Thursday, December 27, 2012

Merry Christmas Road Bike!

All the Christmas upgrades for my bike

Santa was very good to my road bike this year, so I thought I'd take you through the upgrades I finished today!

Back in 2009, my lovely wife signed us up for the MS150, a charity bike ride in support of Multiple Sclerosis research.  With very little experience, training for the 150 mile 2 day ride ignited a passion for cycling that remains strong three and a half years later.  After completing the first ride on our old mountain bikes (NEVER AGAIN!), we purchased road bikes for a local bike shop at the end of the season.

I ended up with an '09 Specialized Allez, a good aluminum frame starter bike with Shimano 105 components and a carbon front fork. It's served me well for 3 seasons, but as I looked at everyone else's carbon frames, I of course got the itch to upgrade. That said, I couldn't justify spending a bunch of $$$$ on a brand new bike, when my Allez was only 3 years old.  Instead, I decided to to upgrade my current ride with a new set of wheels, something that I could carry over to my dream bike whenever I ready to pony up.

As I started researching wheel sets, I quickly realized that this may not be the affordable upgrade I had imagined. My goal was to find a set that was significantly lighter than the high spoke count Mavic CP22 rims that came on the Allez, yet still maintaing the durability of an alloy rim. I looked at all the usual suspects like Mavic, Easton, and Zipp, but to get the kind of weight savings I was looking for, I would likely have to spend well over $1000, much more than I wanted to.  Just when I was about to give up, I found a small custom wheel builder is South Carolina called Boyd Cycling. After reading a bunch of reviews and checking some cycling forums, Boyd's slogan of "High Perfromance Wheels You Can Afford" became very appealing.  I settled on their Vitesse model, a wide, aero rim with high-strength spokes and quality hubs. At only 1522 claimed grams for their 24/28 spoke version (extra spokes to support a big guy like me), I couldn't believe the $570 price tag! I immediately sent my wife the link as a subtle Christmas hint.

Fast-forward to Christmas, and my wife "surprised" me with with the set! The rest of my Christmas haul was very bike friendly too, including new water bottle holders, new bottles, and a brake set I couldn't resist, among other items.

My bike before the upgrades
I started off by switching out my water bottle holders. My brother Mark gave me a couple of fiberglass holders for christmas that are both lighter and way better looking than the cheap aluminum ones I took off. While I could have saved more weight with carbon bottle cages, my view is you have no right rocking carbon cages if you don't have a carbon bike.
The Bontrager RL cages Mark got me, even matching my frame!
Old cheap cages: 134 grams
New cages: 69 grams, a 65 gram savings
Next, I laboriously inserted my new bottles into my new cages. My brother Dan got me a couple of Camelbak Podium bottles.  My old Polar insulated bottles worked great, but I love the trick self sealing nozzle on these Camelbak bottles.  Plus, I found an unexpected weight savings!

Thanks Dan for my new Camelbak bottles!
Love the self sealing nozzles!
Old bottles weighed in at 150 grams a pop
New bottles: 118 grams each, a 64 gram savings
I finally got started on the wheels.  I ended up replacing the tires too, as my old Michelin's were a little worn.  I found a great deal on some Vittoria Rubino Pro 2 Slicks on, so I grabbed them. I wanted to try something new, since as much as I loved my Michelin Krylons, getting them on and off the rim was nearly impossible, and grew increasingly frustrating during the inevitable flats. 

I used my favorite tube, Vittoria Ultralite, up front.  I love this tube because it's 20 grams lighter than a standard tube, but is made of rubber, and available online for cheap.

Vittoria Ultralite tube at 86 grams (Vittoria clames 80)
Compare that to 104 grams for a standard Bontrager tube

Out back, I used a Slime Lite tube my father-in-law gave me.  At 112 grams, it weighs just a tad more than a standard tube, but has a flat resistant sealant inside. I've never used one, so we'll see how it goes.

Check out the sealant that sprayed out when I aired down the tube
After mounting the tires, my new Boyd Vitesses looked good, and paid off in some a big time weight savings!

Rear Boyd next to old Mavic
Love the lazer etched logos!
Old front Mavic weighed 1262 grams with the tire mounted
New front Boyd comes in at 1049 grams, a 213 gram savings
Old rear Mavic weighs in at 1619 grams with tire mounted
New Boyd rear comes in at 1226 grams, a 393 gram savings
Overall, these upgrades shaved a total of 735 grams from my bike. That's over 1 and 1/2 pounds! I'll take that any day of the week. After switching over my old 105 cassette and installing the whiles, I moved on to my next upgrade. I ended up replacing the cheap, no name brakes that came with my bike with a nice set of FSA Energy brakes that should improve feel, braking power, and definitely look better on my bike! I found an awesome deal on the set at You can't beat $65 on brakes that stack up somewhere between Shimano 105 and Ultegra!

The new FSA brakes next to the old generic stoppers that came with the bike.  
They look good mounted, and the black finish goes with the rest of the 105 components on my bike

All told, I'm excited to ride my newly upgraded and lightened Allez! I think I picked some great parts that will save weight and make my rides more enjoyable, without spending a bundle.  

The finished product!

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