The Best Bike Components
“For your next triathlon race, it’s best to have the best bike components. Read what they are below!”
One should not put too much emphasis on a bicycle’s components, as any true cyclist will say that the fun and increased performance comes with training, not with $$$. That said, cyclists–more than any other athletes–like to debate what are the “best” parts and materials, so here are my 2 cents… Most of these components have been used on my own bicycle at one time or another, aside from the IRC tires.
Pro Link Chain Lube
This is the first chain-lube that totally lives up to its promises of cleanliness and good lubrication qualities. Just follow the instructions (drip on the chain links, and wipe off excess… repeat if there is some residual chain lube of a different type to clean that out), and this stuff will stay on, keep your chain totally quiet, and not attract dirt. Twice now I have applied it and gone 150 miles without the chain getting any noisier or significantly dirtier! And I believe I can go much farther than 150 miles (I applied it the second time before the 140-mile World’s Toughest Century, not wanting to take any chances. And several training rides after that ride, the chain is still quiet and reasonably clean!) It’s $7 per bottle but could feasibly last you many years.
These American-made pedals are the lightest, have the most float (35 degrees), have the best cornering clearance (39 degrees), have the easiest entry (double-sided with large “target” area means clipping in quickly without looking is easy), have slim, durable metal cleats, plus look very cool and elegant. To top it off, the X/3′s with SS axles (while still lighter than almost all pedals except for Speedplay’s more expensive ones) are only $90-100! How can these be beat? (6/02)
CO2 Tire Inflators
Forget that pump! All right, this is a very controversial pick, but I have been using CO2 tire inflators for years (almost a decade in fact). Much lighter and smaller than a pump, one can even covertly hide CO2 cartridges in the handlebars! They inflate tires instantly to over 90 psi, unlike frame pumps that require hundreds of muscle-flexing strokes. Admittedly each CO2 cartridge is a one-shot deal and cost about $1-2 apiece, but that is no big deal if you get only a handful of flats a year.
Michelin Pro Race Tire
Admittedly, I got this top-of-the-line tire since it is available in all-black and I am partial to Michelins. It has a superb ride–very supple, and reminds me of the ride of the long-discontinued Michelin Hi-Lite Supercomp HD’s when the Supercomps (which wear fast) had low miles. Corners great when wet and it seems like I can use higher pressure (say, 10 psi) than the Supercomps while maintaining good ride quality (comfort). After the 202-mile Heartbreak Double, there is no perceptible wear or cuts on the tread (an issue with the Supercomps), and no flats so far. Expensive though (retails for $52 each at Performance, though I got them for $35 by showing them the SuperGo sale price, which they matched.)
Alloy spoke nipples
They seize quickly (often requiring you to cut spokes in order to true the wheel after a few years) and break or “round” out more more easily than brass nipples (which I’ve never experienced these problems with, even on 10-year-old wheels!) All to save approximate *1 gram* per nipple, or about one ounce per wheel. The only thing going for them, in my opinion, is that you can get them anodized in different colors for a “trick”-looking wheel. But after spending days running around for new spokes and long spoke nipples (for deep-dish rims) because the spoke nipples on my 5-year-old wheel had seized, I cannot recommend them.
I really liked the idea, but after using Park’s and Performance’s glueless patches for 3 or 4 years, I’ve come to the conclusion that they aren’t nearly as reliable as the traditional rubber-cement type, which I once had a streak of a couple dozen successful repairs with. Glueless patches are good for temporary use, I guess.
Ultralight butyl tubes
These tubes are comparable to latex tubes in weight, and are less porous than latex ones. In fact, Michelin ultralight tubes seem to retain air as well as regular tubes (the other brands I tried don’t). That said, the frequency of flats noticeably increased when I tried them for a while. Furthermore, due to their small diameter and easily-tearable thin rubber, the chance of successfully patching a flat is greatly reduced.
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