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  1. #1
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    A question regarding parts selection (kinda ramble-y/rant-y)

    In light of the recent threads regarding things like aero wheelsets and carbon ultralight frames, I'm just curious about people's motivation behind component selection.

    I'm very much of the ride-whatcha-got mindset, and firmly believe that the motor is more important than the vehicle it propels. I take this attitude from a few years of long/ultradistance riding with the Seattle Randonneurs and seeing guys pull off sub-50hr 1200k rides at PBP on restored bikes from the early 70s, and from my own experience with riding 100 - 200k routes on a singlespeed converted dumpster salvaged steel frame from the 80s.
    Some of my attitude stems from being a big guy and reading the marketing buzz and the R&D numbers behind new components. Sure, there's a lot to be said for a lightweight carbon frame and sub-1700g wheels when climbing a mountain pass. Same with aero seat masts, wing bars, and deep section wheels when time-trialing. But here's where my question arises:

    How much of a benefit are most of us actually realizing from these pricey technologies? For those of us not in the sub-15% bodyfat range, is there really a huge differential on a 16 mile climb with a 20 pound steel bike with a 1900g wheelset and a 16.5 pound bike with a 1500g wheelset? I'm not talking about projected numbers from kreuzotter or analytic cycling; I'm questioning real world clock time or measured wattage output. Is it significantly faster or more efficient? Similarly, given the math behind frontal area ratios to power output per mph increase, how much benefit is there to a 50mm deep section wheel for someone like me who presents the wind with a rather generous target?

    That brings up my next question (and the one most likely to cause a stir):
    What's the point?
    I understand why these things are important to guys like Cadel Evans. When tenths of a second separate the money-winners from the also-rodes, you need every advantage you can get: Light aero wheels, shave grams off all your components, etc. For the rest of us who aren't racing, who don't have sponsors stocking us with free parts, what's your motivation behind a $2000 wheelset instead of a $300 set, or a $2500 frame over a $600 frameset?

    Don't get me wrong; I understand that there are benefits to certain components and the price is worth it. I own a SON28 dynohub, I have Brooks saddles on many of my bikes, I spend the extra money for cloth rimtape when building wheels instead of using those plastic strips. But even on my racing bike I'm rolling on a sub-$200 pair of wheels and haven't considered investing more than about $450 in a new frame for next season, if I replace it at all.

    I'm not trying to be a jerk, or be discouraging towards anyone's purchasing habits. I'm honestly just curious about motivations behind it since I do see a lot of people who don't race, riding high end racing equipment. I can even accept "It looks cool and I'm a bazillionaire so I can buy whatever I want" if that's really your motivation.
    "I feel like my world was classier before I found cyclocross."
    - Mandi M.

  2. #2
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    I'm a "buy a piece of crap and bring it back to life" kind of guy.

    Also, I'm big and slow, so I don't waste my money on expensive parts.

  3. #3
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    I thought about this when I bought my Madone as the bike is higher end than my abilities justify. But I bought it because it was one of the very few bikes that would fit. I could have bought the Trek Lexa, which was aluminum and the same size, but I was down on the harsh ride of my aluminum hybrid and the LBS said the Madone was a substantially better bike. (Who know, maybe a sales pitch). I rejected custom partly because I did not think that it would get me much more for the money, and because I didn't want to fuss and wait with the building process. I wanted to ride. And at a point a pokey oldster on a high end bike is just pretentious. I feel borderline that way on the Madone. "Oh look, there goes an old woman at 12 mph on her carbon fiber bike! Ha Ha." The only thing I upgraded on the bike is the saddle.

    I like the the drive train works well. It shifts much better than my hybrid.

    Weight might make a difference for me because I am 110 pounds (former Athena). So a 17 pound bike is 15% of my weight but a bike that weighs 5 pounds more is 20% of my weight. Somewhere I read, and it might be bogus, that a bike which weighs no more than 12% of your weight is ideal. Now I am wondering where I got that from! By that measure, both my bikes are heavy.

  4. #4
    Fat Guy Rolling dcrowell's Avatar
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    Clifton, Part of it is "bling factor". *I* spend good money on shiny bling, not lightweight bling, but I think it's the same thing. You mention having a SON28, I have one also. Both of us could get by with a $40 Sanyo instead, but we don't want to.

    Goldfinch, A Madone heavy by your measurement?
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  5. #5
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    I misread the thread title as being a question about pants selection. I was going to tell you about some awesome ones.

    There's a lot going on here. Carbon fiber, and other composite materials, don't "like" to vibrate; they do amazingly well at stopping high frequency shock. This is one of the main reasons photographers like CF tripods. And it's something I can feel when I'm riding. My carbon frame is comfier than the metal ones I've had, even taking fit differences out of the picture. The CF wheels I've been on have felt more pillow-like than any of the metal wheels I've been on, with the same tire size and pressure.

    I bought a used, aluminum Cervelo Soloist for $500 this fall. Back in 2005, that was the bike to have, a great racer and all that. It doesn't climb as well as my carbon frame bike. The difference isn't weight; it's a 1 pound difference, but very noticeable. The carbon bike "starts" faster, probably for the same reason. You push down on the pedal, and it leaps forward. The metal bike can get to 20 mph more quickly, because of the aero tubing, but I can feel myself moving more quickly on the stiff CF bike.

    So, apart from comfort and handling (frame only so far), there's a benefit of having a light bike that would apply even if you were 500 lbs. I have a flight of stairs between my apartment and the street. It's nice to carry a lighter bike.

    Quote Originally Posted by CliftonGK1 View Post
    Sure, there's a lot to be said for a lightweight carbon frame and sub-1700g wheels when climbing a mountain pass.
    1,700 grams is pretty heavy! In my case, my wheels are toast, soon to be donated (Bike Works says they'll put the spokes and hubs to use). I need to buy a set, regardless. I could spend $300 on a pair of 2,200 gram metal wheels that will get me from A to B, or $800 for a pair of 1,072 gram wheels that I hope and expect to love. When I look at it that way, the lighter wheels seem like a better value; $300 is a lot of money to pay for something you won't like much.

    As far as wheels go, people can debate the rotational inertia thing until the end of time. I know that lighter ones feel a lot more responsive. And that the more aero ones I've been on have felt very stable under me.
    Don't believe everything you think.

  6. #6
    Junior Member opositive's Avatar
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    "what are you going to use it for?" is the standard i try to live by. riding for fun or fitness or competition lead you down radically different expense paths. i want to lose fat and become more aerobically fit--i already am pretty strong. as a big guy who does laps in the neighborhood before work and ventures out on the rail trails on weekends, i have a couple of older (i like restoring) steel frame bikes weighing in the low 20's with 36 spoke wheels that i bought for a couple of hundred each. even if i could exclude the expense factor, it would not make sense for me to have much more bike than i do. if i weighed less and rode more, i would have a different ride.

  7. #7
    Senior Member CACycling's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CliftonGK1 View Post
    How much of a benefit are most of us actually realizing from these pricey technologies?
    For me, a big benefit. I enjoy riding a light, nimble bike much more than my commuter or my vintage MTB so I spend more time in the saddle on it. More saddle time results in my being a stronger, lighter clyde. If shaving a pound off my bike results in shaving 10 lbs. off me, the combined effect is significant.

  8. #8
    Senior Member IBOHUNT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CACycling View Post
    For me, a big benefit. I enjoy riding a light, nimble bike much more than my commuter or my vintage MTB so I spend more time in the saddle on it. More saddle time results in my being a stronger, lighter clyde. If shaving a pound off my bike results in shaving 10 lbs. off me, the combined effect is significant.
    Ding Ding Ding. We have a winner.

  9. #9
    Junior Member opositive's Avatar
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    cacycling -- i agree that whatever keeps you in the saddle longer is worthwhile and that if a pound off the bike means 10 pounds off you then it is definitely a worthwhile consideration. the point i was trying to make was that one also needs to figure out their personal point of diminishing returns rather than falling for marketing or "keeping up with the joneses."

  10. #10
    LBKA punkncat's Avatar
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    I have often wondered the same thing, asked here, and pretty much got the "it's their money, let them do what they want" reply that is common here. With that said....one of my friend's is in the bring it back to life crowd. He LOVES steel, and has an absolutely gorgeous mid 80's Schwinn World Tour (iirc) that he has been bringing back to life. I just "upgraded" to a Felt F5, a race breed bike, from a slightly small Trek Al framed bike I had picked up off CL. When I first met him, his bike is the front freewheel, steel rims, heavy as a brick. I noted on rides together that his climbing, acceleration, everything was pretty even with mine, in spite of a dicernable weight difference. He upgraded to Al. wheels, changed out some parts, added drop bars, etc. and lightened it up a touch. He blows me away, in spite of the bike being well heavier, still. His acceleration went up, his postion was better, more aero with the drop bars, and he waits for me at the top of hills now. A large part of it is obviously shape, but the small changes me made, particularly to the wheels, REALLY made a very noticable difference.

    I personally upgraded my bike to the level I am for several reasons. The Al bike was just a touch small and the ride was a bit harsh, but I liked the way it rode. I was looking to get a lighter set of wheels and to get away from by Sora Brifters. When I checked with the LBS about the parts, they just happened to have the Felt available coming off demo, it had about 400 miles on it, slightly lighter wheels but in my size and with the group I wanted. Long story short, I "upgraded" in order to get the components I wanted at a price that made sense. I just happened to pick up a Cabon frame in the process, so my choice in components was more price driven than a specific desire.
    One Foot Less

  11. #11
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    Many different replies, and lots of things that I hadn't considered.

    Keep 'em coming!
    "I feel like my world was classier before I found cyclocross."
    - Mandi M.

  12. #12
    Watching and waiting. jethro56's Avatar
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    I'm with Goldfinch on this one. I'm slow but I put in quite a few miles for my first summer season. I had many people tell me that for road bikes 105 level componets are the sweet spot. So I looked at these bikes from the mainline mfg's. I won't buy a bike without riding it first and all the LBS's were putting me on 58cm Aluminum bikes. Finally after riding 12 different bikes an older salesman wanted me to tryout a 60cm Trek 4.5 Madone. I ride 90% on oil and chip roads and the Carbon Fiber Frame took out 80% of the buzz I felt in my hands. I enjoy riding more now that my hands don't go asleep on me and the 60cm frame is a better fit.
    Last edited by jethro56; 12-10-11 at 01:56 PM.

  13. #13
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    You do pay higher prices for quality. And quality is what I look for when buying because with it, comes reliability, and as a randonneur and touring cycist (among other things), reliablity is a key factor for me.

    Balancing that is price. So, with our bikes the upper limit in the Shimano groupsets is Ultegra, but I won't sneer at 105, and I would even use Sora and Tiagra components with chainrings and cassettes and chains -- the difference in quality and weight across the upper levels of the Shimano range is not huge, in my opinion, and in some cases the lower level chainrings, for example, are steel so I can opt for those for longevity.

    There is much focus on frames and materials. I am not overly fussed. Machka and I own titanium singles which have become out go-to bikes. But we also own steel tourers and I a CF Merlin that has served me well, as well as a steel resurrected fixie, and we both have alloy MTBs.

    Yesterday we finished a 300km randonnee on our steel tandem over what were at times very rough sealed roads and with a generous amount of cllimbing, and we were comfortable enough throughout to not be in no pain this morning.

    We paid a fair bit for the tandem, a Santana Arrive. We did our research and tried out tandeming on a KHS, which almost fell apart on us over the first 500km. Since we got the tandem earlier this year, we haven't laid a spanner on it to fix anything, so we are happy with the return on our outlay already.

    Comfort is a key factor, hence we ride Brooks saddles almost exclusively on all our bikes. We have more than a couple of SON dynohubs kicking about the house.

    Now, here is the kicker. I refuse to pay full recommended retail price on bike stuff. I don't have to have the latest bling. So I use four or five trusted on-line sellers and eBay to source quality new or lightly used stuff. And I've been really lucky to pick up things like four brand new DT Swiss rims worth $150ea for $50ea on a distributor's warehouse clearance through an offering to Audax Australia members -- a once in a lifetime opportunity. By comparison, the tyre pumps on our bikes are all small Gyro ones bought mailorder from Torpedo7 in New Zealand, and they win the pump comparisons hands down for me -- and they cost under $10ea on sale!!!

    I'll also add that I don't appreciate the appearance of large cross-section aero rims; they are butt ugly in my book, but hey, each to their own. The difficulty in keeping a line in strong cross winds, and we have a lot of them around here, also negates, for me, the decrease in weight. Plus again, for reliability purposes, I will forgo a little weight penalty for the extra strength and durability of 32-spoke wheels.

    I also do my own wrenching, including wheelbuilding. So, I can have quality at a reasonable cost. Mind you, with our interests in cycling, Machka and I have a small fortune tied up in bikes and equipment and clothing... and we wouldn't have it any other way.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  14. #14
    Senior Member kc0yef's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CliftonGK1 View Post
    For those of us not in the sub-15% bodyfat range, is there really a huge differential on a 16 mile climb with a 20 pound steel bike with a 1900g wheelset and a 16.5 pound bike with a 1500g wheelset? I'm not talking about projected numbers from kreuzotter or analytic cycling; I'm questioning real world clock time or measured wattage output. Is it significantly faster or more efficient?
    Ignoring the Pricey Technologies remark a 20 pound bike vs a 16.5 lb bike with 400g lighter wheel set is going to be absolutely faster. I focus on a quality part on a quality frame and when I build I build for Durability.
    Lp18 32 spoke are a third of the weight as my Formula 40 spoke Velocity Dyad's but I would not ever take them up a 3% grade as they would simply fold.

    So I build for purpose and function

  15. #15
    gbg
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    Quote Originally Posted by CliftonGK1 View Post
    I'm not trying to be a jerk, or be discouraging towards anyone's purchasing habits. I'm honestly just curious about motivations behind it since I do see a lot of people who don't race, riding high end racing equipment. I can even accept "It looks cool and I'm a bazillionaire so I can buy whatever I want" if that's really your motivation.
    I can see you would never want to own a Corvette ZR1 or a Porsche twin turbo, or a 4 slice toaster.

  16. #16
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    I also to have a hard time paying ridiculous msrp on stuff. Good thing I got the Mr. Beanz discount today on a couple of new GP4000's. I got the PBK price from the shop. I wouldn't have bought them if I hadn't.

    But then my thoughts on most of the high end stuff is bling factor. Yes, I bought the tires for the bling factor thinking they'd look good on my Madone but now my bling has turned to blong so I think I'll put them on Gina's bike instead. I'll take her new rear GP (only 100 miles/orange label), put it on the front of my bike along with my Armadillo in the rear. I'll place the two silver label GP's on her bike because they match the graphics on her frame. It's all about the bling.

    I'll put the Armadillo on my bike knowing I won't have to worry about the tire for a long while. And something tells me that I won't be any slower than usual and if I am, at my recreational level of riding, who cares!

    Two GP's ready for installation.


    tires by gulpxtreme, on Flickr

  17. #17
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Few minutes later, there they is!...If it aint about the bling factor Gina will be kicking my arse tomorrow.



    newtire by gulpxtreme, on Flickr

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    I ride MTB exclusively, so the talk here about 1700g wheelsets leaves me out; They MAKE 1700g MTB wheelsets, but I wouldn't run 'em!

    I need QUALITY and RELIABILITY under me; most of that also happens to have some bling effect about it, like the SRAM X.9 shifters, and TRP carbon brake levers. (BTW, I'm glad carbon works for others as advertised; for me, it INCREASES vibration!)

    But I NEVER buy a part based on the bling; in fact, the upcoming build I'll be doing will include swapping out a lightweight air shock for a heavier coil. My bad back DEMANDS full suspension (posts don't do it), and my weight and riding style pretty much needs a coil shock.

    It's a remote dream for me to build a reliable bike that comes in under 30lb; but I can ride a 32-36lb bike all day long. I just know my 50+ self isn't going to be doing anything other than one metric century per year....

  19. #19
    Senior Member Seve's Avatar
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    Interesting topic.

    I just like feel of the carbon frame on all the surfaces I ride on. The bike itself is a great fit for me and is also relatively light and nimble. I selected an Ultegra groupset as an option, vs. (Sram/Campagnolo) which was is more than good enough for me and don't envision changing it.

    I have a brooks saddle on it for comfort reasons and have red hoods (bling ?) leather bar tape, because for whatever reason I like the comfortable feel of leather. I suppose I chose comfort over weight considerations.
    I have a clincher aero wheelset because in my mind they look nice (bling ?), they do adsorb a remarkable amount of road vibration (comfort) and clinchers are the more practical option for me.

    My hybrid is AL, stock except for the addition of fenders, a rack, leather grips, bar ends, brooks flyer and new seat post. It is pretty much used in urban, high traffic areas, is incredibly comfortable (seat), utile, easy to maintain and fun to ride the streets on.

    I have ridden around 8,000 km this year and I suppose since I'm in my 50's I may place a little more importance on having a relatively comfortable ride than I did at once time earlier in my life.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Rona's Avatar
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    I simply love older bikes I can futz with. I have a Gazelle Champion Mondial semi-race that is Reynolds 351. Got it for 100 dollars and I'm going to be rebuilding her this winter in Suntour Superbe Pro simply because I love suntour stuff. My youngests son's champion mondial A frame was about 70 dollars with 105 and dura ace parts. My touring bike is an old early pre-Grant Peterson Bridgestone mixte that has been stripped and repainted twice running Exage triple with suntour friction shifters. Husband's columbus tubing bike with 105 was about 120 dollars. All components I buy are gently used off eBay or marktplaats. For me it's the thrill of making something better on a tight spending limit. Im also a severe thriftstore shopper and have a hard time purchasing other goods at full price. Once or twice a year I will buy new clothes off the clearance rack. Scary thing is... I don't have to be an obsessive deal hunter. It's not about the money... but the hunt is 90% of the fun. After 9 months of searching I just found some Suntour Superbe Pro hidden spring brakes dirt cheap. I've been giggling for days!!!
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  21. #21
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gbg View Post
    I can see you would never want to own a Corvette ZR1 or a Porsche twin turbo, or a 4 slice toaster.
    I own a beat up 12 year old Jeep, and a 2 slice toaster.
    I did "bling out" SuperJeep with a 2-row copper/brass radiator this summer. Someday I might fix the windows and the radio... and the heater core... and the driver's seat.
    "I feel like my world was classier before I found cyclocross."
    - Mandi M.

  22. #22
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    I spent most of my time today on my ride thinking about this issue. I moved to Spain for six months and figured I might as well buy a nice bike while I'm over here and ship it back to the US when I move back. It's a 2011 Pinarello FP3, so blingy.

    I bought this bike because I had the money, wanted something special, and like how it looks. I still weigh 220lbs at 5'10", so it's not like having a lightweight carbon frame helps me in any way. I think it's actually kind of funny that when I throw 2 24oz bottles on it, it adds 3 pounds which moves it into the not-so-lightweight category. My weight also fluctuates up and down by a couple pounds every day too based on water retention. The bike weight is more or less a moot point for me.

    I have a nice bike because I want to have a nice bike. Another great reason that I have this bike is that since it was expensive, it's worth a lot to me. If I bought a $100 craigslist special, then when it starts to get cold or I start to get busy, I wouldn't think twice about stopping riding. The fact that I spent over $2k on this bike means to me that I have extra motivation to keep it up since I don't want to feel like I wasted money.

    The question of why I would want a carbon frame when I'm still quite big and don't really need it irks me, however. Why does it matter? I'm annoyed that I'm asked to justify where my money goes, when an older, cheaper bike would mechanically work just as well for me. Isn't it enough that I'm out there riding 150km a week?

  23. #23
    gbg
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    Quote Originally Posted by CliftonGK1 View Post
    I own a beat up 12 year old Jeep, and a 2 slice toaster.
    I did "bling out" SuperJeep with a 2-row copper/brass radiator this summer. Someday I might fix the windows and the radio... and the heater core... and the driver's seat.
    I don't know why anyone would ever buy a 2-row copper/brass radiator? I've driven probably close to 1,000,000 miles over the years on
    stock radiators and never had a problem. And if I did I would probably buy an old used radiator at half price.
    I could do that 10 times for the price of a fancy schmancy copper/brass radiator.

  24. #24
    LBKA punkncat's Avatar
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    Comment was made a few posts up about a bike 3.5# lighter than the other would be faster. In light of the OP and questions, I don't think that plays out. Like the poster about here said, he puts two water bottles on his bike that weight that. He also mentioned another point that I would as well....for many clydes the difference in between what would be considered lightweight and average, between the weight of bikes, is easily water retention or a full belly.
    When you take into consideration the average frontal area, etc. mentioned in OP I just don't see how a difference of a few pounds makes any significant (speed) difference to riders like myself.

    edit- just in the interest of "hearing myself talk" and by way of explaination on my above comments, I will proceed with some antecdotal evidence....When I moved to the new bike, which by all means should have been faster than the old. It started off 11 lbs lighter than the Al framed Trek. I noted a small and short increase in my average times which should likely be considered placebo effect. What I did notice was a significant increase in the mileage ridden. I figure that was a combination of the weight, correct sizing (comfort), and the "buffering" effect of the carbon frame (comfort).
    Last edited by punkncat; 12-11-11 at 08:48 AM.
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    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gbg View Post
    I don't know why anyone would ever buy a 2-row copper/brass radiator? I've driven probably close to 1,000,000 miles over the years on
    stock radiators and never had a problem. And if I did I would probably buy an old used radiator at half price.
    I could do that 10 times for the price of a fancy schmancy copper/brass radiator.
    I see what you're getting at, and maybe you missed it when I thanked people for listing some things (like dampening road vibration, etc.) that I hadn't considered about carbon frames and light wheels. Like I stated; I'm not trying to be a jerk. I really did just want people to help me understand things from a different point of view than my own.

    With regards to the radiator: I've replaced with a stock single row before and still ended up with issues, even with a lower temperature thermostat. I like to go off-roading and keeping the engine and transmission cool is increasingly difficult when you're running high rpms in super low gearing. So the 2-row c/b radiator with trans-cooler was a performance choice for me.
    "I feel like my world was classier before I found cyclocross."
    - Mandi M.

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