Saturday, August 25, 2007

some thoughts on HT vs FS on poor mountain test run

Hamilton had asked me about he weight difference between the HT and the FS in the poor mountain test runs. There are a bunch more variables than just weight/bike comparisons going on but here is some info:

The FS is built up pretty darn light, with the Stan's/WTB Laser disc lites and several other Weight weenie bits. it weights 25.52 with no bottles, tubes or CO2.

The HT has a heavier wheelset and a front disc. It weighed in at 24.71 with a C02 and no bottles. With a front V and using the stans front wheel it should be under 24. With some more WW parts on it the weight differences could be more than 1.5lbs.

IMHO, the Azure is a kick butt XC racer. It can no doubt climb pretty well especially in technical climbing. With a supple rear suspension setup (DW link!!) I was able to break my PR on a technical single track climb. However, I think one of the keys to unlocking it's secrets lies in the wheelset choice.

In the past I'd been running a heavy beater wheelset for training. I found that there wasn't any profound training affect gained by using a heavy wheelset. In fact it seemed to prove detrimental. The handling changes between wheelsets was noticeable which always required a ride or two to readjust to timing difference. And the training rides on the heavy wheelset felt real slow, which made me feel slow, which in turn create more of a negative feedback loop. When going to the light wheelset for races there really wasn't this WOW I'm so fast kind of feeling.

From what I've read training with a heavier wheelset is the equivalant of just riding in a harder gear.

The heavier wheelset changed the snappiness of the FS which started to create some negative feelings towards the FS sometimes. So I decided to just keep the light wheelset on there full time and overall I'm happier with it.

So all that was just to say that the Azure is a good climber and still a good choice for a hillclimb.

When climbing this Poor Mountain Fire road there are several issues to consider. Even though they filled in some of the rocky places it is still rough. With the HT (and a slightly higher tire pressure) I did notice many more instances of slipping out in the rear. So the FS does have an advantage in keeping power going down to the tires.

I need to do some more experimental runs with the HT with the light front wheelset, lower rear tire pressure and running it at a true time trial pace before I can draw some firmer conclusions in comparing the two bikes. In the last HT run I did over do it at the beginning and had someone to chase/ride with on the faster paved section at the bottom.

But one area that is noticeable is the bikes' reactions to changes in quick changes in pedaling cadence. The HT just reacts faster to quick increases in pedaling cadence which make it snappier. There is a lag type of feeling in the FS. The FS seems to ride faster overal with a slightly higher gearing/lower cadence ala Ullrich. The HT seems to ride faster with a lower gearing/higher cadence and snappier accelerating style ala Lance.

So what does this all mean. I don't know. The fact is this is a 1hr+ hillclimb for most of us. At that distance and that steepness and being climbing almost all the way, weight does start to play an issue. However the terrain of this road makes tire pressure, tire selection and suspension (Fork, and/or rear) way more of an issue than most hillclimbs.

Plus the ride down is way more fun on an FS than compared to a rigid HT. Going down on the HT with a front fork was pretty fun though and just reminded me of my early days riding out in CA on the fire roads.

Mountain biking is such a great sport, no doubt about that. Personally it has taken me places and built up my soul/spirit more than anything in this world with the exception of my wife and kids.


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