Traditional toe-clips and straps vs clipless pedals.

The oiginal pedal-powered hybrid vehicleI’ve noticed that some cyclists seem to have an aversion to using clipless pedals. Actually I’d call it more like a fear of being clamped to the pedals. Maybe, like me, they tried a cheap set that initially came with their bike & nearly killed themselves. I urge you to try as many different pedal systems as you can. They’re definitely not all the same. Personally, my favourite pedals (for walking around in) are called Time atac. For road use, I’ve really come to like Speedplay.

Yes it’s true that sometimes I just get plain lazy. If I need to go down to do some errands, I just jump on one of my bikes that’s equipped with normal pedals & head straight out the door without the need for changing into my cycling shoes. And if I don’t change my shoes, I never change into my cycling clothes either. But I notice that whenever I do that and ride a bike with trainers & normal flat pedals, I actually feel less secure. Normally what happens is that on the back & up pedal stroke, my foot forgets that it’s free & promptly launches off the surface of the pedal. Also, the inevitable climb back to my house is much more difficult + slower. So far from saving time by not changing, I probably lose time riding the actual bike.

Whenever I go for a decent ride however, I don’t even think twice about using the proper equipment. If you’ve tried clipless pedals before & just can’t seem to cope with the fear, I highly highly highly reccommend powergrips. They’re much easier to enter & exit than traditional toe-clips & straps, and they offer a wide band of support.

Unique bicycle design.

Bikes these days are all about fashion. The fashion changes just like anything else. Just look at sloping geometry. Carbon seat stays. Ergo bars. Compact cranks. White carbon and painted white carbon. Integrated seatposts. If you want to be a fashion victim, go with the flow. Mrazek aim to be different. To not follow fashion. I think they’ve achieved that.

Mrazek is art. And like art, whether it pleases you or not is very subjective. It’s your choice, and there are thousands of other “cookie-cutter” frames to choose from.  Some people say that they ride as well as they look. On the other hand, if you don’t like the way they look, you might not like the way they ride. And vice versa. [Read more →]

The things I hate about Shimano.

The things I hate about Shimano ultegra and 105 / 5600 road componentsFor the most part, shimano bicycle components work extremely well. Even so, after working on my fleet of road rental bikes for the past year or more I have come to despise certain maintenance tasks. What follows is a list of all the little niggly things which I dislike about shimano road componentry (5600/Ultegra level). Neither is this a simple comparison between shimano, campagnolo and sram:

  • The alloy brake levers corrode within a few months of inital sweat contact. Why can’t they anodise these like the rest of their parts? Instead, they are clear-coated. This coating crazes and then spalls off in next to no time.
  • Both the gear and the brake cables are much more difficult to install than they should be. Sometimes you can spend 5 whole minutes poking a brake cable blindly where you think it should go. This is the year 2008. It shouldn’t take more than 5 seconds.
  • The lockring washer is deadly. Sure it may SEEM unoffensive, but it’s sharper than a pair of laser-cut scissors. How do I know? Well just last week I was called out to change one of my client’s cassettes from a 12-25 to a 12-27 ratio. Part way through the job, the blasted thing gouged a deep cut right on my middle finger. Needless to say, it’s not a good image for your business when blood is running over your hand, the bike and the pavement as you’re attempting to do a simple cassette-swap operation.
  • The chain comes pre-coated in the most tacky protective grease imaginable which can’t be removed by any known chemical method. OK, I admit its composition has improved with that of a few years ago, but it’s still not nice to work with.
  • The shimano logo wears off the cranks too quickly. You’d think they’d have the word shimano laser etched on all their parts by now. Not so.
  • Shimano free hub body splines are so shallow that the cogs ruin them. It doesn’t help that shimano removed half of the splines on their cogs for no apparant reason, effectively halving the contact surface area, doubling the load (and the chances of ruining the free hub body).
  • Speaking of cranks, there aren’t many versions of a shimano compact crankset to choose from.
  • Shimano spare parts (genuine or otherwise) are practically nonexistent – hence shifters etc are not rebuildable.
  • The front deralilleur cannot be fine-tuned all that well while riding.
  • Simultaneous braking & up-shifting not possible at the same time. Whenever you slow down, it means you have to change up gears. Everyone knows that. But with the combined shimano brake and gear lever, it just isn’t possible.
  • Last but not least, the gear housing doesn’t go under the bar tape. Why not?

About Me.

Me!WHAT I DO BELIEVE IN:

  • Animal Intelligence
  • Authority
  • Courtesy
  • Culturalism/Culturism – that cultures by definition are different although never superior to one another, and that these differences should be respected
  • Effective communication
  • Equality
  • Excercise
  • Family & friends
  • Hard work
  • Honesty with myself and others
  • Justice
  • Knowledge
  • (note that I haven’t said “Science”)

  • Maintaining biodiversity
  • Minimising our environmental impact
  • Mutual Respect
  • Peace
  • Relaxation
  • Self-improvement
  • Sharing
  • Women’s right to Abortion

  • WHAT I DON’T BELIEVE IN:

  • Astrology
  • Consumerism
  • Corrupt authority
  • Faith
  • Fighting animals is a form of entertainment: bull fighting, dog fighting, cock fighting, etc
  • Gods
  • Human hypocrisy
  • The human superiority complex
  • Racism
  • Recreational drugs
  • Religions
  • The notion that science & technology can solve all the problems they inevitably create
  • The best ever rock band?

    The best ever Australian rock band of all time? PowderfingerThe band is Powderfinger. No it’s not from Tenerife, not even from Spain or Europe… but all the way from Australia (like me). This is the sort of music that gets me going… it just rocks and nothing more needs to be said.

    “Bombproof reliable” bicycle maintenance, part II: The drivetrain.

    Simple bicycle drivetrain maintenanceI have come to learn a lot about providing a reliable bike hire service here in Tenerife. Most cyclists rent our bikes from 5 to 7 days and cycle an average of 300-500km or more. In that time, the riders make at least one ascent up to the base of Mt Teide. It’s not uncommon for clients to climb a cumulative total of 10,000 vertical metres!

    I’m not 100% convinced that they check the bike over during the time that they’ve rented it either. Needless to say, these pro hire bikes have a very hard life indeed. However, contrary to what you might think, we rarely see genuine mechanical breakdowns. The secret is that our bikes are regularly serviced -every single week- after every single use.

    So welcome to Part II of how to make a “bombproof reliable” bike. Here I’m going to share with you some easy ways to achieve that smooth-running, ultra-reliable drivetrain. Part I: Wheels & Tyres can be viewed here.

    1. Regularly clean your drivetrain! The chain and sprockets are the heart of a bicycle’s drivetrain. They are also the first parts to wear out. They’re not cheap to replace- so it pays to look after these parts. You’ll get the most life out of your drivetrain if you periodically clean the chain, chainrings and cassette.
      • There’s no need to invest in special “chain cleaning devices”; in my opinion, they’re not terribly effective, and the mess they remove from your chain tends to leak out and make a mess out of the rest of your bike. If you use the reccommended special degreasers, they’re not particular cheap chain cleaning solutions either.
      • Instead, simply clean the chain and the rear cogs with a rag. The best method is to first rub the lower part of the chain backwards and forwards. When that is clean, move on to the next section. Wipe around the chainrings on the crankset. Then use the rag to clean between the cogs on the rear cluster, as that’s where most of the residue ends up. Also clean the little pulley wheels on the rear derailleur. The last step is to apply a few drops of light or oil or wax-based lubricant.
      • By far the best guide to bicycle chain maintenance can be found on the KMC website. Follow their advice to the letter!
      • Of course, if you find all of this to be a major chore, you might like to have a look at this nifty invention: The Scottoiler Cycle Oiler dramatically improves the service-life, efficiency and cleanliness of bicycle transmission.” It was first devised as an automatic chain lubrication system for motorcyles and has since become extremely popular with motorbike riders. It sparingly applies a liquid-based oil at regular intervals, and hence the chain doesn’t get so dirty. [Read more →]

    Cycling T-shirts available now

    funny-t-shirt-cartoon.jpgLast week I ordered a new batch of official www.Tenerife-Training.net T-shirts! Short sleeve T-shirts are available in small, medium and large & cost only €12.50 each. Long sleeve T-shirts are available in medium and large sizes for only €15. They’ll most likely be available before the end of April, 2008.The new official www.Tenerife-Training.net T-shirts!

    Music inspiration from Zaragoza; the kingdom of Aragón.

    Amaral Tenerife

    Amaral is a very famous Spanish pop/rock band almost unknown outside Spain. Amaral originated in 1997 in Zaragoza, in the North-East of Spain. The band consists of Eva Amaral and Juan Aguirre. The following videos are in fact the first three tracks of Amaral’s third album, Estrella de mar (2002).

    Sin ti no soy nada (without you I am nothing), music videoclip:

    Morirí­a por vos (I would die for you), music videoclip:

    Toda la noche en la calle (All night in the street), acoustic version:

    Measuring bicycle frame sizes / bike fitting.

    How to measure a bike frame.How to measure a bike frame:

    Bicycles are measured in several different ways. The usual sizing measurement relates to the seat tube length, given in centimetres for road bikes and inches for mountain bikes. The best way to measure the seat tube is from the centre of the bottom bracket shell to the centre of the top tube. Centre to top seat-tube measurements are often quoted (like in the diagram shown here), but in my opinion they aren’t as useful as centre-centre measurements because they often overestimate the size of the frame. This is especially the case with modern frames which now utilise top tubes with humongous outer diameters.

    compact-bike-frame-measurement-medium.gifUnfortunately, with the advent of compact sizing, sizing has become even more difficult. As you can probably tell, I’m not a big fan of compact geometry bikes. The main reason for their introduction by the Giant bicycle corporation was to reduce the number of frame moulds required for the construction of their new composite bikes. Increasing frame stiffness, reducing frame weight and improving fit certainly weren’t the first considerations when the idea of compact frame sizing was conceived. I’ve come to loathe them even more when people don’t know how to quote their effective top tube & seat tube lengths. [Read more →]

    2008 calender of bicycle racing events in the Canary Islands:

    2008 calender of racing events in TenerifeSorry for the lousy cartoon - it was the only semi-decent one I could find about bicycle races. Anyway, I’ve just uploaded the Canary Islands cycle racing events calender for 2008; It is written in Spanish & you can download it HERE in pdf format.

    10 Quick tips to make a “bombproof reliable” bike. Part I: Wheels & Tyres

    Nuke proof “bombshell” rear hubI thought I would share my knowledge on how to make your bike more reliable, starting with the wheels & tyres. Yes, the most obvious problem encoutered when riding is still the age old flat tyre. While flat tyres can never be completely eliminated, most punctures can be prevented by adhering to the next five guidelines:

    1. Maintaining sufficient air pressure significantly reduces the chances of pinch flats (the most common type of puncture). For a 23c tyre, you need to pump up the pressure to at least 100psi (7 bars), or more if you’re a heavy rider. Rear tyres carry more weight than front tyres, so you should preferably inflate these a little more than the front tyre
    2. Use premium-quality rim tape, which stops tubes from chafing against the spoke holes in the rim. I use cloth tape, similar to that made by Zéfal.
    3. Don’t skimp and save on your tyres! Cheap tyres are just not worth it – they’ll be cut to shreds long before the tread wears out. Really good tyres provide an enhanced level of flat protection in the form of a higher density casing & puncture resistant aramid belts. [Read more →]

    The coolest rider in the pro peleton, Mario “The Lion King” Cipollini.

    Mario Cipollini's wardrobe; from custom lycra skinsuits to designer clothes.OK, he’s finally added me to my myspace profile after a loooong delay, so here’s my tribute to Mario Cipollini! I’m not going to bore you with his long list of race performances which you can easily get elsewhere. Wikipedia cites the following:

    Mario Cipollini is an Italian professional road cyclist most noted for his sprinting ability, the longevity of his dominance (his first pro win came in 1989, his last in 2005; 191 victories in all) and his colourful personality.

    Although he was an adept sprinter, climbing was not Mario’s forté; despite entering the Tour de France 8 times and winning 12 stages, he always dropped out before the race even hit the mountains, casually slipping into the back of his team support car… no, he was never going to be a real overall contender.

    The coolest rider in the pro peleton, Mario “The Lion King” Cipollini.His competition results aside, he takes top honours for the best dressed cyclist both on and off the bike. When riding, he is well known for his outlandish lycra skin suits… my personal favourite is the zebra pattern he wore in the days when he was sponsored by Specialized. Off the bike, he has extravagant taste in designer clothing, owning literally hundreds of formal suits, ties and shoes. Yes it seems to be true: Italians must have a 6th sense when it comes to STYLE!

    Those that have met or interviewed Mario Cipollini say that he is very charming, tall (190cm) and handsome. Along with that long fringe of hair, he is reputation as both the “Lion King” and “Super Mario” are well deserved.

    Harnessing the power of the wind in the South of Tenerife.

    Wind farms in Tenerife. Wind powered turbine generators in the Canary Islands, Spain.ITER refers to the windmill farms as “Parques Eólicos” not “Molinos” as you might think. And unlike the fake, stationary molino that was built not far from my place last year, these ones actually work! There are three such wind parks located at Grandailla & Arico in the South of Tenerife, with a combined annual energy production of 36.764 MWh/year. These are enough to effectively reduce the petroleum consumption by 3170 tonnes per year, which is what would have been used to generate the same amount of energy from conventional means.

    Harnessing the power of the wind in the South of Tenerife.They may all look the same, but ITER uses aerogenerators which are supplied from several different manufacturers: Vestas, Ecotecnia, Made, and Enercon. They’re currently experimenting which ones are the most suitable (offering least noise & superior performance).

    Interestingly, Spain already generates the highest proportion of it’s energy from wind energy (compared to other countries) and the new industry is booming. [Read more →]

    Farming the suns rays in Granadilla.

    Spain is the worlds fourth largest producer of solar cells after Japan, Germany and USA and exports 80% of the solar cell modules it produces.It’s not often I post an article in both the “Inspiration” and “Island Life” categories simultaneously. But looking out the bus window earlier last month, I noticed a strange series of dark, tilted platforms located in an arid coastal region of Granadilla. They’re only visible from freeway TF1 for a few seconds. To my eyes, it appeared to be a vast series of solar-cell panels forming one giant array.

    Well after doing a bit of investigating, the project turns out to be called “SOLTEN“, constructed and operated by the Instituto Tecnológico y de Energí­as Renovables (ITER). My hunch was correct: SOLTEN is reportedly the biggest photovoltaic solar power station in Europe, so I’m really suprised I haven’t heard about it before!

    Farming the suns rays in Granadilla.The SOLTEN solar installation was initially expected to consist of 150 solar energy modules; each module was comprised of 576 photovoltaic solar cell panels distributed in 24 rows and yielding up to 100 kilowatts of electricity. The installation was expected to generate a total energy capacity of 15 Megawatts of power. Source.

    To my eyes, it appeared to be a vast series of solar-cell panels forming one giant array.Instead, SOLTEN has been conceived in two steps, SOLTEN I and SOLTEN II. The photovoltaic solar units ultilised in the SOLTEN project are fabricated by Kyocera, ITER, Yingli and Solarworld. The good news is that the energy that is generated will be connected to the local electricity grid, which is managed by Unelco-Endesa.  [Read more →]

    Free hugs campaign

    You’ve probably already seen this as it is one of the most watched videos on youtube. I really love this video! I lived in Sydney for 28 years so it is even more special for me as I recognise all the locations where it was filmed.

    20% off bike hire in June!

    “May-Day” promotional offer!

    Limited time only: 20% OFF all rental bikes throughout May & June!

    Just three simple conditions:

    1) This offer applies to deliveries around the El Puerto de la Cruz region only.

    2) To be eligable, you must quote the keywords: “vertebrae ceramic“.

    3) This offer is obviously subject to the availability of bikes in your sizes…

    Anyone for Merchandise?

    Marketing wisdom. Promotional merchandise.Here’s the section where we will present you with the latest merchandise. Many products will be available later in the year; all products will be offered at amazing prices & all with the tenerife-training logo: water bottles, carbon bidon cages, ingenious multi-tools, cycling apparal. We’ll possibly add further items for free, such as: key rings, calendars & screen-savers, etc. We already have the free stickers & T-Shirts… If you have any ideas, feel free to leave a comment here.

    Another website update.

    Useless news. Over the next hour or so, I’ll be performing some website maintenance & updating some files. I just thought you’d like to know. Expect glitches.

    Science misnomer #1: use of the term “quantum leap”.

    Science misnomer #1: use of the term “quantum leap”.The phrase “quantum leap” is most often used by people who know sod all about quantum mechanics. Usually what they mean to say is that whatever they’re talking about provides a huge step forward. If they knew anything, they would know that quantum mechanics is the study of subatomic particle interactions.

    By its own definition, a quantum leap is a miniscule jump. The classic example is a single atom; when it absorbs a certain amount of energy, an electron orbiting the nucleus instantly jumps from a low energy state to a higher energy state. An excited electron can also fall back to a lower energy state while spontaneously emitting a photon in the process. These are said to be quantum leaps as they involve discreet, discontinuous energy levels. Ironically, I first heard the phrase “quantum leap” being used by an ignorant science tv show presenter.

    In physics, a quantum leap or quantum jump is a change of an electron from one energy state to another within an atom….. In real physical systems a quantum leap is not necessarily a large change, and can in fact be very insignificant….. In the popular sense, the term is usually applied to mean a large or significant change, which is thus not strictly correct.