Do you want to feel the excitement from the throbbing hub of Britain’s best cycling title? We can provide you with tantalising snippets of stuff you never thought you’d get excited about. This blog will provide the big truth behind the smallest stories.

The Plastic fantastic

Whilst we scrutinized the Tour De France bikes during the last few weeks we have been able to watch the roll out of the new Campagnolo ranges. Three years in the making and heralded as the response to feedback from Campag stockists and their customers, the updated Chorus and Record component sets are joined by a blast from the past, the revamped Super Record groupset.

Old Super Record rear derailleur.

Super Record- Above: the original. Below: reworked using a lot of carbon fibre.

Brand new Super Record rear derailleur.

Whether you?re a loyal fan of the Italian companies products, or more likely to choose equipment made by the American or Japanese rivals, you cant deny that the new Super Record rear derailleur exhibits the current pinnacle of engineering and design utilising carbon fibre. It represents an ongoing materials revolution that continues to unfold right under our noses.

It?s a fact that bicycle design has been firmly linked to bigger material innovations, which have affected its history. Questioning the interface between man and his cycling machine is as old as the invention itself and is ongoing. It seems as much as we covet the bicycle for its simplistic perfection, we can?t wait to prod and tinker with it, in the name of improvement. Maybe without the need to fiddle there would no need for CW?s Tech department (gulp!). A succession of materials championed for cycle construction litters its history. If somehow, steel led to alloy, then to titanium and onto carbon fibre; have we arrived at the best? Could it get any better? What? s next?

Greg Lemond aboard a Craig Calfee bike.

Greg LeMond aboard a Craig Calfee carbon bike, circa 1991.

Ten years before Lance Armstrong became linked by success with Trek and the OCLV bike, Greg Lemond and his Z team rode the tour on some Greg LeMond badged carbon bikes, made by Craig Calfee. Calfee has an extremely informative website explaining the intricacies of carbon bike manufacture. No need to wait for him to write the book because everything you need to know is there already. Seemingly he made an accidental discovery, back in 1996, which could be the next step. The future lies with bamboo!

A Craig Calfee bamboo bike.

This bike is made from wood!

A friend went to the Hand Built Bike show in the US this year. On his return it?s all he seemed to be able to talk about. Some quick research confirmed that he wasn?t joking. Calfee claims that his bamboo frames have a similar strength to weight ratio as that of carbon fibre. This in itself is four times higher than alloy or ti. The ride quality also compares well with superior road damping, also similar to that of carbon. Of course the benefits don?t stop there. The overheads of working with bamboo are much lower, and by its nature it?s more sustainable. This is helped by the fact bamboo grows very fast. Since 2007 Calfee has been working with an organisation in Ghana, trying to put a bamboo cargo-carrying bike into production. So will the next redesign of Super Record involve chisels and a saw? We?ll wait and see.

EXTERNAL LINKS

Craig Calfee’s website.