Michael Hübner’s TEXTIMA sprint bike, image from Campafreak’s Flickr page
This bike dates from about 1990 or a little before. It was made in the former East Germany by TEXTIMA, who made bikes for the DDR national team. It has several unique features like a fork crown made on a lathe rather than imported from a western European country. The Soviets had bikes that similarly stood out from the bikes of the “free world”. More than any so-called “track bike” from NAHBS darling Cherubim, I would have this bike. It’s way too big for me to ride, but no one can ride those Cherubim bikes either.
Michael Hübner, image from Cycling Archives
Cherubim show bike at NAHBS, image from Bikeradar
Byron has asked me a few times about Levi Leipheimer’s King Ridge Gran Fondo having what effectively is a ban on carbon clincher wheels. Byron was saying that it was unprecedented that organizers would dictate what equipment riders could bring to a ride. On the contrary, as a mechanic at a shop I on occasion have customers bring their bikes in for a tuneup right before some organized tour, and they have lists of parts they must bring. The Gran Fondo organizers are essentially doing the same thing.
What are carbon clinchers? They are wheels that fit clincher-type tyres and have rims composed of carbon fibre and DO NOT have a metal braking surface. Carbon rim wheels were originally only compatible with tubular tyres, which are much easier to accommodate structurally because they are simply glued onto the rim’s perimeter. However, both gluing tubular tyres and dealing with flats are not very beginner-friendly. Carbon clinchers have promised to eliminate those two drawbacks while still delivering the lightweight and (often) aerodynamics of carbon tubular wheels (for a steep price). The problem comes from the fact that the clincher’s sidewall must function as both the braking surface and the structure that resists the clincher tyre’s internal air pressure bursting out sideways. It’s not that difficult to build a clincher rim that can do that for a static wheel, but the harder and longer you use the brakes, the more friction is applied to the rim’s braking surface. This happens to both metal and carbon fibre rims, but a carbon rim builds up more heat and sheds it poorly compared to aluminium. For heavy rider on a hot day, riding a long descent, and perhaps amongst a congestion of riders, that carbon clincher rim might see temperatures in excess of 300deg…hot enough for the resin holding the carbon fibres to crap out. Plus the tyre’s volume of air absorbs a portion of the heat, increasing pressure. Combine the two and the rim could fail in a big, bad way.
The key to alleviating this problem is finding the right resin that is both tough and heat resistant. Zipp, a subsidiary of SRAM Corporation, has invested much into developing a carbon clincher version of their Firecrest series racing wheels, but many other brands are simply buying open-sourced rims out of Asia to produce their own “wheel systems”. You can’t know for certain how well those wheels are going to hold up, and frankly I wouldn’t bet my life on Zipp if I was a big guy in that hot descent scenario. The Gran Fondo organizers have seen the problems in the past, so they are telling riders to leave the carbon clinchers at home this time around. Apparently on the registration form, there is a box on the waiver that you must check off indicating that you are aware of the carbon clincher policy.
So here is my opinion. Ride some regular alloy wheels and stop bitching. This is a Gran Fondo ride, which means “club race” to the hammerheads and “participatory event” to everyone else. If you fancy yourself some kind of road warrior who “needs the best” when it comes to equipment, then get the best: carbon tubular wheels. They are lighter, stronger, and faster for any given price point.
photo from Cozy Beehive
Bike friendly Seattle!
On the same day a judge tossed out a streetcar tracks lawsuit, Sound Transit announces a cycle track will accompany the 1st Hill Streetcar on Broadway in Seattle. At least they’re learning!
So what happened was, the SDOT aligned the tracks to the far right of the street where the bikes go. I’ve ridden along them and your front wheel plays chicken with the track. It’s bad civil engineering and inevitably led to crashes. So an attorney gathered up 6 cyclists into a lawsuit and a judge said
The cyclists hadn’t proved the city fell short of any design or engineering standards and the City is immune.
while the city attorney Rebecca Boatright said
We never disputed the tracks were a hazard.
PR tip to Boatright! You’re making your bones here in our town, sure, but probably don’t want to gloat about knowingly putting cyclists in danger.
A known hazard and to the point, riding on Seattle’s mean streets is not like you’re in Amsterdam or Copenhagen or even on a path along Greenlake.
You’re in danger at all times and should ride offensively. On that section of road, when I’m there, I’m riding right down the middle of the lane like the Fixie Guy in the Motherfucking bike video.
Get the F up off me and not going to ride along tracks
Middle of the street is where you’re gonna find me, a shitload of traffic backed up behind me.
You should ride there too on your motherfucking bike.
The City’s relationship with cyclists? Another quote and this time from Chuck D and Public Enemy
You Can’t Truss It
Where was the powerful Cascade Bicycle Club during this bike-friendy-city-transportion-engineering failure? Obsessing about Stone Way before their top lobbyist went to work for the Mayor.
Can we trust them on issues like cyclist’s safety?
Trust your self and no one else. In Seattle, at least.
We noticed EADS’s 3D printer bike last year and YouTube video about the project is getting noticed again. Skip to the end, after the long buildup, to a reveal of the bike actually being ridden. In the maker world, those that build things, it’s remarkable.
What does this mean? Replicants in our future? It’s another step in changing up how things are made and an industrial-strength version of the desktop printer geeks use to make plastic trinkets. The process is similar to stereo lithography, a process used for rapid prototyping. So, in the Airbike scenario, you could skip a few revs of your hot new urban-bike design and get a prototype out to your partners before making a run in the factory. The plastic version v. clay or drawings is rideable and tactile. That’s what consumer product makers do now with computer peripherals and a whole range of products. Textura Design (our parent company) did that with Clip-n-Seals years ago.
If AIRBUS had added a hinges to the build, for a fold, it’ll look just like the award-winner Tern Verge Duo.
Note: The resemblance to the robot-riding bike’s shaky start and wobbly ride didn’t go unnoticed.