A Spoke Poke

After seeing my workbench, Mark V said

You need a Spoke Poke.

A spoke poke is an indispensable tool found at better bike shops. It’s a spoke bent into a tool shape with a sharpened tip. This one time, a spoke poke was used to retrieve a broken piece of carbon out of a carbon wheel. That’s just one of its many uses.

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Spoke poke with protective tip

Lapierre Xelius 400: Race, Fondo, Charity

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White Kit

Nothing says ride me in a punishing Pacific Northwest rainstorm like white rims, bar tape, and saddle. I took the Lapierre Xelius 400 out for a quick ride in the rain today before the Seahawks played Chicago. This post is an initial review.

Stiff and Compliant?

Like all mid-to-high end carbon bikes yes the bike is stiff and compliant. It also flexes. Lapierre makes Grand Fondo style bikes. That means a bike that performs for a clientele who ride fondos and charity events. It’s built to race, but also comfortable on long rides. The first Lapierre I wrote about did this, as does the Roubaix, the Museeuw I ride, and more. Flex in this context is not bad. It’s a characteristic and does not mean mushy like a noodle or unstable and whippy.

An example of the flex I noticed, is when pedaling, the rear brake cable moved with my body. The bike was transmitting my pedaling motion up into the bars. That’s a bike you don’t describe as “wooden,” but lively and active.

Expect to feel the road with this Xelius. All of it.

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At home on the path, races, tours, and events.

You’ve Got Personality

If bikes have a personality, this one is anxious and busy. One ridden by a cyclist that talks nonstop on a ride, promises to keep it together, and then drops the group at the next rise in elevation. The bike is distinctively different then others I’ve ridden. It’s French and wants to go fast. When it does, take care with it in the corners, on rough road, and descents. You can win a Livestrong ride with the Xelius, as long as you stay in control.

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Attractive paint and graphics with curious touches like a thumbprint on the top tube and a chicken on the chainstay.

Red Bull Minidrome

Photos from the Red Bull Minidrome in London’s East End.

The purpose built track has been engineered in Germany by Velotrack, the team that built the velodromes for the Atlanta Olympics and the Delhi Commonwealth Games. The Red Bull Mini Drome track will maintain race-worthy dimensions in the smallest possible size to enable a single pursuit. Red Bull Mini Drome will challenge both body and mind as riders will need to navigate themselves around a unique, and technically challenging, course reaching speeds of up to 80 km/h.

In other words: start, pedal as hard and fast as you can, before the whistle blows to stop. Don’t look down, up, or back. Just ahead so you don’t fly off that first bank.

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Race photo uploaded by TokyoFixedGear.com, Munich photo from Red Bull | more photos from the Bike Hugger Photostream.

How to Pack a Bike in a Box

I pack and ship bikes a few times a year at Hugga HQ. The bikes are going back after a review or I sold them on eBay or direct. I took a couple photos with my iPhone during the last pack on Friday. As our readers know, I pack my travel bike in a case like a demonstration project of spatial relationships.

The technique for a bike box is to pack it like the factory does. Save the packing from the last bike received or use pipe insulation, construction paper, and thick cable ties.

Cable Tied

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Packed like a pro.

  • Bars removed and turned into the fork, wrapped in a plastic bag.
  • Thick cable ties hold it together.
  • Front wheel tied to frame – foam protects tubes.
  • Fork drop-out protector.
  • Axle protectors go into the front wheel and on both sides of the rear stays.
  • Shift chain to big ring and then release the tension on the cables.
  • Turn stem inward.
  • Packed in box retrieved from a bike shop.

Construction Paper on Cranks

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Protects the finish on the crank.

Workbench

The workbench gets cleaned up periodically, but mostly looks like this.

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Gear comes and goes. Cassettes swapped, flats fixed, and mudflaps put on fenders.

What’s your bench got on it?

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