Rapha Cycle Club Osaka

When I visited Japan I made it my mission to visit the Rapha Cycle Club in Osaka. I’ve never been to a Rapha store before and I wanted to check out the stuff (even though they’re expensive!). It was walking distance from Osaka station and relatively easy to find with Google Maps.

This is what the storefront looks like from the outside, in case you’re looking for it. The map I followed actually led me to the back of the store, so that’s what I saw first. They had a nifty service area where customers can park their bikes and equipment, and it was unmistakeably Rapha as well.

The store is a veritable paradise for cycling enthusiasts. Their simple, sleek, and understated clothing is very stylish, and when you touch the materials you’ll really feel the quality.

They also had some nice goodies scattered around, like this Rapha Focus team cyclocross bike of Jeremy Powers. It’s decorated in US livery, probably to commemorate his US national championship.

At the top of the store, there’s a nice area where customers can relax. As you’ll see, there’s a lot of Rapha/Giro D’Italia pink! There’s a projector that shows various cycling races (cyclocross was on at the time), so it’s probably also used for viewing races live. I can just imagine how fun this place would be come TDF season!

The store attendants were also super courteous (very Japanese!) and were nice enough to help me out. In the end, I just went home with small stuff like socks, a cycling cap, some bidons, and a copy of Rouleur magazine.

This is definitely a must-go place for any cycling fan, if you’re in the Osaka area. You can also check out other Rapha stores in other cities all over the world.

Norseman Extreme Triathlon

The Norseman Extreme Triathlon is one of those races that should be in every triathlete’s bucket list. It’s an iron-distance (3.8km swim, 180km bike, and 42km run) triathlon, but what makes it different are the conditions it’s held in. It’s a point-to-point and unsupported race, so to do it you’ll need a back-up crew to follow you around to provide you with nutrition and support. The swim starts from a barge, and participants jump into freezing water in a fjord. The first 40km of the 180km bike route goes up to 1,200m above sea level (Trivia: I remember that 2011 winner Tim de Boom, two-time Ironman World Champion, used a tri bike with drop bars and aerobars for the race). Lastly, the final 17+km of the run is a mountain climb, where you’ll have someone in your support team hike beside you to the finish line 1,880m above sea level.

The first time I heard of Norseman and saw the video of the 2012 race (above), I was immediately captivated by the idea of such a grueling challenge. I remembered Norseman just now because one my friends, Javy Olives (a fast local age grouper and one half of Vamos) entered in a contest to join it. Please vote for him by going to this link, liking the blueseventy Facebook page, and ticking the checkbox for the picture that’s the same as the one below.

If you wanna see more Norseman action, check out the video of the 2013 edition too!

Japan 2013

I visited Japan late last year for a vacation with my family. Japan has always had a special place in my heart. I love the unique culture in the country, and my wife and I actually spent our honeymoon there.

Another thing that fascinates me about Japan is their love for bikes. When they’re into something, they’re really into it! The first night, after checking into our hotel, this scene is one of the first things that greeted me when we stepped out for dinner.

I love how their cities are so bike friendly and everyone uses them to go around. I saw different commuter bikes, from the regular beater bikes to this pretty swanky Pinarello Paris with Shimano carbon fairing wheels.

They also have a love for the classics. Here’s a Zullo that I saw in a random street corner.

The bikes there come in all sorts of shapes and sizes the most common of which are the ones that look this these. Some are pretty utilitarian, with a basket for carrying stuff like groceries. They also have a nifty bike lock for the rear wheel which is attached to the bike, and can be engaged when parked so you can’t roll the bike (at least without breaking the spokes!).

What’s also common are these bikes that are named after car brands like this one. I don’t think they’re actual collaborations with the brand, but just some random bikes–but I may be wrong.

Like I said, they use bikes for everything, even for a night out on the town!

That’s it for now. I’m gonna be doing two more posts on stores I visited while I was in Japan, so be sure to check those out when they’re up next week!

Arland Macasieb Bike Fit: New Toys

I had a bike fit done with Arland last year, and recently when he was in Manila, he contacted me to show some new toys that he brought along with him. I was in need of a few adjustments to my tri bike due to a new aerobar, so it was perfect timing for me to pay him a visit.

First up is this seatpost that is used to quickly switch saddles. I really like it because it allows him to quickly change saddles for the rider to see what he likes best. It’s similar to the one they use on the Slowtwitch Saddle Tour, and I was excited about this one because I had read about it before. Arland had it attached to a standard Thomson seatpost, but you can attach it to the top of your usual seatpost, lower it, and the commence with switching saddles by releasing and fastening the clamp.

I tried a few saddles from Selle SMP, ISM, and Selle Italia. I’ve always been curious how the Selle SMP feels like, and it’s actually pretty comfy. I now understand why a lot of pros like Bree Wee and Cameron Brown use it. I tried all the different widths, and I liked the second widest one the best. I also saw how the two ISMs were a bit wider than my Adamo Attack, and the Selle Italia one was pretty plush. It’s interesting to find out that it’ll take a while to find out what saddle works for you, but you won’t need long to find out if you don’t like a bad saddle.

The main advantage of this device is that you can quickly switch saddles and try them on your bike. It would normally take a fitter a few minutes on a normal seatpost, but this does it in a matter of seconds. Pretty useful if you wanna find the ideal saddle for you and your behind. You can also adjust it fore and aft, and tilt it to quickly account for usage differences in saddles.

In the end, I stayed with my fi’zi:k Arione Versus on my road bike because I’m pretty happy with the shape and length of the saddle, and the channel in the middle works to relieve saddle discomfort.

Next up is this Salsa adjustable stem. It’s used to simulate different stem lengths to see which one would work best with your bike.

Here Arland sets me up with the maximum length of 150mm. I don’t even think there’s a stem size that long in the market, but it’s possible with this device.

The only downside to this stem is that you can’t use it on the road–it’s just for bike fitting. It’s also a bit heavy to lug around, but Arland brings it along on his trips here because it’s proven useful.

Arland also has a tool that measures stack and reach, which are the two most important bike fit measurements, especially for a tri bike. This allows him to transfer fits from one bike to another as well as record a customer’s measurements.

These are what my X and Y measurements look like for my road bike with the coordinates that Arland is recommending for me.

Lastly, Arland brought out one of the things I found most interesting from this session. He’s had it for a while but since I don’t use Speedplay pedals, he never used them on me. It’s called the Determinator, and it allows for stance adjustment for Speedplay pedals during fitting. Speedplay is a fitter’s dream as it comes in different spindle lengths. Instead of using spacers like on my pedals, you can use the Determinator to figure out the right spindle length for you and order it from Speedplay.

The red one is a normal Speedplay pedal that Arland is using on his bike, and the green one is the Determinator Speedplay pedal, extended to the max stance width. You’ll see how much longer it is than the red one. You can set the width for the left and right pedal independently. In my case, my left pedal is farther out than the right one, which is of normal length, so if I were using Speedplay we’d figure that out with this tool.

It comes in this snazzy metal case for travel and storage. Of course you won’t need a set if you’re not doing bike fits for other people, but it’s good that Arland has them. Like the Salsa stem, it’s not for use on the road, but just for fitting purposes.

Another thing that Arland likes about Speedplay pedals is the fact that you can adjust float precisely. In fact this is what he did for Kuya Kim when he fitted him.

The last time Arland was here, he also brought a fit bike with him and he used it to perform bike fits at The Brick. I wasn’t able to see it in person, but that would be the best way for him to fit someone, in combination with these toys. But for traveling, this would be the set that he brings. He’s currently not in the Philippines but he’s here regularly, so if you’re interested in getting a fit from him, you can contact him.

Podium Review: Tate Labs BarFly TT Garmin Mount

In line with our last Garmin mount post, I’m presenting another option for aerobar users out there. Tate Labs was one of the first (if not the first) to release aftermarket Garmin mounts, and they have a version that mounts on 22.2mm aerobar extensions called the BarFly TT.

The BarFly TT is my weapon of choice when mounting my Garmin on the aerobars. Having a Garmin mount on the aerobar extensions is definitely a better place to put it than on the stem. Whereas the riding position on a road bike is more upright, it’s even lower on a tri bike, and it’s a far stretch to peek downwards to your stem to catch some Garmin readings when you’re on the aerobars. You can even position the mount as far forward as how I did it in the picture below–you just have to sacrifice some real estate on the hand grips. This is actually the best place to put it if you’re using a BTA system.

The BarFly TT is installed with a 3mm hex bit. Just unscrew it, spread the mount apart, and wrap it around your aerobar extensions. The design allows you to mount it either on your left or right aerobar–I personally like the way it looks on the left extension better.

The BarFly TT has a quarter-turn mount, so you can use it for your Garmin Edge 500/800 as well as the Garmin Forerunner 310XT and 910XT.

Here’s what it looks like with a Garmin mounted on it. Obviously this takes up the space where a BTA hydration system would normally be, so you can’t put it there if you have one.

A closer shot. Again, pardon the crack on the Garmin 310XT screen! It has been fixed since then.

Here’s another angle of the mount when viewed from off the bike.

The mount is pretty sleek when viewed from the front, so there’s a minimal aero penalty. That space is normally blocked by your hands when on the aerobars anyways. And most of the frontal area is from the Garmin and not the BarFly TT.

The BarFly TT is definitely the best option for mounting a Garmin on your aerobars. (You can of course use the stock Garmin mount, but it won’t look or fit as good.) It keeps your head unit visible, even while in the aero position. Plus, it’s sleek and well-designed, so it’ll look at home on your high-tech tri bike.

 

Tate Labs BarFly TT Garmin Mount:

  • Pros:
    1. In my opinion, Tate Labs Garmin mounts are the best-looking among the aftermarket Garmin mounts.
    2. Durable and holds the Garmin securely–no launches or ejections during the time I’ve used it.
    3. Best option for mounting a Garmin on the aerobars.
  • Cons:
    1. Needs some creative positioning if used with a BTA hydration system.
    2. I find the local price pretty expensive compared to the normal BarFly. For something that’s smaller, I don’t understand why it would cost twice as much.