Friday, November 25, 2011

Laser dreaming

A date once told me: “You may want but you can’t have.” Recalling that these were the very same words my mother propelled at me some 30 years earlier I received the admonition with a mixture of bemusement and frustration. But accepting that there are certain limitations to what we want and what we can have is how a grown up negotiates the constraints of a civilised society (sure, the barriers may be a little more permeable if one travels in the upper echelons of the social structure and is in possession of particularly deep pockets and good connections - just ask Silvio Berlusconi).


The Cinelli team in the 1980s 

What’s under the paint via

As many collectors, enthusiasts, Cinelli groupies & other such purveyors and consumers of iconic bicyclonostalgiomania would be aware, Bondo’s making a comeback in 2012. Now the troll has resigned himself to the fact that he will never own a Cinelli Laser. Partly because he was never really that enamoured by them in his youth (see my previous post), and now that his interest has been piqued (and quite possibly because of this - the troll is really that shallow) the Lasers have become simply become too expensive and difficult to find. And a limited edition of 21 Laser Nostra’s at €7,500 for just the frame and fork ain’t gonna change anything.

Aside from the fact that they have already all sold out. 

Bondo’s back. There’s more here than fillet-brazed Columbus Spirit tubing.
Sure, the construction may leave some scratching their heads in an era of monocoque carbon fibre framesets but for many this is the epitome of Italian cycling elegance.

Elegant yes... um... a squared fork crown may harken back to them old days but what on earth is going on with that headset?

But there are many ways to join steel tubes together, even if they don’t have quite the same aerodynamic flare. Under all that Bondo is probably something that probably looks a little like this:

Although when the finishing work gets to this level then you might as well paint straight over it like so:

Mark Nobilette’s fillet-brazed frame at the 2009 NAHBS (from the troll’s collection of bicycle photos ripped from the internet - apologies to the rightful owner)

Of course one can also use lugs, work on them a little, and fillet braze them just for good measure.

Exemplary work from Peter Johnson 
(the troll’s all-time favourite sequence of naked bicycle photos and very much in the "you may want but can't have" league)

Any reader of this blog that has, by a keystroke of misfortune, ended back here would by now have realised that this here is a medium for reposting other people’s bicycle pictures, not to mention ideas, articles, and any girlie photos that are 1. free, 2. readily available, 3. passes censorship from the troll’s 70 year old mother. Leaving aside his constitutional (and thereby unimpeachable) laziness the troll does have an excuse on this occasion: he is in transit in Singapore whilst on his way back to India. If you want an original photo then this is all he’s got:

...As the troll sits comfortably cosseted in the sterile sameness of the Meritus Club Lounge scratching his nether regions, he reads with certain detachment about the insouciance of various governments to the planned damming of the Mekong River amongst other worldly problems all of which seem so distant from his immediate environment. A casual look out the window reveals a giant durian...Mmm, time for breakfast...

In the immediate environment sits outlets for Zegna, Hermes, Burberry, Bvlgari, Canali, Prada... all waiting patiently for the well-endowed (in every sense of the word) consumer to walk in. Unfortunately the troll is not well-endowed (in any sense of the word) but happily these names mean as much to a troll as monogrammed handbags and red soles on fashion shoes. Instead he ambles off to the Mustafa Centre (think of a cross between Harrods and Walmart with an Indian-Chinese flavour and you’ve just about got it) as this place, located in Little India no less, simply has everything. 
But the troll is drawn to shiny objects. And the Mustafa Centre sells very many shiny things. Like wrist watches. And although the ebay troll already owns a watch, and the parting of troll and coin is an excruciating experience for all involved, on this occasion he simply could not help himself. 

$16 Target watch - no shiny bling-bling happening here.

At Mustafa’s, you may want and you shall have.

And looking at ebay (the giant Mustafa Centre in the sky), reveals a bewildering variety of wrist watches available for consumption. At the top end of the game sits this little wonder:

Patek Philippe ref 5339 with minute repeater & tourbillon (don’t even ask how much)

Sure there are watches with a greater number of complications (a tourbillon, although a remarkable feat of engineering, is technically not a complication) and are more elaborate to boot. But this watch has just enough to say it all: 

Class - refinement - money - status. 

And, like the humble quartz watch, it even does a good job of telling the time.
Mechanical wrist watches have everything that would appeal to an ebay troll: a massive collector/ enthusiast base, an obscene proliferation of educational if opinionated forums, plenty of glam labels that appeal to the masses yet scorned by the knowledgeable enthusiast, jaw-dropping prices paid by aforementioned enthusiast for outdated/ superceded/ obsolete items that don’t work half as well as the newer stuff, and, of course, lots of moving bits that by necessity have to work together synchronously. Not to mention, plenty of shiny bling-bling. 
And to mark the passage of time by means of circuitous motion has an certain undeniable resonance.

IWC Ingenieur 3227-01. Not quite as obvious as a Rolex, Patek Philippe, or an A.Lange & Sohne 

Limited production estimated at 8,000 pieces (2005-2009) - not by choice, but by virtue of a unrealistic price tag and subsequent lack of consumer interest via 

The controversial calibre 80110 - a heavily modified ETA 7750 or a true in-house movement?

Obligatory photo with bike via 

Now should you be able to find an IWC Ingenieur 3227-01 then expect to pay upwards of $5,000 for a used piece. That’s an awful lot of coin for a watch with one basic complication. Not to mention service costs of upwards of $500 every 5 years. And then there’s the heft of carrying a 200g watch and bracelet. Not good for a small-wristed, stodgy and scrooge-like troll.

Cinelli Lasers, obsolete bicycle technology, fancy wrist watches (and for others, possibly monogrammed handbags and red soles on fashion shoes). At a certain level there appear to be many plausible reasons why you may want, but you simply can’t have. 

Thank goodness we do not always respond to reason. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Tiramisu in the land of Sashimi

Nihon Jitensha ShinkĊkai stamp of approval 

1989 Campagnolo meets NJS standardization

No better. No worse. Just right.