Road Bike Action Road Bike Action Mon, 28 Nov 2022 00:57:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 VAN NICHOLAS TITANIUM ZEPHYR DISC Mon, 28 Nov 2022 13:49:56 +0000

The Dutch titanium masters are out with a new model

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As much as southern Europe continues to attract most of the bike making attention, let’s not forget about the Dutch titanium masters at Van Nicholas.  Beautiful craftsmanship – oh those welds – and with five different drop bar steeds to offer.


Press Release

The Zephyr has been a stalwart in the Van Nicholas stable for many years, offering the supreme blend of comfort and poise required for an all-day racing machine, but the latest version has been improved in several key areas to push this already great bike onto new levels of performance excellence.

“The question we asked ourselves,” says Ralph Moorman, General Manager of Van Nicholas, “was how do we increase comfort without compromising on performance, and vice versa.” The answer lies in a lot of clever engineering.

The legendary vibration damping qualities of Titanium already offer significant performance and comfort advantages, with the thin, supple stays helping to soak up a lot of the road ‘buzz’ you would experience with other frame materials, but by re-working the geometry to accommodate larger volume (up to 35mm) tires, they have added another level of comfort to help iron out the lumps and bumps of any road surface.

Rigidity is still crucial at the high stress points, however, to ensure effective power transfer and precise control. To this end, Van Nicholas have focused on three key areas: the head tube, the bottom bracket, and the axles.

The head tube is, arguably, the single biggest transformation. By casting the entire head tube to include a short section of both top tube and down tube, it allows the welding to be located further away from the points of highest stress in that area. This improves overall rigidity and decreases the chance of metal fatigue. The bottom bracket has also been redesigned to fit a threaded T47 model, which is a versatile solution that aids lightness and stiffness with its oversized configuration. Finally, the addition of thru-axles help to increase rigidity under acceleration, braking or rapid direction change, compared to regular quick release skewers.

Internal cable routing throughout takes care of the aerodynamic improvements, and flat-mounted disc brakes with 140 or 160mm rotor options ensure safe stopping in any conditions. When asked if he thought they had achieved what they set out to achieve with the Zephyr Disc, Ralph said: “we believe we have created the perfect blend of performance and comfort, the ideal bike for long day’s racing – so yes, I believe so!”

The Zephyr Disc is available  starting in January 2023 as a complete build in sizes XS, S, M, L and XL (48cm,
51cm, 54cm, 57cm and 60cm) from €4.749 and as a frame (including front fork) from €3.199.

For more: Van  Nicholas Titanium


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A SIMPLE ROAD TUBELESS BEGINNER’S GUIDE Sun, 27 Nov 2022 15:00:59 +0000

What's the deal with road tubeless?

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It was at the start of a recent group ride that we watched as a local fast guy held an informal sermon with a group of not-so-fast riders where he opined that after experimenting with tubeless tires, he was now going back to inner tubes. It reminded us of a similar encounter years ago where we witnessed another fast guy extol the benefits of rim brakes and how disc brakes would never make the show. How did that turn out? The good news for those unwilling to use tubeless is that, unlike disc brakes, tubeless tires will always be an option. 

Just as disc brakes was once cause for debate among road riders, we are now living through a similar scenario regarding road tubeless. Is it because so many roadies aren’t happy borrowing more technology from the mountain bikers? Is it a deep-seated love for butyl inner tubes? Whatever the reason, whether you believe in the benefits of tubeless technology or not, road tubeless has arrived. 


To be clear, tubeless is no guarantee against flat tires, but the self-sealing technology does go far in providing flat prevention. Running tubeless also lets you run lower tire pressure, which provides more traction and comfort. In order to run tubeless, you must have tubeless-compatible rims and tires. Although the majority of new bikes (especially gravel bikes) sitting on your dealer’s floor are now built with tubeless-ready wheels, you can still run inner tubes. But, if you decide to make the leap, the rims will be happy to accommodate you!   

At this stage in bike production, any bike brand that doesn’t offer tubeless wheels on their bikes, especially if they produce tubeless wheels or tires, are really off the back. While everyone has their own opinion on puncture protection, to best ensure more understanding of how tubeless works, here is everything we know about modern flat-tire prevention.  

A plug kit like the Dynaplug Air makes fixing a tubeless puncture quick, clean and effortless.

Q: Okay, what’s the deal with road tubeless? Why is there so much competing information about using a hooked or hookless rim?

A: This might not be the answer you are looking for, but many brands are letting their lawyers and the presumption that the majority of consumers will use the equipment correctly contribute to the mixed messages. Right now companies are playing things safe, owing to the fact that there has yet to be an industry-wide standard on tubeless. In turn, this has given rise to a virtual salad-bar combo of different tire/rim designs on the market, and not all are compatible with each other. The result is that the vast majority of consumers don’t understand that air volume is the driving factor of tubeless failures, not the tubeless tire itself.


For the last year tubeless-compatibility issues have been a hot topic, and wheel maker Boyd Johnson is one who has consistently voiced safety concerns about what consumers are told when it comes to using tubeless tires: “You know, the bike industry allows people to install their own tires, which is something that we don’t do when it comes to changing tires on our cars. If you bought the wrong tire for the wrong wheel on your car and asked a mechanic to install them, they likely wouldn’t do the job. But, that’s what concerns me about the variety of tubeless product out there. Some tires work with hooked beads and some don’t. My concern is that there’s not a good-enough effort at educating the public about what works and what doesn’t. 

Tubeless sealant is offered by almost everyone these days. It will auto seal most punctures in seconds letting you simply enjoy the ride.

“Although this can impact gravel riders, for the most part it’s less of an issue there because no one should be running more than 65 psi. But, with road tubeless, it’s different because so many people still think, as with inner tubes, that running higher air pressure is the norm. I know a new ‘standard’ is in the works that calls for no more than 72. 5psi in a tubeless tire, but there are still other things to consider. I think every consumer should think about four things regarding proper compatibility when switching to tubeless: 1. What tire size are you choosing? 2. What air pressure are you running? 3. What condition is the tire bead (don’t forget that tires can stretch)? And, 4. Tire choice. I’ve been on the receiving end of tubeless tires (from tire brands) that were completely wrong for what I needed, meaning even they were  confused!

“Over the last few years, we’ve introduced some cutting-edge wheel designs, and as much as we like to be at the forefront of wheel technology, you still won’t find a hookless road rim in our catalog.”


The key to road tubeless is that it allows you to run lower air pressure than what’s possible with inner tubes. To achieve this, all that has been added is tire volume, but that isn’t only true with tubeless. If you add tire volume to a tube system, the pressure should also drop. Tire volume can be added with either a larger tire or wider internal rim width.

Topping off your sealant every 3-4 months through the valve stem is easy. You do need a valve core remover tool, but many new wheels come with one.

Remember that if you have a tube system and hooked bead with a large-volume tire, there is a mechanical bond holding the tire’s bead against the hook and still allows for higher pressures (over 75 psi). The higher pressure can impact ride quality and performance on a large-volume tire, but it is possible. With that same rim-and-tire combo (assuming it was tubeless-ready), as the name implies, tubeless has no tube holding the bead of the tire to the hook of the rim. This means the chances of failure (the bead blowing off the rim) can increase if the pressure runs too high.

The biggest difference to consider is what type of tire you plan on using and if you are willing to adopt the modern tire-pressure recommendations. If you have a hookless rim, you have to use a tubeless tire and should not exceed 75 psi even if you plan on using a tube. If your rim has a hook, you can use a non-tubeless tire if you use a tube. For both systems, a tubeless tire has to be used for a tubeless setup. Speaking to Boyd’s number-four point, remember, too, that older tires can stretch, thus making it easier to blowing off the rim.

Most tubeless systems require a special rim tape to seal the spoke holes. This is an important step and, if incorrectly installed, will leave you with an air leak that is hard to diagnose.

Back to your original question, hooks or no hooks? Personally, I would choose a hookless rim, but it’s not a hard line in the sand. If a company is offering a wheel that still has a hook but I like everything else about the rim, I’d consider it. At the end of the day, I run 28–30mm road tubeless tires and never inflate them over 60 psi. I check the sealant every two to three months with a quick top-off through the valve stem. There are obviously more key points to each system, but overall, those are the biggest determining factors. 

In the last two years I’ve had one flat that didn’t seal, and it would have had I refreshed my sealant. I still made it home 25 miles without any added aid other than airing it up with about six miles to go. Normally, on a tube-type tire, I have at least one flat per month, but realistically it’s once a week. For me and the debris-ridden roads I ride, tubeless is without a doubt worth the price and hassle.

As Boyd reminded me as we ended our conversation, “I do believe that the more people get educated about tubeless, the safer it will eventually get.” Let’s hope!


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FULCRUM SPEED 25 REVIEW Sun, 27 Nov 2022 14:53:41 +0000

Fulcrum Speed 25 wheels aren’t just for climbing

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As the sister brand to Campagnolo, Fulcrum wheels are able to indulge an engineering and manufacturing legacy that many other wheel makers can only envy. Like many of Campy’s hoops, the Fulcrum hoops begin their life at the factory in Vicenza, Italy, before being shipped to an assembly plant in Romania where they are laced and boxed. 

With the singular goal of increasing performance for the climbs, Fulcrum engineers have revamped their lightweight climbing series with a new offering—the Speed 25. It’s on the high-end of their catalog and draws inspiration from Fulcrum’s Racing Light XLR with a selection of modern improvements.


Dimensions include a 21mm internal rim width, a 26mm profile (to blend in a bit of aero gains, according to Fulcrum), and a measured weight of 1291 grams (with valves and an XDR driver).

Fulcrum’s two-way fit ensures tubeless and tube compatibility. The hooked-rim design has been a mainstay in Fulcrum’s catalog for years, and the tubeless setup remains fairly predictable and simple. We were able to mount 30mm Panaracer Agilest tubeless tires with a standard floor pump. The solid rim-bed design catalyzes the process as well, since there is no need for rim tape.

Fulcrum uses a proprietary matte finish (that comes out of the mold) to cut down on excess weight from glossy paint treatments. Although they claim a 1285g wheelset weight, our XDR-spec’d wheels read 1291 grams with valves. It’s a competitive weight and in the same realm as Roval’s $2650, 1239-gram Alpinist wheels, Enve’s $2850, 1197-gram SES 2.3 wheels and Hunt’s $1500, 1213-gram 32 Aerodynamicists.

An asymmetric front rim is paired with an equally asymmetric rear rim to minimize weight and balance the added forces applied to the rear wheel. Both wheels feature a U-shaped construction with the rear wheel offset to the non-drive side to improve spoke tension. It’s one of the most extreme and striking asymmetric wheel designs we’ve gotten our hands on. 

Fulcrum specs USB ceramic bearings with the aluminum hubs to add a premium touch to the build. Twenty-four straight-pull, stainless steel, bladed spokes add a bit of aero flair. They’re laced in a two-cross pattern and held in place by aluminum nipples.


On our first few rides we hit some of our steepest local hills to put the 25s to the test. Like most shallow wheels, the benefit of the weight savings comes with the acceleration from each pedal stroke. Uphill the wheels felt stiff and springy. We noticed the quick feel of the rims as we had been testing Hunt’s aero-focused 1700g Limitless Aero Disc wheels previously. Anyone making the switch from a heavier, deep-section wheel should notice the high responsiveness the wheels have on the climbs. The 25s feel like they are pushing the rider forward rather than feeling sluggish in the apex of an uphill switchback.

Descending, responsiveness remains high and the performance matches, but there is a noticeable lack of momentum that a mid-depth or deeper-rimmed wheel provides. The wheels are ideal for riders looking to capitalize on their climbing performances that don’t mind the trade-off of minimal aerodynamic features.

Of course, the standout virtue of these wheels is that unlike wheels with deeper (50mm-plus) designs, front-end handling is never negatively impacted by crosswinds, nor that flush of wind from a passing semi-truck that can otherwise bring unwanted “auto-steer.” This was a virtue that more than a few riders put a priority on versus the less-than-measurable benefits of a deeper aero rim. For these riders, too, climbing was part of the ride where they could appreciate the most performance gains.


As much as we can appreciate Fulcrum categorizing the Speed 25s as “climbing” wheels, we disagree with this ode to market categorization. The wheels are no more a climbing wheel than any sub-15-pound road bike is necessarily a climbing bike. In short, they perform well everywhere. We’re reminded here of the time (two decades ago!) when Trek provided Lance Armstrong with a special climbing bike to use in the Tour de France, only to have the Texan decide to race the bike for the entire three weeks! Point being, despite their unfashionable shallow profile, these Fulcrum wheels are as capable on descents and flat roads as any wheel. Best of all, due to their shallow design, the ill effects of crosswinds are far more negligible than the de rigueur deeper wheels popular with the aero set.

At $2762, the Speed 25s are near the higher end of wheelset pricing. Those looking for a premium pair of hoops now have another option to consider. Given the ceramic bearings, simple tubeless setup and subtle aesthetic, Fulcrum has quite the bundle of features for a modern wheelset. Anyone looking for a value-focused package may want to look at more reasonably priced offerings, but should note they likely won’t have all of the features Fulcrum has managed to pack into the Speed 25s.


• Made in Italy

• Laden with engineered features

• Shallow and fast


Price: $2762 (SRAM XDR)

Weight: 1291 grams


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RBA's tech editor Troy Templin answers your questions

The post WHAT YOUR PRESTA VALVE CAPS ARE ACTUALLY FOR appeared first on Road Bike Action.


Q: What’s the deal with Presta valve caps, and why don’t most people use them?

 The Presta valve, which is the common valve for road bikes, has a manual valve closure unlike the Schrader valve that is spring-loaded. The Presta valve is slightly simpler in design and only uses one seal with a smaller-diameter hole needed in the rim to fit the 6mm stem. This is why it is more common on road bikes, because a smaller hole is needed in the rim and they are slightly lighter, too (of course, specifically shedding a valve cap to save weight as some have advised is the silliest reason to do so).

Since the valve core of the Presta valve protrudes and can have a sharp edge, the cap is best used to protect itself when the tube is folded up and not in use. It can also prevent tearing a jersey if the tube is carried in your back pocket.

On a Schrader valve, the core is inset and sits almost flush with the stem. This leaves a small void where dirt and debris can collect and compromise the integrity of the seal.

So Presta valve caps have no use once the tube is installed; take off the caps and look pro. If you decide to toss your old tube into your bag or pocket, put the cap on so you don’t poke anything. Now, if you use a Schrader valve, then I’d suggest a cap just to be safe, but if one is missing, it’s not the end of the world.

Verdict: Take them off at the right time.

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What you need to know to be fast—and safe

The post 10 EASY TIPS TO IMPROVE YOUR TUBELESS TIRE EXPERIENCE appeared first on Road Bike Action.


By Troy Templin

Here’s a funny thing about the tubeless revolution currently afoot in the bike industry—it’s really nothing new. Currently, while there’s a big debate about the efficacy of hooked-versus-hookless rims with tubeless tires, you’ve been rolling on hookless rims on your car or your motorcycle since time immemorial. In fact, bicycle wheels, too, have been hookless, then called straight-sided for decades until the bike industry moved to hooked rims (Crotched) as a means of countering diminishing production standards and higher pressures.

Road tubeless isn’t new, but the amount of suitable products to the category has exploded in the last two years. Much of this is due to the gravel category that has redefined the drop-bar category. Gravel has exposed the road category to tire sizes beyond 23mm while redefining the boundaries set on road bikes generations ago. Tubeless for bicycles was started by Mavic way back in 1999 with their UST system, but it wasn’t until 2001 when Stan’s NoTubes really changed the tubeless market. While UST never really took off, it did help set the foundation for where we are today. 

The problem today is that despite over 20 years of R&D, much of the information pertaining to tubeless use is outdated and, even worse, it doesn’t apply to current road offerings at all.


Any tire’s air volume is far more influential to tire pressure than rider weight. Mountain bike riders have known this for years, but until a few years ago there wasn’t much documented information for tires of all sizes. As gravel and all-road riding have gained popularity, more brands have begun to adopt frame clearance for larger tires, leading to an industry-wide acceptance, but more important is an understanding of what benefits lower air pressures and higher volume can offer a rider.

As a quick example: if a 180-pound rider is on a 23mm tire, the recommended pressure is around 82–86 psi, but for years we were told it needed to be 90 psi or higher; why? Because on a 21mm or even 18mm tire that is true. For years 18–21mm were the standard, and at 180 pounds, a rider would need over 100 psi because the air volume is so low. As the industry moved to 23mm and 25mm, an abundance of lab and aero data showed that in perfect conditions an unweighted tire at higher pressure offers a lower rolling resistance. But, in reality, we don’t ride in perfect laboratory settings, and in the real world even the smooth, perfect roads are more than twice as rough as a lab setting.

So, that same 180-pound rider on a 28mm tire should opt for a pressure of 62–65 psi as a starting point, and this is with or without a tube. Sure, tire construction and riding position will alter these, but only by around 1–2 psi. As volume is added, the pressure starts to lower, and this is how we have arrived at the point where road bikes can run hookless beads (but more on that later). 

Most modern road bikes now come stock with 25–28mm tires but with room for 30–32mm. All-road/endurance bikes come with 30–32mm tires and room for 38mm, while gravel bikes come with 700x40mm or 650x47mm with room for even larger tires. As a rule of thumb, I suggest a rider choose a tire size that allows them to run 65 psi or lower when riding road tubeless.

Remember that volume dictates pressure more than rider weight and whether you have a tube or tubeless. Gravel bikes with larger volume tires are going to have significantly less tire pressure than a road bike.


Now that previously recommended (aka “old school”) pressure numbers have been debunked, we can move to all the options that surround tubeless. 

Tubeless is essentially a system of parts that, as the name implies, eliminates the need for a tube. This doesn’t mean you can’t use a tube, but, more important, for the system to work all the components have to work in conjunction with each other. This was what made Mavic’s original system so dependable—it was designed to work as a system. There is the rim, tire, valve, sealant and, in most cases, some sort of internal spoke-hole sealer (normally a form of impermeable tape).

Rims now come in two tubeless variations—hooked bead wall and a hookless bead wall. A hooked bead wall is the design we have been using with tubes, with the wall of the rim that holds the tire in place and has a hook but with a modified rim bed to make them tubeless-compatible. As the name implies, a hookless bead wall has no hook and so relies on the tire-bead construction to stay on the rim. The hookless rim design also allows the rim material to be thicker and more robust.

Since tubeless relies on much more refined and exact dimensions from both the tire and rim, the hook of a rim is only needed when using a non-tubeless tire. This is because the acceptable variance in tire and rim design for tube-type products is so vast that the hook offers a physical stop and point of added friction when paired with a tube.

Tubeless installs can be messy, but if you take the time upfront to do it correctly, the benefits pay off for miles of issue-free riding.

Key to remember, a hookless rim always needs to be paired with a tubeless (or tubeless-ready) tire. A tube can still be used, but the tire must meet the tubeless requirements. Additionally, most hookless rims use a maximum tire-pressure rating as a safeguard because there is no physical hook to stop an over-inflated tire bead from exceeding the rim lip. In many cases, this pressure exceeds the max pressure that even the heaviest of riders would need for the tire size the wheel is designed for. 

Many hooked bead-wall tubeless rims will also have a max pressure as well. This would apply to tubeless for sure, and in many cases tube-type tires, too. This is because as we transition away from rim brakes to discs, we no longer need the overbuilt brake track that rim brakes required. This means designs and materials that are optimized for weight and impact rather than heat and wear.


In general terms, a hooked bead-wall rim will be more versatile for a rider that doesn’t always want to use a tubeless tire. This comes at the cost of impact durability, because to create the hook or lip of the wall, the rim-wall material is normally reduced. Since a hookless bead wall is not machined out, it provides more structure and, in turn, more durability, which helps in low-pressure situations.

If your wheels have bead ridges that hold the bead in place, you can refresh the sealant through the valve after removing the valve core, and there is no need to remove the tire.

A properly designed tubeless rim, hooked or hookless, will have bead-shelf ridges or bead-retention ridges (same thing). These ridges sit between the bead shelf and bed of the rim. They help hold and maintain the tire bead on the rim’s bead shelf and against the rim’s bead wall. Most will be between 0.3–0.5mm tall and very important for a hassle-free tubeless experience. If these ridges are absent, then at low pressure (under 20 psi) a tire bead will slide into the rim bed and lose its seal. This is important when adding/refreshing sealant or in the case of a puncture. It is also worth nothing that these ridges are not necessary to meet tubeless standards, but we recommend picking a rim that has them.

A common question that we get is, can I convert my rims to tubeless? This was popular on mountain bikes in the early 2000s, and because of the low pressures used, it was possible. For road and gravel riding, you should
never attempt to make a non-tubeless rim tubeless.


The importance of properly sealing a rim for tubeless might be the most overlooked aspects of a tubeless setup. The rim bed is where most wheels will have spoke holes. This means they need a tape or rim strip that can seal those holes to prevent air and sealant leaking. In our experience, 90 percent of tubeless complications come from poorly sealed rim beds. This is extra important for two reasons: 1. Because the rim profile on most carbon rims is not designed to withstand internal pressure, any rush of air entering the rim cavity can cause a catastrophic failure as a rim’s profile sidewall on a carbon rim cracks from the pressure. And 2. Because some sealants contain ammonia and are corrosive, a leak could lead to nipple/rim corrosion and failure. 

Although the jury is still out on whether you want a wall-to-wall rim tape or just enough to seal the spoke holes, we always opt for wall-to-wall. This is because the bead of the tire will help hold the tape in position. We also recommend wrapping the rim twice around to ensure there is substantial coverage.

If you have a tubeless rim that seems to be losing air but there is no sign of sealant leaking from the tire or bead, then most likely it is leaking through the rim cavity. This should be resolved immediately because, as noted above, any large impact could transfer enough pressure into the rim cavity, causing likely damage. 

The tubeless valve can also be an area of misconception when it comes to tubeless. Our rule of thumb is the hole in the rim tape needs to be minimal and let the installation of the valve enlarge it. Most valves will have a rubber grommet that helps seal around the hole and valve using a threaded nut that is on the exterior of the rim. This nut should be tight, but be careful because over-tightening it can cause failure of the rubber grommet. Also, note that some valves come with different-shaped grommets for different rim bed shapes, so if you’re having trouble sealing a valve, try a different grommet or valve design. In many cases, even the ones supplied with the rims are not ideal.

Not all roads are paved and larger volume road tires and proper pressures mean confidence even when the tarmac ends. Tubeless adds an added benefit of sealant to aid in sealing any small punctures that may result from the less ideal conditions. Photo: BWR


Tubeless tires have come a long way since they went mainstream nearly 20 years ago and most of the road performance gains have been in the last two to three years, with 2020 bringing the most improvements for 25–32mm tires. The most important changes have been to the construction of tires with more defined standards for rim and tire interfaces. Not all brands have met these new standards, so look closely if your preferred rim or tire brand has a compatibility chart or list. 

“The problem today is that despite over 20 years of R&D, much of the information pertaining to tubeless use is outdated and, even worse, it doesn’t apply to current road offerings at all.” 

Just as it’s true with tube-type tires, the lighter the tire, the less durability. Tubeless tires do weigh more than their tube-type counterparts due to the added bead reinforcement needed to maintain size standards, as well as the rubber needed to seal them so that they are air-impermeable. For this reason alone, expect most 28mm performance tires to be around 280–300 grams each, and gravel tires in size 40mm to be in the 450–500-gram weight or more depending on the level of built-in protection. 


What really sets a tubeless system apart from a tube is the sealant. This is because if the tire gets a small puncture, the liquid sealant in the tire will seal the hole within seconds. In many cases, the rider will not even realize they have had a puncture. This is where some of the misconceptions come from, because this can happen so often without realization that a tubeless user might not realize how many flats they have deterred. 

Things to consider when choosing tubeless sealant are your riding conditions and environment. Tubeless sealant will dry up and on average last four to six months. Heat is a big factor, and the hotter the temperatures, the faster sealant seems to dry out. Some sealants don’t work properly in colder temperatures, either, so check the manufacturer’s ideal conditions. We’ve also found that tubeless systems will lose pressure when left sitting for a long period of time and last longer on bikes that get a lot of use. 

“If you have a tubeless rim that seems to be losing air but there is no sign of air leaking from the tire or bead, then most likely it is leaking through the rim cavity.” 

As mentioned above, some sealants contain a small percentage of ammonia to stabilize the liquid. This can be catastrophic to brass or bare alloy, so you don’t want it in your rim cavity where the spoke nipples are. Most carbon rims also have pressure-relief holes on the side of the rim to let slow-leaking air escape in case of a defective or leaking tubeless system. If those small holes are sealed by internal leaking sealant, then it could cause an entire rim to explode as a rush of air enters the rim cavity. 

At the end of the day, whether you choose a tubeless system or not, we have come a long way in tire technology and real-world results. Gone are the days of 90-plus pressures in replacement for the benefits of compliance and traction with lower rolling resistance. With the added knowledge of pressure versus weight, all tire types of tube and tubeless gain the benefits.


Why would Specialized backtrack? Blame the pros…

How does a company like Specialized launch a new line of wheels that are designed with tubeless-specific shapes look like they have the appropriate specifications, and even come with tubeless accessories but then claim they are not tubeless in 2020?

Roval has now installed two stickers to indicate the wheels are not tubeless-compatible. There is one on the inside and one on the exterior near the valve

Let’s step back a few months when Specialized dropped off the new Tarmac SL7 to the palatial, well-lit RBA office. This was back in June, about a month or two before the official launch, and they were, as usual, telling us how great the SL7 was. Much of the focus was around the pinnacle S-Works models. We clearly remember noticing the different front-to-back profiles on the Roval wheels and asking what the deal was. The Specialized reps told us that they would connect us with the Roval team, as they were still working on the final launch details. 

This photo was taken before the launch, verifying internal construction and measurements.

We were left with the SL7 Pro model (RBA, October ’20), which would be delivered to dealers with a new set of Roval Rapide CL wheels. These wheels don’t seem to be available for aftermarket and were not in our Roval launch material. Since our test bike was built and ready to ride, there was no small parts box or materials included.

Following the web post of our first-ride review, quite a few people inquired about the wheels and whether they were tubeless. Then the team at Roval and Specialized reached out to see if I would update my review, saying they were not intended for tubeless use. This came as a surprise, because while I rarely read the press kits telling you all the “great things” about a bike, I was sure I had deliberately removed the tires from both wheels to check internal construction, as well as to take my own measurements.

The initial shipments of wheels came with Roval tubeless-ready tape installed. This tells us the switch was last minute and these wheels were planed to be tubeless, even up to the final month before release.


As it happens, one of our local test riders is also a NASA rocket scientist (as in, he’s smarter than us), and I asked him to bring the bike back so we could check the wheels and get his feedback. He is not an official expert in bike wheels, but he has raced for a world champion jersey on the track (leaving with a respectable bronze) and is a passionate cyclist. Upon yet another inspection of the rims, our assumptions were correct.

“As the project evolved and they got further into the development to be tubeless, they realized they would have to make compromises to the total system weight, as their pro teams prioritized weight savings over tubeless capability.” 

The Roval wheels have all the telltale signs of a tubeless design. They are internally wide at 21mm, they have a large bead shelf for the normally more robust tubeless beads, and there is a distinct 0.4mm (ETRTO max) rim bead ridge/lock (not required for tubeless but never on a non-tubeless rim). The bed of the rim is fairly shallow for easier tubeless setup, too. Last is the use of Roval tubeless-ready rim tape to put a little icing on the cake.

Our local smart guy commented that in his opinion they were designed to be tubeless and, in fact, a better design than many others we have tested. His comment was that if Roval was claiming they were not tubeless, that likely meant that something didn’t pass inspection at the last minute and they were too invested to change it. Funny, but that was just what we were thinking!


Maybe the bead shelf wasn’t the correct diameter (we don’t think this is the case) or testing showed the bead wall could fail when running overinflated pressure (we doubt that, because it would affect a tube setup, too). Our guess was it was more likely that the full line of Specialized tires was not compatible. For us, all the (different brand) tubeless tires we tried with the wheels had worked just fine. We have not done any long-term tests, but the setup of the bead retention while deflated and performance on a handful of rides was flawless.

Initially, neither Roval or Specialized responded to our request for more info, but instead just asked that we not promote the wheels as being tubeless-friendly. We reached out to a few of our local shops and have gotten mixed feedback. Some have said that the first few complete bikes with the new wheels came with tubeless valves in the small parts box, but since then they have not been included.


We would always encourage people to read all the new bike/accessory instructions and follow the manufacturer’s specifications. We’re happy to see how road tubeless has evolved quickly in the last two years with much better performance, reliability and compatibility, but as you can see, mistakes still happen at the highest levels. 

Enve has a tire-compatibility list for their different wheel lines. Most of the incompatibility comes from tires not meeting the hookless requirements that some of their wheels have. We personally had no issues with our tubeless attempts on our Rapide CL wheels. The addition of the beadlock (previous Roval road tubeless rims didn’t have this) makes it much easier to maintain a tubeless system and the reason we believe there is more to the story than Specialized will tell. Without any initial response from Roval and Specialized, we couldn’t properly determine the true risk of utilizing a tubeless setup on their new Rapide and Alpinist wheels, and for that, we would steer clear until there is more information available.


After running this story on our website, Roval reached out to try to further clarify the situation. They told us that they had a lot of goals going into the wheel project and tubeless was a top priority. As the project evolved and they got further into the development to be tubeless, they realized they would have to make compromises to the
total system weight, as their pro teams prioritized weight savings over tubeless capability.

This is why they say the internal design resembles a tubeless rim, because in reality, it was a carryover from their knowledge gained in designing the tubeless Terra gravel wheels. In their testing, they also found that the bead ridges/lock holds tube and tubeless tires on the rim tight even when flat, making them safer in real-world conditions. 

Having tires roll off rims is a huge worry for pro teams and one of the main reasons WorldTour pros remain on tubulars. Even after Specialized’s own testing showed that tubulars are less aerodynamic, have higher rolling resistance than tube-type tires and, to be honest, a pain to maintain, tubulars are the go-to choice for racers.


So, what is the problem? Roval says the need to save weight was the final nail in the coffin for tubeless. But, the internal rim seems to meet all the standards, so where is the weight? We can only assume that the real problem lies in the profile of the rim. The profile of the rim was never made to withstand pressure, but as we have experienced while testing, if the rim is not sealed correctly, there is a chance that the pressure in the tire can be transferred to the rim’s profile cavity and cause catastrophic failure. 

We have had prototype wheels from other brands that experienced this type of failure. From our experience, this only happens if there is a failure in the rim tape or it is not installed properly. Specialized is a large company, and they most likely didn’t want to take that risk and knew that the profile would need to be reinforced to prevent this rare failure. 

This is, of course, speculation on our part, but it’s the only thing that we can assume with the facts and knowledge we have. When we look back on the other wheels that failed from this rare situation, those brands added additional carbon reinforcement to the rim wall for their production versions, because they knew the end user now understands (and accepts) that the performance gains of tubeless are more beneficial than saving less than 100 grams.

As a side note, the new Rapide wheels are deeper, wider, have more robust bead material (in the front) and are lighter than the previous CLX 50 Roval wheels. As the brand most likely tries to move their pro teams off of tubulars and to faster and more efficient tubeless systems, they knew that less wheel weight would be easier to sell them on than tubeless. Of course, with the predictable result being Specialized touting Julian Alaphilippe’s Tour de France stage win using clinchers. 

While baby steps have to be taken with the pro peloton, the result is that the paying customers have to wait to get their money’s worth. The alternative is to just look at other brands or, like us, take the risk and just make sure
your rim tape is perfect. And like our tubeless breakdown explains, you should stay under 65 psi, because
Roval won’t warranty a tubeless-caused failure.


Plenty of options, but taken with a dose of caution

For many years there have been two options for road tires—tubular and tube type. Within each are many options, but most tubulars were designated for more race-specific applications, while the vast majority of recreational riders would prefer to run with the tried-and-true inner tubes. 

Although tubeless is the new name in the tire game for road riding, the technology has been around for over 20 years, but the majority of its popularity was in the higher-volume, lower-pressure realm of mountain bikes and, more recently, gravel.

Now that the old-school notion that max air pressure equals max speed has been debunked, road riders are free to think about what tires to use in a new light. In place of the old way is a new concept that smooth equals fast and more traction doesn’t lead to higher rolling resistance. 

With our gained knowledge and understanding of real-world-versus-laboratory performance, the industry has made huge strides in road tubeless. Still, there is a definite need for thoughtful consideration when mixing and matching different rim and tire combinations. Collected here are only a few of the quickly evolving and wide range of tire options.

A few things to remember, just as has been common with tube-type tires of the past, tire manufacturers have suggested pressures printed on the sidewall of the tire. In our opinion, these pressures are worth some second-guessing and, for safety reasons, not the best source to determine real-world pressures. We recommend finding a reliable source or chart to determine tire pressure after you have taken into consideration rider weight, type of riding planned and the physical size (versus the labeled size) of the tire. 

Remember, too, that the same tire on two different rim profiles can measure differently, and thus in need of slightly different pressures. When determining the adequate tire pressure, also take into account atmospheric temperature changes and how they will affect pressure throughout your ride. As the heat rises, so does your tire pressure, so you might need to start lower if you roll out just before the heat kicks in. 



Kenda’s newest addition seems to hit all the marks for a performance road tubeless tire. The 28mm tire hit the scales at 288 grams with a solid bead and easy installation. The tire feels supple with great wet and dry traction. There is a tread-wide-only protection layer to minimize rolling resistance while maximizing weight and protection. The TLR is available in sizes 23–30mm.

Weight: 288 grams (28mm)

Price: $85


A few years ago Goodyear launched a line of cycling tires that performed well but targeted a wide range of riders. Now, they have released a few options for the more performance-oriented rider. Their Eagle F1 Super Sport is offered in 25 and 28mm with no protection, while the Eagle F1 is available in 25-32mm and has a single tread-width protection layer. These tires are easy to mount and have great air retention from our testing.

Weight: 283 grams 28mm

Price: $65


Utah-based Enve Composites has been at the forefront of road tubeless on the rim side of things and now completes the system with their own tires. Enve is offering 25, 27, 29 and 31mm tires, and with their extensive testing have a well-documented fitment chart when matched to their wheels. They are hookless and hook-bead ready, and they claim the bead will not stretch over time. The shape and performance are best paired with Enve wheels but are compatible with other brands.

Weight: 272 grams 29mm

Price: $75


While the majority of the Maxxis catalog is consumed by dirt-oriented tires, they have a few options for pavement, too. The High Road comes in sizes 25mm and 28mm, and is a durable tire for training and performance. The tire has a 170-tpi construction with a tread-wide puncture layer for added durability without reducing performance.

Weight: 324 grams 28mm

Price: $65


Specialized has been one of the leaders in tubeless road tech—that is until lately —and the S-Works Turbo line of tires is their premium offering. The tire is offered in sizes 26, 28 and 30mm and is performance-oriented. It is designed to offer the ride quality of tubulars with the versatility of a hook-type tire with 120 tpi. The S-Works Turbo Rapidair 2Bliss Ready also has a single layer of protection along the tread for even better durability.

Weight: 306 grams 28mm

Price: $80


Zipp is all about max speed and performance, and their race-specific Tangente Speed tires come is sizes 25 and 28mm. The tire has a single layer of protection for durability. The tire has 127 tpi keeping it supple. Zipp says they are hook- or hookless-compatible, and in our testing, these are some of the most durable road tubeless tires we have used.

Weight: 340 grams 28mm

Price: $80


Trek’s Bontrager brand has a full line of tubeless wheels, and the R3 is their go-to road tubeless offering. The R3 comes in sizes 25, 28 and 32mm, and is a balance of performance and durability. There is a protective layer in the 170-tpi construction, and they claim it is best paired with their system of wheels. In our testing we have had mixed reviews, but the price makes them an option to consider.

Weight: 294 grams 28mm

Price: $55


While the name has “Race” in it, this tire is equally qualified to be a performance training tire. There is a tread-wide puncture layer built into the 120-tpi casing for added durability. The tire is offered in 24, 26, 28 and 30mm. Pirelli does note that the 24 and 26mm options are not compatible with hookless rims per the ETRTO standards, but the 28 and 30mm versions are.

Weight: 298 grams 28mm

Price: $80


Schwalbe has been one of the leaders in road tubeless options, and their new Pro One delivers a lightweight option that still has a protection layer. The tire is offered in sizes 25, 28, 30 and 32mm with two different constructions available. They also offer a slightly heavier option that is also a bit more durable in the One series, and it is slightly less expensive at $62. Both Schwalbe Pro Ones offer very easy mounting and supple road feel.

Weight: 270 grams 28mm

Price: $81


Cadex is Giant’s in-house tire brand, and they are designed to pair with their premium race-oriented wheels that feature a hookless bead. As a result, the bead of the tire is very robust, but the casing is very supple and is said to have built-in protection that is weaved in rather than layered on. The tire is not the lightest, but mounting has been one of the easiest, and the feel is comparable to tires of lesser construction. 

Weight: 335 grams 28mm

Price: $100


Vittoria has a full line of tubeless options, and the Corsa Speed is the pinnacle but only offered in 23 and 25mm. The 320-tpi construction of the tire is very minimal, and we have had mixed experiences mounting them. With that said, once setup, they offer a tubeless feel that is unmatched. Durability is not their forte, but this would be a top pick to minimize rolling resistance. For a wider range of sizes, durability and training, look towards the Control or Rubino version. The Corsa Control in 30mm weighs in at 318 grams.

Weight: 229 grams 25mm

Price: $84


Michelin is now offering a performance-oriented road tubeless tire. It is offered in sizes 25, 28 and 32 with a 120-tpi construction. With minimal layers, it has low-rolling resistance while running
lower pressures. 

Weight: 255 grams 28mm

Price: $80                           


Continental has jumped into road tubeless segment with their new 5000 TL. The tire offers the same aspects as the non-tubeless, like their BlackChili compound that prioritizes speed and grip over wear. They offer 25, 28 and 32mm with a tread-wide protection layer for added durability. In our testing we have had very mixed reviews from mounting to bead durability. We would be hesitant to recommend this tire with the number of problems we’ve had, and it might have missed the mark for tubeless on the first go.

Weight: 321 grams 28mm

Price: $95


The post 10 EASY TIPS TO IMPROVE YOUR TUBELESS TIRE EXPERIENCE appeared first on Road Bike Action.

28 BEST GRAVEL BIKES OF 2022 FROM $999 TO $10,000 Fri, 25 Nov 2022 16:57:50 +0000

28 of the latest dual-purpose bikes to get you started down the right path

The post 28 BEST GRAVEL BIKES OF 2022 FROM $999 TO $10,000 appeared first on Road Bike Action.


We’ve put together some of our best riding, buying and window shopping tips for the latest gravel bike tech. Whether it’s a sub-$3000 entry-level bike or something truly exotic see what gravel bikes you can start getting dirty. Take a look at some of the best gravel bikes we’ve ridden, tested and seen for 2022.


First and foremost, it starts with a frame that can accommodate anywhere from 38mm to 50mm tires. (So, don’t let anyone tell you a cyclocross bike that is bound by 33mm tires is a gravel bike!) After that, wider handlebars, different geometry, and now even suspension and dropper posts are all trending aspects of gravel. 

This might sound like a mountain bike to some, but trust us, gravel has more in common with pure, paved road bikes than modern mountain bikes. For us, the dual-purpose versatility to ride on paved or unpaved roads is what makes them a great option for many cyclists. Gravel bikes also tend to have a more stable geometry that is also good for entry-level riders.

Just as it’s proven true with road bikes, the larger treaded tires also offer more traction, which is never a bad thing. Look for a bike that offers more tire clearance than you predict you will need, as you will also need room for mud and debris if the adventure gets extra eventful. 

Gravel (and their kissing cousin, cyclocross) bikes often get lumped together because both are suited for non-paved roads. However, cyclocross bikes really prioritize racing with a priority of speed and quick handling (with less tire clearance), while gravel puts compliance and tire clearance on the top step. As such, ’cross bikes are more race-oriented in build spec and geometry.


Like all things bike-related, personal choice is what’s best to rely on for picking and choosing your new bike and components. At this stage we can say that we aren’t on board with the super-flared and wide handlebars. Sure, they may be trendy, and they do offer an advantage in some circumstances in the dirt, but on the road, they feel far too awkward. For us, a slight flare in the drop is acceptable, but many gravel bars are getting bumped out 4–8cm at the hoods, with the drops placed at an even wider gap. 

Gravel has also encouraged many to push the limits on what a drop-bar bike is capable of. This has led to further adaptation and borrowed tech from the mountain world, like dropper posts and suspension forks. Since gravel bikes follow the footsteps of road bikes, most come with 27.2mm seatposts, which means that they don’t fit the larger mountain bike dropper posts. But never fear, there is now an entire segment of gravel dropper posts.

Suspension is the other category that has been hitting the gravel segment with the newfound ideas of perceived need. And depending on how and where you ride, a suspension fork could make all the difference in the world, but remember that the added front-end weight will affect the ride. For most gravel riders, it’s the high-volume tires that will definitely bring the most trouble-free type of suspension. Lauf was one of the first brands to introduce a gravel specific fork with their unique leading link fork that provided 30mm of travel. Fox, X-fusion and Rockshox have also hit the market with suspension forks that closely resemble their mountain bike offerings, only with less travel (40-50mm) and fitment for 12mm thru axles as well as compatibility with flat-mount brake calipers.


The biggest talking point for gravel bikes are the many drivetrain options. While 1x cranks have been embraced as a “gravel drivetrain,” for many riders, having the wider capabilities of a 2x remains the better option. But, of equal note is the variety of wide-range, gravel-friendly cassettes, which can vary in gear spreads from 11-34 to 9-42 and 10-52. Key to this discussion, too, is where you live and what kind of riding you do.

If you’re taking our advice, we would say that if climbing is part of your regular routine, it’s important to have a minimum 1:1 gear ratio—and we’d usually recommend an even lower gear. This is because making steep climbs in the dirt is often harder than doing so on the road. Not only do you have less momentum leading into a climb, but there’s also the added rotational weight and rolling resistance of the larger tires that help slow things down.


Just like road bikes, gravel bikes come in all different frame materials, with carbon fiber being the choice for performance-oriented riders. Aluminum is popular for those that are on a budget and want to test the water before diving in. The true underdogs (in terms of marketing) are steel and titanium. Not only do they have good ride characteristics, thanks to their material, but they are unbeatable when it comes to durability, and that’s something many want when on an epic adventure. 

In order to fit larger tires, gravel bikes have slightly longer chainstays, which make the back end of the bikes longer. Gravel bikes also tend to have slacker head tubes when compared to road bikes. This all adds up to a longer wheelbase to provide added stability at higher speeds over loose, bumpy ground. 

We talked about tire size when it comes to frame design, but tires themselves are continuing to expand. The number-one thing that everyone riding gravel should adopt is tubeless tires. Simply put, they make all the difference in the world when it comes to fighting flat tires, which are definitely more frequent in the dirt. 

There are two main wheel sizes—650b, which are normally intended to run larger (mountain bike size) tires, and the more common 700c (aka 29er) that spans the entire range of sizes. Larger tires mean more air volume, which leads to needing less pressure (usually in the 20–50-psi range). These lower pressure settings can add compliance but, more important, traction is always an advantage in the dirt. 

Last but not least, before picking out a new gravel bike, think of how you are going to use it. Like everything else, the gravel segment is now home to a handful of subcategories. There are bikes designed for racing and touring, each of which often dictates the component and accessory selection spec’d. 

The more adventure-oriented bikes have a more utilitarian orientation and normally have at least three bottle-cage mounts, as well as countless other eyelets for bags and such. One of our favorite bag locations is the top tube, where we store easy-to-grab snacks so we don’t have to reach in our pockets while on rough roads. 

At the end of the day, gravel bikes have greatly expanded the available route options and can offer a new adventure or challenge to those that have years of road experience. And, that’s a good thing.

As we all know, for the first few decades of the Tour de France (and likely most other road races at the time) a preponderance of the races actually took place not on paved surfaces but dirt, aka gravel. And recently, as I was replying to another gravel critic complaining about our enthusiasm for gravel, the thought occurred to me: do you think cyclists in the ’40s and ’50s were as much up in arms about the growing emphasis of paved road riding as so many of today’s gravel critics have been to the experience and technology aimed at multi-surface riding?!

As it is each year when we put together our annual “Gravel”  buyer’s guide, the sheer obviousness of just how big this still maligned stepchild of road riding has gotten just leaves me amused. For many years we’ve taken the slings and arrows of those who said gravel riding was not a “real” sport, that the bikes were an abomination, that the sport would never catch on, and, best of all, that it had no place in the pages of Road Bike Action.

Sure, this site’s title points to the pavement, but, as we’ve argued before, specific nomenclature notwithstanding, it’s not like Road & Track Magazine had to change their name when they embraced the comeuppance of the SUV market and began including them in their pages.


And really, as if a newly recognized UCI gravel rainbow jersey race wasn’t enough validation in addition to the growing inclusion of gravel sectors in road races, what better evidence that gravel riding has been fully embraced (consumed) by the traditional road world than to see so many legacy road bike brands like Pinarello, Ridley, Colnago and Campagnolo all finding their own padded seat for a ride on the gravel bike bandwagon?! Here’s the big collection of 2022 dual-purpose bikes that we rounded up.


From one of the more progressive bike brands today, the Flaanimal Ti is the upgraded sibling to the successful steel Flanimal ($1550 frameset). The titanium frame sells for $3050, with Shimano and SRAM drivetrain options. A complete bike with a Campagnolo Ekar drivetrain goes for $4056. The Cerakote finish adds $400. Six sizes are available, and the frame is dropper-post-friendly.

Price: $4056


When it comes to picking a gravel bike, Kona makes it clear that the Libre is ready for some serious adventure. The Libre is definitely dirt-oriented with its SRAM 1x Apex drivetrain and wide drop bars. The Apex build keeps the price down, and the aluminum frame is available in five sizes.

Price: $2099


Pivot converted their Vault cyclocross bike to better meet the demands of gravel riding. Wide clearance for up to 700x47mm tires and designed compliance features like the Isoflex seatpost sheath make the Vault frame a proper platform to tackle rough roads. The Vault is available in five sizes.

Price: $7599


Boutique titanium brand Sage has long hosted a swathe of gravel offerings in its catalog. The Storm King is on the extreme end with clearance for up to 700x50mm rubber while maintaining a traditional titanium aesthetic. Those looking to venture onto more aggressive roads can look for the suspension-corrected Storm King GP and build it up with a Rockshox Rudy gravel fork.

Price: $4300 (frameset)


Niner’s RLT 9 lineup consists of three versions—carbon (RDO), steel and alloy. All three are offered in 650b or 700c builds with their carbon fork paired with all models. The alloy frame is the balance between price, performance and weight, but most impressive is that Niner tests all their bikes to the more demanding test standards that mountain bikes require.

Price: $2899


Long-time mountain bike and cyclocross enthusiast (and now avid gravel racer) David Turner has combined his two favorite pastimes with the present in the design of his titanium gravel frameset. From the machined head tube to the internal cable routing and added bottle mounts, artful features abound. The value-oriented price includes the carbon fork.

Price: $2695 (frame and fork)


Ritte’s Satyr blends road and off-road performance just like the mythical creature it’s named after. Smart spec like the T47 bottom bracket, Enve fork and Hunt 4 Seasons wheels prove the crew at Ritte know how to provide value to the consumer without compromising performance. The SRAM mullet build and clearance for 43mm tires keep the bike capable over a wide array of gravel.

Price: $5250


Visually, it’s hard to mistake the Grevil for anything other than a finely crafted carbon gravel bike from legacy Italian bike maker Pinarello. The Grevil uses swooping tube shapes throughout its construction, and Pinarello’s decision to spec 650b wheels and tires are highlights of the design. Of course, Pinarello offers a Campagnolo Ekar build, as well as SRAM, Shimano and two e-bike versions.

Price: $5750



The SoCal brand offers their 50/50 gravel bike in five sizes, three colors and your choice of either Shimano or SRAM drivetrains (mechanical or electronic). Thanks to the dropped chainstay design, the frame has room to run up to 45mm tires.

Price: $6250



Coming out of Belgium, Ridley’s racing-inspired gravel bike brings a handful of healthy gravel features to the table. An assortment of colorways and customization options make the Kanzo Fast a worthwhile consideration for a personalized ride. Clearance for up to 700x42mm tires and tall stock gears emulate its flatland European birthplace. Ridley also offers the Kanzo Adventure and the Kanzo All Road as lower price-point gateways to gravel.

Price: $7620


From one of Italy’s most venerable road bike brands comes the G3-X gravel bike that celebrates its heritage with an Italian spec that includes a Campagnolo Ekar drivetrain and Shamal wheels, Deda components, and Vittoria tires. Ridden to victory at last year’s Unbound 200 by Lauren De Crescenzo, the frame has internal routing, a bash guard and room for 42mm tires. Available in five sizes and two colors.

Price: $5000


When it comes to going fast off-road, the Gerard Vroomen-designed Race Max is ready to answer the call, thanks to a carbon frame that has been aero optimized in every way possible. Available as a frameset ($3500) or a complete bike, the Campagnolo Ekar spec’d bike rolls on Fulcrum 650b wheels to lay down as fat a tread as possible.

Price: $5999


Litespeed’s Ultimate Gravel blends weight, stiffness and aerodynamics for a speed-oriented gravel bike with a classic titanium aesthetic and ride quality. Frames are available starting at $2565, and a Shimano GRX 1x build starts at $4095.

Price: $4095


Along with their proprietary suspension fork, the True Grit is also built with their special glass-fiber-integrated carbon handlebars to bring even more compliance. The bike is sold in four builds, ranging from $2790 to $6590, and is now available in sizes XS to XL.

Price: $3590


The Arcadex marks Bianchi’s first official leap into the gravel world. Built with Shimano’s gravel-specific GRX 800 drivetrain, the Arcadex rolls on alloy Alex hoops with room for up to a 42mm tire. There is also a ($200) lower-priced version that uses a Shimano GRX 600 drivetrain.

Price: $3600


The famed Irish road bike brand FiftyOne is now gravel-ready with the new Assassin that has clearance for up to 47mm tires. The frame is dropper-post compatible and features front and rear flip chips to adjust geometry for either 700c or 650b wheels with rack and fender mounts. It comes in nine models in four sizes with your choice of Shimano, Campagnolo or SRAM drivetrain.

Price: $3870


Unique with the Warakin Ti is the Tuning Chip rear dropout, which can lengthen or shorten the wheelbase by up to 20mm and raise or lower the bottom bracket by up to 4mm. Complete builds with Shimano GRX start at $4250, with the frame/fork going for $3055.

Price: $5850


The Rove AL 650 starts the five-bike Rove family of gravel bikes at just under $1000. The aluminum frame is built with a 2x drivetrain for added versatility and rolls on 650b WTB wheels. The Rove lineup is pocketbook-friendly with a top priced spec at $2599. Choose between 1x and 2x builds, alloy or steel frames, as well as 700c and 650b wheel options.

Price: $999


Litespeed’s Watia blends performance and endurance geometries for a well-rounded gravel bike with a classic titanium aesthetic and ride quality. Frames are available starting at $2115 for an externally routed option with the most expensive build, topping out around $6500.

Price: $6485 


Not to be confused with the new SuperSix Evo CX cyclocross bike, the SE is a gravel race bike. The SE ships with a 2x SRAM Rival AXS drivetrain that is speed-oriented but still features a better than 1:1 ratio, thanks to the 46/33 crank matched with the 10-36t 12-speed cassette.

Price: $5000


Scott is continuing to merge race-oriented aerodynamic designs into their gravel line with airfoil tube shapes and lowered seatstays. There are three Addict Gravel models with Shimano and SRAM components, as well as a women’s-specific Contessa Addict gravel bike. The builds range in price from $3000 to $8500.

Price: $5699


With a hint of gravel potential, the All-Road is built with T800 carbon tubes with lugged joints. Available in five sizes with customizable geometry and finishes through the MyCipo personalized paint program.

Price: $4390 (frameset)


The Grizl is offered in SL and SLX carbon options, and they ship with large 45mm tires. The frame leaves room for up to 50mm tires, and this makes it a great option for the racer or the adventurer. Canyon is even offering a build with the new RockShox Rudy Ultimate suspension fork and 1x gravel-specific SRAM AXS XPLR groupset.

Price: $4999 


The Gerard Vroomen-designed Open U.P. is the bike that popularized the dropped-chainstay frame design. With clearance for up to 40mm tires, the $3000 U.P. frame has been a trend starter and remains a top gravel choice. There are two models available with the $4500 U.P.P.E.R. frame weighing 180 grams less. Complete bikes are available with a Campy Ekar drivetrain and HED wheels.

Price: $5900



The Felt Broam is intended for the bike-packing crowd, endurance riders, and anyone looking for a great riding bike with massive tire clearance and room for bags and fenders. The 60 is the most affordable option, offering plenty of bang for the buck. Disc brakes and 2x drivetrain make it a perfect all-road option for those looking for new routes.

Price: $1249



Long the cyclocross go-to for Specialized, the all-new 2021 Crux has now morphed into a more gravel-friendly bike. Available with both 1x and 2x drivetrains and 38mm tires, but there is room for up to 47mm, so while the Crux is more gravel than ever, it remains their race option for CX or gravel.

Price: $8000                                       


Just like other Obed models, the GVR we tested comes in with a value-driven price tag of $5,275 for a bike that needs no upgrades. Impressive given its desirable Shimano GRX spec and upgraded HED Vanquish RC4 wheelset that added $1175 over the stock Sun Charger wheels. The GVR base build starts at $3,795.

Price: $5275


The famous French road brand Look has jumped into the new dual-purpose bike category with the 765 Gravel RS that’s available at four price points and unique colorways. The carbon frame has been tuned with a specific layup for gravel, and also features asymmetric chainstays.

Price: $6200

28 BEST GRAVEL BIKES OF 2022 FROM $999 TO $10,000

The post 28 BEST GRAVEL BIKES OF 2022 FROM $999 TO $10,000 appeared first on Road Bike Action.

UNBOUND GRAVEL – THE LOTTERY DATES TO KNOW Fri, 25 Nov 2022 16:17:03 +0000

Get ready, get can't race unless you get an entry

The post UNBOUND GRAVEL – THE LOTTERY DATES TO KNOW appeared first on Road Bike Action.


It is without a doubt the biggest gravel spectacle in the world. If there was a Daytona 500 analogy for gravel racing to make, this is is. Unbound Gravel is on for next June and the all-important lottery dates to gain an entry have arrived. First up will be all those looking forward to ride 350 miles alone and unsupported – fun huh?  January is the month when the lotteries open for the 200 and 100 mile events. All in all – we hope to see you in Emporia next year!


Press Release

We’ve got news for all our fiercest, gnarliest, most cold-blooded gravel-grinders.

We’re 🚨1 WEEK 🚨 out from the lottery for the Garmin UNBOUND Gravel XL presented by Craft Sportswear in Emporia, Kansas, on June 2, 2023.

Starting December 1 (Thursday), you’ll have 2 weeks to toss your helmet in the gravelly ring for 350 freaking miles of tire shredding through the stunningly strenuous Kansas Prairie.
You XL riders are in a class of your own — and it’s why we love you. Our Life Time crew has everything you need to know to enter the XL Lottery:

🎟 Lottery dates: December 1–15, 2022
🎟 Life Time Member Guaranteed Registration: December 1-8, 2022

🚵‍♂️ Event date: June 2, 2023

🤫 PSSSST. Those who have been Life Time members for at least 6 months get priority access during the first week of the lottery!

Don’t miss your shot at the ultimate gravel-grinding challenge next summer.
For the rest of you, there’s still the UNBOUND Gravel 25/50/100/200 mile options!

Check the deets ✅

🎟 Lottery dates: January 5–20, 2023
🎟 Life Time Member Guaranteed Registration: January 5-12, 2023

🚵‍♂️ Event date: June 3, 2023

For more: Unbound Gravel


The post UNBOUND GRAVEL – THE LOTTERY DATES TO KNOW appeared first on Road Bike Action.

BIKE OF THE WEEK: T-LAB R3 OMNI Fri, 25 Nov 2022 08:00:38 +0000

Canadian titanium

The post BIKE OF THE WEEK: T-LAB R3 OMNI appeared first on Road Bike Action.


Each T-Lab bicycle is meticulously engineered, manufactured, and finished out of their headquarters in Montreal, Québec. Montreal also happens to represent one of the globe’s leading hubs for aerospace technology and manufacturing, making it a convenient place to produce titanium bikes. Our test bike just arrived, and already it’s gaining fans for the high-luster finish, beautifully machined head tube, and unique rear dropouts.

The R3 Omni is a versatile Ti all-road bike designed with an endurance-optimized geometry to be comfortable, agile and stable at top speeds. The frame can accommodate up to a 35mm tire and features an oversized titanium top tube that delivers superior torsional rigidity while minimizing weight. In the rear, T-Lab has a unique dropout that they say is a future-proof design that offers an exponential advantage with regard to stiffness, shifting precision, adaptability and durability. We are stoked to see a BB-386 titanium bottom bracket shell that optimizes lateral stiffness where it counts. The R3 Omni is an all-around bike with any-road performance. The frameset is made in five sizes and sells for $3975, with complete bikes starting at $5475.

Frame Spec:

  • Average Frame Weight: 1280g (size small)
  • Headtube: 1 1/8” – 1 1/2” (Integrated/Tapered)
  • Fork: Full Carbon (tapered 1 1/8” – 1 1/2”) Axle to Crown: 383mm; Rake: 48mm; 12 X 100mm axle
  • Seatpost: 27.2mm
  • Front Derailleur: “Braze-on” type
  • Bottom bracket: BB-86 (standard) BB-386 (optional)
  • Brake Type: Disc (flat mount)
  • Maximum Tire Width: 35mm*(700); 42mm (650b) *Tire width may vary depending on tire/wheel manufacturer and model
  • Standard Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL
  • Custom geometry/sizing is also available ($500 upcharge)


From $5475

For more info, head to


The post BIKE OF THE WEEK: T-LAB R3 OMNI appeared first on Road Bike Action.

BEST 2022 BLACK FRIDAY SAVINGS FOR CYCLISTS Fri, 25 Nov 2022 07:32:19 +0000

Deals, Deals, Deals!

The post BEST 2022 BLACK FRIDAY SAVINGS FOR CYCLISTS appeared first on Road Bike Action.


Here are the best 2022 Black Friday and Cyber Monday savings for cyclists. Make the most of the great deals on offer, score that upgrade you’ve been eyeing.  Bikes, frames, bibs, socks and more are available at major discounts. While we’ve collected the best deals we could find online, remember to check in with your local bike shop to possibly find even better savings.


Get jerseys starting at $20, save up to 70%.


Save 25% on various socks across the catalog.


Upgrade your USA Cycling membership for 50% off. Code: BLACKFRIDAY-PLUS-23


Save site wide on gloves and gear.


Cyber Monday 25% off wheels site wide.


HED Cycling is running a 20% off sale.


Enter code “HOLIDAY22” at checkout for 25% off your entire order.


Save 20% site wide on apparel and more using code: TAKE20

Selle Italia

Save 10% on carbon rail or carbon body saddles, 20% on Ti rail saddles, and 30% on TM or FeC rail saddles.


Save 25% site wide on all regular priced items using code: THANKS25


Save 25% site wide using code: THANKS25.


Up to 25% Off entire website.


Save on wheels, cranks, handlebars and more across the site.


Crankbrothers gear is available for 25% off sitewide. Use code: BLACKFRIDAY25


Save up to 50% on lights mounts and more.


Up to 40% off computers, smart bikes and more.


Gravel bikes starting at $1999


Tennessee titanium at a low price. Bikes and titanium frames starting at $1595.


Save on select frames and wheels.


Stealth sale! Up to $1200 off bikes and 33% off gear


Save on bikes, helmets and more saving across the site.


Up to 25% off bikes





Thanks for checking out Road Bike Action’s 2022 Black Friday Gear Guide, some deals listed begin early. Check back daily for new deals.


The post BEST 2022 BLACK FRIDAY SAVINGS FOR CYCLISTS appeared first on Road Bike Action.


Start your 'cross season off right with these tips

The post THROWBACK THURSDAY, 2015: LIKE A CHAMP – TIM JOHNSON’S CYCLOCROSS TIPS appeared first on Road Bike Action.


With Cross Vegas now in our rear view mirror, we think it’s safe to say that the North American cyclocross season has officially begun. Besides bringing you all the latest in new, ‘cross specific technology, we figured it would also be good to gain some practical insight on riding tips. To do so, we turned to one of America’s most talented and well-known cross riders; Tim Johnson. We caught up with the six-time National Champion at a recent team camp and asked him what his best tips are for anyone headed to the barriers this season.

Pauline Ferrand-Prevot tackles a run-up section of the 2015 Cyclocross Worlds course.
  • Barriers: The classic European style was called the “step-thru” technique, but luckily long ago I learned to not use it. I tell everyone to just dismount and land on both feet at the same time. It’s not only easier, but I think faster.
  • Tape to tape: Keeping your momentum up is crucial in a cross race and the best way to do that is to use the whole course. You need to protect your lines, but I say use every square inch of the course you can.
  • Passing: When you watch kids playing soccer they often swarm after the ball, whereas with the Premier League the field stays wide-open. Passing in an elite race resembles the swarm on the first lap, but after that you only pass when you can build a high rate of speed and hold the pass. The last lap in a UCI race is all about block passing.
  • Cornering: Corner like a bus. It’s always better to ride wide as you enter a corner versus the exit. Remember too to look through the corners to keep track of riders and conditions ahead of you.
  • Shouldering: The Euros will almost exclusively shoulder their bikes, but I think it depends on the course and elements. I push my bike a lot and think is saves me both time and energy. I think shouldering definitely makes sense if its muddy and it can also be used to protect your space against other riders. Don’t forget to grab the handlebar to prevent it from flopping around.
  • In the drops: A lot of it depends on the course. Riding in the drops lowers your center of gravity, but it also decreases your visibility and I’m a big fan of keeping your head up to see what’s up ahead. My own preference is to stay on the hoods. We even tested the position in the wind tunnel once and it was more efficient because I was able to keep my elbows in more.
  • Coasting: In a race you will no doubt be coasting somewhere, but as an exercise, try riding through tight sections especially and do not stop pedaling. It forces you to exaggerate your movements so when you have to do it in a race it will seem more natural.
  • Intervals: It’s the only way to train smart for cyclocross. However, the point of today’s camp was to also point out how important cross specific skills are. People have no qualms about doing intervals or even V02 training, but they don’t spend the time working on their handling skills. With that said, it’s still true that interval training is key because each race is basically comprised of 8-19 hard intervals. It’s painful and it’s only by doing equally hard efforts when you’re training that you can get your body to withstand the discomfort.
  • The only way to buffer the lactic acid in a race is by exposing yourself to in in training, You want to go so hard with your intervals that your arms start hurting.When it comes to interval training, I like doing ten blocks of 15 second on/15 second off efforts on any terrain. Building up your torque for coming out of turns is really important and I like practicing that by doing tall gear efforts on climbs usually with 20 second on/40 second off efforts.




The post THROWBACK THURSDAY, 2015: LIKE A CHAMP – TIM JOHNSON’S CYCLOCROSS TIPS appeared first on Road Bike Action.