Tag Archives: SRAM

Tale of Two Giants

It is done. I finally have the two Giant TCR Advanced frames built up. This all started back in September and is ending here in February. Now I’ll have another choice to make whenever I decide to go for a ride — do I ride white, or do I ride black?

Back when I joined the POA Cycling Team, I sold my Specialized Tarmac Pro and my first road bike, a Specialized Allez Elite, in order to get the team bike – a black 2009 TCR Advanced with Force components. It was a great bike and I was glad I made the switch.  However, the problem it created was that I only had one bike.

2009 Giant TCR Advanced

2009 Giant TCR Advanced

Now, for most people that isn’t a problem. What I found for me was that I often ran into situations where I would have the bike in the shop for a tune-up or to have something fixed that I had broken, and I would be bike-less. I came to regret getting rid of both of those bikes.

That was never more the case than in September 2009 when I was taken out in a race. The black Giant was cracked on the top tube. I had no bike at all.

Thankfully, Giant sent me a replacement frame. To make things nicer, it was a 2010 Giant TCR Advanced. I was able to build it up with 2010 SRAM Force components. It was the bike I used to ride the relay from Greenville to Austin in October.

2010 Giant TCR Advanced

2010 Giant TCR Advanced

When Giant sent me the new frame, they did not request me to return the old one. At first I didn’t know what to do with it. Then a friend of mine told me that he had a frame fixed with Calfee Design. I looked into it and found that for a little over $300 I could get the black frame fixed.

So, I sent it off and received it about the time we placed the team order for 2010 SRAM parts for the team. It is way too good of a deal to pass up and I decided to snag some Red components. The plan was to move the Force group to the black TCR Advanced and put the Red group on the white TCR Advanced.

FINALLY, after months it all came together. Then I couldn’t decide which bike to use as my primary bike! That is important because my one Quarq CinQo powermeter is in the crank – a SRAM S900. The number 1 bike would need to have that crank.

After a bit of deliberation, I decided to go with my original plans. I get differing reactions from people regarding the look of the two bikes. Some like the white. Some like the black. I think I like the both.

Maybe I’ll be able to find a way to get power on the black bike and I’ll be able to switch between the two of them more often. I could ride the one that best fits the mood of the day! More importantly, I’ll have a bike to ride whether one is in the shop or not.

Now… if the snow would just clear from the roads so I could ride one of them…

Ebony and ivory

Ebony and ivory

Seeing Red

It took awhile for my part of the team order to arrive from SRAM. It gave me time to consider the bike on which I would put the components. I finally decided on the white Giant.

SRAM Red is finally on the bike

SRAM Red is finally on the bike

John James, at Sunshine Cycle Shop, normally puts my bikes together, but he is out of commission with a broken collar bone.  John isn’t going to be building bikes any time soon! He broke it Sunday and won’t have surgery until next week. Thankfully, Mike stepped in and built up the bike yesterday.

Ouch!

Ouch!

The only bad thing is that I was stuck on the trainer yesterday for my hour and a half session. Thankfully, there was a program on National Geographic Channel about the Bugatti Veyron.  Wow! The speed is impressive, but the technology behind it is incredible!

Bugatti Veyron - top speed 253 mph

Bugatti Veyron - top speed 253 mph

The technology behind the SRAM shifters is pretty cool too. It took me a little bit to get used to the double-click action when I first switched over a couple years ago. Now, I can’t imagine using any other option.

Yes, it looks great and that is part of the allure. It also has saved me several grams in weight. Besides, any cyclist will tell you there is nothing like a new set of components.

I’m ready to roll for 2010. Even on the trainer the shift action felt great. The road is going to feel even better. Stay tuned for some pictures as soon as the weather cooperates.

SRAM Red, White, and Black

What do I do now? Before Christmas I ordered some components as part of my POA Cycling Team deal with SRAM. I’m certain John, at Sunshine Cycle Shop, grew weary of me asking when the order would arrive. Well, I’ll pester him no longer. The order arrived yesterday.

Now I’m left with a quandary. Which frame do I put the components on? The white Giant or the black one?

2009 (black) and 2010 (white) TCR Advanced frames

2009 (black) and 2010 (white) TCR Advanced frames

My original intention was to move the ’09 Force group from the white bike to the black bike and then build up the white one with the ’10 Red group. With that in mind I ordered a new Force crank so I could keep my SRAM S900 with the Quarq CinQo on the white bike.

That would have full Red on the white bike except for the crank and full Force on the black bike. It all made perfect sense until some friends told me I should consider racing the black frame with the Force group and leave the white frame and the Red for the cookie rides. The idea makes sense.

Let’s face it, there really isn’t that much of a difference in the components. Yes, the Red is lighter with a slightly different construction, but when it comes to someone at my skill level it really doesn’t make that much difference. I hate to say it, but it really comes down to what looks good.

That is the problem. Since I only have one Quarq CinQo and I am training this year, I have to keep the powermeter crank on the bike that I plan to race. Unless I plan to mix the Force crank with the remaining Red group, I have to keep the Red stuff with the S900.

I’m leaning heavily toward my original plan – build the white Giant up with the Red group and the CinQo. The black bike would then be all Force. If looks count for anything, that is definitely the way to go.

2010 Giant TCR Advanced

2010 Giant TCR Advanced

Then again… if I race the white Giant, I will be the only POA rider on a white bike — all the other Giant frames on the team are black. Also, the black frame is the repaired frame and keeping the white frame out of the racing action would keep it safer. Who cares if the black frame gets nicked?

2009 Giant TCR Advanced

2009 Giant TCR Advanced

Then again… you only live once and that white frame is really sweet. With the Red group on it, that white Giant is going to stand out… though I have to admit the black frame just looks more menacing.

Silly, isn’t it?

Help!!!! I can’t make up my mind!

Riding in style and fast by the mile

Gave the Giant an over haul yesterday.  It started with the shifters and ended with me rolling out the door to test some Zipp 202 tubeless wheels.  I rolled out on my Thursday night ride with an illegal bike.

At 6.4 kilograms (14.12 pounds) the Giant was slightly under the legal weight limit according to UCI rules.  But hey, I wasn’t racin’, I was just out for a ride with the guys.  The only illegal activities we were worried about was us rolling through a stop sign. (If you are a cyclist in Greenville right now, you know what I’m talking about.)

First, the shifters – that is how this all started.  I love the SRAM group.  However, I have broken two of the shifters in the same spot over the last couple of months.  Yes, both times were when I have wrecked.  I do believe that the shifters could avoid this weak point with a little different engineering.  The nice folks at SRAM said they would “take it under advisement.”

They also sent me a new pair of shifters.  Sure, I had to pay $200 for them, but they are 2010.  They are pretty sweet looking – borrowing some of the styling cues from the the SRAM Red group – and are slightly lighter than the 2009 pair I broke.

2010 SRAM Force shifters

2010 SRAM Force shifters

The action is crisp.  Of course, as my teammate Reece is often heard to say, “Ah, new cables, it’s like getting a brand new bike!”  How much of the improved feel was due to the new cables and tune up and how much was due to the design of the new shifters, I don’t know.  All I do know is that I was flying through those gears with a minimum of motion.

Did I mention they look cool? Throw in some red bar tape, hoods, and cable housing and we’ve got a little bling action going.  It even matches my new seat.

The 2010 Specialized Body Geometry Toupe Team saddle (that is a mouth full!) is an improvement on my favorite saddle.  I love the Toupe saddle because it is a minimal carbon saddle that gives a comfortable ride because the carbon flexes.

2010 Specialized Toupe saddle

2010 Specialized Toupe saddle

The only problem I had with my previous saddle was that all my wrecks had torn up the edges of the saddle and it was beginning to tear up my shorts.  After one ride on my new saddle I realize another issue I had with the 2009 Toupe without realizing it.  The 2010 model gave me a noticeably better ride.

The reason for the better ride is the material used to make the seat.  The previous model was leather and was quite slippery.  You found yourself sliding around on the seat.  Sliding is the enemy of a comfortable posterior!  This model held me in place while keeping the flex that I had come to enjoy.  It has something to do with the “micromatrix” material used to cover it.  It is a noticeable improvement – in a case where I didn’t think one was necessary.

Oh yeah, those wheels.  The Zipp 202 carbon wheels with tubeless tires made my bike as light as a feather.  If I had purchased them, I would have found my bank account to be light as a feather!  Still, it was fun to try out something so light without the guilt of spending a couple grand on them.

Zipp 202 carbon wheels

Zipp 202 carbon wheels

What I liked… these things are fast.  I had to be careful as I was following other riders because the wheels got up to speed fast and then held it.  I was coming up much faster on leading riders as we rode out in a double pace line.  Improved acceleration was noticeable and the rolling resistance minimal.

Climbing was also done with ease – relatively speaking, of course.  The problem with was that several times I think I over did it as I tested out the wheels and was pretty much worn out by the time I reached Paris Mountain.  That is  when I really wanted the wheels to give me an advantage.

We had ridden over 25 miles by the time we started up and we had been smokin’ fast up to that point.  We slowed just a bit before reaching the bottom because Billy had fallen back – he had been fighting stomach issues.  John with Barley’s happened along and paced him back to us.

Typically after an effort like that it takes me between 13 to 13.5 minutes to climb Altamont.  I did the first half last night in 5 minutes and 40 seconds.  However, about 9 minutes in I knew I was in  trouble.  Still, I have to say things would have been much worse without the wheels.

I was on The Wall when I looked down to see my computer read 12 minutes 3 seconds.  There would be no PB for me tonight.  I could have pushed it and pulled off a 12:30.  That is a minute faster than normal for this ride.  However, I didn’t see the need and just sat up and meandered over the KOM line.

What I didn’t like about the wheels was the roughness of the ride.  They didn’t seem as rough as I had been led to believe they would be, but it certainly was not as smooth as my current wheels.  The braking on the carbon rim was also an issue.  It was, as I put it, herky-jerky. They were also noisy.  They seemed to flex and rub on my brake pads when I was under load.

Now, it could be that this was all because I had put these wheels on for just this test.  Perhaps some of the noises I was hearing would have cleared up had the bike been dialed in specifically for the wheel set.  Certainly, these wheels were made for climbing!

The primary thing that would keep me off of them would be the price.  They are so expensive, I would be near a panic attack each time I would ride them in a pack.  I also think that even with the added weight, I would prefer an aluminum braking surface.

One mean Giant machine!

One mean Giant machine!

It was great fun to climb on what seemed essentially to be a new bike.  Yep, Reece, what you say is true, “New cables… It’s like having a brand new bike.”  Oh, don’t forget about that new seat!

Get ready to rumble… or fly

My 2009 race license just arrived. It represents a number of my goals for this year. While last year I put more focus on distance and organized centuries, this year I plan to put more focus on racing. Next year? Who knows.

My 2009 USA Cycling License

My 2009 USA Cycling License

Yep, I’ll be turning 41 on the 21st of this month. Interestingly enough, that is the first race of the Greenville Spring Series. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t hoping to do well that day. Still, the season isn’t a day and there is a good chance that we’ll have 18 plus races in the Greenville area this year.

That race will be my first real race as a cat. 4. I did double up back in October and do about nine laps in the cat. 4 criterium after racing in and winning the cat. 5 race. Doubling up is not easy! So, I consider this my first true attempt.

Track? The stars would have to align in some miraculous fashion for you to ever see me on a track. Then to get me racing on a track… There is more of a chance that you might see me someday attempting a cyclo-cross race.

I started riding on a mountain bike and I love riding one. Still, I don’t think I am cut out to be a MTB racer. Picking my way around boulders and trees is one thing… careening over and into them is entirely another!

My club is the Greenville Spinners Bicycle Club. It is also my “team.” Most of the teams out there on a given race in Greenville are not truly “teams” in the technical sense of the word. The only official teams are those sanctioned by the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale).

The Spinners club is a great way to start into organized racing. Basically, if you pay the fee and wear the colors, you can be a member of the club team. There is an amount of racing as a team, but it is typically more informal and just a step above being unattached.

There are other club teams that are more selective. Perhaps if I have a good year, I’ll get invited to “move up” to one of those teams. Those teams are still simply clubs, but are smaller and have a little more structure to them come race day.

I’ll tell you one thing, there are some riders out there this year that are going to be flying — at least if the weight of their bikes counts for anything. I stopped by Hincapie Sportswear to pick up a cap I had left there this weekend. The Scott frames had just arrived.

Those frames were like paper — but very stiff. With the full range of SRAM Red components and the light weight Fi´zi:k saddles, they are going to have to find some heavier wheels just to keep those machines legal!  Can’t wait to see Chris Butler’s time up Paris Mountain with this rocket.