Ever since I posted the link to DiNotte's upgrade offer, I've been receiving requests for beam shots. I got my 200L earlier this week and I finally got the time to take beam shots today.
As an aside, apart from the fact that I have to wait until 10pm, it is so much nicer taking these pictures without freezing! It is cold at night in January and February.
First up, the 5W we all know:
And now, the 200L:
As you can see, the 200L has a much tighter beam than the 5W. The color is also whiter on the 200L than it is on the 5W. The beam projects further and lacks the dark center that the 5W has. Overall, this is a better beam, minus the light spill the older light has.
Now, I've been asked "should I upgrade" and this is something that you'll have to decide for yourself. However, something to keep in mind, the older light ran for 6 hours using the 4 cell Li-Ion battery (3 hours on the smaller 2 cell battery). The upgraded light should go a full 8 hours with the 4 cell battery (4 hours with the 2 cell). Also, I left both lights on for a few minutes -- in stagnant air -- and the 5W was warm to the touch, while the 200L was not. The emitter in the 200L is just more efficient.
One other thing to keep in mind is that if you have a dual 5W, you might think about upgrading only one light. This is the 5W and 200L together:
They compliment each other nicely, with the 200L filling in that hole in the 5W's beam and the 5W adding the peripheral light the 200L lacks.
Thursday, May 31, 2007
Ever since I posted the link to DiNotte's upgrade offer, I've been receiving requests for beam shots. I got my 200L earlier this week and I finally got the time to take beam shots today.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Last time I talked a little about how hydraulic brakes work, the principles behind them and what are some of the problems.
This time, after a brief re-cap, I'll talk about some solutions, and specifically, what Shimano does that might help.
The recap: The problem facing hydraulic brake designers is how to optimize the master to slave piston ratio. Too large and the slave piston will hardly move, but you'll have gobs of power. Too small and you'll be able to have the pads far from the rotor, but you'll lack power and likely have poor modulation as well. It's a balancing act for sure.
Enter Shimano. In the 1990's Shimano introduced Servo Wave in their brake levers. This was a cam that allowed the user to take up the cable quickly at the beginning of the lever stroke, and then slow down the take up and maximize power near the end of the lever stroke. It worked well.
For 2008 Shimano thinks that they've solved the conundrum of the piston ratios I mentioned above by reintroducing Servo Wave in the XT platform. This is supposed to allow the pads to be far away from the rotor, reducing the annoying dragging that happens when the rotors are perfectly true, while improving power as well.
I have not seen a cutaway nor have I used the brakes, yet, but I speculate that the lever works as follows: The Servo Wave mechanism moves the smaller master cylinder quickly -- and quite far, relatively speaking -- at the beginning of the lever stroke in order to bring the slave pistons close to the rotor. Then it switches modes and moves the master piston slower, giving the rider good modulation and -- if the ratio of master to slave pistons is right -- plenty of power. It's like having your cake and eating it too!
Of course, I cannot, yet, give you my impressions of the brake, but as soon as I get my dirty paws on it, I'll let you know how well it works in real life, not just in theory.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
This is part 1 of a two part article where I take a look at how hydraulic brakes work, and what are some of their drawbacks. What prompted me to take a look at this subject is Shimano's new XT brakes -- specifically, the Servo Wave levers. I'll address this more in part 2.
All hydraulic brake levers sold today have three main components: First, the lever blade (where you grab, orange below), second, the master cylinder (the plunger, if you will, that moves the liquid, green below), and third, the reservoir (included to cope with expanding fluid and to compensate for pad wear, not shown). There are other parts that vary from brand to brand, but these three things are common to all. Of the three, you really only need the lever and cylinder to make things work. Down at the caliper, you have either 1, 2, 4, or 6 slave cylinders (pistons) that apply the clamping force -- via the pads -- to the rotor. When you pull the lever (orange), it pushes on the master cylinder (green) which causes the fluid (blue) to flow from the lever to the caliper which, in turn, displaces the pads (red) until they hit the rotor... Simple, right?
Just to clarify some basic principles behind hydraulics I need to define a few terms. There is a difference between Force and Pressure. The former is what you apply to the lever, the latter is what is transmitted from the master cylinder to the pads -- or the force divided by the area over which the force is applied. In math terms, it looks like this:
The area in this case is the area of the master cylinder. Now, the next bit is absolutely KEY to how the system works. Fluids, for the most part, are incompressible. There it is. That little bit of information is what makes hydraulics so powerful... In other words:
Note, I said Pressure, not Force. So, what happens if the area of the slave cylinder is larger than the area of the master cylinder? You get a bigger force out. In the end, it boils down to a ratio of cylinder sizes. If you have a caliper piston that is twice the size of the lever piston, your hand effort is nearly doubled -- I say nearly because liquids do compress ever so slightly, and there is bulging that occurs in the line and flex happens, in general, to all the bits in between so there are some losses in the system.
However, all is not roses. You still have to displace the same amount of liquid with both the master and slave cylinders. This means that -- again using a 1:2, master to slave, ratio -- your master cylinder has to move twice as far as your slave piston. This is why, usually, the brake pads are so close to the rotor. In order to maximize power, you have to set the pads close. You can sacrifice power and gain clearance -- something that is handy if your rotors are warped a little -- but really there is a balancing act. The ratio of piston sizes is one factor in modulation as well, since it dictates how fast the power comes on.
So, there it is. That's the introduction to Hydraulics, as used in brakes, along with the biggest problem: you can only do so much by varying piston size ratios.
Next time, how Shimano hopes to address the problem.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Before I jump into today's post, we've got some important info for you Cannondale owners. From the release: "Cannondale has voluntarily issued a Safety Recall Notice with the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The products affected include any 2007 and some 2008 mountain bikes equipped with either Lefty Speed Carbon SL or Lefty Speed DLR 2 forks. If your bike is equipped with one of these forks, stop riding the bike immediately and take it to your Cannondale dealer for required service." It seems that the problem is that some of these forks weren't assembled quite right and the telescoping section can completely separate. To echo the above, if you have one of these forks, take it in to your local Cannondale dealer before riding it again.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled post.
A few weeks ago I told you about the scandium Dura Ace wheels I received for review. Hutchinson -- the only maker of tubeless road tires -- was back ordered on the tires at the time, so I did not get a pair to use... until now. To give the wheels a fair shake on their own, and to directly compare the tubeless to tube-type tires, I've been running the wheels with the Fusion Long Distance tires, with standard, off the shelf tubes.
The weight of this tire is: 230g and the tube -- remember, it's not a lightweight tube, but a standard one -- is 115g.
These are very good tires, and judging by the number of cuts -- some major -- in the tread that have not resulted in a flat I'd say the puncture protection works well, too. Seriously, I picked out quite a bit of glass (5 pieces) and had at least that many more cuts that didn't have the glass in there any more and I suffered not one flat. And that is just one tire. I like 'em.
Back to the tubeless bit. So the wheels have been treating me like I'd expect out of a high end wheelset but the real test, the bit that will make the Dura Ace wheels better than other high end wheelsets -- in my opinion -- will be the tubeless tires. That is the biggest difference, the thing that sets them apart, they are made for running sans tubes.
So, on to the installation.
First up, some comparisons. Take a look at the difference between the normal bead, and the road tubeless bead.
Notice the nice square edge on the tubeless bead? That is what locks the tire to the rim. Not only is the edge more square, but the bead, in general, is thicker.
Before mounting up the tires, be sure to install the valve.
The rubber bit above the knurled nut goes on the inside of the rim. On the outside sits the plastic spacer on the right, then the o-ring under the knurled nut, then the nut.
Installed it looks like this:
You install the tire pretty much like you would any road tire, without the tube, of course. One difference, though, you really do not want to use tire levers. You shouldn't need them, but try to resist the temptation. If you do use them, you run the risk of slightly damaging the rubber bead surface on the tire and introducing a leak point. I installed these without a hitch by hand alone.
Once installed, I soaped up the bead so that it would slide easier into the rim hook. This is not only recommended, but helps the tire seat easier and faster.
Once the tire is nice and soapy, I inflated the tire, using a floor pump, to 125psi. The beads started popping into place at about 20-25psi, much sooner than I expected. After I checked to see that the tire was seated properly, I deflated the tire to 95psi. That is the recommended pressure for my weight.
The weight of the tubeless tire is 295g and the valve stem is another 5g. So, the combo is 300g versus 345g for the tire/tube combo I replaced with the Fusion Tubeless. Not bad, not bad at all.
And there you have it, tubeless tires on a road bike. Naturally, in the full review of the tire, I'll report on how they ride. You'll just have to wait until then.
Also, one more thing, normally we try and have a post every Monday. This Monday, however, is a holiday, so there won't be a new one. Now there are 278 old posts so if you haven't read them all, you can always get your Lactic Acid Threshold fix that way. And, they are available for free! Have a great weekend, get some riding in, and we'll be back on Tuesday or Wednesday.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Originally, I was planning on writing up my installation of the new Tubeless Road tires from Hutchinson. The problem is, I didn't get them installed last night. I just ran out of time. So, that'll be up on Friday.
I did, however, have a nice email conversation with Rob over at DiNotte about their lights and their new upgrade policy.
Here's the problem: the way that LEDs are improving is making it a little hard on the consumer. LED based lights seem to be in a constant state of flux, which makes the consumer -- you and I -- a little wary of buying now if things are going to be better later. Normally, the later is a year or more from now, but at the rate that the emitter technology is improving -- and the rate that new products are introduced to market -- later might be in a few months. It makes the whole do I get it now or wait argument tougher.
If you have owned a PDA in the past, you might be familiar with Sony's Clie lineup. Sony used to have the coolest PDAs on the market, but they were introducing new ones every other month. They effectively introduced themselves out of the business because everyone simply waited. It was never the right time to buy.
Back to lights, how do you avoid this? As a company, you want to have the latest, best technology available. As a consumer, you want the best your hard earned dollars (euros, pounds, pesos, francs, etc.) can buy. We also, deep down, don't want to wait. One way to combat this is by offering an upgrade service. Buy what is available now, then swap out to the newest emitters later. This is like changing the memory and CPU in your computer. The shell is the same, but the guts are new. Lupine did this with the introduction of the new Wilma. For $150 you can bring your older Wilma up to the newest emitters, giving you more light without a decrease in run time.
So, long story short, DiNotte is offering a similar upgrade path. Say you have an older 5W light engine (~120 lumens), for $50 you get a new lens, circuit board and emitter (200 lumens) placed into your existing housing. If you find that, while you like the light, there are things you'd do differently if you were to buy again -- things like a longer cord, different battery type, etc -- this can be done at the time of the upgrade. Check out all the details HERE.
Now, if only bike manufacturers would upgrade rear shocks like this...
Monday, May 21, 2007
I got a call from Bill Rudell (Marketing Manager at Cannondale). He told me there were issues with some carbon cranks--made by FSA--stocked on their road bikes--and of particular interest to me--among them being the Synapse. It seems they "incorrectly heat treated the aluminum bottom bracket spindles ... [which could cause] cracks that can lead to a complete crankset failure." Of course, Cannondale is replacing these free of charge. (Read the recall notice here.)
The other day, I finally got around to bringing my bike by the local shop to make sure things were fine.
The Good News
Everything is fine with my cranks. The mechanic could tell from about 10 feet away, in fact. This is because my cranks are of the three-piece variety, while those affected are two-piece. I was relieved to know things would be fine with my bike.
The Bad News
Of course, then the mechanic--kindly point out the difference between my crank and the affected ones--said, "Yeah, you've got the old style." Ouch, the old style already? What is this, the computer industry? I mean, I suppose I should be relieved to not have issues with my cranks, but I bet the newer ones are--aside from possibly plagued with problems--potentially lighter and/or stiffer.
Of course, this just calls to issue the bigger problem: Cannondale, shortly after selling me my bike, came out with a lighter version: the Synapse Carbon SL SI.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Last time I took a look at how simple it was to upgrade the Wilma. This time, I've got the results. The original one was 420 lumens. The upgrade is 750 lumens. That's 78% more light.
And, without further ado, here is the old Wilma (a 2007 model is old?):
And the Wilma Upgrade:
Now, a couple of observations. First, the upgraded Wilma has a whiter light than the original one. Also, while there is, without question, more light, it is still not a broad beam. This might, or might not be an issue with you. For me, it depends on the use. On the road, this upgrade will be great, the spot-ish nature of the beam means that it will cut through the rain with ease. On single track, since I don't like anything on my head -- other than the helmet -- I prefer a wider beam. Without a doubt, though, this is quite a bit of light.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
I mentioned last week that I had received the new Wilma upgrade kit. It is all installed now, and I thought I'd run through the installation process.
First, in addition to the supplied hex wrench, you'll need a pair of pliers to remove and insert the LED board. It's not hard, it's just nearly impossible to grab the posts with your fingers to pull the board out. Second, don't touch the LEDs! The instructions stress this and I second it. Finally, unplug the light head from the battery! You do not want to short something out here. That would be a costly mistake.
Now, on to the show!
First, remove the front cap. It just unscrews -- righty tighty, lefty loosey!
Next, with the supplied hex wrench, undo the four cap screws and remove the lens.
Now that the lens is off, you'll see two small posts in the center of the board -- I circled them in RED below.
This is where you grab with the pliers to pull the board out of the light head. Also, note that the little circle above the posts is on top. If you get the new board in backwards -- upside down -- it won't turn on.
Once, the old board is removed, drop the new board in place.
At this point, Lupine's instructions say to plug the battery in just long enough to power on the LEDs, but not more than 5 seconds. Contact with the heat sink isn't that great until everything is bolted back together. The LEDs should light up, if you've done everything right up until this point.
Once you've made sure that everything works, put the new lens on, making sure to align the screw holes and screw everything back together. The front cap uses very, very fine threads, so take care not to cross thread it. And that's it!
It shouldn't take more than 10 minutes to do, and that includes reading and re-reading the instructions. I'll have some beam shots comparing the two LED boards later this week.
Monday, May 14, 2007
I just got a Fi'zi:k K:1 saddle to review. Technically, this isn't a full-carbon saddle, because it is covered by a thin layer of gel.
Ideas to focus on while perched atop a $400, 150g saddle:
- Wow, I can really accelerate up this climb now that I'm saving all this weight.
- Look at all those chumps I'm passing with their thick, heavy saddles. (This only works if you're passing people--either real or imaginary.)
What NOT to think of:
- This saddle weighs around 50g less than my $90 saddle it replaces... I fluctuate more than 50g throughout my day depending on my eating habits. If I take a drink out of my water bottle, I will have saved more than 50g.
- Too bad people can't tell that I'm riding a super svelte, $400 carbon saddle. Maybe I should stand up and pedal while I pass this guy.
Friday, May 11, 2007
My upgrade for the Wilma arrived! I don't have a bunch of time to do a lengthy post today, but I didn't want to leave you without knowing that I now have this little beauty in house.
This is one cool little item. Everything needed to do the swap in included: lens, emitter array and hex key. The lens looks different than the previous one -- all four lenses are the same, whereas the previous lens had one that was different.
I have not swapped this into my Wilma, yet, but will this weekend with the requisite before and after pictures.
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
Last time I talked about the brakes and the derailleurs. This time, it'll be everything else.
Starting with the wheels, XT finally gets a 20mm through axle option. The rear freehub has been redesigned to engage more quickly -- 10 degrees maximum. The brake rotor mount is their Center Lock splined mount. No 6-bolt here.
The crankset has also been updated. The middle ring is now a carbon fiber/steel mixture, to try and increase the life of the chain ring. The bearings are still outboard and this is still a two piece design.
Finally, we come to shifters. Like the new-ish XTR, you get a choice for your shifting pleasure. Dual control, seen earlier, and a stand alone pod. I like stand alone pods. It gives me more options when it comes to brakes. Not that I dislike Shimano brakes, mind you, they work well -- at least all of the ones I have used to date. I just dislike being locked into one brand... any brand.
So, there you have it... the highlights of the new XT group. Frankly, I can't wait to get some dirt time on it.
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Over the weekend I received an email from Chris telling me about how he uses DiNotte's helmet mount to attach his tail light to his bike. He was kind enough to include pictures and, with his permission, I thought I'd repost them here.
For some other tail light mounting ideas, see HERE. Thanks, Chris, for sharing. If you have another way of mounting the tail light, let me know.
I'll be back tomorrow with more on the new Shimano XT group and later this week, I'll have some more light related stuff -- it just doesn't seem to end!
Friday, May 04, 2007
Last year, the big news from Shimano was the complete overhaul of their top of the line group, XTR. This year, it's XT's turn. 25 years after it's introduction, the new XT group follows along the lines of XTR, but with some nice features of it's own.
From the press release:
Introducing the Shimano Shadow Rear Derailleur Like the latest XTR, options are the emphasis of the new Deore XT. The debut of the Shimano Shadow rear derailleur yields a third rear derailleur option, joining the Top Normal and Low Normal versions. Shadow places priority on a low profile design and less body movement for those enthusiasts that are most at home on extreme technical trails. Servo-Wave: An Exclusive Feature of the New Deore XT High Power Braking System Many may remember Servo-Wave from the days when cantilever brakes ruled. Offering ample brake pad clearance, while also providing quick engagement using a cam in the brake lever, the feature was a benchmark performance benefit. With the introduction of linear pull or V-brake systems designed around increased cable pull, Servo-Wave took a hiatus. However, as the disc brake market has matured the dilemma of clearance vs. power became apparent. The new Servo-Wave equipped Deore XT disc brake levers provide both. Available in Dual Control Levers or individual brake levers, this feature provides plenty of pad clearance while delivering substantial power. Combined with the new, stiffer, mono-block XT caliper an additional 20% more power is on tap. Ergonomic tuning has also been enhanced with another XT exclusive: brake levers that have adjustable lever free-stroke as well as adjustable reach, resulting in a system that can be tuned to each individual’s anatomy and preferences.
Wheels and shifters next week.
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
My life, for the next few weeks, is getting busier. You see, we've chosen now to start remodeling and painting and generally de-uglifying our house. Saturdays have now become bad days for riding--or doing anything else, for that matter. Last Saturday was still before this/these project(s) started, so I decided to do a long-ish hard ride.
My choice? The Apline Loop. Of course, I know that on warm, sunny afternoons, the American Fork Canyon part of the Alpine Loop is a zoo, so on this particular warm, sunny afternoon, I elected to head up and down the Sundance/Provo Canyon part of the loop. As it turns out, this only shortens the ride by about 1.5 miles. Though I had a slight sore throat that day, I wasn't going to let that slow me down. (On an unrelated note, I've got a much worse sore throat now.)
Right away, I could tell that I wasn't in as good of shape as last year. I started out strong enough, but my energy was lacking. Partly, I'm sure, this is due to my strivings to lose weight. I probably didn't start out the day with enough in me. I brought two GUs (loaded in my Gel-Bot) and a PowerBar.
Now, I'm a planning type of guy when I ride. That is, I tend to think things like: Where is the next stop where I can fill up my water? At what point should I suck down a GU? Why is my butt hurting? Because of this, I was shocked and dismayed when I finally decided to visually check the Gel-Bot to find out how much GU was remaining.
As it turns out, I have no concept of gel volume. It was gone. All of it. I wanted to save some for the climb, but it was empty before I started the climb. I started in on my PowerBar, but soon found I was starving.
Also, I'm out of shape. Instead of keeping up a nice cadence, I was very slowly forcing my cranks around every revolution. Each turn was forced and ... slow. My legs hurt a lot, but there was another pain brewing. A different pain. One that can strike fear into the most seasoned cyclist. In the darkness surrounding that climb, however, I couldn't quite put my finger on it.
A normally pleasant downhill was laborious that day. There was a stiff headwind so not only could I not get my speed up, but it kept threatening to whip me around and throw me off my bike. Where was my reward for that climb?
The headwind persisted when I got to the main part of Provo Canyon. It slowed me down. It accentuated my fatigue. It also gave me lots of time to ponder on this new pain.
My butt hurt.
No matter how much I shifted positions, I couldn't find a good place to sit on my saddle. One reason why I purchased that saddle was to relieve the typical numbness I get on a ride. I was hoping and praying for that numbness on this point. Anything would have been better than the constant pressure and chafing I was getting from my saddle.
Now, muscle fatige I can handle. To me, that isn't real pain--it's just part of the battle between me and the road (or trail).
This kind of pain was much different. My mind started racing: What was the solution? How do I make this saddle comfortable? Is there any solution? Will I ever find a saddle I can sit on for hours on end with both comfort and good blood-flow?
Those thoughts continue to race through my head. Even now. As I plan my next ride.