Category: Bikes and Tech

Week in Tech: Cavendish’s bike up for auction, Pivot fat bike, and a bit of kit

Dimension Data auctions off pro bikes for charity

Cervelo’s S5 has had some pretty big moments in the last few years. Now you can get your hands on some of those legendary bikes, including Mark Cavendish’s 2018 race bike. Bernie Eisel, Serge Pauwels, and Edvald Boasson Hagen have also put their bikes on the block to help the Qhubeka charity reach its target of 100,000 bicycles distributed to those in need by 2020. Qhubeka distributes bikes to rural African communities where access to basic needs like healthcare and schooling is nearly impossible without a reliable mode of transportation. The auctions are live until November 23.

Place your bids here>>

Pivot’s Les keeps the fat bike spirit alive

The snow is flying and Pivot is ready with the Les fat bike. It features 27.5-inch wheels and comes spec’d with 3.8-inch tires. But it’s got a trick up its sleeve: you can set the Les to fit just about any wheel and tire combo you can come up with, from 29+ to 27.5+, or the biggest 5-inch tires you can get your hands on. You’ll have the option of a rigid fork or Manitou’s Mastadon suspension fork, but you won’t have a choice in color: It only comes in Ice Blue. You can get your hands on the frameset for $2,500, or a complete build ranging from $4,000 to $4,250.

100% teams up with Cadence on new apparel collection

Style begets style. That’s the thinking behind the new collaboration between 100% and Cadence Collection, two brands focused on looking cool. The lineup includes jerseys, bibs, and gloves, all with styles unique to this collaboration. 100% has also lent its Peter-Sagan-approved S2 sunglasses to the lineup, now with a bold leopard print aesthetic (Ruby Tortoise, if you want to be official about it). Aside from appearances, the features of the S2 remain the same as the ones in 100%’s regular lineup.

Bikepacking in black and white? Rapha’s got bags for you

Exploring by bike is so hot right now. Rapha enters the bikepacking game with its Brevet line of frame bags. In true Rapha style, there’s an element of cool aesthetics, but these bags are made to perform, too. They’re waterproof and spacious enough for long days or multi-day trips. The lineup includes a handlebar bag, frame bags, and saddle bags, in addition to Rapha’s Brevet clothing line.

Read the full article at Week in Tech: Cavendish’s bike up for auction, Pivot fat bike, and a bit of kit on VeloNews.com.

The evolution of the Epic


Last August, I lined up at the Leadville Trail 100 MTB race with a simple objective. I wasn’t aiming for an oversized belt buckle or a course record. I just wanted to finish. And I wanted to do it aboard a 1983 Specialized Stumpjumper.

My plan worked, and I had an amazing adventure on a bicycle that is the same age as me. Throughout my journey, I was surrounded by riders on technology that was light years ahead of my ancient steel bicycle. I saw, firsthand, the dramatic evolution from clunker to carbon wunderbike.

I was curious. What did it take to get where we are today? I decided to call up a few folks at Specialized to learn about the evolution of its cross-country racing bikes.

Now, the Stumpjumper line has now morphed into Specialized’s trail bike, designed for fun thrills on descents and drops. The true grandchild of my racing bike from 1983 is actually the Epic, Specialized’s dual-suspension cross-country bike, designed for long, punishing races like the Leadville 100.

There was an exotic first generation the Epic in the early 1990s — carbon-tubed, titanium lugged harbingers of mountain biking’s freewheeling glory days. But that bike wasn’t commercially viable. Instead, the evolution of the Epic begins in the late 1990s on a transatlantic flight.

Mike McAndrews, Specialized’s director of suspension technology, was flying home from a disappointing trip to Mallorca. He was tasked with convincing the Specialized cross-country team that the new FSR XC full-suspension bike would be faster than their hardtails. The European pros didn’t buy it. They were obsessed with light weight and pedaling efficiency. McAndrews tried to show them in back-to-back testing that the momentum carried by a full-suspension bike would be faster in the long run.

“One of the riders said, ‘I know what you’re saying, but when I sprint, it’s like I’m running on a mattress. I just can’t have that,’” McAndrews said.

On that flight back from Mallorca, he struck on an idea that had been archived in his mind when he worked with Jim Turner (RockShox founder Paul Turner’s brother) on motocross suspension back in the 1970s. The concept was an inertia valve. It wasn’t necessarily new, but it had never been implemented on a bicycle.

“What we needed was a shock that felt like a hardtail out of saddle, but we needed to decouple the rider’s mass when we were hitting bumps,” said McAndrews.

So he drew up the basic sketches and the Brain suspension platform was born. It relied on a damping reservoir near the rear wheel to house the inertia valve. When it sensed bumps at the axle, it opened up the shock. When a rider stood out of the saddle to pedal hard, the shock remained locked-out.

Brain
The 2002 Specialized Epic’s suspension technology won Gear of the Year award in VeloNews.

By 1999 when the first prototypes came out, mountain bike legend Ned Overend was finished racing World Cups, but he was still heavily involved in Specialized R&D. He could tell the Epic had big potential.

“It did feel like a revelation to me with the pedaling momentum it had,” Overend said. “It was a dramatic difference. You could stay in the saddle and pedal over rough ground. It was way more efficient.”

While he was quick to adopt the Epic for the Xterra triathlons he was racing at the time, Specialized’s World Cup athletes were still slow to adopt the technology.

Partly, that was due to the suspension’s valving which was not adjustable on the first model in 2002.

“That very first one was not adjustable so it was hard to figure out where the Brain should be set so it opened when you went over a bump — how much of that first bump you felt because it would close fairly quickly,” Overend said.

McAndrews remembers how his team was fighting an uphill battle to balance efficiency and suspension performance.

“We needed it to feel like a hardtail so much so that when it did go into the active mode, we started learning that that early design objective of being hardtail-firm was creating more problems than it solved,” he said. “But there was such a strong market perception that we couldn’t have done it any other way.”

An updated, remote Brain allowed Specialized to redesign the Epic and improve performance for the model Sauser rode to victory in 2008 worlds. Photo: Brad Kaminski | VeloNews.com

About six years later, the Epic made a big leap forward when the shock design moved away from the Sidewinder shock (a single-sided unit) to a symmetrically loaded shock under the top tube with the brain valve remotely connected via a hose on the seat stay.

Just a few weeks before 2008 UCI World Mountain Bike Championships, Specialized showed the new Epic design to its star rider Christoph Sauser. He had never won worlds, finishing second in 2005 and 2006. He also had spent very little time on this new Epic, but he decided it was the right bike for the difficult track in Val di Sole, Italy.

It worked, and he won by a staggering three minutes ahead of countryman Florian Vogel.

“You couldn’t have scripted it any better,” McAndrews said. “And then he holds it over his head at the finish — it’s like Hollywood right there.”

“It’s like a fighter jet on the climbs and a jumbo jet on the descents,” Sauser said after winning his first rainbow jersey.

Christoph Sauser
Christoph Sauser won 2008 world mountain bike championships on a 29-inch-wheeled Specialized Epic, a departure from the traditional equipment setup of a 26″ hardtail. Photo courtesy Specialized

The worlds win came at the right moment for McAndrews and his team. There had been some doubts about whether the XC mountain bike world would every wholeheartedly adopt the Epic — or any full-suspension mountain bike.

Now, 10 years later, it is hard to imagine that there was ever any doubt.

For the most recent iteration of the Epic, the bike Kate Courtney rode to victory at world championships in Lenzerheide this September, the geometry has developed to suit modern courses and riding styles. Along the way, Specialized also adapted the frame to fit disc brakes, 29-inch wheels, single-chainring drivetrains, and even dropper posts.

McAndrews is still at work. Intriguingly, his team’s objectives have done a 180-degree shift.

At the outset of the Epic project, they focused on the Brain and its potential to afford pure efficiency for the racers.

“The market perception back then was that these full-suspension mountain bikes were so pogo-y,” he said. “It’s all about making this full-suspension bike feel hardtail-firm until you start smacking bumps. That was such an important hurdle to get over.”

Now, McAndrews is developing the nuances of his shock technology to help it perform better in the open position.

“A lot of our effort is about that momentum carried because if we’re good about that, there’s less effort needed to stay at speed,” he says.

“In those early designs, the inertia valve was front and center. In the early days that Brain was the only member of the band, he was just up on stage banging on the drums, but nowadays I’d almost say he’s backstage.”

Test ride an Epic in Southern California >>

Specialized Epic

Read the full article at The evolution of the Epic on VeloNews.com.

Technical FAQ: Aluminum frame, crankarm fatigue


Have a question for Lennard? Please email us to be included in Technical FAQ.

Aluminum frame fatigue

Dear Lennard,

I have a high-quality aluminum bicycle frame that has been through 24,000 miles of commuting and touring. The frame has had proper maintenance, has never been crashed, and by all outward appearances is in very good condition. I’m planning a lengthy loaded tour on this frame. Since aluminum is subject to metal fatigue, is the number of miles on the frame a practical concern with respect to structural integrity?
— Gary

Dear Gary,
Yes, the number of miles is a concern, because aluminum has no “fatigue limit” (a.k.a. “endurance limit”). Let me explain.

While not every engineer uses the same terminology, for the purposes of this article, a material’s fatigue limit or endurance limit is the highest stress that the material can withstand for an infinite number of cycles without breaking. When it comes to metals used in bicycle frames, only steel and titanium have a fatigue limit. This means that if the stresses applied are below a certain percentage of a steel or titanium tube’s ultimate strength (or “tensile strength” — the stress required to break it with a single application of that stress) — the percentage at the fatigue or endurance limit, then no number of stress cycles will result in failure.

This fatigue or endurance limit can be seen on an “S-N curve” — a graph of magnitude of applied stress on the vertical axis vs. the number of stress cycles on the horizontal axis. The S-N curve for steel and titanium sweeps down from the upper left toward the right until it hits the fatigue or endurance limit (typically about half of its tensile strength), after which it forms a horizontal line continuing indefinitely to the right.

Aluminum does not have a distinct fatigue or endurance limit, so its S-N graph curves down from the upper left to the right and continues to curve down lower and lower toward the lower right corner of the graph. This illustrates that it will eventually fail even from low stress applications, given enough of them.

I of course have no way of predicting when your bike frame will fail; I only know that, since it is aluminum, it will eventually fail from fatigue, if it is ridden enough miles. It seems to me that the downside of a frame failure on your lengthy loaded tour would be high — it would cause you considerable additional hardship. You do have a lot of miles on that frame, and, given that a lot of those are loaded miles (putting you higher on the S-N curve, resulting in a lower number of stress cycles to failure), it might be time to let go of that bike and get a new one for your tour.

If you had a steel or titanium frame, I could make no such prediction of certain fatigue failure. That’s because, if the frame’s designer chooses steel or titanium tubes whose tensile strength and dimensions (wall thickness, diameter, and shape) are such that the stresses seen while riding will never exceed — say, 40 percent of its tensile strength in its heat-affected (i.e., weld) zones — then the frame will last indefinitely in the absence of a crash. Of course, notches or dents or poor welds (or, in the case of steel, rust) will lower that limit (as well as lower the tensile strength) and cause fatigue failure to occur at a lower stress or lower number of cycles.

I suspect you asked the question because you had some trepidation about taking that bike on your tour. While it may survive the tour, I think the probability of it not surviving it is high enough that it would be worth the peace of mind of instead riding a bike that gave you more confidence in its longevity.
― Lennard

Broken crankarm

Dear Lennard,
I just had an Ultegra 6800 50×34 crankarm fail at the glue joint after 3 years, resulting in a tearing of the aluminum spider (see photo here). Not shown is the glued seam that has split apart. I use a 20mm pedal extender from Knee Savers.

Is this a faulty crankset, or are hollow crankarms just not strong enough to handle the additional load brought about by having the foot further from the attachment point on the arm? I can’t find anything about this on the web. Shimano sells the PD-9100 pedal that allows 8mm of play side to side, so clearly they permit some movement of weight away from the pedal attachment point.

Do you think that the 8000 series crankset, with its much beefier arm at the spider end, is a better choice? If I need to use a crankset with solid arms, what do you recommend for a Di2 setup?

I’m asking you this question because you sell bicycles for “oversized” people, and you must have run into this problem in some way. If not pedal extenders, then heavier people. I weigh 175 pounds and stand occasionally while pedaling. I’m not a masher — other than when standing, I pedal at 90 rpm and am fairly light on the pedals.
— Chuck

Dear Chuck,
You’re right; I certainly have run into this issue. Yes, the extra leverage of standing on pedals with a 20mm longer spindle multiplies the stress at the pedal eye of the crank compared to the same pedaling force with standard-length spindles. And many times, bike fitters have prescribed extra-long pedal spindles for big customers of ours in order to get their knees closer to vertically aligned above their feet. Since these customers are also heavy and very strong, crank longevity is a definite concern.

We often build the bikes for tall people with a high bottom bracket coupled with extra-long cranks so that their crank length is a more standard proportion of their leg length than, say, a 175mm or 180mm crank would be; thus, we are often not using Shimano cranks on an otherwise Shimano drivetrain. The extra-long cranks we make in Boulder we have tested in a lab to ensure that they endure far beyond the crank-fatigue standard required by the European Union. And when we sell extra-long cranks made by Asian manufacturers, we request test data, using the same ISO4210 fatigue-test protocol, from the crank manufacturer. I have attached an illustration and description of the ISO4210 crank fatigue test (formerly called EN14781); a video of the test can be seen at the bottom of this page.

I would expect you to be able to get a lot more than three years on any crankset, including that one, with your 175 pounds, regardless of the 20mm longer spindles. As described in my prior answer, aluminum is subject to fatigue. Of course, if the glue joint failed first, that is a completely different issue from straight aluminum fatigue, since the crank would no longer have the structural integrity granted by its clamshell construction. If that were the case, that would be cause for a warranty appeal, but this is out of the two-year warranty. In any case, the stresses you are applying on the S-N curve that I described above are higher due to those longer spindles, which results in fewer stress cycles to the point of failure.

I can’t answer whether a Shimano 8000 series crankset will last any longer, since there are so many variables involved, and I’ve never seen fatigue-test data on either. Shot-peening, for instance, which increases fatigue life, could have been done on one crank and not the other, and/or the aluminum alloy could be different, and I have no idea about the wall thicknesses in each or how the extra crank width influences its durability. While solid arms in the same alloy and shape as your Ultegra cranks would almost certainly last longer than yours, solid arms in a different crank design do not necessarily guarantee more longevity than a well-made hollow one.

As for whether non-Shimano cranks will work on your Di2 setup, I also have lots of experience with this, since we sell a lot of Di2 bikes, and they usually don’t have Shimano cranks on them (because the cranks are 190mm-215mm long). Assuming your Di2 setup is 11-speed, you of course ought to get an 11-speed crank. After that, the most important thing is to get the stiffest chainrings you can, and there are lots out there that work just fine with Di2.
― Lennard

Feedback on last week’s column

Dear Lennard,
I wanted to chime in on Joseph’s question about fitting an 11-speed cassette on a 10-speed hub. I was in a similar situation. Almost all of my wheels have 10-speed freehubs, but I now have an 11-speed drivetrain.

I purchased a Shimano 105 5800, 11-28 cassette and removed the third cog (the 13T) because the 11T and 12T nest together. Besides adjusting the derailleur limits, as you mentioned, you also need a slightly thicker spacer behind the cassette to make this work. Without the spacer, the cassette can’t be tightened enough.

Other than that, the setup has worked well for me!
— Aaron

Dear Lennard,
I’ve done that by removing the 11t cog and keeping the 12t. You’ll need a lockring for 12t cassettes.
— Gabriel

Dear Lennard,
The new Shimano R7000 11/34 cassette comes with a spacer and fits on a 10-speed wheel just fine. No need for Dremel or redishing.
— Alan

Dear Lennard,
Joseph asked about using a reduced 11-speed cassette on a 10-speed freehub. I did that about three years ago when I was trying to build a gravel bike on a budget. I found a deal on a pair of 29er wheels that fit the bill except for 11-speed compatibility. The cassette I wanted to use was an 11-speed 11-32 Shimano 105. The three largest cogs were on a carrier, but all the remaining cogs were individual. I had to buy a 13-tooth, second position cog and a 12-tooth outer cog to replace the 11, 12, and 13 cogs of the original cassette, and it all fit together perfectly. I set the limit screws so that I can’t use the last click in the shifter, and it’s still working great three years later. I rarely ever use the 50×12 on that bike, so I’m not really missing the 50×11 anyway.
— Quentin

Dear Lennard,
I was reading with interest your response about fitting an 11-speed road-bike cassette on a 10-speed freehub with Shimano 11-speed road-bike shifters.

Your response brought me to a YouTube video where it mentions that approach (and which spacer to omit) as well as six other alternatives. But more importantly, one of the viewer comments mentions an even better way; simply use a Shimano 11-speed MTB cassette on the 10-speed freehub. Apparently, that works because the largest cog is concave on the side where it butts up against the freehub (just like 11-speed campy cassettes are).

I think this is the most straightforward method next to installing an 11-speed freehub (if it truly works).
— Demetrius

Dear Lennard,
I noticed that you said that 2009 Veloce was Powershift — it wasn’t. It came out as Ultrashift and changed shortly thereafter. The user can potentially still fix his shift levers.
— Stephen

Read the full article at Technical FAQ: Aluminum frame, crankarm fatigue on VeloNews.com.

Tech podcast: Why are people riding snub-nose saddles?

Welcome to the VeloNews Tech podcast, where we discuss complex tech topics and distill them down into terms we can all understand.

We have noticed a trend: Riders are opting for shorter saddles with pronounced cutouts. What’s the explanation for this shift?

On this episode, we bring on Chris Jacobson, Shimano North America’s product line manager for Pro Components and BikeFitting.com. He answers our many questions about how riders can (or should) select saddles, what are some common bike fit issues, and why saddles have evolved to become shorter.

All that and more on this episode of the VeloNews tech podcast.

If you like what you hear, subscribe to the VeloNews podcast on iTunesStitcher, and Google Play. Please give us a review and a rating, if you have time! Also, check out the VeloNews Fast Talk training podcast with Trevor Connor.

Read the full article at Tech podcast: Why are people riding snub-nose saddles? on VeloNews.com.

Tech FAQ: Fixing Campy shifters and converting drivetrains


Have a question for Lennard? Please email us to be included in Technical FAQ.

Repairing Campy shifters

Dear Lennard,
I read in your well-known repair manual (which I own) that some Campagnolo shifters may be repaired by replacing the G spring and its retainer. As I understand, this does not, however, apply to models from 2009 onward, as the design of the shifter is different. My Campagnolo Veloce right shifter skips over the lower cogs, often going right to the smallest when I downshift. I believe there’s a problem with a return spring.

Is it at all possible to replace a broken spring or other components within the shifter itself, in order to repair it? I have experience repairing laptop computers, so I’m not concerned about taking the device apart and re-assembling it. Rather, I have not been able to find any replacement parts and few if any published procedures. Everything seems to apply to the older, pre-2009 models.

The only option I see is to replace the shifter body (and transfer the brake lever and hoods), or buy a matched set of the newer version which has a more ergonomic shifter button. I do wonder whether this later (2015?) model will be even less durable than my original one, however, as I’ve read complaints of them failing prematurely.
— Marc

Dear Marc,
The mechanism in your Veloce shifter is called Power-Shift. That lever body incorporates neither the older G springs clicking into an indexing ratchet nor the more recent Ultra Shift technology (a spring-loaded detent ball dropping into tabs on the face of a disc). Most likely, the pawl inside your shift lever body that is actuated by the thumb lever is damaged or has failed. This is not repairable, as the pawl is riveted into position in the body.

The possible solutions are just as you suggest. One is to replace your single lever body with a new Campagnolo EC-CE300. Or, as you said, you can replace both levers with new Veloce Ergopowers. The current model has the same internals as your model. Externally, the newer Ergopowers have a longer, lower thumb lever for ease of reach while in the drops.
― Lennard

Cyclocross drivetrain choices

Dear Lennard,
I have a small quiver of wheels forming for CX season, and just as I was getting everything to wider, 23mm internal rims, I’ve run into the 10- vs. 11-speed conundrum. I began wondering if you’d tried yet, with or without success, installing an 11-speed cassette on a Shimano/SRAM 10-speed style FH body by sliding on 10 cogs from an 11-speed cassette. I’m thinking (much like some downhiller guys who run 9- or 10-speed spacing on short BMX or SS style freehubs — Chris King or Industry Nine SS hubs — by using 5 or 6 cogs/spacers) I could get away with using an 11-speed cassette (with one cog and spacer left out) on a 9/10 FH equipped wheel on an otherwise 11-speed bike. I was thinking:

1. You’d have to have the small cog so the lockring interfaces well.

2. Once you get to spidered cogs, those will have to be there.

3. Do you know which cogs are separate and which are spidered?

4. would Shimano or SRAM 11-speed cassettes work better in this instance? Obviously, the low limit would need to be adjusted to not throw into the spokes, but other than that what am I forgetting? Or is it the high screw as well?
— Joseph

Dear Joseph,
I have not tried that, but if you were to take out the second-smallest cog and its spacer, it would, in theory, work. It would require a cassette in which at least one of the small cogs other than the first cog is separate, which eliminates high-end SRAM cassettes from consideration.

When installing this wheel into an 11-speed bike, yes, you would need to tighten the low-gear limit screw to avoid the derailleur touching the spokes and the chain jamming between the cassette and the spokes. The high-gear limit screw will probably need to be tightened in a bit too.
― Lennard

Feedback on cycling and aging

Dear Lennard,
I’ve followed your writing for years (you even answered a question of mine about 14 years ago about ceramic bearings before they were really a thing), and I have always appreciated your willingness to share information with us! Helpful, clear and practical, you are a go-to for tech questions, especially those that relate to special circumstances like mixing parts groups, etc.

I am writing in regards to your column about getting older as a rider. Frankly, it might be the most helpful thing I’ve read this year. As a 44-year-old cyclist, I’ve had significant health issues (unrelated to cycling) in past years which have lifted, and so my riding has increased significantly in the past two years. I’m a former competitive runner and coach, so I KNOW how to train, particularly regarding intensity and periodization. The problem I’m finding is that Zwift (a great tool for those of us in the Canadian snow belt!) tends to have me riding hard all the time. Your article was extremely timely, as I’ve been warring with myself; as my training hours are up, my fitness is up now that I am healthy. The tendency is “if some is good, more is better,” but your column was a good reminder me to stick to my program, both with myself and my athletes, and not get sucked into the Zwift/Strava trap of riding hard always.

Thank you so much for what you wrote. I will be sharing this with some of my athlete friends, because I think our current online tech world is going to precipitate a crisis in the next few years as the 40- and 50-year-olds inadvertently overtrain to the point of doing lasting damage. I’m concerned that we are going to see a sharp spike in cardiac issues in the next few years as too many of us chase records, stats, and social comments at the expense of healthy and wise patterns of training. The irony of fitness making us seriously ill …
— Jorin

Dear Jorin,
I am concerned about that as well; it stimulated me to embark on co-writing The Haywire Heart. We are the guinea pigs — the first generation to be pursuing these kind of athletic goals so late in life, and it is possible that we may so far only be seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of cardiac issues among competitive masters endurance athletes.
― Lennard

Dear Lennard,
I just read your interesting discussion of athletic activity that compromised your health later in life. For most cyclists, especially those who are lightly built, I would add the recommendation to do some running almost every week to maintain bone strength. Research has shown that those of us who ride bikes more than 10 hours/week at the exclusion of weight-bearing exercise are more likely to have osteoporosis than if we sat on a couch instead. You can be comfortable and competitive on the bike if you have osteoporosis, but a seemingly minor fall will result in a broken bone.
— Larry

Dear Larry,
Thanks for that. I should note that walking and skiing also fall into that category of weight-bearing exercise, for those of us whose joints don’t allow for running.
― Lennard

Read the full article at Tech FAQ: Fixing Campy shifters and converting drivetrains on VeloNews.com.

Gallery: Bizarre and beautiful bike gear at VeloSwap

No bike swap would be complete without Spinergy Rev-X wheels, homemade bike jewelry, and an ugly jersey or two. We spotted these items (and more) at Saturday’s VeloSwap used bicycle flea market.

Every year, several thousand cycling enthusiasts arrive at Denver’s National Western complex to buy and sell used bike gear and to celebrate all things cycling. The haul of gear includes plenty of DayGlo, antiquated mountain bike technology, and plenty of racing gear in mint condition. Every year we stroll the exhibition hall with our camera to spot the most bizarre and beautiful gems for sale. Here are a few choice pics from this year’s collection.

VeloSwap 2018
Thousands of bicycles were up for sale at this year’s VeloSwap, ranging from old cruiser bikes to new bikes. Photo: Fred Dreier
VeloSwap 2018
This Veloswapper was a firm believer in sell stem therapy. Photo: Fred Dreier
VeloSwap 2018
Veloswap is famous for its mountains of socks. Photo: Fred Dreier
VeloSwap 2018
An old chain, a shoelace, and voila, a creative piece of cycling jewelry. Photo: Fred Dreier
VeloSwap 2018
Part scooter, part Stairmaster, entirely strange. Photo: Fred Dreier
VeloSwap 2018
VeloNews news director Spencer Powlison scored this vintage Coors Classic jacket. Photo: Fred Dreier
VeloSwap 2018
One vendor was selling historic cycling dioramas depicting famous moments in pro cycling. Photo: Fred Dreier
VeloSwap 2018
Custom headset caps were everywhere at this year’s Veloswap… this one was truly customized. Photo: Fred Dreier
VeloSwap 2018
VeloNews editor Fred Dreier holds up his favorite swap find, the Spinergy Rev-X. Photo: Fred Dreier
VeloSwap 2018
Down tube shifters, a sweet bike computer, and full Campy. What a deal! Photo: Fred Dreier
VeloSwap 2018
This old war horse was one of several vintage bicycles from the early 20th century. Photo: Fred Dreier
VeloSwap 2018
The bicycle came with its own set of antiquated tools. Photo: Fred Dreier
VeloSwap 2018
A favorite of 90s mountain bike racing, this 3D hardtail was a staple of the NORBA circuit. Photo: Fred Dreier
VeloSwap 2018
Need pedals? Photo: Fred Dreier
VeloSwap 2018
This innovative road tricycle had its gear cluster tucked between the two rear wheels. Photo: Fred Dreier
VeloSwap 2018
Quite an engineering feat. Photo: Fred Dreier
VeloSwap 2018
A classic Seinfeld reference. No, the tricycle did not come with a chewed up pencil. Photo: Fred Dreier
VeloSwap 2018
This 1982 Specialized Stumpjumper is similar to the one that news director Spencer Powlison road at the Leadville 100 this year. Photo: Fred Dreier
VeloSwap 2018
Disc brakes and gear clusters galore. Photo credit: Fred Dreier
VeloSwap 2018
Why did this green bubble jersey design disappear? Such a mystery. Photo: Fred Dreier
VeloSwap 2018
A jersey that will never go out of style, and for just five bucks! Photo: Fred Dreier

Read the full article at Gallery: Bizarre and beautiful bike gear at VeloSwap on VeloNews.com.

Van Aert rides new SRAM eTap at Euro Championships


Is it electrical tape season already? Wout Van Aert seems to have been riding some new goods from SRAM, if his brake levers are any indication. The SRAM-style levers were blacked out with electrical tape, presumably to hide a prototype design, as Van Aert got his world champion’s jersey dirty at the European Cyclocross Championships.

It’s almost impossible to discern anything meaningful from the photos, but the lever ergonomics do appear to be changed slightly from the previous generation. The hoods themselves appear to be unchanged or only slightly slimmed.

If you look closely, you can see that Wout Van Aert’s levers don’t have any SRAM branding and are a slightly different shape. Photo: Getty Images

CyclingTips got some spy shots of the new group at the Saitama Criterium in Japan. Based on those photos, it appears SRAM has gone 12-speed. But that’s only the beginning: The new group may have an integrated Quarq power meter, one-piece chainrings, and possibly even a clutch rear derailleur.

Since Van Aert is rolling the new group on the cyclocross course, it seems all but certain the clutch-style rear derailleur is in the mix. That’s good news for cyclocrossers who want to eliminate cables from their ‘cross bikes but have, up until now, chosen other groups for the chain retention afforded by a clutch.

That begs the question: Is a 1x eTap group in the works?

Clutch-style rear derailleurs certainly provide some benefits to 2x setups, but they’re particularly useful for 1x setups that require extra chain tension to prevent dropped chains. If the rear derailleur now has a clutch, it is perhaps likely that SRAM updated the servo motor within the rear derailleur to compensate for the extra force the clutch creates.

It appears that Van Aert was riding the new SRAM components at the World Cup in Switzerland. The crank seems to have a Quarq powermeter in a new configuration. Photo: Luc Claessen/Getty Images

VeloNews reached out to SRAM to get more details on the group. Michael Zellmann, SRAM’s senior public relations manager, said, “We can neither confirm nor deny” the group’s existence and details.

VeloNews is headed to California in January to spend some time with SRAM and get the skinny on the new goods, so we’ll hopefully have more details then.

Read the full article at Van Aert rides new SRAM eTap at Euro Championships on VeloNews.com.

Week in Tech: Tacx quiets down, Zwifters go to France

Just be quiet, Tacx!

Just in time for the winter doldrums, Tacx has pulled the lid off its updated Neo smart trainer. Meet the Neo Smart 2, the indoor training unit Tacx said is even “more silent” than the previous version. (Insert your Spinal Tap joke here.) The Neo Smart 2 is now compatible with both 142×12 and 148×12 thru-axles, but more importantly, it includes a host of new features. Pedal stroke analysis and left and right power measurement now come standard. A capacitive cadence sensor is also included in the new setup, and Tacx says it has improved the electronics for smoother, more responsive resistance control. It’s available now for $1,400.

Ride L’Etape du Tour from your own personal pain cave

Zwift is now the official training partner of L’Etape du Tour, which means you can take advantage of training plans, in-game events, special jerseys, and more so you don’t have to go all the way to France to get a taste of the ride. The L’Etape du Tour Training Club is open to the first 30,000 Zwift members who enroll. As a member of the club, you’ll be able to participate in workout plans and group workouts, and you’ll get a chance to win a starting bib for the real L’Etape event in July. Zwift memberships start at $15 a month, and you’ll need one to get in on the action.

World Bicycle Relief makes year-end push with Give Go campaign

How awesome would it be to give a bike to someone who desperately needs it? That’s exactly what World Bicycle Relief does every time it raises $147. That’s what it takes to get a Buffalo Bicycle, specifically designed for African terrain, into the hands of a student, healthcare worker, or entrepreneur who needs it. That means you’re helping a kid get to school or a mother get to work. Now through November 10, donations will be matched dollar for dollar to help get more bikes into the hands of those in need. The Give Go campaign highlights the stories of people who face distance barriers between them and education, healthcare, and economic opportunities.

Lezyne expands its tool lineup with T-Drive

The T-Drive from Lezyne features a magnetic end that holds replaceable bits in place. That means this tool is inherently versatile: make it an Allen wrench, a screwdriver, or a Torx driver simply by swapping out the bit. It comes in a soft shell carrying case with cutouts for bits, and the handle is removable for easy storage in your backpack or seat pack. It only weighs 153 grams and costs $35.

Read the full article at Week in Tech: Tacx quiets down, Zwifters go to France on VeloNews.com.

Smart trainers: The best units for your sweat session


Welcome to the pain cave. The sweat station. The Sisyphus ride. We’re riding indoors more and more on these shorter, colder days when the sun sets before we leave the office.

Which means we’re trying to get at the heart of what makes a good smart trainer. The good ones make those indoor sessions more bearable and — gasp! — even fun. The best ones are stable, quiet, and packed with everything you need to integrate with virtual riding environments like Zwift.

Those top trainers have it all dialed, from power accuracy and output to physical stability and portability. Smart trainers are most often paired to virtual riding environments like Zwift, so realism is key: The idea is to make it feel as though you’re riding real roads, with real grades, and real resistance.

Here are some of the keys to finding the right smart trainer.

Accuracy

This is generally expressed as +/- X%. This number matters most if you don’t have a power meter but you do know your FTP (Functional Threshold Power) and common wattage numbers out on the road. You’ll want these numbers to match, or come close to it if you’re relying on the trainer’s built-in power meter to structure your workouts.

Power output

This is expressed as a maximum wattage output. This is basically the big number of how much resistance you’ll get in various scenarios. Most smart trainers today already offer more resistance than you’ll be able to push, but if you’re a big-time sprinter, you’ll want to pay attention to this number.

Climbing grade

This is expressed as a grade percentage. It’s essentially representative of the steepest climb the trainer can simulate. Keep in mind that this won’t change the position of the trainer itself; it simply changes the resistance. (Wahoo’s Kickr Climb is an accessory you can add to your training setup to simulate grades by raising or lowering the front end of your bike.)

Stability

This will depend largely on the physical construction and the way the trainer legs are positioned. The trainer shouldn’t rock side to side, unless it’s an actual function of the trainer (like Kurt Kinetic’s Rock and Roll, which aims to simulate real-world bike movement). Top-of-the-line smart trainers generally include foldable legs that swing outward. Adjustable feet are integrated into those legs to level off the trainer and keep it from rocking. Consider the ease of use here, because if you move your trainer frequently, you may also need to readjust the feet frequently.

Portability

If you’re moving your trainer station frequently, or taking it over to a buddy’s house to do a group workout, you’ll want to consider how heavy it is, how easy it is to handle and move, and how much space it takes up both when it’s in use and when it’s folded away and stowed behind the couch.

Other considerations

What else does the trainer offer? Compatibility with peripheral accessories (like Wahoo’s Kickr Climb and Headwind), ANT+ FE-C (Fitness Equipment Control) capabilities that allow you to pair with just about any virtual platform, included apps and training programs, included accessories like wheel blocks, durable construction; these add-ons won’t make or break your training experience, but they certainly can enhance it.

We tested four of the newest and hottest trainers on the market to discover each one’s true personality. Here’s what we found out.

(IMPORTANT NOTE: While we used non-Wahoo trainers with the Wahoo Kickr Climb, Wahoo warns against doing so because your bicycle’s dropouts can get damaged from the movement. We did not notice any damage to our bike, even after repeated sessions on non-Wahoo trainers, but you may not want to risk it with your expensive bike.)

Wahoo Kickr

$1,200
47 pounds (advertised)

It’s the easiest to set up, the easiest to handle, the easiest to connect, and the most fun to ride. The Kickr is undisputedly the best smart trainer on the market.

The newest version of the Kickr got even better from the last. It’s definitely the quietest smart trainer we’ve used, for starters. That’s ideal for those of us with kiddos at home who go to bed early. And it’s the most compact smart trainer we’ve tried, so tucking it behind the couch when you’re not using it is actually a feasible option. The well-positioned handle makes it easy to carry this 47-pound unit, too. It’s built like a tank, and while it’s not exactly a sleek looker, it’s unobtrusive enough to tuck in the corner when you’re not using it. The updated version features a rotating axle system so you can use the unit with the Kickr Climb. There’s also improved clearance for disc brakes.

Read the full review>>

Wahoo Kickr Core

$900
40 pounds (advertised)

It may not be as eye-catching as its more expensive sibling, but the Kickr Core still offers many of the features that make the Kickr the best on the market. You’ll have to add your own cassette (which is included on the Kickr); the cadence sensor isn’t included either; and the adjustable arms are gone in favor of a more traditional sandwich board design.

It’s not quite as powerful as the Kickr. Instead of a 16-pound flywheel, the Kickr Core has a 12-pound flywheel. The Core can simulate a grade up to 16% (the Kickr can simulate up to 20%), and the maximum power output is 1,800 watts (The Kickr’s max power output is 2,200 watts). While those numbers seem a bit watered down, they’re still well within the range of what many cyclists will max out at anyway, and it actually meets or exceeds the specs of trainers that cost several hundred dollars more. And you’ll still get the same +/-2% accuracy as the Kickr. It’s thru-axle compatible to accommodate the most modern bikes.

Read the full review>>

CycleOps H2

$1,200
$1,400 with Zwift membership included
47 pounds (advertised)

When you’re going up against Jordan, you better be able to dunk. That’s basically what CycleOps was facing when designing the new H2 smart trainer: Deliver a ride that’s as good, if not better, than the Wahoo Kickr. The two trainers are similar in size, though the H2 is definitely bulkier. Both trainers weigh about the same. On paper, they’re very similar. In practice, the H2 positions itself as a serious contender to dethrone the Kickr as the best on the market.

It’s not quite there, but it’s darn close.

Spec for spec, the H2 is fairly similar to the Kickr: It simulates up to a 20% grade, which matches the Kickr; it offers 2,000 watts of resistance at 20mph, while the Kickr offers 2,200 watts; and it is accurate to +/-2%, the same as the Kickr. The H2 has a heavier flywheel (20 pounds) than the Kickr’s 16-pound unit.

Read the full review>>

Elite Drivo II

$1,200
40 pounds (advertised)

Meet the Italian Beast. The Drivo II packs a punch with its features, including a claimed accuracy of +/-0.5%. A 13-pound flywheel does the heavy lifting, and wide, swing-out legs with adjustable feet are on stability duty. Want to climb all the way up to 24%? The Drivo is one of the only trainers with that capability. And you can push it all the way to its 2,300-watt maximum power output — or at least you can try. It’s thru-axle compatible, and ANT+ FE-C capable, so it works with just about all of your favorite programs. This is a heavy hitter.

Let’s start with power. Does that +/-0.5% accuracy matter? That depends on your indoor training setup. If you’re using a power meter on your bike, it’s best to simply pair your power meter to your virtual training program like Zwift, since that’s what you use outside anyway. That way your power numbers should be consistent and you should know what numbers to expect on-screen.

Read the full review>>

Read the full article at Smart trainers: The best units for your sweat session on VeloNews.com.

Technical FAQ: How cyclists can keep on rolling as they age


Dear Lennard,
In reading your post on seats and reflecting on your tech reporting as of late, it seems to reflect the surprising fact that you’ve aged. This is fine by me, as I’ve run out of fingers and toes to keep track of my age. This thought made me want to ask: What would you have done differently that might have improved your ride experience as you aged? Or more generally, looking back do you think there are habits among younger riders that cause injuries/issues later in life that could be avoided without loss of youthful performance? For instance, extreme difference between high seat height and bar slammed down. Does this actually improve performance but is a young rider’s game and an old man’s sore neck?
— Jeff

Dear Jeff,
That’s a very interesting question, and it wasn’t until I started thinking about it that I realized I’ve been writing for VeloNews almost half of my life! I am now 60, and when I started at VeloNews in 1989, I was 31; I’m coming up on my 30th anniversary with VeloNews! Some things do come to mind that I think would have changed my current physical issues if I were to get a do-over while pursuing the same goals.

First, the chronic injuries I have lived with, most of them for decades, are:

  1. Heart arrhythmia; this appeared five years ago. In doing the research for “The Haywire Heart,” I have come to look at this as an overuse injury.
  2. Degenerative low back disease — complete loss of disc space between many of the vertebra in my low back first diagnosed over 20 years ago. Some medical professionals I have been working with on my current chronic high hamstring injury believe that the source of it may be pinched nerves in my low back.
  3. Chronic left shoulder problems for over a decade — ruptured long head of the biceps tendon, dislocation, rotator cuff tears resulting in two recent surgeries to repair those tears.
  4. Left elbow tendinitis — medial epicondylitis (“golfer’s elbow”) for over 20 years.
  5. “Morton’s neuroma” in between the joints of the metatarsals in my feet for over 20 years.
  6. The one most limiting my “ride experience” is my heart, which I would reduce the stress on if I could go back and do it over again. I see this from two sides — emotional stress as well as physical stress.

On the physical side, I think I could have reduced the injury to my heart by prioritizing rest and reducing total training volume while being more judicious with intensity training. I also would have spent more time relaxing and less time preparing multiple bikes, multiple wheels and tires, and, in the case of cross-country ski racing, multiple pairs of skis with a ridiculous number of layers of wax interspersed with fastidious scraping and brushing on each. I think my heart would have experienced less total stress (and my results may have improved) if I had instead rested rather than prepping equipment late into the night before races.

As for emotional stress, maintaining a more laissez-faire attitude toward race results would have served me well my entire life. I tended to place too much importance on them (I made poor results mean something negative about me), which I think increased the stress on my heart. It also drove the crazy amount of bike preparation and ski preparation in anticipation of and schlepping of equipment to races. Early arrival and calm warmup the morning of cyclocross and cross-country-ski races instead of the rushing around loading and unloading equipment from vehicles and trying different tires or skis on the course would have better served my heart. And accepting the occasional race where I didn’t have the ideal tires or tire pressure or hadn’t selected the ideal skis and prepped them with the ideal wax would also have been good for my heart.

I believe the discs in my low back would be healthier now if I hadn’t injured them repeatedly alpine ski racing and hard mogul skiing and then exacerbated it by sitting too much and not having enough regular movement, particularly rotational movement, of my spine. I think the following things would have reduced my current symptoms:

  1. Less high-speed bump skiing and less back bend while doing it.
  2. More awareness of sitting posture (I discovered too late sitting on this inflatable pad with proper ergonomic keyboard and screen setup.
  3. Limited duration of sitting (getting up more; using a standing desk).
  4. Consistent overall-body and core-strength conditioning starting in my teens without the hiatus I took from kayaking (it rotates the spine as well as works the core) between ages 20 and 45.

As for a slammed stem in my youth affecting me long-term, I’m not sure. I do believe overly short top tubes for my long body caused a curve in my back while riding that was not healthy, but once I started making my own frames at age 24, that was no longer an issue. My chronically stiff back always felt better after getting on the bike and also when coming off of the bike, except after exceptionally long or hard rides.

Until age 30 or so, the drop from the top of my saddle to top of my handlebar tended to be around 10 inches (250mm). As I have aged, that differential has reduced, and as my back has shortened due to flattened discs, my top tube length has also shortened. The canary in the coal mine was generally my shoulders; as I got older, these things seemed to cause me more shoulder pain than neck or back pain.

As for the second part to your question about potential performance improvement or not with the slammed stem — I think we generally understand now that a narrower hand position does more to reduce aerodynamic drag than does a lower hand position. I think that many racers leave climbing performance on the table with too low of a handlebar, and that may also haunt them later in life.

The narrow descending tuck position that I used in my 20s and 30s and can no longer sit in due to neck pain is not really affecting me now due to changes in bike design. By the time I could no longer tuck with my chin on the bar and my butt on the saddle, my bikes had sloping top tubes, and I could descend sitting on the top tube with my chest on the stem. The “Sagan position” does not hurt my neck and is as fast as either “Nibali position.” Otherwise, my neck doesn’t bother me riding, so I’m not regretting years of low handlebars.

The shoulder issues first started from too much reach and drop to the handlebar as my low back stiffened and shortened, combined with overuse injuries from cross-country skiing. These resulted in spontaneous rupture of my biceps tendon while riding my bike up a steep canyon. Resulting instability in the joint increased damage during bike and ski crashes — one that dislocated it and others that tore rotator-cuff tendons. Keys would have been treating positioning and overuse issues earlier and reducing crashes with less emphasis on race results mentioned above. I think crashing often can be avoided with a more long-term perspective on life and what’s important, something often lacking in one’s youth. Fewer crashes definitely can result in an improved ride experience in later life.

Elbow injury — knowing what I know now, I would not have created that overuse (offseason cross-country ski training) in the first place.

Neuroma in feet — not understanding my foot type, shape and biomechanics led to this. Orthotics with metatarsal- and medial-arch support, cycling shoes and ski boots wider in the forefoot, and a more rearward cycling-cleat position treats this and may have prevented it.

The good news is that, due to sciatica pain, the disc problems in my low back kept me from running, bump skiing, and heavily-loaded backpacking for the past 38 years and steered me toward non-impact sports. I think that my knees, hips, and ankles have no chronic problems, thanks to a lifetime of cycling, cross-country skiing, rafting, and kayaking to the near exclusion of other sports.
― Lennard

Read the full article at Technical FAQ: How cyclists can keep on rolling as they age on VeloNews.com.