Prognostications and other thoughts

Monday, March 27, 2006

Review: Ritchey WCS Carbon Cranks

(click for large image)
My neighbor is Steven Parke, GM of Ritchey Design. This weekend, he was nice enough to drop off these sweet new carbon cranks this Saturday for some beta testing. They feature 50/34 crank rings (compact gearing).
General Impressions
The cranks are very elegant, similar in finish to the FSA Carbon Super Lights. With rings, without bolts, they weigh 565 grams.
FSA Super Light: 515 grams
Dura Ace 9-speed: 575 grams
IRD Mosaic Carbon C: 545 grams (claimed)

Ritchey and IRD are really the only companies around that support the "Octalink" bottom bracket design found in 9-speed Shimano drivetrain products. FSA no longer makes octalink-compatible--offering ISIS or their own crank/bottom bracket combination.

There is an oblong section of unfinished material where the pedals fit; this is so one mold can be used for 170/172.5/175 cranks. These are 175's, so the "unfinished" area is the most exaggerated. They also feature a steel inner ring for extended life but no increase in weight.

Compact Vs Standard
How does compact gearing (50x34) compare to standard (53x39)?
50 x 11 = 123 inches, compared to 53 x 11 = 130 and 53 x 12 = 119.
34 x 23 = 40 inches, compared to 39 x 23 = 46, 39 x 25 = 42, and 39 x 26 = 41.
Essentially, 50/34 translates to 53 x 11.5 and 39 x 26.5.
Here is a gearing chart.

On the road
I was pressed for time and didn't adjust the front derailleur. Regardless, the cranks shifted well. I was particularly impressed with the large chain ring; shifts were definite and quick, something I wasn't really expecting. The cranks seemed as stiff as the FSA's and stiffer than the Dura Ace cranks. Absolutely no creaks; the FSA's chirp a bit.

Q-factor. The non-drive side seems to have more width than the FSA. Drive side appeared similar.

Climbing. We decided to climb Kings Mountain road; fairly difficult 4.5 mile climb. I am not the smoothest "spinner" and prefer to push a bigger gear. With this set up, i was typically in the 34 x 19 (48 inches) which is even lower than my previous bail gear of 39 x 23. I went down to the easier cogs a few times but felt most comfortable in this gear. Result: new personal best up Kings Mountain of 26:54, 2 seconds faster than prior. Maybe there is something to this!

Descending. I did miss the 53x11 on descents. This being said, I've been slowing down a bit with old age, so maybe these are just the ticket.

Overall-very nice crankset. Of course, wish they were a little lighter, but I'll put some more miles in to these and see if the climb times continue to improve.

Escape of the lomster!

Our lombster escaped from the fish tank sometime last night. Poor fella spent the night scrambling around. He seems to be doing alright back in the tank.

UPDATE: Lombster R.I.P.
So I put the crayfish back in the tank and his little feelers were twitching away; it looked like he was getting rehydrated. He even moved a little. 45 minutes later, he wasn't moving at all. He received an appropriate burial in the back yard.

The "lombster" was actually a blue crayfish, fairly common pet store pet. We got him at ~2 inches long. He was very happy in the tank and molted 4 times. He was 5 inches long (7 inches including pinchers) at the time of his demise.

This is the "eulogy" from my dad:
Dear Sad little family of Meins up on the hill.
Lost a magical being who entertained us all with his naughty ways and the thrill
of seeing him clamber out of his den to seek out his kill
though more often than not it looked like a pill
Magical colors had he(or she?), it lived mostly under the Rock,"Look PopPop:under the Wok!" "Not now Lily we'll go out later to walk, not now.." "NO POP POP the Lombster, under the WOK.!"
I'll miss the little guy who grew so fast and pleased us a Lot.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Snow in the Bay Area #2

March 11, 2006-lotsa snow dumped last night. Going up Kings Mountain road was DICEY.
Here's a video taken with the Casio Exilim camera-first upload on YouTube. Both are very cool technologies.