Svelte Cycles without comproise

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Part 2: Edge/White Industries/Tufo/Sapim/Zipp

Zipp Tangente Tires are stretched and it's time to get busy!

Tufo Extreme Tape: This stuff rules. I swore by it years ago when it first came out and I still do. I've needed tools to tear the tires from the rims upon flatting and this stuff is very light to boot, i.e. low rotational weight. We all know how much gluing tubulars sucks and this stuff is a snap. No messy hands, no glue on the sidewalls, no multi-day processes/applications. All you need is this tape... and 5 minutes... and this lamp!

1. Clean the rim surface with rubbing alchohol.

2. Peel off the "rim side" backing.

3. Neatly, evenly and firmly mount to rim starting then ending at the valve hole.

4. Cut off the excess leaving only enough room for the tire valve to pass through.

5. Peel back both ends of "tire side".

6. Mount tire center at valve leaving the peels out in the open.

7. Pop tire on rim, inflate to 40psi and center.

8. Keeping your hands close to the rim, gently yet firmly peel out tape backing from underneath the tire.

9. Inflate to pressure. You can ride this stuff right away but take 24 hours for safety's sake.


Friday, May 9, 2008

***UPDATED MONDAY 26th!*** Edge 1.68 Carbon Fiber Rims/White Industries H2 Hubs/ Sapim CX Ray Spokes

Up next for review are a gorgeous set of Edge 1.68 Rims laced to a pair of White Industries Hubs with Sapim CX Ray Spokes. Can you say "WOAH!"

Can't wait to test these out after my trip out west!

OK. I'm back from the Mt Hood Cycling Classic and ready to review some awesome new products. This review will be part of a trilogy within a trilogy. The wheels themselves are comprised of the Edge 1.68 Tubular Rims/White Industries H2 Hubs/Sapim CX Ray Spokes. Incorporated with the review will be some Tufo Tubular Tape and a set of Zipp Tangente Tubular Tires.

First Impressions: Looks. These things just look so badass. The indulgently high profile rims set the perfect tone for the precision and aero Sapim CX Ray Spokes and the rich black anondized White Industries H2 Hubs. The 2x lacing pattern on the front wheel (20 spokes) and 2x non-drive/1x drive rear wheel (24 spoke), was a big plus in my book. The tone set by this conservative lacing pattern draws up images of Lightweight Standards which utilize a similar look with a 1x pattern both front and rear. The man who crafted this set of handbuilts is Eric Gottesman of "Ergott Wheels". Eric tells me this about the rear lacing pattern: "It increases the bracing angle on the drive side. This makes the wheel more laterally stiff and helps to balance the tension of the spokes on both sides of the wheels as well." There you have it folks!

Thought I am not a weight weenie with a digital scale, I can tell you these things are light. Very, very light. But what is light without quality of construction, ride and at apx $2500 a set... longevity? I plan on testing the later of the two in the coming months but for now let's begin with construction.

Construction/Rims: Edge Composites uses a proprietary (but Lew Racing doesn't think so!) molding process in all their rims. The spoke holes are actually molded into the rim as opposed to other carbon fiber rims where the spoke holes are drilled out. The molded holes are proven to provide a stronger more precise spoke/nipple to rim interface resulting in the ability to tension the wheel very high and simultaneously reducing spoke fatigue. This results in a stronger, stiffer build that in theory will last the long haul. Also of note is Edge's elevated braking surface for a more positive pad-to-rim contact area as well as an highly impact-resistant sidewall area aimed at greatly reducing the chance of a "ding" or "crack" should you go down when riding in the bunch. You can actually feel the stiffness of the sidewall when you try to squeeze the side of the rim together. Very little flex. I can't say the same of some other carbon rims currently on the market (don't worry I don't sell them! hint, hint).
Oh yeah, these super-aero and ultra stong (ill be the judge of that though!) weight only 350g each! So not only will they roll super fast on the flats, they will not bog down on the intro section to climbs and will spin up fast when accelerating on both the flats and uphill. Rotational weight is key in cycling... once you have a good position on the bike and all your components are adjusted properly it's all about the wheels.

Construction/Hubs: In my humble (ya right!) opinion the White Industries H2 hubs are the most underrated in the biz. The front weighs in at 97 grams and the rear is a very respectable 252 grams. The front hub employs a whispy yet solid 12mm aluminum axle embedded in a 6061-T6 aluminum shell rolling on two 6901-2rs bearings = way smooth and durable. You will notice a little lip on the axle part outside the front hub flange. This "lip" is merely a surface for the bearing remover tool to "dig" into... not a defect... simply a service feature.
The H2 rear is tres hip because it has a Ti Freehub body and 3 pawl 24 point engagement driver... this translates to no slag in power transmission, very important quality in a rear hub. Another neat feature from White Industries is the high/low hub flange design which gives the wheel a more balanced spoke tension resulting in a wheel that is very hard to knock out of true. The appearance of both hubs is slightly bulbous, but not offensive. The meaty, grated end caps on the axle's instill a solid and positive wheel to frame interface when these things are clamped to your bike... another nice feature from White Industries.
The White Industries H2's are the hubs that Lee Vicaro over at Lew Racing builds his Lew Pro VT-1 wheels around. Those are $5000, 900 gram wheelsets fyi! Goes to show just how highly regarded the H2's are by those "in the know".
* Fun fact with this rear hub is that Eric installed 4 Phil Wood bearings in the rear wheel. Nice Eric! For those of you who have not heard of Eric Gottesman he is one of the most accomplished wheel builders in the States and I trust him with the Custom Wheel builds for you guys and myself.

Spoke Construction: The Sapim CX Ray Spokes are arguably the nicest and definitely the most expensive steel spoke out there. They have a nice aero profile which buts to round and the tip and base. A neat feature about the Sapim's is that the aero blade part is not so deep that you have to drill "slot holes" on your hubs, these will slide nicely into any standard size flange hole. These things are lighter than titanium and claimed (lab tested and proven) to be one of the strongest production spokes on the market. In summary these things cost you dearly at $3 each but you will never have to worry about them not being strong enough (how bad does it suck when you break a spoke on a carbon fiber wheel!? SUCKS!) nor will you ever wonder, "Could I have gotten a nicer spoke for my special wheelset?" No doubts. No compromises. Peace of mind. Awesome.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Arundel "Dual" Saddle Bag

First Impressions: The "Dual" (dual as in you can fit 2 tubes inside) came simply packaged without a plastic shell or bag of any sorts, so thumbs up for them for going green. When I was unvelcroing the bag from its display board I could feel how durable and high quality the materials were. The bag itself was stiffly bordered yet the flat panels of nylon had a little give. What I really like about the Arundel Dual is there is no wrap around the seatpost velcro strap... those things can kill the finish on a nice carbon post.

*Have you ever double flatted on a ride? If so, you know why carrying 2 tubes is so important. If not, avoid learning a lesson the hard way!

The most interesting aspect of the Dual is the leather strip placed on the back-side of the bag. Cleverly sewn in, this leather strip prevents the contents inside the bag from working their way through the nylon when the bag is mounted and snug against your seatpost clamp. So again another very smart design feature from Arundel. Who ever though a saddle bag could be so cool!

When I spread all the contents of my previous, more bulky saddle bag on the ground I thought no way in hell would all this stuff fit in.

But.. it did!

Installation: This is where the Dual does not impress me. The strip of velcro with the plastic loop sewn in on the end is not long enough. Manuvering that little strip of velcro through the saddle rails was very difficult on a low profile saddle and would be even worse on a more classic profiled saddle.

However, once it's on there is really no need to take it off (except for race days) as you can unzip the bag and work your way through it's contents without fully removing the bag from under the saddle rails.

Also to note is the Arundel "Dual" works very nicely with TT bikes.

Shown in this pic is the method I use to remove my tube and pump when I flat. Simply loosen up the strap. Re-velcro and go for it.

To purchase the Arundel Dual or any of the other awesome stuff offered by Svelte Cycles, click here.

Friday, May 2, 2008

SRAM Pit Stop Bar Tape and Hoods

First Impression: The SRAM Pit Stop Bar Tape and Hoods come in a very tidy package with everything nicely rolled, folded and placed inside. What impressed me most was how SRAM included white finishing tape and nice quality end plugs and pre cut underwraps... the little touches make a big difference in ancillary goods such as bar tape.

Installation: To the touch the SRAM tape felt pliable, slightly synthetic compared to cork yet softer and more welcoming.Wrapping the tape was a piece of cake as the material was very pliable and strong. I never had the feeling the tape would snap while pulling the tape taut to ensure a snug and tidy finish. The SRAM end caps popped in with ease and nice and flush with a secure feeling. The white finishing tape however was a tad "plasticy" as in not pliable, and I advise you use this for what it was intended, finish... use electrical tape for the initial tape job, place the white stuff on top for clean looks. Installing the hoods was a snap. There is a little muscle work and coercing involved but when the are on, they are on. Just make sure the male dots stemming from the inside of the hood sit inside the female divots on the lever (sorry for the gross analogy).

Anecdotal Installation Note: SRAM provides a very long wrap of tape. This comes in handy when you absentmindedly leave your scissors and electrical tape out of reach.

Conclusion: After a rainy 160K race in Jiminy Peak, MA I was very surprised not only how clean the tape stayed...

...but also how nicely it cleaned up with a quick, soapy watered rinse-scrub-rinse.

Another nice surprise was how well that "plasticy" finishing tape stayed secure during and after such a fast, aggressive race contested in the deplorable conditions. The white hoods which have a slightly "waxy" feel to them performed well in the wet conditions and perhaps the feeling that these white hoods were not as tacky as the stock black version was in all in my head. They performed fantastic and the bling factor when you roll up the start with matching hoods and tape is very high.

Note: The SRAM Pit Stop Hoods and Tape will also come in a Red version. You can find the Pit Stop Hoods and Tape uprgrade/replacement kit here.