Thursday, March 3, 2011

Not New, But Improved

Better, stronger, faster ...
When I bought my Raleigh road bike last year, I knew that there were a few things I would upgrade.  Almost immediately I swapped out the wheels, the pedals, the saddle and the stem, cannibalizing parts from my old Giant OCR1.  I got through the rest of 2010 but I wasn’t completely satisfied with the bike’s comfort or performance.

This winter I have addressed the remaining concerns.  I’ve gone to a wider handlebar: 44cm instead of the stock 40cm, which was way too narrow for me.  That change should ensure more comfort and less fatigue on long rides.  And with the new handlebar comes black bar tape, replacing the white—and therefore filthy—bar tape that came from the factory.  Also, I switched to stainless steel bottle cages to address the clearance issues I had with my old Tacx Tao cages.

But the big change is to the drivetrain.  I’ve upgraded to a full-size Shimano 105 crankset, replacing the compact Truvativ crankset that was stock equipment.  On fast group rides last year I felt like the guy who brought a knife to a gunfight.  I was working my guts out just to keep up, always trying to shift into a harder gear combination that didn’t exist.  The 50-tooth big ring simply wasn’t enough.  Now I have a 53-tooth big ring and a stiffer bottom bracket. I upgraded the pedals too, not so much to increase performance as to decrease noise.  The old ones were kind of creaky and not worth overhauling.

So, I’m anxious to take the Raleigh out for its 2011 debut.  But there’s still a lot of snow, salt and filth out there.  With its cyclocross tires and flat handlebar, my Giant FCR3 should get most of the action this month.

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