Saturday, June 26, 2010

Inflexible solutions to real world challenges

= single speed bicycle

In the real world I’m known for my focus, determination, routine and near resolute inflexibility. Not particularly endearing traits. But for better or worse it has got me to where I am now.

Riding a single speed off-road is like looking the real world in the eye and saying “I defy your varying terrain”. And riding without suspension is simply pulling the proverbial finger after such a cockeyed statement. But nature bites back. Especially if you have the crap riding skills that I possess.

Today’s riding conditions were near perfect. Cool, overcast, dry with marginally damp compact soil, and to top that off, some angels had cleared the loose debris from most of the trails (got to love the volunteer maintenance guys & gals). So I thought I might ramp up the tire pressures so I could go just that bit faster (well faster than “what the f-k is down the track that’s holding us up...”). Right?

Wrong. Multiple taps, toe-downs, uncontrolled slides, bouncing descents, “what the f-k?!” falls, and nervous trepidation with resultant “ok, let’s just walk this section” made for a frustrating ride. Too slow to sustain any serious injury. Too messy to hit the pleasure zone.

The bucking bronco at rest. Notice how clean she is after a 3 hour ride (ok maybe I walked about 1/2 hour of it - heck maybe more). But you should have seen the trails today - they were groomed to ride fast!

Halfway through the ride I realized that it wasn’t going to get any better without letting some air out to smooth the ride and gain some traction. But that would have meant compromise. And today was a day ruled by stubborn inflexibility.

Cool Stop Tectonic pads. The end of the squealing XTR front brake.

But I did bounce through the last technical descent. Clean. And knowing my nature, I’m probably going to try again.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Shipping bicycle stuff to Australia

Over the past few years I have gained some experience with shipping bicycle bits and bobs into Australia. For those new to the game this post may provide some useful information. Pretty dry reading I’m afraid.

Generally speaking most stuff from the US comes via UPS, FedEx, or USPS. UPS and FedEx are independent transport companies and their service extends from pickup to drop-off at the client’s designated address. They do everything including the customs brokerage and their charges are included in the freight fees. USPS (United States Postal Service) freight is delivered in Australia through Australia Post and you will have to do your own customs clearance if the goods are valued over AUD $1000.

FedEx seems to be the most expensive and appears to be the most hassle-free. They will automatically pay the customs duty & GST for you if the insured value of the item is over AUD $1000. This is efficient but it does have a number of downfalls.

  1. If you insure the item for more that what the item costs (say, for sentimental reasons, or replacement value on a rare item) then expect to pay the fee on the insured value.
  2. They automatically pay the customs duty even if the item is exempt of customs duty (for example if the item is wholly manufactured in the US then it should be free of customs duty based on the Australia-US free-trade agreement from Jan 2005).
  3. They may also pay for quarantine charges even if the item has never been used.

If you call FedEx to contend these charges then be prepared for a fight as they have already paid the fees and are trying to recover their costs.

In my experience UPS brokers have contacted me to confirm the fees due prior to payment & clearance of the goods. UPS final destination delivery is not as persistent as FedEx as the latter will turn up at the designated drop-off address until the item is delivered (within a reasonable period). Regardless of the carrier, make sure there is someone around to sign off on the goods.

All goods valued at AUD $1000 or more are subject to customs duty and GST. If the carrier does not have their own customs broker (appears to be the vast majority that transport from the UK & Europe and national carriers where the final transport is via Australia Post) then you will have to do the clearance yourself or arrange a customs broker to do the work for you.

In many cases you can present in person at the local branch of Australian Customs (located in all capital cities). Although this is a bit of a PITA you can resolve all issues at one sitting which is better than numerous phone calls. You can clear items that are delivered by carriers that do not offer a customs broker as part of their service and also all deliveries where the final leg is done via Australia Post.

The other way is via the internet and registering as a client in the Integrated Cargo System (ICS) Once you are registered then you can complete your own customs clearance with forms easily downloaded from the Australian Customs website. Customs clearance as a client in the ICS only applies to deliveries where the final leg is via Australia Post.

You can also clear items via the internet even if the final leg is through an independent carrier. But this is a right PITA in my experience. I've managed to do it a couple of times but all I can recall is the intense frustration of the whole ordeal.

If you do your own customs clearance (ICS or otherwise) then you should be aware that customs clearance has two parts.

1. Customs duty and GST

2. Quarantine.

Customs duty is calculated on the market value of the goods. If you are doing this yourself go to:

import export

customs tariff

working tariff page

schedule 3

chapter 87

goods 8714.9 (bicycles and accessories)

GST is 10% and calculated on the market value + transport costs + insurance costs.

Quarantine is required for all bicycles and parts that have been used. They may even inspect items that are designated NOS (new old stock). Quarantine costs are AUD $50-100.

Hope this helps.

Welcome to the back nine

The sort of person that appreciates obsolete technology is the sort of person that understands youth that has aged. And yes, it is much easier if you knew her when she was young.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

1992 Concorde Squadra

I coveted the PDM Concorde Squadra bikes in them early days. This specimen was apparently owned by the PDM mechanic (!) and comes with race-spec Columbus TSX tubing and full 1992 Campagnolo Record groupset. Looks to be in excellent condition and just sold on ebay today for USD $1599.

1992 Campagnolo Record was a wonderful mix of modernity and antiquity. It retained the C Record aesthetics first seen in 1985 (beautiful to behold but lots of highly polished aluminium made for a heavy and eye-wateringly expensive groupset) and introduced the Ergopower brifters to the public (in my opinion the Ergopower levers have never been as beautiful as they were in 1992 - solid, stately, heavy, clunky). And, yes, delta brakes were still the Campy’s top-level offerings in them days.

In 1994 Campagnolo introduced their dual-pivot brakes (although deltas were still available) and brought out their 3rd generation Ergopower levers with Hyperglide cluster. It was the last hurrah for the C Record aesthetic before Campagnolo lost the fat from their cranksets (and stopped polishing the inner arms), revised the front derailleur, and started labelling their range so everyone could tell what “level” you were riding.

I’m rather partial to the C Record aesthetics. But I also like parts that work efficiently. And the better things get, the greater the expectations.

As a comparison the ebay troll found a Richard Sachs Signature from 2004 with a 2003 Record Carbon groupset. Lovely bike which sold on the 5th June for USD $3,305. No doubt a better frame with a more modern and effective groupset.

The Concorde was a top-of-the-line professional race bike in 1992. The Sachs is a wonderful exercise in steel with quality parts. The Concorde shows her age. The Sachs harks back to tradition. Both great, just different.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Gloria Garibaldina Extra Corsa

It's raining Glorias. Our Boston seller has another Garibaldina on ebay at present. This one is listed as circa 1940s in exceptional, original condition. Wonderful patina with a nice complement of Gloria labelled parts. Where does he find them? And how did he get the Gaslo tape so white?

My heart hurts. I want one.

ADDIT: sold USD $3,550

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Late 50s- early 60s Bianchi Specialissima

Purist will cringe but I'm rather fond of this Bianchi. Mish-mash build from different eras somehow come together rather nicely. Smattering of patina here and there with used, original condition components. Refurbishment of the Magistroni cranks and repaint of the frame and forks. And new "retro" wooden rims.

A smartly dressed sixty year old. Possibly with breast implants.

Put together by Harry S.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

1968 Cinelli SC

Speedbicycle's 1968 Cinelli SC is currently for sale. 59cm frame with original (cromovelato!) paint & chrome. Top quality parts highlighted by Cinelli bivalent hubs (aluminium version) and 1st generation Campagnolo Record brakeset. A magnificent specimen.

Investment quality bicycle.

Addit: sold USD $7,490