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Fulcrum Racing Zero Review
Cycling

Fulcrum Racing Zero Review

Campagnolo the famous Italian component manufacturer has made it’s mark in history many times over. From innovating the modern rear derailleur to building satellite chassises for NASA in the 60s. There is little doubt to the quality and reliability that comes with the brand. Fulcrum was establish in the early 2000’s under the wings of Campagnolo in order to expand it’s in house manufactured wheelset as they wanted to shift away from the tense rivalry in the groupset market between themselves and Shimano. Fulcrum todays has an extensive range of wheels ranging from MTB, cyclocross, Road and even Time Trail specific wheelsets.

Fulcrum Racing Zero Review

Ceramic Ultra Smooth Bearings,

The Fulcrum Racing Zero is definitely a wheelset that comes with a reputation, they are the gold standard of alloy wheels. Built with the idea to transmit energy down to the asphalt without wasting any energy in the process. The wheels comes with ceramic bearings which are indeed ultra smooth, hence the name USB ( Ultra Smooth Bearings). Not to be confused with a USB port on your computer.

Fulcrum Racing Zero Review

Initially I had not thought much about these wheels other than a wheelset that was priced above it’s actual value. For the price of the Fulcrum Racing Zero  you can purchase a decent pair of carbon clinchers. To put it into perspective I was not expecting much from these wheels as I set out on my maiden voyage.  The first impression was that they felt insanely stiff. Now when I mean stiff, I mean feeling every bump on the road, feeling the imperfections of the asphalt as you pedal along. The wheels felt very stable in cross winds, however that was to be expected from it’s shallow design of 27mm in height in the front and 30mm in the rear. Cutting through the wind was obviously nowhere near comparable of an aero wheel of 50mm and above.

As I cruised along, I found it difficult to justify the price tag on these alloy wheels, yes the bearings were smooth, the design was ecstatically pleasing and braking was sublime. The 2:1 (Two To One) spoke ratio technology made the wheels feel very responsive. Despite all of it  I could not wrap my head around them.

However that all changed as the gradient began to increase and the climbs dawned on me. Suddenly the wheels felt alive, springing forward to every pedal stroke. It somehow felt easier to deal with the steeper gradients on these pair of wheels. The stiffness finally made sense, the Razing Zero was made for the mountains, taking on the steep switchbacks and gradients that would build so much lactic acid that you would cringe with pain. On the descents the wheels held up fantastically, the responsiveness of the Racing Zero’s made tackling technical corners a breeze. Braking was immediate, no lag from squeezing the levers to feeling the wheels slow down before each corner. This made me feel a whole lot safer and it increased my confidence as I was never a great descender to begin with.

Fulcrum Racing Zero Review Conclusion

To conclude the Fulcrum Racing Zero review, the wheelset are a great pair however it has it’s limit and I would not recommend purchasing them if you ride mostly in flat or rolling areas. As they are meant for the high mountains. Also for a pair of alloy wheels, they do not come cheap. For the price you do however get a quality product which a heritage to match.

 The Good  The Bad
  • Very responsive
  • Good Braking
  • Smooth Ceramic Hubs
  • Expensive

Details

Weight: 1518g
Tyre Type: Clincher
Rim Material: Aluminium
Spoke Material: Aluminium
Spoke Count: 16 (front), 21 (rear)
Rim Width: 22.5mm
Rim Depth: 26mm (front), 30mm (rear)
Bearings: Ceramic
Website: http://www.fulcrumwheels.com

 

Cycling

Azzurri Forza Pro Review

The Azzurri Pro Ultegra 11 is hands down one of the most value for money carbon road bikes in the market. What you get is a modern stiff carbon road bike that handles well and is comfortable, without compromising the components. The bike is fully equipped with new mechanical Shimano Ultegra 6800 11 speed components from top to bottom. The bike it self handles really well especially during fast decents and yet is comfortable enough to deal with uneven roads and small bumps on the road. The power transfer is fantastic, especially on the climbs as you feel every pedal stroke pushing you forward without any wastage. 

The Shimano Ultegra 6800 groupset is as reliable as it gets sitting just one tier below the pro level Dura-Ace you expect nothing but the best performance from for less the price of the pro level Dura-Ace. Azzurri claims that the ‘Performance Fit’ frame geometry combines traditional and semi compact characteristics, taking the best from both world’s to enable you access to the best fit possible.

Azzurri Forza Pro

As I mentioned earlier the power transfer was very noticeable especially during hard accelerations or during steep climbs. This could come from what Azzurri claims as their “Mega Watt Transfer”the frame’s  oversized downtube, bottom bracket and chain stays to ensure that you get the maximum from every pedal stroke.

However with all the positive compliments I can give for this bike, there are some compromises that had to be made in order to keep the price low, for starters the Mavic Aksium wheelset that comes with the bike is on heavy side. The FSA stem is not very stiff, during sprints you can feel it flexing ever so slightly and the seapost is a bit irritating to adjust. Also the Prologo Zero Pas Saddle was not really my cup of tea, a bit too hard for my taste despite the mention of gel on it.  

Azzurri-Forza-Pro-2-

Then again, if you are serious about road racing then of course all these small points would not be an issue as these components can be easily swapped out. The Mavic Aksium’s that came with the bike was by no means unusable, from reading other reviews I know that they are reliable and robust.

However as I already had a pair of aero wheelsets on hand, I made the swap immediately as most of the events and training ride I go for are on relatively flat areas or just rolling hills. A good friend of mine was still running the Mavic’s for century rides and he had not issues with them. 

As for the flexing during sprints, FSA stem as previously mentioned, that wasn’t such a big issue as I needed a longer stem to accommodate to my reach so the FSA was swapped out for a longer 120mm PRO stem which also solved my problem with the flexing. The handlebars that come stock standard has a compact design meaning the drops are shallow and the reach is short. This is for more aggressive style of cycling which certainly favoured my riding style.

To sum it all up the small compromises are easily neglected, as the value for money of the bike will outweigh all the negatives. After almost 3,000km the Azzurri Forza Pro has yet to let me down, I ride at least two to three times a week and quite frequently participate in century rides and events.The brand Azzurri might not be as recognisable as others in the market however that might be a good thing as you are not paying for marketing and other forms advertising costs. What you are paying for is a bike that won’t hurt your wallet and will certainly ride brilliantly and perhaps outperform other brands with a higher price tag. Azzurri will certainly give the big names such Giant and Specialized a run for their money. 

Azzurri-Forza-Pro3-Azzurri bikes are available at some local bike shops, however if you want to get the best deals then your best option would be to get directly from CyclingExpress. Be sure to check the bike geometry properly before making a purchase online to ensure the right size will fit you. 

Cycling

Group Cycling Etiquette

As simple as it is to ride a bicycle, there some things which you should consider before joining a group ride. Of course you could ignore these tips altogether but your first group ride would probably be the last you ever have. It does astonish me that so many riders lack the understanding or etiquette of group riding which puts themselves and the riders around them in danger. So here are my top tips in no particular order on group cycling etiquette.

  1. Always carry spare tubes, tyre levers and a  pump/CO2. Just because others have them along does not mean you should depend them. If you are worried about not fitting everything in jersey back pocket. Then what you would need is a small saddle bag which would fit everything that for need.
  2. Don’t make any sudden movements when riding in a group, the last thing you want to do is to clip the tyre of another rider and cause a bad accident.
  3. When braking, slowly engage the brakes, so that the riders behind you have enough time to react. Only brake hard if you really need to.
  4. Be sure  to communicate with other riders. Give verbal and hand signals to show the directions the group is going, or point out dangerous objects or potholes on the road to help those behind you. As the view is often obscured when there are multiple riders in front of you.
  5. Look ahead at the rear wheel of the rider in front of you so that you do not get too close and that you keep the same pace. That being said, don’t forget to enjoy the view while you are out cycling.
  6. Spitting or clearing your nose. If you really need to clear the your throat or nostrils, please do so in a respectful manner. Ride to the side of the group and be sure no one is behind you before you spit.
  7. Lights: if your group is out ridding in the wee early mornings or in darkness of the night be sure that have lights fitted to your bicycle, both front and rear. This is to illuminate the road ahead of you as well as to make yourselves more viable to traffic coming up from the rear.
  8. Don’t leave someone struggling to change flat tyre on their own, always make sure someone helps out. It make the time spent on the side of the road that much less and it keeps the mood up.
  9. If it’s your first time riding in a group, start from the back so that you can observe and get the feel of riding in a group.
  10. If the route has some steep climbs there will certainly be a break in the group, where some rides would be dropped behind. So stop on the peak or on the side of the road to regroup and make a headcount and ensure that everyone is doing alright.
Cycling

Klang Premier Century Ride 2015

Before entering the Klang Premier Century Ride 2015 I had heard from my team-mates about the danger of this event due the condition of the roads in Klang. However I chose to brush it off and register anyway. This being only by third event I had ever registered for, as previously I had only done one proper century ride an another 128km enduride. Also I do find it strange that they call it a century ride when the total distance was only 122km. Most probably the organisers lack the understanding the methodology of a century ride.

Anyway before flagging off, I had done some research on the route, which was very flat, and I had imagined it to be fast paced and difficult for riders to breakaway from the main peloton. The elevation gain for the total ride was only around 100 meters. This meant it would be difficult to see any breakaways and was certainly built for a sprint finish. 

The event started on time, flagging off from the Premier Hotel at exactly 7am. The cloudy and cool weather made the ride very pleasant as it stayed that way through out the day. However the entire race was far from pleasant. Due to the horrid road conditions in the Klang area,  right after the flag off I had to be on my toes as riders would be swerving left and right to avoid pot holes and cracks on the road. About 20km into the race I had already had to avoid countless bottles rolling around on the road and also some very close calls where the front riders would jam their brakes. At one point my wheels were touching my team-mate, fortunately we both managed to stay up right.  

Upon reaching Banting town there was a left hand turn which immediately caused the peloton almost come to a immediate halt as there was a building which was still soaking in water as the fire fighters had just put out at fire. The road narrowed as we had to move aside to avoid the fire truck.

The burnt down building can be seen on the left hand side with fire fighters taking up a lane of the road. 

The next ordeal of the day was just before reaching Pantai Morib where a taxi had ignored the police and continued to drive along the road. A few of the riders who were going well over 40km/h in the opposite lane panicked which resulted in at 3 to 4 riders hitting ground. Not long after that we reached our first U-turn which was in all honesty a very tight squeeze. I had prepared for it and made sure to take the long way round the turn just be safe. Those who were stuck in the middle were forced to unclip and slowly push their bikes around the turn. 

Taxi driving right into the cyclist, however the video doesn’t do justice to show what happened further upfront 

Roughly around 50km into the ride we squeezed into a very small and uneven road which frankly was better suited for MTBs than it was for road bikes. To make matter worse these small roads were filled with potholes, sand, mud, as well as small bridges which caused a bit of a mayhem in the rear of the group. The Second U-Turn was not any better than the first, to make things worse the road which was already small now had ridders coming from the opposite direction. 

The final 20km was fast, and it did not help that the road conditions leading to the finish line was worse than ever. The speed was hovering around the high 40km/h and it was intense seeing a rider hit the ground after misjudging a speed hump, what made it worse was his bike bounced off the ground and hit another rider to his left which caused a domino effect to the back. I was a bit shaken up by the incident but but my team-mates snapped me back and I continued to pedal along with the peloton. 

As we were approaching the final 5km, everyone started to feel the need to move forward, a train on the right was trying to get forward fast, however that ended up in great catastrophe as riders collided, I jammed by brakes almost rode over a few bottles and Garmins rolling around.

Klang Premiere Century Ride 2015   001At this point I told myself to just keep myself out of trouble as I did not have the experience to be part of a bunch sprint towards the finish, I eased off  a bit to keep myself somewhere in the middle of the peloton and as I saw the finishing line coming up in the last few hundred meters. A massive crash happened right in front of me, I jammed my brakes and came to a screeching halt. Unclipped and moved aside to make sure not be obstacle for the other rides coming up from behind.

I can’t say for certain how many riders went down. But there were at least 10 bikes on the ground from what I can recall. According to the a few riders it would seem that it was caused by a stationary car which was parked on the left hand side of the road. Not being able to avoid the stationary car the rider smashed into it and went down causing other behind to also topple over. And on the right hand side of the road in the heat of battling for the sprint a few riders had their handle bar lock up which also resulted in a crash. IMG_20150524_101509

Normally I would be walking away with a sense of happiness and satisfaction after completing an event like this. however this would be the first one that I walked away feeling a bit sad and angry after seeing so many riders go down and also my fellow team mates hitting the ground.  The route set by the organiser is not safe and I would advise any fellow riders reading to please stay away from this event. Unless they change the route this will certainly be my very first and last Klang Premier Century Ride. 

IMG_20150524_101805



Cycling

What To Bring On A Bike Ride

Regardless of how far you will be riding your bike, there a few essentials that you should not leave home without. It might seems excessive at first, however this will prevent you from being stranded in the middle of nowhere and not being able to pedal home.

I will not cover all the items that you can bring along, however I will concentrate on the essentials you will need. These are the items that are always with me on any ride.

What to bring on a bike ride

1. Spare tubes

One of the most essential item to bring on a ride is the spare tubes. Now personally I would carry two tubes when going on long rides alone or when riding in a small group. As the unluckiest of days could result in two punctures in a day. During larger group rides, you can make do with just one spare tube. As in case of emergency there is always someone with an extra tube. Also a good tip would be to check the spare tubes that you bring along to ensure that they not faulty.

2. CO2 Inflator/ Hand Pump

Now with a new tube in place you will need to re inflate the tires again. Personally I prefer to carry around a CO2 inflator instead of a conventional hand pump. The reason for this is that it takes less space and inflates the tire almost instantly when triggered. However there is a downside to using CO2, the first is that you have only chance at getting right while inflating the tire, and secondly they are a bit most costly in the long run. Be sure to carry an extra canister of CO2, in case the first one leaks or you have two separate punctures. Also bring along a presta valve adapter so that you can use the air pumps at the petrol stations. 

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3.  Tire Levers

Tire levers are probably the least glamorous item on the list yet very essential to remove the inner tube quickly and to place the tire back in place.

4. Multi Tool

A multi-tool will help you in many ways, having one with a complete set of hex keys, screw drivers and chain cutter will serve you in almost any situation you may encounter while out riding. It could be anything from changing the saddle height, tightening the brakes to cutting a broken chain. This little multi-tool will is a swiss knife to a cyclist.

Multi Tool Cycling

Birzman Multi-Tool

5. Mobile Phone

Besides tracking your ride using the Strava, the mobile phone will be useful to call for help in case of an emergency, get directions if you get lost, or even give out your location to loved ones using  Life 360Family Locator and Sygic Family Locator.  You can download these apps for free from the Google Play store.

6. Water Proof Case

The weather is always unpredictable so the last thing you want is getting your mobile phone wet. A water proof case will help keep your phone dry from sweat and rain. If you cant get a hold of a water proof case then a sandwich bag will surfiest.

7. Saddle Bag

Now you could stuff most of the items down the rear pockets of your jersey, however there is only so much you can squeeze into the 3 pockets. So if you don’t have enough space for all of the items, then a saddle bag would be a good addition.

My Topeak saddle bag fits almost everything except my mobile phone which I slot into my back pocket. Even with all the items there is still room for a few energy gels.

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8. Photo ID & Cash/Credit Card.

Also don’t forget to bring along a photo ID and some cash or credit card to pay for your coffee when you are out riding with your friends. The photo ID and credit card can be easily slotted in behind your mobile phone and placed in the water proof case.

I hope this small list will help give an idea on what to bring on a bike ride. Again these are the bare essentials and you can add more things to the list depending on how far you are cycling and what are the weather conditions in your area.

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