Thursday, October 25, 2007

Equipment - SRM and Cannondale

So I was waiting to post this because I was waiting to bid on one SystemSix Cannondale "Team Edition" with an SRM crank, Record components, and Fulcrum 1 wheels. There's some other stuff on the bike too, like the Alien seatpost and the Fizik seat (probably taking that second thing off). I know I'll lose the bar and stem and put my own stuff on instead.

For some reason I'm looking forward to putting a dinky stem on top of such a massive head tube.

This is all because of my season long thinking on how to get power readings when I'm racing. A lot of guys pshaw the idea of measuring power while racing but to me, measuring power while racing is critical. Training is fine but it's when I'm racing that my mind and body wake up. A few of the guys have told me, over the years, that whatever happens to me in training is fine (getting dropped, etc., usually comments after a ride where I got dropped). They point out that when I'm actually racing and really wanting to do well, I find the form from somewhere, dig it up, and use it.

It's like those french fries under the car seat - if you look long enough, you'll find one or two.

Anyway, after all my thinking (obsessive wasn't exactly a term I'd have used but now that I think it over, obsessive might be appropriate), I came to the conclusion that I can't use the Power Tap system. I have too many wheels and to spend $800 or so on each of them to PT them simply didn't make sense.

I'd have to find my power elsewhere. Ergomo was out as I don't like that they only measure one side (versus the other). The iBike, to me, is still unproven (give me one on a 3 month, money back guarantee, and I'll give it a go, but otherwise, no thanks). There's a new crank thing that starts with a Q but it's not here yet and will cost as much as its main competitor - the SRM.

So that leaves me with the SRM system. It's good, it's reliable, works, and best of all, I can use any wheel I want with it.

As a gauge of cost, I went to my trusty eBay and looked up SRM. I noticed a formerly local good guy was selling his DA setup (but it's too wide for me and it's since ended). Another guy is selling a pair of cranks with one computer (appealing as I could have two bikes with SRM - this is still open - but they're for a normal bottom bracket). And then I saw a Cannondale Team Liquigas bike, with Record, SRM, everything.

Its opening bid was about $1000 more than the cost of a new SRM setup and about $1600 more than what the local DA SRM sold for.

For a whole bike.

With Record.


I spoke with the missus a couple times about this. More than a couple. It started out over the early summer with buying at least one more PT hub. Then a rim for said hub. Then perhaps the SRM and sell the PT (that was recent when I missed out on a 24H Campy PT hub).

Today we spoke again and I mentioned I was a bit nervous because the Cannondale auction was going to end in about 90 minutes and no one had bid on the bike. When I mentioned the cost of a new SRM to her, she said that I really ought to buy this thing.

I didn't even have to go into how light the bike is, how the Hollowgram SI SRM is the best of the SRMs, nothing.

With my mind at ease about this (I wouldn't have done it if my mind wasn't at ease - that's perhaps a bit compulsive I suppose) I decided to bid on it.

Mind you, at that point I had already put in a bid amount, confirmed my account, and only had to click "Confirm bid" to place it officially. I can get that close and if my Spidey-sense goes off, I'll back off. I've done it a number of times, literally making my mind up not to buy something in the last 30 or 60 seconds of the auction.

Speaking of which...

Since every single thing I've bought on eBay (all 8 items) I've waited till the last second to bid, I decided to do something similar. But with a bunch of things with work distracting me for 15 or 30 minutes at a time, I decided to bid with 30 minutes to go, else I'd be kicking myself if I missed it.

As it turns out, no one else bid. I bought the bike :)

This is the first new complete road bike I've bought since late 1982 (!) when I bought a Basso with Campy (Nuovo) Record and Excel Rino. Since then I've always bought either drivetrain parts (rear derailleur, cassette, chain, and Ergo levers), "long term" parts (cranks, bottom bracket, seatpost, stem, bars, seat), wheels (or hubs, spokes, and rims), or a frame set - and never all at once.

I never thought I'd even contemplate buying a new bike. A lot of my muttering in the last year or two has been the insane frame prices. My perceived value of a new race bike is about $3000 (without pedals and with nicer level clinchers). My perceived value on an SRM equipped bike is perhaps $2000 more - and that's just over what I bid for this bike.

I rarely spend this much money at one time. In fact, my last purchase in the price range (other than home improvements - but for example all the very nice stainless appliances in the kitchen cost about as much as this bike) was the beloved Passat I bought about 6 or 7 years ago.

So this is a really big step for me.

There will be a whole bunch of changes when this happens as well.

1. The Cannondale frame is essentially non-compact (it slopes a bit but not really a lot); it'll be the first time in many years I'll be on such a machine. Stiff frame, high top tube. Very stiff - I found some article where they measured how many pounds it took to flex the bottom bracket one inch to the side. Cannondale was around 1200 pounds. The Giant? Something like 700.

Yo that's my bike! 700 pounds? What kind of a wimpy carbon piece of...

I can't wait to stomp on the pedals on this bike.

I also checked the stand over height because I want to have kids (and do all the things you need to do to have kids too) - and for Mr. Short Legs here, I'll be sitting on the top tube when I'm straddling the bike. If my voice goes up significantly after I get this bike, you may know why.

2. 170 cranks. Why not the 175s I've been preaching since I switched to them? I know it's easy to change cranks but not when they cost about $2100 for the SRM version of the crankarms. So I'm not planning on changing them. I've had a hard time justifying this but this year I did a lot of thinking and pondering (obsessive? me?) on going back to shorter cranks. I'd thought about trying to increase my top speed in my sprint, perhaps going to the track and seeing how things work out there. I thought about how I used to feel comfortable at 110 rpms at my threshold - and with 175s it went to around 90 rpms.

Perhaps, then, it's time to get back to the spin days. I didn't do a lot of scientific equations or anything though. Ultimately it came down to this - McEwen uses 170s and he gets the job done. I think (I hope?) that I can exert the leverage necessary to pull off a 1500 watt sprint with 170s (3% less leverage, a loss of 45 watts). My big hope is that my pedal speed will go back up and I'll be able to break through the very frustrating 40 mph barrier that seems to be in the way right now.

Incidentally, this will require the purchase of at least one set of 170s, for whatever my backup bike ends up. If I can find another SystemSix...

3. Weight - 15.9 pounds without pedals, for a 56 cm I think (since that's the frame they weigh for their frame weights). For a 52 it'll be a bit lighter. My current bike, the Giant carbon TCR, size small, with the Reynolds DV46 wheels, weighed 17.5 pounds on a shop's digital scale. As the Reynolds weigh about a pedal set's worth of weight less than the Fulcrums, the bike should weigh in at about 16 lbs complete, maybe an extra 1/4 pound for my old school bar and stem. Say 19 or 20 lbs ready for training (currently my carbon bike easily gets into the 20s when I'm going for a training ride).

This light weight will be my first significant upgrade in weight since I was pedaling around a 17.5 pound Cannondale 2.7 in the early '90s.

4. A fancy bike - my current frame set is the one that came on the Ultegra Giant TCR - hardly the top line bike (and in fact, the top line Giant had a different carbon frame and fork). My previous frame was the aluminum yellow Giant TCR Team - and that was for real, it even had the ONCE bits on it. Before that was an S-Works M2 frame, but again, it was the frame that came adorned with Ultegra.

Along those lines I have a few Record components but never had a Record front derailleur or Record brakes (always cheaped out and bought much lower - as in Daytona/Centaur for a front derailleur and similar or -gasp- Ultegra for brakes). This bike has the whole Record thing on it (minus the cranks since they're the Hollogram SI SRMs). With the fancy paint job (which coincidentally matches my current kit's colors), I'll have to ride faster - no better motivation than that.

So I won, I paid (for some reason I can't wait to pay once I win), and now?

Now to wait for the bike.

I'll be selling a few things of mine as I won't need them anymore. The Power Tap setup of course, and a few fit related things on the new bike (seat, bar, stem). And since I'll be getting a sweet set of training wheels (Fulcrum 1s), I'll sell one or perhaps both of my Eurus wheelsets. Or the Fulcrums.

I don't know yet, I'll have to obsess over this for a bit.

I may sell all those wheels (perhaps put a set on the missus's bike) and just buy a set of carbon deep section clinchers for proper training ($1000 from Williams Cycling - sounds pretty good to me, and they weigh just about the same as the Fulcrums). The Reynolds will be my race wheels. Perhaps I can buy a disk wheel too. It would be a cool wheel to use in certain races (crazy for others).

They're all good things to think about.

I have to confess something though. I knew my gut instincts were steering me towards the SRM because somehow, in my drowsy "just woke up and haven't had coffee" state, I took the PT wheel and computer head off my bike this morning.

See, it was raining outside.

And if the PT gets wet and grimy and something happens to it, I can't sell it as easily (both in practical as well as conscientious terms).

I put on my kit (it's nice having all the right gear - matching knickers, SS and LS jerseys, wind vest and black booties, gloves, and head stuff, perfect outfit for 50 degree rain) and ventured out. Once the initial shock of cold wet wore off I was okay. I hunkered down and tried to keep the hoods dry by keeping my hands there. I stood up when I could because you can't do that on a trainer. I felt secure on the bike - stable, no sliding, wheels nice and solid on the ground.

Felt very flahute with the booties, knickers, layered top, and long gloves. The peeking shin is critical in this flahute feeling, as is the long sleeve top.

Didn't avoid all the puddles or pavement cracks.


Thought about SRMs and aerobic base and slid forward on the seat to do a little speed effort when I got too excited thinking about such things and thought about training in the rain and how much I liked it as a kid.

Got back, rinsed off the bike, lubed the chain. Threw all the gear in the washer, then the dryer. Laid out my shoes in front of a fan.

They're all dry now, ready to go again.

I hope it rains tomorrow.

1 comment:

josh said...

i too love riding in the rain, and everyone else calls me crazy for it.

walked into the shop the other day, it was foggy, slight drizzle, like 55....this after it had been sunny and 75 all week before. kitted out in bibs, knee warmers, booties over wool socks, ss jersey, ls jersey, rain poncho, full gloves and a cap. overdressed even. one of the guys says to me "dude, you're an inspiration to me sometimes, you ride in anything, rain, snow, cold, whatever"..."uh...yea" was all I could eek out for a response.

suckers dont know what they are missing.