A Note from Fatty: The 2010 Fat Cyclist Apparel Pre-Order extravaganza is now over. Thanks to everyone who ordered something! If you missed the pre-order somehow, you’ll get another chance to order after everything comes in, all the pre-orders have been sent, and there’s been a reasonable amount of time for “settling” — exchanges, replacements, etc. — and Twin Six knows what their actual inventory is.
Win a Fat Cyclist Jersey: My good friend Bob Bringhurst is riding in the Washington MS150 in a couple weeks, and I’d like to help him raise money for it. So, if you’ll donate here – any amount at all — I’ll pick a winner at random and give him / her the 2010 Fat Cyclist jersey of your choice. This contest is for today only, so don’t put off donating. Click here to get started.
It was an incredibly bright spot in an incredibly difficult day. I came home from Susan’s funeral completely drained — cried out, tired out, and relieved I had survived talking at my own wife’s funeral.
And there was a box. From Shimano. A complete Dura-Ace Di2 group, and a personal, private note.
I simply couldn’t believe it. Ditching my family and friends, I ran up to my computer and dashed off an email, thanking him for this incredible gift, and for helping me get away from my thoughts for a while.
“Now I need to figure out a wheelset and frame to go with this,” I concluded.
Moments later, I got a brief reply back:
“So I guess the wheelset hasn’t arrived yet?”
And sure enough, the next day another box came: Dura-Ace Carbon Tubeless wheels.
And then an introductory email to Orbea, where I got an incredible deal on a 2010 Orbea Orca frame, which I of course ordered in Orange — not only is that the Euskaltel-Euskadi team color, but it goes very nicely with the orange and black Fat Cyclist jersey.
Which, by the way, I always arrange to be wearing when I ride this bike.
I completed the bike with a PRO Vibe bar, stem, and seatpost, as well as Speedplay pedals and a Selle Italia SLR saddle.
Take a look (click any of the pictures below for a larger version):
I love all my bikes. All of them. But this is a work of art.
Riding With Di2
I’ve heard a lot of people dismiss the Di2 components. After all, it’s not exactly difficult to shift without electronics, right?
But those people haven’t tried Di2. Now I have, and I am in love. And I’ve let Mark and Brad ride my bike, and they both fell in love (the on-road exchange with Brad didn’t last long; I had never noticed before, but Brad’s legs are so incredibly long that I was completely unable to turn the pedals when sitting. Seriously, I could barely reach the pedals at the 3 and 9 position.). It doesn’t take long to see why:
- Instant shifts, no matter where you’re riding: In the big ring on a climb and you want to drop to the small ring? The Di2 front derailleur does it instantly. I’m pretty sure I’m going to unlearn everything I’ve learned before about having to shift before the climb. With this group, instead of you having to adapt when you shift to when the bike will allow it, you shift when you need to, at the literal touch of a button. There’s a big difference.
- No-effort shifting: I injured my left wrist a couple years ago, and now by the time I’ve been riding for three or four hours, it’s painful enough for me to shift — with a traditional derailleur — to the big ring that I sometimes am not able to do it. With Di2, making this shift takes exactly the same amount of effort as clicking a mouse button.
- It’s smart: This isn’t just electronic shifting, it’s electronic shifting with a brain. As you work your way up or down the cassette, the front derailleur automatically trims. If your shifts aren’t perfect, work your way up and down the cassette and the derailleur figures out where it ought to be.
- No cable stretch: No cables mean no cable stretch.
- Stingy on the power: I assumed that I’d need to recharge the battery every couple of rides. Wrong. A battery charge is good for months. To me, that seems like dark magic, but I’m OK with dark magic in this instance.
- It sounds awesome: When you shift, it makes a little servo sound, like R2D2’s your copilot.
The only downside I’ve noticed, so far, is that I’ve become a shifting fool. I shift all the time, just for the fun of it…and because I like that cool sound.
Riding With the Orca
I know some people who detect even the slightest variations in components and frames. I am not one of those people. A bike has to be radically different for me to notice a change.
The 2010 Orca is radically different from any road bike I’ve ridden before, in one really great way: the front feels more stable and solid than anything I’ve ever ridden. I’ve never thought to myself before this, “Hmm, my bike’s front end feels flexy,” but — and I think this is because of the tapered headtube/fork — this bike feels incredibly stable and responsive.
And I’m pretty sure this isn’t just something in my head, either — Mark noticed the same thing.
In short, I’m in road bike heaven. Thanks, Shimano. Thanks, Orbea. Both of these companies deserve serious kudos, not just for making great bikes, but for the huge help they were in raising money to fight cancer — and for reaching out to me during the worst week of my life.