Research This

    Nearly 100 years ago, H.B. Reese created the world’s most delicious confection:

    No doubt its transcendent deliciousness inspired the engineers at Trek, who in 2003 introduced the LeMond Tete de Course:

    “You got your titanium in my carbon!” “You got your carbon in my titanium!” And a classic was born:

    This engineering marvel was a rolling hedge for the status-obsessed rider: half the bike Lance Armstrong was riding, and half the material people ascribe mystical properties to, the Tete de Course owner could roll up at the group ride confident that he wouldn’t be out-biked–unless of course someone else rolled up on a less corporate carbon-and-titanium wonder bike:

    Though the advantage of corporate bikes over some of the boutique ones is that they only come in stock sizes so you’re less likely to wind up with a wonky freak bike:

    Please note I said “less likely,” and not that it was impossible, because obviously any bike can be butchered:

    Though unlike a wonky custom bike a stock one can always be rescued.

    Riding the Tete de Course has been a pleasure, and as I’ve probably mentioned elsewhere it feels exactly like they tell you a carbon and titanium bike is supposed to feel: smooth, responsive, blah blah blah. But how much does this arranged marriage of materials inform the ride? What about other stuff, such as the wheels?

    Apart from one ride with the Spinergys, during which I was preoccupied with their conspicuous appearance and various mechanical issues, I’ve only ridden the LeMond with the Rolf Prima wheels with which I received it from Classic Cycle–until this past weekend, when I removed them to do some maintenance. The rear wheel was exhibiting a small amount of play, and while it was quite minor I figured I might as well adjust it, if only to learn how it worked.

    Rolf wheels came on the scene at the turn of the 21st century, when Trek licensed the name and the whole “paired spoke” thing and put them on all their bikes:

    [Pic from here.]

    Even I briefly had a pair of these wheels at the time, being a sub-mediocre Cat 3 and all, and as I recall back then the hubs were made by DT Swiss or something. Then in 2001 Rolf and Trek parted ways and Rolf became Rolf Prima, which is what the wheels on the LeMond are. Apparently Rolf Prima’s hubs are made by White Industries, which I discovered while researching how to adjust them. In fact, as of 2023, White Industries owns Rolf Prima:

    I happen to think they missed a huge opportunity to rebrand themselves as “White Rolf,” but perhaps they were concerned that they might get sued by Rolf White, who a popular search engine informs me is a financial planner in Minnesota.

    As for the rear hub adjustment, it was ultimately very simple:

    Though I did fumble with it for awhile until I read in the actual online instructions that you might have to tap out the end cap with a quick release skewer and a hammer.

    Anyway, while I was still figuring out the White Rolf hub, I put different wheels on the LeMond to see how different it felt, if at all:

    Having ridden the bike just the day before, I will say that it didn’t quite have the same spring in its step as it did with the Rolf Whites. Was the bike ruined? Compromised? Besmirched? Not by a long shot–and how could you not enjoy being out on a fancy road bike on a day like this?

    Still, clearly lighter and more aerodynamic wheels count for something quantifiable…or maybe it was just the tires, since the Ralph Wiggums were also sporting slightly wider and fancier tires too.

    Speaking of wider, I almost passed out sucking in my gut for this Pearl Izumi Fred Suit selfie:

    They sent me this fancy summer stuff last year and it’s finally warm enough to wear it again. Also, it’s on super sale:

    I know it’s hypocritical of me to make fun of companies like Pas Normal and MAAP while squeezing myself into a sausage casing and sharing a link to said casing, but I reserve the right to giggle at PNS hoods:

    Don’t worry, if the PNS hood grosses you out it also comes in circumcised:

    There’s even a PNS sock:

    It’s ribbed for her pleasure.

    Speaking of double entendre, I had to do something of a rim job on the the wheels on the LeMond. I’d gotten two pairs of these wheels awhile back, and I subsequently learned the hard way that a tubeless compatible rim requires tubeless tape even if you don’t plan to set it up tubeless. The reason for this is that a tubeless rim has a deep channel in the middle, and if you use a regular rim strip like I did it slowly works its way down into the channel like a thong into an ass crack, eventually exposing a nipple hole and bursting the tube. (Rims really are the most suggestive part of a bicycle, aren’t they?) So before putting the wheels on the LeMond I wrapped them in tubeless tape.

    Another issue when using tubeless-compatible rims with tubes is that they fit snugly so if you have to fix them out on the road it’s not always possible to get the tires seated properly on the rim if your pump isn’t big enough. (Sorry, for all the innuendo, but what can I tell you? I blame Pas Normal and their PNS line.) I was acutely aware of this before heading out, but having just put on that new tubeless tape along with brand-new tubes and an almost-new pair of tires, I thought to myself, “What are the odds I’ll get a flat immediately after all that?”

    Apparently they were pretty good:

    This happened just before the nicest part of the ride, and I was all annoyed that I’d have to limp home on a wobbly unseated tire, but fortunately with lots and lots of massaging and wrist action I was able to get the tire seated, even with my tiny pump.

    Sorry, I’ll stop now.

    In any case, the upshot was that I got to enjoy the good roads in total smoothness:

    I also encountered this research facility:


    Clearly these were chicken scientists and I’d just stepped into a Far Side cartoon:

    Or maybe the geese were the scientists:

    I look forward to their 5,000 page paper on crossing the road.

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