Wednesday, January 9, 2013

An Ode to my darling (Planet X Stealth)

I love bikes.

I know, no big revelation to those who even remotely know me. I'm a FIRM believer in the N+1=N formula in determining how many bikes you should own. Beyond a general enjoyment for all bikes, and a hard to sate lust for bikes that I do not own (There are a couple of new bikes I'd like to ride and a plethora of "vintage" bikes I'd love to collect.) there is a special place in my heart for my own personal bikes. Each of them have their own personality and characteristics, from the down and dirty "beat me up" feel of my CAAD8 to the spectator friendly showboating that my Zipp 2001 never fails to deliver... they all do something for me.

That said, my Planet X Stealth will always be my #1 ride.  I mean, just look at this beauty.

The old War Horse
There are not many people who can say they know a bike like I know this one. I ordered this guy in 2010 directly from Planet X USA (now defunct I believe) as a frame only. Every piece beyond that was chosen by me, and in some cases modified or replaced to squeak out every bit of custom preference/performance I could get out of it.  Is it the fastest frame... undeniably not. Much of the shape is "aero looking" as opposed to actually aerodynamic. Nonetheless, the price was right and I still think it holds it's own with most "non-super" bikes... and besides, position is the key to aerodynamics, and let me tell you... I can get pretty steep on this thing :)
It's not supposed to be comfy :) I mean c'mon... it's only 56 miles.
And talk about a frankenstein of a bike... here's my current build.

- Planet X Frame (M)
- Oval Concepts Jetstream fork (Hey, worked great for Cadel!)
- Simkins Egg Brake (front... stopping power and aero!)
- Ritchey adjustable stem (to get lower)
- Profile Design Ozero base bar (great shape) and Ski bend aerobars (need the angle to mantis)
- Nokon Shifter/Brake Cables (for the required tight bends from having the base/aerobars so low)
- Dura - Ace 7800 Downtube Shifters retro-mounted as bar end shifters (for length)
- Specialized Virtue Bottle with drilled holes to mount flush in triangle
- Campagnolo Record Carbon Front Derailleur (because carbon is awesome)
- A Fizik Arione Tri2 saddle (the cheap one)
- Dura - Ace 7800 Rear Brake (for peace of mind stopping power)
- Dura - Ace 7400 Crank (7800 Chainrings) and Square Taper BB (103mm length) to narrow Q-Factor
- Dura - Ace 7900 Rear Derailleur (cause it's soooo nice)
- KMC 10xsl chain (the best chain ever made)
- Rear-Mount Gorilla Cage under the saddle (Lieto style... Gorilla to actually keep it from launching)
- Cycleops Rear wireless PT Wheel w/ Wheelbuilder cover, on Conti GP TT tires (latex tubes)
- Hed 3 front wheel w/ Bontrager Aerowing TT tire (latex tube) because Wiggo rides it :)

I know, it's a bit of a monstrosity. That's part of the reason I love it.
The looks I get and questions asked are pretty great also. The one's I get asked over and over are

1.) Is that a Campagnolo Front Derailleur?
Working my sorcery, I have a bike with both Campagnolo and Shimano!
Yep.  I run it because it looks cool and because so many people get their mind blown by it :) It's also near heresy to Campy-philes so that's an added bonus!

2.) Why do you have that crank on your bike?

State of the Art... in 1985
Short answer... the Q-Factor on this crank (plus an appropriately short bottom bracket) is insanely low, with only a couple of possibilities to rival it. (What is Q-Factor?) (One of the original writings on Q-Factor)There are tons of arguments about whether having a narrow vs. wide Q-factor on the bike. For me, it's both more aerodynamic and more comfortable. It's also impossible to achieve with modern cranks that I can think of. Fortunately, Shimano has had the "best crank in the biz" thing down for quite some time, so these guys have performed as flawlessly as the 7800 crank I had on it before.

3.) What's up with those shifters?

DIY weirdo shifters!

The downtube shifters (which is what they are) throw people off. I made them by scavenging some old 7800 bar ends and a pair of 7800 dt shifters. You need some of the internals of the bar ends to make it work unfortunately. The extra little bit of reach they give worked out perfectly for my bars, and plus I feel a bit more "comfortable" with them in my hands as opposed to the bulky shimano bar-ends (which were really made for commuting bikes... not tt bikes anyways.) I really wish Shimano would put out some bar-ends similar to SRAMs... but alas. (I also never liked the R2C Zipps although they are cool)

4.) Finally... it's the position. I get constantly assailed with "is that comfortable?" To which I laugh.
No. It's not comfortable.

Children... out of my future.
The question of comfort comes up a lot when you get to talking about fit. There are two camps basically.
- Those that don't want to sacrifice comfort for aerodynamics
- Those that want to be as aerodynamic as possible at the expense of comfort.

I don't think everyone's "tolerance" is the same, but I do think most people simply get into a position that's aggressive, have neck pain the next day and give up on it. I spend hours every season in position on the trainer to make it as "normal" as I can for race day. I've never had it make much effect on my power (for a triathlon) or my run. My 20 min tt Avg. Watts is indeed lower, but I don't ride 56 miles at that kind of power anyways.(/rant)

And of course I'm always looking for new toys... Current prospects are the skewers from the guys over at +1mph faster and some of the Tririg toys. I'm always on the look out for an old Argos TT fork or a BlackWell Time Bandit fork as well, although both of those are pretty rare nowadays. Oh well, hunting is part of the fun :)

As far as racing in the near future is concerned, I'm considering a 10 miler at the end of the month. I figure it'll be a good warmup to the Knoxville Marathon (half for me) in April. I'd also like to get another 5k or so in, as I'm ever trying to crush that mythical (to me anyways) sub 19'

I hope everyone's week has been well. Until Next Time.

Thanks for Reading.

-Christopher Morelock

1 comment:

  1. You would not be happy if you saw my bike! ... it's hanging on the ceiling in my garage.. with my IMCOZ number on it... from 2009 :o