Category: Bikes and Tech

Technical FAQ: All about tubulars

Tubular tire gluing options

Dear Lennard,
Got a question for you about tubular tire gluing. I’m planning on doing a gran fondo next year that involves many miles of tarmac and a few miles of very sketchy dirt, and I’m trying to decide what would be the best tire solution. My old-school brain tells me that a 28mm tubular would be the best performance option. But with the way we glue tubulars these days, if I got a flat it would almost surely mean a DNF, as pulling a well-glued tubular from a carbon rim in the field would be very difficult and overly time consuming. So, my question to you is this: do you know of a tire gluing method that would give the same level of adhesion that we used to get back in the 1970s and 1980s, when we would train on tubulars and regularly swap out tubular tires on the road?
— Bill

Dear Bill,
Well, you could select glue that doesn’t adhere as well. There are fewer glue options nowadays than in the 1970s and early 1980s, and I remember plenty of them that allowed easy tire removal. Remember Tubasti? That held decently but allowed relatively easy tire removal, and it is still available. I haven’t used it in decades and don’t know if its formula has changed. It also stayed tacky, so if you coated the base tape of your spare tubular with it, you could be fairly confident that it would stay on after a tire change. I think Vittoria Mastik 1 or Continental glue hold too well for easy tire removal and dry too hard to have on the spare tire.

The other thing you could do is use tubular gluing tape. Depending on how much adhesion you think you need (and one variable here is rim width; with today’s wider rims and disc brakes, tire adhesion is improved), you can pick the tape that best meets your adhesion needs and your quick-removal desires. And you can bring another roll of tape along with your spare tubular. It is slower than slapping on a pre-glued tubular, but once you remove the tape (often, the tape comes off with the tire, and if not, you can peel it off after the tire is off), you can put on a new layer of tape, stick on a new tubular, and you’re good to go.
— Lennard

Feedback on ’cross tips for rookies

Dear Lennard,

I have to take issue with this line in one of your recent columns:

Consider tubulars rather than tubeless tires for your race wheels. You will be able to run lower pressures without fear of burping air on corners.

I run Hutchinson Black Mamba tubeless on Shimano RS61 on my CX bike. No issues at any pressure. And I’ve even run them flat after putting an inch-long gash in the sidewall (some things are beyond mere sealant).

It’s fair to say that CX is a bit of harmless fun for me and the RS61s are cast offs from my road bike. But I do see lots of people flatting after picking up a thorn and I ride serenely by. I would have thought that insurance easily offset any small weight penalty.
— Stan

Dear Stan,
I understand your perspective, given that you have had stellar results with tubeless CX tires. However, that is not everybody’s experience, and I believe it generally has to do with the rim choice. Furthermore, there is a lot more to the performance difference between tubulars and tubeless CX tires than reliability.

I have been in and seen plenty of cyclocross races in which somebody on tubeless tires came in hard into a sharp corner and burped most of the air out of his or her tire in the turn. I believe that is often the result of using a standard rim with tubeless rim tape. I’ve done a lot of riding on tubeless CX tires at low pressures without ever burping one, but only on two types of rims: tubeless-specific (in my case, a couple of different models of Fulcrum “2-Way Fit”) rims and Stan’s NoTubes rims.

A tubeless-specific rim, like your Shimano RS61 wheels, has a ridge (the “hump”) along the inboard edge of each bead-seat shelf. A tubeless tire mounted on this type of rim is far less likely to burp air at low pressures than one mounted on a standard clincher rim. The hump essentially locks the bead from sliding inward, and it also forms a seal around three sides of the bead, not just two. A standard clincher rim sealed with tubeless sealing tape on it has no bead-retaining hump, is flatter in profile inside, and is slick, all of which tends to allow the beads of a tire at low pressure to slide inward under a high side load and lose air.

Stan’s NoTubes (it’s interesting your name is Stan and you’re a tubeless devotee) rim designs feature a very low internal rim wall — the Stan’s NoTubes Bead Socket Technology (BST), protected by five different patents and licensed to Velocity for some of its rims. I believe that I was never able to burp a tire on these rims because the tire sidewall comes into the top of the rim at a very low angle. On a standard rim with taller rim walls above the bead seats, the tire sidewalls stand up very straight before the tire bulges out above the rim. I think this allows the tire to fold over more easily (and hence be susceptible to burping) than the more rounded tire shape allows on a BST rim.

I also get your point about thorns, since a tubeless tire with sealant in it is largely impervious to them. That said, you can put some sealants (Caffélatex is one) inside of the latex inner tube in a tubular, and it will also be impervious to thorns. I have had personal experience running Caffélatex in tubulars at a race at the Boulder Reservoir where goat head thorns were everywhere, especially in the overflow parking areas; flats were the rule, not the exception, that day, but I didn’t have a single flat despite having goat heads all over both of my tires.

I see the main advantage of a tubeless tire as being the much lower rolling resistance due to the super soft, supple casing of cotton or silk tubulars. There has yet to be a tubeless CX tire that approaches a high-end CX tubular in this department. And when glued on properly, the tubular’s cornering performance cannot be matched by a tubeless tire.

Also, running a clincher tire (tubeless or not), at low pressure exposes the fragile rim walls to denting and bending (aluminum) or cracking (carbon). As for running when flat, I think tubulars will generally give you better security — because they’re glued on — than will any clincher other than perhaps a beadlocked tubeless tire like you have with those rims. And see my point above about ruining the clincher rim when you’re running it flat; a tubular rim is much more likely to survive being run flat than a clincher rim.

And yes, the weight of a tubular rim is also much lower than a clincher rim, and this is rotating weight out at the edges of a big hoop, which, in an event involving continuous acceleration, is far more costly due to the increase in rotational inertia than weight on other parts of the bike. Read the last response on the above link about the three Hummers.

I am quite certain that if you were to do some ’cross racing on high-end handmade cotton or silk tubulars on lightweight carbon rims, you would not be eager to go back to your tubeless tires. Of course, there can be a very wide price gulf between these two options, and given that CX “is a bit of harmless fun” for you, you may still prefer the tubeless tires on the old wheels from your road bike for that reason.
— Lennard

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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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Technical FAQ: How much rest do older cyclists need?

Dear Lennard,
I read the book “The Haywire Heart” and would like to know how much rest is enough rest. Based on your experience and your age, which I assume is about 60, what is your rest formula?

I am 74 and started running when I was 39, completing 10 marathons, including Boston. I have been cycling for the last eight years and racing five of those years, with the exception of the Senior Games, where I have raced for seven years.

Most of the information and the symptoms described in the book point to me. I had a pacemaker (slow heart) put in about seven years ago, and it was replaced (battery life) this past February. In August, I was told I have AF (atrial fibrillation). I had an Electrocardiogram (EKG), which was not good. That was followed by a stress test which, was “OK,” and I have a follow-up visit to my cardiologists in March.

After reading your book, I have reduced my workout sessions. Now, I do jogging (treadmill, 30/40 minutes), weightlifting/maintenance for 1:15 and ride the trainer for one hour. I do each twice a week and rest one day a week. My cycling on a trainer was 1:30/1:45, three to four times a week unless I rode outside (30 to 50 miles, three or four times a week). Jogging twice a week and weights once a week. Some of the information in the book scares me and is the reason for my question.

My cardiologist probably does not know about an athletic heart or its symptoms. So, I hope to ask the right questions and hope that he will pursue the answers. On the stress test I did, the treadmill went fine, no abnormal heart rhythms, but I do not know what the pictures revealed (several 360-degree pictures were taken). I was told they were “OK,” whatever that means. Rest is something I had not paid attention to until I read your book. If you have any suggestions or recommendations, I would appreciate your input.
— John

Dear John,
This is not a question with a definitive answer, at least not yet in the world’s relatively recent understanding of the relationship between endurance training and racing and the incidence of heart arrhythmia. And you are right to ask your cardiologist; he knows you and is knowledgeable about your heart and what it needs.

Regarding my age, you are right; I am about 60 (I’ll hit that number in June), and I cannot know from personal experience what it is like to be 74 and wanting to train hard. My personal rest formula for dealing with arrhythmia is to have rest be the default, rather than more training. When in doubt, rest; you can’t hurt yourself much by resting, whereas the reverse may not be true.

Lots of research has focused on the amount of rest and recovery needed in order to optimize training loads (and avoid overtraining). There are many methods to detect recovery states, one of the primary ones being heart rate variability. When I was on the national cycling team back in the early 1980s, this was our main tool for determining overtraining or not — checking the resting heart rate (and body weight) first thing in the morning every day. This is a smartphone app I had for monitoring this five years ago when I still cared about optimizing my training before I developed my heart arrhythmia. In the face of your mind coming up with rationalizations for training hard anyway, you might listen to your little handheld computer telling you to back off if needed, rather than you telling yourself to do so based on an elevated morning resting heart rate and a drop in morning weight (indicating dehydration).

You can also take self-assessment questionnaires, which assess mood and other psychological factors, like the Profile of Mood States (POMS); these have been shown to be effective at detecting one’s recovery status. VeloNews will have a podcast on this topic soon with Trevor Connor, who knows a lot about it, hosted by Chris Case (one of my co-authors on “The Haywire Heart”).

While recovery from training is well-studied, it is not necessarily the same thing as the amount of rest required to avoid developing an arrhythmia, which I have never heard of being studied. Still, I believe that the above methods would be useful for optimizing your training without overcooking yourself, and they may also be beneficial for avoiding arrhythmias.

You didn’t say whether you are always in AFib, or whether you have paroxysmal AFib (meaning episodes of AFib that occur occasionally) or persistent AFib. Paroxysmal AFib episodes can last for a few seconds or a few days before the heart’s pacing returns to normal sinus rhythm, often on its own. This condition is fairly common among masters endurance athletes. Paroxysmal AFib and persistent AFib may be treated by “conversion” (cardioversion) back to sinus rhythm with an electric shock delivered via a pair of paddles while under anesthesia (or with drug therapy) if it goes on for many days or longer.

Since you said you were in sinus rhythm on the treadmill stress test, I imagine you are not in permanent AFib. Also, if you were always in AFib, your doctor probably would have put you on blood anticoagulants to prevent stroke, and I imagine you would have mentioned that. Since the heart is not functioning at optimal efficiency when the upper chambers (the atria) are fibrillating (disorganized, chaotic contractions over 300 bpm), AFib certainly decreases your cycling power output.

Sleep is the most important component of rest. If you have any doubt, I recommend you investigate whether you have sleep apnea, which can be done with a sleep test organized by a pulmonologist. Sleep apnea greatly increases the probability of an individual developing AFib, and it largely does that by straining your heart at night while reducing the amount of rest you get. If you are waking up without realizing it due to gasping for air to survive (waking this way 20,000 or more times per night is common in sleep apnea), you aren’t spending much, if any, time in REM sleep and thus aren’t getting good rest when you sleep.
― Lennard

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Kask’s new aero lid drops at TDU

Kask isn’t shy about promising a lot. It has dubbed its new lid the Utopia, and with a slew of aero claims, Kask says it’s better than the best. You’ll see it on Team Sky riders at the Santos Tour Down Under this week.

According to Kask’s data, the Utopia will save a rider 6 watts at 50 kilometers per hour. (That’s about 30 miles per hour. It should be noted that many companies make aero claims based on a speed of 40 kilometers per hour, or 24 miles per hour. If you’re comparing aero claims between companies, be sure to keep this in mind.)

Those aero benefits come largely from an overall shape we’ve seen in other lids like Specialized’s Evade and Giro’s Vanquish. The Utopia also includes internal channeling that Kask says improves aerodynamics even more. These claims are based on wind tunnel testing and computer fluid dynamics (CFD) testing.

The vents are large but few, which Kask says should make the Utopia appropriate for year-round riding. And the shape of the helmet should reduce wind rush over the rider’s ears, making for a quieter ride.

On top of that, the helmet also includes padding made of a carbon yarn called Resistex. Benefits, according to Kask, include heat regulation, bacteria protection, and antistatic properties.

A size medium Utopia tips the scales at 235 grams and the helmet will be available in three sizes: small, medium, and large. No specific availability date or pricing has been announced, but Kask says the Utopia will be available “later in the year.”

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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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Trek takes a high-tech approach to save cyclists’ lives

Trek has long been a proponent of high-visibility safety measures for cyclists, like daytime running lights. Now, the Wisconsin company is taking a step toward a high-tech solution to safety.

Trek is working with Tome Software and Ford Motor Company, to develop a new AI-based bicycle-to-vehicle (B2V) communication system.

At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, January 9-12, the companies are showing off a new Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X) technology, which the companies say has the potential to help create safer road infrastructure, augmenting existing B2V technology, which was announced in September.

The system connects vehicles to a larger communications system, which means cars can communicate with other vehicles, pedestrian devices, bicycles, roadside signs, and construction zones.

A cyclist would ride with B2V-enabled equipment, initially manufactured by Trek or Bontrager. Or, he or she could have a mobile app with C-V2X. The driver would then be alerted by their car when a cyclist is present in a potentially dangerous area.

The goal is to reduce the number of cyclists killed and injured on the road. Ford is supporting the collaboration between Trek and Tome to help develop an efficient and usable system for all road users.

“We want to ensure that while cyclists have the tools and knowledge to do what they can to create a safer experience,” Trek’s Electronic Product Manager Scott Kasin said, “they will now have the enhanced ability to communicate their presence directly to vehicles.”

The B2V software will be licensed to cycling and automotive companies in hopes of establishing an industry standard.

You can learn more about the details of the system here.

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Technical FAQ: Tips for cyclocross rookies

Questions from a ’cross newbie

Dear Lennard,
I had my first taste of ’cross in 2017 on a touring bike and now I’m hooked, so I purchased a Giant TCX SLR1 to do double duty as my commuter and race bike. The Australian race season in my city starts in April 2018, and I have some tech questions so I can prepare my bike. Perhaps you know some people who are riding the northern ’cross season and can pitch in with their current setups this season?

I’m looking to purchase a set of race wheels so that I can still commute during the week (on the stock Giant rims and road tires) and swap out to lighter race wheels (tubeless CX) for skills training and race day. I don’t want a lot of hassle and adjustment when I swap out.

My bike has the 12mm thru-axles, the front is 100mm) and the rear is 142mm, plus flat mount hydro brakes and an 11-speed SRAM Rival 1X.

1. Is the 12mm thru-axle a standard that includes disc/hub/cassette spacing so I can do a hot swap without caliper or derailleur adjustment?

2. Is it safe to shim a rotor mount on one wheelset to get spacing compatibility between both sets? If so, would you recommend 6-bolt or center-lock for the race wheelset?

3. Is it possible to adjust the hub position and hence caliper/cassette position on the hub axle?

4. Would there be much derailleur adjustment if I went from an 11-36 (commute) cassette to an 11-32 (race) cassette, or would you recommend keeping the same cassette type?

5. If I have a race wheelset and cassette, would you recommend a race chain to go with it? I tend to use KMC with quick links, so swapping is easy.

6. I was also going to get a spare hanger and my LBS said to get it installed and pre-bent before putting it in the toolbox. Any other hot tips for a CX newbie?

Thanks heaps. Also, your book is great! 
— Murray

Dear Murray,
I’m glad to hear you’re hooked on cyclocross and that you get to start your season right after ours ends. My answers are numbered to match yours.

1. Yes, you should be able to swap straight across with your thru-axle wheels, and the derailleur and brakes should line up the same as on the other wheelset. That said, the positions of the rotors may differ slightly. See No. 2.

2. Yes, you can shim the rotors to get both sets of wheels to plop into your bike with no brake rub. I have done this with both 6-bolt rotors and with center-lock ones, although it is easier with 6-bolt rotors. For 6-bolt rotors, you can use shims like these, although you can use separate disc-caliper-mounting shim washers at each hole, or you can even cut your own shims out of a beer can. You can mount 6-bolt rotors (and a shim or two if you wish) onto a center-lock hub with an adapter like this.

I find that if you just have a little bit of brake rub, you can avoid the shimming process completely and just true the rotors to line up the same in the brake. In that case, it is irrelevant whether you have 6-bolt or center-lock rotors. You need a tool like this, ideally with a dial gauge on and a truing fork or two to very precisely get it straight in exactly the plane you want to not have brake rub.

3. No, you cannot adjust the position of the hub on the axle.

4. The best performance will be if you have the same cassette on both wheels. That’s because the chain will have to be considerably longer for the 11-36 than for the 11-32, and you will probably also have to crank down further on the b-screw with the 11-36 as well to avoid chain noise from the upper jockey wheel pinching the chain against the cog. If you then slap an 11-32 on there, there will be more chain slack than need be, and the upper jockey wheel will probably be constrained to stay further away from the cassette than is ideal, so shifting will be more sluggish. The potential for a jumped chain will increase with all of that extra chain slack having to be taken up by the jockey wheels.

5. Yes, if you are not using the same size cassette on both wheels. See No. 4 above. If you had two different chains, you could improve the shifting and chain retention by running a shorter chain with the 11-32. I still anticipate that you’d want to also loosen the b-screw a bit as well, even though you don’t want to do any adjustments.

6. I suppose that’s a good idea, although I have rarely seen the need to bend a new derailleur hanger into proper alignment. Certainly having the extra derailleur hanger is a must. It’s not a terrible idea to have an extra rear derailleur as well.

Here are some other tips for you:
— Mark your seatpost height at the top of the seat binder and check to make sure it does not slide down with repeated jumping on and off of it.

— Tighten your saddle well so it doesn’t slide back or tip back with repeated jumping on and off of it. Mark the rails so you can tell if it has slid back. Unless you’re a really lightweight rider, avoid carbon saddle rails.

— If you have Crank Bros. or Time pedals, set your cleats on the narrower release angle to aid in getting out earlier as you come flying up to a barrier.

— Put steel shoe shields under your cleats so you don’t crack your carbon shoe soles where the rear spring digs into it right behind the cleat. This is especially important with Crank Bros., Look, or Time pedals.

— Consider tubulars rather than tubeless tires for your race wheels. You will be able to run lower pressures without fear of burping air on corners.

Have fun!
— Lennard

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The Week in Tech: Transition Sentinel sheds pounds, new SRAM brakes

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

Transition Bikes Sentinel gets a carbon diet

Transition’s Sentinel will shed a few pounds in 2018. The carbon edition of the Sentinel frame weighs 6.83 pounds, which is 2.5 pounds lighter than the alloy version. The alloy Sentinel introduced Transition’s Speed Balance Geometry (SBG), designed to bring the rider more forward into a central position between the front and rear tire contact points. A 40-millimeter stem and steep seat tube angles help achieve that balance and are supposed to aid in climbing traction and reduce seated sag when climbing. The new carbon frame costs $2,999, which is $1,000 more than the alloy version. A complete bike with an SRAM XO1 build costs $5.999.


SRAM four-piston stoppers at a friendly price

SRAM’s Guide brake family just got a bit bigger with the addition of the Guide T. The T’s four-piston brake caliper does not offer any new technological developments, though it is a less expensive entry into the four-piston arena. The lever and caliper cost $105 per brake ($210 for the pair). The brake weighs 280 grams when used with an 800-millimeter hose, according to SRAM, and is compatible with its drip-free Bleeding Edge technology. The Guide T costs about $30 less than the Guide R.


Wear your heart(rate) on your sleeve

Wahoo gets something off your chest with the TICKR Fit heart rate monitor. The forearm-mounted monitor has ANT+ and Bluetooth capability and comes with two adjustable band sizes to accommodate a wide range of body types. It is water and sweat-resistant and it has a USB-rechargeable battery. Wahoo claims the battery life can last in excess of 30 hours. The unit costs $80.


AbsoluteBlack OVAL chainrings available for Shimano cranks

AbsoluteBlack now offers 2x chainrings designed specifically for Shimano Dura-Ace 9100 and Ultegra 8000 road cranksets. Osymetric chainrings have garnered popularity thanks in large part to Chris Froome (Sky), who has used the chainrings on his Tour de France-winning bikes for years. The new chainrings feature an updated integrated ramp design, which is supposed to improve shifting performance. AbsoluteBlack is offering the chainrings in a variety of sizes: 34T, 36T, 38T, and 39T for the inner ring, and  50T, 52T, and 53T for the outer ring. An inner chainring costs $62 and an outer chainring costs $124.

Rocky Mountain 2018 model recall

Rocky Mountain Bicycles has recalled all of its 2018 Altitude, Instinct, and Pipeline bikes in both carbon and aluminum. Brake cable housing that was not secured properly during manufacturing can cause brake failure, posing a crash hazard. The recall covers over 3,000 bikes between the U.S. and Canada. The bikes were sold at Rocky Mountain bicycle dealers from June 2017 through November 2017 for between $2,600 and $7,300. Consumers should stop using the recalled bikes immediately and contact Rocky Mountain at 866-522-2803 or via email at Rocky Mountain Bicycles can be reached online at


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Van der Poel switches to Canyon bikes for 2018

Mathieu van der Poel will celebrate New Years aboard a new bike, Canyon’s Inflite CF SLX. Another former world champion, Pauline Ferrand-Prevot, as well as British champ Nikki Brammier, will also ride Canyon.

Van der Poel has been nearly unstoppable this season. He won five World Cups and leads the series by a 250-point margin. Along with the bike change, van der Poel’s team, Beobank-Corendon, will become Corendon-Cirus in 2018.

In the summer, Van der Poel plans to race a full World Cup mountain bike schedule with the goal of competing at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in the cross-country mountain bike race. Canyon has a two-year sponsorship agreement with Corendon-Circus.

Perhaps the Dutchman will get some pointers from Ferrand-Prévot, as she is the only rider in history to hold the world champion title in three disciplines simultaneously (cyclocross, road, cross-country mountain bike).

Racing for Canyon-SRAM, she is already familiar with the Inflite CF SLX. She finished fifth and fourth at the last two World Cups in Namur and Zolder.

Brammeier is the current British national cyclocross champion. She was second at the World Cup in Namur. She’s also working on new project called MUDIIITA. Her goal is to develop cyclocross talent in the United Kingdom.

VeloNews took the rig out for a first ride in Zonhoven, Belgium before the start of cyclocross season and found the bike quite nimble. We were impressed with the Inflite CF SLX’s quick handling and sturdy platform and found it a smooth ride over aggressive terrain.

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VeloNews awards 2017: Best gear of the year

Editor’s note: To close out 2017, we named our 30th annual VeloNews awards in the November/December issue of VeloNews magazine.

Road bike of the year: Cervelo R5 Disc

Remember when racers worried about disc-brake-equipped bikes being too heavy? Those are quaint, faraway memories now. Cervelo’s R5 is one of the lightest disc-equipped bikes on the market today (831 grams for the disc-equipped frame; the rim-brake frame actually weighs more, at 850 grams). It’s a joy in the mountains and shockingly capable in just about every other situation, making it the VeloNews bike of the year for 2017.

Read the full review >>

Innovation of the year: Specialized Diverge

Specialized Diverge

Specialized obviously did its gravel homework when designing the new Diverge racer. Its new, totally redesigned carbon Diverge features a lightweight frame, massive tire clearance, geometry built for stability, and a Future Shock head tube suspension system.

It has all the compliance and comfort you’d want for long races like Dirty Kanza. The frame is also light and responsive. It has a smart component spec and includes a dropper for added capability.


Accessory of the year: Oakley Aro 5 helmet

Oakley Aro helmet
The Aro 5 has massive vents up front, but the rest of the helmet is enclosed and aerodynamic. Even the vents are an aero tool, sucking in air through the front and venting it through the back. Photo: Dan Cavallari |

Oakley hopes to bring its performance reputation into the helmet world with the release of its Aro helmet line. The first three offerings, the Aro 3, Aro 5, and Aro 7, address the three most significant road riding markets as Oakley sees it. All three feature a gossamer Boa retention system. The Aro 5 in particular impressed us.


Runner-up for accessory of the year: Bontrager Velocis helmet

Photo: Dan Cavallari |

One of the first companies to embrace Boa dials on helmets, Bontrager redesigned its Velocis helmet from the ground up and came away with a fast, secure, and attractive helmet. It comes in second to the Aro helmets only because its possible that the helmet retention system will interfere with the arms of your sunglasses.

Read the full review >>

Thoughtful update award: Mavic neutral support dropper posts

Mavic representatives couldn’t confirm what material the loop is made of, but it looks and feels similar to a Boa shoe cable, though slightly thicker. Photo: Dan Cavallari |

The indelible image of Chris Froome running up Mont Ventoux at the 2016 Tour de France has inspired changes for the 2017 race. Mavic’s fleet of neutral support bikes featured specially designed KS dropper posts. This enables riders to adjust saddle height when riding the unmistakable yellow Canyon Ultimate CF SL bikes. That’s the biggest change, but not the only one.


Lab coat award: CeramicSpeed UFO Drip chain lube

Part of the benefit of UFO Drip’s low-friction formula is its ability to reduce drivetrain wear over time. Photo: Dan Cavallari |

CeramicSpeed’s goal was to create the fastest chain lube a customer could use at home without having to send a chain in for treatment. So while UFO Drip isn’t quite as fast as a UFO-factory-treated chain from CeramicSpeed, the process of applying UFO Drip is also significantly simpler. It can be done at home, with few specific tools and knowledge beyond a good chain cleaner and some patience. But it isn’t cheap.


Debate of the year: Beauty is only skin(suit) deep

Geraint Thomas
Geraint Thomas stormed through the German rain to win Tour de France stage 1. Photo: Tim De Waele |

Who would have thought that the first controversy of the 2017 Tour de France would be a wardrobe flap?

Team Sky’s duds during the Stage 1 time trial caused an outcry. Detractors claim that dimples on the arms and shoulders of the skinsuits worn by Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas (who eventually won the stage), Michael Landa, and Vasil Kiryienka flout Article 1.3.033 of the UCI rules which states, “it is forbidden to wear non-essential items of clothing or items designed to influence the performances of a rider such as reducing air resistance or modifying the body of the rider.”


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