The Great Frame Debate
by Byron on Mar 08, 2007 at 10:52 AM
As a cyclist, I get asked 3 questions all the time
- Why do you shave your legs?
- Smooth legs feel good in jeans!
- Do you ride Seattle to Portland?
- No, I spend my weekends racing my bike.
- What frame material is the best?
- They all have the strengths, let’s have coffee and discuss.
A reader recently sent us a story from composite world on Cannondale’s manufacturing process for their Six13 and a there’s that question again, “what frame is best” Is is the carbaluminum?
Well no. All frames have their unique qualities and depending on what you’re after (touring, racing, blowing all your disposable income), pick a material and either buy one or have it built. During the coffee discussion, I break it down like this: steel is the best, but heavy and requires paint; aluminum works well for mountain bikes cause they got suspension; I ride titanium for my rain and touring bike; carbon is the best all-around racing bike.
What I don’t agree with is slapping a carbon rear triangle on an aluminum frame so it doesn’t beat the crap out of you (or vice versa with a rear aluminum triangle and carbon front). Just buy a nice carbon frame and skip the aluminum unless you’re racing the Iron Man. Granted, marketing 101, is differentiation and “tuning” a carbon/ti bike with specific tubes is some good marketing, you could also spend that money on a great riding Rivendell, Time, Trek, or Litespeed.
What frame material do you recommend or would argue is best?
Time to Race
by andrew_f_martin on Mar 06, 2007 at 8:52 PM
This Saturday I’m planning on heading out to the Murarrie Cycling Facility for the weekly Balmoral Circuit Race. I’ve raced in London (Hillingdon Circuit) and it’s much the same sort of course: flattish, wide pavement, closed to traffic (yay!), and WINDY. I did a shake-down ride today to sort out the way to the course. I figure about an hour to ride there to be safe considering the hills en-route have enough pitch to make me happy to have the 25.
The roads I’ve found to be quite wide, many with designated bike lanes. Some are even a full lane in width! There are of course some sketchier sections, but for the most part it feels pretty safe here. The drivers have been very courteous so far and seem actually aware that I’m about (shocking, I know). I’m going to have to head out and take some pics of the road furniture they use here - some interesting ways to make a road bike-friendly, and car-not-so-friendly.
Plans may change for Saturday, but in the mean time - some snaps from my scouting trip:
They have a dedicated bike park (a couple I’ve read). There’s been at least one article in the paper each day I’ve been here that road cycling is on the rise. Very cool.
The “Hill” is more of a soft rise. I’m sure with a group, it’ll pass before you feel it.
They have an actual finish line on the course. I think the last race I did with a finish line banner was Quad Cities circa 2001.
Swobo launches first bikes
by Frank Steele on Mar 06, 2007 at 7:23 PM
Swobo | Collection
So, as promised, Swobo has launched a line of bicycles to join their clothing. The three models are available for order now, with delivery promised in April.
The Folsom is a one-speed with coaster brakes, and PT-boat styling. Primer gray with gussets between the front of the top and down tubes, with bolt-on hubs, BMX style pedals and 4” riser handlebars, for $499.
The Otis is a matte black, rigid-fork MTB-style frame mated with a SRAM 3-speed coaster brake hub in back and a disc brake up front. Grip twist shifting. Black-on-black tires, black rims, black seat, black frame: To borrow from the masters, “It’s like, how much more black could this be? And the answer is … none. None more black.” Yours for $699.
And the Sanchez, which is out of the box ready to hang with the bike messengers. It’s got the flat-bar fixie no-brake road bike ethos down, and brings a cool galvanized finish (this one’s “Swobo butted CroMo,” while the others are 7005 aluminum). It’s a flip-flop rear hub, so you can thread on a single-speed freewheel. The black and white photos don’t really show the white (yes, white) rims and handlebar, so I’m reserving judgment there. This one’s $599.
And there’s a bottle opener built into every Swobo saddle.
These aren’t bikes as art, or as hipster product placement – they’re utilitarian and organic.
What do you think?
Arrived Down Under
by andrew_f_martin on Mar 06, 2007 at 2:50 AM
I’ve made it to the land of Oz. It’s pretty nice down here (85+), and I’m hoping to really get out for some exploring now that I’ve settled into my home base in Brisbane. Sydney was NOT a bike town. I rode for an hour up and down the same street - mostly because I was afraid of getting lost, but also because it was the only street I found that had any sort of a shoulder to it. I couldn’t imagine trying to get around Sydney on bike alone. Commuting to work there would be a challenge for sure.
Masters and the Cramps
by Byron on Mar 05, 2007 at 7:42 AM
Reading the definition of McMansion Masters on Nega-Coach was even funnier after completing my first masters race of the season. The first race with the old guys is always who’s gonna cramp first. Or a big-effort suddenly reeled back with a desperate realization that, “whoa, not quite ready, better back right off … .”
My cramp was a twanging hamstring and I imagined it looking like a guitar string, buzzing after a hard, Peter-Townsend type power-cord strum. It was one pedal stroke away from snapping and I spun like a spin class, at the highest cadence I could to stay with the group. I finished the race favoring my right leg and was relieved it was over.
For cramps, I never try to ride through it, spin, soft pedal, and down all the sugar in my bottles. My worst cramp ever took me out of a finishing hill on a circuit race and I remember it vividly to this day. Pain, yelping “cramp!” and I was suddenly on the shoulder of the road limping.
What was your worst cramp and what do you do? An old-school racer, Dan Norton would recommend salt water in your bottles, but I don’t think homeopathic remedies or drinking salt is going to solve it.
Sitting in traffic, breathing dirty air . . .
by Byron on Mar 05, 2007 at 6:48 AM
Following the study last year linking asthma and inner-city children to diesel pollutants, a new study by the Clean Air Task Force and reported by Reuters finds that diesel soot shortens lives and that “fine particle pollutants released from the exhaust of diesel-powered vehicles pose a major health risk to commuters.”
Yet another reason to bike to work.
Mark V’s Travel Bike
by Mark V on Mar 04, 2007 at 11:32 PM
It’s late on Sunday night and I’m packing up my travel bike for a little trip to Florida and South Carolina. I’ll be flying with my custom steelSycip.
I’ve had this one for a couple years and I’ve taken it around the world, literally. I can’t remember in how many cities I’ve been lost while riding this beautiful machine. Taipei, London, Moscow, Lucerne, Paris, Oslo, Guteborg, Stockholm, Tokyo, Shanghai, Siem Reip, Hanoi…I’ve gotten around. The bike is mostly Columbus Zona with those awesome S & S couplings that allow you to split the frame in half and pack it in a airline friendly case. Jeremy Sycip was fantastic in working with me on the design. The bike can be raced legally on the track but it also has a derailleur hanger and cable stops to be run as a road bike. I usually travel with the bike set up as a streetlight drag racing fixie with a front brake, but the bike descends mountain passes with vigor in full roadie trim. Next weekend I’ll race it in some little time trial in Tampa, as a fixie with aerobars.
by Mark V on Mar 02, 2007 at 5:08 PM
I’ve been thinking about that bicycle movie list posted a while ago. There’s this Japanese movie called Messengers that I’ve wanted to see. It kinda sounds like the movie Quicksilver if Kevin Bacon was a woman…and Japanese (actually that’s a disturbing image). Anyways, I’ve always been into music more than movies, so invite people to submit their favourite bicycle songs. Rules: it’s gotta be pretty obvious that the song is referring to bicycles, not motorcycles. so I here’s my own list of bicycle songs to start the ball rolling:
The Trucks- Big Afros (self-titled) My two favorite things in life: big Afros and riding bikes with you.
Orbit- Bicycle Song (Libido Speedway)
What a pretty bicycle she said, I want one just like that.
Lily Allen-LDN (Alright, Still)
Riding thru the city on my bike all day cause the filth took away my license
They Might Be Giants- Narrow Your Eyes (Apollo 18)
get on my bike, ride down our block, ride thru the rows, thru the green lights, but when I think of all your advice, I narrow my eyes…
Tori Amos- Pretty Good Year (Under The Pink)
Tears on the sleeve of a man, don’t wanna be a boy today. Heard the eternal footman bought himself a bike to race
The Smiths- This Charming Man (originally 7 single)
Punctured bicycle on a hillside desolate, will Nature make a man of me yet?
$65,000 in bicycles: Lotto winner is one of us
by Frank Steele on Mar 02, 2007 at 4:31 PM
Fortune | How a lottery winner spends his multi-million-dollar jackpot - Feb. 21, 2007
Fortune has a story about Brad Duke, a Gold’s Gym manager from Idaho who won a $220 million Powerball jackpot in 2005.
He retired his student loans and his mortgage, but you’ve got to treat yourself a little when you pick up a check for $85 million. His treat? A trip to Tahiti with 17 friends ($63,000 worth) and new bikes to the tune of $65,000, including a $12,000 BMC.
He’s still teaching his spinning class twice a week, too.
aero wheel wisdom
by Mark V on Mar 01, 2007 at 10:43 AM
I’d like to share just a few thoughts about wheels…because too few of you are asking me. People get the most nonsensical ideas about high performance wheels, and I can only surmise that this results from hearsay, undigested marketing propaganda, and a weak understanding of science. So here follows some general guidelines for choosing high performace aero wheels…
1) The low-profile “aero” rim- if the rim is anything less than 30mm deep, it ain’t all that “aero”. With a tire on the 25mm deep rim, the cross section is at best 48mm deep and 20-23mm wide. That’s just too blunt a shape to smooth out the rupture in the air made by the tire’s leading edge. Also, low profile rims usually require more spokes, which also churn up the air. Why then do so many manufacturers make short, “teardrop”-shaped rims? Because the triangular cross-section is an efficient structure for a spoke-tensioned hoop…and they look cool. Are these rims any more aerodynamic than a box-section like a Mavic Open Pro? Probably…but probably not by a meaningful margin.
2) Front vs rear wheels- Surely you’ve noticed in time trials that most Pro-Tour riders use a carbon disc wheel on the back and a really deep section (or maybe carbon tri-sopke) aero wheel up front. You’d be right to think that a disc is the more aerodynamic wheel but wrong to think a disc was choosen as the rear wheel because the rear position is aerodynamically more important. Not true. Time trialists on the road rarely use a disc up front because a disc’s large side area makes it too sensitive to crosswinds. A disc in the rear position won’t affect steering like it would in the front. But here’s a fact that most people don’t understand: the front is the more important position. The front wheel is your leading edge into the undisturbed airstream; the rear wheel lives in the “dirty” air churned up by the front wheel, fork, frame, and your very unaerodynamic, spinning legs. The most aerodynamic wheel in the world can only do so much to smooth that airflow. What does this mean? Well, unless Zipp is sponsoring you, you likely have a limited budget for time trial wheels. You want bang-for-the-buck? Just buy a front with a deep-profile (like 50mm or more). But you ask, “What do I do if I’m a lightweight rider and there are strong crosswinds?” Well, Skippy, I guess you’re gonna have to suck it up. If it’s survival conditions on the course, just run a standard wheel up front. If you can ask me if you should buy a moderate-profile wheelset for high winds and a deep-profile set for good conditions, then I guess Zipp is sponsoring you…
3) “climbing wheels”- If you want to know if a set of chi-chi “climbing” wheels is right for you, ask yourself these questions: Is the joy of a smooth riding bike more important than a competitive edge? If you do compete, do you spend the majority of the race going uphill at less than 17mph? Does your bike spend a significant amount of time on a gram scale? If you answered “yes” to all of these questions, then go out and buy those climbing wheels now! The facts are that a real aerodynamic advantage will beat a weight advantage at any speed above a crawl but a deep-profile aero wheel is going to ride harsher. Climbing wheels are also for the vanity of people who need the lightest bike their money can buy, and personally I am so over gram-counters. Yesterday at work, some tosser interrogated me about the weights of the inner tubes we had in stock. You can go ahead with your delusions that saving 15 grams on an inner tube would have you flying like Pantani on the cols, but buy yourself a gram scale and leave me out of it. (Besides, Pantani would have never gotten rid of a few grams.)
Is light weight a good thing? Yes. Is it better than aerodynamics? Usually not. Do I have to choose between weight and aerodynamics? With the latest carbon deep-profile wheels on the market, no…you can have both…you just won’t have money left to buy food or pay rent.
Everything I just said has to do with performance with the merest mention of cost effectiveness and ease of use, but not aesthetics, service-ability, durability or any of those others issues. You want to tell me how your best friend heard from some pro that such and such brand wheel is like…the fastest? Oh yeah, anecdotal evidence has so much value. You want to know exactly which wheel is the fastest? Hire some scientists, build some test fixutres, and buy some windtunnnel time…that’s an expensive question, and one that becomes very specific to conditions of the race course. But stray not far from my wisdom and you will do no wrong.
…looks like I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing tubular glue.
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