Karlee the Mavic rep called the other day and asked if I wanted to see the new R-SYS wheelset, the new top-of-the-line all-around wheels from Mavic. These puppies are slotted to come in above last year’s $1200 Ksyrium ES wheelset (ya know, the black wheels with a
single red spoke). Yeah, bring’em.
When she shows up, she whips out the wheels and asks me if I want to try ‘em out. She even tarted’em up with my favourite Michelins. Of course, I’ll take them for a gentle twirl. I’ll be right back…
I slip the wheels onto my filthy Davidson pave-basher and did a quick circuit of the steep and tortured portions of Blanchard and Lenora and a little brick-pounding slamdance through the Pike Place Market.
A silly riding test? Au contraire!
Blanchard and Lenora are at least 10% grade maybe as much as 15%, and I launched full-sprint up. The big deal about the R-SYS is that they are supposed to be laterally stiff. My impression? They are stiffer than my Bontrager Race Lites, but they don’t beat my high-flanged, 36-spoke track wheels for laterally stiff. These R-SYS are stiff compared to other wheelsets in their light weight class; they wouldn’t win if weight wasn’t a factor.
A quick turn and run down those same streets revealed a unexpectedly smooth ride coming down. I am well familiar with how Lenora feels going down over the broken pavement…because it’s my route to work and being 20 minutes late to work everyday (35min today, bitch!) encourages me to let it rip on the way in.
Then I dove into the Pike Place Market. I thought I might jump up and down off the sidewalks there, but the market is so busy that there’s no clear space on the sidewalk to land. Instead, I used tourists like slalom poles and knifed my way through the crowds and cars. I found the wheels to be vertically compliant and precise in turning.
The R-SYS use 4mm tubular, hollow carbon spokes in front and rear non-drive-side positions, with Zircal alloy spokes from the Ksyrium on the drive-side. The tubular carbon spokes provide resistance to compressive loads on the spoke. You can read elsewhere about what’s so grand about that; I’m not really interested in breaking down the physics of all that. However, I will say that the compression spoke is certainly not a new idea…in fact compression spokes have existed for millennia. This just happens to be a highly engineered re-invention of…well, of the wheel.
Interesting details I noticed: since the 4mm round spokes won’t accept a normal magnet, there is a built-in magnetic for your cyclo-computer. It’s a ring of high-power magnetic material that slides on the spoke on the left side of the front wheel and is held in place by two plastic clips. I don’t see how you can remove the magnet without removing the spoke…so if you have a computer that counts off the rear wheel, I guess you’re screwed. The “nipples” seem to tighten in the same way that the Ksyrium SL and ES do, but R-SYS ones are anodized acid yellow as are the hub-side anchors for the carbon spokes. The rims and hub shells are polished silver. Unlike the ES, there is no carbon used in the hub shells.
I ordered 3 sets of these $1400 wheels, one for the demo program. In about 2-3 weeks you can come down and test these wheels for yourself. But I warn ya, I ain’t so trusting as Karlee. You wanna take these wheels for a spin, as collateral I want your driver’s license, a credit card, and if she’s of age, your daughter. I’ll be gentle if you are.
Update We Ride: Stone Way/Fremont Wednesday August 1
Meetup:4:30 (Gasworks) Ride:5-6pm
Join Seattle Likes Bikes tonight at 6:00 pm, leaving from Gasworks for a ride through lower Fremont to draw attention to the Stone Way gap. The plan for complete streets along Stone Way North, as outlined in the Bike Master Plan, has been under attack, leaving a gap between North 40th and 34th streets without any bike facilities.
Today from Cacade’s Breaking News:
Should anti-bike efforts succeed, it would set a horrible precedent. Moreover, it would embolden cycling-opponents to strip other corridors from the plan. If this happens, no part of the $240 million, 450-mile bicycle facility network is safe.
Show your support now and contact the Seattle City Council! The future of the Bike Master Plan depends on it.
The Seattle bicycle community enjoyed a huge victory this week, many thanks to Cascade and their work with the Burke-Gilman Legal Defense Fund. Finding in favor of a petition challenging the City of Lake Forrest Park’s Ordinance 951 (organized by Cascade), the Central Puget Sound Growth Management Hearings Board agreed that the route is an important part of the regional transportation and recreation facilities.
The Burke-Gilman trail serves as a vital non-motorized transportation artery throughout the City of Seattle and connecting residents to cities north and east. The current trail running through the City of Lake Forrest Park is horribly managed and in need of serious attention. Crossing many residential streets, trail users face poorly-placed stop signs every couple hundred feet in addition to severely cracked and dangerous pavement. This ruling allows King County to bring the current section of trail up to current safety standards, better serving walkers, runners, roller-bladers and cyclists alike.
“The stakes were huge. Today, we closed the door on cities that want to apply unsafe or non-standard conditions to regional trails, thereby impeding the development and maintenance of trails according to accepted, uniform standards,” said David Hiller, Cascade Bicycle Club Advocacy Director. “This case sets a precedent for all future trail development and reconstruction.”
“This new scandal has left me K.O.’d. Since the start, they talked only of doping on Belgian television. And now, I learn that Vinokourov has played with his blood and that he’s leaving. It might be a good thing. We know now that it’s difficult to cheat and those who break the rules are caught. But, for me, that’s the end of cycling. And, I hope, the start of other things”
Reactions continue (rider protests and Rasmoo was boo’d) and I spoke to lots of people in the bike industry yesterday and the consensus was, “yes, sad, but our market doesn’t care too mich about le Tour or racing and that’s who we’re focusing on.”
With Interbike coming up, the Fall, and another bike season, I expect many are thinking of “other things” than racing. Like, comfort bikes, SUBs, cargo bikes, and the like.
Do you feel like Merckx after this latest scandal?
“This is just a quick post to let everybody know I’m still trucking along. I’m in Naches now, about to head up to White Pass and then down around Mt. St. Helens. I’ll be out of internet contact for a while. Good times in the Tri-cities and Yakima. Details and pics later.”
Kent’s posts are nostalagic for me, as I start riding – way back in the day – in Eastern Washington.
I’m driving down I-35 tomorrow to meet up with RAGBRAI and ride a couple days. I first went on this ride 29 years ago and it is what got me into riding. It wasn’t about bike culture, it was just riding. There was bike culture back then - I saw guys in the showers shaving their legs, and noticed guys on one speeds (I figured out later they were track bikes). I was only 12 years old, so for me, culture came later.
Now I’m “in the industry” and I haven’t been back to RAGBRAI for years. I’m excited to go back, and this year I have a bigger connection. Here at work we’ve been kitting out a Livestrong bus for the LAF to take on the ride.
Lance went on RAGBRAI last year for a couple days and was a huge hit. My boss, Steve (Hed) went down to see him and in conversation told him that we could do a ragbrai bus for him.
Most Ragbrai-ers are on “teams” and a lot of the teams have a clapped out school bus for their team car. The bus carries team members to the start and then ferry the gear from one overnight stop to the next. The drivers biggest concerns are keeping the coolers stocked with ice and libations, keeping the bus physically going, and not overnighting downwind of the KYBOs.
All the team busses I have ever seen are customized, at least to the extent of chucking out half the seats and rearranging the rest. Many sport roof-top decks, there are rear decks, showers off the sides, huge bike racks…
So anyways, Maggie, one of my co-workers, is good friends John B, with the guy who customized the Roadkill bus. Steve knows this, and tells Lance we can do a bus if he wants.
Of course Lance does - it will be a huge magnet for LAF.
I got to work one Monday last March, and there she was in the parking lot: a ‘79 bus that had last seen service in Mason City, Iowa.
Steve and John started working on it in April and the headlong rush to completion started at the beginning of July. It had to hold 12 bikes inside, and have seating and gear storage for 12. Wednesday we got it licensed and insured, Thursday was for wrapping with the logo, Friday afternoon we were tinting windows, I was drilling holes in the floor (managed to miss a gas tank by a mere 1/2 inch) and rolling around underneath the bus bolting seats in. At 7 we were checking the front wheel alignment and still wiring everything up. The ride started last Sunday, and the bus rolled out Saturday at 3pm for the 5 hour drive to the start at Rock Rapids.
Friends from Iowa have already called to say that they saw it sitting on the roadside broken down - fixing the gas gauge probably should have been a higher priority.
In a USAToday article, Richard Sachs credits blogs and customers with disposable income for a craft bike boom. That’s also the longtail at work, where an industry pumps out carbon bikes to the masses and Independent Bike Dealer making unique custom bikes are flourishing.