Friday, May 03, 2013

My 2012 Cannondale CAAD10

My first bike was one of those "chopper" style bikes - the one that had a gear shifter on the top tube on the bike which I am sure did nothing for gear shifting - but it sure looked cool.

Since then, I have gone through a whole series of bikes - ranging from steel to carbon fibre and now to aluminium. Why downgrade - some might say. Carbon fibre has to be the best material for a bike correct? Well to a point yes. Carbon fibre bikes can be built to be both compliant for comfort(horizontally!) and stiff for responsiveness. It can be made light - oh yes. If you have ever held a carbon fibre frame in your hand you would swear it was all made out of cardboard - thats how light it would feel. However, I still wager that carbon fibre still cannot match the smoothness of a real good steel bike and the zippiness or zinginess (some call it sports car like feel) of a good aluminium bike.

Which brings me to the Cannondale CAAD10 - I have always wanted a Cannondale. Whats not to like about the name - "Cannondale" ;). But those things are expensive. A ready made Cannondale in Singapore will cost you easily USD2k if not more unless you manage to capture a late model variant like a CAAD8 or a CAAD9. But me - I wanted a CAAD10. After taking a few test rides - I just loved this Taiwan built CAAD10 frame (the older CAADs were supposedly handmade in the USA). It was light, it was smooth - relatively anyway and it was responsive.

After scoring a deal on the 'Bay, I bought this size 56 frame and built it up with a Deda cockpit (Deda Zero 100 stem and Deda Newton shallow bars) and seatpost (Deda Zero 100), a Selle Italia SLR (Update in Oct 2013 - I have since replaced this with a Fizik Arione) saddle, SRAM Force components (Update in Oct 2013 - SRAM BB30 bearings failed due to corrosion and replaced at 2200km :( ) and beautiful Campagnolo Eurus wheels. Frame weight was around 1.2kg and total build weight was around 7.5kg / 16.5lbs. I probably could have built the bike lighter by using weight weenie components and by using carbon wheelset but as this bike was meant to be a daily thrashabout bike, I decided to spec components that were tougher on it e.g. aluminium parts throughout. Frame specs-wise for my size 56 - it has a 56cm top tube and seat tube length, a "traditional" 73degree seatpost and head tube angle, a 80cm standover height.
How does it ride you might ask? She (bikes tend to be referred to as females gender-wise) feels very stiff, accelerates very easily and retains speed well. Turn in in corners with the Cannondale fork is very predictable and there is very little "jitteriness" in terms of controlling it. Compliance-wise, it is a harsher ride compared to carbon fibre or steel or titanium over rough roads. To tune the ride for more comfort, you might consider adding a carbon fibre seatpost and or cockpit and or wheels. For me, I just trust aluminium a lot more in terms of reliability in terms of components. I have had this baby for a year or more now and am looking for a change soon. Maybe back to steel again - we'll see how it goes.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Trading for a living

Today is my 6th work anniversary at my current company. I have been at a job for more than 18 years - solidly at the mid point of a typical 40 year work life.

At some point in a person's life, you might start to wonder if you are becoming redundant to organizations in terms of being a desirable worker. At the beginning of ones work life - after graduation, the prospects seems boundless - there seems to be lots of jobs and lots of opportunities. At my current stage of work life - the reverse seems apparent. You would never consider lower level jobs any more - they pay worse and the higer level positions seem impossible to do.

At such a stage in one's life, you might start to contemplate having a career change - be your own boss maybe and some might consider trading for a living.

What is trading for a living - my simple definition is being able to trade (on the stock market, bonds, commodities etc) to sustain your current expenses at a minimum and prefereably to return a profit - to allow you to save up for a rainy day.

So is it possible to trade for a living? Well if you have never traded stocks before or have made big losses in the past, it is probably a bad idea. If you have traded part time and made a decent profit i.e. never made a loss, it would probably sound to you like a great idea.

Trading <> investing in my book. Investing means putting in the cash into an investment e.g. house, stocks, bonds to achieve returns however with a long term outlook and without constant monitoring of the investment (maybe an hour or two a week?). Trading means having to switch on your computer in the morning/night and monitoring your current positions constantly and looking for new positions to get into. Day trading would require one to track positions in a day and ideally close off those positions at the end of the day to reduce exposure. I dont trade however my impression of it is that assuming that I have 200 dollars of expenses a day, I will have to trade to achieve an average of 200 dollars of returns a day over time - this would mean that I have to trade x amount of single stock   to get a % return e.g. trade $10000 and get a 2% return or the equivalent (less trading expenses) in many smaller trades. 2% seems achievable - in a single day a stock can fluctuate by 2% several times - however it is probably harder than it seems.

To me, a part time job or a job that allows one to have a lot of free time (with lesser pay) is a better option. You can use that free time to research for investment opportunities ie. stocks to invest in. An alternative is to buy a property and rent it out for at least $4400k a month (after deducting property expenses and taxes).