ADR Nero frame build

Having ridden it a couple of times now and all seeming OK in the run up to Mallorca, the new ADR Nero frame I bought a couple of months ago is good to go.

When I was looking for a new frame I wanted to stick to a ‘traditional’ frame rather than some of the more integrated options that are now available. I like building and being able to easily maintain my own bike and having one with integrated brakes and proprietary stems and other components makes that difficult.

Maybe those parts make a bike marginally faster but for me the disadvantages outweigh the advantages. It gives me the choice of components and the ability to switch them between frames if I change which is what I’ve just done. Over the winter I had changed TT bars, wheels and crank on my Focus TT bike and most of those have made the switch to the new Nero.

The ADR Nero fitted the bill for me. It’s pretty light, not essential for a TT bike, but good for me especially as the races I tend to do are often hilly rather than the DC trials I’ve used in training, it wasn’t hugely expensive and it matched the geometry of my Focus reasonably well on which I’ve been riding comfortably and well.

ADR Nero frame and fork

ADR Nero frame and fork

After a few emails back and forward I ordered the frame in the small size in matt carbon which looks great in the flesh. One thing I wasn’t looking forward to was cutting the stem and seat post to size on the frame which has an integrated seat post.

I cut the stem first starting with an inch or so off the top to get the feel of it. I had bought a pack of fine toothed hacksaw blades and used a new one for each of the cuts I made.

As a guide I used an old stem and a spacer and wrapped tape around the carbon to reduce any splintering. It took a while as I worked my way around the stem but I made it through and moved on to the final cut. It perhaps wasn’t as critical as it might have been to get the right height as I’ve been using TT bars which have pedestal spacers under the arm pads so the base bar was always going to go as low as it could on the forks.

That done I cut the post – somewhat more critical than the stem! Like the forks I cut a centimetre or so off the top to get used to cutting the post as being aero shaped was slightly more tricky than the round forks. That would also double as an extra spacer should I need to raise the saddle at any point or I accidentally cut too much off!

Making the initial cuts for the final cut was nerve wracking but once underway there was no way back so the process went on. The cutting was fine and as it turned out, possibly inevitably, I was ever so slightly cautious with the cut and my position now is marginally higher than I had on the Focus but after a few rides it feels fine to ride and I’m reluctant to take it apart again to remove perhaps half a centimetre.

I had an Adamo Road saddle on the Focus but I want to use that as a dedicated turbo bike now as it’s a bike that’s been good to me over the past couple of years so I needed a new one and I went for an ISM Adamo TT saddle.

Power2Max Type S with Rotor 3D Plus aero crankset

Power2Max Type S with Rotor 3D Plus aero crankset

On to the other bits and pieces. It’s my first use of a carbon steerer on a bit and thus I needed an expander bung rather than the more usual star nut used in other steerers. I ended up buying a Deda Expander Bung as it had some decent reviews and was longer than most which should widen the area on which pressure is applied to the steerer. It was a little tricky to fit and managed to come apart a few times inside the tube and I had to shake the bits out and reinstall them but eventually got it snug.

Over the last winter I had bought a Power2Max power meter which I’d used through the summer replacing my Powertap and wheel cover and I moved this over frames. Again it wasn’t quite straightforward as once the bottom bracket and Rotor 3D plus aero crankset was installed it was too tight to turn properly. After a bit of Googling I realised that I needed to back off the preload nut and re tighten as presumably the width of the BB shell was slightly different and I managed to get the cranks turning properly.

The cranks themselves are 165mm which I moved to from the 172.5’s I had used beforehand on the Chorus crankset I had been using and are standard 53-39.

For the stem and headset I went for the Ritchey WCS series, it was an integrated headset and a stem with a 17 degree angle so I could keep it horizontal with the smallest frontal area and to keep the TT base bar as low as possible.

The TT bars I had also bought over the winter and was using on the Focus frame were also transferred over. Very light, they are an unbranded Chinese open mould product which use spacers under the bar pads to pedestal the TT bars over the base bar which is generally more aerodynamic. The only change I made was to buy some Cee Gee pads for the bars as the ones supplied were really thin. They had been OK for shorter TT’s but were impossible to use comfortably for anything longer than a 25 so the Cushy bar pads were a must. I had some on my old Profile Design bars but as my bars were unbranded I bought one ones that were the closest in dimension to what I needed which turned out to be for the Giant Trinity. Much more comfortable.

Groupset is Campag 11 speed, all of which made it over from the old bike, mechanical 11 speed shifters, Chorus RD and skeleton brakes with an older Veloce 10 speed FD. I needed braze on for the aero frame and had one on an even older frame I had and it seemed silly to buy another one. Just new cables and outers needed – the internal cabling was pretty easy on the Nero with the outers just threading through routes in the frame.

Finally the wheels went on. I bought new wheels last winter and knowing I was doing IM Mallorca this year I wanted some decent braking for the fairly technical descents, especially if it was wet so stayed clear of carbon braking surfaces. I also wanted to stay with clinchers which limited my choices somewhat.

After a bit of research I ended up with a Citec 8000 disc, a light clincher disc with an aluminum braking surface and a Mavic CXR60C front wheel which has the Exelith braking surface which has been great. The grip of the Yksion tyre left a lot to be desired in the wet though and I’m pretty sure that was a major contributing factor to my crash in the Worthing Triathlon which put paid to me finishing the Outlaw in July so I swapped it out and am running a Continental GP4000S front and rear. The rear cassette for Mallorca will be a Miche Superlight 11-27 to give me a range of gears for the hills.

The final product!

The final product!

Overall I’m really pleased with the build. On the first ride the headset came loose in a Club 10 so I cruised the final 4 miles and still finished in the same place I usually do in the Club 10’s on 25W less than I normally ride and in the BCDA 100 it was fine to ride the distance and I rode 5 minutes slower on 30W less than I rode on the ECCA 100 so I’m a sure as I can be it’s a faster bike.

 

 

 

Maybe the new bike is helping already

Having changed from the Powertap rear with the Ralatech cover to the new Power2Max Type S I needed to do a new FTP test. I had run the two power meters alongside each other and as expected the crank based meter read slightly higher and as I’ve been holding off doing a test until it was fitted it was time to do it.

New Focus

Not quite finished here!

You tend to forget how much they hurt. I’ve yet to ride the ‘new’ TT bike outside this year as things have conspired against me over the last couple of weeks so it was back to TrainerRoad for their 8 minute test. It’s the test I ‘ve consistently done since the beta version of TR as it’s the one that I think suits me the least and is likely to give me the most conservative FTP estimate. The test seems pretty legit as through last year it gave me a number that was pretty close to my average power in the 25 mile TT’s.

If that’s true again this year I’ll be going a good bit faster than the 57:21 I managed on the Bentley course last August.

To cut a long story short I ended up averaging 312 and 309 W for the two 8 minute efforts giving me an estimated FTP of 279 (which I’ve rounded down to 275 as I know how difficult taking too big an FTP ride in TR can be from bitter experience) 0r at 64kg it’s 4.36 w/kg.

I’ve been pretty fatigued over the last few days and wouldn’t have done the test apart from having to validate it and have a current figure for the new Power2Max so I’m confident of being able to squeeze a few more Watts out when slightly better rested so all is looking good from that point of view.

File: http://tpks.ws/cGtu

Hopefully I should get the chance on Sunday to see how the ‘new’ bike goes in the second round of the Portsdown Time Trial League with a 15 miler.

Citec disc in place

Citec disc in place

I say new as I’ve changed most of it. The frame is the same Focus frame and the components are still Campagnolo Chorus as they were all 11 speed bits anyway. I’ve changed the Mavic Powertap rear for a Citec disc and the front for the CXR 60, gone from 10 to 11 speed and have changed the cockpit from a Profile Design T2 Wing and T1 aerobars to a non branded Chinese carbon mold ‘pedestal’ type bars.

It’s looking like it will be cold so maybe not conducive to fast riding but hopefully I’ll see some good improvement as the season progresses from rider and bike.

I managed a swim this morning as well, alternating 400 pull with 8 x 50 hard for 2800m swum

File : http://connect.garmin.com/activity/464825973

Bike Building – The Argon 18

I’ve been on the lookout for a new road bike frame for a few months after a few issues with the Daccordi. It’s been a great bike but the rear mech hanger has been bent a couple of times and had to be bent back into shape and because it’s a number of years old a new hanger has been impossible to find a replacement.

What I didn’t want to happen was for hanger to go again and to have no road bike and be forced into getting one relatively quickly. It is a real shame to have to replace a bike because of a £15 part but if you can’t get one, you just can’t get one!

What I did have though was my original DCH Viner Gladius from the Outlaw when I first started riding as a donor bike. In truth it was too large for me anyway and has sat in the garage for a while occasionally donating parts to the Daccordi!

So on with the build.

I ended up buying a second hand Argon 18 Radon frame from ebay for £225 and was aiming to buy as little else and keep the bike as cheap as possible.

The new frame

The new frame

The donor bike

The donor bike

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve mucked around with most bike parts but one thing I hadn’t done was remove or replace a bottom bracket and crankset so I was a little nervous about the first part of the operation. I borrowed the appropriate Park Tool from a friend (thanks Simon!) and with that it was a relatively easy operation and with a dash of copper grease the Miche Race crank was moved.

Attatched

Attached

Miche Race Crank

Off

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next up were the fork and stem and it was beginning to look a little like a bike.

Argon 18

After that were the brakes and derailleurs. I had to buy a rear derailleur as the DCH bike had already donated it’s RD to the Daccordi and I’d like to be able to sell that as a complete bike to offset the cost of this one. For the front I used a SRAM rival FD I had lying around. It had been attached to the Focus TT frame when I bought that last year. I picked up the RD from Ribble with an added discount voucher.

The brakes were Veloce, again taken from the DCH although I needed another lock nut for the rear brake as this had also been previously donated to the Daccordi! I had a spare from the Chorus brakes I had bought for the Focus.

Veloce rear derailleur

Veloce rear derailleur

 

From the DCH I used the Cinelli Vai bars and stem and the Veloce shifters and cutting the cables as close as possible to the ferrules I even managed to reuse all the cables.

After the chain was on – a KMC job and another thing I bought – with my Mavic Open Pro Powertap training wheel it was really just a finishing job. I had bought new black bar tape for the bars and adjusted the cable tension for the indexing, moved the Shimano pedals over from the Daccordi and the bottle cages from the DCH.

One thing that was slightly tricky was adjusting the headset properly. It was an incredibly fine line between the fork binding and there being play in the headset. I did check to see if the sealed bearing were oriented properly but they were. The seat post and Specialized saddle came straight from the Daccordi and after a bit of fiddling with the seat (the Argon had a slightly longer top tube and the seat needed to be moved forward a couple of CM) it was ready to go.

Not the best of pictures but the finished bike

Not the best of pictures but the finished bike

It looks really good in the flesh and having ridden it now for 10 days or so it is a really nice ride. It handles well and is a good fit for me. Hopefully it will see me through a few years more riding – I’ll make sure I buy a spare derailleur hanger as well at some point!

Total cost? Well I bought a bit but not too much.

Frame £225 + postage
Rear derailleur £50
Bar Tape £8
Chain £15

Total cost £318

Hopefully I’ll make some of that back as well when selling the Daccordi. I’ll probably sell the DCH/Gladius frame as well. There is a dent in the seat tube from the fron derailleur but it still functions fine. Someboddy might want it as a frame for the turbo. It has seen good duty for me, taking me around the Outlaw and now as a parts donor for the Argon.

RalTech Carbon Wheel Cover Review

Having had them for a couple of months I thought I’d better write a review of the RAL Tech carbon wheel covers I bought a couple of months ago now. They are I believe made to order to fit whichever wheels and hub combination you have and I ordered mine to fit the Mavic Cosmic Carbonnes in which I have my Powertap hub.

Pristine and unused

At the time they cost me £95 plus postage though I think they cost slightly more now. Certainly much cheaper than a full disc wheel and with the ability to race with power is very much worthwhile.

The first thing that stuck me when I got them was just how light they were. I didn’t at the time weigh them but they felt almost weightless in my hand. I’d hesitate to use the word because it probably does the company a great disservice but almost flimsy.

*Weighed since after many requests and mine are 288g including all the fittings and spacers. Obviously they are custom made for each wheel/hub combination so they will all be slightly different.

They fit to each other using spacers and tabs holding them together around the rim and spokes and were easy to fit that way and whilst that held them reasonably I opted to additionally use black electrical tape to fully seal them to the rims. This stopped any slight rotation they had from the spacers between the spokes and also prevents any airflow into the cover. Even with a perfect seal I think that I’d used the tape anyway.

The only issue I have had is getting them to fit without rubbing. Sometimes with a wheel cover the chain can rub because of the extra clearance needed from the spokes and even with the most adjustment from the barrel adjuster I couldn’t quite stop the rubbing. Whilst the chain wasn’t rubbing the inner rivets of the rear derailleur were on the cover.

Filthy after the Marlow mud

One trick that others have used to stop any rubbing is to use duct tape on the inside to bring the cover nearer the spokes but whilst this may work with plastic wheel covers it didn’t with RAL Tech’s carbon version. No type of tape I could get my hands on would stick to the inner side of the carbon.

The bike had never been crashed but to be sure I tried a new rear hanger but still with no joy. The next tack was to use some Mavic ED11 spacers to move the cassette further away from the wheels. One spacer nearly did the job but not quite and unfortunately two brought the lock ring into contact with the frame and stopped it rotating freely.

In the end I’ve put a washer between the rear hanger and the dropout to slightly increase the clearance and with some adjustment to the indexing it’s working pretty well. I will get it properly checked before Wiesbaden to be sure.

The first race I used it in was the Portsmouth Triathletes Spring Duathlon at the end of March. I had only got the covers a few days before the race but wasn’t too worried as I was never going to use the 23 cog on the virtually flat racing track at Goodwood.

I also used it at 70.3 Austria after all the adjustments without a problem – this time I was grateful for the 23 cog particularly going up the Gansbach.

Of course I’ve no way of knowing exactly how much time I save with the cover but there is plenty of research to show that there should be some decent savings. Results wise I’ve certainly nothing to complain about with a second at the dualthlon and qualifying for Las Vegas in Austria.

Importantly as well they do look good that must be worth a few seconds at least!

Vankru bike fit

I spent the morning at the Vankru bike studio in Southampton for a Retul bike fit. Having had a bike fit at Velomotion in Milton Keynes on my old bike last year I thought it would be worthwhile particularly given may long ride two weeks ago.

I had ridden for the better part of 6 hours I put out my peak power for the last hour of the ride for the lowest average speed on a flat, looped route. It hopefully shows good pacing and that I had something still to give at the end of the ride but given that I was on the base bars rather than the aero bars it was just wasted effort for less speed.

It’s a bit last minute but there’s enough effort going into an Iron distance race without wasting any, and that was what prompted the visit to Vankru.

The fit was a really good experience, a flexibility check and the plenty of time to tweak the position. While there were quite a few minor changes to be made the biggest one was to move the front end up. I was very low on the bike in my attempts to get aero, a back angle of around 11° if I remember correctly, and whilst I had been OK to ride for 2 1/2 hours in the Swashbuckler and for up to 4 – 4 1/2 hrs it was probably unsustainable for 112 miles.

Bringing the angle up to around 20° also had the effect of flattening my back overall and making my upper back less rounded, generally making the position more comfortable. Hopefully the results will show in Vichy were I can hopefully say aero for the whole bike and save my energy for the run.

The time spent with Garth was well worth the money spent, nothing was rushed and there was time to discuss all the changes as the morning wore on. There was also the offer of a free follow up appointment a few months down the line for further tweaking if needed so overall I was very impressed.

 

 

Next race...

Portsmouth Half Marathon

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