Davidson Mk.V:  Red Star Livery

Red Star Davidson titanium

I finally decided on a paint scheme for my Davidson titanium, one that keeps much of the metal bare but still brings the fork into the overall image. I despise forks that don’t match or at least compliment the frame. With the goal of unifying the Enve carbon fork with a titanium frame, the fork is painted colour #5086 titanium with electric blue on the front face. Painting the front of the seat tube and a small portion of the down tube echoes that pattern. Paint will never exactly duplicate the look of a brushed metal surface, but by adding the blue to both the frame and fork, the difference between brushed titanium and titanium-coloured paint becomes less apparent. The red stars are a graphic theme that I end up applying to a lot of my possessions.

Red Star Davidson titanium

New Dura Ace 9000

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image source

Spy shots of new Dura Ace 9000-series are wafting over from Japan. This is the new crank, a departure from the 130mm bcd 5-arm that has been traditional for Shimano’s top racing crank for decades. The four arm bcd looks fairly small, so I’d guess that the same forging will probably be used for both standard racing combinations (e.g. 53/39) and compact gearing (e.g. 50/34). It is interesting that the spider arms are not evenly spaced around the face of the crank; they seem to have narrower angles between the spider arms in the direction perpendicular to the crank arms. Besides the marketing benefits of system integration, this arrangement concentrates support for the chainrings where they will see the most stress (i.e. when the crank arms pass thru 3 o’clock). Shimano has been an industry leader in chainring design for 20 years now, and this latest version of Dura Ace uses the strength and rigidity of the hollow chainring (first introduced with DA 7900) to allow the spider bcd to be paired down. Aesthetically, I am undecided on the new cranks style, but I think it may be growing on me.

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Brakes are another facet that has been a standout for the last 5 generations of Dura Ace. Though I’m sure they stop awesome, but these brakes are hideous. I’m not quite sure how the pivots are laid out from just seeing the front of the caliper, but I’m very curious.

Next Step for Electronic Shifting: Custom Peripherals?

TRP hydraulic levers

Long, long ago, in a bike shop not far from here, bike mechanics once installed shifters and derailleurs from different makers on the same bicycles. On purpose. And they worked great. I’m not shitting you; it’s the truth. Well, when I say it “worked great”, what I really mean is that it worked as good as any other options available at the time. You see, this is back in the dark days when shifters and derailleurs didn’t actually shift, but rather the derailleurs blindly dragged the chain into the path of the cogs while under the vague influence of a shift lever. Nowadays we call this mysticism “friction shifting”, and its adherents have been rightfully pushed to the margins of society. (Don’t try to frighten us with your sorcerous ways, Grant Petersen.)

Then from the mists of time immemorial, or at least the fluorescent swirl of the 1980s, indexed shifting brought structure and order to the people of the world through system integration. Derailleurs and shifters were designed to work best in specific combinations. The alternate perspective is that they were designed to work poorly outside of those combinations, but a modern indexed system can, for instance, be engaged out of the saddle at full power, something not feasible with older friction shifters. The quaint institutions of old (Huret, Simplex, Suntour) eventually toppled to the true empires (Campagnolo, Shimano). But while ever more nuanced system integration yielded shifting that was sure even under the most demanding conditions, the end user lost any personal choice in the interface…the shift lever itself. Systems like Shimano’s Di2 and Campagnolo’s EPS are replacing tensioned braided cables with digital impulses on computer connecters, and the future of shifting promises to completely bind cycling consumers to a single brand. Or does it?

Skater vs Cyclist

Short film: a cycle courier chases an inline skater through London. The courier is moving at a good clip during the footage, but my word, the skater is burning it up.

Sea Otter Classic and a Spring Cross Race

After a crack o’ dawn flight, a drive from SFO to Laguna Seca, and straight to the media center to get credentials, first bike I see is a Raleigh with a Bud in a Lezyne carbon cage. My kinda party! I was here to race and see what was going at at the season opener in the States.

As seen on Instagram

Quick Race Recap

Racer in a banana suit took out Etheridge (SSCX champion) into turn one, bars got tangled up, then lots traffic. Rode through that in 85° heat to finish on the lead lap and place somewhere.

I raced on Rutledge’s (Redline) “Arctic Fox” shown below. A custom spec’d Conquest carbon in an enthusiastic field of about 50. Earlier races in the day had about the same turnout, including a world champion and other old, fast dudes.

Custom spec’d Redline carbon

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