Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Specialized Aethos: S-Works Frame

Time to build a new bike! I have been reading about the Specialized Aethos, and it seems to be an awesome bike that is different from others. Some of the features that attracted me:

1) Rides very well without being overly stiff nor flexible.
2) Extremely lightweight frameset, especially for a mass produced carbon frame.
3) Non-integrated cable routing at the stem and headset area, for easy maintenance.
4) Threaded bottom bracket for easy servicing.
5) Conventional round seat post, with external seat post clamp.

After doing lots of research, I decided to buy the frameset from the local Specialized dealer. I was able to find the colour that I wanted (Satin Flake Silver/Red Gold Chameleon Tint/Brushed Chrome), or Champagne colour in short.

With this bike, I can go full weight weenie, and source for components that are of high quality and also lightweight. Starting with the frame, follow me on this bike build process!

Specialized S-Works Aethos frame! No large S-Works logo splashed across the down tube.

The colour looks like pinkish champagne, which is very unique as I have not seen it on other bikes before.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Cervelo Aspero: PRO PLT Carbon Road Handlebar

On the Cervelo Aspero gravel bike, I have been using the PRO Vibe Aero Superlight handlebar since the beginning. At that time, the plan was for the Aspero to serve as a dual purpose road and gravel bike, as seen from the two wheelsets that I had.

Later on, after I got the Focus Paralane as a road bike, the Cervelo Aspero was converted to be a dedicated gravel bike with a front single drivetrain. One of the more recent change was to GRX Di2 shifters which work really well for gravel riding.

All the while, the handlebar used was the PRO Vibe Aero Superlight handlebar, which is OK for road riding but not really ideal for gravel. I have some issues with the design of the PRO Vibe handlebar, such as the teardrop bar shape in the drops, and the non-compatibility with standard Garmin computer mounts.

Therefore, after much consideration, I decided to change the handlebar to a more conventional round type, to improve the ergonomics and avoid all the downsides of the PRO Vibe Aero handlebar.

At the same time, I wanted to avoid or minimize the internal routing needed, as it takes more work to route hydraulic hoses and Di2 cables through the handlebar.

Finally I chose the PRO PLT Carbon Handlebar, which is relatively lightweight, with less internal routing and a normal round clamp section on top.

New PRO PLT Carbon Handlebar

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Shimano Hydraulic Disc Brake Pads: Resin vs Metal, With and Without Cooling Fins

Here is a detailed blog post comparing the different brake pads made by Shimano, for their hydraulic disc brakes. With many model numbers used for the different brake pads, it is confusing for almost everyone.

However, after studying and comparing many different brake pads, I think I have got it figured out. Each brake pad has a specific model number, such as L03A, or K05Ti, etc.

Breaking down this model number into the different parts, using L03A Resin as an example.

L: Shape of brake pad, to match different brake calipers.
03: Version of brake pad. Different revisions are cross-compatible if the other parameters are the same.
A: Aluminium backing material.
Resin: Resin material used for the pad, to reduce noise.

First letter denotes the shape of brake pad. L is the finned brake pad used for road brake calipers.
Other letters that I have seen are K (similar shape and compatibility as L, but without fins) and H (4 piston brake pads). There is also the J and G type for other brake pads, just to name a few.

This is followed by a number, usually 02, 03, 04, 05 and so on. It is just the revision number of this brake pad design. For example, L02A was recently replaced by L03A, which has a more durable resin pad material. Different revisions are compatible as the pad shape is unchanged.

After the number, the letter refers to the backing material. The backing is the plate that the brake pad is attached to. This can be made with aluminium, steel or titanium.
A: Aluminium
S: Steel
Ti: Titanium
C: Combined

Final part of the model number refers to the pad material, whether it is made of resin or metal.

With different backing materials, different pad materials, and different shapes, it gives rise to many different combinations and thus many different options. In fact, I think there are too many variations which makes it very confusing.

Here are 5 different brake pads that I have, to match different brake calipers.

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Dura-Ace Crankset Comparison: R9100 vs R9200 plus others

When Dura-Ace was refreshed from 11 speed to 12 speed, the crankset was changed as well. However, what I noticed was that the new R9200 crankset is actually heavier than the old R9100 crankset, and not by a small margin.

By comparing the individual parts of the crankset, we can see what are the parts that contributed more to this weight increase. Both of the cranksets have 50/34T chainrings, and are of 165 mm crank arm length.

At the end of this post, a brief comparison with even older Dura-Ace cranksets will be made. I kept some of these old parts of Dura-Ace crankset, just for collection's sake. For other comparisons, such as 9000 vs R9100, check this out.

Dura-Ace R9100 right crank arm, 303 grams.

R9200 right crankarm is 38 grams more, at 341 grams. Quite a substantial increase.

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Dura-Ace Cassette Comparison: 12 Speed 11-30T vs 11-34T

When I was upgrading the Focus Paralane from 11 speed to 12 speeds, I was not sure which 12 speed cassette I wanted. There were 2 options available, the 11-30T cassette and the 11-34T cassette. From the online specifications, the only functional difference was that the 11-34T cassette omits the 16T sprocket, and adds a 34T sprocket at the back.

11-30T Cassette: 11-12-13-14-15-16-17-19-21-24-27-30T
11-34T Cassette: 11-12-13-14-15-17-19-21-24-27-30-34T

It came down to a single decision: Whether you prefer to have the 16T sprocket for finer cadence control, or the 34T sprocket for easier climbing?

I was not sure which was more important to me, as both are good benefits to have. When I was using the 11 speed 11-30T cassette, the difference between the 15T and 17T sprocket can sometimes be annoying, although not a huge problem.

On the other hand, a wide gear range such as the one offered by the Sunrace RX1 11-36T cassette is awesome for climbing steep slopes.

In the end I got both the 11-30T and 11-34T cassettes as I could not decide, figuring out that I can always use the other cassette for another build. That gives me the perfect opportunity to compare both cassettes in detail, as I have done for so many other cassettes previously.

The box for the 11-34T cassette is much bigger, although the sprocket size difference is only between 30T and 34T.

Apparently there will be a 11-28T cassette available for even smaller gear steps, although I have not seen anyone use it yet.

Unpacked! Larger 11-34T cassette on the right.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Focus Paralane: Changing Rear Rotor Size from Diameter 160 to 140 mm

I am always swapping or changing parts around on my bikes, to try out different setups and components. The latest setup on the Focus Paralane all-weather commuting road bike is the 2x12 speed Dura-Ace Di2 groupset.

Now, I will change the rear disc rotor from 160 mm to a smaller 140 mm diameter. It will be the same XTR MT900 rotors, just in a smaller size. Reason is to common the rotor size with another upcoming bike, the Specialized S-Works Aethos, so that I can swap wheels easily if both have a 140 mm rear rotor diameter.

XTR MT900 rotor, in 140 mm diameter. I have previously used a 140 mm rotor on the Fnhon DB12 folding bike.

SS means it is the smaller 140 mm size, while S would mean 160 mm diameter.

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Focus Paralane: Garmin Rally XC200 Power Meter SPD Pedals

Recently I had the chance to test out a pair of Garmin Rally XC200 Power Meter SPD pedals. These are new power meter pedals from Garmin. What's cool about these pedals is the small size and the SPD compatibility.

Previous iterations of power meter pedals are usually rather large, and with a bulge at the pedal axle. For this version, Garmin has managed to shrink down all the electronics, such that it all fits inside the pedal axle! At the same time, the SPD platform is what I prefer, so that I can use it with my Shimano RX8 gravel shoes

I have previously been using one-sided crank based power meters, such as the 4iiii Dura-Ace or the 4iiii 105 versions. Being one-sided, it takes the power generated by the left leg, and multiplies it by two to give an estimate of your total power. This assumes that your power is equal on the left and right legs, which is usually not the case. If it is not equal, the total power will not be accurate. This is the case on the Focus Paralane, where the 4iiii 105 left crank arm is currently installed.

I decided to install the Garmin pedals on the Focus Paralane, since it is the bike I ride most often. Let's take a look and see how it compares to my existing pedals.

XTR M9120 Trail pedals, next to the Garmin Rally XC200. SPD mechanism looks similar.

Saturday, November 5, 2022

Focus Paralane: Switching to 105 R7000 Power Meter

It was not long ago when I completed upgrading the Focus Paralane to a full Dura-Ace Di2 groupset. However, on that groupset, there was one component which is not from the latest R9200 groupset, and that is the left crank arm.

I was still using the older R9100 left crank arm with 4iiii power meter, as it is useful to have power readings even though I am not training with the help of a power meter.

When I was using the Dura-Ace R9100 2x11 speed crankset, the right and left crank arms were matched as a set. Then, when I changed to 12 speeds, I only swapped the right crank to R9200, leaving the left crank arm still as R9100 with power meter.

Now, I plan to install the unused R9100 crankset on another bike, and I would like to move the R9100 left crank arm with power meter over as well. Therefore, I need a left crank arm for the Focus Paralane.

I actually have many spare left crank arms, as I have two different left crank arm power meters, the R9100 and also a cheaper 105 R7000 version. In fact, the R7000 power meter was on the Focus Paralane previously, when it was a 1x11 speed setup.

The 105 R7000 left crank arm with power meter is currently on the Cervelo Aspero, but I think it would be more useful on the Focus Paralane, given that I ride it more often and on the road, where power readings are more useful than when riding on gravel.

This gives me a rare chance to have both the Dura-Ace R9100 and 105 R7000 power meter left crank arms off the bikes, for a side by side comparison.

105 R7000 crank arm on top, Dura-Ace R9100 crank arm below. 
They are both of 165 mm crank arm length.

Different surface treatment, and the R9100 crank arm looks more well used given that it has been in use since it was first installed on the Canyon Endurace.

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Cervelo Aspero: Dynaplug Racer Pro Tubeless Repair Tool

Here is a tool to plug tubeless tires, easily and quickly. I first read about it on CyclingTips, and it seemed so awesome that I have to try it for myself.

My Cervelo Aspero gravel bike uses tubeless tires, and so this tool would be very useful if I ever encounter a larger hole that the sealant is unable to seal automatically.

This is the Dynaplug Racer Pro, which is one of the more expensive version. There are many other versions for road or MTB tires, and so on.

Dynaplug Racer Pro, with 4 tips for quick and repeated usage.

Non-descript black aluminium tube, along with a mini yellow brush to clean the inside of the plug insert when reloading the plugs.

XTR and Deore XT Trail Pedals: M9020 vs M9120, and M8020 vs M8120

Previously when I was just a beginner SPD user, I prefer the use of pedals with SPD on one side, and a flat platform on the other side. This allows me the flexibility to use SPD shoes or normal flat shoes on the same bike, depending on the type of ride. My favourite pedal is the PD-A530, which has been replaced by PD-EH500.

More recently, I realized that on some bikes, I will only ride them while wearing proper cycling shoes, which in my case means SPD shoes. This applies to almost all my full sized bikes, such as the Focus Paralane commuting bike and the Cervelo Aspero gravel bike.

In those cases, there is no need for a flat platform side on the pedal. Rather, it is best to have SPD on both sides of the pedal, so that I can clip in easily regardless of the pedal orientation.

After the bike fitting done at LOUE Bicycles, I eventually decided to use pedals of different stack height on left and right sides, in order to balance out the unbalanced leg length and hip rotation.

That is how I eventually ended up with so many different pedals, as I only need one side of pedal from each set, to get different stack heights. Anyway this gives me a chance to compare all these different pedals.

XTR PD-M9020
XTR PD-M9120

Deore XT PD-M8020
Deore XT PD-M8120

Packaging for the newer XTR and Deore XT pedals