Me and Alf Engers

How many current cyclists even know who Alf Engers is and what he did for cycling?

 

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Alf Engers on his Shorter

It’s a name I have heard of over the years and often linked to tales of his epic time trialing skills and  the different ways he used to lighten his racing bike by drilling holes or trimming excess material away . He is often seen riding a “ Shorter “ bike in a lot of the pictures when you do a “google image” search .

 

So when I saw a Shorter & Rochford for sale a few weeks ago locally it was too good an opportunity to miss , an appointment was made to go and view the bike that the original owner had used for time trialing and as far as I was told he was sponsored by Shorter & Rochford , so he must have been quite good at it .

 

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Shorter

 

Once I saw the bike in the flesh I knew it was coming home with me , things like the chrome front forks , shot in rear stays , fantastic colour and the general condition were all plain to see and made the decision for me .

 

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Shorter rear mechanism Hurett Jubille

 

A quick look around and I spotted that most of the components fitted were all from the late 70’s to early 80’s era and were all of the quality you would expect . The gear train is a mixture of Simplex levers ,Suntour front mechanism ,Huret rear Mechanism , Campagnolo chain set that were  all nice and clean with little sign of use .

 

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Shorter Hurett Challange / success Gear levers

 

The brakes are what appear to be first generation black dura ace calipers operated by matching drilled dura ace levers. They even had the original dura ace brake blocks that squealed at the slightest touch, I should think that they have aged over the years, so these have been replaced by more modern Clarkes items .

 

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Shorter Rear Shimano 1st generation Black Dura ace calipers

 

It was fitted with a set of sprint and tubs of mixed origins , sadly the tubs were well perished and a gentle ride around the block soon revealed that these were not safe to use . I decided not to use sprint & tubs so found a nice set of Clinchers wheels in the garage and fitted them , these are made up with Shimano Exage hubs laced on to Wolber GTX rims . This wheelset is slightly more modern than the rest of the bike but I don’t think they look out of place .

 

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Shorter

 

The only other changes I have made have been to suit my set up i.e. swapping the 70mm quill stem for a longer 115mm 3TTT unit , replacing the short and nicely fluted Sr seat post for a longer modern black one and then a swap of pedals . These changes have enabled me to mirror the set up dimensions of a couple of my slightly larger framed bikes I have in my collection that I find so comfortable .

 

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Shorter

 

A couple of short round the block rides confirmed that the set up felt good and the three 10+ mile rides I have covered so far also felt good .

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It’s a lovely looking bike that should be a pleasure to own and keep . I am certainly looking forward to doing some more miles on this as time goes by . As for whether it’s a keeper or not it’s too early to say for sure .

 

Conquest Saddle

I am sure like me you have heard of the Norman Conquest that happened way back in the 11th century when Norman, Breton, and French soldiers led by Duke William II of Normandy invaded England .

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However, I had never heard of the Brook’s Conquest saddle before last Sunday when I collected a second hand mid 90’s Giant Ladago mtb bike that the previous owner had fitted. By the look of the bike and saddle neither had seen a lot of use over the years .

 

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Giant Ladoga

 

Since getting the bike road ready on Monday I have used the bike every day as my main commuting machine racking up 35 miles in total , hardly earth shattering but enough to get an idea if a saddle is comfortable or not . I have found it very comfortable indeed and I intend to fit it on to one of my road bikes to see how it is with narrow road tyres compared to wider and softer all terrain tyres .

 

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Brooks Conquest

 

As with most of the Brook’s saddles its made with a leather seating area on a metal sprung chassis with a front adjuster so you can keep the leather tensioned to suit your requirements . The one thing I did to it straight away was to apply a coating of leather treatment to the upper side and then a day later I applied another coating to the underside as well .

 

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Brooks Conquest

 

It’s got the typical hand hammered rivets and name badge on the rear face that are synominous with the Brook’s range of saddle’s , it’s just a shame it hasn’t got saddle bag loops as well .

 

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Brooks Conquest

 

I am sure there will be loads of cyclist’s out there that swear that Brook’s saddles are the best thing since slice bread , I must admit I am not a great user of their products as I prefer the more modern looking range of Selle smp saddle’s especially the lite 209 model which has the added bonus of being prostate friendly .

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From the land of the rising sun

“You ride a what ?”

 

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Panasonic dx6000

“They don’t make bikes do they ?”

 

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Panasonic dx6000

Over the last few months I have been lucky enough to track down a Bridgestone Synergy RB02 and a Panasonic DX6000. Both of the above reactions have been some of the replies I have had from people who have asked me what I was riding at the moment .

Bridgestone Synergy rb2

 

Both the parent companies are better known for products not normally associated with Cycling , although Bridgestone do make tyres and bikes use tyres I am not aware of them making pushbike tyres , Panasonic are better known for electrical products .

 

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Panasonic tv

 

Both of these bikes are built around steel lugged frames , the Bridgestone is made with Ishiwata 4130 cro mo tubing whilst the Panasonic seems to be made with Tange 1 tubing and both provide the very smooth ride you normally get when riding a quality tube set . They both tip the scales at under 11kg so even though they are not the lightest they are far from the heaviest bike out there .

Bridgestone Synergy rb2

 

It would be a tough decision to decide which one is the better of the two bikes as both are very similar. The Panasonic has the slightly better spec out of the pair in my mind with Shimano 600 Tricolour as standard fitment. Although over the years mine has lost the rear wheel and the chain rings are not the normal round rings but Bio space items.  The Rb 02 has Shimano exage equipment and a set of unidentified hubbed wheels that I added to replace the original Wolber rimmed items , which are finding their way on to my Shorter .

 

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Shorter Rochford

 

So far the Bridgestone has covered more miles but then I have only owned the Panasonic less than 5 days and has so far only covered about 25 miles in my ownership whereas the Bridgestone has done nearer to 200 miles . I don’t think either have had an extra hard life prior to them coming under my ownership , they both have a fair degree of age related paint defects and marks on them which I think adds to the character of a bike .

 

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Panasonic dx6000

Neither of them have mudguard or rack mounts which is a real shame as they would both make ideal winter or wet weather bikes never mind touring machines . I am hoping to get a few more miles in this weekend on the Panasonic which I will hopefully enjoy covering . At present the Bridgestone is sat in the garage not being used and has been advertised for sale a couple of times but has so far not found a new owner but then I have not tried too hard to sell it .

 

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Panasonic dx600

Carrera by Podium

You know how some bikes look like they are moving fast even when they are stationary……

 

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Carrera by Podium

 

I think the Podium Carrera is one of those bikes , whether it’s the paint job that does it or the actual appearance of the whole machine, I am  not sure.

 

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Carrera by Podium

 

Please do not mix this Carrera up with same name branded bikes that are sold by Halfords in the Uk as this is made by entirely different company who are based in Calcinato in Italy . They were formed by the ex pro rider Davide Boifava and Luciano Bracchi in 1989 and have gone on to notch up over 500 victories around the world in some very prestigious events .

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From what I can make out my bike dates from around 1998 – 99 and if you look on the hall of history page on the company web page a few pictures show the same colour scheme being ridden by people a shade more famous than me in cycling events around the world .

 

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Carrera by Podium

 

Mine is fitted with an almost full Shimano Ultrega 6700 group set apart from the brake calipers from the same era , so all in all a well specified bike . The crank is an octalink version which combined with Italian threading on the bottom bracket made life fun obtaining a new unit to replace the rather worn one fitted when I purchased the bike but Chain Reaction Cycles came to the rescue . The only other issue I have had with this machine was a rather tight quill stem that took some getting out but Plus gas saved the day but also washed away a lot of the grease in the headset so as a matter of course I have stripped and regreased the headset bearings .

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The rest of this machine has behaved faultlessly over the miles I have covered so far although to date this is less than a 100 , so early days for sure . The only other change has seen the yellow saddle being replaced by one of my Sell smp lite 209 units .

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Apart from a few little marks the paintwork is in fairly good condition and certainly looks presentable enough and a few of these marks might actually disappear with some t cut and elbow grease . The blue bar tape is a bit grubby but again is useable once I have done a few more miles I will have a go at either cleaning it or replacing it .

 

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Carrera by Podium

The frame is made with Oversized aluminum tubing along with what I believe to be alloy fork blades with a steel steerer that have a small degree of rake to them which I feel helps with the damping of the forks . It’s a nice stiff frameset that is not overly heavy and is fairly smooth on the bumpy back roads that most of my miles seem to be over .

 

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Carrera by Podium

The flightdeck sti units have a fair degree of wear on the blades but function as smooth as any other set I have tried before . The miles that have been covered so far has certainly impressed me and I am looking forward to getting a few miles in on this fine machine as to whether it being a keeper or not is very hard at the moment as there have been a couple of great recent arrivals since this one .