Saturday, September 30, 2017

Review: TP Link Gigabit Load Balance Broadband Router TL-ER5120

This is a review of the potentially excellent TP Link TL ER5120 load balancing router.  As you will discover it has a fatal flaw.  But do read on

Our Requirement
Marcus and Agata currently investigate the possibility to combine a number of weak and insufficient Internet connections   (copper line, mobile,  mobile tether etc) into a single more powerful Internet connection that would suit our needs.

Spoiler alert:  We thought it would work, but turns out there was a fatal flaw

Some research

Combining Internet feeds is kind of non trivial.  The idea is that you don't want to provide Load Balancing but Aggregation.  The difference?

Well, in the load balancing scenario all the computers requesting an Internet connection in your house pass through a Black Box.   It's connected on the output to all your mediocre Internet feeds. In our testing we had 3 concurrent Internet connections.

For Load Balancing an individual computer application or even a single web request passes thru the Black Box   (our TL-ER5120) and is scheduled to go out onto the least loaded Internet Connection.

In this way each computer or application never gets faster than any single Internet connection.

Contrast this to aggregation when individual requests from an application are sent alternatively to different Internet feeds.  So a best case example, say a torrent application talks out all Internet feeds and achieves a higher throughput

This is the case in this panel were both boxes are unchecked and so an individual application is sprayed out over multiple Internets, in our testing 3 lines.

Different Models
We did some prior technical analysis and apart from coding some Linux IP masquerading magic up yourself; the number of Load Balancing routers is pretty thin in the non Enterprise marketplace.

TP link has 3 models above and only the ER5120 has Gigabit ports and a claimed VPN capacity of 350 Mega Bits Mbps.   We shall see!

Lots of Facilities

 Decent summary page

 NAT and other modes

 You can have one or more WAN ports.  Totally configurable.  Brilliant.  For example  4 Internet feeds and one output LAN feed.

 Set the parameter of each WAN link.

 Set the IP address of the output LAN link

 Really decent DHCP facilities

 Selectable DMZ

 NAT tuning

 Specific Port mapping

 Configure a link to be a backup if a Primary fails


 Quite a decent set of Firewall facilities.

Achilles Heel

With the ease of use Menu I was looking forward to giving this router a really positive review.  But there is a terrible terrible flaw

On faster links:   The aggregation actually makes things slower

 Quick example download using 2 links at 3.1 MB/second

And  yet each single link is about 3.6 MB/second.

To repeat, the aggregated link is actually slower than a single link.   The results using Speedtest were even worse

1 Link native   (no router):   Speed 7.1 MB/second
1 Link thru Router: 6.5 MB/second
2 Links on Router:  4.5 MB/second

Again using 2 Internet connections with a probable maximum of over 10 MB/second resulted instead in less than 5 MB/second.

It's almost like the internal OS doing the packet or traffic splitting just can't work fast enough.

NB: For aggregation of slower connections say  2 x 1MB/second connections this router works as you might expect:  it works

REALLY a great shame.

A Sad Goodbye

I kept thinking of justifications to keep this router and could not find enough.  It could be used as a pretty decent firewall or in failover mode you can configure a second line to take over when the first dies.

But this is really not a justification.  It needs to go back :-(

The config is now wiped and the device sent back, because at the end of the day, aggregation of two 7MB/second lines fails miserably.  I am so gutted.

TL ER5120 Specs

Friday, September 29, 2017

Do you seek to engage in Terrorist Activities whilst in the United

Donald Trump's administration has a genius plan to detect all those 'bad hombres' visiting the United States of America.

Now before you think this is a wind up,  Marcus did of course some due diligence

You are welcome and have a Nice Day

Quality Video

Maroon 5: What Lovers Do

Not only #Surreal, but today videographers are really making an effort. Music aside check the quality and detail in the video. (How things have changed from Bohemian Rhapsody et al)

So not this then   The Script: Rain 
[Beautiful Song,  High grain video, live feel & low resolution ]

Coldplay: Everglow Live

Coldplay are so exceptional they can setup an ultra high quality live presentation.  Just staggering.

So not this then  James Blunt: Don't Give me those Eyes

[Another beautiful song with a High Grain video which does not IMHO compliment the artistry of the sound ]

And Calvin Harris: Feels    What an innovative sound layered onto a grainy almost VGA feel videotrack.  Just ruinous.

John Mayer': Still Feel Like your Man  is shot so well, and the quality is certainly above average, but really not quite there.

Katy Perry: Roar  ranks high on innovation and set design.  But again the quality is just and I mean just a little below par.

Wiz Khalifa: See You Again

Just scrapes in because for the most part the production quality is truly excellent.

Let us finish with quality all around:

Ed Sheeran: Shape of You


I think there is a place for grainy, point focus videos.  As an exception.   But give me a HD or higher 4K professionally crafted video to match an artists creation.  Something that is in itself a creative Art form.

Well then, the combination of Audio and Video excellence fuses together to shine.

Of course none of this works too well if you don't have a strong Internet Connection.  And a desktop sized 4K screen (i.e not on your Smartphone.)

This is 2017 people,  your mind, body and soul deserves to be fed with quality.  It is out there.


Thursday, September 28, 2017

Waiting for Fibre

Stones: Satisfaction

Not that it needs justification, but for a variety of legitimate and lawful reasons Agata and Marcus make full use of the Internet.

This pattern of lifestyle is quite natural to us. In Switzerland for over a decade we used not just Gigabytes of Data per month but Terabytes. 

By Terabytes I mean  1024 GB == 1 Terabyte    (I'm old skool and don't respect the GiB nonsense)

The Famous Case
There was the famous case whilst working with Google and then Amazon whereby I transferred over 7000 GB to remote servers in less than 2 days (48 hours).   Yes, really, I uploaded over 7000 GB   (not downloaded!)

Work out the speeds for yourself.   It is quite something

Meanwhile in England

Whilst moving to our new home we planned a break from our frantic Internet based activity.   Not that most people have the luxury, but we did.  We planned for a 4 month break during which time we expected our Fibre to the Home install to complete

And then, as savvy IT (Information Technology) consultants we also built in a 2 month cockup factor.

So 6 months total then.

Unfortunately we are running at over 8 months and close to 9 months and we have no Fibre yet.

With zero Wired Internet we have to rely on the expensive Mobile Data alternative.

Cost That Data
I wrote about EE's recent bulk offering  75GBP per month for 100 GB Data.  Link Here

You can normally work on about 1 GBP per GB or as the above shows slightly less for a 12 month commitment.  For us:

Without any streaming of Movies via Netflix or Amazon
With ALL Cloud Syncing Disabled
Purely Surfing
RSS Usage
Youtube Usage
BBC iPlayer Radio

We are running at about 5 - 10 GB per day.

Even at the lowest rate this translates to over 150 GB per month.

I spoke to another IT professional couple.  He looked up his last month Virgin cable usage,  2000 GB !!

So at current rates, using multiple hardware subscriptions this translates to 150 GBP per month, and upto about 2000 GBP per month if I'm trying to use a 4G mobile infrastructure to come close to my IT friends usage pattern.

Basically totally unworkable!

How much Data do you consume?

So I ask the question to all of you.  Goto to your Internet Service Provider subscription screen or the Router control panel.  Find out how much data you are consuming per month  (Download + Upload)

Investigations Continue
We continue to investigate what (on Earth!) is taking us upto 10 GB of traffic per day, remembering that we have temporarily and expensively moved our Webserver Traffic (several Terabytes each month) to other providers until the UK Fibre is installed.

Here are some components that we need to look at.  It is just possible that something has gone rogue because we estimate that with out current painfully constrained usage pattern we should be closer to 1 GB data consumption per day.

01 Home automation  (e.g. Heating)
02 Security Webcams and House Alarms
03 Computer OS Updates  OSX/Windows/Linux incl Raspbian/Centos/Mint
04 Daily Youtube
05 Daily Music and BBC iPlayer
06 Google Home and Alexa AI
07 Cloud Syncing  (off)
08 Cloud Backup (off)
09 Email
10 Surfing
11 Webservers  (relocated temp)
12 RSS
13 OS and Application Downloads for Install / VMware

As I write this I'm using a tool to capture all packets.  Whilst writing this article, the House and I consumed a staggering  420MB  (i.e.  0.41 GB) of data. Hmm.

The Future

Cypress Hill: I Aint Going Out Like That

It looks pretty bleak right now, but we follow the Jack Reacher school of philosophy

Plan for the Worst, Hope for the Best

We are going to fix the Data Leak, keep pushing for our contracted Fibre To the Home, and simultaneously get our [expensive] Lawyers tooled up, because this lack of service has already cost us dearly, and somebody needs to pay for that.  Hint, it is not us.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

TWS-K8 and TWS-K10 Bluetooth Wireless Stereo Earbuds

Kungs: Mess (Done with waiting)

Yes indeed I am indeed done with waiting as the lyrics for this song indicate.

This is a review of an exciting 2017 technology

Stereo Bluetooth Wireless Earbuds

But in reality as you will find out, you may just have to wait a while longer!

Sell them to Me
If you are passionate about music and especially sports then there is practically no substitute.

- It is a set of 2 earbuds
- You can use them singly for mono reception
- Or link them together for stereo
- They speak to your smartphone or computer via Bluetooth Smart 4.x
- Depending on the model the buttons on the headset can do start/stop answer/end call etc
- There is a battery life from about 3 hours
- There is a microphone that works surprisingly well to make and receive telephone calls

What is not to like?

All about the Cost
Surely you read our review of CES Las Vegas 2017?  If not you should start here

Use in Endurance Sports
The master plan was to use these stereo earbuds one at a time i.e. mono.  Whilst one is being used the other is charging.   And keep swapping them as each one wears out.

One tiny problem:  The TWSK8 and TWSK10 do not last so long and the battery life is between average to awful

TWS-K8 and TWS-K10 features and limitations

I'm reviewing them together because they both have the same limitations.  The only thing I would say is that the TWS-K8 have the absolutely idea small size and shape.  This is somewhat of a subjective point, but even my wife Agata agrees, so surely this must be correct!

 The same idea.  Bluetooth 4.0 earbuds in a case which includes a small battery.   K8 case is larger

 K10 buds, smaller box

 Not a bad shape but to me 2nd best in the world

 Marked left and right

 K8 in the larger box

 To me the best shaped earbuds in the world   (S530 is more functional) but these have a luxurious fit.   They are also sold singly without charger box under the S630 product name

In the TWS-K8 guise there are contacts at base to charge inside the box, but physically they are as S630.

Again this absolutely perfect shape  (subjective) will fit in small-ish ears too.

These buds do not stick out and so would be comfortable inside a close fitting helmet and overall they are much more petite and subtle than other lower cost Bluetooth earbuds on the market in 2017.


- Similarly sized carrying cases with inbuilt batteries
- Allows charging from that internal battery
- TWS-K8 has a large battery and case and says could be used as a powerbank, but not really, nice idea though.
- Both units can be used as mono buds or by a button press power on together they link up in stereo
- TSWS-K8 is in Chinese only and this is very annoying to me.  Cannot be changed to English language
- When in pause audio mode there is an annoying crackle or hum in the buds
- Work absolutely fine 100% in stereo mode when stationary
- Both designs have this issue that from stereo bud mode it's easy to leave one earpiece on after use. Then,  when placed in the charging cradle they remain on, and powered (and eventually flatten the unconnected case with internal battery).   You see this when on your Smartphone they are still present as active Bluetooth devices.   It is most annoying.

So far so good one might think?

The Achilles Heel
When use in endurance sports we use one ear only for safety reasons

However in motion when running or cycling the bud continuously loses connectivity with a Smartphone  (We tried Apple iPhone 7 and 2 differing Android phones including a Google Nexus 5X)

So basically they are 100% unsuitable for endurance sports :-(

This is a terrible shame since this what we had hoped to use them for.   The master plan is ruined, and by comparison; the MiFo Bluetooth bud, which is also waterproof did have acceptable connectivity during sports.

Back as they say to the drawing board.

MiFO Bluetooth Wireless earbud

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Who needs more from a Car?

Some Hot hatches at Frankfurt

Subtitle: Battle of the Hot Hatches.

In 2017,  you ought to respect the legal road limits of your country and drive responsibly.  In such a case the hot hatches listed above (in their standard form not expensively pimped up) provide more than enough performance for the Road.  And practicality too.

Depending on your requirement for comfort and luxury you may need to move up towards the Audi scale or if you prefer some cost saving, everybody else :-)

Not only will you be saving money on supercar exotica, your equally fast hatch will be easier to park, cheaper to insure, easier to drive on narrow roads, and might actually be able to carry you, your passengers and luggage to real world locations.

And Finally
Car manufacturers are not known for their humour.  But there are of course exceptions

Mercedes Benz Chicken

Jaguar vs Chicken

Mercedes Response

Monday, September 25, 2017

Stratford Triathlon 2017

Public Enemy: harder than you think

Subtitle: What Marcus learnt from our first UK Triathlon
(Marcus is not harder than you think)

Agata participated and Marcus was on standby for our first UK Triathlon in Stratford upon Avon.   We have recently joined the Evesham Triathlon Club and been out on a few club rides.  Here we are turning up the participation.

We had to pickup our numbers and get the teams ready so we had to be onsite for 09.00 and the action started at 10.00 

There were these fancy printed triathlon number strips that you just water dab on.   Very impressive

Agata is in a Relay team,  Marcus is on standby and in lieu of doing nothing is photographing everyone.

Okay it is a 33 metre pool and people and it is divided into 3 sections.    Swimmers have to do 4 lengths (2 up and 2 down) then move sideways to the next section.   Each participant is started 30 seconds after the previous, but still a fast swimmer will catch up in no time at all.  It will lead to congestion and shooting fish syndrome.

Our Brave Swim team.  Wearing team kit.

Warren modestly smiles but he is a bloody fast cyclist.  It's his job to catapult his team of 3 from average to top of the class

 Off like a pro,  barefoot and fast

 It was just too easy for some

 Meanwhile we had time for a lot  of photographs.  Our swimmer  Rosie was late!  It transpired her timing chip fell off twice in the pool.  And she had to dive down and get it.  At swim end somebody commented that multiple chips were on the bottom of the pool.   Oops.

So eventually all was started.   Agata started the run

 Agata finished her run and collected her medal

Post race celebration photo

The Learning Points
My reference is Swiss Triathlon and Swiss (CH) weather conditions.  Relative to that:

- UK triathlon is a much more relaxed affair than CH
- However UK competitors are much tougher than CH!!
- The pool swimming conditions were just well diabolical.  In a sub 50m pool with so many competitors, it is surely much more challenging than an open water course
- Transition during the race was full of people actually in a race and at the same time people arriving to setup.   It was basically a nightmare.  Never seen anything like it
- The bike course was on  Open Roads. You had to stop for traffic lights and the like!  And try not to get run over by British motorists who it seems still in 2017 don't quite understand why any Cyclist should be allowed on a public road at all.   
- The weather conditions this Sunday were dry and above 10 degrees, but in general the weather here in the Midlands UK is a poor comparison to that of Lausanne Switzerland.  It's far colder  here and we do not have the average 21+ dry days per month of Lausanne.

All in All
Marcus realised what he always knew deep down.

British Triathletes are tough.  Really tough.   Agata is of course really tough.  Marcus is not sure I am that tough!   

We had a wonderful, interesting day of Triathlon in the company of some very cheerful people.   Thanks Stratford Triathlon and Evesham Vale Triathletes

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Sunday Sermon: I am still alive after September 23 2017

Robert Breaker: Sept 23 2017

If you study Religion, and Lord knows, I do, you will be aware of the proposed significance of

September 23, 2017

For example, David Meade a Christian Numerologist had claimed that a planet would collide with the earth on this date.

Here is a report from Fox News on September 15 2017

(Aside:  It is well known that Donald Trump relies on news from Fox and does not usually associate or Label Fox News as fake news.   Just saying)

According to the (not totally reliable) Daily Mail newspaper the apocalypse has now been delayed :-)

Will the world end today?

Where is Nibiru?

Revelation 12 Sign

Will the world end on Saturday?

More Revelations

There comes a time when you have to make a stand and think, with all that you have read, experienced and researched, is a Religion that you claim to be associated with, or perhaps your friends are associated with  a 

Total and utter load of twoddle

A fiction, A fantasy

Just something man made that tried to make sense of a world 2000 years ago

I suppose if one was a Christian you can begin the Cherry Picking and say that clearly the people who believe the above are mistaken, perhaps mentally ill, or the best chestnut of an excuse: Not really Christians at all.

The facts are though, that I struggle to find Secular people who believe in apocalyptic theories set to a certain near date, but if you do know of them, please send me the links so I can stand corrected and perhaps debunk them too.

If you surplus time and I would argue a handkerchief: to catch the tears of laughter, as well as a friend to share the experiences with, you can watch a full set of Robert Breaker videos here.

See Also
Simpsons: Doomsday

Rocketman vs Dotard Man

RocketMan in North Korea

When KJN   (Kim Jong-un ) became the Supreme leader of North Korea in May 2016 most of us could unequivocally say that he was the most /bat shit crazy/ head of state ever to take or assume office.

By any account he was way ahead of any competition.

But in 2017 the competition is hotting up. 

Donald Trump: Fire and Fury

The world is now treated to an uncomfortable tit for tat verbal slanging match.  

KJN: Trump is a Rogue and a Gangster

The speech made by the US president in his maiden address on the UN arena in the prevailing serious circumstances, in which the situation on the Korean peninsula has been rendered tense as never before and is inching closer to a touch-and-go state, is arousing worldwide concern.

Shaping the general idea of what he would say, I expected he would make stereotyped, prepared remarks a little from what he used to utter in his office on the spur of the moment as he had to speak on the world’s biggest official diplomatic stage.

But, far from making any remarks of any persuasive power that can be viewed to be helpful in diffusion tension, he made unprecedented rude nonsense no one has ever heard from any of his predecessors.

A frightened dog barks louder.

I’d like to advise Trump to exercise prudence in selecting words and be considerate of whom he speaks to when making a speech in front of the world.

The mentally deranged behaviour of the US president openly expressing on the UN arena the unethical will to “totally destroy” a sovereign state, beyond the boundary of threats and regime change or overturn of social system, makes even those with normal thinking faculty think about discretion and composure.

His remarks remind me of such words as “political layman” and “political heretic” which were in vogue in reference to Trump during his presidential election campaign.

After taking office Trump has rendered the world restless through threats and blackmail against all countries in the world. He is unfit to hold the prerogative of supreme command of a country, and he is surely a rogue and a gangster fond of playing with fire, rather than a politician.

His remarks which described the US option through straightforward expression of his will have convinced me, rather than frightening or stopping me, that the path I chose is correct and that it is the one I have to follow to the last.

Now that Trump has denied the existence of and insulted me and my country in front of the eyes of the world and made the most ferocious declaration of war in history that he would destroy the DPRK, we will consider with seriousness exercising a corresponding, highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history.

Action is the best option in treating the dotard  who, hard of hearing, is uttering only what he wants to say.

As a man representing the DPRK and on behalf of the dignity and honor of my state and people and on my own, I will make the man holding the prerogative of the supreme command in the US pay dearly for his speech calling for totally destroying the DPRK.

In a world confrontation between Dumb and ....   what we need is for them to fight it out in person.   Perhaps in a /two tribes/ pay per view video format, or a rap battle of

One thing all pundits can surely agree on.  They both follow the philosophical rule:

When They Go Low, We go Lower

Saturday, September 23, 2017

iPhone8: Are you rich enough

Apple iPhone8 teardown  

Subtitle: (pretty servicable == surprise!)

Particularly today, the Apple iPhone 8 is the hottest Smartphone ticket in town.

And here is why.

It says that you are so affluent that you will buy the latest in Apple Smartphone technology to last you about 1 month and a half.

Because in late October 2017 you will pre-order and then pickup in November 2017  the iPhone X and then gift away your iPhone 8.

Lil Wayne: Got Money

Are you well healed enough to join this, Apple's most exclusive club?

The Cycle Show Birmingham 2017

Marcus and Agata spent almost a full day at the 2017 Birmgham NEC: /The Cycle Show/.  As I write this there are still 2 full public days left.  So if what you read is interesting enough consider attending


It is on at the UK National Exhibition Centre and tickets cost 17.50 GBP.   Here   Car Parking was 12GBP for a full day.

Exhibitor List

Our Review Starts Here

It is nit picking really but the entrance sponsors were showing a motorbike and a rally car.   Hmm.   You do know this is a bicycle show Mr WD-40 right?

Here is what we found noteworthy

Garmin: We are not worthy

Vector 3 pedals with inbuilt powermeters are attractive to atheletes with multiple bicycles.   That is just about everybody!

Garmin are not the cheapest but still pretty much the juggenaut of the Smartwatch and Bicycle Computer.   This year I would check out / buy if you have large funds

Garmin Edge 1030 Cycle Computer
Garmin 935 Watch
Investigate Garmin Varia rear Lights
Garmin Vector 3

Large expenditure but basically nearly always the best.

Shiman - OH!

So the good news is that the Di2 electronic groupset for Dura Race level componentry announced beginning 2017 is now actually available for purchase.

Bad News

The new Ultegra which is R8000 et al is still not generally available and the Di2 electronic version even less so.  Surely it will be ready for Christmas? anything else would be a missed marketing opportunity.


To cut to the chase, SRAM wireless is now 2 years old and still nobody else has a wireless groupset.

I really feel that despite the innovations in Shimano Dura Ace Di2, and even allowing better Shimano support by Garmin et al, well, from a pure installation, maintenance, and even reliability perspective it [eTap] is superior to Di2. 

 No irritating junction box is required  (Shimano Di2 shown here)

No thin but annoying signal e cable is required  (Shimano Di2 shown here)

Wattbike Atom

Wattbike is already the established choice for Cycling professionals worldwide.  For indoor training there is no equal but it costs over 2000 GBP.   Enter the Atom bike from Wattbike at a sub 1500 GBP price point.   Perhaps less after discount.

And with equal or better connectivity, and the promise of battery power not just mains power in the future (so you can wheel it around even easier).  What is not to like?

DCR made an initial review here  To me this is going to be an instant success. Wattbike are about to strike gold.  Especially relevant for countries like the UK where outdoor winter training is not always practical.

Campag Still Exists
The famous Italian cycle component manufacturer still exists, well just about.  But I had to struggle to find  any bicycle wearing Campag

As an ex Campagnolo advocate I always rather liked the thumb actuated gear change levers but that's about the only plus point in 2017.  And it is not enough.  Since Campagnolo is not Shimano/Sram compatible you really have to choose and most people go with Shimano.



Simple but ingenious plastic clip that screws to the wall and enables you to mount a helmet (with vents) onto it.


In a shocking lapse of marketing   (well they said they were not ready),  the Aftershokz stand did not have the newly released Air product. What were they thinking?  Not even a mockup/ dummy unit?

Instead they had the outgoing, 20% heavier and larger outgoing  Trekz models.    What I would recommend is visit the stand, checkout the product and if you like it get ready to buy the Air.   Under no circumstances go for the current/almost obsolete product.   Really, wait for the Air.

NB: In UK road races, headphone on open roads i.e with regular traffic is totally banned.  However Bone conduction headsets may be ridden if the race organiser allows it.  This is because this headset leaves both ears totally open.   Essentially then if you race long distance events in the UK, bone conduction audio is your only hope to avoid total and utter boredom.

Nexo Solid Tyres

These are squidgy solid tyres.   They can't possibly compete with pneumatic i.e. tyres with air in them, however maybe they could be good for that city or offroad bike where puncture protection is most important.    We would love to get some tyres for testing!


As usual a great stand,  and this year the Pwr lights range that I did not recognise before.  

Four4th Lights

British ultra high performance lights.  On suitable discount during the show.

Lezyne seems to have revamped many of its front lights with an i model.  This adds a second waterproof socket allowing you to attach a battery pack.

So Lezyne: Why didn't you just have a single socket that can be a charge point or powerpack point?  huh?  I guess it could be retooling costs, except now you have basically 2 plugs where they should be one.  Not good.

Good Enough

Damson Headbones represent a product that is interesting...  To my mind in every possible way they are inferior to Aftershokz Air, but because not everybody will read my summary here no doubt they will be good enough for some.  They are a bone conduction headset, but very heavy and bulky.  I can't imagine using them for running but cycling might just be possible.  To me they don't even match the Aftershokz Trekz and that range is about to be obsoleted!

Pretty Cool

No Shows
Not everybody it seems turned up.   Most amusing.

Top End Bicycles

So if you have upwards of 5K GBP to spend then this show will offer you some delicious choices.



A high end brand, which is so exclusive they organise little events for members only.  (Just like Porsche does for its car owners).

Condor Cycles
 The famous London bespoke bicycle maker was back in force at the show.    I've owned multiple bicycles from them.   If you have the money they are still an excellent choice in 2017.

Bespoke London Lavoro from Ben Spurrier at Condor.

Boardman is an economically priced bicycle manufacturer with a huge range of choices.  They are local to Marcus and Agata but we failed to find their new Evesham bike retail space, because we found it is still under construction.   2018 we think.  Meanwhile they showcased some beta bikes, some custom aero bikes like this

Security: DataTag

 DataTag is a physical marking deterrent system.   We were so impressed we will do a test install and this will form part of a separate article.

In essence you make the bicycle with hundred of microdots each having a unique number that when seen with a UV light will identify your bicycle and components.   You also install a larger UV etching i.e. invisible to mark the frame and also a large sticker that it the deterrent.

The idea is that a professional thief will have heard of Datatag and will be discouraged from stealing your bicycle because on selling it a dealer or member of the public with a smartphone app can check if the bicycle or components are registered stolen.

The UK bike register provides a similar scheme but it is not as well known and is UK only, Datatag is international and better known, something that is important as a deterrent.

 If you are being very economical you will be glad to here that there are multiple sports foot and nutrition stands.  So without spending any money in the restaurant it is possible to fill up on samples!

In fact Marcus and Agata did fill up but only with a view to actually buying product.

We use ZipVit energy bars for example and cannot recommend them too highly, so Zipvit and others who were exhibiting had us as local paying customers.

As usual in shows, take cash into the show, there is a cashpoint outside the entry hall.

Ribble Alternative

Whilst Boardman has some excellent deals I cannot speak too highly of Ribble cycles.   We frequently recommend Ribbles to friends and cycling enthusiasts.  We had a long talk with some very knowledgeable staff on the stand.  So much so that we forgot to take photos!

In a nutshell

- Ribble are a UK based cycle integrator with a keen eye on pricing
- They focus on Road Bicycles
- In recent years main change would be their move to in house frames  (cf badged frames from big vendors)
- They are famous for having a Cycle Configurator.   Here you start with a frame then add a Groupset, wheels, Handlebars etc until you have a full bicycle.
- The bottom line is that Ribble's pricing is very keen.  Often a bicycle cost is barely more than the cost of the components, excluding a frame!

Some particular notes for 2017

- Popular R872 now has much lighter and stiffer construction with full carbon bottom bracket shell
- Many bikes now use push fit BB86 bottom bracket
- Most bikes have brazed on front mech
- Maybe, just maybe SRAM will be available by Christmas?
- Shimano Ultegra R8000 not generally available but coming
- There is a Birmingham showroom which has a full selection of bikes plus a professional jig to enable you to get correct bike sizing prior to order

As you can tell I was pretty much blown away by Ribble's professionalism at the show.  If I lived near Birmingham you would be a complete fool not to wander in to their showroom at /The Mailbox/.

And Finally

We left the show clutching a large set of bags.  Brochures, samples, food, some products.  It was all very exciting and worthwhile.  If you intend to go to one UK cycle show in the year I'd put this at the top of your list.

Full Photo list at native resolution
2017 Show Guide The Cycle Show NEC Birmingham

Educational Aside
Here are Bike Parts names.  Good to know.