Sunday, January 28, 2007

Another cycling website

I guess you can't have enough, can you?? Hmmm, bit similar to another site's name, but anyway, worth a look. The product reviews are a bit scant on critique.

Tour of Siam - Aussies 1st and 3rd

Tour of Siam - win overall for Jai Crawford, team win by the Giant ART team. Will Ford was 3rd; Phil Thuaux finished 24th overall, by the way. CN report here.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

More on spooky handling

Thinking about that spooky-handling high-end bike...

I rode my wife's track bike last Sunday and had to stop and ponder what the heck was coming loose after less than a lap. I felt unstable, wobbly, like it was about to go out of control. Nothing was loose, so I persisted and got used to it. The difference in 'handling' was all in my position. I was slightly lower and more forward than on my bike. I couldn't get out of the saddle at all - it felt like I would fall if I did. To fix this 'handling' problem would involve firstly raising the saddle and secondly pushing it back, or perhaps changing the stem length. And testing it after every alteration, one change at a time.

My wife is entirely happy with her track bike as it is set up and it looked OK to me as well, with my short legs and all, but shifting my weight forward even slightly changed the whole feel of the thing. My point is that spooky handling can be a combination of many things, not just wheels or frame but position as well. Stem length is a big one in my book, and look at how you are distributing your weight overall, between front and rear.

Just a thought.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Some more about wheels... and airflow

My friend, he with the Six13 and Lapierre, went on to say, "Yeah, but the more I thought about the test (see my previous post) the more I question the relevance. Most of the top tyres and almost all of the aero tyres were tubulars. How would the stiffness compare on the equivalent clincher? You can get clincher Ritchey WCS carbons for instance. They didn't use that many top end clinchers in the end, I would've liked to have seen Easton's top clincher in there."

To which I would say that clinchers are by design not as stiff, certainly laterally but in every way, as a tubular (ie glue on) rim, whether made of carbon or not. It's stiff by design, being a closed loop, whereas a U-shaped rim can bend more easily.

Undaunted, he went on: "What has me thinking is the front to rear stiffness difference in the Campy Eurus. I do talk about the freaky handling of the Lap, but maybe it was the wheels?"

Which had me thinking about my old Campag 24 spokers. Light, great for climbing, but hopeless in corners. Just too soft laterally (it felt it was laced with spaghetti spokes, cooked ones). Sometimes a bit more weight (as in more spokes) is worth it - again it's horses for courses.

My friend also commented that "the R560 Shimano does pretty well, considering it's their 105 spec wheel. Just shows how far Shimano have come with their wheels and they definately are the best value wheel on the market at the moment."

Probably a good call. I still like Mavics. Those sealed bearings last a long time (mine have lasted 16 years without a failure, and with minimal maintenance).

He also "thought the 50kph (test) was a bit extreme, but I did like that they tested a variety of angles, something that you question when you see the Cervelo Soloist design... surely it can't be that good at anything except straight on (ish)?" Of course on a bike you tend to go forward (hopefully!) so you are always penetrating the air straight on, so the Soloist does make sense. It also has a greater side profile surface area so maybe it is susceptible to crosswinds, but I have trouble in 40-60knot crosswinds on my regular bikes, so maybe it's just a matter of degree?

Frames, wheels, handling - a conversation of sorts

A friend started a conversation about wheels. It all starts here with a whinge about the handling of his Lapierre.... but becomes more of a question of wheels and tyres than frames and angles. So what matters most?

The handling comment was: "Generally speaking though, I'm very happy with the new rig (a Cannondale Six13). It's very quick and nice and stable. It's much more evenly balanced, whilst the Lap was very rear heavy... or maybe front light? Either way, it (the Lapierre) didn't fill me with a great deal of confidence."

Sounds like understeer? Could be tyres. Or geometry. My old Saronni (Colnago) track bike runs wide when sprinting on low-banked tracks, but is fine on steep banking. Horses for courses.

Then he shows me this interesting link to a pretty comprehensive wheel test. Have a good look. Wow. Pretty impressive, eh?

Whilst I'm not sure I ride "power on" at 50kmh very often, it's nice to know all these tested wheels are better than a 36-spoker at doing just that - if only by 15-30W! If I was a TTer I'd be going Zipp, but I guess I knew that already. Ksyriums would be a bad choice in a TT or a fast breakaway, at least above 40kmh. I wonder what the power loss is like significantly below 50kmh - negligible, I suspect. And what forks did they use in the test, if any? You'd imagine an aero fork would smooth the flow. And tyres? There's probably a good compromise here but I don't think I can pick it... although they reckon the Shimano is good all round. I guess as they say, it depends on the "domain" you need to use the wheels in... TT, crit, road, training, a combo of events etc etc. And how much $$ you have!!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Tour Down Under result

Just finished watching the TDU on TV. It was McEwen, Renshaw (against the barriers, protesting - but why go there??) and Davis in the final stage. Martin Elmiger from AG2R takes the overall win in the 9th Tour Down Under by just three seconds, his sprinting making the diff.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Team T-Mobile 2007

Clean-rider philosophy aside (good though that is) T-Mobile has one hell of a good squad this year. Both male and female teams are packed with talent. With tour-riders and TTers like Rogers and Gonchar, sprinters like Ciolek... it's a big, strong team. The women's team is also impressive with riders like Wood, Rhodes, Arndt... wow. Also interesting is the new management and support staff like Alan Peiper. Pencil T-Mobile in for some success in '07.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Whoops - a case study on aluminium seat post fatigue

My message for the day: if ever you find your saddle pointing slightly off to one side, don't assume that the seatpost is loose and has rotated slightly in the seat tube. It may in fact be about to do something quite a bit more dramatic.

Yes, it was sudden. I had just put my tyre sock on the bike, so I had looked at the offending part. I saw no cracks. I rode just 2kms and went around a big downward curve at 53kmh. After the curve I noticed the saddle was very slightly skewiff. I checked it 3 or 4 times 'on the move' before slowing to round another, sharper curve at about 25kmh. As I rounded it I stood and then accelerated to exit. I was in a mood to keep up the pace today. However when I went to sit on the saddle it simply collapsed. And yes, I managed to fall off and yes, it hurt.

For the record it was a 16 year old 3TTT 25mm post on a Look KG76. I should have kept a closer eye on it, and cleaned it more often, looking for cracks. I knew that aluminium does let go suddenly, and now I can attest that when it splits it does it in a blink, like a knife through butter. High fatigue items with no redundancy (ie single point of failure with no other support) should be on your list of must-checks.

There are more images here, for the curious.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Jayco Bay series 2007

Renshaw won the big race of the day but (being parochial and all) Central Coast CC rider Dale Scarfe has had a great win and jointly leads the support races at the Bay series. There's a nice shot on the site of Dale winning, too:

Looks like he won by the throw!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

And a mention for Steve Hogg and Cyclefit

I used to race with Randwick Botany and train with a guy called Steve Hogg - he set up a bike shop in '89 and has since become something of a maverick cycle-fit guru. I say maverick because he likes to debunk the cycle-fitment conventions that rely on human biometric "averages". He believes in finding your own most comfortable, powerful position, not relying upon dodgy positional percentages or rules of thumb. Check out his website here.

Thought about pedals lately?

Apart from small differences between brands like Look and Time and a somewhat bigger gap to Speedplay and Keywin, pedals are pedals. The bigger choices are between clipless and clip and strap, and cleat forward vs cleat back; all have fundamental influences upon how you pedal and the efficiency obtained. So how about this: a side-mounted pedal system. The makers claim a 3-4% biomechanical efficiency improvement, which is nothing to sneeze at... although it removes all chance of riding in sneakers, doesn't it?