Category Archives: Cervélo

Lots to Learn

Today, I learnt a lot. All in a good way, thankfully. Where do I start…

OK, I’ll start with the rear-end (aka my arse) issues that I had about 10 days ago. I put a lot of investigation into why my butt was hurting me so much during a long ride, and had come to the conclusion that I wasn’t sitting on my seat correctly. A lot of things have transpired in the past 10 days.

First, as previously mentioned, I discovered about the “sit bones” and why they are important. This was useful mainly so that I knew what I should be aiming to have in contact with my seat, and also I discovered that you can have different bits of your sit bones taking the weight on your seat, hence you move around every so often to prevent getting sore.

Next, I pushed my seat forward about an inch, which was about the amount that I was sitting too far forward, and I figured that professional bike-fit or not, if I wasn’t comfortable sitting in the position that said pro bike-fit set the bike up in, then I should just change it to something more comfortable.

Finally, I then compared the position of the seat to that of my commuter bike which I’ve never had a problem on, and discovered that the seat on my Cervélo was angled incorrectly, i.e. it wasn’t flat, and was instead pointing up into the air. I therefore spent about 20 minutes learning how to adjust the seat (easy when you know how), to get it identical to my commuter (as far as I can see).

I then went out for a ~50 mile ride this morning with a little trepidation, to see how my arse would cope. I concentrated on making sure that I was sitting on the right bit of the seat, but in fairness as the ride went on, I needed to do that less and less, most likely because I was now sitting on the right bit of the seat due to it being in the “right” place (as far as my normal sitting position is with my commuter). Hey presto, I get home and my arse didn’t even realised I’d been sitting on a bike.


What else did I learn? Well, another couple of things.

Chamois crème, and underpants, and bib shorts. Two of these things you need, one of them you want to avoid. I have used bib shorts a few times now, but hadn’t realised that you should not have your underwear on. So, I tried it today and was a little concerned that my, erm, “bits” were going to be… under-restrained. As in, all over the place. However, this wasn’t the case at all. The shorts held my junk just fine (lovely topic, eh?). In addition, I also discovered the wonder of chamois crème and how to use it. I whacked it on this morning, and it did indeed feel nice and cool. Now, do note that I’ve not yet had any friction issues “down there” in the past – but I’d rather not start, and if I’m going to go “au naturale” without the underwear, then the crème is going to be useful for that anyway.

Finally, riding with someone else. The one time I’ve been out with a group ride, I didn’t really feel that it was helping in terms of reducing wind resistance, but I think that was because the group was going quite slowly that day. Today, I happened to come across and thereafter ride with another roadie for about 3 miles, and we took it in turns to lead, and holy crap what a difference it made when I was drafting; I was literally coasting along in a really high gear without having to put any effort in at all. It was fantastic!

Many lessons; a good day.

Cycling and a sore bum

I quite often get a sore arse when I’m out on a long ride on my bike. Up until about 30 minutes ago, I’d put this down to merely needing to build up some resistance by doing longer rides, and that seemed to be working, as my last 2 long rides (40+ miles) did not make my butt feel sore. However, I went out for a 57 miler today, and my arse was sore by around mile 33. The last 15 miles coming home became progressively more uncomfortable, to the point where I needed to stop a couple of times to try to alleviate the pain. As soon as I stopped and got off the bike, my arse was totally fine, but as soon as I got back on again, the pain returned.

The types of butt pain you can get from cycling can vary. The type I get is not from chafing, which seems to be a common problem. Instead, I’d describe mine as more a pain near a boney area, but hadn’t figured out what it was.

I did a bit of googling this evening to see what it could be. First, I needed to figure out what part of my skeleton it was that was sore. That was quite easy – it’s the ischial tuberosity, aka the “sit bones”. From there, I discovered an excellent article on the Cervélo site about the four and a half rules of road saddles, where rule #1 hit the nail on the head.

Ultimately, I’m now fairly confident that I have been sitting too far forward on my seat. So, in other words, my sit bones have not been resting correctly on the seat, and have been therefore resting down the sides of the front (narrow) bit of my seat. Even thinking about it makes it feel sore. Instead, I need to sit further back – probably all of an inch further back, and when I tried that on my bike while stationary, it does feel significantly more comfortable.

I’m not sure what the pedalling action is going to feel like, mind you. However, this is on the bike which I’ve had fitted professionally, so therefore I should really give it a go and see what happens. I’ll be out on the bike doing various errands tomorrow anyway, so that’ll be a good time to see if it is indeed the answer!

Cycling With Rollers: First Attempt

With winter setting in, I got myself a set of rollers to use when the weather outside isn’t conducive to slick 23mm tyres. Specifically, I got Elite V-Arion Parabolic Inertial Rollers, from Wiggle:

So the main thing that I knew about from reading the reviews on Wiggle’s site was that they take a bit of getting used to, especially stopping and starting on the things, and that falling off is something to expect the first few times you try them. They are not wrong.

First, though, unpacking was a breeze. Nothing to assemble, they came ready to go, just unfold, get the loop on to the rollers to link up the front and back rollers, and off I went. I suspect I have a “normal” sized bike, because I didn’t need to change where the rollers were, it was set up perfectly, but there’s massive room for differently sized bikes, especially smaller ones. The instructions to move the rollers are simple, and it looks like it can cope with much smaller wheels than standard road bike 700c wheels, as well as bikes which are a lot shorter. But if, like me, you have a recently purchased normal road bike, you will probably find you need do nothing.

IMG_3606Now, for the first ride, I can only suggest you make sure you are in a narrow space, such as the one in this picture. This is necessary because, unless you have some amazing abilities, you will fall off. So, to save me falling off, I put the rollers in a doorway, and placed it such that my shoulders and upper arm would hit the side of the doorframe when I failed to balance. Seriously, this happened a lot – in the 35 minutes I rode on the thing, I would have to say that I probably hit the doorframe about 20 times.

Not only that, I even managed to fall off outside of the doorframe when attempting to stop. So here’s the most important lesson for anyone wanting to use rollers for the first time – the way you use your brakes on the road is pointless on rollers. It makes sense when you think about it – you’re not going anywhere, so there’s no need to brake, but it’s a mind-fuck to get through your head. If you want to stop, you do not need to slow down or brake, you just put your foot down, on the handy slightly raised step on the left hand side (sorry, lefties; thankfully, I’m ambidextrous). So in other words, you pile along at 22mph, and you want to step off, so you do just that; step straight off, and let the wheels continue spinning. They will stop soon enough, especially if you have the inertia resistance set to maximum.

The inertia resistance unit, according to the instructions, is set up so that on its maximum setting, it’s equivalent to riding on the road. After about 20 minutes getting used to it on the lowest setting, I put it straight up to maximum, and it feels fine. The one thing that it can’t do is replicate the wind, so I assume you’re likely to go faster than if you were actually on the road, but so long as you’re not spinning with no resistance at all, which is pretty pointless, it’s a good start.

So, all in all, just be prepared to fall off a lot on your first attempt, and as I say, get yourself in a place where falling off won’t have you falling too far. I’m not convinced I’m ever going to clip in when I’m on the thing, but maybe after a few tries I’ll get the hang of it and have the confidence to give it a try.

Adjusting a Threadless Bicycle Headset

Almost a year ago, I collected my mid-life crisis vehicle; a top-end road bike, the one that was victorious in the 2008 Tour. When I collected it, the guys at the shop explained to me that the bars had two spacers below and two above the stem, such that I could lower it or raise it depending upon my preference. I understood the theory, but when they then explained how to go about doing it, I was utterly confused. Rather than just loosening one screw, swapping bits about and screwing it back in again, I needed to also deal with other screws in a specific order. They rushed through it a bit fast, I tried to understand and asked questions, but I still was pretty much clueless when I walked out the shop. There was also talk of drilling or cutting something once I knew what I wanted, and I had better make sure I knew what I wanted before I did that, otherwise… well, I wasn’t sure of that either, but apparently the consequences were not good.

It kinda scared me a little, tbh, so I put it to the back of my mind and tried not to think about it.

Fast forward 11 months, and I’ve had the bike out a few times. Not as many as I wanted to ideally, but that’s mainly because winter lasted 5 months, I broke myself completely rendering bike riding impossible, and then I was training for the marathon. But I’ve had it out a few times, and thus enough times to note that my back got sore very quickly every time I went out on it.

I wasn’t sure why this was, or what to do about it, but I did know that the guys in the shop had fitted me professionally for the bike, so if anything, my riding posture on the new bike was surely “correct” in comparison to what I’m doing on my commuter road bike, which I ride vastly more and never get a sore back.

Today, I decided to wash both bikes, which gave me the opportunity to get them side by side for the first time, so I could see where the difference was, because ultimately, I figured that there must be a difference, and if I can get them the same, then the sore back will disappear – right? So I put them beside each other, and they were exactly the same… except for the bars. On my commuter, they are higher than on my new bike. And then it became clear! I’m having to lean over more on my new bike, thus making my back sore. The saddle is in exactly the same position, as is everything else, so all I needed to do was raise the bars so that the spacers are all at the bottom.

And at that point, I remembered the confusing conversation that I had in the shop. So a bit of googling later, I came across this video, which explains what is going on with the headset, and why you have to deal with the screws on the stem. It all makes sense! And 15 minutes later, my bars are now at a decent height. Winning video here:

Yksion Pro Griplink / Powerlink

My Cervélo has a pair of Mavic Ksyrium Elite S wheels, which came with a pair of Yksion Pro Griplink / Powerlink tyres. Got my first puncture with them yesterday, a tiny piece of stone which somehow managed to penetrate the tube. Upon removing the back tyre for the first time to replace the tube, I discovered that the tyre is about the thickness of a piece of paper. OK, I’m not being entirely serious there, but in comparison to the Conti Gatorskins I have on my commuter, they are unbelievably thin. I’ve broken both my thumbs and thus have little strength in them in comparison to your average Joe, but I can get these tyres on the wheels without levers with no difficulty at all.

Therefore, I’ve ordered some Conti GP 4000s to replace them. Maybe they’ll be as thin and puncture with little more than a sliver of butter, but the reviews suggest they are pretty good. Time will tell.

I shouldn’t use the Cervélo in the city

I took a spin into EBC this afternoon, and decided to take the Cervélo instead of my Specialized commuter. Ultimately, it was an interesting lesson which ended up with me thinking I really shouldn’t bother doing this in future. The main disadvantage to taking the Cervélo was the constant clipping in and out of the SPD-SL pedals. Now, I’m probably still getting used to them, but I seem to struggle to get my left foot into the pedal easily, and since I’m riding in town, I pretty much have to stop at least every 2 minutes. Having to constantly unclip from the SPD-SL pedals is a total PITA, tbh. The clips on my SPD pedals on my commuter are significantly easier to get in and out of, so it’s just going to be a hell of a sight easier to take that bike in future, and I’ll take the Cervélo out for long out-of-town rides, which was the point of getting it, after all.

Gear ratios: Standard vs Compact

When I ordered my bike, I had a clear idea what I wanted for the gear ratios; I didn’t want a compact set of chain rings, and instead wanted a standard double of 53/39. Also, for the cassette, I was getting a 10 speed, and wanted a bigger range than the standard 12/25, so went for an 11/28.

Afterwards, I wondered whether I’d made a mistake, especially regarding the compact chain rings, as the guy in the shop had assumed I would want a compact for climbing hills. I investigated how much it would cost to get a replacement compact chainset of comparable quality to what is on the bike right now, and the RRP of £250 was beaten by Chain Reaction at £167. A lot of dough, but if the bike is unusable going up hills, at least the option was there.



But then I remembered about the cassette I was getting, and started wondering whether it would be ok after all. So first, for those of you who don’t understand these numbers, a description.

The chain rings are the big rings on your cranks (those things that your pedals are attached to). You will have one, two or three of them. I have two. There are 53 teeth on one, and 39 teeth in the other. You can now work out why I referred to it as 53/39. When you are wanting to go faster, you put the chain on the larger chain ring.

The cassette is the set of smaller chain rings on your back wheel, but they are not referred to as chain rings; it’s your cassette. I mention chain ring here merely to allow people to know what to look for. On a road bike, you will typically have anywhere from 6 to 11 individual rings, getting bigger the nearer to the spokes you go. The one I have is 11/28, which means the smallest ring has 11 teeth, the largest has 28. The others are somewhat evenly spaced, although this specific cassette isn’t that even, as it goes 11 12 13 14 15 17 19 21 24 28. Completely opposite from the chain wheels, you go in smaller rings the faster you want to go.

What appears to be a normal cassette is 12/25. I wanted a bigger range, 11 meaning I could go faster, 28 meaning I could get up steeper hills (and thus go slower). A compact set of chain rings, on the other hand, is only for going slower, and thus up hills. It’s not much use once you get close to 30mph on the flat, as you run out of gears.

So, to that end, I went to Sheldon’s site to use his gear calculator. I first put in what I’ve got, and then put in what I would have got by default. And hey presto, the gear ratio for the smallest gear is the same! Hurrah! See above screen grabs from Sheldon’s site, showing the two ratio calculations. Therefore, I have the same lowest gear as a standard cassette with a compact set of chainrings, but a significantly higher ratio at the top end. Unless I’m completely mis-reading this, but from common sense calculations in my head, I figured that it was going to be pretty close, so I’m reasonably sure it’s right.

The Mid-Life Crisis Vehicle

Ordered last year, the mid-life crisis vehicle is now here. No, it’s not a Porsche, but instead, is 6.8kg of cycling awesome.

Cervélo R3 Team

And as predicted, I couldn’t ride it home from the shop. Last night, while cycling home, a snowstorm blew in and covered the place with the white stuff, and the temperature stayed around zero all night, therefore meaning that the conditions on the roads are generally hazardous. The main roads looked pretty much ok, but all other roads looked like a death trap, and to be honest, considering I’d be clipped in to the SPD-SL pedals, I really didn’t want to risk it.

As it transpired, the boys in the shop were quite glad I wasn’t riding it either, because of the conditions, and mentioned that they would have tried to prevent me leaving the shop if I’d suggested I was going to ride away on the thing.

The wheels are Mavic Ksyrium Elite S WTS. What I discovered after getting it home is that it has different tyres on the front and back – Yksion Pro Griplink on the front, Yksion Pro Powerlink on the back. I’m going to be honest with you here, I can’t tell the difference from looking at them. They do look quite spanky, the tyres, but I very well might end up replacing them with a set of Continental Grand Prix 4000 in the future. Who knows.

I’m thinking I’ll probably hang the bike on the wall in some way. I mean, it’s far more attractive that any picture I can think of.

  • Cervélo R3 Team frame
  • Shimano Ultegra groupset
  • Mavic Ksyrium Elite S WTS wheelset
  • Yksion Pro Griplink / Powerlink tyres
  • Shimano Ultegra PD-6700-C pedals
  • 3T Dorico Team carbon seat post
  • Fizik Arione saddle
  • 3T ARX Team stem
  • 3T Ergonova Pro handlebars
  • Arundel Mandible bottle cages (x2)
  • Camelbak Podium Chill bottles (x2)
  • Garmin Edge 800

Which Cervélo Series Frame?

I’ve been doing a fair bit of reading on the four main Cervélo frame series. At first, I was baffled. There are four series, and two of them are obvious, the T and P. T is for Track, like what Chris Hoy does. If you don’t know who Chris Hoy is, I’m very, very disappointed with you. Go stand in the corner.

The other obvious series is the P, which is for triathlons / time-trials. Now, at first glance, the untrained eye might not see much difference aside from a pair of tri bars on the front. Believe me, there is a big difference between the body position on a time trial frame to that on a more normal road bike frame. You are much more hunched, with your body more parallel with the ground. It’s not comfortable, and it’s less safe when you’re using the tri bars. Realistically, unless you really know that you need a tri bike, you avoid the P series too.

R3 Team

Which leaves the R and the S series. Road and Aero, respectively. What’s the difference? Well, there’s not a gigantic difference, and you could get either bike and ride it around without looking like a total tit. However, there are differences.

The R series is lighter, whereas the S series is more aerodynamic. The R series is more comfortable, while the S series looks like something from the future.

Which do you go for? I can only think personal preference plays the largest part. I originally thought I’d go for an S frame since it looks utterly awesome, but the comfort factor and the weight issue swung me the other way. But you may be completely different.

You also have to be aware of the price. These things are not cheap. Prices for the R3, for example, come in at a minimum of £2,000. But that’s just the frameset. This does not include any groupset or wheels, which are by far the most expensive missing parts. Nor does it have all the other bits and bobs. Like a seat, or handlebars, cables, stem, tyres, pump, bottle cages, bottles… the list goes on. At current prices, if you wanted to set yourself up with a groupset that was comparable to the frame, you’d have to go for a Shimano 105 at the very least, and realistically you’d want Ultegras. Or if SRAM is more your thing, then SRAM Rival minimum, Force is better.

So ultimately, if you see £2K for a Cervélo, that’s the frame, and you should double it at a minimum for everything else. As for which series, start off reading about the R and S series, unless you know you need a time trial bike, or you’re the next Jason Kenny. Don’t know him either? /me shakes his head