My High Tech Road Bike: The 2018 Edition

Last year I bought a new road bike which I used all season long to not only ride in Newfoundland, but take part in the GTA Epic Tour last year. This year, I’ve decided to amp it up a notch. I’ve made two significant changes to the bike which will make it faster than it already is.

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As you can see, I have new wheels installed thanks to the fine folks at Chain Reaction Bicycles in Toronto. I decided to move away from aluminum wheels to carbon fibre wheels because carbon fibre is not only light, strong and stiff but is also perfect for creating aerodynamic shapes. Seeing as I ride an aero bike, that means that in theory I can get some extra speed via these wheels. Thus I made the move to Giant’s SLR 1 Aero front and rear wheels. These carbon fibre wheels are 55 mm in depth which allows one to cut through the air more efficiently. I was toying with going with a shallower depth wheel like 40mm or 30mm because I was was afraid of crosswinds blowing me all over the road. But I’ve ridden in some windy conditions over the last couple of weeks and the winds are a non issue thus far. When it comes to weight, carbon fibre can be lighter than aluminium. But these wheels only weigh 60 grams less than the ones that they are replacing. I went that route because I am willing to take a bit of a weight penalty to get some extra durability. In terms of if they live up to the speed promise, the answer is yes. I’ve set some personal records on Strava since getting these wheels on roads where I can spin up to 40 Kph or faster which is where the advantage of having these wheels comes into play.

To add to the wheels, I got Mavic Yksion Pro UST tires which are tubeless tires. To explain what tubeless tires are, let me take a step back an explain the other tire technologies that bikes use:

Tubular: These are tires that have an inner tube sewn into them thus it makes up a single unit. Then the tire is glued to a compatible rim. The advantage is that this setup has low rolling resistance and great stability because it’s a complete unit. The downside is cost. Some of these tires cost upwards of $400 or $500. Which is why only racers tend to use these tires.

Clincher: This is what you commonly see on bikes which is a tire with a completely separate inner tube inside which are mounted to a compatible rim. While the cost is much, much lower. Rolling Resistance is higher than tubular tires. Which means you have to put in some extra work to get up to the same speed. You also have to run them at high pressures to avoid “pinch flats” which is what happens where a clincher tire with lower than normal pressure pinches the inner tube and creates a hole which causes the tire to deflate.

Tubeless tires changes things by being a tire that does not use an inner tube at all. Thus you’re eliminating the weight of the tube along with the rolling resistance that the tube creates by rubbing against the tire. The tire and the rim must be compatible because the tire has to create an air tight seal along the edge of the rim. But assuming that they are, it brings out a second advantage. You can run these tires with lower pressures which increases comfort if you’re doing something like the famous Belgian cobbled climbs used in races like the Tour Of Flanders or the pave of northern France that is used in the famous Paris Roubaix bike race. Another addition is the introduction of liquid sealant inside the tire which can fill in small holes on the fly. Meaning that the chances of getting flats while you ride should be greatly reduced. The final advantage is price. You’re basically getting performance approaching tubular tire levels for slightly more than the price of a clincher tire. I’ve been using these tires for a few weeks now and they live up to their promise. I even had something puncture the tire on my most recent ride and the sealant kept me rolling.

One other change that I’ve made for 2018 is not on the bike, but with my helmet. I have acquired the Mavic Ksyrium Pro MIPS Helmet. Every cyclist regardless of age, ability or where they ride should wear a helmet as it is entirely possible to crack your skull riding a bike at walking speed. The key reason why I went with this specific helmet is that it has the MIPS system in it. This is system that is designed to protect your head, brain and neck from the rotational forces of a crash. In short, the helmet takes those forces so that you’re likely to have a brain, neck, or head injury. Or reduce the severity of those injuries. I got mine in day glo yellow to ensure that I am seen at all times by motorists when I cycle as every little bit of safety helps. If you look closely at the picture above, you may notice that I am also using lights to add to my safety on the road. I am using this combination of front and rear lights because they blink to alert motorists to your presence both in the daytime and at dusk. Another reason is that the cycling club that I belong to requires the use of lights on all club rides to ensure the safety of all who participate.

I’ll be riding this bike in at least two events this year. I’ll be doing the 65K event at the Gran Fondo Ottawa in July, and the 80K event at the PWC Epic Tour in September. I may add a third event this year. But we’ll see. In the meantime, I am out riding multiple times a week putting in the miles to make sure I am in shape for those events. If you have any questions about this bike and what’s on it, please leave a comment below and I’ll be happy to answer it. Right now, I think I’ll go out for a ride.

 

 

 

 

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