Thursday, December 27, 2007

The fatwa is rescinded

If you have been honing your machete to a razor edge or turning you dad's old deer hunting ammo into dumdums, save them for the revolution, because my Rapha order arrived today.

I'm still frowning upon them slightly, due to their non-functional order tracking webpage and their inability to answer emails; but the parcel was mailed one day after I placed the order, so the fact that it got here too late for Christmas is solely down to the postal service.

Rapha are one of the most interesting brands to come on the scene in the last few years, and I hope that they can get their systems sorted in future.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Bad Rapha

After the worst e-commerce experience that I have ever had, I'm calling a fatwa on Rapha Racing Ltd, the English purveyors of upmarket cycle kit.

Rapha guarantees that they will ship standard delivery orders with 48 hours and a maximum ten day shipping time. They also claim 'Rapha makes buying online a risk free and painless process, wherever you are' which must be intentionally ironic.

I placed an order with them on 6/12, for a Fixed. track top and a couple of pairs of Grand Tour gloves, for which they speedily debited my credit card. As of today, according to the 'order history' on their website the order is still 'awaiting shipping'.

In the last fortnight I have sent seven emails to Rapha inquiring whether the order has, in fact, shipped, and if not when it will do so.
I received a reply to the third, wherein one Laura Etherington wrote "Apologies for not replying earlier. I’m looking into this and will be in touch shortly."
Since then, not a word.

I would like to think that this is down to some glitch in Rapha's email system, however they have not responded to three voicemail messages either.

UPDATE: go here for the more or less happy ending.

Monday, December 24, 2007


I thought that I had a done good job of reconfiguring my Ritchey Breakaway (here with a Schmidt Dynohub for the Summer Solstice Ride) from 19lb race-ready travel bike into an all weather commuter and credit card tourer, but CTB has blown me into the weeds with this quick and dirty touring bike conversion of his EMC.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Some goodness from the Blogosphere

These will be old hat to dedicated internet sifters, but deserve a mention regardless:

Dylan's new bike by Curt Goodrich, would be the perfect fast road bike if it had mudguard eyelets, but maybe Dylan already has a rain bike.

Every 21st century household needs a town bike like this one by Ira Ryan.

At Cyclofiend, there is almost nothing to quibble about (except the wrongly positioned flint catchers) on Tom Truong's Della Santa fixie. This is perhaps the best fixed gear road bike that I have seen on the interweb.

Wellingtonian Steve Dorrington's Bob Jackson is damn cool too. The frame came from the same Christchurch bikeshop as Donna's Bob Jackson frame

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Another one that got away

This 1952 Gillott frame, which was on ebay a couple of weeks ago, would have looked good in my collection, but a Japanese collector got up in the middle of the night to add it to his.
I wasn't heartbroken, since I already have a lifetime's worth of projects in my shed, but this frame has an interesting feature that sets it apart.
At first glance this looks like a lugged Fleur de Lis frame like my '69 Gillott, but the seat cluster tells a different story.
Instead of using a lug, a fleur de lis patterned sleeve is brazed to the end of the top tube, which is then fillet brazed to the seattube.
The headlugs are made in the same way, with an obvious fillet when compared to the lugged Fleur de Lis models on the Classic Lightweights UK Readers Bikes page.
Lugged frames also have cutouts in the head lugs.
This style of building was used by a number of English builders during the 40's and 50's, notably Paris Cycles, and Claud Butler who called the process 'bilamination'.
Later, Tom Ritchey used the same process on some of his top-end MTB and road frames as in this photo from the Bob Brown Cycles blog.
Photos: Alexander von Tutschek, ebay auction #260182570977

Monday, December 03, 2007

Doing things the hard way.

A couple of weekends back I decided to swap the Cinelli model 64 bars on my Gillott for a pair of deep drop model 66s, and while I was at it, replace the gold anodised Univesal brake levers with the ones that originally came with the bike. This should have been an easy Sunday evening job, until I decided that it was also a great idea to strip the anodising from the Cinelli 1a stem that I planned to use.
There is plenty of information on the internet about how to strip anodising easily with common household chemicals which I didn't have on hand, so it made perfect sense to do it with some strips of 120 grit emery tape. I got the anodising off in under 30 minutes, but rubbing out the marks left by the 120 grit took a couple of hours, using 280, 400 and then 800 grit wet & dry, before finishing it off on the polisher.
I'm pretty happy with the result, but next time I'll go to the supermarket and get me some industrial strength oven cleaner.