Friday, May 8, 2009

Notes on Team Equipment

Part of our team mission is to help provide content for Embrocation Cycling Journal. A good portion of that is to figure out some way we can provide some level of honest product assessments. Not reviews so much as experiences, good and bad.

Our road team has no official equipment sponsors other than Gaulzetti Cicli. We do have very close relationships with several product distributors, which gives us easy access to basically whatever we want. We made our equipment based on a few factors: Cost, performance, durability, accessibility and aesthetics in some cases. Here's a quick breakdown of some of our choices and why we chose them:

Gaulzetti Frames
We started out knowing we wanted to work with a local company. It just so happened that Craig Gaulzetti was starting production on his latest project exactly when we were in need of bikes. The timing was perfect, it provides a story worth telling and the bikes are really cool. We've received four so far with a few more inbound. We'll be talking more about these bikes later on at length.

SRAM Groups

All four current team bikes are equipped with SRAM Red groups. The decision to go with SRAM was really motivated by the cost to performance ratio, which seems be the best currently going right now. As a long-time Campy devotee I was inclined toward that, but I did not feel comfortable stretching the team budget for parts that arguably aren't any faster. A Record 11 group costs several hundred dollars more than a Red group. At the time we were acquiring team parts availability of Shimano's new 7900 group was not solid, so I dismissed it as an option. Subsequently, it's also proven to be much more expensive than previous versions of Dura Ace. So far, so good on the SRAM Red equipment. We've had a few snafus, but nothing that wasn't resolved shortly. All in all, good racing components. I'll go through some of our ups and downs in subsequent posts.

FSA Cranks

Our frames have BB30 bottom bracket shells and I wanted to take advantage of that by using true BB30 cranks as opposed to standard cranks with adapters. The original plan was to order complete SRAM Red groups with their new BB30 cranks. These cranks have been in extremely short supply and to this day are largely unavailable. We also discussed our crank needs with Cannondale, the original inventors of the BB30 system. They were enthusiastic about the project but ultimately could not supply the needed parts in time. FSA makes a wide variety of BB30 cranks but their top-end K-Force Lite crank is not inexpensive. I contacted FSA and was pleasantly surprised when they reacted positively to my proposal. Three team bikes are now running the FSA K-Force Lite carbon crank with ceramic BB30 bearings. Josh was keen on using his SRM equipped Shimano crank, so we fitted his bike with the reducer adapters instead.

3T Bars and Stems
All four team bikes are running some variety of 3T bars and stems. 3T offers 3 levels of product and two distinct bar shapes. Morrison and Bradshaw are running the Arx Team stems and Ergosum Team carbon bars. These are 3T's mid-range components - a light aluminum stem and a carbon bar with a really nice ergonomic shape. Josh is running the aluminum Ergosum Pro bar and matching Arx Pro stem. Jay opted to go with 3T's lightest components and is using the carbon ARX Limited Stem and the super light Rotundo Limited bar, which is a more traditional round shape.

Selle Italia Saddles

Selle Italia offers a dizzying array of saddles. To simplify things we narrowed the options down to the core of their saddle options: All team members were given the choice between Flite and SLR series saddles. All chose the SLR with 3 on the standard SLR Ti saddle and Jay on the SLR Kit Carbon Gel Flow.


Things get a bit more complicated when we're discussing wheels. Wheels will be the focal-point of our product testing in the near future so a few varieties are floating around amongst the team members right now. Most of us will, at some point be riding Reynolds wheels during the course of the year. We have their price-point clinchers, the Assault and the super light DV46T UL in tubular. We'll also have some of the MV32T UL tubulars this year for the mountainous races later in the year. I've long been impressed with the Reynolds products and since they switched to a DT Swiss hub this year their products are hard to resist. Also in play we have Fulcrum Racing Zero tubulars and Racing One clinchers. We also have riders using DT Swiss 1450 Mon Chasseral wheels and Easton EC90 SLX clinchers. We'll be publishing our impressions of all these wheels shortly.


This is pretty much the same situation as wheels. The exception is our tubular choice - we're devoted to the Vittoria Corsa Evo CX. It's the king of tubular tires as far as I'm concerned and costs less than many inferior options. On the clincher side of things we're using the Vittoria Corsa Open tubular (clincher version of the tubular), Michelin Pro 3 Race and a variety of tires from Maxxis, one of the most underrated road tire manufacturers currently on the market. We'll be giving extensive impressions of all our rubber options in a bit.

Other stuff

There's not official team pedal, but it just so happens that everyone is very happy with Shimano's SPD-SL system. We've been using SRAM's various bar tapes including the awesome Superlight faux leather stuff. We're also using their white shifter hoods on a couple bikes.

We'll have individual assessments of each of these products in the coming weeks. Stay tuned...


Blogger john said...

I enjoyed the equipment write-up. Looking forward to more detail.

May 13, 2009 at 12:57 PM  

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