Ask Nick: Should you wait for discs to buy a new frame?

Also: Pros racing on untested equipment, Exergy on microSHIFT Whitte, pro teams on custom components, mixing Dura-Ace and SRAM

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There are a lot of rumors that Shimano will launch disc brakes for road bikes in 2013. This is a very big move because the frames used today will not fit disc brakes. So, someone who wants to have disc brakes will have to change the entire bike. My question is: I have a Colnago CX-1 but I was planning to buy a LOOK 595 Mondrian frame that is not cheap. Do you think it is better I wait until 2013 and see what happens?
— Ricardo Oka

That’s still a rumor, though SRAM has confirmed that road discs are on the way. The decision is ultimately up to you, but it sounds like you’re buying bikes fairly regularly. The imminent arrival of road bikes with disc brakes (Volagi already has one on the market) doesn’t suddenly render your current bikes passé.

When I ride around, often on the latest, greatest test rig, I love seeing people happily pedaling along on bikes that are decades old. Not that your Colnago sounds nearly that old!

If I were in your shoes, I’d pull the trigger on the LOOK. It’s a great looking bike and assuming it fits you well, I’m sure you’ll love it.

I’ll leave you with this. My dad and brother are car and motorsport nuts. They love them; new, old, fast, slow, whatever. The best piece of advice my dad ever gave us on buying cars was to avoid buying the first year of a new model. There are often bugs that are sorted out a couple years into production.

Now a bicycle isn’t nearly as complex as a car, but it may be worth waiting for the industry to sort a few things out before laying out your cash on a disc brake road bike. Enjoy the LOOK.

Just saw this strange, lime green derailleur on an Exergy team bike.

What kind of derailleur is that? Is it common for pros to have custom derailleurs and why?
– Hans

That’s a microSHIFT White rear derailleur. Now I’m not colorblind; I know that it’s actually green. White is the model, much like SRAM’s Red. And also much like SRAM’s Red, microSHIFT made the White components in a color other than the model name implies. The green components were custom for the Exergy team.

Pro teams do sometimes get custom components. For instance, SRAM adds green accents to the Liquigas and shifters to match Cannondale’s color scheme. Shimano and SRAM have both put larger logos on the brake levers of sponsored team components. Shimano also did this on cranks in years past.

For the most part though, teams run exactly what you can buy at your local shop. That’s not a line they try to feed consumers, it’s just good fiscal sense. Why make something different, and more expensive, for pro teams when they can just pull from normal stock for parts?

Not long ago you and Brady Kappius reviewed some chains.  I am having trouble finding the article again.  Can you point me in the right direction?

If I am just imagining things, then answer me this.  Will the Dura-Ace 7900 chain work well on my full Dura-Ace 7800 bike as well as my mixed SRAM Force shifter/derailleur and Ultegra cassette bike? Or would it be better to go with the KMC x10sl chain on one or both of these bikes?
— Reid

You’re not imagining things, just mis-remembering. Lennard Zinn and Brady Kappius tested both KMC and Wippermann chains in this year’s Buyer’s Guide. You won’t find those articles online as we have more in-depth coverage in print and very little overlap between print and online content. Check your back issues.

The 7900 chain will work great on both of your bikes. I’ve ridden exactly what you describe and have been very happy with the results. I’ve also been very impressed with KMC’s offerings. They work exceptionally well. I’m currently using KMC’s 11-speed chain on a Campy bike.

Which is better? I really like the directional chains from Shimano. But if you have a bike that looks good with a gold chain, I’d get the KMC. Hard to go wrong.

I saw the report on about Spartacus racing, and winning, Strade Bianche on a new classics-inspired Trek.  My question is: how do pros feel about racing on new and unproven equipment?  I understand it is part of the job and this race wasn’t exactly Paris-Roubaix, but by the same token, wouldn’t they rather test some of the equipment on a neo pro first?  It seems to me you could just as easily have a domestique fetch water bottles and get 99% of the feedback rather than having Fabian Cancellara be the guinea pig.  But I also find it hard to believe that the neo pro has been riding stuff like this and no one notices.  My only thought is that Trek monkeys have been hammering these toys on their local ‘cobbled classics’ in Wisconsin for the past two years so it isn’t really ‘unproven’ but… Spartacus is the first rider?  Can’t figure that out…
— Tim Kenkel

Riding and testing new equipment is part of the job of a professional bike racer. But don’t assume that Fabian racing it at Strade Bianche was the first time he rode the bike. It’s highly likely that he was involved in the development process of the bike and has trained on it extensively. His win was simply the first time that we had seen the bike.

Regarding the caliber of riders who help with development, consider this. Trek or Specialized, or any other manufacturer, wants to make sure that they create a bike that can win the races it’s designed for. With that in mind, it makes sense to involve riders capable of winning those races in the process. Riders like Tom Boonen and Cancellara usually prefer to be involved. After all, it’s their reputation on the line the day of the race. They want to make sure they’re on a bike they like.

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