Thursday, July 08, 2010

Corsa Concepts 2.3T Review

In 2008 I purchased my first set of serious road racing wheels. I got some Reynolds MV32C carbon wheels that had a power tap. I got them on Ebay for a great price and started training with power. They were clinchers so I used them for training and racing. Not very light with the powertap but I was getting great training feedback from the data.

In early 2009 I had a tire blow out on a decent that destroyed the back rim. I had the wheel rebuilt with a new rim. Not a cheap repair since it was a carbon rim. Unfortunately, the LBS (local bike shop) agreed to rebuild the wheel with the old spokes. Turns out that was a really bad idea. I was breaking spokes. Finally, I had the wheel rebuilt with all new spokes. It ran like a champ for about 9 months. Then another broken spoke during a race at Kings Valley. Unfortunately, the spoke break fractured the relatively new rim.

The thought of the cost and potentially dealing with broken spokes on a rebuilt wheel was not sitting well with me. One of the key factors was the expense of replacement. Many wheel companies won't warrenty a rim that is built by a LBS, so if you break it you pay full price to replace it. I had the LBS build a wheel with a bullet proof aluminum DT Swiss RR1.2 rim around the power tap. Definitely increased the weight of the wheel considerably, but I knew I wouldn't be frustrated.

I did a bunch of investigation into wheel options before going to the DT Swiss rim. I finally decided that the powertap wheelset would become my standard everyday training set. My thought was to purchase a raceday wheelset in the future.

Well, the future finally arrived. The PV raceteam is sponsored by Corsa Concepts. They are a small local company that is associated with Veloforma bicycles, a local frame company. Luckily, one of their sponsorsed racers was in town and I setup a time to test ride the wheels. Well, a test ride on these is similar to test ride of a brand new sports car - WOW. I decided to purchase a few days later after consulting a bunch of racers with similar wheels.

Tubular vs Clincher
This is my first set of tubulars. My intention is to use these wheels solely for racing, so I figured this was a good way to go based on recommendations from others. We'll see how I feel after having to change my first set. Luckily the wheelset I purchased already had a set of Vittoria Corsa EVO CX tires mounted.

Deeper Dish
The Corsa rim is 58mm (2.3") deep. It's essentially a Zipp404 rim and I understand the rim is made in the same factory as the Zipps. My Reynolds wheelset was 32mm rim depth, so I again spoke to a bunch of racers with the Zipp 404s to get their opinion on the 58mm depth. Everyone agreed, if you have 1 set of aero race wheels it should be around 58mm. It's a excellent comprimise between weight and aerodynamic advantage.

No Powermeter
I've trained and raced with a PowerTap for a couple years now. For training on rollers (which I do alot) a powermeter is an essential item. It gives you instant feedback for training intervals.

However, for racing isn't not such a great thing. Basically, if you're not keeping up with others it really doesn't matter what your powermeter says. I'll say that looking a the powermeter during a race can play mind tricks on you. Seeing a number you don't think you can hold for very long is not very motivating. Sometimes it's best not to know. It's nice to review files after a race, but if you've done the race once with a powermeter it really it's too interesting to see it again.

Of course, no power meter makes a huge difference on the weight of the wheel.

Weight Change
The weight difference to my powertap wheelset is probably the biggest difference. I measured a difference of ~1.2 lbs (from a bathroom scale, so I'll say that's approximate). That brings my bike overall weight to 16.7lbs (down from 18lbs). All is a reduction in rotational weight which makes a huge difference in acceleration.

Ride Review
I haven't put many miles on these yet, but I already have an opinion - WOW. I raced them last night out at Mt Tabor. The difference in accerelation is amazing. Actually, you really need to pay attention to your body position when you jump on these. You need to have weight over the back wheel, otherwise the tire will slide out. Also you can jump the back of the bike around pretty easily based on a talk with Corsa owner (who is much more of a sprinter than me). So, alittle form is necessary.

Tabor has a good short 2 minute power climb. They felt great. I just wish my legs felt good after the 5th lap!

Descending seemed very solid. By the 3rd lap I was starting to trust the wheelset and it was sticking to the road very nicely. Obviously, I need to get some more experience with them on the longer descents that take you up to 40+mph.

Overall, I very happy with the wheelset so far. It will be great to race them at the Cascade Classic later this month.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Ramping Up

Well, in the middle of June I really started focusing on training. Cascade Classic stage race is at the end of July and I need to get in shape or get my a$$ handed to me. I guess I've been doing some form of training since the beginning of the year, but it was more fun rides and morning endurance/threshold sessions. I really started the intervals and the long weekend rides.

I joined Ali in Bend last weekend when she did the PacCrest triatholon with Team-in-Training. I got in some excellent rides with Sunriver being the base. I did a 90 mile ride on Friday out to T1 at Wickiup Reservoir and then head back to Sunriver via Mt Bachelor on the 1/2 ironman route.

Here's a photo from my favorite lake along the route (Devils Lake) - the view on this route is awesome!

I've also been getting in some good long rides with the PV guys on Saturdays. Yesterday we did Mountain Home hill and I set a new 5 minute power record with 382W.

Tour-de-France has started - enjoy the race. It's going to be a good one.