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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!