Monday, February 1, 2016

My Top Bike Tips

by Gordo Byrn

Over the years, I’ve spent about $75,000 on bike gear. Here's what I’ve learned:

Used Bikes - If you pay more than the value of components then be sure to write the incremental value off over a single season.

Carbon Frames - I’ve cracked all but one of the carbon frames that I’ve owned. If you’re not getting a seriously sweet deal then buy new for the warranty protection. Also remember that most bike companies are very small businesses. Choose wisely!

Thin-Walled Metal Frames - It only takes me a season to wear out a thin-walled frame. There are various reasons for bike death: the back end gets “whippy” from big-gear work, I split open the tubes or I break the frame. By the way, I’m not that big -- 75kg with an FTP of 300w.

Cheaper Carbon Frames - There are some great deals out there and I’ve ridden a bunch into the ground! Generally, cheap frames last me for a single season. Even if you are a lower volume athlete, amortize your purchase price over three years, tops.

Group Sets - I’ve done best when I’ve bought the most durable group on the market. On the road, I’ve done well with Shimano Ultegra. I can find spares all over the world and it doesn’t break my heart when I trash stuff. I’ve been able to demo electronic shifting, and it’s sweet, but I’d prefer to top up my retirement account and stick with STI.

Wheel Sets - I’ve put tens of thousands of miles on my Zipp 404s with alloy rims. If I could only roll one set of wheels, this would be it. On my TT bike, I like the combo of the 303 front with the powertap disc rear (clincher with alloy rims). I can easily control the 303/disc combo in serious winds.

Weight - The lightweight gear (tubes, tires, components, frames, wheels, rims) always seems to break at the wrong time. My advice is to choose durability over weight. Having lost an Ironman by 100 seconds, and flatted, this advice is well earned!

Favorite bikes - There have been two stand outs over the years:

  • Cervelo P3-SL - An aluminium frame with outstanding stiffness and a great geometry for TTing. I had my best watts versus speed on this frame. The only frame that comes close is what my athletes can achieve on the Trek Speed Concept. Cervelo was far ahead of the pack with this bike. It was excellent value for money and you can still find them used.

  • Lynskey Titanium - When Lynskey set up on their own, Planet X did a bulk purchase from them. The folks at Planet X set me up with a titanium road frame and it’s held up incredibly well. With a set of clip-on bars, I’ve used this bike to win AG races as well as ride the length of New Zealand. If I was only allowed one bike for road riding then this would be it. 50/34 and 11-28 gives me a full range.

Hope this helps.


Gordo is the founder of Endurance Corner. You can find his personal blog at coachgordo.wordpress.com.

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