Saturday, September 19, 2009

Rather Than Lose Five Pounds, Rider Spends $10k Making Bike Five Pounds Lighter

A few weeks ago, Dan McKutcheon’s 2006 Scott CR-1 weighed a scant 15.63 pounds, “But it could be lighter,” argues McKutcheon.

Though McKutcheon, by his own admission “could lose a few pounds,” he embarked on a quest to lighten his bicycle rather than himself.

“I figured by the time I get through joining a gym, or buying some workout equipment – a StairMaster or some crap – I’d be looking at the same amount it would cost me to totally pimp out my bike,” explains McKutcheon.

“What would I rather have in a couple of years? Some treadmill or a goddam BowFlex collecting dust, or a bike that’s the envy of every other cyclist? I’ll take the fly-weight bike, thank you.”

In his quest, McKutcheon was soon scouring for suggestions and shortly thereafter, made contact with Bike Tuning Parts of Germany, a specialty manufacturer of “pretty much everything out of carbon.”

“B-T-P was able to help me out with the fine details – like a 6 gram bottle cage, aluminum plates for my Speedplays, and carbon lever mounting hardware. But I had to go big on the stuff that makes the biggest difference.

“Take the wheels for instance. I mean, Bontrager Race XXX Lites are nice, but they’re no Lightweights. There’s four grand right there, but I save, like, 400 grams.

“I even got a Selle Italia C64 saddle. It’s uncomfortable as hell – like sitting on a goddam carbon brick – and cost $469, but at 64 grams? Are you friggin’ kidding me? If I could charge the guys on the coffee ride just to touch it, it would pay for itself in a couple of weeks.”

After several weeks, and roughly $9,700 dollars spent upgrading nearly every component and accessory on his bike – from ceramic bearings and titanium screws, to carbon fiber derailleur clamps and brake arms – and even drilling out his chainrings for that eighties retro look, McKutcheon assesses the progress.

“Practically the only things that aren’t carbon on this bike are the tires, cables, a few screws, and my ass – though you could argue that really, that’s made out of carbon, too.”

With all of his upgrades complete, McKutcheon’s rig now tips the scales at just under eleven and a half pounds, or over four pounds lighter than it was originally. However, at 192 pounds, McKutcheon is still unable to ride his bike.

“After all that, I’m left with a bike that would crumble beneath anyone weighing more than one sixty-five. Now I've got to lose even more weight!

“Damn!” exclaimed McKutcheon, simultaneously crushing his empty Pabst can.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Re-inventing The Wheel: The Meyviq Arse-S (satire)

Guest blog author: Mark Steckline

Finally, a wheel that does more than roll down the road! The new Meyviq Arse-S has broken all the rules. The new wheel not only succeeds in rolling like your typical wheel, but has the capability of literally "launching" you down the road, creating an intense boost when you least expect it. Adding this wheel set to your quiver of high tech components will certainly make you the talk of your weekly group ride. You will soon be giving performances that no one will soon forget.

The technology underlying the Arse-S is a closely guarded secret at Meyviq. But when contacted by this reporter and pressed about the ability of their wheel to "explode" out of corners and "dissolve" while hugging the tightest corners while flying down a mountain road, hubris took over and they felt they had to share more of the technology surrounding this wheel.

Meyviq says the Arse-S is developed as a compression/tension carbon fiber spoke rather than the traditional tension spoke system. When designing the Arse-S, Meyviq said they were looking for something more than a wheel that just spins predictably. To do this, they ultimately had to rely upon design based upon the physics of string theory and particle physics, which allows Meyviq to incorporate random generated variables into wheel performance. Explaining how the new wheel is designed, Meyviq spokesman, Rip Meoff, states "Over the next few years, string theory and particle physics are really going to become more standard in wheel and overall bike design.

Both string theory and particle physics include random components that give the new Arse-S everything that a traditional wheel includes, plus that little extra "je ne sais quoi" that boosts performance. Clearly, when you base your wheel design on the same math used to explain black holes and predict time travel, you have a wheel that has tremendous potential. While we still don't understand all of the math underlying the new design, the benefit is clear: the possibility to travel through time should the wheel hit the "sweet spot" of speed, vibration, rider weight, and proximity to a 1500 foot dropoff"

Knowing that Meyviq was on to something radically different, they knew they also had to make a "quantum leap" in the quality control systems for the new wheel. Mr. Meoff continues, "Meyviq used to base quality control on traditional methods, such as six sigma, and other time tested quality control mechanisms. We began to question how applicable these methods would be to a wheel that is based upon mathematical models that few people understand and in many ways are not yet fully developed or supported in the scientific community. The problem with using our old quality control process was that we were often left without any real world failures to study. Thus we never really knew what could fail or how bad things could get. We believe this is what the cyclist is really concerned about -- what is the incremental risk to get that incremental performance edge? Not some six sigma, whatchamacallit evaluation that ensures failure is remote.

As a result, we decided to move solely to mathematically derived product testing. Meyviq solely relies on equations to prove our products will work, albeit in a random manner. This saves Meyviq considerable time to market and placed the product out on the road much sooner than if we would have used our traditional quality control approach. We believe this is what our customers want: Performance, but with the potential for the random ability of time travel. We think we've built that into the Arse-S wheel system."

Along with this new approach to quality control, Meyviq has instituted a replacement policy for the Arse-S wheelset. In the event the wheel does randomly fail, customers can return the wheel to Meyviq and they will replace the wheel within six months. "In the interim", Mr. Meoff explains, "you most likely will be recovering from a few bumps and bruises anyway, so an immediate replacement policy really didn't seem to make sense to us."
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