Archive for the ‘Components & Gear’ Category

2017 GFNY World Championship Jersey – Racing Team Edition

As Head of Group Rides for GFNY and Team Manager for the GFNY Racing Team, I get to preview much of the GFNY gear. And, for 2017, our kits are brought to us by GFNY Apparel – a new entity in the GFNY family. GFNY Apparel was created because Uli and Lidia, founders of GFNY, have uncompromising standards in their gear and now they can assure that these standards are fully realized.

The GFNY Racing Team has a season that starts in March, so we get the jerseys ahead of the full distribution to all GFNY World Championship participants on May 21st. And while there are a few minor design alterations to the Racing Team jersey, the overall design and the fit are precisely what you’ll get for May 21st.

While the previous jerseys were really superb, there’s always room for improvement and the zipper was top of this list. The previous jersey had a zipper designed to “disappear” within the jersey design when closed, but it wasn’t terribly durable. The new zipper has larger teeth, is easier to zip, and has a tab that is easy to grab (even with fingered gloves). And yet, for all these improvements, GFNY Apparel has managed to still find a way to hide the zipper track perfectly when closed!

Other improvements this year include a more proportional waistline cut, roomy (but not bulky) back pockets and, two side pockets for trash (not new, but unique, so worth noting.) Also, the side panels are extra-stretchy to fit all different body types.

With the weather way too cold for short sleeves, I took my new jersey for a spin on the trainer and I was very pleased with the results. If you are unsure of your size, I’d recommend you “size up” as these are racing cut (small) and, compared to last year, a bit snug. For me, the side panels accomodated the needed stretch, but I’d go a size larger given the chance. (If your fit has been perfect in the past, don’t change it – my thoughts are mostly for folks that consider themselves to be in between sizes.)

Here are a couple more photos of your 2017 GFNY World Championship jersey! (There are a few different design elements since these are the Racing Team jerseys, but you get the idea.)

Bike Rentals, Electronic Shifters & Disc Brakes

synapticI’m in LA on business with some frequency and I’m constantly told how great the cycling can be in SoCal, but I never had the patience to deal with a bike rental and getting to/from the shop. Then I discovered Synaptic Cycles – a self described “concierge road bicycle rental service that caters to you” who’s core service is bike rental delivery. This already seemed to good to be true, but then when I saw that $60/day can get me any high-end road bike from an offered assortment, I was definitely interested. I talked to the local guy, Greg, a few times and always got the feeling that this was truly a “service first” business. So on my most recent trip, I committed to riding a few times and booked a 2-day rental.

On the morning of my rental, Greg showed up (yes, in that car in the photo) precisely on time. I was expecting him to be a little late because, well, LA traffic – and the fact that he was coming to me an hour earlier than his normal start time so I could fit a ride in that morning. Greg was professional, knowledgeable and pleasant – everything I experienced on the phone, and the bike was ready to ride after the simple matter of running my credit card.

And before I talk about the gear, one more shout out to Synaptic Cycles. Nearing the end of my ride, I got a flat. I was in a bit of a rush so I called Greg to see if he was nearby. While he wasn’t, he still offered to come get me if I wanted him to do that. He’d never explicitly said that roadside assistance was included, but as I said earlier, he clearly seems ready to do what it takes to satisfy the customer at every turn. Since he was more than 30-minutes away I changed the tire myself and was back at my hotel in about 20-minutes.

Electronic versus Mechanical Shifting

My bike came with Shimano Ultegra Di2 and I’d never used electronic shifting before. It took me a few minutes to get used to it and since I ride (and I’m sponsored by) Campagnolo I still managed to go the wrong direction several times on the ride. Adapting to the “button press” in place of the “lever swing” was pretty easy and overall I found the shifting to be easy and somewhat mindless. But the only time I really enjoyed the button press shifting was in the drops at high speeds. In those moments, the ease of pressing a button paid off; but then again, how often do you need to shift in those moments?

Personally, I’ll stick to mechanical shifting for a few key reasons:

  1. Mechanical shifting keeps you connected to your ride and let’s you feel the bike. I really missed that when pressing a button.
  2. While I’m super geeky about computers, cameras and the like, when it comes to my drivetrain or other core components, I’m old school. I never want to be stuck on the road with an issue I can’t repair because it’s inside the closed system of an electronic black box.
  3. While the Di2 goes a really long time on a charge (like, months) there’s still that outside chance I’d forget to charge it, go on a long ride and, well, you get the idea.

Disc Brakes – a Brief First Impression

I’m guessing that the movement to disc brakes is somewhat inevitable where electronic shifters will likely remain a matter of personal preference for quite a while (just my opinion, of course.) My first impression riding on disc brakes, though, is to wonder why there’s such debate about these in the first place. Granted, on a high speed descent I felt a bit more deceleration and control, overall I didn’t see much notable difference. And they were occasionally quite loud; not that you’ll never hear a sound from caliper brakes, either. And never mind what the weight weenies will have to say about the “heft” of a disc brake system. Anyway, when they are forced upon me, I won’t resist, but I don’t otherwise see any reason to switch. Granted, I didn’t get to descend in the rain, and maybe that’s the clincher, but we’ll see.

Review: 2016 GFNY Limar Ultralight+ Helmet

helmetgwb[1]The updated GFNY Limar Ultralight+ helmets have arrived, and they are awesome! Uli already did a write up here, but I wanted to say a little more about it after a few enjoyable rides.

First and foremost, as Uli already noted, this helmet is a “barely there” kind of feeling because it is so light and fits nicely on your head. And Uli also mentioned that the only notable change is to the strap system. Well, that deserves a further mention.

I personally struggle, with every helmet, to find a balance in straps that are comfortable and straps that are secure. Most often, when properly snug, they brush or tug at the bottom of my ears in a way that I can’t stop noticing. Even the previous Limar design, which was better than most, was a bit uncomfortable for me. But this new design somehow “spreads” the straps a little more so the “V” under my ear remains, well under my ear! The back knob adjustment seems to be part of this new placement – while it doesn’t feel like it’s lower on the back of my head (and shouldn’t) it somehow lowers the posterior strap just enough to make a huge difference in comfort.

I noticed the improved straps immediately upon wearing the helmet. But, honestly, I thought it was just the “newness effect” and after a few rides I’d be back where I started. Not so! After a few hundred miles including one very wet day, I can say that this is far and away the most comfortable helmet I’ve ever worn. It was already lightweight and nice on the noggin, but now the improved strap system is icing on the cake.

And the straps themselves have seen an upgrade, too. The lowly “chinstrap” which, in nearly every sport with a helmet is precisely the same – ugly and uncomfortable – is now a feature for discussion. First, this one is vented; which, OMG, why hasn’t someone does this before?!? Second, it’s black; because, duh, have you seen what a white strap looks like after just a few months of use?!? Thank you, Limar, for giving me a strap that is black on purpose!

Finally, let’s not forget the look of the helmet. The new coloring and decals are super slick and a perfect way to top off (pun intended) a slick GFNY green kit. I’ll bet you haven’t taken a long, hard look at your helmet lately, but you should. And if it doesn’t live up to the expectations I’ve set here, or it’s just old and needs replacing, order the GFNY Limar Ultralight+ today.

** Sorry, view of the NYC skyline is not included with purchase. Unless you register for the GFNY 2016 event and join our Gruppo Sportivo GFNY Sunday rides, of course!

Update on Selle San Marco Aspide Carbon Open FX Saddle

1549233_654678197903471_1572625478_n[1]Two months ago I posted this: First Impression: Selle San Marco Aspide Carbon Open FX. Well, now that I’ve been riding in this saddle for awhile and completed three century rides (including the 2014 Gran Fondo NY) Here’s my update:

This saddle is truly awesome!

Seriously, I’m not sure what else to say. As I noted in my initial review, saddle fit is personal, so this may not be the perfect saddle for you. Especially if you have a wide spread in your “sit bones”.

But non-compatible anatomy and personal feelings aside, this really is an awesome saddle. I’ve ridden enough centuries to know that just staying in the saddle in the final miles can be a challenge. Yet in the final miles of the GFNY I hardly noticed the saddle at all. It was only after I was home, showered and sitting on the couch that I realized, “wow – I never even noticed my saddle soreness during the ride!”

Being able to mostly forget that your saddle is even there – what more can you ask for?

If you felt differently at the end of your GFNY or other long ride, I only have one thing to say: try this saddle!

First Impression: Selle San Marco Aspide Carbon Open FX

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GFNY Selle San Marco Aspide Carbon Open FX

Selle San Marco is the saddle sponsor of Gran Fondo NY and there have been two branded models available in the past: Concor and Mantra. The Concor is a nice saddle, but in the GFNY branding, it doesn’t have a cutout, so I never gave this model a try and I went with the Mantra instead.

 

Quick note on personal preferences… There are a lot of decisions in selecting cycling components and gear that can be done through scientific means. But there are just as many decisions that can be very personal rather than logical. If you ask me, there’s nothing more personal than selecting a saddle. Despite pages and pages of reviews and specifications, what works great for me may not work for you. I, for example, have determined that I very much prefer a cutout. I know plenty of great riders that will never select a cutout. And with that out of the way…

 

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GFNY Selle San Marco Mantra Racing

I’ve been riding the Mantra for a couple of months and a few hundred miles. It’s a terrific saddle for sure, but it just hasn’t been perfect for me. It seems that I’m just rubbing the corners (the portion that “hangs down” where is says San Marco in green in this photo) just enough to create a bit of discomfort on longer rides. And if I continued to ride this saddle I’d likely find that there’s no discomfort after few hundred more miles and I’d love this saddle.

 

But we’ve all got options, so why not try them out?

 

 

Selle San Marco Aspide Carbon Open FX Test Saddle

Selle San Marco Aspide Carbon Open FX Test Saddle

Yesterday I put a Selle San Marco Aspide Carbon Open FX test saddle on my GFNY De Rosa Protos to give it a try. I’ll be honest, I didn’t have high hopes. Why? Because this saddle is quite narrow and all the “professional advice” I’d gotten was that I needed a slightly wider saddle. It’s actually quite hard to pinpoint precisely where an individual’s ischial tuberosities (sit or sitz bones) are without getting quite intimate with said individual. And because these are not only on said individual’s back side, but also “underneath” if you will, self inspection can only go so far. Even with precise measurement, there are all sorts of angles and pressures at play based on the rest of the your body that make the requirements of each individual very, ‘er, individual. There’s really only one way to pick a saddle – TEST SOME!

 

So with nothing to lose but some comfort, I gave this narrow saddle a try. As I first mounted my ride and began moving forward, it was hard not to notice just how narrow this saddle is under my body. However, I never felt like it was too small and I very quickly forgot I was riding a new saddle. After about 15-miles I stopped at a traffic light and only when I was standing on the ground with the saddle nudged against my backside did I remember to give some thought to the saddle. It suddenly dawned on me – I was super comfortable on this saddle! The fact that I completely forgot about it speaks volumes!

 

I rode another 15-miles and for this portion of the ride I really tested the saddle. The length and shape provide excellent support whether my hips were rolled way forward for a tuck, or way back for a leisurely climb. Leaning side to side was also very comfortable, but for the opposite reason – less saddle “hanging down” to make contact with awkward parts of my anatomy. I also tested it over some wonderfully bumpy New York City streets. Well, no road saddle will win any awards in this category and I’ll continue to get out of the saddle in these situations. But I will say that it was no worse than my previous saddles and it felt like a sturdier surface than its truly narrow frame.

 

Granted this was only one 30-mile ride, but, WOW, I was really impressed! I’ll continue to ride this test saddle for a few weeks to be sure, but I think Selle San Marco has provided me with a real winner in the Aspide Carbon Open FX and I can’t wait to get the flat black GFNY branded version mounted on my ride. (Sorry, but the test pattern keeps reminding me of TRON.)

 

Anyone riding the Gruppo Sportivo GFNY Sunday training rides – come find me and I can lend you one of these test saddles. Or, like I said, it’s personal, so you can try the Concor or Mantra as well.

 

Gears

I’ve been thinking a lot about gears these day. I ride a pretty entry level road bike and my Sora gearset would definitely be the weak link on my ride. Whether I upgrade the gearset on my current bike or buy a new bike, I’m giving a lot of thought to the gears and especially the configuration. I found this great web app to help in that process: Gear Calculator.

If you visit that site via the link I’ve provided, you’ll see my current configuration (a triple) on top and what I’m likely looking for in a new compact double setup. You can play with any variable on this site and see how it impacts the results. In this configuration I’d have an 11/28 in the back. Ideally I’d like a 10/30, but so far I haven’t been able to find a reasonable way to implement that configuration. Since it’s so custom, it gets expensive, but also risks a setup that doesn’t really work smoothly. Since I’m looking for a 105 or Ultegra gearset, the 11/28 is the closest I’ll get.

Gran Fondo NY 2013