Bringing back the Cycling Cap one Domestique at a time

Review: KMC X11SL Silver on Dura Ace 9000

For no particular reason, we decided to go monochrome on the Foil and replace the KMC X11SL Gold links on my bike to the more more color-appropriate X11SL Silver. To no one's surprise, the Silver chains performed exactly like the Golds.

Features

Feature wise, the Silver version X11SLs is exactly equal to the Gold, except that instead of the Titanium Nitrate coating, we have a less highfalutin coat made from plain old Nickel. That said, we felt no difference whatsoever between Silver and Gold. Both of which feel smoother and are quieter that the stock Shimano links.

Full featureset and corresponding advantages as follows:


  • Hollow Pins - Reduced weight compared to Solid Pins
  • Mushroomed Riveting - Increased Pin strength vs. Straight Pins
  • Inner and Outer Plate Chamfering - Smoother shift action
  • Bushingless Construction - Lighter weight, Greater durability
  • Noise Reduction - self explanatory
  • Double X Stamped Outer Plate - Faster Shifting 

Cut down to 105 links, the chain weighs 218 grams. 1 gram heavier than the X11SL Gold we had installed. We wouldn't make too big of a deal of this as that single gram difference falls within an acceptable 0.5% margin of error.   


Master Link

Supplied with the kit is a color matched KMC Missing Link 11 master link. Unlike the 10-speed version, this is a one-time use item. Measured weight is 2 grams. 



Installation

Apart from a chain breaker to cut the chain to the proper link count, installation may be performed without any specialized tools. Both ends of the chain should expose 'inner' links as the Missing Link is an outer link. Simply route the chain through the proper channels along the crank, jockey wheels,cogs and back, insert the halves of the Missing Link to the opposite sides then align the pins properly. Once aligned, we have to lock the pins in place by putting on the brakes and giving the cranks a good whack! A strong click sound would indicate that the pins have properly seated in the groove. 

The chains are well lubricated from the factory so your'e all set! 

However, while fairly easy to install, they're quite hard to take off. Unlike our past experience with 10 speed Missing Links, these were not hand-removable. We had to get specialized tools in order to properly uninstall the Missing Link on the Gold chain we were replacing. No issues for us since the pliers were inexpensive. 

Once removed, the old chain was cleaned with some Cylion branded chain degreaser (which worked particularly well), lubed and stored for future action. 



On the Road

As previously mentioned, we found no perceptible difference between these Silver X11s and their blingier brothers, the Golds. Shifting action is smooth and the chain is very quiet. 


Verdict

Top performers! Smoother, Quieter and 7 grams lighter than stock. Slightly cheaper than the Gold version.  


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Review: Fizik R1 Uomo

By Joachim Rayos

 I bought a pair of the 2012 Fizik R1 Uomo early November. After about a dozen plus rides on them, I would like to share my impressions. Please note that these are the outgoing R1 Uomos. For 2013, Fizik has revised their shoe line so this does not apply to the new ones as seen on their website now. Thus, you may be able to find the outgoing R1 and R3 shoes at a discount (like I did at an LBS).

Out-of-the-box, the shoes present themselves to be a really premium item. Even the box itself looks posh. Highlights are the kangaroo leather outer material, sailcloth straps, multi-material composite sole, and SIDAS flash-fit moldable insoles. The SIDAS insoles themselves cost around $90 and it is a bonus to have them included with the shoes, so consider that when comparing prices with other shoes.


Fit

The shoe's fit is can be tuned in two ways. First is via the moldable SIDAS insoles and secondly, by removing a foam insert on the tongue. Sizing was true to my Sidis, I picked the same 40.5 size for my Fiziks - but this may be slightly different from other shoe brands. Toe box room is very roomy compared to Sidi and was my main reason for trying out the Fiziks.  The contentious part is the arch/foot volume. On my first ride I encountered unbearable hot spots on the tops of my feet. Stopped mid-ride and removed the tongue foam insert - problem solved instantly. 

Over the next few rides I did get various hot spots on the ball of my feet, after a few rides and moving the cleat around slightly to find the sweet spot this has cleared up. The shoes will also take a while to break in as they are real leather. I did notice a bit more arch support and less heel cup support with the R1 Uomos.  An added bonus is that the SIDAS insoles can be flash-fitted more than once, and I may return to the LBS to get these re-flashed now that the shoes have been broken in.

Aesthetics

The R1 Uomo looks killer in white, very fashionable in that Italian sense. I get compliments almost every ride. The downside is that they are, well, white and are a bit of a dirt magnet. Another guy I know has the black version, which I wouldn't really recommend from an aesthetic point of view. With black socks on, he looks like he is riding in dress shoes. I do prefer the aesthetics of the R3 better, white but with a black toe area.

On-the-bike

Stack height is a bit higher, so raise your seatpost ~5mm to compensate. I still placed my wedges in between the cleats and the shoes. Once you nail the cleat position and saddle height, there is not much to say. I can't tell if it is the shoes or the insoles but they seem to damp more vibration coming through your feet. Standing up, they feel stiff and have a nice rebound. I was told the muti-material sole is designed to be stiff in some areas and compliant in others; maybe it is that but I do like the road feel.


Verdict

I do recommend them but test them out before you buy, preferably with an LBS with a good return policy. The fit takes a while to dial in.

Positives: Premium materials and construction throughout, premium moldable insoles, excellent toe room. Discounted now that they are being replaced by redesigned 2013 models.

Negatives: Fit can be finicky, high stack height. These are the same feedback points Fizik has addressed with the 2013 redesign.


Notes: 

  • Compared to the R1, the R3s use Microtex instead of kangaroo leather and do not have the SIDAS insoles. Both models use the same sole though, so the feedback on fit would apply to both.
  • Potential buyers should try both the 2012 and 2013 models side-by-side to see if one fits better than the other. 


~ Thanks for sharing this excellent review, Joachim! - RoadieManila








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Review / Update - My Scott Foil 20


I just recently found out that Scott has moved from the US to Switzerland. I guess I can stop dreaming of having a Euro bike since I already have one (harharhar!). Anyhow, it's been three months since I switched to Scott.  And I have grown very fond of my Foil 20 and its quirks. Coming from a previous generation superbike, the 2010 Cannondale Supersix Hi-Mod Liquigas, and moving to a modern mid-level frame isn't much of  a 'downgrade' as i had initially expected.


The fruit of Scott's F01 project, the Foil is one of a slew of frames to incorporate aerodynamic considerations into the standard roadie. Indeed, if one isn't aware that the Foil is an aero frame, it just looks just like any other modern all carbon frame. But those unique triangular tubes are what makes the Foil unique. Instead of replicating the standard airfoil shape, Scott just took the leading edge of this shape and formed a rounded triangle from it. Brilliant; but why reinvent the wheel? Simple - the airfoil shape, while being the most aerodynamic, is not good in the stiffness department.  By forming the triangle, both stiffness and aerodynamic requirements were served. 



Chillin out in MoA

The brains behind this is aerodynamicist Simon Smart, whose name is now prominently featured in uber chic Smart-Enve wheelsets. With great experience designing Formula One suspensions, Smart certainly has qualifications in creating wind cheating, high strength  tubes. He reckons that the Foil shape is the best compromise to the often conflicting stiffness and aerodynamic demands of the project. 

Being a tech-head and gear-head, I was sold. 

Made with HMF-NET high modulus carbon fiber, the mid-level Foil 20 can easily pass for a top of the line model few years ago. The mid-level label does not do the Foil 20 justice. It's only mid-level since there are Foil models made with an even more exotic kind of carbon fiber, which Scott calls HMX-NET. At the top of the Foil food chain sits the likes of the  Premium and Team Issue editions. These are even lighter and stiffer that the HMF Foils.  

However, I think I can manage without the 20% extra stiffness and 100 or so less grams of weight. I appreciate the additional bills in my wallet though. Given the erratic supply of bicycles locally, I was forced to scour the local classifieds for my new frame. I found a slightly used Foil 20 frame, recently replaced by Scott because of the then unresolved seatpost clamp issue. The frame came in matte black which, in my mind, sealed the deal. 



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The Foil 20 is a definite upgrade over the Cannondale in all but one department: ride quality. The Foil's ride can easily be described as harsh especially coming from the superb ride of the Supersix. However, I choose to look at it in another way... the Foil is a pure racer. 

With the frame question resolved, time to move on to the second biggest bike build dilemma... the gruppo. Fortunately, I had this problem was solved even before I decided to switch frames. 

The groupset of choice is Shimano's excellent Dura Ace 9000. I had it on the Super Six for a few weeks and transplanted it to the Foil. In my opinion, this is the best all around groupset available this moment, especially if you factor the price. Vastly improved over the 7900, the 9000 has almost supernatural braking, flawless smooth shifts, consistently light shifting action, funky modern looks, much improved ergonomics, 11 cogs and a sub 2000g total weight - the latter two firsts for Shimano. In case you haven't noticed yet, yes, I love this group.   

Countless people have gushed at how good shifts feel and actuate....  and boy, does it indeed! What took a while to warm up to were the cranks. While I initially hated the assymetric 4-arm cranks, I have to say that they have grown on me and now actually like the look. It can't be stated enough: This group is excellent!

The WH-9000-C24-TL wheelsets also got carried over with the group, but I eventually decided to go aero all the way and replace them with WH-9000-c50-CL hoops .  This change added quite a bit of weight to the bike; around 400 grams, give or take, but doing so solidified the setup's wind slicing intentions.  It also helps the aesthetics as well. ;-)   


Tires of choice remain Continental's Grand Prix 4000s. I temporarily swapped out the 23c's in favor of 25c's for a comparison review, but will go for a staggered setup (FR: 23c, RR: 25c) once this has been written. The GP4000S has been scientifically proven to be the best all rounder tires by Tour magazine. If you guys read any of their past tests, you know how hardcore and thorough these guys are when it comes to technical testing.  



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Wanting to maximize the 11 speed cassette, off went the 11-28 climbers and in came the 12-25. The advantage of the 11 speed cassette is essentially negated with the 11-28 since I wasn't using the 11T and the 28T that much. With a 12-13-14-15-16-17-18-19-21-23-25 gear setup, the 12-25 is perfect suited for the rides I do nowadays.

I'm probably the last person anyone would mistake for Tony Martin, so going to standard cranks is not yet an option. I prefer compact cranks. My original choice, the 52-36, is still nowhere to be found but I do plan to switch to these eventually.   

Keeping things black and gloomy, I pulled a color switch on my Antares 00 from white to black. Of course, the bartapes had to match. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get any black S-Wraps and had to settle for Ritchey corks.

For the cockpit, I switched from FSA's OS-99 CSI and K-wing to 3T's Arx LTD and Ergonova LTD. This was done for purely aesthetic purposes (color matching). The K-Wing may be the most user-friendly bars I ever used; raised tops, internal cable routing and all. The silver lining in this is that I dropped more bits of alloy and swapped them with with UD carbon.... a good 84 gram weight savings.   

The old reliable Look Keo Blade Ti's got carried over and are paired with zero-float cleats. The blades are tight and look very nice. At 186 grams a pair, these are among the lightest non-speedplay pedals out there. On a side note, I strongly recommend zero float cleats to everyone with knee problems. Yes, you read that right. Float may actually be one of the causes of knee pain and using floatless cleats may relieve it. It may be hard to believe but I switched to these and ain't coming back.   

My mile counter is the recently deprecated Edge 800. And while it's a bit of a brick, it does come with a large touchscreen. I got this unit Stateside so it came with a North America map. Haven't had the time to research how to install a free one for the Philippines. I love the size of the display as all the data fields I need are shown at once: Distance, Speed, HR, Cadence, Calories, Time and Time of Day. Having a touchscreen is a godsend as there's no fiddling around with buttons while in the middle of a sufferfest.  The Edge is mounted on Garmin's Out Front computer mount. This makes the cockpit look particularly clean and neat. 




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At its lightest, the Foil got a bit below the UCI 15 pound weight limit at around 14.9 pounds, however, the switch to the C50's and some other heavier bits got me back up to around 15.6. Not entirely super light but still very very very acceptable.  All I need now is a setback Foil seatpost and everything will be just right! Just have to find time to drive to the dealer in Quiapo to order the part though. 

Well, I guess that's it. Only a true bike geek would have read and made it this far.

Congratulations!  

~Armand

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Review: Garmin Edge Out Front Computer Mount

Late to the party but definitely still worth letting in is Garmin's Edge Out Front computer mount. Garmin finally punched out a proper handlebar mount for their ubiquitous Edge GPS bike computers. They join battle against mount pioneers Tate Labs, Quarq, K-Edge and recent competitor, SRAM.  

Garmin's mount oozes quality. The plastic material feels more substantial than that of the Barfly and it doesn't rely on the familiar 'stretch the ring' method to clamp it onto the handlebars. The Out Front actually has a hinged jaw to make mounting a breeze. The hex screws all mate to metal bolts instead of just plastic. And, as typical of Garmin,  the necessary mounting tools come with the package, this time in the form of a black Allen wrench. 







Said wrench is also used to change the orientation of the computer. From the default 12-6 o'clock orientation to a 9-3 o'clock. All it takes is removing the screws underneath, reposition the actual mount and replace the screws. As configured for oversized bars, the Out Front weighs 27 grams. If used with standard handlebars, the added rubber bushing will add an extra 4 grams to the weight. 

Installation was a no brainer. Just open the hinged jaw, clamp over the bars, then tighten. Instructions say to tighten to 0.8, but we just hand tightened until it was nice and snug. No torque wrenches required. 

We particularly love the way the Out Front positions the Edge 800 unit. The length is perfect and most importantly, the height is too. The computer more or less sits flush with the top of the stem, unlike in the Barfly 1.0 where it appears to be on top if it (Tate Labs has since released a redesigned Barfly which mounts the computer a little lower).  


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On the road, the Out Front easily holds the heaviest Garmin Edge, the 800, with secure confidence. No rattles, squeaks or anything untoward was observed. And like the included rubber band mount, the Edge effortlessly goes in and locks into place.  HOWEVER, we did find it mildly irritating that the Edge's orientation is not perfect. As tested, the computer was mounted slightly askew.  Lightly rotating it straight works but for something which is supposed to be an official product, this is a turnoff. 

That said, we still prefer the Out Front over our previous mount. The superior low and forward position of the computer seals the deal for us. 

Retail pricing for the Out Front is $40. While this would have been acceptable pricing during the middle of last year, Garmin's competitors have rethought their pricing and prices have gone down. Tate Lab's revamped Barfly 1.1 goes for $25. Sram's Quickview is even more affordable at $20. At this pricing, it's a bit hard to recommend the Out Front from the practicality standpoint. However, if you find the two position mount useful, or maybe just like the way it displays your computer, then the Edge Out Front is for you. 

Verdict

Perfect computer position, Extremely easy to mount. Expensive and computer is a bit askew. 

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