The M.C. Escher bike??

Quite possibly the oddest bike frame I ever saw. Just what is going on at what should normally be the seat tube?!

Any ideas??

Even the downtube decal seems to be in the wrong place.

Was this bike designed by M.C. Escher?


Pinarello Dogma: genuine or fake?

A local ad for a Pinarello caught my eye.

However there’s a couple of things about this bike that seem odd to me, and given the apparent existence of fakes, I’m cautious.

I’m no expert on Pinarellos, so could you guys take a look at the photos and tell me what you think?

2007 Giant TCR Composite First Ride (Basel, Switzerland)

So, after weeks of doing other stuff or having the flu, I finally managed to take advantage of the great spring weather and get this new bike out for a ride!

I’ve been so looking forward to this, and I’m pleased to say I wasn’t disappointed.

The frame size is absolutely perfect for me and after only minor Saddle height adjustment, following the previous adjustments I made to the handlebar and saddle angles, it really fits like a glove.

The first few kilometres on a new bike are often a bit weird. After you’ve ridden another bike for many many years, it doesn’t take much difference in bike fit to feel a little awkward. In this case, the bike felt a little twitchy and my position on the bike was slightly different to normal. But I couldn’t easily tell how, was I leaning a little bit more forward, was the saddle further back or forward, or was the reach a little longer? Not sure. But I guess it was pretty minor as any awkwardness didn’t last long.

The first impression is one of agility and speed. The bike accelerates quickly, given its carbon frame and is quite light. Climbing is consequently relatively easy. I’m not sure I’m actually quicker overall, but it certainly feels like it due to faster acceleration.

The shifts were nice and crisp and the carbon Record shifters and brake levers felt good. If anything, this showed that my regular bike needs a bit of a service, as I found myself often over shifting, as presumably I need to push the levers over a little bit more than normal to find a gear on my regular ride. Something I apparently got used to, but shouldn’t be needed. Here the shifts are clean, crisp and fast. Nice!

Having experienced Campagnolo shifters on the Colnago, these were pretty comfortable by now, so no adaptation needed there. The more modern Chorus groupset, works just as well as the 90s Record on my Colnago (apart from the apparently needed cable replacement). All good.

I’m not super impressed by the Campagnolo Scirocco G3 wheels. Though they look great, they seem relatively poorly made as there is a slight bump where the rim is joined, causing a regular rubbing noise when the brakes are applied.

Also the rear cassette has that really dry clicking noise when coasting. Some people love that, but I’m not really used to it and for me it’s quite irritating over the course of a ride. I guess it’s the equivalent of having a really loud exhaust on a car or motorbike. It sounds amazing when it passes you, but if you’re in the driving seat, it makes for a fairly exhausting drive.

Other than these minor niggles, I’m really enjoying my new bike. It feels fast and stable, even on high-speed descents. It might not be Italian, but the Taiwanese clearly know how to put together a really high quality bike. And it’s over 10 years old!

This is only my second experience of a full carbon bike, but it definitely feels less comfortable than other bikes I’ve written. Over anything but the smoothest surface, you experience more vibration than you would with a steel frame, or my Lemond Chambery aluminium/carbon frame. It’s not a big deal on a relatively short ride, but after a whole day in the saddle, I can imagine feeling relieved to get off it.

First impressions? Loving it!

Velobrico Workshop: early 90s Flatera (update)

A little research revealed the origin of the name Flatera. Apparently it was founded in 1988 by Michel Flammer and Hans Temperli who had a bike shop Radsport-Geschäft FLATERA. So that’s one mystery solved.

Next I’d love to know where the frame originated, as I assume they didn’t braze it themselves. Not sure how I’m going to find that out. I guess I’d have to visit the shop in Uster, ZH and hope someone remembers!

Removed all excess stuff, less is more here.

Removed all stickers from the frame, as well as all sticker gunk with WD40 and a bit of light scraping with a fingernail.

The white Rolls saddle is really smart but had seen better days. I tried to clean it at first with some special leather cleaner, but it wasn’t enough, so tried with a soft nail brush, water and a little savon de marseille. That did the trick, then I followed up with the leather cleaner lotion. This should ensure the leather doesn’t dry out and remains soft.

I lowered saddle both for comfort and aesthetics and adjusted the handlebars to a standard height (quill stem, just unscrew a bit and tap with a hammer) and angle.

I then removed some light paint marks from the side of the top tube with a melamine sponge (magic eraser). If you rub lightly, this is a good technique not to damage the gloss finish. These marks are clearly the result of leaning the bike up against something like a lamppost. Just don’t do it! I always try to lean a bike against a wall on the rear tyre. Often no contact is needed against the saddle or handlebars, and never the frame! Of course this only works where no-one will bump into your bike.

Replaced shimano pd-m737 pedals with period appropriate shimano 105 pedals from my parts bin. The cranks are also 105, so this is a period appropriate restoration!

I freed the gunked, stiff brifters and cleaned up old grease with wd40. Pawls are now clear and the gears work fine.

Sprayed some WD40 on the chain to degrease and allow later gunk cleaning.

Trued the front wheel using a spoke nipple tool, to fix a slight wobble. Truing wheels might seem like alchemy but it’s really not too difficult if you take your time and go easy.

The rear derailleur was not aligned correctly, resulting in a regular scraping noise from the spoke hub on the leftmost gear. I set the limiter screw correctly and the problem was fixed quickly and shifter alignment was already correct.

Then I got to replacing the exploded front derailleur cable housing and cable.

I have never done this before on a road bike brifter, but it’s very easy. Just like a mountain bike. Set lowest gear, pull and fix the cable and you’re done. The old cable housing was seemingly original, as it was Shimano branded, SIS SR. So 20 years old then! Just don’t forget that shifter cable housing and brake cable housing are not interchangeable. Shifter cables are thinner as they don’t get subjected to as much tension.

Some more limiter screw adjustments needed, low and high, on the front derailleur and we’re in good shape.

Mostly the above is a tune up and service, which is always needed on second hand bikes. If you can do this yourself, you’ll save money and time. The above all took me a couple of hours.

Gave it all a good wash, and it’s looking a bit smarter already, don’t you think?

Velobrico Workshop: 2007 Giant TCR Composite (custom)

Not really much work to do on this, but I finally bought my first full carbon road bike!

Just picked it up today and have a few minor tweaks to make but nothing major.

A couple of photos from the ad. (PS. Nope it doesn’t have a double saddle, I just got to choose, and went for the narrower Selle Italia one, though the black saddle looks arguably better.)

There’s a lot to like here.

Giant T700 full carbon composite frame in matt clearcoat finish

Campagnolo Record carbon 10 speed shifters

Campagnolo Chorus other groupset bits

Campagnolo Scirocco G3 rims

All pretty clean and tidy, no bumps, no cracks.

The TCR (Total Compact Road) is a true icon and changed road bike geometry after the 150 year reign of the diamond frame. I’m very keen to ride it.

Almost all new bikes have compact geometry, which lowers the centre of mass, stiffens the frame, and makes a given frame size easier to fit for different body shapes through other adjustments. Fewer different frame sizes (e.g. S/M/L etc.) meant lower production costs and allowed more investment into innovation. This, combined with carbon fibre technology now hitting its stride, makes for a very promising bike indeed. I’m excited to get to know it better.

I must confess, the look of the bike was a big draw for me. I’m a big fan of naked frames, and love seeing the raw material one is made of. The Lemond Chambery is a great example, and the clear coated aluminium and carbon fibre is one of the reasons I like it so much.

Velobrico Workshop: Peugeot Oxford ladies’ bike (update)

So after some solid cleaning, trueing the wheels, cleaning and relubing the chain, faffing about reinstalling the basket (my goodness that was so much more complicated than I bargained for), and installing a new saddle, I think this little stray turned out quite smart after all.

Not forgetting I hauled this out of a skip, incomplete and in the dark, she’s come together rather nicely.



She has now gone to a happy home, and will certainly give enjoyment to her new owner.

A new lease of life for another stray!

Velobrico Workshop: BMC Fourstroke FS04 (final update)

After changing the bottom bracket and pedal cranks from Octalink to Shimano XT external bearings, I also changed the pedals to Shimano PD-M424 MTB SPD Pedals. The SPD part is supposed to fold into the pedal when ridden without clipless shoes, but I find it pretty uncomfrtable as it always protrudes a bit, making it feel like you have a lump under your shoe. No doubt better with SPD shoes, but then a standard SPD pedal is probably better for them too.

I also got a shock pump (a normal pump just has too much air volume to be able to get precise pressure in the shock), pumped it to the correct pressure for my weight and some Brunox Deo Fork oil, which seems fairly pointless after using it. No doubt it works, but I’m not sure regular lubrication is really needed to maintain a well functioning fork.

And basically, the bike is done. I’m pretty pleased with this. It’s a smart looking bike, and, I think, still looks pretty modern, though it’s over 10 years old. And disc brakes are awesome!

Another trash to treasure success!


Now it’s all clean, it’s time to get it dirty on a wintery forest ride!