Equipment Reviews

Giant Trinity A1 Custom Build

Meet Akela, My 2007 Giant Trinity A1

Welcome back! I’m kicking off this blog reboot with a piece on one of my favourite things in the world: my time trial bike. I won my National Championship on a modded out Felt B16 but as my focus shifted to draft legal racing, I sold my Felt and funneled some of the proceeds into my road bike. The rest I earmarked for a new TT bike build, from scratch, where I could try out a few new cycling technologies that are sweeping the world. Hopefully, I could do this on a budget and create something that was both cost-effective and the stuff of my dreams.

As luck would have it, I stumbled on a fantastic deal on Pinkbike. As a sucker for older frame, I was drawn to a 2007 Giant Trinity A1 frame for $500, that came semi-built. After stripping off the parts it came with, I was able to recover some of the purchase price and bring it in under $400. So why this frame?. First, I really wanted to build this bike up with a 1x (single chainring) setup. A substantial amount of drag is generated by the front derailleur hanger, and my need for a small chainring on a TT bike is not that dire. The fact that this Trinity came with a removable front derailleur hanger was a win for me. Not to mention the simplicity!

The second reason is the brand. I have a TON of respect for Giant as a brand. Tom Dumoulin is one of my favourite sports personalities, and has been on a Giant Trinity for many years. Giant supports Team Sunweb, the team in the WorldTour peloton that I most admire due to their commitment to performance and (more recently) clean sport. Giant has also shown an unmatched commitment to women’s cycling, through their Liv Cycling brand. Liv is run unlike any other women’s specific cycling brand, essentially acting as a separate entity with a inventive marketing team and a robust ambassador program. The exposure that Liv has brought to women’s cycling (which is IMO way more exciting and unpredictable than the men’s races, and deserves much more coverage than it gets) is perhaps the biggest reason for my brand loyalty to Giant.

So let’s talk bikes!

Giant Trinity A1 Cockpit

Every good bike review starts with the cockpit, since this is the first piece that the wind sees. This one has seen a few iterations, as I struggled to find the right fit. That ended up being an old friend…an alloy Felt Bayonet bar that I bought for $40 on Slowtwitch for my B16, one that I thought was lost to a stripped armrest bolt until just recently. I kitted this underrated basebar with Zipp Vuka Alumina Evo 110 extensions and armpads, for a comfortable high hand position.

Finishing Kit

The cockpit is finished off with some interesting pieces that I found during an Internet deep dive. The Syntace FlatForce 99mm stem allows me to get addition drop on the cockpit, thanks to the 27mm stack height, -17 degree pitch and additional 12mm drop at the clamp attachment. My right extension is cut shorter than the left to accommodate a SRAM R2C shifter. The final touches are a Speedfil Z4 bottle cage (mounted backwards with velcro cable ties), Shimano PRO Control bar tape (my go to TT bike tape thanks to its grippiness and ability to stretch to half its normal thickness), and a simple yet powerful new Giant Neostrack computer.

Wheels n Brakes

When it comes to everyone’s favourite aerodynamic “upgrade”, I have simple tastes. I’ve now owned 2.5 sets of these 2009 Bontrager Aeolus 5.0 carbon clinchers. They’re narrower than modern aero wheels, plus they fit my frames and were dirt cheap ($500). In fact, I have a matching set (with a Powertap hub) for my road bike that I got for the same price. Everyone knows the real bang for your buck is in tires and tubes! Pictured here are Michelin’s Power Competition tires to train on, though I intend to race on other products. Currently, I add a Wheelbuilder Aerojacket cover to my rear wheel for racing. Braking is handled by Vision’s Trimax Aero Brakes, which are at worst an aerodynamic wash with potential, and the price was right. There might be a TriRig Omega in my future, however…if I can find a good deal!

1x Drivetrain

Which brings me to my favourite part of this build: the drivetrain. The cherry on the top of my SRAM Rival 1x set-up is the WolfTooth Components 52t DropStop chainring, the only round 52t ring on the market for 110bcd cranksets. The two extra teeth will allow me to spend more time in the middle of my cassette, rather than in the small cogs. I will run a SRAM 11-28 cassette in most cases, with an 11-23 for dead flat course and an 11-32 for hillier courses. The rear derailleur is a cool piece of road kit, coming with a clutch and 12-tooth narrow/wide pulley wheels for chain retention on those chippy Western Canadian roads. Power is measured by a Quarq Riken AL ($500 used) with 165mm cranks. The chain is KMC, treated with various Muc-Off products for training.

Hydration_Flat Kit

The last little details are the fruits of other Internet deep dives, some more successful than others. After trying a few options, I settled on a Fabric Tri Elite saddle for the integrated rear bottle cage holder. I don’t foresee using a rear bottle much for racing, but it is a good option for training (and my next Powerman). A noseless saddle has been my preference since I switched to ISM 5 years ago. A Giant cage with good retention holds my bottle. On the frame is a Torhans VR Aero Bottle, with the bottom of the bottle (not pictured) cut off. I will use this to hold my flat kit. For UCI-governed time trials, I will replace this with an Elite Crono CX bottle (if needed).

Probably not. If I ever switched my focus exclusively back to non-draft racing, I would be due for a frame upgrade. I also chose to set this up to be UCI legal, to keep the joys of racing time trials as a race option. This explains the saddle setback and short extension reach, and results in a slight position compromise. This decision also informed some of my part selections. What I do know is that it was a joy to painstakingly build and ride what is definitely going to be a unique bike in every transition zone. It’s simple and easy to maintain and travel with, oozes my personality in every part, and fit my budget splendidly. No doubt more tweaks are to come (current specs below). Until next time, keep Du’ing it!

$400 – Frame/Fork: 2007 Giant Trinity A1 (50cm)
$40 – Basebar: Felt Bayonet Alloy
$160 – Extensions/Armrests: Zipp Vuka Evo 110
$125 – Stem: Syntace Flatforce (99mm/-17 degrees/12mm drop)
$500 – Crankset/Powermeter: Quarq Riken AL (165mm)
$110 – Chainring: WolfTooth DropStop (52t/110bcd)
$120 – Rear Shifter: SRAM R2C
$110 – Rear Derailleur: SRAM Rival 1 (medium cage, clutch)
$40 – Chain: KMC (11 speed)
$100 – Cassette #1: SRAM PG-1170 (11-28)
$60 – Cassette #2: SRAM PG-1130 (11-32)
$65 – Cassette #3: Shimano Ultegra 6800 (11-23)
$189 – Brakes: FSA Vision Trimax TT
$60 – Brake Pads: Zipp Tangente Cork
$500 – Wheelset: Bontrager Aeolus 5.0 (50mm depth)
$150 – Disc Wheel: Wheelbuilder Aerojacket
$120 – Tires: TBD
$70 – Pedals: Shimano R550
$85 – Saddle: Fabric Tri
$25 – Bar Tape: Shimano PRO Control
$60 – Hydration: Speedfil Z4 (BTA)/Giant (BTS)
$35 – Flat Kit: Torhans VR Bottle (seat tube)

GRAND TOTAL (approximate, includes consumables) – $3125. Fun fact: building doesn’t always save you money over buying a complete bike.

Gary the Klein

So I Built a Bicycle…

Last season I spent the year alternating between my Felt B16 tri bike for most of my heavy workouts, and a Kona Jake the Snake cyclocross bike that I thought would be an excellent way to explore some of the gravel and MTB trails in and around Hamilton. While it definitely was awesome for the change of pace, I did not nearly get enough out of my CX’er. All of my training is on a single Powertap wheelset, and it became such a hassle to swap cassettes, tires, and wheels from bike to bike that I just ended up riding my TT bike way more than I wanted to.

Going to a road bike as a second bike just makes sense to me, something built to withstand the long haul and keep me off my TT bike save for the most focused TT workouts. As well, I found an unbelievable deal on a vintage 2003 Klein Q Carbon Team frameset, one of the first bikes with internal cable routing. It’s also always been a goal of mine to build a bike up from scratch, getting to know the inner workings of a race bike in the process. Plenty of Youtube videos and hours reading the Park Tool website got me on my way.

The build went as smooth as I could hope, though I did run into major problems routing the rear brake cable thanks to the internal liner falling out on me, as well as getting enough tension on the front derailleur. In the end though, I was able to get it running well enough. It is nothing fancy, but it is stiff as a board and ready to take a beating as I try to catch my cycling ability up to my run! You can head to Twitter and check out the hashtag #jbsfirstbikebuild to see my progress.

So here it is, my 2003 Klein Q Carbon Team with Shimano 105 5800 11-speed components and 11 speed Williams S30 Powertap alloy clinchers:

2. From Front

The front end was as clean as I could make it for a first attempt. First returns on the new 5800 hood shapes (I’m picky about my hood shapes) are good, and the shifters have a nice, crisp feel to them. A redesigned 5800 front brake takes care of the braking on the front, while a nameless alloy ergo bend bar is where my hands will spend the majority of the time.

3. Front Triangle

Klein frames are known for internal routing before their time and stunning paint jobs. The photo here does not do subtle metallic flecked finish contrasting the matte decals on this garish, flame-inspired frame. Indeed, that is what first caught my eye with this frame, and the finish is what sold me on it being my next bike.

4. Front End

A side view of the front end reveals a carbon fiber fork to help numb the vibrations, as well as providing another look at the internal cable routing. I expect the bars will rotate downward with more road riding in the drops, just to provide me with a deeper hand position for hard efforts. An 80mm FSA OS190 -6 degree stem caps off the look.

5. Front Wheel

My trusty Williams System 30 Powertap wheelset will likely stay on this bike more or less permanently. I have had great success with these Clement Strada LGG 700x25mm tires, also to help numb some of the road vibration, and filled them with some Rubbers Brand inner tubes. I love the idea of including a patch kit with every tube sold.

6. Seat Cluster

My perch is a stock alloy seatpost and a surprisingly comfortable Giant OEM saddle I found in a parts bin for $15 last year. This is also an obstructed look at the rear brake cable routing. It took me a day and a half to route this cable, mostly spent poking a hanger through the channel blindly until it finally found the hole on the other side. Frustrating!

Cranks and FD

Shimano 105 5800 50/34 cranks (170mm) and front derailleur drive the pedals. I love the new 4-arm design of the cranks, which make for a crisp and stiff power transfer. I went with 50/34 rings because I am not yet strong enough to get on top of a 53/39, and the 52/36 configuration is not yet available that I could find. That will likely be the first upgrade (to the 52/36).

The front derailleur cable was my other sticking point, as I spent considerable time re-aligning the FD and pulling on the cable until it finally shifted into the big ring for me. I still haven’t got the front shifting quite right, but it’s getting there. Cheap Shimano R540 pedals are the next contact point for me. I got them free and have since had no reason to upgrade.

8. RD and Cassette

A 5800 medium cage rear derailleur and 11-28 cassette control the shifting. The 5800 group has limited cassette options, I wanted an 11t cog to pair with my 50/34 front gearing, and the 11-32 seems like overkill if you don’t live in the mountains. This will be just fine, though an Ultegra 11-25 cassette may be in my future as I get stronger.

9. Seat Cluster from Rear

The most interesting part of this bike is the seatstay arrangement. It’s beefy, and you can see the joins where the carbon fiber seat stays meet the otherwise aluminum frame. The rear brake mounting bolt was so beefy I had to repurpose the OEM front brake off my B16 into a rear brake here. My B16 got an unexpected rear brake upgrade in the process.

10. Garmin Mount

Of course, my trusty Garmin 910XT mounted on the stem collects all my data for me, and I went with some cheap black Deda Elementi cork bar tape to complete the bike. This bike is likely going to see a lot of miles, and I didn’t want to be swapping out expensive tape every 6 months. Wrapping the bars was my favourite part…it was fun, plus it meant I was done!

I had a ton of fun doing this build. To be honest, I likely didn’t save too much money versus buying a complete bike (maybe $100-200), and the build is not much different than an entry level build you would see in a bike shop (apart from the frame). However, I am immensely proud of myself for sticking it out and not giving up, and I have a ton more knowledge to show for it.

I would recommend it to everyone looking for an offseason project and some new knowledge. Thanks to everyone who listened to my inane questions and gave me advice or parts to use, especially Phil McCatty, for sitting down with me for an evening talking through the whole process and only laughing at me a little bit when I struggled with this, that, or the other.

Equipment Review – 2014 Felt B16 (My New Ride for 2014)

Getting a new bike seems to be one of the days in every multisport athlete’s season that they look forward to the most. I had planned for my next blog post to be either a current issue affecting duathletes, or a race report from my adventures at Harry’s Spring Run-Off…but then my new bike arrived, and I just have this feeling that my readers want to hear all about that first! Please excuse any technical jargon, and feel free to comment on the post with any questions.

My bike splits in 2014 will be brought to you by a 52cm 2014 Felt B16. When Coach Tommy worked out the Ignition Fitness/Felt Bicycles/Wheels of Bloor sponsorship deal in late 2013, it set in a motion the (long) series of events that led to me getting my new steed. The whole process took about 4 months (well worth it, it turns out) that started with listing/selling my loyal Argon 18 E-80 (thanks for two seasons of memories, have fun in Montreal!), and continued through ordering the new one (a sleek 2014 Felt B16), awaiting its arrival from the factory (with a few minor hiccups at customs), making the journey to Wheels of Bloor for pickup and fitting (via 5 methods of public transportation), and finally taking it home to add my own personal touches.

Freshly built and fitted

Freshly built and fitted at Wheels of Bloor

The B16 is Felt’s entry level carbon fibre time trial bike, but comes packed with goodies. You can view the full component spec pictured above here…nothing spectacular, but it will definitely be more than handy once I add my own finishing touches! The guys at Wheels of Bloor were great, as they had my bike built and ready for me to be fitted when I finally arrived at the shop Friday afternoon. The gentleman who fitted me also adjusted everything to match the measurements generated by my latest RETUL fit. 20 minutes of adjusting and 5 minutes on the trainer later, it felt like a rocket ready to be launched. Some of the adjustments included dropping the cockpit as low as it can go by removing spacers and installing a -25 degree stem, moving the aerobars as close together as the stem allows, and tweaking the saddle height for my short inseam. After navigating the journey home, I bolted on my bottle cages, attached my DIY Garmin mount, and strapped on my Powertap in preparation of my first training ride.

Adding my own touches

Ready for the maiden voyage

Most of my own personal touches occurred in the cockpit area. Everyone has their own configuration that works for them…mine is pictured below. For races, I generally only run one bottle mounted horizontally between the extensions. The first incarnation on my previous bike was simply a cage zip-tied to the extensions. Since then, I’ve added an aluminum X-Lab Torpedo mount to the cage, which I find helps ease my mind about whether or not my bottle is staying completely horizontal while riding. Though definitely not necessary, the peace of mind helps. My Garmin 910XT mount is also a custom job: an empty Nuun electrolyte tablet canister cut to size, holes drilled on either side and zip-tied between the shifters. A strip of adhesive Velcro (the soft/”loop” side) keeps the standard Garmin quick release kit mount from sliding around at high speeds. It’s that easy! It’s simple and definitely not the most creative configuration I’ve seen, but it works well for me.

Above view of my cockpit layout

View from above of my cockpit layout

Saturday morning meant my first test ride on the Felt. Maybe it’s just me, but I love to break in new equipment with a long workout…long runs for shoes, and long rides for bikes! So off I went for a 3 hour jaunt around Flamborough County, with a mixture of steady state riding, climbing, flat to rolling time trial intervals, and a few all-out townline sprints…basically a test of all aspects of the ride quality of a new bike. Being the first time I had ridden carbon fibre, I was amazed at the ride quality. Besides feeling very light, it seemed to absorb many of the bumps and gouges of county roads that my old aluminum frame did not. I was also very impressed with its climbing ability (for a TT bike), its quick acceleration to cruising speed, and the ease with which it cut through air once I got it going. The 105 drivetrain shifted crisp and clean, and the Microshift bar-end shifters and stock Felt TTR saddle were a pleasant surprise. Overall, my first impression was that the Felt B16 delivered a truckload of quality in a modestly priced package, great for any multisport athlete who has outgrown the modified road bike and wants a full-blown carbon fibre/aerodynamic experience.

Excited for my first ride

Excited for the first ride

However, there were a few areas of improvement that first ride pointed out. First, some of the cockpit adjustments I originally settled on proved to be too aggressive for me, especially this early in the season. So, upon returning from the ride I adjusted the extensions outward by a millimeter or two, slid the extensions back a bit and moved the armrests slightly forward and farther apart. This allowed me to slide my BTA bottle mount all the way back to the headset, giving me a little bit more room to slide a bottle out without mashing it against the buttons on my Garmin. The end result was a much more comfortable ride, at least for a few minutes of spinning on the trainer. I came away very impressed with the adjustability of the cockpit.

Second, though I thought the shifting and acceleration were excellent, I did find the stock FSA Vero crank a little heavy and slow to respond during hard accelerations (though it would do in a pinch). It came spec’ed with 52/36 gearing, as opposed to the 50 tooth big ring I switched to late last year after reading a great blog post by my friend Cody Beals (who happens to be fresh off a 5th place finish in his pro debut at IM Texas 70.3, great work Cody!). I am a high cadence spinner and I don’t generally put out enough power to push anything larger than a 50 tooth big ring without really struggling, so I had always planned on changing this out. However, I decided to try the larger gearing on the first ride, just to see how I liked it. Turns out I don’t, so off came the Vero in favour of an FSA Gossamer crank I had lying around the office (with custom 50/36 gearing). Due to my very amateur wrenching skills, the ease of an external bottom bracket was another reason to switch. Other swaps I made with existing parts I had lying around were to change the stock SunRace cassette/chain for a 105 chain and an Ultegra 11-25 cassette (11-28 for hilly races), and putting on my Williams S30 Powertap wheels for training rides. For races, I will swap in a Bontrager 50mm carbon race wheel, a disc cover for the rear, and some narrower race tires. As well, I THINK I can still get lower, so I’m on the lookout for a low-rise headset dust cap to make that a reality.

Try not to drool

Try not to drool

All in all, I am VERY excited to start my adventures of training and racing with this bike. HUGE shout-out to Coach Tommy at Ignition Fitness, and my sponsors Felt Bicycles and Wheels of Bloor for setting this all up. I’m slightly embarrassed about the number of hours I spent on all three of these sites the past few months browsing and drooling over this bike, and I am beyond excited to finally have it in my possession. Be on the lookout for some wicked fast bike splits out of me this season on this beauty! Next up for me is a little hiatus from the roads to prep for Paris to Ancaster on April 27 before heading back to the pain cave to get ready for the Ontario Sprint Duathlon Championships in Harrow on May 10. Be on the lookout for a Harry’s/P2A race report in the coming weeks, as well as a feature I am working on about an important issue currently facing duathletes in Ontario.

Until next time, keep du’ing it!