Monday, January 28, 2013

Equipment - Making FSA Compact Bars Work

'Tis the (off-) season, as they say.

I've been a bit negligent in putting up posts this year, primarily because of a lack of time. My time crunch has led to less "things" to blog about, whether they be group rides, equipment stuff, or even life experiences. I've tried to keep Junior out of the posts for the main reason that he doesn't directly have much to do with bike racing.

I found it difficult over the summer to get in a training ride a week, often relying on just racing on Sunday and Tuesday (when the Missus and I would share Junior duties). At home, when the Missus suggested I go for a training ride, I usually spent the time sleeping instead.

Looking after Junior, apparently, is more tiring than training.

Nonetheless I've started thinking about the 2013 season. I have modest goals for it, nothing really major. Basically I just want to be competitive again. I'd like to drop to something close to my 2010 weight, knowing that the lower weight will automatically bump up my performance (regardless of training). I raced at about 158-160 lbs in 2010. In 2012 I was racing at 170-175 lbs. Although "just" 10 pounds it made quite a difference in acceleration and in climbing. In a race where I finished strongly in 2010 I got shelled almost immediately in 2012.

Not good.

I also need to straighten out my equipment situation.

I threw around the idea of getting another frame built, to accommodate the FSA Compact bars I like so much. Unfortunately the lack of drop (short by 2 cm) and reach (short by 3 cm) meant that I'd either need a custom-custom frame (59.5 top tube and a 7.5 cm head tube) or a bizarre custom stem (65 degree 15 cm stem).

On further thought I realized that even if I got the longer frame I'd be compromising my weight distribution. I'd be putting my front wheel forward an additional three centimeters forward, reducing weight on the front tire and therefore reducing traction up front. I already slide forward on the saddle in turns, trying to push the front wheel into the ground, and starting three centimeters further back from the front wheel doesn't make sense to me.

Therefore I decided that I'd work with the frame I have now, the now-red Tsunami, and try and fit it so I can use the FSA Compact bars. I came up with the following plan.

First I'd use a 14 cm stem. Going from the 12 cm I'd get an additional 2 cm of reach, gaining back all but 1 cm of reach I lose when going with the FSA Compact bars.

Although a little known fact, because I never told anyone, I went to a 1 cm longer stem between 2010 and 2011. I'd be returning to my 2010 position in terms of reach.

To deal with the 2 cm shorter drop I'd do a couple things. I can't drop the stem because it's already dropped down to the headset, the headset is a super low stack height one (it's really short), and the head tube is as short as possible. Therefore I can do two things - increase saddle height or use a lower stem. Doing both would probably get my 2 cm back.

I managed to source a 14 cm track stem that points down a bit. I think I'll get about 5mm of drop, maybe 1 cm if I'm lucky.

The track stem

It's 14 cm long. Only 70 deg, not a 65 like a true track stem.

I'm also going to be running 170 mm cranks. I have two SRM spiders and two sets of crank arms, 170s and 175s. I'll leave the 175s on the black bike and put the 170s on the red bike. Being 5 mm shorter I'll have to raise the saddle 5 mm. This gains back 5 mm of drop.

With these two changes to the bike I should get back at least 1 cm of drop, maybe 1.5 cm of drop. I figure I should be okay with that.

If things work out then I may have to find a couple more 14 cm track stems and an extra FSA Compact bar or two.

Then I'll be able to use the sweet bars that I tried early in 2012 but rejected because they were too close and too high.

There's more to do than just bars so I'll go over that in the near future.


RedLeg said...

SDC, you should try the 3T Ergosum bars. It has the same compact shape as the FSA and 9mm extra reach (89mm vs 80mm). I have one of those at home I do not use anymore. Interested?

Anonymous said...

I like my FSA Omega compact bars. But I wish there was a version with more reach. Even though they are shallow drop bars, I don't think forearms would hit the bars from the drops with a longer reach.

Why are all the shallow drop bars similar in reach and drop?

Aki said...

RL - I'd be interested but I think 3T bars flare out at the drops. I'm not sure if that would agree with me. I happen to have a 13 cm track stem as well (I couldn't find a 14 cm track stem for a long time).

Anon - I don't know why the bars are so similar. It seems to me that they all virtually parallel one another. I guess a good bar shape works well.

One thing I didn't address is the wish that I could get a one piece set up with the weird reach and such that I want, 14 cm stem, 42 cm bar, about 1-2 cm drop in height between stem and bar, all in a one piece carbon set up. That would be kinda cool.