Friday, January 30, 2015

Evaluated: 2015 Ritchey WCS Streem II Alloy Aero Bar

Photo courtesy of Ritchey

The quest for comfort on a bicycle does not end at the saddle, chamois, or shoes.  It also includes particulars such as seat posts, stems, and yes, even bars.  I, for one, find that the almost-perfect bar setup is rather elusive, especially for those of us genetically predisposed with larger hands.  For us, there is no substitute for surface area, and that means larger diameter bars.  In plain language: The more bar there is for our paws to grip, the more comfortable the ride over the long-haul.

To date, pretty much all of the wing shaped “Aero” bars on the market have been constructed from carbon fiber.  That is a nice idea, save for those whom do not like the hidden specter of cracks and possible delaminations of the material under the bar wrap (I am a proud member of that group).  Construction of an alloy wing shaped bar has been a bit trickier than its composite brother, and the minds at Ritchey have met the challenge, and produced, I believe, a winner with the WCS Streem II aero bar.   I mounted up the test subject with my now favorite red, Fizik Microtex tape, a PRO Vibe 7S 120mm stem, and took off.  That was four-months ago. 

                                                    The anatomical bend of the 128mm drops.
So, what did I discover?  Well, my goal was to ride with the bars for an extended period of time before pronouncing judgment on them.  While many evaluators give their opinions upon a single, seat-of-the-pants, ride, I don’t do that.  The only way to truly get real-word feedback of a product is to live with it for awhile under real-world conditions.  Thus, after the months I have used the WCS Streem II’s, I have to honestly give the bars two, big “Thumbs-Up.”  The Streem's have brought me the closest to perfection I have come yet in my quest for an all-around-bar.  The flat portion of the tops is an excellent perch for my hands, with the 4.5-degree sweep back oddly adding to said comfort, and there is just enough hint of flex while in the drops to keep the hands from going numb over the garbage which masquerades as road surface’s in Southern California.  The only thing I did not like much was the shallow, 128mm drop.  About 10mm more drop, and these would be my go-to bars for life.  However, remembering not to be too nit-picky, the tops and transitions to the hoods gave me all-day comfort, and that was the real purpose of my evaluation.   

                          Real-World testing. There is no substitute. Note "Aero" section and sweep.

In summation, the challenge riders’ face is the discovery of that setup which leads them to the cyclist’s nirvana, aka, the “Sweet Spot.”  Finding the correct components are a large part of that quest.  Truth be told, I really liked these bars, however, I cannot fathom why Tom Ritchey believes we all have tiny hands necessitating the extremely narrow diameter of most of the Ritchey catalog bar offerings.  The PRO Vibe 7S bars I previously tested had a constant 31.8 diameter along the tops, with a deeper drop than the Streem II’s.  And, while I really loved the PRO’s, I was looking for the comfort of a flat-topped, wider, aero bar, and the Streem II’s provided that. 

In my perfect world, I would have a bar with the drops of the PRO Vibe 7S, with the tops of the Ritchey Streem II.  Oh well, one can dream.  Or, maybe even try a set of 35mm bars.  Hmm…

The Specs:
  • UCI approved 38 x 22.5mm wing section for improved aerodynamics and a great feel for climbing.
  • Short reach, shallow drop with anatomical bend
  • Triple butted 7050 alloy
  • 40, 42 and 44cm widths
  • Drop/Reach: 128/78mm
  • Stem diameter: 31.8mm
  • 4.7 degree sweep, 1 degree flare
  • Finish: Matte Black
  • 275g (42cm bar)
  • Retail: $99.00 USD

Friday, January 16, 2015

"Red Is The New Black." Trek Factory Racing Unveils 2015 Team Bikes.

2015 Emonda Team Bike. The Madone and Domane will also be used.

It seems the peeps over at Trek Factory Racing finally got my memo: Red is nothing to be afraid of.  Use it pretty much everywhere and be proud.  I do.

And, preliminary information indicates the same paint color, Viper Red, will be available as part of Trek's marvelous Project One Program.

It is nice to see some color in the Pro Peleton this year, and thankfully, Trek is getting away from the all-black kits, too.

All photos courtesy of Trek Factory Racing.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

No, This Is Not A Joke. The Essax "Shark" Saddle Makers Claim The Shape Is Revolutionary.

 The Essax Shark saddle. Brilliant, evolutionary design, or just another sex toy? Photo by Cycling Weekly.

Yes, I admit things have been a bit quiet around the Cycling Dynamics office, but a major move has a way of taxing one's time and focus.  However, with commentaries, and new products tests in the pipeline, scanning the horizon for new, and interesting things still remains job one.  Thus, I bring you the Essax Shark saddle.

According to the Spanish firms press release, "...Essax Shark designer, Jon Iriberri, claims the fin should distribute weight evenly between the rider’s sit bones by achieving better alignment of the knees, preventing rocking and rotation when pedaling, therefore increasing the efficiency of the pedal stroke and preventing injury."

While jokes about the saddle have been pretty darn funny, those whom have actually tried it said it was not too bad - Just different.  No argument, there.

Read the whole article over at Cycling Weekly.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Scenes We Don't Like To See, And A Major Case Of Bike Lane Fail.

A Public Service Announcement to those whom have not yet received the memo: We are all going to die, someday.  

No, that is not some sort of macabre joke, it is a true fact of life that no one gets off this planet alive, save for the Prophet Elijah.  While the end of life is indeed nothing to fear, the perspective of what can happen to one in between is the sober reminder in the photos below. 

The photos were taken near the end of a recent ride I took through Santiago Canyon.  I had never seen a Ghost Bike before, and it was quite an eye opening reminder of the hazards we face whilst engaged in our passion.  Dying of old age is one thing, but having your life taken from you by a reckless moron is flat-out tragic. 

I never knew Joseph Robinson personally, yet through the brotherhood-of-cycling, we are really all family, and the loss of a brother or sister is hard to take.

As you can see, the posted speed is 55-miles per hour.  That seems a reasonable speed considering the width of the road and it's smooth surface.  The dangerous aspect of these speeds is they are safe as long as the motorists don't swerve out of their lanes and hit cyclists, which is what happened to Mr. Robinson.  Alcohol, and youthful inexperience, were also contributing factors in this case.

In the "Hey, we got room," department, it seems if you have to close a lane for street maintenance, why only close one lane (and traffic monitor the other), when you can simply shut down both lanes and route 45-mile per hour traffic into the bike lane.  On a recent training ride, the photo below shows just such an instance in the City of Claremont.  It also seems that the law of 25-miles per hour in a work zone does not apply, anymore.

I waited for about a dozen cars to pass before I felt it was safe to proceed, as a fencing crew had the sidewalk closed with their own, independent activity.  Epic fail, boys.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

A New Perspective

From the merely curious web surfers, to my seven, loyal readers, folks may have noticed I have been extremely silent on the giant, electronic publishing highway.  There was a good, valid reason for that.  The office of Cycling Dynamics has moved, trading the foothills for the coast.  And, said move was not without its share of pain, suffering, sweat and tears, additionally taking a massive chunk out of my available riding, and writing, time.  Yes, life happens.    

However, now that the formally plush publishing office has now become an extremely plush publishing office, don’t think for one minute the insightful commentary, opinions and product testing of this woefully underfunded operation will cease.  The roads may have flattened out around here, but with a bold, fresh perspective, new terrain to explore, and new products to test out, things are guaranteed to get a whole lot more interesting. 

Therefore, back on the information highway with a new location, a new ISP, and an odd sense of spiritual rebirth from the whole experience, the bicycle wheels of life can only go one way: Forward.  And, so too, will Cycling Dynamics move forward for the loyal (and questionably sane) followers of the site, because that is the only direction I know how to go now. 

Come along for the ride. 


Darryl Bustamante, Editor-At-Large