The Tire Pressure Revolution

“Of all our research on tires, the most revolutionary finding is this: Tire pressure has almost no effect on a tire’s speed.” –  “This finding has revolutionized our understanding of tires. In the past, we all thought that higher tire pressures made tires roll faster.”

Thanks to Jan Heine, Editor of Bicycle Quarterly for this excellent and informative article

Off The Beaten Path

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Of all our research on tires, the most revolutionary finding is this: Tire pressure has almost no effect on a tire’s speed. We did not believe it at first, either, so we’ve tested it numerous times. It’s been confirmed numerous times, with different methodologies.

The real revolution is not how you use your pump… What has totally changed our riding are the wide, supple tires, which only work because of this new insight.

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First, let’s look at the data. Here is one experiment: We ran three different 25 mm tires (a supple clincher, a supple tubular and a harsher-riding clincher) at pressures from 4.5 and 9 bar (65 and 130 psi). These tests were done on very smooth asphalt (above), a surface where high pressures should offer the greatest advantages.

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There is no relationship between tire pressure and performance in the tested range. (Lower and higher pressures are unsafe to…

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Ekay Composite Wheelset | Tested & Ridden

*Update* 22/01/2014
By the end of 2014, I had ridden just about 3,400 miles on the Ekay wheels and to date, 3,500.

Back in October of 2013, when I was piecing the R-002 Supersport together, I took a chance on Ekay Composites carbon road wheels.  I had done a fair amount of research on various bike forums and cycling websites and then crossed checked with the countless ebay sites that sell Asian carbon frames and wheels. That’s when I finally figured out that there were only a handful of actual manufactures but a ton of resellers. Once I boiled it down, I decided on the Ekay’s and well, I have not been disappointed since.

They arrived at my door in NJ from Xiamen City, China for the total price of $443.00 usd. No, that’s not a typo folks. Less than $445 bucks. Now, Originally, they were listed at $459.00 usd. I politely negotiated and my offer was accepted. Their customer service was prompt, very courteous and friendly. It was a very easy and pleasant transaction, which may surprise many a roadie…lol.

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Ekay front

To date, I have put on approximately 3,200 miles on the wheelset, with not one single issue or problem. The Ekay rims have proven to be good all-around, all weather wheels. So far I have gone through one set of oem cork pads within about 3 months (ditch them, as they are fairly useless in real world conditions) then decided to make the switch to a Swissstop(R)/Reynolds(F) combo after about 700 miles. The carbon specific rim pads have nearly 2,500 miles on them with plenty of pad life left.

The red 291sb Novatec hubs are laced to the 38mm, matte, 3k weave carbon clincher rims with red, aero bladed, ss spokes. The wheel/hub/spoke package has provided good rolling consistency all year long. The set without skewers/tubes and tires weigh in at 1,486 grams. Not super light, but respectable to say to the least.

To ease a bit of my worrying and appease my curiosity, I brought the pair into my local shop after about 1,800 miles, just to have them checked. I normally do a spoke tension check every week and they were all tight as drum, but I wanted to double check the trueness. Somewhat surprisingly, the wheels were good and ‘true’ despite the many lumps and big bumps during their 3,200 mile season.

With the varying terrain of my local and regional roads, the Ekay’s have proved to be good all-around wheels. Acceleration and ‘spin up’ feels quick and responsive, with little to no lag in speed and the stiff carbon rims provide solid climbing capability.

Scrubbing off the speed and getting on the binders on descents is okay, as is the case with most carbon wheels, the braking is not as crisp-assured as it is with aluminum wheels. But with the Swissstop/Reynolds combo, stopping is reliable, though not stellar and braking is at least consistent. Not surprisingly, stopping power is a bit less reliable in the wet conditions. Though once you get used to the braking characteristics of carbon wheels, it’s not really an issue at all.

There is definitely an identifiable feel of ‘lightness’ to carbon wheels in general and the Ekay’s are no different. They are also noticeably stiffer and give that ‘planted’ feel when cornering at moderate to high speeds and I certainly do my fair share of high speed descending!

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On the negative side though, in very windy conditions the 38mm deep rims do catch a fair amount of air and can move the bike around- especially the front. There is also a noticeable feeling of drag on the wheels both from gusty head and crosswinds. Anyone who tells you there is no issue at all with strong head and especially strong crosswinds with anything other than a standard 20mm deep rim, is just selling you a load of bullshit…

Overall, I am very pleased with the Ekay carbon wheels. So far, for the money and performance they are a winner. Although I cannot speak to their long-term durability and-or performance, I suspect they will pass the test. For overall reliability, performance and Benefit-to Cost Ratio, I rate the Ekay Composites 4 stars.

Wheel Specs:

  • Material: Toray 700 full carbon fiber
  • Rim size: 700c x 38mm
  • Rim width: 23mm
  • Spokes: Pillar Alloy 20-F / 24-R
  • Hubs:  Novatec 291sb
  • Weight: 1486g (pair)

 

 

R002 – SS | Rollout and Shakedown Run

The official rollout and shakedown run of the Black Blade R002 Supersport took place
on Wednesday, March 26th at Valley Park circuit. First ride, though short provided a
limited amount of feedback, but the 2014 machines chassis setup and geometry seem
decent enough to work with going forward. This was the first time that the bike had
turned it’s wheels in any significant way. As expected, there were the obligatory teething problems. Again, this was anticipated but that is what testing is all about.

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My saddle, brake lever/hood  settings were loosely based off of my previous bike, so
I knew that dialing these settings in would take a bit of time. First few pedal turns I could
tell that the saddle height was nearly perfect, but the fore/aft setting was a bit too close to the center of the bars. That perception was confirmed up once I measured my knee to the ball of my foot ratio with a plumb bob. So, after moving the saddle slightly rearward about 1mm from the center of the seatpost and aligning the brake hoods to my liking I put a few more miles on the bike.

The range of adjustments with the saddle fore and aft, saddle height, stem length
and rise, though limited will all play a significant part in getting the setup as close to correct as possible. While balancing  the overall ‘fit’ and ‘feel’ of the machine. Initially, the steering feels twitchy, not sharper but ‘nervous’ and certainly not as comfortable as my previous Pro-Lite Galileo, which is extremely stable on high-speed descents. It will take some time to sort out this issue and get used to the feel of the R002 – SS chassis.

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I am confident that I will be able to improve upon the inherent performance of the
R002 – SS and find a good compromise with the setup over the next few weeks.
Another longer test ride is planned for the following week.