Author: Michael Better

Women’s peloton ready for Belgian cobbles

A deep sigh of relief has dropped over the cycling world this week, as the spring classics are finally here. The women’s peloton will pound the cobblestones just the like the men this weekend with two races of their own — Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Omloop van Het Hageland.

As with the men’s opening weekend, Saturday’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad is expected to be a war, while Omloop van Het Hageland usually comes down to a select bunch sprint.

The women’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad is fairly young, having only begun in 2008. Swede Emma Johansson is the only two-time winner, powering to victories in 2010 and 2011.

Hageland has an even shorter history, with the race beginning in 2011. Former world champion Lizzie Deignan is the only multi-time winner. She was victorious in 2012 and 2014.

The Parcours

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad goes from Ghent to Ninove this year and, as with the men’s event, covers the last 60 kilometers of the old Tour of Flanders route. This means the women will get to tackle the brutal Muur van Geraardbergen-Bosberg finish to end the opening classic of the season. The Bosberg comes a mere 12km from the finish, but by then, a very select group or a solo rider should be in the lead.

The race is 122km and the women will tackle eight climbs and three cobbled sectors. All of those come in the second half of the race, giving the riders ample time to get motivated to dig deep.

The first real selection of the race should come at the Haaghoek sector with about 45km to race. It is the fifth obstacle the riders will tackle on the day, with the Katteberg kicking off the cobblestones after the riders pass through Oudenaarde about 50km into the race.

Haaghoek is a brutal stretch of cobblestones and nearly 2km in length. Positioning will be key heading into this sector because the race might not be won at Haaghoek, but it can certainly be lost.

After the climbs and sectors begin, the riders will have very few kilometers of pavement between each cobbled obstacle. The longest gap of recovery, or greatest distance between the cobbles, is near the end of the race between the Tenbosse and the Muur. There are 10km between those two climbs, with the Murr beginning about 16km from the finish.

Omloop van Het Hageland on Sunday is a race in the Lotto Cycling Cup, a series of Belgian UCI races. The start and finish are in Tielt-Winge. The race consists of an opening 53km loop, followed by six local laps of 13.3km. The race covers 133km overall. The lap contains a short, steep climb that could provide the opportunity for a rider to upset the sprinters, but a bunch gallop is very much expected.

The race will be shown live at The broadcast is not geo-restricted.

Both races this weekend have a status of UCI 1.1, which for the women is one step below the WorldTour.

Sunweb has an embarrassment of riches

In 2017, Dutch riders took a sweep of the first four places at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and it could very well happen again in 2018.

Defending champion Lucinda Brand of Team Sunweb will be on the start line and has said the new route with the tough, two-climb finish suits her better. She will have an impressive team backing her up, which includes two former Tour of Flanders winners.

Ellen Van Dijk won the Tour of Flanders in 2014 and finished fourth at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad last year, after spending a good chunk of the race out front alone. The “pocket rocket,” American Coryn Rivera, emphatically won Flanders last year in a sprint to the line. If Rivera’s at the front of the race after the Bosberg, she will be a good bet to take home the victory.

Chantal Blaak (Boels-Dolmans) will be making her debut as UCI world road champion and will hope the rainbow bands bring her a little luck on Saturday. She has finished second in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad the last two years, and in 2015 she was fourth. She helped her teammate Lizzie Deignan win her first race as world champion back in 2016, so she’s aiming to repeat the feat of her teammate.

The new course should suit world time trial champion Annemiek Van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott). She kicked off her season last month in Australia, and her time trial abilities could come to the fore should a select group of riders enter the final two climbs battling for the victory. We could see a long-range attack from Van Vleuten if she’s at the front of the race when the finale kicks off.

Mitchelton-Scott has a great 1-2 punch with Jolien D’Hoore able to finish the race off if it comes down to a sprint. The fast-finishing Belgian switched from Wiggle High5 to Mitchelton-Scott over the winter. D’hoore should be in the mix both days this weekend, as she is the defending champion at Omloop van Het Hageland.

Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle High5) and Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott) are two other riders that should factor into the finale on Saturday.

With Sunday’s race set for the sprinters, many teams are swapping out riders overnight, though Boels-Dolmans is most notably not. D’hoore is the heavy favorite on Sunday as the defending champion. Chloe Hosking (Ale-Cipollini) won the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Road last month in a sprint on a difficult course. She finished second to D’hoore last year at Omloop van Het Hageland.

Ellen Van Dijk will lead Team Sunweb on Sunday. American Ruth Winder is a solid second option for the squad, should Van Dijk fatigue in the finale from racing the day before. Winder is only racing on Sunday.

Notably, 19-year-old American Skylar Schneider will be making her debut with Boels-Dolmans this weekend. There is no easing into the racing for Schneider, as she will be racing both days to kick off her 2018 season.

Many riders are starting their 2018 racing seasons this weekend, so we could potentially see one or two big names falter. However, it is only the opening weekend of the classics and there are still five weeks until the Tour of Flanders.

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How dangerous is mountain biking? NICA to investigate crash data

Is high school mountain biking more dangerous than tackle football? The National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) has a plan to find some answers.

For 2018, NICA has invited the University of Utah to study crash statistics from the league and to compare injury reports from mountain bike racing to those from other high school sports. The two-year study will examine numbers from the 2018 and 2019 seasons, with the final results being available in 2020 at the earliest.

“Now we can compare apples to apples because there is a lot of data about football and high school sports,” said Austin McInerny, NICA’s executive director. “That’ll be a pretty fascinating day when we really can compare it and debunk some of the myths about the inherent dangers of mountain biking.”

During the first high school mountain bike race of the 2017 National Interscholastic Cycling Association season, a rider from Fairview High School in Boulder, Colorado crashed and hit his head. Per NICA guidelines, the team administered NICA’s post-crash concussion protocol. According to the team’s coach, Andrew Feeney, the rider suffered concussion-like symptoms that lasted for months. The team elected to sit the rider for the remainder of the season.

Later in the season, another Fairview rider suffered a head injury during a crash, and also went through NICA’s concussion protocol. That student was able to race after a few weeks of recovery.

Every mountain bike racer crashes — tumbles and falls are endemic to a sport that requires its athletes to pedal over rocks and dirt. Yet nobody knows just how dangerous mountain bike racing is when compared to other sports.

“I get kids coming up to me all the time saying, ‘I got a concussion playing basketball. I got a concussion from football,” said Feeney, who teaches also science. “I would be curious to see what the concussion rates are for those other sports compared to mountain biking.”

McInerny said NICA commissioned the study to overcome the stigma that mountain bike racing is simply too dangerous for high school students. Founded in 2009 in California, NICA has seen rapid growth in recent years. In 2018, the league added Maryland, Oregon, and West Virginia, bringing 21 total states under its organizational wing. More than 14,000 high school children will participate in a NICA race in 2018.

The league operates competition seasons in both the fall and the springtime. This spring, seven NICA leagues will hold competition: Texas, Northern and Southern California, Alabama, North Carolina, New Jersey, and New York.

Despite the growth, McInerny said the league still faces hurdles in new communities and often times its safety concerns that keep schools and parents from letting kids participate in the league.

“Ultimately, we want to be able to tell school districts because a lot of schools right now are saying, ‘No, we are not supportive of a mountain bike team, it’s too dangerous,’” McInerny said. “We need to be able to say, ‘Let’s compare the stats and compare it to football or baseball or whatever.’”

The University of Utah study will examine crash data, injury reports, and incident reports submitted by NICA coaches during the spring and the fall. Each NICA coach keeps a weekly report about the amount of time the students are exposed to the risk of injury each week. In essence, the coaches track how many hours each week their students are riding. Coaches also fill out regular incident reports — the reports are required whenever a rider visits a doctor, loses training time, or misses school due to a crash or training injury. Each report asks questions about the specifics of the injury, as well as how it occurred.

Dr. Stuart Willick, a professor with the University of Utah’s orthopedic center, will oversee the study. He said the study would rely on a four-step method to draw its conclusions about NICA’s safety record. The process will see researchers categorize the injuries and try to understand their causes, before determining whether NICA can enact preventative measures to avoid future problems.

For instance, what if the research determines that injuries are occurring on loose, downhill sections of trail that involve sharp turns?

“One might be able to inform coaches and student-athletes to be more careful on downhill turns with loose dirt,” Dr. Willick said. “Another might be to have racecourse staff or crew to change race courses to avoid the most dangerous turns.”

Dr. Willick said it is challenging to draw definitive conclusions about safety between two different sports — for example high school football versus mountain bike racing — due to the enormous variables between the two sports. Some comparisons can be made, he said. Still, the study could help NICA decrease its injuries by pinpointing areas where injuries regularly occur.

The study represents the latest step that NICA has taken to address rider safety. Since NICA is not affiliated with varsity athletics or USA Cycling, it creates its own rulebook and rider safety guidelines.

NICA’s rulebook has a protocol for head injuries, which requires students who have hit their heads to be cleared by a doctor before returning to practice or competition. All NICA coaches must also take an online course in head injury treatment in youth that is produced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


McInerny and other NICA officials believe the rules and safety protocols have helped the league thrive amongst teenaged riders. For many NICA participants, the league represents their first experience with competitive cycling, so the rules and safety precautions govern riders across a wide spectrum.

Feeney says adult riders always ride at the front and rear of NICA-led rides. If a crash occurs, an adult always sees it happen, and can react quickly. Adult riders carry two-way radios for communication, and Feeney tries to have a ratio of six high school riders for every adult rider on a training ride.

Crashes will and do happen. The key to overcoming them, Feeney said, is to simply be prepared.

“We’ve had a couple instances where we had a kid, and we were worried about a potential head injury, so we had to walk them out of the trail. [The safety plan] is so everyone knows where the closest exit trailhead is for whatever the trail might be.”

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The Week in Tech: Silca pouch grande, affordable State Bicycle, Zwift nationals

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

Silca launches bigger seat roll and latex tubes

Silca’s Seat Roll Grande Americano, a larger version of its Seat Roll Premio, has the ability to carry a 700x62mm (29×2.5) tubes or two inner tubes up to 700x30mm. Three internal pockets keep things organized. The roll is made out of water-repellent 1000D ballistic nylon, and the BOA Closure System snugs up tightly around seat rails to keep the roll compact. The Grande Americano costs $58. Silca has also collaborated with tire manufacturer Vittoria to create a latex inner tube. Latex is more elastic, so as the material is stretched or flexed, it returns to shape much faster and with less energy loss. Silca believes this results in a savings of up to 5 Watts. The latex tube weighs 85 grams and costs $15.


State Bicycle Co. grows its line

State Bicycle Company has expanded its popular Core-Line of bikes. The Ghoul, Ashford, Hunter, and Pigeon are built around a steel frame, which comes in three sizes (50cm, 54cm, and 58cm). 40-millimeter deep v-style wheels are equipped with a flip-flop hub so you can change from fixed gear to singlespeed. The riser bars are outfitted with Vans grips. Each model includes front and rear brakes and platform pedals. The bikes cost $299 each.


Become a virtual national champion with Zwift

On February 24, Zwift is hosting a virtual national championship race in 15 countries with the most registered Swift users. There will be a men’s and women’s race, and Zwifters should only join their country’s race on the day of competition. Rider’s will compete over the Watopia Volcano Climb course, which is 14.2 miles and climbs 669 feet per lap. The men’s race will be three laps and the women’s race will be two laps. Riders are required to wear a heart rate monitor to be eligible for the win and riders producing over a 5 watts per kilo average for the race will be automatically disqualified. These riders can be reinstated after providing similar real-life matching performances verified by ZADA. Furthermore, Strava data for the Zwift national championship races must also be open and not private or hidden. Riders can register here before the race.


Let Lennard Zinn maintain your mountain bike

VeloPress has released the sixth edition of Lennard Zinn’s best-selling guide, “Zinn & the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance.” The book offers simple step-by-step instructions for maintenance of everything ranging from vintage components to the newest technologies. The sixth edition includes a chapter on electronic shifting, which covers maintenance, service, repair, and troubleshooting of all Shimano electronic shifting groups. Another chapter covers maintenance, service, and repair of all hydraulic and mechanical disc-brake systems. The book also includes complete info on the new 11-speed and SRAM 12-speed drivetrains. Zinn offers new guidelines on wheel size selection based on your frame size, suspension settings, travel, and much more. The book is now available in bookstores, bike shops, and online.


Stolen bike alert!

Erik Nohlin, lead designer at Specialized Bicycles, had all six of his custom bikes stolen from his garage in San Francisco. The stolen bikes include an Allez Track, Allez 74 40th anniversary edition, AWOL Transcontinental, Turbo e-bike, Sequoia Expert, and an S-Works Diverge. More information on the details of the bikes and pictures of the bikes can be found on Nohlin’s Instagram page. Nohlin is offering a reward and anyone with leads or tips can contact Nohlin at

Let’s all help Erik get his bikes back!

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Week in Tech: Chad Young memorial, Kristoff’s MET lid, Trek Project One

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

Colorado time trial honors Chad Young

The Colorado School of Mines will hold its annual individual time trial up Lookout Mountain in Golden, Colorado on April 8, with support from Feedback Sports. This year’s event will benefit the Chad William Young Foundation. Young died tragically in the spring of 2017, succumbing to a traumatic brain injury he suffered when he crashed on a descent during the Tour of the Gila. Donations to the Chad William Young Foundation support merit-based scholarships, as well as developments in technology to prevent traumatic brain injuries. Registration for the event costs $25-40 depending on the rider’s category, and $5 of each entry fee will be donated to the Chad William Young Foundation.


Pivot’s Phoenix gets some added flash

Pivot’s  Phoenix Carbon DH is now available in Aqua Blue with red highlights and sterling silver with yellow accents (pictured). All sizes have the same head tube and seat tube length. Other geometry numbers suit specific riding styles. A longer top tube is for the more racer type, while a shorter top tube allows for a bit more fun and is geared toward the bike park rider. The 440-millimeter seat stays makes it easier for riders to move the bike around, which translates to going through corners with more speed. The frame has a 62.5-degree head angle and 204 millimeters of travel. The Phoenix DH Carbon comes with a 10-year warranty and is available in sizes S, M, L, and XL.


Shred the trails, not your knees

Leatt’s 3DF 6.0 kneepads combine the classic soft protection of a trail pad with the hard caps of a downhill pad. The base soft layer covers the whole of the knee and upper shin, and uses 3DF perforated impact foam. It is CE certified as a level 1 for knee protection. The hard cap outer layer is split in two to provide comfort while pedaling. The two hard caps sit on the kneecap and upper shin. The design is supposed to improve sliding characteristics on rough terrain, thereby reducing related impact forces. It should also help reduce slippage during crashes. The pad was originally launched last year at Eurobike and Interbike, but is finally available to consumers. The 3DF 6.0 comes in three-color options and costs $89.99.


 Merckx bikes honors the 50th anniversary of Cannibal’s Giro win

Eddy Merckx Bikes has created a limited edition paint scheme for its EM525 road frame, dubbed ‘La Maglia Rosa,’ to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Eddy Merckx’s first Giro d’Italia victory in 1968. The bike is available as a frameset or as a complete bike. The special edition paint scheme is only available on the rim brake version. The complete bike comes with a Campagnolo Chorus group, Deda Super Zero stem and handlebar, Campagnolo Bora ONE35 wheelset, and Vittoria Corsa 25c tires. The frame is accented with pink along the top tube, down tube, and seat stays. The down tube is further adorned with lettering: “Limited Edition Maglia Rosa 1968.” The seat stays are printed with “ITALIA50.” The bike will be available beginning February 15 and will cost about $9,000 for the complete build.


Pro dome coverage from MET

As Italian and European champions respectively, UAE-Emirates teammates Fabio Aru and Alexander Kristoff will ride special edition versions of the Trenta 3K Carbon helmet by MET. The Trenta 3K Carbon was launched at the Tour de France last year and was named in honor of MET’s 30th anniversary. The Trenta 3K Carbon is, as the name suggests, a full carbon helmet with 19 vents. A size medium weighs a mere 215 grams. Kristoff will also have MET’s full aero helmet, the Mantra, in a special European champion paint scheme.


Trek’s Project One adds more custom paint

Trek Bikes has expanded its customization program, Project One, with three new paint scheme offerings — Chasin’ Aces, Full Fade, and Breakaway. John Degenkolb will ride the Chasin’ Aces scheme; it’s inspired by the German’s love for his Café Racer motorcycle. The Full Fade scheme (pictured above) blends two complementary colors, from light to dark. Customers can choose from thirteen different pre-determined Full Fade color options. The Breakaway scheme features two primary colors that sharply split the frame in half. All solid colors will be offered in the Breakaway design, except for Onyx Carbon. Chasin’ Aces is available on Trek’s Madone, while the Full Fade is available on all road, mountain, and triathlon Project One models. The Breakaway paint scheme is available on select Émonda models.


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Polartec partners with Contador to build bike business

TUCSON, Arizona (VN) — Polartec is out for “world domination” in the fabric sector, but you don’t usually see its logo prominently displayed on jerseys or jackets.

The U.S.-headquartered fabric producer and supplier is working to bring the material science of fabric to cycling kits. It wants to solidify itself as the leading fabric company in the sector.

“We’ve had a very robust business in the core outdoor market for a long time with the usual brands that you know and love in the outdoor space,” Polartec CEO Gary Smith told VeloNews. “It’s relatively stagnant from an innovation standpoint and so for us, we simply need to find new avenues to take our capabilities and our capabilities are fairly simple. We solve problems through textiles.”

Smith believes his company’s experience will lead to better cycling apparel. Of course, Polartec has a history with traditional outdoor activities like hiking and skiing, but it also has produced fabric for military and workwear sectors.

Though Polartec is still relatively new to the cycling market, its portfolio is expansive. However, it’s important to note that at its core, Polartec is not an apparel company — it’s a fabric company. Hence, why it is generally away from the limelight.

There are over 700 different styles of fabrics across the company’s entire selection, with about a third of those confined to a specific customer, Smith says.

Polartec has four main categories of fabric — base, insulation, protection, and flame-resistance. There are then 27 main fabric platforms within the four categories. Innovations of a certain fabric platform can include different weights, fiber content, aesthetics, or all of the above.

Polartec’s relationship with cycling clothing companies centers on these innovations. Polartec works with companies to give each a product that it feels is its own. Prominent cycling apparel brands such as Rapha, Castelli, and Sportful all use its fabrics. For instance, a brand may request a specific weight of fabric, or greater breathability, or more warmth.

In cycling circles, Alpha insulation is a prime example of Polartec’s innovations. Alpha was originally created for the U.S. military’s Special Operations because soldiers needed breathable insulation. A puffy garment would act as a vapor barrier, which didn’t work because it led to overheating and sweating. Alpha is a highly stable insulation, so it essentially works as a fabric. As with most insulation products, it pairs well with other fabrics, but can also stand alone and be comfortable for the consumer with direct skin contact. This fabric is used in both of Rapha’s Brevet insulated vest and Pro Team insulated vest.

In 2018, Polartec is stepping closer to cycling by becoming — in a way — an apparel company. Polartec is providing the team kit for Alberto Contador’s development teams, which run under his foundation. Despite having contracts with multiple cycling apparel companies, Polartec doesn’t see this as a conflict of interest, but as a way of showing off its capabilities to clients. Though it will not sell replica kits to the public.

Polartec’s venture with Contador is one of its first forays into full garment manufacturing. By providing the apparel for the Contador Foundation teams, Polartec is able to build a kit without constraints.

Some companies will frequently outsource different garment parts to multiple fabric companies, all in the name of saving costs to increase the bottom line. For instance, it will use Polartec fabric for a jersey, but will then go elsewhere for the jersey’s pockets. Polartec hopes it’s Contador Foundation kits can show that this patchwork approach isn’t necessary.

“What we have found is through stepping up and making the entire kit, it has given us the ability to do everything and use everything uncompromised by any commercial considerations or preexisting relationships that a brand may have with another fabric supplier,” Smith said. “The reality of what happens with a garment is that corners get cut or said another way, compromises get made. I don’t really need to use that special fabric there and for Polartec everything we do is special.”

Smith is driving Polartec’s recent push into the cycling sector. He joined the company as CEO in 2012, coming from Timberland where he was responsible for its outdoor category. Smith is an avid cyclist himself and saw a need for the company to diversify and find new sources for growth.

To him, Polartec’s innovation in cycling fabrics is equivalent to what carbon fiber has done for bikes. The company’s extensive collection of fabrics in the outdoor market how allowed it to make its mark in cycling fairly quickly.

It’s a bold comparison, so perhaps it makes sense that Polartec chose Contador, one of cycling’s boldest riders, to get a foothold in the bike industry

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The Week in Tech: Sagan’s new shades, SRAM brakes, Strava virtual miles

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

Flare your nostrils like Sagan

World Champion Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) was sporting new shades at the 2018 Santos Tour Down Under. The Speedcraft Air from 100% is a unique pair of sunglasses that incorporates the same Asterisk AC System technology that 100% uses in its moto goggles. The system is a two-part magnetic nasal dilation device that includes steel nasal attachments and magnetic goggle clips that essentially flare the nostrils. This supposedly improves breathing. The Speedcraft Air features a single-lens shield that offers 100 percent UV protection. And there is additional space between the lens and face, which is supposed to increase airflow and prevent fogging. The Speedcraft Airs cost between $185 and $230. The Peter Sagan edition sunglasses (pictured) cost $230.


SRAM launches its first direct-mount road brake

The S-900 is SRAM’s first direct-mount road brake system. It is compatible with SRAM mechanical brake levers, including eTap. They allow clearance for 28-millimeter tires and the pads are set to clear wide rims. A set weighs 326 grams. Katusha-Alpecin, the only SRAM-sponsored WorldTour team, will ride the S-900 system and it will be available to consumers in March. The cost is $125 per brake.


Dabble in gravel for less

 Los Angeles-based Pure Cycles now offers an affordable entry into the world of dirt road and gravel travels. The Gravel Adventure Pro costs $799 and comes equipped with Shimano’s Sora group. The bike has disc brakes and is 650B compatible. It also comes with a lifetime warranty on the frame and fork.


Brooks’ new Discovery range

Brooks’ new Discovery range includes two backpacks, a briefcase, and a shoulder bag. All of the products in the line are made from waterproof coated nylon and Cordura material. The zippers are also waterproof because let’s face it, commuting can get a bit ugly sometimes. Each bag is also equipped with a padded laptop storage section and includes reflective details for riding at night. They also feature stretchable helmet compartments. Furthermore, each bag is made with Cyclepet lining, which is from post-consumer PET bottles. The Sparkhill backpack (pictured) is available in a 15-liter size ($180) or a 22-liter size ($200). All bags in the Discovery line fall in that price range.


Strava allows virtual rides to count toward challenges

Creators of partner challenges on Strava will now have the option to allow virtual rides or runs to count toward its challenges. Strava categorizes indoor virtual activities as those that include GPS, distance, elevation, and time data from a simulated route. Strava’s own challenges will continue to count only outdoor run and ride activities toward challenge goals. Strava previously allowed the upload of rides from virtual riding platforms like Zwift but didn’t allow them to count toward challenges. It is important to note that challenge hosts will have the option of allowing virtual riders or excluding them. One of the most popular challenges on Strava is Rapha’s annual Festive 500, which challenges riders to ride 500 kilometers between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Rapha has not indicated whether it will adopt Strava’s virtual ride parameter.


Interbike partners with BikeFlights

Interbike may be six months away, but BikeFlights is thinking well ahead to Reno. The bike transport website has pre-populated the suggested dates by which Interbike goers should ship their bike to get it to the show on time. You can also enter other ship to/from dates to accommodate your own itinerary. BikeFlights has even suggested FedEx locations, since hotels frequently charge for receiving bikes. Interbike will take place September 15-20 in Reno, Nevada. The new consumer demo and festival takes place September 15-16 in North Lake Tahoe, followed by the Outdoor Demo September 16-17. The traditional Interbike expo is September 18-20 in Reno, Nevada.


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The Week in Tech: Ritchey dropper, new Stan’s, an alarm lock

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

Ritchey dropper for the XC rider

Ritchey’s WCS Kite dropper post hits all the right notes for XC riding. It’s available as a 31.6-diameter or 30.9-diameter post with 90 millimeters or 125 millimeters of travel. The 31.6 diameter option with 125 millimeters of travel weighs a scant 500 grams. In addition to a full-drop or full-rise position, the Kite has a 35-millimeter drop option. The WCS Kite is a low-pressure system post with as little as 8-10 psi needed to actuate the post. It is compatible with a variety of brake lever and bar-mount configurations, including Shimano I-SPEC I/II & SRAM Matchmaker. A two-bolt trail post clamp offers easy adjustment. The WCS Kite costs $349.95.


Trek’s Domane line expands to women

In an effort to offer top-of-the-line technology and performance to women riders, Trek’s Domane line now includes women’s-specific models. Domane technology had been included in the Silque and Lexa models, but those will now be included under the Domane nomenclature. the Women’s-specific Design (WSD) gets applied to all touchpoints on the women’s models. (That includes a WSD handlebar, stem, saddle, and shorter crank length on certain sizes.) The Domane Women’s is available in both aluminum and carbon, and in disc and caliper options. the Domane SLR 6 Disc Women’s will be customizable through Project One. Trek has also included WSD bikes in the Madone and Emonda lines.


New XC and Enduro rims from Stan’s

Stan’s NoTubes Crest CB7 and Arch CB7 carbon rims offer 10 millimeters of radial compliance to absorb impacts, dampen vibration, and roll faster. The Crest is designed for cross-country racing with an internal rim width of 23 millimeters, and it’s intended for use with 2-inch to 2.5-inch tires. The Arch has an internal rim width of 26-millimeters to allow for bigger tires. The Crest CB7 and Arch CB7 rims will be available in 28-hole and 32-hole configurations. Additional options include Centerlock or 6-bolt disc mounts, and Shimano, SRAM XD, or OneUp freehubs. The Crest is only available in a 29er size; the set weighs 1,452 grams. The Arch is available in either a 27.5-inch or 29er size;  the former size weighs  1,720 grams, and the latter weighs 1,794 grams. The Crest CB7 and Arch CB7 are available as individual rims or as part of complete wheelsets. Both wheelsets cost $1,399, and rims cost $600. The CB7 rims and wheelsets will be available in February.


MIPS expands brain safety technology

MIPS has added to its brain safety arsenal with two new technologies, the MIPS-F2 and the MIPS-E3. The MIPS-F2 system is built on the standard MIPS low-friction layer that provides 10-15 millimeters of omnidirectional movement in the two to three milliseconds following an impact. The low-friction layer in the MIPS-F2 is situated between the outer shell of the helmet and the foam liner on the interior. A series of elastomers and nylon brackets are molded into the helmet to allow the foam liner to move independently of the low-friction layer and the outer shell. This results in a 10 percent reduction in rotational forces that result from oblique impacts, MIPS says. The  MIPS-E3 GlideWear liner is a dual-ply textile-based insert that acts as a low-friction layer. GlideWear is composed of two fabric layers. The fabric can be either sewed or welded together to fit inside the helmet. When inserted between the comfort padding of the helmet and the energy-absorbing helmet shell (EPS/EPP), the MIPS-E3 GlideWear liner works to provide broad coverage from rotational impacts without sacrificing comfort or sweat absorption.


Connex says its chain lasts longer than the rest

Connex by Wippermann conducted a chain wear test of all 11-speed chains on the market and claim its own chain — the stainless steel 11sX — lasts three times longer than some of its competitors, and further, it is the longest-lasting on the market. It is important to note, the test was conducted by Connex and not by a third party. The test involved submitting chains under a 600-Newton load with varying offsets and wear accelerators applied. After each test, each chain was cleaned and measured. Once a chain reached 1-percent elongation, the chain was considered worn out. Check out the video of the test below.

An alarming lock from Abus

ABUS’s newest folding bike lock is outfitted with an alarm. The ABUS Bordo 6000 Alarm lock has a 3D movement sensor that triggers a 100-decibel alarm should an attack be attempted. The lock operates with a key system and costs $169.99.


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The Week in Tech: Carbon Smuggler, i9 disc wheels, SRAM DUB and more

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

Transition gives Smuggler some carbon love

Transition’s Smuggler has shed its holiday pounds and will be soon available in carbon. The carbon Smuggler frame weighs 6.5 pounds, which is 2.3 pounds lighter than the aluminum version.  The bike features Transition’s Speed Balanced Geometry, which translates to a slacker head tube angle and a rider-forward, central riding position between the front and rear contact points. A carbon Transition Smuggler frame costs $2,999, which is $1,000 more than the aluminum frame. A complete SRAM XO1 build costs $5,999. The Smuggler will be available this spring.


Industry Nine bets big on carbon road disc

I9 made a name for itself with its mountain bike components, but roadies can now join in the fun. The i9.35, i9.45, and i9.65 are all tubeless-ready and have a 21-millimeter wide rim. The model names represent the rim depth, with the 35 serving as a climbing wheel and the 65 as an aero wheel. All three wheels are built with a 24-spoke hub and come with a lifetime warranty. An i9.35 wheelset weighs 1,355 grams; the 45 weighs 1,495 grams; and the 65  registers at 1,555 grams. The 35 and 45 wheels are currently available, and the 65 will follow in February. A 35 wheelset costs $2,300, while the 45 will run $2,350, and the 65 costs $2,400.


SRAM Dub standardizes the standards?

SRAM’s DUB (Durable Unified Bottom bracket) system includes just one spindle size, 28.99-millimeters, scrapping the 24-millimeter and 30-millimeter sizes altogether. The single spindle size works in conjunction with an array of bottom bracket sizes, which in turn fit all standard frames. The change to one spindle size is intended to extend the life of the bottom bracket, but it also allowed SRAM to make its products lighter. SRAM says the 28.99-millimeter size  maximizes durability while cutting down on weight. The engineers at SRAM started with a 30 millimeter spindle and worked backward from there. DUB bottom brackets, minus the crankset, range from $38 to $50 depending on the model.


Showers Pass gets stoked on spring

The Spring Classic jacket from Showers Pass features a combination of a waterproof hardshell and softshell stretch fabric.  It’s intended to combat wet spring conditions, and it’s lighter than Showers Pass’s Elite 2.1 jacket — it weighs just 10.6-ounces in size medium. The jacket also packs down to fit easily in a jersey pocket.  3M Scotchlite reflective piping lines the front zipper, and there’s more reflective hits throughout. The front zipper is angled to reduce bunching and chafing at the neck. Two vents under each armpit offer plenty of quick ventilation. The Spring Classic is available in extra-small, small, medium, large, and XL, and costs $289.


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CX Nationals: Noble overcame dieting problems in 2017

Ellen Noble (Aspire Racing) considers herself a dark horse to win Sunday’s USA Cycling elite women’s national cyclocross championships. If everything goes right for her—and her opponents are not on their best day—she believes she can win.

“I’m feeling pretty good actually. I had a big change of heart in the last couple of days,” Noble told VeloNews this week.

The self-proclaimed “dark horse” designation represents a major upgrade in Noble’s estimation. Noble scored impressive cyclocross results in 2017, yet her season was nearly derailed before it even started. Throughout the spring and summer months,  Noble struggled with nutrition problems, brought on by a desire to shed pounds prior to her cyclocross season.

In a recent interview with FloBikes Noble discussed the details of the abnormal eating pattern that plagued her 2017 season. In an effort to lose weight over the spring and summer, Nobel said she embarked on several crash diets, limiting her calorie intake while maintaining her sizable training loads. She cut out carbohydrates. The diets had a major impact on her performance. By the midpoint of the summer, Noble said she was getting dropped on endurance rides and in road races.

Eventually Noble worked with a nutritionist, who helped her develop a proper nutrition program. Still, Noble admits the mental and physical strain were not idea for her pre-season preparation.

“I started out the season afraid of eating food because I didn’t want to gain weight and now I am ending the season feeling super happy, really healthy,” Noble told VeloNews. “I’m really lean, about as lean as I’ve ever been and just really feeling good about where things stand.”

Noble says she decided to publicly discuss her problem as a way to help other athletes who may embark on intense diets aimed at weight loss. She also said she wanted to stop blaming herself for the problem.

“I realized I had been shaming myself into believing that what I had done was something that I needed to be embarrassed about,” she said. “I realized that I had this thing that impacted my year and I had this other instance of working with a nutritionist that helped me and that really changed the course of my season.”

Noble turned heads in 2017 on both the domestic and international scene. In September she scored two huge results, first finishing 8th at the World Cup opener in Iowa, and then landing on the podium at the World Cup in Waterloo, Wisconsin. Throughout October and November Noble battled on the U.S. Cup-CX circuit, where she won a round and finished third-place overall.

Noble’s results in Europe in November and December were varied. She battled a bout of food poisoning and the usual stresses that come from racing in Europe. She was off the back at two World Cup rounds. Then, on a brisk November day in Hamme, Belgium, Noble beat U.S. champion Katie Compton in the sprint for second at Flandriencross, one of the rounds of Belgium’s DVV Trophy series.

“It was a big boost of confidence and also a really great learning experience because racing at the front with Katie [Compton] and Sanne [Cant] is a really stressful thing that I’m thankful to have been able to do,” Noble said.

Noble will again face Compton on Sunday, along with her other regular American rival, Kaitlin Keough. Compton and Keough have owned an advantage over Noble throughout 2017. Noble knows that the two will likely battle it out for the victory. But cyclocross’s unpredictable nature—flat tires and crashes are regular occurrences—could always open the door for her.

“I do still believe it is going to be a battle between Katie [Compton] and Katie [Keough] and I think I would consider myself in kind of what I’ve been seeing and people would agree, that I’m kind of the wildcard,” Noble said. “Maybe I could win, but I think it’s far greater odds that Katie or Kaitie will take it away that way. They’ve just been a bit more consistent this year than I have, so I’m maybe just a bit of too much of a loose cannon.”

On Sunday, Noble will undoubtedly think about her success in 2017. If she’s able to muster the same form as she had at Waterloo, or at Flandriencross she will most certainly be in the mix for the win. Her positive mentality may just be the final piece that puts it all together.

“That’s the thing that’s tough,” Noble said. “It’s been an up and down season and I’m just trying to get into the mindset to fight no matter what card I’m dealt on the day.”

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The Week in Tech: Stages two-sided power, Serotta returns, Trek to race discs

Here’s your week in tech — all of the gear news you need, none of the marketing gibberish you don’t want.

Stages on your left, Stages on your right

Stages Power’s left-right power meter, the LR, captures power from both the left and right crank arms. Stages claim the LR power meter device only adds 35 grams to the crank weight. Internal sensors measure cadence too. Stages Power also revealed the R power meter, which is a right-only power meter that can also be paired with Stages Power’s left-only power meters. All Stages Power meters are ANT+ and Bluetooth compatible and have a battery life of roughly 175 hours. Battery replacement is easy, as the power meters use simple 2032 coin batteries. The Stages Power LR for Shimano Dura-Ace 9100 costs $1,299 and the Ultegra R8000 version costs $999. The Stages Power R costs $749 for the Dura-Ace 9100 option and $649 for the Ultegra 8000 option.


Ben Serotta returns

Colorado’s Ben Serotta is back making bikes. The Duetti S1 frame is aluminum, fabricated in Taiwan. All models feature hydraulic disc brakes with thru-axle dropouts and customers can choose from 11 different sizes. Those interested in a more custom option made in North America can opt for the aModoMio C18. It’s made from a steel tubeset and like the Duetti, the aModoMio utilizes the company’s CC-DB1 carbon fork. The Duetti S1 starts at $4,695 and increases from there depending on the build. The aModoMio C18 is available in both disc brake and rim brake options and costs from $7,595 to $14,995.


Industry Nine gets beefy, stays light

Industry Nine has a new aluminum trail rim, the Trail270, which is an updated version of the Trail245. The wheel combines elements of the company’s downhill and enduro rims to create a stronger rim that doesn’t add significant weight. The Trail270 comes in 27.5 inch and 29er options, with either a 24-spoke rim or a 32-spoke configuration. The 24-spoke rim should give riders a more supple ride while shaving a few grams in the process. The rims are 27 millimeters wide, 2.5 millimeters wider than the previous generation. A 27.5-inch, 24-hole set weighs 1,480 grams, with the 32-hole set weighs 1,560 grams. The 29er rims weigh 1,560 grams and 1,650 grams for the 24-hole and 32-hole sets respectively. A 24-hole rim set costs $1,225 while the 32-hole rim set costs $1,245.


WolfTooth’s link pliers hide a few tricks

Wolf Tooth’s Master Link Combo pliers remove chain links and store two spare links. They also have a valve core remover/installer and the ability to hold valve locknuts. One of the handles doubles as a tire lever too. The aluminum tool weighs a scant 38 grams and is compatible with 9, 10, 11, and 12-speed chains, as well as most tubeless valve and presta tube locknuts. The pliers come in red or black and customers have a choice of five colors for the pivot bolt. The pliers cost $29.95.


Trek-Segafredo embraces discs

Trek-Segafredo riders will ride disc brakes 100 percent of the time on the team’s flagship Domane and Emonda bikes. The Domane is the bike of choice for the rough roads of northern Europe, while the Emonda is a climber’s machine made for brutal grand tour climbs. Riders will still ride rim brakes on Trek’s aero model, the Madone. The commitment to discs marks yet another chapter in the will-they-won’t-they saga of disc brakes at the WorldTour level. Last year, then-Quick-Step sprinter Marcel Kittel became the first rider to win a Tour de France stage on a disc-equipped bicycle.

Kinomap comes to the U.S.

Look out, Zwift. Kinomap is coming to town. Kinomap is a video sharing platform that offers live-action videos synchronized with corresponding maps. The site features approximately 70,000 miles of video courses. The video-sharing technology allows anyone to follow pre-existing routes on the app, as well as to upload their own video courses. Kinomap also added an additional feature in time for its U.S. release: multiplayer game sessions. Contestants can challenge each other by scheduling their multiplayer sessions directly from the Kinomap app. Popular routes on the app include oceanside rides in Big Sur, California and the Tuscan countryside. The app is available for IOS and Android platforms.


Liv lines up 11 women’s skills camps

Working with SRAM, Liv has set 11 dates for Liv Ladies AllRide mountain bike skills camps in 2018. In addition to riding instruction, the camps offer female riders a chance to learn about bike maintenance, repair, and set-up. Here are the dates:

March 17-18: Ocala, Florida
April 14-15: Sedona, Arizona
May 12-13: Bentonville, Arkansas
June 2-3: Bend, Oregon
June 23-24: Bend, Oregon
July 14-15: Big Sky, Montana
July 21-22: Grand Targhee, Wyoming
August 25-31: Destination: Italy
Sept 8-9: Lyndonville, Vermont
Sept 15-16: Brevard, North Carolina
Sept 19-20: Brevard, North Carolina (mid-week camp)


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