New Drivetrain and Tires – WOW!

MyMadone-16If you read my entry about the Wilderness Campaign, then you know I had some noise issues which got pretty bad during the ride.  During my clean-up and replacing of the chain (my first suspect), I noticed excessive play in the guide jockey.  So I replaced both jockey wheels.  The cassette had ~3500 miles on it.  I’m not exactly sure since it had been swapped in and out over the course of 5000 miles.  Regardless, I had been riding on it with a worn out chain and opted to replace it.  As I continued to clean, I noticed a few gashes and bubbles in the sidewalls of my relatively new Bontrager Race All-Weather Hard-Case tires (less than 1000 miles).  The tires seemed sort of slow anyway; plus, I never really felt I needed rain tires in the past.  Additionally, I read this article and the following discussions about how higher thread-count tires are more supple and roll faster, up to 20% faster… TWENTY PERCENT.  As a result, I left a tire with 60 threads per inch (tpi) and switched to a tire with 330-tpi, a set of Continental Grand Prix 4-Season tires in 700×28.

TireI took the bike out for its first ride with the new drivetrain and tires.  Being naturally skeptical, I wasn’t looking for any miracles.  I was just hoping to have a noise-free ride.  After my riding partner finished admiring the brass plated chain (okay, I was still admiring it, too), we hit the road for a 27 mile route we normally ride two days a week during the summer.  I wasn’t even out of the parking lot or doing more than 10-mph when I felt the difference!  “This can’t possibly be!  I can already feel the nicer ride!”  The bike always feels more responsive after removing the large handlebar bag:  left, right, left, right, zip, zip, weeeeee!  But there was more to this new sensation!  We were cruising at 19-mph in no time.  We rode between 19 and 21 mph along a lot of the stretches.  We pushed along at 24 for a spell, too.  I had a little more in me.  But I held back since I’m still out of shape.

After months of struggling to hold 15-mph and writing it off to “winter fitness,” I think it’s safe to say that I finally found my speed somewhere between the new drivetrain, new tires (5x the tpi and 6-oz less per tire), and losing the 6-lb handlebar bag.  I’ll not get ahead of myself.  There are still a few tests of speed I can and will do.  One is riding with a B+ group which left me behind a couple of weeks ago.  The other is to see what happens on my next 200-km permanent.  My rolling average during the last three 200-km rides was 13-mph.  I’ll feel pretty good if I can manage better than that; and even better if I can finish with the group!  🙂

Noise Free,


About Scott

I grew up near Houston, TX and served in the U. S. Coast Guard ordnance and electronics communities for over 35 years. I became involved with ham radio and computers in 1995. The explosion of technology made my jobs and hobbies quite interesting. My hobbies include Volkswagens, bicycling, photography/videography, electronics, ham radio, and web management.
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4 Responses to New Drivetrain and Tires – WOW!

  1. Jo Wildman says:

    Great news for you, Scott! I love the feel of my 1974 Nishiki 10 speed, but I think chain, drive, etc. needs replaced/updated (regardless of what the bike shops have told me). Seems to have slowed over time and the many miles (but then, maybe it is me). Your increase in performance is encouraging to me. Happy riding! Jo


  2. Gary says:

    Scott, how do the 28mm tires fit? I’m surprised you can get them past your brake pads (inflated?). I use 25mm tires on my road bikes & they’re always a tight squeeze. Best of luck; it’s always fun to experiment.


    • Scott says:

      Gary – I have my brakes adjusted to clear the tires when the bolt is all the way in and the cam is open (it’s still tight). I then close the cam and unscrew the adjustment bolt about 3-4 turns to close the caliper to the wheel. It works fine. The only hiccup is the rear tire has to be deflated to remove the wheel. It can be removed without deflating. But it’s much smoother when the tire is flat. This isn’t a problem at home with a floor pump nearby. 🙂 This would not work with 32’s.


  3. Pingback: ACP Suffolk to Skippers 200 km (130 miles) | Captain Overpacker

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