Product Review – Pedal Systems: Shimano Dura Ace PD-9000 vs. Time Iclic Carbon

By Cycling Dad:

Verdict (if you are short on time and simply indecisive as I was)

Both systems are rock-solid and have huge fan-bases. Like all Dura Ace components, Shimano’s PD-9000 pedal system is the paradigm of quality, with ultra-smooth bearings and a superb finish. Unless they get obliterated in a really nasty crash, the PD-9000 will likely last a lifetime. The Time Iclic Carbon pedal system does not quite leave the same impression, but also delivers performance right where you need it. At 286 grams including cleats, the Dura Ace pedal system is 12 grams lighter than the Time Iclic Carbon (298 grams), but you have to be ready to pay roughly twice as much for Shimano as for Time. It is a tough decision, but one thing is certain: in combination with the Lightweight Meilensteins, Time will look decidedly more devilish on Cycling Dad’s new S-Works Venge. Spinning Mum can have the Shimanos ;)

We gave the pedal systems to our highly trained testing department here at CyclingParents.com secret world headquarters. Below is the full review.


Time vs. Shimano

Is it a sensible thing to compare Shimano’s 2013 top-end pedal system with the not quite so fresh 2011 upper mid-range model from Time? Tough call, but we did not really have much time to think about this question upfront. At the end of February, I received a call from one of the editors at Roadbike Magazine, telling me that I had been selected for a position in the 2013 Team Alpecin which, among other benefits, provides the opportunity to ride a EUR 10k+ Specialized S-Works Venge for an entire season. The only thing not to be provided in the team kit would be the pedals, as most riders gravitate heavily towards one certain system of their choice. I can deal with that :) .

I have been riding Time since the 90s and loved them ever since. LeMond, Indurain, Pantani, Ullrich, Boonen – they all rode Time… so these pedals can’t be too shabby. And as I am planning to use my Cervelo with the entry-level Iclic Racer pedals on rainy days, it was an easy choice remain faithful to my existing system. There are more upscale models in the Time product range, for example the Xpresso 12 at just 217 grams per pair (weight including cleats), but clearly these come at a price. Also, I got a good value for the slightly dated Iclic Carbons.

The Dura Ace PD-9000 entered the scene when Alex finally decided to give a proper road pedal system a try. She’s been riding the touring-style SPD PD-A520 system until now, but with her new BMC racemachine RM01, clearly a matching pedal system was required.

The incumbent: The Time Iclic Carbon pedal system

The Time Iclic Carbon system comes in an aggressive-looking cardboard box. Included in the set is a pair of cleats and the usual manuals.

The pedal itself looks rather spaceship-like and comes with a matt carbon finish, slightly rough to the touch. It is stunningly lightweight and provides a rather large surface area for the shoe to make contact. This is important especially on long rides and cycle marathons as unequally distributed pressure on the pedal can lead to “hotspots” on the soles of your feet. Remember that any detail that may nag you after three hours may turn into a source of excruciating pain after six hours. As I am aiming for a finishing time around ten hours on the Oetztaler Cycle Marathon, every detail counts. I know that the Time system works for me, so no experiments here.

Time claims that it’s Iclic pedals are the fastest pedal system in the world. This is because the closing mechanism works like a ski binding and automatically builds tension in a carbon spring when stepping out of the pedal. This tension is released when you lower the shoe onto the pedal, securely locking the cleat into position without any additional effort required from the rider. The pedal system allows you to alter the Q-Factor (the distance between the foot and the crank) by circa 2.5mm per shoe, simply by swapping the sides of the (offset) cleats. You also get to enjoy a lateral float of 2.5mm on the pedal and +/- 5 percent angular float, which is an asset if you feel discomfort and/or pain in your knees from long bike rides.

Does the Time pedal system live up to the marketing claims? I’d say it does. When I was a teenager, my knees hurt a lot after riding the (then still fix-positioned) Look pedal system. Part of the discomfort in the knees must have been attributable to growth, but once I changed to Time with its (then unique) float, the discomfort vanished. I still hold a grudge against Look and obviously cherish Time until this day, even though most (all?) pedal manufacturers offer float in their current systems.

However, I must point out one weak spot from my experience with the Iclic system. With the cheaper Iclic Racers, every now and then the cleat does not seem to engage the pedal quite as smoothly as it should, requiring me to step out of and into the pedal one more time. Not a big deal as I am not racing criteriums that tend to be fast directly off the starting line. I am curious to see if the Iclic Carbons will behave differently from the Iclic Racers in this aspect.

Time claims a weight of 225 grams per pair, which I wanted to put to the test. Our scale must be off by 9 grams…

To be honest I was a bit surprised one cleat alone comes at 32 grams. 64 for a set is more than one-fourth of the weight of the pedals. I also forgot to weigh the screws and screw fixtures which surely may add another race-deciding five grams per shoe.

Dear Time Sports, is there no way these cleats can be made less bulky and/or more durable? Remember the good old Time Magnesium Equipe pedal system? I know from today’s perspective they look dull, but hell – spaceships looked like that in the 80s!
What I loved about them is that they came with metal cleats that worked perfectly and would last forever. From an economical perspective, I understand that the latter meant that the system needed to be replaced… but… can’t it just come back with a fresh design?

 

The Challenger: Shimano Dura Ace PD-9000

Shimano sends its top-line pedal system to the starting line packed in a slick, highly glossy cardboard box. They put an attractive middle-aged man holding an iPhone camera on the front of the packaging. It’s modern, it’s flashy. Kind of makes you want to get on your bike and ride. Oddly enough, his head seems to melt into the area right next to the Dura Ace product family brand logo.

Once I opened the box, I had a flashback to my first business trip to Japan. Packaging is important and perfection is the goal. I had interviews with managers of foreign companies in Japan who told me about deliveries of industrial chemicals being rejected by the Japanese customers because a single barrel in an entire delivery was dented or scratched. The appreciation for your customer’s business and your dedication to serving his requirements shows in the packaging. It does not matter if you’re selling candy, cosmetics, industrial equipment or bicycle components. There is much we can learn from Japan. So I was gazing at the individually packaged pedals, the right-hand pedal in a blue sachet labeled R, the left-hand pedal in a red sachet labeled L. Poka Yoke at work.

The Dura Ace PD-9000 pedals feel good to the touch, and they look fast! The release tension can be manually adjusted from soft to strong to match your individual preferences. One thing I cannot show you on the photo is how incredibly smooth those bearings are turning. They also appear to be sealed pretty well from water and particles to enter. Perfection.

Look at this contact surface. It’s huge! Pressure hotspots? Not with Dura Ace!

 

At 248 grams, the Dura Ace pedals certainly are not the lightest in the world. Quality comes at a cost. However, things are put back into perspective when adding the weight of the shoe cleats….

At 19 grams, Shimano managed to shave the weight of its cleats by 13 grams compared to Time’s Iclic… That’s 13 grams – per shoe! 26 grams on the entire system. I also forgot to include the weight of the screws and fixtures here, but even after adding a few grams on both Shimano and Time the difference remains the same. In the end, Shimano’s Dura Ace pedal system is 12 grams lighter than the Time Iclic Carbon (286 grams compared to 298 grams, both excluding screws and fixtures).

I am curious to see how fast Shimano’s cleats will wear in comparison to Time’s. We live on the outskirts of the city, so most riding takes place on rural roads without the need to step out of the pedals a lot, e.g. at traffic lights.

We will give both Time’s Iclic Carbon and the Shimano Dura Ace PD-9000 a thorough test over the coming months and post our summaries below at the end of the season.

Ride safely and stay tuned.

Team Alpecin 2013 – Ötztaler here I come!

By Cycling Dad:

Remember my post about the call for applications to the 2013 Team Alpecin by RoadBIKE Magazine? Well, at the end of February, I received a phone call from one of the editors at RoadBIKE Magazine. We had a nice casual interview and one day later he called me up again to let me know that I would be offered a place in the 2013 Team Alpecin. The guys at Alpecin and RoadBIKE Magazine like the idea of the Cycling Parents blog and believe that having a nut job like me on the team could provide some nice stories ;) . He also told me to get ready for the training camp on Mallorca in April. I made it.

WOW!

I am sure you can imagine that at first I was completely starstruck. Soon after (or already a few weeks before, if you like), I started my long descent into cycling madness, which you may have already noticed as a regular visitor or subscriber to the Cycling Parents Blog. I could virtually see myself riding the Specialized S-Works Venge with those devilish Lightweight Meilenstein wheels next to former champions Jan Ullrich and Jörg Ludewig. Not to mention getting to know the other team members – regular cyclists like you and me, each one of us with his or her own distinct cycling identity and stories to tell. A dream coming true for all of us, and a huge motivation for my cause and for finishing the Oetztaler Cycle Marathon.

Preparations for the team kickoff are in full swing, and images of the team material are already starting to leak to Facebook. One of these could be mine soon…

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However, there still is one pressing question looming between me and the S-Works Venge… that is – will Alex deliver our daughter before the Team Kickoff event on March 16…? Our due date is March 14, and while there are strong indications that she will be on time, clearly I would stay with the family if she’s a bit late. You have to set the priorities right, and our credo goes ‘Love your family. Love your bike.’. Bike comes second. It is a photo finish, but a clear result alright. And if our little one is delayed by a few days, then I hope that the team will save my position. Fingers crossed.

Weekend Group Ride

By Cycling Dad:

While Alex and I are still anxiously awaiting the birth of our daughter, I took the chance to go out on a Sunday group ride with my mates from RC Mödling and the notorious “Boschberg-Partie”, a slightly paced, loosely organised ride for amateurs from all over Vienna and Southern Lower Austria that draws members mainly through word of mouth. At this time of the year, the guys and gals still don’t go too fast – but there is already the spirit of competition in the air. Anybody can jump in and out of this group and ride as he or she likes. It’s a great chance to practice paced riding in a pack and a fun way of getting to know the local racing community. If you are interested to join, just leave a comment or send me an email and we’ll go together.

Also, I wanted to try out my latest gizmo – a GoPro Hero 3 action cam. I’ll write a review about it soon, and am really looking forward to using it along with the Team Alpecin activities throughout the summer. Here is what the result looks like. Already better than our first video, but there are still some lessons to be learned. What do you think?

Cycling Parents suffering from vertical video syndrome

By Cycling Dad:

Hey all, just a quick update today. As I began suffering through the Sufferfest videos to prepare for my upcoming reviews, Alex snapped below’s short video of me. Here are the associated Garmin files with the heart rate. I sent the video back to the Sufferlandrian Ministry of Sports and Health for appraisal and received the second video below in reply, along with the diagnosis that we are suffering from vertical video syndrome.
We’ll see a specialist about it, and post better videos in the future. Promise!

 

The Sufferfest

By Cycling Dad

Regular visitors to the Cycling Parents Blog may have already noticed my red-hot passion for turbo trainers and the sensations of seemingly endless training sessions, staring at sitcoms or just at the blank wall, thinking ‘this is not what I signed up for when I picked up cycling as a sport’ or ‘just kill me to make this end’. I despise turbo trainers. They are humiliating contraptions spat out by hell itself. Their sole purpose is to make man suffer.

So far, my strategy of avoiding the turbo trainer and the suffering that comes along with it has not been very successful. I am three months into my preparations for the Oetztaler Cycle Marathon, and have spent hundreds of kilometres on the trainer, suffering. A quick glance out the window at masses of snow gives me a premonition that there will be many more kilometres to follow… so…

I decided that, just as Churchill once said, I shall draw from the heart of suffering itself the means of inspiration and survival. Let there be a Sufferfest! (He didn’t say the later part).

The Sufferfest is a Sufferlandria-based, government-owned broadcast system that claims to make the hardest, most exciting, most get-on-your-bike-and-suffer-your-ass-off cycling training videos in the world. They make these videos as part of a secret training programme for the national cycling team. As Sufferlandria is a poor country, they have to sell their videos online. You can purchase them at affordable prices from the Sufferfest website. Here is a sample of what you get:

 

I applied for the right to abode in Sufferlandria, and was surprised to receive a letter from the King himself. He offered me to review some of the videos and even invited me to become a Knight of Sufferlandria, if I prove worthy. In his letter, the King also disclosed to me that it was the Sufferlandrian government that was there, negotiating with the police in the station after that arrest involving the Porsche, the night club and the box of hamsters. He did not go into details, but told me that he’s glad I got my life back together.

He also included some words of wisdom, which I shall be glad to recite:

- “To live is to suffer. To survive is to find a meaning in the suffering.”
- “Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls. The most massive characters are seared with scars.”
- “Only through trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened.”
- “A man who fears suffering is already suffering what he fears.”

Amen.

I decided to take on this bonus mission, and will report about my learnings on this blog.

IWBMATTKYT

The long road to Soelden

By Cycling Dad

With the applications to the Oetztaler Radmarathon and Team Alpecin on their way, all that’s left for me to do right now is getting in some base mileage. It finally stopped snowing, so I took the chance to go out on a 100k solo ride today, which was truly liberating after yesterday’s two hours on the turbo trainer. Riding outdoors in these conditions still is not much fun, but Alex was kind enough to lend me her iPod shuffle. A little music makes a big difference when riding in this monotonous landscape (snow everywhere).

Despite the low intensity, my heart rate started drifting upwards right after the short 70m hill at 2:55h until the end. Upon consideration, it appears sensible to do more of these long, low-intensity rides. Here’s the data:

Despite all, I found this lovely documentary about the Oetztaler Radmarathon on former Tour de France champion Jan Ullrich’s Facebook page, which I find very motivating. Unfortunately it is in German, but the day will come for online synchronisation. So in the meantime, all my non-German speaking friends please be patient and enjoy the scenes. The slow-motion scenes of dozens of athletes stuffing their faces with carbs must be the most random thing I have seen all week.

Ride your dream bike with Alpecin and Roadbike Magazine

By Cycling Dad:

Alpecin, purveyor of male-oriented hair care products, has teamed up with Roadbike Magazine to assemble a team of hobby athletes for the 2013 Ötztaler Cycle Marathon.
As a regular visitor to the Cycling Parents Blog, I am sure that you are aware that this coincides with my season’s goal and social fundraiser for 2013.

When I first hit the Team Alpecin website, I was instantly blown off the saddle.

I’ll keep it short and relevant – this is what you get if you are among the chosen few:

And here’s the slightly longer list of goodies:

TEAM ALPECIN EQUIPMENT

•    Specialized S-Works Venge**
•    Lightweight Meilenstein Wheelset**
•    Campagnolo Record Groupset**
•    Rotor Crankset**
•    Schwalbe Tires
•    Seat Position Analysis by Specialized
•    Team Clothing by Assos
•    Helmet and Glasses by Uvex
•    Specialized S-Works-Shoes
•    Casual Clothing by Engelhorn Sports
•    Squeezy-Nutrition Package
•    Polar Cycling Computer**
•    Tools by Specialized
•    Muscle Stimulator by Compex**
•    Training Camp in Mallorca at Robinson-Club Cala Serena*
•    Performance Diagnostics by das Radlabor*
•    Personal Coaching by das Radlabor
•    Complete Race-Weekend with a starting position at the Ötztaler Cycle Marathon*
•    Starting Places for Preparation Races*

* excl. traveling cost
** borrowed during time of team affiliation with privileged purchase option

Okay, let’s take a deep breath and regain our composure. What do you have to do to get in? Sell your soul? Wash your hair twice daily with Alpecin? The answer is yes.

On top you have to fill out this questionnaire and pray daily to be selected on some ominous internal selection criteria. Would you qualify as a middle-aged, overambitious but slightly under-skilled Austrian-based blog scribe? I don’t know, but I am determined to find out. The application period ends February 20th.

One thing I do know since today is my personal baldness age, thanks to Alpecin’s baldness calculator. It turned out my personal baldness age is 43. Luckily I still have a few (albeit not many) years left and Alpecin is here to help. Is this a good or bad indication for my application? My son Konstantin will turn one soon and there’s still not much hair up on his head. Again my humble question is will this affect my application to Team Alpecin?

So, I hereby extend a gesture of friendship towards Team Alpecin and gladly offer my service in the equipe. Remember, either you’re with me or you’re against me. It is up to you, Team Alpecin, to pick the sides.

Cycling for children in need

By Cycling Dad:

As given away by the name of our blog, CyclingParents.com is not only about our love for cycling, but also about our love of having a family. When my wife Alex and I became parents, we knew immediately that we wanted to do something for children who have a less fortunate start into life than our own. We also wanted to see where our contributions are going, so when we learned that there is a SOS Children’s Village very close to where we live, we made the logical connection.

At the peak of the 2013 cycling season in August, I will attempt to finish the Oetztaler Cycle Marathon, covering a distance of 238km and 5,500 meters in altitude gain. For each meter in altitude, I will try to raise one Euro in donations for the SOS Children’s Village in Hinterbruehl, Austria. That’s 5,500 Euro for children in need, and will help me keep focused along the way. I am planning to select one meaningful area for spending the donations together with the Children’s Village, and will write about my experiences along the way in this blog.

Please support me in my endeavour and donate as little or as much as you can spare.
To donate, please click here and follow the instructions on the following pages.
To learn more, please visit http://www.cyclingparents.comhttp://www.sos-childrensvillages.org,  the webpage of the Children’s Village in Hinterbruehl (German) and http://www.oetztaler-radmarathon.com.

Please also share this fundraiser on Facebook, LinkedIn, or simply by talking about it with friends and colleagues over a cup of coffee.

P.S.: Your donations to SOS Children’s Villages are fully tax deductible. All you have to do is submit the banking transaction along with the request for tax credit in your annual tax return.

Thank you!

How to get access to the Ferry Dusika Cycling Stadium

Dusika Stadion Vienna
Photo: Florian Ertl

There may be quite a few cyclists out there who are wondering how to get access to the Ferry Dusika Cycling Stadium. I am not just talking about residents of Vienna and its suburbs, but also those of you living close to the Austrian border in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. For all of us, I have assembled the following step by step guide – so you don’t have to go through the research or struggle with translating the available resources, which are mostly in German.

The address of the stadium is Engerthstraße 267-269, 1020 Wien, Österreich.
Here you can find it on google maps.

Getting to the Ferry Dusika velodrome is quite easy. I you are already in Vienna, you can get there with metro line U2, the station is called ‘Stadion’. The much larger Ernst Happel stadium is right next to the velodrome, so look out for the Ferry Dusika Stadium. If you come by car, please note that you can’t park directly at the stadium. However, there are paid parking lots available at the Stadion Center shopping mall, just across the street.

In order to get access to the track, you have to hold a valid UCI racing (or track training) license, which can be obtained from most amateur cycling clubs. With the license, you can apply for an access card to the velodrome, which costs around EUR 50, and gives you access to the track for a full calendar year (Jan-Dec). Contact persons can be found on the website of the ÖRV – Österreichischer Radsportverband. Hedwig Weisz or Christian Langhammer are the right persons to contact. They will also be happy to help you with any English inquiries.

You will need to bring a track bike as there are no rentals available at the stadium, which is a shame and on my list of topics to discuss with ÖRV. Track cycling is a lot of fun, and it would be nice to give more cyclists a chance to give it a try. Shop around for used track bikes on bikeboard.at or other cycling forums. There are also great track bikes available from Dolan, but spending EUR 600 for equipment that you may only want to use from time to time is a tough call. Bikes can be stored at the velodrome, but you will be asked to remove it prior to major events, which take place every couple of months. One last thing, make sure to check out the track schedule before heading out.

Looking forward to seeing you on the track, or on any of the Cycle Marathons in my event schedule (top of the page).

Keep in touch!

Full ahead into 2013!

By Cycling Dad:

Going on holidays has turned out a bad idea from work’s perspective, as I found myself extremely busy immediately after returning to the office. So here is but a short update.

However, there has been some progress on the training side and I am mostly on track. I even managed to complete my first 100k ride with 1100m altitude gain in the days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Also, I retook the Functional Threshold Test a few days ago and managed to sustain both a higher heart rate and a higher (perceived) power output than the first time. My new training zones are:

There are some small updates on the website. On the landing page, you can now find my training stats since the beginning of December. Figures include number of rides, distance cycled, total altitude gain, calories burned and my current weight, along with a weight reduction target. Every kilo counts in the season ahead.
I’ll try to give you a monthly update on these figures.

Unfortunately, so far I have not received a reply from Michael Creed yet, but once he runs out of clothing, I expect him to come back to my offer.

I’ll be back with longer stories soon, so stay tuned!