Author: Dan Cavallari

Week in Tech: Sagan’s worst-kept secret, Lazer recall, I9 Micro-Spline, Silca tools

100% designs yet another Sagan signature piece

The new Glendale sunglasses have been perhaps the worst-kept secret since we first spotted them at Eurobike. They’re official now, and they’re reminiscent of Andy Hampsten’s iconic Oakley eyewear he wore on the Passo di Gavia at the 1986 Giro d’Italia. In other words, they’re big. This, according to 100%, offers a wide field of vision. There’s added ventilation slots in the lens as well to ensure air gets around the windshield-sized front area. For $185, you get a spare lens, a vintage style case, extra nose piece, microfiber bag, and heaps of Peter Sagan style.

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How many roads? Factor says all of the roads.

Photo: Factor

Mountain. Gravel. Road. All-Road. We need another category, right? Fortunately for Factor, the All-Road category has existed in some form or another since the earliest bikes, but this one’s far more refined. The Vista features size-specific carbon layups to balance stiffness and compliance. It’s optimized for 35mm tires, and the specially designed fork features an external steerer and accepts a 12mm thru-axle. Other modern touches include an integrated cockpit and a flat-back seatpost that flexes for added comfort. The Vista was designed with input from Giro d’Italia winner Ryder Hesjedal, who started his career as a mountain biker. The chassis will cost you $4,800 and prices go up from there, depending on build and options.

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Lazer recalls select helmets

If you own a Blade, Magma, Elle, or Jade helmet, in size XS or S, Lazer has recommended a voluntary recall. Take your helmet to your local dealer for a free replacement, or go to Lazer’s website to get instructions on how to get your replacement lid. The affected helmets may not pass CPSC roll-off testing, and the helmet strap anchoring point can detach from the helmet during impact. The affected helmets were manufactured from 2015 onward. The helmets called Blade+ and Magma+ feature updated straps and are not affected by the recall. A white sticker within the helmet will identify the model name and number. If your numbers match the ones in the photo above, you are eligible for a recall replacement.

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Industry Nine nabs Shimano approval for Micro Spline freehub

Photo: Industry Nine

If you’re interested in buying the new Shimano XTR M9100 group, you now have the option to branch out your wheel choice to Industry Nine. I9 became the first company in North America (outside of Shimano, of course) to obtain a license for the new freehub body design, which features a new spline design for XTR M9100 cassettes. The freehub will be compatible with all I9 Torch series mountain bike hubs. Availability and pricing will be announced by the end of 2018.

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Home garage looking a little drab? Silca can spice it up

Photo: Silca

It’s hard to beat Silca’s tools and pumps if you’re after some swanky garage candy. Fortunately, Silca is releasing several new products just in time for inclusion on your holiday gift list, including the Super Pista digital floor pump, the Pista Plus floor pump, and the Sicuro carbon water bottle cage. But perhaps even more exciting than that, Silca now offers its new Ypsilon Y-wrench. You’ll recognize the shape instantly from just about any Y-wrench out there, but the Ypsilon distinguishes itself from the crowd with its unique, swappable third bit. That third arm is a standard 1/4-inch size, and a magnetic collet keeps it all in place. The tool itself costs $36 if you don’t need any bits; the Travel Kit with bits runs $74; and for the connoisseur who loves the finer things in tools, the $108 Home Kit slots all the bits and the tool in a foam insert, which sits neatly in a birchwood box.


Give the gift of Strava this holiday season

Photo: Strava

Strava recently updated its subscription tiers to better serve its athletes. There are tailored packages to help you accomplish your goals, and now you can purchase the Summit packages as a gift for someone else. You don’t need to be a Strava member to purchase the gift subscription either. So when December 24 rolls around and you realize you didn’t shop for that special athlete in your life, you’ve got a great gift at your fingertips. Subscriptions start at $24 and go up from there.

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Find your crew in the Assos Speed Club

Photo: Assos

Joining the Assos Speed Club connects you with racers and riders around the world to form a new community of cyclists interested in all aspects of the sport. But more importantly, it gives you access to discounts and deals from Assos. Membership is free, and the service will officially launch in January 2019. If you upgrade to the Premium membership (for a fee), you’ll get custom Speed Club items and access to early release products before they’re for sale.

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Read the full article at Week in Tech: Sagan’s worst-kept secret, Lazer recall, I9 Micro-Spline, Silca tools on

Week in Tech: It’s (almost) all about Kona

PowerTap P2 pedals get lighter, longer life

Photo: PowerTap

PowerTap’s P1 pedals offered convenient, dual-sided power measurement for those who swap bikes frequently. The newest iteration, the P2 pedals, slim down the originals by shaving 34 grams, which means the P2 pedals weigh less than 400 grams. PowerTap says it has improved battery life by 33 percent too, which means you get up to 80 hours of ride time. The pedals officially hit the pavement in Kona this week, and they will be on store shelves in the near future for $900.

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You can get a custom Giro Aether, if you’re lucky on Tuesdays

Photo: Giro

Starting on Tuesday, October 16th at midnight PST, you could be one of the lucky 25 customers to get a custom Giro Aether. Giro shared news of its Tuesday 25 program, which allows you to choose all the colors on your Aether, right down to the straps and fit system. But only 25 customers will be able to fork over the $400 to actually receive the one-off beauty. The helmet will arrive in custom packaging 4-6 weeks after your order. Fire up your keyboard and warm up a cup of coffee so you can pull the trigger at midnight on Tuesday.

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Zipp goes custom too, any day of the week

Photo: Zipp

Zipp is turning 30 years old, and to celebrate, the company is giving you the option to get some pretty colorful wheels. The Super-9 Carbon Clincher Disc wheel isn’t likely to appeal to most riders beyond the velodrome or TT course, but if that’s up your alley, you’ll now be able to get this carbon beauty in Zipp’s historical color palette inspired by the first wheels back in 1988. Choose from white, yellow, blue, or magenta, and make it personally yours with an ImPress direct-print technology inspirational message, or just your name.

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Enve’s got a disc wheel too!

Photo: Enve

Enve’s SES Disc features one-piece molded construction, which eliminates bonding except at the hub shell. It’s tubeless compatible, weighs 1,225 grams, and will cost a cool $2,700. There’s a rim version and a disc version as well. The construction method, according to Enve, strengthens the wheel while making it lighter at the same time. Enve says this wheel will be the fastest at speeds over 27mph. It comes with a 5-year warranty as well.

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Met is also excited about Kona, launches TT helmet

Photo: Met

Noticing a theme? It’s all about triathlon and time trial gear this week, and Met has its own big release with the Codatronca. The name means “truncated tail” in Italian, and as you’d imagine, that’s its primary feature. Met says this helps maintain aerodynamics in multiple head positions and from various yaw angles. Met also says the wide body helps guide air over the rider’s shoulders, addressing areas of turbulence and drag. The shield features magnets that allow you to stow it when not in use, and it’s available in both white and black.

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Interbike Trends: Where is the road less graveled?

While the overall presence of vendors at Interbike 2018 was down, it’s clear that for the second year in a row (at least) that the road category is lagging far behind mountain, gravel, and e-bikes. In fact, Basso Bicycles seemed to be the only brand showing off new road bikes. But there’s hope outside the trade show for lovers of the black top.

Just about all the big road category releases this year took place in conjunction with major European races. That’s notable for a few reasons. First, it indicates that manufacturers have identified the most significant market for these types of bikes, and that market isn’t in the US. It’s in Europe.

Second, it points to the notion that road bicycle sales are still strongly tied to racing and the racers piloting them. While the influx of endurance bikes and price-point models seem to have flooded the overall market, road bikes still largely depend on the idea of going fast, riding aggressively, suffering, and crossing the finish line first.

That’s counter to the riding trends in the US. More and more riders are heading off the tarmac and onto the gravel, or further onto the trails. And racing has become less of an anchoring activity, while adventure-style rides are growing in popularity.

Couple that with the woeful state of cycling infrastructure on and around American roads and you’ve got a hurricane of doom for road bikes. Let’s be honest: People who don’t feel safe riding on the roads won’t ride on the roads. And since there’s almost no accountability for drivers who injure or kill cyclists, the problem persists. Compare that to many European countries in which drivers are always on the hook if they strike a cyclist. (Go ahead and Google “Stop de Kindermoord.”)

The industry response to this problem has been inadequate at best, lazy at worst. Hi-viz clothing and flashing lights are nice and all — and boy where they everywhere at Interbike —  but they won’t stop a texting driver from mowing a cyclist down. The best way to increase the road cycling population in the United States is to protect riders from drivers. That means infrastructure, not bright, goofy-looking clothing with embedded crystals and wiring for flashing red LEDs. It’s going to take some real, coordinated effort and a lot of heavy lifting to make real headway here.

But I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Road bikes are not dead. Not even close. While they’re certainly not as profitable as they used to be during the halcyon-yellow days of Lance Armstrong’s dominance, group rides still roll out on Saturday mornings. Lunch riders abound around noon. A culture as long and storied as the roadie culture isn’t likely to die a swift death.

So are road bikes cool anymore? Who cares? If it’s fun, ride it. It’s clear we’re in a downtrend heading toward a trough, and road bikes could even be considered a small niche. But the bounce will come. If you’re not convinced, take a look at the data.

Millennials — and the generation that follows them — have far less interest in automobile travel, opting instead for public transportation and other non-traditional modes of transportation like scooters and — gasp! — walking. The controversy surrounding bike shares and scooter shares in large cities appears in the news frequently for good reason: We’re in a transition period in which one generation is attempting a coup against the ingrained transportation practices of the generations that came before them. That’s problematic because so many urban and suburban areas have been built exclusively to accommodate cars. It’s a period of growing, and the growing pains are evident.

To be clear, that doesn’t mean millennials like bicycles more than other generations, or even do it more. It means, instead, that millennials are more bound to financial constraints (like student debt, lack of affordable housing, etc) and proximity concerns. No one wants to sit in traffic, and the suburbs, with its high housing costs and car-centric structure, seems far less appealing to millennials who would rather look at their phones on the train or bus than sit behind the wheel of a car in traffic. So millennials have moved in droves to urban centers, where it is perfectly reasonable to forego a car in favor of a bike or scooter.

So in this sense, while millennials may not actually ride bicycles more, there is an opportunity here for the bicycle industry that requires us all to re-learn what the road bike is capable of, and in what conditions people are likely to use them. So far, people who ride for fun have addressed the lack of safe infrastructure by heading to gravel roads, which has led to the growth of an entirely new segment of riding. This is a band-aid. There’s nothing wrong with gravel riding, but it is not a solution to the infrastructure problem. And it will not save road bikes.

Go ahead and put on your hi-viz jersey and blinky lights. But perhaps it’s time to ride that stuff to the ballot box. Perhaps it’s time to think bigger so we can save road bikes, and lives.

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Rapha partners with EF-Drapac in return to World Tour

Rapha is reentering the top echelons of cycling as it announces its partnership with EF Education First. While Rapha will of course supply the team’s kits, that’s just the beginning of this unique approach to sponsorship. Rapha will also play the part of team storyteller in order to help build a new audience of cycling fans.

That essentially means Rapha will be creating its own in-house content to give fans a behind-the-curtain look at pro cycling and its riders. This includes regular videos and stories throughout the course of the team’s year at various races.

According to Rapha, this approach to sponsorship resulted from a two-year study that concluded the best way to grow the sport of cycling is to grow the audience and creating channels through which teams can connect to that audience.

That effort has led the partnership down a different path that strays from the WorldTour entirely: Rapha will follow EF Education First riders through a mix of races, including ultra-endurance, fixed gear criterium, and mixed-terrain events. The coverage will be shown live at Rapha clubhouses throughout the world.

The new kit designs will be released soon. Rapha says it will draw from the current designs created by POC and bring in its own style on the Rapha Pro Team apparel.

Read the full article at Rapha partners with EF-Drapac in return to World Tour on

Interbike trends: E-bikes and the worst term in cycling

There might be no term more annoying than “analog bike.” But it’s become something of a joke throughout a year of tradeshows chock-full of e-bikes. Interbike 2018 was no different: There was an entire hall dedicated solely to e-bikes, and they infiltrated the rest of the show floor too at just about every manufacturer’s booth. It is clear e-bikes have a bright future, but it’s equally clear that no one knows quite yet what that future will look like.

At the moment, it seems we’re in the “chuck a motor on it and see what happens” phase of e-bike development. Everything from folding bikes to fat bikes and beyond seem to have massive batteries attached to their down tubes. While some of these creations will live on in more refined iterations, others will die an embarrassing death. Do we really need e-gravel bikes, for example? Isn’t that sort of antithetical to the whole point of gravel riding? Time will tell.

What’s clear is that there’s a massive audience for pedal-assist bikes. This should both cheer and dishearten those of us still riding “analog” bikes. (Yep, feels gross saying that.)

Let’s start with the good: The growth of e-bikes means more butts in bike seats. Those who were afraid they couldn’t make it over that hill between home and the office will probably be encouraged to give it a go now. In turn, that means more people scratching their heads, saying, “Why is bike infrastructure in the U.S. so dangerous? What can I do to help change that?”

Things get a bit more complicated on the dirt side. Trail access is already a tenuous issue for mountain bikers, and adding pedal-assist bikes has already complicated the matter. It’s vital for anyone with or without a battery on their down tubes to speak correctly about what’s coming. These are pedal-assist bikes, not motorized bikes. They are pedal-assist bikes, not e-bikes. They aren’t one step away from a motorcycle, and if you’re a mountain biker shouting that on social media, you are cutting off your nose to spite your face. Take the time to ride a pedal-assist mountain bike and you’ll see why.

Before you start in with your comments about how I’m a motorized bike apologist, let me state this clearly: I’ve ridden them, I enjoyed myself. And I have no intention to buy one for myself. But I’m certainly not the guy who’s going to try to close the door on an entire population of would-be cyclists. That’s exactly what motorists and trail naysayers have been doing to us for decades.

On a simpler level, e-bikes just aren’t that good yet. They’re still incredibly heavy and limited in range due to battery life constraints. And they’re just another thing to plug into the outlet at home before and after every ride. They add heaps of weight to the equation, which adversely affects handling.

That’s not to say they aren’t fun. Early mountain bikes certainly weren’t as capable as today’s more refined machines, yet one look at an old-school, early nineties mountain bike video reveals a whole helluva lot of fun being had on hardtails with a whopping 40mm of suspension. Refinements will happen over the course of years and we’ll look back on these earliest e-bike iterations with a combination of nostalgia and forehead-slapping hindsight. Early adopters will rub their quads remembering that ride eight years ago when the battery died 10 miles from the trailhead. Then they’ll likely hop on their 22-pound pedal-assist mountain bike with a 12-hour battery life and wax poetic about how cool bikes have gotten over the years.

In other words, e-bikes aren’t coming; they’re here. And whether you like them or not, it’s time to figure out where they fit in the big tent that is the cycling community. They can be a boon for us all if we’re smart enough to embrace them. Otherwise, we’re doomed to segment ourselves again, which only works to the advantage of those who want to limit our access to roads and trails.

Analoggers, meet the Motorized. Now go forth and conquer.

Read the full article at Interbike trends: E-bikes and the worst term in cycling on

Week in Tech: Ibis hardtail, gravel-specific helmet, floor pump with a secret

Here’s the Week in Tech — all the gear news, tips, and announcements you need and none of the marketing gibberish you don’t.

Ibis carbon hardtail MTB aims for affordability

Ibis designed the DV9 to do it all, for the right price. The frame costs just $999, which is only a little more than a comparable aluminum frame. The complete bikes start at $2,199. Yet this thing’s ready to race, with a frame weight of 1,204 grams and the option to run a 100mm or 120mm fork. This 29er hardtail also has clearance for tires up to 2.6 inches, so you can get rowdy on your local singletrack too. DV stands for development since the bike was originally conceived as a bike for high school racers. It comes with a seven-year frame warranty.

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Lezyne’s Shop Floor Drive pump has secrets

Photo: Lezyne

A pump is a pump. Well, unless it’s also got some hidden gems, like a multitool integrated into its handle. Oh, and some tire levers. And glueless patches. It’d be nifty in the garage, but the Shop Floor Drive belongs in the back of your car or truck for setup at the trailhead. The aluminum barrel and base make it rugged enough to survive your neglectful tosses into the back seat. And at $100, it’s a good investment for years of use. It goes all the way up to 220 psi, so use it for road or mountain.

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Scicon snubs its nose as it enters saddle game

Photo: Scicon

You’ve likely heard of Scicon and its line of heavy-duty bike travel cases. Now you can sit on ’em too. The Elan Carbon saddle is Scicon’s first, and it takes a cue from the growing trend of snub-nose saddles. The shorter length helps increase blood flow and position the rider’s hips optimally to increase muscle function, according to Scicon. It’s got all the high-end touches like carbon rails, a wider rear, and a feathery weight. Scicon says it’s ideal for both road and mountain bikers due to its ergonomic shape. It can be yours for $229, or $299 for the special edition kit.

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Does gravel need its own helmet? Kask thinks so.

Photo: Kask

Okay, to be fair, Kask has launched both a revised road lid, the Mojito X, in addition to the “gravel-specific” lid, the Mojito X Peak. What’s the difference, you ask? The Peak has a peak! Yep, it’s got a removable brim that Kask says will help protect you from rain, grit, mud, and the sun’s glare. Otherwise, it’s identical to the Mojito X, which features 26 vents and a 220 gram weight (size medium; the peak on the Peak will add a few grams, of course). The Mojito X runs $200, while the Mojito X Peak costs slightly more at $206.

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BKool updates allow better compatibility, faster startup

Photo: BKool

BKool now plays nice with more smart trainers, opening up its 3D graphics to more at-home riders. Perhaps even more exciting, however, are the improvements to pairing with smartphones and tablets. BKool says you should be able to start riding within a minute of turning on your device. And courses are now available in offline mode, so you’re not tied to a bad wifi connection. You’ll need to mark the route as a favorite while you’re online in order to access it later offline. There have been improvements to the 3D graphics, and an updated TV-style camera angle makes it all a bit more interesting.

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Read the full article at Week in Tech: Ibis hardtail, gravel-specific helmet, floor pump with a secret on

Interbike Trends: Integration over emotion

Are we too emotionally tied to individual components?

My first car was a 1987 Nissan Sentra that I spent more time disassembling and reassembling than actually driving. I did that out of necessity — being poor, I would contend, is really the mother of invention — but also simply because I could: There was little in the way of complex systems. Everything was mechanical.

Fast forward to today’s cars and everything is computerized. Where once I could pull out a carburetor, there sits a fuel injection system completely operated by a computer. Cars have gotten immensely complex, and they now require special skills, and tools, to work on.

Sound a bit like today’s bikes?

Go ahead, try to swap out the handlebar on your new aero bike in under an hour. First, you’ll have to pull out all your cables and hoses. Is there some sort of external steerer tube? Proprietary spacers? Bikes have become more complicated, and you’ll probably have a hard time working on modern models in your home garage. But perhaps that’s a good thing: It means engineers now design bicycles as systems rather than a collection of individual components. If your end goal is to go fast, this technological integration trend does you a great service.

Yes, I understand (perhaps better than most) that much of the charm of working on one’s bicycle involves the process of selecting parts, swapping parts out, and building “Frankenbikes.” That will certainly never change. There’s a reason the repair books call it “Zen and the art.”

But from a pure performance standpoint (read: race bikes), perhaps it’s time to embrace the complexity of modern bikes. Take, for example, one of the most commonly-swapped components: your stem. What could you possibly gain from saying goodbye to a separate stem and handlebar and embracing an integrated system? For starters, there’s likely an aerodynamic gain. Since round tube shapes are the enemy of aerodynamic performance, you’d be eliminating a source of drag. That’s why Cervelo’s redesigned S5 (launched Monday) includes a stem that looks like the Starship Enterprise. It’s all about tiny gains that add up to big gains.

Integration isn’t just a roadie thing, either. It’s happening in the mountain bike world with suspension systems and peripheral controls, such as Fox’s Live Valve system, which was perhaps one of the biggest stories at Interbike this year. No longer are your fork and rear shock working independently of each other; now they work together to enhance the ride.

Even component manufacturers are getting into the integration game. Lezyne, for example, showed off its Connect Drive light system — a front and rear light controlled by a wireless, handlebar-mounted controller. And just a few booths over at Interbike, Wahoo and Pioneer announced their partnership, integrating Pioneer’s power meter capabilities with Wahoo’s head unit display. These types of integration are obviously less about speed or comfort, and more about merging technologies that make your ride better (assuming, of course, such integrations are considered successful).

With heaps of integration comes heaps of cash, mostly flowing out of your wallet. While you could have bought a top of the line race bike for a couple grand a decade ago, you’ll probably need to take out a second mortgage to afford what the pros ride. This requires a change of mindset, too: In order to get race-ready performance a decade ago, top of the line components were your only option. Today, even second and third tier components are vastly better performers than the top of the line stuff from a decade ago. If you’re tied to Dura-Ace, you’re either a pro, a wealthy person who doesn’t mind spending more for the very best, or very concerned with how you look on the group ride. Ultegra and 105, in other words, will save you tons of cash and outperform Dura-Ace of yesteryear.

That said, whether integration and high-end componentry are worth it ultimately boils down to how you enjoy your bicycle. That hasn’t changed over the years, and it’s a decision only you can make. We’re fortunate to live in a time when Specialized and Trek have the Venge and Madone respectively, while more traditional builders like Ritchey, Surly, Salsa, Mosaic, Rock Lobster, and the rest can make you a steel bike with a 1 1/8-inch head tube, and perhaps even a stem to match.

The only thing more exciting than integration is options.

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Braking news: Van der Breggen is first to win worlds on discs

Anna van der Breggen was off the front of the world championships road race for 43 kilometers — plenty of time to look closely at her bike. And what did we see? A first at elite world championships: Disc brakes, on the winner’s bike.

By now you know that the Dutchwoman crushed the women’s field at the 2018 UCI World Road Championships, taking her first title by a whopping 3:42 over second-place Amanda Spratt of Australia. And she did so on a disc brake-equipped Specialized S-Works Tarmac, making her the first rider to win a rainbow jersey on a disc-equipped bike.

She joins an elite club of disc-brake pioneers. That group includes Marcel Kittel, who became the first rider to win a Tour de France stage on a disc-equipped bike during stage 2 of the 2017 Tour. And Tom Boonen became the first rider to win a major UCI pro race at the 2017 Vuelta de San Juan in Argentina on discs.

At this point, it should hardly seem surprising to see a pro win a race on a disc bike. They are becoming common on bike shop floors and in your local group ride.

Yet Van der Breggen’s feat is notable for a few reasons. First, the Innsbruck worlds course was a climber’s race. That means van der Breggen’s bike was made to be as light as a bike with calipers. In the early days, one of the biggest disc brake drawbacks was the extra weight of rotors and hydraulics. As technology has evolved, that concern has gone away. (Specialized’s men’s S-Works Tarmac Disc in a size 56cm weighs right around 14.6 pounds out of the box.)

On the other hand, the course featured an intense, winding descent. Disc brakes would certainly be an advantage here. Disc brakes offer more power and control than rim brakes, which means riders can take corners more aggressively by braking later. And of course, at such high speeds, reliable and strong braking could mean the difference between a fast, accurate line and overshooting a corner.

And finally, van der Breggen has become accustomed to this setup. Boels-Dolmans is one of a handful of pro teams using disc brake bikes exclusively. On the men’s side, Trek-Segafredo committed to disc brakes for the entirety of the 2018 season. Boels-Dolmans and Canyon-SRAM are two notable teams on the women’s circuit using only disc brake bikes in mass-start races.

Of course, disc brakes aren’t the reason why Van der Breggen dominated the competition on Saturday. But this is one more milestone along the way as disc brakes are slowly introduced to the pro peloton.

Read the full article at Braking news: Van der Breggen is first to win worlds on discs on

Interbike trends: Flat pedal resurgence

The clipless pedal powerhouse has a challenger, and you can call it a comeback: Flat pedals are back.

But why?

It’s all about freedom and control. Crankbrothers took the opportunity to release its Stamp pedals at Interbike 2018, in large part because they make a lot of sense for beginner and intermediate riders. For starters, it’s easier to pull a foot off the pedals in a high-speed corner when the rider isn’t clipped in. And flat pedals are now a lot lighter than they used to be. When compared to clipless pedals, flat pedals also tend to be far less expensive, or at least they can be.

Flat pedals can also work as an educational tool. If you’ve ridden clipless pedals long enough, you know you can simply pull up on them to get you and your bike over an obstacle. Switching back to flat pedals forces a rider to learn how to actually bunny-hop in a controlled manner, without the clipped-in crutch.

That’s perhaps why you might find cyclocross coaches recommending flat pedals for young racers. It’s vital for cyclocrossers to be able to bunny-hop confidently, and properly. Learning the real technique means positioning your feet properly, and managing your bicycle’s weight. Flat pedals force a rider to do exactly that, without allowing clipless pedals to pick up the slack.

As a result of this resurgence, footwear brands are newly invested in flat-soled shoes. It’s even spawned some new companies, including Ride Concepts, which debuted its line of both clipless and flat shoes that incorporate 3DO material into the insoles and ankles for added protection on the trails. 3D0 flexes and feels soft to the touch, but the material immediately hardens upon impact.

But it’s probably not time to chuck your clipless pedals just yet. Most mountain bike pros are still using clipless pedals for stability and power transfer. And for everyday riders, clipless pedals still have a host of advantages, the least of which is power transfer on climbs. (Your local trails don’t have lift service, do they?) They also keep your feet from slipping off your pedals on bumpy terrain.

If you’re the type who likes to kick a leg out in high-speed corners, or if you’re not yet confident on your clipless pedals, flats are certainly a good option.

Fortunately, it’s easy enough to swap out pedals and give flats a try. You’ll be able to find a comfortable, natural position on the pedals, though you’ll also have to pay close attention to your pedal stroke to ensure you’re not lifting your shoe’s soles off the pedal platform. (One could argue this is both an advantage and a disadvantage.) It’s a good way to learn more about your biomechanics, and your shortcomings as a dirt rider.

Read the full article at Interbike trends: Flat pedal resurgence on

First Ride: Cervelo’s redesigned S5

BANYOLES, Spain (VN) — It seemed strange that in the year of the aero bike, Cervelo didn’t have anything to show as Trek, Specialized, Ridley, Cannondale, and others unveiled new speed machines. While Cervelo didn’t get to party with the big boys at the Tour de France, its new S5 was worth the wait. This thing flies. And that’s not even what makes it so cool.

The most noticeable update to the platform comes in the form of the spaceship-esque stem. The two-pronged stem looks a lot like early mountain bike stems, and it’s part of a more complex system. All cables get routed through the handlebar, into the stem, and then directly into the head tube, which is completely hollow. An external steer tube that extends off the front of the head tube contains a tensioning rod to keep everything pressed down in place.

The stem is slightly adjustable by using 2.5mm spacers. The angle adjusts from 0 degrees to 2.5 or 5 degrees, and you can add up to 30mm of spacers to adjust the height. Various stem lengths are available in 10mm increments. If that’s not to your liking, you can also get a standard stem adapter to go back to your more traditional stem.

Photo: Dan Cavallari |

Other goals for the redesign included changing the geometry (lowering the stack height in particular, and lowering the bottom bracket), and of course, making it faster.

On that tip, Cervelo claims a whopping 42 grams of drag savings from the previous S5. That’s a massive margin. In order to ensure it was indeed faster than its predecessor, Cervelo engineers did what everyone else does: they sent the bike to the wind tunnel. But unlike its competition, Cervelo decided to base its aero claims on the combination of both the bike and the rider, since, according to Cervelo, it doesn’t really matter if a bike on its own is faster than another bike on its own. Bikes don’t move by themselves, after all. So Cervelo tested the S5 with a dummy in the wind tunnel, and concluded that its new bike is the fastest one on the market.

That’s because the new stem design allows unimpeded air flow where once a round tube shape (the enemy of aero) protruded and created drag. According to Cervelo, the air flow attaches to the top tube, thereby reducing low pressure behind the rider. Also, by considering where high pressure is created as it comes off the rider’s body — behind the rider’s legs, for example — Cervelo was then able to create tube shapes that would reduce that drag.

Photo: Dan Cavallari |

Aside from aero gains, Cervelo focused on enhancing torsional stiffness, which translates into the ability to keep your wheels in plane. Essentially, that means your steering should tighten up and your bike shouldn’t fight your pedaling force in sprints. Cervelo touts a 14 percent increase in torsional stiffness and a 25 percent increase in bottom bracket stiffness.

In keeping with modern trends, the S5 now has clearance for 28mm tires. It ships with a 25mm tire, and while Cervelo wouldn’t say so, the 38.1mm of clearance between the chain stays would likely accommodate a 30mm tire.

If a superbike sounds cool but isn’t on the menu for you, Cervelo’s S3 shares many of the same aerodynamic advantages, minus the fancy redesigned stem. You’ll get a more traditional cockpit setup — though the stem still has a trick up its sleeve: it’s essentially an inverted quill stem, secured in place with a wedge — and it will be available in both rim brake and disc brake versions. Cervelo says the new S3 is 102 grams of drag faster than the previous version.

First Ride

This bike keeps going. And going. And going. I was astounded at how well the S5 holds its speed; it seemed like it was willing to go much faster than I was down descents. In sprints, I was able to sustain my wattage goals for a longer period of time. It’s hard to say whether that’s a true testament to the funky stem or redesigned tube shapes, but it’s also hard to argue against it. Something about this bike makes it incredibly fast.

Transitions from downhill to uphill felt nearly effortless, since it doesn’t seem to carry much in the way of excess weight. While it’s not a climbing bike, it doesn’t seem to be much of a burden on climbs either. I’ll reserve final judgment of its climbing abilities once I get some miles on it back home in Colorado.

The handling too was superb. No longer do aero bikes have to be burdened by sluggish steering that you have to fight in switchbacks. The S5 tracks well, follows a line without an overdue amount of rider input, and tracks almost flawlessly in a straight line without your hands on the bar. Carving high-speed turns was a joy on this thing. It’s not ultra-responsive like a climbing bike, but I don’t want it to be. This notion was reinforced during a sustained sprint: wrenching on the bars didn’t seem to throw the bike off its line at all. I could think about other things, like going fast, rather than keeping the front end under control.

Photo: Cervelo

In that vein, the unique cockpit seems to increase lateral stability substantially. Wrenching on the front end felt like pure force, not pure fight. Everything about this bike seems to want to shoot forward in almost all situations. I’m curious what it will feel like on a sustained climb at home like Lookout Mountain, but I’m pretty confident here. This bike is toe to toe with Trek’s Madone for favorite bike of the year honors.

Despite some harsh-looking tube shapes, the bike is actually fairly comfortable. By the end of 75 miles I was feeling it in my neck and shoulders, and the front end felt a bit chattery by the time my upper body was tired, but otherwise, there was a surprising amount of compliance. That said, it doesn’t come close to the comfort of Trek’s Madone, though it’s fair to say that wasn’t Cervelo’s aim with this bike. It’s all about speed, and on that goal the S5 exceeds expectations. You’re largely left to tire pressure for compliance, and that’s fine for a bike like this.

The stem takes some getting used to aesthetically, but it’s not a noticeable feature once you start riding. In fact, the only time I remembered I was riding a goofy stem was when it offered a new hand position that I liked: thumbs tucked in between the tops and the arms of the stem.

This is, of course, a first ride review, and while I got over 100 miles on the S5, I still have questions about its comfort over rough roads and sustained climbing. If it can exceed expectations in those realms, Cervelo has certainly created an aero bike that expands the definition of the category.

Read the full article at First Ride: Cervelo’s redesigned S5 on