Monday, December 31, 2012
It occurred to me the other day that many of the websites that people use for visual reference and technical purposes are owned, run, and maintained by manufacturers or distributors. These groups will keep photos up until the products are out of production for a set time and then in the interest of clearing space on their servers; delete the photos and the information that goes with them.
I'm hoping to assemble a collection of photos to represent some of the greatest componentry the bicycle industry has known as a repository and reference resource. So; today I have launched the following websites:
For generations of Shimano Dura Ace: duraacephotos.blogspot.com
For generations of Campagnolo groups: campygroups.blogspot.com
I will be adding to these sites as I sift through my own collection from bikes I have sold, repaired, or fitted; but I welcome your submissions as well.
Unique photos from rare items like Campagnolo's Delta brakes, the 50th anniversary group or Shimano's AX group would be great examples. Contact me if you would like to contribute. Otherwise, visit the sites and enjoy!
Friday, February 27, 2009
So, here's the run down on the build kit: Frame Module: 2009 Trek Madone 6.5 Pro, 52cm; Wheels: Bontrager Race X Lite; Group: Shimano Dura Ace 7900 w/ 7950 compact crankset; Handlebar: Bontrager Race X Lite Carbon Blade; Stem: Bontrager Race XXX Lite Carbon Road; Pictured accessories: Bontrager Race X Lite Carbon bottle cages; Bontrager Air Rush CO2 mini-pump. Weight as pictured: 14.8 lbs (Including cages, pump, CO2, and yes, reflectors...)
Just a few notes for interested readers: This is one of our first assembly jobs with the new 7900 kit, and there's a few things that really jumped out at us. Shimano is known for continuous improvement and innovation and 7900 is no exception. Every bit from the shifters to the barrel adjusters has seemingly been scrutinized for improved function and feel. Just try this next time you get a chance to touch some 7900 stuff (especially if there is 7800 or 6600 Ultegra nearby...): grab the brake barrel adjuster and give it a twist. Smooth, light action but still solid
and you know that adjuster will hold it's position. Now twist the 7800 or Ultegra adjuster: solid, confidence inspiring, but not as smooth or effortless. Shimano doesn't miss a detail!
As many (including myself) have reported, the STI lever shape feels great in the hand and the brakes are SOLID! The shift action is light and precise and the front derailleur shifts especially smooth compared to previous generations. A product of the years of research and innovation Shimano has put into their chainrings - not to mention the super-stiff hollow outer chainring. The rear derailleur's capacity has been changed from a 27 tooth large cog to a 28 tooth cog - an important little change for those of you hoping to drop your triple cranks and enjoy the advantages of compact cranks.
As for the Madone: The 6-series is of course the top-of-the-line. The frame that's too light for Trek's pro-team: Astana. And the only thing the 6.5 is missing from it's "big brother", the 6.9 is the carbon wheels. Shanna's Pro-geometry frame uses the same geometry as the original Madone bikes and Trek's legendary 5000 series bikes (5200, 5500, 5900); the best selling carbon-fiber bikes on the planet. If it's not broken - don't fix it, right? Otherwise, aside from adding a replaceable aluminum derailleur hanger - the frame module is unchanged from last-year's debut version. Shanna's handlebar and stem will provide a smooth, comfy ride while being stiff enough to "wrench" on the bars in a sprint or climbing that last hill before the finish line.
So, what do you think? Great finished piece, huh? Shanna didn't change her bike too much from the original spec - but we did make some adjustments to the dimensions of the handlebars, cranks, and seat cap - exercising what Trek has created to be the best build-to-order program available from a major manufacturer. You just can't get this kind of versatility from anyone without buying just a frameset and build-kit separately and potentially paying a premium.
Thoughts? Questions? Leave a comment and I'll reply.
Thanks for reading!
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Of specific interest is the new line of Bontrager Shoes which I've written about on my other site, here. Bontrager has applied its "InForm" comfort-oriented fit philosophy; which it debuted on their InForm series of saddles last year, to footwear. I had a chance to try them on at Trek World last August and I was impressed. I'm really excited to fit some clients to some and see their reactions - because these are not your "normal" cycling shoes. By building the shoe to accomodate custom orthotics and using a proprietary, customizable footbed by eSoles the InForm shoes offer very competitive fitting options right out of the box. The "derby" cut of the upper (where the opening for the tongue of the shoe is cut all the way down to the toe) creates a greater amount of versatility to accomodate a broader range of foot widths without having to create a separate line of shoes for wide or narrow feet like many brands have done.
My previous postings (linked above) have some pictures and good information about the shoes - but for more, check out this story (and recent photos) at VeloNews.com.
The AToC also marked an important milestone for my friends at Parlee Cycles. The Fly V Australia Cycling Team is a new partner with Parlee and marks an important re-entry into professional bike racing.
What's that? You don't remember Parlee being a sponsor for any other pro team in the past? Well, they weren't. But their Z1 model was a popular choice a few years ago for pros to have custom built and then re-labeled with their official sponsor's logos - Tyler Hamilton being one of the most commonly cited examples riding a Look-badged Z1 for a season; riding it to 2nd place in the Giro d'Italia in 2002.
The Fly V team will be using Parlee's stock Z4 model for road duties - proving that the Massachusetts-based boutique carbon company's "base" model is fully capable of withstanding the rigors of pro-team punishment. But, probably the biggest news is the broad unveiling of the new TT model - which has been making trade-show appearances (and winning awards) for a few years now and finally started shipping to consumers in 2008. The Fly V squad's TT bikes will be the first view a lot of people get of the actual production version.
I had a chance to talk with Bob Parlee about the TT bike about a year ago at the North American Hand Made Bicycle Show in Portland, Oregon as I was helping to man their booth. You see, Bob's experience with composites and fluid-dynamics; which he honed as an accomplished designer and builder of America's Cup class racing boats is part of the secret of Parlee's success with bicycles. There are very few builders - large or small - that have as vast a knowledge of these two areas as the namesake of Parlee Cycles. Bob understands that a lot of the bicycles consumers see and buy have fancy shapes that look fast and stiff and efficient - but looks aren't everything.
In the particular case of the Parlee TT, Bob designed the frame based around low speed NACA proven sections to be low-drag at a variety of yaw angles for maximum aero efficiency and used the internal lay-up schedule to determine the frame's stiffness and ride quality. In boat racing - all of those dips, bumps, jogs, and swoops that might make a shell look cool can make it slower and weaker in the water. Well, water just behaves like dense air; so why shouldn't the same principles apply? Use the outside to make it fast. Use the inside to make it stiff, comfy, and well-mannered. It will be fun to see how Fly V performs on their sweet rides this year.
For great stories with lots of photos on both bikes - head over to Bikeradar.com and VeloNews.com!
-Bikeradar.com: David Kemp's Fly V Parlee TT
-VeloNews.com: Phil Zajicek's Fly V Parlee Z4
And, of course, for your own look at a Parlee - check out Bike Gallery! The 2008 floor models have been marked down and are ready to find new homes! Contact me or leave a comment for more info.
Thanks for reading!
Monday, January 26, 2009
Kelly works at the Bike Gallery store in Lake Oswego and this is his new Parlee Z3, which he had custom painted. Build kit: 7900 DuraAce w/ Zipp Vuma Quad cranks, Bontrager Race XXX Lite carbon clincher wheels, Bontrager Limited Edition Race XXX Lite carbon brake calipers, Ritchey WCS Carbon Streem handlebar, and the requisite Chris King headset (it's not a nice bike from Portland without one. I get away with my Cane Creeks because technically, my bikes are from Nashville!) According to Kelly: 14.4 lbs as shown.
I'll let Kelly tell the rest of the story with pictures. If we're lucky, maybe I'll be able to entice him into a ride report! Here's some selections from the link Kelly e-mailed me:
So the long awaited arrival of the new batch of custom and semi-custom Madones from Trek are now rolling in. We have several on order at the store (both for stock and for clients); and we've received two at the Beaverton store already which are excellent examples of what is possible through the program. And, in the case of the bikes pictured - the choices shown are at no additional charge!
Not too long ago, the drawback to owning the best selling carbon fiber bicycle in the industry was the fact that it seemed everyone else had one too! While we cyclists are not all self absorbed attention sponges - if you just dropped several thousand dollars on your new dream bike - it would be nice if your bike was somewhat unique at the next club ride. Enter: Trek's ProjectOne.
The early generations of the program provided custom paint colors and schemes and some limited component upgrades or exchanges. However, there was a minimal "buy-in" fee to the program, and you were still confined to the crank length, cassette size, stem length and rise, handlebar width, and seatpost dimensions that came stock with the size of bike you were ordering. If your riding style, fitting requirements, or personal preferences demanded otherwise, it was the job of the store you were working with to work that out with you - usually at another upcharge. Many individuals ended up with extra cranks, stems, and handlebars that they'd never use (or stores ended up with a bin of used parts in odd sizes they would never be able to sell...).
In Trek's continuing quest for moreloyal and satisfied riders and more successful dealers; they tweaked their new ProjectOne program to offer more options, faster turnaround, and lower costs. (For other details on the program, see my post on Road Bikes - Trek World '09.) Now we can determine the correct size frame from three stock geometries; the correct mix of stem, handlebar, seatpost, and cranklength; customize the gearing to your preferences and riding style, and offer component upgrades and exchanges between several different groups from Shimano, Campagnolo, and Sram's newest componetry options and Bontrager's extensive wheel line-up. All while offering multiple paint schemes - so your bike is not just another "Me-Too" high-end custom hot rod. Most of those options are at no additional fee! Just pay the retail difference in the price of the chosen parts versus the original specifications. This orange ProjectOne Madone 5.2 has gotten a lot of attention at the store. Only the drivetrain was left stock. The custom options shown are a long list: Paint scheme and color; wheel color, tire type and color, stem type and color, seatpost length and offset, saddle type and color, cable housing color, and handlebar tape type and color.
Three or four "basic" color schemes are available on any 5- or 6-series Madone (three unique schemes for WSD models, four for standard models). Then, for an additional cost other hand painted custom paint schemes are offered which often allow custom color choices and name personalization. If you choose to upgrade to Bontrager Aeolus-series wheels on your bike, you'll even have the option to select wheel decals that complement your paint scheme! I must admit that this is very tempting to me - as I love those wheels and I can't resist a fully color coordinated bike!
So, head on over to projectone.trekbikes.com and start building! If nothing else, it's a fun tool to play with - even if you're not looking for a new bike. Better yet, head over there and build something to use as a goal to aim for in this new year! Reach your goal: lose weight, ride a century, complete a half-ironman, get a new job, spend more time with your family, or whatever it may be - and get a new custom Madone!
In the mean time; here's a photo from the ProjectOne website of my current dream bike: Madone Pro, 60cm, Dura Ace 7900, green Aeolus 5.0 PowerTap wheels, Race X Lite handlebar, stem, and saddle. Retail: $10,195.15!
Questions or thoughts? Leave a comment and I'll post a follow-up comment.
Thanks for reading!
Friday, January 16, 2009
So I've been so lax in posting that I have had people tracking me down at work for updates on some of the things I've left hanging out there...namely the Bontrager InForm Saddle that I've been riding lately. (Jeff, again - thanks for the effort in tracking me down...I hope you're enjoying your new saddle.) So, thanks for humoring me while I get caught up. And for those of you who have been waiting for some resolution on things; it's coming - thanks for your patience. And, without further adieu: my final analysis on the InForm RL saddle from Bontrager.
First - if you've not yet read my initial write up on this saddle; read the previous post. The following will make much more sense if you read this all in sequence.
I have long since passed my 10-hour self-imposed timeline for testing a product. My long term impression is not too different from my initial thoughts on the seat. It's actually quite comfortable and the claims about size-specific arc and proportions that Bontrager makes (backed-up by some not too heavily publicized research) do seem to be well-founded and correct.
Little notes from the first post on the saddle:
1) No abnormal wear after 10+ hours. Still looks new. Ought to hold up well
2) Plastic "pointy" cap under nose of saddle still grabs at certain shorts - but only mildly irritating.
3)I slid the seat further forward after a couple of rides as it seemed I was riding more to the rear of the saddle than on my Selle Italia saddles. This was done all by feel and I have not had anyone evaluate my knee position in relation to my pedals on the Bontrager to see if the adjustment was well founded keen observation or me just "feeling" something that wasn't real.
If there are any loose ends that I didn't tie up, or you have other questions; leave a comment and I'll answer as best as I can.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
At first look, you might think this. Bontrager's been doing saddles for a while and not really settled on any one distinct, definitive technology or characteristic to make them truly unique. And now, just like a lot of other top saddle companies; they're doing saddles in multiple widths - nothing new, right? Wrong.
The multiple widths is just a portion of what Bontrager has discovered in their research to make saddles more comfortable for more people. The other part of this is to have the correct arc to the saddle to support your sit bones, allow the proper amount of contact area, and then stay out of the way. So, each saddle does not only have a unique width and profile; but also a unique arc to the back portion of the seat. Ultimately, the idea is that a center cut-out section will not be necessary because you are sitting above the body of the saddle more; rather than on the body of the saddle. I'll admit - I was intrigued.
So I got one. Truthfully; I was given one - at Trek World - after being measured by a Trek employee for the proper width; I was given a InForm RL saddle in trendy white with silver trim.
Now, some history. I'm a die-hard cut-out saddle rider. I currently own 4 Selle Italia cut-out saddles and have ridden somewhere between 15,000 and 20,000 miles in great comfort on these saddles. The Flite Gel Flow has become my favorite saddle of all time and I'm a huge fan of that cut out. But when something comes along that claims to make the cut-out not necessary, my ears perk up and I get curious. So I have to test this out.
So, last Friday I fitted the InForm RL to my trusty Waterford before a quick one hour ride. I have the 146mm width (medium) as indicated by my measurements on Bontrager's proprietary InForm measuring system. (For what it's worth - I measure the same on both the Bontrager system and on Specialized's BodyGeometry system. I've been measured multiple times on both systems; by a trained individual and done by myself with the same result each time - so both systems seem to provide objective and repeatable data - which speaks well to the thought that both companies have put into the system.
The first thing I noticed on the ride was that the saddle has a really rigid shell right out of the box - so I'm curious to see how it breaks in. On the first ride it never really bothered me; but I certainly felt as if I was riding on top of it rather than the saddle "cradling" me as my well-broken-in Selle Italia saddles do. But, I'm slow to evaluate a saddle on the first ride. I really like to give them about 10 hours of riding to really let it break in nicely. Because the fact is; regardless of what kind of terrain I'm riding or what my fitness level is - 10 hours is always 10 hours. It might be 170 miles or 200+ miles; but it's always 10 hours. So I'll certainly report back after that time has elapsed, but so far I think the results will be favorable.
One gripe: the plastic cap under the nose of the saddle has some points aimed toward the ground on it. These points catch my shorts as my leg brushes the nose of the saddle on the up portion of my pedal stroke. This has never been a problem on my Flite saddles; as the nose's side sections extend downward nicely - which works great for riders with big thighs like myself. I only find the catching mildly irritating and I forget about it after a while - but we'll see if there are any wear issues after 10 hours of riding.
As of today, I'm about a quarter of the way done - no time in my schedule for a really long ride - and all is well. I'll report back at the end of my test; but if things feel at least as good then as they do now; I might be saving up for the RXL!
Thanks for reading!
Monday, June 2, 2008
Something myself and the industry press at large have been talking about for some time now - and here it finally is: Just in time for the Tour de France.
The Velonews.com story has some great technical info which rings true with what my inside source with Shimano had told me about the group (but made me promise not to say...). I'll certainly be waiting anxiously to finally get my hands on it - and you'll read about it here when I finally do!
Until then; look here for the details:
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
World Champ Julien Absalon.
Finally, as I alluded to earlier - we have some fitting tool upgrades coming soon. It's mostly the kind of things that bike fit geeks like myself get excited about - but I'll post about them none the less. It's all about serving you better.
Thanks for reading!
Saturday, May 24, 2008
The components include: Campagnolo Record UT Compact group, Fulcrum Racing 3 wheelset, Campagnolo Record Carbon seatpost, Ritchey WCS Ligic alloy handlebar, Ritchey WCS 4-axis carbon matrix stem, Selle Italia Flite Gel Flow saddle. No compromises! Weight with Shimano Dura Ace pedals: 16.29 lbs!