Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Since last week, we've had an unusual amount of rain. Most of it has come down slowly, and after the last few seasons, we all need it. So whining isn't fair. That said, the few openings in the weather have occurred when I've been absolutely tied down by work.

This morning, it looked like more of the same. Wipers on all the way to work. I told my wife, "If there's a break in the weather, I'm taking the afternoon off." Guess what? It happened. After finishing up work at a clients home around 1:00, the sun started to come out. I headed home where I ate my lunch and the clouds came back. I ignored them and suited up. Then I torqued down the remaining bolts per manufacturer specs. Just then, the sun came out again and I was off [probably should have used the time for photos instead :)]

After an hour on the bike, I have to say it was a blast. It feels much different from my usual ride, but it should for many reasons. Moving from MA3 rims spoked 36 and 700c28 wheels to high tension Campy Zonda (16 spokes up front, 21 in the back) with 700c23 tires could account of much of the difference.

On the other hand, I'm sure this bike weighs at least 6 pounds less. My usual ride has a 2 pound saddle (Brooks Conquest), fenders, front rack, beautiful but not particularly light Nitto stem and bar, wheels that must be a pound heavier than the Zondas, and so on. We don't have large hills here to test brakes and handling on high speed descents. But, we do have some steep little hills, and its clear that this bike ascends like an angle. I'm not a weight fetishist - otherwise I'd make sure my figure was different. But 6 or more pounds is enough to feel the difference more than I care to admit.

There's plenty of stiffness in the frame. I didn't notice any frame deflection. A couple of people whose opinion I highly value would argue that this is a bad thing. That is, a great frame flexes in a way to enhance the riders output. However, while flex is hidden, this is still a lively frame, so perhaps it works with the rider more than is obvious. In any case, I enjoyed the ride and only noticed the stiffness when I consciously thought about it.

A big caveat to the above, the difference in tires and wheels probably account for much of the perceived stiffness.

I was riding the SLR saddle for the first time. It was very comfortable. I don't know what a longer ride would be like, but after 90 minutes, it fits me well and seems to have a hidden suppleness that a normal thumb press on the top doesn't reveal. I was impressed.

Shifting is a little off. I'm using an FSA compact front derailer and it seems sensitive to positioning. It appears that it needs to be lowered some and the tail end twisted in toward the center line of the frame (this to get the inner cage parallel with inner chainwheel). As it stands, its not possible to position the limit stops so that the chain can't be shifted off the chainrings on either the high or low. I may yet try going back to a normal (not compact) front derailer. From what I've seen, the compact cranks work fine with these.

The Deda crank works. What else can you say about a crank? Well, I should measure its Q factor. What ever it is, my feet ride more naturally on the cranks and my knees don't hurt. I shim my cleats to raise the out portion of the sole, while riding with my knees in close to the center line. Depending on the crank, I have to think about this more, or less. In this case, there is no thinking and no problem. So, these are a very good crank for me. Their weight is competitive with Record carbon, and they feel stiff. Finally, I typically get a bit of ankle rubbing on the crank arm. These seem to taper in towards the crank bolt and don't rub.

I just stopped over at the neighbor's house. On his digital scale, the bike with old heavy (340 grams/pair) Look pedals weighs in at 17.8 pounds. So let's see where we could get without going crazy.

A Keo carbon pedal at less than $200/pair weighs about 230 grams for a saving of 110 grams. My (last year's model) Zonda wheels weigh about 1780 grams. A new pair of Ksyrium SL's ($825) are about 1580 grams for a saving of about 200 grams. My Centaur cluster weighs about is rated at 242 grams by Campy (probably low because it's a 13-26). The regular Record Steel/Ti cluster ($210) is rated at 192 grams saving us 50 grams.

These three changes total 360 grams of savings, using all reliable equipment and parts typically used on top end bikes. This 0.8 pound savings gets us right at the border of a 16 pound bike. Shift to tubulars, or lighter wheel and we're well into the 16 pound territory. And this is with a fully assembled bike with a full paint finish (paint and layers of clear coat are surprising heavy) etc. My future cable routing is going to save further weight around the bottom bracket. There's room to trim the seat post (no sense retaining the unneeded portion), a lighter latex tube makes sense and cuts grams, and so forth. Then, if we shorten the chain stay to a more normal 400mm length (currently 420) we can cut heft out of the bottom bracket joint without weakening anything.

This is for a size large (55cm seat tube in a sloping tube configuration. Most stated weights are for a size medium or its equivalent. Do I think we can be competitive on weight? You betcha!

That's all for tonight. I promise pictures soon.

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