Bikes Out & Bikes In

I’ve sold a few bikes in the past year or so and haven’t really talked about it here. I ordered a new mountain bike this month and thought I needed to lay out what bikes are hanging in my house, what’s been sold and why, and what new mountain bike that’s on the way has me excited.

Still Loved & On My Wall

My Ibis HD3. I’ve dialed this into a great trailbike and the time pedaling it on different mountains is as close to priceless as I it gets I think. It’s at home doing things that still scare me. It laughs at a rough line down the backside of the mountain. It pedals better than any trail bike has a right to thanks to DW Link suspension. It has more mountains in its future.

My 2014 Specialized Crux. A bike that’s been used on twisty singletrack, cyclocross seasons, country roads, and gravel. I’ve not ridden this much in 2017 but I plan to race it this year in the Dallas cyclocross series. I hear often about gravel options in Texas and Oklahoma so I may venture into some gravel in the next year as well. Cross bikes offer so much versatility it would be hard to get rid of it.

My Surly Straggler. A custom painted and built up by some of my favorite people on this rock we call Earth. I don’t ride it much lately but it’s not going anywhere. I want to get it to downtown Dallas for some city exploring this summer. For now, it’s the around the block bike with my three-year old while she learns to use her pedal-less bike.

My new 2017 S-Works Tarmac with eTap. The bike I’ve spent most of my time on in 2017. A superb ride and snappiness. I ride it weekly in different road group rides in Dallas.

Bikes Out

My 2013 S-Works Epic with XTR, this one hurt to sell. It was the instrument for all of my mountain bike racing. It was the bike I won the Illinois Cat 2 State Championship on after I broke my neck in 2012. My first S-Works. It meant a lot to me. I sold it when I my family and I decided to move to Dallas from Illinois. I didn’t think I’d do any cross-country mountain bike racing during my first year down here. I thought it made sense to sell it that year versus waiting another year to sell it. In hindsight, I should have kept this around a bit longer. I would have enjoyed having a cross-country race bike down here. I’ll circle back to this.

My 2012 Salsa Mukluk Ti. The bike that provided me the most smiles. The bike that doesn’t make much sense but makes so much sense. I loved snowy fatbike rides on the Mississippi and many other wintery snowy group rides on this bike. I sold it because after six months of living in Texas it’s pretty clear I won’t be riding it much down here. I tried it at North Shore but the trails are so technical and filled with rocks that I’d rather have some suspension and something lighter to pedal around on. It didn’t make sense to keep this hung on a wall for 99% of its life so I let it go to someone else that wanted it.

My 2014 S-Works Tarmac SL4 with Dura-Ace Di2. Maybe the bike I’ve loved the most out of them all. My first S-Works road bike. My first electronic shifting bike. Many miles with good people in front and behind me with this bike. The bike was incredible. It snapped forward under power, climbed like a rabid chipmunk, and gave me no headaches over the years. I sold this to a team-mate who would take good care of it and would ride it often after my crash last year. It found the right home. I’ve since replaced this with my new 2017 S-Works Tarmac with eTap, and that relationship is off to a good start.

Bikes In

I’ve settled into life in Dallas and a routine weekly set of road bike rides. I have also found a great twenty-mile tech filled trail system at North Shore and many other trails left to explore. I’ve found myself wanting another cross-country race bike. I want to race some of the endurance and short track mountain bike racing in the Dallas area.

I was waiting to see what the 2018 Specialized Epic’s were after rumors of some redesign. After reading multiple reviews and seeing it do really well at the World Cup level I asked my favorite bike shop Bloomington Cycle & Fitness to order me one.

I went with a color I’ve been eyeing for a while. I’ve heard it called Burple and that sounds about right. It should be a rocket ship and the bike to provide so many smiles over the next four or so years. I can’t wait. I don’t know the exact date I’ll get it sounds like sometime in August. I hope it’s as good as my last Epic, I have a feeling it will be even better.

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2017 S-Works Tarmac eTap Review

Earlier this year I replaced my previous Tarmac with a new 2017 S-Works Tarmac eTap. I’ve spent almost six months putting it through its paces. I’ve put just over a thousand miles on it and during that time I’ve been measuring it against my previous S-Works Tarmac and also what I want out of a road bike in general.

The frameset is great. I loved my previous S-Works Tarmac SL4 frame but this one takes all the best qualities of that and adds a vertical compliance that frankly I have a hard time believing is real most rides. Every bit of effort I put into the pedaled directly results in the bike driving forward. There is zero frame flex in the bottom bracket through the chainstays and the same holds true in the front end. The steerer tube is solid. The steering is sharp. It’s a race bike through and through here. I dig the hidden and integrated seatpost tightening mechanism. I love that the engineers at Specialized cleaned up the ports for the task at hand seeing as this bikes shifting is wireless. No drive side ports for braking or shifting here, just clean purposeful carbon construction.

The S-Works handlebar is great. I love the drop, width, and reach. It fits my build and hands perfectly.

My road bike fit needs are met with a straight S-Works seatpost again paired to a S-Works Romin saddle. My favorite combo.

The group is where my I’m a little more torn.

The eTap group gave me some trouble early on but it’s not given me any trouble for hundreds of the latest miles. While I’m painting the background for my feelings on groupsets it seems fitting to state again I loved my previous Tarmac’s Shimano Dura-Ace Di2.

Sram’s eTap is not a bad group by any means, it’s a good group. It just falls a little short compared to Di2 in a few areas in my eyes.

The eTap front derailleur has worked perfectly for the past eight hundred miles, but early on it threw the front chainring while on the trainer this winter. I’m not sure if it was the trainer changing the chain alignment, being bumped in my bike bag flying it back home, or some other weirdness but the end result was ten or so dropped chains after shifting the front derailleur. Unfortunately that left several nicks and scratches on my brand new crankset. Since getting it looked at a few times and not riding the trainer it’s not thrown the chainring once.

The other nocks are less severe in my opinion. Sram’s eTap doesn’t shift as fast as Di2. It’s not an instantaneous shift. The delay was weird at first but my brain and everyone else I’ve talked to quickly adjusts. It’s second nature now. The battery also isn’t as long-lasting as the Di2 experience I’ve had. Where I would get months out of a Di2 internal seatpost battery, I’ve now got a new reminder on my Google Calendar to charge my batteries every three weeks.

It’s not all negative marks for Sram eTap though. I like the physical feedback when shifting, a great quality carried over from my previous experience with Sram’s Double Tap. The audible and tactical feedback from a shift is impossible to miss in the best way imaginable. That can make a big difference in colder months with thick gloves on. Furthermore, the simplicity of having only one button on the left shifter and one on the right removes the miss shift from thick gloves. The left shifter shifts the rear to a slower gear and the right shifter shifts the rear to a faster gear. To shift the front chainring, you press both at the same time. One great feature from my days on Di2 that carries over is you can hold a button for a sweep of gears, something I miss every time I ride a mechanical shifting bike.

Again, Sram’s eTap is not a bad group. It’s a damn impressive group. Several people I ride weekly with prefer it to all other groups, some even over Shimano’s Di2. Chevy vs. Ford. No bad choice right? I will say it feels good to support a group manufacturer who treats local bike shops right (context from Dean’s Riding Against the Grain). The fact that it’s wireless and doesn’t make any mistakes like my homes router or cell phone says something. I think Sram wants to avoid any recall nightmares so they double checked everything and then re-checked about ten more times on everything. Kudos.

Sram’s new DZero Quarq Power meter is great now. I had a little trouble with this at first too. In the end, Sram asked my local bike shop down here in Dallas to send it back to them so they could look it over and either fix it or send me a new one. Turns out something extra weird was going on with it so they kept it and sent a new one back to me. The replacement one’s been perfect since. Reliable and accurate data for power output helps me gauge efforts and to be honest, I’m a bit of a data nerd.

The brakes are good. They do their job in rain or shine with no complaining. A big part of that success is attributed to Specialized’s Roval CLX40 wheelset. The braking track is supurb here. In fact, I love everything about Roval’s wheel options. The combination of light weights, hub parts replacement availability, braking, and engagement are hard to beat and when costs are factored in, it’s a no brainer for me. I’d love to try a fancy set of Zipps or Enve’s but with how crashes can and will happen in racing I can’t justify it. I’m a big fan of Roval wheels. Kudos Specialized.

The Specialized Turbo Cotton tires are genuinely great. Saying they are smooth feels like an understatement. They do fine in wet and dry. They do wear but I’m over a thousand miles on my set and they are still going strong. I’m a big fan.

Overall I’m super happy. The bike is super light weight at 15.43 lbs. It climbs superbly (although Dallas is maybe the flattest place I’ve been to). It is very comfortable even after many hours into a ride. It hits all the marks I want in road bike and then some.

My heart won’t let me miss another thank you to Bloomington Cycle & Fitness for obtaining the bike for me and then spending time to get me fit on it and add some tid bits I wanted. Thanks for being a rad shop filled with rad people.

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