Saturday, August 26, 2017

Canyon Endurace: CF SLX Disc 8.0 Di2 Introduction

One of the happiest moments is when I get to unbox a brand new bike! Regardless of whether the bike is my own or a friend's, we are all happy for each other. It also helps to have friends around when you unbox a bike, as they will all gladly help to assemble the bike, followed by taking turns to go for a spin. I feel that riding a new bike with friends is the best way to share and spread the joy!

As you can already tell from the title of this blog post, it is about a new bike. However, I just want to elaborate on the background and reason for getting this new bike, before introducing it.

My first road bike was the Merida Scultura 5000, and it was a great bike to ride. When I first got it, it was a partial Ultegra 6800 groupset with mechanical shifting. Along the way, I made many modifications and it eventually ended up as a full Ultegra Di2 groupset. I have no regrets getting that bike, it was a bike that fitted me well and I really enjoyed that bike.

However, my heart was attracted to the latest trend and technology in road cycling: Disc brakes. This trend of road bikes using disc brakes started a few years back, but the technology was not yet mature. 4 years ago, SRAM was the first to introduce road hydraulic disc brakes on the Red 22 groupset. This was swiftly followed by Shimano, who introduced the non series ST-R785 hydraulic road shifters with Di2 shifting. However, the axle standards, rotor size standards and brake caliper mounting standards had not been standardized yet, so there was a wide variety of specifications.

Earlier this year, the new generation of Di2 road shifters with hydraulic braking was finally revealed, the Dura-Ace ST-R9170. The main difference for this generation is that the shifter size has been greatly reduced, until it is almost similar to the standard mechanical versions.

From left to right: Hydraulic braking + Di2 shifting; Mechanical braking + Di2; Mech + Mech; Hydraulic + Mech.

I felt that the time was right to get a road bike with hydraulic disc brakes, as the road disc standards have finally been more or less standardized. Upgrading the Merida is not possible, as a frame and fork with disc brake mounting is required. Also, disc brake specific wheels are also required. Therefore, it makes more sense to sell away the Merida road bike, and get a new bike that is specific to road hydraulic disc brakes.

I considered many brands and models of road bikes, using my own set of criteria to screen through the wide range of road hydraulic disc brake bikes.

Di2 electronic shifting
12mm front and rear E-thru axles
Flat Mount disc brake caliper mounting

I also considered getting a bike frameset and building it up myself, versus getting a full bike. It all comes down to the value and features of each bike model. While I was shopping around for this new bike, I had already sold my Merida road bike. This was not an issue for me as I still have many other bikes to ride in the meantime.

It came to my attention that Canyon was having a sale, in celebration of the Tour de France which was going on at the same time. A Canyon frame is on my shortlist, but then I found that some of the complete bikes were going at a great discount. I did some calculations, and the result was that it was better value to get a complete bike from Canyon, as the price also includes the wheelset which can be quite costly on its own.

One benefit of getting the complete bike is that I will have a bike ready to go, instead of having to wait for all components to be available before building up the bike. If not for the huge discount on the complete bike, I would have gotten the frameset instead.

Canyon has three main types of road bikes, the aerodynamic Aeroad, the lightweight Ultimate, and the comfort based Endurace. All these three types had good discounts going for hydraulic disc brake models with Di2 shifting, although none of them had the latest Dura-Ace ST-R9170 groupset.

Finally, I decided to go with the Endurace model, as it has a less aggressive geometry compared to the race-ready Aeroad and Ultimate models. Also, it claims to be more comfortable due to the special suspension seatpost. For my kind of riding, I don't need the most aerodynamic frame, as my cycling outfit and gear is not aerodynamic anyway. The Ultimate frame is more lightweight, but the more aggressive geometry is not for me.

After much comparison and calculations, I decided upon the Canyon Endurace CF SLX Disc 8.0 Di2. This is the top grade Endurace frame, as denoted by the SLX tag. The normal price for this bike is USD 4499, which is quite a big amount to pay for a bike. As it was on sale, it had a USD 900 discount, which is a huge 20% discount. This lowers the price to USD 3599 and makes it more reasonable and achievable.

Note that if you are buying a bike from Canyon, you need to take into account the shipping costs which are quite substantial. Also, you will need to pay for GST, which is also levied on the shipping charges! Even after adding all of these, it is still priced lower than other bikes of similar specifications that you can find in the local bike shops.

Within 1 week of placing the order, the bike has arrived! This quick delivery is because the bike was already in stock, and it came via UPS.

Unboxing the bike!

The bike came in a special bike box which claims to protect the bike better. It was really quite well protected, with all loose parts neatly velcro-ed together and safely cushioned. Assembly was quite straightforward, as only the handlebar, front wheel and seatpost need to be installed. All cables are already connected.

Canyon Endurace assembled and ready to go! I really like the bold Kerosene Red colour scheme.

As an introductory post, I will highlight all the components on this new bike, just to take note of it in the stock condition. I already have plans to upgrade this bike, but it will take some time, so I shall ride it as it is in stock condition and enjoy it first!

Endurace CF SLX frame, which is the top grade of road endurance frame that Canyon has.

Model number for this frame is R36. Geometry for this frame is almost the same as the Merida Scultura 5000.

Comes with a full Ultegra Di2 6870 groupset

Ultegra 6800 11-32T cassette for wide gear range, together with the mid cage Ultegra Di2 6870 rear derailleur.

Di2 wire for the rear derailleur exits neatly from the back of the dropout

Another view of the 11 speed 11-32T cassette

Ultegra Di2 6870 front derailleur, and the mid-compact 52/36T Ultegra 6800 crankset. 

Together with the 11-32T cassette, this bike has a wide gear range of 31.5 to 132 gear inches. I think that this wide gear range was purposely selected for this bike. With the highest gear combination of 52/11, this bike can descend as fast as any race bike. Yet, when the gradient gets steep, the low gear combination of 36/32 will come in really useful, especially on an endurance bike where it will be used on a wider variety of terrain.

Big wide bottom bracket for maximum power transfer

Press fit bottom bracket gives a nice integrated look to the frame, although it will be harder to remove it to access the inside of the frame.

Fizik Aliante R3 saddle with a unique shape, on top of the equally unique VCLS seatpost that can flex rather alarmingly. The seatpost will be studied in more detail in a later post.

Seatpost clamp bolt is hidden neatly behind the seat tube, and covered by a rubber cap. Very clean and integrated design.

Inside view of the seat tube. The external clamp bolt pushes on a plastic sleeve which clamps the seatpost inside the seat tube.

The ST-R785 road hydraulic shifters, which I studied in greater detail in another post. I also changed to these shifters on the Avanti Inc 3, and I like them.

Junction A is bolted to the underside of the integrated stem+handlebar

These connectors on the hydraulic hoses are the J-Kit connectors which allow for quick connection of the pre-bled hydraulic hoses.

This bike comes with a one piece integrated handlebar, which means that the reach and angle of the handlebar cannot be adjusted. What you can adjust is only the stack height, by varying the number of spacers under the handlebar.

Hydraulic hose for the rear brake and the Di2 wire runs into separate holes on the head tube.

Now for the non drive side view of the bike. Normally the non drive side has nothing much of interest, but since this is a disc brake bike, this side is also very interesting.

Non series Flat Mount hydraulic disc brake calipers, BR-RS805. Also comes with Ice-Tech brake pads for improved cooling.

Front hydraulic hose runs neatly inside the left fork leg

Rear hydraulic disc brake caliper is also the Flat Mount type

Rear hydraulic hose also runs neatly inside the left chainstay

Top quality disc rotors, SM-RT99 with Ice-Tech cooling fins. 160mm sizes are used for the front and rear.

Good quality Reynolds Assault Limited Edition wheels, with Continental GP4000 28mm tires. More details about the wheelset will be shared in another post.

The 28mm tires measured 31.5mm when mounted on the wide rim. I wonder if there is any disadvantage here?

Quick release lever for the 12mm E-thru axles. What is innovative is that the angle of this lever can be repositioned easily after tightening the axle.

There is no quick release lever for the front as it shares the same lever as the rear E-thru axle!

These E-thru quick release axles are quite innovative, as they are unlike anything I have seen before. Usually, E-thru axles thread into a nut on the frame, and the nut position needs to be adjusted so that the lever will point in the desired angle when tightened.

However, for this design, the nut angle does not need to be adjusted. After threading in the axle fully and achieving your desired torque, you can still adjust the angle of the lever separately from the axle.

Pull the lever outwards lightly, and the lever position can be adjusted. If you need to remove the whole lever, just pull harder and the whole lever unit will detach from the axle. This lever can then be moved to the other wheel if you need to loosen the other E-thru axle. For more details check out this link.

For weight weenies, you can even leave the quick release lever at home if you want, as you can use a standard 5mm Allen key to loosen or tighten the E-thru axle!

That's all for the introduction of this bike, lots more detailed info to come once I have time to study the components further!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Brompton M6R: MKS Promenade Ezy Pedals

With the stock Brompton crankset upgraded to the more robust Tiagra crankset, the next component to change would be the pedals. I was told that if the left pedal is not unfolded before unfolding the Brompton, there is a chance of scratching the frame during unfolding.

In order to eliminate this risk, I decided to change the pedals to the removable type, which will allow the pedal to be stowed away when folded. This also makes the folded package even more compact as there is no folded pedal on the left side crankarm.

The most popular and reliable removable pedals are made by MKS, and their quick release (QR) pedals are found on many folding bikes. Before swapping the pedals, let's take a look at the stock Brompton pedals.

Brompton left side folding pedal. A rather nice folding design, although there will be load passing through the plastic body when loaded in one of the directions.

Remaining width when the left side pedal is folded. This picture is misleading, as the pedal body is actually mostly behind the crankarm, with only the bearings exposed on the outside.

Left side pedal folded, with oversized bearings used to take the load.

The right side pedal is not a folding pedal, as there is no need to. When folded, the right pedal will be tucked in beside the front wheel, and does not stick out from the side or back of the folded bike.

Now, for the new MKS QR pedals, I chose the Promenade Ezy pedals as it has a simple design that will match the Brompton.

MKS Promenade Ezy pedals. The Ezy refers to the removable version of the pedals.

All the parts that come with the pair of pedals. There is a nice little pouch to hold the pedals if you need to.

Pedal washers will be needed if you have a recessed area on the crankarm, or if you want to adjust the Q factor of the pedals.

Yellow stoppers that clip onto the QR adapter, to prevent accidental release of the pedals.

Pair of MKS Promenade Ezy pedals weigh 355 grams

Brompton stock right side pedals...

Brompton stock left side folding pedals, very heavy for a pedal.

Stock pair of Brompton pedals, at 411 grams.

Before installing the pedals, I thought of checking the crank arm offset of the new Tiagra crankset, to see if I need to adjust the pedal position by adding pedal washers. The idea is to make sure that both pedals are located equidistant from the centre line of the bike, so that both left and right feet are positioned symmetrically.

To simplify measurements, I just used a vernier caliper to measure the distance from the Brompton main frame to the outside of the crank arm, where the pedal attaches. This method is shown below.

If you want to know the Q factor of the bike, just add up both measurements (left and right side), and minus off the diameter of the main frame.

Right side measurement is about 96.9mm

Left side measurement is about 99mm.

This measurement result is quite strange, as the right side is less than the left side. I had already placed a spacer of 3.6mm on the right side bottom bracket, and yet the right side measurement is less than the left side. I checked multiple times but always got the same result. Could the bottom bracket shell of the frame be offset to one side? Could it be due to the crankarm?

The outer diameter of the main frame is about 45mm. With these info, we can calculate the Q factor of this bike.

Q Factor = 96.9 + 99 - 45 = 150.9mm

This is after adding 3.6mm spacer on the right side of the crankset. The results show that in order to make the pedal position more symmetrical, I should add the pedal spacer on the RIGHT side, since the measurement is lesser than the left side.

Pedal spacer thickness is 1mm each. I shall put just one spacer, even though two will balance out the pedal position perfectly. Q factor is increased to 151.9mm.

Comparing the platform width of the stock right side pedal with the new MKS pedal. Almost the same, except for the missing bridge at the end of the MKS pedal.

For the right side pedal, there is no need for removal at all. The yellow stopper is thus installed on the right side to prevent any accidental removal.

MKS pedal adapter on the left side Tiagra crankarm, after the MKS pedal is removed. As the left side pedal will be removed more frequently, I opted to leave out the yellow stopper.

After folding the Brompton, the left side MKS pedal will be removed from the adapter for compact folding. As there is no yellow stopper on the left side pedal, I just need to take extra care during installation to make sure it is engaged properly with the pedal adapter.

What do you do with the left side pedal after removing it? If you are thinking of carrying it in a bag or somewhere else, there is a risk of leaving the left side pedal behind, separated from the bike. Luckily, there is a solution!

MKS QR pedal holder! Designed to hold onto the loose left pedal after removal.

This pedal holder will be installed on the rear hub axle, on the left side.

The pedal holder is designed to be fixed at a certain angle, ready to receive the pedal.

MKS pedal clipped into the pedal holder

After folding, the pedal holder will hold the left side pedal together with the bike, to prevent the pedal from being left behind somewhere.

With this new pair of MKS pedals, there is no need to fold the left side pedal anymore. Instead, the left side pedal is removed and clipped into the pedal holder.

Although it takes a bit longer to remove the pedal compared to folding the pedal, I prefer this as it eliminates the risk of scratching the frame, while it also makes the folded width a bit smaller. Also, the MKS pedals have a full metal construction for strength, as compared to the stock Brompton pedals which has some plastic parts on it. It is nice to use good quality pedals as compared to the lower quality stock pedals.