Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Improving the stopping power of old single pivot brakes

vintage single speed Raleigh weinmann brakes
Love your vintage road bike with single pivot side pull brakes but don't love the scary braking performance? Before you ditch the calipers for a modern dual pivot design, follow our easy tips for improving the stopping power, you may be surprised at the results.

1. Replace the brake cables
Many vintage bikes from the 1980's are used as cheap runarounds and basic servicing is often neglected. Replacing a grimy dried out set of 10 year old cables with a fresh new set will work wonders and ensure the power you are putting in at the levers makes its way to the calipers is not lost along the way.

2. Clean and grease the calipers
To do this job properly will require removing the caliper from the bike, taking it apart and thoroughly cleaning before re-greasing the re-assembling.

This will ensure they move as freely as possible and the maximum amount of power is applied to the brake pads.

3. Buy some decent brake pads
Do not underestimate how much difference a good set of brake pads can make.

My first road bike was a Raleigh , it came with the original Weinmann single pivot side pull brakes and some worn out pads which needed replacing.

I first bought some generic non-branded brake blocks and the braking was still pretty terrible - in the wet it was dangerous.

Unfortunately, due to the long reach and small distance between the brake caliper and front fork / seat stays, it is unlikely that you will be able to fit a modern brake pad carrier.

This will make your options for replacement brake pads pretty limited - however all you need is Kool Stop Continental's in the Salmon compound.

The Kool Stop Salmon compound is an extremely well regarded aggressive compound for excellent braking in the wet and dry.

I bought them after reading many positive reviews online and since fitting these the braking performance of my old Weinmann brakes has been completely transformed, especially in the wet.

The braking feels more progressive as well as out and out stopping power.
kool stop continental brake pads
Kool Stop Continental brake pads
Before fitting the Kool Stops I was sure the Weinmann calipers would need to be replaced, however for me the bike now feels safe and this is no longer required.

Still not good enough?
Remember, the pro's used to descend The Alps at race speed using this style of brake set up, so they should be able to provide a reasonable level of stopping power.

If none of the above options work then your best option would would be to upgrade the calipers to a modern dual-pivot design. However, fitting modern calipers to a retro bike frame can come with its own complications.

Also the non-aero brake lever design does not give any where near as much mechanical leverage when operated from the hoods, so upgrading to the newer aero design will also allow you to put more power through the levers.

Having problems with your old brakes? Or had a good experience of the Kool Stop Continentals? Please leave your comments below.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

SIS Go Electrolyte Powder Causing Headaches After Long Rides?

After consistently getting headaches after long rides (more than 3 hrs in the saddle) I think I have finally found the cause - SIS Science In Sport Go Electrolyte powder. Read on to find out how and if it could affect you.

A bit of back story - I have been riding for approximately 4 years. SIS Go Electrolyte was one of the first nutritional products I bought after first reading about the importance of carbohydrates and electrolytes in avoiding the dreaded bonk.

I first bought a tub of the Lemon/Lime flavour, it seemed to taste alright, didn't cause any stomach problems and did the job so I never had a reason to buy anything different or think it was causing any problems.

I always used it on any rides I knew would be long, carefully following the recommended amounts for adding to water.

In a pattern many of you will recognise, the miles crept up as the cycling bug took hold. The 15 mile weekend ride became 25 miles, then 35 miles, then 50 miles.

Being generally terrible at pacing myself - sometimes I avoided the bonk, other times I was not so lucky. But one thing was fairly consistent if my ride was over 40 miles - a pounding headache lasting up to 5 hrs after finishing a ride.

I would generally be OK sitting on the sofa, but getting up and walking up the stairs (or anything which got the blood pumping a bit) would result in a quite sharp headache which sometimes went away after a couple of hours but on other occasions would last well into the evening.

It must be dehydration, I thought, even though I am always very careful to drink well before, during and after a ride.

So on my next ride I made doubly sure to drink even more than usual - no difference. Also, without going into too much detail, my pee was clear so I knew dehydration could be written off.

Over the next few months I tried everything, too much sugar before a ride, not enough sugar during a ride, too much sugar after a ride etc etc. But none of it made any difference.

I thought it must be the cold weather, or just a result of exerting myself for long periods of time.

The thing I couldn't figure out was that I never got headaches on shorter rides, even if they were ridden at a much harder intensity or even partially dehydrated.

One day I ran out of Science In Sport Go just before a 45 mile ride, not good but i'll survive. So instead I threw some orange juice in my bidon with some water and got on with it.

The ride went pretty much as normal except afterwards I had no headache! At first I thought it was just a coincidence - I didn't use to get headaches after every ride, probably 75% of the time.

After a ditching the electrolyte powder for a few more long rides, I can report I have not had a headache since.

It had never clicked that I only ever used to use Science In Sport Go when I was doing rides of over about 40 miles - and these were the only rides I was getting headaches after.

After a bit of searching on Google I found I was not alone and a few other people had started topics complaining of similar issues.

I don't know specifically what it is in the electrolyte powder which causes headaches for me, and I have not had a chance to try out any other brands to see if it makes a difference.

Clearly it is not an issue which affects everyone as hundreds of thousands of people happily use Science In Sport's electrolyte products, but if you are suffering from headaches after long rides/runs and use an electrolyte/carbohydrate drink then it is worth cutting it out to see if it makes a difference.

If anyone has had any similar experience with headaches after using these artificial electrolyte/carbohydrate/energy drinks then please leave a comment below, we'd love to hear from you.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Clean Spirit: In the Heart of the Tour Review

clean spirit in the heart of the tour

Clean Spirit: In the Heart of the Tour is one of the most interesting cycling documentaries I have seen. The premise of the film is to show a cycling team who's mission is to not just compete clean, but win clean at world tour level. In doing so, it peels back the layers of PR to give an honest and intimate look inside the Giant Shimano pro cycling team during the 2013 Tour de France. Read on for the full review...

Clean Spirit is directed by Dirk Jan Roeleven, I was hoping to be able to write something interesting about him but to be honest i've never heard of him before and after looking at his IMBb page it's pretty clear why.

Do not let this put you off, Clean Spirit is a perfectly directed cycling documentary which is both beautifully shot and full of substance.

To refresh your memory, in one of the early stages of the 2013 tour, Omega Pharma's Mark Cavendish and Tom Veelers from Giant Shimano came together during the sprint lead out. Cavendish managed to continue with his sprint but Veelers was much less fortunate and ended up hitting the deck at high speed, picking up some pretty nasty injuries.

To a certain extent, the documentary revolves around this key event as we see the psychological, political and physical aspects such an event can bring to the team. In an age where cycling is ever more absorbed with watts and physiological data, it is fascinating to see how unplanned events and the emotions which follow can dictate the success or failure of a pro cyclist in a grand tour.

john degenkolb

As you might expect, the history of doping in cycling is brought up on several occasions. Indeed - the directeur sportif, Rudi Kemna, has admitted to using EPO whilst he was a professional cyclist in 20013. Through several different interviews, you are given an insight into how the past doping scandals has affected the current pro riders.

Although the film is focused on the cyclists, it also includes some excellent interviews with the soigneurs which adds to the behind the scenes feel.

clean spirit review

As I mentioned earlier, "Clean Spirit" opens up Le Tour in a way i've not seen before, and you get a real feel for the emotional and physical roller coaster all the team must endure over the 23 days and ~2,200 miles of racing. From laughter and joy to pain, disappointment, suffering, anger and relief, the camera captures it all.

I came across Clean Spirit on Netflix and wasn't that sold by the thumbnail preview or synopsis. However, after watching the trailer I had a very good feeling about it and hopefully you will too.

Overall I would say the cinematography and insightful interviews mean "Clean Spririt" just pips Pantani: Accidental Death of a Cyclist to be my favourite cycling documentary.

Agree, mildly disagree or vigorously disagree with my Clean Spirit review? Please feel free to leave your comments below.