Quite simply my Want It Wednesday has boiled down to my desire for a new bike frame. I figured that I wanted a full sus but have started to realise that they are just too expensive for me right now and I still don't think I can be chewed with the extra maintenance they need.
I had am still considering 29ers instead but I keep coming back to this little beauty. The Cotic Soul. A 853 Reynold steel frame weighing in at 4.4lbs. It's probably a bit old school of me to be looking at steel but this metal is still perfect material for riding and last for years without loosing its feel like alloy frames do. They have much cleaner lines too and the welds are tiny and just gorgeous. This is a versatile little thing though and can take a fork from 100mm to 140mm giving a choice of xc race bike or trail bike fun. The frame alone retails in at £480 and comes in black or orange.
All I have to do now is decide which colour........
Weekend video time and here is a bit showing the ever talented Danny Hart on a practise downhill run at Fort William. His ability to react at these speeds is just amazing. Where most average riders would be slowly meandering down the course carefully picking out the lines between the rocks, he just seems to float over them and make the course seem mildly bumpy. I assure you, Fort William is as tough a course as you are ever likely to try out. The First clip show some of the pros during practise and gives an idea of the course
This second clip buts you in Danny's shoes and shows just how fast he really is and why he is World Champion
In light of nearly being run off my bike yet again from someone not giving way and looking properly coming out of a junction, I am reminded of the old 'ger off the road you don't pay road tax' argument. I've no doubt many of you have come across this argument even if its not in a heated debate on the road side. Motorist seem to stick to this old aged argument, clinging on because they really can't find any other justified way for them ruling the road. I've heard it too many times, and I'm fed up of the ignorance so its time to set them right.
First lets start with with the term "road tax". This is something that has not existed since the 1930s, what drivers do pay however is Vehicle Excise Duty, which is more commonly called road tax but is not really the same thing.
There are at least three valid points for cyclists not paying road tax so you may like to remember these for future arguments!
1) Vehicle Excise Duty is based on vehicle emissions. Cyclists produce zero emissions and so there for do not pay tax. Or better, they pay zero tax for producing zero emissions.
2) According to a poll made by the British Cycling 87% of cyclists are also regular car drivers and so pay the same vehicle and fuel duties as other road users.
3) Vehicle Excise Duty tax doesn't always go towards road costs. In fact it goes into one big pot along with income, council and other direct and direct taxes which cyclists also pay for which is used for the up keep of of public services including hospitals, transport, and roads.
Of course this argument is only from a tax perspective. But as this seems to be the main gripe with drivers this should make matters more clear for you about why you have the same rights on the road.
Yesterday was a bit of a disaster really. Not only do I find out that my job is at risk but then the zip on cycle tights breaks so now I've got a large hole up the back of my calves just in time for the temperatures to plummet below zero. Obviously the job bit is more serious, but I get damn annoyed when something breaks particularly something that is still needed and is going to cost me extra money.
To be honest the Endura tights that I've owned have been on the way out anyway, but I was hopeful to get one more winter out of them. The zip on the back of the left leg was no longer staying closed and would come undone during the ride. It was only my overshoes that were keeping it secure and draught free. I always found them on odd fit for me too. My left ankle seems to be bigger than right and I always had a wrestle getting them on right. Last night I had to buy some more so went to my favourite website shops chainreaction and wiggle and sorted myself a pair.
Now I could have put these as my 'Want' for this week but feel cheated as they are more of a need. However, whilst looking at clothes I found myself liking....ok wanting cycle Jerseys. There are some really cool ones out there. One particular manufacturer I like is Morvelo. This might be because they make one for the Kinesis team kit. That's the make of my bike.
Yet I know there is one Jersey they make which is a limited edition. In fact so limited that in order to own one you have to win it. I'm talking about the Morvelo Rookie Jersey which to get you have to win the UK and European 24 hour race on your first attempt. Its the race I'm doing in April. Chances are I won't get near to owning it. But I can but 'want' for it and maybe that'll be incentive enough!
So thats me for this wednesday. What's your 'Want'? To join in the party just go to the tab 'want it wedensaday' and follow the instructions.
I'm joined this week by Paul and Neil and also a new member to the linky party Merry*death all of which you should see what they are wanting this week and have a nosey around their great blogs. Just click on their names to go to the linked blogs.
Some of the more astute of you or those that follow me on twitter will be aware of my recent pledge to the Times new cycle safe campaign - Cities Fit For Cycling. In the first half of 2011 there was a 12% increase over previous years before with 1,850 deaths or serious injuries involving cyclists. 27,000 have been injured or killed in the last ten years.
Recently, action and protests have taken place to increase awareness of the issues regarding cyclists safety, particularly in London where there has been an increase in commuters who use their bikes to get to work. Great ideas and work can be seen on Ibikelondons blog which is well worth a look and addresses many of the problems that cyclists face on a day to day basis.
As a regular commuter and one who has done so for many years in rural and in city areas, this is a campaign I warmly welcome. Its one I implore any person or cyclist to take note of and show their support for.
The Times newspaper recently found itself involved in the debate for safer cycling when one of its own journalists was hit metres away from work. Mary Bowers was hit by a lorry on the 3rd November and has remained stable but in coma since. Rather than letting her become another tragic statistic the Times have launched their campaign which you can read daily. This has gained much backing from Professional Cyclists like Mark Cavendish Sir Chris Hoy, Bradley Wiggins, Rebbca Romero and Nicole Cooke
The Times has launched a public campaign and 8-point manifesto calling for cities to be made fit for cyclists:
Trucks entering a city centre should be required by law to fit sensors, audible truck-turning alarms, extra mirrors and safety bars to stop cyclists being thrown under the wheels.
The 500 most dangerous road junctions must be identified, redesigned or fitted with priority traffic lights for cyclists and Trixi mirrors that allow lorry drivers to see cyclists on their near-side.
A national audit of cycling to find out how many people cycle in Britain and how cyclists are killed or injured should be held to underpin effective cycle safety.
Two per cent of the Highways Agency budget should be earmarked for next generation cycle routes, providing £100 million a year towards world-class cycling infrastructure. Each year cities should be graded on the quality of cycling provision.
The training of cyclists and drivers must improve and cycle safety should become a core part of the driving test.
20mph should become the default speed limit in residential areas where there are no cycle lanes.
Businesses should be invited to sponsor cycleways and cycling super-highways, mirroring the Barclays-backed bicycle hire scheme in London.
Every city, even those without an elected mayor, should appoint a cycling commissioner to push home reforms.
Sadly where there is opinion there is also opposition and an article printed by the Manchester Times called for a move to ban cyclists on roads through rush hour periods. Something which I felt was very backward in thinking. Cars in cities are not the future. With an ever increase amount of cars being put on the roads, the cities are now getting congested. Fuel prices probably has contributed greatly to the increased amount of cyclists in the country and cities and with a hard up economy I for see this trend continuing. Getting cyclists off the road is not an option.
I would agree that cyclists are also not totally blameless. There are some bad examples of riding, some stupidly aggressive, and those that swing out at cars or cross lights on red, anger me just as much as car drivers who push past. There needs to be some education in there and it needs to be forced onto both cyclists and driver.
What the Times proposes makes sense and I think we should also continue to look to cities like Amsterdam and Coppenhagen for our influences on how to do it right. My only gripe with this kind of comparison is that cycling abroad is much more excepted and in some like Belgium is their national sport. In this country it's still considered a nuisance despite nearly a third of all adults in this country owning one.
If this campaign is of interest to you then please look at this link and pledge your support and you can even attach a nice button to your blog like I've got (if you need help doing this let me know). Its time to make a difference.
A few videos for the mountain bikers, who like me never get to see any televised coverage of the MTB World Cup races. These three videos give highlights of the mens and womens races from rounds four five and six.
I have been using these tyres as a front and rear combination for over a year now and thought I'd give you my opinion on them.
I've put these tyres though their paces and have tried them in various conditions now from dry dusty conditions to wet sloppy mud on rocks and roots. They have been used for general trail use and not racing or downhill.
Before putting on the tyres my first reaction was that despite looking quite chunky with their very squared nobbles they are surprisingly light. Not light like say Schwalbes Racing Ralphs or my previous Continental Supersonics which weighed about 100gram less per tyre. But for a trail tyre or a marathon muncher 570g isn't that bad at all.
Getting them on the bike proved to be easy enough, folding tyres never are in my opinion, and being able to get a tyre on without busting my figures is always a bonus. Once on they sat nicely and evenly within the rim. You'd be surprised at the amount of tyres I've fitted to bikes that have a rise or dip in them.
On the Trails
On the trail these tyres are what its all about and I could find very little to fault with them. They rolled surprisingly well. Looking at them they remind me of Panaracer Fire XCs with their high square nobbles but just behave totally different. I'd easily say they were some of the fastest I've owned considering the tread. They picked up speed quickly and effortlessly.
Cornering was also another surprise but when you consider how they are made I guess I shouldn't have been. They are very sure footed and grip well giving great confidence without just letting go when you've got your bike leaned over. The reason lies in the rubber on the tyre. The top tread is made of a hard rubber for ware and speed but the sides are soft for extra grip.
In the mud these tryes cleared ok. They never seemed to hold onto the mud giving you what effectively would be a slick tyre like some tyres Ive owned in the past. They shed the mud quickly at speed sending great chunks up into the air.
Over rocks and roots they were solid. Reassuringly grippy meaning I could attack wet rooty descents with more confidence than previous tyres that I've owned.
In conclusion these tryes are one of those rare breeds that seem to do everything well. Granted there are lighter faster rolling tyres but not many that also have the great grip and will give you the same confidence.
There are some negative points that I shall draw your attention to and ones I've found other users mention. The sidewalls are quite flimsy, with riders reporting tearing them with ease. This being the case it is important to run the tyres with the recommended pressures in them to ensure this weakness is not exposed. As yet I've no problems with this issue, but there are a number that have so it can't be ignored.
At £40 a tyre they are expensive and if used on the roads lots will wear down quite quickly. But you are paying for a good quality tyre. The question in my mind remains not should I buy them but do I get these or the Rocket Rons which are also excellent tyre by Schwalbe which have a smaller tread but by all accounts are just as good but suffer from wearing issues as they are very soft.