Sunday, August 17, 2008

Dura Ace Price Comparisons, Thomson Seatpost Design, What Phelps Listens To...

Holler, ya'll ! Here's some fresh pollinations from the Hive for this week. Enjoy reading!

1. Fastest Bike On The Planet? While not many medals are coming the Kiwi's way in cycling at Beijing this year, they sure have put some nice kits and bikes on their riders.

At the Laoshan Velodrome in Beijing on August 15, NZ track rider Alison Shanks was racing on a new Zen TK8.

A few years ago, Zen Sports in collaboration with Dynamic Composites had built Sarah Ulmer the Zen TK001 prototype, on which she broke the World Championship record at Melbourne and later won a gold medal at the Athens Olympics in the Women's 3000m individual pursuit [Look here for more details]

What will be interesting to learn is whether the older bike was a base model upon which to design the new improved TK8 which Alison is riding on this year at Beijing.

A. Shanks with the new Zen

That may seem to be the case. For four years ever since Athens, mechanical engineer and Zen Sports founder, Milton Bloomfield, developed the bike he hoped will propel NZ's track cyclists to gold at Beijing, just as he did in Athens with Sarah Ulmer.

There are 2 interesting videos of the bike on the web.

1. Watch the unveiling of the bike on 3 News.
2. Watch the design and testing of the bike.

The second video above claims thousands of hours have gone into the making of the bike and quotes Milton as saying "I don't keep a record, it scares me". Since time=money, that cost figure must be plenty scary! Let me guess, a million dollars again?

2. Carbon Nanotubes a Health Threat?

The Guardian, based on a major study in Nature Nanotechnology, writes that scientists think long form carbon nanotubes could pose a similar cancer risk like asbestos.

Although there has been no demonstration that it could cause cancer, the article states :

"In most products containing nanotubes, such as car body panels, tennis rackets, yacht masts and bike frames, the fibres are embedded in composite materials, which provide strength and lightness. In this form the cylindrical molecules of carbon are likely to be relatively harmless.But the researchers say further studies are necessary to confirm it; it cannot be assumed that people could not be exposed to carbon nanotubes held in materials."

Tell you what, to be on the safe side, dont go on sniffing your sexy carbon frame for a weird fetish, wear a mask if you'd like while cutting a carbon steerer tube, and just don't go on dumping cycling inventory everywhere in a landfill after you're done with them like you always do. I just don't want to end up eating it later on, understood?!

Read more on this topic HERE and HERE.

3. Thomson Seatpost Design
: One of the few cycling companies I absolutely revere and offer Sunday prayers for is Thomson Manufacturing. When they make something, they bloody damn engineer it well.

I thought this was a little interesting. From their website :

"The Thomson seatpost design incorporates a bending fuse to prevent catostrophic failure. All brand-x seatposts we tested - every one of them - failed in catastrophic failure with the seat and clamp components - and sometimes pieces of the tube and head - flying off in all directions. This type of failure would dump the rider.

I'm sold! As soon as the fuse goes off, my butt is in danger. Hey, its not bad knowing that, right?!

4. Shimano Dura Ace 7800 Crank Price Comparison

Here's an interesting phenomenon. The Nextag website allows you to compare prices of products on the web, and at times, also throws some price history charts at you.

I compared two such charts for the 10 speed Dura Ace cranks, one for 170 mm crank length and another for 175 mm. I'm not really sure how accurate these graphs are, where the website is sourcing its information from, and how many sellers its sourcing price data from...but here they are :

Dura Ace 170mm crank

Dura Ace 175 mm crank

So from the data above for the past years, prices for 170mm have been going down while there hasn't been much difference for the 175mm crank.

So what is this telling me?

1. I'm better off buying 170mm cranks to save money after peak season.
2. Mid September is peak price season. 170mm sold for more then, at around 420 dollars.
3. More consumers have been buying 170mm cranks as opposed to the longer ones, since 170mm fits a majority of the population.
4. Demand and supply 101 blah blah...

Feel free to educate me. I'm not a finance guy. You can check out the original graphs here.

5. Cycling Discounts for Active Service Members

Did you know? I found this on Competitive Cyclists' FAQ page :

"We're so close to the Little Rock Air Force Base that we can feel the rumbling of low-flying C-130's as they skim the roof of our warehouse. We've earned the business of scores of cyclists stationed at the LRAFB. And in the years we've been in business, we've been lucky enough to befriend members of the US military all across the globe. We're deeply grateful for their daily sacrifices in defending our freedom. We want to show our appreciation by offering a 10% discount everyday on every purchase for active duty members of the US military. The discount is valid whether you're stationed in the US or overseas. Proof of service will be required. Please note that our military discount cannot be combined with any other discount."

Now you wish you joined the Army, yeah? No wait...

Finally, I have to say that there is so much mumbo jumbo around what Michael Phelps eats, drinks, sleeps on, drives etc etc that I'm sheepishly adding some fuel to the fire to present what Phelps reportedly listens to on his IPOD. It doesn't particularly entertain me, but hey, if it'll help me get an Olympic gold....whatever!

Language warning...

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