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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 likeacceleratingconstantly; 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.

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

  1. 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.

  2. @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!!

  3. @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.

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

    Becci James

  5. 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!!)

  6. @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 cycleshttp://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!)

  7. @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 thedecelerationbetween 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.)

  8. @Dr C

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

    Becci James

    Double VVorld champion… Victoria who?

  9. @Dr CCongrats 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.

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

  10. @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)

  11. @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?

  12. @Chris

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

  13. 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.

  14. @Dr CLoser. I trust you hadn’t got round to telling you wife.

  15. @Chris

    no point now…… I’m such a loser

  16. @Dan_R

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

  17. @DR C

    @Dan_R

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

    Sweet! Well played Trebeck.

  18. @Dan_R

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

  19. 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.

  20. @frank

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

  21. @frank

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

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

    -Dinan

  23. 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

  24. @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

  25. @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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