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SwiftCarbon HYPERVOX

SwiftCarbon HYPERVOX the biased review

Before you read any further I would love to tell you that this review was under no circumstances biased and that my constructive opinions where not affected by my emotions towards this frameset. However that would a lie, as after more than 10,000 km in the saddle with this frameset it has grown deeply on me, It has become a part of my routine, my daily life. But I promise to give the truth and do my very best to not be as biased as possible.

I now struggle on how to actually begin this review,  my approach should be different and let tell you from a riders perspective. Not a professional rider, nor as a bike magazine reviewer but as a weekend warrior,  a guy who has a day job, a family and simply loves to ride his bike and on occasions even hit the local one day races, the local criteriums around empty streets at night with his mates and just going for 250km rides for fun.

After a long negotiation with myself and my bank account I finally decided to take the plunge and purchase a full racing road bike, hence came the SwiftCarbon Hypervox. Previously I was riding a more relaxed carbon frame, which by no means was a bad bike. On the contrary it was a brilliant piece of engineering, however it lacked the aggressiveness that I wanted in a full on racing bike. Sadly I had to sell it off. The Mrs. did not even want to hear about the N+1 argument.

The first time I took the Hypervox out for a ride it was exhilarating but yet slightly uncomfortable, I had never ridden a stiff machine before and sure enough my ass and body took a bit of a beating. Never had I felt the road so clearly read out to me in the form of vibration through the handlebars which were no even carbon, thankfully. The response however was something else, every pedal stroke seem to transfer all my energy thought the bottom bracket without waste. Each corner was taken with higher speeds that were fulled by  confidence that the bike gave me. The numbing sensation were shaken away after about a week as I grew custom the feel of riding a high end carbon bike.

SwiftCarbon Hypervox

Maximum aero with Reynolds Strike SLG 60mm.

 

According to SwiftCarbon the Hypervox was a result of pressure from their then sponsored team Drapac to have an aero bike. The sponsored riders were very pleased with the Ultravox however the sprinters felt that there was something lacking in the lineup. Which was a machine that could climb well but perform really well during the last km where aero was key. The result was the Hypervox, an aero bike without the compromise of ride quality and handling.

 

SwiftCarbon Hypervox

UCI has given this framset the thumbs up

If it really matters to you then yes the UCI has given this bike the thumbs up. However for the most of us who actually will purchase the bike, we are not to concerned about it.

SwiftCarbon Hypervox

My initial choice of groupset was the Shimano Ultegra 6800

SwiftCarbon reminds me about my priorities.

To conclude my unbiased biased review, I have to say that frame lives up to likes of the more mainstream competitors. In the months of riding the Hypervox I have had the chance to test the new Scott Foil 2017, Willier Cento 1Air and the Stork Aerfast and I have to say there is not much to separate the frames. Bare in mind my judgement does not consider wind tunnel testing travelling at  45km/h for 1 hours. Every bike comes with some baggage  and the Hypervox is no exception. However the slight rattling of the cables inside the top tube or the rusty bolt int the seat clamp is a small annoyance that can be fixed with a little effort. So my advise to you is buy the bike it might not be as famous as Specialized, Fuji or Scott. But that also means you do not have to pay premium money for a premium grade racing bike.

 

*Update for 2018*

I recently upgraded my entire groupset to the latest Shimano Dura Ace 9100, and I’m also proud to say that I am one of the earliest customer to be rocking the latest crank-based power meter by Shimano the R9100P.  Stay tuned for more information and review.

Shimano R9100P Power Meter

The New Shimano R9100P Power Meter

 

 

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



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