Sunday, February 26, 2012

Back in the saddle again

The last couple weeks haven’t been too motivating for riding, but that’s all changed now. 

After the last ride where I wrenched my knee I wasn't too excited to push Virgil around. I gave it a few days off and went for a short test ride where I could also meet another Boulderite who is doing the Dirty Kanza. Adam has many more years in the saddle than I do and was able to do the first 130 of the DK200 in 2010 before knee issues forced him to bail. I was happy to have someone to learn from as well as ride with.  Alas, my own knee wasn't quite healed yet and I bailed early.

Later that week I learned my frame would be finished in just a few short days. Aaron let me know that he had the tack welds done and he would be doing the finishing welds that (last) weekend. I came by Sunday and got to learn a bit about welding Ti as well as watch the process.  (thankfully I didn’t burn out my eyes).

Knowing the frame would be ready soon, cleaned and prepped the wheels for the guys at ProPeloton to finish the build as soon as the frame arrived. Lucky man  that I am, the frame actually arrived while I was in the shop delivering the wheels! Chris was kind enough to pencil me in for the final fit the next afternoon. There wasn’t much to the final fit since I had already dialed in most of the geometry before the build. Essentially the only tweak necessary was getting the fore/aft of the saddle finalized. This gave me just a brief window to go for a quick test ride. The bike was amazing, but one thing was off – the rear cassette.

The fault lies in my thinking I got a deal. I had originally ordered and paid for a new 11-28 Ultegra cassette, but what arrived was an 11-26 Red cassette. Since the Red cassette costs about three times as much as the ultegra and it’s a fair bit lighter I kept it even though it had seen some use. I didn’t know till I got it on the bike and rode that it was worn out – at least it was worn beyond use with a new chain. This was an easy enough fix. I picked up the new 11-28 Ultegra cassette I wanted in the first place. Unfortunately, the weather turned to crap the next day. Wind gusts clocked up to 88 mph were knocking down power lines, starting fires, ripping shingles off of roofs and preventing me from riding. 

Lucky for me, Friday dawned crystal clear and relatively warm. After a few morning meetings, I prepped the new steed for a multi-hour ride. Leaving at noon the sun had warmed the air to almost 50 (not the 40 that the weather prophets had predicted) - there were no complaints from this department on that. I headed out the LoBo trail toward Mead to do a loop above Longmont and back down the dirt roads north of the Res. The LoBo was a bit mushy and slow, but all the gravel roads were in amazingly perfect conditions – smooth, fast and just slightly tacky.

The ride
The ride was amazing. I had ridden all of these roads multiple times in varying conditions on both the carbon CX bike and the steel Vaya, so I had a great comparison. In the past the crabon (sic) frame always beat up my back, while the Vaya was smoother but always gave a deeper burn in my quads from pushing the added weight. I could really tell the next day. Recovery always took longer (sometimes several days longer) after a long ride on the Vaya. The Mosaic is as light as the carbon, but even smoother than the steel. It was love at first ride.  The geo feels fast but also like it will be more maneuverable on the light singletrack it will see.

The fit
The fit is far more comfortable than I would have expected. I really thought I needed and wanted my bars at or above my saddle height. The other three road frames I’ve ridden were not comfortable until I had them set this way. The Mosaic is currently set with the bars slightly below the saddle with a 90mm 6 deg down stem. Chris did a fantastic job on the fit and I’m extremely happy that I have the guidance of an experienced fitter in the design of this frame. (To his credit I have never heard so much unsolicited positive feedback about someone’s skills in the bike industry as I have about Chris Soden and his ability as a fitter.)

The build and drivetrain
The build and the drivetrain have been amazing. I had a hard time deciding on components and nearly went with a Dura-Ace grouppo because I had always been unsatisfied with the front shifting on the Rival group. It had a very long throw, took a good measure of effort to push and only caught on the upshift about 60% of the time. Even my low-end Tiagra always shifted perfect upfront. The problem is, Shimi stuff doesn’t fit my mitts. The blocky square levers do not fit my hands the way SRAM levers do and I notice this every time I brake. I never really liked the tiny paddles on Shimano brifters either, I tend to shift a lot and this becomes even more of an issue with bulky gloves. In the end I chose SRAM.  After one ride I can say all my reservations are gone – I’m a SRAM man all the way.

The front shifting is flawless. It takes very little effort to shift up to the big ring and catches all the time, every time. It’s hard to say what did it (the Red shifters, the Force derailleur, the Gore Ride On housing, the expert build From Jon at ProPeloton) but I can say that I am supremely happy with my setup. There are too many reasons to love SRAM and I doubt I’ll ever go back. Looking forward this is even more assured since SRAM’s 2012 Red group makes the hoods even more comfortable, improves the front shift even more, and a hydraulic version of the Red group is set to release this summer. Red hydro shifters and hydraulic road calipers are probably in my future – albeit not immediate – they’ll drop significant weight from the reliable but lardy BB7 setup and provide somewhat more power and better modulation. (don’t get me wrong the BB7’s are great and work perfectly fine… for now)

The short version is that this new bike, while nameless for now, is a beauty and a wonderful performer. I highly recommend contacting Aarondirectly or heading down to see Chris at ProPeloton if you’re in the market for a custom Ti of steel beauty. I’ll continue to provide ongoing updates and ride reports, but I can tell you now that this bike and I have a long happy future together. 


  1. Beautiful, Shane! Super jealous, and definitely considering following in your footsteps (tire tracks?). Looking forward to seeing you in about a month for Anti-Epic!


    1. Thanks Noah! My tracks begin at the San Ysidro Dirty Century this year and end near the completion of the R2G2. If you've still got the endless vacation perhaps I'll see ya in the fall too. :) In any case, Anti-Epic will be coming up soon. Despite Ben's advice to roll a MTB I'll be on this in April.

  2. Wow, your new bike looks amazing! Can't wait to see it, with my hands, in person!!