Friday, December 9, 2011

A Century Later: Masi Partenza with SRAM Apex

A while back we received our first batch of Masi bicycles, and Robby Susilo of Rocket Company kindly gave us away one Partenza along with it. Respect!

Running a shop means I don't have a lot of time to ride epic distances or going to exotic places, but as a daily commuter cyclist it doesn't take long to log a century to this bike. If you're new to cycling, a century means a 100 miles ride, or around 160km. Yes, I didn't log that 100 miles at once, but given the fact that we ride at least 10 to 30km a day, I managed to clocked somewhere around 200km after a couple of weeks. Here's my impression of the bike after a century—or 160km—later.
The Partenza is originally equipped with 8-speed Shimano 2300 shifters and derailers. Not long after the bike arrived we've managed to score a deal of being a reseller of SRAM components, mainly their road bike lineup. Since the bike's front brake was originally set on the left lever (as opposed to our liking), instead of just swapping the cables we ended up installing brand new SRAM Apex shifters. Of course, this means we have to swap the rear derailer as well, so a matching spanking new Apex was assigned.
The Apex is a 2 x 10-speed system. We got a nice trade deal on a Shimano Ultegra 6600 12-23T cassette taken off this bike so we combined it with KMC X10 chain and the cobbled together, not-so-new 2 x 10-speed system is ready for action.

The Crankbrothers Candy is heavier than the minimalist Eggbeater, but the surrounding plastic cage provides nice pedaling platform.
SRAM front shifter is compatible with Shimano front derailers, so we still use Partenza's stock derailer. But we might change it later for better shifting performance.
We feel the silver-finished Tektro brake calipers didn't suit the whole look of the bike so we swapped them with a pair of black Promax calipers which are tuned to provide smoother and lighter action. Baradine pads provide sure-footed stopping power, even in the wet.
Actually SRAM road brakelevers and brake calipers are using slight different cable pull ratio to Shimano standard, probably to make them perform better when combined with Avid cantilever brakes. When SRAM levers are used with calipers that's using Shimano cable pull ratio standard (i.e, every non-SRAM caliper brakes), the result is quicker yet a bit abrupt braking reaction... which I liked. If you prefer having normal, smooth braking control you might want to go with entire SRAM brake system anyway.

These tires used to be white. Me gusta.

Shifting with SRAM levers is also a different experience. With Shimano, to move the chain to larger cog/chainring you push the brakelever sideways, while to move the chain to smaller cog/chainring you push another lever behind the brakelever, or a small thumb lever on their entry level models. On Campagnolo, you push a lever behind the brakelever to move the chain to larger cog/chainring and push a small thumb lever to drop the chain. SRAM combines the two, putting only one lever behind the static brakelever that shifts both up and downwards. Dubbed as Double Tap, a single click on the lever push will drop the chain down, while the second and third click (when you push the lever further sideways) will move the chain to one or two larger cog/chainring, respectively.
Switching the brakelevers means we have to replace the bartape as well, so we put our long time favorite Charge U-Bend on. The synthetic finish is easy to clean even though I often ride it with my hands still a bit slathered with grease. Charge label also found on the Chopstick seatpost and Knife saddle, giving enough comfort while reducing some weight.

The whole upgrade still didn't change the overall look of the bike, so to set this bike apart from stock Partenzas we finally put white Vittoria Zaffiro 23c tires. With Crankbrother Candy pedals installed the 53cm bike now weighs 9,6kg.
At last week's family gathering at Cipanas we take this Partenza along and log a couple of climbing kilometers on it. The frame performed well, all with relaxed geometry amd carbon fork that soaked up most of bumps and road vibration. The only kvetch was the wheels: they're fine, but as a wheelbuilder I really wanted to build something light and tough that suits my riding style better. The 12-23T cassette made the gearing a bit higher than the stock 8-speed 12-25T so hills become chore for me. Two teeth really made a lot of difference, but since I mostly ride the Partenza on flat urban environment the 23T cassette doesn't matter much.
Beside wheels the next improvement for our Partenza will be a 175mm crankset to replace the stock 172,5mm FSA Tempo, but until then we'll ride it hard on this state. So next time you see this bike swerving around in Jakarta traffic, don't hesitate to wave and say hi.

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