As readers of this blog must have deduced by now, I am rather obsessed with bicycles. I have gushed about my folding bike, my 29er mountain bike, the trailer for my touring bike, and the recent upgrades to my racing bike. In line with that passion that borders on obsession, several months ago I upgraded my racing bike to a new carbon fibre frame from Cervelo, a carbon fibre fork from Easton, a carbon fibre handlebar from Zipp, and a beautiful, lightweight clincher wheelset from HED. Though I got the bike in December, the rather long and cold winter here dissuaded me from doing much riding outside, and I haven’t put in serious miles on the new bike until now. I wanted to share some photos of the bike and describe its rather amazing qualities–namely, light weight, stiffness and an incredibly smooth, comfortable ride. Read on for more photos, details and thoughts on the bike.
The bike weights a feathery 15.62 pounds (you better believe I weighed this baby). Interestingly, the bike only weighs 2 pounds less than my old race bike, the difference is tremendous. I think this has something to do with the ease with which I am able to lean the bike into corners, although the vast majority of the difference is attributable to the stiffness and smoothness of the frame itself. I had read a lot about how carbon is unmatched for its strength-to-weight- ratio, delivering more power from the pedals directly into forward motion than any other frame material. So when I first got on the bike I expected to notice the stiffness more than anything else. Instead, the first quality that caught my attention was the silkiness of the ride–it literally felt like the bike was floating over the pavement (even over rough spots), and the frame literally emitted a soft hum. Yet as soon as I tried out my first hard effort I could tell that the massive head tube, bottom bracket and chain stays weren’t flexing at all, and that stiffness gave me the feeling that the harder I pedaled, the more the bike was responding to my efforts. At the same time, the extremely slender seat stays (see the picture below–they are designed to actually flex during riding) take all the sting out of the road, and make this bike a pleasure to ride.
Another key component of the ride quality are the HED Ardennes wheels I purchased. At only $999, the Ardennes wheels got fantastic reviews as a lightweight (1350 gram) clincher wheelset that is extremely durable, stiff and offers a smooth ride. My old wheels were so flexy that under hard efforts they would actually brush up against my brake pads. Yet much as with the frame, I noticed the comfortable nature of the ride more than the stiffness. The wheels have a wider rim that allows tires to spread out more and for them to be pumped to a lower PSI. As a result, they seem to glide along, yet they spin up really fast and don’t flex at all when I put the power into the pedals (or at least what little power I can produce). Lastly, the carbon handlebars smooth out the ride even more.
Now that the weather in Rhode Island is improving I have been putting in a lot of miles on the bike. The only drawback so far has been that because this is a pure race frame, the position is much more aggressive (I am for more hunched over and stretched out) and it is taking my neck and back some time to get used to the new position. Still, I am absolutely loving the bike. I just put on some 700 X 24c Vittoria Pave Evo tires, which are excellent, durable, all-around tires, great for racing, training and randonneuring. My big goals for this season are to do several long rides (100-200 miles) and possibly a road race or two. I want to focus on getting fit and strong on the bike, and most importantly, enjoying myself out on the road!
Here is a full list of the parts on the bike:
Frame: Cervelo R3
Fork: Easton EC90
Handlebars: Zipp SLC2
Wheels: HED Ardennes
Tires: Vittoria Pave Evo 700 x24
Drivetrain: Campagnolo Record 10 Speed
Seat Post: FSA K-Force Light
Stem: 3T Forgie Light
Saddle: Specialized Alias
Headset: FSA semi-integrated
Pedals: Look Keo
Bottle Cages: Arundel