Wednesday, June 23, 2010

My Choice is Sram

If you knew me, you would constantly hear me comparing Sram to Shimano and giving my personal opinion on the benefits of Sram in the road biking world, specifically for women. So why do I love Sram so much? It’s fairly simple, they lead the industry in: ergonomics or comfort, simplicity, performance, weight and price.

So first let us examine the ergonomics or the shape and comfort of the Sram shifters. The most recognizable comfort fact that the Sram shifters have to offer is their smaller and more form fitting hoods. The hoods feel particularly comfortable in comparison to Shimano for those with smaller hands, which would include, we the women of the biking world. In fact, the original design of the Sram shifter was designed specifically for smaller handed people. Also if you have ever ridden with Ultegra or Dura-Ace, you will notice the bulky nature of the shifters. A particular nuisance for me comes with the placement of my middle finger under the levers. It tends to kill me after a long ride or a race. The Shimano shifters are extremely rigid and have hard edges that cause chaffing and sometimes even small scratches to my oh-so sensitive hands.

Next, and still in the shifter category includes Sram’s reach adjust feature. This allows any rider to customize their and brake and shift levers. This is especially important to we female riders because, as we know, the bike industry is male dominated, especially in the performance category. This means most of the industry cater their products toward the male clientele, but not my friends at Sram. They thought of us, they know our hand reach is shorter and our fingers, not quite as long, and so they have given us the ability to make an adjustment to accommodate our needs. Thank you Sram, for your kindness.

Moving onto simplicity. Most of what makes Sram simple and even more comfortable is their patented DoubleTap system. Sram has separated itself by leaving the two lever system behind, eliminating the problems of engagement that come from having a brake and shifting lever combined. If you are riding with Shimano and on a tough climb, you will notice a natural tendency to rock your brake lever inward in which case you are unable to upshift. With the DoubleTap shifting system, the upshift is a quick rapid tap motion while the downshift on the same lever is a longer but elegant sweeping motion in the same direction. It is also easily accessible from your hoods or your drops and on those climbs I referred to earlier or in a sprint, it allows you to pull against the levers without sacrificing the upshift. Some days, I think Sram has thought of everything.

As you can see, performance, comfort and simplicity at times overlap, but there are a couple performance specifications that stand out, for example, the zero-loss function. This refers to the zero-loss of movement when you push on the lever for an upshift or a down shift. At this moment, the cable is immediately engaged and no movement is lost. In between a shift on many other systems, there is an annoying middle ground when your chain is trying to switch places on your rear cassette or on your front chain rings. However, with Sram gear changes are instant and precise. I will say that this may sacrifice a bit of smoothness but the benefit of a clear shift outweighs that minor downfall, and you will be a believer like me after you put a few miles on the Sram system. The other performance option that has to be addressed is what Sram calls the “Exact Actuation” technology. This refers to the 1:1 actuation ratio (shifter cable travel : derailleur movement). Exact Actuation simplifies and stabilizes the balancing act of the rear derailleur hang design, the tight cog spacing, and the exact cable tension, causing for a simple index shifting system that stays precise.

The weight and price are two that we can group together for 1. the reason that there is not a lot to say and 2. this article is probably getting overwhelmingly long for the reader. Essentially Sram components have carbon levers vs. alloy and every piece of the group set is lighter than the equivalent Shimano system. Sram is cheaper, simple as that. It costs hundreds of dollars less than Shimano and gives you excellent performance. The only problem is that Shimano group sets are currently coming on most complete bikes. I am a political person in my private life, and if there were an issue that I wanted you to fight for, I would tell you to call your Senators and other public officials. In this case, I say, call your favorite bike manufacturers and tell them that you want the option of Sram on their complete bikes. Let’s all help each other out on this one.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

roll: Princess

If you have ever been into our shop, you have either heard, smelled, or worked with Heidi Shilling. It's true, she has been around since the beginning and adds to the heaping dinner helping of personality to the roll: crew. Heidi has been racing and in the shops longer than even Dante can remember! Along with her fire red hair, comes a whiff of excitement, passion, and commitment to the sport and people that surround her. She races in the Expert class, and is a great addition to the COMBO Race Team powered by roll:! Heidi will begin contributing to our women's blog about the experiences she has! Yay!

Contributed by Heidi Shilling:

There has been a storm in my mind for over a year now. Last year I showed up to Mohican mentally and physically unprepared. I did everything wrong before the race including replacing a 9 speed chain with a 10 speed chain. After missing the podium by a few minutes, I promised myself that this year would be different. I have been training smart and steadily improving. My race season so far has gone well. I felt confident but nervous. Anything can happen in a race this long.

I arrived at the hotel the night before to watch my teammates in a full on pre-race frenzy. Last minute bike repairs, tire changes, tube patching, talk of strategy, beer drinking, burping, farting, blah, blah blah, bru ha, ha, testosterone fest. I just put my number plate on and lubed my chain. That's all, I was ready to roll:. Much to my surprise I fell fast asleep that night. I dreamed that I was riding under a waterfall. When I woke up the rain was coming down in sheets. It fell for hours and stopped right before the 7am start.

The race begins, I'm redlining from the start, just short of heart attack. My goal is to beat as many riders as I can into the woods. I hit the trail and get immediately stuck behind a crowd going nowhere fast. The trail is squishy. slick, messy, suck all of your energy MUD. No surprise, this was going to be an epic sufferfest. I weeble I wooble but I don't fall down, except for the steep downhill,I slide sideways down and bust my 2 month old scab open AGAIN! We quickly enter the State Forest and I hear someone yell, "way to go girls". Girls? Who is behind me? It's Bridget Donovan. She chases me all the way to the first aid station. I blow through it. I finally get to my favorite part of the trail. Even wet and slick it still has flow and is super fast. I felt good. I began to pass rider after rider. I felt great. Then came the shocking inner thigh cramps. I could hardly keep the pedals turning. I was worried, this was too early for cramps. Then I came upon the dreaded hike a bike. It seemed like an eternity climbing up that hill. One foot in front of the other, my heart pounding out of my head, death march. Finally at the top, I experience more mud, cramps, and rain. I'm no roadie but I can't wait to hit the road! Down some crazy water bars, raging river crossing, up a suck your shoe off climb and finally road, sweet road! Wait a minute how could I forget? Some of these road climbs are killers. I can't get to Aid Station 2 fast enough.

I finally arrive at that little oasis and see my happy teammate, Jeremy. I think I might have growled at him, Sorry Jeremy! I refueled and hit the trail in less than a minute. It's all a little bit blurry from here. I went back and forth with a group of guys. They would pass me on the road I would pass them on the trail. I hit the Wilderness Trail with a sense of urgency. I know this trail, I have done a few solos on it. I pick off a few more riders. They tell me the leader is just a few minutes ahead! This thought fills my head. I forget about the cramps, rain, mud, and bike that no longer wants to shift. My goal was to bridge the gap, she beat me by 45 minutes last year. Now I'm close...real close! This thought carries me to Aid Station 3.

When I arrive my teammate, Gary, whisks my bike away while I get my water bottle filled and grab a PB&J with my muddy paws. I'm off riding on a bike that is fully functioning!!! I'm sore and tired but down right giddy bursting at the seams with happiness. Thirteen miles to go, more climbs, cramps, rain, mud, raging stream crossing and long stretches of road. Pedal dammit, this is it! I hit the last 6 miles with a renewed sense of energy. Not in my body, but in my mind. The thunder rolls across the sky, I laugh! The sky opens up and dumps. I'm in the waterfall of my dream, riding downstream. My brake pads are gone, there is so much mud in my eyes, I can barely see. This is one wild ride. I come off of the trail into the campground. This is it! I blow through the last water crossing, it covers most of my bike. Somehow I make it through. Just a little more! Hello Finish! Hello pint glass!!! Oh, Happy Day!

All in all, an Epic race, just so happens to be one of my best! Second Place ! My Teammates did well too. Jake got 3rd in the 100k singlespeed. Jon almost beat his time from last year despite the conditions. Trent tore it up and finished with a fast time. Greg, Jeff, and Tom endured the elements and finished strong. Pat and Jayson rode their hearts out and last but not least Jeremy finished 100 miles on a rigid singlespeed! Go COMBO Race Team! Red Dragons!!!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Ladie's MTB Clinic!! (ANOTHER CHANCE!)

Hey Ladies-
Unfortunately, the ride was rained out last weekend. The good thing? The clinic has been rescheduled! The NEW details are below, take note, and be there!

WHAT? MVMBA Ladies 2nd Annual MTB Clinic
WHERE? John Bryan State Park
WHEN? June 19th 10a-5p (Sign in starts at 9a)

Need registered? Hop onto and get everything taken care of!
Questions? Give our shops a call!