Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

I am getting close to having all the parts to build the new bike. The frame will take how long the frame takes. Having quite a few parts hanging around, it has taken relatively little effort to get the rest - particularly because it will be fixed or singlespeed and rigid.

Despite having parts i like ready to be used, things do change. When they do, it can make for an uncomfortable transition period when i reach for a different bike. Take my recent change to ESI grips. These boring looking tubes of silicon are 'offset bored'. They have more material on one side than the other. Thus they are both narrow, and offer good padding between hand and bar. In addition the silicon is very shock absorbing whilst being incredibly grippy in wet conditions. What this adds up to is less grip strength required to ride. This leads to less fatigue and less forearm burn. All good.

This may sound like a sales pitch. BUT, when i fitted my first pair i was objective as to how they would perform, and actually quite concerned if i did prefer them to what i have used previously. Why?

Well, i can show you my box full of odi lock ons, oury's and bar tape. All of which are now consigned to the useless pile.

I could show you my bikes, that will all require the grips removing and the bars cleaned with elbow grease and iso propyl alcohol to get rid of the sticky goop from old grips.

Even the time required to fit 4 sets (and counting) of ESI grips is not to be sniffed at. Despite this, a package from ESI arrived with my name on it. They are better, rendering my old grips obsolete. Riding the fixed off road for 3 hours on monday and putting most of a day on the tourer made me realise that.

Oh well.

Then of course there is that age old issue of the saddle. Back in the day, I (along with most other people in the known universe) loved the WTB sst saddle. All my bikes had them. Unfortunately some of the rail materials were not the most durable, and then they pulled the design in favour of a more techno look, or maybe because the original partnership dissolved, leaving charlie cunningham and steve potts to pursue other interests. (Incidentally, it was reintroduced this year - back by popular demand?)

After a while, you couldnt find the old sst's without paying exorbitant prices on EBay. Bam, time for a new saddle choice - across the board. I tried a few, initially the selle italia flite as it seemed the most long lived design, and the most widely available. But the flat and hard shell didn't quite work. From there, the slr which was good, but flimsy. Over to selle san marco and the aspide in both triathlon and normal versions. The magmaa came out with similar profile to the sst, which made me wonder. For a year it was very good. Cue investment in 3 of them. Then the magnesium shells started breaking and i wanted to change again. The zoncolan came out, again looking sst-ish with a full nose and hammock shape. It had plain ti rails (which i have found in general to be durable) and a lorica cover which was also long lived. I have now 4 of these saddles with the last 2 having been considerably more expensive and with what the company calls xsilite rails. I hope they are not a lower priced, less durable alternative and that this saddle doesnt get removed from the range too soon.

The longer you ride for the more important these things become. It is almost crippling to learn a new saddle, and once you are there it is nearly worth stocking up on saddles despite the credit crunching price.

Plus ca change...


dave (chops optional) said...

What the fook are you building now???

Try a Gobi - they are ugly but very very ace. Lots of asses agree.

dan said...

Gobis are marmite saddles, I like them lots don't. The latest version (XM I think) is the best I have tried as it has a flatter top, I think there is something of the old flite in the shape.