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Last night I was stopped by a police officer who asked me: ‘Is your bike engraved?’. The only thing that came out of my mouth was: ‘No, it’s not engraved, it’s personalised’. The response was good enough and I was allowed to continue my trip.
British Cycling president Brian Cookson will lead the UCI for the next four years following a UCI Congress at Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio replete with plot and intrigue the likes of which the historic building has not witnessed since the power struggles of the republican faction and the Medici family at the turn of the 16th Century. He defeated incumbent president by 24 votes to 18, a resounding margin in the light of earlier expectations that the vote would be too close to call.
The events that formed the background to that historical period underpinned Machiavell’s Prince, written 500 years ago this year, and today Cookson acted on advice from the Flornetine statesman, who once had an office in this very building, in that work – “It is better to be impetuous than cautious” – as he cut short arguments between delegates regarding the validity or otherwise of McQuaid’s nomination and suggested they go straight to a vote on the presidency.
Speaking after his victory, Cookson said: “It is a huge honour to have been elected President of the UCI by my peers and I would like to thank them for the trust they have placed in me today.
“I have said throughout my campaign that we must embrace a new style of governance and a collegiate way of working so that a new era of growth and commercial success for the UCI and our sport can begin.
“My first priorities as President will be to make anti-doping procedures in cycling fully independent, sit together with key stakeholders in the sport and work with WADA to ensure a swift investigation into cycling’s doping culture.
“It is by doing these things that we will build a firm platform to restore the reputation of our International Federation with sponsors, broadcasters, funding partners, host cities and the International Olympic Committee.
“Ultimately this is how we grow our sport worldwide and get more riders and fans drawn into cycling.”
By acceding to the top spot at the UCI, Cookson will have to step down as president of British Cycling, the organisation he help rescue from the brink of bankruptcy in 1997.
“My election as President of the world cycling federation – the UCI – means that I can no longer continue as President of British Cycling,” he went on.
“I am sorry to leave an organisation which I have seen make extraordinary progress over the last 16 years, but I am absolutely thrilled to be given the opportunity to bring about the changes that cycling needs worldwide.
“I know that I am moving on from British Cycling with the organisation in fantastic shape, and I am already looking forward to the challenges ahead as President of the UCI.”
Earlier, delegates had voted 21-21 on whether or not to adopt the controversial proposed change to the UCI Constitution that would have allowed a presidential candidate to be nominated by any two national federations.
That amendment, proposed in July by the Malaysian national federation and intended to be backdated to apply to today’s election, would have meant that McQuaid would automatically have been eligible to stand for today’s vote; having had nominations from Cycling Ireland and Swiss Cycling withdrawn, he has since been nominated by the Thai and Moroccan federations.
McQuaid insisted that he is a member of both those federations and that his nominations by each were made before the 29 June deadline and comply with the UCI’s Constitution – or at least, his interpretation of it, backed up by a legal opinion obtained by the UCI from international law firm Baker & McKenzie.
After hearing a lawyer explain why McQuaid’s nomination was believed to be valid, delegates rose to speak for or against it and the issue was due to go to a vote on whether the incumbent president could stand until Cookson made his dramatic intervention and suggested they should go straight to the issue of determining who should be president for the next four years.
It was a gamble, one that paid opff handsomely, and one that Machiavelli, who had in his mind when writing the prince an ideal ruler who could unite an Italy torn apart by factional in-fighting and threats from outside, would have approved of.
* If you had an engine to power the hydraulics rather than grinders, you could sail the AC72s with 4 people rather than the crew of 11 they now sail with.
* There is really only one trimmer on board and he controls the wing. The helmsman controls the cant and rake of the board with buttons on a control pad in front of him but only has 3 seconds of stored power before he has to “throw bananas” into the grinding pit i.e. ask for more hydraulic power.
* They have seen 47 knots as the top speed so far but expect to see the 50 knot barrier broken in the Cup match.
* The boats go directly downwind 1.8 times faster than the wind. So if you let a balloon go as you went around the top mark you would easily beat it to the bottom mark.
* There is only 4 degrees difference to the apparent wind from going on the wind to running as deep as you can.
* If you lost the hydraulics while the boats were foiling they would be completely uncontrollable and would most likely capsize.
* It is faster to find the strongest adverse current going downwind because the stronger apparent that is then generated translates into more speed than if you were sailing in slack water. (Warning – this takes a bit to get your head around)
* When sailing downwind you look for the puffs in front of you not behind you.
* It is actually quite dry on the boats, unless you make a mistake and come off the foils, as you are flying a couple of metres above the water. Waves have almost no impact on the boat when foiling.
* In strong wind you carry negative camber at the top of the wing to “reef” or de-power the wing.
* All crew carry personal tackle so they can effectively rappel down the netting if the boat capsizes.
* Gennakers are only used below about 8 knots; the jibs only provide about 3% of the lift up wind.
* The foil on the rudder generates about 800 kg of lift with the rest coming from the center board foil to lift the 7 ton yachts clear of the water.
* The centre board foil’s tip comes out of the water so it effectively works like a governor on an engine i.e. as the board generates too much vertical lift it comes out of the water, the area is thus reduced so it goes back down etc until it finds equilibrium.
This poster is possibly the coolest thing seen for a while. The 24x18in illustration features the evolution of the humble bicycle, with 75 bikes spanning from early boneshakers to the latest state-of-the-art mountain bikes and road racers. One mistake was not having a brompton as the folding bike
Each print will be signed and numbered by the artist from an initial run of 500, and costs $27. The poster is printed on 100 lb archival recycled stock certified by The Forest Stewardship Council, pressed on an offset lithographic press with vegetable-based inks in Flatlands, Brooklyn. You can get yours here
The Sabbath Silk Route is a load lugging all-rounder that creates its own niche by using a titanium frame. Thoroughly practical but we suspect most buyers would prefer to start with a frame and make their own component choices.
Titanium framed touring bikes are a rarity, probably mainly because they tend to be regarded as a luxury in the relatively traditional world of pedal powered haulage, but also because most of the big name titanium frame builders tend to demand a higher premium for their wares than British company Sabbath. Based on a £1199 frame (some outlets include the fork at that price) this complete Silk Route shows that a titanium-framed tourer can be had for a UK average month’s salary.
The Silk Route is a fairly recent addition to Sabbath’s range, which has been slowly evolving over the past six years. The frame is designed in the UK and built overseas to keep costs low. It’s nicely designed and well finished, with a practical blend of plain gauge tubes biased towards luggage hauling durability rather than minimum weight.
The frame on its own weighs 3.65lb/1.65kg (size dependant), which is fairly hefty for a titanium frame, but the resulting stability in ride feel when loaded front and rear is precisely what’s required on a bike like this. If you’re not looking for a haulage bike you should probably look at one of Sabbath’s lighter, butted-tube models.
All Sabbath’s frames use the well regarded 3Al/2.5V drawn tubes (the figures refer to a 3% aluminium, 2.5% vanadium mix in the titanium alloy). There are six models in the range covering racing, touring, everyday or sportive use and the racy models use lighter butted tubes.
While the Silk Route is designed for touring, its long wheelbase, easy-riding geometry, Surly steel fork and big tyre clearance make it suitable for steady trail use as well as ideal for rough roads. There’s enough room for 38mm tyres if you feel a need for bigger treads than the 32mm Continental Touring Pluses fitted, and the 36 spoke wheels with Mavic 319 rims and Shimano LX hubs can take a fair bit of punishment.
A Brooks B17 saddle is a nice touch on a bike like this too, and a reminder that Brooks’ saddles, while not light, are still among the most comfy seats around.
There will be riders who’ll baulk at dropping £2199 on a Shimano LX/105 level bike with a workmanlike steel fork, trouser-guard equipped crankset and middle of the range finishing kit, but if you’re attracted to the idea of your new bike being based on a titanium frame you’d be hard pressed to build a rack and mudguard equipped tourer with decent wheels and a Brooks leather saddle at this price.
You can remove that trouser guard if you don’t like the look of it and Surly’s steel fork is fitted because it’s one of the best off the peg touring forks on the market, with threaded eyelets for every rack type and the sort of stability, combined with the thick plain gauge steerer tube, that justifies its relatively high weight.
Handling was rock solid, even riding hands free with front and rear loads. We’re not particularly recommending this but it’s a great way of testing stability on touring bikes and a great way of getting your loads spread properly assuming the basic geometry is fine. Another good front end stability test is being able to brake hard without fork flutter with an outer cable guide mounted on the upper part of the head tube: many bikes with cantilever brakes need the cable guide to be mounted on the fork crown.
The Silk Route could be an ideal starting point for riders who like the idea of owning a utility rather than race focused titanium frame. But we can’t help but think that most of those riders would prefer to make their own parts choices. A few of the parts on the Sabbath just don’t look at ease on a £2000+ bike. But that’s probably missing the point. You could find yourself paying this much for a frame alone from some of the more established titanium frame brands, and you’re still getting a tough maintenance free frame that won’t rust.
All Sabbath framesets can be built with different component parts and custom finishing options so the details on our test bike are not set in stone. Its ‘bright brush’ titanium finish with subtle, almost invisible, sandblasted graphics is practical, and part of the appeal of titanium is that it’ll buff up like new year after year.
Tubing shapes of the Silk Route include curvy rear stays for extra heel clearance, a biaxially ovalised top tube for lateral rigidity plus big weld contact areas at the seat and head tube and an oversized, ovalised down tube.
All the tube profiles are said to be designed to improve stiffness and stability when hauling loads, and our ride experience bears this out. Long chainstays ensure that panniers stay clear of your heels, and Sabbath say it’s built to carry up to 35kg: the test bike rack, a fairly basic Tortec model, is limited to 25kg.
There’s are three sets of bottle cage bosses (one set underneath the down tube) and threaded rack mounts, all welded rather than riveted into the frame, and in keeping with the traditional touring bike approach there’s even a pump peg on the head tube for a frame sized pump.
Our test bike weighed in at almost exactly 28lb/12.6kg without pedals. There is masses of bar/stem height adjustability and in addition to the components we’ve already mentioned the finishing parts included a standard Shimano LX touring crankset (with removable trouser-guard), 105 3 x 10 gear mechs and 105 shifters, Pro seat post, stem and compact handlebar, SKS ‘guards and LX cantilever brakes.
The gear range was more than adequate for the most mountainous terrain, the wheels were well built and the geometry and riding posture emphasised comfort and stable control at both low and high speeds. The head angle on the medium frame is 71.5 degrees, the seat angle is 73.5 and the horizontal top tube length is 56.5cm, with a 54cm (centre to top) seat tube and a 15.5cm head tube.
Don’t expect a sturdy long wheel base bike like this to feel as lively as a steep angled race bred model. Snappy acceleration or sprightly handling will never be highlights, even if you strip the touring gear off and fit skinnier treads.
But there’s something incredibly soothing about a bike like this once you’ve got it up to speed, with big sweeping turns on long descents being a real highlight. That said, slow speed traffic riding is also incredibly confident, with the long front centre meaning no mudguard toe overlap if you make sharp turns. Our month of riding uncovered no unpleasant foibles, loaded or unloaded.
A thoroughly practical titanium touring bike, both utilitarian and potentially superior in durability to the traditional steel framed approach and more comfy than most aluminium framed options. Most riders would probably start with a frame alone and equip it to suit their particular needs.