07 December 2009

Santa comes early

After the terrifying loss of my MOST Chall rear wheel to Route 246 last week I decided to shop around and see what was out there. First store I hit was STAGE1, which is the store I purchased the Pinarello from, although not Positivo approved I'm calling "Grandfathering" on this one and the purchase of anything Italian should automatically be approved and encouraged by the team, along with flamboyant hand gestures, dodgy accents (Michael, Ludwig & Tom seem to have this perfected) and “Mullering” your bike for any technical issues.

Anyway back on track, STAGE1 is going to see if the wheel will be covered under the warranty as it’s only about 6 months old and to be honest a rim should last longer than that. The store believes the last pair died due to me having too much power, talk about an Ego Boost! So with that in mind I was after a “Machin Proof” set of wheels. Having looked around the store none of the wheels on display caught my fancy. (Basically the bank manager was with me and they didn’t take her fancy)

So off we went to Sagami Cycles in Mitskiyo. Now this store is great and is also run by an ex pro mechanic, although I’m not sure who or what he did in the past but he knows his stuff and after what he did to my beloved FP3 I’ll listen to anything this guy tells me.

After consulting with him he offered me two choices for my needs. A pair of 2010 Aksium SL wheels or the new Shimano 6800 Ultegra SL wheels both of which had very high “BLING” factor but came at a very reasonable price.

Now the wheels will be used for the daily commute to Tokyo as well as training rides out in to the mountains, they need to be light but stiff and able to take the punishment of hill climbing. In the end I was recommended the 2010 Ultegra SL wheel set, which although slightly more expensive were the ones I was leaning too, especially after I was told that they are also very good for racing on.

With the new wheels under each arm I headed for the cash register only to find Kaori, the bank manager and my official sponsor paying for the wheels, she turns smiles and mouths “Merry Christmas”.

Guy’s there really is a Santa!

Last night I built the wheels up with a Shimano Ultegra SL cassette, now I love my 11-23 range that offers 11-12-13-14-15-16-17-19-21-23 and its perfect for 98% of the ride to work but I found that I need more on Wada-Toge and other mountain climbs. So with this in mind I stripped down my other Ultegra cassette that offered a 12-25 gear range.

Combining the two I now run an 11-25 with 11-12-13-14-15-16-17- 19-21-23-25. Also for some of the major hill climb races I tempted to purchase the rear block consisting of 21-24-28 gears. A lot cheaper than buying a whole new cassette and allows me to mix and match the cassette as I need it.


TOM said...

Wise choice James, you won't regret these Ultegra wheels; I'm using the same set on my steel bike and love their performance...robust and stealthy (ratchet noise is completely absent!).

BTW, I heard before one can buy parts of a cassette (to freely combine & interchange) but have never actually seen them on sale. This 21-24-28 block of 3 wheels got my interest. How much do they sell for?

James said...

Hey Tom,

Rode the Ultegra wheels this morning and now I understand what you ment by "Stealth" these were absolutely silent! Nothing...just the tyres hissing along the freshly laid tarmac.

They are also very, very Zippy. Great wheels and a bargin at the price! As for the blocks I think you will have to go to the LBS and make an order.

David L. said...

I think the Ultegra (6700 -- I don't see a 6800 in the Shimano 2010 gear catalogue?) wheels are probably a great deal and have classic Shimano quality, but I did see that they are 20 rear and 16 front spokes ... so I think I may get more use out of the 36 spoke hand built DT Swiss/Ultegra/Open Pro Ceramic from Nagai-san, though it cost closer to 5-man, whereas the 6700 lists for 4.1-man.

Gear question

1. Should I get a set of power cranks? www.powercranks.com ?

2. If I want a second road bike for use next year as my "training" machine -- with the rock solid wheels, the power cranks, and a comfortable but not race-fast set up, what is the best solution? I think maybe get something on the web -- a quality non-branded carbon frame (or aluminum frame w/ carbon seat stays/fork), and build it up with Ultegra, the new wheels and the power cranks?

Pepe form Spain said...

I have read you hada a most wheelset and they were broken, isn't it?
I'm thinkig about buy them but I would like to know an opinion cos I haven't found any review anywere.
I would like to know if they are strong enough for a big guy and bad roads.
thanks a lot!