Archive for August, 2011

Installing DuraAce 7900 Components

August 26, 2011 8:58 pm

Awhile ago I decided that it was time to switch to a compact crankset so I bought and installed a DuraAce 7950, replacing the DuraAce 7800 chrankset that came with my bike. At the same time I put on a 7900 series cassette and started using the DuraAce 7900 chain.

Being the cheap guy I am I continued to use my DuraAce 7800 shifters, derailleurs and brakes.  It was a workable combination but the shifting was just not the same as with my DuraAce 7800 double crank.

Lately I have had the urge to buy a new bike.  There is not good reason since things were working fine enough, but the DuraAce 7800 shifts have the older design of the shift cables routed outside and everyone has changed to internal routing.  It is kind of like driving an old car.  Sometimes you just want to drive a new one.

Although my components were now 4 years old, much of the bike was much newer, with the frame and crankset replaced 2 years ago and the wheels replaced within the past year.  So instead of going done the route of buying a new bike, I decided to replace the components that were still there from the original bike, which meant new shifters, brakes, and front and rear derailleur.  I had considered to go with SRAM Red, which is very popular now, but I have a couple of road bikes plus the tandem that have Shimano components so I wanted to keep everything Shimano and with a shifting method I was use to.

All of the components were on sale individually at so I placed the order for a total cost of $980 (less 10% in the points I get back for future purchases).  This included the ST-7900 Dual Control Levers, BR-7900 Dual -Pivot Caliper Brakes, FD-7900-B Front Derailleur, and RD-7900-SS, Rear Derailleur.  This was much cheaper than the $7,500 I would need to spend on a new bike with a top of the line frame, like I have, and DuraAce 7900 components.

Installing the brakes and rear derailleur was fairly easy because they were very much like what I have used in the past.

When it came to putting on the shifters that was a whole different store.  Even attaching them to the handlebar was puzzling and the instruction sheet that came with them was a bit hard to follow.  After getting them installed, I then had to route the brake and derailleur cables, which was tricky because it was so different than what I had done in the past.

Adjusting the rear derailleur was straightforward since it was similar to what I had done in the past.  The front derailleur was not so simple and the method of adjusting the cable tension was completely different.  I had to keep fiddling with it, even starting over a couple times.  The setup is suppose to allow you to use any gear combination without the need for trim in the shifters, but you have to do it just right to achieve that.  It is complicated by Shimano stating there is no trim, but the shifters do allow for two clicks going into the big chain ring.   One cycling friend had put in considerable slack in his cable so he used both clicks to get into the big chainring.  That just didn’t make sense to me because Shimano would not design something that required that type of effort.  I could setup things so it would move quickly into the big chainring, but the amount of tension caused the chain to rub when I was in the small chainring and largest cassette because the cable pulled the derailleur off the stop against the chain.  I finally solved that by a slight rotation of the derailleur.  If you have it off alignment, especially with the tail-end pointed outward even slightly, the very narrow range you have to work with with no trim is not sufficient.

It was only after I finished the job, reading and re-reading the instruction sheets, that I found this great video. If I had watched this first, I would have saved myself some time. Everything in the video is in the Shimano supplied instruction sheets but the video makes it easier to understand.

Shimano Dura Ace 7900 Installation Guide from ProBikeKit on Vimeo.

If you happen to be installing Ultegra 6700 components, this video will show you have. If you are installing a triple crankset, this video will also show you the differences in the installation between a triple and double (or compact) crankset.

Shimano Ultegra 6700 Installation & Adjustment Guide from ProBikeKit on Vimeo.

Riding with a Bike Club

August 19, 2011 8:19 pm

We returned from a month stay at our Utah home and had a great time.  The cycling up there does not have the variety we have in California, but we enjoy riding with the Utah Velo club.  Not sure why, maybe because their riding is a fairly good match with our abilities.  The Utah Velo club Saturday ride have about 25 people and their is just enough regrouping so most everyone can get back together.  The ride leader is great and is very good at controlling the group.  Doing rides with less climbing than we do in California does make this all much more possible.

While I once did a lot of cycling with ACTC in California, that is not the case so much anymore as you can see from this chart.

Our time in Utah this year has been limited, but miles with that bike club has been almost as much as with ACTC.  When I am California I prefer to bike with my cycling friends, the Night Riders, which is a ad hoc group that just does what we want to do, when we want to do it.  ACTC, on the other hand, is a inflexible club, with it’s own way of doing things and rides that are schedule many weeks before they happen, when the weather conditions can not be known.  ACTC is a very diverse club with all types of riders and although it has a lot of rides, more than most any other club, I have little interest in most of them.  Some involve too far of a drive from our house.  Most have a pace that is too slow for us with too frequent and  long regroups.  Some rides seem more focused on getting to some place to eat than riding the bike.  Others are oriented to try to do the most number of different billy goats (climbs) rather than finding the most interesting route.  Others are geared to only ride a long distance and there is little group riding on those.  There is nothing wrong with any of these and they meet the needs of many.  It is just curious that with such a diverse group of rides that there are so few rides that interest me.

I have the great advantage of being able to bike with my wife, Anne, and sometimes my children.  Also I have some great cycling friends that are nearer my home.   Those meet most of what I want to do when I am in California.   I am glad that ACTC does exist and still do quite a few rides with them.  However my cycling with that particular club in on the wain.


Hill Intervals – Small Improvement

August 1, 2011 9:07 pm

This afternoon I headed out for a climb up Squaw Peak with the plan of doing some interval training during the climb. It has been about 2 weeks since I did intervals up this hill.  In the past I did an interval for 400 feet of climbing and then a recovery for 200 feet.  I decided to reduce the recovery to closer to 100 feet of climbing since I was stopping to take my blood pressure, which added to the recovery period.  This way I could get in a 3.5 intervals rather than just 3.

I feel with all the climbing I have done I should see a good improvement from July 18th.  After I analyzed all the data, I did get a small improvement, but not as much as I had thought I was going to achieve.  My vertical speed (measured in meters per hour) averaged a little more and my average heart rate during the intervals was a bit less so both of these factors were in the direction of an improvement.

After each interval I took my blood pressure, which showed even lower than last time.  To get the reading I used a wrist blood pressure monitor and came a complete stop before taking the reading, otherwise the monitor would show an error.  I am not quite sure if the blood pressure is accurate, but even if it is close, it does mean that I am not getting abnormally high blood pressures when I take my heart rate up high and on the contrary, my blood pressure is dropping.  I believe during the ramp-up, as with the stress test, my blood pressure does go up, but holding a high heart rate over a period of time, causes the blood pressure to drop. 

The temperature was not excessively high, but it was much more humid than I have experienced in Utah before (turns out the most humid on records) due to all the rain storms).  My jersey was totally soaked by the time I reached the summit, so I know I was pushing hard.    I just am not able to achieve the vertical climbing speeds that I was able to achieve 3 years ago.  Anne reminds me I am getting older.

After reaching back down to the highway, I headed up to climb South Fork.  My plan was take it easy for this since I was very tired from the hill intervals.  Just before I reached Vivian Park, some guy came buzzing by me on his bike, but he stopped at the park.  I went past him and started to climb up South Fork, taking it easy as I planned.  Soon he came up from behind me and seemed try to pass me at a faster speed than he could maintain.  Even with tired legs it was too much of a challenge to resist so I picked up the speed to match his, then as he slowed I started to close the gap, but kept behind him until we were half way up.  When we reached one of the sharper pitches I kicked in and went past him.  He started to dig deeper and increased his speed, but the failure to close the gap quickly showed me that he could not keep up.  The gap kept increasing, although I was taking my heart rate up to 170 bpm near the end, a bit higher than I took it during any of the intervals.  When I reached the end, I quickly stopped and took my blood pressure and had a reading of 101/71 with a pulse rate of 162.

Overall I think I got in a good workout.