Mailbag Mondays, 8-1-11 edition

Behind the Curtain Mailbag Mondays

We spend a lot more time responding to email than we do engineering carbon fiber layup processes. Even though we answer each message specific for the person who emailed us, some of what we reply may be of consequence to other customers as well. So every Monday that we remember to do it, we'll publish Mailbag Mondays here, with a few of the emails we received and the responses we sent.

Email #1: Rim Supplier

Are your carbon rims Sunnysun manufactured?  I only ask as I know those are good quality and was thinking about a wheel order.

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Hi <dude's first name redacted>-

Thanks for the note. We don't disclose the names of our suppliers, though it's not because we want to keep it a trade secret all to ourselves. Rather, our suppliers also supply some larger brands who charge more for the same or similar products than we do, and if word were to get out that we have the same stuff for less, the other brands may be inclined to switch suppliers. We don't mind stealing a little share, but we want to be good partners to our suppliers and don't want to jeopardize their business.

I can tell you, however, that before your email I had never heard of Sunnysun.

regards,

Mike 

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Email #2: TT Stuff

Hi Guys--I was wondering if you have any more news on the Time Trial frame that you blogged about a few months back?  I'm interested!

I was also curious to see what kind of prices we can expect on Powertap wheels with the release of the new G3 hub and the drop in price on the Pro hub?

Lastly, I was wondering if you'll be at any upcoming races where I could look at or try out the RFSC 85 wheels? I have done a few road races, but enjoy triathlon most so I am focusing on Ironman in the coming year.

Thanks!

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Hey <dude's name redacted>-

Thanks for the follow-up. We don't have a date for the TT frame yet. The supplier we are working with made some geometry changes at our request so now the new frame has to undergo EN testing before we get a demo over here to begin testing. We're also looking into an additional supplier to give ourselves some options. One change we think we'll make is that the TT frame will probably not be Scandium. The price of Scandium is climbing into carbon fiber territory. So we're looking at different aluminum alloys to keep the price down.

As soon as we have prices on the new PowerTap hubs we'll do two things:

1. Reprice all our current PT offerings with the new hubs

2. See if we can't get some of the outgoing PT hubs on clearance prices and move them out at a real value

We haven't received the official communique from CycleOps yet so we can't say for certain what the prices will be.

Finally, we are soon building up a set of 85s for demo purposes. (We built one already, but then it sold. Story of our lives.) Once they're ready I'll let you know and we'll try to coordinate a test ride.

regards,

Mike

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Email #3: FSW Lacing

Was curious why the spoke count is 24/24 and most wheel sets i have been spec'ing it is 20/24. I currently have a set of Aksiums and am looking to upgrade to an all around set I can use for group rides, centuries and du/tri's. thanks.

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Hi <dude's name redacted> -

Thanks for getting in touch.

We wanted to do a 2x lacing pattern, which doesn't work very well on 20 holes. 2x lacing does a few good things. First, the ride is really nice. Radial lacing has no shock absorption. Second, with aluminum rims, 2x is easy to get true and have it stay true darn near forever.  It also helps the hubs last longer - radial lacing stresses the hub flanges a lot. So for the 16 gram penalty of 4 more spokes, we thought it was well worth it. The wheels are still plenty light - comfortably under 1500 grams for a set.

There is a (very) small aero benefit to radial lacing, and for dedicated race wheels the market simply demands it.  Radial is in fashion for pure race wheels.  But we do offer our shallower carbon rims with 2x lacing for bigger riders and for use in cyclocross.

Last, if you should happen to break a spoke for whatever reason, you'll get home on 23 remaining 2x spokes. Not so much with 17 radial spokes.

We think 2x lacing is great.

Best,

Dave

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Email #4: Standard vs SOB

I would like to Pre-Order the RFSC 38s Wheelset. I am 6.1" and 180 lbs. What do you recommend 20/24 or 24/28?

Sincerely,

<Dude's name redacted>

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Hi <Dude's name redacted>

Thanks for getting in touch.

You are at the very light end of the overlap between the two builds. If you were 15 pounds heavier I'd call it an even split, take your pick. At 180, I'd say regular build unless you are chronically in search of everything being stiffer.

If you plan to ride them everyday, that might lean you tears the SOB build. But generally, I think you will like the regular build.

I'm 15# less than you and (when my wife hasn't stolen mine) ride 38s daily and don't even think about it. They're very solid wheels.

Best,

Dave

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Hey <Dude's name redacted>-

I'm pretty sure Dave meant "lean you towards", even though his phone thought he meant "lean you tears". Granted, "tears" could mean two things - either the moisture that never escapes a Belgian's eyes, or what happens to the ligament in your shoulder when you crash. But neither ought to be associated with our wheels when you're so close to buying a set.

-Mike

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Thumbs. I got ten of 'em!

-Dave

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Hello Mike:

Thank you for the explanation but Dave was right on the money. I do have tears in my eyes just to think that September is 60 days away! Anyway, you guys are awesome and I will be placing my order no later than tomorrow. 

Hi Dave:

Sometimes I also feel like "Chuky Ten Thumbs".....SRAM should get into the cell phone business. 

<Dude's name redacted.>


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  • Mark on

    Maybe conduct a quick survey via the blog and Facebook, but I would prefer a carbon TT frame.

  • Mike on

    The FSW's are an awesome wheelset…over 1K on mine and have not done any maintenance on them, because they haven't needed it! I ride some iffy roads, and have a mountain biker's tendency to bunny hop things instead of just swerving, they are still running strong.They are so good I'm not sure if I want to "upgrade" to the RFSC 38s next year.My 'cross bike came with Aksiums…I hate them, heavy and harsh.

  • Mike May on

    Mike, I'm surprised Dave hasn't weighed in yet with some calculations about the stresses put on a hub from swerving vs hopping. It may be that hopping is actually the kinder, gentler treatment. And it's certainly better on on your grip tape – I swerved to avoid a water bottle once and lost traction in a corner, shredding my SRAM supercork.Mark, we don't need no stinkin surveys – your opinion is plenty. We've just requested a geometry chart for a TT frame from a supplier we really like (and you do too). I've said before, we're materials agnostic. What is most important is a supplier we can rely on. One option for the TT bike is to offer an alloy bike at a price point lower than anything in the market, but we can certainly sell a carbon TT bike for less that competitors' carbon bikes if we go that route. And we've got some other ideas as well for how to make it more affordable. For example, many racers already have wheels – yet you still have to pay for the 1900g clunkers that have no business on a $2700 TT bike. We'll offer our TT bike w/o wheels, so you're only paying for what's actually useful to you. (And of course we'll also offer it with any combination of our RFSCs so you'll be able to roll with 85mm of speed at about the same price as the other bikes with the 1900g boxy boat anchors.)


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