Archive | Road Snob

Terrific Thomson (Seatposts, Stems and Collars)



Why replace a seat post?

Hitting too many bumps in the road can traumatize your derriere, but it can also damage your seat post by wearing down the metal teeth that grip the rails of your saddle (as shown in this photo).

Perhaps you want to move your seat further backward and have run out of room on your rails and need an offset (also known as a set back) seat post. In the unlikely event that you’ve crashed, you may also need a replacement.

You can purchase a product of the same quality, or upgrade with plenty of brands (Ritchey, Easton, FSA, Profile Designs, etc.) and materials (aluminum or carbon) to choose from.

However, you may not know about Thomson, located in Macon, Georgia because they don’t do a lot of advertising.

I visited, and was surprised to find they manufacture parts for companies including Boeing, Ford, Trane and Pitney Bowes. In addition to contract manufacturing, Thomson also has a bicycle components division which manufactures, seat posts, stems and collars.

How did that unlikely combination come to be?

Once upon a time Mr. Thomson’s daughter came back from college with her bike team from Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania. One of the boys on that team happened to live next door to inventor, bike designer and innovator, Gary Klein (Klein Bikes). It was Mr. Klein’s opinion that if Mr. Thomson could manufacture the forgotten component– a well-made seat post– for a reasonable price, Mr. Thomson could carve his niche in the retail bicycle marketplace.

The late Mr. Thomson listened. Since 1984, his company has produced some of the most beautifully crafted stems and seat posts for both mountain and road cycling. Their products have become the standard by which all others are compared.

Thomson seat posts come in two models, the “masterpiece” which weighs in at 40 grams less than the same “elite” post. Thompson achieves this reduction in weight by machining the already extruded aluminum shaft. Fine grooves in the shaft of the Masterpiece post (from the machine lathe) only add to its aesthetically elegant appearance. Both come in silver or black. Their seat posts have a seat rail grip that is .500 inches longer than most others. They offer a straight seat post and one with a 16 mm set back in a variety of diameters and lengths. If you require a larger set back, you’ll have to find another manufacturer (or another bike).

Thomson discovered that a force in excess of 220 pounds on a seat post system with only one bolt causes the bolt to come out. So, their seat posts attach to your saddle with two bolts, held in tension with one another, allowing you greater control over the exact saddle position than with metal teeth.

Thomson’s stems and collars are also worth mentioning here. Their x-4 and x-2 stems can be used interchangeably on road and mountain bikes with standard 31.8 handlebars. Both their stems and collars match the same quality construction found in their seat posts, although the range of stem sizes is somewhat limited and are available in 0, 10, and 17 degree rises.

I would definitely recommend you check with Thomson before looking any further. After all, their products are made right here in the good old USA. And, just by looking at the pictures you can guess why they qualify as Road Snob material. And yes, of course, they come in a fabric bag.

Oakley Prescription Sports Sunglasses

You’re descending at 35 miles per hour on a curvy mountain road.  Even though you suffer from dry eyes, out of nowhere, a wave of tears blur your vision behind your everyday sunglasses.  Do you dare take your hands off the brakes to wipe your eyes?  Or, do you try and navigate the road safely under these dangerous conditions?

Okay, so maybe you think it’s crazy to descend at 35 miles per hour. Instead, you’re riding along at a nice clip of 15 mph and whack, a bee slams into your forehead.

What if he’d hit your eye?

Have I made my point?

Protecting your eyes is the number one reason you wear glasses when you ride.

Whether you’re nearsighted, farsighted, neither or both, you’ll want to see the road ahead, check your mirror and read your bicycle computer. You’ll want a design that fits your face, doesn’t create a vortex of wind between you and your glasses, and protects your eyes from the sun and blinding glare. It would be nice if your sunglasses also had automatic wipers for rainy days… but let’s not linger on fantasies.

Unfortunately, age may have made these simple tasks nearly impossible without the aid of bifocals or progressive lenses.  Cyclists rely on their peripheral vision to scan for traffic and other potential hazards. Most progressive lenses provide only a small cone of clear vision directly in front, which requires significant head turning to assess peripheral obstacles.

Except Oakley.  They have developed a proprietary lens technology  that surpasses all others available today.  It’s no wonder so many athletes sport their glasses — or that Oakley has had an exclusive contract with the United States Military for over twenty years to produce a range of gear including eyewear, goggles, boots, gloves, watches and electronics.  Oakley breaks all boundaries, produces products of unparalleled quality, and caters to their super elite almost cult-like following. Their products are rigorously tested and  ANSI Z87.1 compliant for both impact and high impact protection.  Their lenses are hydrophobic and repel water, body oils, sweat and dust.

The outside of their Headquarters in Orange County looks like a military fortress, while on the inside  it reminded me of the of the surrealistic set of the 1984 Apple Macintosh Commercial.  As I drove up, employees were driving and playing with a full-sized military tank  purchased  when sales hit a billion dollars.  Behind a black curtain in the lobby, there’s even a short walk-thru museum highlighting Oakley’s technical  achievements. This is one wacky company.

James Jannard, the wizard behind this enterprise, started Oakley (named after his dog), in 1975, with three hundred dollars, making motocross grips. This same material is now used  for the earsocks and nosepieces of Oakley glasses.  He lives on Spieden Island in the state of Washington and Kaibu and Vatuvara in Fiji.  He also developed the RED digital camera and was nicknamed “the madman” by his employees in the 1980’s.

Oakley retail stores display every frame, every variation of lens, for every weather condition imaginable,  but without prices listed in plain sight.  You actually have to talk to a salesperson to get that information.  Come on, even at Tiffany’s, the prices are displayed.

Though I can’t tell you what your pair of Oakley’s will cost, I will attempt to share information I’ve extracted from Oakley about whether you’re one of the lucky women whose eyeglass prescription falls into the Oakley parameters for sports glasses.

You will not believe the clarity of their lenses or the lack of distortion. When you wear Oakley progressive lenses, your eyes feel new again– like you’re not even wearing prescription glasses at all.  Even when you go inside,  you’ll want to leave them on.   However, Oakley sports lenses are curved, and can only be made into prescription strengths that fall within strict parameters for only a few styles of frames.

The Minute 2.o frames which are made especially for small faces, come in black, midnight blue, and tortoise.  They are light, comfortable, and conform to my face.  I have extreme light sensitivity, but with the polarized iridium lenses, I don’t squint in harsh sunlight and glare is negligible.

Once you wear a pair, you’ll probably want to get a set of interchangeable clear lenses for night riding.  I certainly do, although I’m leery about popping lenses in and out without damaging them. Perhaps you’ll want to explore Oakley’s everyday eyewear since there are fewer choice restrictions because the lenses are not curved.  The quality of vision is so much better than any other pair of glasses I’ve owned, I doubt I’ll ever buy a pair of prescription glasses from my regular optometrist again.  If you have any questions, I recommend you call Oakley or find an Oakley dealer that fills prescription glasses. They come in a fabric bag (and a hard case), and definitely qualify for Road Snob status.

Oakley Sports Glasses
Styles Progressive Lenses Progressive Rx Single Vision Lenses Single Vision Rx
Half Jacket Yes +2 to -3 Yes +2 to -5
Minute Yes +2 to -4 Yes +2 to -5
Straight Jacket Yes +2 to -3 Yes +2 to -5
Encounter Yes +2 to -3 Yes +2 to -5
Radar No Yes +2 to -5
M Frame No Yes +2 to -5
Enduring No Yes +2 to -5

Do Aching Feet Limit the Length of Your Ride ? Specialized BG S-Works Shoes Can Help Your Troubled Feet

Do you  rip off your shoes after a ride because of  hot foot or pain? If your feet have become the limiting factor on your rides, it may be time to step up to Road Snob quality.  Specialized has finally introduced their Tour De France quality  S-works shoe for women. Unlike previous versions for men, this shoe has two boa dials for complete adjustability both in the arch and forefoot, and the ankle and heel.

If you suffer from bunions, you know they deform the normal shape of the foot and require additional toe box room for comfort, especially after your feet warm up and begin to swell.  The boas provide the means to adjust the tightness of the shoe in tiny increments, even while cycling.  I actually leave the arch and forefoot boa completely open.

To help with hot foot, generous venting can be found  on the tongue,  toebox sides and even the bottom of the shoe.   The sole of these shoes has a stiffness rating of  12.0 and they are made from the same Specialized’s proprietary FACT (functional advanced composite technology) used to manufacture their bicycles.  This stiff, lightweight sole will help disperse the force evenly to the shoe in an effort to reduce hot spots. Each shoe weighs a mere 205 grams (under half a pound) and will facilitate a better spin thus relieving pressure on the soles of your feet as well.

The S-Works shoes contain the same features as all BG footwear like the Torch Shoes (reviewed earlier) including a longitudinal arch, varus wedge, adjustable forefoot shims and replaceable footbeds.

Specialized set the price tag of these shoes at a whopping $350., but they’ve engineered a pair of shoes that can be repaired as they break or wear out (besides just the footbeds.) So when the rubber on the heel becomes worn it just means the tread needs to be replaced.  Specialized created a set of internally recessed screws to access the tread from the inside of the shoe. If the monofilament lace breaks, it too can be replaced.  The outer shoe material can be easily cleaned with a wet rag to maintain a clean appearance.

Finally these shoes are designed to fit on any pedal system that accepts a three bolt pattern including Speedplay, Shimano SPD-SL, Look, and Time.

So if your feet are ruining your rides, treat them right and get them a pair of S-Works shoes.  If you try a pair on you’ll notice the difference immediately.  I did.

And yes, they come in a fabric bag.

Some Hanky Panky has forced Me to Ask again

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