I spent some quality time with the Plasma this weekend!
Over the past month or so I’ve been working on getting my new time trial bike, the Scott Plasma, properly fitted, adjusted and dialed in. I recently slammed the Plasma’s stem, and that made a world of difference.
After slamming the stem, I did a couple of small test rides, and was really happy with how the Plasma rode, handled and shifted. I felt like she was ready, but I wouldn’t know for sure until I took her for a long, hard ride.
The weekends are normally reserved for long/fast group rides, but this past weekend I was in the mood to throw a leg over the time trial bike and see what it could do on a long solo training ride. For this training ride, I decided to set the Plasma up just as I’ll be racing it.
So, after my usual Friday “weekend warm-up” ride with Sebastian and Christopher (which was done on my road bike), I put the Plasma in my work stand and got busy transitioning it from its training configuration over to its race setup. There’s really not a whole lot to the changes, but they take a good 20 minutes to complete…
I removed the stock training wheels from the Plasma, and replaced them with Zipp 404 Firecrest carbon clinchers. I also pulled the 11-speed 11/25 cassette off the training wheels and moved it over to the Zipps (replacing the 10-speed 11/28 cassette I run on my road bike). Of course I replaced the stock NDS crank arm with my Stages power meter and, finally, I swapped the stock brake pads for Tangente. Because I was planning a long training ride, I left both water bottle cages in place (I’ll race with just one).
In a recent blog I talked about the differences between S-bend and J-bend aerobars (see “Plasma fit almost there; Aerobars: J-bend vs S-bend“). My Plasma has race-oriented S-bend bars, which are definitely taking some getting used to. I was curious to see how my wrists would feel after 80 miles spent almost entirely on the S-bend aerobars.
The stock saddle on the Plasma is not very comfortable, and I thought about swapping it for my awesome Specialized Power Pro (I really need to pick up another Power Pro for the TT bike, but I have not gotten around to that yet), but I didn’t feel like going through the fitting process. I figured I’d regret this choice, but part of me wanted to see if the stock saddle was tolerable on a long ride.
For the route, I decided to do a 78.2 mile (126 kilometer) out-and-back up through the Ocala National Forrest with about 1,800 feet of elevation. Earlier this year I did almost this same exact route on my road bike (also a solo training ride), and I thought comparing the ride data would be interesting.
Long story short: the bike performed beautifully! The more time I spend on the Plasma, the more I like it.
Even though it’s my opinion that mechanical shifting is big step backwards from Di2, the mechanical Ultegra derailleurs (well, derailleur–I never took it off the 53), and Dura Ace bar end shifters performed flawlessly. After more than 30,000 miles spent tapping a button to make a shift, moving a mechanical lever feels archaic by comparison. That said, I’m pleased with how the Plasma’s mechanical drivetrain has performed. It’s the UI that I don’t particularly care for, but that was a trade I willingly made to get an awesome new bike at an incredibly low price.
Believe it or not, the saddle wasn’t too uncomfortable. I didn’t think about it much (I might have been in too much pain from the actual ride to notice), but at one point I realized I couldn’t feel my junk. The lack of a cutout on the stock saddle was the culprit. It’s going to have to go.
As for the ride itself, it was a tough one. Here are the final stats (click to enlarge):
A 22.3 MPH average isn’t too bad for a solo ride of this length and elevation, and the bike certainly helped, but I had to work for it: I set new lifetime best 3.0 hour and 3.5 hour power personal records on this ride.
Golden Cheetah put my Normalized Power for this ride at 241 watts for 3:30:31, which puts me at 3.3 watts/Kg for 3.5 hours. That’s a very nice improvement in sustainable power for me, and it has nothing to do with the bike.
Along these lines, I’ll close with an amusing story. I had a lunch meeting with my boss last week. He asked me if I was still riding, and I told him “Yeah, every day!” He asked what kinds of rides I’ve been doing, and I told him about the JHOP 100 (ride report), which I’d just completed the weekend prior. He said, “Wow, 100 miles at a 25 MPH average?! You must have a great bike!” 😀
The next time I have dinner at his house I’m going to finish it and tell him, “That was awesome! You must have a great oven!”