The Hot List
- The loveliest road sign.
- A pedal revelation.
Being both cheap by nature and averse to change, I’ve been riding the Keo 2 Max since it was first introduced. Until recently, I never thought to upgrade to the Blade version. Before now, it seemed to me that the only difference was the flexible carbon stick used for cleat retention in the Blade instead of a metal spring. If you’re looking for an upgrade with a difference, put the Keo Blade high on your list.
It wasn’t until I finally gave them a test ride that I understood that there was much more to the Blade. Not only is the entry, exit, and retention more certain with the Blade, but more importantly, the platform feels substantially larger. The interface between shoe and pedal is entirely different with the Blade. Under power it’s as if I’m pedaling with my entire foot and not just the ball.
- Tan lines.
- The Pika Packworks bike bag.
As much as I love my S&S bike, the assembly and breakdown process is laborious and dirty. So I recently tried the Pika Packworks Travel Bag and was impressed by the time savings. The drill is simple: Remove the seatpost and wheels, then detach handlebar. At least for my frame size (54cm), pedals, stem, and rear derailleur all remained in place. You have a zipped-up, amply-padded bike in about 4 minutes.
My trip was on Southwest Airlines, so I was dinged $50 each way. When they asked what I was carrying, I couldn’t bear to say ‘deposition materials.’ Airport Ninja, I am not.
More importantly, the bike went to and fro without the slightest bit of structural or cosmetic damage. For pure ease of packing and unpacking, and in terms of schlepping it back and forth from the parking lot to the check-in desk at the airport, I’ve never had a better experience of traveling with my bike. Now if I get nabbed for a $100-$200 bike charge by Delta on my next trip, I may be singing a different tune. But for now, I’m stoked on Pika in a huge way.
- Greg LeMond, always.
- Mid-ride surprises.
Part 2 of The Loveliest Road Sign.
- Dirty Bikes.
- The quiet resurrection of brands you thought were dead.
Case study #1: Edco. About a decade ago it had the trickest hubs known to man. Edco ranked ahead of Tune, Chris King, and PMP as the choice of high-end boutique component tycooons. As I recall, Edco was acquired by DT Swiss in the early 2000′s. Now Edco’s is DNA is behind the current DT Swiss 190 Ceramicand 240s hubsets.
As part of Edco’s comeback, it has a new generation of carbon clinchers built with (believe it or not) a ceramic braking surface. That the brand exists at all is a shocker. That their top-dollar wheels are being ridden hard by pros as everyday training wheels with favorable feedback is even more impressive.
Case study #2: Fuji. For some the brand is burned in the brain thanks to the glory of the 1984 Olympics. But the warm afterglow of Los Angeles depleted over the years. Fuji never converted that magical moment into sustained mindshare among buyers in the high-end road racing market. Fuji’s failure came despite being acquired during the late 1990′s by one of the most innovative manufacturers in Asia, Advanced Sports. Even Juan Jose Cobo’s triumph at the 2011 Vuelta a Espana on a Fuji hasn’t seemed to reverse the company’s fortunes. What can a bike brand do other than offer technology and marketing oomph? I don’t know. But based on Fuji’s currently dim sparkle in the marketplace, I know there must be something more.
That being said, I was fortunate enough to spend last weekend logging miles with ex-High Road and now Champion Systems PRO Craig Lewis. He was rocketing up the climbs around Boulder, Colorado on his Fuji Altamira. How Craig was riding thanks to his Top-20-at-Langkawi form combined with his effusive praise for the ride of the Altamira (he said that it equals his High Road Specialized Tarmac), made me curious about the bike. Who knows? Maybe Fuji is primed for a resurgence and it’ll be 1984 all over again sometime soon.
Of the one-time greats of Japanese frame manufacturing, Fuji is the last brand left standing. Let the record show that that Japanese spirit still exists, and it primarily reveals itself in the most unexpected places. I got a crush on a Japanese beauty this winter during a holiday boondoggle to San Francisco. It was late. I was drunk. Isn’t there a poetic turn of phrase for that too fast bit of sidewalk lust? The urban equivalent of ships in night and all that?
- The Bustop ride. Whether it still occurs or not.