Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Tales (tails?) of 2 Airnimals

In January we published a report by Andrew Stewart on his very interesting Airnimal Chameleon, which has a fixed wheel (ie only one gear and no freewheel). Andrew has subsequently updated his report - in fact he updates it regularly, so rather than re-publishing the update on the foldsoc web site, we suggest you use THIS LINK to go direct to his web site. Even if you aren't into fixed-wheel riding, this is still a very interesting report, so you might want to bookmark it and check how it develops.

My own Airnimal is a very different animal (sorry), and justifies the model's name - Chameleon: I need and use all my 27 gears, which cover a range of 21 inches to 106 inches. It's most recent serious escapade was the Cotswold Outing Brevet Populaire (100Km) on 10th June. This was the third time I'd done this ride, but this year the ride started from Wythall rather than Cheswick Green, and I chose the anti-clockwise route instead of the clockwise route. I've ridden a number of 100Km BPs, and although they have all been well-organised, the Cotswold Outing is unquestionably the best one each year, perhaps the best ride of any kind in the year - so congratulations and thanks to Beacon RCC for organising such a great event. As I've commented before, the Chameleon makes a great folder for doing audaxes. In fact, perahps I should not include the qualifier 'folder' in the previous sentence - although I don't often ride conventional bikes, I do sometimes use a Thorn Audax on these rides. The Thorn is a superb bike, but I think the Chameleon performs at least as well in most respects for this sort of ride, and it is certainly easier to transport it to and from the event. The only area in which it is perhaps weaker is that of the gear change and (rear) brake - like most folders, with convoluted cable runs, friction and wear and tear on the cables resulting from folding and unfolding do make for slightly less precise operation of these controls.
Since the Cotswold Outing, my Chameleon has had a major makeover - I've put dropped bars and STI levers on it (it previously had flat bars). Given my recent problems with sciatica, I'm not sure whether this is a sensible change, but the appearance of the bike is far more purposeful (I defintely favour function over appearance, but in this case the difference is striking). I'll report further on the modification, and how to retain the option of either flat or dropped bars, some time in the future.