Editor’s note: This edition of Tech Talk with Lennard Zinn was originally published in the November 2011 issue of Velo magazine.
Tape it up!
Q. Dear Lennard,
I’ve bought some new handlebar tape and decided that before I made a mess of the job, I ought to look online for advice on the correct way of applying the tape. While I found a lot of advice, most of it conflicted with one another. Some sites say start at the top and work your way to the end caps, some suggested doing it the other way. Some suggested winding clockwise on the drive side, some said counter-clockwise. So, is there a correct technique?
A. Dear Anthony,
HTFU! Who cares what direction you wrap your handlebar tape! A hardman would never ask such a question. In Fausto Coppi’s day, riders had to share handlebar tape; they were lucky to have one roll of their own! Heck, they were lucky to even get handlebars.
I recently spent a weekend with Bob Roll and Alex Stieda, who told me about racing in Europe with the 7-Eleven team in the 1980s. One night Bob entered his latest fleabag hotel room and flipped back the bed covers only to find condoms and syringes on the mattress. He flung the mattress out in the corridor and slept on the box springs, but it turns out there were plenty of nights the riders did this, whether due to a completely broken-down mattress or due to a disgustingly dirty one in a room crawling with cockroaches.
Those were the glamorous days of American pro racers in Europe, and they didn’t worry which direction their handlebar tape was wrapped.
Gear for the hardman
Wenger Giant Swiss Army Knife ($2,150)
A true hardman can fix anything, especially if he has the right tool. Give him the Wenger Giant to ensure that he’s properly equipped.
He won’t care that it weighs two pounds; a hardman is not a weight weenie.
Two types of pliers, a compass, magnifying glass, fish-scaler, and chain tool are all great, but most importantly, it has both a bottle opener (and for the Euro hard man, a corkscrew), so he won’t be tempted to break off the top of the bottle with his teeth. wengerna.com
Ambrosio Nemesis tubular rim ($100)
If you want to slam through cobbles and broken pavement in driving rain, and make it to the finish on the same set of wheels, all without rattling your fillings out of your teeth, these 450-gram monsters are for you.
The Nemesis is often found on the bikes during Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders. It is here, facing the rigors of 200+ kilometers on ancient cobbled roads, that this rim proves its mettle and endurance. Made in northern Italy with a shot-peened surface finish and double spoke eyelets for improved fatigue resistance, the Nemesis is counterweighted to maximize stability at high speeds.
Available in 28-, 32- or 36-hole, the hard-anodized surface is overlaid with permanent laser-etched logos — no wimpy decals. ambrosiospa.com
Mavic Helium H20 jacket ($200)
This is a hardman’s jacket. It is small and lightweight, so he can jam it into his pocket in a hurry if the temperature rises above 40F. The super thin, light and rainproof Dura Lite Rain SL fabric stretches over his bulging muscles without tearing its waterproof, breathable membrane and fully sealed seams.
Our hardman produces so much heat stomping the pack into blubbering crybabies in Belgian spring snowstorms that he needs the Clima Vent SL ventilation ports behind the sleeves and back to let off some steam.
The Ergo Cuff is snug and ergonomically slant-cut to minimize draft and water intrusion at the wrist. While he’s only going to wear a single jersey under it, the offset, asymmetrical front zip wouldn’t stack up with jersey zippers and won’t chafe him under the chin, even though he’d prefer the pain so it could further drive him into a froth of anger to stomp the pedals harder.
And yes, it’s mostly black, as he prefers. mavic.com
* And for those of you who were wondering, yes, Lennard was kidding in his response to Anthony. Sheesh. You’re all so sensitive lately. HTFU! — Editor