Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Cold, Racing, and New Stuff

Brrr... it makes it a lot less easy to ride to work, when it's only 34 degrees. Even less fun, when it's still dark when you wake up. At least there is time to make some espresso while the sky lightens up, and you try to find your leg warmers. And the views are good this time of year too;

This weekend serves up a great course for cross racin'. Probably our best front range course for cross racing, the Interlocken race is coming up Saturday. There's always a lot of grass on this course, some solid run-ups and twistys, and a good number of fans show up.

On the Formula 1 front, it's set to be an insanely exciting weekend as well! Hamilton's championship lead is down to a single point in front of Massa (I love both these guys, but prefer Hamilton ever so slightly). And this weekends race is not just a brand new course in Singapore, but the first-ever nighttime Formula 1 race! I think everyone has been both anxious and terrified of getting to this race all year. Reports all sound good for the lighting and track conditions (considering, like Monaco, it's not a full time race course), but there is also a strong chance for thundershowers! Racing at night, in the rain, on an unknown circuit, with the championship up for grabs and only 4 races left!

Meanwhile, here in the "New World", it's Interbike week. I miss going to Interbike, and miss working it. But this year, I haven't seen much of anything but crap coming out in the photos so far. And the marketing, well it seems to have been taken to a whole new level.

Exhibit A:

Here is the new Zipp Vuma Chrono TT crankset. There have been a few "aero" cranksets in the past, and it's always been one of those components where I've wondered why more people haven't made them. It really can't be that difficult to ADD material to a bike part. It's just gotta be a matter of the shear number they figure they can sell. So here are the Zipps... and if you read the literature on them, they claim "...our engineers were stunned by the results: 9 seconds faster over 40km compared to the next fastest TT crankset." 9-seconds on a 40k TT... How often can you replicate that result with consistent results? And 9-seconds? That's like managing to stay focused, and not let your mind wander for that minute, 35 minutes into your 40k, when things are starting to get tough. So I haven't seen a price on this crank yet... but I bet $1500 easy, and would be surprised if it wasn't more like $2200, especially since it says "Zipp" on it. So at $1500, it would cost you $166.67 per second saved in a 40k. Of course, if you do 100 40k races next season, well, then it's a virtual steal... Oh yeah, and don't forget the unique spider design which ensures that you can replace your chainrings with one brand, and one brand alone.

Exhibit B:

Have you ever ridden with a water bottle in your back pocket?

It sucks. 'Nuff said.

Exhibit C:

This one has me confused... I really like Chris King stuff. They make beautiful stuff, it's like bike jewelery. Their parts are durable, and often have some technological ideas. Sure, it's all very expensive, but if you've worked with any sort of machining, and see what it takes to make the parts that they do, you start to understand why it's so expensive. Especially still making the parts here in the States, to exacting standards.

Still, they've promised for the last 50 years to come out with a new bottom bracket design, when they found something that works better. No one (though many tried) could really make an ISIS bottom bracket with any real quality. Sure, the design had it's advantages, but making a bottom bracket light and smooth, while retaining durability, was not really possible with the design. Mass-produced, cartridge, bust-n-chuck bottom brackets was the standard for everyone. The new King design works with the "newer" external bearing design, which simplifies quite a lot. I mean, now, the BB is really just a set of threaded cups with a bearing pressed in. Very simple for manufacturing. So King made their own bottom bracket. That's cool. And it's cool that their bearings are most likely quite nice. It's also cool (and sadly, probably the primary reason I would buy them) that they come in plenty of colors, and have the usual beautiful King finish. Sadly though, they cost $130... pretty much the same as buying a new ceramic bottom bracket. Or nearly 4 times the cost of a standard SRAM BB set. I've had a set of DXP cranks for 4 years now, and just two weeks ago needed to install new bearings in them. That's it. Sure, the King BB is serviceable, but you also need THREE tools for your new BB, none of which are bound to be cheap, and again... 4 years, 2nd BB just recently = $70 total.

The breakthrough technology that allows the King BB to be serviceable and better than everything else? The ability to pump grease through your bearing, push out the old, push in the new. You know... the same breakthrough design they used on wooden wagon wheels 120 years ago. As far as the great marketing spin for this one? Direct from the King website, I shuddered as I read this one;

"Racers take note! With the Chris King bottom bracket and injection tool, you can train day-to-day with a durable high-viscosity grease and race with a light, fast-rolling low-viscosity grease or oil. Imagine your current Friday night leg-shaving ritual finishing with a few minutes in the garage to get your bike as smooth as you are."

Yep... that sure sounds fun. And ground-breaking. Me, I'm still just going to run super smooth, SuperRecord loose ball bottom brackets, lubed with diesel oil. And on a somewhat related note... regardless of what you read on cyclingnews... It's FAR from a secret; Put lighter grease (or oil) in your bearings, remove your seals or use lighter ones, both things will make your bearings roll better. Most likely nearly as well as ceramics - since that's where most of the benefits of your pricey ceramic bearings came from - using lighter lube and crappy seals.

Now what colors do those King bottom brackets come in, because I want one anyway...

1 comment:

Brad said...

Yo - I still know people at CK and am also still "industry", so I could helps you out with that. How goes the iPhone?