Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Pay Up, Sucker: All That Speed's Not Gonna Buy Itself

In yesterday's post we took a trip back in time, all the way to the very dawn of the chain-driven symmetrical-wheeled bicycle:


Clearly we've come a long way in the last century and a quarter.  I mean sure, they mostly had the whole bicycle thing figured out back then, but just imagine what a miserable experience cycling was without crucial innovations such as wheel counterbalance weights:


You know that lurching, heaving, out-of-control feeling you experience once you get your bike up to speed?  Of course you don't.  Nevertheless, you should add the unpredictable ride quality of improperly-balanced wheels to your list of imaginary stuff you can't feel, like the "beefiness" of your bottom bracket or the "carbon layup" of your plastic frame.  Oh, also, without wheel counterbalances, you could be losing up to one (1) watt of power at 30mph:

Silca claims that upgrading a pair of wheels with the SpeedBalance kit will save just over one watt at 30mph — slightly more savings than upgrading that same wheelset to ceramic bearings, the company claims.

This is ironic, because it's a scientific fact that the sorts of Freds who pay $36 for wheel counterbalance weights are wholly incapable of sustaining speeds anywhere close to 30mph unless they're traveling downhill.*

*[WARNING: Do not attempt to ride your bicycle downhill without using wheel counterbalance weights.  Attempting to do so will result in speed wobble and death.]

By the way, can you imagine how insanely fast you'd be on a bike equipped with both a SpeedBalance kit and ceramic bearings?**

**[WARNING: Do not attempt to ride a bicycle equipped with both a SpeedBalance kit and ceramic bearings.  Attempting to do so could turn your bicycle into a perpetual motion machine that continues to accelerate infinitely until you disappear into a black hole and emerge in another dimension.]

And if you're not convinced, just watch this video, where he spins a bike's wheel while it's on a stand:


I stopped watching at "tungsten slugs," but as far as I'm concerned the real takeaway here is that carbon wheels are fucking stupid.

If you really think about it though, the SpeedBalance kit is nothing short of genius, because while it's absurdly expensive for what it is (and what it is is nothing), Freds will still think it's a bargain because, you know, it's only $36.  That's less than $40!!!  How could you not buy it?  That's why I'm pleased to announce the launch of my new wheel consultancy service.

Yes, for a mere $150 (that's per wheel) I'll perform a full balancing.  Will it make any kind of difference to you out there on the road?  Well, no, but when I put your bike on the stand you'll marvel at how the valve stems don't wind up at the bottom, which is exactly the sort of detail that screams "performance" to your fellow Freds when you're prepping your bike in the parking lot before the Fondo.  Of course, that fee doesn't include the price of the weights, which of course I sell at a considerable mark-up.  I also don't perform wheel truing, or flat repair, or hub overhauls, or really anything at all that requires any sort of expertise or that will make an actual difference to the function and performance of your wheels and bicycle.  (For that, you'll have to go to something called a "bike shop," which is like a website with a front door.)

Not only that, but for an additional $50 per wheel I'll custom-curate your tire pressure based on your preferred terrain and body mass index.  (Please note this service is subject to a $75 per wheel gravel upcharge.  Please supply 500 grams of the gravel you'll be riding for expert analysis.)

I figure I can get away with this for a few years, at which point the wheel companies will get wise to the whole thing and start selling pre-balanced and pre-inflated wheelsets with proprietary valves, so when you need to air them up or change your pressure for a specific event you have to send them back to the factory.

But of course even the most perfectly-balanced and expertly-inflated wheelset won't yield optimum performance if you don't use it with the right equipment--especially on gravel, that magical road surface which has led the industry to a whole new world of marketing opportunity:


Sure, by now you already have the gravel-specific frame, and the gravel-specific wheels, and the even the gravel-specific shorts.  (Yep, that's a thing now.)  But do you also have a gravel-specific suspension fork?


Watching the fork track over fine grit and gravel reveals just how much work the fork is doing — it feels like you’ve triple-wrapped your bars. The effect of this on longer rides is that hand fatigue is greatly reduced.

Oh, really?  It feels like triple-wrapping your bars?  Well here's a crazy idea:

Why not just skip the goofy fork and triple-wrap your bars???

There, I just saved you $790, not to mention looking like an idiot.  Seriously, with that stupid thing on your bike even recumbent riders would be pointing and laughing.

So now you've got the balanced wheels and the bouncy fork, but don't close your wallet just yet because there's still some untapped performance out there!  Indeed, I was amazed to learn recently from a friend that Shimano is now offering a proprietary shoe-and-sock combo:


S-Phyre Socks

To round out the footwear package, the S-Phyre RC9 and XC9 shoes are sold with color-matched socks. Shimano studied the shoe-sock interface (yes, it sounds a little crazy to us too!) to create a system that it says helps promote efficient pedaling through optimal ankle angles. An ankle guide is woven into the socks to ensure efficient pedaling rotation through the 360-degree pedal rotation and the socks have an anti-slip heel for better power transfer. We presume the socks are compatible with other types of shoes but not recommended for sandals.

Yeah, that's right Freds, it turns out you've been hemorrhaging watts at the ankles and heels.

Of course, for the ultimate in weight savings and power transfer, you should skip the footwear altogether and surgically attach the cleat right to your foot:


I'm going to start training right now to become the world's finest Fred farrier.

60 comments:

Ted K. said...

168. In the second place, one has to balance struggle and death against the loss of freedom and dignity. To many of us, freedom and dignity are more important than a long life or avoidance of physical pain. Besides, we all have to die some time, and it may be better to die fighting for survival, or for a cause, than to live a long but empty and purposeless life.

Joseph Morley said...

Game on!

dop said...

Vermont cheddar scranus

Anonymous said...

1 watt here, another watt there.....it adds up. Can't wait til the aftermarket gets onto the SlipperySox bandwagon

Anonymous said...

I want clicky things in my soles

Whizzer said...

top ten!

Schisthead said...

Weight weenies paying to add weight to wheels.

Priceless!

N/A said...

Holy shit, Fred socks. #whatsocksyourunning?

James said...

Socks are never recommended for sandals.

Winky said...

I just drill holes in my $4,000 crabon wheels until they are balanced. I put a little bit of tape over the hole. You know, for marginal aero gains.

youcancallmeAl said...

Please tell me you're making all this up!!!

N/A said...

"Socks are never recommended for sandals."

It's like you don't even know Rivendell exists!

Stump said...

It's got flexible wings. Where have I heard "its got wings" before??? hmmm

King George III said...

I've been hemorrhaging watt, what?

Grump said...

The idiots who pay $36 for Silca wheel weights are the same people who will pay $350 for a Silca Super Duper Track pump (which is the same as the Silca Track pump that you could buy for $29, 30 years ago.
PS. Carbon tubular wheels aren't stupid, when you are racing. Carbon clincher wheels are stupid, all the time.

bcstractor said...

All that money for carbon rims and they forgot to balance them?

wishiwasmerckx said...

You can get the same effect of preventing heel slippage by placing 3" of athletic tape horizontally across the inside back of your cycling shoe.

You're welcome.

Unknown said...

Talk to Rapha. I'm pretty sure they would happily add your wheel service to their catalog.

Snake Oil Salesman said...

Snake Oil

Anonymous said...

Ted K claims First place today. And then starts his post by claiming "in the second place". Don't be so greedy Ted

Frickus Rungus said...

I just sextuple wrapped my bars and it feels like dual suspension.
Thanks for the tip Wildcat!

Freddy Murcks said...

I don't know if I have ever been more ashamed to be a recovering neue Fred. Jeebus tits on a cracker!

Hey uber Freds - Skip the wheel counterbalance weights, the Lauf fork, and the oh so very fey Shimano shoes and lighten the fuck up. I bet you'll save at least a watt and it won't cost you a penny.

Hee Haw the Barista's marketing douchebag third cousin said...

Proprietary socks?

Brilliant!

billyhacker said...

Frickus just said "Sextuple"!

clyde said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kraig said...

I .... Initially I read that as a shoe-and-shock combination, and just for a second, I was hoping it would be a thing.

You know, match your shoe to your 30 mmm lefty lauf lofty lifting limited loaded paris-roubaix rock shock SL.

Then I wept

N/A said...

Oh man, can you imagine the embarrassment of losing a sprint because your sock game is too weak? The shame.

I went for a ride on Sunday wearing wool socks and ratty hiking shoes that I mow the lawn in. I could barely even turn the pedals on my bike. Also: boxers and cargo shorts. It's kind of a miracle I could even keep the bike upright.

grog said...

Scranus butter

leroy said...

Tungsten slugs --> Banana slugs --> Banana seats.

I don't know what that means, but my dog assures me it's science and inevitable.

Personally, I think he's still feeling the effects of last evening's karaoke homage to the psychedelic '60s.

His Jefferson Airplane medley seemed overly trippy.

Lieutenant Oblivious said...

If a Fred spends $36 for the Silca wheel weights and has his wheels balanced, will Fred Woo Hoo Hoo speed increase from 46 mph American to 64 (46+18) or 82 (46+36)? My personal Woo Hoo Hoo speed is well South of 40, I just asking.

leroy said...

My dog signed me up for the New Jersey Gran Fondo this weekend.

I will impress no one in the parking lot.

But the ride may be televised. My dog mentioned that he's hosting a viewing party in our living room while I'm out.

Anonymous said...

Ted is really sounding like a threat now. I hope he doesn't hurt anybody.
FUCK TEDK

brother yam said...

I saw the Tungsten Slugs open for Letle Viride in '98 at Alpine Valley.

McFly said...

I'm so behind. I just now got hyrolick breaks for the Kona. A buddy gifted me the stockers off his Speciali*ed (Formula C1's). He would not accept payment so I feel obligated to mow his lawn. ONCE.

JLRB said...

no sock puppets were harmed in the creation of today's blog post

recumbent conspiracy theorist said...

Do I get a discount on your wheel consultancy service since my front wheel is a lot smaller than the back one?

Dooth said...

"Unusual looking suspension fork for gravel riding"...don't think so. It's a fooking ugly suspension fork for gravel riding. Still, put that baby at MoMA next to Duchamp's wheel and Dada Freds would rejoice.

bieks said...

I'm a little disappointed the gravel-specific shorts don't have skid plates on the hips, but that will give us an excuse to replace our 2016 year's gravel shorts when they upgrade them for 2017.

Anonymous said...

I'm not an engineer but when you put a 160lb rider on a bike and the wheels on the ground I think that probably also eliminates the vibration as well. also, that guys shirt is stupid.

Duchamp's Fork and Wheel said...

Keep that ugly-ass gravel fork away from me.

Anonymous said...

I just threw out all my stupid, mis-matched, wattage sucking socks.

N/A said...

I'm going to start spraying my feets with vegetable oil spray, that'll increase my watts by a lots!

Somethings Afoot said...

Sock and shoe interface never crossed my mind before.
I feel like such a heel.

1904 Cadardi said...

How many watts am I leaving on the table with my Hanes cotton socks from Target. They are $2 a pair so that feels like a splurge.

clyde said...

I am shocked you did not report on the new live streaming bike computer/gps/camera - The Exlplova X5 - I am not kidding about the name - how could any Fred be without that!

Ernest Richard George Earles said...

When I saw that stupid gravel fork, I had to lauf out load.

Ernest Richard George Earles said...

loud...Blast it!

Otis Adolfo said...

Is there a counterweight kit for the plastic bulldog mojo I superglued to my stem? Or will super socks provide the stability I'm looking for?

Sax Huret said...

A suspension equipped bike won Dirty Kanza this year; I imagine we're going to see a lot of stupid suspension equipped gravel bikes for awhile as a result.

bad boy of the north said...

#whatweightsareyourunning.....when will the madness end?

Pound Foolish said...

I had to make an appointment to get my wheels balanced because there was quite a weighting list.

babble on said...

Naaaaaah Na Nah. Road Queen is the world's finest Fred farrier. It's true. Just ask Recumbent Conspiracy Theorist.

Um, and I'm sorry, but why the fuck would any Fred worth his cred add any sort of WEIGHT to his bike?!? Add weights indeed. ReefuckingDICKulous.

Heh, best thing to prevent road wobble is to grip the bike with these here muscular thighs o'mine. Full. Stop. t's always always always smooth sailing no matter how close to Escape Velocity I fly, s'long as that top tube's held fast between my thighs. But youze guys already get it... :)

Arizona hillbilly said...

Snakes don't squeak

Paul Heckbert said...

Girl in Louisiana crashes bicycle into back of dumptruck, and dies: http://www.wdsu.com/news/local-news/new-orleans/raceland-teenager-riding-bicycle-killed-in-crash-with-dump-truck/41556012

Mayor Adam West said...

My GOD! Someone's stealing my wattage!

Frederique Farriere said...

I am zee only "Fred Farrier" all you ozzers must cease and dezeest.

JLRB said...

Crabon wheels are marginally more durable than paper mache wheels

BamaPhred said...

Scoff if you must, but it's not easy to be DFL.

Freddy Murcks said...

Right o', Bama. There is a very fine line between DFL and DNF - and the longer the race, the finer the line becomes.

bad boy of the north said...

maybe my new b17 needs balance weights...on your right.