Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Raleigh Tamland Two: A Word On Components

Tamland Two: Now back to the stock wheelset.
Last weekend's Gent's Race was my first event on the Tamland Two, and it got a fair share of notice at the start line. I had intended to write up my impressions of the components at some point, but the questions this weekend fueled the fire to get that out now instead of later. So here are my impressions of the components that I feel make a difference on this bike. A full verdict on the Tamland Two will come later on Gravel Grinder News.

Wheels: The American Classic Hurricane wheels are now in the capable hands of MG, who will be doing further review on them for Gravel Grinder News, so I am back to the stock wheels. These wheels are no lightweights, but they roll well, engage in a quicker fashion than did the American Classic hubs, (which is neither here nor there, but just is), and are a wider rim internally. The wheels have nice skewers and eyelets on the outer portion of the rim. They feel pretty stiff, and although I have curb hopped and beaten them to death a couple times on commutes, they have been straight and true so far. Good wheels, just not "great wheels". After having run the lighter American Classic Hurricanes, I know what the possibilities are for the Tamland, and these will get replaced at some point with something lighter and just as stout. Overall Score- "Above Average".

Shifty Bits
Ultegra 11 Speed: I know.....another gear! But that said, the ratios on the 11-32T 11 speed cassette are good, low enough, and shift smoothly. The chain has been fine so far into this. Actually, it's pretty normal from the standpoint of it being Shimano. Nothing revelatory about this stuff, but it just plain works.

Not crazy about the big ring size
Now the crank set, on the other hand, is an area of concern, and just about everybody that's actually seen my rig has commented, (unprompted), about the size of the big ring. All have said it looked too big. A 52?!! Okay- I see where some may use that and if you look at the bike as an "all road" type rig, the 52 may even make perfect sense. However; on gravel, (at least around these parts), a 52 is waaaaaay too big a gear, and this bike will end up with the 46T outer for Ultegra 11's meant for cyclo cross.

The front derailleur snaps to when put on call and the shifting of the front is rather amazing. Smooth, almost......rear derailleur-like, I would say. The levers have a shorter, more ergonomic throw and I don't accidentally activate the brakes when shifting, which I used to do all the time with older STI stuff. Overall Score- "Pretty Awesome". (Once I get rid of the 52T big ring) And for the record, the Ultegra 11 speed crankset looks like plastic. Really Shimano? Blecch! On looks- Overall Score- "Uglier Than A Mud Fence".

Comfy Cockpit.
Saddle, Bars, Etc: In the area of "surprises" when it comes to this bike, I have to say one of the biggest is that I actually really kind of like the ProLogo Kappa Evo that came stock on the bike. I rode Saturday with no real comfort issues, and that flat course demanded that I be in the saddle most of the day. I still think it isn't quite the perfect, long-day-in-the-saddle saddle, but it's pretty good. The FSA bars were dismal. At least from my point of view. The Cowbell 2's have transformed the feel of the bike 100% for the better. The bar tape is tacky, forgiving, and looks to be pretty tough. The stem.......is a stem. It holds the bars and transmits steering inputs. Looks okay. Isn't tank-ish. It will stay. The FSA headset in pewter matches the look, and was a dead on match with the Hurricane wheel's hubs. (But that's getting off track here.) The seat collar is that same stupid little thing Raleigh has used since forever, but unlike every other one I've used, this one actually is working! Huzzah! The seat post is clever, and easy to use. I like it, but it may get axed from this rig merely on weight/comfort concerns. I think something will eventually take its place here, but that's not because the Raleigh branded post is bad. It isn't at all bad. Considering the FSA bar- Overall Score- Above Average. With the Cowbell 2- Overall Score- "Damn Skippy!" (These are all technical terms and although you may not understand them, I must speak in these terms to accurately describe these components. ) <====HA!

Note the distance between the caliper and spoke as indicated by the arrow.
TRP Spyre Brakes: Okay, I've had more questions about this part of the bike than almost anything else. The brakes. These are the new TRP Spyre brakes which activate both pistons and move both inward when you pull the lever to make braking happen. Making braking happen is a good thing. The TRP Spyre brakes do the happening thing differently than almost any other mechanical brake and they work really, really well. But there is one thing that isn't too cool about them.

See my image here? The arrow points to the heads in spoke and their clearance to the caliper. It isn't much with the stock wheels and was barely touching those heads in spokes on the American Classic Hurricanes in a couple of places. If the hubs I choose have a flange about a millimeter more towards the outside, I won't be able to run the Spyre brakes without some fancy shim work, (which is what I did on the bike when I ran the American Classics.) The problem is that since the inner piston, (which is usually static on Avid brakes, for instance), is moved by a lever arm, the mechanism for that adds width to the inside of the caliper and some wheels may have interference with the spokes due to that. Bummer if it does.

Otherwise these brakes outperform Avids hands down. The amount of power these generate with the almost noise free braking performance is incredible. If TRP could shrink the width of the caliper a few millimeters, it would be 100% Awesomesauce. (Again, a technical term.) As it stands.....Overall Score- Outstanding.

So, I hope that gives you a good overview of the components on my Tamland Two. I'll be goofing around with other stuff for this bike throughout 2014, so stay tuned for more.

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