The next one was a brand new ski pole with a brand new gas pipe mallet head, and it was the greatest mallet I ever owned.
The next one was a Fixcraft LT with a St. Cago head and baseball bat grip – it was the best mallet I ever owned.
And so on, and so on.
What I found is this (and, perhaps, not surprisingly so): people fall in love with their bike polo equipment. This makes sense in a very “this is my rifle this is my gun” sort of way, and it’s only natural that the equipment you use in the sport you love is likewise loved.
But while all this love is in the air, it’s easy to ignore the little frustrations. So your polo bike has a few spokes that are tied around other ones – the nipples in the rim are more like an announcement of your presence than an annoyance, right? So what if your mallet shaft looks like a macaroni noodle and the mallet head has been worn down to a nub? They’ve never let you down before!
But maybe they are letting you down. Little by little, they’re starting to underperform. Being able to recognize the natural wear and tear of your equipment is perhaps the most underdeveloped and important element of doing well in our sport. Lemme explain:
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At first glance the Chrome Ike looks like just another casual jacket, albeit a nice one based on the compliments I receive nearly every time I wear it. The discerning eye may notice the tech giveaways of its cycling backstory, making it equally suited for the ride to work or out at the bar. This might be the first cycling jacket I have that I can wear without being pegged as outdoorsy, even if it is windproof and water resistant, with longer sleeves and an extended back to prevent your belt from showing while on the bike.
Many mistake the Ike for wool at first glance, but it is actually a woven and brushed polyester with windproof panels on the front. The polyester wears better than wool — no snags, no runs, easier to wash — and along with the Chinese construction helps to keep the price of the jacket to $125. Classic military style shoulders, collar and chest pockets give it the style you either love or hate, while the rear kangaroo pocket with left and right zippered access gives it away as cycling specific. The rear pocket is great for carrying a minimal flat fixing kit around town or for stowing a hat and gloves indoors — you’ll need the gloves for walking around, like many cycling jackets, there are no hand pockets on this one either. A full length zipper with top and bottom pulls along with zippered cuffs allow for on the bike ventilation without looking out of place casually as pit zips might. A drawstring allows you to cinch the bottom closed when the going gets cold.
This isn’t a jacket for your next all day epic, but perfect for a night where the bike is the transportation in between the more important hanging out, or workday if that’s more your flavor. I find the jacket surprisingly warm for something officially billed as a wind jacket, taking me comfortably through the 40s and 50s on its own and down to freezing and below with a hooded sweatshirt underneath. For short rides and walking about, this has become my go-to jacket, earning a spot by the door for the bulk of the fall and winter. While on the bike I may wish for pit zips, and off the bike wish for hand pockets, I’m willing to live without either for the sake of the overall style and cut of the jacket. The Ike is available in four sizes in the pictured gray twill, and carries a 1 year warranty against materials or manufacturers defects. If you’re in New York, Chicago, Portland or San Francisco you can try this jacket on at your local Chrome store, otherwise order onlin at www.chromebagsstore.com.
About a year ago a pair of Bianchi San Jose framesets fell off a truck, and both Brad and Jeff ended up with a new bike-building project on their hands.
The San Jose is a TIG welded, 100% chromoly steel frame and fork. While it’s not as popular as Bianchi’s Pista, the San Jose is a well loved bike. If you ask anybody who owns one they’ll more than likely regale you with tales of how durable it is and how nice it rides.
For a $399 frameset (frame, fork and headset) you would be hard pressed to find fault with the finish quality. The welds are clean and the paintjob flawless—a testament to state of the art Taiwanese manufacturing.
Designed with versatility in mind, the San Jose has a shoulder-friendly flattened top tube with top-mount cable routing and clearance for at least 35 mm tires, yet it’s also ready to accept a rack and fenders like a good commuter bike should.
While the San Jose could be used as a cyclocross racing bike, most serious racers would likely consider any off-the-shelf chromoly frame too heavy. The geometry is an even bigger factor, as the seat tube angle is similar to that of a touring bike. While this promotes an upright riding position that puts less pressure on the rider’s hands, the tradeoff is less power transferred to the pedals. The bottom bracket is higher than that of a typical road bike, but lower than a typical cyclocross bike. A lower bottom bracket generally equates to increased stability, while a taller bottom bracket allows you to pedal through corners or hop logs with less chance of getting hung up.
Ultimately, the great thing about the San Jose frameset is that it can be built up to suit a variety of riders with different needs and riding styles. Let’s take a look at how two different cyclists built theirs.
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Kevin Harvey of Harvey Cycle Works is one of those “under the radar” frame builders who should be above the radar, for sure. Currently building out of his garage in Indianapolis, Harvey has been at frame building since the mid-90′s when he decided to take his machining and artistry knowledge and apply it to a racing mountain bike for himself.
Harvey started out as an engineer before transferring to the Herron School of Art to get his degree in furniture design, then applying both skill sets to his frame design. Out of school, however, Harvey hooked up with Andretti Racing and has been a CNC machinist for Team Andretti going on 12 years now. Yes, his full-time job is Machining for Andretti Indy cars.
In any spare time he has, Harvey is working on current bike projects, whether for himself, his kids or clients. Frame builders come to the game with various skills, but it’s a rare builder who has a background in the trifecta of engineering, artistry and machining. The knowledge shows in the details of all his frames, whether it’s custom racks, hand carved lugs or internal wiring in his randonneuring frames.
Harvey just secured a plane ticket and “New Builder Table” at this years North American Handmade Bicycle Show in Denver on February 22 – 24. If all goes well, I believe he will have put himself on the frame building map that weekend. Check out his site for more info and builds.
Welcome to Cycling Legalese, a new online cycling law column from everyday cyclist and Chicago based injury lawyer, Brendan Kevenides. He is the creator of popular law blog, The Chicago Bicycle Advocate and is a Certified Bicycle Instructor by the League of American Bicyclists. His Chicago law practice is dedicated to representing cyclists injured by the negligence of drivers, government officials and equipment manufacturers. In this installment we cover biking under the influence of alcohol. Many people do it as a alternative to driving, but what is the legal standing of BUI?
Submit your own questions in the form at the end of the column.