Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Riggio - Version

Since I didn't go to the track Wednesday...

(Oh, I just checked - races were cancelled last night.. um.. so I really was going to go but the races were cancelled, that's why I didn't go... really... not because I was exhausted and could barely keep my eyes open...)

Riggio, updated.

Before. Note extreme bar/stem combo, old cranks, set-back post, white saddle. I don't know why I didn't use white tape to begin with, but whatever.

I'm proud to announce the Riggio, verision

As a refresher:


Since I'm borrowing this from the programming world, I should point out that programmers don't like to admit making mistakes. Therefore they avoid "Fixes" if at all possible. If they actually have a broken line of code, they'll fix it by adding functionality (or subfunctionality). This way their version retains that all-important "0" after the last dot (x.x.x.0).

Of course, although not a programmer, I've been trained in that same way of thinking, so I'm avoiding Fixes as well. So why is the "1" there? Read on.

With that in mind, it's still a Riggio, so it's version 1.x.x.x.

Functionality is a bit different. I'm calling it Dot One (.1) because I changed my position on the bike. The biggest changes were in the stem, bars, and seat post, all of which contribute to making the bike much closer to my Cannondale in terms of fit and feel. The bars are higher and closer to me and the seat is further forward than before. Basically I'm more centered on the bike, and I feel much more at ease in tighter quarters.

Much higher and closer bars.

Titanio saddle, but a heavier Ti railed one. Thomson post, 26.6 mm, no set-back.

I've also updated some Sub-functionality (2 ways): stiffer cranks complete with cartridge bearings in the bottom bracket (1), a 1/8" chain with a master link (2), some other stuff (1/8" chain chainring, which I promptly removed). The cranks are stiffer, the bearings are nicer (the old ones were kind of crunchy), and the crank is designed to accept a single ring.

Most of this is "nicer" but doesn't change anything significant, like fit. For example, the cranks are the same length, I'm using the same chainring as before (and therefore the same gear), and the chain replaces a perfectly good laterally flexible chain.

Blurry SRAM track cranks. Note the recessed fitting for the single chainring bolts.

I reused my 3/32" wide 50T chainring after I learned I can't spin the originally-included-with-the-cranks 48T (it happened to be 1/8" wide) fast enough. In fact, I changed the ring at the track after the Scratch Race. I started unscrewing the chainring bolts even as the Bs were doing the second half of the race - I'd gotten ridden off the back of the group that quickly.

I should point out that I actually made most of the described changes at the bike shop on the way to the track. So Test was at the shop, UAT was a few laps of warm-up, and Prod was the Scratch Race. I immediately updated the gearing after one race.

Hence the Fix.

Regardless, I definitely need more rollers work. I'm also thinking of getting a training wheel, fitted with a 16T or 17T, for both warming up and learning to spin. I could just get another cog, but that would involve figuring out how to undo the lockring (I used a screwdriver and a hammer to tighten it).

I'll have to think about that a bit more.

As far as Fixes goes, if I'd just replaced the cranks, it'd have been a huge bug fix, because the cranks weren't working super well. I admit that the (mismatched to BB) left crank arm loosened up on its own, and I know that. Not only that, when I went to remove the arms, both of them were finger tight - the right one also popped off with just a touch of the crank removal tool.

But, and that's a big But, since I replaced the cranks and bottom bracket as a unit, and I got functionality - a better Q-factor (pedals are closer together left to right) and more stiffness - I'm counting this as an upgrade, not a fix.

That's my story and I'm sticking with it.

And now you know why the newest versions of programs sometimes don't work well - they fix things by introducing something new without admitting any error. But the underlying cause of the new feature is a programmer that made a mistake, and they're just covering things up by introducing a new feature, which, if written by the same programmer/s, will probably have other errors in it.

Anyway, the bike is what it is, Fix and all.

I did notice that the frame feels extremely stiff. I did my "grab the seat and the stem and flex back and forth" thing. I expected a decent amount of movement so I felt pleasantly surprised when my first flex attempt failed pretty miserably. More force got the frame to wiggle some, but nowhere near what I expected. I guess having a 7 pound frame and fork means there's a lot of beef in there.

I was talking to someone about bikes and technology. The guy's son was an Elite level racer (and old enough to be working on a "real" career), and his dad was a framebuilder and racer back before WW2. His track bikes were typically weighed in at 18 pounds.

My bike weighs in at 18 pounds!

Okay, 17.9 according to the digital scale, but I'll call that 18. Progress, right?

So how is the bike now?

At top speed, I don't feel totally comfortable on the sprint line, the line at the base of the track. The bike wants to move up a bit, and I seem to go fastest at the top of the sprint lane. I think a bit more technique will help the most, but I can't help but wonder if moving a bit of weight forward would help, i.e. a bit lower bar, maybe one that's a bit further forward. For now I'll focus on technique because I think I lack a lot in that department.

I definitely have more weight on the rear wheel, with the much shorter bar/stem combination. I don't have the problem where the rear wheel skids and slips under pressure.

I also feel that the front tire bounces a bit on the rougher-than-a-hardwood-floor track. I've even reduced pressure down to about 110 psi, and it still bounces. I may have to go with a softer tire, or reduce pressure even more.

I started writing this post a while ago, intending it to be a follow up to the first day I raced it in its present format. But, like software, I've already gotten newer version/s in testing. Well, beyond "Test" because that's just seeing if the thing still works (wheels turn and stuff like that).

Test happens on the workstand. You just see if the bike works at the most basic level.

("User Acceptance Testing") happens on the track, the rolling around to see how things feel when I'm riding the bike. It's one step beyond spinning the cranks on the workstand. A "test ride" if you will.

Of course the final testing phase is Prod ("Production"), something an old boss used to say all the time. If this bike was software, Prod would be when the software gets used by the intended end user, i.e. it goes on the market. But since it's a bike, Prod is when I race the bike. Real life stresses typically outweigh any Test or UAT stresses, so that's when I'll know exactly what's what. Then I'll make changes as necessary.

Suffice it to say that, after a couple days of Prod, I've discovered not much has changed. Yes, the bike feels more secure - not having a wiggly left crankarm really helps make it feel, well, more secure. The non-slipping seatpost design helps immensely too (instead of trying to level the saddle while I'm racing, I actually don't worry about the saddle moving).

I've also verified that the nut holding the seat down needs some work, but the bike itself has been slightly more optimized for that nut's riding style.

(For those of you who didn't get it, I'm the nut that holds the seat down.)

Those of you who race at the track know I've already made one significant change, and one guy even knows of a couple Test pieces that need to be UAT'ed and then put into Prod (the pieces never made it more than a couple feet from my car at the track).

And, as I'm learning more about the track, I've realized that I'll want to bring a compact little race kit for trackside use. One required item - a cooler, with water and energy drink. I already did this last week. The other thing would be a minor tool kit - cog (if I had more), lockring tool and chain whip (those two items for changing cogs), allen wrenches for any adjustments, maybe even a couple chainrings for gear changes.

Although separate from the bike, I'm mentioning this because the bike is set up with one gear. Unlike a road bike, where you adjust for a new condition or new event simply by shifting gears, with the track bike you have to mechanically update the bike to get the same effect.

Keep it tuned here for further update reports.


No One Line said...

aki - one of the neat little gizmos i use for the conundrum of gearing is the Miche cog and carrier. I ride to the track on a 17t, undo the lockring with a Park HCW-5 (the 3-pronged end works better than the one-pronged end), take the cog off the carrier, and put on my 15.

No grunting and straining with chainwhips or wondering if this is the week I'm finally going to tear my hubthreads to strips.

And since I also have a 16t in the bag, it's good for training around prospect park.

Aki said...

Oh cool. See, I'm a track newbie. heh.

Rishabh Phukan said...

I have 2 titanio saddles if you're looking.

/me whistles ;)

Connor Sallee said...

dude... i never use a lockring and it's worked for me (except once, ugh).

a dominican guy at the co.springs track told me, "take this lockring off, and NEVER put it on your bike again, for if you ever find yourself in a situation where you would need to backpedal hard enough to make your cog spin off, you'll soon find yourself in a bigger mess than just slipping your cog. like on your head."