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)

 

 

Zhongwei Carbon Fail

My HB-003 carbon handlebars have met with untimely demise…after a 17 mph tumble. Relatively straight forward spill, no drama, no injuries. But the Chinese bars did not fare well at all. I put it mostly down to a lack of QC and poor layup. Let’s hope my frame and fork are made a tad better…

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Carbon Fiberous…Breakous!

I have gone ahead and made the switch to 6061-T aluminum bars for now and the foreseeable future. Thankfully, no other damage to the bike in the fall.

It was my first crash in 11 years of ridding on the road and I suppose it had to happen eventually.  No amount of skill can cover when the luck runs out! The front tire caught a rut in the pavement and before I could clip out and try to save it, I was up and over and then on my ass.

 

Vagando…

 

The tick of cogs, passing links of chain to lower gears…amidst the sound of a spinning
hub and whirling carbon wheels

The rhythm of the road;
my flesh, all of my blood and bone…together in harmony- this mortal man and
refined machine

Atop high-tech composites, molded and shaped  into swooping, aero-lines,
I sometimes wander and too, I do often wonder. The Ride, like Life is fleeting,
always…

 

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“Country Roads explored on a Sunny Spring Day…”

 

 

 

The Lake and the Duc | Test Day 2

Bernards, NJ – 05/04/2014

Nothing remotely exciting, just more of the same…some moderate riding around the
Ravine Lake loop to sort out the R002 – SBK.  The second test session gave me still a
bit more feedback and I was able to push a bit harder on the descents and tight corners, with slightly more confidence. I now have a good idea as to what changes I need to make
to the bike in order to dial it in a bit closer to my liking.

 


parked next to the 848 Evo..

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.

Projekt Archetype – X (Build update V)

Build-a-Bike: The Chronicles of Archetype – X, building a road bike from the frame up…

And so it was in early 2013, I began researching and mining information on “open mold”
carbon bicycle frames direct from China. For those not in the know, this is a growing and
future trend. Why? For one, the frames are much less costly and two, most of the
manufacturers are making frames for the big-bike companies out of the same factories.

So, after months and months of scouring through forums, youtube reviews and ebay feedback, I felt I had enough data to take the next step. Thanks to my very generous and long-time best friend, most of the build cost would be covered. Mainly because he could not believe one could build up a carbon fiber bike cheaply and two, because he wanted to see what type of bike you could build for less than 2k…

So, let’s go back to October of 2013, this is when I had first ordered the R-002 carbon road frame from UIS-Zhongwei Composites in Shenzhen. Cost of T-700 carbon frame and fork? $360 USD. Now fast-forward to over 5 months later, the build has finally come together- though fraught with many teething problems. From incorrect sizes being sent to blemished parts, then defective and even some broken pieces that had to be sent back for return/replacement…the project has been very trying and revealing indeed.

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As I mentioned earlier, this project would entail building the bicycle up from the
carbon fibre frame and fork. I procured all of the ancillary parts via ebay and Amazon.
From the 38mm x 23mm Ekay Composite wheelset, to the Ultegra 6700 drivetrain down to the anodized bolts. Since I had never assembled a bicycle before, I knew there would be some stumbling blocks along the way. Well, stumbling blocks is an understatement. Most of the build went okay, attaching the brake calipers, the derailleurs, the crank and the bars were straight forward. But as the build progressed, things became more difficult.

Routing the cables was a chore, due to the bottom cable guide being, well a piece of
crap. First discovered that the internal nut that the bolt threads into was broken.
So, out came the crankset…more disassembly. After about a half hour of trying to jam
a small screwdriver to ‘hold’ the nut in place while trying to tighten the bolt was a royal
pain in the ass. Some thread locker applied and it seemed to hold, but it’s broken.
Which sucks, because it is absolutely a QC issue. I will say, for all the positive aspects
of the frame and the cost, UIS’s QC is lacking in several areas.

So back went the crankset. Then I discovered that the front derailleur cable was binding
in the plastic cable guide! Un-fucking believable. After several attempts, no dice.
The shifter would not budge. So, out came the fucking crankset AGAIN! Oh man…
was I aggravated. I had to file the guide opening in order to get the cable to slide back
and forth. The whole debacle with the bolt and the nut were rehashed…then back went
the crankset one more time.

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The last bits of the build were down to adjusting and dialing in the derailleurs. The
front went fairly easy, but the rear was a different story. My friend and I wound up
working on it most of the day last Saturday, at the end of the day, we figured out that
the derailleur hanger was just slightly ‘out’ of alignment. The good news was that there
was a spare hanger that was included with the frame. So after swapping it out, it was
back to adjusting…between setting the High and Low settings,  the B tension and the
barrel adjuster, it proved quite a task to get the shifting right. Finally then, on last Sunday morning the bike was nearly complete. All that was left to do was to apply the graphics that I had made up by bikenames.com. Total cost for the bike as pictured was $1,748.00 and weighing in at 16.92 lbs. That works out to an amazingly low figure of $103 per pound (cpp)

R-002 SS Specs

I still have not yet ridden the bike beyond a block yet. I’m hoping to get a shakedown run
in soon, to be able to dial the bike in. There’s getting the saddle position just right, the fore/aft and the tilt. Then the aligning the shifters-brake hoods on the handlebars and some other small details that really make a huge difference when riding. I’ll follow up with an unveiling video and an official test ride report.

Archetype – X | R002 – SS Build (part IV)

Well, work has finally begun on the R002 supersport build. I began by cleaning up all the
openings in the frame and taking off the rough edges on the head tube, seat tube
with some light grit sand cloth and a scotchbrite pad.

Then I made sure the bottom bracket threads did not have any aluminum shavings.
I gave it a quick cleaning with a nylon (not metal) tube brush, ensuring the FSA
MegaExo BB cartridge would thread on with no issues.

This coming week, I will install the crankset, chain, then the headset, stem and bars.
There is an issue with the seat post and the frames seat tube. For whatever reason,
there is some ‘play’ between the two. It looks like I will have to shim the seat post.

The last step will be routing the cables, putting the finishing touches on and buttoning
the bike up for the first test ride…I’m hoping that will be around the 21st or 22nd.

Ciao!

“I think it moved…”

Arrivee’ today! Oui….

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No, not THAT! Geez, the bike man, the bike.

Finally, my frame has made its way state-side! It shouldn’t be long now…
before the R-002 arrives on my door step. Stay tuned for the build…

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And in some related news, I have also signed up for the Revolutionary Ramble.
I chose the 100 mile, 6k of ascent option. I cannot wait to put the R-002 to the test
on a long ride.
Ciao!