Bringing back the Cycling Cap one Domestique at a time

Review: Shimano Dura Ace WH-9000 C24 TL

With the foray into the world of 11-speed, Shimano suddenly needed a new team of wheelsets  to cater to its new super-gruppo.  Thus, the WH-9000 series wheelsets came to be. 

While most of these hoops are updates to previous WH-7900 offerings, Mr. Shimano and Co. have incorporated some innovations into their current lineup to bring them up to speed with current cycling trends.   Shimano has set two philosophical design goals with their latest wheels. These are the 'Blade Concept' and the 'Accelerating Speed Concept'. The Blade Concept, as the name implies, prioritizes slicing the wind. The Accelerating Speed Concept, on the other hand, deprioritizes aerodynamics in favor of being all-rounders. Aero considerations are still there, but acceleration and climbing come first. 


Today, we take a look at the WH-9000 C24 TL wheelset, a product of the Accelerated Speed Concept.  An evolution of the WH-7900 C24 TL, the 9000 series C24 natively supports the Dura Ace CS-9000 cassettes. Since Shimano chose to maintain their current spline pattern, the C24's can also be used with 10-speed cassettes. You do have to use the supplied 1.85mm spacer though since there's a difference in cassette length between 10 and 11 speed. 



Shimano reprised the carbon laminate approach to the C24. They bonded a layer of carbon fiber over thin aluminum to provide additional stiffness and strength to the rim while shaving weight.


Shimano lists rim width at 20.8mm wide. As can be seen in the image below, the sidewalls are almost flush with the brake surface. Rim depths are listed as 21mm for the front and 23mm for the rear. 



TL indicates that this is the RoadTubeless variant. 90g heavier per pair than the plain clincher (CL) version, the weight disadvantage is partially offset by discarding wheel tape altogether (~30g). Manufacturer claimed weight is 1,454 grams. While not exactly flyweight, the hoops are light enough for some extended climbing action.





The hubs got a major level up as they are now full Titanium whereas the 7900 was only part-Titanium.  These come in a sexy satin black painted finish. Unchanged is Shimano's traditional cup and cone bearing design. Shimano is known for its durability (hence DURA(bility)-ACE) and per their dictum, cup and cone is the way to go. Indeed this is a reliable and robust arrangement. As a bonus, the hubs can be serviced by any reasonably competent mechanic with basic shop tools. 

Also carried over are the 16 and 20 spoke count and thin bladed spokes which both contribute to aerodynamics and weight reduction. These also promise not to give nasty surprises in sudden heavy crosswinds.



We're not too hot on this year's graphics though. The labels are smaller, subdued, monochromatic and tame compared to the 7850/7900's, which flaunt the brand for all the world to see. Adding to our eyesore are the funky wavy/tribal silver-gray colored swoops which adorn the rims.  The look comes out as neither stealthy nor sporty.  While not downright ugly, these take some getting used to.... and when you do, you still know at the back of your head that they will never be as sexy as the graphics on the old C24. 
      

Mr. Shimano, can we have these graphics back? Pretty Please???

We initially mounted RoadTubeless Hutchinson Fusion 3's to these fine wheels. However, we gave up due to some major issues with the tires. Most locally available Fusion 3 stocks have developed cracks where they were folded, necessitating the use of sealant to hold air. To add to our frustration, even the sidewalls of the Fusion 3 began to leak air near the logo. This is very disappointing considering our positive past experience with their Fusion 2's. 

Keeping in mind previous issues with Dura Ace wheels and some sealants, we decided to forego RoadTubeless altogether and mount our erstwhile favorite tires, the Continental GP4000s. In went matching Race 28 Light inner tubes to complete the combo. As previously mentioned, rim tape is not required as the inside surface is perfectly smooth.  


On the road, the new generation C24's deliver what C24's of old always have: stiffness and comfort. While these two properties are often at odds with each other, the C24 somehow manages to deliver both in spades! Rough asphalt vibrations are muted enough to give road feedback without being uncomfortable... and take note, we tested at 120psi. There is no doubt in our minds that lowering this to between 90-115 PSI would result in an even better ride.  

When the time came to amp up the watts, the rear springs into life, and rapidly propels the bike forward... almost taunting us if we're giving it all we've got!   

Freewheeling is silky smooth. If you're after the tunog mayaman (loud ratchety metallicsound, then these hoops aren't for you.  The sound the C24s make is suave and muted. Easily drowned out by traffic.  

Braking is very good, although we have to give half the credit to the excellent BR-9000 stoppers  we have in our Foil. 

Looks aside, The 9000 series C24-TL's are hard to fault. Neither a purist climber nor full on aero, these wheelsets do everything else perfectly and then some. It takes what's great about the C24's of old, adds incremental - but much appreciated improvements and gives us a new standout all rounder.  Add to that Shimano's bulletproof reliability and you have yourself a winner. 

Verdict

Solid all rounder. Bulletproof and tubeless-ready. Graphics are a somewhat off but only by a little bit.

Click here for my review of the Dura Ace 9000 C50!







Read more »

TOUR Magazine Epic Tire Test

The folks over at Conti-Online in Germany have archived this epic tire test/review and is available as PDF download.  The test was conducted by the German Cycling magazine TOUR way back September 2007. Old data but still valuable information. 

 TOUR - Resistance Fighters (click to download)

The test criteria includes, but is not limited to, rolling resistance, puncture resistance and grip. This is the most comprehensive Road Cycling Tire test we have ever encountered so far and is definitely worth the download! The folks from TOUR used a special test rig to push each tire to it's absolute limit, culminating in the test rider losing grip! SEMPLANG! 


Image courtesy of Continental


The Continental GP4000s emerged as winner. Based on first hand experience, these tires are quite hard to fault. Light enough for racing, tough enough for touring and training.... more than jack of all trades. 

Clincher honor roll: 

  1. Continental GP 4000s - 1.0
  2. Schwalbe Ultremo - 1.2
  3. Michelin Pro 2 Grip - 1.5
  4. Michelin Pro 2 Race - 1.8
  5. Continental GP 4-Season - 2.0
  6. Schwalbe Stelvio Rain - 2.2
  7. Hutchinson Fusion 2 RoadTubeless - 2.4
  8. Hutchinon Fusion 2 - 3.3
A surprising finding in the test is that top line clinchers are better than the best tubulars. See for yourself! 

So click the link above, read the review and share your thoughts below! 


Read more »

Review: Tate Labs Barfly for Garmin


Mention the word Garmin and you think GPS. Whether your'e talking automotive, running or cycling GPS, Garmin has a product for it. 

One thing Garmin overlooked (until very recently), however, is a bicycle mount for the excellent Edge Series. 


Sure, the supplied mount and industrial strength rubber band system does a more than adequate job at securing the computer to your bike, BUT, it gets some minus points for looks. I mean.... rubber bands???


Enter the Barfly. 


Coming Tate Labs, the Barfly takes Garmin's trick twist computer mount and integrates it with an oversize (31.8 mm) handlebar mount. 





The Barfly's 1/8th Turn mount compatible with the whole Edge series (200, 500, 800) and the 910XT and 310XT watches as well. 



The Barfly is made from an engineering grade plastic called Delrin, a Polyoxymethylene. As such, it's strong enough for its intended function and very light weight. A metal nut is embedded on the underside of the unit where the screw bolts in to secure the barfly onto the handlebar. Weight is 19 grams inclusive of screw.



As seen above, be prepared to suffer a weight penalty of 12 grams when swapping out the default Garmin mount for a Barfly. 

                                     

The Barfly slips easily enough around the bars and installation is self explanatory. Recommended torque is 'snug by hand'. No torque wrenches needed here. 

                                      

The Barfly handles the Edge 200 and 500 with ease and copes with the Edge 800's weight. The computers are displayed prominently and at a neck-friendlier angle.  



The Barfly lacks the familiar 12 o'clock 'lock' position which the default Garmin mount has. Instead, the computer is free to be positioned securely anywhere in between the 9 o'clock and 3 o'clock positions. No issues from this at all, except that we probably had gotten used to the 12 o'clock lock of the default.


The Barfly comes in a variant for time trial bikes.... the aptly named Barfly TT. This version is designed to mount on the clip-ons instead of the handlebars proper. 





I mentioned at the start that Garmin overlooked this market and was noticeably absent from the computer mount party. Tate Labs, K-Edge, Quarq and now even SRAM have mounts for the Edge series. But this is no more. Garmin is about to release their own mount called Out Front 





The uninspiredly named Garmin Out Front features a hinged handlebar clamp and repositionable entry/mount...you can have your computer mounted in the 12/6 o'clock or 9/3 o'clock positions. We'll definitely take a look at this once it comes out. 


Garmin accessories are akin to Apple's in that they have become unreasonably expensive for what they are. We got our Barfly for around Php 2,150. Abroad these cost USD 40, which may be a bit too much for something which isn't really a Cycling essential. 


But as they say, if you gotta have it, by all means bite the bullet and go for it!


Verdict


Gives your cockpit a neater look. Newer revised version 40% cheaper. 


Return to RoadieManila HQ

Read more »

Review: Sidi Wire Vent Carbon - On the Road

Continued from SiDi Wire - First Impressions.


As is often the case for Cycling Shoes, liking one is a matter of "if the shoe fits". 

I'm lucky to have the proper foot shape to be comfortable inside SiDis. It should be noted that these brand shoes are pretty narrow compared to it's competitors. if you have wider than normal feet don't fret, it's common practice to order a size bigger on these anyway so voila! Problem Solved. 





On the road, the Wires performed admirably. The first thing a new Wire owner would notice is the stiffness! The Carbon Vent soles are really rock solid! And speaking of Vents... the Wire's closeable vents are definitely more than a gimmick! I experienced no heat buildup through 100kms of riding. This is especially noticeable inside the toe box area. After riding, the bottom of my socks felt noticeably cooler compared to what they would have been if I used my Genius 5 Pro. I'll definitely be keeping these closeable ports permanently open. 


Heel lift is definitely addressed by the HSS. As mentioned in SiDi Wire - First Impressions  a little bit of lift is still present.  My right boot had more lift compared to the left one. Hinting perhaps that a bit more tweaking is required.


I'm a bit annoyed at opening the topmost Techno III wire closure system though. Again, two hands are required to completely loosen the mechanism. The micro-adjustments are also too fiddly to be practical.  I guess I just got too spoiled with the 5-Pro's ratchet release.... just pull the red tab and presto! Oh well, can't have your cake...


That said, it's still has it's advantages over strap and ratchet, particularly on comfort.  If you're the type who doesn't need to adjust your shoe during a ride, the choice between wire or ratchet-strap is a no-brainer.   


The much ballyhooed SiDi America insoles did their job well. Well in the sense that I did not notice anything about them. They just look better and the bottom is covered with a thin cloth layer compared to the Genius 5-Pro's bare rubberized foam. 






Compared with the 5-Pro, the Wire provided a better cleat position as i was able to position the ball of my foot closer to the crank arms. It made a world of difference as my knees are now tucked-in throughout the 360 degrees of pedal motion. 


I heard that some guy named Peter Sagan field tested this and they say he's an okay rider so I'll take his word for it :D. 



Peter Sagan Field Testing the Prototype SiDi Wire (note: Marked Ergo 3) 


And finally, I just have to touch back and mention the color once more. When Dua Daddy and I pulled up on a rest stop. You can see every cyclist in attendance eyeballing the boots. On  sunny days,  you can see flashes of yellow reflecting on your sunglasses... WHILE looking straight ahead! :) 


Good? Bad? Who cares?! 


These are simply the best road shoes you can get right now! 




Verdict

Stylish and functional. Extremely comfortable provided your feet fits. Can be too narrow for some. The best. 


Return to RoadieManila HQ

Read more »

Review: KMC X11SL Gold on Dura Ace 9000 (YES IT WORKS)

Bicycle Chains...

Perhaps no other bicycle part is more unremarkable than the humble chain. That said, no other component must be as tough, durable and reliable as bike chains as these have to transmit all the Cyclist's power from the cranks to the cogs. 

In comes KMC, a name synonymous to chains not only for bicycles but for motorcycles and other applications as well. KMC is an OEM supplier to a lot of Bicycle and component manufacturers aside from marketing their own product.  These guys know their chains. 


On hand is their flagship product for 11 speed groupsets, the X11SL. You can throw out unremarkable and humble out the door, as KMC put a lot of thought in designing these chains. Initially developed for Campagnolo 11 speed groupsets, we at RoadieManila found that these work adequately perfectly well with the new Shimano Dura Ace 9000 group.





The first thing which stands out is the color. The X11SL we have on hand is Gold (colored - not plated). This chain screams BLING in all the world's native languages!



Aside from looking all pimp, KMC claims that this coating actually serves a purpose. The gold color is an after effect of its proprietary Titanium Nitride coating. This hard coat serves to protect the chain from corrosion as well as reduce friction between the coated material and whatever it comes to contact with e.g. cogs and cranks. 


But this is not the only trick up its sleeve....




Looking closer at the links, we can see that it has hollow pins and slotted links, weight saving measures found in most high end chains. The pins are mushroomed (flared), which offers increased strength compared to straight pins found on lesser chains. 

Also shown in detail above is the chamfering work and double-x stamps done on the links. These features make the chain snag on to the next gear faster, smoother and quieter.


The chain also goes through what KMC calls a 'stretch-proof' treatment. 


A Missing Link 11 Gold for every X11SL kit. This makes the chain a breeze to install. No crazy expensive Campagnolo tool needed to close the links, simply align the holes to the opposite pin and pull. 




It's worth noting that KMC says these are non reusable and for single use only. But I have heard of people disassembling the Missing Link 11 to clean their chains and reassembling them to no issue. In fact, my mechanic says that it's safe to reuse at least once. But again, reusing the Missing Link-11 will  be at your own risk


Taking out the chain cutter, We trimmed down the X11SL to 105 links, same as the recently removed Dura Ace. These came in at 217grams. Compared to the CN-9000, the KMC's came in 7 grams lighter. 



KMC X11SL - 105 Links

Shimano CN-9000 - 105 links

The Missing Link 11 - 2 grams



On the road, we definitely confirm KMC's claims of better shifting. It may be hard to believe but the X11SL improves on the standard CN-9000 chain's already smooth shifts.  The X11SL is also a tad quieter than the 9000, as the soft mechanical hum of the DA 9000 drivetrain is a bit less noticeable now. The only thing that's loud about these chains is the color, though a more subdued version in Silver is also available.   

The price? It may be the most expensive chain out there but considering all the features you get and the cost of OEM Shimano or Campagnolo, the price is actually quite reasonable. 


Whether your'e a Shimano 11-speed newbie looking for an upgrade or a Campy 11 user looking for an alternative, these 11-speed chains from KMC are hard to beat. 


[UPDATE] We tried out the KMC X11SL Silver as well. Same features but less costly, this one might be better - value wise. 


Verdict

Inexpensive, bling and sexy, works well. Quick release is one-time use only though.
Return to RoadieManila HQ

Read more »

Sidi Wire Vent Carbon - First Impressions

So yesterday I got a much anticipated SMS from my suking cargo forwarder Johnny Air Cargo which started with a plea:

"Pls bear with us, pick up your package as soon as possible, need more space for our next shipment..."


Being December, things have already heated up as far as shipping and deliveries are concerned. I would have happily obliged Johnny Air's request for immediate pick-up but had to let a few hours pass dotting T's and crossing I's. 


The fuss was all bout these.... 




A fruit of Black Friday were these fine pieces of Italian Cycling art from the fine folks at SiDi. These, Ladies and Gents,  are a pair of SiDi Wire Vent Carbons.   These shoes sit at the top of the Sidi food chain which, in my opinion, effectively makes them the top road shoe in all of bikedom.

The first thing anyone would notice about these is the color. Taken straight off the Stabilo Boss palette, these Fluorescent Yellow boots are so bright they almost scream RADIATION! Seriously, these pictures don't do the shoes justice. In bright sunlight, it seems that light is actually emanating from the SiDi's. They're that bright.    


Once your pupils get the hang of the brightness, you'll immediately notice the quality and all the fine details of these shoes. 

These boots are just class.

The Vernice outer is shiny our of the box and promises to be easier to clean than my Genius 5 Pro's Lorica finish. The stitches are done just as how you'd expect from an Italian Craftsman.

Aside from being 62g (claimed) lighter than the Ergo 3, the ex-king of the SiDi range, the Wire carries over most of the features of its predecessor. Most noteworthy of these are the Vent Carbon Sole, Heel Security System (more on this later) and user replaceable wear and tear parts.  


But what makes the Wire a Wire is the use of SiDi's Techno 3 closure system. This replaces the ratcheting strap system used by the Ergo 3 and roughly 90% of Cycling shoes out there. It is important to note that previous Ergos have used a similar system, dubbed Techno 2, to secure the front and mid parts of the shoe, but only now has the Techno system been used to secure the shoe all throughout.

This system was actually bannered by Specialized, and then Scott sporting a similar closure system from a company called Boa. Sidi counters this (in the manual at least) by stating that they had a similar system in place since the 80's/90's. Why they dropped this system and brought it back just now still remains unexplained. :) 

According to SiDi, using strings instead of straps applies even pressure on your foot when tightening up the shoe, something which I would totally corroborate. The Techno 3 system is a joy to tighten; just flip up the switch on the circular knob and twist away. However, if you're used to one handed loosening of the top strap, you'd better practice and relearn this as I found that loosing the Tecno 3 is a bit of a two hand affair. 

That said, I still believe that shifting to Techno 3 is a good move in terms of performance and aesthetics. The top of the shoe looks clean, devoid of the familiar three straps of the typical road shoe. This also allows for better upper foot ventilation via the mesh and perforations in the tongue.  


On the underside, you'll find SiDi's Vent Carbon sole finished in traditional carbon weave. Don't be surprised if one day we'll have a version using unidirectional carbon, the current finish of choice/fad. Here we find the replaceable toe and heel pads, metered cleat holes and of course, the closeable vents. 


Thread lock applied to the vent closure screw. Good Job, Sidi! 


I admit to skepticism on the effectiveness of these vents. But inspecting the shoe from the inside gives evidence that air channels do exist inside the sole. I'm not about to wreck my shoe to find out! The insole's holes align perfectly to those inside the shoe, but whether or not they actually work needs an actual ride to find out.  





The wire looks black when viewed from the rear. The yellow oval accents are actually safety reflectors. The plastic SiDi heel cup is where you actually anchor your foot in and where you should base your fit.  

On top of the heel cup is SiDi's Heel Security System or HSS. It's job: eliminate power robbing heel lift. I must say, this does an excellent job at that. HSS works like a vise; your heel basically gets squeezed in by HSS so the rear of the shoe clings to your foot throughout the 360 degrees of pedal cycle.  Heel lift is still there, but is greatly reduced to the point of being almost unnoticeable. 

Tightened HSS

As expected of a Carbon soled shoe, the stiffness screams out almost as loud as the Fluo Yellow Vernice although SiDi claims to have engineered in a bit of flex in the name of comfort. Performance aside, walking around on top of a slippery bit of Carbon Fiber may be unnerving. To help protect the sole, Sidi provides a small bit of 3M Safety-Walk slip resistant tread. This is the exact same material you'll see on the stairsteps of the conscientious.  

Ignoring SiDi's instructions to put the sticker on the pedal, I put mine where I'll likely need it... behind the cleats. This gives me some peace of mind while I rest my unclipped foot on the pedal before coming to a complete stop.

Black Look cleats - Not for the Faint of Knees



 With Look zero-float cleats installed, a single shoe weighs in at 350 grams. This is inclusive of a 1 gram bolt used to affix Look's memory position plug (weight weenie alert! haha). 





All in all, there's a lot to like about the Wires. I mean, A LOT. 

If you can't stand the sheer audacity of these boots, sidi offers them in tamer colorways of black, white and boring :) 


A Speedplay specific model is also available, saving you a few grams by ditching 4 to 3 hole adapters. 


An intriguing variant is the Wire Carbon Air model. As you can see, the whole surface is perforated which promises supreme ventilation. Unfortunately, this model is only available in select regions. 





I'm so pumped about my pumped up kicks! The only worry I have right now is that I'll scratch these too pretty shoes when I ride! 


But RIDE THEM I WILL!



[UPDATE 22 DEC 2012] We survived the Mayan Apocalypse and reviewed the Wires on the Road! Please click the link to read the review ->  Review Sidi Wire Vent Carbon - On the Road



Verdict

Comfortable closure mech, good ventilation, flashy color and style, functional heel retention. Expensive but worth the asking price. 


Return to RoadieManila HQ

Read more »

Much Ado About Jerseys

Every Cyclist must surely have fond memories of his first kit. 

Chances are, the kit you wore when you first snapped into your clipless pedals are a far cry from the dye-subbed jersey and bib you flipped into the laundry chute last Sunday. 

Jerseys would easily be the earliest of non-bike upgrades for most Cyclists. Nothing outside of a new bike brings more road presence and impact than a spanking new kit. 

My first jerseys were hand me downs from fellow Roadies eager to get new blood into Sport and increase the numbers, so to speak. But over the course of the following weeks, I felt that I needed something more appropriate to wear. And sure enough, I was visiting all four corners of LBSdom looking for my next kit. 

Choosing which Jersey to buy next boils down to four basic mindsets:  

Type One: Bike Matching - Matching jerseys with your bike and/or showing off the Brands
Type Two: Fanboyism - Getting your Man-Crush's kit or your favorite Pro-Tour Team's 
Type Three: Below the Radar - No ads, just low profile jerseys
Type Four: Retro - Tapping into the rich designs of the past 

By no means are any of the above mutually exclusive as you can buy all the jerseys you want. But in my experience, most Roadies will either go 1 and/or 2, then 3 and finally end up with 4. 

NOTE - Your own Team jerseys are not included as more often than not, you have no choice but to wear it.

Samples: 


Type Ones - Excellent choices if you actually rode the brands.




Type Twos -  No explanation needed





Type Threes - Understated elegance




Type Fours- Class




Hybrids can exist between classes. For example, an Eddy Mercx Molteni-Arcore jersey, can fall between Types Three and Four. 

As with all things, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Cycling Jerseys are no different. 

Me personally, I've made the shift to Type 3/4. I think everyone does over time. 

But whatever you prefer, you can be sure that someone, somewhere has a jersey to suit you. Pun intended.


......and Cycling Caps go well with everything. 



Return to RoadieManila HQ



*images are copyright of the respective brands


Read more »