Chris S

Chris S

Finger Lakes region, NY

Chris S's Passions

Biking
Running

Chris S's Bio

I was cool once.

Chris S

Chris S wrote a review of on December 17, 2014

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

This is what I use on my race bike and I probably should put it on my beater bike as well. Bar tape comes in all kinds of thickness. This one is thin and really helps with having a secure grip on the bars. It installs easily and stretches out for a nice, clean, tight fit.

Vibration and numb hands aren't a problem at all, though much of the reason for that is probably a function of having a professional bike fit (i.e., hand problems usually occur because too much weight is on the hands rather than the other contact points). Thick tape can't offset a bad fit. But if you've been properly fitted and appreciate a clean look and the feel of control, get this bar tape with no worries.

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Chris S

Chris S wrote a review of on December 14, 2014

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

Zipp's updated its Tangente line so this one's going out of production. But for $40 it's an unbelievable value. Buy them.

Whether these tires are much more aero than the competition I cannot say--the dimples purportedly save one watt. That won't win you any races, but every watt helps I guess. The 290 tpi brings the tire fairly close to the best racing tires in terms of suppleness. What little information I could find reported that the rolling resistance of the Tangentes was pretty low. So these aren't in the same class as the, say, Vittoria Open Corsa Evo tires; however I have no complaints especially when these are paired with latex tubes. Comfy and fast. The rear tire will probably wear out somewhat faster than a Conti GP4000s will, but I like these better for racing. The front tire seems to show barely any wear after some thousand or so miles.

I have to confess that I'm going to miss these tires. My rims are fairly narrow and this iteration of the Tangente offered a 21mm width that worked perfectly with my Zipp 60s and Boyd Rouleur wheels. The newer Zipp tires are too wide for what I need and would disrupt the airflow of the wheel. Wider may be better, but if aero advantage is what you're seeking then you need to consider the wheel and get a tire that won't mushroom out.

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Chris S

Chris S wrote a review of on December 14, 2014

4 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

These bars will impress--they just look fearsome. But more than that, there's an performance advantage to the airfoil shape of the tops. First, the tops are actually more ergonomic if you use them for climbing. Second, Cervelo, finding that the handlebars contribute a just a bit less than 20% of the drag of a bike's frame, is now equipping its S5 with its own aero road bars. Every watt you save means extra work for your competition. If you often use the "praying mantis" position you may want to tape everything as you would with regular bars, but I prefer to leave the tops free in order to save every watt I can.

I don't notice any problems with road vibration or much flex when sprinting hard. The drops are well designed and easy to reach. The internal cable routing seems well designed and easy to use.

As noted in one of the comments below, the bar is not designed for clip-on aerobars or is it well suited for a barfly computer mount (unless you have a narrow stem, I suppose). So long as you have a round stem you can mount a computer there, but if you do as I did and pair the bars with a Zipp Sprint stem it makes mounting really awkward. Fair warning.

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Chris S

Chris S wrote a review of on December 14, 2014

4 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I really like this stem and I use it with my Vuka Sprint aero road bars--a perfect match that really makes the bike's cockpit look formidable, even beautiful. I've no complaints at all with the performance, though I'm not enough of a connoisseur of stems to distinguish unacceptable levels of flex or vibration. So far as I can tell, everything stays exactly where it should and I have no problem sprinting hard.

If there's one criticism that I have, it's the fact that it is extremely difficult to mount a computer on it. No big deal if you have regular road bars, but the airfoil shaped Vuka Sprint bars offer no clean place to mount a computer either so I've had to buy water filter o-rings and superglue them onto the computer's mount to keep everything in place over the top of the stem; however, I hate the positioning because it undoubtedly destroys the aero advantage of the bars. 3T has a similar stem offering that has the ability to have an integrated mount in the faceplate, and I hope that Zipp eventually designs a similar accessory.

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Chris S

Chris S wrote a review of on May 20, 2014

4 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

This is Zipp's entry-level carbon wheelset, but the aluminum braking surface makes this wheel somewhat unique in the product line-up. If one is concerned about braking on steep descents, and the thought of a tire blow-out or activating the brake and having nothing happen is scary, these are the answer. But the Firecrest represents the most aero wheels in the Zipp line--the 60s are one generation removed from the best in that respect. So one star off for that.

These wheels, or any deep carbon wheel, won't produce huge increases in speed. Commuters will find it hard to justify the cost. But racers are at a competitive disadvantage to those who use deeper section carbon wheels. How many watts of energy saved is difficult to estimate because it varies based on wind angle and speed (plus Zipp doesn't have aero data for these wheels up). If the Zipp 60s save 10 watts, that's a fairly negligible amount of mph but HUGE difference in effort. Making someone else work 10 watts harder might be just enough to push them past their limits.

As for weight, the 60s aren't the lightest but they are comparable to similar offerings by, say, Campagnolo. They aren't a particular liability on rollers or moderate climbs. The aero benefit disappears only on really long climbs at 7% or more, like the Alpe d'Huez. If one is frequently climbing up Mt Washington these won't be the best choice. But they're a fine all-purpose wheel.

These generally handle well in crosswinds, but sudden hard gusts particularly at speed can be scary. If wind is a concern, go with a shallower front wheel.

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Chris S

Chris S wrote a review of on May 20, 2014

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

The Giro Air Attack is more popular, I see that helmet everywhere, and the aero Specialized Evade can be had at any local bike shop. But those helmets have really polarizing looks and ventilation on steep gradients can be an issue (particularly for the Giro).

The Course helmet, like the Evade and Air Attack, is designed as an aero helmet suitable for road racing. It just doesn't look it, which isn't a bad thing--the Course looks rather like a compact regular road helmet but with an unusual vent scheme. Where most aero helmets present a smooth surface to the wind to limit drag, the Course is designed to simply let air straight through. So superior ventilation is what makes the helmet aero. Exactly how many watts you'll save at race speed I cannot say. But the wind noise is definitely less, suggesting that the helmet is producing less drag meaning that more of your energy is pushing you forward. Or, put another way, Garneau has come across a clever solution to helmet aerodynamics that is unique and seems to really work.

To be clear, an aero helmet won't guarantee that you'll be a winner in a race or dramatically increase your speed. If you're a commuter who simply wants to get somewhere fast, this kind of helmet won't increase your speed enough to justify the cost. Speed is dependent on too many factors, though aerodynamics is an important part of how fast you can go. But if you're in a race in a breakaway and putting out 250 watts, if a helmet reduces drag by 10 watts then it'll take someone chasing you 260 watts just to keep you from riding away. To catch you, chasers will have to work harder still. That's where all the aero stuff really comes into its own--it pushes your competitors closer to their limits and wears them out just a bit sooner. The difference in speed may seem negligible, but people will feel the difference in effort. If you race, there really aren't any disadvantages to this helmet--looks, weight, ventilation, or aerodynamics.

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Chris S

Chris S wrote a review of on March 23, 2014

1 5

Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions

Bought this pump to carry with me on my road bike as an upgrade to my previous Wal-mart pump and an alternative to a CO2 cartridge, where if you run out in the middle of nowhere then you're in trouble. While the Crank Brothers pump does come with a frame mount, I like to stick mine in my back jersey pocket. It fits okay. On the plus side, the pump feels very solid and well made.

The problem is when I actually needed it. Got a simple flat on my front tire. I turned the head unit to the appropriate spot and connected the pump to the stem. After pumping like crazy, I could get to maybe 60 psi (and sometimes the tire would inexplicably lose pressure and I would have to start over at 20 psi or worse). I could never be sure that the stem was securely attached to the nozzle. Neither did I notice any difference using either max pressure or max volume settings. After exhaustion from all that pumping sets in, and mounting frustration, I needed to brace the pump against the ground to keep going. Since the nozzle is attached to the pump unit itself, you can only do this very awkwardly. And it's not a good idea for another reason: The valve stem isn't designed to be abused like this and so it snapped right at the rim opening. So not only did the pump not work at all for me, it ruined a tube and forced me to have to call in a rescue from an hour away while standing on a roadside getting hammered by frigid wind. Lesson learned.

If you're on a road bike, get a pump with a flexible nozzle. And make sure it works before taking it out on the road.

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Chris S

Chris S wrote a review of on March 9, 2014

5 5

Power is the only way to train effectively. Speed is too dependent on weather or traffic. Heart rate is too dependent on sleep, age, and health. Perceptions of exertion are often misleading. But watts don't lie. If you're able to crank out more watts, you're getting stronger. With power, you can train with incredible efficiency and see exactly where your weaknesses are and plan accordingly. In a race you'll know if you can go harder or have to back off. On a long climb, you can sit on your best number and pace yourself up while everyone else around you is going too hard and blowing up.

Powertap is one of the least expensive power options and works very well. Spinning the wheel wakes the PT up, allowing it to be read by any ANT+ head unit. It can also estimate cadence, so you won't need a cadence sensor. Do a manual calibration before you ride and you're all set. Maybe the hub weighs more than a regular hub, but you won't notice. With many power units it's a matter of something gained/something lost. A crank unit forces you to use the same bike. The PT forces you to use the same wheel, but you can move it between different bikes. If you use different wheels, you can buy two and build them into two wheels for the price of one Quarq.

Saris is great to work with--my end cap started transmitting intermittently and after a phone call they mailed me another one right away. It works perfectly now.

I had mine built into a Zipp 60 rear wheel. Since the hole placement called for j-bend spokes, I went with the DT aerolite bladed spokes rather than the standard Sapim CX-ray.

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Chris S

Chris S posted an image about on August 14, 2013

Fit picture

I have thin arms and am 69" tall with arms of regular length--this is how the smalls fit on me. The warmers are stretchy, so you should actually be able to wear your regular size with these unless you've either been lifting weights or enlarging your arms with peanut butter cups.

I bought these in red--normally people go for black, but you can see that red should work pretty well with a lot of different kit. (In fact, completely mismatched kit in my case :D).

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Chris S

Chris S wrote a review of on August 14, 2013

5 5

Wore these on a cool (low 50s), damp, and very windy ride and my arms felt comfortable--they neither got too hot through a hard effort nor did they get chilled. Simply perfect. I have long sleeved jerseys but the arm warmers extend the use of my short sleeved jerseys deeper into the year.

I normally wear mediums in Castelli but I have the usual cyclist's noodle arms and so bought these in a small and am glad I did. The warmer stayed put on my arm--no tugging or adjusting on the ride was required at all. The gripper was not too tight. They are oh-so-slightly longer than I needed, so the small can fit someone who is average height.

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Chris S

Chris S wrote a review of on August 10, 2013

5 5

I haven't worn this one on scorching days--I have the Castelli open mesh base layer for that. But this one is comfy and unobtrusive on more temperate days and could even do well for days where you need a long-sleeved jersey.

A base layer may seem like a pointless expense. Until you crash and get road rash on your back because your jersey got shredded and you didn't have any more protection. But I have yet to feel soaked from sweat, which is the main purpose here.

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Chris S

Chris S posted an image about on August 3, 2013

Jersey fit

I have an older iteration of this jersey, one with 3/4 zip, but the picture gives a good idea of how this particular line wears, sleeve length, etc. As noted in my review, this is a medium on a 35" chest--looks almost like a skin suit. I pair the jersey with the Castelli Endurance shorts.

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Chris S

Chris S wrote a review of on July 31, 2013

4 5

After smashing my Specialized Echelon when my wheels slipped out from under me on a fast turn, I got the Bell Sweep on sale as a replacement. To reiterate the good things about this helmet: it's easily adjustable and it looks sweet. It has a nice, streamlined and fast look to it. Being a roadie, of course, I ditched the visor. Roadies wear shades. :D

The helmet isn't perfect. There's minimal padding inside--basically what's along the front forehead is about it. Fortunately I had some stick-on padding from my previous helmet that I could position to make the fit more comfortable. The front pad also becomes saturated with sweat pretty quickly and drops down my sunglasses or down my nose. Which means that sometimes I have to stop every once in a while to squeegee the pads. A headband or other sweat-absorbing headgear would be a good idea on longer rides or in warmer climes.

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