22 Oct 2012

22nd October 2012 and GP4000S(hit)

22nd 50-55F, 10-13C, grey overcast, spitting, breezy, showers possible. I'll go out after morning coffee and toasted rolls. I put the Nidd back on to continue the break-in by instalments. Most of the time I was hardly aware of the saddle. At others it felt hard. There is just a gentle hint of flex to thumb pressure over the sit bone areas.

The easterly wind was stronger than forecast.

Not only did the Coop supermarket have no bread again but they ripped me off on organic bananas! I had to fetch the sign to show them at the checkout. Never an apology. This was a  serious offence decades ago in the UK for bar codes not to match displayed price labels. I remember the local DIY store being incredibly heavily fined for this. Over here it's just yawn, big deal.  I'll have to watch this shop like a hawk from now on. There is no excuse. They have electronic tagging on little screens so can update prices from the office computer. So you'd think the bar coding would be correct too. They ripped me off on cheese last time. 26 miles fighting injustice everywhere.

Continental must be swamped with complaints about their tyres. Still no response to my email of last Thursday. Every time I run over a rougher bit of road I think I've punctured! It's driving me nuts! I did a search online for recommended puncture free tyres. Heavy Schwalbe Armadillos or slightly faster rolling Continental Gatorskins are recommended. Dealer's customer reviews seem slightly mixed as usual. I've also had a personal recommendation of the Gatorskins from a fellow tricyclist. I really ought to go and handle some to see what they're really like. I hope they have a foldable version to save a bit of weight.

The Tektro R559, double pivot, side-pull, front brake has plenty of reach but seems unavailable singly. I have no use for the rear brake. They don't show up on Danish dealer searches either. Perhaps a begging letter to Wiggle would achieve something? There is a dirt cheap but simpler copy of the same long reach brake online, in Denmark, but it hasn't the quality of the Tektro and I wanted black anyway. I'll have to keep searching. Ebay(UK) might he fruitful.

I have just been reading a fascinating article on the BBC website. Research suggests that foul smells affect human behaviour and attitudes towards each other. So it seems that industrialised pig farming is responsible for far more than just polluting the landscape with their subsidised animal mistreatment. The stench actually turns people against each other. So if you want friendly neighbours it seems you should distance yourself from pig farms. With the added proviso that you avoid the countless fields on which they dump their stinking waste. Off topic? Not if you live and cycle in rural Denmark!

23rd 50F, 10C, overcast, light winds. It stayed grey but dry with only a self-made breeze. Nidd okay for this distance. Heavy shopping! Lots more geese in the sky. 22 miles.

24th 47F, 8C, very misty, spitting lightly, overcast, still. I'll wait a while before going out to avoid the rush hour in the mist. That's a bit like gorillas in the mist but the animals involved are much less intelligent.

A helpful person has kindly pointed out what should have been staring me in the face. My over-reaching problems are almost entirely due to the very laid back angles on my equally elderly Higgins. He suggested that if I didn't have enough forward saddle movement I could try reversing the saddle pin.

I have tried the plumb line on the kneecap test and my knee was about an inch behind the pedal spindle. So, the Nidd has now been slid fully forwards. It has a lot of potential adjustment thanks to the well thought out rail design. This brought the plumb line to just in front of the pedal spindle. I'll give this setting a try to see how I get on. It's no hardship to whip out an Allen key from my jersey back pocket. To make small rearward saddle adjustments if it is now too much.

Meanwhile, I'll have to measure the Higgins actual frame angles. 1954 was back in the last century. It is well known that cyclists had much longer arms back then. You can see how easily they can bend their elbows at 90 degrees while racing on the drops. This was before the Armstrong doping ring so it can't have been due to that. It has always mystified me how modern racing bikes can fall foul of the saddle nose overhanging the bottom bracket. I'd need a saddle like a surf board to manage that. :-)

Update, I have just measured a large profile image of my Higgins on the monitor and it looks like 70 degree head and seat tube angles. Dropping a vertical from the saddle nose places it 4" behind the bottom bracket! Blimey! Poor old Mr Higgins is no Cervélo P5, is he? ;-)

Another helpful person has suggested I look at Schwalbe Durano Plus tyres for greater resistance to punctures. They are available in 700x25mm. So I would retain my comfort at the expense of increased weight. Still no response from Continental. Which makes me rather loathe to reward them with the purchase of their more robust alternatives to their flimsy liquorice all-sorts.

I left after coffee for a shopping trip. My bike computer started showing random speeds up to 70mph! Not sure how safe my mileage was likely to be so I quickly downloaded the trip from the Ventus GPS logger. Only to have it crash the computer!

The position is better with the Nidd pushed forwards but I may need more handlebar height as well. So now I'll try setting saddle and bars level with each other. The Nidd is hardly noticeable to about 20 miles then it begins to feel hard and hurt. It suddenly turned cold about half way around. I had to put my jacket back on.

The foldable Durano Plus tyres looked fine in a LBS. Weighing them by hand against the GP4000S didn't seem much, if any, difference. Now I have to decide what to do about these worthless GP4000S. Do I push for a set of Duranos in exchange with the online dealer? Or scrap them and go on bad-mouthing Continental's crap quality control for as long as I can still draw breath? Decisions-decisions. 24 miles.

Pm. I managed to lift the stem adaptor by about 3/4".  Though it is unmarked for maximum safe height there are still a couple of inches of stem in the steerer. I just hope it's enough! The saddle and bars are now much nearer the same level as each other. I'll see how I get on tomorrow.

Solar panels are a good investment when the government guarantees a good return on energy fed back into the grid. 

25th 46-43F, 8-6C, windy increasing to gales, overcast clearing to sunny periods. I had another flat tyre when I went to fetch the trike this morning! So much for an early start!

As a week had passed without response from Continental I contacted the online dealer who had sold me these crap GP4000S tyres. Then guess what? A Continental spokesperson (sic) emailed me to discuss which dealer their crap tyres should be returned to. I sent them a summary of all the sorry details. Then left them both to stew while I rode to Odense to buy some real tyres.

A tour of the better Odense bike shops eventually found me at We-Bikes. I left with a set of three Schwalbe Durano Plus in 25mm. Plus a discount stack of Specialized inner tubes, with 48mm valves, which I hope I will never have to use. Famous last words!

I don't know why I, or anybody else, buys cheap shit online when they can have a relationship with a real person in a real bike shop. Have a chat, get free advice, see a whole range of products first hand and you can even save wasting money in the long term. You save a few bob online and kid yourself you're a clever person somehow. It's a complete con unless you get something not otherwise available locally.

On my return the Continental spokesperson (sic) was suggesting a tyre more suitable for touring. That's the problem when the naive customer reads the lies bullshit hype propaganda glowing reports on the manufacturer's own website. (You know, the one every online dealer quotes verbatim?) Did they really mean to say the GP4000 series usually offered 3000km without a single puncture? Or extreme puncture resistance? With some fancy name for their space age, puncture proof moonwalk material? Presumably that was Apollo era 1960s space suit material? Or was I just imagining it all? Whatever.

When the company spokesperson (sic) actually believes the crap, which they paid the hired help to put on their fancy website, then what can you expect? Spouting some crap about constant improvement? When was the GP4000 last improved? Is it still the reliable favourite of the peloton? The single, glowing, magazine test goes back at least 6 years! The Continental GP4000S black liquorice will probably become the most expensive tree ties (sic) I have ever bought. What else are they good for now? Bugger all!

Is it just me or is there a pattern emerging here? Continental claims their tyres are "hand made." Let's see now. A crap job in smelly, hot and unpleasant working conditions. How well paid are crap jobs? Yep. That'll be the job top German workers are queueing up for! Which means constant staff rotation, with only the worst hanging on through lack of ambition. Quality control becomes a matter of mood and which idiot is in charge that particular day. I've worked in industry. When the hype is sky high the crap is flying out of the factories.

The blue GP4000 tyres may be great, in my own experience, but the black 'S' are worthless crap. Again in my own direct experience. Not all glowing reviews can be wrong. So it comes down to quality control.  Or lack of. Altogether now children: What rude word begins with 'S' and means the same as crap? That's the one! Well done!

If I choose to spend £100 to buy Continental's promised tyre hi-technology in order to avoid punctures, while enjoying a light tyre, a world leading puncture resistance then that is my choice. Three x (a claimed) 3000 miles without a (claimed) puncture is a year's worth of carefree riding. Who cares whether I ride fast like a racer? Or slow like a tourist? As long as I stick to tarmac and don't overload the tyres with obscene obesity, how can the tyres tell the difference?

I was promised  puncture proof, space-age materials for my money. I punctured twice on the first ride in fine, dry, warm conditions and four more times since. Brand new tyres with open sores on all of them on day one? That'll be the Continental GP4000S.

Do they suppose cyclists have nothing better to do than stand in the rain beside the road mending punctures while the traffic roars past? Six punctures for £100 is £16.60 each. Am I having fun yet? I wonder how much the Continental spokesperson (sic) earns per puncture? I wonder whether she even rides, or knows how to ride, a bike, at all?

Let's move on: Carradice promises the earth with their clever, hand-maid seamstresses. Those who (allegedly) have to train for several lifetimes before they are even allowed anywhere near production. What do I get? A shit, £70, asymmetrically supported, green canvas, army bag. With stitching that any snot-nosed, random kid, dragged in from the street, could improve on in five minutes of training. Yep, that'll be the bullshit, nostalgia hype, propaganda lies about quality workmanship and longevity of handmade goods. Feel the legendary quality! Oh wow it's a Carradice! Dogh!

I paid a lot of good money for a Brooks B17 'Select' saddle. One of their best models of a legendary model going back through long centuries of continuous improvement and expertise from early Roman times to the 23nd century. It promptly turns into a lateral banana! The spine is turning left as fast as the left skirt is lifting. Handy on Continental (no relation) roundabouts, I suppose. As long as I don't go home before its several lifetimes of unparalleled longevity are well used up. It arrives without a care instruction leaflet and a torn presentation sleeve. And they have the nerve to brag about their wonderful products? Oh, I got The Bugle. So that's all right then.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch: The Brooks B17 'Select' remained comfortable throughout today's ride despite its hideous deformity. The bells! The bells! The 'Select' of Notre Dame? No that can't be right, can it? I had absolutely no plans to risk taking the Nidd on a longer ride. This street urchin pretends to be your friend and then kicks you when you least expect it.

My riding position has improved but is still not perfect. I still feel slightly overstretched on the hoods. The constantly improved (over several centuries) Brooks B17, handmaid rails don't provide quite the forward extension of the new upstart; The Spa Nidd. Odd that. You'd think Brooks would have a 17th Century patent on longest rail adjustment on the market, wouldn't you?

I had a really good workout in Odense sprinting away from several hundred sets of red lights with the front wheel pawing the air. (After watching quite a few cyclists crossing red lights while I waited patiently) Of course I climbed constantly out of the (bent) saddle to put some real speed on. The Continental GP4000 hype said something about it being a real racing tyre. So I didn't dare go slowly in case I punctured!  Besides, I was after the most aggressive rider jersey. You know, the one covered in blood and EPO.

Coming back from Odense was straight into a 30mph gale, with stronger gusts and was really no fun at all. But guess what? I didn't puncture while I was out today! Oh, and now I have some new Schwalbe tyres! So, finally, I can take the hand-made, smuggled Taiwanese copies, grey imports, Continental GP4000Shyster trash off. So all is well with the world.   Keep believing the lies, bullshit, propaganda nostalgia hype! Chris 48 miles, not out. Rest of the world (Continental, Brooks, Carradice, online box shifters) Nil.

The Continental 4000 are somewhat prone to sidewall splits, and their puncture resistance is not spectacular.  
Best Puncture Proof Tyres | Cycling UK

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