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Faster, But Not Overall...

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Faster, But Not Overall...

Old 09-10-22, 08:55 AM
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Location: Colorado Springs, CO
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Bikes: 2015 Charge Plug, 2007 Dahon Boardwalk, 1997 Nishiki Blazer, 1984 Nishiki International, 2006 Felt F65

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Faster, But Not Overall...

I finally got a chance to ride my new 2006 Felt F-65 Carbon/Aluminum Late-Mid-Life-Crisis bike to the office with a calibrated speedometer. Of course the skinny, high-pressure 700x23 tires made it feel fast, but was it? Door-to-door times seemed like they might be quicker, but I know from 30 years of bike commuting that traffic and traffic lights can vary that time more than the selection of bike can. So yesterday I zeroed the computer and headed in to work.

Being hilly here in Colorado Springs, when I was in my 50s I retrofitted my four other bikes with lower gearing to appease my knees. But the Felt still has its stock road gearing and it made the steeper uphills just a little tougher and slower. It reminded me a great deal of my 1984 Nishiki International 12-speed before I modified its gearing. Speeds on the long gradual uphills were in line with the other bikes. However, on the downhill sections my speed was definitely higher, especially on the long gradual sections where despite its lightness, the bike felt planted and stable.

The calibration checked out for distance to and from work, and my average speed while in motion both ways was...12.5mph, same as the '84 Nishiki, 2015 Charge Plug 700c and modified 20" 2007 Dahon Boardwalk folder. The average rolling speed downhill in to work was 14mph, slightly faster than the Plug and the folder. I haven't ridden the old Nishiki International to the new job yet, but it would average 14.5 on rides downhill to the old office and average about 12.5 both ways. Differences in the routes and the newness of the new commute may be contributing to the slightly slower average in to work speed.

My other Nishiki, the uber-heavy 1997 Blazer 26" MTB usually averages 11.5 overall (in the dry) and did so on its one ride to the new job. BTW, the 40-lb plus '97 Nishiki Blazer is the heaviest bike I own by far, and with 26x1.85 smoothies, it had been the most stable at high speed. It also has the tallest gearing and I routinely hit 36 MPH on this one long sweeping downhill on one of the old commute routes, with a few forays into the low 40's when I had the nerve. I'm curious to see how the 18-pounds-light Felt does on that stretch, although it's under construction right now and would have to be a weekend ride destination.

The Felt was to replace the '84 Nishiki, and I had stripped all the commuting accessories (lights, mirrors, horn, bell, bag) off the 12-speed prior to donating it to the non-profit bike-co-op where I bought the Felt (and so many project parts in the last few years). It was a question of space in the shed, but I figured out a way to make room, so I think I'm going to put it back together. The drive train is dragging a bit, and I suspect it's the rear derailleur, a cheap, easy fix, especially since I once again have a steady paycheck. The bottom bracket and rear axle have both been replaced in the last 5 years.

On weekend rides when I can choose the route and really push myself, the lighter bikes come out faster overall, and now that I have the speedometer, I am eager to see what the felt can do without the extra weight of a backpack, or the concerns of urban traffic. But in the meantime, I am thrilled to once again be bike commuting after 18 months of working from home.

Last edited by BobbyG; 09-10-22 at 09:00 AM.
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