Beyond A Super Bike | Si’s Hyper Bike KOM Challenge


(dramatic music) – This is a video about not
really being good enough to do something, but then
seeing how much better you can make your bike to allow you to, hopefully,
achieve your goal. Which, in this case, is
riding really fast up a hill. Making my bike lighter
thought isn’t going to cut it, but fortunately, CeramicSpeed
have just got in touch to offer their range of products to try, and I thought, ah-ha, I can
see a plan coming together. (dramatic music) We’ve all got a climb that’s
important to us, haven’t we? I mean, it might not be a
big deal to anyone else, but we can’t all live at
the bottom of Alpe d’Huez. But that doesn’t matter, because any climb can be important. It might be the one you do regularly, the one that tells you how fit you are, the one where you know
your best time up it. Now, this one here, this is mine. One or two of you might recognize it, but probably not many of you. It’s called Belmont Hill, and it’s just outside
my hometown of Bristol, in the Southwest of England. It is, wait for it, 1.44 kilometers long at an average gradient of 7%. Yes, I appreciate that that
doesn’t sound like much. I did say it wasn’t important. And, yes, it probably barely
registers as even a climb for many of you, but,
a few years back, now, I was actually the fastest rider up here with a time of three
minutes and 19 seconds. Not any more though. The record is now just three
minutes and seven seconds. And I think there’s
probably a big question mark about whether I’ve ever
been capable of doing that. But, to make matters worse, I think I’m now at that age where instead of getting
better every year, I’m, well, I’m not. And I don’t think it’s all
age related, necessarily. I also have less time to train, as well. The problem for me, though, is that I’ve still got competitive juices flowing through my veins and
so I quite fancy at least setting a personal best up here, if not having a shot at the record. So, the question is then, how am I going to do it? (dramatic music) I’m gonna call in some favors
and try to turn back time. That’s how. First up though, let’s be clear there is going to be no cheating nor am I going to allocate
more time to train for this, nor, sacrifice the rides
the rides that I do to prepare for a three minute long climb. I’m not even going to try and lose weight. Even though, theoretically,
dropping a kilo could save me two precious seconds. Instead, I’m going to do what
many like-minded people do and look to my bike for the answers. This is the steed that’s, hopefully, going to propel me towards my goal. It did last time. It’s my trusted Canyon Aero Now getting on for three years
old, would you believe? But, still trucking
along as sweetly as ever with it’s Zipp 454 wheels,
Sram Red eTAP groupset, Quarq power meter. It weighs just a shade over 7.2 kilos. So, you can quite
reasonably ask the question, how on earth do you make
a superbike even better? My first port of call is to Jason Smith who’s the Chief Technology
Officer at CeramicSpeed. He’s also the inventor of the
radical Driven drive shaft. Which, to be fair, I did
ask to see if it was ready. But, alas, it’s not. Nevertheless, I’ve heard there
are apparently 16 to 20 watts up for grabs by optimizing the drivetrain that I’ve already got. So, Jason, how realistic is
that figure of, excuse me. (laughs) Just choking on my breakfast. Jason, how realistic is that
figure of 16 to 20 watts? – [Jason] That’s relatively realistic especially at the power output that you’re going to be
putting out, for this climb. I believe you’re putting
out about 400-450 watts, so, with an optimized drive train at that wattage, you’ll
probably be able to save about 16 watts, give or take, if you optimize your drive train. – Okay, so I’m actually aiming for 530, does that mean I get more savings? – [Jason] Yes, so, you’re pushing 530? A lot of the drive train
optimization, practices, techniques that I’ll tell you about, a lot of them are fairly
linear with rider-output. So, yeah, at your power output, you’re probably going to
be pushing the high teens, close to 20 watts savings, yes. – Following on from my
conversation with Jason and here is how I’m going
to get my 20 extra watts. First of all, the chain is the big one. Now, a clean chain is more efficient. An optimally lubricated chain
is more efficient still. But to go the whole hog, and get all the watts, I’ve done this: I’ve swapped
it to a CeramicSpeed UFO Chain. They don’t actually make the chain itself. They buy a top-of-the-range one, then they strip it right
back to bare metal, polish it up, to make
it even more efficient and then they add their
own special coating. Now I kind of want to say lubricant, but it’s not exactly lubricant
like you or I would know it and it’s finished off with
rather attractive Teflon dust. So, apparently, that is worth 10 watts. Oh yeah, 10 watts. Then, next on the list, is
this, which is the OSPW. You can see that I’ve
replaced the derailleur case to have this extra long one. That is to make space for the
17-tooth pulley wheels there. The theory being that the
less a chain has to bend, the less friction it will generate. You can see there’s a larger radius there meaning that the chain is
literally bending less. That, apparently, is
worth about four watts, would you believe? The reason it is less than the chain is because it doesn’t really deal with the same kind of load. All the load on the chain
is on the top there. All the load on the bottom here comes from the derailleur cage spring which I have further tuned. Oh yeah, because around the back, there are actually three
holes, three settings, high tension, medium, or low. I’ve got it on the lowest one which apparently the most efficient. Not ideal if you’re
going to ride Paris Roubaix. Perfect if you’re doing a
time trial on good roads or a hill climb on reasonably good roads. That’s 14 watts right there. I’ve also swapped out my bottom bracket. I’ve now got a CeramicSpeed
bottom bracket in there. That’s apparently two
to three extra watts. Even the wheel bearings
have got that treatment. Because I’m going uphill and
I’m going a little bit slower, they’re not going to be
saving me quite as much as if I was doing a time trial. Nevertheless, you add that all up, and that is 20 watts. But, brilliantly, I’m not finished there. It’s going to get even more geeky because we’re going to
talk about gear ratios. Yes, when I first heard
about Jason’s work here, in this area, I was completely blown away. I think it’s quite fascinating. What about my gear ratios then? This is something that I
can effectively influence without necessarily changing
anything on the bike. The decision to go for big
ring versus little ring or what sprocket I’m using
on the cassette at the back. So, when you found out
the info about the climb, my power output, my preferred cadence, you’ve done some quick
maths, is that right? Does this work out
– Yep. to what I should be running? – [Jason] Okay, what do we
know about drive train friction and ring sizes and cross-chaining? We know that a bigger ring
is better, efficiency-wise. – [Simon] Yep. – [Jason] We also know
that cross-chaining is bad because that just drains energy. – Yeah. – [Jason] How can we,
essentially, here’s the question how can we use the biggest ring possible and minimal cross-chaining? We look at your stock setup. Let’s say you ran a 53-21. Well, you’re going to have
a lot of cross-chaining because with a typical cassette that 21-tooth cog is going
to be in the 9th position. – Yeah. – [Jason] So, there’s a
lot of cross-chaining. Well then, let’s go back and
say, hey this is a climb, Simon, so why don’t
you run the little ring that’s for climbing? Well, in this case, you’d be in a 39-15, so you’d have a lot of cross-chaining on the other side of the cassette. Plus, you’re running a 39,
which is a smaller ring, so, that’s kind of a double negative. So you want to throw that out. – In essence, your gear selection could have an impact of about five watts on your efficiency. The theory goes that, as with
our oversized pulley wheel, bigger is better. So, your big chainring
should be more efficient than you little chainring. However, cross-chaining, where
the chain is at an angle, is even more costly than that. In this case, my problem is how do I go up my climb
in the big chainring, but in a big enough sprocket at the back, but still without cross-chaining? Jason suggested, firstly,
I could run a 1x chainring because those are set
slightly further inboard to improve the chainline at the back or I could create, in his
words, a Franken-crank by swapping the big
ring and the inner ring and therefore having my big
ring on the inner ring position. But, I wasn’t willing to do that because it just seems all kinds of wrong. So, instead, what we’re doing
is looking at the cassette. With Jason’s calculation’s
he’s worked out, if I use a 53-tooth chainring, I’m going to need about a
21-tooth sprocket at the back. That’s looking at my speed that I’m going to do
at my preferred cadence which last time was an average of 86. Now, I can’t run a single speed because I’m going to need
to change gear on here. What I’ve done, is I’ve
bought a cheap cassette where I’m able to swap the
positions of the sprockets round and, as you can see,
I’ve moved all the gears that I want to use for my climb right down to the outside of the cassette and then stuck the other
sprockets on the inside where I’m not going to use them. I’ve effectively got a 5-speed bike. Going from 18, 19, 21, 23, 25. Although if I’m in the 23 or 25, I might as well give up because I’m not going to
be breaking any records. With this setup now, that is
an additional five watts saved. Winner. (rhythmic rock music) (tools clanging) Ah, look at that. I’m particularly pleased, not
only with the super fast chain but also the fact that
it looks like something a hipster might put on
their fixed gear-bike. And, it kind of pops against
my otherwise murdered-out bike. Anyway, looks are not the
primary consideration here. One thing we haven’t touched on, which are a big consideration,
is aerodynamics. Now, I’m not really much
of a weight-wheelie, but I know that even if riding up a hill at 28 kilometers an hour, aerodynamics are going to play a part, so I have enlisted the
help of another friend, another very useful
friend, called David Morse, who is an advanced
development engineer at Zipp. Now, he’s super-stacked with work, but he very kindly did some
rough calculations for me. Following on from some
information he’d asked for and I duly sent over. My weight, ready to right
with helmet and shoes on, my bike weight, and then also some closeup pictures of the road surface. Now, he then went on to suggest that, were I able to do the
same effort as last time, five and 24 watts, on a time trial bike, in a time trial position, I
would go seven seconds faster. Unfortunately, I can’t. Nor could I do as he suggested after that, which was put the same
power out in the saddle, in the drops, but it just goes to show how important aerodynamics
are even uphill. That includes the wheels because
I asked for advice on those and he recommended, not
Zipp’s lightest, the 202s nor the Goldilocks dual wheel, the 454, that was on here before, but, a full bifta, Zipp 808. Super deep and super aero. Not only that, he also suggested that I swap the 25 mil
wide tires on for 23s. So, I went and found
some GP 4000 II 23 mil tires in a cupboard, (blowing) Dusted them off, because they’ve not been
used in a couple of years And hey presto, here we go, pumped up to his recommendation of 85 psi. So, for hill-climb bike, I’m
going for 80 mil deep wheels. (laughs) Oh, he also said, take off my ball cage. (beeps) A true weight-wheelie would
probably leave these off but they’re going back on. So, here we are then, one ultimate bike and one insignificant, little climb that at the same time, actually right now, feels like quite a big deal. There is a bit of pressure on. I’m not going to lie. And, there’s nowhere left to hide. Other than, I probably better
mention, as you can see, the weather is far from ideal. There’s like a southwesterly breeze as opposed to a southerly. And the air pressure is quite high. Also, I didn’t sleep
terribly well last night. I did have a massive
curry for dinner, so yeah. (beeps) now, I have one confession to make. I have actually done a specific
training session for that. I know I said I wouldn’t, but I did one. I split the climb into halves and I did each half at over record pace. My theory being, that if I get used to riding
a certain pace up there, or normalize it, and
that will mean therefore, that when it comes to record itself, I’ll be expecting to do that speed and it won’t feel like a big deal. So anyway, we’ll see whether
that theory comes to pass. One final thing to mention is that I’ve been umming-and-ahhing about whether to do a
LiveTrack on my wire hoop. I’ve got the kind of
personality type that means if I can see that I’m ahead,
I will go even faster still whereas if I dip behind,
then I’m completely done for. I better start fast then because I’m going to LiveTrack it and get a massive run-up. (timer beeps) Hey, come on, stop with the beeps. I’m not ready yet. Told ya, I’m getting a massive run up. (rhythmic electronic music) (heavy panting) It’s like. It’s a bit like drowning, isn’t it. You can’t get oxygen in. So, it’s almost like you give up. And then your legs and your
arms still flapping around. Might have spend my legs, for (mumbles). Personal record. No! Two seconds off. Ah! I’m not doing it again. No way, no way. Two seconds off. Ay. (beeps) Well, for good news is that I’ve absolutely smashed my personal best by 10 seconds. Which I’m delighted
about, to be quite frank. The bad news is I have
missed out on the record by just two seconds which is gutting. There is literally
nothing else I could give. So, that is me. But still, two seconds. Ah. Anyway, there we go. I gotta say, although
doing that kind of effort is not enjoyable, in the
slightest I don’t think, the first half was absolutely fantastic before the effort had
really started to bite. I feel like I was absolutely flying. It was remarkable. What? I am back at base. Marginally recovered, but also quite surprised
at just how tired I am after three minutes of riding. Anyway, I have crunched
through some of the data that I have at my disposal. Turns out maybe I didn’t pace it quite as well as I could have done. I was two seconds up at the halfway point and then I lost four
seconds on that second half. Which might explain partly why it hurt quite as much as it did. It might also explain why I
was putting out 80 watts less for that second half of the
run, anyway, there we go. Something to work on for next
time, if there is a next time. One other thing, actually, I signed up for a fantastically geeky app called myWindsock.com. Oh yes, there is such a thing. It confidently told me that actually the air
was quite dense today. The ultimate excuse. It was 1.262 kilograms per
meters cube, apparently. Although I can’t say that the
wind was necessarily a factor. If it was blowing it
all, it was a cross-tail. So, there we go. What I can say, confidently,
is that I cannot wait to change this cassette around again. There is something criminal
about having a bike this fast limited to an 18-tooth sprocket. Hopefully I can hang on to all of the new bits and pieces on here and then actually ride around
fast on the flats for a bit. Thinking of that, actually, I’ve got to say a big
thank you to CeramicSpeed for the loan of all this amazing kit and also Jason for his time and explaining all these
optimizations to us. And David, as well, from Zipp. I don’t think I could
have done it without ’em. I’ve got to say though just how much I have enjoyed looking into
the minutia of the tech. I appreciate that it is massively geeky but it’s been brilliant
and if the climb didn’t hurt quite as much as it does then I could see it developing into something of an obsession. Maybe if I chose a longer climb. That would be better. Or flat, time trial. I don’t know. We’ll see. Watch this space. In the meantime, please give this video a big thumbs up if you’ve enjoyed it. If you would like to see
an uninterrupted view of this bike next to me, then
we have a closer look at it over on the tech channel and
you can get through to it by clicking on the screen now.