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Old 09-13-12, 10:20 AM   #1
goose70
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Help on Bike Upgrade (or Not)

I realize that the 41 is the place to argue about what bike is best, but since this is race-specific, I figured I’d give it a try here. I also realize these “what should I do!?” posts can be narcissistic, but since I'm considering popular frames, I’m hoping that this discussion benefits others as well. So, with that preemptive mea culpa, here goes:

One season of racing has given me upgraditus, as carefully orchestrated by the USAC/UCI-global-bike industrial complex. I realize that nutrition, sleep, training, tactical savvy, etc. all play a greater role in racing success. Assuming that I’m working to improve all of those things anyway, what bike, if any of these, would you choose for mid-distance racing (with probably a few shorter circuits/crits tossed in)? Any of these would be fitted either with SRAM Force or Ultegra/SL-k. So, for cost, replaceability, availability and local serviceability reasons, here are my possibilities:

November (w/November 50mm carbon clinchers): http://www.novemberbicycles.com/

Cannondale CAAD 10-3 (w/50mm Boyd carbon clinchers): http://www.cannondale.com/2012/bikes...-ultegra-20025

SuperSix frame (w/Boyd carbon 50mm clinchers): http://www.cannondale.com/2012/bikes...-ultegra-25362

I own a CAAD-9 with various upgrades and race it on Soul 30m alloy clinchers. It find it to be comfortable and much livelier/better in corners than my old Trek 2.1. So, one option is to just keep it, especially if none of the above-mentioned bikes is likely to offer even a small-but-noticeable performance improvement. (I can here the bike industry folks organizing the hit squad now.)

Not surprisingly, my most important criteria are cornering and stiffness/acceleration. I have briefly test ridden the two Cannondales and have teammates who speak highly of the November frame. I did not perceive much of a difference on the Cannondales compared with my 9. In fact, I felt that I cornered better on the 9, but the test bikes were only roughly adjusted to my fit and I was very tentative when I rode them. I obviously need to take them through their paces more thoroughly.

Thanks for your input.
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Old 09-13-12, 10:25 AM   #2
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I race on a Caad 9. It was good enough to get me to Cat 3.
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Old 09-13-12, 10:33 AM   #3
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I suspect that most Cat 3s could whip me with a CAAD9. I'm just wondering -- and possibly falling into a predictable trap -- whether these "upgrades" would provide any objective, noticeable performance improvement, particularly with respect to corners and efficiency of power transfer (or anything else I'm too uninformed to consider).

I realize that the answer may simply be "no," or that it's too dependant on my particular physiology/riding style to answer here. That's fine. I'm just trying to cover my bases before making the decision.
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Old 09-13-12, 10:38 AM   #4
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No...
I ride a heap of a bike and it's good enough for me.
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Old 09-13-12, 10:39 AM   #5
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Keep the 9.

Buy better wheels if you're having an itch. You're not upgrading anything by getting rid of the 9 unless the money's burning a hole in your pocket.

Spend it on a quarq or srm instead.
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Old 09-13-12, 11:49 AM   #6
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Keep the 9.

Buy better wheels if you're having an itch. You're not upgrading anything by getting rid of the 9 unless the money's burning a hole in your pocket.

Spend it on a quarq or srm instead.
A power meter upgrade is great idea! Thanks.
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Old 09-13-12, 12:11 PM   #7
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Not a racer (I know) but own a November. Wrapping up my 2nd season on it, and VERY happy with the bike and with the price-performance. They are a breeze to work with when you need help with something, and if not DC-area, there's email and overnight shipment. Their business model limits opportunities for instant-gratification, but for the price, I can plan ahead. They sell some nice-looking wheel sets, including a powertap hub option. Spend balance you'd have spent on a new bike instead on winter training program, coaching, whatever.
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Old 09-13-12, 12:16 PM   #8
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none of those seem like a big enough upgrade over your current frame set to invest the money in
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Old 09-13-12, 01:02 PM   #9
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^ what he said.

To distract yourself I'd focus on transferable stuff, stem, bar, saddle, pedals, cranks, etc. If you want you can think about brakes too. I've been using the same build kit since 2004? Thomson post, Ritchey stem, crit bend bars (I have a couple different types but from 1997 until 2010 I used a Mavic crit bend bar), San Marco Titanio saddles. Nokon housing since 2003 or 2004. Etc. These transfer from bike to bike.

The main upgrades will be wheels and a powermeter. I'd go with a crank based powermeter, at least for now. Pedal one may be good too but there's history/availability with the crank based. You can also get multiple wheels without breaking the bank on (power) hubs.

Wheels - I'd get some lighter and taller wheels. The Stinger 6s are nice (I have them so I can speak for them). They're light (1500g or so), 60mm tall, very aero, and usable in most flatter situations. I'd avoid the front Stinger 6 on anything over 50 mph.

(pause for Junior who is upset after 4 shots to the thigh)

Okay he's asleep. I corrected the Stinger 6 weight above. So Stinger 6s or similar for a primary set of race wheels. If you want to get crazy you can do the low/high set up I'm trying to attain - two front wheels (short, like 35 mm, and medium, like 60 mm) and two rear wheels (medium, like 60 mm, and tall, like 90 mm). You can do any type of event with those 4 wheels - over 50 mph descents, gusty wind, lots of tight turns, long straights. Get all same width rims, same make rear hubs. This avoids minor adjustments to the rear der every time you swap wheels. Between my three HED rear wheels the derailleur works fine; even between Reynolds' hubs and Campy hubs I had to fiddle with the rear derailleur.

Get training clinchers to match your race wheels, especially if your race wheels are wide (Firecrest, Stinger, etc). HED's new carbon clinchers look really appealing to me as they have the same profile as the Stinger 6. As an FYI the "wide" aluminum clinchers are not wide at all - I have to turn my barrel adjuster 5 turns between the HED Stingers and the HED Ardennes. If I had normal narrow clincher rims I'd have to re-anchor the brake cable. With HED's new carbon clinchers I wouldn't have to worry about rolling down my very steep driveway and realizing that, oh, I forgot to turn the barrel adjusters. I realize this when I basically bottom out the levers on the bars...

Powermeter - if I could I'd get the SRM wireless. I have the SRM wired and it's okay but there's a maintenance cost associated with it. HR straps, wiring harnesses (they seem to break every 12-18 months), batteries (you can do it yourself but it takes more than using a quarter to turn the battery cover). You have less choice with BB - you have an English threaded BB so you want to get anything that works with that. If you can get an SRM where the arm comes off then you can change crank lengths without changing the whole SRM. My Cannonale SI SRM is nice because I usually switch from 175 to 170 to 175 each year (modular arms).

The wireless is nicer - no wiring harness, some ANT+ sensors, etc.

I don't have any experience with Quarq but it seems they're less than 100% reliable. SRMs are very dependable.

Last edited by carpediemracing; 09-13-12 at 01:35 PM.
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Old 09-13-12, 07:41 PM   #10
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Thanks for taking the time to put all of that together....very valuable info. I think this is at least the third time you've provided a detailed, helpful response to one of my questions and I really appreciate it. Hopefully, I get to the point sooner rather than later that I can provide some useful info back in return!
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Old 09-13-12, 08:59 PM   #11
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No...
I ride a heap of a bike and it's good enough for me.
Yeah, that BMC is SUCH a heap, you big chubby egotist.

ANYWAY, OP, no bike is going to improve your cornering. Cannondale designs race bikes that handle right. Any further improvement has to be all you. Personally, I would focus upgrades on contact areas - shoes, pedals, saddles, etc. Those will make you a lot happier than carbon wheels, really.
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Old 09-14-12, 04:39 AM   #12
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+1 on contact points. A long time ago I read somewhere that I should get my saddle upgraded first. I've been using the same model so long that it's kind of automatic. Bars can be critical - (I hope) I'll be getting a custom frame for 2013 based on the bars I want to use (FSA Compact). Because of the bars the BB height and top tube length will change dramatically.

+1 on Cannondale's handling. My two custom frames have the same front end, modeled after the SystemSix that I rode just prior to getting the frames. The SystemSix was the best handling bike I ever rode, hands down. I have just one acid test around here - a hard right curve at the bottom of a 45-ish mph descent. On the SystemSix I blew through that corner about 5 mph faster than normal, about 45 mph, and I felt totally confident in being able to switch my line (same build parts for contact points, literally the same wheels/tires as my prior bike). On other bikes I started getting nervous at about 40. I wish I had a tapered headtube on my current frame - if I did I'd be using Cannondale's Slice forks. Since I can't get a tapered HT I'm using what I can find (3T works well and I have an ENVE 2.0 when I rebuild my original Tsunami).

I actually responded because of a teammate/friend of mine - he went from a Cat 5 to Cat 3 on the same CAAD8 frame. Junior's crying distracted me so I forgot this. Friend/teammate upgraded some wear items, updated for fit, and got tubulars (DV46). He also has carbon clinchers for training (58mm Williams).

He's won at least one Tuesday Night A race (I've never won one), he's gotten 2nd in a very tough crit, and he's even soloed here and there (7 laps was the longest and it got him in the money). He posted about his experiences. At the time he was less experienced and less likely to tackle any mechanical stuff on his bike.

His bike is almost like it was in 2008 (when I made some somewhat radical recommendations on his fit):
http://suitcaseofcourage.typepad.com...-cleaning.html

His first race on that fit, and thoughts on the radical change:
http://suitcaseofcourage.typepad.com...ay-racing.html

His first "real" (not Tues Night, of which he won 3 in a row) race on that fit:
http://suitcaseofcourage.typepad.com...iver-crit.html

Finally, from me, an editorial on team bikes. It's also a commentary on what's important on a race bike:
http://sprinterdellacasa.blogspot.co...team-bike.html
I love when someone rides a lower end bike with a full on racing position.

Once the race starts the equipment fades into the background - it took me pretty much all year to realize that a (different category) teammate of mine was racing 105 on an aluminum frame. I assumed he was racing Ultegra on a carbon because, to me, the bike seemed totally sufficient. (Disclaimer: he went out and bought a carbon bike with Ultegra. Heh. He also got 90mm carbon tubular wheels.)

Locally the kick ass Cat 1 team rides Raleighs with SRAM. Yes they use (relatively shallow) carbon wheels in races and they have some nice parts but the bikes could easily be equipped with Force or Apex and they regularly work over the others while riding Mavic non-aero aluminum clinchers.

Believe me, I'm the epitome of a rider afflicted with upgrade-itis. I had a 25 lbs full suspension mtb 15 years ago - I upgraded the snot out of it, CNC everything, all while racing an unchanging road bike (I raced that particular mtb once, DNF). Now my upgrades are long term, either transferrable (usually fit related) or long term wheel things (subscribing to the concept of wide wheels for example). My current (custom) bikes weigh about 16-17 lbs in race trim (tubulars, bare bike otherwise), another pound or two with clinchers, and some of the parts are from 2002-2005.
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Old 09-14-12, 05:28 AM   #13
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I realize that the 41 is the place to argue about what bike is best, but since this is race-specific, I figured I’d give it a try here. I also realize these “what should I do!?” posts can be narcissistic, but since I'm considering popular frames, I’m hoping that this discussion benefits others as well. So, with that preemptive mea culpa, here goes:

One season of racing has given me upgraditus, as carefully orchestrated by the USAC/UCI-global-bike industrial complex. I realize that nutrition, sleep, training, tactical savvy, etc. all play a greater role in racing success. Assuming that I’m working to improve all of those things anyway, what bike, if any of these, would you choose for mid-distance racing (with probably a few shorter circuits/crits tossed in)? Any of these would be fitted either with SRAM Force or Ultegra/SL-k. So, for cost, replaceability, availability and local serviceability reasons, here are my possibilities:

November (w/November 50mm carbon clinchers): http://www.novemberbicycles.com/

Cannondale CAAD 10-3 (w/50mm Boyd carbon clinchers): http://www.cannondale.com/2012/bikes...-ultegra-20025


SuperSix frame (w/Boyd carbon 50mm clinchers): http://www.cannondale.com/2012/bikes...-ultegra-25362

I own a CAAD-9 with various upgrades and race it on Soul 30m alloy clinchers. It find it to be comfortable and much livelier/better in corners than my old Trek 2.1. So, one option is to just keep it, especially if none of the above-mentioned bikes is likely to offer even a small-but-noticeable performance improvement. (I can here the bike industry folks organizing the hit squad now.)

Not surprisingly, my most important criteria are cornering and stiffness/acceleration. I have briefly test ridden the two Cannondales and have teammates who speak highly of the November frame. I did not perceive much of a difference on the Cannondales compared with my 9. In fact, I felt that I cornered better on the 9, but the test bikes were only roughly adjusted to my fit and I was very tentative when I rode them. I obviously need to take them through their paces more thoroughly.

Thanks for your input.
If you did you probably wouldn't have a thread on a bike upgrade but instead one on how to improve your nutrition, rest, training, tactical savvy, etc...
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Old 09-14-12, 07:33 AM   #14
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If you did you probably wouldn't have a thread on a bike upgrade but instead one on how to improve your nutrition, rest, training, tactical savvy, etc...
But a bike upgrade is much easier.
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Old 09-14-12, 08:07 AM   #15
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If you did you probably wouldn't have a thread on a bike upgrade but instead one on how to improve your nutrition, rest, training, tactical savvy, etc...
Actually, I have started at least on such thread and have read/jumped into others. But I also have some very helpful folks offline who help me with training and nutrition, and came into cycling much more knowledgeable about nutrition and fitness than I am about bikes. But my point is that I don't see how looking into bike upgrades, on the one hand, and training/nutrition, on the other, need to be mutually exclusive (although I take the points made in this thread that one category outweighs the other by even more than I had presumed).
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Old 09-14-12, 08:18 AM   #16
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your first paragraph contains a wealth of wisdom
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Old 09-14-12, 09:38 AM   #17
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+1 to what Gary said.

Also, I would save your money for racing - travel expenses and race entry fees.

Just race as much as you can, and I promise you it will be expensive!
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Old 09-14-12, 09:54 AM   #18
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+1 to what Gary said.

Also, I would save your money for racing - travel expenses and race entry fees.

Just race as much as you can, and I promise you it will be expensive!
+1 and look for deals. Racing on new stuff is an even more costly venture and I won't do it.
My recent aquisitions (all under $400)
1. Zipp 404 with Tires
2. Wired SRM
3. Powertap Elite+
4. Mavic Carbone Ultimate
5. Mavic Kysrium SL

And under $75
Rudy Project Sterling (BNIB)

And $30 and under
1. 54T Sram TT Ring
2. Deda Zero Stem
3. New 22mm Tubulars
4. Bell Ghisallo Helmet
5. 3T Ergonova bars
6. Selle Italia SLR

If you are patient and persistent you can upgrade a ton of stuff for not much money and most of this stuff is going to get smashed up anyways especially if you are racing a bunch.
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Old 09-14-12, 11:33 AM   #19
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+1 and look for deals. Racing on new stuff is an even more costly venture and I won't do it.
Seems like good advice. I think that I was falling into the trap of "I'm racing now, my job prevents me from training as much as the other guys, every engineered advantage counts!" Of course, that path takes me away from why I starting racing in the first place, which is (1) to have fun and (2) stay motivated about keeping in shape.

Bottom line and to summarize all of the advice: If I do purchase one of the above-listed bikes, it's strictly because I want a new toy, not because it's going to make a difference in my racing. And in fact, if I do make such a purchase I'd still be wise keep my 9 and continue using it for races. But most likely of all, I'll probably just keep the 9 and, if I must spend money, look for deals on select component upgrades.
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Old 09-17-12, 09:53 AM   #20
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Seems like good advice. I think that I was falling into the trap of "I'm racing now, my job prevents me from training as much as the other guys, every engineered advantage counts!" Of course, that path takes me away from why I starting racing in the first place, which is (1) to have fun and (2) stay motivated about keeping in shape.

Bottom line and to summarize all of the advice: If I do purchase one of the above-listed bikes, it's strictly because I want a new toy, not because it's going to make a difference in my racing. And in fact, if I do make such a purchase I'd still be wise keep my 9 and continue using it for races. But most likely of all, I'll probably just keep the 9 and, if I must spend money, look for deals on select component upgrades.
We all have lives outside of cycling. In general, cyclists and bike racers are fairly ambitious people. You'd probably be surprised how many more hours you're not putting in at work than other bike racers. Race whatever you feel most comfortably and fastest on.
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