Where the rubber and my ass meet the roads

I have  just made some part changes on the R002-SS machine in the form of a new set of tyres and a different saddle. When I was putting the together the bike, I had pre-ordered a bunch of parts in anticipation of the build, and tires were on the list of those parts. Being that I had ordered the 23mm width wheels, I wanted  25mm tires to take advantage of the wider rims and increased rubber patch on the road.

Unfortunately, the Continental Ultra Sports I ordered in the 25mm size showed up as 23mm wide tyres. When I had called the vendor to ask what happened, they informed me that the 25mm’s were out of stock and wouldn’t be restocked for at least a month or more. So, I went ahead and begrudgingly kept the 23mm’s.

So, in keeping with my ‘frugal’ nature, I was holding out for a sale or closeout on some decent 25mm tires. Then, last week nashbar was having a sale on Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Slick Tires. I ordered myself up a pair of the 700×25 folding tyres at $14.99 each plus $6.99 shipping, for a very reasonable $36.97 in total!


Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Slick Specs:

  • WEIGHT:   251g
  • SIZE:             700 x 25
  • TPI:               60
  • BEAD:         Folding

TPI wise, the Vittoria’s come in at 60 threads per inch per tyre and are also, obviously, a bit thinner than the 84 TPI Ultra Sports. With about 459 miles on the R-002/R-022 and the Conti Ultra Sports,  I can attest that they have performed very well. When cornering hard, grip is predictable and very good. Wear is moderate as well. As far as the tire profile is concerned, I was surprised to see that the Vittoria’s are about a 1/16th of an inch taller than the Ultra Sports.

What this means in the way of handling and feel remained to be seen. I have not yet rolled on the new Vittoria’s. I do have confidence in the Vittoria’s to perform as good or even better than the Ultra Sports, and I will put the Vittoria’s to the test for sure.

Another item I had pre-ordered was the saddle and being the cheapskate that I am, I went ahead and purchased a Vader 104 for a measly $8.64 on ebay. It is surprisingly, a very decent saddle. The Chinese made seat is comfortable, looks good and of course, uber cheap! The down side? a whopping 320 grams!  Well, I figured it was time to start seeking out some different and lighter options. Right then, off to my go-to site, ebay once again. I had missed out a few good auctions of some Selle’s and Fizik’s. But did manage to snag a Selle San Marco Spid for $36 bucks with free shipping. It’s used, but barely and looks virtually new. The Spid comes in at 210 grams, a good 110 grams lighter than my nine dollar Vader!


As far as comfort goes, believe it or not, the Vader just edges out the Selle. Hard to believe, I know. But the Selle is fairly comfortable at that. Since I have a rather fat-free ass…my sit bones need some decent support! Finding a good saddle is one of those trial and error deals that could take a long time…in fact, it could even take one years! A decent seat that is not too heavy will almost surely be a compromise, like everything else on a road bike. You want all out comfort? Okay, then if a 20lb bike doesn’t make recoil in horror…go for it!  While I’m not trying to be completely ‘weight-obsessive’ I do want to keep this bike in the 16 +/- pound range…

A click, a creak; could it be the crank or the seat…and so goes another mile and another bump in the road

Finally was able to sort out a few nagging issues I have had since the completion of
the build on the R002 SBK. Shifting was a problem from the get go. No matter what
adjustments I made to the low, high, the B stop and barrel adjuster, I could not get the
middle of the gears to shifty smoothly.  As the chain would always hang up, at mid-point.

One problem contributing to the shifting ills, was that I had installed the chain backwards. (WHAT?) Yes, turns out, the Shimano 6701 chain is directional! Who knew…well, not me. I only discovered it by accident while cleaning the chain. I noticed that there was only lettering on one side of the chain. So, I looked at some other chains and thought something might be up.  A little research on Shimano’s site and bingo.  Blunder # 1 discovered. While this seemed to help slightly,  the shifting was still not as fluid as it should be.


At this point, I relented and sought the help of an expert. My local mechanic, who happens to be the same guy who taught the Park School classes I attended earlier this year. He solved the problem within 10 minutes- but of course he did. That is why HE
is the expert and I am the novice…

There had also been a click or a creaking noise coming from the lower half of the bike on the downward pedal strokes. At first I thought it might be the pedals. After removing both sides, lubricating them and tightening them back up, the noise still persisted. Perhaps it might be the chain ring bolts or the maybe it was the crank arms I thought.
So back to youtube to watch some tips and tutorial videos on FSA crank arms and BB30 bottom brackets.

As I watched a particular video, the mechanic stated to remove the washer after unbolting the non-drive side arm. Huh? I don’t remember installing a washer. Out to garage to rummage through my build parts. I didn’t see anything that resembled a large wave washer, as in the video.  Hmmm. Okay, so a bit of forum and website research revealed that indeed you must install the washer on the FSA crankset, between the arm and the BB. After taking the crankset off and discovering that there was no washer I was hoping this was the source of the noise problem. (blunder #2) Off to the shop then to buy me a washer! I re-installed the crankset with the appropriate washer, tightened everything up and crossed me fingers.

I threw a leg over the top tube, clipped in and went for a short jaunt around the neighborhood. So far so good I thought…with each pedal stroke, there was a nary a sound except the change of the gears. Wala! Problem solved. So the bike is quiet, the gears are humming and I am happy. With only about 412 miles on the R-002 not much else to report on. I was going to write up a 500 mile report-review, but I may just wait until 750 or 1000 miles.

Until then…cheers




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,



“Country Roads explored on a Sunny Spring Day…”




Projekt Archetype-X R002 (Test Session III)

The Projekt Archetype – X Bike concluded its third testing session of the R-002
on Saturday, April 12th. Weather conditions were fairly decent, with temps in
the 60’s, dry roads, partly sunny skies and a light wind.

I headed for roads with rolling terrain, flat stretches, small climbs and a few fast
twisty sections. I deliberately drove the R-002 hard in to the corners and kept pushing
the front end much more than the previous two outings, with the end result being a
less ‘twitchy’ response. Front end grip is good and the steering feedback does not
seem quite as vague as it had initially felt.

The 39 mile test ride has returned significant results on setup as I continue to gain
confidence riding the R-002 Supersport at increasingly faster paces. I was able to attack
much harder through both technical, tight and sweeping corners- subsequently, I have
garnered a first place  and a second place in two very fast segments of esses I often ride.


This third test session has allowed me to adapt to the chassis a bit better and capitalize
on the bike’s potential, after making two modifications from the previous tests. The first
change made was to lower the headtube-stem stack height 5mm’s. (replacing the 10mm spacer with a 5mm spacer)

The second change implemented was installing a 90mm stem in favor of the original
80mm stem. (which equates to a +11.1% increase in stem length) Though often it only
takes slight changes to effect two-wheeled vehicles. These modifications have narrowed the distance from the center of the bar to the front axle, which prior to the changes had been 5-5/16″ or 134.93 mm’s. The measurement is now at 5-1/16″ or 128.58 mm’s. (a decrease of approximately 4%) These two key changes have provided the R002-SS with a bit more stability, which lends itself to a higher level of confidence and a more content rider!


For those not too familiar with two-wheeled dynamics, you might question what stem length or height has to do with steering of a bicycle. Well, it turns out (no pun intended!) that stem length has a subtle effect on the radius of the turning arc. The longer the stem, the greater the length of the arc. And it is the opposite for a shorter stem. The end result is that the steering ‘feels’ a bit slower with longer stem length and quicker with a shorter length, which some, (myself included) might describe as a ‘twitchy’ feel or response)

So, after 3 official test outings and 8 total rides for approximately 182 miles, I am becoming somewhat satisfied with the bike. The setting changes and data I am extracting is proving to be valuable for a good compromised setup. My aim to is to continue refining the machine to get the maximum comfort and performance out of it for the rest of 2014 and beyond.

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.


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.


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.

Archetype-X | R002 – SS Build update III

Just a quick update…

The R-002 frame is still in China and not going anywhere because of the Chinese New Year.
For whatever reason(s) the frame did not ship out in early January, as I was told so. Now the earliest it might ship out is February 16th (fingers crossed). If the package leaves then, it may arrive before March, but I am not that hopeful. It has been very, very frustrating to say the least.

So, right now I am estimating a mid March-April build. I really hope to be riding the R002 – SS by mid April early May. Stay tuned…