New online bike rental availability calendar!

New online bike rental availability calendar!My sister has been hassling me halfway across the planet for the better half of 2008 to include a calendar on the main website showing current bookings for the rental bike fleet. I’m pleased to announce to the world that I’ve now incorporated one into the same page as the online bike reservation system.

It’s taken a while to set up and it does mean a bit of extra work for me. Hopefully it will encourage people to reserve a bike; at the very least it should make them book them early if they can see that their frame sizes might not be available!

Tenerife weather alert.

Tenerife weather alert. Tenerife weather risk. Tenerife tropical storm predicted.Tenerife is currently in a heightened state of weather alert with the official title “important risk”. (there are four increasing levels: “without risk”, “risk” “important risk” and “extreme risk”). Firstly, rain is predicted at 30 – 60mm per hour depending on the zone in Tenerife. Secondly, wind gusts up to 90km/hr. Thirdly, storms are predicted.

Locals will tell you that the weather is “ugy” and the South of Tenerife has been very windy in the last few days indicating that a tropical storm is due. This is more of a prelude to a real danger although bike riding is not advised at this time as you could get stuck out there in some really nasty weather.

Cycling Hypocrasy in Spain.

Cyclists ask for a metre of space, but don’t give it to cars?!This morning I was driving in the South and saw two cyclists riding in single file between Las Americas and Los Gigantes on a single lane road. As you all know I am an avid cyclist, but these pair were really starting to annoy me. Why? Basically they weren’t riding very fast and refused to move over to let cars safely overtake them. [Read more →]

Why do bikes cost more to rent than cars?

You get what you pay for.Every now and then, I hear someone comparing the price of hiring a good quality bike to renting a car. Or else they tell me directly to my face that my bikes are too expensive to rent (and those ones are always non-cyclists by the way). I’ve heard it several times in the last two or three years, so I thought I’d offer a little explanation. The reason bikes usually cost more than rental cars is because: [Read more →]

Vertebrae ceramic housing review.

Vertebrae ceramic gear housing review. Vertebrae ceramic brake lines review.Imagine cable-operated dual-pivot calipers or v-brakes with the modulation & power of hydraulic discs. Imagine the most reliable gear housing on the planet outlasting everything else attached to your bike, including the frame. Have I got your attention? Good. Then read on… [Read more →]

Mavic aksium review.

Mavic aksium wheelset review. Mavic rim profile cross section.I spec these on my largest 3 rental bikes and after a full year, I have not seen one single spoke failure on any of them. Know that some of these people measure 2.00m plus. They go out training all over Tenerife for up to two weeks. I’d estimate they climb 10,000 cumulative metres or more and descend around the same amount. The last thing cyclists want to do is true wheels while they’re on vacation. So I get the bike back, check these wheels, and find that they still run almost perfectly straight! Other wheelsets would surely need re-tensioning after this kind of abuse. Mavic aksiums barely even need a few 1/4 turns of the spoke wrench on a couple of spoke nipples. Incredible.

I attribute their strength to numerous factors: [Read more →]

Decathlon Clever 9000 track pump review.

Decathlon Clever 9000 track pump review.For the last two years I’ve been using a clever 9000 pump made by Decathlon. I use it more than once every day (I routinely inflate road bike tires to 7 or 8 bars). In all that time, I haven’t changed the seals once and it keeps on working flawlessly. The only maintenance needed is a little lubrication on the pump shaft.

One of the best features of this pump is that it uses a glass-fibre reinforced plastic pump hose. Result? More air goes into the tyre with each stroke compared to a normal floor pump. This is most evident at high pressures around 100psi or more. Think of it this way: a bicycle inner tube is restrained by the tyre (with its densely woven carcass); however, a simple rubber hose is free to expand with additional pressure increase.

Okay, so what exactly is so “clever” about it? [Read more →]

The main site goes down. Damage report.

The main site goes down. Damage report. Advantages and disadvantages of self-employment.So I woke up today to find that the website didn’t seem to be working properly. Here’s the full damage report:

The main website is missing all the contact information + navigation bar, my two subsites www.BikeNode.com and www.ProBikeHire.com are completely offline, the last two days work has disappeared completely from existence and the web hit counter on the homepage doesn’t appear to be counting anymore.

Suprisingly, both the forum & blog (which are normally very susceptible to these kinds of changes) are working perfectly.

I eventually found out that this is due to the host provider changing servers. An analogy? Well, this is like waking up and finding that your landlord has moved all your stuff while you were sleeping -with no prior warning!

I just wanted to say that I’m already tackling the problem but at the moment it’s beyond my control. At least I’ve updated the homepage with the nav bar.

Cycling clubs in the Canary Islands.

Watch out for bikes when opening your car doors!Over the last two or three years, I have compiled a list of cycling clubs in the Canary Islands. I had previously linked to all of them through this blog, but it was becoming un-manageable because there are now a total of 35 links to all of the clubs’ websites. I don’t imagine many Spanish people read this cycling blog, so I have moved the list of local cycling clubs to my spanish cycling forum, here, because I think it’s a more convenient location for these links.

Kukuxumusu micro-exhibition

Kukuxumusu humurous cartoon drawings.Kukuxumusu is one of my favourite Spanish designers, founded by Mikel Urmeneta their zany creative director. The name “kukuxumusu” meaning “flea’s kiss” in the Basque language. His cartoon designs are incredibly bold, colourful and original and are not that well known outside of Spain.

Kukuxumusu prints almost always feature a stylised animal with themes most often about Spanish culture; raising humanitarian & ecological awareness with simple messages; mountain expeditions; humorous cartoons displaying the animal’s own unique perspective; animals interacting with one another; sex and drugs; violence is never represented in the images. There are even a few references to Mt Teide and the Canary Islands.

By far the most prominent character is the iconic blue cow; sheep also appear regularly as well as other easily identifiable animals such as: bulls, primates, monkeys, donkeys, camels, polar bears, penguins, whales, birds, amphibians, lizards, chameleons, mosquitos, grasshoppers and other insects, etc. Love hearts and fried eggs are also common.

I guess they are similar in approach to Mambo graphics in Australia but these are a lot cuter and a little more subtle. You can support them by buying any of their clothes and accessories online at www.kukuxumusu.com. There’s also a shop selling some Kukuxumusu stuff here in La Orotava if you happen to be in the area. Alternatively, you can even contract them to make a custom design for your business or charity organisation!

I hope you enjoy the following slideshow gallery images:

Pinarello F3:13 review

Pinarello F3:13 review (F4:13, FP3, FP5, FP6)Intro:
I’ll be totally honest and say that I buy most cycling components based on their looks. Mainly because I just don’t see the point in buying something that is ugly. But I also believe that a truly great design will be reflected in the overall shape and style of an object. Over the years, I’ve learned to appreciate products which are designed & manufactured with this principle in mind. If something looks good and works well I can practically guarantee you that I’ll keep it and use it to its full potential for a very long time indeed. My aim is to take care of my possessions as well as I can and then hope they last me a lifetime.

This frameset was no exception. I fell in love with Pinarello from the moment I laid eyes on the Dogma way back in early 2000. But I’ve since been reminded that you can’t judge a book by its cover…

Pinarello F3:13 frame and fork review.Ride Impressions:
Everyone has commented how it’s such a beautiful bike, but beneath all those sexy curves, it seems to behave differently than its looks would have you believe. On the bike, it feels very raw. Power delivery is instantaneous which is always a good characteristic when climbing. But likewise, the transference of shocks from the road directly into your body seems almost as quick. Coming half way back down Mt Teide on one of the first rides, a 14km descent, it felt like my kidneys were going to shake loose!

I came back from a shorter 20km ride today. Like all the roads in Tenerife, half are up and half are down. Going up was fun. When you want to put the power down it seems like there is no energy loss. The frame is just that rigid. The return journey coming back down was not so great. The tyres were at 90-95 psi and yet my arse was going numb after a quick 5km descent from all the vibrations!

On this bike, I feel all the bumps in the road pulsating straight through my shoulders. I’ll probably have to lower the tyre pressure a tiny little bit more, but that was something I never had to worry about on the other bike. Most of the structural components (wheels, bar, cranks) were essentially transferred straight over from my Mrazek road bike, a good way of eliminating them from the equation.

There are two words which are located just above the Italian flag, located on the seat tube “adrenalina italiana”. I think that sums up the handling nicely.

Pinarello onda review. Onda means “wave” in Italian.Onda Seat Stays & Fork:
Nothing seems to polarise cyclists more than those wavy Pinarello onda seat stays & fork blades. You either love them or you hate them. I think they’re very sexy, but some people say they look like the bike has partially melted in the sun! One thing is clear after riding the bike. I’m not convinced the Onda seat stays damp vibrations more effectively than straight seat stays. When you think about it, if the chain stays are oversized, how can the seat stays move to any great extent? The curvy fork blades may have slightly more merit, because given the same diameter, a metal spring is definitely more flexible than an equivalent straight wire. Even so, I didn’t notice the fork tips moving while riding along.

Pinarello F3:13 review (F4:13, FP3, FP5, FP6)Quality of Construction & Overall Finish:
Really, I can’t find fault in this department. The paint job is immaculate. The masking & spraying has all been done by hand as you can see on this Pinarello factory tour video. The head tube badge & all the Pinarello decals are squarely applied. Fittings such as cable stops and bottle cage mounts look good and are secure. The gap between fork crown and head tube is minimal. The headset’s top cap fits the headtube diameter perfectly also.

Pinarello F3:13, F4:13, FP3, FP5, FP6 ride reviewFrame Geometry:
As you are probably aware, each frame manufacturer has differenct characteristics, including sizing. Pinarellos are no exception – from what I’ve been able to determine, they tend to have relatively long top tubes and short head tubes for any given seatpost length. What this means is that they are built for racing and/or suit riders with longer-than-average torsos.

I found it hard to get my position right on this frame and it turns out I have longer-than-average legs. I’m best suited to a frame with a tall seat-tube to accommodate my long legs and a relatively short top tube for my shorter-than-average torso.

Normally I choose my frame size based on the seat tube length. This time, I decided to base my choice on the top tube length (as is commonly advised, because it’s the more important measurement). The theory is that it is much easier to change the height of the seatpost than it is to alter the horizontal reach to the handlebar (doing this also affects the steeering geometry negatively). What this approach fails to take into account is the head tube length. I.e. the final height of the handlebar position. Had I known this earlier, I might not have bought this bike.

On most road racing bikes, you can’t add more than 30mm of spacers without looking like a tw@t. So you also need to compare head tube lengths between bikes. I completely neglected this when buying the Pinarello. It turns out they have short head tubes.

Frame Sizing:
I measure 180cm, hence I opted for the 55cm, with its 56cm top tube. I felt that the next size up (57cm) would have been too big since it has a 57.5cm top tube length. I’ve ridden other bikes with 57 and 58cm top tubes and they always feel too long for me. I end up too far forward, hunched over with a sore back.

The reach on the size 55 (the distance to the handlebars) feels good using a 90 or 100mm stem, another indication that a 57cm is too big for me. The only problem now is that the head tube is shorter than I’d like and the handlebar drops end up too low down for me to be comfortable using them on the extended descents here in Tenerife. Solution? I’ve recently ordered an FSA wing pro handlebar with a compact reach and shallow-drop. Hopefully that will allow me to install a 110mm stem, flipped if necessary, and still achieve the right reach & drop that I’m accustomed to. If not, I’ll reluctantly have to consider selling this frameset and chalk it down to experience. Ultimately I’m “trying to get a non-racing fit on a very race-y frame”.

Oversize Bottom Bracket (BB):
The bottom bracket on the Pinarello F3:13 is humongous. I remember when steel down tubes used to be half the width of a 68mm BB shell. On this frame, the oversized carbon down tube takes up the full 70mm width of the BB shell. The down tube has a triangular cross section, so the junction into the seat tube is absolutely massive. Another oddity: this frame uses Italian BB threads. They are tapped with 36 mm x 24 tpi threads instead of the standard 1.37″ x 24 tpi English threads. Be careful because they also use normal right-hand thread on both drive side and non-drive side cups.

31.0mm Seatpost Diameter:
The F3:13 frame has a rather unusual 31.0 seatpost size. Before you commit to buying this frame, know that seatposts with a 31.0mm diameter are almost impossible to find. Apart from the original M.O.S.T brand, other manufacturers that make 31.0 mm seatposts are Selcof, BBB and possibly WR composites (please post a comment below if you encounter others). Another option is to install a seatpost shim which will reduce the diameter to something more conventional like 27.2mm.

Note that I have fitted this bike with a 30.9 seatpost, are a far more common size, but so far I’ve had to use a thin piece of paper to shim the tiny gap. A piece of aluminium foil from the kitchen had the ideal thickness, but proved to be too delicate.

Volcanic hazard zones in Tenerife

Volcanic hazard map. Danger zones in Tenerife, Canary Islands.I recently found this while surfing the web for a good map of Tenerife. The map legend explains all the specific danger zones in tenerife, a volcanic island here in the Atlantic ocean.

Formula 220mm disc rotor review.

Formula 220mm disc rotor review. 9″ disc brake rotor.I recently bought a front Formula 220mm disc rotor for downhill only use. Coupled with the Avid Code 5 hydraulic disc brake lever & caliper, stopping is very powerful, consistent and progressive. Braking action is not at all grabby as you might expect. At no time during a continuous 2000m descent I felt that the brakes were either too powerful or too weak.

In my experience, this rotor with its central alloy carrier also copes with extreme heat better than an all-steel rotor. After bedding in the disc & pads, I went down my standard steep street run and there was no sign of warpage due to heat buildup (the route drops 400 metres in 1.8km for an average 22.2% gradient). Steel rotors on the other hand tend to accumulate heat in the outer perimeter while the central splines remain relatively cool; the differential rates of expansion sometimes leads to severe warping. When it does occur, this happens immediately – rotors have all the lateral stiffness of a spinning pancake. [Read more →]

Road rental bikes still available for christmas 2008!

Road rental bikes still available for christmas!Just a quick news flash that road rental bikes are still available around this christmas period! Normally they’d be fully booked out by now, but if you get in quick you can still easily make that winter cycle training vacation in Tenerife a reality. You can book here.

Dakine cross-X review

Dakine cross-X gloves review.From the moment I saw these gloves, I had to have them. They feature a durable, double-stitched synthetic suede palm, breathable nylon mesh backpanel, neoprene wristcuff and knuckle panel, terrycloth thumb panels, silicon gripper fingertips and lycra finger panels. They also have a rubberised Dakine backpanel with the Dakine logo, which looks cool but only adds to the price.

Turn these gloves inside out and only then you realise that they’re extremely well made. Stitching is accurate and precise everywhere you look. What does that mean? Well, the stitches themselves look perfect and Dakine accurately controls their position w.r.t to all the different panels which are sewn together. They leave an adequate, equi-distant hem in all places to allow for some fraying of the material. In plain English? This means that they’re fare less likely to fall apart with prolonged use. Look at another cheaper pair of gloves and you’ll probably see the stitches all over the place. [Read more →]

Selle Italia X2 Trans Am Kevlar saddle review

Selle Italia Official Company LogoSaddle choice is a very personal thing indeed. Regardless, I’ve tried dozens of saddles over the years, so I thought I’d share a brief recommendation with readers. You need to sit on as many different ones as possible to figure out what works best for your body size & shape. Often you can’t get a good impression about saddle comfort until you go for a proper test ride for a few hours, so trying them out before you buy is never easy. Hence it may take years to find the right saddle… for some it’s a life-long search.

Selle Italia X2 Trans Am Kevlar Saddle Seat ReviewEnter Selle Italia. Selle Italia is one of those design-oriented companies that never stagnates. Each and every year, they revitalise their entire product line. One of their budget models -the Selle Italia X2 Trans Am Kevlar saddle- is probably the best value for money saddle on the market which (for me) is also comfortable. With its black cover and matching black-finished rails, the Selle Italia X2 is one of the better-looking budget saddles. It features a cut out centre and sufficient padding. Most importantly, they got the shape right with this one. At 290 grams, the seat is neither lightweight nor overly porky. [Read more →]

Lance Armstrong & Alberto Contador will train together in Tenerife! Team Astana in Tenerife this November!

Lance Armstrong & Alberto Contador ride together in the Astana training camp in Tenerife.Alberto Contador, winner of this season’s Giro de Italia and Vuelta a España confirmed his continuation with team Astana next season alongside his American team mate Lance Armstrong. Contador assured that the Astana team will prepare in Tenerife at the end of November 2008.

“I’ve been analysing the diferent situations and thinking about alternatives since half way through the Vuelta and after meeting with my director, Johan Bruyneel, and having spoken of the last few months, we have resolved whatever type of tension between us”, said Contador.

Astana Team Logo. Armstrong to train alongside Contador in Tenerife in preparation for the 2009 cycling season.“We have already spoken about what my schedule will be in the next season and consequently, I can affirm that I will be in team Astana next year”, added the spanish rider. “I have taken the decision to keep going because I think that it’s more certain, since I can count on a great group of trusting men around me who have done their best with me in each race and that should permit me to keep fighting for victory with the best guarantee”, explained Contador.

Team Astana training in Tenerife. (AP Photo/Arturo Rodriguez)The arrival of Armstrong has been the main cause of friction. “I think that everything is going to perform much better than what it appeared to in the beginning. If each one of have our own agenda there won’t be any type of problem or inconvenience. For me it’s a pleasure to coincide within the same team as a great racer who I’ve always admired”, he said. “It’s also true that I am ambitious and when he established that he wanted to win his 8th tour, I thought that co-existence would be complicated, but I think that with a good team management there won’t be problems in France. For the rest of the year, it doesn’t inconvenience me”, he continued.

Lance Armstrong trains in Tenerife, December 1st. AP Photo/Arturo RodriguezAlberto Contador is still finalysing his race calendar for the next season. What seems decided is that he will race the Tour in the biggest three weejs. “My idea is to race only in the Tour at 100%, because this year it’s hard for me to recover from the strength of the Giro and the Vuelta”, he assured. Contador still hasn’t spoken directly with Armstrong. “We have a training camp in Tenerife at the end of November and there we will speak with our directors to avoid any type of arguments, because perhaps there has been an excessive expectation with all this, even though it is understandable”, he said. [Read more →]