Pelican Velo Club: SCOTT RC Premium Kinetech Cycling Kit Mini-Review

Recently, I was lucky enough to get to test a new set of bib shorts and a jersey from Scott’s latest high-end road cycling kit - the snappily named RC Premium Kinetech range.

The range represents Scott’s most technologically advanced road racing kit, with a construction that aims to eliminate unnecessary seams, texturing details and a fit that aim to decrease aerodynamic drag, and a use of lightweight materials that aim to offer both increased performance and comfort on the bike. I think Scott has largely achieved these aims - it’s certainly a very technically advanced set of kit, made with premium materials and finished very elegantly - but, unfortunately, it isn’t perfect.

Firstly, a note on sizing - I received both the shorts and jersey in a size Medium, and though the shorts fit perfectly, the jersey is slightly too big - the sleeves are a little baggy and there’s a little too much room around the waist, on my 183cm/64kg frame. Now this isn’t really a criticism, because looking at the sizing guide on Scott’s website, it appears a Small jersey would have been more suitable for me, but I do wonder if the size small would have had enough length in the body to not leave a gap between the shorts and the jersey when stood up.

The shorts are lovely - some of the best I’ve ever used. The textured material, seamless construction and high quality pad makes for a very comfortable pair of bib shorts. They feel compressive without being restrictive and the texturing, presumably present to add the aerodynamic performance of the material, and design make for an elegant pair of cycling shorts in all respects.

The Trouble With Pure Performance

The jersey isn’t quite as good. It’s comfortable, lightweight, well constructed and feels like a premium jersey, but the faded plum colour is an odd choice - I don’t mind it, but I don’t love it either. The textured shoulders and sleeves are a nice detail that matches the textured shorts nicely. Again, this surface texturing is, as far as I’m aware, there to create turbulence in the airflow and reduce the aerodynamic drag of the kit. I’ve not got any data to support the effectiveness of this, but it’s detail you can see a lot of on professional cycling kit these days, so there’s likely something to it (even if it’s most likely a reasonably marginal gain). I’m not a fan of the neckline - I appreciate this jersey is designed to fit best when in an aggressive cycling position, so the neckline is rather like that on a speedsuit, but I think it makes the jersey look like one of those muscle fit t-shirts you see on Love Island (that’s a guess - I’ve never seen Love Island), which isn’t a good look in my opinion. Scott might argue that from a pure performance point of view, this neckline prevents any bunching of excess fabric, but it’s not to my taste.

Another odd design feature is the decision to eschew the traditional three pockets on the rear of the jersey in favour of two larger pockets. It’s another design decision perhaps made with pure performance in mind - if you’re a professional cyclist, you probably don’t need that much storage (and carrying less is probably more aerodynamic), but as a consumer I need to carry a few essentials on every ride (a phone, keys, mini-pump, etc.), plus food and extra clothing (eg. a gilet or lightweight jacket) and having only two pockets limits your options for organising your stuff. Personally, I usually prefer to carry my phone, mini-pump and gilet in my middle rear pocket, as these are the heaviest/bulkiest items and I want to avoid side sagging. I then separate my food out in to the remaining two pockets, so I don’t have spend time rummaging through them mid-ride to find what I want. Your milage may vary with this, but to me it’s a classic case of ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’

All things considered, this is a great set of cycling kit, clearly made with optimum racing performance in mind, but for your average consumer there are a few compromises you have to make for those performance gains, that lessen the appeal for general road riding.

What do you think of SCOTT’s latest kit - do you like the colour of the jersey? Are three rear pockets better than two, or is two enough? Are the compromises in aesthetics worth it for the potential performance gains? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think.

For more cycling related content like this, you can follow my other blog, Pelican Velo Club, on Tumblr.

Pelican Velo Club: Tour De France - Week 01

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Last week, there was much consternation on cycling twitter about a photograph (taken on stage 02 by Jakub Zimoch - @kubwinter) of a UCI commissaire, who was using a device to measure the clearly illegal sock length of a Team Sunweb rider. The replies were filled with indignation (obviously - it’s twitter), with many asking, ‘Haven’t they got anything better to do?’. But I believe that this intervention is essential, and furthermore, the UCI should not be cowed by these protests, but should be emboldened to strengthen their regulation of cycling clothing…

Read the rest of the post on Pelican Velo Club

On Finishing Projects

Corrupted image from my work in progress LEJOG project.

Corrupted image from my work in progress LEJOG project.

I’m now a year and three months in to the making of my Land’s End to John O’Groats road trip project (still currently untitled - I’m really struggling with that, actually), and consequently I’ve got a fair amount of pictures for the project, but a persistent question that I and other people have is, ‘When will it be finished?’

It’s an interesting question in a way, because, as I didn’t set myself any sort of time or budgetary constraint (though it’s worth noting that there is of course a natural budgetary constraint stemming from the very small amount of money present in my bank account), there isn’t really a clear answer to it. Obviously when you’re at university or are shooting to a deadline imposed by a client, then your finishing points are essentially fixed, but with personal projects you could arguably carry on indefinitely unless you impose an arbitrary deadline. The obvious answer is that I could set myself some sort of arbitrary deadline, but I find that conceptually unsatisfying, as if I reach that deadline and want to continue making pictures, then why shouldn’t I?

In discussion with a friend a couple of weeks ago, I suggested that my ‘project’ on my two cats, Royal & Eva, would be finished when they die - as this would obviously entail a natural end to the picture making process for them and I. But thinking on it further, I’m not sure that works either - unless they both pass away in very close succession, Yogi and I are likely to get another cat (or possibly a dog - fingers crossed for both) in the meantime, and that will introduce new opportunities for pictures with the surviving cat. Basically, as long as we have an unbroken line of pets, this project will never really be finished.

Royal & Eva, London, December 2016

Royal & Eva, London, December 2016

So that leaves me with a dilemma - like any other delusional artist, I want my work to, at some point, enter the pantheon of great works in photography, and I’m aware that much of the work that I admire was made over a period of years or even decades (I’m thinking about American Prospects, Uncommon Places, Sleeping by the Mississippi, Pictures From Home, Sentimental Journey, Wonderful Days etc.), so perhaps the logical thing to do would be to follow suit, and work on projects for so long that you eventually get it sick of it, and you happily make a decision to stop. Indeed, in conversation with David Campany, Stephen Shore agrees that his ‘interest now falls away as you are beginning to sense that you have met the challenge, rather than having to repeat in order to discover that you’ve done all you can?’

Another dilemma arises from the pressure of social media and the perception that other photographers are always launching a new project, winning an award, being exhibited, etc. It feels like you have to constantly be pushing new work out into the world. Perhaps it’s always been thus, but, for me, Instagram is the big problem of our time. I’m very hesitant about posting my LEJOG project on there, because anything you post becomes yesterdays news so quickly - most people will literally scroll past it in under a second. It feels cruel. The temptation though is to publish something as a ‘work in progress’ and then continue to work on it over the coming months/years. Perhaps that’s a smart move to make in a world craving for regular content, but I still worry about diluting the impact of my work by showing it in an unfinished state.

So what to do? For now, I’m going to keep working on my LEJOG project in private (i.e. not sharing work on my website or social media), try to get some feedback off other photographers, and get some opinions on how to move forward. Ultimately, I do want this to be a long-term project, and with Great Britain still right in the middle of some incredibly important events, it would feel premature to bring anything to a close in the near future.

How does everyone else manage this issue? How do you know when a project is finished? How do you balance long term thinking with the short term demands of social media and the modern world? Leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts.

Chute du Pelican

Rather unfortunately, I threw myself off my bike near the end of a short ride this morning, and ruined a load of kit. Luckily, my dear Giant came through largely unscathed, but the same can’t be said for my right side… Oh dear.

Click through to Pelican Velo Club to read the full post.

Pelican Velo Club: Pelican Notes - Mid April 2019

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This week on my Pelican Velo Club blog, I discuss the great Patrick Sercu, who sadly passed away last week, Victor Campenaerts hour record, Matheiu Van der Poel’s Amstel Gold victory, Mark Cavendish’s return to form and Team Sky’s success at the Tour of the Alps.

Click through to read more.

Street Pussy RGB - Limited Copies Still Available

We still have copies of Street Pussy RGB left on our Etsy shop, in both standard and special edition. These are strictly limited edition, so once they’re gone, that’s it - don’t wait too long to get your set.

RGB by Street Pussy celebrates the invention of the Bayer filter array with a series of three zines, R, G and B - each containing a series of 20 Street Pussy photographs by Yogamaya von Hippel and Simon Bromley, taken over a period of 7 years, in which the dominant colour is red, green or blue (respective to each zine in the series).

The above three photographs come as limited edition, 6x6in digital c-type prints with the special edition set, and are signed by the artists (myself and Yogamaya von Hippel).

Pelican Velo Club

After a long hiatus, my cycling blog - Pelican Velo Club - is back in business.

Its main focus is road cycling, but I give myself a reasonably broad remit. My first long post of the new era is about the 2019 Ronde Van Vlaanderen, which took place on Sunday 7th April - you can find it here or follow on instagram.

Sadly, I’m not able to get to all of these professional races personally, so I’ll be sharing pictures from some of the great photographers who can, to illustrate my points. But I’ll also be mixing in my own photography wherever possible, on features closer to home.

Street Pussy RGB - Full Set Now Available

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Due to a delay in printing, we’ve decided to launch the last two Street Pussy RGB zines (G & B) simultaneously, and have made all three available as a set on our Etsy Shop.

As before, RGB is available in either a standard or special edition;

Standard Edition
- All three Street Pussy 'RGB' Zines

Special Edition

- All three Street Pussy 'RGB' Zines, signed by the photographers, Yogamaya von Hippel & Simon Bromley

- Three Limited edition 6x6 inch digital c-type photographic prints (each in an edition of 10)

- Hand-painted packaging for each zine and print

Street Pussy RGB is limited to an edition of 25 sets - 15 standard edition and 10 special edition - and is available to purchase now, exclusively through the Street Pussy Etsy Shop.

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As always, you can follow @streetpussy on instagram for updates and #streetpussy pictures.


I Know How Furiously Your Heart Is Beating - Alec Soth - Review/Examination

Alec Soth is about as close to royalty as we get in the niche art-photography world (except he didn’t get there by birth, of course), so any major new work he releases is always of interest. What’s peculiar about Soth’s place at the top of the pile is that he is, in essence, a bit of a traditionalist. Soth makes pictures and projects that are fundamentally simple, even accessible, in nature. He doesn’t make much use of complicated text or concepts, and tends to stick to reasonably basic structures for his exhibitions and books. If any of that sounds like a criticism, it isn’t. In fact, it all neatly explains why I like his work so much.

I Know How Furiously Your Heart Is Beating by Alec Soth

I Know How Furiously Your Heart Is Beating by Alec Soth

I Know How Furiously Your Heart Is Beating is Soth’s latest book. It presents a series of portraits and interiors that attempt, in Soth’s words, “to strip the medium down to its primary elements. Rather than trying to make some sort of epic narrative about America, I wanted to simply spend time looking at other people and, hopefully, briefly glimpse their interior life.” Published by MACK, it contains 84 pages and, at 30x33.5cm, it’s a large book.

What’s immediately noticeable is how much more colourful this book is compared to Soth’s previous publications. The lettering on the cover is metallic pink. On the inside, the first and last pages are a light, baby pink, and royal yellow pages occasionally break up the sequence of pictures. Furthermore, the pictures themselves contain much brighter and saturated colours, and seem to be infused with light (there are very few hard shadows). What this all adds up to is a feeling of levity - it’s a much happier book. Again, this is in contrast to his previous work - especially his more recent work, namely Songbook and Broken Manual.

Various interviews Soth has given recently, with The Guardian and New York Times, for example, support this theme of new found happiness. Soth reflects that his photographs are “generally considered sad, or somber, or moody, or lonely”, and having experienced, in 2016, what he describes as a “transcendental” experience, Soth decided that he no longer wanted to make work in this manner, and this change is certainly reflected in the new work (additionally, Soth has recently begun using the same baby pink as in the new book, as border for all of his instagram posts - one wonders what effect this has had on his engagement?).

Alec Soth’s Instagram Page

Alec Soth’s Instagram Page

The logical end point of this though, is a lack of tension within the work. Some will likely see a weakness of the work being that the pictures offer very little to resolve within the mind of the audience - at first glance there appears to be less going on beneath the surface than with Soth’s previous work. But, on reflection, I feel this is probably a shallow read of the work. It is worth examining why we so often rely on some sort of internal or external conflict (be it physical or emotional) in art in order to find it deep and/or meaningful. It’s easy to make a conceptual leap from ‘serious subject’ to ‘serious art’, but is happiness in art something we perhaps instinctively consider a bit naive? Especially in our modern world, beset, as we’re all too aware, by political strife and the spectre climate related armageddon. It is worth challenging whether this is necessarily so, however. Comedy, for example, often suffers from a version of the same problem - how can someone be making ‘Art’ when they’re also having a laugh? Grayson Perry was once asked,

"What I can't work out about you, Grayson," the journalist mused, "is whether you're simply a lovable character or a serious artist."

"Can't I be both?" asked Perry.

I wonder if a lot of people do actually feel that you can’t really be both? Or are we just afraid that we won’t be taken seriously unless we act and make work in a serious manner?

I’m digressing rather substantially here, but I think it’s worth doing so, because it is in this subject where the main interest in this book lies, for me. I believe there is in fact something rather challenging about work such as this - to present a work based on happiness and simplicity is, I believe, rather at odds to current trends in photography, and I can imagine that a lot of people will, at least initially, see this new work as somewhat flimsy. Ultimately, I believe that not to be the case though, and that this work does prompt deeper introspection about the function and nature of art based on, as it so often is, tension or conflict.

However, for me, there remain larger questions about whether this work represents a shift towards a more inward looking attitude, or whether it still looks out to examine the world. Nominally, of course, it does the second - Soth photographs other people, specifically people with greater agency than he would have previously photographed. But the work is also undoubtably about Soth’s inner transformation too, as cited above, so the question remains - is this work about Soth and his approach to photography, or is it about other people and the world at large? The answer is probably simply that it’s both, but I’m just not sure what the percentage mix is. I’m ploughing this furrow because of something the filmmaker Adam Curtis has often talked about recently - about how art and self-expression evolved from being something radical to something that feeds the system, and how this plays in to the conservatism at the heart of the modern world;

“Fonda is fascinating because she’s ‘radical,’ and then she does the next shift, which is to say, ‘If you can’t change the world, you change yourself… That’s the foundation for this modern conservatism: ‘Oh, my God. It’s so terrifying. Whatever we do leads to disaster… and instead of analyzing the world in order to change it, you just monitor it for risk.”

Google Trends data for ‘Mindfulness’ - one of the recent trends in self-help. With the ever decreasing stability, but increasing measurability of all aspects of our lives, nebulous concepts like success, happiness, health and well-being, have become core concerns of our age, which many of us attempt to monitor and regulate constantly, in lieu of control over other aspects our lives, like owning a home or having a stable career. I’ve also wondered for a while if self-help is in the process of being replaced by Instagram, where we ’fake it til you make it’. How many of us have actually given up on internal happiness (whatever that is) and have settled instead for simply projecting it?

Google Trends data for ‘Mindfulness’ - one of the recent trends in self-help. With the ever decreasing stability, but increasing measurability of all aspects of our lives, nebulous concepts like success, happiness, health and well-being, have become core concerns of our age, which many of us attempt to monitor and regulate constantly, in lieu of control over other aspects our lives, like owning a home or having a stable career. I’ve also wondered for a while if self-help is in the process of being replaced by Instagram, where we ’fake it til you make it’. How many of us have actually given up on internal happiness (whatever that is) and have settled instead for simply projecting it?

To return to the work in question (and bring this overly long post to an end), the pictures are undoubtably beautiful and interesting, as you would expect from Soth, and in that aspect the work is a success. But it feels to me as if there is at least some of the aforementioned conservatism in this work. I wonder if Soth has taken an interior turn as the world appears to spiral out of control around us? This isn’t a problem related solely to Soth - we’re all involved, and I definitely don’t have all the answers to this problem - but I think the solution is going to involve looking out at the world, and trying to connect with it all, rather than continuing to focus on our interior lives, and it is in that vein I’m left unsure about whether this book hits the mark. It’s also possible I’m reading too much into it all, or even just mis-reading it… I don’t really know, but it has at least made me think.

I Know How Furiously Your Heart Is Beating by Alec Soth is available now from MACK.