Thursday, 18 October 2018

Review: The Redshift Sports ShockStop stem.

Road.cc reviewed this stem recently and I remembered seeing it on Kickstarter a few months back so I knew my wallet was in for another kicking in the fairly near future. And here it is! It's basically a stem suspended at the steerer end on two cartridge bearings with the centre of the stem housing a pair of elastomers trapped inside with a wedge assembly. The net result is 10-20 mm of shock and buzz reducing travel with no loss of stiffness and a weight penalty of only around 100 grams over a normal stem. I removed the Cinelli Vai stem I had on Awesom-O and prepared to fit the new stem. The elastomers are fitted at the factory so the stem points upwards in the +6° position so this is how I decided to fit it figuring the stem would lower to a more conventional position when it activated and moved downwards. The bike looked a bit odd this way and felt too upright so I decided to swap it to the -6° position.



To do this, you remove the face plate, undo a long bolt that runs through the elastomer wedge and simply remove the elastomers and wedge assembly and refit it the other way up. The manual was very specific about not mis-threading the wedge retaining bolt and advises keeping the bolt head as low as you can and pushing down on the stem to align it optimally. I had no issues with this and the bolt screwed back in with no issues. I tightened this bolt to the recommended 1.5 ft/lbs and reassembled the bike. The faceplate and steerer clamp bolts were all done up to the recommended 5 ft/lbs and the job was a good'un. I haven't ridden it properly yet but I did do a few ups and downs of my rear drive way and I'm certainly intrigued. I'm not sure how it will reduce road buzz but it really removes the jarring you get when you go through a small dip and the bars really punch up into your wrists. I'll take it for a full ride over the weekend and finish this review.

Friday, 5 October 2018

October 2018.

3rd October: I forgot to write this ride up at the time but I remember it was fairly windy but dry and not too cold so the Strael got another autumn outing. To avoid the traffic, I didn't set out until half six so I got the first proper night ride of the year so I was running the Exposure Diablo at the front. I did have a rather unusual bird encounter on the second 'up', just as it was getting dark. I was riding along and a silent bird with a white underside came over the hedge to my right, swooped down in front of me and then flew back over the hedge and then did the same thing again. I haven't seen any on the ride before but I guess it was a barn owl. It was a fun ride and I stopped at the kebab shop on the way home for a doner but I haven't had one for ages, honest! Anyhow, 25.1 miles to start October off.

5th October: I took the day off work today so I could get out for a good afternoon ride. I particularly wanted to get out today because the BBC website said there was an 80% chance of rain and I wanted to test out some new brake blocks on Awesom-O. I did a quick lap of the fishing lake at Siding Lanne and then did two ups and downs and the road to Aughton. By the time I got to Aughton I was dying for a pee so I parked Awesom-O against a tree and walked into the small plantation of huge pine trees I pass next to the weird old house. There were some random tress but the huge pines were definitely planted in a grid pattern, I guess the wood was planted in the 60's or 70's with the promise of being the farmer's retirement pot when the trees were harvested and turned into timber. Needless to say, it didn't rain so the brake block review will have to wait for another day. Anyhow, an enjoyable enough ride and 25.2 miles.

10th October: I was rather late getting out after work this evening because I couldn't find my Wahoo computer. I looked everywhere but it had disappeared so I eventually set off on Awesom-O without it figuring I know the mileage of most of my routes anyway. I ended up doing two ups and downs of the path and the road to Aughton. I was going to have another look at the contents of the building society boxes in the outhouse but the lights were on in one room of the house which is odd because no one lives there! The weather was another oddity, I set off with my Castelli Alpha over the Stolen Goat jersey but I took the jacket off after the first 'up' because it was so warm, definitely the only time I can remember doing a night ride in summer gear! Anyhow, it was 24.5 miles and I found the Wahoo the next day, it was on my desk under a packet of SwissStop brake pads...

14th October: The Wahoo back on the bike, I decided to take Awesom-O out this afternoon because it's rained a lot recently and I still need to test the new brake blocks. It didn't actually rain but there were a few puddles about so at least the new blocks got a start bedding in with the grit on the rims. I started by doing a lap around the fishing pond and then intended to do the usual three ups and down as of the farm track. As it turned out, the horsists were out so I did one up and down of the track, two laps of the time triallers block and finished with another up and down of the track. On the 'down', I encountered the horsists again so I took the long way home going up to Bickerstaffe along Hall Lane. There were a couple of things to note about this ride; firstly, it was the first ride of the year in my Castelli longs. My bum was super comfortable which does suggest that my Lusso shorts, that have started giving me a numb bum,  are both pooched. Secondly, I kept encountering huge cloud of invisible midges that you only knew were there when you heard them pattering over the front of your jacket and going in your mouth - weird! Anyhow, It was less windy than it has been for absolutely ages so quite a fun ride overall and another 26.9 miles.

17th October: I took the day off work today because it's been fairly crummy recently and today was supposed to be OK, the leaves are finally beginning to turn on the trees so I figured it would be rather a nice day for a ride. Because there's been a bit of rain recently, I decided to take Awesom-O figuring it would be wet. As it turned out, it was actually pretty pleasant. Not too many puddles around and not too windy.



Before I left, I'd fitted Awesom-O with latex tubes so he was flying along as I did two ups and downs of the path. By that point however, I was dying for a wee and my usual handy spot was no good because there were a lot of cars and dog walkers on the track. I decided to head for the weird house at the end of the road to Aughton where I had a pee in the conifer foundation. Feeling good again, I headed for home and a ride total of 27.6 miles. Update: I noticed as I was filling in my spreadsheet that this ride took my overall total past the 13,000 mile mark AND the annual total over 2,000 miles!

20th October: With the new Shockstop stem fitted to Awesom-O, I was dying to get out for a ride today. It was overcast but very bright with hardly any wind so it promised to be a fairly decent ride (I ended up taking my jacket off after the first up and just riding in long bibs and my stolen goat top). I was going to do three ups and downs of the farm path but as I was on the first 'down', three girls on horses pulled out of the road that goes to the horse farm. I couldn't be arsed dealing with horsists so I decided to do the local 27 instead as it has some truly terrible roads that would really give the new stem a good workout. I haven't done it for ages and I remembered it came up short of 27 because I don't come in via the Ormskirk road any more so I did a reverse loop of the time triallist loop to add a bit of distance and then headed off down Sineacre Lane towards Kirkby.



I don't know why but the ride felt great and I was holding a good speed, I think the new stem helped. I'm sure the elastomers I fitted were too hard (they recommend 60/70 for my weight but I tried 60/80) but the stem was still brilliant and I'm sure you go faster with it. It isn't really noticeable in use until you realise that nothing on the road gets transmitted into your wrists and arms, I got home and my hands and arms didn't feel like I'd just been out on a ride at all. I'll change the elastomers before I next head out but I'm an absolute convert and would recommend the Shockstop to anyone! 27.6 miles at an average speed of 16.5 mph.

Monday, 3 September 2018

September 2018.

September 2nd: It was a near perfect day for cycling today, warm but not hot and not too much wind for a change. I took the Strael out to do the usual but was surprised how many other cyclists and walkers were out enjoying the end of the summer.



There also a lot of kids from the animal shelter walking the dogs on the path so I ended up doing a little bit of everything, deciding where to go as and when it popped into my head. A pretty enjoyable start to September and 25.3 miles.

September 15th: Finally! We've had a bit of rain recently and I embarked on a gardening adventure that, so far, has resulted in 19 black bags and 4 full car loads of vegetation going to the tip and 3 awesome fires so I've been neglecting my cycling a bit over the last couple of weeks. Anyhow, it was quite a nice day today, fairly warm and not to breezy, so I set off for a ride wondering what state my legs would be in. Because of all the recent rain, Awesom-O got his first trip of the autumn as I set off to do the usual. I did two full ups and downs of the farm path and then the back road to Aughton where I decided to explore the strange old house there a bit.



I've looked into the main outhouse before and there are loads of metal boxes with names of obsolete buiding societies on them so I decided to take a pic and look in one of the boxes. It turns out the boxes are full of building society paperwork and book. I found one book that was a sign-in book for directors and it started in 1936 and the last entries were in 1976, all in beautiful fountain pen handwriting! Anyhow, my legs felt pretty OK and it was much needed 26.7 miles.

September 24th: Another Finally! I've been tidying the garden a lot recently and we've had a fair bit of wind recently but Awesom-O got his second trip out of the autumn today. It was warm and sunny but with quite a fresh wind, weather I've ridden before and it's rather conducive to a nice ride so, with the Castelli Alpha over the Stolen Goat, it was quite a fun ride. I had two cool wildlife encounters as well. I was heading along on my first 'up' When I noticed a buzzard flying long beside me about 15 feet away flying 10 feet over the ground level which made it level with me because the path is elevated, very cool! Also, as I was heading in on my last 'down' I looked up and there was a large kestrel sitting on top of a telephone pole. I was looking up at him, craning my neck somewhat, as I cycled past and it looked down, straight at me, also very cool. Anyhow, a rather pleasant 26.0 miles.

September 30th: It was sunny but very windy today but it's not rained for a while so I took the Strael out for a spin. I'm really short of mileage this month but I at least wanted to reach the 100 mile mark. To that end, I did two ups and downs of the track and a lap of the time trialler's loop. As I said, it was windy so it was a combination of cycling leaning 10° over against the wind and then cycling along at top speed in a vacuum so a mixed bag overall. I did experience one slightly weird thing on this ride that I almost forgot to mention. For most of the ride I could hear the 'Tsh, tsh, tsh' of what I thought was the rotor rubbing slightly on the front brake. The disc looked true and I could see daylight on either side of it so I didn't really give it much thought. It was only after I'd got back to the village, locked my bike up outside the Co-op, done a bit of shopping and was unlocking the bike afterwards when I noticed an 18" long dried stick wedged between the seat stays and the rear wheel... Doh! I feel like I've been neglecting my riding this month but I've had a lot of distractions to contend with. I've completely cleared the jungle end of my garden (acquiring a chainsaw along the way - great fun!) and painted my house (I did the back and out buildings and a house painter did the front and side) so a pretty productive month really in other ways. Anyhow, a monthly total of 101.3 miles and I'm still 74.4 miles in credit for the year.

Thursday, 2 August 2018

August 2018.

1st August: It was very grey and overcast after work today but still fairly warm so I took the Strael out again for a spin. I had planned to take Awesom-O out for a spin when it was wet a few days ago so I did a little planned maintenance even though we ended up not going out. His rear wheel felt a tiny bit wobbly so I took the hub about to see what bearings it needed. It turned out to be a 6901 and a 6001 (the wheels are Hunt Dura, their cheap winter wheels) so I ordered SKF replacements and replaced them. Anyhow, it was largely overcast but pretty warm so I did an uneventful three ups and downs of the farm path and stopped for a rather nice kebab on the way home. 25.1 miles to kick August off. 

4th August: It was warm, sunny day today so I took the Strael out not knowing I was going to have a rather unpleasant first. I was doing three ups and downs as usual and as I was cycling along Hurst's Lane, a wasp flew into me and got stuck between my lips. I managed to blow it off before it got a full sting in but it definitely started! It didn't hurt much but the middle of my upper lip swelled up quite badly and took about four hours to go down again. Other than that it was an uneventful ride.



It was warm though and, as usual, my back was soaked with sweat when I got in. I've decided to ditch the rucksack for this reason and I'm going to switch to a minimalist pannier rack with a bag strapped to the top. This will allow me to ditch the rucksack and carry more clothes and food etc on sportives. I ordered a Tortec Ultralite from Wiggle for about twenty quid but it doesn't fit because the Strael has hooded drop-outs. I've ordered a Blackburn Local Top deck anyhow and I'll send the Tortec back. 25.9 miles.

5th August: It was was very warm and quite sunny this afternoon so I took the Strael out for a later than usual spin. I did the two ups and downs of the farm path and the quiet back road to Aughton. It was a pretty uneventful ride, no wasps this time, but I did find a really itchy bite on the back of my head when I got in - I blame the hot weather... Anyhow, another 24.7 miles.

11th August: It was my fifth sportive of the year today and it was a very long day! It was the Wiggle Steeple Chase setting off from Huntingdon race course in Cambridgeshire so I was up at 4 o'clock and on the road by half past. Three hours and 166 miles later I arrived and got parked up and signed in. The weather was absolutely perfect, sunny but not hot and we were off at half past eight. The countryside around Huntingdon is absolutely beautiful, perfect for a summer ride. I started off ganging up with various people and groups but couldn't really find anyone fast enough.



After the first food stop, one wee, one banana and two fig rolls, I cycled on my own for a while. I started eating a Veloforte bar and my legs were feeling great so a very enjoyable ride. After the second feed stop, I tagged along with four guys who sounded like they were from London and were setting a good pace. We were piling along at a steady 18-24 mph and when we got to within a couple of miles of the finish we were absolutely roaring along, I felt like were participants in a Rapha film or something, it was great fun. Anyhow, 62.9 miles at an average of 17.4 mph.

18th August: We've had a few days of wind and rain which is quite unusual for August but it was pleasant enough today so the Strael got a spin out. It was overcast but with plenty of blue sky between the clouds so it was quite a nice ride, I was very pleased to see the two massive puddles were still entirely absent. My legs felt good, probably because of the week off the bike,  so I started by doing a lap of the fishing pond at Siding's Lane and then did two full ups and downs of the farm path and the quiet lane to Aughton and back. It felt like a fast ride and it turned out I averaged 17.0 mph over 27.8 miles which was good. It was probably the last ride on the Hunt Mason wheels as well, I've ordered some Hunt 30 Carbon Aero Disc wheels so I'm a bit like a kid at Christmas at the moment...

25th August: After another few days of wind and rain I finally managed to get out on the Strael and give my new wheels a try. It rained all morning but in the afternoon it stopped and brightened up a bit so I headed out. As soon as I set off I noticed the bike felt very fast. I don't know whether it was the lighter, more aerodynamic wheels, the fact that I haven't been out for a week or purely psychosomatic but I was absolutely flying. I decided to cut along Dairy Farm road and half the OCR to test how smooth the wheels are. 



Rim braked carbon wheels can be very stiff because of the resin used to resist the hot brake tracks under sustained braking but Hunt say that because that is unnecessary the wheels are made with a more forgiving resin. It clearly works because Dairy Farm road is horrendous but the ride was fast but lovely and smooth, a great upgrade! Anyhow, I did three ups and downs of the farm track and a lap of the fishing pond on the way back. An enjoyable ride and another 27.0 miles.

31st August: I've been off all week painting my house and trimming the neighbours trees that were taking over my back yard but I finally managed to take the Strael out for a spin this afternoon. The weather was gorgeous, largely blue skies with a few clouds and warm rather than hot. I started off with a lap of the pond at Siding Lane and then did two ups and downs of the farm track and then the road to Aughton. It was pretty windy at times but an enjoyable ride overall. I Inflated both tyres a bit harder than last time, about 70 PSI at each end, and the bike felt superb, I'm really enjoying the new Hunt wheels. Anyhow, a nice round 222.0 miles to finish August off.

Saturday, 14 July 2018

A lightweight upgrade for the Strael: A Hope carbon seatpost.

I was bored at work the other day and browsing the internet, as one does, and wound up reading about how carbon seatposts can really reduce road buzz on rough roads. I can't remember how but I stumbled across a Ritchey carbon seatpost that was light and got great reviews but the price was definitely in the 'If you have to ask...' category! A bit of further browsing found the Hope carbon seatpost that was designed, tested and made in Barnoldswick. It wasn't cheap either at £120 but at least buyers could console themselves with the thought that they support British industry and have no air- or ship miles.



I was pushed over the edge buy the thought it was pretty cool that I already have the Hope headset and seatclamp and that this would match so I bit the bullet and bought one. When it arrived, I Googled for ages to find the safest way of fitting a carbon post in a steel frame. I initially fitted it with grease but then read a lot of posts saying that it would almost certainly slip down. In the end, I fitted it with Finish Line fibre grip carbon gel and torqued the clamp bolt to 8 nm. I've not ridden it yet but I'm heading out soon. I'll take the torque wrench and hex bits in case it needs adjusting...

Monday, 2 July 2018

July 2018.

1st July: It was another hot day today and my third sportive of the year, the Sigma Sports West Coast classic. before I left I covered myself in factor 50 because I knew I'd be out in the sun for at least three hours. I got there at seven and by eight o'clock I got off in the third group and we were on the road. It was a fun ride, I spent most of the first thirty five miles to Lytham with two other guys and we made great pace, mostly riding around 20-22 mph, helped by the bag of jelly babies in my rear jersey pocket. I did have a gearing issue however, because I fitted some copper-greased M5 x 10 mm bolts to blank off the unused mudguard eyelets, the chain couldn't shift down onto the smallest cog without rubbing and I was stuck with 34 x 13 which meant I was spinning out at about 22 mph. I've ordered some M5 x 8mm bolts and I'll see if they fix the issue. Getting to Lytham was very disappointing however, the deal was that as part of the entry fee you got the option of free fish and chips by the seaside but the van only arrived after we'd arrived and the portaloos hadn't even been delivered. This was very like the last BHF Manchester to Blackpool night ride with the non-existent second feed station, the organisers aren't catering for faster riders. You can't charge large entry fees for events and then only cater for slower riders but, hey-ho, first world problems.



Anyhow, I filled my water bottle with water and electrolyte and set off for Preston College. I was on my own heading out of Lytham so not riding as fast as I do when riding in company but I carried on. I soon encountered an amusing incident on the way. I came around a bend in the road and there was a late middle aged farmer and his wife holding up the traffic while two friesian cows wandered around in the road. After an amusing few minutes, the cows were safely back in the farm yard and I carried on. At around the fifteen miles to go stage I started flagging a bit and I found the last ten miles a real challenge, I felt like I couldn't get much power down. In retrospect I suspect I was staring to dehydrate. I'd drunk a total of about 1.2 litres of electrolyte drink. In future I think I should really try and double that. Anyhow, it was a good ride to kick July off with a total of 56.5 miles in 3h 13m moving time.

4th July: I got out for a ride after work today but first I started with a couple of maintenance jobs. Firstly, the bolts have arrived so I replaced the M5 x 10 mm eyelet blanking bolts with the new M5 x 8 mm ones and the chain can now shift down onto the bottom cog. I tried to fit a pair of bolts to blank off the eyelets on the fork but they only screw halfway in. I suspect there's some paint or resin in the threads so I've ordered an M5 tap from CRC and will clean the threads out and fit the bolts when it arrives. Secondly, I replaced the inner gear cable for the front derailleur and set that up so I should now have front chainring shifting on the Strael again and am no longer restricted to 22 mph! It still makes some pretty strange noises in certain gears but I can have a proper look at that before I next head out. Anyhow, another hot sunny day so I did the usual for an uneventful 25.1 miles.

7th July: I started off today with another couple of maintenance jobs. The M5 x 0.8 mm tap arrived so I cleared the threads out on the fork and the bolts fitted perfectly. Secondly, I noticed the cogs on the Miche cassette were loose so I checked the lock-ring thinking it must be loose but it was fine. I could only conclude the cassette was unfittable without the original alloy lockring so I chalked it up to experience and refitted the 11-28 Shimano one. Anyhow, another hot and sunny day so I took the Strael out for a spin. I did two ups and downs of the farm track and then spotted two really nefarious looking guys on cheap MTBs picking through the fly tipped rubbish so I did the quiet road to Aughton and back for a total of 26.8 miles. Incidentally, this was the ride that took the Strael over the 1,000 miles mark which was cool. One weird thing did happen on the way back. I felt something on my right leg and brushed it off but it hurt so I looked down and saw a spot of blood. I don't know what bit me, I suspect a horse fly, but it really hurt. It came up as a raised welt and even now, the day after, the area is still really red, hot and itchy. Anyhow, I'll pick some insect repellent up soon!

11th July: Well, the weather's finally cooled down a bit. It was still pretty warm but there was coolish breeze and it was overcast so I didn't get roasted by the sun. I took the Strael out to do the usual and, although it was pretty windy, it actually turned out to be an enjoyable ride. It was hard work to begin with but my legs eventually kicked in and soon felt as good as they have done for ages. I was planning to stop for a kebab on the way home but then I thought no, I'll stop at the chippy and get fried rice and curry sauce because it would be slightly healthier. As I reached the centre of the village however, I discovered the chippy was closed for a couple of days for some reason so I ended up getting a chicken Caesar wrap from the Co-op which I guess was even healthier! Anyhow, an enjoyable ride and another 25.1 miles on the clock.

14th July: It was a nice hot day today, around 25 °C with a few clouds, so I took the Strael with it's new carbon seatpost out for a spin. I noticed the seat was a bit high initially so I stopped in Sidings Lane and lowered it around 3/16" (torquing it to 7 nm this time) and did a lap of the fishing pond. I think I might have had the seat a bit too far back up until now; the bike now feels slightly more upright and less stretched out and absolutely perfect, I won't be touching it again! Anyhow, I carried on and did the two ups and downs and the Aughton road and I felt fantastic. The only thing I can think of is that I ate a NINE salted caramel seed bar before I left because I felt great the last time I rode after eating one. I don't particularly like this flavour so I think I'll check out some of the others to see if they have the same effect. Anyhow, since being bitten by the horsefly recently I bought some Jungle Formula No. 4 and have started using it so hopefully I won't get bitten again. Another 25.4 miles.

20th July: It rained all day today but I was determined to get out for a ride before Sunday's sportive so I used the rain as an excuse to take Awesom-O out for an unscheduled spin. I did the usual and remembered why Awesom-O is so much fun, he's heavy but he's like an old Bentley when you get him up to speed, smooth and fast.


Veloforte nutrition bars.

I keep seeing adverts for Veloforte bars on Instagram recently so, with a sportive on the way, I decided to order some to test. I ordered three Classico and three Di Bosco flavour ones and I'll take one of each with me to try on Sunday's long ride. Anyway, there wasn't much wind for a change today so a very enjoyable ride and another 25.1 miles.

22nd July: It was a day of rather unseasonal weather today and the day of my fourth sportive of the year, the Evans Ride It Cheshire 100. It was dry when I arrived at Arley hall but soon started drizzling (and continued to do so until around the 37 mile mark). Anyhow, I got off in the second pack and we were on the road. As usual, I ended up as part of a mini peloton and then cycling with another rider and we were at the first feed station at 25 miles in no time. I had a couple of slices of cake, a banana and about a third of a Veloforte Classico bar and headed out. We got to the second feed station at 41 miles, just as the weather was getting noticably warmer and sunnier, where I had a couple of handfuls of jelly beans and a banana and set off, solo this time. I noticed I was tiring with about a dozen miles to go when I remembered the Veloforte bar in my jersey pocket. I ate it and within two or three minutes my legs felt brand new and I cruised the last dozen or so miles to the finish. I've only tried the Classico bar so far but I can't recommend them enough. Hand-made, full of natural ingredients, packed with calories and no rubbish and they taste amazing.



It's quite a firm texture and needs some chewing but the overall effect was like eating a really firm Christmas cake full of very crunchy nuts. At the finish we got the usual medal, a gift bag containing a High 5 water bottle, a Specialized inner tube, an Evans brand multi-tool and a voucher for a fantastic freshly barbecued burger with fresh salad. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention, there was another cow related incident on the ride! I was cycling along in a pack of about ten cyclists when we were blocked by two farmers getting about eighty Friesian cows across the road. The farmers were very good natured and chatted with the lads at the front and one of the cows took a real interest in us cyclists. It stood by the gate just staring at us in an interested sort of way before going through the gate with it's mates. I thought at one point that it was going to wander over for a look at our bikes! A decent average of 17.1 mph and 62.5 miles.

25th July: I got another maintenance job out the way before today's ride and I'm rather glad I did. Because I'd lost most of my existing brake bleed kit, I'd ordered a new one from Amazon. When it turned up, I decided to give the brakes on the Strael a quick reverse bleed. This isn't a method I've read about anywhere else but was invaluable when installing the brakes initially. Basically, you attach the fluid pot to the lever and fill it with fresh brake fluid. You then attach a short length of tubing to a syringe and attach it to the bleed nipple on the caliper. You then put your thumb on the syringe body and use two fingers to pull the plunger out causing quite a strong vacuum in the syringe. I did that and then cracked the bleeder nipple and was quite satisfied to see a small but distinct stream of microscopic air bubble come out with the oil on both calipers. Anyhow, I took him out after work today for a post-bleed test ride. It was pretty warm, around 24-25 °C by my reckoning, so I did two ups and downs of the path and the quiet road to Aughton and back. The brakes were excellent, better than when I installed them, really good lever feel and tons of power so I was very pleased with that and it was another 25.3 miles on the clock.

Well, due to a few days of rain, trying to get the outside of my house painted and sheer laziness, I didn't manage to get out again this month but finished with a pretty respectable 271.8 miles. I've got a rather nice upgrade for the Strael on the way and I'm entering a sportive in Cambridgeshire a week on Sunday so here's hoping for a decent August.

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Review: Kuwahara Hirame pump head.

A few months ago I bought a Blackburn Piston 3 track pump because it has a huge dial which I really liked. When it turned up, the big dial was brilliant but the head that you attach to the valve was really awful. Whilst I was chilling with a glass of wine one evening, I happened upon an article on the Velominati website extolling the virtues of the Hirame pump head. As I'd had a few, I bit the bullet and ordered one from Track Supermarket in Osaka in Japan. It was just over £60 delivered but not being entirely sober helped (this is a recommended strategy in the Velominati article!). Anyhow, it finally arrived after paying a customs demand for another £22 (Grrr..).



I sliced the head off the Blackburn and pushed the spigot of the Hirame head into the tube where it was a nice, tight fit and tried it out. When you first use it, you tighten or loosen the collar so that when the lever is closed, it clamps onto the valve with just the right force. I did that and let some air out of a tire and tried it out. verdict? Absolutely superb! Valve cap off, unscrew core doodad, drop head onto valve, close lever, pump up tyre, open lever and lift off the head and the job's a goodun'. No drama, no fiddling, no fuss. Yes, £80 is a lot of money for a pump head but that's only the cost of a couple of tyres and this thing should last a lifetime.