2011 Quintana Roo Tri Bikes are Trickling In

2011 Quintana Roos are slowly arriving at the shop which is exciting news. So far we have received a handful of CD.01 Ultegras and a few Luceros. During our trip to Interbike last fall, we were very impressed by the new modifications that QR made to their frames and the component specs of each model. Additionally, the Lucero is back by popular demand, offering plenty of bang at a modest price. Here are some of our thoughts after receiving and building the new Lucero and CD.01 Ultegra.

2011 Lucero:

With an MSRP of $2650, this bike hosts some pretty impressive features. The Lucero’s drivetrain consists of mostly Ultegra 6700 components, including the crankset which is a pretty killer deal for under $3K. The rear derailleur and bar-end shifters are Dura-Ace, making shifting that much more precise. Overall, the drivetrain offers a vast amount of precision and performance, with none of the headaches of a third-party crankset entering the picture. This is a huge plus.

Like all of QR’s bikes for 2011, the fit should also be more accommodating for all athletic abilities and body geometries. QR has lengthened the head tube of each size by roughly 1.5cm, which has us excited to put one up on the fit stand. QR decided to lengthen the head tube a touch after consulting many fit experts around the nation. Other additions to the frame are sleeker seat stays and a different seat clamp, producing less drag in at every wind direction. The Lucero’s carbon frame is much like the 2011 Seduza’s, just with different component specs. The new graphics are modest, but give the bike enough flair to stand out amongst others.

The wheelset and aerobar set-up round this bike out to be a true contender. Shimano’s RS30 wheels have moderate depth and offer excellent durability to handle all the training mileage put on during the year. Vision’s clip-on aero extensions provide plenty of adjustability for all types of triathletes. In summary, we think this bike could be a hot ticket this summer and it is nice to see another well-built mid-level full carbon bike on the floor.

CD.01 Ultegra:

QR’s premier bike is back again and better than ever for 2011. In the past year, the green machine (2010 Ultegra version) has gone through some upgrades and has come out in a new digitized camo scheme. It would be par for the course to offer a bold paint scheme to go along with this sleek aero-rocket!

The main idea behind the CD.01 frame is a 18mm off-set in the downtube that diverts airflow away from the drivetrain side of the bike, producing an aerodynamic advantage the is unmatched by other tri bike manufacturers. The frame consists of premium modulus carbon fiber which is stiffer and lighter than the carbon used in models below the CD.01. With well hidden front and rear brake calipers, this bike is extremely sleek.

The drivetrain is also fairly impressive on the mostly Ultegra CD.o1. The Vision Tri Max crankset does not heavily detract from the shifting performance of the 6700 derailleurs which is a large plus. Like the Lucero, this bike has Shimano RS30 wheels and a Vision alloy aerobar set-up. Not to be forgotten, is the addition of an ISM Adamo saddle. QR has done away with rigid stock saddles and has chosen to go with the leader in eliminating numbness and stimulating blood flow. Since the Adamo’s popularity has sky rocketed amongst triathletes at GW Bike, we are excited that QR has chosen such a great saddle to put on their bikes.

At a price point of $3300, the Ultegra CD.01 offers some true aerodynamic advantages that are hard to match. If your goal is to shave time off the bike portion of a triathlon or throw down an impressive time trial time, this may be your ticket.

An important note is that this bike can also be purchased with an upgraded set-up, featuring Dura-Ace components, different frame graphics, a nicer Vision cockpit, and upgraded wheels. If you want to pull out all the stops, read more about the CD.01 Dura-Ace.

Come in and try one of these new 2011 QR’s. We are eager to put one on the fit stand!

Is carbon for me?

If you’ve stopped into our shop within the last couple years, you’ve probably noticed the growth of the full carbon bikes, especially in our “tri room”.   The sales of carbon frames in the triathlon market have skyrocketed in the last several years, causing most of the triathlon bike manufacturers to make just 1 aluminum frame tri/tt bike, with the rest being full carbon.    Trying to find a full Ultegra or Dura Ace aluminum framed tri bike is next to impossible, as most manufactures are gearing their aluminum framed bike as the “entry level” tri bike with Shimano 105 or the like, and bike makers are assuming that the higher end market will want a full carbon frame.   As a result, the majority of bike manufacturers are putting the bulk of their research & development dollars into carbon frames.

With full carbon triathlon bikes like the B16 coming in under 2K, it's harder for people to justify spending more than that on an aluminum tri bike.

Outside of the question Road Bike or Tri Bike?, the next most asked question of us here at Gear West Bike and Tri is, “does a carbon frame really make a difference?”    If the sales of full carbon bikes over the past several years tell us anything, the answer is an overwhelming yes.   Not only has  the quality of full carbon frames risen dramatically, the price has come down just as dramatically.  This is due in part to efficiencies learned over the years and economy of scale with the increasing demand for full carbon.     Can there be poorly build carbon frames?  Yes, but the big boys in the industry (for us Trek, Felt, Quintana Roo, Cervelo) have the experience and technology to design carbon frames that will blow your mind.   And if my tour of the Trek factory in Waterloo, WI was any indication, bike makers are very careful to keep their technology secret.

Here are the main reasons that we’re seeing as why people are going carbon:

1.  Carbon Frames can be more vertically compliant. So what does that mean?  A unique quality of carbon is that depending on how the carbon layers are oriented it can be extremely stiff in one direction, but very compliant in another.   There are also different grades of carbon that have unique properties.  This means that, not unlike suspension on a bike, a well built carbon frame can ‘eat up’ those imperfections in the riding surface and smooth out your ride.   What this means for most people is that the ride quality will improve (think buttery smooth ride), and they will come off longer rides feeling less abuse on their bodies.  Obviously for people riding longer, this becomes more important.

Individual carbon fiber plies are hand placed inside a pre-build mold according to a layup schedule. How and where these pieces are layed up is proprietary by bike manufacturer and can make or break the ride experience.

2. Carbon Frames can be more laterally stiff. Again, the unique quality of carbon allows bike makers to orient and layer the carbon in such a way to make it extremely stiff laterally.  As manufacturers have honed their skills over the years, you’ll noticed that this aspect, particularly bottom bracket stiffness, has improved tenfold from the full carbon frames of 10 years ago.    The end result is riding the bike feeling that indescribable joy of knowing every once of your strength is propelling the bike forward.  This combined with the vertical compliance are factors that make up overall ride quality.  Many manufacturers claim to have the “best” ride quality, but as a consumer you need to look at things customer feedback and how many years has a specific company been making frames.

The 2011 Speed Concept is the result of countless wind tunnel hours.

3.  Carbon Frames can be more aerodynamic. In a lot of respects, the design and shape of a carbon bike is limited only by the minds of the maker.  They still have to comply with cycling rules and the laws of physics, but the mold-ability and strength of carbon allows for a lot more creativity in frame design.  Aluminum or titanium frames can never and will never match the aerodynamics of a carbon frame as it’s much harder to shape or modify.    As you would expect, aerodynamics plays a huge part in time trial/ triathlon frames, but not as much in road frames.

4.  Carbon Frames can be lighter. Alternatively, weight plays a much bigger factor in road frames vs. time trial/triathlon frames (where contrary to the opinion of many, does not really matter … especially in Minnesota!).   Depending on the skill of the maker, carbon frames can have a much better strength to weight ratio allowing bikes to get ridiculously light.  And anyone who has ever ridden an uber-lightweight bike knows it can make climbing and accelerating a relative breeze!

And here are a couple misconceptions about carbon frames that we hear:

Misconception 1. They aren’t as durable. We hear this one the most.  “I’m a big guy”, or “I travel a lot with my bike”.    As indicated by what we see for warranties, carbon frames are just as durable as aluminum or titanium (and we’re talking in the less than 1% range here).     Warranties for aluminum and titanium frames tend to come from fractures in the welds, while carbon frames do not have welds.    To bolster your confidence in carbon frames, nearly all manufacturers offer lifetime frame warranties, meaning that if anything happens to your frame during normal wear and tear, they will replace your bike at no charge.    Carbon frames are also no more or less prone to being damaged in a crash.   Aluminum or titanium will usually just bend, where carbon will break (both result in the loss of a bike).    In addition, most manufacturers will work with us on ‘crash replacements’ at a significantly cheaper price.   As with any nice bike, if you want to maintain the pristine look you’ll want to be careful not to scratch it in travel.  Just use packing materials when traveling with your bike.

Misconception 2. I’m not fast enough for carbon.     We hear this one a lot.   We don’t need a carbon bike either.  And nobody needs a carbon bike, but the reality is that you might as well take advantage of technology if it’s available.    Why should just the fast people get the fun of having the nicest stuff?

Misconception 3. Carbon frames will “go soft” after several years. We’ve heard this a few times… people thinking that the carbon will “give” more after a couple years of riding it, making it flexy over time.    Again, I’m going to go back to the fact that not all carbon frames are of the same quality.   There are some poor quality carbon frames on the market made by manufacturers who are “newer to the game”.   A well built carbon frame will last as long as you want it to last.

So there you have it.    Go bike shopping!

The 2011 Felt B10

We were so giddy when we first saw this bike. All new for Felt this year, they took the B12 frame and equipped it with Shimano Di2. This get’s you the awesomeness of Shimano Di2 shifting with a $5299 price tag.  This is a full $3,000+ less than any tri/tt bike sold with Di2 last year.  Felt is committed to bringing electronic shifting to the people, as this is only a few hundred more than buying the gruppo alone.   Yes, it’s still expensive, but within reach for a lot more people.    We have a 52, 54, 56, 58 and 60 cm in stock and ready to ride!

And if you were still wondering how good Di2 is, you will be blown away when you demo one of these bikes. The shifting is so quick and precise you can shift your front dérailleur while standing and pedaling.  Seriously.  And the biggest benefit to having Di2 on a Tri bike is the 2 sets of shift buttons… shift in both basebar and aerobars without moving your hands. So cool.  Here at the shop Kevin, Hannah and Brett are all riding Di2 bikes, with more to follow soon…

The all new 2011 Felt B10 Di2.   Combine that paint job with the TTR3 wheelset…. wow.  good lookin’.

I like this.   Ultra Hybrid Carbon, “Performance”.  It’s the name of the game.

Here’s a head of shot of the bar end shifters as well as the basebar shifters.    The benefit of being able to shift when climbing or cornering in the basebar is huge.

This is the battery pack  hidden below the rear chain-stay.   ~1000 miles per charge, and each battery can be charged ~300 before the charge will diminish.   (that’s 30,000 miles)   And even then, replacement batteries are only $99.    And you weight weenies out there don’t need to worry.  With the lighter wires instead of shift cable the weights between mechanical DA and electronic is nearly a wash.

Here is the battery charge indicator, right at the tip of your fingers so you can check the battery charge at any time with ease.

Stock with Dura Ace 7900 dérailleurs and the Vision TriMax Pro TT crankset.     It’s not as good as the Dura Ace 7900, but we’ve tested it and it will still knock your socks off.  (we recommend riding without socks)

This is where the real magic happens… the front dérailleur.    So precise you will never think twice about shifting to your big ring ever again.

Nigel Kinney’s $100 Black Death Build

So you may think that all of us that work here at the shop are ridiculously spoiled and ride around on $10,000 time trial machines, but you would be DEAD WRONG!   Only some of us do.  Some of our summer employees are penny pinching college students that are high on talent but low on funds.

So to inspire all you fellow penny pincher’s out there I bring you:
Nigel Kinney’s $100 Gear West ‘Black Death Build’.

Nigel is one of our all-star mechanics that comes back to us every summer once school is out.  His main sport is actually Biathlon (skiing & shooting), but he’s gotten into cycling and has some raw talent.  He’s been upgraded to a Cat. 3 cyclist and has actually won some criteriums and road races in the last year, but up until recently has not done any time trials since he didn’t have a dedicated TT bike.   But that all changed when he saw an old Trek Equinox frameset that had been warrantied due to it’s broken front dérailleur braze-on.    Who needs a front derailleur anyway!

This is where it helps to have the mechanical skills to piece together a beast like this, as well as access to a bike shop basement and friends with odds and ends parts. With the frame, miscellaneous used and warrantied parts from the basement, and literally taking things out of the garbage, Nigel put together this bike for $100! I kid you not. And how does it perform you ask? The day he built it up he brought it over to the TNT time trial (our local Tuesday Night 11 mile TT) and he broke out a 25:05… averaging 26.3 mph!

We asked him to describe his build in detail:

Here is the part by part build:
Frame: Old 55cm Trek Equinox with broken front derailleur braze on. Custom painted flat black by yours truly. Free
Fork: Old Felt carbon fork we had sitting in the rafters. Literally. Free
Seatpost: Trek came with frame. Free
Seat: Felt 3.2 saddle heavily used. Free
Headset: Used Black Cane Creek S3. $20
Stem: Used 90mm Syntace. Saved from the aluminum recycling bin. Free
Cockpit: Vision that had been crashed. Free
Shifters: No front Derailleur/shifter. 9spd. rear shifter on friction to work with 10spd. cassette and derailleur. Free
Derailleurs: No Front derailleur. Rear derailleur used SRAM Rival from Cory. $40
Brakes: Used Sram Rival from Cory. $30
Brake Levers: Used tektro levers that had been crashed. Free
Cranks: Used scratched up 170mm FSA Gossamer cranks, rocking only 53T big ring. Free
BB: Heavily used FSA BB with dust seals removed to accomplish near frictionless spinning. Free
Cable and Housing: Odds and ends sitting around. $10
Pedals: Off my road bike. Speeplay Zero stainless axle. Pink, of course. Not included.
Cassette: Road setup. Not included.
Wheelset: Not included in build. I borrow from whomever is nice enough to let me use their deep Zipps or I use my personal 303s.
Total cost of build is around $100. It has served me well for TT’s like TNT. My bank account is thankful of the employee deals from Gear West Bike and Triathlon and Cory in the shop .

This is a salvaged crashed Vision cockpit that Nigel resuscitated, paired with an antiquated & used 9 speed bar end shifter he found in the basement.

A takeoff FSA crankset (again, no front dérailleur or small chainring), and custom paint job at home by Nigel, with some sweet stencil work.

No you’re not Nigel, no you’re not.