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The Ultimate State Of Bike Illumination

– Photo of the year, so far:

Photo of the year, so far

This one is somewhere in the bottom half of the top ten.

And rounding out the upper quartile:

Redlands, wreck, what

– The dominance of Tornado Tom Frits at Roubaix was obviously impressive on many levels. In addition to the historical implications of a new four-time winner of l’enfer du nord there came confirmation that pavé is to Paris-Roubaix what the Tourmalet is to the Tour de France. Both cases are terrain so savage that they nullify tactics and skew the likelihood of victory to the fittest, meanest rider. I could reach no other conclusion after watching Team Sky trying to reel in Boonen with a five-man team time trial, yet nevertheless losing a second per kilometer to him.

Other conclusions:

* Annihilation makes for lousy TV. Unlike the thrill of this year’s Ronde, watching Boonen’s solo escape is only matched by Franco Ballerini’s crushing dominance in the mud-choked 1998 Paris-Roubaix.

* Rekindling one of the age-old debates of PROness, I could’ve sworn that Boonen was wearing his sunglasses with the arms beneath his helmet straps. But photos indicate that his straps were inside. Debate re-closed.

* You may have noticed that Team Sky ended its two-year tradition of riding the KOBH frameset at Roubaix. But, no, the team was not riding Pinarello’s flagship model, the Dogma 2. Rather, it was on the Dogma K, which is what the fat tire-friendly KOBH frameset was re-badged in 2012. This isn’t well-known to Americans since the US Pinarello distributor, Gita Sporting Goods, chose not to import in Dogma K’s to the US this year.

The difference between the Dogma K and the KOBH is only in the name and decals. But it appears that ‘Tony’ Flecha’s Dogma K may have been equipped with next-generation Shimano Dura Ace. Those shift levers have a futuristic, unfamiliar shape. More tantalizing is that his brake calipers seem to also be the new Dura Ace. Given that Flecha was riding 27c tires, does this mean that the new Dura Ace calipers, like the second-generation SRAM Red, will accommodate road tires larger than 25c? If so, that would be fantastic.

– ‘Tis the time of year where everyone is inspired to ride on the worst roads possible. And to do so on a 800g carbon frameset with a loose headset and a mind full of irrationally paranoid thoughts is to remember one of the loveliest aspects of a steel frameset with a steel fork: When they break, it’s slow and undramatic, unlike the instantaneous violence of carbon.

While merely considering a full-fledged steel machine, I found that little tempts. I got a bit of a buzz from Stoemper for the same reasons I like Ritte: Appreciating PRO while likewise chuckling at it is the ultimate state of bike illumination. Yet Stoemper doesn’t show any road models on its site, only cyclocross. And, at odds with my mission, the bikes come with carbon forks, not steel.

One of the annoyances of the New Jack American framebuilding scene is that rather than learning how to make steel forks, many builders instead devote their focus on applying lavish paint jobs onto very-not-handmade carbon forks. Does anyone else in America make a steel race bike with a steel fork? Can you take delivery on a Richard Sachs before 2018 in any way except through an estate sale? How far is the drive to Bozeman? Dave Kirk, here I come.

A few American framebuilders beyond Sachs and Kirk pass the test, but most don’t. They make me wince for reasons I couldn’t previously articulate until I read Herbie Sykes’ article in Rouleur #27 about the Zullo frame factory in Italy. It’s a painful 5,000 words. Most of it has zero to do with bikes and reminds me of how, sometimes, I think Rouleur needs a brute of an editor. But, prolixity aside, in these two-and-half pages Sykes masterfully lays out for me why the NAHBS art scene is no substitute for the age-old vocation of framebuilding.

Rouleur 27,

Sykes’ article dethroned this Vanity Fair piece as the best written thing about retro skepticism. Enjoy.

Let the record show that this isn’t a debate about steel vs. carbon. My whole point is that I want to buy a steel frame. But I want experience, not artistry. Timeless, not vintage. Vocation, not craft.

Definition of Craft, n

– Handmade steel, including the fork. Love the component choices:

Commuter, Tucson

Spinergy Rev-x, circa 1998. And dig the steel fork.

Rear hub worth more than my 1st two bikes

Capping it off, a $120 seatpost

– My Fizik Aliante finally died of old age. I couldn’t bear to throw it away though. In retrospect I’m happy about that decision as I subsequently learned about a company called The Recovered Saddle. Has anyone tried them?

Legend has it that Johan Museeuw raced on the same Selle San Marco Concor Light through his whole career. Every season he replaced the leather covering. Unlike the other touch points of your bike like handlebars, shift levers and pedals, the two same saddles are never identical.