Tuesday, June 14, 2011


So after two seasons, my middle chainring was cooked and my outer chainring and bottom bracket were on their way out the door. It wasn’t as simple as just ordering new parts. The XTR bolt pattern is unique and the MSRP for a set of Shimano XTR chainrings is about $400. You can find new M970 XTR cranks complete with rings and bottom bracket for that price. M770 XT cranks cost just over $200 and have the same bearings as the XTR and only weigh 75 grams more. I have a dollar a gram rule, that is, if one dollar will save me a gram, then I will spend it. I have a two dollar a gram rule for rotating mass. My Tomac is slowly dumbing down because of this logic from full XTR to full XT as I replace worn parts. I started to order a set of XT cranks.

But getting rid of an otherwise perfectly good set of XTR cranks bothered me.

My bike came from the Kenda race team with these beautiful WickWerk chainrings. The teeth are tapered every couple inches to form ramps for crisp shifting. I adored these chainrings as much as any man can adore chainrings but I figured they were big, big money so I didn’t even consider buying a set until last week. I was surprised to find out a set of WickWerk chainrings only cost $140. This completely changed my calculations. I bought a set of WickWerk rings and a Wheels Manufacturing ceramic bearing bottom bracket for what I was going to pay for XT cranks.

I ordered the chainrings directly from WickWerks. I seemed to have a problem paying for them through PayPal so I emailed WickWerks. The owner of WickWerks emailed me back right away, verified the order was processed, and threw in an extra middle chainring just because. An extra middle chainring will allow me to squeeze out an additional season on these rings.

I’m happy; although, I find ceramic bearings a little pretentious, like titanium bolt kits. Worse than that, companies shamelessly market ceramic bearings to cyclists the way late night infommercials market weight loss supplements to desperate people looking for an easy fix, the kind of people that foolishly go from one easy fix that doesn’t work to the next because the thought of getting some type of benefit without investing the necessary effort is so gosh darn enticing. Pathetic. But I’m getting off point.

The ceramic bearings in my Black Flag wheelset didn’t seem to help me but this time it’s different. Price Point says “install one [Wheels Manufacturing bottom bracket] on your bike and you’ll swear you somehow hooked up a hyperdrive to your bike.” I’m not sure what hyperdrive means exactly, I think it is a concept in science fiction that refers to a way of traveling faster than light. Regardless, I’m sold. My days of being an average bike racer are over; I will thread this puppy into my bike and rocket past other racers at speeds that transcends understanding. That’s the plan.

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