Posts in Category: seats and saddles

Rob English 

Sunday, January 24, 2010 1:12:18 AM Categories: advertising seats and saddles
Now here are the final Rob English snippets before my wife throws all the envelopes in the bin along with several cheques and a Zeiss monocular. (The cheques is a true story. The lost Zeiss isn't, but first port of call is to blame wives.)

1. Mango is upright, sort of. I expect everyone else knew that. But I didn't. The ground crew carefully fold Mr English in half and place him gently inside with his *** rubbing the tarmac and his arms groping for the handlebar (I think that's what he said), Miles having calculated that a smaller wetted area made up for a larger frontal area. (Mango, if this paragraph has thus far been meaningless, is the famous Youtube streamlined bicycle crash. Miles is - well everyone knows who Miles is. He's just fantastically clever according to Mr English but we all knew that years ago.)

2. Mr English currently favours hard frame twentyniners. For us fogeys, these are 700c rims with Schwalbe Racing Ralph 2.4 inch tyres on built as gentlemen's mountain bicycles, and the large wheels bound over irregularities like a lithe mountain goat and the only suspension is fat tyres run at 20 psi and the whole doesn't weigh very much.

3. Mr English and Mr Knight concur in that gentlemen's mountain bicycle races are won going up hills rather than down them. A 5% saving in time due to low weight going slowly up a hill is better than a 5% saving in time due to good suspension coming down the hill. Mr English is a graduate engineer and Mr Knight is a graduate mathematician so it's the sort of thing that they would calculate.

4. Nevertheless Mr English's tactic on a time trial is to pedal as hard as he can up all of the hills and as hard as he can down all of the hills and as hard as he can on all of the flat bits. It lacks sophistication but wins races.

5. Mr English suggests that I could tension the synch chain of my tandem by cutting the bottom tube, making a very strong tube clamp, and standing on the frame and bending it down slightly. This is how the Bike Friday tandem is tensioned. I discreetly removed my hacksaw from the workshop after this part of the conversation.

6. While setting up new bikes he bungs all the little bits of new chain in a tub for when civilization collapses. I think we all do this. I think we're all thinking 'what can't you make in your back shed?' and the answers always come back the same - chains and tyres.

7. No bicycle seat is comfortable. You just have to get used to them.

8. High racers have Issues. I'm not sure if this is a Mr English remark because the only reference on the envelope is Nisbett Fleming Chartered Accountants & Business Advisors, and though I'm reasonably certain our accountant isn't in the habit of proffering recumbent design guidelines, it might be an outdated note I've nicked off Ye Olde Internette. Anyway the note goes on to say 'uneven weight distribution of front and back wheels; & eyeball jiggles from no suspension.' The former would echo my experience with the first low racer I built and rode furiously round the right-angles in Baxter Gate in Loughborough in the hope of impressing all the dopey bystanders. 60% of my weight lay over the front wheel and when cornering hard, the back wheel lost traction and would skip sideways across the tarmac.

Too little weight on the back wheel, which would skip sideways when cornering hard 
9. My recumbent bike is wonky. I got him to have a go, and noticed it wasn't just the seat which is what I knew was wonky. The wheels are a good inch out of true with one another.
I don't care, however. Wonkiness can't be felt on a 57 inch wheelbase until the speeds get far higher than I can manage.

A week of woe 

Saturday, October 17, 2009 11:37:54 PM Categories: bike crash New Zealand seats and saddles
She's rubbish at corners is my wife. She practises being rubbish at corners and is now quite good at it. It has taken her a little while but now she has a special skill and whenever we're coming up to a corner and I command her to stop pedalling she ignores me with a bewildering comprehensiveness and the synch chain comes flying off. Yesterday the chain came off four times in 18 miles.

Being rubbish at corners is a heritable condition. Last week Jane found herself outside a blackberry bush wondering why she couldn't push her bike and why she was holding a broken Mirrycle in her hand. A Park ranger drove up and together they established that her last memory was that of riding gaily along, no hands, towards a corner. She was knocked out. The hospital did the usual head injury stuff and her bike suffered a crinkled downtube and may now be regarded as a useful ensemble of spare parts. What makes repair difficult is the intervening 12,000 miles because Jane happens to be living in England and her faithful bike mechanic, viz., moi, doesn't.

Which raises another heritable condition. In the process of mapping the humane genome they've discovered that my wife and daughter have a special gene that forces them to prop their bikes up somewhere inappropriate so that any small gust of sideways gravity will tug the bike over and smash its Mirrycle on the pavement below. I like Mirrycles enormously and fit them to every bike I can which is harder than it sounds because nobody in New Zealand imports Mirrycles and you can't get them here at all. (I shall scour this entry later in the hope that a) a New Zealand bike shop owner is reading this, or indeed anyone at all for that matter, and b) they will add a Comment telling me where to get them.) I fit a Mirrycle, and immediately a wife-or-daughter breaks it. Then they sneak off and buy one of those flimsy Cateye mirrors which, however you try to position it, you can't see because light only travels in straight lines and elbows, such as connect shoulders to handlebars, are generally opaque. I have a bag of Cateye mirrors with which my female relatives have tried to assuage their Mirrycle guilt, and I no longer even bother trying to fit them.

Turning to other matters one of the doctors popped in, he erroneously thinking that I might be able to give him recumbent-buying advice, and over dinner he told me that pip fruit workers are 9 times as likely to get one sort of cancer and 4 times as likely to get another sort of cancer, though which sorts of cancer I'm not sure because I wasn't paying attention. Anyway this slightly worried me because a) the chap who lived here for the last 22 years recently had a kidney removed and b) the chap next door who has lived here for even longer had a neck tumour removed and c) yesterday the tractor driver in the commercial orchard immediately behind us cleared out the sprayer fans right next to the gate, and the shed, garden and house were engulfed in a cloud of swirling mist. The orchard owners aren't supposed to do this. I had an interesting talk with Tony Frost a little while ago and he told me that when he founded the national Horticultural Research Station, of which he was Director, they used any number of sprays, being sequentially assured by the makers that all were safe. Over the years, and following some alarming deaths, the sprays were equally sequentially removed from distribution. It all bespeaks what we happen to know about the agrochemicals industry, which is that it doesn't get terribly flustered about spraying people until they start dying. Mapua is ten miles down the coast.

To add to the week's woe I have a cold. Because I happen to know that Mrs Bob Knight is outstandingly sympathetic to men with colds I have emailed her thus:

I have a Cold, and it is a Man Cold, and I am Very Ill, Close Unto Death, and to show how deeply you treasure my existence I graciously permit you to cut off one of your fingers (without anaesthetics) and send it to me in the post like the Triads do.

Mrs Bob Knight omitted to send me the required finger, and referred me elsewhere:

In which case you must view this video at once. Have the sound up so you can hear the instructions.

Luckily my Man Cold failed to prevent my brazing a single short lateral tube onto a very old, very battered but very light-weight (3 lbs) Peugeot frame someone had given me, which had been less than useful because it had no seat-post clamp, Mr Bob Knight having told me (he knows everything. Everything.) that it was designed for a quill seat post and that they weren't very successful.

This is such a rubbish picture I only include it to leaven the dullness of my text. Mrs Bob Knight who saw the original usefully commented that I might need to cut a slot in it. She will be dealt with next time I see her.

Human sacrifice 

Friday, October 9, 2009 10:01:26 AM Categories: seats and saddles
The Aztec gods are still alive and well and this is an actual fact. It is a fact because completion of any job in a workshop cannot be effected without a human sacrifice. You know how it is when the router suddenly lunges sideways through the wood and 17,000 revs per minute of honed tungsten carbide gouges a chunk out of a thumb and a teacup-full of blood splashes all over the workshop floor? Human sacrifice. Yesterday I stuck a chisel in my hand and today I dropped the angle grinder and caught it, both being mistakes. Sticking a chisel in my hand was the revenge of the Aztec god of domestic fowls, because I was walking past my wife's chickens and therefore made a jabbing action at them so that they would know I hate them. They only lay eggs in batches so you either have thousands and join a crowd of chicken-owners wandering up and down the road trying to give eggs to people who already have too many, or else you and everybody else has none at all. And all the time they generate stuff you can't eat, especially early in the morning. 90% of what comes out of a chicken is inedible; 99% if you count the clucking. When you walk past the chickens they rush up squawking hopefully and you have to make jabbing motions at them, and now it turns out there's still this unpleasant git of some ancient Aztec immortal who's a protector of chickens and makes your other hand get in the way. Ever so sharp, are my chisels.

It is school hols. It is school hols so John thought he'd ride up the valley with me to test my saddle, freshly mounted on his Peugeot 531 because all his saddles are uncomfortable. Mine was too. We tried all the saddles in the bike shop and found them wanting so to take his mind off matters I took him into the shoe shop to effect the purchase of trainers. John is 14 and my experience is that among fourteen-year-olds, shoe replacement is a race between total destruction and growing out of them. Buying shoes for a child is a trauma I shall be glad to relinquish; indeed my wife has already relinquished it. The trauma is enhanced by the fact that trainers being relatively practical footwear the evil marketing gits include titchy sections of pink or yellow and a note on the box announcing 'Ladies'. This does not encourage your teenage son to try them on. If all marketing men died tomorrow, the world would be a happier place. Marketers are totally useless. All they do is make retail choice a minefield full of junk you didn't want and don't need. They don't even lay an intermittent egg. What baffles me about shoes is the sizes, which come in UK US and EUR sizes and they are wildly differing numbers and there isn't a size 41 EUR. People who live in EUR don't have size 41 feet. Here is a short list of shoe sizes, faithfully copied onto a bit of paper I begged from them, without actually mentioning why. (Not that it would have made any difference. The shoe shop lady is like that bloke who blew a tamping iron through his head but didn't die - what's his name - quick Google - Phineas Gage, that's the chap. Whenever I go there I try to peer at her scalp to see if there's a gruesome scar where her brain fell out.) Anyway, here's the List:
UK 5            US 7              EUR 37 1/2
UK 5 1/2      US 7 1/2         EUR 38
UK 6            US 8              EUR 39
UK 6 1/2      US 8 1/2         EUR 40
UK 7            US 9              EUR 40 1/2
UK 9 1/2      US 10             EUR 44
Notice anything? There are certain feet dimensions that are banned in Italy and France and they don't even have the excuse of metric.

It's a bit like bike saddles, except they only come in three sizes, 155, 130 and somewhat oddly 143, and given that a bicycle seat like a shoe has a weight-bearing and therefore a critical function, we need attention giving to the matter. - Atsh'lly I should ask Mr Knight, because he knows everything. He once explained to me what a 700c was, and there are only five people in the whole universe who know that.
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