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Sur La Plaque: Café Roubaix Haleakala Climbing Wheels

Sur La Plaque: Café Roubaix Haleakala Climbing Wheels

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I’m not going to lie to you, friction is an asshole. In the bottom bracket, in the bending of every single link in your chain as it rolls over the cogs and threads its way through the rear derailleur, and in the pulleys themselves, the devils. I cleaned out my rain bike last weekend after a few rides where I was forced to neglect my usual daily maintenance routine and they puked up chunks of grit before they started moving lightly again. Every turn of the pedals, each of those points of friction adds up and take away from your Maximum V Potential at any given moment.

While this next point is true for Cycling in general, it is true for climbing in particular: the trick to riding well is to keep turning the pedals at your current rhythm. Failing that, you just wind up being less awesome than you were a moment earlier. Speed is like time; you can never get it back (it might also be money, but the math is hard to sort out.) You worked hard to get going as fast as you were, and slowing down just means you lose all that effort. What’s worse, if you want to get going that fast again, you have to do all that same work all over again, and even then, you’re just back to where you were, except a little lighter on the V Potential.

Friction may well be an asshole, but its not as big an asshole as gravity. The acceleration of gravity is 9.8 meters per second squared, which means that climbing at a sustained speed is basically like accelerating constantly; in order to climb at that rate, you’re accelerating enough to neutralize the pull from gravity which is trying its best to drag you back down the hill. Not to mention that you’re working against all that friction in your drivetrain.

To summarize, friction and gravity are assholes.

With these two points in mind, earlier this year I had Café Roubaix build me some lightweight climbing wheels. I didn’t really know what climbing wheels are good for, but I wanted to try some and I was thinking that any weight advantage I could find would be a good thing with respect to the winter months and the associated packing on of the wrong kind of weight in the engine room. 970 grams, you say? That sounds good – I’ll have them, thanks.

The first surprise was the box they arrived in, which I was certain must have been empty. Mounting them with tires and a cassette, I got used to how they felt in my hands. Funny how weight works; you grow accustomed to it. When I went to place them in the bike I first removed my rear Zipp 404 from the frame, which in comparison felt like an anchor.

They looked the business installed, but photos do a better job describing that. On to the riding. The first pedal stoke felt good; responsive and light. But nothing crazy, once I got going a bit. There was some more snap, for sure, but it wasn’t like I’d just had a blood transfusion on the second rest day of the Tour or anything like that. But on the hills the world turns on its head as the acceleration of gravity rejoins the conversation. The steeper the gradient, the more the wheels shine; simply put, they just keep spinning. Should you encounter a change in pitch for the worse, apply a touch of V and they spin up like a washing machine.

They almost converted me into a grimpeur. Almost. And, they help answer how the Pros move Sur La Plaque up giant mountains, absorbing changes in pitch like they’re nothing and accelerating away on the steepest sections. I am given to understand that talent and training play a part, but their climbing wheels don’t hurt either. The right tools make all the difference.

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// La Vie Velominatus // Look Pro // Nostalgia // Technology // The Bikes

  1. @Gianni

    to my point

    Mathematically, instantaneous acceleration””acceleration over an infinitesimal interval of time””is the rate of change of velocity over time:

    \mathbf{a} = \lim_{{\Delta t}\to 0} \frac{\Delta \mathbf{v}}{\Delta t} = \frac{d\mathbf{v}}{dt}, i.e., the derivative of the velocity vector as a function of time.
    (Here and elsewhere, if motion is in a straight line, vector quantities can be substituted by scalars in the equations.)

    Average acceleration over a period of time is the change in velocity ( \Delta \mathbf{v}) divided by the duration of the period ( \Delta t)

    \boldsymbol{\bar{a}} = \frac{\Delta \mathbf{v}}{\Delta t}.

    boom.

    Your calculations are correct Gianni (I just looked it up on Youtube)

  2. @frank

    @tessar

    The reason I consider climbing accelerating is that’s basically what you’re doing uphill. Your bike wants to go back downhill, and unless you have a perfect stroke (I don’t) you are constantly accelerating your bike with every turn of the pedals. In climbing, I don’t think there is any such thing as actually maintaining a constant speed (probably not on the flats either, but you certainly get closer). And, the steeper the climb, the more pronounced this effect is as your bike basically jerks its way uphill.

    The steeper the climb or the longer the climb, the more it matters.

    Fuck me that clip is inspiring….makes me want to go out and just crush it!!   37 mins for a 14k+ climb.    Piuma is an average 6% at just over 6k and it takes me 37 mins….on a good day.   
    Nobody has really talked about stiffness being a big factor.  My climbing wheels are 500g less in weight than my “training wheels”  which are complete noodles and it sure feels like the stiffness is at least as much of a factor.

  3. @roger

    top drawer on the spoke count!

    @Chris

    @Dr C Jesus, you’ll be elected official club time keeper or record keeper if you carry on like that? Are you growing a beard as well.

    There’s only one solution: up the doses on your self medication, tell your colleagues you’re off to an important conference in Lille at the end of march or there abouts and come and rattle the fuck out of your brain until normal function is resumed.

    Maybe all that banging around on the stones last year has caused all my ongoing mental problems – I’ll wait until 2014 for some smoother tarmac – so long as the Keepers Tour isn’t to Belfast for the start of the Giro….

  4. @The Oracle

    @Gianni

    Uhhhh … what the …?

    I’m not around much for a few months, and all youse guys is turned into effin’ geniuses or sumptin.

    I don’t buy it – I think it’s a glitch in the matrix.

    Great video though, I’d forgotten just how damn fast pros used to go up hills in the Top Fuel era. Beautiful, if not a little terrifying.

  5. @Dr C it was a close call.  i almost ran out of fingers and toes.

    @Gianni before you start up with all that, can you please explain how the circle peg fits into that triangle hole? please?

  6. If lighter wheels are better than heavier aero wheels, and a lighter bike is better for going upwards that a heavier bike, the surely this story must be true also :-

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/feb/10/scientists-suggest-beer-after-workout/

    Not sure if its been posted previously, but makes sense to me, I think, better have a beer a decide.

  7. @frank

    @tessar

    Finally, just a note: It may come of as serious and overly important, but that’s just because nit-picking into bike-related details is fun. I’m not a serious person.

    Don’t sweat it, nothing like a good argument to get the juices flowing. And contrary to what ol’ Gianni says, I don’t mind being wrong. Its just really hard to convince me I’m wrong. Which I’m not.

    You were wrong once, but then you realised you were mistaken.

  8. @Dr C

  9. @Fausto My thoughts exactly, I wish I could go that quickly on the flat.

    Pantani looks like he’s gone round the corner at 1:20 so quickly he’s almost gone into the wall on the way out.

  10. Whoa. I have been putting up slat wall in the studio and busy like crazy. And I am missing out on all the crazy wheel banter! My wheels at that.

    @Jeff in PetroMetro

    My Haleakalas just left Grand Forks, ND about 2 hours ago, according to FedEx. Ooooooo, I.Can.Not.Wait!!! Thanks Dan_R!!!

    My pleasure. I am nearly as excited as you! Nearly. I have been busy and  we have an number of wheels in stock now for the opening. It is like walking around in a candy store!

    @scaler911

    Them is sexy I must say. Can one have too many wheels? Been eyeing Golden Tickets, but these are mighty tempting.

    What do we need to do to push you over the edge!

    @Barracuda

    Im not a climber, but I love climbing, if that makes sense. The photos of the rims look very nice and, well, carbony!! Whats a set of those clincher style weigh and hit the wallet for landed in Aus @Dan_R ?

    The clincher will come in around the low 1100s, I think. But the rub is that I have been trying to find a good shipping option for both the UK and Australia. Canada Post and FedEx are both too much, due to the box and the declared value I guess.

    If anybody has any ideas, I am open to suggestions. I sell my carbon wheels for $1400 & $1500 respectively, and I want to keep overall cost below $2k for overseas customers.

    @Gianni

    I touched my aluminum front clincher rim today after a steep descent, too hot to touch for more than a half second. What does that mean? Carbone wheels won’t work, clincher or tubs? And yet, jets use carbon fiber disc brakes. Maybe heat is not a massive issue, it surely must not conduct away so well.

    @Dan_R or anyone else, thoughts?

    OK, I will step in here. Yup as Nate said, alum does a great job dissipating heat. In fact Shimano is building a lightweight rotor for the dirt crowd that sandwiches aluminum between steel. Crazy shit man, completely awesome too. But that is carbon too. What I mean is, try to find real technical numbers on carbon fiber and you are SOL. That is because you can make it do whatever you want it to do. They make friggen airplane out of the stuff. Including super secret fighter jets. And disc brakes. Carbon is like every other rim materiel. If you ride your brakes down the mountain, things are going to get sporty, but if you treat your gear properly and ride it like you are supposed to most stuff out there will work as it should. We all hear the horrible stories of carbon failures, but perspective is everything. Riding bikes is fun.

    And there is a lot of cool stuff out there.

  11. @Dan_R

    @Barracuda

    Im not a climber, but I love climbing, if that makes sense. The photos of the rims look very nice and, well, carbony!! Whats a set of those clincher style weigh and hit the wallet for landed in Aus @Dan_R ?

    The clincher will come in around the low 1100s, I think. But the rub is that I have been trying to find a good shipping option for both the UK and Australia. Canada Post and FedEx are both too much, due to the box and the declared value I guess.

    If anybody has any ideas, I am open to suggestions. I sell my carbon wheels for $1400 & $1500 respectively, and I want to keep overall cost below $2k for overseas customers.

    Keep me posted ….  love the look of the carbon layup on @franks ‘s Volcano destroying beasts

  12. @Chris

    @Fausto My thoughts exactly, I wish I could go that quickly on the flat.

    Pantani looks like he’s gone round the corner at 1:20 so quickly he’s almost gone into the wall on the way out.

    As I recall, this was the era of Pantani using his brakes on climbs like this.  Its a shame he’s not around to offer thoughts about instantaeous acceleration vectors or even the application of Bernoulli’s principle to rim profiles.

  13. The Central Tool of our Craft offers so many options for analysis. It is an integrated System, and is more than the sum of its parts. Each component of the system can be optimized for each rider and situation. It is endlessly fascinating.

    Surely Velominati everywhere have seen the VeloNews article on analysis of chain lubes. The sole variable to be quantified was “what lube offers least power loss?” And then we argue over what the results imply to each of us.

    Likewise this wheel evaluation. These are cool, cool wheels for sure. Are they for me? Dunno. But it sure is cool to hear about them. Kinda like internet porn: someone sure is having a good time, and it is fun to think about doing that myself, but I’m not sure what it would mean to the rest of my life.

  14. Great news, they don’t have the Dura Ace hubs they thought they had sold me at Tweeks, so am going for the Ultegra, 32 front, 36 back, which leaves me some mullah to spend on the other bits

    Aim is for stiff set up, as am 87kg (should be 76kg in approximately 2 years time) and need some help on the climbs – what rims should I be looking at – currently my favoured choice is a pair of Mavic Open Pros

    Anyone got any other suggestions – it’s for my 2012 Roubaix Expert with Ultegra 6700 groupset and brakes – clinchers, not ready for tubs….or should I make that leap too?

  15. @PT

    @Chris

    @Fausto My thoughts exactly, I wish I could go that quickly on the flat.

    Pantani looks like he’s gone round the corner at 1:20 so quickly he’s almost gone into the wall on the way out.

    As I recall, this was the era of Pantani using his brakes on climbs like this. Its a shame he’s not around to offer thoughts about instantaeous acceleration vectors or even the application of Bernoulli’s principle to rim profiles.

    Maybe he was working on slingshot principle vectorisation as a way to coalesce the contrarotational decelerative exponentialization factor of the last corner – how can he go that fast up a mountain that big, it’s just silly

  16. @eightzero

    Likewise this wheel evaluation. These are cool, cool wheels for sure. Are they for me? Dunno. But it sure is cool to hear about them. Kinda like internet porn: someone sure is having a good time, and it is fun to think about doing that myself, but I’m not sure what it would mean to the rest of my life.

    Nominate this quote for the jersey.  Friggin’ brilliant.

  17. Chain lube, internet porn. An inevitable juxtaposition.

    How much *do* carbon crank arms flex?

  18. @PeakInTwoYears

    is it not more of a question of how quickly do they return to unbent that defines their quality?

  19. @Dr C

    I think I can show that the optimal rate of flexion and extension actually propels the pedal forward at position ⨕ of the stroke.

  20. @Dr C

    Great news, they don’t have the Dura Ace hubs they thought they had sold me at Tweeks, so am going for the Ultegra, 32 front, 36 back, which leaves me some mullah to spend on the other bits

    Aim is for stiff set up, as am 87kg (should be 76kg in approximately 2 years time) and need some help on the climbs – what rims should I be looking at – currently my favoured choice is a pair of Mavic Open Pros

    Anyone got any other suggestions – it’s for my 2012 Roubaix Expert with Ultegra 6700 groupset and brakes – clinchers, not ready for tubs….or should I make that leap too?

    If you’re looking for light rims, here is a link to an overview of several light weight (not Lightweight) options from Fairwheel Bikes: http://fairwheelbikes.com/cycling-blog/products/2013-rim-roundup.html. They also have overwiews of lightweight skewers, hubs, etc.

    If I were building new clincher rims I might go for Ambrosio Excellights.  Roughly the same weight as Open Pros but something you don’t see every day.

    Gonna miss you in Belgium.

  21. @Dr C

    Anyone got any other suggestions – it’s for my 2012 Roubaix Expert with Ultegra 6700 groupset and brakes – clinchers, not ready for tubs….or should I make that leap too?

    Go for full carbone clinchers, our “pros” above can’t glue thier tubs without a bulge at the valve, why even bother? Tubulars are  great nostalgia, but modern lightweight tubes and clincher tyres are awesome matched up to 303’s or “heavy” 404’s and will rock your world, haven’t had the pleasure of the Haleakala’s but they look the business too!

     

  22. I don’t know about y’all but I am ready to go take that exam with @Tessar.  Pretty sure I’ll pass now ; )  Sweet fuckin’ wheels Frank!  I use a set of Zipp 303 Tubulars as a race/climbing wheelset and they indeed feel faster than wheels that are only marginally heavier.  That said, my 75kg butt seems to flex that rear wheel quite a bit on out of the saddle efforts.  Do you get any rear wheel deflection on those?

  23. @PeakInTwoYears

    @Dr C

    I think I can show that the optimal rate of flexion and extension actually propels the pedal forward at position ⨕ of the stroke.

    Internet porn; power in the stroke. Why, it’s a natural progression.

  24. @Dr C I echo the recommendation on the Excellights. I love building with them and Ambrosio’s QC is much better than Mavic’s.

  25. @Dan_R

    I looked at the Ambrosio’s, but they are twice the price and as I am a bit of a fat lad, I thought I’d better go 36 on the back – Ambrosio only go to 32 – hubs already bought – maybe if I lose a few stone I’ll get a 32 freewheel hub in 2 years and lace 32/32 – meantime I am a  bit restricted with my 36 rear hub

    Thanks for your thoughts chaps – will keep you posted

    @Skip

    Not as much as I will miss joining you all – added entertainment of this year’s races is rewinding the climbs to spot the V-drunkards sitting in the trees, and the pointlessly tall one draping the big flag over Tomeke’s bars on the Kwaremont! Have a fine trip – not that far off….

  26. There are some great rims that come drilled for 36h. If you are more interested in ride quality vice weight – DT Swiss, or maybe Ambrosio Evolutions. you could also go with KinLin.  Their 30mm rim comes in a 36h. And at 465g, they make for a respectable weighing wheel set.

  27. @Skip

    thanks for the link chap – interesting read – they aren’t fans of the Mavic OP – I see the Ambrosio have 36 in the Excellence – will research that some more

    @Dan_R

    my good wheels are on DT Swiss rims and hubs, so thought I’d try something different to see what I can learn – seem to be so many conflicting reports, I may just go for the prettiest ones!!

  28. @frank

    @tessar

    .The steeper the climb or the longer the climb, the more it matters.

    Something like this.  My apologies, but this discussion made me remember free body diagrams and someone had to pay.

  29. By the way, we have a new Queen Vic….. isn’t she adorable?

    Becci James

  30. While we are at it, this chap is from my club in Bangor NI – Martin Irvine, World SCratch Race Champ 2013 (first Irish Track WC in 107 years!!)

  31. @Dan_R

    @Dr C I echo the recommendation on the Excellights. I love building with them and Ambrosio’s QC is much better than Mavic’s.

    Well I’ll be damned, despite the Ambrosio website saying they don’t do 36h rims, SJS cycles http://www.sjscycles.co.uk/ambrosio-excellight-700c-(622)-rim-prod29195/ are advertising them! Time to investigate…. (£44 vs £69 per hoop. buut might be worth it for the V cool factor!)

  32. @itburns

    @frank

    @tessar

    .The steeper the climb or the longer the climb, the more it matters.

    Something like this. My apologies, but this discussion made me remember free body diagrams and someone had to pay.

    There are a lot of lines on there, and I didn’t spend any time figuring out Gianni’s formulas, but I assume they all mean I’m right. If they don’t, then the Maths just haven’t caught up to the notion that the usual models don’t apply because of the deceleration between pedal revs.

    Which means I’m still (a) Dutch and (b) right. (I know that’s redundant but it feels better to have two points.)

  33. @Dr C

    By the way, we have a new Queen Vic….. isn’t she adorable?

    Becci James

    Double VVorld champion… Victoria who?

  34. @Dr C Congrats to the Irish! I am sure the party hasn’t stopped!

    I had forgotten about Excellence rims, but if you can get some Excellights w/36h, grab ’em up. When ever I can get Excellights, I like to pic some up – regardless of what is in the order queue. I understand wanting to ride different rims for the experience. My personal fleet of wheels (right now) include Mavics, Ambrosio, DT Swiss, KinLin, my own carbon, Velocity, Shimano, and Campagnolo Pista. Yeah, I have a few on the go at any given time, one of the perks/expenses of my new profession.

    @itburns Nice. I am a diagram guy. Yes you need to draw a picture for me. I almost get that one.

  35. @eenies

    @Dr C

    By the way, we have a new Queen Vic….. isn’t she adorable?

    Becci James

    Double VVorld champion… Victoria who?

    I’ve just left my wife for Becci (neither know about this yet, so give me a bit of time and I’ll update)

  36. @Dr C

    @eenies

    @Dr C

    By the way, we have a new Queen Vic….. isn’t she adorable?

    Becci James

    Double VVorld champion… Victoria who?

    I’ve just left my wife for Becci (neither know about this yet, so give me a bit of time and I’ll update)

    Awesome news, old chap! Will we now see your strava times go up as your new VMH drags you round the course?

  37. @Chris

    bp;;pcks – just found out she is going out with George North – don’t see things working out in my favour

  38. I really do not mean to gloat, but my first shipment of Cinelli just came in.

    It looks like the Virgin Mother came down and pukes a whole lotta awesome in the studio!

    Tough job.

  39. @Dr C Loser. I trust you hadn’t got round to telling you wife.

  40. @Chris

    no point now…… I’m such a loser

  41. @Dan_R

    Okay, just ordered my two Excellight SSC rims…..tension mounts

  42. @DR C

    @Dan_R

    Okay, just ordered my two Excellight SSC rims…..tension mounts

    Sweet! Well played Trebeck.

  43. @Dan_R

    Any luck on shipping options for the “tested by @frank” wheels that would “make me a better climber” to Aus…

  44. Ok, fuck all this math crap and physics.

    Took the #1 out today for the first time since Hawaii and swung by the LBS. Weighed ‘er. 6.8 kg with bidon and computer. Pulled those off and was amazed to see my 61cm 2006 Cervelo R3 weighed in at a scant 6.4kg (14.12 pounds). Amazing.

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  45. @frank

    Yeah yeah, but the old Raleigh behind it still looks better…

  46. @frank

    not so sure about your technique there with the scales, the LBS scales, cos there’re real accurate as well…

  47. Good read. Lots of interesting comments too. Out of curiosity, does anyone here run Industry Nine wheelsets?

    -Dinan

  48. My brother in-law sent me this article about an hour ago. I thought I would share it here with this article/discussion as it may be interesting to others…

    http://velonews.competitor.com/2013/03/bikes-and-tech/the-torqued-wrench/the-torqued-wrench-taking-on-the-carbon-clincher_277711

    -Dinan

  49. @Dinan

    My brother in-law sent me this article about an hour ago. I thought I would share it here with this article/discussion as it may be interesting to others…

    http://velonews.competitor.com/2013/03/bikes-and-tech/the-torqued-wrench/the-torqued-wrench-taking-on-the-carbon-clincher_277711

    -Dinan

    VeloNews posted this shortly after I made my previous post…

    http://velonews.competitor.com/2013/03/news/mavics-all-new-cosmic-carbone-40c-the-first-safe-carbon-clincher_277775

    -Dinan

  50. @frank Nice! Our scale comes in a little heavy. hehe

    @Dinan Carbon clinchers have a place. If a rider uses them properly.

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