Monday, April 18, 2011

Project X Unveiled

You have been patiently waiting or maybe you have not even been paying attention.  Recently I posted some messages on Twitter to raise some awareness around my current project....Project X. I was tossing around some other ideas, but nothing flowed quite as well.  Here they were:

Project D - for diamond
Project K - for Kestrel

Any guesses yet?
Project A - for Airfoil?!? This actually wouldn't have been bad, but X just builds up the anticipation a bit more. 

So here you have it, all of this time Project X has been a build of a Kestrel Airfoil SL.  Some of you may be saying, "Woah wait a minute, you said you ordered a Kestrel 4000 from Team Trakkers"  Well you are correct.  I did in fact order a Kestrel 4000 50cm Ultegra build, then got word that it was out of stock, so I bumped it up to a 52.5.  In the end it will give me about an extra 1cm of reach and only sacrifice 1/2 cm of higher stack.  That will be another post, this will focus on the Airfoil build.

If you have been around the blog much, you will note that I have been riding short course for the past 2 years.  I have been focusing on being able to push my body to the limit for the short races.  My evolution in bikes has been the following:

  • 2009 - 56 Trek Equinox 5
  • 2010 - 54 Cervelo P2
  • 2011 - 52 Kestrel Airfoil SL / 52.5 Kestrel 4000

When I found out I was going to be riding a Kestrel, I dug into as much info as I could find between the bikes and found the Airfoil to be similar and even slightly more aggressive than the P2 I had been riding, and the 4000 has a higher stack, so not quite as much drop.  Through all of this, I made up my mind with the 4000 as I planned on getting into the long course races, so I would not need to have so much drop available.  As I started listing my old bike for sale, I ended up parting with just the frameset at the same time as I had an opportunity for a new Kestrel Airfoil frame, and decided to reuse my parts and build it up, giving me a short course and a long course bike.

Now to the fun part - The Build/Pics:

This sleek frame is missing a little something, well actually a lot of something.  The entire seat tube is missing between the bottom bracket area and the top tube.  This is one of the things that makes this bike so unique.  Removing the tube allows for the frame to act like a spring and absorb vibration and bumps from the road.

I find my wrench skills are pretty good as long as my patience does not wear thin, but the first thing I saw was that the steer tube would have to be cut down, so a trip to a local shop and a few bucks later, they had trimmed it down to size.  I left it a bit long on the chance that I want to raise it up, but may end up chopping it all the way down in the near future.  The second part that needed to be cut was the seat post.  I did not have to trim my P2 post at all since the seat tube will accept the whole thing without cutting.  The Airfoil on the other hand, has a more limited room so it requires a bit more customization.

You may remember this picture from Twitter, on the way to the shop to be trimmed down. 

The build was slow as I tried to take my time, but also was trying to get a bike up and running so I could continue on workouts.  I had to buy a new base bar, so I went with the Profile Design Carbon Cobra Wing 40cm width.  The base bar goes well with the Profile Design T2+ Carbon Cobra Aero bars I moved over.  Although I had my old stem which was a 110mm 10 degree, I wanted to get something to sit more level, I ended up picking up a pretty nifty Specialized adjustable stem, it has different shims that allow you to change the angle, there are a bunch of ways to do it, from +16 to -16 degrees.

Here was another teaser pic I put on Twitter, and the original image.

During the build, I overlooked one thing, the chain stay length was different, thus resulting in my chain not being long enough, so I had to pick up a new chain as well.  As a side note, if you have not seen the message on the side and happen to be doing a build yourself or just need a few new parts, check out and use GOTRAKKERS to save 15% off your entire order! 

I got the bike in running order after picking up some new shift cables since the old ones were a little worse for wear.  After some messing around, I got the Dura-Ace bar end shifters adjusted, chain set to the right length, and derailleurs all working properly.  This was the step that tested my patience!  It is very tedious work trying to spin the crank and adjust to make sure you have full range of the gears.

One part I left off for later installation was the brake levers, well when I went to try them, sure enough there were issues.  The old FSA brake levers I had, are too small for the base bar, turns out you need adapters, well that will be for another day.

Then finally my final package arrived.  I figured why not give them a try.  I went with the Zipp R2C shifters.  After being a bit puzzled that they were labeled SRAM, I did some testing, and turns out they are actually the Shimano compatible model, but are just produced by SRAM, thus the branding, a bit confusing, but whatever.  A little tweaking and they were up and running.

On the way back from the shop after having all the brakes done up properly.

Build Details:
Frameset: 2009 Kestrel Airfoil SL
Stem: Specialized 110mm Adjustable (Installed at -16 degrees)
Base Bar: Profile Design Carbon Cobra
Aero Bars: Profile Design T2+ Carbon Cobra
Shifters: Zipp R2C - Shimano compatible
Brake Levers: FSA Aero Levers
Brakes: Cervelo branded brakes
Crank: Quarq SRAM S975 Compact with Red Rings 50/34
Chain: Dura-Ace 10 Speed
Front Derailleur: Shimano Ultegra SL
Rear Derailleur: Shimano Ultegra SL
Seat: ISM Adamo Road
Training Wheels: Shimano R500
Race Wheels: HED Stinger 90s with disc cover.
Tires: Zipp Tangente 700x21

I was able to adjust to the drop almost immediately, and cannot believe how comfortable I am.  My second ride was a 20 Minute FTP test which increased about 5% over the last test just over a month ago.  While it was indoors on the trainer, I am excited to see how this bike handles outside.  I know the position will get me some additional aero benefits in a position I am comfortable riding paired with my increased power, should yield some good results in the near future.


Jeff - DangleTheCarrot April 18, 2011 at 6:36 PM  

Looks good Jeff!

your seat is too high (-:

Jeff Vanis April 18, 2011 at 6:57 PM  

I don't think so! Need to resnap some pics, but it is just the amount of drop that makes it look high!

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