Tag Archives: equipment

Cranksets and Cassettes…its a ratio thing.

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Dear Rouleurs,

I’ve been obsessing over gear ratios, drive trains and hill climbing.  As a 102 Kg Clydesdale, doing sportives this year, these things matter.  I’m riding the  60Km version of the Ballarat Classic in February and that course contains some serious gradient.  Certainly more than I’m used on my local Beach Road ride.

So I started out looking at triple chain ring. Straight away, I encountered two significant snags.  First, Campagnolo phased triple chain rings on their lower end groupsets, hence I wouldn’t be able to source a Veloce component.  Second, even if I had sourced an older Veloce triple, it would have meant changing over the front and rear derailleurs as well.  Essentially, that’s 3 out of 4 bits of drive train.  Given its Campag, that would be a costly trip to a bike shop.

Instead, I read a few blogs and landed on fitting a compact chain ring with a smaller 50/34t ratio and higher ratio 13-29t cassette.  Originally, I had 11-23t which I upgraded as part of Zonda rim package to 11-25t.  For everything I’ve done thus far 11-23/25t has fine.  I tend to do most of riding on the outer ring anyway.  The theory being I should be able to keep my cadence fairly high and not have to stand on the pedals to exert brute force.  So I’m swapping out the 11-25mm for the 13-29mm.

 11-25mm  To  13-29mm
 20160114-campy-veloce-cassette-10-speed-11-25  20160114-campy-veloce-cassette-10-speed-13-29

The compact chain ring is an interesting beast. Depending on what online cycling magazines Its being described as the ‘killer’ of the tripleset chain ring. Mainly because of its ability to provide similar ratios to the tripleset, whilst enabling manufacturers to avoiding extra tooling and production costs. Most likely, this is why Campagnolo doesn’t offer triples on the cheaper groupsets.

So these were the alternatives:

53-39 – Race -> I have one of these already
52-36 – Semi-compact –> the one I’m not sure about
50-34 – Compact -> the one I’ve decided on.

53-39t has been the standard chain ring for some time now. It’s used in races that are mainly flat and in timetrials, where the more powerful riders are using a 53 to 11 ratio to achieve maximum speed.

50-34t Compact crankset has been around since 2002 and has been used by the Pros to travel through mountain stages. The primary idea being that a smaller front chain ring allows a higher cadence which should reduce muscle fatigue. It also allows less powerful riders access to lower ration gears without ‘crossing’ the chain. Crossing the chain creates more friction and increases wear and tear on the drive train.

52-36t Semi-compact is the new kid on the block. Its reason d’etre is that it provides the best of both worlds means a 52-tooth chainring for attacking descents and sprints, while maintaining a smooth chain line from the big ring when riding on flat roads, and a 36-tooth inner ring which, of course, offers a lower gear for climbing than a 39-tooth ring.

My decision on which crankset was made easier…again…sigh…by Campagnolo not having Veloce 52-36 crankset. So I’m swapping this 53-39 for this 50-34.

 53-39t  To  50-34t
 20160114-campy-veloce-crankset-53-39  20160114-campy-veloce-crankset-50-34

So circling back to where I started, in about 2 weeks I’ll find out how all of this tinkering in my drive train worked. The Cadel Evans Peoples ride is fairly flat with the exception of a couple nasty little hills on the back end of the course. Hopefully this will all ‘gel’ together and provide a really efficient ‘gearbox’ for my 46 year old legs.

Until next time

Marv

Product Review: Campagnolo Zonda Clincher Wheelset

 

Dear Rouleurs,

I’ve almost recovered from the dizzy flu and the national disgrace of our male cricket team. This meant, I’ve finally spent some quality time on my bike and the new Campagnolo Zonda clincher wheels, I purchased in mid-July. As my readership would know, I’ve been suffering from severe upgraditis triggered by SBS cycling coverage. I’ve previously swapped out my pedals and shoes.

Marv's Wilier with Zondas fitted.

Marv’s Wilier with Zondas fitted.

After much ‘umming’ and ‘ahhing’ I decided that I really needed new wheels. As an aside much of what is written about wheel weight borders on twaddle. However, Leonard Zinn at Velonews seems to have a good grasp of the physics. For the record, lighter means faster…period and in wheels, heavier rims means they are harder to accelerate. So I swapped out the Fulcrum 7s for Campy Zondas. In theory, I should have reduced the overall weight of the bike by 300g.

I bought the wheels last month from Cecil Walker’s Elizabeth St for $750. As, the wag in the bike shop said, ‘Mate, you’re swapping fake Campy’s for real ones’. I didn’t have the courage to attempt the fitting of a new cassette and the bike needed a service. So I forked out the $250 difference on Wiggle price. Unfortunately, the maintenance order I put at the front desk must have been communicated via ‘chinese whispers’ and the mechanic didn’t fit the Gatorskin tyres that I wanted. I changed over the tyres later.

After 4 weeks of riding, I can say they were a good purchase. Initially, I had the tyres over inflated, so the combination of the new rigid rims and new tyres, gave a very harsh ride. The handling experience felt very jitterly. I was feeling amplified road conditions transmitted up the seat post, out of the rear frame geometry. It was only when the bike was travelling over smooth bitumen did the ride improve. Initially, I was thinking that I had wasted my money and was a bit grumpy.

Happily as the Gatorskin tyre pressure decreased, the ride quality improved. I’m inclined now to inflate the tyre to 5-7 kPA lower than suggested by the manufacturer. In the last week, I’ve felt that bike is much quicker. The times on my Garmin seem to evidence this.

 

Here’s the tech specs:

 20150814-Zondas-BR Front wheel weight: 670g
Rear wheel weight: 880g Campagnolo hub
Rim height: 26mm (front), 30mm (rear)
Rim width: 20.5mm
Spoke count: 16 (front), 21 (rear)
Compatibility: 9/10/11 speed.

Here’s what I think the pros and cons of the wheelset are:

Pros:

  • Quite light 1550g or there abouts.
  • Very robust, the moulded rim looks and has so far been indestructible.
  • The sealed rim doesn’t require a rim strip.
  • There was visible build quality difference between the Fulcrum 7s and Zondas.
  • They seem to accelerate well and thanks to the hubs spin very smoothly.
  • The front rim is slightly shallower than the rear, this seems to provide more responsive, windproof steering.
  • The G3 spoke pattern on the rear wheel is IMHO aesthetically pleasing and seems to keep the rear wheel very stiff.
  • The paint scheme also matched the silver, black and red scheme of my Wilier’s frame.

Cons:

  • Harsh ride if your tyres are over-inflated.
  • If you break a spoke, you’ll need to have it fixed by your bike shop mechanic. The sealed rim means the use of magnet to re-thread a spoke.
  • The spokes are proprietary, can only be sourced from Campy re-sellers.
  • Being Campy, replacement parts are pricey, particularly compared to the Shimano.

And for what its worth, if you need further proof, via wisdom of online reviews

Wiggle buyers rate them – 4.8 / 5
BikeRadar gave them – 4/5
Chain Reaction buyers them – 4.8 / 5

I’m giving them 4 Marvs.

Until next time,

Marv

Product Review: Bontrager RXL Waterproof Softshell Shoe Cover

 

Dear Roulers,

A few weeks ago I wrote about my experiences with a new combination of Shimano R107 shoes and 105 5800 SPD-SL pedals.  I’m pleased to report that both are going very well and continue to be fine upgrades to my Willier.

The only drawback that I’ve had was the venting located on the top of shoe, which in poor conditions; result in cold and wet feet.  So I did walk-in purchase at the Port Melbourne franchise of Freedom Machine and purchased a pair of Bontrager RXL softshell shoe covers.

Ordinary this would have been a straight to Wiggle or Chainreaction purchase, but I thought doing an in person fitting would be sensible.  So took one of my trusty R107’s to the store.  As it turns out that was a good idea as ordering the large size instead of the snug fitting medium size would have resulted in product return.

 Photo care of Marv  Explanation care of Marv
 Before  20150701-Shimano-Shoes+Pedals This is the photo of my shiny new shoes from a few months ago.  As you can see, the top vent is ideally positioned to allow water in.
 After 1  20150720-BontragerOvershoes-1  So here’s the same shoes fitted with overshoe.  The ‘boot’ part comes up over the ankle and stops water running down into your shoe, for the most part.
 After 2  20150720-BontragerOvershoes-2  Here’s another angle with the cleats exposed through the ‘boot’s’sole.  So far the overshoes have delivered the goods.

I’m now a bit peeved that these have gone on sale this week with a deep discount of 35% and a price of $58.  For those of you looking for overshoes, that’s a steal.  They are very well made and are weather proof.  I’ve been out in some really horrible wet and windy conditions over the last 2 weeks and they have kept my feet warm and mostly dry.

I’m giving them 4 out of 5 Marvs.

Heres some tech spec stuff about the overshoes I’ve pinched from the Trek website:

The Bontrager RXL Waterproof Softshell Shoe Cover – Black

  • overshoes constructed with Profila shearling-backed Softshell fabric
  • taped for waterproof and windproof protection in cold and wet conditions.
  • zips are also waterproof
  • velcro fastener at the ankle which ensures that the covers stay firmly in place.
  • used with road cycling shoes with cleats.
  • has reflective features to increase your visibility  in low light conditions.

Choosing Pedals

The Breakaway

Try riding a bike without pedals 🙂 Its pretty useless and begins to look a lot like riding the original 1817 bike the “Draisine”. Pedals are an essential part of your bike riding experience so you should know something about them.

The Leadout

There are 2 main types, Flats and Clipless:

Flats

Most history books credit the invention of pedals, mounted on opposing cranks to the Parisian Pierre Michaux in 1863. He attached cranks to the front wheel pedals on a draisienne. This invention was known as a velocipede.

Clipless

The clipless pedal was invented by Charles Hanson in 1895. Not much happened with it until 1971 when Cino Cinelli developed the M71, in 1971. Referred to as “death cleats”, this pedal was designed mainly for track racing as cyclist had to reach down to them to unclip them.

Clipless refers to the toe clip (cage) having been replaced by a locking mechanism. “Clipping in” changes the way a cyclist is able to pedal, with push down and pull up, being available to transfer power into the bike’s gearing and rear wheel.

The Peloton

Even with these two basic types there are plenty of options.

Flats Without toe clips Wellgo Flat These are the most basic option. Flat pedals provide a platform for a cyclist’s leg and foot to push down on. They can be used with most kinds of footwear (Although I can honestly say, that I’ve never tried them with high heels :-). These are recommended, if you need to hop on and off trains, walk or ride in work clothes. Generally, they are the cheapest option.
With toe clipsQuill Flat French cyclist Eugène Christophe is viewed as the inventor of the toe-clip. In 1925, he sold his invention to Poutrait-Morin (known now as Zéfal). The next step from flats are toe clips. These consist of flat pedals with a basket-and-strap “cage” attached to which hold the foot in place.
Road Look and Look-a-likes Look Keo The first modern clipless pedal was designed by the French company Look. Look applied downhill snow skiing binding or cleat technology to pedals. Bernard Hinault’s victory in Tour de France in 1985 then helped secure the acceptance of quick-release clipless pedal systems by cyclists. Look cleats and their many Look-alikes (tee hee…couldn’t resist) are large and protrude from the sole of the shoe, unlike SPD. This provides a larger platform for transferring power through to the pedals. The protruding cleat makes these shoes impractical for walking, as doing so can damage the cleat. These are recommended for competitive road cyclists looking to improve their performance.
SPD Shimano SPD SPD stands for Shimano Pedaling Dynamics pedal system. Released in 1990, these clipless pedals are arguably the most versatile and best suited to urban commuting or mountain biking. SPD cleats are small and could be fitted in a recess in the sole, making it possible to walk reasonably comfortably. SPD Pedals are the next step up for the average cyclists. They can be single or double sided. This enables a cyclist to clip in with cleats or use the flat side with normal shoes. They allow for a large range of adjustment to make ‘clipping in and out’ much easier. SPDs are recommended for cyclists ‘clipping in’ for the first time, commuters and mountain bikers. Cyclo-cross rider tend to prefer them as well.