Monday, January 26, 2009

Kelly's Parlee - Too cool not to talk about!

I don't have too many words for this one other than "too cool"!


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:


"Peeling paint" effect and custom Mercian font detals by Creative Cycle Works.

The brand new 7900 series Dura Ace rear derailleur and color matched Nokon housing.

Custom painted Zipp Vuma Quad cranks w/ Dura Ace pedals.

Limited Edition Race XXX Lite carbon brake calipers. Want some? Get your order in fast, only 500 are being made! The first 100 are already gone!

Thanks for reading!

Trek ProjectOne Up and Running...

They're here....

Click for larger photo...I hope to have pictures of the actual bikes this week - these are from projectone.trekbikes.com


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

Bontrager InForm RL Saddle - Follow up.


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.

Again the seat is a little on the hard side. This is not a "comfort road" saddle by any means. It is certainly for the rider who is accustomed to riding high-performance "racing" type saddles or is looking to upgrade to such a saddle. The slim profile and harder, denser padding does exactly what I have long said the ideal saddle should do: support you where you need support and then stay out of the way. The dense padding also does an acceptable job of cushioning the rider from the larger bumps in the road. But for the rider who may require more padding or gel to be comfortable; the InForm series will not fit the bill.

So, my final thoughts are that I'll definitely keep the InForm on at least one bike - likely the Waterford as my other bikes typically do service on shorter rides often while I'm not wearing padded shorts - so the slight gel padding of my Selle Italia Flite Gel Flow saddles work nicely for me.

The difference in width between the Flite and the InForm were not noticed. I didn't notice the lack of the cut-out on the InForm. I did end up adjusting my saddle height down just a little as the saddle does not flex as much under weight nor do you sink in to the padding.

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.

Bottom line: worth a try and with Bontrager's 90-day comfort guarantee; you can't lose.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Bontrager InForm RL Saddle: First Impression

"So, what's really new in saddles that Bontrager could have discovered...isn't this really just the same song, second verse?"

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!