Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Stages of Desire: Acquisition

This is a series of posts about getting new wheels.  As I stated in a previous post, I had selected the Boyd Vitesse wheelset as my upgrade to the stock wheels on my Scott S40. After waiting for them to restock the high spoke count wheels I was able to pick them up last week, just in time for the Assault on the Carolinas.  I've had a chance to get about 150 miles on them so far, and I definitely have some first impressions on what these specific wheels do for my rides.  Some of it I expected, although there are a few changes that I wasn't really looking for that I found interesting.

Boyd Vitesse wheels - Fresh from the Factory!

First change:  The ride quality.  I've had a chance to ride a few sections of road that I would consider less than desirable  one of them being Perimeter Road here locally.  This to me is one of the roughest patches of road that I travel pretty regularly.  What I found was that the Vitesses ate up a good amount of the vibrations, and definitely improved the overall ride quality on poor roads.  I expected this, but experiencing it was definitely something new.

Second change:  Stability.  This was not an expected change for me, at least not one that I would have written down.  In fact, it took me a couple of rides to really believe what I knew relatively quickly on the wheels:  I was more stable at higher speeds.  Looking back on it, it really makes sense.  These wheels are stiffer and more stable overall, so the fact that the bike handles and acts better at high speeds shouldn't be a big surprise.  The fastest I've gotten these wheels is about 45mph so far on a descent.  At that speed the bike was stable, but it's also well beyond any speed that I would purposefully ride.  Thus if I end up seeing a speed on my bike computer beyond 40mph, it's purely circumstantial, and nothing I'm looking to top by pedaling faster.

Third change:  Ride comfort.  This one really surprised me.  Right now I have 3 bibshorts that I use regularly, and of them I really only had 1 set that I used for longer rides where I knew I wasn't going to be sore.  For the Assualt on the Carolinas I used a pair of Voler Elite FS bibshorts that I picked up over the winter, and after over 4 hours in the saddle I felt fine and comfortable in the shorts.  This is definitely a welcome change.

Fourth change:  Active muscles used.  This one is harder for me to explain, and I'm still not entirely sure if it's because I'm looking for it actively or if it's just a psychosomatic response on my part.  What I'm finding is that I'm actually maxing out efforts well before I'm reaching my top HR.  By this I mean that I'm to a point where my body says "sit down and spin" before my heart is actually at levels I've been at on the same efforts in the past. What I'm hypothesizing is that I'm using muscle groups differently at this point because of the difference in stiffness of the wheel.  The only bike that I've used so far has been this Scott, so my body was tuned to how it reacted.  My expectation is that in the next 2-3 weeks I'll continue to see improvements on harder efforts as my body adjusts to the new experience on the bike.  

Fifth change:  Efforts required.   This one is the main expectation that I wrote down prior to getting the wheels.  The proof wasn't in the 8% incline that I originally marked, but more in the long 2-3% incline while in a group ride.  These are the sections that I would fade on previously.  What I've found early on is that I was able to keep up with the surges that the group makes on the longer false flats.  My hypothesis on this is that the effort to keep speed at an incline is less of a parabolic curve with the new wheels than it was before.  Thus when the speed creeps up on a 2% climb, I'm not having to increase the level of effort to my max (or beyond) as quickly.  I'll definitely be watching this metric carefully over the next few weeks to see if this stays the same.  I ride a specific segment regularly that has a nice long false flat.  It'll be interesting to see how my average time changes, although keeping variables to a minimum will be tough.   

Other adjustments:  The other main things I've had to work as far as adjustments have been dealing with tire pressure, brake adjustments, and skewers.  The new skewers are fantastic, but I'm working on making sure I have the rear wheel tight enough to not cause extra play in the rear wheel (and thus brake rub).  The new rims are wider than the OEM wheels, and thus I'm having to make adjustments to the brakes so they hit square and don't rub.  The main benefit of the wider rim is that I should be able to run at a lower tire pressure, and see even better ride quality.  I'm still running at 110psi for the most part, although changing to a higher performance tire, and getting them wider (700x25 instead of 700x23) may assist with this.  All of these adjustments are things that I would consider normal with any major change on the bike.  

Summary - I'd say after getting in 4 tough rides, including a metric century, on these wheels that they are a huge improvement over the stock wheels that came with my bike.  They definitely are going to be an adjustment period for me, as I only have experience with a single bike configuration since starting this journey in 2011.  Of all of the changes I could have made on the bike, I have to believe that this will be one of the biggest.  At some point I'm going to have to look at what I want in a new frame, but my current goal is to ride this bike 24,901 miles prior to making another massive change.  

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