Monday, December 14, 2009

Sneaking in a Ride

I finally got out the door today, after taping some SpaceBlanket stuff over my shoes to keep the wind out and the heat in, gathering up all of my cold-weather gear, long-fingered gloves and such, and finding my Gatorade back. It was mostly cloudy, but not that all-day bone-chilling cold kind of day. In fact, it felt pretty warm, around 50 I think, and when the sun shone through it was gorgeous. My feet were toasty warm, and being warm and comfortable is a sure way to find the joy in a sunny day.

It wasn't a long ride. I didn't want to get caught too far from home if the sky opened up, and it was the first time out on a real ride with my new back wheel, so I wanted to be a bit cautious. About that. I have a very serious suggestion for anyone contemplating buying a new bike. Buy some good custom-built wheels for your old ride first - or if not that, put your old wheels on any new bike you are thinking of buying and go for a ride. Most of the difference in ride quality between a $2,000 msrp bike and a $5,000 bike is the wheels. Really. No bull. It's just amazing.

The difference in ride quality between my old and new rear wheel is more than the change from my steel bike to my carbon one. I can't even feel the roughness of the road now except for my POS radially spoked front wheel. It's going to get replaced as soon as I get through Christmas. If the hub were better quality I would just re-lace the wheel with DT Revolution spokes and ride on, but with only 20 spoke drillings, there just isn't much that can be done with them.

The rear wheel performed better than even I had expected on the return home today. There is a sharp left turn at the bottom of a hill where the asphalt is really torn up and wrinkled. I normally have to slow down to 10-12 mph to take the turn, and then add a lot of power to climb back up the hill to the left. I was a bit cautious today, but I carried 15-18 mph into the turn and knew immediately I could have carried far more speed into it if the front wheel had been more compliant. I cannot feel any harshness at all coming from the rear wheel. Only the front.

The freewheel hub's ratchet is almost silent. No one will ever know when I am tired and coasting. I'm the stealth rider now! The bluish tint on the Ultegra hub is very nice in outdoor light too. I am just chomping at the bit to get the front one ordered now. I will get it with the Mavic's CD treatment to reduce rim wear on the braking surface up front, as the front wheel takes 4-5X the braking wear as the rear. The micro machining on the new rear rim was very sticky, completely homogeneous, and that was in wet, sandy conditions. Very impressive.

I only wish I had bought custom wheels this spring. It would have made the training miles so much easier.


Gotta Run..Gotta Ride said...

you may have not had the wheels last year but this next year will be even sweeter!!!!!!!!

So right now it is 54 degrees and partly cloudy where you live...are you riding :)

Grey Beard said...

Yes, yes, and loving it. Had to cut it a bit short due to fading light, but very nice ride today.