Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Ride Report: First Spring Rides on the Waterford

It hasn't been a particularly nasty winter or spring - so perhaps this is more of a admission to how little I am riding right now (sad, I know). But, for the first time since fall I have been able to get the Waterford; my main steed (or ''sunny-day go-fast bike'') out twice to stretch her legs. It was a wonderful thing to be back on my main machine after riding the single-speed 'cross bike any time I was able to sneak away for a quick spin.

That ride revealed some wonderful things that I thought were worth sharing. Perhaps I feel that way because I am newly inspired again and doped up on natural vitamin D. Perhaps these were legitimate mini-revelations. Perhaps I am merely scraping the bottom of the barrel for writing material. Whichever the case - it is my blog so you are going to read about it anyway... :-)

Lame attempts at humor aside; I felt there was a few things worth writing about. Some of which will come in this post - some in subsequent posts. Here's a quick index:

  1. First road test of the Shimano RS-80's I got this fall. Like I said; I've been on the single-speed...sad, huh? However, I am now certain in my choice for new every-day wheels.
  2. New Clif Shot Gel road test. Hmmm; after years of using Hammer Products I am now having to search for alternatives. Read more about that soon.
  3. I am also testing Endurox R4 recovery drink after almost a decade of using Hammer Recoverite. Review coming soon.
  4. My habitual spring shake-down of all my components...made significant by the fact that my Waterford will celebrate it's 10th birthday this October! Keep reading for more...
Any of you who have multiple bikes that serve seasonal roles are probably familiar with that re-acquainting process that happens when you get back on that bike that has hung, forlorn, on a hook for several months. There is no substitute for getting that machine back out on the road for a real-world assessment. You can give it an overhaul with new grease, new cables, and a thorough cleaning and lubricating - which is well worth while - but you cannot truely know for sure how it is holding up until you get it out on the road for some accelerations, climbs, hard braking, hard cornering, and long big-ring efforts.

I am not all that surprised; but "ol' Reliable" has held up well and is still feeling young and sprightly.

Since it has been a while since I have listed this; here is a detailed recap of the current configuration:

Frame & Fork: custom Waterford SR-33 TrueTemper S3 & Alpha Q Pro Ti
Headset: Cane Creek S-6
Stem, Seatpost, & Handlebar: PRO Vibe 7s, 100 x -7 / 42cm Shallow Drop
Saddle: Specialized Phenom SL 143
Shift/Brake Levers: Shimano Dura Ace 7800
Cables: Shimano SP-41 Grease Injected Stainless
Brake Calipers: Shimano Dura Ace 7700
Crankset: Shimano Dura Ace 7800, 53/39
Bottom Bracket: Wheels Mfg. Sealed Ceramic Hybrid
Cassette: 1) Shimano Ultegra 6600, 12/25 2) Shimano Dura Ace 7800, 12/25
Chain: Shimano CN-7801
Front & Rear Derailleurs: Shimano Dura Ace 7800
Wheels: 1) Shimano RS-80 C24 2) Bontrager Race X Lite Aero
Tires: 1) Michelin Krylion Carbon 23mm 2) Continental GP4000s 23 or 25
Tubes: Specialized, Bontrager, or Maxxis 48mm presta
Bar Tape: Fizik
Cages: Bontrager Race Lite Composite
Pedals: Speedplay Zero Stainless
As you can see this is a conglomeration of new and shall we say seasoned components.

Here's the highlights of the status:
Frame/Fork: Still as comfortable as ever: both in fit and ride quality. A part of the custom build was to fit larger diameter "track" chain stays to my frame for added stiffness and I think they are still delivering. I have certainly ridden stiffer, quicker bikes (currently, I would love to add a Tarmac to the stable for this very reason should any of my readers be feeling generous...) but the combination of overall stiffness, quickness, and comfort is just not quite matched on this frame. The closest I have ridden would be a Roubaix SL3.

Drivetrain: It is hard to beat anything that has been well-maintained and boasts a Dura Ace part number. Even at 2 generations old, while you miss some of the shifting advancements (particularly in front), the shifting is still sharp and precise. Routine cleaning, lubing, and new cables are also to blame. I have a perfectly good CN-7901 chain on my workbench ready to install - but the penny-pincher in me can't bear to put it on until this 7801 is worn out. I'm curious to test the directional 7901 chain on the 7800 series components.

Brakes: The sharp-eyed will have noticed something interesting here. I made a calculated decision when I traded up to 7800 on this bike to keep the calipers from the original 7700 group to save some money. Since my 7700 group was moving to the cyclocross bike and the 7700 calipers were compatible. This is probably the most glaring short-coming in terms of performance compared to current generations. Good, but not nearly as positive - even with latest generation Shimano brake pad inserts.

Bottom Bracket: I am a pretty true-blue Shimano loyalist. Not too much will entice me to mix components. However, a good-deal on a pre-release Wheels Manufacturing ceramic hybrid bottom bracket was interesting enough for me to give it a try. I have been happy ever since - nearly 5 years later. This has been one of those components that I NEVER think about: i.e., it has been perfect. Granted; the Waterford does not see a lot of wet-weather duty - so the miles and conditions are less demanding than other rigs may see; but I have nothing bad to say about this component.

Pedals: I keep threatening to switch to Shimano SPD-SL pedals for their larger platform - and someday I will. But the Zeros have served me well and allow the nearly-locked-out float that I like (and that my knees will tolerate - for now). I also like the low stack-height; although Shimano is very competitive here now. Trust me; you'll know when SPD-SL's make it on to the Waterford...

Minutiae: -The headset needs replacement soon - just because it is getting old. Still smooth and knock-free after about 12k miles (there's been a few light-mileage seasons of late...).
-The Phenom SL is a saddle that the big red S should have left alone. Anyone have a lightly-used 143 they'd give me a good deal on? I plan to stockpile these. :)
-I still love the RL composite cages and feel that these and the Specialized Rib Cage are the best money can buy currently.
-The Fizik bar tape, my Pearl Izumi pittards gloves, and the Pro Vibe 7s handlebar love each other very much. Oversized minimalist perfection.

So, in the end; in spite of the fact that she's getting a little long-in-the-tooth, the ol Waterford is holding up well.  I think some new paint is around the corner - as I have joked for a few years now that I am no longer fast enough to keep up with the flame/fade paint job. (To which one particularly quick-witted client responded: "What are you thinking of next, bricks?" Nice play!)

Have any well-loved machines in your stable? Ones like my Waterford which will always be in ready-to-ride condition, regardless of age? Tell us about them - it is these sort of great machines that make our sport special and emotional. After all, how many people get emotionally attached to their golf clubs?
Thanks for reading!


  1. Hi Matt! I am looking to purchase myself a road bike soon-- a Polygon Helios 200JR to be exact--- and I am very excited about it. However, upon reading your review, I'm wondering if a Shimano 2300 is any good? Or maybe you can suggest to me other road bike models? Maybe those other bikes on this site? http://www.bicyclesonline.com.au/road-bikes/

    I am a newbie when it comes to road bikes, so I am hoping that you'll help me on this. Thanks a lot!

    1. Damien-

      Thanks for reading and commenting. Sorry it took me a while to get back to you. I've been very busy lately.

      My first question would be this: What has attracted you to that model in particular? After a quick look at the page (sorry, I'm not terribly familiar with that brand); I see that this model is the "junior" geometry (37cm frame), so I'm assuming that you have already determined that this is a good frame size since you make no mention of your age, height, or approximate size range.

      If I am correct in that assumption - while the component choices are not as vast in that size range - you can be well served by Shimano 2300/Sora components if you are just starting out. My opinion has long been that Shimano's entry-level components do a spectacular job for what they are designed to do: get people hooked on cycling. They are then meant to be "out-grown" and purposefully point the rider toward an upgrade.

      That said: you may be better served by saving a little more money and looking one or two steps up the model line-up than the 200JR if the frames will fit,

      (Again, I'm having to work on assumptions here. Since you make no mention of your frame size requirements I can't make specific recommendations and proper frame size is something I never compromise on.)

      Looking just a step or two up the line for similar prices you'll see the 300 and the C2.0. If these are available in a proper size, they'll serve you better and let you get more miles out of them before feeling the need to upgrade; but the learning curve can be a little steeper as it relates to becoming confident with the use of the shifting system.

      There are a few other nice upgrades there to consider as well which will contribute to lower maintenance costs. All of this depends on whether these frames will fit you properly, of course.

      I hope this helps. Keep reading and commenting. I'm happy to be of service!




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