Friday night, Rach and I went to a technical presentation put on by the lead engineer of the Trek Advanced Concepts Group hosted at Belmont Wheelworks. The discussion was not for the technically faint of heart as the topics included wind tunnel testing, different forms of foil shape (essentially how they bend the carbon or aluminum of the frame to be as aerodynamic as possible), yaw, and almost any other design point about a bicycle. It might sound boring but it was actually very interesting.
The shop was closing when the talk ended, so we had to wait until Saturday to ride the Speed Concepts that were brought in for test rides. Rach and I got on the bikes (the Speed Concept 7 series) and headed off for a couple of miles worth of riding. It was fun seeing Rach enjoy her ride immediately. She was down in the aero position and pushing herself, even climbing most of the hill while still in here aero tuck.
For me, it was a much different experience. While I enjoyed the light weight frame and the feel of a very nimble bike under me; it took me most of the ride to get used to the idea of an aero position. I did eventually get used to it, and found with a proper fitting I’d probably really like it. Getting used to bar end shifters and breaks was another matter entirely, and I know it would take some serious saddle time in order to adjust to that.
The real issue though, was a design flaw in the Speed Concept; the SC uses a unique clamp style to hold the aerodynamic seat post in place. Because it’s a very small clamp pressed up against the post and screwed into place on the top of the top tube, it’s sensitive to weight. When I first got on it, the seatpost dropped a couple of inches. Jack, our teammate and the mechanic at the shop I prefer to work with when I’m there, adjusted it again and sent me on my way. Within minutes, the seat post dropped again, and I could actually hear and feel it wiggling from side to side as I rode it.
When we got back it was clear to me that even if I could afford a Speed Concept, the design wasn’t one that was meant for a person of my current weight. I found a polite way to let the designer know that this design is clearly not meant for a larger person based on that weight based failing point. He agreed, and sympathized that it’s unfortunate that it didn’t work for me.
Rachelle on the other hand, was ready to take hers home that day. She loved the Trek TT saddle that comes on the Speed Concept so much, we actually ordered her one on the spot, and she’s really excited to start using it when it comes in.