Friday, December 8, 2017

Carbon clinchers - an oxymoron?

Finally, a dirty little secret is revealed

Photo from Cycling Tips

Twenty years ago, pretty much about the same time we started CycleItalia, clincher wheels made from carbon fiber started to appear on the market.

Uncle Larry was skeptical (some would say cynical) from the beginning about the claims being made for these products. He remembered attempts to make square-taper bottom bracket spindles using titanium, which contrary to popular belief is NOT as strong as steel. 

Simply making a part in the same shape and dimensions using a material inferior in strength is at best a foolish gamble. The bottom brackets failed, sometimes to the point the rider was left on the ground with a pedal and crankarm still attached to their shoe!

A redesign was in order, with far larger diameters and different specifications, something that can't be done with a clincher rim. It must be made to a specific shape to retain the tire and its internal pressure no matter how much of an aerodynamic wind-cheating design is used.

Tubular rims on the other hand, do not face these issues as their tires are simply glued onto a depression molded into the rim. ALL of the internal pressure is contained inside the sewn-up tire carcass so the only downside of these was less-than-great braking performance, especially once the tire size was increased to reduce impact damage. We've probably all seen a caved-in aluminum rim, usually caused by hitting a large pothole in the road.

Carbon tubular rims these days offer performance under braking good enough, now that carbon-specific brake pads have improved, for the pros to use them pretty much exclusively with no major problems, though of course they usually have a follow-car with spares.. just in case.

The sexy look and lighter weight claims associated with anything made from carbon fiber proved too hard to resist for the bike industry.  But with so few willing to put up with the hassles of tubular tires these days, sales would go nowhere unless clincher versions of these wheels were available so every Joe and Jill Crankarm could ride around looking like a pro.

Photo from Cycling Tips

The first versions were aluminum rims bonded to carbon fiber. You might remember the ill-fated Spinergy Rev-X? They had plenty of issues, the aluminum rim separating from the carbon portion was just one of them! Most makers eventually solved that problem but there was still the thought that all-carbon clinchers would be big sellers, despite not being all that much lighter than their aluminum cousins.

Twenty years ago, all-carbon clinchers were first offered for sale. The braking surface was carbon fiber, far from ideal from a friction or heat-dissipating point of view.

Based on this piece over at Cycling Tips it seems not much has improved in 20 years?

The design of an aluminum alloy clincher rim can't simply be duplicated using carbon-fiber. The thin sides of a clincher rim (unless of course it's a disc-brake design) simply can not handle both the braking friction and temperature increase combined with the internal air pressure of the tire/inner tube.

Claims of special resins or brake pads are band-aids that can't cover up the problem. Of course this isn't a problem if you always ride in flat places and never have much use for your brakes.

We suggested from CycleItalia's beginnings the use of carbon clinchers was a bad idea. This piece at Cycling Tips suggests we were right at the time and nothing much has changed, so our suggestions stand.

*Disclaimer: While neither wheels from Ursus or Campagnolo (both official suppliers to CycleItalia) were mentioned in the linked article we can not endorse their use on our tours. Put the aluminum clinchers your bike came with back on and enjoy piece-of-mind.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Piedmont Cycling Resort and La Corsa Rosa 2018

La Corsa Rosa 2018 and Piedmont Cycling Resort

The route for 2018's Giro d'Italia has been announced and we're happy to note three key stages will be close enough for live, in-person viewing/riding.

Yes, you can be up-close-and-personal with the big stars of pro cycling

Says it all, no?

Heather with some fans of The Shark of Messina. He should be there too.

Stages 18, 19 and 20 of La Corsa Rosa will be within driving distance of Piedmont Cycling Resort so we plan to offer day-trip excursions to ride part of the course and see the race live.

Stage 18 on May 24 finishes at Prato Nevoso so we can load up the van in the morning for the transfer and ride the course ahead of the race, waiting at a chosen spot on the climb for the race to pass through, then simply descend back to the van and return to PCR the same day.

Stage 19 does the same, but this time we'll ride up the infamous Colle Finestre and wait for the race to pass by on their way to Bardonecchia. With some luck on the return to the van we can find a bar with a TV to catch the race finish before heading back to PCR and dinner. We've done this before, read more about it HERE.

The penultimate stage will be number 20 with a finish at Cervinia. We'll hope for better weather than when Uncle Larry was there in 2012. Read more about that HERE.

With almost 3 decades in this biz, we're old-hands at big-time race viewing and never tire of the experience. We're happy to share it with Piedmont Cycling Resort guests on a first-come, first-served basis. Contact us for more details* and prices, we'd love to share the excitement of La Corsa Rosa with you!

*We have added the Cervinia excursion to our 2018 schedule. The others will depend on interest shown by clients.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Fried Blackie

We know today's the day everyone and his fratello says you should be out "saving money" but we're doing other things.

Above: Uncle Larry not shopping

Like cycling for one, along with enjoying turkey sandwiches and posting things on ebay for others to buy. We're hoping to be moving (for good) to Italy by this time next year, so getting rid of stuff we've spend decades collecting but are not taking with us is starting to be a big priority.

We're close to crossing the threshold where we have more stuff in Italy than here in Iowa...and that's a great feeling!

If you must do some shopping today, check out our holiday gift guide a few posts down and enjoy the rest of the Thanksgiving weekend!

PS- don't forget it's never too early to reserve your place for next summer at Piedmont Cycling Resort.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Holiday Gift Guide

CycleItalia's Holiday Gift Guide 2017

Gift shopping for avid cyclists is tough - too often they simply buy the cool stuff they want, leaving nothing much for friends or relatives to surprise them with. Below are some products that they might not have realized they want - but once they open your gift, the smiles will say it all!

Happy Holidays!

OK, of course we're biased, but our great looking new summer jersey by Nalini also has the right colors for the season, no? The recipient might not be able to wear this for a few months depending on where you live, but just the thought of warm sunny days should make him/her smile. 
Click HERE to get one.

Our friends at Silca came up with this - the perfect tool to stash in your under-the-seat bag, especially if your bike has carbon or titanium components. On-the-road adjustments need no longer worry you about correct torque on delicate fasteners or components - you can dial things in perfectly with this handy tool. Click HERE to get one.

Is the cyclist on your list a fan of the beautiful parts from Vicenza Italy's CAMPAGNOLO? Even if they already have a bike equipped with Super Record EPS components, there's a good chance they don't have this clock on their wall yet. Make 'em smile whenever they check the time by clicking HERE.

Yes, we know cycling and beer go together well, but even if you're not a cyclist, everyone needs a wine opener. There's something really special about opening even an everyday bottle of wine when you use this gorgeous and extremely functional tool. Click HERE to get yours.

There are many, many products on the market sold as chamois cream. Italians know cycling better than anyone as well as making most of the "chamois" pads we sit on, even if the cycling shorts might be made in lower cost countries. HIBROS does a great job of taking care of your sensitive skin but also washes out easily, making your favorite cycling shorts last longer. Delight the cyclist on your list with a tube or jar by clicking HERE.

Those of us of a "certain age" might not yet need RX eyewear, but we can use a little help with reading our cyclocomputer, phone or that wine label. These DUAL sunglasses have it all - magnification, polarization, photocromic lenses that change with available light, adjustable nosepiece and wonderful lense quality for clarity. Don't spoil the secret but Heather will find a pair of these under a xmas tree in a few weeks! Get a pair HERE.

This is one of those "Geez, why didn't someone think of this a long time ago?" products. Takes the old "a place for everything and everything in its place" slogan to a new level. Clearly marked zip pockets for ALL of your stuff make finding things easy once you pull the bag out of the car or out of the locker. You can even have your cyclist's name and flag on the top so nobody grabs the wrong bag. We of course think it's even cooler with our logo on the side! Order yours HERE but tell 'em we sent you and get all the custom lettering (including our logo) thrown in at no extra charge!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Piedmont Cycling Resort T-shirts


They're here!!!


Want one? Just $20 includes shipping to the 48 US states. Request yours by sending email to Include size (S-M-L-X for men and S-M-L for ladies) and mailing address. We'll send you a Paypal invoice and as soon as your payment is received we'll send it your way.

Please note quantities are limited and this offer ends December 10, 2017!

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Vino Italiano

Zio Lorenzo's Wine Selections

We're stuck in the USA until next year but at least we can drink like we're in Italy! 
Read more HERE.

Meanwhile, reservations for 2018 at Piedmont Cycling Resort are coming in...don't miss out. Reserve your vacation package HERE.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Ravioli Saturday 2017

We enjoyed making ravioli with friends last Saturday. Zio Lorenzo (not so humbly as you'll see) mixes up and rolls out the pasta while Brent (at left in the video) Lillian and Heather insert the fillings and crimp them closed. 

Fillings this time included classic cheese, chicken, mushroom, potato and pork.

They're still pretty good even after being we make 3-400 in an afternoon, it's impossible to enjoy them all the same day.