Cervelo Diet - Ultimate Mods for the Ultimate Bike, the Cervelo R3 - Part 6 - By Twain Mein
I replaced the headset with an FSA orbit (20 grams less) and Performance Lunar Light tubes (48 grams less), bringing it down to 6220 grams, or 13 pounds 11 ounces. Then came the tubulars...

Ritchey Superlogic Carbon-Boron 46 Tubulars
  • Full Carbon and Boron rims made by Lew Racing
  • 46mm tall for aerodynamics
  • Ritchey hubs with premium bearings
  • Cool quick releases
  • Estimated total weight: 1200 grams; claimed 1171
  • Front: 20 hole, 491 grams claimed. $1349.95 msrp
  • Rear: 24 hole, 680 grams claimed. $1449.95 msrp
  • Clinchers claimed weight of 1221 grams (516 front, 705 rear)
  • Clinchers: $1495.95, $1539.95 MSRP, front and rear respectively
Steve Parke showed up with the a set of Ritchey Superlogic Carbon-Boron 46 Tubulars. They were pre-glued with Ritchey Slick WCS tubular tires that have a claimed weight of 250 grams each; I think they were closer to 280 grams each with glue, so this puts the real weight at 1200 grams for the wheelset (sans quick releases). The net actual loss was 182 grams, dropping the total bike weight to 6038 grams, or 13 lbs 5 ounces.

The full carbon rims are designed by Lew Racing (which is now merged with Reynolds). Lew also uses Boron, a material that is 4x stronger than Carbon and 10x the cost. By leveraging Boron, less material is needed to make the wheel, decreasing weight. There are also many other cool features.

The rear wheel has a crisscross, aka "Crowsfoot" pattern on the drive side; the cross bend has a straight pull for extra rigidity. The quick releases feature "smart" labeling; the rear skewer is meant to face forward. This is to prevent accidental opening if you make contact in a race. If the QR faces backward, it's more prone to opening with someone coming up on you and brushing against it.


So how did they ride? The first ride was in a test against the already very sweet Easton SLX clinchers which have a 20mm rim height. The test was a 5 mile time trial. Using this bike and the clincher wheels, I did the course in 14:05 or 21.3mph. On the second run, using the Ritchey Tubulars, I was able to shave 44 seconds off the previous time; 13:21 or 22.5mph! For comparison, another rider switched from his clinchers to these tubulars and shaved 10 seconds. Granted, there are a lot of variables and the test wasn't perfect, but it seemed conclusive that the wheelset was definitely faster.

During the hectic testing, the ride quality was impressive. They were smooth and of note, they seemed to roll much easier. Going up a hill, the wheels felt like they could maintain speed with less effort. It was subtle but definitely noticeable. Additionally, the rim height seems to be ideal for multi-purpose use; tall enough for aerodynamic savings yet not prohibitive in cross winds.

A few days later, I was also able to ride these wheels in a less hectic environment, tooling around the beautiful back roads of the Woodside area. These wheels make it feel like you are cheating. The bike shoots forward and you find yourself in a higher gear just for the fun of it. The handling becomes even more responsive as you attack the road. It's like sushi and comparing ahi to toro. Ahi is good but toro is sublime. Honestly, that is the difference--just a whole new and more incredible level of performance. The aero benefits also came in to play; there is a steep descent near home; my previous top speed was 46.5mph. With these Ritcheys, I hit 48.5. But the wheels and the rest of the bike mods made the bike feel rock solid. I had a big stupid grin at the bottom of the hill.

Would I recommend these wheels? The weight and performance were truly remarkable. However, if you've ever dealt with tubulars, they are a pain in the butt. Mounting them is messy, takes time (you need to stretch the tires for 24 hours) and requires arms (and thumbs) of steel. And changing a flat while on a ride can border on the impossible. Vittoria makes "Pit Stop", a self-sealing inflation kit that would make punctures a little more convenient; something like this would be highly recommended. This being said, in the spirit of "smart light", tubulars as a whole don't really make the grade. But they sure were light and absolutely sweet to ride!

Ritchey does make a full carbon clincher version that is claimed to be just 50 grams heavier. They may be the perfect balance of lower weight and aerodynamics with easy to live-with clincher rims. They are full carbon (ie, an aluminum braking surface isn't glued on), so they should have comparatively better strength and tubular-like ride characteristics. At 1221 grams for the pair, the clinchers could be the lightest available-period. Now THOSE wheels are definitely in the spirit of this project in that they'd deliver on performance and weight without the high maintenance cost of tubulars.

Could we make this bike lighter?
At this point, it looks like the "smart light" modifications will keep this bike at 13 pounds, 11 ounces, 1 1/2 pounds lighter than when we started. However, if price was no object we could do the follow upgrades
  • (Keep) Ritchey Superlogic Carbon-Boron Tubulars (-182 grams)
  • KCNC CB1 brakes (-17 grams)
  • Speedplay Nanogram Ti pedals (-68 grams)
  • Zipp Vuma Quad cranks (-14 grams) and ceramic bottom bracket (-28 grams)
  • KCNC Ti-SC-Al 11-23 "race only" cassette (-62 grams)
  • AX-lightness Phoenix saddle (-119 grams)
  • Aramid Bottle cages (-36 grams)
  • Total: 5714 grams or 12 pounds 5 ounces!
But the bike feels great as is. It's a blast to ride and has durable components that improve its performance. I'm satisfied (for now) and can't wait to get back on it and out there!