Monatsarchiv: Januar 2009

Everything you always wanted to know about compact cranks. Or perhaps not.

One of the recent posts on this blog about the pros and cons of standard and compact cranks really hit me. I started to think day and night about cranks and I could barely sleep, drink, eat or ride my bike, activities which are said to be the mission of the Positivo Espresso team. In case you forgot, please look at the backside of your team jersey.

Lately I have been attested to have only „decent knowledge of bicycles“ by an the Japanese outpost of a large US bicycle company, which name is similar to the German word DRECK. So before making any further statements about compact cranks and which one to buy, I did a long research on the web which lasted until today. Probably there are many things you know already, but perhaps there is the one or other guy out there with the same poor level of bicycle technology level as I have.


The reasonable choice : Shimano Ultegra SL FC-6650-G
Yes Shimano, which is not really considered cool because everybody has them, but otherwise everybody would agree that most of the products they are doing are of very good quality and durability and reasonably priced. In particular if you don’t buy them in Japan. Also the Ultegra design is in my viewpoint good, much better than the bulky Dura Ace design which I really, really dislike. And do you hear often of quality issues or product recall with Shimano components? And you can get spareparts everywhere in Japan on short notice- try this with Champagnolo or Side (my experiences).

This one is all aluminium but has a hollow crank which helps to reduce weight to 808gr, including bottom bracket. This compares to around 650 gr for more expensive products without bottom bracket weight. No need to resort to carbon here.

One can have different crank arm length between 165 and 175 mm, but chainrings are available only in 50/34. But this should be OK. The BOD [bolt cicrle diameter] is 110 mm (standard crank 130 mm) so you should be able to use chainrings of other makers as well.

Is designed for a bottom bracket of 68/70 mm with English threads – the standard we all have. And can be bought for example here for 161 Euro / 20.000 JPY which is very reasonable indeed.

So enough talked, I went to Nagai-San’s shop this week and ordered one to replace my Lehman-Force, sorry SRAM Force standard crank.

The Carbon One : FSA SL-K Light Compact Road
Apart from the usual suspects Shimano, Campagnolo and SRAM, FSA has a very wide range of cranks in their product portfolio, road compact cranks alone account for 8 types.

This one is already on the bikes of Ludwig and Bryon mounted and so far experiences have been good. Although the outside of the crank is carbon and it is described as „hollow“ is it not: There is an internal I beam (made of aluminium?) inside, providing the required strength and stiffness.

Thus the weight with bottom bracket is 780 gr, not too much lighter than the much more cost competitive Ultegra. But the design looks good with the carbon crank which is available with length between 170 and 180 mm.

For a carbon fork the price tag of 455 Euro / 57.000 JPY is in the middle of the competition, being more expensive than a Shimano Dura Ace (not Carbon) and in the same class as a Campagnolo Record.

There are not so many infos on the FSA site about other techical specifications. It seems that you can also use this crank with a bottom bracket of ceramic bearings of which Bryon was much impressed.

Let’s spend heaps of money : THM Clavicula
THM is a German manufacturer of high performance carbon components. This crank called Clavicula (I guess it means collor bone) weights only 410 gr, of course without the chain rings which needs to be purchased separately (BCD 110 mm). Can be mounted an English threads bottom brackets 68 mm, cranks are available with 170 to 175 mm length.

It looks perfect, very sleek, question is if this is really needed.
Please dive deep into your pockets: 920 Euro / 115.000 JPY needs to be paid. Perhaps it would be better to buy another cheap bike with compact crank for this amount of money.

Apart from this, there are many other makes on the market for compact cranks, I list below the most interesting ones:

And it is also interesting to note that some makers do not sell their cranks any more, for example DEDA and Ritchey.
I summarized a lot of the information in an xls file, if you are interested to get it, please send me a quick note.

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Race Info : Tokyo Enduro Race Saturday 7. March

I just saw an info from EDGKM at the TCC website about an endurance race hold on 7/3/09 from 8 to 12 which looked interesting. The deadline for application is Feb 6th, but as usually it would be safer to apply much before that.

This is NOT a mamachari race!

The race is hold in Saitama, Toda City less than an hour by train from Shinagawa. Four hours endurance race on a flat track, teams of 3 to 6 riders are accepted. 8.000JPY/rider. I guess we could go there early in the morning and be back for tea.

This looks like a nice race to start the season and it would be nice if we could get a team of 3 to 4 riders ready. Please let me know if you are interested. More information in Japanese is here.

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Roller coasting with the Positivo Espresso Crew

Early on Sunday morning Positivo Espresso assembled a large group of eight riders on the shores of the Tamagawa. At good speed we first cruised along the river, overtaking countless less competitive Japanese amateurs, the riding along Asakawa until we arrived at the 7-Eleven in front of Takao station, the Positivo Espresso approved refreshment stop.

Since a long time we stop there, nowadays it is not any longer question if we need food or drinks, like pavlov’s dog we are stopping there. No matter that there are combinis further down and further up the road en masse. This is our combini.
On the way we lost David and almost lost Alex who was able to arrive almost at the end of our break.

Ludwig and me felt good, so we went for a fast ride up Otarumi Toge. We wanted to draft each other up, however our plan failed already at the start point where Ludwig overtook a BMW on the right at the lights, while I stayed behind the car. I was not able to recover the gap which was then created and could see Ludwig speed ahead in front of me at the steeper parts of the climb.

I felt really good, but made only a disappointing 15:27 min up to the top, way below my best times. Ludwig did well. I was although not completely exhausted and I felt that I could have raced a little bit faster if I had really tried. For a winter TT the result wasn’t too bad.

We waited for the rest of the group on top of Otarumi. Ludwig tried to take a group photo with the camera resting on a stone on the other side of the road. With the help of our precise information, he was able to make some nice pictures of cars racing by.

Here he is positioning the camera.

And here he is asking for some additional information which were unfortunately not at all correct.

There was already some ice rain on top of Otarumi and we were wondering if we could continue. But as usual the weather on the other side of Otarumi is different than on the Tokyo side and once we were back in the lower reaches the situation was OK.

We continued towards Tsukui lake where we take a very nice road over a small hanging bridge and then along the North side on a very small scenic road. Just wonderful and incredible that we haven’t found this road earlier.

We then continued to ride towards the Hiroshi-Mitsubishi tank training range road, which we somehow missed and then along the Minami Tama One Kanbu towards the Tamagawa. This is a very nice and fast road indeed with many ups and downs. One could race there at a good pace and we were testing ourselves against two younger Japanese riders.

Unfortunately there was a group of apparently non-Japanese cyclists who drove through the occasional red traffic light. Mistakingly believing that Ludwig was the leader of that unidentified group, he was approached and reprimanded by the Nalsima cycling police. We others watched interested as he got approached, but didn’t felt much called upon and rather less inclined to join the discussion. In true local fashion, Ludwig took all the responsibility on himself even though he didn’t really feel any.

After going home I thought about what the guy said and I would like to give him some credit because his arguments were not along the lines „This-is- the-rule-in-Japan-you-know, an argument which one hears so unnecessarily often. These days „rule“ is also frequently replaced by „compliance“ which already has made inroad into general usage. Bad enough, there should be a law confining usage to business matters.

We parted at the Tamagawa river and I rode home through Yokohama where I arrived after 118 km in the saddle. It was a very pleasant and fast ride with a good group. Although we were at different performance levels we could stay together and have fun. I had plenty or opportunities to climb, draft, go fast downhill and make the occasional sprint, I guess this is also true for the other riders.

Could do this more often, it doesn’t need to be the weekend 180 km tour every weekend.

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Eingeordnet unter 2009, David, James, Mob

Columbus at the shores of Arakawa

The story goes that Columbus convinced the Portuguese queen that there must be a different route to travel to India than travelling to the the East. Ludwig convinced me, that there should be a different route riding to Ome than going to the West along the Tamagawa.

So one Friday morning we met at Hamamatsucho and started our discovery ride. First we travelled to Shin-Kiba (unfortunately not in true TCC fashion over the Rainbow bridge) and checked out the estuary of the Arakawa where we almost immediately discovered an island emerging from the sea.

Provided that you are living in Tokyo, the existence of this island is thanks to all your generous contributions in form of garbage which is disposed just after Yumenoshima in a new giant landfill (so far no Giant landfill product recall).

But there is also a nice park and one appreciates the fact that the sea is close.This is the right time to break a secret:

Many of you, especially the hill climbers among you, might not know what is to the South of Tokyo. You know that to the West there are the splendid mountains of Okutama, to the North there are the even more beautiful mountains of Chichibu and to the East, well, to the East there are many golf courses in Chiba.
So when I spoke to the hill-climbing bike population of Tokyo, I often heard the opinion expressed that Tokyo is a city in a valley, surrounded on all four sides by mountains, of which one the highest are to the South and impossible to climb.
All lies. It may come as a surprise to you but Japan is in fact an island, and even more surprisingly, surrounded by the sea. And this sea touches Tokyo in the South and is exactly where the Arakawa ends. Ludwig and me just discovered that on Friday.

So Ludwig and me „took a mental note“ (one of the most notorious quotes of my previous boss. It basically means: „Don’t bother me with that. I will forget once I have left the room.“) to tell our king about this magic island once we return to court. Then we fiddled our way around Shin-Kiba and arrived at the bicycle superhighway along the Arakawa.

Wow, this is something riders from the Tamagawa can only dream about. If Arakawa is route 246 at approximately Atsugi, the Tamagawa is a side street to Takeshita Dori in

comparison. Strangely enough, a 20 km/hr speed limit for bicycles is enforced at the Arakawa. If 20 km/hr is appropriate for the Arakawa cycling road, than comparatively in relation to the width of the cycling path, 1.89 km/hr for bicycles must be enforced at the Tamagawa I reckon.

In one word, flat, wide, beautiful weather, good tailwind initially and Ludwig and me went fast in a draftline for at least 20 km. We tried some race tactics, were frolicking around and trying to sprint away from each other after coming out of the draft.

In no time we arrived in Kawagoe where we continued along the Iruma river.Here the cycling pathes are much narrower and there are some unpaved stretches.

I had a flat tire, and found out the hard way that my carbon cartridge valve is not properly sealed. By the way, later at home I tried to fix my tire with the Panaracer patch. This is very easy to apply as the patch itself is very thin and easy to glue on the tube. Does anybody else have experience with this patch, especially in terms of durability? Is this only something to finish the ride or can the repaired tube than used as it would be new?

The cycling path around Kawagoe was OK but not great. Finally we found our way on the road to Ome, where we crossed a very small part of Chichibu and then finally arrived at our beloved Aurore bakery in front of the station where we just by chance met Denis. Yes, we have done it, we found the East passage to Ome and were greeted by the aborigines.

Then, after having the obligatory Royal Milk Bread, we continued along the Tamagawa to Sekidobashi where we made a final break. It was already dark and I decided to take a train home, while Ludwig continued along the Tamagawa to his house.

Basically we had done one complete loop around Tokyo (185km from and to Ludwig’s house), something like a grand version of the Yamanote Challenge.

Unfortunately when I came back to the court at home rather late, the queen was not very amused by my brave endeavours which took slightly more time then envisaged, and sentenced me to two hours of math home works with my son.

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Eingeordnet unter 2009, Mob

Quarq Powermeter

After a cold morning ride (including a few minutes of stinging sleet falling in Hachioji and again on the West side of Otarumi Pass), what better way to enjoy a Sunday afternoon than to stop by Positivo and have Nagai-san install my new Quarq Cinqo powermeter. It works like a charm, immediately was „found“ by the Garmin 705 (ANT+ compatible) computer. Just rode it around the neighborhood, but so far, a great piece of technology. And for David J.’s benefit, I should mention that this means NO COMPACT CRANK for me during this winter/spring training. I’ll need to learn to ride again like a real man.

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The best food ever invented has now finally arrived on the counters of Japanese food retailers. Please note the „cyclist only“ design. I knew it right from the start that this will enhance my performance.

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Eingeordnet unter 2009, Mob

Cyclists in packs found to be rough riders: study

„CYCLISTS riding together in packs can take on the characteristics of a „race without the officials“, with a new study suggesting they tend to hog lanes, ride side-by-side and ignore red lights.

The authors of Cyclist Bunch Riding: A Review Of The Literature from the Accident Research Centre at Monash University examined police video footage of a group of cyclists and saw behaviour one might expect from riders in the Tour de France.

The study found the behaviour of the cyclists breached all three cycling road rules included in the research. „The cyclists were riding more than two abreast for the entire footage, almost the whole ride the cyclists were in more than one lane, and almost half of the red lights faced were ridden through,“ the study reported.“ sydney morning herald

Surely not? Via Alex K.

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For wives and girlfriends

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Giant Voluntary Recall

More trouble with carbon steerers on super light carbon forks.
Only one actual failure (in the U.S. at least). I never liked the Giant branded aero carbon fork on my 2003 TCR carbon frame — it felt whippy on descents. It cracked on impact with a taxi a few years back … can’t blame the manufacturer for that … and the bike felt much more stable on descents after I swapped in a stronger, less expensive and slightly heavier fork. The frame, on the other hand, was and is very solid.

The CPSC press release:


U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
Office of Information and Public Affairs
Washington, DC 20207
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEJanuary 14, 2009Release #09-096
Firm’s Recall Hotline: (866) 458-2555CPSC Recall Hotline: (800) 638-2772CPSC Media Contact: (301) 504-7908

Giant Bicycle, Inc. Recalls Bicycles; Fork Can Break Causing Rider To Fall

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with the firm named below, today announced a voluntary recall of the following consumer product. Consumers should stop using recalled products immediately unless otherwise instructed.
Name of Product: 2009 model year TCR Advanced SL and SL (ISP) Bicycles and Frames
Units: About 1,000
Importer: Giant Bicycle, of Newbury Park, Calif.
Hazard: The density of the steerer tubes can cause the forks to crack and break, posing a fall hazard to the consumer.
Incidents/Injuries: Giant Bicycle has received one report of the fork cracking with no reported injuries.
Description: This recall involves 2009 TCR Advanced SL Team, SL 0, SL 1, SL 2, and SL (ISP) model bicycles and frames in silver, charcoal, blue and red. The words “Giant” and “TCR Advanced SL” are printed on the frame. Steerer tubes with “B”, “N” or “P” at the end of the serial number are not included in this recall. Other “TCR” model bicycles are not included in the recall.
Sold by: Authorized Giant Bicycle dealers nationwide from August 2008 through December 2008 for between $3,300 and $7,500.
Manufactured in: Taiwan
Remedy: Consumers should stop riding these bicycles immediately and contact an authorized Giant Bicycle dealer for a free inspection and replacement fork.
Consumer Contact: For additional information, contact Giant Bicycle toll-free at (866) 458-2555 between 9 a.m. and

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Bespoke Ultra Parlee Z1 Superbike
$32,000. OR Y2,850,000 at today’s rate.
What’s so special about a $30,000 bike?
Hahaha.. madness.

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