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Saturday, 31 December 2011

Monday, 12 December 2011

Gareth's S-Works Roubaix

Gareth came in for a fitting on Friday evening, and by noon on Monday we had the frame all built up for his final fitting/bike hand-over later today, where we will finalize spacer height and saddle choice.

Its a 56 S-Works Roubaix with SRAM Red Black and the lovely Dura Ace C35 Carbon Clincher wheels.

Looks immense in the flesh, we are really happy with how it has come together.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

And the Firefly frame is finished....

This is a brushed Ti frame with polished decals
It is a Di2 frame with the battery hidden in the Firefly Ti post
Will be sweet !

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

A new Firefly soon to be of this world

The guys at Firefly sent me a picture of Jamie welding Andy's new Ti winter bike
Will be a very cool build indeed!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Bespoke vouchers are here

Without further pomp, here are is a mock-up of our Bespoke Cycling Gift Voucher.
We spent far too much getting them made, but I wanted them to look special.
Its a highly finished voucher with foil blocking on both sides of this duplexed heavy weight, high quality card. Delivered in a bespoke envelope, naturally. A ideal gift this christmas !!

Monday, 5 December 2011

Hutchison Fusion 3 (tubeless tyres) puncture report

I have been riding these tyres on the Dura Ace CL24 wheels since October now. To be honest, unlike some of my customers, I have not been blown away by any performance improvements since going tubeless. So no improvements in ride quality or decrease in rolling resistance (and yes I have played with tyre pressure, my favourite being 90/95psi front and rear).
People who say they ride as good as a tub, have not ridden a 'proper' tub!!

However they have been absolutely bombproof in terms of getting no punctures (I have been using Stans sealant).
On Sundays ride I did notice my rear tyre getting soft after we went through a particularly bad patch of road. Sure enough there was a decent sized hole, and air was escaping. I could see the sealant trying to do its job, but with no success. I pumped it up again but could hear the air escaping. I realised that if you pump the tyre up too quickly then the pressure is too high for the sealant to work.
Sure enough, we re-pumped the tyre to 85 psi and it was fine and we continued our ride with no issues.
This morning I checked the tyre and its still at 85 psi. Result !!

The Fusion 3s are marketed as a road racing tyre and have been cut up quite badly in the 3 months I have ridden them. So I will now take them off and put the heavier training version, the Intensive. That has a harder compound, but a better Kevlar puncture belt so will be perfect for the next 3 months.
I am sure that the sealant will go everywhere we I take it off - Matt will love me for that !

Assos Robocap 607 review

I have been wearing this for a number of weeks now, and it really came into its own on yesterday's (disgusting) ride. There was a real biting wind wherever we went and it cut through my clothes quite badly. My head stayed blissfully warm, but never overheated when we were climbing.
I am a big fan of warm hats; if I have a warm head, feet and hands I am a much happier rider!
Last year I wore the Assos Stinger cap, which was good but was quite big in volume. So much so that it really affected how you wore a helmet underneath.
This years Robocap is much slimmer, and even warmer. Its double thickness around the ears and forehead so its lovely and warm. But the real surprise is just how snug it is. I only need to widen my Giro helmet by one click to fit perfectly.

A nice touch is the reflective bands front and rear, and the hooks on the side that you are meant to thread your glasses through.

Downsides are mainly related to its looks- you either look like a WWII fighter pilot or (more disconcertingly) and extra from the first series of Blackadder.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

William's Z1 custom

I love wax Z1's, and the way they are just naturally beautiful. No fancy paint, no shaped tubes. Just beautiful carbon....

This bike is off to Hong Kong and is lovely
It has a Deda Zero 100 cockpit, the new Fizik curve saddle, Record Groupset and Mavic Kysrium SLR wheels

And yes I know a need a better camera - my iPhone 3 is not quite ready to do justice to the frames !

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Customer product test: Assos sV.blitzFeder

Many thanks to Simon (he of the bigger bike fleet than our entire shop....) for this review. Full marks for also testing the product in different countries and at different altitudes!
I warmly welcome as many contributions as possible and hope we can all benefit from our collective experiences.

It is of the SV. blitzfefer, which is an ultra-light 'gilet' that folds up into its own little pocket. I loved it and recommended it to as many riders as I could as its small size meant there was no opportunity cost for always having it on you, especially when doing epic rides when the conditions can be so variable.


Hope all is well. Here is a contribution to your customer reviews project.

I bought this Assos blitzfeder vest from you in June. I have used it pretty extensively since then. In the Summer, it has been great for those cold morning starts because you can stuff it in your pocket when it warms up. I used it this Sunday, when it was a pretty chilly November morning, over the top of a standard long sleeve top to provide a bit of insulation. Again, absolutely fine.

It breathes really well, much better than most other shells. So you do not "boil in the bag". I think you can use it in a wide variety of temperatures, probably from 5 degrees to 25 degrees. It really is very versatile, and it genuinely packs away to nothing. You can always have it with you.

On the downside, it will provide only a modicum of rain protection, and (because it is so light) it is really difficult to put on when you are on the move. But this is just splitting hairs. Of course it is expensive for so little material, but you have to accept that with Assos. You are buying the best.

To show the vest in full use, here is a picture of me this "summer" on the climb from Tirano to Livigno on the Swiss/Italian border. It started off at 20 degrees at the foot of the climb, before the heavens opened.

The road became a stream. Temperatures plummeted as we neared the 2000m mark. The vest was the only extra clothing I had with me. It was fine on the way up, due to the climbing effort over the best part of 25km. I was cold on the way down, but by then I was truly soaked.

You can see from the photo that I was joined by Gesink and Barredo from Rabobank on a pre-Tour training ride. I say "joined" in the loosest sense - because while this picture gives the optical illusion that I am pulling away from them, the reality is that they absolutely rocketed past me and left me for dead!


An email from Enda

Chaps I thought I would share this with you, if for no other reason than to inspire your winter cycling as you dream of the European summer once more....

Hi Barry and Ben,
Once again thank you for all the help with the Parlee I really enjoyed it and I have included a couple of photos including one of the Stelvio, I have climbed it twice and its the most amazing road in the world!

Thanks for the update re the Assos clothing, I received it on Friday (the day after my Birthday, too late for birthday gifts but timely for dropping Christmas hints!!!)
Its good to see that your business is expanding and that the website has improved.
I’m actually off the bike and all training at the moment – a cyclocross induced broken collar-bone, but that makes me a real cyclist now, except that through comfort eating and a lack of training I have gained a few kilos.
Have a happy Christmas and I hope to visit you guys when I am in London in 2012

Friday, 25 November 2011

A re-appraisal of the toe-cover

I have never seen the point of toe-covers. They reminded me of those North Face Nuptse Vests that lots of my friends wore when I was in Scotland. If I was cold, I wanted the full jacket to keep my arms warm. Likewise when the weather warmed up (rarely I concede...) a big vest seemed bulky and overkill.
So it was neither fish nor fowl

And that is exactly the way I viewed overshoes - I was of the view its either nothing or full booties.

The benefits of running your own shop (and being an Assos Pro Dealer) is that I can justify new purchases as due diligence. You look a bit of a muppet if a customer asks if you like product x and no one in the shop has an answer apart from it looks nice!
So with that in mind I have been wearing the new Assos toe-cover everyday on my commute and on the weekend rides.

And I have loved it!

Now I do suffer from the cold, and cold hands and feet really do kill morale. But so far, even with very early starts, I have had no issues with my toes at all. But likewise when the weather warmed up around 11 am I have not felt massively cumbersome and over-dressed. They also keep my expensive shoes in far better condition than would otherwise be the case around the lanes of Kent and Surrey.
I have been advised that this years model has a far better rubber gripper and so far they have not moved an inch but time will tell on build quality. But so far they seem a great addition to the wardrobe.

FINALLY - All the Assos winter gear is here...

Bring on the rain, snow and sleet!
We will be ready with rain jackets, winter gloves, winter booties, rain caps, winter hats and lovely warm base layers.
Let us know how we can help your winter wardrobe

Monday, 21 November 2011

Next years training started yesterday...

I have not done my usual long ride for 4 weeks now. Sam is 3 weeks old - see a trend? Plenty of variations of the same excuse based around the fact I had not slept a wink the night before, or that my wife had not slept and I was now on the daylight patrol....

But yesterday it all came together and Brett and Dean met at mine and we had a great 3 hr ride together. Nothing structured, just go hard when we wanted, and easy when we wanted to chat (and there was lots I wanted to ask Brett about Kona). The weather was also wonderful - crisp and sunny (with a few cheeky fog patches).
I came back revitalized and determined to do as many Sunday rides as possible.

However, with 2 little boys under 18 months old I know my 'free' time is very limited so will be very focused on getting the best bang for the buck.
That means a maximum long ride time of 3 hrs, lots of hard turbo sessions and a big winter focus on biomechanics with Ben.
Ben recently damned me with faint praise - he said that whilst I have ''a smooth pedal stroke, just not a powerful one'. So this winter is all about becoming a big gear monster, and learning to better activate the glutes.

I am hoping 30 min sessions with Ben will turbo-charge my cycling. Bring on 2012 !!

Friday, 18 November 2011

Stuart's Firefly

This is one of the nicest Ti bikes we have ever seen
It is for Stuart and has all the tricks the master craftsmen at Firefly could think of; brushed finish with custom anodized decals, internal Di2 battery (in the seatpost), Pressfit 30 BB and the bigger HT44 standard
The thing looks beautiful and mean at the same time !

Another picture of the huge head tube -this will be one stiff race bike

The decals are plain white outline with some blue anodization. The blue changes colour in the light. Its very, very cool

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Campag Electronic soon here....

This is an article the excellent James Huang of Cyclingnews has just posted

Quote of the article is the following:

The cost of the Record EPS group is said to be in-line with Shimano’s Dura-Ace Di2 group, while Super Record EPS was simply stated to be ‘more’

Love it......

The full link is here

Twenty years and four generations in the making, Campagnolo has finally presented not just one but two electronic groups, Record EPS (Electronic Power Shift) and Super Record EPS, both with identical functionality but slight differences in weight and bearing performance just like the mechanical analogues.

"A very compelling package and demonstrates yet again that the Italian company is not to be ignored or forgotten"

Just like Shimano's Dura-Ace and Ultegra Di2 electronic systems, Campagnolo promises foolproof shifting accuracy and reliability plus faster gear changes than with mechanical groups. But EPS will also uniquely offer riders a lever feel that more closely mimics mechanical systems for genuine tactile – and audible – feedback, not to mention even better multi-shift capability of current Record and Super Record groups, all at a weight penalty of around 200g.

Electronic gutspaired with pseudo-mechanical feel and multiple shift capability

Campagnolo's new EPS group share some basic characteristics with Shimano's next-generation Di2 systems: dedicated switches in the levers sending signals to a centrally located 'brain' that then relays those messages to the motor-equipped front and rear derailleurs. Campagnolo, however, has done a better job of mimicking the feel of its much-loved – and virtually identically shaped – mechanical Ergopower brake/shift levers, however. The throws are very short as was expected but the high spring force is more akin to a cable-actuated system and there's a very tactile and audible click each time a button is depressed.

Granted, that tactile and audible feedback is different for the upshift and downshift paddles but it's feedback nonetheless – something we've always found lacking in Shimano's otherwise functionally refined system. The EPS downshift paddle is in the same familiar spot as on the mechanical Ergopower levers, too, but Campagnolo has moved the thumb-actuated upshift paddle lower down for easier shifts from the drops.

Campagnolo has also managed to actually improve on Ergopower's Multi-Shift capability. Whereas current Super Record and Record levers can downshift up to three cogs and upshift up to five, EPS can move the chain across the entire cassette with one command. Instead of having to repeatedly push the button, EPS's switches are time-sensitive, meaning the rear derailleur will move more positions depending on how long the rider holds down the button and you only need a 1.5second-long push to move across all 11 rear cogs.

There's unfortunately no feedback mechanism to let riders know exactly how many gears they've selected, though – Campagnolo marketing and communications director Lorenzo Taxis says riders will quickly learn "with their legs and brains" once they use it.

While certainly technically more advanced than the company's current mechanical systems, Campagnolo stresses that EPS isn't merely an engineering exercise but actually offers tangibly better performance, especially under the demanding racing conditions for which it was designed. According to in-house testing, EPS groups can successfully execute a front shift (in either direction) with nearly 70 percent higher chain load than Super Record while rear shifts are completed on average in just 0.352 seconds vs. 0.469 seconds – a small difference for sure but one that's still within the human range of detection.

Just like Di2, however, EPS should also need no adjustments whatsoever after the initial setup. Unlike with conventional cables and housing whose performance can change over time, EPS's digital signals will remain consistent for more predictable performance and reduced maintenance.

Record EPS versus Super Record EPS

Much like the mechanical groups, the Record EPS and Super Record EPS groups differ by way of materials and small design details. For example, the Super Record EPS Ergopower levers feature additional sculpting and engineered relief to further shave weight.

These design differences carry on throughout the components where carbon is replaced for alloy in the outer half of the front derailleur cage when comparing Super Record to Record, likewise the front derailleur motor and gear housings are alloy and steel respectively. Out back,the Super Record rear derailleur employs aluminum gear housing and ceramic pulleys, were as the Record version uses a steel gear housing and standard pulleys.

Then, of course, there are the differences between the mechanical support components, which are the same found when comparing the mechanical groups. One of the biggest performance differences is Super Record’s use Campagnolo’s CULT greaseless ceramic bearings, while Record employ the USB bearings.

Battery life, weatherproofing, and wiring

One major configuration difference with EPS as compared to Di2 is the battery and wiring. Whereas Shimano opts for a removable Li-ion rechargeable battery, the EPS's power is permanently housed with the system's 'brain' and isn't easily removable. As we suspected back in April, recharging is done via a small port located on the bottom of the power pack.

Some users will invariably regard this as being less convenient but Campagnolo argues that its one-piece, ultrasonically sealed unit is more resistant to weather. In fact, the company certifies all of the EPS components to be waterproof to a depth of one meter and we witnessed Movistar team mechanics subjecting the components to point blank pressure washings during this season's races.

Also, Campagnolo says its EPS battery will last longer, too. Whereas Shimano claims roughly 1,600km of battery life under average conditions (in fairness, we've experienced much longer lifetimes in practice), Campagnolo quotes roughly 2,000km when ridden about 2,000km per month. Less frequent use will bring that figure down to about 1,500km if the bike is used only 500km per month, which reflects a certain degree of power drawdown when the system is just standing by.

Campagnolo certifies the EPS battery for 500 charge cycles, at which point the complete power pack (and the associated wiring) will have to be replaced in entirety. That sounds short on paper until you consider that 500 charge cycles equates to about 40 years if you consistently ride 2,000km a month year-round. Charge time for a fully depleted battery is said to be 1.5 hours.

Speaking of wiring, EPS will thankfully use the same port sizes and positions as currently required by Shimano's Di2 system. Even better, Campagnolo won't have multiple wiring kits depending on how the system is installed – the leads from the power pack to the individual components are supposedly all long enough to accommodate a wide range of fitments and extra wiring will just need to be tucked inside the frame (assuming internal wiring, of course).

Weight and cost: lighter than Di2, with final prices TBD

Campagnolo’s pro teams are scheduled to be on the production components in the next few weeks, while manufacturers will have OE components in December. Riders looking to buy the parts in the aftermarket should be able to find the parts for sale in January.The cost of the Record EPS group is said to be in-line with Shimano’s Dura-Ace Di2 group, while Super Record EPS was simply stated to be ‘more’ – by how much we don’t know as final prices have yet to be determined.

With weights claimed at 2,184g for Record and 2,098g for Super Record it’s lighter than Shimano's Dura-Ace Di2— which we’ve weighed at 2,262g—at least according to Campagnolo’s claims; so here we have it, EPS promises to raise the bar yet again for what we consider to be state of the art for bicycle transmissions.

And while we still don't think electronic transmissions will ever completely supplant mechanical ones but with now that the second of the ‘big three’ manufacturershas entered the fray, the increased competition will assuredly up the development ante with all consumers standing to benefit.

Why did it take so long?

While consumers are only just now seeing the production version of Campagnolo's new electronic group, the company actually first began its first development work in 1992 – back when eight-speed drivetrains and integrated brake/shift levers were still considered state-of-the-art and about a year before Mavic's first ill-fated commercial attempt.

Campagnolo's first working prototype was – like everything else in those days – an eight-speed system and the company's developers tucked the electronics and battery inside a gutted water bottle. The necessary derailleur motors and actuators were quickly deemed too heavy and bulky to be practical, though, and the idea was relegated to indefinite development status. While the company was convinced a motorized transmission represented the next logical step in terms of performance, it nonetheless also felt no pressure to bring a system to market on a specific timeline.

And so we waited.

In fact, Campagnolo admits that it was on the edge of launching an electronic group back in 2005. System performance was excellent in real-world and lab testing, and even the prototypes we'd spotted on pro team bikes back then looked remarkably finished. However, Taxis said one system failed after being treated to an unusually rigorous water resistance test atop a fast-moving team car after a stage of that year's Giro d'Italia and since Campagnolo intended for its electronic group to be its premier package for racing, development was again halted.

In the meantime, Campagnolo's mechanical division unveiled a new Ergopower lever shape and an upgrade to eleven rear cogs and naturally, the electronic group had to follow suit – back to the drawing board yet again and pushing the group to today's long awaited release.

Current company president Valentino Campagnolo himself even admits that while dearly loved by its fans, Campagnolo's future depends on the success of cutting edge products like this and can't afford a high-profile hit to its well-earned reputation.

"We want to develop this technology even more in the future," he said. "We are confident that these days are very tough days with the economic crisis also affecting bicyclists. Also, we suffer from this. But we try to manage the company while keeping costs under control. We are pushing hard to develop and invest for our future and in fact, never in the past has Campagnolo developed such a tremendous amount of new products because we invest in our future.

"There is a part of the market that is willing to accept very advanced products, not just aiming for the best performance but also reliability and long lasting during the use which is a traditional characteristic of Campagnolo production," he continued. "We are sure that the future – our future – will be with mechanical products but with important emphasis on product development with electronic technology."

Skeptics have already begun making comparisons of Campagnolo's Record and Super Record EPS groups to any number of Italian automobiles of ill repute and their electronic gremlins. However, with so much development time behind them – not to mention Campagnolo's often frustrating resistance to releasing the seemingly complete earlier versions – one can only hope that for Mr. Campagnolo's sake and ours, those gremlins will only be in our imaginations and not actually tearing at the wiring in the wing.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Customer review: Bontrager RL Windproof Softshell Jacket

I would love as many 'reader reviews' as possible. These are not meant to be fawning reviews, but rather 'real world' reports. If an item is great, please say (and why). If it sucks, please say and we will no longer stock it! Either way these reviews are meant to aide your fellow riders.

This is from Tony H. It is his first review, I have told him given how much kit he has bought he has alot of reviews to do !

I love the occasional chats I have with drivers in London - but "I didn't see you" still has a lot to do before it becomes the start of a great friendship. so "Being Seen" is probably just worth accepting as part of the tapestry of urban riding. Having said this I struggle with getting into Health & Safety jackets that are more suited as mainsails for a round the world yacht race and get instantly clammy when wet. So I was pleased to see the new Bontrager orange softshell jackets hanging up at Barry's new shop - and I thought I'd give one a go.

First impressions - the sizing seems to come up a little small, and it's an Assos style fit that leaves no flapping fabric - (in fact if you enjoy your mince pies zipping up could be an issue, so try before you buy). Arm length was excellent, not leaving them short like a lot of commercial jackets, and as I found out on the bike later, the zips were very smooth and easy to operate - so no need to bite the jacket whilst performing a mid-ride zip up.

The features on the jacket are well thought out, and very bike specific - this isn't a running cross-over jacket. Just a single chest pocket on the front, ideal for a phone (left hand side, so more friendly for us righties) whilst there is a left rear access to a cycling jersey inside, and a right rear internal net pocket. The main central rear pocket is a bit skinny, but I'd guess you'd be wearing a standard jersey underneath in any case - so stuff you need in a hurry, like your pound coins for the Box Hill cafe. I haven't tested the jacket in heavy rain, it worked well in light drizzle, but I would guess this jacket would struggle in a continued downpour like most other jackets.

And then there's the colour - glowing Christmas tangerine that will play havoc with perfectly co-ordinated Assos or Rapha wardrobes, but here's my point. At dawn or dusk in the city, when we do a lot of our cycling in Autumn or Spring, it needs to stand out. IMHO reflective strips just don't work like they do in the country, and black, grey and blue just disappear into the background. You've got to back it up with lights, but this just improves your chances of snapping that dozing driver back into reality before they end up decorating their bonnet with you.

The other nice thing is that it's "only £90 (or £89.99 to be exact), so you can save your posh Assos for the next sunny club run, which I'd guess would be about next April....

Robert kicking ass....

This is my man Robert tearing it up on the Irish cross scene. Since I have known Robert he has done some Triathlons, sportives and road racing. He tells me that nothing is as fun as cross, and you can see why in this picture!
Go Robert !

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

First Dogma 2 arrived

This is a quick pic of Julius's new Dogma 2. It will have Super Record and carbon clinchers. He flies in from Hong Kong on Tuesday to do the final fitting and bike hand-over. I am sure he will be thrilled
The blue looks amazing in the flesh - it has a real depth to it....

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Specialized BG Element Wiretap glove review

We geniunely only stock products that we rate
And to prove this I want to start doing far more tests/reviews. I would like this to be as interactive as possible, so if you have your own feedback (good or bad) on any products you bought from us please do email in and we can put this in a review. I want Bespoke to be as interactive a community as possible...

To start us off, here is Ben testing his new Specialized BG Element Wiretap glove

After limping along on my old iPhone 3G for 2 and a half years, finally my shiny new iPhone 4S has arrived, just in time for winter. Trying to use a touch screen phone while wearing gloves is totally impractical. Fear not though, for I have also just bought a pair of the Specialized BG Element WireTap™ Gloves. In addition to a Gore windstopper upper, they have a very clever WireTap™ system built into the thumb and fore finger. This allows the phone to detect your touch through the gloves meaning that I’ll never miss a call again while trying to take off my gloves in time. I’ve been zooming my maps when I’m lost, writing emails, all while inside the cosy warmth of my gloves. Add to that the fact that the BG pads are perfectly positioned to cushion wrists and only cost £39.99, I think they are the best value early winter gloves I’ve ridden in.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Oakley now in stock

Though we will be focusing mainly on the Oakley Custom Program (OCP) we also have the stock eyewear
They do look very nice indeed !

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Parlee on Queen K Highway Kona 2011

On all action picture of my mate Brett
Enjoy the sunshine boys...
Brett has promised me a full race report soon

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

A new Triathlon Super bike is launched

Its never been a better time to be a bike geek in the Tri world !

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Stel's Speed Concept

The latest in a long line of super Speed Concepts that we have been fortunate to build
This is Stel's Project One Speed Concept

It has all the bells and whistles
Shimano Di2
SRM Crank
Zipp 808 and disc

I met Stel a couple of years ago when I did a fit for him when he was on his Felt DA
Even then he was talking about getting a new bike
So this has been a project long in its inception, but its certainly been worth the wait !

Thursday, 29 September 2011

One for the Triathletes...."free speed''

Here is an article that Cervelo wrote in Lava magazine
Very interesting piece - I attended a presentation by Phil White (one of the two Cervelo founders) in 2008 and as far back as then they were saying the bottles mounted at the front were the most aero option
But the revelation is that they might be quicker than no bottle at all !

Monday, 19 September 2011

Challenge Henley (Ironman Distance) race report

This is my fourth Ironman distance event and they don't get any easier......

This year was all about the opening of the new shop, so I did not cycle nearly much nor did I go any European sportives that I love to do
But after everyone came back glowing from the Marmotte and the etapes I started to get itchy feet....
I needed to do something in 2011 to give me at least some focus

So I entered Challenge Henley in July and gave myself 11 weeks to get ready
The bike would be fine, but my first run was 10 weeks ago
It was 4 miles and I was so sore afterwards that I could not run again for a week
I began to realize there is a reason coaches set 24 week training plans !

Including the race itself I have only swam 5 times in the year since my last Ironman - its simply not enough....

The Race Itself

I found this a VERY tough day out
I have decided I prefer European events - firstly the weather is better, and secondly because of the distance etc I am 'committed'
All through the bike leg I was thinking about stopping and getting in the car to drive home !

6 weeks ago I crashed whilst cycling and damaged my shoulder - a Level 2 separation of the AC joint
Which meant no swimming till the event and a very dodgy swim action on the day !

I was faffing around at the start and eventually jumped into the water as the gun went off
There went my chance of a good draft!
I ended up doing 76 mins, which was 10-15 mins slower than previous times

Schoolboy error 1 was not putting warm kit on in Transition
Just went out on my soaking Tri suit and was freezing. My fingers were blue, and teeth were chattering
I later heard some guys pulled out with hypothermia!

I could not take any food or drinks through the first 2 feedstation as my hands were like clubs and had totally lost any feeling in my fingers
My head simply was not in it - I decided if I got a puncture I would not attempt to fix it and simply retire (its fate right??)
That way I would simply have had a mechanical, and would not have 'quit'

Once I had done a full lap I knew what was coming next and treated it like a job (look at power numbers, avoid stones, avoid potholes, over-take riders on the right and repeat....)

Fortunately it warmed up and morale improved

Bike itself was fine, if a bit samey (which we all knew about as it was 3 laps)
I live in Kent so am used to bad road surfaces but must admit I yearn for the smooth roads of Roth again....

Ended up doing 5hrs 15 on the bike
I have in my head that breaking 5 hrs is 'good' but this is not the course to be doing that on (or you need to be alot stronger than I am)

My mates were cheering for me at the end of the bike which put a massive smile on my face and was raring for the run

Schoolboy error 2
As I was starting my first lap a pro was starting his second
It felt easy so I ran with him until we got to the hill past the dirt track
When I looked at my watch I saw we had been doing 6.40min/miles
A little bit quick for me !

Even on the second lap I felt very good - it was the best I had felt all year and was convinced this tapering idea worked!
By lap 3 the wheels were starting to fall off
My hip flexors were like piano wire and my stride length must have halved.....
Small hills (including tiny bridge on the footpath) were like French cols
The second half of the run on the gravel/grass section was pretty but not exactly a quick surface

4 lap felt like a death march (I did 45 mins on lap one and 57 mins on my last lap)
Must run longer in training - 90-120 min runs simply will not cut it!!!!

Felt exhausted at the finish - lent across the railing and had a little cry to myself
Took me 10.05 - and it was a hard 10 hrs
Not one part of this course was easy for me and was racked with personal doubt throughout
But I finished it

At the finish line I was told I had finished 2nd in my Age Group and 24th overall (and 8th Amateur)
If I had known that during the bike and especially the run I would have tried to smile a bit more !

A big thanks to Ben Hallam for his work on getting my position to reflect the need to put less strain on my shoulder
We ended up raising the bars and widening the pads - and it was not sore at all
And thanks to Matt the Mechanic for his endless tinkering with my bike - it rode like a dream

Lastly thanks for all the support from you all - on the night before the event my phone was full of text messages of support
It meant the world to me

Friday, 16 September 2011

Assos winter collection - get your wallets out!

A confession....
Much as I love Assos shorts, I don't actually wear much of their summer kit (mainly just Assos socks, gloves, arm-warmers and technical gilet on big rides)
I am very proud of our Bespoke Team Kit and like to wear that as much as possible
Its made by Giordana, and whilst the chamois pad is not as nice as the one on Assos shorts its is still very good indeed
Having great summer kit certainly helps riding enjoyment; clothes fit better, are more comfortable and sweat wicks better
But it would be an exaggeration to say that your summer clothes choice can make or break your ride

However as we approach Autumn and then descend into winter it gets far more serious indeed
As the weather deteriorates, technical clothing comes into its own.......
Being dry, and having a constant core temperature and warm feet and hands can be the difference from a 3hr winter ride on beautiful empty roads to a 60 minute misery-fest where you turn back early because you cannot change gear or brake (believer me, I have done both)

I firmly believe that Assos make the best technical cycling clothing in the world, and that their winter collection has always been the jewel in the crown.

The exciting thing is that this year the range is even stronger
I had heard great things about the new Assos winter collection as far back as this Spring
But it was not until last week that the rep came round with the new collection and I could see/try on for myself
I can confirm the hype is worth it - this is the biggest revamp Assos have ever done in one collection

Highlights for me were the new SturmPrinz rain jacket
It will cost a fortune but looks to be the best rain jacket in the world
Totally waterproof, yet light and breatheable with the classic Assos racing cut

The bonka is the new winter jacket. It does not replace the 851 but rather sits above it (and below the Fugu)
It felt wnderful, you really need to see it in the flesh to see all the different cuts and materials that have gone into the different sections. It will also come in 2 fits (an Assos first) - so there will be the normal 'Racing' fit, and a slightly more genteel version!
This is a very big move as it addresses the major issue a number of people have had with Assos sizing

And for those who are looking for the ultimate glove, look no further than the Fugu glove
(This replaces the 3 glove system they had last yr)

This is the new Winter glove and will be perfect for all but the very coldest of morning starts

The rain cap - regretaby this will be a must have in our sunny climes....

Assos have revamped their winter sock collection - I was skeptical of these when I saw the catalogue pictures but was a convert when I tried them on. Called 'fuguSpeer' (another name that just rolls off of the tongue) these have an airblock band at the front. Perfect on their own, or when the weather is exceptionally cold you can put another pair of socks on underneath

We are expecting our first shipment in the next 7-10 days so please come and see for yourself

Monday, 12 September 2011

Run with Mo Farah

Dear all

On Wednesday 14 September, Holiday Inn the official hotel provider to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games will host a free running club with world championship gold medallist Mo Farah.

Starting and finishing at Holiday Inn London Regent’s Park, the 5000m run is open to all running enthusiasts and fans of Britain’s best track and field athlete. The first 250 runners that complete the run will be rewarded with breakfast which will be served outside the hotel.

We would like to invite you to join Mo on the run.

Date: Wednesday 14 September 2011
Meeting start time: From 07.00
Run start time: 07.30
Location: Holiday Inn London Regent’s Park, Carburton Street, London W1W 5EE
Run: 5000 metres unmarked route with Mo Farah
Fitness level: The Mo Farah running club is for runners with a good level of fitness who are very comfortable running 5000 metres
Running gear: All runners should turn up in proper running shoes and clothing to make sure they are comfortable during the run.

All participating runners run at their own risk. If you’ve got any health conditions, you should consult your doctor before running the Mo Farah free run.

Look forward to seeing some of you there!

The Holiday Inn London 2012 Team

Pretty in Pink

This is Jules' new Parlee Z5
It has SRAM Red Black (which is LOVELY in the flesh), Dura Ace wheels and some Ritchey and 3T finishing kit
The whole bike looks wonderful
Why are girls so much bolder than the guys when it comes to colours !!

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Dream winter bikes

It used to be that a 'winter bike' was very much a poor relation
An ill fitting, heavy bike with all your old/unwanted parts
The bike would be a pig to ride and thus you would take your summer bike out whenever you could

Working with the guys at Firefly has been a breath of fresh air
Sure we have done a number of 'classic' road bikes with them this year, but the real beauty of their custom approach has been when it comes to putting modern twists on urban riding
Boston gets as bad weather as London, so the guys are well versed in the need for mud-guards, wider tyres, longer chainstays etc
Previously you had to use a long reach fork and brakes to get full mud-gaurds to work
We have now found a solution which removes this need, so you can use a dedicated Enve road fork and nromal road brakes
This saves almst half a pound in weight, and vastly improves stopping power
when spring comes you simply take the mud-guards off and pt them in storage for another year and you have a road bike that you can train, race and do sportives on

Just how cool are these custom mud-guards !

Monday, 22 August 2011

Gerald's FS Eriksen

The latest in Gerald's wonderful fleet
A custom Kent Eriksen MTB with tubeless wheels, XT/XTR parts and a Yeti carbon rear end
Lovely !

Monday, 8 August 2011

Introducing Ben Hallam

Ben is the newest member of the Bespoke family and I am thrilled to have him
He runs the Performance Lab here (Bike fit studio, treatment room and our Assessment room)

Being born into a cycling family, Ben was always destined to race bikes. His uncle, Ian Hallam, was 3 times Commonwealth champion on the track and Ben followed in his footsteps, winning the junior national pursuit championships as well as representing Great Britain at 2 Junior World Championships and 2 Under 23 European Championships. Ben also applied his pursuiting prowess to win multiple junior and under 23 time trial titles. While chasing the professional cycling dream, Ben spent 4 years living and racing on the road in France and Belgium which culminated in completing the Tour of Britain.

Looking for ways to use the sporting experience, Ben completed a degree in BSc Sports Rehabilitation and Injury Prevention in 2010. The degree focuses on the assessment and treatment on musculoskeletal injury through electrotherapy, soft tissue treatment and therapeutic exercise prescription.

Ben has developed his bike fitting philosophy based on the principles that he learnt from the degree. The core principle to Ben’s bike fitting comes from Burke (1988) who said that the key thing to remember when setting a bike up is that “the body is adaptable and the bike is adjustable”. This means that:
A) The body will adapt to a bad position (compromising posture and core stability) and consider this to be “normal”.

B) The body and the bike must be assessed and adjusted simultaneously. Adjusting the bike to a poor posture will reinforce the poor posture and cap the performance potential of the rider.

C) Through treatment and corrective exercise, body has potential to adapt towards maintaining a good posture and position. Therefore, bike fitting often has to be a progressive process where the bike is adjusted as the body adapts.
Therefore, during the Retul bike fitting sessions, Ben will identify areas of tightness and weakness in the body that can cause incorrect movement patterns, decreasing performance and increasing the susceptibility to injury. Ben can then address these issues in a one to one to one clinical session.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Sidas custom footbeds are here

When we hired Ben Hallam to run the bike fit studio/Performance lab I was delighted. He came with very high recommendations and little demands!
One thing he was insistent on was the Sidas footbed system as he has had great success with using it in the past
It arrived on Monday, and we have already had lots of bookings for footbeds - I think it will be a a great addition to the list of services we offer here

Friday, 29 July 2011

Look 695 (tester)

In the UK Look and Zipp are imported by the same company
We do alot of Look pedals and Zipp wheels and our rep has been trying to get us to stock Look frames as well
It helps in that he has an ally in Ben, who used to race a Look track bike when he was with the GB U-23 squad....

I relented an said I was keen to have a look as I have heard great things on the 695 - but a test ride period would be vital !

Here is our tester - please feel free to come and borrow it (if you can grab it off of Ben!)

This thing will NOT flex
It also has a very clever system whereby you can change the angle of the stem - limiting spacers and increasing front end stiffness

The crank is sold as part of the fuselage and is a real star. Its super stiff and you can change the effective crank length (so you can experiment with 170 vs 175 for instance). It also takes both compact and standard chain-ring sizes, so you can change over for the marmotte and then keep the 53/39 when you are doing some racing.....

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Wish you were here?

Just got sent this from my mate Robert who has a place down near Kerry
I am super jealous !

Friday, 22 July 2011

Torque wrench review...

We are seeing alot more demand for torque wrench - I really do think its a tool everyone should invest in. Its not cheap, but then neither are your bikes !

Here is a great review from Pezcyclingnews

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Drinking the Trek Kool-aid

Greetings from Mayrhofen, a beautiful Ski resort in Austria where I have been a guest of Trek World
When I told Tom from Parlee I was going we engaged in some good natured banter and he warned me I would come back with orders for 50 pairs of Bontrager shoes, loads of town bikes etc etc !!

Its not been like that at all, but you will be seeing more Trek bikes at Bespoke going forward. Simply put they are amazing....

I spent half my demo rides on this bike - the top of the range 6.9 SSL
It only had a 39/25 on the back, and the climbs round here are epic steep (and its at altitude, and there have been plenty of evening refreshments). Excuses over, the bike climbed like a dream
I have been on Di2 alot recently, but I have forgotten how buttery smooth mechanical Dura Ace is

We have done alot of Speed Concept bikes in the last year, but to my shame I have not put a great deal of time on one myself (that will change as I have one coming very soon). However that was put right on this trip, and I loved it
It fit like a glove from the off, and I really like the 'wrist relief' aero extensions - it puts your hands in a great position.
This bike had the new Bontrager Aura wheels - they are being hyped as a 'Mavic carbone killer' as they test alot quicker in the wind tunnel. For under £900 I cannot think of a more aero wheelset - carbon wheels for every day rides!

Coolest bikes at the show were the new Andy and Fabian Team bikes they have just done for the boys at the Tour
The Andy bike looks so much better in the flesh than in the pics (and it matches our team kit perfectly!)

It will take a brave man, with very big legs to get one of these - but I hope one of you chaps do. Its absolutely jaw dropping in the flesh

How cool is that to look at!
Would certainly encourage you to dig that bit harder when you were starting to get tired !

Both team bikes are sporting the new D3 range of carbon wheels - they adopt the wider profile that has been popularized by HED and Zipp. Us mortals cannot get them until the start of the new year which is a nightmare as I would have bought them then and there if I could. For £50 you can choose white spokes and/or a choice of 12 decal colours. Perfect for you bike tarts !!