Tooth decay & carb drinks

MY MOST RECENT DENTIST’S VISIT went badly. It seems I’m getting a lot of decay, and a quick analysis of a few day’s worth of food diary suggested sugar in general, and that cycling companion of mine, the carbohydrate drink in particular, could be to blame. After all I ride most days, and over the course of many rides unintentionally bathe my teeth in 100 grams or so of diluted carbohydrate powder. That’s a regular, frequent and substantial dose of sugar. How substantial though?

Here’s a chart I made for myself based on manufacturer’s label information, but am happy to share. If I’ve got it wrong, tweet me.

carb drinks by sugar content

Take 6 popular brands of carb drinks for cyclists, and review their sugar content. So which one might rot my teeth the least?

Next step? Well, I’m going to try SiS ‘Go Energy’. On the face of it you don’t need the brain of a Fred Housego to see the obviousness of that decision. Indeed I recall using it some years ago, when it was called PSP22, and my teeth were probably stronger.

The question now is, will my gut happily cope with SiS’s blend of maize-derived maltodextrin, plus the fructose and phenylalanine, that Go Energy does contain.


BTW, you can see I’ve ignored that easy target of the popular press – the Monster/Gatorade/Red Bull type of drink – and that’s because I don’t consume any of those. What I have been advised to consume is some more fluoride, easily enough done with the right mouthwash.

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Vittoria Rubino Pro Control G+

THIS IS PROBABLY MY SHORTEST post. Just to say, the Vittoria Rubino Pro Control G+ clincher tyres that went on (very easily by the way, no tyre levers needed**) my Champion’s Liv Thrive 2 have immediately endeared themselves to her. Straight out of the box and on to cold and wet morning tarmac, their grip gave confidence and pleasure. £25 well spent then, and at 350g they even came in 10g lighter than advertised. Definitely better than the Giant S-R3 tyres that were original equipment on the Liv.

S-R3 v Pro Control G+ tyre

Giant S-R3 v. Vittoria Rubino Pro Control G+ at twice the price. Which wins?

28c clincher

350g and £25 worth of 28c clincher tyre. The bout was an immediate knock-out for the Vittoria’s.

**To fit a tyre without using levers, you don’t begin at the valve, but finish there. When you get to the last bit of the tyre to go on, place your palms firmly where you began, opposite the value, and push the tyre down hard it into the well of the rim. Let some air out of the tube to push even more of the tyre onto the rim, concentrating on the side where the tyre is already secure. Work your palms in opposite directions back towards the valve, and you’ll find you have created just enough surplus tyre to get the last little bit on. You can’t do this technique with the valve in the way, which is why you finish at the valve. Try it for yourself if you don’t believe me.

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Tyres.2 – why winter tubulars win over clinchers

MYSELF, I RIDE TUBULARS ALL the year around; I’ve just found it easier to settle on a single tyre type and historically a tubular wheel ‘n tyre combination has been faster and cheaper and lighter than its clincher equivalent. Times may be different now, but with around thirty wheelsets in my garage, this is where I am, 10-speed and all, with tubs on everything bar the tandem and my indoor-training bike.

Anyway, I’ve always disliked a punctured clincher more than a punctured tubular because;

Cut Conti

No amount of inner tubes are going to get you home on this badly cut Continental clincher, unless a tyre boot is placed inside it. Photo courtesy of the unlucky Mr Marcel Rutte

    • you can’t ride on a punctured clincher, but you can a tub
    • sometimes a clincher tyre is too badly cut to hold a new inner-tube anyway – see picture!
    • keeping grit and winter muck out of the tyre-well when fitting a new inner-tube on a wintry road-side takes care
    • it takes even more care, sometimes luck, to find and remove the cause of a punctured clincher. The chances of a repeat puncture within half a mile are not always the hoped-for zero
    • some clinchers are right bastards, and seem to enjoy breaking most cheap composite tyre levers you introduce them to
    • tyre boot

      The best tyre boot is a section of actual tyre like this, but even an energy-bar wrapper can be slid into service below the cut tyre. Anything to stop inner-tube herniation, and get you to the nearest train home

    • pinched inner-tubes are not unknown; you never really really know if you’ve caught a bit of tube until high pressure is achieved, by which time it’s probably too late to retrieve the situation

With a punctured tub I just rip it off the rim and replace it with a pre-glued one that I carry in my spare bottle cage (with another in a back pocket on longer rides). The rim will still have enough glue on it to create good adhesion. Out on the road it makes getting going again so much faster and more efficient than clinchers, even if the total time and cost (pre-glueing, fixing) is indeed greater. Time at a cold roadside is much more painful than kitchen/garage time.

Another tub. This one in a cut-down old bidon. Slides nicely into a back-pocket this way too.

A tub nestled in a cut-down old bidon. It slides nicely into a back-pocket this way too.

I probably haven’t persuaded you, but even if you’re not interested then perhaps you’re curious as to my choice of winter tubular tyre? Certainly I don’t use the same rubber in cold, wet, gritty January as I do in summer (although the reverse isn’t true; I sometimes use a ‘winter’ tub in summer), and for some years now my main winter tubular has been the Vittoria Pave Evo CG – a 320TPI, 24mm tyre that has been grippy, strong and comfortable for me. I’ve stockpiled a few, as they don’t make ’em any more and the run-out prices of the declining stock were too good to ignore. Backing up the Pave Evo CG’s have been some very cheap (£12) and very cheerful Vittoria Rally tubs at 310 grams in 23mm, which were great last winter and are cheap enough not to be worth fixing if they puncture – which they are yet to do.

So right now, with plenty of Pave Evo CG’s and Rally’s to keep me going, I’m not in the market for winter tubs. If I was, Vittoria would probably lose me though, as the Corsa G+ tyre is an expensive thing at nearly £60 a hoop, even online. So where would I go?

Vittoria Rally tubular

Vittoria Rally: a great value, durable winter tub. And if it does puncture, chuck it!

Michelin’s Pro4 Service Course is a similar sixty quid, so no joy there. I think I’d look hard at Vredestein’s 290 TPI, 285 gram Fortezza Senso T All Weather Tubular Tyre, £35 online, but then actually pedal off on the cheap-as-posh-chips Vittoria Rally (remember: £12) , maybe even the 25c version!

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Tyres – winter clinchers

SO MY CHAMPION DISLIKES THE tyres that came with her Liv Thrive 2. Apparently they slide around a little when it’s damp, nibbling away at her confidence and once even dumping her spectacularly to ground as she forded a beck on, truthfully, Spectacle Lane.

Leaving user error aside, and accepting that maybe a £15 tyre like the Giant S-R 3 tyre isn’t going to be the last word in grip, the question to be addressed here is, which tyre to replace them with? Something high in grip, low in rolling resistance, and high in puncture protection.

The 28c short-list of contenders for her money – and maybe yours too with winter looming – were, in no particular order;

winter tyres

Gripped! Mid-priced tyre comparison for winter










I deemed the Rubino Pro Endurance too heavy and the Schwalbe One to lightweight. The well reviewed Vredestein’s were too dear, as were the two Premium Continental’s; Grand Prix this and Grand Prix that. Finally, despite a late showing for the Continental Grand Sport Extra that nearly swayed me, I came down in favour of the Michelin Pro 4, especially as Chain Reaction were selling them with inner tubes for a great price. However the bike isn’t mine and the tyres neither, and I was instead  instructed to acquire the Vittoria Rubino Pro Control G+. I’ll let you know how we get on – ‘we’ because it will be me fitting them, and listening out for her plaudits or brickbats.
 Pro Control G+ clincher tyre


Vittoria’s sales diagram for their Pro Control G+ clincher tyre

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For forks sake

THE FORKS ON MY NEWEST bike were, I’ve always thought, rather flexile. It was something I only ever noticed when out of the saddle, sprinting on the flat or big-ringing it uphill, and as it turns out I’ve spent the last couple of seasons bad-mouthing an innocent BMC SLR01 Team Machine.

 BMC's 'Total Compliance Concept' fork

Unfairly the butt of my opprobrium for nearly two years, BMC’s pretty ‘Total Compliance Concept’ fork wasn’t spongy at all: the problem was higher up

For twenty or so races I’d ignored the issue, but this season I considered junking the frame and beginning again – until a sense of extravagance and disproportionation kicked in, and I began looking into replacing the fork with something stiffer. But good forks, ‘better’ than those already on what was a top-of-the-range frame like this ain’t cheap, and the slight bother of researching trail, rake, offset and what-not put me off that avenue too.

I’d already tried various front wheels in case I was barking at the wrong component, but the problem was manifest whatever wheel was underneath me.

Could it, I wondered, be the stem? It’s on the long side at 120mm as I’d gone for a super-small frame for racing, and it would’ve been little bother to whip it off and try another, I imagined. As it happened my stem was a beautiful-looking but ill-conceived Crank Brothers Cobalt 2 item. It doesn’t have a face-plate, so removal necessitated unwinding bar tape and detaching a brake/shifter before wiggling the damn stem along and off one side of the handlebar – it’s no wonder the £55 retail price of a Cobalt 2 stem is now just a fiver at some online stores. I wouldn’t even pay that for it now, just because it put me through that palaver.

Anyway, some faffing later and a £25 Giant Contact stem installed, was this still going to be the fork in hell?

No it wasn’t, and here’s why.

Despite doing everything ‘by the book’ when installing the new stem, I now couldn’t even get the fork steerer to stabilize inside the head tube – applying front brake was giving me a front-to-back rocking that I knew indicated an insecure stem attachment, and I hadn’t even yet pedalled anywhere to check the fork.

What I discovered, and is really the whole point of this post, is that whether or not you like to have spacers above your stem (perhaps to future-proof yourself against losing your flexibility if you have spacers there, or for a neater look if you don’t), the steerer tube itself absolutely must be submerged about 3mm below the top of the tallest spacer or, if there are no spacers above the stem, below the top of the stem that fits over it.

Without this precise amount of space the headset bearing can’t be properly ‘tied down’, because those 3 or 4 mm mean that tightening the headset top cap bolt with your Allen key pulls the steerer tube up into the head tube, while pushing down on the stem at the same time. Whereas if the top of the steerer tube is level or within 1 or 2 millimetres of the stem or top spacer, there is no way to create the necessary pressure and the top of the steerer would simply butt up against the underside of the top cap, giving that rocking effect when the front brake is held and the bike pushed. Conversely too much space, that is a steerer tube that’s been cut down by so much that there’s 5mm or more between it and the top of the stem and your stem will be insecure – as mine must’ve been these last two seasons. A very stupid person might think ‘fork in hell’, I’ve got a terribly-made bicycle. Which they haven’t.



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