The fact that I love my new Venge has been made more than clear – I’ve never been happier with a purchase with two exceptions: My wife’s engagement ring (and her wedding ring) and our house. There was, however, one nagging rub… The wheels that came with the bike. They are heavy – and I’m talking about more than 4-1/4 pounds! Of course, if you have a 1975 Schwinn, well 4-1/2 pounds for both rims would seem awesome. When you’ve got a 2013 race bike, not so much. If that wasn’t reason enough for a new set of rims, the original DT Swiss Axis 4.0 rims had a considerable amount of slop in the hub – so much so that whenever I hit a bump it would make a slight rattling noise. When I brought it up to Matt at the shop, he asked me to try to get used to it because it wasn’t much and that little bit of slop meant that the bearings had less friction – less friction is fast. What ended up happening is that every time I hit a bump I couldn’t help but have “piece of s#!t rim” flash through my head – and I hit a lot of little bumps.
I set out finding a reasonably priced wheel that would relieve me of that and knock a pound off of my bike’s weight a few weeks ago. Naturally I started at Nashbar. I buy a fair amount of gear from them and have yet to be disappointed with anything I’ve gotten there (five jerseys, cycling sunglasses, Pearl Izumi toe covers to match my shoes and a few other items I can’t recall at the moment). I ended up settling on the Vuelta Corsa SLR wheels for only, get this, $320. After I ordered them I was almost immediately beset with buyers remorse for not settling on a more expensive, slightly more “aero” wheel (FLO, Easton or Fulcrum) – for only $200 more I could have had either one of those… I also considered a pair of the Chinese carbon clincher knock offs… But in the end, I decided to stick with my gut – and the Vuelta’s.
Well, they showed up today out of the blue (I wasn’t expecting them until next week) so I was quite fired up to see if they lived up to their promise. Folks, the Vuelta rear wheel is lighter than the front wheel that came with my Venge. Seriously! I took them over to my local shop because I know absolutely nothing about new wheels – other than how to true them. The guys at the shop got me all set up and while they were switching the cassette around we did the impromptu pick ’em up weight test. After Walter got the index adjustment done and everything back together, we stuck my bike on the scale… With cages and pedals, 17.3 pounds – less than five hundredths of a pound shy of a full pound lighter than the DT Swiss Axis 4.0 wheels… Oh, and do they make my bike pop:
Well once I got the new wheels on I couldn’t help but take it for a test ride, especially considering the weather was quite nice (if a little cool). 20 miles of sheer bliss. They’re worlds smoother, especially on rough pavement, they spin up so easily it’s almost unfair and I could unquestionably feel the lack of that extra pound in the wheels. Like anything on a bike, the wheels have a break-in period so I’ll have to put a little bit of a lid on the enthusiasm until I pass that phase (call it 50-100 miles), but for a relatively inexpensive rim, they’re very nice. The original price, according to Nashbar, is $550 but I got them on sale for $320. Their a fantastic price to weight investment…and my Venge looks like the badass it should now!
UPDATE 11-17-13: I’ve got hundreds of miles on the Corsa’s now and I’m still as happy with them today as the day they went on the bike. True, fast and forgiving. They were an excellent investment. I couldn’t be happier with them.
UPDATE 8-16-14: I’ve got thousands of miles on the Corsa’s now and I finally ran into a problem with them. After hundreds of bunny-hops, I started getting a loose spoke every now and again. Over time, the rear wheel wouldn’t stay true for more than 25 miles. I had the wheel relaced and it was good until I climbed my first hill. The back-and-forth loosened up a spoke. After tightening the spoke and finishing my ride, when I got back I checked every spoke on the rear wheel – three loose. I tightened them up, then trued the wheel. Then I tightened each spoke 1/4 turn, all the way around the whole wheel… And viola… No more loose spokes. Even though the wheels are hand-built (in the US btw), the spokes might loosen up over time and it’s a little tricky to get the tension right. Now that I’ve gotten the wheel strung right, I’m back to worry-free riding.
The weather when I got home yesterday afternoon was nasty and Mrs. Bgddy is up at her mom’s house with our kids and her sister and her kids who flew up for a long weekend… So I was going it alone. I don’t do well without my wife and kids – as much as I struggle with the chaos, the quiet is worse. That said, keeping to my commitment to take a little time off I got to work on detailing the Venge when I got home from the office. Now I’ve kept it quite pristine since I brought it home at the end of August but there were a few things that really needed to be attended to.
First, with the internal cable routing I’ve got covers that keep almost everything from getting into the frame. The entrance and exit points of the cables are all in excellent locations – all but the exit point for the rear brake cable. It’s right on top of the frame and just in front of the seat post so when sweat drips off of me it’s blown back and hits the frame right at that cable cover and at the seat post where it goes into the frame. So, for today I took that cover off and cleared it of salt deposits. Then I marked the seat post with a piece of electrical tape for depth, removed it and cleaned all of the salt deposits from that – inside and out:
Once I got that done, and with nothing constructive to do, I figured why stop there, so I detailed the rest of the bike, took the cages off and cleaned them up (I even cleaned the screw heads off). Once I had the cages off I cleaned all of the rest of the frame, the rims, spokes tires… Heck, I figured I may as well make it look showroom new while I was at it.
I also dug out my lights and charged them up for Tuesday’s club ride and for the soon to come final ride of the season – we take one final ride in the dark – which will be my first night ride – ever.
The funny thing with the lights is trying to find a place to put my tail light on an aero bike… The front headlight is easy enough but with the aero seat post I’ve got nowhere to attach the tail light. I tried the seat stay but that won’t work so I had to start thinking outside the box… I’ve come up with two options: On top of my melon cover but I don’t like that at all – riding alone, not so bad, in a group? My tail light will be glaring into the eyes of anyone behind me so that won’t do… So where could I put that where it would face back , be close to the same height as the saddle and won’t be in the way? On the handlebar, under the hood. It’s not perfect but I think it’ll be good enough for government work (heh).