Finalising my Transcontinental Race Bike Setup

Most people who go on long-distance endurance races like the TCR are somewhat obsessive compulsive types, who generally really appreciate having a structured training program and, of course, don’t mind spending many hours in the saddle. One area where our obsessive natures really come into play are with our bike setups. We spend countless hours refining our position, changing equipment, etc. It all seemed quite normal to me until recently I was having lunch with an Australian colleague who pointed out that modifying a bike which already costs several thousand dollars to most people sounds quite over the top. Fair comment. But having said that, I’m almost at the point where my new BMC Granfondo GF01 is ready for the TCR.

My biggest change is to the braking. I was out in some serious rain on some very steep roads and it scared me. I had visions of descending Mt. Stelvio at night in the rain and decided to do something about it. So I decided to get a disc front brake. Of course that meant a new fork (and dynamo hub wheel from Tristan), so not an inexpensive proposition. But what price safety? I tried to get BMC to sell me one of their disc forks for the GF01 but they declined, saying it would affect the bike’s performance and dynamics (as if I would be able to tell), so on Ollie Whalley’s recommendation I went for an Enve fork along with the Avid road disc brake.  For the rear I’ve gone to some Swissstop GHP II high performance pads (which unbelievably are not sold in New Zealand!).  I took it out on some serious descents yesterday and all I can say is money well spent.

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I’ve been testing my Busch and Muller Luxos U dynamo light and it is without a doubt the best dynamo light for a race like the TCR. The beam has amazing throw at night and it is incredibly bright—even more so when the ‘spot’ mode is turned on.  Coupled with its USB connection and cache battery, it is all one needs.

What I find amazing is that even at night when running the light it will also power by cell pone and Garmin GPS. My other dynamo lights see all the power diverted to the light so only that gets power. With the Luxos U all that happens is the intensity of the light drops. So if I need more light I just unplug my cell phone.

One annoying aspect to the light was that it’s weight caused the mount to my screw in Profile Design aero bar to move slightly, especially on bumpy roads. I solve that with a small stainless steel screw that you can see on the bottom right.

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I want to run at least two USB connections to the Luxos: one for my Garmin 800 and the second for my cell phone (a waterproof Sony Xperia 800) which I play music on while riding as well as acts as a backup GPS. I also have a backup cell phone which is also my camera that I leave in my ‘gas tank’ bag on the top of the bike. I use a simple quad port replicator which is shown below. The coiled cable is for charging the camera.

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To run the cables into the gas tank I cut behind the ‘Revelate Designs’ logo. I will use safety pins to hold it closed. Velcro is used to wrap the cables around the aero bars.

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I wanted to run tubeless tyres for the race, but the Continental 4 Season Tyres did not work when I tried to run them tubeless so I’m back to tubes.

The new fork was further back than the previous one so I had to move my extra water bottle down lower. I made a clamp and attached it to the cable router on the bottom of the frame, and then used 2 x universal water bottle connectors (since the tube diameter was too great for only one) for the other connection. With an REI velcro strap it is held in firmly. I also found an old protective cap in my spare parts bin so it will keep the road crud from getting on the bottle.

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When I fitted the new fork I raised the handlebars by about 1.5 cm and that has really helped improve the comfort in the aero position. I also had a bike fit done by Warwick at Village Cycles who made a few additional refinements to my position and gave me some inserts for my shoes.

I took the bike out for 160+ km ride with some 1750 m of climbing (from our cottage in Pohara Golden Bay home via Spooner Hill) and it worked really well. Felt more comfortable and the gear—especially the brakes—are working brilliantly. Now just need to spend some more chamois time and ride as much as possible!

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The other bit of kit that I was able to test—as my ride went late into the night—was my ‘Noxgear Tracer 360’ high visibility ‘vest’.  imageUnlike reflective vests, this has fibre-optic coloured lights that flash different colours. I feel like a Christmas Tree but it is really visible, especially on dark country roads. This photo (not me) gives an idea. Best $60 I’ve ever spent.

It runs on 3 x AAA batteries so I’m able to use my Spot GPS batteries which still have a lot of ‘oomph’ in them in spite of being too weak to run my Spot GPS. One design flaw I found with the Tracer 360 is that the battery compartment is not waterproof. Solved that by covering the door with some ‘Tenacious Tape’.

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8 responses to “Finalising my Transcontinental Race Bike Setup

  1. Hi Chris! 🙂 This is a nice overview on your bike’s setup that I really enjoyed reading! Shall I ask you what kind of saddle you go for when it comes to TCR? I’d choose a hard, noseless saddle… would you recommend it? Thank you 🙂

    • No easy answer! I’ve a drawer full of saddles that haven’t worked. Through trial and error I’ve ended up with Specialized Format 143 but they don’t make them any more. In the end, it’s what works best for your anatomy. Don’t forget the chamois creme! Absolutely vital. I put it into small plastic pill packets so that I don’t need to carry any extra weight.

  2. Chris, what rim did you try to use for the 4 Season tires as tubeless?

    • Hi Marcus,

      There were two rims: one was the GF01’s Easton Gen5 tubless, the other was a tubeless rim supplied by my wheelbuilder. Don’t recall the brand. The problem wasn’t the rims it was the tyre not sealing.

      This year I’m looking at running tubeless with Hutchison Sector 28’s. They are designed to run tubeless and (claim!) to be similar 4 season tyres. Going to start testing them in a few weeks time.

      Chris

      • Thanks. I was planning to try to go tubeless with the 4 Seasons on Ardennes+ later this month, but I won’t be as disappointed if it doesn’t work.

      • I’d be interested to hear how it goes with the 4 Seasons and if you can get them to seal. Perhaps you could do a parallel ride with one wheel containing a 4 Season and another the Sector 28. I do love the 4 Season’s … hard to dump what was a successful relationship, but tubeless beckons…

      • I tried the 4 Season tires last month on one rim. Once I reached 85 psi, it exploded in my face. Twice. I may call Hed and see if they have any suggestions. Sector 28s may be in my future.

      • Sounds just like the problems we had. I’m running Sector 28’s in this year’s Transcontinental Race. Hope that the good reviews prove true!

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