Downhill Time Trials

So last week I went to InterBike with Boyd Cycling. It was a pretty cool experience, really a thing I always see on all the bike tech sites out there but finally going there is a totally different experience. First of all, the coverage that all the online venues covering the event combined don’t even begin to scratch the surface of the number of exhibits there. It’s pretty overwhelming. For instance there are foreign sections, China, Japan, Italian “villages” that essentially get no media coverage. There was a HUGE e-bike section of the show as well (which also seemed to be the best funded). However the best section, in my opinion, was the “Urban” village. This encapsulated everything from custom cruisers, fixies, to folding bikes. By far these were the most creative and off the wall exhibits and products.

Our booth was tucked into the “Triathlon” section…..yeah yeah. I spent most of my time hand modeling for BikeRadar in the booth:Boyd Eternity Hub
Tubeless Nut

Hand ModelAnd also showing off our one gimmick:

Boyd Cycling Wheelset

Climber’s Wheelset

Yes the most entertaining part of the show for me was to tell people to go pick up our “Climbing Wheelset”. Weighing in at 15 lbs, this thing could serve as a flywheel for an old school steam tractor. There’s a lot of hype around 3D printing right now and a lot of questions were fielded at the show about why we didn’t go that route. The reason is two fold: 3D printing is finite and not continuous. This means that the finish for a curved surface would be stepped surface which would require further finishing (another possibility for imperfections). Additionally 3D printing is typically done with plastics which do not carry high loads well (think spoke tensions and tire pressure).

Why does all that matter? The Aerodynamics of bicycle wheels is converging onto a single (correct, sorry reynolds) design. This means that the variation between the best aerodynamic wheel-sets are getting smaller and smaller. Aerodynamics is VERY sensitive to small variations. Something like 20 psi vs 100 psi in a road tire or low tension (bent) spokes could also greatly alter aerodynamic drag results. So by doing a solid Aluminum wheelset in the wind tunnel we could model a REAL wheel.

Why go through all this trouble anyway? If you see a wheel company showing their slick carbon wheel in the wind tunnel, it means they’re testing a finished product (cough #AeroIsEverything cough). It’s well known carbon molds are very expensive, and if you’ve made the mold, you’re pretty much married to the shape you created, so you’re either wasting money and translating that stupidity to high costs to your customer, or you’re just going with a bad design. This prototyping allows us to make small design changes or evaluate several design at a relatively low cost before making the costly investment in a mold.

Mistakes are how you learn, so it’s better to make i

Bike Wheel Wind Tunnel Testing

Aluminum Prototype in A2 Wind Tunnel

nexpensive small ones than expensive big ones.

Also see my other post (excessive rant) on why Wind Tunnels are absolutely necessary.

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How to Setup your Bike for Night Riding

So this week I went 1/2 time at the day job which is affording me *gasp* time to ride during the day. There are more details on my setup below.

Night Cycling

Bike setup for night riding

As a tribute I made this video of a little bit of my night training escapades (mostly to scare my parents).

The video makes it look a lot darker than it really is (your eyes acclimate a lot). There are a few shots of the Swamp Rabbit Trail, riding through Furman, Climbing with lights off (surprisingly easy, and incredibly cool to do under moonlight), and finally the Paris Mountain Descent. Paris mountain is a pretty primary staple of the night training routine mainly because it’s close to home and there’s virtually NO traffic at night.

As far as Lights go, here are my setup:

Cycling Head Lamp

Light and Motion 1500

Headlamp: Light and Motion Seca 1500

This light is SUPER bright. I usually use it on the med or low setting. The high power is almost too much and kills any low light acclimation your eyes might have. Honestly I can’t think of any reason to have something more powerful. I’ve had cars flash me for high beams, and it seems like if there’s enough light for rainy mountain descents, it’s probably got enough juice for anything.

 

 

 

 

Light and Motion Urban 400

Light and Motion Urban 400

Handlebars: Light and Motion Urban 400

The handlebar light, for me at least, is best for seeing stuff you’re about to run over. Most of the time I think the eyes are focused pretty far down the road (as they should be), and only glance down occasionally for small obstacle avoidance. Because of this I have this one focused to a pretty narrow area of 5-30 feet ahead of the front wheel. Again this one is USB rechargeable which is REALLY nice for riding into work so you can charge at work.

 

Serfas Thunderbolt

Serfas Thunderbolt

Finally the Tail Light: The Serfas Thunderbolt

This is a great little light. It’s USB chargible (which I’m a huge fan of) and most importantly for me, it’s really waterproof. The reason why this is an issue with me is that I, like a lot of cyclist I see get the Planet Bike SuperFlash. This is a very bright inexpensive light…but as I’ve found in this case inexpensive = cheap. I’ve personally gone through 3. Not only are they AAA battery powered, but more importantly they are NOT WATERPROOF. I’ve fried 3 in the rain (and one literally fell apart after really nailing a rough bum in the road). Trust me, a rainy night time ride, is not a great time to have a tail light go out on you.

 

 

Hopefully this helps anyone curious about how to prep their bike for night riding. I HATE riding indoors, it’s the perfect way to suck the soul and joy out of cycling. If you ride at night there’s a ton of very cool experiences to be had.

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Straight Dope

So much has happened in the world of competitive Doping in the past few weeks. Mostly the clearing of Alberto Contador. I’m sure everyone has their two cents on the situation and wants to cash in their pennies about contaminated meat. However what would be more impressive if everyone just let it go. There are endless conspiracy theories that could be listed off concerning Contador but the fact of the matter is that Contador was tried in the courts and found innocent. None of us couch-side commentators will know the case as intimation as those who made the decision regarding Contadors future. Ultimately we have to place our faith in the decisions made by the courts and UCI because if we don’t cycling will become an endless rabbit hole of rumors and conspiracies.

Just look at the recent developments of Lance. Not only is the most recent investigation concerned with events that took place over ten years ago, but the whole reason for the renewed interest is because of a now totally irrelevant and discredited rider that everyone seems to want to see the last of (except for apparently the cycling media).
So what should happen? Some say to solve the issue in the sport we should legalize EPO, Blood Doping, amphetamines, bicycle motors, the whole shebang. This idea is completely retarded. I’d say it’s equivalent to strapping rocket engines to NASCAR’s; it slightly violates the the fundamental principals of the sport.
What should happen is that we all should collectively just move on. Contador is innocent, Lance probably doped but it was 12 years ago when everyone else did so let it go, Floyd is now a nobody and should stop getting interviews where he says totally bat shit crazy stuff, and most importantly: we should all get back to watching good clean bike racing. As much as anti-doping champions like Jonathan Vaughters wouldn’t like to tell their sponsors; cheating will always be a part of cycling as with every other sport on the face of the earth. We will never rid the sport completely, so instead of focusing the entire energy of the sport on it, doping should be dealt with in a consistent and concise matter without so much fanfare. Most other sports do just this and as a result don’t have the sort of mass cheating scandals found in cycling.

That’s why above all else I want to see riders like Vinokourov, Basso, and Di Luca succeed. They were all caught, served their punishment, cooperated with the UCI without publicly outing everyone they knew, and have returned to the top tier of the sport. Di Luca even signed with Katusha for no pay until he proved he could succeed without cheating. They’re not dopers, they’re world class riders that were part of a previous generation of cyclists where doping was commonplace. They also didn’t draw out their doping scandal into years of name dropping and supposed childhood drama’s that lead them to cheating.
Some assume that being caught doping is indicative of a rider’s moral fiber and they will never be clean. This plain false. However if a rider that’s been been caught doping returns to the sport and immediately gives himself kidney failure by re-infusing blood he stored in his own refrigerator, he’s probably a bad person…and very dumb.

So can we all just please get back to what we love most, watching riders suffer and ride till their eyeballs pop out all for a chance to obtain glory atop the podium?

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(Hillsboro) Roubaix Tech

April means one thing in the world of professional cycling, classics. Specifically this weekend is the Queen of the Classics: Paris-Roubaix, pretty much a big mess of mud, old brick roads, really expensive bikes and really skinny dudes.

Nothing do the major cycling news sources love more than to cover the tech of a big race. Since we’re all tech geeks at heart, we’ll all read article after article about how FMB and Hutchinson tires are re-labeled Bontrager and all the true classics riders ride nothing but 32 spoke wheels. We’ll pretend for a moment this weekend that the classic 32 spoke low-profile rims are really faster than carbon rims and get all nostalgic.
Saxo Bank has realized the importance of the pre-race bike tech coverage, and now employs European male models to lube Fabian’s chain.I mean check out that leather jacket and mullet! Style on top of Style
However apparently unknown to velonews and the like, Roubaix is not just a city in France this weekend. It is also the name given to countless small races across America that either have at least one half mile section of brick, dirt road, or shitty pavement.
In our case this weekend will play host to the Roubaix in Hillsboro Illinois. Since Cycling news and Velonews both refuse to do a tech article on the Team Panther Roubaix bikes, I’ll do a little one here…minus any male models.
The Ridley Domocles, a bike born in Belgium, named in Greek, and made in Taiwan, is perfectly suited to the cobbles of any Roubaix.
The bars are wrapped with extra filthy bar tape, the added dirt helps with shock absortion.

It can be long waiting for the team car on the narrow streets of any Roubaix, so Uberti has opted to bring a spare tube and sewing kit.That way when a puncture occurs, he can easily un-sew the tire, replace the tube, re-sew the tire, re-apply base tape, and re glue the rim…instead of waiting for the car.

No chain guide here, as Chris Uberti never shifts.

As you can see Uberti has spared no expense with the choice of Vittoria Rally tubular tires ($15). The green color helps the tires glide over cobbles, as scientifically proven by Vittoria.

These rims may be labeled Easton, but upon some closer inspection they are determined to be Ambrosios, the only bike company that actually goes out with sledge hammers to break up perfectly smooth roads to ensure people still buy their rims.

This is where all the power goes…the pedals. Uberti chose to go with Mountain Bike Pedals, because he plans on getting off his bike and walking a lot.

Don’t worry there will be a follow up tech article detailing how beat up my bike got from the one mile section of brick in downtown Hillsboro.

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What to do with Michael Ball and Rock Racing

Michael Ball is the director of probably the most publicized and polarizing teams on the pro US circuit, Rock Racing. I used to completely detest everything about the team, from the way it was managed to ‘win or be fired’ attitude. To be honest though, the press conference for the Tour of California changed my mind a little bit. Ball presented a genuine sentiment for the riders on his team and the sport of cycling itself. He enjoys cycling himself and believes that cycling is truly a ‘cool’ sport and wants to share it with a wider audience. He wants to make cycling into more of a watch able and interesting sport than that weird thing your uncle does on the weekends.

The idea that got me personally was his method for doing this. The past few years the sport has been plagued by doping scandals, which many believe is killing the sport by driving off sponsors and making the races unwatchable. What many of these people forget is that some form of cheating or another has been going on since the beginning of the sport, beginning with taking short cuts, then pain killers, and finally onto EPO and blood doping. I’m not saying cheating should be allowed, but that nothing has really changed in the cheating world (besides new ways to cheat) to cause this downfall of cycling. What has changed is press coverage. Now cheaters are getting 2 years suspension and a branding from the press so villainous that a casual observer would think they were mass murderers. No other sport in the world has such strict rules or harsh public opinion.

Because of these harsh conditions the pro-cycling world has become more preoccupied with doping controls and scandals than the racing itself. Go onto Velonews.com at any time and half of the articles will be somehow related to cheating. The racer organizers have become so paranoid of scandal that organizations such as ASO (organizers of Tour de France and other races) would not invite completely clean teams that have had problems with doping last season. The omission of teams like Astana and High Road from the Tour de France is not only ridiculous but the sheer economic stupidity of it is unbelievable, the organizers are not just banning cheating riders but shutting out sponsors who are willing to put money into the sport.

Ball’s premise for Rock Racing is that his riders’ (many of whom have been convicted of doping in the past) past are past and that the athletes deserve a second chance to let themselves prove to the public that they are athletes and not villains. Punishment is a necessary consequence of cheating but banishment from the sport is a death sentence for athletes whose careers are dictated by their sponsorship potential. This is a refreshing approach to the problem facing the present He also mentioned that the punishment of riders caught doping should be handled within the team as opposed to giving the rider to the media hyenas.

I still don’t like Ball, I think his kits are ugly and the fact that he did the press conference in the kit instead of a suit was remarkably un-professional. But I also think that the sport of Professional cycling needs more team managers that are as committed to their teams and to bringing our sport into the mainstream. There have and always will be cheaters, in every sport, the sooner cycling comes to that realization the sooner it can get itself back on track.

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