Thursday, December 1, 2016

Don't miss out!

This just in from our friends at SOIGNEUR --

Order your Christmas jerseys now to make sure you receive them in time!.

We will be closing down for Christmas on 11th of December! Yes 11th of December so if you want to give one of our awesome merino cycling jerseys as a Christmas present your order needs to be made by next week Monday 5th December.

Happy Holidays!

New at CycleItalia - lower gears!

Above: "Baldini" one of our standard rental bikes

Campagnolo's new POTENZA (yes, the video IS rather corny) groupset offers a low gear of 34 X 32 and will be spec'd on our prototype full-carbon FAVALORO bike.

But what about the rest of our fleet you ask? We've already increased the cog size on our "classic" all-steel fleet to offer a low gear of 30 X 28 but the "standard" aluminum/carbon bikes had only 34 X 29, the lowest gearing available at the time.

"Uncle Larry" has ordered new 11-32 10-speed cogsets for these bikes for 2017. These are NOT from Campagnolo our official supplier, but from IRD. 

These have been available for awhile, but as most of you know Larry's not keen on jumping into the newest-latest development, no matter what it is. First we ordered an 11-speed version (which is now available from Campagnolo with the Potenza groupset) for Heather to try on her Athena 11 triple equipped bike. Once we knew those worked well, it was time to try the 10-speed version.

We're happy to report that in our tests the 10-speed version worked just fine, so the cassettes have been ordered and will be installed on all of our "standard" rental bikes for 2017.

Including our new prototype, which we'll add to our rental fleet along with some other sizes if things go to plan, our entire rental fleet will offer very close to 1 to 1 gearing to help you make it up even the steepest climb.

Adding a rental bike to your vacation is inexpensive at only $299 ("classic" or "standard" your choice) for the duration of your CycleItalia vacation. Just bring your pedals and (optional) saddle.

If you're spec'ing out your own bike for a CycleItalia tour, we suggest you do the same. Fitting the lowest gearing you can on your bike is worth the effort and expense. In almost 3 decades of challenging cycling in Italy we have yet to meet a single person who regretted fitting low gears. On the other hand, we have met plenty of folks who regretted NOT taking our advice!

The right attitude combined with the right gearing will get you up any hill or mountain, no matter how long or how steep.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Another Holiday Gift Idea

Larry found a copy of this book in Italy this past summer, one of those "bird-in-the-hand" purchases he was delighted to make. He liked it so much he inquired with some publishing friends about getting a box of these imported to the USA. That idea proved unworkable so he figured there would be no way to share this with CycleItalia clients and fans.

But our friends at Steel Vintage Bicycles have come to the rescue! You can order a copy directly from them as they become ever-more "all things Eroica". Click HERE. While you're shopping, their calendar is pretty cool as well, though it's not the kind you can use to write in special dates and such.

If you have any interest in L'Eroica or bici d'epoca in general, this will be a great addition to your library and could quite likely see you acquiring your own epoca bike and getting out there dressed in vintage kit! 

And of course you can join US in 2017 at La Langarola, (where Larry first met some the SVB guys) either bringing your own vintage machine or riding one of our classic, all-steel bikes.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Campagnolo Wall Clock

Our recent issue of La Gazzetta dello CycleItalia featured a holiday gift guide. The link we provided to purchase the gorgeous Campagnolo Wall clock  (shown above, but photos don't do it justice) could not be used to get the clock shipped to US Campagnolo tifosi.

We contacted Campagnolo in Vicenza to get the correct link -- click

to get yours or make the dreams come true for the Campagnolo-phile on your holiday gift list.

Grazie Joshua!!!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

World's Best Winter Cycling Sock

Larry was on the verge of outrage recently when he discovered our favorite merino-wool winter cycling (and general-purpose) socks were no longer available!

No, the DeFeet WoolieBoolie sock has not been discontinued, but they no longer offer them in the natural color. We're old-school so black socks just don't cut it for cycling, though of course they're just fine for general wearing around. Socks don't last forever so it was an unpleasant surprise to find these no longer available - at any price.

Rather than get completely outraged, Larry contacted DeFeet, who'd made a great version of their Wooleator, a much thinner merino-wool cycling sock for us recently, to see if they could produce a WoolieBoolie with the same "retro" style logo we'd used for the Wooleators?

As you can see in the images above, they could and they DID!

Their black/charcoal versions are still in production and can be found all over, but these natural versions with the CycleItalia logo are unique to us. But you can enjoy them too!

S-M-L sizes are available and $16 US will get you a pair, including shipping to the 48 US states. These have 4" cuffs, the shortest they make these days vs our Wooleator's 3" cuff, perfect for cold weather. The CycleItalia logo is also smaller on this WoolieBoolie, with the logo on each side rather than one larger logo wrapping around the cuff.

Send an email to with Socks in the title and we'll reply with a Paypal link. Make sure you let us know the size and quantity you'd like. A pair of these could be the perfect holiday stockings for the cold-weather cyclists on your list. Why not stuff 'em with Italian cioccolatini and hang 'em on your mantlepiece?

Ho, ho, ho (as they say)

*We'll have some of these in Italy, so those joining us in the summer can get 'em there if they prefer.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

A slippery subject

Uncle Larry was overhauling a Campagnolo rear hub this afternoon and reached for something to lube the freewheel cassette pawls. You know, those little things that click when you stop pedaling? In fact, Italians call them cricchetti, which reminds Larry of crickets.

You don't want heavy grease on these as it's too easy for them to stick, resulting in a really free freewheel- in both directions! Larry can still remember years ago a client pulling his freshly overhauled bike out of the bag and his confusion as the same thing happened whether he pedaled backward or forward - NOTHING!

Larry's go-to for this has always been Phil's Tenacious Oil if there's a bottle handy. Reaching up to the shelf where the lubes are in the CycleItalia shop, he pondered the assortment of lubricants there. After choosing Phil, he decided to describe a few of these lubes and make some recommendations to help with your choice next time you need lube - in this case for your chain.

 Above: NixFrixShun, Finish Line Cross Country, Finish Line Pro Ceramic

A few drops were "applied" to the workbench in front of each container and left for a few minutes. Note that ALL of these are oils of some sort. Larry thinks wax-based chain lubes are rather silly and yes, he's heard all of the proselytizing of the wax cult for years. He thinks products like the infamous White Lightning wax were created to cash-in on the ritual pre-ride lubing of the chain cyclists practice (same as inflating their tires) way-too-often. It works so poorly you almost have to apply it before every ride! And note the stuff they sell labeled "EPIC" (which I assume means heavy-duty use under poor conditions, which for bicycle chains is pretty much all the time) contains... OIL.

Above: Phil Tenacious Oil, Larry's Secret Blend*, Tetra Bike and Castrol Chain Lube

You'll note some are clear while others have various hues. They all feel pretty slippery whether pushing a finger around in the puddle on the workbench or rubbing them between the fingers. Tetra Bike seemed the least viscous, probably due to a solvent that might have evaporated if we'd left the samples longer? NFX and Phil were the most viscous with Larry's Secret Blend* and Finish Line Cross Country close behind. Finish Line Ceramic, with a beige substance that sinks to the bottom of the bottle after it sits awhile (ceramic particles?) seems mostly a gimmick to cash-in on the ceramic bearing craze as Larry can tell no difference in performance with this lube vs Finish Line Cross Country. In fact it seems to need more applications rather than less compared to Cross Country. Castrol stinks! Not that it's not an OK lube, it just smells awful. I'm not sure it's even sold anymore. Worse, the plastic bottle is brittle and prone to cracking.

Larry's been using Finish Line Cross Country for many years despite being offered various free samples of other brands. He'll try 'em for awhile, notice no real difference or improvement in shifting performance or wear, so when it comes time to grab another bottle, Finish Line's "green" is usually the choice. In some ways it might be the bottle design more than anything else? Larry likes the size, shape and applicator "nipple" and screw-on cap vs the flip-up spouts of many others. Flip-up spouts tend to allow too much product out with just a gentle squeeze vs the nipple style.

NFX is interesting enough that Larry might give it a long-term test despite the flip-top bottle. Of course there's no way to know whether the actual product is superior until you try it, but their application suggestions are unique. Most of the lubes suggest you apply a drop to each and every link in the chain, something Larry's always believed to be a big waste of time (and lube). He prefers to turn the pedals backwards and drip a few drops of lube along one side of the rollers, then the other side. Spin the cranks around a few times to let the lube penetrate and then wipe off the excess.

NFX's instructions are basically the same, the first time we've ever seen this practical recommendation. They also caution against applying too often, something we see all the time. Finally, they suggest wiping the collected gunk off the chain regularly, something else cyclists need to do more of!

Finally, an amusing anecdote about chains and lube - years ago, while working a tour following the Giro d'Italia, our clients (this was back with the "other guys") were caught in a brief rain shower and arrived at the hotel in a large group - and they all wanted to lube their chains PRONTO! Larry was working with another mechanic and since we'd just arrived at the hotel ourselves, had other things to do just then. Nobody was willing to wait and let us take care of the lubing once we'd checked in, so we each reluctantly handed over our 4 oz bottles of chain lube (enough to last each of us a full tour season) and went about our other chores.

We returned to find completely empty bottles of lube! All gone! Almost a half-pint of chain lube used up by perhaps 30 ten minutes? As you might guess, there was a rather drippy mess down in the bike room the next morning...but worse was that both of us were now out of lube! On tour we rarely have time to visit bike shops unless we're searching for a part to repair a client's bike, so what were we gonna do for lube until we could stop by a cycling shop?

Larry's idea was simple - pull the nipples out of our brand-name chain-lube bottles and refill them - using the quart of motor oil we kept in the van! Nobody was around when we did this and we said nothing about it, other than the usual mechanic grumbling about how these folks had wasted our season's worth of lube in 10 minutes.

We used that "chain-lube" for the rest of the season, never getting around to replacing our supply. Amazingly, most of the clients who asked us to lube their chains then inquired as to what brand the lube was, exclaiming that their bike had never ridden so quietly or shifted so smoothly! All we could do was smile.

*Larry's Secret Blend is Mobil 1 75/90W synthetic automotive gear oil. Find a good applicator bottle, buy a quart for less than $20 and you'll have a lifetime supply of chain lube. Don't overlube and do wipe your chain frequently.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Favaloro-artisan carbon

Regular blog readers know we're exploring full-carbon bikes to add to our rental fleet. We're both VERY conservative when it comes to what we ride personally as well as what we'd put under our valued clients as they join us on tour.

Our friends at Albabici came up with an idea for us. We weren't too interested in just another "me-too" carbon bicycle molded and baked in Asia and painted up in the Italian tricolore.
We wanted something truly ITALIANO - as in 100% Made-in-Italy. 

 Above: sheet carbon before being rolled into tubing

Michele Favaloro's been making frames for most of his life. Albabici's partnered with him to offer something rare - a custom, made-to-measure, handmade frame and fork, 100% made-in-Italy. We decided to have a prototype made with the idea of adding full-carbon bikes to our rental fleet. Larry's very particular about things like this, so there was plenty of back-and-forth on the design.

 Above: Headtube construction example

We want these bikes to match the great handling and ride quality our current rental fleet is known for, so each one will be a unique-to-us construction. We also wanted the sizes to match with our current fleet so if our steel bike "Bartali" fits you well, we know our aluminum/carbon "Binda" will too. Same for this one, soon-to-be-named "Belloni" after the winner of the 1920 Giro d'Italia, though these bikes will feature a slightly taller headtube so you can get the handlebars up a bit higher if you prefer.
Larry wanted an alloy steerer tube for example, as stems will be swapped around on these far more than on your personal bike and aluminum will be much more "user-friendly" in this regard. You of course can have a tapered carbon steerer tube if you like.

 Above: Front part of frame with mitered tubes glued into place

For ease of maintenance Larry wants 100% external cables with stops optimized for Campagnolo's new Potenza groupset. You of course can have all the cables internal with special ports for electronic groupsets if you prefer. 

 Above: Rear part of frame with mitered tubes glued into place

Favaloro can create your bike to use direct-mount brake calipers as well while our example will take conventional, single bolt calipers. It'll have a mechanic-friendly conventional alloy seatpost too, though you can request an integrated one if you like. 

 Above: The completed bike all glued up. Not shown is the joint wrapping,vacuum bagging or curing

These are made in a very similar fashion to classic steel bike frames. Tube are mitered (in this case after being fashioned from raw carbon sheet) and glued (think of brazing) into place, then wrapped (think of steel lugs) with more carbon before being shrink-wrapped to optimize compaction and then cured in an oven. This construction technique, just like with a steel frame, allows made-to-measure frames to be constructed along with any special requirements, including multi-shaped tubes. More on this can be seen on the Favaloro webpages via the link above.

Above: Completed frame after some sanding

Instead of the laborious filing of brass and lugs once the frame is complete, these are carefully sanded. As you'd guess, experience is required to make sure the joints are not compromised by the removal of too much material - same as with steel.

Our bikes, as you can see on this prototype will feature all round tubes. Multi-shaped tubes cost a bit more since there's more waste of the expensive carbon sheet when they are produced, but they're all hand-made by Michele.

We're waiting for the next photos and news of construction progress. Our goal is to have this prototype assembled and tested with enough time to then have other sizes produced to complete the addition of full-carbon bikes to our fleet for the 2017 season so you can see and perhaps test-ride one. You might even want to rent one.

Perhaps the best part of this is that YOU, unlike even the top pros (with rare exception) can now have a made-to-measure, 100% handmade-in-Italy, full carbon bicycle at around the same price you'd pay for an Asian-made, big-brand, molded frame in your choice of, as we say, "too small, too large or close enough."

Your first question might be "How can this be possible? The big brands make and import hundreds of their molded frames at a time. Surely their economy-of-scale offers me a much better bike for that same price!" The answer is simple - the big-brands also spend millions to sponsor pro teams in an effort to convince you their bikes are good enough for the top pros to use in winning the biggest races, even if some of them actually ride custom, made-to-measure bicycles instead. The costs of these sponsorships are added to each and every frame they sell. Add your bike dealer's markup and it's easy to see how those big-brand frames can be priced at $5000 or more.

With Favaloro you're paying Michele to make the bike starting with raw, carbon-fiber sheets and then Albabici to provide the importation and marketing backup - that's it. You really can get a unique, made-to-measure bike for (usually) less than you'd pay for a "standard" off-the-rack (though yours might have a fancy custom paint job) big-brand special if you're willing to skip that big-brand name.

We're excited to try ours out!

Buon lavoro Michele!