Category Archives: Gadgetry

Ooooh. Shiny.

On Being Stateless in Zwift

So I joined Zwift just recently. Sure, I’m a little late to the party, but reasons.

Anyway, while signing up, Zwift allows you to select your nationality, and offers a veritable cornucopia of nations with which you can identify. For instance, you can show the world you’re from  The Faroe Islands, Kiribati or the British Virgin Islands. If you’re a pedalling priest, you can select the flag of the Holy See. Wow. So many flags.

So I went looking for my flags.

Now, I carry two flags on my bikes.For the uninitiated, the flag on the left is the bleeding eyes of Sufferlandria. Black for Suffering, White for Purity of Suffering and Red for Suffering.

I didn’t really expect the Sufferlandrian flag to be available in Zwift. It would have been a nice little easter egg bonus, but I didn’t expect it. Nevertheless I did feel a mild stab of disappointment when I couldn’t find it.

So obviously I went off hunting for my other flag – the actual flag of the actual country in which I was actually  born. Wales. A Red Dragon on a field of white and green.

This flag

article-0-0E594C4B00000578-538_468x286You know what? It’s not there.

A country of 20,779 km2 and over three million people. Just not there. A country that has its own damn wikipedia. A country with its own legislative assembly, national anthem and capital city.

But I can’t select that flag. Oh no. I can select the flag of “Neutral Zone”, whatever that is, but not Wales.

I can select the flag of The Falkland islands, a flag which actually has a sheep on it. Jesus, you’re just trolling now, aren’t you?

Zwift, you need to get your shit together. Seriously.



(Update: Apparently, Zwift use ISO 3166 and ISO places Wales under the UK. Apparently. But not The Falklands. Which is a British dependency.)
(Update 2: There’s also no Scottish flag, no Ulster flag, and no European stars. But you can select the flag of Pitcairn, a tiny island nation with fewer than 100 residents)

Improving Fly6 footage

I have a hypothesis. It goes like this.

Fly6 crash footage can always be improved by fading to black with a mournful piano soundtrack.

So I performed an experiment. Tell me what you think

New Toys

As ever, injury has been keeping me off the bike of late. So far the score for 2014 is:

  • Broken ribs: 1
  • Elbow bursitis: 1
  • Significant muscle strains: 2
  • Physio Visits: too many
  • Concussions: What? Who said that? Where am I?

Still, here at The Crankset Global Domination Headquarters and Bicycle WorkshopTM, I have taken delivery of a few new gadgets, which I’ll probably be reviewing soon. I am kinda sorta back on the bike, riding but not racing and hoping everything heals up enough so I can shed the extra kilos I’ve put on while moping around sulking and lurking on the sofa playing video games and drinking beer with my undamaged arm.

Wow that was a long sentence.

Anyway, first in the new gadget list: A Stages Powermeter on an Ultegra crank

Second, A Fly6 rear-facing combo tail-light and camera

Third, a Topeak floor-to-ceiling bike rack.

(I also bought a new helmet but that’s the same as the one I destroyed when I broke my rib so no review for you)

I’m easing back in, so impressions on the first two are preliminary at best, but the third I can enjoy from my chair and let me tell you this: If you don’t have one of these, you’re missing out. Yes, your spare room/home office/studio/den/torture chamber can have that bike-shop charm with your pride and joy hung from the wall looking all shiny and bling, so when you’re not riding you can still go and look at them and say to yourself “That’s a bloody nice looking bike, that.” several times a day until your significant other wants to kill you.


Just don’t try to hang a Pinarello Sword on it. Because 1: It won’t fit and 2: that bike fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down. Seriously.



While I’m here having a beer or two…

The best use ever, full stop… for a bike pedal.

Strava: Classic segments

Just a quick short post to say: Strava’s  classic segments page is fantastic.

And I’m very glad to say one of my own favourites, Mount Hotham, has made the list

The Design Behind The Bike

I’ve been watching this excellent series from the UK’s Open University on the subject of design in cycling. It’s a fascinating helicopter view of  bike design from several angles. Enjoy!

Continue Reading →

Now that’s how to transport a bike

Found via @stravacycling on Instagram.

But I think to myself: where do I keep the shoes, helmet, toolkit, spare wheels, energy gels, electrolyte, recovery drink, arm warmers, leg warmers, rainproof shell, spare jersey, spare tubes, multitool, tyre levers, gloves, eyewear, spare eyewear lenses, lights, sunscreen, garmin, water and all the other nonsense that gets packed into my van on race day?

First Ride: Bianchi Methanol SL 29

Yes. Yes, it is.

Yes. Yes, it is.

So as I intimated in an earlier post, I’m now the proud owner of a carbon hardtail MTB, more specifically a Bianchi Methanol SL 29 XT. I took it out on dirt for the first time yesterday, and my impressions so far are more than positive.

So the basics on the bike

  • 29″ Carbon hardtail.
  • RockShox Reba RL 100mm fork w/poploc remote lockout
  • XT groupset (with the exception of a Truvativ X9 double chainset and FSA chain)
  • FSA components, Magura hydro discs, Selle San Marco saddle
  • Fulcrum Red Power wheelset, shod with Kenda 24seven rubber

In focus, it’s a racing-oriented carbon XC hardtail. Pretty straightforward, right? Well yes. But no. Because there’s some serious thought gone into this frame and while you might not agree 100% with what’s come out, you have to tip your hat to the design. Continue Reading →

A moment for a minor rant

Yesterday afternoon, as I was heading home early from work – rather unusually on my road bike – disaster struck.

At about 45km/h on Lilyfield Road, my bike bottle made a daring escape from the cage in which it had been imprisoned, and leaped to freedom.

A rather short-lived freedom that ended a millisecond later as it was crushed to death under my rear wheel.

Continue Reading →

There are many things I could say about this

Gizmodo recently posted an item on what was quoted as “a giant leap forward in bicycle engineering”, a bike made of the aerospace material Trivex.

There are of course lots of things to say on this topic. The most obvious is that the bike, as pretty as it is in a minimalist kind of way, hardly follows most recent breakthrough bike design trends.

For one thing, the head angle is absurdly slack which would make it somewhat of a lazy handler. It also has an absurdly large rear triangle, compromising stiffness and drive, and resulting in a higher, flat top tube, rather than the more modern sloping or curved design.

It also appears to neglect the most intriguing capability of modern materials – 3D design – and opts for plain, symmetrical tubes, where a truly breakthrough design would take advantage of aerodynamic research and testing to come up with something slippery and streamlined – like the S-Works Venge – or something radically assymetrical, prioritising stiffness in the drive side, like the Pinarello Dogma.

I could also criticise the componentry, the option of a brake-free singlespeed design and the choice of a track-style drop bar, where more practical – and indeed groundbreaking – choices exist. The designer could have included genius componentry, like Ridley and BMC‘s aero-integrated braking options, and Shimano’s recent 11-speed Dura-Ace Di2 electronic groupset.

As a mountain biker, I could mention that it eschews technological genius such as variable-rate suspension systems and disc braking. From a commuter point of view, it entirely ignores the possibility of internal hub gearing and belt drive, both of which have made leap-and-bound advancements in recent years.

I could have even mentioned the way this cannot be groundbreaking, since it doesn’t even include dopey on-the-fly tyre pressure adjustment.

I could say all of these things, but I won’t. Because this is an invisible bike, and invisible bikes get only one response.

let me show you mah bike, oh is rite, I CAN'T