Tenure & Procrastination

As you might guess, the veritable eruption of silly, trivial and generally useless talk of bike crap here on BB can only mean one thing: there is much more important work to be done. The important work – at least for those relying on my paycheck for food and shelter – is tenure and promotion, or T&P as we “in the biz” call it.

T&P time is, obviously, stressful. It’s the rare line of work where you are pretty much guaranteed employment by an institution for the rest of your career, provided you keep doing your job and do not do illegal things. But it’s also the rare line of work where you spend 7 or more years of post-grad work in training for a job in which you often stand no better than a .0075 chance of getting a position. And that buys you a ticket for 5 years on the tenure track. In your 6th year you are reviewed and tenured or denied. For most people, it is the former. However, there is just enough of the latter to keep everything stressed out of their minds. I’m looking forward to the former…but, now back to work!

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Crappy Magazines: US Edition

Was looking at cycling magazines a bit the other day (of which there are now like 6 road-oriented ones!) and thinking how glad I was not to subscribe to, or even buy, any of them. Seems like they are all kind of going for roughly the same thing, which is big glossy pics combined with Rapha-style hyperbolic descriptions of “suffering” and the truth-revealing nature of riding bikes. I think the world would be better served if most of them pooled resources and we only had 2 magazines in English. That way they could afford to send people to lots of races, take reasonable pictures and actually do some interesting reporting. I don’t really give a shit about a 4th-year US-based pro, which seems like who Asphalt and ROAD (I think?) seem to be able to interview.

Pretty much all I’m interested in these days with cycling is tech-related blog stuff and nice, simple pictorials of a “day at the races” like Procycling seems to do (again, because they actually have people in Europe writing this stuff). No frickin’ black and white stupid artsy shots of dudes racing their bikes. Just real documentation of the place and time:

Now that is real bike racing, with a real badass Belgian pro.

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via PezCycling News.

White Bikes of the Future

photo via Cyclingnews.com.

Nice shot here of David Moncoutie in the Vuelta this week. He’s riding the crazy new high-end Look bike (which I believe is the 695). Yes, the bike is white. However, this time I’m highlighting the Look for another reason: it takes us closer to what I believe is the BIKE OF THE FUTURE!

The basic trend is system integration of all sorts. This is not shocking – it has been going on for a number of years now, and Cannondale has even used the “system integration” moniker for quite some time. Look now takes this further, with the combination of integrated crankset/bb, stem, and integrated seat mast.

You buy this bike as a module (which Look calls a “pack”):

What are the next steps toward the kind of bikes we will be seeings ten years from now? As the frequent readers of BB (reader??) might guess, an immediate addition would be hydraulic disc brakes. It cries out for them, in fact. Take a look at the profile shot:

Not very hard to imagine those brake calipers removed from the bike. Maybe a large rear disc caliper mount (large meaning triangulated) down there at the chainstay/seatstay junction. And, picture a fatter, or at least deeper, bladed carbon fork with an integrated caliper mount at the end. Perhaps a shift as well to MTB-style through-axle fork/hub interface (like Rock Shox’s Maxle Lite, but smaller for road)

So, now you just need some very simple, single-purpose hydraulic brake levers up on the bars. And, you still need to buy your own bars…but it’s hard to imagine something that taste-based and unique ever going away.

Next step – and this is the BIG one – is a move to internal gearing. Electrically actuated internal gearing. Think Shimano’s Di2 wires and battery, but only running to the rear hub. You’ve now dropped the front and rear derailleurs, cables/housing, cassette and double rings from the equation. You have a single cog on the rear (attached to the Rohloff-like internal hub…with maybe 16-18 gears eventually), a single chainring mounted to the integrated crankset, and a couple of tiny shift actuator buttons OR maybe integrated buttons like on Di2. But, even Di2 now has the “remote shifter” button option – that is, a shift button that can be placed on top of the bars.

In this new bike purchasing paradigm, you have two major costs:

1. Frameset module/pack like you see with the Look 695. You buy the correct rough size and then custom tune the stem and integrated seat mast to your size and comfort level.

2. Wheelset. These are complicated, but integrated. Big ass hubs for large axle (in the front), disc brake rotors and mounts and a very expensive rear hub with the internal gearing. Deep carbon rims, designed without a braking surface (you’ve got disc brakes, remember), probably tubular (because you don’t have to worry at all about overheating rims and melting glue from braking).

What else do you buy?

3. Handlebars

4. Hydraulic calipers, levers and rotors

5. Saddle

6. Chain

7. Shift actuators, wires (if not built in to the frame), battery

Maintenance is almost nill – clean the chain, but that only involves spraying it with solvent, wiping clean, and re-lubing. You want to change bikes? Basically you only need to buy another module/pack from a different manufacturer; wheels and minor parts just shift straight across.

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White Bikes: Torelli Edition

Poor Torelli seems to be pretty much completely ignored by most everyone in the cycling world. This is sad because they have quietly put out a couple of damn fine carbon framesets, complete with all the requisite tech-o stuff: tapered steerer/headtube, BB30, integrated seat mast. Granted, these are likely the same basic frames being sold under the Ritte label (and featured here on BB a while back), or any other number of brands. However, Torelli has always done the simple, high quality finishes just right. And, this one is no exception:

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via Torelli.

Best Craigslist or Thrift Finds Ever: BJ Edition

Apartment Therapy has this great thread going on with people describing their best finds on CL or in thrift shops. Some amazing stuff listed – makes me look forward to more time someday in life to trawl the local CLs constantly looking for deals.

The first comment, though, was perhaps the best:

I found a couple of used tires and a blowjob on craigslist. I find it is better to tell a friend you are meeting someone you don’t know at a hotel outside of town. That way, when they steal your wallet and drive off with your car, you have a ride home.

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via Apartment Therapy.

Eurobike 2010: Hydraulic Road Disc Option

In their coverage of Eurobike, road.cc makes mention of the oddity that so few cyclocross manufacturers are showing disc-brake cross models (now that discs are UCI legal).

Or maybe no-one’s doing anything until one of the big manufacturers brings out a credible hydraulic system that works with STI-style units. There was a loose handful of bikes with little cable-to-hydraulic converter units zip-tied under the stem, a small company called Cleg made the tidy if agricultural box and we’d like to get a chance to throw one down a muddy slope to see how it feels. There were a few instances of ‘cross bikes using cable discs but as a gritty cable can make them perform worse than a set of cantilevers and almost as bad to set up whilst being heavier then they’re not overly popular.

Still seems odd to me that nobody has come up with a hyrdraulic “brifter” option yet; here is the “agricultural box” mentioned above:

Maybe I mentioned this before, but there did used to be a cable-actuated hydraulic disc option from RockShox. Similar idea as this, but the action was all down at the caliper. Still, they both seem goofy.

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via road.cc.

Mountain Bike Action

I currently only have a mountain bike in the “stable” (which I bought with the proceeds from all of the Dura Ace 7800 parts that used to be on my road bike). One of the local city parks now has a series of trails. Super well built, they manage through intense curving to eke out a good few miles of constantly up and down singletrack action within only a few acres. I’m always on the rivet, but probably never going more than 20mph.

As I found in Baltimore (where much of my mtb riding took place on a similarly constrained spatial scale), it is surprisingly easy to convince myself on the mtn bike that I could quickly get some fitness again and maybe even race. But, then I look at pictures of real mtn bike racing and remember that you have to descend in these races as well.

This shit would give me nightmares:

Yes, he is riding on wet rocks

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via Cyclingnews.com.