My High Tech Road Bike: The 2019 Edition

Two years ago, I bought a new road bike which I used all season long to not only ride in Newfoundland in 2017, but take part in the GTA Epic Tour later that year. In 2018 I amped things up by getting a new set a carbon wheels and some cutting edge tires. This year, my upgrades are a bit more interesting. But first, here’s the bike for 2019:

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From a distance, it looks the same. But it’s not. And there’s one change that isn’t pictured here which I will get to later. But first, let me get to the two changes that you can see.

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The first change is this saddle which is the Specialized Power Pro saddle. I went with this saddle as I thought the saddle that came with the bike was slightly too narrow for me. So I went down to the fine folks at Chain Reaction Bicycles in Toronto and they had me spend some time with a Digital Sitbone Device from a company called Retül. What this device does is that you sit on it and measures the width of your sit bones so that it can help you to pick the perfect size of saddle without any guess work. I can say that this system works perfectly as this is one of the most comfortable saddles that I’ve owned. Speaking of the saddle, the shell is made of carbon fibre, and the rails that bolt onto the seat post are titanium. That combo along with the padding gives it stiffness when you put the power down, yet it also gives it compliance that makes it comfortable. You’ll also notice that there is a hole in the middle of the saddle. That’s to relieve pressure in “sensitive” areas for men.

The second change to the bike is this:

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This looks like a normal crankset. But it’s not. It’s a Shimano Dura Ace R9100-P power meter that my wife gave me for my birthday.

Best. Wife. Ever.

A power meter is a device fitted to a bike that measures the power output of the rider. Most commonly, power meters use strain gauges that deflect slightly when a force is applied. By measuring this torque and combining it with angular velocity, power (measured in watts) can be calculated. It also measure cadence or how fast I pedal. That eliminates the need to have a separate cadence sensor. Virtually every pro cyclist uses a power meter so that way they can train and race effectively.

Having a power meter, especially one that is of pro level quality like this Shimano Dura Ace R9100-P power meter, has helped to change the way I train because a power meter measures exactly how hard I am working regardless of the terrain, the conditions, my fitness, or any other factor. And it will give me figures that I can meaningfully compare over time to gauge my progress. My speed over a set course might be affected by a headwind, for example, and give me a false impression of my fitness, but measuring power tells me exactly what I am putting out. It will also analyze how I pedal in terms of which leg puts out more power (I float between 48%-52% for left and right to 49%-51% for left and right. Only once have I got a perfect 50%-50% split) as well as how smooth I pedal. Both are important for making sure that I put power down to the wheels efficiently. I’ve only had this since March but I’ve already used it to move my Functional Threshold Power or FTP which is the max output in watts over a 20 minute period to 223W. To put that in perspective, Chris Froome who has won the Tour De France four times, not to mention the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España one time each has an FTP of 414W. The higher your FTP, the faster you can go. And I have a long way to go to get to his level. If I could crack 300 watts I would be happy, Thus I am training around raising my FTP to see how high I can push it.

Now what you don’t see on my bike is another pair of wheels. Which I will show you below:

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On the right is the 55mm Giant SLR1 carbon wheel (well, the front one) that I got last year to make my bike more aerodynamic. On the left are the new Giant 30mm Giant SLR carbon wheels. So why did I pick these up from Chain Reaction Bicycles? Well, I did need a spare set of carbon wheels so I went for a 30mm version to give me an option if it is super windy. Specifically in terms of crosswinds which would make 55mm wheels impractical as I may be blown all over the place. Second, they are light at 1380g a pair (versus 1670g a pair for the 55mm version) which makes them ideal for really hilly environments where weight and specifically rotational mass as that matters in hilly environments or in the mountains of France or Italy. If you want to read the science behind that, Wired has a very detailed article on that subject. These wheels are quick to spin up to speed and they give the bike more of a sporting character than it had before. By contrast the 55mm carbon wheels need a bit more effort to get up to speed. But once I am over 40 km per hour they are fast because of the aerodynamic properties that they bring to the table. So in effect, I now have the choice of picking the right wheels for the environment that I am riding in. And having choices is always good. One thing that I did with these wheels is mount the same Mavic Yksion Pro UST tubeless tires as they have proven to be a great choice for me as tubeless tires have much lower rolling resistant, more puncture resistant, and make a bike a lot more comfortable to ride as they cut out a lot of the road vibrations if you set the pressure just right.

Besides a fair amount of training rides, the bike has already seen action at The Cycle For Sight this year. We also have the  PWC Epic Tour in September and in between my wife and I will be driving out to Prince Edward Island for a two week vacation where we’ll be riding all over the island. Thus the bike will get a lot of use this season. Speaking of which, it’s time to go out for a ride. See you on the roads.

 

One Response to “My High Tech Road Bike: The 2019 Edition”

  1. […] You can be sure that on our next ride which is by the seashore that I will be breaking out my 30mm carbon wheels that are less likely to be affected by […]

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