There is a debate amongst we cycling enthusiasts, almost as heated as disc brakes on road bikes, about the pluses and minuses related to internal cable routing on road bikes. Many contend that the only “Aero Bikes” should bother with internal cable routing… This would be the TT bikes and road racing bikes such as the Specialized Venge, Trek Madone and Pinarello Dogma (and many, many others)
Done properly, the cables are housed in the frame to cut down on drag… As an added benefit, they are also protected inside the frame from sweat, dirt and road grime that would normally rot them out within a season (two if they’re meticulously cared for). Now, depending on who you talk to, cables should be replaced every season anyway. I’d have argued that last year but because I can now change the cables and index the derailleurs in about twenty minutes, while carrying on a conversation with my wife, replacing them is a lot less daunting than when I didn’t know what I was doing so I’m more willing to change them.
That said, there are some cons to internally routed cables. First, if the shop that puts the bike together makes a mistake – and sometimes even if the shop did everything right – the cables can cause internal creaks and groans that can take forever and a day to locate and get rid of. Also, if you don’t know a couple of tricks of the trade when it comes to fishing lines (tie a string or tape the new cable end to the snipped end of the old cable and pull the new one through with the old one) through concealed places, trying to replace old cables can get ugly in a hurry with an internally routed bike.
That notwithstanding, having several externally routed bikes and one of the best (from what I’ve heard – I have no clue) internally routed bikes on the planet, I can say this: Give me the internally routed cables any day of the week and twice on Sunday. This choice boils down to two things for me (click on the photo to enlarge):
1. Sweat maintenance. I sweat when I ride because I ride hard. In fact, I sweat buckets – so when you’re cruising down the road at 25 mph and a drop of sweat falls from your melon, where do you think that drop of sweat hits the bike? Right on the cable housing zert just in front of the saddle in the photo above. It also collects at the underside of the frame (under the bottom bracket – yes, I sweat that much) on the stainless steel plate attached to the frame that holds the two shifter cables in place. Before I was aware of this as a problem, when I took the bike in for a shifting problem (related to sweat messing up the cables under the bottom bracket), the mechanic noticed that the housing end had become infused with salt, inside of the zert that holds it to the frame. He had to drill everything out, and install a new housing before the brake started seizing.
2. Rain maintenance. Now this one hasn’t been, and hopefully will not be, tested on my new Venge because it hasn’t seen anything worse than a few sprinkles, but the rear derailleur housing on my 5200 picks up a ton of rain off of the road. I have to loosen the cable, clean out the housing and relube the cable, hook everything back up and re-adjust the derailleur after every ride in the rain or the shifting becomes completely pooched over night. Now that’s not such a big deal to me, because I can fix that in ten minutes (including the index adjustment), but to someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing, that’s not exactly a simple fix. It usually means a trip to the bike shop and a few days off of the bike.
See that little cover where the cable comes out of the frame? Yeah, that fits tightly around the cable to keep water and/or sweat from getting into the frame – and if you need to clean them, the little screw takes an Allen wrench. Specialized thought of everything.
In short, while the cable maintenance and repairs aren’t that big of a deal, not having to do them is, quite obviously, much less work and a wee bit less time consuming. There may be complaints with other bikes, but I love my internally routed cables.
This is a fantastic post on a really nice blog… Please check it out.
I think it’s a fairly well know fact that a person with less muscle will have a slower metabolism (all things being equal). I think this is one of the key reasons that many people gain weight as they age but why and how does this happen?
Consider this scenario: Someone young & strong carries their groceries from the car to the house 6 bags at a time, at some point they cut back to 4 at a time and eventually they have 1 bag in each hand and that’s all they can handle. This doesn’t happen overnight but is a gradual decline. If you think about it I’m sure you can come up with many examples of things that young/healthy/strong people do that older people don’t (moving furniture alone, taking stairs two at a time, sprinting to catch a bus)
Cardio exercise such as walking and step aerobics are…
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Well, well, well… I had a really interesting ride last night. When I got home I pulled out my 4′ level and set my saddle back to level (from nose slightly up) which got me back down into the drops a lot more comfortably.
Before I tested that on the road though, Mrs. Bgddy and I took the kids out for a 5-1/2 mile game of bike tag. Now, the game is hugely unfair, but we do what we can even it up and make it fun, and safe – we play on dirt roads and when cars are coming in either direction, the game is suspended until all is clear. The cool thing is that since we started this, we’ve gone from a whine filled “are we there yet” 8 minute mile ride to a laughter filled 6 minute mile.
If you’ve been keeping up on the math, since Sunday, I changed my saddle location and the angle three times now. I changed from what I knew was the proper location (as measured by the standard location methods) because after 700 miles on my new bike, I couldn’t get over the idea that I shouldn’t feel like I was slightly arching my back to get into the drops – this was a hips and lower back issue – upper body was perfect. When I picked the bike up from the shop, after my first test ride on it, I immediately moved the saddle up (toward the front wheel) about a full centimeter, where I’d left it until Sunday. During that ride I moved it back about 8 mm and nosed the saddle up just a bit, just to see how I felt. That was too far back, but I did like the nose up so for Tuesday’s ride I moved it up half the distance (4 mm) but left the nose up, slightly off level. Moving the saddle up didn’t bode well with leaving the nose raised. I ended up having a tough time staying in the drops because the saddle angle supported a more upright riding position.
Anywho, when we got back I changed shoes and headed out for what was supposed to be an easy twelve miles to see what I thought of the new-new saddle position in this ongoing look at monkeying with my bike so I could write about it here and so I could maybe use my quads (the big muscles) a little more… I really liked having the saddle level a lot more for riding in the drops – I only rode on the hoods at intersections the whole twelve miles and I had some fairly shocking and excellent results. First of all, my legs were quite tired on Tuesday, even after a day off after my solo Sunday 75, but I muddled through with the small group I rode with for a fairly respectable 21 mph average (Warm up: 16 mph + Club Ride 21 mph = 20 mph average overall)… Which meant they were darn near dead last night. Bike tag helped loosen me up quite a bit but I wasn’t expecting much when I walked out the door so I put my phone in the back pocket, shut the sound down and just went by feel…
I started out fairly slowly, building to a nice sustainable pace, in the drops. I slowed considerably at my first 2-way stop and made the turn then got back to that sustainable pace… So it went for the whole twelve miles – stop sign to slow down or stop at every mile or two, etc… When I passed my driveway I pulled the phone out and looked at the over-all:
The dips in speed are all stop signs and ate up a good 45 seconds off of my time – I rarely stop fully, but semi-track stand until traffic clears so I lose a lot of time for having to stop… The point is, I comfortably held 21-23 mph speeds through much of the ride with little trouble, on half-dead legs and pulled out almost a 20 mph average. My saddle is staying right where I’ve got it, 4 mm back from what I thought was perfect. I’ll spend the next couple of weeks making sure I’m comfortable as is, that no hot-spots crop up as a result of moving it back but not lowering it (which is standard by the way – if you move it forward, raise it, if you move it back, lower it).
So, the point to this whole exercise, and why I bothered in the first place:
1). I learned early on, never be afraid to tinker with the bike and mess around with the setup a little bit if something doesn’t feel right. I can’t screw it up enough that the shop can’t fix what I did wrong.
2). While small moves are wisest, every once in a while why not shake it up to see what happens? I learned something very valuable about my setup because of this attitude and I should be able to ride faster because of it.
3). Bike experiments are cool.
The first post on the saddle fore/aft location is here.
Part One of the Experiment is Here
Part Two is Here.
UPDATE: Fast again! Now I’m bummed I didn’t try this sooner!
UPDATE II: After a week at that position I caved and split the difference again. Now I’m only 2 mm back from where I started but I haven’t found it necessary to mess with it at all since.