Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Bikeorama - new wheels on a Bike Friday 

Since acquiring a Bike Friday Crusoe off eBay earlier this year I have been slowly tweaking this to optimize the ride and performance of the machine.  Now I have it back in solid mechanical condition and the kinks tuned out - I decided time to change up the gearing using the Shimano Capreo rear cassette which provides 9-26 cog sizes.  With the standard Shimano Deore group set the bike definitely runs under geared for road use.  I had put on a SRAM 10-27 tight ratio cassette that helped and added Schwalbe Kojak tires too.  But the road ride still topped out around 2 to 3 mph slower than I felt capable to ride.

So, back to eBay to find interesting set of wheels available from Taiwan.  The hand built Fastace 20" small wheelset comes with standard hubs for Shimano 10/11/12 cassettes - but inquiring of the supplier - they shipped me a Capreo compatible hub wheelset in 406 and 20mm rims for the same price and spec's (they have 451 available too).  I was a little apprehensive how their Speedster hubs would compare and also the rims and wheel quality - hence this review here.

Well Christmas Eve USPS came up my driveway with a large package shipment - the wheels had arrived a week sooner than I expected!  I had already ordered the regular Capreo cassette on sale and a lock ring tool - so that evening I was able to mount everything on the Crusoe.  Setup was a lot smoother than I'd expected.  I'd not put on my own cassette before, so I relied on Shimano's instructions.  Turned out the trick was ensuring all the cogs are completely flush and down into each other, some turning and clicking down required.  I did not get it completely right first time.  You know when its right because the lock ring thread sits 3 or 4 turns clear above the 9 cog.

Having taken off the old Sun rim and Deore hub wheels I was in for a shock.  The new rims and hubs are so much better, smoother, lighter and truer that its scary what I had been riding around on thinking the old ones were OK!  Since the rims are only 20mm wide I did have to adjust the brakes inward some, but that is very simple on the Deore levers using the Alan key adjustment.

So what about actual performance? Well being winter I've been riding rollers the past two months and averaging 21 mph on 16 mile rides watching 45 minutes of video downloads; and with a top speed of 28 mph once I was good and warmed up.  So up on the rollers with the Capreo straight out the gate I hit 31 mph and clearly the whole balance, acceleration and feel is better.  Christmas day afternoon the weather cooperated and I was able to do a 7 mile road ride.  The Capreo gearing was giving me 2 to 3 mph more speed along my usual bike route.  Sharp acceleration on hills was noticeably better and top speed of 31 mph on a section I can only manage 28 mph on my 700cc road bike was especially impressive.  So don't get carried away though, overall the performance on a 700cc carbon road bike will still beat the Crusoe but the gap is now probably just 0.5 mph average on my regular 15 mile ride.  I like the handling of the 20" wheels though in wet and slippery weather.

Back on the rollers the next day - I was able to really start to crank pace.  Because the new wheels are more stable I'm able to ride at 33 mph now for one mile - but this is about the limit of my VO max at my age - and pushes my heart rate to above 150 bpm.  But it is a lot of fun and hard workout.  Peak I just managed 35 mph for a brief second.  Back down in the ratios I can spin 22 to 25 mph readily.  One of the major reasons for the wheel change was to have a more challenging work out - so definitely achieved that goal!

Total ride was 15.68 miles in 42 minutes - average 22.25 mph when "pop" the rear wheel suddenly punctured from a rim pinch just as I was cranking a 30+ mph final segment!  I'd used the old tubes from the wider Sun rims and no rim tape, so need to repair that in the morning with new parts from my friendly bike store.

So overall these new rims from Taiwan are working out to be a great deal.  Quality, compatibility, weight, performance for the price cannot be beat!  I think I'm finally satisfied with the setup on my Bike Friday and looking forward to the spring weather and being able to ride at solid road pace rides outside.

If you are interested in gear ratios on the Capreo - check out these online calculators:



and for every option possible see:


From this seems like I'm turning 100 rpm for 33 mph on top ratio on the rollers!

Enjoy and happy cycling.

p.s. Flat repaired - rode 20 miles in 52 mins on rollers = average 23mph

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?