"Formtexx has developed an entirely new category of sheet metal processing which produces custom double curvature components to the finish quality and precision of the high end automotive industry. It does this robotically, without fixed tooling, and in the quantities anticipated by major construction projects."

Heerlijk Boeren

"From my own personal experience and what I have heard from other pros, Coke settles the upset stomach you invariably get in the finale of any race, it gives you a little bit of a kick, and it provides you with the most "heerlijk boeren" (lovely burps) In fact, the next time you come across a pro bike racer, bring up the notion of a Coca Cola with 20km to go - his eyes will roll back in his head like a junky's after a score."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

RIP Harry Quinn

I only just realised that at the start of this month (1st October) the real Harry Quinn passed away. I'm not going to claim I've ever met or that I'd even heard of Harry Quinn before I made a punt on a rather tired looking track bike that I liked the look of whilst skimming through flea-bay back in 2004. But since then I've gone on to build a bit of a mythical relationship with both the bike, and, in a way- the man. From never even having heard of Harry, I've learned he was the builder for Reg Harris, the tutor to Terry Dolan, and, by the sounds of it, an all round good guy to all in the Merseyside area. But funnily enough, I'd never seen a picture of him until I saw his obituary (picture- far left). And what do you know, he actually bears a resemblence to another hero of mine- Le Coubusier. An 'architect of the workshop' seems like a nice way to think of him in my mind.

I guess his passing away is a further nail in the coffin of the UK bike industry but hopefully he is in some way approving of my attempt to bring my Harry into the 21st Century with his latest lick of paint. I kept the logo on the chain stay as a little nod, but I rather like this quote from his on-line obituary.

1963 Interview during Tour de France
"What are these continental bikes like?"
"Dunno. Mine's an old Harry Quinn with the name painted over."

Harry Bling

Here's an interesting reference point for my 'Harry' project. A black and gold fully retroed restoration that sits in quite stark contract to my black and white 'twist' build. It would make a nice retro gangster bike but would require jewellery to match.


So, for $1.5 million US I could buy (yeah, I know...) some cr*ppy 2 bed flat on the Peak, or move to California and buy this:

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pro Bike Pron: Zabel's Colnago EPS

It seems a long time since Eric Zabel was riding, but actually it was only a year ago he hung up his cleats. And what a bike he rode in his final Tour- this rather lovely custom sprayed Colnago EPS. It harks back to the Colnago's of old, which, let's face it, just look much better. The retro paint on modern carbon fibre is a concept that perhaps shouldn't work, but even fitted with Dura-Ace throughout it does. I'd love to see a Record / Lightweight equipped version. We already did my pro bike of 2009, but if I'd had my blog in 2008, there's no doubt this would have been my pro bike of the year. The Colnago lust is not abiding...

Sapling Tech

Nice pavillion - bespoke stainless steel clamps bind the trees without stifling sap flows.

Monday, October 26, 2009

RRP £4999.99

Holy Moly - imagine spending £5k on bike tools! Finishing touch to the Ultimate Man Cave>? Nice image whatever.

Harry's Head

Harry's headtube has some very nice Chinese charcters that are the signature of Louis Lui, who sorted the re-spray for me. They mean something along the lines of 'may the good luck be with you'. I may also need some luck as I piece together the final elements of the build- some nice CX levers for the front brake and a new B/B still required.

Edit: I figured I should give a few more clues on this bike, given it is linked as one of 'My Bikes'. Truth is I always intended to do a nice gallery of Harry fully built fully restored. However, soon after getting Harry back from his re-spray he was sent overseas to live in a shed in deepest Gloucestershire, a victim of Hong Kong space requirements / Mrs. BnB. So, until that time comes, and it could be some time (...) I'll have to make do with a rather sketchy Glasgow sofa pic. taken circa 2004 soon after purchase for a measerly £200 in the days when classic 80's track bikes could still be bought cheap. And yea, a few marginally less sketchy shots from Happy Valley pre-eviction.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Another classic Rapha image

Hey- what shall I wear while I spread tubular glue all over my rims? Well, seeing as I never spill a drop and I have money to burn, why not use my new 210 pound waterproof , sorry, water resitant Rapha jacket? The romance of previously tedius road cycling tasks once again captured in a way only Rapha can. What next, exceptionally expensive white leather gloves while you degrease the chain? Must look good whilst in garage.

Pro Bike Pron: Merckx's Colnago Master Pista

The obsession with all things Orange and Molteni related shows no sign of abating. There aren't too many bikes you see with a steeper head angle than seat tube but if it was good enough for Eddy it's probably good enough for me! Despite looks to the contarary when you compare this bike with the TT bling of today, Eddy was a tech weenie meticulous with every detail on his bike. I heard the tubes were filled with helium for his 1hr record attempt. Eddy's original bike from that day is in a train station in Belgium here, but l guess I'm a bit of a sucker for matching white tyres and bar tape. Hence I prefer the look of this reproduction stolen from:

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Gentleman's Cave

A very Man Cave inspired advertising office I'd say. The meeting room supposedly has the proportians of a shipping container...

Bamboo Chopstick

One of the things I like about the Chopstick buildings is the way how they pop up in the most unexpected ways. I've even seen them poking over the top of the hills from as far away as Lamma. But this morning, walking out of Happy Valley they made a nice nice juxtaposition with this Bamboo scaffolding. It's like the 3 Hong Kong building types in one photo- shining glass & steel, drab concrete and bamboo.

Ridley Jigsaw

Well, it's not the fastest bike in the world any more is it? Funny, I was sent the link to the busted carbon website a month or two ago and I replied saying how it was a bit of a relief that I didn't see any Ridley's on there. Sorry if I put a curse on the owner of this mean machine.


Cracking photo of some Santiago Balaclava building. Indoor panorama = Indoororama?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Pro Bike Pron: Hinault's Look TT

Bit of a nice flickr find this one - The Badger's Look TT bike from the 80's. I'm sure Obree would regard this as quite current and no doubt it'd still go like sh*t off a shovel with the him on board.
I'm especially fond of the orange / chrome colour scheme glinting under sun. If only it had a period Volvo as a backdrop I'd be in retro bike/car pron heaven! (Though I think this shade of orange with a molteni Volvo might be a bit much...)

The Ultimate Volvo

OK I know this is meant to be limited to bikesandbuildings, bet hey, if Lionel Ritchie is allowed in, so should this Eddy Merckx repro Molteni Volvo. If we're talking dream car garage this would have to be in.

Google Architect

So, with Building Maker, Google have provided the tools for Joe Public to create a fully 3D Google Earth cityscape anywhere in the world. We've all been to New York on Google Earth, turned on the 3D Buildings layer and flown around thinking how cool it is, but what's next- Google Architect? This got me thinking about what the process might be if Google were to do such a venture. Parts of it actually make quite a lot of sense. Here's a draft procurement process:
  • Client Gary Bitter buys site with title deeds that automatically link into the Google Earth (possibly buying off Google Estate Agents>?!?)
  • Gary Bitter downloads Google Architect, enters his criteria for Becks Mansions off a drop down menu. He enters Residential use, 4 storey height, 1000m2, Becks New Baroque Style, Design Risk factor 4, with a Double Garage and a Gazebo.
  • Google Architect uses the pre-drawn templates to fit the site, generates a 3D model and a set of floorplans that Gary Bitter drags and drops around with until he's happy.
  • Gary Bitter presses the 'submit to planning' button, at which point he gives Google Architect lots of money to process the application.
  • Planning Authority reviews Becks Mansions in Google Earth.
  • Planning Authority tells Google Architect to remove Gazebo bacause it's not in keeping with the Essex vernacular. Gary Bitter presses delete on the Gazebo in Google Architect and resubmits. Permission granted.
  • Builder downloads the plans from Google Architect and decides to ignore them, unbeknown to Gary Bitter.
  • Builder builds Becks Mansions. It looks sh*t. Gary Bitter is disappointed but at least it was cheap.
So, there you go- not that different to how it is in many cases now is it? Except the Architect made some money! In all seriousness, I quite like the idea of compulsory Google Earth 3D planning submissions- it creates a level playing field for all and removes the artistic license for fake perspectives and cr*ppy water colour drawings of blue skies and kids with balloons.The future's bright, the future's... hang on- jobless!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ai Weiwei

Nice sculpture from the guy who was the artistic consultant for the Bird's Nest. Shame the Chinese government keep on beating him up.

Colnago Lust

Seeing Harry in his new stripes has certainly rekindled my bike lust for all things steel and retro. I've never really liked Colnagos but they certainly carry with them a haloed sense of awe in road bike circles. I always thought they must be lovely bikes to ride but I could never buy into all that air brushed colour crazed fussiness. And slowly but surely, I'm starting to 'get' Colnago. To me they lost their way in the Mapei days and with news that their latest 'budget' carbon frames are being made in Taiwan I think it's all gone a bit far. Why would you dilute your brand and lose the unique selling point you have- Made in Italy? Apparently, these Master X re-issues are still made in the motherland and they do look rather special. I get these frames. Question is, would you go for the Eric Blue, Eddy Orange or the Guisseppe Red?

Jason Hawkes

Jason Hawkes's aerial photography book 'London at Night' is about to come out, and it looks like it could be followed up by a Hong Kong version also:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Harry's Back!

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OK- he's been gone for some time but now Harry's back! It was like seeing a long lost friend who'd suddenly spruced themselves up with a new suit and sharp hair cut seeing him on the stand with his fresh coat of Du Pont glossy white and fancy new stripes. Best of all, he looks like a friend who's had a maveover that is totally unique- I've never seen a bar code bike and I'm unlikely to again- unless it catches on!. Here he is with Louis Lui, who turned my barcode dreams into reality! Louis runs a fantastic little shop on the 2nd floor of 298 De Veoux Rd. in Sheung Wan (map above) unknown to most the Hong Kong cyclist's I've met.

More pics to follow as I build him back up. (under construction)

Won by an espresso

It's 2 years today since my last race as a Glasgow Wheeler (wipes away tear from eye). My good friend Mark wrote a very funny race report of that day that still makes me chuckle. The PEDs of choice in Hong Kong are still Coffee and Lucozade.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Harry's (almost) back!

Will the reality match the intention?

Pro Bike Pron: Pozzato's Ridley Damocles Pi

As the 2009 Eurotrash road season is now closed, I think it's a good time to look back at the 'pro bikes' of the year from cyclingnews. It's been a good year for road innovations in the pro peleton, with Campagnolo switching to 11, ShimaNO going electric, and the Cervelo / Garmin guys cranking it up a notch on the aero side. But there's one bike that does it for me most of all looking back at 2009: Pozzato's Ridley Damocles Pi. Here's why:
  • You can actually see it's been built for Pozzato in the slacker seat angle and the aggresive 'stretched' position. Hair aside, Pozzato just looks 'right' on a bike. As a consequence, his bikes just look 'right', even if the position is beyond the aspirations of us mere mortals.
  • White's all right. It'll no doubt be out of fashion next year but hey ho, all good if you live in Italy and you have a resident mechanic to wash it. Goes with the hair.
  • I like the integration of cable routing, headset, and headtube into fork. The Damocles pioneered this back in '05. It still looks good.
  • It's Campagnolo Record. That might sound obvious, but in these days of Super Record, the fact Pozzato didn't choose SR says something.
  • The carbon rims survived Paris Roubaix. Testimony to the quality of Campag wheels.
  • The traditional amber wall tubs add a touch of classic class. Again, something that'll look good for 5 minutes for us mere mortals as our brake pads disintegrate and make them look all dirty but all good if you're Pipo and you get new tubs each race.
  • The bars are also a nice 'classic' bend. Aluminium too.
So, in summary, a nice clean bike with a few classic touches that oozes class. Also makes me feel better about my '06 Damocles with Campagnolo 10 speed record... things have moved on, but compared to other bikes from that year, I still think it looks quite 'current'.

Hanging Temple, Datong

This Monastry is more than 1400 years old. What makes it cooler still is that the vertical columns are just for decoration- this is held up by cantilevers embedded in the rocks. How many churches did we build into the side of a cliff in 500AD?

Monday, October 19, 2009

50 Stubbs Rd.

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To date, my favourite private house in Hong Kong has to be 50 Stubbs Rd. It's quirky- looking like a clash between a 4 storey oil rig and a Delorean concept car. It has the most fabulous location- sitting isolated on a prime piece of green hillside overlooking all of Hong Kong. It's mysterious- google will get you nowhere on this. It's private, with CCTV observing your every move anywhere near it's gates. The best view you'll get of the house is from Happy Valley race course looking up (2nd photo from last June) - about 1km away. But on Sunday, whilst taking the first of the above photos that gives a glimse of their fabulous view, I found out that this house has 7, yes 7, maids, and one had worked there for 20 years. I couldn't find out the answer to the question I really want to know- who would live in a house like this. I imagined that it'd be a Bond villian, but I suspect the reality is more mundane. Whoever comissioned it all those years ago does at least deserve some credit for building something outside of the Hong Kong mould. It may look dated now, but at least it's different. That counts for a lot around here.

Style Icon: Mr. Yoshi Konno

Master builder of 3Rensho. There's 'precision' in those eyes. I guess I'd be happy if those were my fork lugs...

Lightweight Factory

I can't read French that well but the pictures tell a story- the most tech. wheels in cycling (one spoke is supposedly strong enough to pull a truck) are made in some very low tech conditions using pretty low tech solutions- let's true them with a block of wood on a stick and sell them for 2000 Euro a pop! I like that.

Container City

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Style Icon: Philippe Gilbert

Following on from the Tomac posting, surely Philippe Gilbert deserves a nod having translated that fabulous attacking style into major wins in the past couple of weeks:- first outsprinting Boonen in Paris Tours and then following it up with yesterday's classy Tour of Lombardy win. The Euro cycling season may have come to an end but this could be the start of even greater things for Gilbert. 'A Chapeau'.

Pro Bike Pron: Tomac Raleigh

The Tomac Raleigh. An icon of early 90's mtb'ing. How could a Raleigh be so cool?
  • It was ridden by Johnny T, who we've already discussed as a style icon.
  • It wasn't really a Raleigh but a Merlin titanium with Easton carbon tubes (pretty cutting edge for the time)
  • It was fitted out with all the good stuff- blue bits, the SRP ti. bolts, the rumbling disc drive that had to be replaced every 5 races and best of all a tyre that lasted 5 minutes. All brilliant.
Despite the cutting edge technology it was 26lbs and the geommetry looks pretty terrible from here- but it didn't slow Johnny T down too much! Thanks to retrobike for the following links:

Review: Kenda SB8

OK- first the good things on these tires- they're light (apx520g), they're fast, and they're incredibly grippy in dry hardpack conditions, which is what we have here in Hong Kong at the moment. They were even 'designed' by John Tomac! Pretty much everything you want in an XC tire, right?

Wrong- they're so light the sidewalls are just too thin. They were incredibly hard to get to seal on Stans rims- took a week of repetitive inflation each night and worst of all, my back tire has lasted just 5 rides before giving out on me today around Chi Ma Wan, whilst in 5th place of the Action Asia race. About as long as a Tomac disc! I shall use this post to vent that frustration... before I put my reliable UST Maxxis or Contis back on. And before anyone says I should have used the UST version- they weigh a whopping 880g- a pound weight penalty over the Maxxis or the Conti. USTs. Oh well, I learned my lesson. 

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Canto Cave

Fantastic Canto Cave on the way down Blue Pool into Happy Valley, and what a Mercedes Benz! Shame about that tat in front spoiling the photo.

Review: Garmin 705

One of the reasons I started this blog was to avoid some repetitive email responses to questions such as 'how do you like the Garmin 705'? In summary, this device has revolutionised my training on the bike and has opened up a world of navigation possibilities. I've been using it for 9 months now - my main points are as follows:

Recording Data:
The beauty of the Garmin is that there are no unreliable wheel sensors required and it works whether you're road riding, mountain biking or running / hiking. I have it set so it will auto start / stop so you only record ride time and not coffee stops. The other key benefit over Polar etc. is that you have 8 (customisable) data fields on the main screen which means you can see everything, including gradients and elevation, on one screen. There is a 2nd screen accessable by the toggle that I use for lap functions. If you want / need to see the map, you scroll through to it and, again, it's customisable in terms of what you see there. Also, the Garmin HR monitor is much more reliable than the Polar. If you're lucky enough to have a wireless Powertap / SRM then the Garmin will also sync with that- nice to know.

Analysing Data:
Here is where I find Garmin has some work to do- the software supplied is a bt chocolate teapot. Far more functional is Sportracks, a bit of freeware that far surpasses Garmin fitness etc. When used in tandem with plug-ins such as Training Load, this is a set up to rival TrainingPeaks etc. Just upload your rides and the software does all the hard work. If you do a ride where you don't go anywhere, such as a turbo trainer session, or if you forget the Garmin, you can enter it manually. If you're on a mac I gather 'Ascent' is your best option. I'll do another post on Sporttracks / Training Load in time.

Having lived in Hong Kong almost 2 years, I know most of the rides I do and don't need a GPS to navigate them. Having said that, I've still been in scenarios where it's useful to know where you are... i.e. when lost. Where the Garmin really kicks in is on trips abroad where being able to navigate uploaded routes. An example of this was our recent trip to Nankunshan in China, where we knew there was nice riding but no maps were available, we didn't even know where our hotel was and no guides could be found. Having done some research on the web I managed to download a .gpx file off some random website and luckily enough one of the routes started just down the road from the hotel. We followed a pink line very effectively even with no base map and did a fantastic ride (photos here) that we'd never have done otherwise. It's also cool to say 'Go To' and search for the nearest town and let it take you there (on road). On the negative side, there were some occassions mountain biking in the Pyrenees (photos here) when the Garmin got confused and turned itself off. We think the issue may have been power line / countryborder related. Whatever, it's certainly more comfortable on road than off. If you want the most capable off road navigation device the Oregon is a better option.

One issue in Hong Kong is that, unlike the UK, there are no topographical maps available (that I know of). The card for S/E Asia is also a bit of a challenge... I've seen it on fleabay but I managed another solution that I can't really discuss on the web. Suffice to say this wasn't easy. I bought it as a bundle with the Europe SD card which is useful in Europe.

It's tough, it seems waterproof so far, it looks OK, the battery lasts >15hrs, and it weighs 100g- no big deal. The only real negative is the mounting brackets don't last that long (maybe 6 months).

In summary, the 705 is a great unit that's revolutionising riding bikes in the 21st Century. You have to put some time in to get the most out of it, but you will certainly reap the rewards. It's the best few hundred pounds (I paid less than the below- would recommend wiggle - post free and VAT free = 15% off)  I've spent on biking gear in quite a few years.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Colossi... launched!

A lot of work has gone in from a core group of guys here in Hong Kong to get this project off the ground. A new cycling club for Hong Kong is born!

Klein Cave

Those pre-Trek Kleins were just so ahead of their time- the integration of components preceded so much of what the big guys, including Trek, are doing with integrated seatposts, internal headsets etc. now. And the finish! A beautiful bike in beautiful surroundings. Then a beautiful bike in a terrible man cave. Orange walls- what was he thinking??? I think he needs one of these.