A while ago, I traded in the old 2010 Felt F95X for a 2018 Felt VR3. I got it just as the 2019 models came out, so the discount was good. I don’t think of bike models like cars, but apparently the manufacturers do, so they have the same old inventory problems of “old” stock. The difference between the old and the new bike is amazing. Waiting 9 years and upgrading was a great step up. I had the new bike fitted at 3D Bike Fit. A professional bike fit is totally worth it. Bikes are sold so out of proportion and setup as if you’re a professional rider. No one can actually ride on the stock seats. The handlebar and seat adjustments need a professional fit, not some eyeball “looks right” approach.
So now that it’s all setup, I’ve been riding, a lot. Hawk Hill used to be a bear to ride, now it’s almost enjoyable. It’s still a great workout, but the disc brakes provide reliable, confidence inspiring braking for the steep, twisty downhill. I find myself going faster than ever before. The largest adjustment is the clipless pedals. I find my feet are less sore and my legs get a more even workout than with my old flats. I find that riding the city with clipless pedals is crash inducing. So many dismounts, stops, red lights, avoiding cars, avoiding doors, panic stops, etc that clipping in/out becomes a challenge. Or, I’m an expert at clipping in on the downstroke since I’ve had to do it so many times. To quote Matt from GCN, “first time! woohoo!”
I’ve crashed twice so far. Both times, made worse because I couldn’t clip-out in time to catch the fall, so my hands/arms caught it instead. I’ve ripped open my knee to the point where it needed skin glue to stop the bleeding, and then fell and re-opened it again. Hairline fractures in my left arm from the two falls. Luckily, the falls are low speed. One was just a stupid low speed turn in loose gravel. Front wheel hit a rock, stopped forward motion, couldn’t clip out in time, and over I go. Mostly embarrassing and left a few nice bruises on my left leg. The second crash was to avoid a crashing car which swerved into the bike lane and hit a parked car. So many crashes that time. The speeding car into the parked car. Me panic stopping and then sliding as I crossed the cable car tracks and crashing into the pavement. Unable to get my foot out of the clip in time, I went down hard and slid under the car crash. However, I sacrificed my body to save the bike and then popped up and asked the driver if they were ok. They weren’t responding, so I took that as a “no” answer. Police and EMTs arrived, took care of the driver and I. I finished my 50 km ride.
Getting back on the bike, after a medically required break, in the clips just brought back all the worries about being unable to clip-out in time for stops. The clips are as loose as possible now. The pedals came pretty torqued down to avoid me foot pulling out accidentally. Of course, two crashes in 30 rides isn’t too bad, so I keep riding. I don’t believe clipless pedals make me any more powerful or efficient, but they do keep my feet in the right place. This sets up my lower body to avoid stress and soreness in my joints. I have swapped my flats back onto the bike as a test, and find that I’m just as fast up Hawk Hill as ever. And I feel much more confident I can not fall over at stops, so I ride into stop situations far faster. Overall, this means my standard circuit rides are faster, because I’m spending less time slowing down to clip out before I have to stop and stand for a light or stop sign.
Carbon fiber bikes are amazing. This one should last 9 years.