Friday, March 07, 2008

My New Toy

I bought a new road bike last year, but I almost regretted not getting a triathlon bike. I always planned on getting one, but maybe two or three years down the line. Every time I saw a triathlon bike I would just love the look of the aero bars, the aggressive geometry and the aero tubing. Oh the aero tubing! How could I ever think of waiting that long. So I knew I had to keep the cost low so I knew I was looking at a used aluminium bike. I also knew that I wanted Campy components because my road bike is Campy and that makes it easy to swap wheels or cassettes. This is particularly important if you have a set of race wheels or a wheel integrated power meter like a Powertap, which I do. There aren’t too many Campy equipped Tri bikes out there. You see some on Ebay, but rarely in the size I would need. I have a long torso and short legs so standover height on bikes is a problem for me. I really like Cervelo frames but they have really high standovers. I would either need a bike with a long top tube for its size or something with a compact geometry.
Raleigh TT 006
I found this used Raleigh frame on Ebay for cheap. It has a really long top tube and just the right standover, so it works out great. It is a Kinesis frame made out of 7000 series heat treated aluminium. Very similar frames are sold under the brands of Kinesis UK, Jamis, K2, Schwinn, etc., but I have never seen one exactly like this one. Usually they have carbon seat stays, which this one does not or they have external cable routing. This one also has vertical dropouts while the Jamis Trilogy has horizontal dropouts. Any ways it’s a relatively low end frame, but what makes it cool is that it is a Raleigh. What’s cool about that you might ask? It has been a long time in the US since Raleigh was a cool brand. But I like the uniqueness of the bike, because Raleigh doesn’t make triathlon bikes. That’s right. They don’t make them. Well, Raleigh’s South African franchise makes one very similar to this with external cable routing called the 6000, but Raleigh USA does not make a triathlon bike. So how did this one come about? Raleigh sponsors a few cycling teams and made this one up custom for one of their teams. (Or more accurately ordered one from Kinesis in Taiwan and put their stickers on it.) I’m guess that it was made for the Recycled Cycling Team.
Raleigh TT 002
Another cool thing is that I think a Raleigh bike is the perfect companion to my Bianchi. These two companies are the two oldest bike manufacturers in the world and both have charted similar paths. Both made their mark in of cycling racing history, both have diluted their brand appeal by selling cheap mass market bikes and both have made a recent resurgence on the cycling scene as of late. They both also traditionally wear Campy. So there you go, a perfect match.
Raleigh TT 007
I built up the bike with new parts sourced from Ebay, ProBikeKit.com, Excel Sports and TriSports.com. let me just say that ProBikeKit is awesome. I went with Chorus components because I saved so much money on the frame I had extra money to put into the components. My favourite part of this bike is the crank. The new UltraTorque crank from Campy is so elegant in design that I just had to have it, even though plenty of traditional square taper cranks were available.
Raleigh TT 008
The hardest parts to find where the bar end shifters. It was not so much that you couldn’t find them, but more that you couldn’t find them for a reasonable price. They cost about three times the price of Dura Ace bar end shifters and for no reason other than they are less common.
Raleigh TT 003
For brakes I went with the Tektro R740. Lighter than Dura Ace or Campy Record. Another factor in the choice was that I wanted a quick release on the brake callipers because bar end brake levers never have quick releases. Campy brakes don’t have quick releases, and putting Shimano on a Campy bike is just weird – thus the Tektros. I also considered FSA brakes, but I found a great price on the R740s and couldn’t pass them up.
Raleigh TT 010
For the cockpit I wanted Vision. I never really considered anything else. It just looks so cool. I have always wanted Vision aerobars and now I’ve got them. The Vision carbon bars are not some much lighter than the aluminium ones so I just went aluminium with carbon armrests.
Raleigh TT 004
The wheelset is Zefiro K52 deep section carbon wheels. Nothing special here. A good solid wheelset that is a little heavy, but has an aluminium clincher rim so that I don’t have to swap out brake pads when I change wheels. They were also very cheap. I couldn’t even consider getting race wheels unless they were very cheap.
Raleigh TT 005
I tried a Profile Design Tri Strike saddle I had lying around, but there is no way I could get comfortable on that thing in aero position. In aero position you are crouched so far forward that you are basically sitting on your balls. I don’t know how anyone can do it with a regular saddle. I invested in an ISM saddle. It is basically the same shape as the Profile Design Tri Strike but with the nose cut off. That way my guys can hang free and I won’t suffer. It also has long rails so you can move the saddle forward or back as needed.

I love my new ride!

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