Monday, September 29, 2008

Equipment Choices

I spent a lot of time analyzing, perhaps overanalyzing our setup for Everest Challenge. In the end the bike performed beautifully with no mechanical issues whatsoever.

The Robusta is a pleasure to ride. At 29lbs and relatively stiff, it climbs beautifully. It's rigid enough to climb well out of the saddle, corner fast and descend at speed.It really feels like riding a high end single racing bike.

Gearing.. The bike came stock with 53/39/30 and a 12-27 cassette. We changed to a 26 inner chainring. The 26/27 combination was low enough to climb about anything, and allowed us to maintain a high cadence even on steeper sections.

Brakes. I went back and forth on whether to use a rear disc brake. The Dura Ace calipers clearly have sufficient stopping power. The concern was that with the very long descents, excessive heat could be a problem, with the worst case scenario being a high speed blow out. As it turned out, the rim brakes were more than adequate. Most of the descending on EC is relatively straight, and not terribly technical. We just weren't on the brakes that much. We hit a maximum speed of 52mph. We could have descended faster, however a couple of places where you would really fly unchecked were narrow one lane with other racers still coming up, or had a little bit rough surface covered in mottled shade. Thus, the risk/reward calculus kept us at or under 50mph for most of the descending.

Avoiding the weight penalty, and the setup complexities of the disc brake was definitely the right choice for us, and we gave up nothing on the descents. We would have descended just as aggresively with the disc brake.

Tires. At a team wieght of 340lbs, we debated going with 25c or 28c tires. We ended up with 25c Continental 4000's. So far no flat problems at all, and at least subjectively, the feel like they have lower rolling resistence than the 28c's that came on the bike.

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