Q: I’ve been riding a Bianchi 1885 for a year now, very happily, but am looking to see if I can get more out of it. I know that a new wheelset is the best start, but which ones? I’m on Ventos at the moment; would I notice a big change going up to, for example, Zondas? Or should I keep saving for wheels at the scarily expensive end of the spectrum?
I was also thinking of getting a carbon seatpost. The problem here is that the 1885 seat-tube has a diameter of 31.4mm, and most posts I’ve looked at are either 27.2mm or 31.6mm. Is there any difference in ride quality using a much smaller post with a shim? I’d be very grateful for any advice you could give me.
A: If you’re anywhere between light to average weight, the Campagnolo Zonda wheels will provide a saving of 209g on your old Ventos, and the Easton Ascent lls are a very worthwhile 345g lighter. The Easton front wheel has 18 radial spokes and the rear has 24 laced to a rim with offset spoke holes to minimise the effect of dishing. The hubs have a lovely pewter anodised finish that gives a classy look, and the spoke nipples can be adjusted externally without having to remove the tyre and rim tape to get at them. The Ascent lls cost £430 a pair (Extra Tel: 01933 672170), while the Campagnolo Zondas cost £345 (www.chickencycles.co.uk).
With regards to the seat problem, a carbon seatpost will have the benefit of firstly shaving a little weight off your bike (providing it’s a quality carbon post and not one that’s merely carbon-clad aluminium). Look at posts by brands such as USE, Easton, FSA (amongst others) and secondly, the gain in flex of carbon over aluminium, although slight, does add comfort in this crucial area. Cost-wise, a quality carbon post will set you back around £70, and for this money, in our opinion, greater performance gains would be found in a better set of tyres; Sizewise, yes, Bianchi do things a little differently and 31.4mm isn’t that commonly used; if you went down the standard 27.2mm route, shims are available to bring it up to size from USE.
In use you may well get a bit more flex in the post (depending how much is exposed above the seat collar) which will be fine, perhaps even a little more comfy. On high-spec bikes Bianchi’s Selcof carbon posts are used. You could try Selcof’s distributors www.chickencycles.co.uk to see if they have any available. I had exactly the same problem with a carbon Bianchi mountain bike about a year ago and I sourced one from USE. Their Alien Cyclops carbon seatpost was available in 31.4mm in limited numbers for £75. At just 165g the head is tricky to fit at first, but has now seen over a year’s worth of mountain bike abuse and is still like new.
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