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The Tale of Two Specialized Venges

I made some big changes to my 2013 Venge this year. First, I grew tired of the 52/36 chainset so I swapped the chainrings for a compact 50/34 combo just into winter. After trying the 50/34 combo on my ’99 Trek with an 11/28 cassette and I absolutely loved it. I had enough top end for sprints and plenty of low end for climbing up the hardest hills I have to deal with all year easily (well, easily-ish – 22% is still 22%). I also chose anodized black chainrings over bead-blasted aluminum (a change I like a lot):

New:

2013_Specialized_Venge_Comp_2020

Old:

20190914_164921

Next, I swapped out the Blackburn bottle cages for some lighter cages I picked up that, to tell the truth, looked better on the Venge than they did on my Trek – the newer styling just didn’t fit on my classic Trek.

Next up, I had to finally change out my pedals after six years. I’d worn the Look Keo’s out. I upgraded (and down-priced while dropping weight) to a set of iSSi carbon road pedals. With several hundred miles on them, they’re exactly as pedals should be – I don’t ever think about them.

Another new change for this season is a saddle upgrade. I switched from a Specialized Romin to a Selle Italia SLR Tekno Flow:

This decision was a little trickier to make. A Specialized Romin saddle was my first fitted road cycling saddle.  I’ve ridden one since I bought my Trek 5200… like mid-season 2012, and I love that saddle. The Romin is heavy, though, and I wanted to give a svelte little carbon number a second chance. Its first, last summer, crashed and burned. Now that I’ve got a little bit of experience, it wasn’t the saddle that was the problem, it’s how I had it dialed in that was problematic.

After dialing it in, I’m glad I made the change. I’ve ridden it on short, 20-mile rides, a couple metric centuries, several 40-50 mile rides and one 104-miler. I still have to get a lot more base miles on it, but I’m thoroughly enjoying the saddle while getting those base miles.  Of 199 weekend miles I rode 155 on the new saddle.

And after all that, I took the bike from 15.8 pounds down to 15.5

Perfect.

Day Two on My New Selle Italia SLR Tekno Flow

Day two on my new saddle was a day for getting it squared away, leveled and to test its limits as comfort goes. If I’m good at anything, it’s geeking out over tiny details.

For this test, I chose to wear my lightest pair of bibs with a chamois that’s… well, there isn’t much there.  They’re a nice pair of bibs, but I won’t wear them for a ride longer than 40 miles for the lack of adequate chamois padding.

I wanted to feel what was happening – that’s the only way to be certain I’ve got everything right. A thick chamois wouldn’t transfer enough… um… feedback. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

I started pedaling and noticed two things within the first minute. The nose of the saddle was just a shade too high, and the saddle itself needed to be lowered, maybe two millimeters. I made the adjustments and climbed back on. Perfect.

I spent the next 45 minutes in the same spot, pedaling away, watching Martian. I doubt I’ll have to change another thing after that… except that pair of bibs. Those won’t work on that saddle.

One final observation; that saddle probably won’t work on the Trek even though I’m running it through the paces on that bike. Not that I’d want the expensive saddle on the Trek, it’s just too lacking in padding to go on a bike that requires 23mm tires. The Venge, with its 25mm tires and carbon fiber wheels, is vastly more comfortable for such a stiff saddle.  In the end, I’ll put the Selle on the Venge and take the Romin off the Venge and put that on the 5200.

A New Saddle for the Stable; It’s LIGHT… and not for the Faint of Heart

I went to a bike swap meet with my wife, Sunday morning. A friend I ride with regularly had some high-end saddles, among other carbon fiber pleasantries, for sale and he offered one to me.

I was ready for something a little lighter than my Specialized Romin, but I laughed when I felt the full weight of it.  Folks, the whole saddle is 110 grams. Less that a quarter of a pound.  It’s less than half the weight of my Romin.

My friends, the Selle Italia SLR Tekno Flow.

The cutout is mighty big but… dude, 110 grams! My first impression was really… dude, seriously, does it matter?! 110 grams!  The Specialized Romin that came on my Venge is 273 grams.  So, when I put that svelt 110 SLR Tekno Flow on the Venge I’ll lose a third of a pound – on the saddle alone.

Last night was my first spin on it. Now, I can’t exactly say it was butter, because you don’t get that light putting padding on a saddle.

I chose a pair of old bibs with a thinner chamois so I could get an idea of how the saddle really felt.  Folks, I don’t care if it is a $400 saddle, if it hurts to ride on it I’d rather opt for something that’s comfortable and a little heavier – I spend way too much time in the saddle to mess with something that’s even a little uncomfortable.  The first few miles were a bit of an adjustment getting used to the huge cutout.  Once I got the fore/aft position figured out, though, it was surprisingly comfortable.  The best way to put it is it allows the hips to open up so you can stretch out.  With the plusher saddle I usually ride on the Trek, the way the saddle cradles you limits how low you want to get in the drops (most “comfortable” saddles are like this).  The Selle puts no limits on low – in fact, it encourages riding low on the hoods or in the drops.

Much more research will be required, but that saddle is absolutely staying in the stable.  Normally, after 45 minutes in the saddle on the trainer, my butt gets a little agitated – not quite painful, but I’m ready to be done.  While there was an adjustment period to the vastly more rigid SLR, there was zero agitation at the end of my 45 minute ride last night.  Interesting, indeed.  And did I mention?  110 grams!