Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Save a few watts!

I was a little behind on the bike tabloids and sat down with Bicycling tonight. Armed with a six pack of Franziskaner Hefeweizen, I told myself I could have a beer everytime "saving a few watts" or "ceramic bearings" were mentioned. I'm now two beers in to the second six pack and it doesn't appear to be letting up anytime soon. I've already called in sick for tomorrow and had to hide my credit card lest I order all new ceramic bearings for my bikes in a drunken frenzy.

In the marginally-better-but-not-really ol' days of Bicycling "saving a few grams" was the buzzword vs. "saving a few watts". I remember lusting over a pair of Cook Bros. racing cranks when bigger hills still required a dismount on my part, it was sheer craziness and I probably honestly thought the bling would be as effective as simply riding my bike. Still, I was flabbergasted to see the suggestion to spend $109 on a set of Enduro ceramic pulleys to "save a few precious watts". It would be more effective to burn a $100 bill and let the tears you shed lighten the load and make you go faster.
The sticker shock on the $109 pulleys were enough to make me sober again, but I had to down another beer to cope with reality when I found out that Competitive cyclist has them for $199.99, zoinks! $199.99 for two little pulleys that are going to get covered in dirted-up grease? Are they cleanable with Simple Green? What about when the little teeth get chewed up by the chain? I can picture someone showing up to a group ride with $199.99 pulleys on a carbon bike only to get shelled by someone rubbing Shimano 105 pulleys on a mid-90s Giant.

So I wondered, does anyone ever read Bicycling, see parts like that, and think "oh hell yeah, I gotta have that!"? Does a purchase like that happen after a whole lot of alcohol? Does it come with a whole bucket full of remorse or better yet, a Bontrager Speed bottle and cage for $70? Do the writers actually believe what they are writing?

I'm just taking a guess here, but I've put together a couple of other myths that are about as believable as a $100+ set of derailleur pulleys making you faster:

* New shoes make you run faster

* Drinking alcohol makes you a better driver

* Your pants shrunk in the dryer

* Herpes allows you to be beautiful and happy with a love of biking and kayaking

* Adding a performance filter to your car yields 5hp

* Your wife isn't cheating on you

* Rogaine will make your hair grow back


Linda said...

Back when I was racing (yes, you can say "Oh crap, here she goes again..."), all it took was one kid with rich parents that bought him or her anything they wanted to show up with some item like $200 pulleys, except back then it was stuff all Campy and 24 spoke tied and soldered wheels and silk tires, and we all then HAD to have them. My coach, the legendary Mike Fraysse, kept telling me nothing would ever make me faster if I wasn't putting in the miles training.

And guess what? He was right...what a shock.

Anonymous said...


When I was young, quoting Bicycling made me feel like I was really into the sport and knowledgeable. Now it makes me feel like an idiot.

I read Bicycling the way I used to read National Geographic as a kid - look at the pretty pictures while in the bathroom.

jeff said...

When I was young I wasn't allowed to look at pictures in National Geographic in the bathroom.

Cyclin' Missy said...

The driver's insurance company confirmed the repair quote with my bike shop and agreed to pay for the repairs - new Easton wheel, handlbars, fork and shifters - $930. (This was more than the fair market value of the bike.) Unfortunately, I had the bike shop quote the derailleur for me over the phone, so it never ended up on their written quote. But the derailleur works, it was just scratched up. So in the end, I'm pretty happy with the outcome. I probably could have pushed for more, but I'll be glad to get my bike back in full working order with minimual cost out of pocket.

Thanks for asking!

Pontius Pilate said...

"Developed using Computer Fluid Dynamics to slice through the wind, in certain cross wind situations using this bottle and cage combination is actually faster than using no bottle at all."

Gotta have one. Now.

BikeLemming said...

For $140 I'm getting doubles, to mount behind the seat!

The Mayor of Drunkingham said...

I'm still mad about the last post, and not being able to take my herpes kayaking only makes it worse.

BikeLemming said...

Man, that last post was perhaps my lamest post ever...

Psyclepathic said...

I have a ceramic coffee mug, and I must admit the contents go down fast. I call it training equipment, because there's a picture of a train on it (it also says Victor, so I'm sure to win... at something)