Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Tried and liked in '07

Nitto Noodle bars- though not unreservedly.
I like to angle the drops a little for a more natural wrist angle, but doing so on the Noodles puts the ramps at an uncomfortably flat angle. I guess this really makes me a Dream bar customer (right).
Nitto bar photos from

Brooks Swallow
For years, Brooks saddles had such short rails that I was unable to get my preferred rearward seat position on any frame with a seat tube steeper than 72 degrees.
Furthermore, their sportier offerings such as the Pro and the Swift lacked saddlebag loops.
In 2006, Brooks introduced a ti-railed Swallow that met both criteria, but was too expensive for anything except your very best bike. Despite the outrageous price, I got one for my Ritchey since it was the only solution for my ergonomic and bag-carrying requirements.
The new steel-railed Swallow Classic which I saw at Interbike this year has long rails too, so there is a glimmer of hope that Brooks will eventually fit longer rails to the rest of the range.
Photo: 2007 Swallow Classic with long rails (left); original Swallow restored by Tony Colegrave (right)

Lycra-free commuting
After years of commuting dressed for the increasingly-unlikely after work training ride, I started commuting in my modified Nzo 307s or knickers from MUSA or Bicycle Fixation, worn over NZo Cruiseliners.

I have had these for a couple of years, as well as a pair of the excellent El Fito knickers, but only recently I realised that the Duos are the most comfortable shorts I have ever worn. The first pair that I bought seemed fairly short, but the pair I bought late in '07 are, lengthwise, more like a normal cycling short.
Despite my my irritation at Rapha's lack of pre-Christmas communication, these are by far the best gloves I have ever had. Most road mitts annoy me, with sloppy fit, lumpy and inappropriate padding and poor grip on some types of bar tape.
Rapha recommends that you order their mitts a size small, because the leather will stretch to fit your hand, which it has mine. The 2mm padding, apparently made from a high tech material used in British Army sniper's gloves, is imperceptible in a good way; and the leather palms grip both Fi'zi:k microtex or cotton bar tape securely.

Carradice Camper Longflap saddlebag- holds everything you could possibly need for faux-Jobstian credit card touring.
When I went to Italy in 2006, I took a Carradice Nelson Longflap, plus a Rivendell Hobo bag, and they were barely big enough. This year the Camper carried the same load with room to spare.
If you are wondering what to put in in it, take a look at Jobst Brandt's Packing List.

Given that I'm deeply implicated in the distribution of Ritchey products in New Zealand, you're welcome to take this with a grain of salt, but my extensively modified Breakaway has completely relegated my other 'modern' road bike to a dusty corner in the back of the shed.
I can't wait to get my Breakaway fixed/singlespeed frame in a couple of months.


Steve D. said...


On your negative Rapha experience, know that you are not alone. After spending US$600 with the company over the last year, I placed an order Jan. 9 2008, for which Rapha gladly took my money but has apparently left the merchandise in "awaiting shipping" limbo every since. Four requests for an explanation or update via email have been ignored. I can't seem to get through by phone. Might you have some trick, some other email to a real person, etc., that could help me get through as you apparently did? I am about ready to reawaken your call for fatwa.

David Benson said...

So much for Rapha's Kasper Daems assurance to me that they were just having some Christmas season speedwobbles.
My hitcounter tells me that Rapha are still reaping a shitrain of bad publicity from my Bad Rapha blog.
Maybe they should ease up on the race team sponsorship, roller racing and other goofing off and knuckle down to looking after their customers.

David Benson said...

Steve D- email me for some other Rapha email adresses that may be of help.