As a world famous bike blogger and noted author of books, people occasionally offer to send me stuff to try. (When I say "stuff" I mean equipment, not casseroles or homemade wine.) Often I decline, mostly owning to the fact that things are pretty chaotic over at my château, and anything that crosses the threshold is liable to wind up getting flushed down the terlet by my two year-old before I have a chance to try it. However, every so often something piques my interest, and so I say, "Ah, what the hell, send it on over."
One such item was the Abus NutFix, which may sound like a cutting-edge medical treatment you'd need to seek if botched a cyclocross remount, but is in fact a theft-proof locking skewer system:
Basically the idea is that when the bike's upright you can't get it open, but when you lie the bike down horizontally you can slide the cover off of the nut and open it up with an 8mm wrench:
Which is great as long as you don't park your bike like this:
Of course, once the box containing the Abus NutFix skewers arrived back in April I promptly set it aside and didn't get around to opening it until this very morning.
I need a larger staff.
Anyway, the first thing I did upon opening the package was try to unlock the nut by holding the skewer vertically, but try as I might I couldn't get it to work. I must have stood there in the kitchen for about 40 minutes, tugging and twisting the thing to no avail like a monkey trying to open a combination lock. Finally, I realized that what sets us apart from our simian siblings is the ability to operate the Internet, and so after roughly four seconds of G--gling I discovered I first had to push down on the nut and then give it a pull.
Yes, I realize all of this sounds totally obscene, but there's really no way around it.
Once I got that down and was confident I wouldn't wind up stranded and unable to fix a flat on a cold dark night on they went, and then I headed to Midtown where the bike is sitting outside as I type this:
That's about the closest I've got to a "fancy" set of wheels (they came with my Ritte Rustbucket) so it should be interesting to see of they're still there when I return. Oh, here's how they look when they're installed:
It seems like a decent system, but of course it all hinges on having that 8mm wrench when you need it. Naturally I've added one to my Surly's tool roll:
But inasmuch as an 8mm wrench isn't the sort of thing you're likely to find on a typical multitool it's easy to see how you might find yourself without one at a crucial juncture.
Oh, and while I was testing the NutFix I figured I'd also test that Hiplok "Z LOK:"
Yes, a reusable locking zip tie with a steel core is all that is securing my Brooks Cambium from the thieves of New York City:
Will see what happens.
Oh, and for the millionth time because it always comes up, yes, I suppose if a thief was familiar with the S&S coupler system then he or she could help themselves to half a bicycle if they were so inclined:
However, I'm willing to bet that if the bike gets stolen it's going to be an all-or-nothing scenario.
I'll keep you posted.
In other news, everybody's heard by now that Steuart and Tom Walton have bought Rapha:
Honestly I'm just surprised there are that many giant Freds in the world:
Mr Mottram said the investment would enable Rapha to accelerate its global expansion plans.
"It heralds the start of the next stage of our journey and is testament to the growth and potential that people see in Rapha and in cycling," he added.
Rival firms, including Aston Martin shareholder Investindustrial, were reported to have been interested in Rapha, which was valued at a reported £200m.
Though I'm not sure about this:
"Who was really interested in cycling back in 2001 and 2002? It was just something us weirdos did."
I dunno, 2001 and 2002 were Lance Armstrong's third and fourth Tour de France wins, and if I remember correctly the Steamroller of Fredliness had already attained unstoppable momentum--though either way there's no question that Rapha's timing was impeccable. And while everybody's relishing the fact that the Waltons are heirs to the Walmart fortune, I think the real irony is that the quintessential roadie clothing company got bought by a couple of mountain bikers:
Brothers Steuart and Tom Walton are grandsons of Walmart founder Sam Walton, and their shared passion for mountain biking has led the Walton Family Foundation to contribute $13 million toward trails in Northwest Arkansas. Remember when you were a kid (or, like last week) and you played that game: "What would you do if you had a zillion dollars?" Well, these guys can actually answer that question. And it turns out what they'd do is create a living lab for trail advocacy.
Though the current state of their wardrobe was almost certainly a factor:
In any case, I can't help feeling a bit nostalgic, since Rapha played such an outsized role in the salad days of my blogging career. After all, who could forget this?
I even got quoted in the article:
In an e-mail message, Bike Snob NYC said he was impressed with a “Fixed Jacket” that Rapha sent him to try. “It’s excellent,” he wrote. “It’s durable, the fit is good, and the pockets are in the right places.” The blogger added, “They’ve done a great job of not only evoking cycling history but also capturing a ‘soulful’ aesthetic that appeals to certain riders.” Still, he admitted: “As a cyclist, I understand it, but personally I sometimes find it off-putting. It’s a little rarefied for me ... I don’t want to feel like I need to be worthy of my clothes.”
Now Rapha's all growed up and fetching £200 million, and here I am riding a Surly and hoping my wheels don't get stolen. All I'm saying is where the hell is my buyout? I'm not asking for Walmart money, but couldn't the Tad's Steaks heirs buy me out for like fifty grand?