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Thread: Tech Questions

  1. #1
    Senior Member Trekathlete's Avatar
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    Tech Questions

    I am a cat 5 racer and did about 5 local "practice" crit's last year but I am looking to get into more road racing this year. My rig is a 2006 trek 1500 and although it is a great steed I wish I had a more up to date bicycle but my finances wont allow me to get one at this time.

    I also have a Cervelo P2 for my triathlons that I do with my wife and a club I am part of but I really think I enjoy actual cycling better. So I thought I might try to convert my P2 into a worthy road racer but browsing through the forums here I found that it is ill advised to do something like that.

    So my question is what can I do to make my Trek feel more updated. The drivetrain is a 3x9 and I top out sometimes while sprinting against friends after a casual ride and they end up beating me, i feel, because my gearing tops out. I think that by swapping out the drivetrain it might help give some more years to my Trek before I can afford to go out and get a new carbon machine.

    I really want a new bike but can't afford it so basically what can I do to make my old one be a worthy advisory without paying an arm and a leg in upgrades. What do you think? Any advice would really help me a lot.
    2011 Cervelo P2
    2006 Trek 1500
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    Making a kilometer blurry waterrockets's Avatar
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    What is your finishing cadence at the end of those sprints? You should be able to sprint with good power into the 120rpm range, and not start to peter out until after that. With a 50/11, that would put you at ~43mph. In a 50/12, that would be 39mph. You're not likely to see speeds that high in a Cat 5 finish, so your gearing is likely fine.

    You likely need to do some form sprints.

    Bumping the drivetrain rev can be a great upgrade for a bike though. It can give you some mechanical confidence in that it's newer and more crisp.
    Last edited by waterrockets; 02-18-13 at 12:25 PM.

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    First make sure the bike fits.

    Second, what WR said.

    Third, for a quick upgrade just take the wheels off your Cervelo and put them on the Trek.

    Your 2 bigger chainrings are about standard for a regular race bike and your top speeds should be in the 38-40 mph range. If you were doing tris then you're probably lacking top end power because that's useless in tris but the thing that makes mass start racers racers. The frame/fork are fine. If you're not nicely positioned on the bike then get the fit down. You can probably be a bit aggressive with fit as you already do tris.

    With proper fit, decent wheels, and clipless pedals you're good to Cat 3 on that bike.

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    soon to be gsteinc... rkwaki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carpediemracing View Post
    First make sure the bike fits.

    Second, what WR said.

    Third, for a quick upgrade just take the wheels off your Cervelo and put them on the Trek.

    Your 2 bigger chainrings are about standard for a regular race bike and your top speeds should be in the 38-40 mph range. If you were doing tris then you're probably lacking top end power because that's useless in tris but the thing that makes mass start racers racers. The frame/fork are fine. If you're not nicely positioned on the bike then get the fit down. You can probably be a bit aggressive with fit as you already do tris.

    With proper fit, decent wheels, and clipless pedals you're good to Cat 3 on that bike.
    His Majesty RK agrees with this post...
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    Senior Member Trekathlete's Avatar
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    I can swap wheels but the cog on my Cervelo is a 10speed where my cog on my trek is a 9 speed so it wouldn't help gearing in anyway I would just be upgrading wheels. The Trek is a 52cm and I am 5'8 and I am pretty comfy on it, my Cervelo is a 51cm and I was fitted to it by a specialist.

    I am not sure of my cadence when I am sprinting against my friends but I feel that I am topping out the gearing but I could be incorrect because I doubt we are sprinting any faster than 30mph+-5 and when sprinting I'd rather have more power than a higher cadence IMHO. This could be because of lack of road training and being a Tri guy.

    The crank on the Trek is a 52-42-30. The cog is a 12-26. I think from what I am getting from this topic is that my frame is good but I think i'd still like to get rid of the 3 chainrings up front and update to a 10speed in the rear. I don't know why but the 3 chainrings up front really bugs me.

    Also maybe a proper road fit as well. I am pretty sure the frame is my size although when I was looking at bikes when I bought this one they also had me ride some 54cm bikes.

    What do you think?
    2011 Cervelo P2
    2006 Trek 1500
    1998 Specialized Stumpjumper M2 Pro

  6. #6
    Senior Member Trekathlete's Avatar
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    Also am I correct in saying that you guys all beleive that the shimano r500 wheel set is better than the bontrager select wheel set?
    2011 Cervelo P2
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    Senior Member Brian Ratliff's Avatar
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    With your top end gearing being 52/12, you are definitely not toping out your gearing in a sprint; especially not at 30-ish mph. There might be reasons for upgrading your bike, but your gear ratios are not one of them.
    Cat 2 Track, Cat 3 Road.
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    Senior Member ericm979's Avatar
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    I'd suggest getting a 39t middle chainring. The granny ring doesn't weigh much and it won't slow you down. 52x12 is plenty of gearing. You are running of of gearing in sprints because you aren't spinning your pedals fast enough. That's something to work on. You don't need that for tri but you do for racing.

    To use your other wheel set you would need to take the 10sp cassette off and put a 9sp one on. It's not difficult. All you need is a lockring tool and a chain whip.

    To upgrade your bike to 10s you will need new shifters, a 10sp cassette and 10sp chain. The shifters are expensive. You don't need 10sp to race.

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    Senior Member grolby's Avatar
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    As everyone else is saying, the gearing on your bike is not the problem. Upgrading (if one could call it that) your triple to a double crank is probably the least cost-effective change you could possibly make to your bike. Frankly, I wouldn't bother. If the three rings are bothering you, it's probably out of self-consciousness. I would try to forget that. The most cost-effective things you can look into are your fit, and your contact points with the bike: handlebars, pedals, saddle. Make sure these are all positioned properly with respect to one another to give you the balance of comfort and power that works best for you. It's worth paying for a pro fit. Ask around to find out who is good in your area. And make sure you like all of these parts. If you don't like your handlebars - get new ones. If you don't like your saddle, get a new one. If you don't like your pedals... etc. It's easy to think that what you need is a fancy new bike or upgrades, but people often really overlook the quality of their shoes, clothing, etc.

    The suggestion to switch the wheels from your TT bike to the road bike is a good one, and the difference in speeds isn't a problem. You only need to swap the cassettes when you do this. Depending on the specifics of the currently 10-speed rear wheel, you might need to add a spacer behind the 9-speed cassette to make sure everything is snug. I would suggest having the LBS doing the swap for the first time so they can make sure that everything you need (e.g. the spacer) is in place and your shifting will be good. They can also show you how to do it yourself and sell you the necessary tools, which are a cassette lockring tool and a chain whip. This will cost you maybe $50, at most, and you'll gain a useful skill. Just switch the wheels back and forth as needed. It's about a 2-minute job once you have the tools.

    ETA: At various times, I've raced on 1980's steel bikes with DT shifters (and that was in the 2000s, not the 80's). These bikes were nothing fancy even when they were new in 1987 or so. Obviously, the 10-speed Ultegra, CF fork bike I have now is better, but I still raced the crap out of those bikes and even had some decent results on them. I'm not the type to claim that equipment doesn't matter, but there are much higher priorities than having the most fashion-forward, technologically up-to-date bike there is.
    Last edited by grolby; 02-18-13 at 03:23 PM.

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    Making a kilometer blurry waterrockets's Avatar
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    Yep. Your number one priority here should be to learn to develop power at higher rpm. You have got to get comfortable with it, then you will develop more power at the higher cadences than you ever could have from the lower cadences. Pros sprinters are finishing races at ~115rpm, and that is their ideal gearing.

    Do some downhill sprints in the small ring. Do some long rides 5rpm higher than usual. Start experimenting.

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    Senior Member jsutkeepspining's Avatar
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    I always liek t bring up my gearing issue just to show not that everyone should ride with a 53/15 as their biggest gear, but that you need ot learn to spin
    cat 1-o-meter: wtf am i doing??????
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    Senior Member ericm979's Avatar
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    You need a 1mm spacer behind a 10sp cassette when used on the 9sp splines (which is what is on nearly every Shimano compatible wheel). The 9sp cassette is 1mm wider than the 10sp cassette.

    The spacers come with 10sp cassettes.

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    The two wheelsets you mention are basically interchangeable in terms of function. Pick whichever one is lighter. I made an assumption that your Cervelo had some kind of aero wheel set, i.e. Zipp 404 or similar.

    You should be able to put your Trek cassette on your Cervelo wheels, but if the wheels are functionally similar then it's a moot point.

    I bet that if you got a short cage rear derailleur (aka an 18/20 speed derailleur) and removed the 3rd ring that you'd be happy with the way the bike looks. The long cage rear derailleur is what gives the triple away, not the 3rd ring. There'd be a minor chain line issue but basically you'd be optimizing for going fast (52x12-14) instead of medium (52x15-19).

    The 52/42 chainring set is fine for any normal crit. In most races I don't use the small ring because any time you shift your front derailleur you risk screwing something up. Even if it's a shift every 10,000 shifts, if that shift is in a race and you can't recover the chain then you're out.

    Couple illustrations on speed. First, a 39x11 top gear (53x15 equivalent) and I can outsprint a Cat 2 (he got second in that sprint which was not for the win).


    Second, pulling at 35 mph. Seated, this is not a sprint. Starts around 10 minutes in.


    Once you learn speed you can make that bike work.

    The one upgrade I'd make for a crit is to get a closer ratio cassette, 11-23 or 11-25. You might be able to pick up a 9s cassette on the cheap. Combined with a short cage rear derailleur (and removing the small ring) you'll be set for drivetrain.

    Then get a longer, lower position. I'm guessing that if the bike is close to stock that you have a pretty upright position, based on the pictures of 2006 Trek 1500s that pop up on Google. That position will do more to destroy your top speed than anything else.

    Hope this helps. Keep asking questions.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Trekathlete's Avatar
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    Thank you to all of you for your reply's and help. I think I will keep the bontrager wheels since I think they are pretty much comparable and mess with getting rid of the third chain ring and maybe changing up the cog on the back end.

    I will also work on my fit. I am not sure about how much longer I can go but I can go lower but I usually gradually lower it as the season progresses because I have been off my bike for 3 months now and it would be quite uncomfortable off the get go.

    I know that to get better I will need to ride a lot more often as well and I typically do during the season but this off season has been one of the worst just for life reasons (new house, got married, and slammed with work). If any of you have more suggestions I am totally open to them. Thanks again.
    2011 Cervelo P2
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    Making a kilometer blurry waterrockets's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trekathlete View Post
    If any of you have more suggestions I am totally open to them. Thanks again.
    Are you listening to the suggestions on learning to develop power at higher rpm? I'm not making it up, if you train it, your power ceiling will go up. It doesn't feel more powerful at first, because the pedal force feels lighter, but the gear ratios are giving you a better mechanical advantage. Combine that with the fact that you will train your legs to fire at full force in a quicker timeframe, the you actually will have the same peak pedal force a the higher revs. Same force at higher rate = more power.

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    Senior Member Trekathlete's Avatar
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    How do develop my power at higher Rpms?
    2011 Cervelo P2
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    Wheelsuck Fat Boy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trekathlete View Post
    How do develop my power at higher Rpms?
    In short, keep the same amount of pedal pressure and increase cadence. Initially, you'll bounce around in the saddle from poor pedaling form, but if you stick to it, you'll smooth out your pedal stroke and spinning higher cadences will not be that big of a deal. Do the drills that WR recommended. Sprint downhill in low gears. Pedal like mad. In a low gear you should be able to see north of 150 rpm cadence. 200 would be better. Fast guys can go faster than that. When riding down the road or on the trainer, put it in a low gear and pedal along at 110 rpm for 5 or 10 minutes straight. You'll go slow, put out little power and your heart will beat too fast. You'll be inefficient, but if you continue, there will be power there.

    It will take time. People spend decades playing with their pedal stroke. They're always a work in progress.

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    Once a week I do a ride where I force myself to be above 110 rpms at all times. When I first started doing those rides, it made my legs burn and I could really feel it working my cardio, but now I'm much more comfortable at high rpms. I really recommend working on spinning faster.

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    Making a kilometer blurry waterrockets's Avatar
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    Another note, I'm not suggesting a change in your general riding-at-threshold cadence (that may or may not be a good idea -- separate subject), but you should learn to develop power at higher cadences when necessary, and in sprints, it's necessary and more powerful.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trekathlete View Post
    How do develop my power at higher Rpms?
    I'm no expert, but you might consider getting a fixed gear with a fairly low gear ratio. I rode around for about a year at 42x17. At first, I couldn't ride it any more than 20mph (roughly 120 rpm) or so, because the cadence got too high for my comfort level. Bobbing around in the saddle and all that. But after a while, I could ride it well above 30 mph (160-170 rpm) without feeling like I was spinning out.

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    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    Agree about developing higher cadence. FWIW: In my personal experience, my observations have been that to pedal at high cadence efficiently and without bouncing, you need to "pedal in circles." The tendency at lower cadences to use the leg to generate power on the down stroke then let it coast passively around until it hits the down stroke again. At high cadences, the leg still generates the power on the down stroke, but other muscles actively help the leg/foot get around the rest of the circle, rather than ride passively. Another factor that helps prevent bouncing is pedaling with the knees close to the top tube (if this works for your physiology) as it helps keep the plane of motion of the CG of each leg passing through your total CG.

    IMO pedaling at high cadence requires appropriate neuro-muscular conditioning which is most quickly accomplished through high cadence, very low resistance drills where you concentrate on pedaling as fast a possible without bouncing. To me, it comes to feel like pushing my feet forward and backward rather than up and down. Of course as resistance is added, the cadence drops a bit and the vast majority of power is still generated on the downstroke, but the leg and foot are powering themselves around the rest of the circle and not going for a free ride.

    I can't isolate the effect of the increased cadence from the rest of the training I was doing, but perhaps the most notable subjective effect was that many stretches that seemed laborious before seem nearly effortless by comparison.

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    Senior Member shovelhd's Avatar
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    Do a spin up exercise every training day. Start at a low rpm and increase your rpm by 10 every 15 seconds or so. Keep increasing until you cannot hold that rpm, then hold it for 30 seconds.

  23. #23
    soon to be gsteinc... rkwaki's Avatar
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    To increase cadence efficiency it is not circles you pedal but rather ovals, the motion is out and down.
    I ride at a fairly high cadence ~95 for long road rides (this coming from someone with significant legs/power). I often see guys trying to grind out their gears only to wear themselves out quickly (not to mention hard on the knees).
    My first coach developed us to ave the 95 cadence in our head at all times. It works.
    "if you ride it the way it's meant to be ridden there's no way any wife is less of a ***** than a bicycle." - gstein

  24. #24
    Senior Member Trekathlete's Avatar
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    I think I will definitely need to upgrade my garmin from the 200 to the 500 and get the cadence down. I bid on an older 2 chainring ultegra crank that should bolt on. It is a 53-39. I only did this for my personal satisfaction.

    Once I upgrade my bike computer I will work on getting a proper fit on my road bike. I thought I had it pretty well dialed in because I am always messing with my fit on my cervelo but I could have something wrong that'd prevent some top end speeds.

    I will definitely incorporate the high cadence training into my training plan and see where that gets me. So while commuting I might use a gearing such as hank suggested 42x17 to help to develop my cadence and power.

    There is so much I do not know about cycling. Thanks for all your help and suggestions, I will try to incorporate as many suggestions as possible into my training that seem logical and seem to work. Thanks.
    2011 Cervelo P2
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  25. #25
    Senior Member Trekathlete's Avatar
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    Also I have pedaled at high cadences before on a training bike with no resistance. It was an indoor triathlon and I was above the 120rpm limit of the machine because it was blinking at me 120rpm. I did it for about 45 minutes which for the distance I was doing it was unrealistic but since I was able to keep my rpms up that long it incorporated it as speed and distance. So I believe I have the ability to keep a higher cadence but I probably need to practice it more. Which I can do.
    2011 Cervelo P2
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