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S McBean

S McBean

Denver

S McBean's Bio

Long haul recreational rider, ex-racer. Huge annual budget for bike crap--learn from my mistakes!

Parlee Z1 / Di2
Argonaut / Di2

S McBean

S McBeanwrote a review of on June 13, 2015

First class heavy-rain jacket
5 5

Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions

In a crowded field, this is a no-compromise coat that stands out for a few good reasons. First, it is really well constructed, with two layers, waterproof seams, and a lightweight overall build that you won't mind packing along. There are no pockets or headphone channels, but those are a terrible idea on a raincoat. There are no vents, which would be a problem if you like to ride in the rain in Alabama in July, but at the top of mountain passes it would be a nice way to get a little warmth, especially on descents.

Second, it has long sleeves with an elastic band that extends past the wrist over the hand. (See photo.) Note that I'm 6'5" with a 37" sleeve and that's a "large." Don't be intimidated, though, you want the sleeves to run long, and way too many manufacturers get that horribly wrong. You can easily get your gloves over that elastic and seal those sleeves up nice and tight. It's tight fit, however; you're not going to take this off while you're moving. The sleeve design alone puts this coat well beyond high-end competitors I have seen from Rapha and Aether.
Third, they managed to put together a serious 2-ply coat and yet it's still thin and light. I got mine down to the size of a Coke can, easily tolerable in the jersey pocket for what it does. Determined squishing would almost certainly fit it in a Ziploc sandwich baggie.

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S McBean

S McBeanwrote a review of on April 30, 2015

Get the wet-rat look
4 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

This jacket has all the style of the airline under-seat life jacket. It's wrinkly, ugly, and mine is the color of a plastic water cup. But it's there when I need it, does the minimum I need it to do, and it's always appreciated.


There are always trade-offs. If you want a rain coat that will keep you dry in a miserable downpour, it's easy enough to find one that the Gorton's Fisherman would approve, but the catch is that if it stops raining you have to stuff something the size of a rolled-up sleeping bag into your jersey pocket. That's where the Mavic Helium jacket comes in. If you work hard at it, it can be stuffed into a Ziploc bag about the size of a Snickers bar. (Then you have the Ziploc bag for your phone while you wear the coat.) If it really rains on you, you're going to get pretty wet because it is too minimal to be a really effective cruddy-weather jacket. (I got called a "wet rat in Saran Wrap" by a friend). However, I have found that the Helium is the jacket I'm actually willing to take along on a ride where I *might* get rained on, making it unusually useful in a world of bulky rainwear. If you know it's going to rain, wear a crazy submersible 20,000 mm coat. If it might rain, take this.

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S McBean

S McBeanwrote a review of on February 17, 2014

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

This is no-frills, even though they made it more colorful a couple years ago. The smallest, lightest chuck, it leaves room in your minimal pack for other critical items. (Like an extra cartridge.) This little part is all-business and highly reliable.

Operation couldn't be easier: crank it down onto a threaded cartridge, then turn the cartridge to the left to release flow of CO2 into the tube. Tighten to the right to stop.

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S McBean

S McBeanwrote a review of on February 17, 2014

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

This is a great addition to your winter arsenal. If you don't already have a powermeter, get one with a trainer tire and a regular trainer, and skip this. If you already have a powermeter hub, this device helps out by not requring you to change out your powermeter wheel to a trainer tire to ride the trainer. You leave your trainer tire on a trainer wheel, and then you can switch bikes onto the trainer while leaving your regular training wheelset ready to go on that odd warm day. This is especially helpful if more than one person in your house wants to train with power in the winter, or if your friends want to mooch a powermeter. (Don't worry, they'll only ask once, because it's crushingly demoralizing having a computer telling them how bad they suck in the winter.)

ANT+ ensures compatibility with whatever computer you already like, so it's very convenient.

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S McBean

S McBeanwrote a review of on February 17, 2014

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

Yes, it's absurdly expensive. No, it doesn't need to be carbon fiber. Yes, the Tao Tacx will cost 80% less and weigh only 26 grams more for 2 cages. But if you spent a certain amount on your carbon fiber frame, you'll getting these. They are exceptionally well designed--they work wonderfully and hold up well. They do not get all scratched up or look grimy if you take care of them. They clean up well. They look amazing, the design is elegant, minimal and timeless. There are many finishes to match what you have. If you went all-in on your bike, just do this.

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S McBean

S McBeanwrote a review of on February 17, 2014

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

This asymmetric chain is the best chain for Di2 bikes, and the best chain Shimano ever made. It is incredibly quick and sharp, with no drama. It's durable, much more durable than past Shimano chains. I have tried the Ultegra and Wipperman 10S1 chains on DA 7970 Di2 and Ultegra 6770 Di2, and this DA chain is noticably better than the others.

Do yourself a favor and buy a Connex quick link and use it with this chain so you can remove it for cleaning. (It will last a lot longer, and if you can run it through an ultrasonic parts washer you will be greatly rewarded.) Both the Connex link and the Shimano chain are directional, so pay attention when you are installing it. (Shimano name plates facing out on the chain. Point the longer, more elegant curve on the Connex link toward the gear teeth.)

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S McBean

S McBeanwrote a review of on February 17, 2014

Good all-around chain with limitations
3 5

The 6701 is a reasonably-priced chain that works well on Shimano 10 speed configurations, but there are some drawbacks that come with the savings. It shifts reasonably well with both Di2 and mechanical configurations, but I think it's more abrupt than the Wipperman 10S1 or the DA chain, espcially if you are a frequent shifter or tend to shift under torque. The Shimano attachment link is a pain, do yourself a favor and buy a Connex link to use on this chain and other Shimano and Wipperman chains too.

Also I have had to replace 2 of these chains due to cracking a plate during sprints. It presents itself with a "TING!" sound, and while it will almost certainly make it back home, you'll want to lay off the sprints until you get home and replace it. The picture attached is a piece of a DA-7900 chain broken the same way, as an example of what to look for.

I say that I have used it several times because I was given 2 of these free, and broke each of them within 1,000 miles.

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S McBean

S McBeanwrote a review of on February 16, 2014

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

Long-lasting, effective, easy to remove and clean, what more could you want? It's much better than any other chain for 10-speed mechanical drivetrains.

Unfortunately, it is simply not as good as the Dura Ace chain for Di2 drivetrains. The asymmetric Shimano chain shifts better on Di2.

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S McBean

S McBeanwrote a review of on February 16, 2014

3 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

The logo on the forehead is plastic and about the size of an m&m. If it rests under your helmet in just the right place, no problem. Otherwise, it's exactly like having an m&m stuck to your forehead right where your helmet touches your forehead. This is considered torture in some countries.

If it's so cold that you'll get numb anyway, you'll get over it.

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S McBean

S McBeanwrote a review of on February 16, 2014

3 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I won't really give any other brand a chance, but the Sidi 5 is great as long as it fits. All the other high-star reviews here are correct as far as they go, I completely agree. The catch with Sidi is that the production variance is pretty high, so a Narrow might be the same as a Regular. I felt like I had to return this shoe too often before I finally found one that fit, even though they were all the exact same size. Once I find one that fits, it's great.

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S McBean

S McBeanwrote a review of on February 16, 2014

4 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

This garment has a 2-ply front face that is very effective at stopping wind. It's a base layer designed for skin contact, and works best that way. (Pile layers on top of this for colder weather.) It works well with your heart rate monitor and will not disrupt the signal in wind, unlike some jerseys and base layers.

Although I love it and use it all the time, it gets 4 stars for shrinking a bit and having frustratingly short sleeves. I still keep buying it and would miss it if it was gone, so 4 stars is good enough!

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S McBean

S McBeanwrote a review of on February 16, 2014

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

These are expensive enough that I set them aside for especially long rides, and they are especially rewarding for that purpose. Although Assos says that these will not last especially long, I have never found any Assos product to be flimsy and still have Assos shorts that I got in 2007: you'll want to follow their directions for putting them on, washing, etc., for best results and real longevity. Watch it though--they wear out in the seat first, and I have seen Assos shorts out on the road with big patches of bare ass. Check the mirror every now and then!

The turquoise pad is controverisal, and I think it is marginally better than the old orange pad. It seems softer, but doesn't seem to be going "flat" or wearing any faster. If you prefer the orange pad, it is made by Cytech and can be found on Rapha and Search and State shorts, both are excellent alternatives. I prefer the Assos Mille shorts to both of those.

The shoulder straps are the best in the business, about 2.5" wide and very comfortable. The legs fit well, and while there have been complaints about the band fitting "loose," it tightens up well when you are actually on the bike.

The only thing I don't like about them is that there is a panel on the front made out of different material that points right at your junk and suggests a triangle of pubic hair. When your friends make fun of you (and believe me, they will), respond in a German accent that Americans are prude in these matters.

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S McBean

S McBeanwrote a review of on February 12, 2014

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

Let's compare to the Arundel Mandible. The Tacx is 42 grams versus 29 grams for the Arundel, but the Tacx is 1/4 the price. You carry 12 more grams with the Tacx, plus the weight of the cash you saved.

It is very important that your frame's water bottle bosses are threaded holes to accept a bolt going through the bottle cage. This cage absolutely will NOT work on a frame where the bottle bosses have threaded screws coming out of the frame and expect a nut from the bottle cage side. This is why I have to use Arundels on my Parlee, even thought the trusty Tacx is just as good.

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