The Village Velodrome Appreciation Society

A blog about jitensha and jogging

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Some old junk

I decided to clear out my iPhotos folders. So here's some pics of bikes and stuff that I've taken over the past year.

Traditional things go better with Coke?

A lonely Novatec hub at a trade show

Kind of made me want to go "Hooray!"

KO5's fully engraved bike

Yes, even if you're rich or a foreigner the law applies to you. Amazing.

A carbon Colnago, Pro TT bars and, this being Japan, a bell.

Why do electric bikes always look so worn out?

A few beers + nighttime shot = fuzzy

Beautiful Level frame in the shop

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

First test ride on the Brooks

After giving up trying to put my Brooks on my fixie (the seat post is jammed) I took the saddle for a test ride on my Giant instead.
I did about 90 minutes on it. Early on, the saddle felt slippery, but I put that down to a bit of leather protector that hadn't been rubbed in.
After a while the seat became more grippy - however, it still felt more slippery than my regular saddles (a Selle Italia SLR XP and a carbon-railed Selle Italia SLR Flow).
At speed I couldn't get comfortable - the seat rises from the nose, then dips just before the tail - this means moving forward on the saddle is difficult, and when you ride "on the rivet" the experience is not good - way too firm.
People always say Brooks saddles break in over time and after a few rides they're the comfiest saddle you'll ever experience - but after one ride I can't say I enjoyed the experience much.

Another problem I encountered was with the lacing. My road racing frame is set up so that I need to put my saddle quite a way back on the rails. The lacing on the Brooks prevented me doing this, so I relaced it (see photos below). However, this means there is no lacing directly the area of the saddle I sit on, which resulted in my thighs brushing the sides of the saddle, and even rubbing on the lower edges of the side of the saddle. I will try relacing the saddle nearer the nose to see if this fixes the problem.

My final gripe is a very unfair one. The saddle looks daft on my bike. Like a riding saddle on a race horse. When I asked to test the B17 "Narrow" I imagined something pared-down and svelte. Bicycle saddle fashions have moved on, but Brooks has stuck to its guns. Good for some people, but I can't imagine ever pairing this saddle with a modern bicycle.

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Saturday, April 26, 2008


I've got a hamstring and achilles strain in my left leg. It's frustrating - I've taken four days off to make sure I don't make things worse, but I still have some tightness.

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Monday, April 21, 2008

My Brooks saddle

A few weeks back I was chosen by Brooks to be a saddle tester - the reward being I get to keep the saddle I test.

I opted to test the Brooks B17 Imperial Narrow. I have been sent a prototype, so when this saddle is finally made available it might look a little different.

My first impressions are it's beautiful, well-made (although the badge is not quite straight), and heavy! I'm a bit of a weight weenie, so it came as shock to see this saddle weighs 525 grams - half a kilo! Still, this saddle is about comfort and style, not racing.

The cut-out area is supposed to relieve pressure on one's sensitive bits

525 grams - a half a kilogram of cow and steel.

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Running update

I haven't hit my planned weekly mileage yet - life has got in the way a few times. But my mileage is still up on five weeks ago. Felt a twinge in my left achilles this morning. I think it will be OK

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Nagano Marathon

Australian runner Kate Smyth ran the Nagano Marathon today looking for a time of 2.32 to qualify for the Beijing Games, so she'll be pleased with her well-earned 2nd place and her time of 2:28:51.

Mens winner Nephat Kinyaniui of Kenya ran 2:14:17, well down on his PB 2:08:09 he ran in Beijing last year.

Many Namban Rengo ( runners would have been cheering Eric Wainaina. The Tokyo-based dual Olympic medalist finished 13th in 2:18:18.

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Level frames now at Tokyo Hands!

Mr Shiko Matsuda is the president of the Keirin Framebuilder's Association. His father began building frames in 1951, and Matsuda began in 1975, getting accreditation from 日本自転車振興会 (Nihon Jitensha Shinkōkai or the Japan Bicycle Promotion Association) in 1980.

Someone very clued up at Tokyo Hands (not a bike shop - it's termed a "Lifestyle Store" and stocks hobby and household goods) has decided to stock Matsuda's "Level" frames. They're not cheap at ¥168,000, but the quality is unbeatable.

In addition to the frames you can build up a fixed gear bike from scratch at Tokyu Hands. They sell Australian "Velocity" rims...

...and hubs, cranks, bars, stems and seatposts

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

The most pointless frame ever designed?

Out of the factory of Chinese firm XDS based in Shenzhen comes the worst idea ever conceived since the invention of the bicycle.

Take expensive carbonfibre, a mold and a team of trained professionals - and make a shopping bike! Not only is it prohibitively expensive, it's also prone to cracking, chipping and splitting when parked in bicycle parks with other shopping bikes. I wonder how many of these XDS will sell.

However, in fairness to XDS, I met one of their reps last year and he showed me their carbon rims - they looked very well made. Also, the XDS track frame is affordable, light and, again, looks well constructed. This firm makes frames for European pros, so they've been approved by the guys who know their stuff.


Monday, April 14, 2008

Rim Art

There's going to be an exhibition of bicycle rim art on in a few days...could be good

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Fixed gear bikes in Shibuya, Harajuku and Shinjuku

Took a friend from London around Shibuya and Shinjuku last night. The guys from Dept were hanging around outside the shop, they were nice enough to 'pose' for a photo...

They've got some nice rides

Yes, that's a 3 Rensho third from front

Depite the aerospoke, this Panasonic caught my eye

Interesting brake set up

When night fell it was time to check out the view from the top of Tocho - the mayoral building

I was interested to see the toys on sale to children in the ultranationalist mayor's building - it didn't suprise me to find Japanese "self-defense" armored vehicles.

I've pictured this one before - a green Kalavinka, found on Omotesando

Pretty nice bikes - the yellow Panasonic behind is a winner

I've never seen this brand before "Progressive" - looks a bit cheap and nasty

This GT had some great parts - Suntour Superbe Pro cranks, Dura-Ace hubs, but it also had an awful double-clamp headstem.

There are a lot of people in the process of building all-white bikes who would kill for this Dia-Compe Ole caliper.

A very nice, simple Panasonic. Its owner was a beefy guy in his mid-40s. Looked like an ex-keirin racer.

I thought this all-white bike was well done. Needs to swap the seat for something smaller, and get some white tyres.

The frame is possibly a Peloton. I really don't know. The lugs are fillet brazed, the rear stays are shot-in, the paintwork is perfect - the whole frame is very clean.

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