Thursday, January 28, 2010

Tsunami - First Rides

Presenting....

The Tsunami.
(Thanks to my hosts for the garage door)

The Long Wheelbase bike. Or, as Hans christened it (while it was in the fit stage), The Tiny Bike.

The pertinent things, the ones that I specifically requested, are as follows:
- 565 mm effective top tube
- 400 mm BB to top of top tube
- Short as possible head tube (95 mm goal)

I trusted the rest of it to Joseph.

I got what I asked for, of course. The big surprise on the bike - the longer stays. They're about 410 mm, about 5 mm longer than the Cannondale. Note the ample room between the tire and the seat tube. Although this makes the bike more comfortable, maybe a bit more stable, I'm curious to see how it affects its "emergency maneuver" agility. My first instinct has been to avoid any chainstay longer than, say, 405 mm. My first race bike had 39 cm stays, and I think it set the tone for me.

You realize when you look at the side view picture just how long it is. I mean, it's long.

The wheelbase, with the long top tube and longer stays, ended up much longer than any frame I've had before. In fact, when I packed the bike in the bike bag, the fork missed the fork holder by a good six or seven cm. I had to reverse the fork to get it to clamp to the fork mount without having to stick the rear dropouts through the other end of the bag.

It's that long.

A side bonus?

My foot misses the front tire by a good 3 or so centimeters.

No more foot overlap!

Totally didn't realize this would happen, so it was a pleasant bonus.

Front angle

I'll point out the obvious. One bottle is not quite all the way in its cage, although it's out more than normal. I'll discuss that later.

The reverse angle, which, for some reason, I think is the best angle.

I couldn't tell you why I think it's the best angle. It's visceral I guess.

Exposed seatpost ratio makes me feel almost tall. I feel like I should have an aero profile seat post now, because there's so much of it sticking out in the air.

The smudges, if you notice them on the top tube, are from the Atomic Balm on my legs, when I stopped at lights and put a foot down. Yeah, on the second ride I was in shorts.

Blurry so don't enlarge, but you can see how skinny the headtube and headset are, compared to the stem.

The headset spacer is saving space for a Bike Pure spacer. Under the stem is the Cobalt aluminum top bearing cap. It's virtually impossible to tell that it's not black. Actually, it's almost impossible just to see it.

The electrical tape in the middle of the bar tape - the tape snapped while I was wrapping it last night, and as prepared as I was, I didn't have any more tape. I may be buying some Fizik tape later.

Technically I did two rides on the Tsunami today. One in the morning, one in the afternoon.

Of course all of this happened out in the San Diego area, a perfect place to test a new bike. I flew out here specifically to ride the bike.

Ahem.

Right.

Anyway, with reasonable weather (at least right now - apparently the last couple weeks have gotten some humdingers as far as storms go), terrain from flat crosswinds to short steep climbs to long Category 1 cols, this area is perfect for an extended test ride.

For the first rides I stuck with the more mundane - the Col de Torrey Pines and some coastal wind stuff.

So...

First off, the overall impressions.

Construction

The frame is great with a few imperfections. I'm okay with them all because they don't alter the bike's riding characteristics, but they're there nonetheless. I've been debating how to present them, but in the end I decided simply to present them.

First, I'm not sure how to deal with some of the less than perfect paint adherence in the little nooks and crannies, specifically on sharp edges like just next to the bearings. I cut some of the hidden stuff off with a sharp knife (a Swiss army knife, if you must know), and I'll probably finish the job while I'm out here.

Second, the cage mounts are a bit close together. They're close enough that regular aluminum Elite cages won't fit in both spots at the same time. The Specialized cages work a bit better, but they're still not perfect.

For the downtube I'm looking for a cage that holds the bottle as high up as possible. The seat tube needs one that has a low profile that still clears a front derailleur mount. I'm confident I'll find something, and if I can't, the cages on the bike now seem to work fine. I saw some potentially nicer ones at Nytro, meaning ones that will hold the bottle higher. I'll keep looking.

I should point out that I asked for a chainstay guard, a clear one. The Nytro folks gave me one. Sweet!

Third, and a minor one. The rear dropouts are a bit tight. Super fast wheel changes are out, but since I don't think I'll be in a situation where I need one, it's all good.

Fourth, and I'm not sure about this because of my lack of experience in the area, the BB30 shell seems a bit tight. It's good for now, the bearings are fine, but I'd like to have the free spinning bearings like how they were in the SystemSix.

Ride

Okay, so that's the construction. What about the ride?

(Disclaimer - I haven't done any high speed descending switchbacks, nor any racing in a tight group.)

Well, frankly, it rides awesome.

While my ride guide kitted up, I rode around the parking lot. The bike felt snappy, responsive, and very tossable. I felt like I owned the bike, not like I was trying to tame it.

I really liked diving into turns on it. I started riding kind of fast in the parking lot, before I realized that the parking lot of a pre-school place wasn't a good place to be diving into blind turns, with various parents and little kids running around.

I also like the longer cockpit which allows me to hunker down for efforts. I realized that I hunker down enough that I have to stop wearing cycling caps under my helmet - they force me to crane my head to see where I'm going.

Anyway, once we were both ready, we set off. Conveniently we were a couple hundred yards away from the Pacific Coast Highway. With its wide bike lane, we could ride side by side and chat.

I noticed that I had no power or cadence reading on the SRM. Later in the ride I realized that I had a wire break, and I had to bend the wire a certain way to keep the connection intact. It's now taped properly to hold that position.

We rode up a local favorite hill repeat climb, the one at Torrey Pines. Our turn around point would be at the top, so we attacked this steep col.

The first ever picture of the Tsunami in action.

Actually it was the second. In the first one I'm a tiny speck another 50 meters further down the hill. I'm all of 200 or 300 meters up the road from the little guard house in the background. This bit is steep.

This is the twentieth repeat in a series of leg searing intervals we did.... um... Actually it's the first time up the hill. And the only time.

We descended down the other side, but a headwind and lack of gearing kept the max speed to 41 mph. No curves either, to test the railing abilities of the Tsunami. No weird handling though. My ride companion Julie commented on a prior descent that she didn't want to hold me up on that particular descent, the first one on the Tsunami. I pointed out that the first descent is not the one to let it all hang out - it's the fifth or tenth one, after testing the bike at slower speeds. She thought about that one and laughed.

I tried to hold a longer, lower position while I rode, even though we weren't going super hard. I want to get used to fast, hard pedaling while crunched down a bit. This harkens back to my Chris Horner sightings, where he blew by us while jabbering and spinning away, super low on the bike, super fluent pedaling action.

That's my goal, and that's what I'll work on.

For now I have two immediate bike needs.

First, I'm riding a new chain on an old cassette. It skips under load in all but the 11, 12, 23, and 25. Since I actually use the other gears, I'm going to go buy a cassette.

Second, I can keep looking for the cages and some replacement tape.

And I want to hit up a Trader Joes for some healthier food.

Yum.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bike looks great. What kind of saddle to stem drop do you run?

Aki said...

I actually don't know - I'll have to measure it at some point. It's not too big - the angles and such are pretty deceiving. I based my stem height on the head tube length. Compared to the Cannondale, the Tsunami has pretty much the same head tube + headset height. Maybe 5 mm shorter, but that's about it.

agilismerlin said...

Nice write up Aki,

shorts, eh? dayum !!!

that bike is long looking. nice

skip the food, keep training, enjoy the sun.

kevin