26 December, 2011

O Symetric

I started riding with O Symetric chain rings five weeks ago, on the advice of my coach Jon Sharples. After fitting them and spending a good ten minutes spinning the cranks and watching them go round (because they look awesome in my opinion!) I went out for my test ride.

Now I know with some bike parts you can change them and not really tell the difference, although people like to pretend they can. For example new stems; “mmm yes feels much stiffer”, tyres; “wow so much more grip!”, wheel bearings; “SO much smoother!”. But with O Symetric Rings this is not the case. First pedal stroke and you instantly know something’s changed.

"What. Is. Going. On. Here?"

O Symetric chain rings - funny to look at
For me, my first test ride felt like a combination of riding along whilst putting the brakes on and off twice every pedal revolution, and riding over a million hump back bridges in a row, like a fairground waltzer. I started to get a bit seasick at one point.

If I’m honest, I didn’t really know how to feel. I’d read a lot on the theory and being a university graduate (or closet nerd) I liked what I’d read. Claims of big power increases and better muscle development is not to be sniffed at!

The basic principles are that the rings reduce the amount of force required to rotate the cranks past the top dead centre and bottom dead centre of the pedal stroke, when it is hardest to produce power. The rings then allow more force to be applied during the ‘power phase’ of the pedal stroke when you’re using the bigger quadriceps muscles to push the pedals forwards and down. It takes advantage of the bigger quadriceps muscles and makes allowances, as it were, for the smaller and less powerful muscles. At least that’s how I understand it.

Fast forward to the present and I’m now convinced. Big transformation from my first ride confusion I know, but the way I’ve felt on the bike is enough proof for me. The first few weeks were admittedly strange and sometimes uncomfortable, but I’ve stuck it out and now feel totally smooth and natural on them. I’m finding I can average higher power for my long training rides and I did my best ever five second power output on them a week ago, mucking about and sprinting for a 30. That’s got to be a good sign. (Sorry!)

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