Is Technology Cheating? Envying ENVE.

Today’s theoretical question: is technology cheating?

If Rider A puts out 200 watts on a 10 year old, 20#, non-aero bike, and Rider B (identical weight and build) puts out 200 watts on a brand new, 15#, aero bike, Rider B will go faster.  Hills or flats.  Is Rider B cheating?

My thoughts:

  • It doesn’t really matter for me, because just about everyone I ride with can kick my butt.  So I can ‘cheat’ all I want with technology.  I still get humbled regularly.
  • In racing, anything legal isn’t cheating.
  • In group rides, anything safe that makes the ride more fun is permissible.  Besides, it’s nice to be able to say, “you were faster because of that new bike…”
  • On solo rides, anything safe that makes the ride more entertaining is permissible.

At the pace that I’m normally riding, aero advantage isn’t going to do a ton for me.  I can say, in all honesty, that going from a traditional bike frame to the Ridley Noah I presently ride generated a serious, palpable difference.  It’s not in my head…you can feel the aero advantage over 20mph, into the wind, etc.  And I’ll take all the advantages I can get.

Which leads me to part deux of this post…Envying ENVE.  ENVE just came out with their SMART System 3.4 clinchers.

Front:

Rear:

If you look closely, you can see that the rear is deeper than the front…because the rear affects stability less in crosswind situations.  Built weight is around 1450 grams with DT240 hubs and Sapim CX-ray bladed spokes.  These are intended to be all purpose, climbing/racing/training wheels…with ENVE’s best brake track technology to permit reasonable braking with a carbon wheel set.

ENVE’s details are here.

Bike Rumor’s details are here.

I find these super interesting.  They weigh less than the aluminum Fulcrum Racing 3s that I have on the Noah now…with a very wide design with the newest aero technology, plus a reasonable compromise between deep-dish aero and shallow wind resistance.  Basically, going from the Racing 3s to these would be no change in weight, and a significant change in ride quality and aerodynamics.  In addition, I could stick with the practicality of clinchers–frankly, I have no interest in tubulars…on any of my bikes.  These are optimized for use with 23c tires, in terms of aero profile.  ENVE is claiming that the clinchers are more aerodynamic than their tubulars now, because of the tire profile generated by the wiiiiide rim.

Intriguing.  Very intriguing.  Maybe we need to push the boundaries on the whole “is technology cheating” issue.

As soon as I get back into paved road riding this spring, I’ll put up a review on the Ridley, by the way.

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