Ayrton Senna

Unfortunately it has been 19 years since the fatful Imola Grand Prix weekend in which Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna both lost their lives. Senna is certainly one of my idols event though I was born a few years after he passed. Not many people know that Ayrton put his name to bikes, so this post isn’t completely irrelevant. The Senna bike range made by Carraro were launched on the 28th of April, 3 days before his death.


The Mountain Bike of the Senna Range

There were 4 models of bikes offered

The 330, a leisure bike for women

The 440, a budget MTB with less sophisticated components.

The 550, a modern MTB with good components and full suspension  ideal for downhill.

The 770, an all out racing MTB top of the line components, full suspension and modern frame, built for pro racers.

A part of the profit from the bikes went to the Senna Foundation in Brasil.


Senna Mountain bike, Pic from eBay seller

If you wan’t to buy the bike pictured above it is for sale on eBay for £1,375, It is brand new though.


19 years, senna would be 53 now.


We must not forget Ratzenberger, He lost his life the day before Senna.


Bike Picture Time: Old Faithful



Maybe not the prettiest track bike but certainly one of the most  influential, the handmade bike won world champions and broke hour records. I have seen and touched this exact bike in real life and to see the time and effort put into it just for the few seconds the bike would save is quite inspiring  Details like filing down the crank arms to make them aerodynamic or bolting the shoes to the pedals to make them lighter and rigid. It certainly is a cool bike. If you are in Scotland pop into the National Museum of Scotland and have a look. It’s quite impressive, and if you haven’t read Obree’s biography you really should, it’s very good.

DIY Retro Bike Bottles

When you have a retro/vintage bike newer plastic bottles look out of place on them, well I think they do. I had been looking to see if people sell older style bike bottles but couldn’t find any in the UK at a reasonable price. So I decided to make my own, after all how hard can it be?

So this is our aim. A retro looking corked metal bottle.


Aluminium bottle. Photo from http://www.vintage-bike-shop.com

Step one – Get the bottle and other parts.

As mentioned in previous posts I like to buy cheap stuff, so when I found 750ml brushed stainless steel bottle for £3.29 I bought two. After you have your bottles you will need to get corks that will fit the opening. The description of my bottles luckily told me the diameter of the opening so I could order the bottles and corks at the same time. If yours doesn’t you’ll have to wait for your bottle to arrive and measure the opening or have a lucky guess.



Now you have the bottle you need to get the corks, corks are available cheaply on eBay and come in different sizes. I needed a 37mm cork. Corks are not sized in mm they come in set standard sizes, this chart should help you find the size, you want the bottom diameter to be smaller than the opening but the upper diameter larger, so you cork doesn’t fall through. I needed a size 19 which were on eBay for 99p each, I’ll take two. Next if you want an eyelet for the cork so you can attach it to the bottle via string you will need to buy some eyelet bolts. I found some stainless steel ones for £4. They need to be stainless steel so they don’t rust or contaminate your water, again these eyelets are optional.


Eyelet bolt



Step two –  Get that logo off.

Though the logo may not bother some the ‘Pedal Pro’ didn’t seem to have the retro feel. To get it off I took some fine steel wool and rubbed the logo off, because the bottle is brushed steel it left no marks as I rubbed in the same direction as the brushing on the bottle, but if you bottle is plain steel or aluminium you may have to find other ways of removing logos, metal polish would also work at removing the logo as it is abrasive.

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Half way through removing logo.

Step three – Fitting the cork.

The cork was, as expected, not a perfect fit in the opening so had to be shaped. I used a rasp and some sand paper to take a few mm off the bottom section but leave it wider at the top so it would sit flush with the opening.

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Cork after shaping, It took some more sanding to make it fit properly.

Step 4 – The optional step.

If you decided to fit the eyelets this is probably the hardest bit of making the bottle, and it’s pretty easy. All you have to do it drill a hole in the centre of the cork just smaller than you eyelet thread size, so for an M6 bolt which is 6mm in diameter you need to drill a 5mm hole, for  a M5 bolt you need a 4mm whole, I presume you can guess the other sizes. Once tour hole is drilled you need to thread your bolt through the cork and secure it with a washer and bolt at the other end, don’t tighten it to much or the cork might break. The washers on top and bottom of the cork are important as the spread the pressure of the bolt. The excess bolt end can be butt off with a hack saw or dremel. If you don’t feel like going to this fuss you can leave it as is or use a large cotter pin secured with some glue.

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The cork with bolt attached.

Step 5 – Put it all together. 

I hope I don’t need to explain this but I will. Now you have a cork and bottle, put the cork in the bottle and if you have an eyelet tie a piece of string or twine to the eyelet and then tie a loop around the neck of the bottle, now you have an unloosable (yes that might be a real word) cork. These cork are not completely waterproof, I’m not gonna lie, if you turn them upside down they go drip, drip, drip. This is why they are meant for bikes, they wont leak when at a diagonal, such as the down tube, and the wont leak at a vertical, such as the seat tube. Gravity is a wonderful thing. So there you have it, a cheap, safe and cool looking water bottle for you favourite bike. I have seen people wrap them with leather or twine to stop rattling but I have had no problems with rattling and after trying the twine wrap, I wouldn’t recommend it as it isn’t very durable. These instructions are just an basic idea of how to do, make the bottle your own way or do it differently  Your bike. Your bottle.

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The ill fated twine wrap, I think it would last longer if coated in varnish, looks nice though.


Pretty simple, they look better in real life.

Why you shouldn’t by cheap tools.

When I began fixing my bikes I soon found out that there were many tools needed specifically for bike fixing, tools such as; Chain splitter, bottom bracket tools, headset tools etc.  I was always drawn, when looking to buy these tools, to the cheapest I could find. The chain tool I first  bought was about £3, which isn’t bad. I have had the same model of chain splitter break in exactly the same way 3 times on me. I’ve checked and checked that I’m doing it right and this time I get to legitimately ‘blame the tools’ but I suppose I should really blame myself. The pin that pushed the chain pin through is too brittle, it snaps after about 4 goes. But for some reason every time it breaks I just think that it will just be this one, it will work next time, better buy another, then it breaks, then I buy another and that breaks. so now I’m £12 down and 4 chain tools down. Unfortunately I don’t think I can recoup my losses by selling them for scrap metal either. So with this £12 I could have bought a reasonably good one that would last much longer, I would have initially spent more but probably saved more in the long run. I had a similar situation with a sealed bottom bracket tool, I naturally went to find the cheapest, it was cheap for a reason. It was a poor design, the teeth couldn’t engage with the bottom bracket as the spindle got in the way, If I had spent 3 or 4 pounds more I would have a tool I could use for life, but instead I now have a piece of useless metal, albeit shiny. The tools that have never failed me; Campagnolo pedal, headset and bottom bracket spanner, I inherited these. They are expensive yes, but they have never bent or failed in any other way, my spanner I paid a bit more for some nice chrome vanadium spanners along with Allen keys, these have not failed me either. The cheap tools always seem to cost more in the long-term, be it rounded Allen key heads or snapped chain tools. You get what you pay for.

Now I would rather wait a bit longer and pay a bit more for a quality tool that will last me. There is nothing worse than taking the chain of your bike and trying to put it back on then your tool breaks. so the moral of the story, if this has one, is to pay a bit more for tools that will last you, especially if your building up your first tool kit.  With bikes you do need the right tool for the right job and the wrong right tool is no use at all.


My obsolete tool pile, there’s more but I lost ’em

Rob English Naked Steel Time Trial Bike.

Steel TT Bike. By Rob English nice.

Steel TT Bike. By Rob English nice.

Really nice steel handmade time trial bicycle. Definitely my favourite time trial bike.

http://www.englishcycles.com/custombikes/daves-naked-tt/ – more info.

Lezyne Flow Bottle Cage

Buying a water bottle cage can be a difficult choice for some. Carbon? branded? colour matched? There are thousands of different water bottle cages out there. They range in colour  design, material, brand, but they all do the same job. The most expensive water bottle cage I could find was a FSA K-Force cage, at £63 each they are bloomin’ expensive, yet still they are still probably made in the same Chinese factory that churns out the £10 carbon cages you can buy on eBay  but that’s down to bicycle branding which is a whole over story. The FSA cage claims a weigh of 28 grams, on the same website you can buy a Clarks Polycarbonate bottle cage for the princely sum of £3.19, it weighs in at 48 grams,  the FSA is £60 more expensive but only 18 grams lighter, you could leave 18ml of water out your bottle and get the same weight savings. You could buy 20 Unbranded plastic cages for one FSA cage. Anyway I feel like I’m going off on a tangent, which I was but now back to the bottle cages.

I chose Lezyne Flow bottle cages. 46 Grams. I chose them mainly because in Scotland there are many pot holes deep enough to bounce your bottle straight out your cage and underneath the wheel of the car behind. I got 2 of the cages for my b’twin for about £12, they were on offer at the time. They weren’t supplied with fitting bolt which is unfortunate if you don’t have bolts but I did so It was fine. The cages come in black, white and grey, not exactly inspiring. As with most things from CRC they came promptly  The cages were a doddle to fit. Two bolts per cage, they have some up and down adjustment which is good for small or compact frames. after fitting I went to try my High5 bottle for size. they certainly are tight. Maybe to tight for some. the two tabs fit into the groove of the bottle. It is very firmly held but still accessible with a good tug. I would rather have a tight bottle cage than have loose bottle cages with my bottle 10 miles down the road that way. The cages feel well made, and quite light for the price. Overall the cages may not be suited to people who like easy access to the bottles at all times but if you mountain bike with bottles or ride bumpy roads I would definitely recommend these. They look quite nice too.

They also offer a Flow HP cage which has an integrated clamp for their pump, handy!

Lezyne Flow Water Bottle cages- http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/Models.aspx?ModelID=73214

Price- ✰✰✰✰✰,  currently £6.99 at CRC

Usability- ✰✰✰✰, bit tight but still easily accessible

Looks- ✰✰✰✰, I think they look nice but some may be put of by futuristic shapes.

Overall  ✰✰✰✰, Good bottle for off road and bad roads. Good looks and well made but just a little to gripping for some.


Tabs fit well into the groove of the bottle.


Not very many colours to choose from.

Deda Elementi Mistral Bar Tape.

Wrapping bars on a bike is, in my opinion the most satisfying and fun job to do on a road bike. To finish off my retro Giant bike I wanted a bar tape that would suit its classic looks. I did some searching and after almost going for cotton tape I decided to go for Deda Mistral, mainly because it was faux leather so It had the looks but with out the price tag of Brooks bar tape for instance. For £7.99 it is quite affordable and comes in White, Red, Black, Brown and Blue. Also in fluorescent Yellow, Red and Green. I went for the brown. It came in the usual Deda box with 2 rolls of the tape, two patches to go behind the levers, finishing tape and Bar end plugs. Onto wrapping. I have used Deda tape before and found it quite easy to wrap but this stuff was different. All bar tapes I have used have has some stretch in them, this is necessary to keep tension especially intricate part such as around the brake lever. With no stretch at all I found it quite difficult to wrap properly. When you make mistakes in wrapping you can usually just unwrap what you’ve done and fix it, even other bar tapes with adhesive strips have always come undone easily but when trying to correct mistakes the Deda would rip the foam of the tape and stay stuck to the adhesive strip which was either stuck to the bar or to another bit of tape. This made correcting mistakes very frustrating. I eventually got it done, to finish the bar wrap they provide you with two adhesive strips. No one uses these most people just use electrical tape. I decided to finish it with twine as it always looks good on retro bikes, thanks Rivendell Bicycles (Link at bottom). If you do want to use the adhesive strips provided use electrical tape first  then gently heat the provided strips with a hair-dryer or fan heater this makes them stick much better. Once the wrap was finished it did look very nice. The bar end plugs don’t quite go with the retro feel, I would have preferred chrome. I had some chrome bar ends laying around so I used them but champagne corks would also work and give a retro feel. The frustration of wrapping was almost made up for by the looks, if it weren’t for the silver Deda printed onto the tape it would be much nicer. My other grievance with this tape is the lack of padding. the bar tape has no padding at all. It doesn’t prove any comfort, this wouldn’t be as obvious if you wear gloves, which I don’t. Overall the tape is very aesthetically pleasing especially for retro builds and I like the look of the fluorescent colours, but it you want easy of wrapping and comfort I highly recommend Cinelli tape. Aesthetics- Yes, Comfort, No. The tape has also held up well, not tares and the unsightly silver Deda logo is wearing off, hallelujah!

My only tip for bar wrapping is don’t be scared to do it yourself, my first wasn’t my best but it fun and rewarding. Why pay some to have your fun?

Bar Tape- Deda Mistral- http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/Models.aspx?ModelID=90979

Price- Between £8-£10. Good value. Cheaper than other alternatives. Also vegan friendly! ✰✰✰✰

Comfort- Lacks enough padding unfortunately that’s the main downs side for me. ✰

Looks-  ✰✰✰✰✰ Great looks for retro builds, especially the faux leather brown. The perforation adds a nice touch.

Wrapability (yes that’s a real word) – ✰ No stretch, to rigid to get a good coverage around the levers.

Overall-  ✰✰✰ Would I buy again? Yes, but only for retro builds as its the best available but not for my modern road bikes. It lacks comfort.


Unlike some tape there is more than enough to wrap the bars.


Nice Leather Pattern


Wide range of colors.


My bar tape after wrapping and twine finishing.

Rivendell Bar wrap and twine, great for classic bikes. Good video too. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tO8DcaOJzrA

SKS tire levers

Tire levers. You use then to pry your tyre off the bike rim. It’s pretty important to have a good pair. I always had those black tire levers that come in the corner shop ‘Bicycle repair kit’  or some spoons. It turns out neither of these are any good; spoons scrape your rims and and the little brittle black ones are about as much use for removing tires as a piece of wet spaghetti. I found this out when putting a pair of no flat inner tubes (review to come) into my new bikes wheels. They both failed, the spoons did eventually work but scraped by shiny black wheels, the horror. So I eventually decided to buy some proper ones.  I tried a few; Continental, Park and Tacx. They didn’t work. I’m sure they would work for many other tyre-wheel combinations not as tight as mine. I came across the SKS tire levers in my local bike shop, at only £3.99 I bought them (you can buy them for £2.99 from CRC). According to SKS they are made from a ‘high performance resin’, they definitely perform. They took the tires off with no problem, they are very strong and stiff, no bend it them whatsoever. They weigh in at 19g according to my scales, so not exactly heavy either. I have taken many tires off and there are no mark on the levers at all or the rim. Pretty impressive. So if you are looking for a good pair of quality German engineered tire levers, the SKS lever are the right ones. It quite a lot to write about what it essentially a piece of plastic but it is important to have a pair of tire levers you can depend on, especially if you cycle far from home. Oh yeah, they are orange which is always a bonus and the clip together. And remember to never use tire levers to put tire back on.

Tire levers – SKS Tire Levers. – http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/Models.aspx?ModelID=68584

Price – £2.99 online, buy from you local bike shop though. As I learnt you only realise how useful they are when they are gone. £2.99 is a bargain, I would still pay up to £6 for these though. – ✰✰✰✰✰

Quality-  ✰✰✰✰✰, Well made and rugged, not going to break soon.

Overall Stars-  ✰✰✰✰✰


mmmmm. Orange


The orange bike.

Yes, Arancione Bicicletta means orange bike in Italian, Orange bike was taken as a name. This blog has no real purpose other than to give me an excuse to write about random bicycle related stuff. The orange bike is my first road bike, a 1995 giant team, not the best bike by a million miles but still my favourite. The bike story with me began when I decided after watching the 2012 Olympics I wanted a road bike, how cliché. It wasn’t for any reason really I just liked the look of one. The bike came to me when I bought it off Gumtree for £20. When I got the bike it was in a bit of a state of disrepair. it needed a lot of work, I had never fixed or attempted to fix bicycles before. now was the time. My first plan was to fix the bare minimum and just get it working until I got my ‘fabulous’ new road bike for Christmas  So since then I have learnt more about bikes than I thought there was to learn.


The bike the night I got it. Excuse the poor photo.


The bike after 4 months and lots of work.


So yes this blog will be full of anything I can be bothered to write about.