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Any opinions on Planet X carbon-fiber frames?

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Road Cycling ďIt is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.Ē -- Ernest Hemingway

Any opinions on Planet X carbon-fiber frames?

Old 12-08-17, 09:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Olympianrider
Well, this may sound a little funny, but this summer's STP was the first and only "organized" ride I've ever done. I've always been a solitary rider -- I haven't known anyone else who likes going long distances. I think this was the big reason the whole idea that modern technology might actually make a difference came as such a shock. Until that day I was more inclined to say, "bah, who needs it?" I've heard of some of those rides you mention, though -- I've driven Blewett Pass enough times to know how fun it would be on a bike -- and rides like these are one of the reasons I want something that might allow me to keep up.
I almost never ride with other people. I put my bike in the car, drive to Cle Elum or Heavenworth or somewhere else, park, and start riding, then make a loop back to my car.

It's a little late to have a bike in the high country this year, people are already skiing at much lower elevation than Blewett Pass. But if you'd like to head out next year, send me a PM and I'll recommend you some scenic routes. Maybe even join you for one of them.
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Old 12-11-17, 02:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest
It's a little late to have a bike in the high country this year, people are already skiing at much lower elevation than Blewett Pass.
SeattleForrest, I'm sure you know as well as anyone that bike season in the Pacific Northwest is done for the year. So sad. I had a co-worker tell me last week, "I bundled up like an Eskimo and managed to ride around the block a few times." Here in Western Washington, we're pressing our noses up against the window and waiting for the rain and cold to subside... four months from now.

Anyway, just wanted folks to know I'm starting to settle on a frame -- something I never would have considered a few months ago, before this thread and before I started going through all the forum posts.

It appears that Planet X has one carbon frame that has "endurance frame" characteristics -- the RT-80. But in my size (large) it is available only in black-and-neon-green, a color scheme I'm not really wild about. Research on the Web showed me this is actually a well-regarded generic Chinese frame known as the FM066, rebadged for sale in the West. A little more research showed me they're unlikely to get any other colors in stock, because the frame apparently was discontinued in 2016. But I gather this frame has been succeeded by another model, the R01, which is available directly from the manufacturer (DengFu) in China. Total cost, with paint and shipping and the "super-light" option, is around $700. The widest tire it can accept is 25mm.

I'm continuing to research the geometric characteristics of this frame to make sure it really is an endurance frame. But I recognize that specific questions are probably better addressed in other threads.

I just want everyone to know how much I appreciate all the thoughts everyone has offered -- you've caused me to consider the other factors in a good ride that have nothing to do with the frame -- gear ratios, tires and tire inflation, to name just a few. And honestly, it's caused me to realize that one of the bigger reasons for my poor performance in the STP on my "classic" was the fact that I was using a vintage Campy Nuovo Record derailleur with much-too-difficult racing gearing. Luckily I have a "friendlier" five-speed gear cluster in my closet that I can switch out, and a vintage derailleur that will work with it, a first-generation Rally derailleur. Yes, it's Campy, but don't hate me for it.

Originally Posted by SethAZ
Erik,
If you ever see other cyclists out while you're riding there's a pretty good chance that there are groups that you can go ride with when you want.
True enough. I see them all the time on the bike trails around here, groups of five or six, all in the same jersey, whizzing past me on their carbon-fiber whatsits. I always used to feel a little proud, knowing I might be a little slower, but my bike was older and heavier, and I didn't need no stinkin' jersey -- a sweatshirt was good enough. Funny to think I'm at the point where I'm finally thinking of joining them. Alas, during training season, I'm often working late at the Legislature. But we shall see this year!

Originally Posted by SethAZ
Erik,
Anyhow, good luck with the new bike, and let us know what you end up getting. I realize you're probably still using daguerreotypes, but you could probably get someone to scan them in for you and post some pics of your new bike too. :-)
I'll do that. And I'll have to see if I can figure out this newfangled business of taking pictures, too. What'll they think of next?

Last edited by Olympianrider; 12-11-17 at 02:54 AM.
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Old 12-11-17, 06:48 AM
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OP, check out all of the big three of unlabeled frames, Deng Fu, Hong Fu, and Workswell. Of these, Workswell is the cheapest but matches the others in quality as far as most of us can tell. Those of us with Workswell's most popular GP road frame, their -066, are all extremely satisfied. I would look there first for an endurance geometry. Perhaps someone here can guide you toward that goal from their own experience. Maybe a new thread on that specific topic would be in order, like "what are the endurance models at Deng Fu, Hong Fu, and Workswell"? If you can find one at Workswell, you will save hundreds compared to the others.
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Old 12-11-17, 11:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Olympianrider
I'll do that. And I'll have to see if I can figure out this newfangled business of taking pictures, too. What'll they think of next?
I'm betting they'll come up with pictures that move! Wouldn't that be quite a thing?

All the riding I did in my youth (thousands of miles in my teens and early 20s) was with normal clothes, ie: shorts, t-shirts, etc. When I started riding a mountain bike on the road (with slick road-like tires) in 2009 I wore shorts and t-shirts. When I bought a used road bike in around 2012 or 2013 or so I was finally going fast enough to really notice those baggy t-shirts flapping around in the wind. I picked up a really cheap jersey and padded bike shorts (didn't discover bibs till a couple of months later). It was a revelation to me. I'd mocked the cyclists in their tight cycling garb out there looking all ridiculous and whatnot, but until I road with that style of clothing on myself, I didn't realize just how nice it is. Now I wouldn't ride without it. In fact, I've done some mountain biking in the hills and whatnot and prefer to wear my normal bibs and cycling jersey over whatever mountain bike clothing I'd otherwise wear. I may look stupid doing it, but I just don't care.

One of my regrets is that the Univega Supra Sport I'd bought when I was like 16 got thrown away at some point in around 2005 in a house move. I'd ridden the crap out of it, but didn't know enough about the gear, the brands, etc. to be able to say what it had, other than 6 cogs in the rear and 2 rings up front. I'd really like to have that bike back right now, just so I can see and understand what it was I used to ride. Everything I've learned about bike mechanics and wheels and gears and whatnot has been learned since I stepped into the somewhat modern era as an adult.
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Old 12-11-17, 12:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Olympianrider
SeattleForrest, I'm sure you know as well as anyone that bike season in the Pacific Northwest is done for the year. So sad. I had a co-worker tell me last week, "I bundled up like an Eskimo and managed to ride around the block a few times." Here in Western Washington, we're pressing our noses up against the window and waiting for the rain and cold to subside... four months from now.
I would have ridden yesterday if the air wasn't full of smoke from the LA fires. I don't ride as much during winter, but weather like this is rare and I feel compelled to take advantage. I'll probably do a loop around Lake Union and over Queen Anne tonight. The rains are coming back later this week.

Drinking something hot right before you walk out the door helps.
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Old 07-31-18, 09:39 PM
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Hello all,

I thought it might be a good idea to post a follow-up to the flurry of messages I exchanged with others on this forum last December. You might say this story has a twist ending.

Last December, I posed a question – does anyone have any opinions about Planet X bikes? But I suppose my question ran a little deeper than that. I was wondering if a thoroughly-modern bike, with all the new technology of the last 30 years, might offer me better performance than I was getting on my vintage steel bike. And maybe the biggest concern was this. During the 2017 STP, the biggest organized ride in this part of the country (the “Seattle-to-Portland”), everyone on those carbon-fiber whatsits seemed to be pedaling just as fast as I was. So how come everybody else seemed to be going just a tad faster? Was it new technology? Carbon fiber? Or was it just me?

Well, I think I have the answer now. Some of you are going to laugh when I reveal the answer below. It really should have been obvious, but nobody guessed it. It wasn’t me, it was the bike all right, and it was something I could fix. I think there might be some value to setting this down, because there must be some dolts like me out there who are as befuddled as I was.

My dream bike. I probably ought to mention this, because my initial object was to find a new bike that might improve my performance. I found the bike. It happened a couple of weeks after all those messages went back and forth. At the time, I was thinking the only way I’d find an all-modern bike with all the features I wanted was to obtain a frame from some manufacturer somewhere in China and build it up from there. I wasn’t looking forward to it, because I’d learned from experience how hard it is to get something like that right. Well, in January, Planet X announced a new model that sounds like it has it all. The Holdsworth Super Professional. Carbon fiber, a frame for fast road rides, a hot-looking paint job, a nice snobby-sounding European name, and most important, the option of selecting Campy parts – something I haven’t seen on anything else in its price range.

I’m a little embarrassed to admit I haven’t bought yet. Even though buying a finished bike is cheaper than obtaining the parts and having my local bike shop put it all together, it’s still a big expenditure. And I got the silly idea this year that it might be better to make a down payment on a house. I know, misplaced priorities. Why buy a house when you can have a bicycle instead? I’m still going to buy – eventually. But some of the responses here gave me the idea that it might be possible to tweak my vintage bike and get at least another season out of it.

Fixing my vintage bike. Part of the story is this – I might be riding a rather aggressive schedule, 150 miles a week or more during the good-weather months, but I am a complete Neanderthal when it comes to bike technology. Everything I know about bikes I learned in the ‘70s, from conversations in the schoolyard and half-remembered articles in Boy’s Life. The bikes of the ‘70s are the ones I understand. The guys in the local bike shop kept trying to steer me to modern stuff that bewildered me, with weird shifters that somehow work from the brake handles and teeny-tiny frames more suitable for clowns in a circus – it was as if those guys spoke a different language. So once I started riding heavily, and I decided it was time to move up from my rusty old high-school clunker, I set out to build the best ‘70s bike I could.

I started with an all-531 steel frame, with a nice curving rake to the fork and the right kind of sport-touring geometry for long road rides (it’s an all-chrome 1972 Swiss Cilo). I equipped it with all-Campy vintage parts, because, you know, everybody in the ‘70s knew that was what the serious riders used. Yep, toe straps and all. (Though I did use those cool SunTour bar-end shifters.) It was the lightest, smoothest, most comfortable bike I’d ever owned – just 22 or 23 pounds, I’m guessing. Hey, those guys in those old bike-racing movies were riding bikes just like this one. There shouldn’t have been that much performance difference between a modern bike and an old one. So where did I go wrong?

Some of the answers I got here pointed me in the right direction.

Tire inflation. I’d been inflating my tires to a rock-hard 120 psi, for no better reason than that’s what I had been doing since I was 10 years old and riding a J.C. Penney Sting-Ray knock-off. On advice I got here, I backed off to 100 psi and got a more-comfortable, more-efficient ride with far less vibration. Thanks, guys! I never would have known.

Tires. I ditched the cheap treaded tires I’d been using and got Gatorskins. I moved down from 25mm to 23mm. Rolling resistance went way down, and the ride suddenly had a precision feel I’d been missing.

Rear derailleur. I’d been using a Campy Nuovo Record derailleur, mainly because, well, it was the thing to do in the ‘70s. It was the world standard back then, and it is wonderful on the flats – I love the way it shifts. But the short cage limits you to a rather small low gear. On my bike, the best the local bike shop could get to work was a miserable 25t. With that kind of gearing, every time I came to a steep hill I had to get off and walk. I replaced it with the Campy Rally derailleur (first generation, the revised version) which has a long cage and the ability to use a friendlier low gear.

Freewheel. With a long-cage derailleur, I could consider a different freewheel. Because this is an older frame, it is spaced for the old-style 120mm five-speed freewheels. I didn’t want to alter it to install something wider. Instead, I replaced my old five-speed freewheel with one of those freewheels manufactured in the late seventies and early ‘80s that scrunches six gears into the space of five. This one is a SunTour New Winner freewheel with 32t.

Front crankset. I had been using a Nuovo Record double crankset, 50/42. I replaced that with a triple Nuovo Record crankset, 52/48/36. My thought was that a triple up front might help me get up hills. Certainly it does that. But…

The moment I took it on the road last week I knew the truth. It was the outer chainring. The old one had been too small.

Immediately I could feel the extra power of those two additional teeth. The pedaling was just a little harder, but I was more than ready for it after all the riding I’ve been doing. And the output, using the same cadence, was so much greater. It was as if I’d traded a Chevette for a Corvette.

My guess is that the riders I was comparing myself against were using bigger chainrings like this one, or more likely those modern compact crankset-and-cassette combinations that give greater effective power. I’ve read that the power advantage of 52t versus 50t is about five percent, all things being equal, but honestly it feels greater than that. No longer am I forced to coast when I get going too fast. I’m finding it easy to maintain an 18 mph pace on the flats, with no huffing and puffing and general overexertion.

You know, the clues were all there. Other people were pedaling at the same rate, but they were traveling further with each stroke. Duh. It was the gearing. It had nothing to do with the number of gears or the lack of index shifting or any of those modern conveniences. I just needed a bigger front gear. And I discovered it by accident. I probably would never have figured it out if that triple crankset hadn’t been just a tad bigger.

That first ride, I was thinking holy cow the entire way.

Anyway, I’ve replaced that middle chainring with the 42t gear from my old crankset – a more appropriate middle gear -- and I’m happy as a clam. I rode again in this year’s STP, a couple weekends ago, and once again I’m in the one-day club. I hadn’t figured out the problems with the gearing at that point, and my time on the 200-mile ride was still pretty poor. But at least this year there were a few people who finished behind me.

Good riding, everyone!

Erik Smith

Olympia, WA

Last edited by Olympianrider; 07-31-18 at 10:41 PM.
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Old 07-31-18, 09:55 PM
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thank you thank you thank you! I appreciate the thoughtful, detailed follow-up. So happy you're making it work and still honoring your roots!

(also, you sure 25mm tires weren't rubbing somewhere? Not exactly de rigueur in the 70's...)
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Old 07-31-18, 10:16 PM
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Originally Posted by superdex
thank you thank you thank you! I appreciate the thoughtful, detailed follow-up. So happy you're making it work and still honoring your roots!

(also, you sure 25mm tires weren't rubbing somewhere? Not exactly de rigueur in the 70's...)
No, it wasn't that. I'm using fenders -- plain aluminum, just the thing for a vintage chrome bike -- and when I tried 28mm, THEY definitely rubbed. But not 25s.

(Which means I have a nice set of never-used 28mm Gatorskins.)

Yeah, I was trying everything. I was desperate. I knew it had to be something.

Last edited by Olympianrider; 07-31-18 at 10:21 PM.
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Old 08-01-18, 01:30 AM
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I feel like the industry has people convinced that all this tech will make a huge difference in performance and it is not true. I read an article that said an oversized Ceramic Speed pully system is good for 1-2 Watts.
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Old 08-01-18, 02:29 AM
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Originally Posted by superdex
(also, you sure 25mm tires weren't rubbing somewhere? Not exactly de rigueur in the 70's...)
25mm tires were extremely common in the 1970s. It's true that tires from the era often measured smaller than nominal, but road racing bikes usually came with tires that were nominally around 25-28mm, with more "recreational" models having 28-32mm tires. Lots of road bikes from that era can fit true 32s with healthy clearance to spare.
I've got one road bike from the 1970s, and it's currently running full-length fenders and 27mm tires just fine. The clearances between tire and fender aren't really safe for off-road riding, but it's a very long way from rubbing anywhere.

The narrow tire fad didn't kick into full force until the late 1980s.

Originally Posted by Olympianrider
I’ve read that the power advantage of 52t versus 50t is about five percent, all things being equal
It's a 4% increase in gearing. If you're spinning out, this allows you to pedal at a 4% slower cadence. What exactly that does for your power output really just depends on the rider and the circumstances.

This is confusing me quite a bit though:
I’m finding it easy to maintain an 18 mph pace on the flats, with no huffing and puffing and general overexertion.
18mph is an incredibly low speed to be spinning out a road bike with a 50T chainring. In the 1970s, freewheels nearly always came with 13T or 14T small cogs. 50-14 on 700x25 tires at 18mph is a pedaling cadence of only about 65rpm!

I mean, I suppose it's possible that you're someone who feels spun-out when riding in the mid-60s rpm range, but this is extremely unusual among the demographic of people capable of riding 200 miles in one day; nearly all of the people around you would be pedaling higher cadences in lower gears, not lower cadences in higher gears.

I'm a somewhat spinny cyclist, but I've got a vintage road bike with a 50-14 top gear, and that gearing works well for me even when I'm in a group that's doing 30mph.

Are you sure you weren't accidentally riding in your big-big or something before? Most roadies would find a 50-23 to be entirely pedalable at 18mph, but uncomfortably spinny if the intensity was a gentle cruise.
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Old 08-01-18, 05:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Olympianrider
Hello all,

I thought it might be a good idea to post a follow-up to the flurry of messages I exchanged with others on this forum last December. You might say this story has a twist ending.

Last December, I posed a question Ė does anyone have any opinions about Planet X bikes? But I suppose my question ran a little deeper than that. I was wondering if a thoroughly-modern bike, with all the new technology of the last 30 years, might offer me better performance than I was getting on my vintage steel bike. And maybe the biggest concern was this. During the 2017 STP, the biggest organized ride in this part of the country (the ďSeattle-to-PortlandĒ), everyone on those carbon-fiber whatsits seemed to be pedaling just as fast as I was. So how come everybody else seemed to be going just a tad faster? Was it new technology? Carbon fiber? Or was it just me?

Well, I think I have the answer now. Some of you are going to laugh when I reveal the answer below. It really should have been obvious, but nobody guessed it. It wasnít me, it was the bike all right, and it was something I could fix. I think there might be some value to setting this down, because there must be some dolts like me out there who are as befuddled as I was.

My dream bike. I probably ought to mention this, because my initial object was to find a new bike that might improve my performance. I found the bike. It happened a couple of weeks after all those messages went back and forth. At the time, I was thinking the only way Iíd find an all-modern bike with all the features I wanted was to obtain a frame from some manufacturer somewhere in China and build it up from there. I wasnít looking forward to it, because Iíd learned from experience how hard it is to get something like that right. Well, in January, Planet X announced a new model that sounds like it has it all. The Holdsworth Super Professional. Carbon fiber, a frame for fast road rides, a hot-looking paint job, a nice snobby-sounding European name, and most important, the option of selecting Campy parts Ė something I havenít seen on anything else in its price range.

Iím a little embarrassed to admit I havenít bought yet. Even though buying a finished bike is cheaper than obtaining the parts and having my local bike shop put it all together, itís still a big expenditure. And I got the silly idea this year that it might be better to make a down payment on a house. I know, misplaced priorities. Why buy a house when you can have a bicycle instead? Iím still going to buy Ė eventually. But some of the responses here gave me the idea that it might be possible to tweak my vintage bike and get at least another season out of it.

Fixing my vintage bike. Part of the story is this Ė I might be riding a rather aggressive schedule, 150 miles a week or more during the good-weather months, but I am a complete Neanderthal when it comes to bike technology. Everything I know about bikes I learned in the Ď70s, from conversations in the schoolyard and half-remembered articles in Boyís Life. The bikes of the Ď70s are the ones I understand. The guys in the local bike shop kept trying to steer me to modern stuff that bewildered me, with weird shifters that somehow work from the brake handles and teeny-tiny frames more suitable for clowns in a circus Ė it was as if those guys spoke a different language. So once I started riding heavily, and I decided it was time to move up from my rusty old high-school clunker, I set out to build the best Ď70s bike I could.

I started with an all-531 steel frame, with a nice curving rake to the fork and the right kind of sport-touring geometry for long road rides (itís an all-chrome 1972 Swiss Cilo). I equipped it with all-Campy vintage parts, because, you know, everybody in the Ď70s knew that was what the serious riders used. Yep, toe straps and all. (Though I did use those cool SunTour bar-end shifters.) It was the lightest, smoothest, most comfortable bike Iíd ever owned Ė just 22 or 23 pounds, Iím guessing. Hey, those guys in those old bike-racing movies were riding bikes just like this one. There shouldnít have been that much performance difference between a modern bike and an old one. So where did I go wrong?

Some of the answers I got here pointed me in the right direction.

Tire inflation. Iíd been inflating my tires to a rock-hard 120 psi, for no better reason than thatís what I had been doing since I was 10 years old and riding a J.C. Penney Sting-Ray knock-off. On advice I got here, I backed off to 100 psi and got a more-comfortable, more-efficient ride with far less vibration. Thanks, guys! I never would have known.

Tires. I ditched the cheap treaded tires Iíd been using and got Gatorskins. I moved down from 25mm to 23mm. Rolling resistance went way down, and the ride suddenly had a precision feel Iíd been missing.

Rear derailleur. Iíd been using a Campy Nuovo Record derailleur, mainly because, well, it was the thing to do in the Ď70s. It was the world standard back then, and it is wonderful on the flats Ė I love the way it shifts. But the short cage limits you to a rather small low gear. On my bike, the best the local bike shop could get to work was a miserable 25t. With that kind of gearing, every time I came to a steep hill I had to get off and walk. I replaced it with the Campy Rally derailleur (first generation, the revised version) which has a long cage and the ability to use a friendlier low gear.

Freewheel. With a long-cage derailleur, I could consider a different freewheel. Because this is an older frame, it is spaced for the old-style 120mm five-speed freewheels. I didnít want to alter it to install something wider. Instead, I replaced my old five-speed freewheel with one of those freewheels manufactured in the late seventies and early Ď80s that scrunches six gears into the space of five. This one is a SunTour New Winner freewheel with 32t.

Front crankset. I had been using a Nuovo Record double crankset, 50/42. I replaced that with a triple Nuovo Record crankset, 52/48/36. My thought was that a triple up front might help me get up hills. Certainly it does that. ButÖ

The moment I took it on the road last week I knew the truth. It was the outer chainring. The old one had been too small.

Immediately I could feel the extra power of those two additional teeth. The pedaling was just a little harder, but I was more than ready for it after all the riding Iíve been doing. And the output, using the same cadence, was so much greater. It was as if Iíd traded a Chevette for a Corvette.

My guess is that the riders I was comparing myself against were using bigger chainrings like this one, or more likely those modern compact crankset-and-cassette combinations that give greater effective power. Iíve read that the power advantage of 52t versus 50t is about five percent, all things being equal, but honestly it feels greater than that. No longer am I forced to coast when I get going too fast. Iím finding it easy to maintain an 18 mph pace on the flats, with no huffing and puffing and general overexertion.

You know, the clues were all there. Other people were pedaling at the same rate, but they were traveling further with each stroke. Duh. It was the gearing. It had nothing to do with the number of gears or the lack of index shifting or any of those modern conveniences. I just needed a bigger front gear. And I discovered it by accident. I probably would never have figured it out if that triple crankset hadnít been just a tad bigger.

That first ride, I was thinking holy cow the entire way.

Anyway, Iíve replaced that middle chainring with the 42t gear from my old crankset Ė a more appropriate middle gear -- and Iím happy as a clam. I rode again in this yearís STP, a couple weekends ago, and once again Iím in the one-day club. I hadnít figured out the problems with the gearing at that point, and my time on the 200-mile ride was still pretty poor. But at least this year there were a few people who finished behind me.

Good riding, everyone!

Erik Smith

Olympia, WA
Hello Erik,

I think you would fit in right at home here:
https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-vintage/

Gatorskins are heavy and have high rolling resistance. Moving to a Vittoria Corsa G+ or Continental GP4000S II tires are both a speed and comfort upgrade and puncture resistance in both of them are good. Latex tubes are purported to make the ride even better and lower rolling resistance.

I regularly ride 531 bikes with Nuovo Record. Yes, I am maybe ever so slightly faster on my carbon dura ace modern bike but not a whole lot. A lot regarding speed on older bikes is what you have determined...gearing and fit. Also if you haven't repacked the hubs, bottom bracket and headset there is some more free speed.

I also use clipless pedals on all my vintage bikes. They are just much easier to use.

The 52/48/36 chainrings you had on there are commonly known as half step plus granny. Switching back and forth using the 52 48 to make half steps between your rear cogs extends your 5 speed block to make it more like 10 progressive speeds with a 36 front for hills. If you find yourself often plodding along in the 52 I would recommend it. Cutting the large difference between the number of teeth on a wide range 5 speed freewheel ie (28-24-20-17-14) is the purpose. Accelerating would look something like 48-20, 52-20, 48 -17, 52-17, 48-14, 52-14.

Last edited by Narhay; 08-01-18 at 05:37 AM.
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Old 08-01-18, 12:45 PM
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Spin to Win??

"My guess is that the riders I was comparing myself against were using bigger chainrings like this one, or more likely those modern compact crankset-and-cassette combinations that give greater effective power. Iíve read that the power advantage of 52t versus 50t is about five percent, all things being equal, but honestly it feels greater than that. No longer am I forced to coast when I get going too fast. Iím finding it easy to maintain an 18 mph pace on the flats, with no huffing and puffing and general overexertion.

You know, the clues were all there. Other people were pedaling at the same rate, but they were traveling further with each stroke. Duh. It was the gearing. It had nothing to do with the number of gears or the lack of index shifting or any of those modern conveniences. I just needed a bigger front gear. And I discovered it by accident. I probably would never have figured it out if that triple crankset hadnít been just a tad bigger.

That first ride, I was thinking holy cow the entire way."

I didn't see it in the thread above, so apologies if it's already been covered:

OP...A balance of aerobic and anerobic energy expenditure will get you to the finish line in the STP "faster" and may improve your finishing position next year.

Chain rings can have an impact, but I didn't see a rundown of Spinning vs. Mashing in this thread...IMO, it's a topic you might dive into or start a thread about.

PS- Spinning was uncommon in the 1970s.

​​​​​​HTH.

Last edited by chainwhip; 08-01-18 at 12:55 PM.
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Old 08-01-18, 07:46 PM
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Originally Posted by HTupolev
25mm tires were extremely common in the 1970s. It's true that tires from the era often measured smaller than nominal, but road racing bikes usually came with tires that were nominally around 25-28mm, with more "recreational" models having 28-32mm tires. Lots of road bikes from that era can fit true 32s with healthy clearance to spare..
One of the few things I can speak about with any authority is what people were riding in the '70s -- because I was there.

On what we call "road bikes" today, and what we called "ten-speeds" back then, the standard tire was 27x1.25 inches. This equals 31.75 mm.

Nearly everybody rode on tires of this width. But there were a few of those fancy imports that ran on slightly narrower tires -- going by memory, I'd say 700c 25mm.

BUT I still remember the day in 1980 I saw the fanciest bike ever, in a shop in Spokane -- an Italian job with Campy parts and the lightest frame I'd ever held. Looking back on it now, I'm sure it was either 531 steel or Columbus. But what really got me were the tires -- I'd never seen anything so skinny. I'm sure they must have been 23 mm. Anyway, I think it's safe to put skinny tires on a bike of that vintage and remain true to the '70s aesthetic.

Originally Posted by HTupolev
This is confusing me quite a bit though: 18mph is an incredibly low speed to be spinning out a road bike with a 50T chainring. In the 1970s, freewheels nearly always came with 13T or 14T small cogs. 50-14 on 700x25 tires at 18mph is a pedaling cadence of only about 65rpm!
When I've "spun out" with a 50t chainring, my guess is that I've been doing about 19mph. But I can't be certain without a speedometer, and I really hadn't considered the issue with any scientific rigor. I mean, there's some math involved, and until this point I'd been doing my darndest not to think about complicated things like gear ratios.

I know my speed with 50t was not very impressive. There's a good way to measure. In this state, the highway department likes to post radar guns at the edge of the road, with electronic display signs that say "Your speed is --"

With 50t, if I was just pedaling along at a leisurely cadence, not really thinking about it -- the kind of pace I can maintain all day without overexertion -- I would often get a reading of 16 mph. Maybe 17, if I was concentrating. With the sort of supreme effort that can only be maintained a short distance, I'd get 19 mph. I know, pretty miserable. It was one of the signs something was wrong.

Now, with 52t, at that same leisurely not-thinking-about-it cadence, I am getting readings of 18 mph. That's more like it! And of course, with effort, I can go a bit faster.

One thing -- I may not be riding with a technique that offers optimum performance. I nearly always use the outer chainring, in combination with the rear gear that offers greatest speed without overexertion on that particular terrain. On the flats, that's usually the highest gear or the next-to-highest. I shift down to the inner chainring mainly on hills (or rather rings, now that I have a triple). I've noticed some discussion here of the idea that it may be better to use an easier gear and just pedal faster, but that seems to tire me faster. I also get the idea that some people use the middle chainring on a triple for the majority of their riding, and only use the outer one on downhills. I guess I need to read up on this. I've also started to wonder about things like crank length -- I've always used 170mm, but I can see how crank length might affect performance as well.

Originally Posted by HTupolev
I'm a somewhat spinny cyclist, but I've got a vintage road bike with a 50-14 top gear, and that gearing works well for me even when I'm in a group that's doing 30mph.
I am agog. You're able to ride 30mph?

Last year, when I was watching the Olympic bike races from Rio, the peloton always seemed to travel at a speed of about 27 mph on the flats. And a couple of years ago, I chatted with a local-champion time trialist at the end of a routine 10-mile training run on a railroad-grade trail. His computer said he had sustained an average of 22.6 mph. He said it was a slow day, but still -- 30 mph? That ought to get you into the Olympics!

Of course, if it was downhill, that's a different matter.
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Old 08-01-18, 08:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Olympianrider
I am agog. You're able to ride 30mph?

Last year, when I was watching the Olympic bike races from Rio, the peloton always seemed to travel at a speed of about 27 mph on the flats. And a couple of years ago, I chatted with a local-champion time trialist at the end of a routine 10-mile training run on a railroad-grade trail. His computer said he had sustained an average of 22.6 mph. He said it was a slow day, but still -- 30 mph? That ought to get you into the Olympics!

Of course, if it was downhill, that's a different matter.
​Your TT friend was most likely timing his run solo...ie "pulling" for his entire ride.

The 30mph *group* ride allows the participants to draft...higher speeds/lower energy expenditure...unless you're "pulling" off the front of the group.

There are some cheapish bike computers that can monitor cadence. I use an older (wireless)Sigma that cost me about $60.00.
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Old 08-01-18, 09:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Narhay
The 52/48/36 chainrings you had on there are commonly known as half step plus granny. Switching back and forth using the 52 48 to make half steps between your rear cogs extends your 5 speed block to make it more like 10 progressive speeds with a 36 front for hills. If you find yourself often plodding along in the 52 I would recommend it. Cutting the large difference between the number of teeth on a wide range 5 speed freewheel ie (28-24-20-17-14) is the purpose. Accelerating would look something like 48-20, 52-20, 48 -17, 52-17, 48-14, 52-14.
Wow, I did not know this!

I figured there was a reason the previous owner had set up the triple crank this way, or bought it this way originally. I used the crank in its original configuration on a 90-mile ride to Tacoma and back. The shift was incredibly smooth between 52 and 48, but I was trying to use the smaller chainring in the same way I had when I was using a double, and I just didn't get it. I've got the 42 on there now in the place of the 48, but there might be a reason to switch back. But first, I'm thinking about a run over the Cascades to Eastern Washington -- I think I want the easier gear for that.
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Old 08-01-18, 09:55 PM
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Originally Posted by chainwhip
OP...A balance of aerobic and anerobic energy expenditure will get you to the finish line in the STP "faster" and may improve your finishing position next year.

Chain rings can have an impact, but I didn't see a rundown of Spinning vs. Mashing in this thread...IMO, it's a topic you might dive into or start a thread about.

PS- Spinning was uncommon in the 1970s.

​​​​​​HTH.
That's a good idea -- I've often wondered if I've been using the optimum riding technique. I'm riding pretty much the same way I always have, with brute force. I know there are some who say it's better to pedal faster in an easier gear.

I'll see what's in the archive here. I sometimes get the feeling on this forum that I'm just discovering the things everyone else has known about for years.
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