15 Aug 2014

15th August 2014 A pudding or a banquet?

Friday 15th 55F, 13C, dead still and trying to be sunny. [7.15]

Proof of the pudding. Let the battle with Athena commence! Resplendent in the cloth of gold, the knight of the road leads the first charge.

The battle was so one-sided that a truce was swiftly called. The Athena won hands down over the Ultegra due to superior technology. Yesterday's changing problems with the trike up on the stand were completely absent on the road. I touched the lever and the chain dropped effortlessly onto the small ring. Regardless of the selected sprocket at the rear. It was well worth the expense of the Athena just to have that certainty. The Ultegra could never manage it convincingly. Not once in all the time I have had it fitted on the trike. Which usually meant I was stuck in 38/30 as my lowest gear. Not the most desirable situation on a loaded trike as the road veers up just ahead. It is never about getting up the hill anyhow. It is all about keeping the revs high in a low gear for efficiency and the conservation of my limited energy.

The Campagnolo front changers and levers aren't indexed. More like micro stepping without having to go through each step in turn. A firm push of the lever and it can change from the large ring to the small without even noticing the middle ring. The same is true going the other way.

The spring tension on the Ultegra often tried to trip the ratchet on the Chorus lever. While the Athena spring feels much stronger at the changer itself but offers much less resistance to the lever. Natural, I suppose, given they both come from the same manufacturer.

I did a 5 mile tour of the lanes trying every gear and was delighted with the gear change. Though only on the two inner rings. Sadly, the big chainring will require hand to hand combat. Until one, or both of us, become exhausted and give up the struggle. The cage feels much narrower on the big ring. And there's the rub.

I climbed a hill to be able to descend effortlessly on the big ring while I nipped up and down on the rear cogs. The micro adjustment suddenly seems completely inadequate. While, on the smaller rings, I could cover the entire cassette with hardly any need for minor cage correction. That which was required was both effortless and efficient. Any temporary rubbing due to a heavily skewed chain was minor and quickly resolved with a single click of the Chorus lever. The chain then ran completely silently.

Not so on the 48T biggest chainring. At times there was a very nasty graunch as I changed to the big ring. It took lots of lever fiddling to get it to play nicely. Going to higher gears almost suggested that the cage was pointing inwards at the back. Which it is clearly not. It is set up perfectly parallel with the large chainring. Twisting the whole changer around the seat tube might make things much worse on the other rings. I shall have to examine the cage and the chain carefully while on the large ring. To see where the rubbing is taking place. It may simply want the cage to be allowed to move slightly further out. I am already using the narrowest square axle [107mm] to ensure the changer can reach well out without excessive cable tension. Which was a constant problem with the Ultegra.

BTW: The veiled reference to the yellow t-shirt at the beginning soon proved the case for polyester against sweaty and horribly cold cotton. 12miles so far and I am delighted with the Athena front changer. If I can solve the large ring problem it is a winner, by a mile, over the Ultegra triple changer. I just need to see if I can get another click out of the lever for a bit more overhang in high gears. It works fine on the  middle and larger sprockets on the big ring. It just gets noisy on the small cogs.

I am still enjoying the newly freed up Trykit axle. I'd say the difference is worth 2mph at my normally effortless, steady cruising speeds. 13mph has become 15mph with 17 within easy reach for only a little more effort.  I've been seeing 30mph much more often than previously and 23-25 regularly when in a hurry on the flat.This is with the trike normally laden with heavy saddlebag, U-lock and a bit of shopping. I have had some quite enjoyable "white knuckle" moments on some very familiar, quite shallow descents. The trike keeps accelerating instead of maintaining a fixed speed. So I need more braking to take sharp, opposite camber junctions and the usually rough, supermarket ramps. I consider it my duty not to run over the white lines at junctions and this often requires some acrobatics. All good fun!

I managed four test rides today for a total of 36 miles. For my last ride I swapped the bare Schwalbe Duranos for Continental GP4000S. The latter had been hanging up in the trike shed since being replaced by the online dealer when Continental denied liability. I have run for thousands of miles on the Duranos without a single puncture. The Continentals felt hard, heavy and slow compared with the worn out Duranos at the same pressure. [90 psi]  I checked them both on the scales and they each weighed an identical 8 oz. I also weighed the stripped Trykit at 12.9 kg with 2 empty bottle cages and a mini pump fitted. I even removed the rack to get it down to a minimum. My legs were a bit achy and tired as I tried to ride as quickly as possible around the block to add another 5 miles to today's total. I wish I could say that the trike felt lighter but I hardly noticed the difference. This may have been due to my tiredness.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

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