Smooth as Silk

Bike Friday Silk Road Alfine

All folded up and nowhere to go.

I should know better than to tempt fate with posts like that last one.  The Million-Pound Shithammer began its rhythmic rise and fall shortly thereafter, I commenced evasive maneuvers, and next thing you know it’s August and I haven’t posted some useless bit of nonsense for days.

Our tenant in the House Back East™ moved out just in time for one of Herself’s old childhood chums to move in for a short reunion that involved a road trip to Santa Fe. For the womenfolk, naturally, not for Your Humble Narrator, who had chores to perform.

I just wrapped up the last of them about 15 minutes ago — a short video review of a Bike Friday Silk Road Alfine for Adventure Cyclist. I’ve done a couple-three of these things now, and while they’re getting slightly easier, they still take me way outside my comfort zone, because at heart I’m an ink-stained wretch with a radio face and a habit of peppering every conversation with at least five of George Carlin’s fabled Seven Words, especially if I happen to be talking to myself, as is usually the case.

Like writing and cartooning, these two-minute videos are a one-man job. I write the script, shoot and edit the video, do the voiceovers, and serve as the on-camera “talent,” har de har har. If the aliens ever see one of these things, they are certain to write off the planet as a dangerous slum populated by mental defectives who never developed the internal combustion engine.

This last one was something of a rush job — an Aug. 5 deadline somehow became a figment of my imagination, and so I spent the past couple of days playing Quentin Ferrentino. But that’s all over now, the video is shipped, and tomorrow I can get back to my acting career, to wit, acting like a guy who rides a bike.

24 Responses to “Smooth as Silk”

  1. Flahute Says:

    So what did Miss Mia Sopapilla think of the effort? Two claws up or down?

  2. Patrick O'Brien Says:

    Looking forward to watching it. “Work, work, work. Work, work, work. Hello boys. Have a good night? I missed you.”

  3. Ryan Says:

    I like your video reviews, just watched the Novara Verita one the other day. You come across professional and knowledgeable. No one would ever know you can curse like a sailor and are a ink-stained wretch.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Thank you, Ryan. I fiddled with radio and Super 8 film in college, but I was also fiddling with other things that tended to blur the focus and slur the words, so I moved straight into print, where nobody can tell you’re toasted unless they actually see you falling off the barstool. So it’s kind of a trip down I Have No Memory Of That Lane for me.

      Thank God the technology has improved so dramatically. Even a drink-sodden, addlepated, ham-handed old tosspot like me can generate a couple of minutes of passable video these days, though Miss Mia could do it better and faster if only she had opposable thumbs.

    • khal spencer Says:

      Have to agree with Ryan. That was pretty slick work, O’G.

      I can sympathize, too, with life occasionally getting in the way of bicycling. Today I rode to work, just to get a ride in, with a large laptop sitting in a backpack glued to my sweaty back. I traded the 700-25 rubber mounted on Speed City wheels for the 700-32 Paselas tossed over Delgado Cross hoops and a 12-34 cassette. That’s the nice thing about a cross bike. Its got so many faces. All of them prettier than mine….

      I’d be a little reticent to do loaded touring on a bike with long reach caliper brakes, though. Not sure why one would equip a bike with low rider and not canti studs or disks. But that’s just me. I can’t imagine flying down NM-4 from the Jemez on a 7% average grade, front and rear panniers, and not have good cantis and perhaps a drogue chute.

      OTOH, I suspect REI is not expecting buyers to immediately slap on thirty or so pounds of stuff and head for the far coast.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Thanks, K. I’m just 250 pounds of bullshit in a 180-pound sack, is all.

        I was surprised at how grippy those long-reach calipers were. That said, I didn’t sample any twisting, 7 percent downhills with full bags. But the Rivendell dudes are still selling long-reach calipers, so somebody must like ’em. Grant, probably.

        I wonder how much longer it’s gonna be before you can’t buy anything other than a disc-brake bike. Sumbitches are ever’whur. Me, I’m still running V-brakes on the mountain bike, Shimano 600 calipers on the road bike, and cantis on damn’ near everything else. Lots of Paul’s Touring and Neo-Retros in the garage.

      • Larry T. Says:

        I hope that’s quite awhile, POG. I’m far from convinced these are actual improvements rather than marketing opportunities – same with electronic shifting.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Me too, Larry. I’m such a poor mechanic that every Great Leap Forward leaves me a couple of steps behind. Before much longer I’ll be reduced to standing alongside the dysfunctional machinery hooting dolefully and scratching inappropriately.

      • Patrick O'Brien Says:

        I have V brakes, Avid Single Digit, on the Saga. Would cantilever brakes be a better choice for braking efficiency and ease of maintenance?

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Man, Patrick, it took forever for me to grudgingly accept V-brakes on the mountain bike. It had some old Avid cantis before, but I came into possession of a pair of XT V-brakes and thought, “What the hell? Give ’em a try.”

        Maybe it’s just me, or these particular V-brakes, but I find them a bit abrupt — seems like you’re either rolling or stopping. Hit ’em too hard and you’re flying into the weeds. And if you bang a wheel out of true you don’t have much pad-rim clearance to work with.

        I think cantis provide a bit more modulation — the trade-off is less stopping power. Gents? Ladies? Anyone else wanna chime in?

      • Khal Spencer Says:

        I think the V-brakes are far more abrupt, but also have more stopping power, at least compared to the cantis I’ve used. Its taken a much lighter touch on the v-brakes but they sure do stop the sumbitch. Especially on the tandem. I first replaced cantis with V-brakes when we moved here and I thought I was going to get the wife (and me) killed on fast descents when we were riding the twofer.

        Disks add hardware to the bike in the most inappropriate places, and not sure they are much of an improvement over v brakes. But they do stop the damn thing, and without wearing out the rims. I prefer them in shitty weather or in winter because i don’t have to burn water or snow off the rim before the brake starts to work. But on my bikes, adding racks or fenders is a bitch with the disk mounting brackets. I hear some new bike manufacturers are making disk hardware that is not such a bear to work around, but I’ve not written a check to buy any of it.

      • Patrick O'Brien Says:

        Thanks guys. I think I will keep the V brakes but add cartridge pad holders to them. Replacing the other pads is a pain in the ass. Once I get them adjusted, I can just pull a pin and replace the pads instead of starting over every time.

  4. Larry T. Says:

    Bentornato! I hate it when work gets in the way of…….well, you know, the rest of life, including riding your own bike. Just read in BR&IN that Serotta has closed up (again). Seems like this has happened to Ben at least a couple of times before with mergers, buyouts, rescues, etc? Still remember back-in-the-day having to tell Ben that the bike Andy Hampsten rode to victory in the Giro was not one of his…way back in 1988 it was.

  5. khal spencer Says:

    I don’t know if you covered it on your review, but does Bike Friday indicate what the effective gear range (i.e., gear inches) are for the Alfine setup? I didn’t see it on the BF web site.

    • Patrick O'Brien Says:

      Khal, here are the hub ratios. But the BF site is down right now, so without chainring and rear sprocket info, can’t do much else.

      • khal spencer Says:

        Not sure why it cut off the html in yours, but this works.

        The total range of gear ratios is impressive, from 0.527 to 2.153. So if you fiddled with chainrings and sprockets to get a high of 100 gear inches, you would have a low of about 24.5 gear inches.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Have you gents ever fiddled with Sheldon Brown’s gear calculator? It’s pretty handy for those of us who are, um, mathematically challenged (I have to take off my shoes to count past 10).

      The front sprocket is a 60T and the rear cog a 22T, so Mr. Brown gives us gear inches of 26.5, 34.2, 38.7, 44.1, 50.0, 57.0, 64.9, 73.5, 83.8, 94.9 and 108.2.

      • Khal Spencer Says:

        Sheldon’s is a good thing. I put most of that stuff on an excel spreadsheet, which is less elegant but works. Those are pretty good ratios unless one is riding in from sea level and laboring up Coalbank with a full load of stuff at the end of a hard day. If I was hitting Coalbank after 90 miles and was tired and hungry, perhaps a 19 gear inch low might be nicer. I love to suffer, but perhaps not that much.

  6. Steve O Says:

    A day without a Monty Python reference is like … well …

    http://m.theatlanticwire.com/politics/2013/08/john-kerry-kicks-soccer-ball/67914/

  7. Patrick O'Brien Says:

    Ah, Sheldon Brown. I loved his helmet decorations and miss his good advice. I have used it in the past when comparing bikes or gearing options. But lately, I am just concerned if my granny gear is low enough to bail me out when my head overloads my legs.

    Well, got to go. Al Qaeda coming to get me. Got to put my tin foil hat on and get the guns loaded.

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