Sunday, February 14, 2010

Math and Metal

Anyone that has ever done any competitive cycling will somewhere be harboring a small amount of weight or tech weeniness. Lighter is often better, and techier is too (provided someone else has tested it and given it the thumbs up first). Of course the easiest way to make something lighter is to use power tools to take away some of the thing, hopefully only the parts that you wouldn’t be using anyway. This line of thinking tends to justify odd actions at times, like taking a perfectly good bicycle rim and drilling holes in it. In the case of my rim I am using the bead edges to hold the tire and the holes to keep the spokes in place. All the rest of that big rim is just garbage I don’t need, right? So I have set about removing material from rims to make them lighter. Because more important than the fact that it is weight, it is actually rotating weight (and every cyclist knows that making rotation things lighter is even better than just plain old making things lighter). Sadly I have found that before I started drilling holes in my rims, perhaps I should have done the math. Although I was never a fan of calculus, geometry was always vaguely interesting, and I now realize some early up front work would have saved some regret. A lot of holes seems like a good idea. More holes seems like more weight savings. In reality, bigger holes equals more weight savings since there is an exponent involved in the area equation. Also since bigger holes means fewer holes, there is less work involved. Well, now I know.

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