Category: reviews

Mini-Review: Focus Cayo 4.0 Disc

Blessed with friends in high places because I’m usually on my knees, your friendly neighborhood crankpunk went for a ride with a friend who works in the industry and was knocking about on this little nipper, the Focus Cayo 4.0 Disc, Focus’ entry level disc bike.

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I literally rode the thing up a 2km hill and then down the other side so this is hardly a review, but here’s what I gleamed from my brief affair with the Sram Rival bedecked steed.

It was good. I don’t like the after-thoughtish paint job, well the white details around the headtube and seat tube specifically, but other than that it was comfortable and tight in the corners and whilst not quite setting my heart on fire, I would have been fine either tootling around on it all day or putting it through its paces on a hammer ride with some pals – which is kinda exactly what it was designed for, as you can see here from the blurby blurb on the Focus website:

Performance and professional quality come in an affordable package in the FOCUS Cayo. There’s no better choice for gran fondos, sportives, and weekend racing events.

There’s no mistaking the FOCUS lineage in the sporty lines of the Cayo.

A compliant carbon frame lets you go further and faster for longer.

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Hurrah! All the cliches you’d expect really, but it certainly makes a case for itself, the Cayo 4.0, via your wallet: you can pick it up for about $3,150 or thereabouts. For a disc bike. The other appealing point is that the Cayo 4.0 has exactly the same frame as  the Cayo 1.0, a bike about $1200 more expensive.

‘Well of course, all brands are the same, only the groupset changes on the same models’ you may think, and you’d be wrong.

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Most brands use a different layup on say their XXX Dura Ace than you’ll get on the XXX 105 bike. Why? Hard to say it’s cos of $$$ because the difference in cost is so negligible, about $20, but then again what other reason can there be? But yeah, usually when you buy a 105 model instead of the DA model you aren’t only getting a cheaper gruppo but a cheaper frame too.

Not so with Focus, however. (And no, Focus do not pay me to say that, it’s just something I know and it’s another reason why they do make good bikes).

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The model I rode (pictured above) has, you’ll notice, a Roval at the back the kit wheel DT Swiss R24 Spline at the front, a switch forced by a last-minute pre-departure puncture. The bike handled well enough with the Spline at the front but these are pretty heavy wheels – race-minded folk would want to switch these pretty quickly, making the Cayo 4.0 more appealing to randonneurs and gran fondo riders than racers. (It also has a non-standard Rotor crank, on the factory model you get Rival).

The disc brakes were awesome, I’m a big fan of anything that might stop me hitting a wall and damaging the money maker, giving me way more time into the corners, the only drawback being the false sense of security that came with that – I almost spilled it on the second corner,  not a good idea on a borrowed bike!

With time on them it’s clear that you’ll gain more control and therefore more confidence into the turns.

I was, on the whole, though ever so briefly, quite impressed. A lot of bike for your bucks.

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World Exclusive New Bike Preview! The all new VELOCITE SYN

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Velocite is a bike brand located in Kaoshiung in southern Taiwan, headed by husband & wife team Victor and Jessica Major.

I got to know Victor thanks to my racing here in Asia and my time as the editor of CyclingTime.com, and I’ve tested as few of his bikes over the past four or five years, with the Velocite Magnus being the stiffest bike I’ve ever ridden bar none. Word from Victor though is that this one is even stiffer (see the full press release at the bottom of this post).

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Victor just sent over these images if his new Syn frame, all built up and ready to go. Thoughts? Personally I think it looks really good. Liking the paint-job too.

I’ll be getting one of these to review as soon as I can, stay tuned for that.

You can get hold of one too, if you’re lucky!

Victor says:  “If you would like to be one of the first to try the Velocite Syn, and be a part of our live testing program contact us either via Facebook or on service@velocite-bikes.com .”

Wow huh. Get mailing.

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To read the full press release, please click below.

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The Crashtag™ by Elevengear review

the guys at Elevengear got in touch about a new identify thing they call CrashTag, asking me if i was interested in checking it out, so i said yes, so they sent me one.

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simple.

which is the idea behind The Crashtag, far as i can see. one one side of the rounded piece of Al6V4 titanium you have a pattern of your choosing from 10 patterns (they have a club special too, whereby you can get your club name and logo on the front – in fasct, i think anyone can get whatever they want put on there), on the other you have space for 159 characters that should include your name, an emergency number and whatever else you want, laser-engraved on there.

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there’s also a QR code on there, which links to their site and your own personal page, where you can input your photo, website address, FB, Twitter and what else you fancy.

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it comes with a variety of cords in different materials of differing lengths too, which allows for fastening either as a necklace or as a tag on say a bag, shoes, or the bike itself i guess.

it’s kinda cool (it’s a bottle opener too), though maybe a little overpriced at $34.50 i feel.

the QR code idea is that if you meet someone of interest whose details you’d like, rather than just taking a number, you scan their code and boom, you have all their details in one handy place. not a bad idea, interesting enough, though i had to download a QR reader app first to make it relevant. a quick poll of my amigos showed that just one person out of about 20 had a QR reader app on their fone.

i originally put it on my saddle but it was clinking every 5 seconds, then just ended up sticking it in my pocket but found that i forgot it the next time i rode. didn’t look right on the shoes, the cord was too short for my wrist but as it’s sized like a dogtag it’s too big for there anyway, and as a necklace it just wasn’t my style.

so, it’s kinda smart, looks pretty good, the QR code idea is fine but not many people i know at least have a reader, and can it compete with the bracelet-style id tags available now? not sure.

would i buy one? no, but then i don’t have an ID bracelet either. i know i should but you know, sometimes i get a little creeped out heading out thinking ‘ok so if i get hit so bad that i can’t talk then this will save me’ – you know? maybe stupid, but then i make a conscious effort never to say the word C-R-A-S-H oitloud either, so i’m safe.

i think i’ll stick it on my travel bag, will look good there.

um, realising maybe i wasn’t the best person to review this. i’m sure some people who do ride with their info on them would love this.

pros:

looks good

light

smart

cons:

where am i gonna put it so i don’t forget it?

how many people have QR readers?

not cheap

6.5/10, if you’re pushing me…

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imitation, they say…

is nothing short of laziness.

or, wait some folk say… is the sincerest form of flattery. or something like that. well, check this out – CRANKPUMP!

it’ll be a huge success. cos everyone has shimano hollowtech cranks. and no one has pockets. brilliant!

click here to see the CRANKPUMP! video and to hear the voiceover from a woman who was kept in a darkened room for the past 11 years.

and what a smooth-line looking bike…

really?

really?

 

yes, for 50 quid you can become a TEST-PILOT! and not an idiot who sent in 50 quid to test something that costs 89p to make!

yes, for 50 quid you can become a TEST-PILOT! and not an idiot who sent in 50 quid to test something that costs 89p to make!

 

lovely line drawings abound!

lovely line drawings abound!

Cycling or Psychling? The Insanity of A Life on Two Wheels

by crankpunk. this article is a re-post and originally appeared in Spin Magazine, March 2013. since the original publication of this article, Mr. White joined the Philadelphia 76ers but was waived by the team at the end of October… 

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Insanity

Defined by Merriam-Webster’s dictionary as:

1: a deranged state of the mind usually occurring as a specific disorder (as schizophrenia)

2: such unsoundness of mind or lack of understanding as prevents one from having the mental capacity required by law to enter into a particular relationship, status, or transaction or as removes one from criminal or civil responsibility

.
3a : extreme folly or unreasonableness

3b : something utterly foolish or unreasonable

I’m going to talk a little about basketball for a moment, or, more precisely, one particular basketball player, a certain Royce White. I will, I promise, return to the sport of the shaven-legged, just hang in here for a paragraph or two.

It is, I promise, pertinent. I think. Though there is of course the possibility that the madness of a life on two wheels will consume me finally, before I get to the end, and then you’ll have just wasted a good ten minutes. But then if you’re reading this you’re probably a little nutso anyways, so all good…

Anyway, back to Mr. White. Mr. White is a phenomenally talented basketball player, and “plays” for the Rockets.

I put plays in inverted commas because, in truth, the 21 year old has yet to step onto the court in a Rockets jersey because he is locked in a contractual (and you could say philosophical) battle with the team’s hierarchy, because the two parties can’t quite come to mutually acceptable terms about White’s mental illness, one that all accept does in fact exist.

White has anxiety attacks that cripple him and a fear of flying that doesn’t stop him completely from flying, but that makes it an extremely difficult and exhausting experience for him.

What he wants, in a nutshell, is to be able to appoint his own psychiatrist who will then decide before each game whether he is mentally fit to play. The Rockets say no go, fella. Hence the stalemate.

Now that’s kind of interesting, but what is really fascinating is White’s belief about mental illness across society, which, according to the US National Institute for Mental Health, affects 26% of the population.

First off, White says in a recent interview with Chuck Klosterman that the number is higher in both society and sports, stating that the percentage of players in the NBA who smoke marijuana is never taken into account, claiming that those addicted are mentally ill.

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He cites the stress caused by the modern world and its attendant problems, which is without doubt a major cause of heart attacks and deaths, as another form of mental illness. He also cites the problems caused by financial insecurity as another form.

His question, at one point in the interview, was “How many people don’t have a mental illness? But that’s what we don’t want to talk about.”

What’s this got to do with cycling? Well let’s take a look. First off, let’s say that if in American society the number of mentally ill people is at 26%, the number must be similar in most western societies, where most of the top pro riders come from.

Now let’s consider the number of prominent cyclists who have had drug problems – and I don’t mean PEDs – that would take a book and a half.

Tom Boonen of course, cocaine. Frank Vandenbroucke, cocaine and alcohol, and the rest. Marco Pantani, coke by the Colombian truck load. Go back through the decades and you’ll find tale after tale of riders who took so much amphetamine that by the end they were more like drug addicts with a cycling problem than the other way around.

The Snow King, Marco Pantani
The Snow King, Marco Pantani

No doubt, our sport has its fare share of midnight monsters. Ride hard, play hard is often the motto for a sizable minority of riders.

And surely, to be even slightly into this sport of ours you have to be somewhat driven by some form of madness. First off, we shave our legs. Now, the pros have a reason to do so – nightly massages and frequent crashes make it essential. But what about the weekend warrior? See what I mean? Slightly nuts, for sure.

Definitely fits Mirriam-Webster’s description of insanity here:

3a : extreme folly or unreasonableness

We also have to be mad to actually go out and take the punishment we mete out to ourselves. What’s that all about? Yes it’s great to summit a hill, to fly down a descent at 85km/hr, to drop a rival or crush a young pretender.

But why do we need to do it? Personally I’ve stopped questioning why. Hour after hour of training. Banging up hills repeatedly til I’m retching. Missing out on parties and all the fun to get up at 6am to go out in the rain for 5 hours.

All I know is that, for some reason, it feels good and that’s ok by me, but I do know that essentially it is a little mad.

And that fits 3b:

3b : something utterly foolish or unreasonable

OK, but that’s the lighthearted stuff. Let’s look at what happens at the extremes. Two words.

Lance. Armstrong.

that'll be 7 vials for tomorrow, thanks...
that’ll be 7 vials for tomorrow, thanks…

Utter psychopath. Sociopath, even. To say he’s devious is like calling Richard Nixon ‘sneaky’. The adjectives don’t even come close.

Armstrong, like Nixon, crossed the line so thoroughly that even the knowledge that there once was a line was eradicated. They bent the truth to suit their own realities to such a degree that their reality became the truth, and thus all who opposed them opposed truth.

There are other drugs cheats in other sports but there’s never quite been one like Lance Armstrong, and there’s a reason why he managed to become so successful, both as an athlete and as a liar, in this particular sport.

Because this sport rewards the mad, the insane. It’s the premise upon which all our traditions are built. From Henri Desgrange’s wickedly brutal early Tour de France to the madness of the Classics such as Paris-Roubaix, you don’t have to be mad to be a cyclist, to paraphrase that popular office jolly, but actually you do.

Armstrong, by the way, fits Merriam-Webster’s definition #2 perfectly:

2: such unsoundness of mind or lack of understanding as prevents one from having the mental capacity required by law to enter into a particular relationship, status, or transaction or as removes one from criminal or civil responsibility

(And for the record, so do all the drugs cheats).

Finally we have the truly insane amongst us, who are worth a mention. Pantani and Vandenbroucke, may whomever bless them, were up there. Poor troubled souls who were not meant for this world, for they were far too fragile.

Another was the legendary climber Charly Gaul, the Luxembourger who won the Tour in 1958 and the Giro d’Italia in 1956 and 1959. An incredible climber, he was also a fan of amphetamines, and known to froth at the mouth during some stages.

Charly Gaul
Charly Gaul

His teammate Marcel Ernzer recalled a conversation he had with Gaul in his heyday (Gaul was known to speak of himself in the third person):

“Charly’s going to die,” said Gaul.

“Why do you say that?” asked Ernzer.

“Because Charly takes too many pills.”

“But everybody takes them.”

“Yes, but Charly a lot more than the others.”

When he quit the sport a few years later, Gaul went to live in a forest in the Ardennes, wearing the same clothes daily and known to locals to be suffering from depression. He lived as a recluse until 1983 when he somehow married and made a gradual move back into society.

Another was Jacques Anquetil. One of the true greats, the Frenchman won almost everything worth winning, including five Tour de France.

However when he retired he was known to be somewhat of an insomniac, heading off into the woods in his estate with his dog to sit quietly under the trees for hours on end.

He also – and this is truly troubling – began a ménage a trois between his wife and his step-daughter, eventually impregnating the girl, who was then only 18, and going on to marry her!

Yes, quite insane. But then again this is cycling, so, by our standards – no, still insane!

One could stretch the argument and say that both Gaul and Anquetil, and in turn VDB and Pantani, match Merriam-Webster’s definition #1:

a deranged state of the mind usually occurring as a specific disorder (as schizophrenia) .

Mad people in a mad sport. But then, I can talk. I am, after all, a cyclist. But then, so are you.

Welcome to Bedlam!

reasons to be cheerful #1- my 720 Armour sunglasses

i like them first of all because they say ‘screw you american spelling rules!’ 

and that’d be reason enough.

surely.

but i do like the 720 Armour range for several other reasons, which i may go into another time at more length, but here they are condensed:

1. price point

2. style

3. RX quality is the best i’ve tried, zero complaints on quality for the near-blind, and zero distortion in lens at edges.

but i really fell in love with my 720 Armour ‘Peak’ sunglasses 2 weeks ago when they didn’t take my out of its socket. 

Peak

Peak

speeding down a very familiar hill that i am on at least once a week, i was actually going slower than usual when my front wheel slipped out from under me. the result was road rash on both the front and each side of my body, which was obviously awesome, but also a bad abrasion under my left eye.

i didn’t even know it was there until one of my riding companions pointed out that there was blood on my face, which, despite there being far more blood seeping out of me from other parts of my body, obviously became my main cause of concern.

‘not the face! NOT THE FACE!’

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anyway, i ended up with a small cut where the lens dug into my cheek but, despite the glass being scratched i could thank my lucky stars that 720’s shatterproof glass did not shatter. losing an eye to shards of lens is not on my agenda right now, nor will it be, so i’ll be sticking with 720 from now on!

a close call...

a close call…

www.teamjva.com & the baiting of a certain English brand

phew, and i thought crankpunk was no respecter of reputations, an irreverent take on the world of cycling.

then i came across these guys, the Jens Voigt Army folks. JVA takes irreverence out the back door, kicks it black and blue around the alleyway for half an hour, then tips it all befuddled into the dumpster, and then takes a proper long ass old leak on it.

the attention to detail, the loving, almost slavish mockery, the sheer dedication to out-brand the brand – well – ouch!

in a good and very funny way and even dare i say deserving way, but, all the same – ouch!

‘too Liggett to quit.’

priceless.

that will keep me going on my 4 hour slog today…

crank on, JVA grunts, crank on…

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review: Rapha Transfer jacket

crankpunk ain’t never gonna wear no freakin’ wire, man, but i will come clean and spill the beans just about any day of the week. i’m a street fightin man in the mould of Mick Jagger – i’ll holler and shout for the rev-o-lution baby, heck i might even pout from time to time, and i can camp it up with the best of them, but it’s all little more than bluff and bluster –  put the squeeze on crankpunk and you’ll hear me squealin’ all the way to Guadeloupe.

Mick always did love camping

so, the confession must be made before the review begins:

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