Monday, October 29, 2007

Bike Snob NYC

Announcing the latest addition to my blog roll: Bike Snob NYC. His scathing humor leaves me breathless... in stitches :-D

A sampling:

Infrequently Asked Questions

Why are the woods squeaking?

No, you’re not about to be attacked by spider monkeys. If you’ve noticed recently that your local sylvan refuge sounds like the boxspring of your overly amorous neighbor, this is probably due to the fact that it is full of mountain bikers on dual suspension bikes who don’t maintain them properly. While these contraptions are admittedly complex, it would be nice if these riders would occasionally lubricate their pivots. Or failing that, they should take a cue from your overly amorous neighbor and discover the joys of riding rigid.

I think I need a new bottom bracket. How do I know which type I need?

If you’re not sure what kind of bottom bracket your bike has, use the Samuel L. Jackson method of BB identification. If at the time you bought your bike Sam Jackson was an extremely talented character actor who appeared in films like “Goodfellas,” “Jurassic Park,” and “Patriot Games,” then you have a square taper bottom bracket. If Jackson had already done “Pulp Fiction” and was now getting top billing in films like “Jackie Brown,” “Unbreakable,” and the new “Star Wars” movies, then you probably have Octalink. If your crank is neither Shimano or Campy, Jackson was starting to do movies like “Changing Lanes,” and you were starting to ask yourself, “Is Sam even reading scripts anymore?,” then you’ve probably got ISIS. Finally, if Jackson had completed his transformation to camp-mongering schlockster specializing in B movies with serpentine references like “Black Snake Moan” and “Snakes on a Plane” then you’ve most likely got an outboard bottom bracket system.

If you’ve got a Campy crank, it’s a square taper. Unless your crank is ugly. Then it’s one of those Hirth joint things.

Carbon Fiber Bottle Cage Review

A surprising number of people pay little attention to their choice of bottle cage. But the fact is, most cages are too loose or too tight. For example, how often have you ridden over a rough patch of pavement, only to have your bottles eject themselves from your cages like pilots from a crashing fighter jet? And who hasn’t reached for a bottle only to have to pull and twist to free it, like trying to wrest a rawhide bone from a Rottweiler’s jaws? I know I’ve crashed innumerable times because I came into a turn at speed while pulling at the bottle on my seat tube with both hands.

Enter the Elite Custom Carbon bottle cage. At only $124.99, this cage is engineered with astounding precision, and boasts the kind of manufacturing tolerances that make a Swiss watch seem like a Play-Doh sundial sculpted by a two year-old with his feet. I was lucky enough to test this supermax of cages. So if beverage retention is as important to you as it is to me, you’ll want to keep reading. says of this cage that “Elite puts equal priority on style and bottle security, and you get both in spades here. In a marketplace of Taiwanese knock-offs, the Custom Carbon is the only cage we know of that visually stands apart.” All of this was immediately apparent to me upon receiving the cage, as aesthetically it is simply stunning. The clear coat is so shiny that it looks wet, and it took a thorough examination with my tongue to confirm that the cage was indeed dry. And underneath it was the nicest weave I’ve seen since I got a close look at Johan Museeuw’s head. This is not just a bottle cage, I thought to myself. This is an engineering masterpiece.

Of course, like most carbon fiber products these days, the Elite Custom Carbon has very specific torque specs and must be installed with care. I recommend that you leave installation to a professional, which is what I did, since the recommended bolt torque of .0000297 newton-meters is roughly equivalent to a fly alighting on a pudding skin and is not attainable without laser-calibrated instruments. (I took mine to a neurosurgeon at Columbia Presbyterian.) Because I wanted to compare the Elite to my current metal bottle cage (and because the doctor charged me $17,000 for his labor), I installed only one on the downtube and left my old cage on the seattube. As beautiful as the Elite was, I couldn’t help but be skeptical as to whether it was really worth the money, so I figured a good old-fashioned bottle cage duel was the only way to know for sure.

Well, any doubts I had about the Elite were allayed as soon as I slid my bottle out for the first time. If you’ve ever removed a sterling silver Tiffany letter opener from a velvet pouch, withdrawn a handmade sword from its jeweled scabbard, or taken a bottle of Chateaux Margaux from its rack in a musty wine cellar in Provence, you can begin to appreciate what it’s like to pull a plastic bidon from an Elite Custom Carbon cage and take a swig of cleverly-marketed sugar water. And putting the bottle back in was no less sublime. It’s probably not necessary for me to make any obvious comparisons to putting something hard in something soft, but let’s just say that with the Elite it was impossible not to think about it, and as I rode my carbon fiber frame was not the only thing that was stiff yet compliant.

Well, after just one drink I was sold. Nonetheless, in the interest of objectivity I took a drink from my old cage on the seattube. Before the Elite I had never noticed how poorly my old cage functioned, but now grabbing that bottle felt like uprooting a carrot, and putting it back felt like trying to force-feed medication to a housecat. So if you think a bottle cage is just a bottle cage, think again.

The Bottom Line:

Buy it if: You want to feel like King Arthur pulling Excalibur from the rock.
Don’t buy it if: You want to feel like all those other losers tugging vainly on the handle.

Lots more at his site.


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