Road Bike Action https://roadbikeaction.com/ Road Bike Action Tue, 06 Dec 2022 18:59:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 THE MODERN PARTS PROBLEM https://roadbikeaction.com/the-modern-parts-problem/ Tue, 06 Dec 2022 18:59:32 +0000 https://roadbikeaction.com/?p=60017

Tuesday Tech Talk

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Q: I have been doing my own service and repairs for years, but recently my shifting seems unfixable. I live pretty far out of town, but made the long trip to the closest bike shop. They said my drivetrain was just tired and would recommend me replacing most of it. When I asked how much it would be, they said they couldn’t fix it any time soon due to the parts shortage. What’s a guy to do?

A: This is a real problem at the moment as manufacturers have almost ceased production on replacement parts
in an attempt to keep up with demand on new product, and even that is way off schedule. Some have even hinted that they aren’t planning to produce replacement parts for discontinued or older systems.

If it were me, I would comb all of the local shops (even if far away) for parts they might have just hanging on the wall. You won’t likely get everything from the same place, but take anything you can get that could work. I recently found a brake caliper that I needed on Facebook Marketplace all the way across the country. A few bucks in shipping was worth it. Ebay is also a gold mine if you know what you are looking for and all the different terms the individual component might be called.

You likely need new chainrings, a cassette and chain. Don’t be too specific on the tooth count of the rings and cassette. In time things will become more readily available. If you need all that replaced, also consider the pulley wheels of the derailleur. They don’t need to match your specific model, but make sure they are for the same number of speeds and brand. Good luck, and the alternative is to start looking for a replacement bike while you rehab the old one.

This reminds me of the auto industry and restoring my old truck. Sure I love it but are there enough other people that also love that era to create an aftermarket industry, normally, no. Searching junkyards and eBay has become a way of life, but it also means that much more when it is all fixed up and running. Sometimes the greatest reward is the one that only you recognize. For me, the hunt has become the real fun; riding and driving are the bonus.

THE MODERN PARTS PROBLEM

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HED WHEELS: FROM PIONEER ROOTS, A BRAND GROWS ANEW https://roadbikeaction.com/hed-wheels-from-pioneer-roots-a-brand-grows-anew-2/ Mon, 05 Dec 2022 16:58:23 +0000 https://roadbikeaction.com/?p=60137

Anne Hed’s tenure at HED began with tragedy, but now it’s flying high

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By Dan Cavallari

Anne Hed knows a lot more about effective rim diameters than she ever thought she’d know. For years that was her husband Steve’s job. After all, he was the visionary, the nuts-and-bolts guy. And so, for more than three decades after they founded HED Wheels, Anne was content to run the quieter, less glamorous end of the business. She may not have known how spokes were engineered, but she knew where to get them and how many the company would need. “I was behind the scenes,” she says, “and I was happy behind the scenes. I didn’t want to be the face of the company.”

That was then. After Steve unexpectedly passed away in 2014, that all changed.

Now, Anne is very much the face, soul and jack-of-all-trades CEO of the company. That promotion was not by choice, nor was the transition into the role a smooth one. But, Anne kept moving, even as she grieved. Movement, as it turned out, was a heavy lift—physically and spiritually—but it was also the key to HED’s continued success. 

DEATH, REBIRTH AND EVERYTHING THAT FOLLOWS

When I spoke with Anne, she was sitting in the CEO’s chair, as she had been since Steve’s passing. Plenty of memorabilia from the cycling world adorned the walls, but Steve Hed had never actually seen those walls. Not long after Steve’s passing, Anne had to step up and move the company to an entirely new facility all while grieving and keeping the business running full steam. 

“He’s here,” Anne says as she scans her office. “He’s guiding me.” And certainly, Steve’s presence still hasn’t left the HED brand. He is a fond remembrance, an icon of sorts. In a sense, Steve Hed is still working for his company long after his death.

This office is entirely Anne’s, though. While she admits that Steve’s influence seeps into every corner of the HED facility in which he had never set foot in, Anne continues to steer the ship since taking the helm. And, she’s sure if Steve could see it all, he’d be proud.

It’s a feeling, of course—just a ghost that floats in the background of tedious spreadsheets and phone calls. But, Anne seems sure of it, partly because of the way Steve lived, and just as much because of the way he died. “The circumstances around his death bring joy to me still,” Anne says.

MORE THAN WHEELS 

The comment has a stop-you-in-your-tracks effect, but Steve Hed may be one of the very few lucky souls in this world who truly lived up to the cliché; he died doing exactly what he loved. 

Shortly before he collapsed outside of HED’s facility in November 2014, Steve had called Anne to tell her a prototype frame he had been developing with Cervelo worked. It worked! Steve had plowed steadfast towards the goal of creating a monocoque composite frame right in the USA, along with Cervelo. That day, Steve was thrilled. “There was absolute joy in his voice with that last phone call,” Anne says, “and that gave me the desire, the hope and the energy to move forward.” 

It was perhaps a small gift—a happy, beaming voice on a phone call—but a vital one. It became a mile marker of sorts; it provided the beginning of a new era at HED Wheels. If that phone call had gone another way? If the prototype had not worked out? “I honestly don’t know what I would have done,” Anne says. 

What might have been no longer matters, however. Anne’s got a ship to steer. 

In addition to his genius, it was Steve’s kind and friendly demeanor that set him apart in the bike industry.

A NEW FOUNDATION

When I ask Anne what her official title is, she skirts the subject. “It depends on which day,” she says. “Sometimes I just go by, ‘Hey, you.’ But yes, I call myself the CEO.”

It’s the top of that org chart, that very large box with all its weight, that Anne had avoided for so long. The behind-the-scenes guru found herself in the big seat. The title she didn’t want, but the job she adjusted to well enough. It started with moving out of the old HED facility, mere days after Steve passed. It was somewhere around 20 degrees below zero. Anne calls it a rebirth.

“I didn’t want to go back to that other location,” she says. “It was really hard for me, hard for the staff, but because of a gift from Steve, we had a whole new adventure ahead of us, like a frame.”

The frame, which would later become known as the Cervelo P5X, added an entirely new level of complexity to HED’s manufacturing processes, and it was on Anne to make the project work. Steve’s last phone call, the joy in his voice, cemented that vision. 

“There was absolute joy in his voice with that last phone call, and that gave me the desire, the hope and the energy to move forward.”

The tough part doesn’t get any less tough as time passes. The process of moving the facility “Signified that, okay, you can do this, Anne,” she says. “You never think of your best friend, your significant other, the parent of your kid, your absolute love of your life just gone instantly. So, you can never really prepare for it.”

Lance Armstrong was one of many riders who depended on Steve Hed’s wheel designs. The Bontrager disc wheels were also made by Hed.

With that weight on her shoulders, Anne barely had a moment to grieve. And the move to a new space filled the time and gave Anne a sense of control. She had very much taken the reins and kept HED moving forward at its pace. But, Anne’s mental leap into the big seat took a bit more convincing.

“I knew for the company to keep moving that I had to move out of that behind-the-scenes space a little bit,” Anne says. That space behind the curtain was her comfort zone, yet there was a whole lot of up-front decision-making that just couldn’t wait. Not surprisingly, the answer to Anne’s mental transition was community.

Knowing of their carbon credentials, when Cervelo went in search of a carbon facility to build their wild P5X frame, they called Hed.

“I joined a CEO round table. We started using this entrepreneur organizational system called Traction where I had to look at an organizational chart and see me up there at the top, and that was really hard because I kept on seeing this box that said Steve, and it said, ‘Visionary.’ I’m in that box now.”

FOLLOWING THE FUN

Anne continues to draw inspiration from Steve, of course. The visionary box is hers now, but that doesn’t mean Steve has stopped having his say. “About two years ago, the road market got a little soft and gravel was getting introduced, which we had a lot to do with,” she recalls. In saying so, she drew on her memories of taking long rides with Steve, who had grown up on a farm in western Minnesota. 

Hed wheels have always been a popular choice with smaller bike brands.

“Running a business is helping people. It’s giving them a path, a career…it’s what juices me up and gets me up every morning to know that this isn’t just about bike wheels.” 

“He was so passionate about the experience of getting off-road and enjoying the beauty of nature,” Anne says, “because it reminded him of his childhood on the farm.” In fact, quite a few new product ideas came while Steve and Anne were riding some of those very roads. “I used to say, ‘Watch out, there’s a tree!’ Because he was out there in outer space a lot of times.” 

It was as though Steve knew the gravel craze was coming, even all those years ago. HED was among the first wheel companies to introduce wider rims, both for versatility and for aerodynamics. Now such rims have become the norm. 

Lessons learned with his mountain bike wheels in the mid-’90s would aid in the development of gravel wheels two decades later.

It was Steve’s practice to simply follow the fun. And that’s as good a business model as any—and one Anne has taken to heart. Now Hed offers the Emporia wheel, which Anne says is a tribute to Steve. “We’re making something that he always dreamed about, and it’s an amazing wheel.” 

GROWTH AND MOVEMENT

Anne has spent the last seven years guiding HED into a new era of cycling. Along the way, she says the bike industry supported her and provided the tools she needed to be successful at the helm.

As the old saying goes, “A rolling stone gathers no moss”, and Anne continues to roll fast. 

“I earned a WBE certification (Woman Owned Business Enterprise), and that’s cool because there aren’t many women in the U.S. that mold carbon,” she says. But HED Cycling was, for Anne, only one story she wanted to tell. She had steadied that ship, and the time felt right to launch another. “I also started HED Composites during the pandemic—a crazy thing to start, but I’ve always kind of had a dream to make something that flies, too.”

“Running a business is helping people. It’s giving them a path, a career…it’s what juices me up and gets me up every morning to know that this isn’t just about bike wheels.” 

And fly it does. HED Composites tailors to anyone with an idea for a project, really. From flight to bikes, HED Composites can realize just about any composite concoction. It seems a natural extension of the HED legacy, one that Anne herself has brought to bear. 

Steve’s Triple Crown gravel bike was developed to further Steve’s interest in gravel riding and provide work for American frame builders.

So, now Anne has two businesses to manage and to grow. And while it’s rewarding to watch that growth, Anne says there’s far more to it than that. In the seven years since Steve’s death, Anne has benefited from the inclusion and kindness the cycling industry offers. And HED, she hopes, offers that same support to others looking to find their way. 

“Running a business is helping people. It’s giving them a path, a career. I think that’s what I feel so good about, especially during the pandemic. We were able to find folks who were in the hospitality industry and teach them a skill and a job, and it’s what juices me up and gets me up every morning to know that this isn’t just about bike wheels.”

Hed wheels have been standard for all type of bikes.

It never was just about the bike wheels for Steve. Rather, it was always about possibility. The wheels were just the excuse to follow the fun. And Anne has done just that, perhaps with Steve’s legacy occasionally whispering in her ear.

MORE INFO: Hed Wheels

HED WHEELS: FROM PIONEER ROOTS, A BRAND GROWS ANEW

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TEAM NOVO NORDISK ANNOUNCES 2023 TEAM https://roadbikeaction.com/team-novo-nordisk-announces-2023-team/ Mon, 05 Dec 2022 15:54:40 +0000 https://roadbikeaction.com/?p=60129

Proving that diabetes won't hold back passion and determination

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TEAM NOVO NORDISK

Press Release

Team Novo Nordisk, the world’s first all diabetes professional cycling team, go into 2023 with an 18-rider roster that combines youthful talent with experience and ready to take on their 13th season in the UCI pro ranks.

If 2021 was the season of frustration, then 2022 was the season of rediscovery and results. Top ten leading to the podium and the podium leading to victory.

At GP Kranj in Slovenia last July Andrea Peron achieved his lifelong dream of a professional win, demolishing the field of competition with an early attack towards the top of the final climb in central Kranj and exploding into the last 500m with nothing but focus and raw power pushing through the pedals, over the finish line and overcome with emotion.

2022 came together in that moment. A decade long career encapsulated in the final kilometer of a bike race. More than 500 million people living with diabetes around the world sharing what inspiration can look like and a community brought together with the joy of what is possible.

“What a season we had,” began CEO & Co Founder Phil Southerland. “After the challenges of 2021, we started this year by telling the guys to get back to basics. Go out there and race with a smile on your face and above all have fun. Enjoy being here and use that enjoyment to channel the pressure of racing for results at the highest level of professional cycling.”

“Guess what? It worked. Not only did we have our most consistent season ever in terms of results, our most consistent rider Andrea Peron, achieved his first career win in Slovenia at GP Kranj. After ten years of seconds, thirds, top five, top ten and breakaways in monuments he kept pushing and banging on the door until he burst through. Diabetes didn’t stop him, and neither could the competition and I don’t think the future will either.”

“We’re very satisfied with our performances in 2022,” said General Manager Vassili Davidenko. “To be sitting here reflecting on multiple podiums, top ten placings and Andrea’s win at GP Kranj feels like a good place to be, but also a place that we need to be more often. It’s very important that we kick on in 2023 and carry the momentum from this year, there were many positive moments including Matyas (Kopecky) and Filippo (Ridolfo) starting their pro careers strongly and developing talents like Hamish (Beadle) beginning to show maturity and produce solid performances.”

“But what pleased me the most was the team spirit and the togetherness, after such a difficult 2021 we could be forgiven for letting our heads drop, but we channeled that energy and used it as motivation. Now we approach 2023 with the same attitude and fundamentally the same team.”

“We welcome back Ulugbek (Saidov) who has been on his own journey of development and is now ready to go again and play his part in helping the team. I’m excited to see what 2023 has in store and I’m sure that if we put the same hard work in then we are going to see more results and more smiles on our faces.”

Once again the balance between experience and youthful talent will be important in 2023 with the older established captains Peron, Charles Planet and David Lozano looking to bring on the younger riders as second year pro’s Matyas Kopecky and Filippo Ridolfo look to repeat their positive debut seasons and push on to the next level.

Team Novo Nordisk for 2023:

Hamish Beadle (NZL, 24)

Sam Brand (GBR, 31)

Robbe Ceurens (BEL, 21)

Stephen Clancy (IRL, 30)

Lucas Dauge (FRA, 25)

Gerd de Keijzer (NLD, 28)

Jan Dunnewind (NLD, 24)

Joonas Henttala (FIN, 31)

Declan Irvine (AUS, 23)

Matyas Kopecky (CZE, 19)

Peter Kusztor (HUN, 37)

David Lozano (ESP, 33)

Andrea Peron (ITA, 34)

Logan Phippen (USA, 30)

Charles Planet (FRA, 29)

Umberto Poli (ITA, 26)

Filippo Ridolfo (ITA, 21)

Ulugbek Saidov (UZB, 26)

For more: Team Novo Nordisk

 

TEAM NOVO NORDISK ANNOUNCES 2023 TEAM

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WATCH: ZDENEK STYBAR SAYS GOODBYE TO ROAD RACING https://roadbikeaction.com/watch-zdenek-stybar-says-goodbye-to-road-racing/ Mon, 05 Dec 2022 15:41:09 +0000 https://roadbikeaction.com/?p=60126

The Wolfpack bid adieu to one of its most celebrated riders

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After over a decade with the Quick Step team, former cyclocross world champion and proven road racer   Zdenek Stybar is bidding the squad goodbye when his contract ends this month.  Stybar made waves when he transitioned from a celebrated cyclocross career, but proved his detractors wrong with a Tour de France stage win in 2015.

STYBAR SAYS GOODBYE

Team Release

For twelve years, Zdenek Stybar was a member of Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl. Having come across from cyclo-cross, a discipline where he won three world titles, the Czech established himself as one of the best Classics riders of the peloton, winning Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, E3 Harelbeke and Strade Bianche during his time with the team.

After his final official appearance for the Wolfpack on the road, Zdenek sat down to talk about his decade in the squad, his best memories from all these years and what it all meant for him.

 

 

Photos: Quick Step/Bettini Sprint Cycling Agency

WATCH: ZDENEK STYBAR SAYS GOODBYE TO ROAD RACING

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VIAIR TLC BIKE LINE OF MOBILE AIR https://roadbikeaction.com/viair-tlc-bike-line-of-mobile-air/ Sun, 04 Dec 2022 01:00:56 +0000 https://roadbikeaction.com/?p=60111

Mobile 12v air systems

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When it comes to cycling, tire pressure is one of the most important factors. As we have said countless times, modern road tires are increasing in volume, which means less pressure is needed, but it also means that 3-4 psi is a big difference. This is even more true when it comes to gravel tires with even more volume. For cyclists that are always on the move and travel to events or rides in their vehicle, Viair has a new line of mobile compressors to eliminate the need for a physical hand or floor pump.

NEW TO CYCLING

Viair Corporation offers a comprehensive line of D.C., fractional horsepower, oil-less air compressors & air accessories for both on-road and off-road automotive enthusiasts. Their compressors and components are for both 12-Volt and 24-Volt automotive aftermarket applications worldwide for over 25 years.

Historically servicing all Automotive Aftermarket segments, Viair is also active in many other markets, ranging from industrial, mining, energy, agriculture, construction, first responder, education, and healthcare. They are now offering cycling-specific systems in their new TLC Bike line of products. Their mission is to consistently deliver performance, reliability and value to customers and be the heart of any mobile pneumatic system.

Viair has created a tubeless-capable line of air compressor kits for cyclists. This line of compressors allows cyclists to air up their tubeless tires in seconds easily. Racers, mechanics, and cycling enthusiasts can benefit from the bike-specific compressor kits.

The TLC line was born out of a love for cycling, road trips and adventure: tubeless-capable compressors with serviceable air to perform bike maintenance when away at the race or group ride, in the mountains, and at the trailhead. Also great for making sure your vehicle’s tires are up to pressure before hopping on the road to your destination. Yes, the new TLC line is designed for bike tires but is just as capable of inflating your vehicle’s tires. All kits come with the all-new TLC Inflator, a shop-level inflation tool with a rotating Presta head and Schrader attachments.

THE NEW LINEUP

TLC LITE

The TLC LITE is an indispensable essential that provides a simple solution for on-the-go bike and vehicle tire inflation. The kit features a 30ft coil hose and a shop-style inflator with rotating Presta and Schrader attachments. The compressor charges the coil hose to 105 PSI, storing enough air to provide a blast for seating tubeless bicycle tires, and it is capable of inflating vehicle tires up to 225/60R18. The TLC LITE comes in a rugged steel case with a durable handle and is powered by simply plugging into your vehicle’s power port. $159.95

TLC PLUS

The TLC PLUS is a high-performance compact compressor meant for on-the-go bike and vehicle tire inflation. The kit features a 30ft coil hose and a shop-style inflator with rotating Presta and Schrader attachments. The compressor charges the coil hose to 120 PSI, storing enough air to provide a blast for seating tubeless bicycle tires, and it is capable of inflating vehicle tires up to 31”. This an ideal budget friendly setup for those with larger vehicles who need to air-down to reach their cycling adventures. $229.95

TLC PRO

The TLC PRO was made for the adventure enthusiast who wants the best equipment for on-the-go bike maintenance and vehicle tire inflation. The kit features a 30ft coil hose, a shop-style inflator with rotating Presta and Schrader attachments and a blow gun. The compressor charges the air reservoir and coil hose to 150 PSI, storing enough air to provide a blast for seating tubeless bicycle tires, performing blowing tasks, running certain air tools and it is capable of inflating RV and truck tires up to 35”. $449.95

TLC BOOST

The TLC BOOST is a complete solution for mobile shops, support vehicles, RVs and any enthusiast who enjoys fast tire inflation and performs multiple pneumatic tasks on the go. This fast-filling air source kit features a 1.5gal tank, a 30ft coil hose, a shop-style inflator with rotating Presta and Schrader attachments and a blow gun. The compressor charges the tank to 120 PSI, storing enough air to provide a blast for seating multiple tubeless bicycle tires, performing blowing tasks, running air tools and it is capable of inflating RV and truck tires up to 33”. $499.95

TLC BOOST XL

The TLC BOOST XL is a bigger, complete solution for mobile shops, support vehicles, RVs and any enthusiast who enjoys fast tire inflation and performs multiple pneumatic tasks on the go. This fast-filling air source kit features a 2gal tank, a 30ft coil hose, a shop-style inflator with rotating Presta and Schrader attachments and a blow gun. The compressor charges the tank to 150 PSI, storing enough air to provide a blast for seating multiple tubeless bicycle tires, performing blowing tasks, running air tools and it is capable of inflating RV and truck tires up to 35” at very fast rates. $599.95

TLC DUAL 444C OBA

The TLC Dual 444C Onboard Air System is powered by a pair of 444C Stealth Black, 100% duty cycle compressors. This 200 PSI rated system comes with a 1.5-gallon air tank with a flow rate of 3.53 CFM. Included in the package are a TLC shop-style inflator (160 PSI), Presta inflator head, dash panel gauge, 90-degree twist-on chuck air hose, blow gun, air source relocation kit, storage bag, and all necessary components needed to install a working system. It can be used for air tools, tire inflation, and other pneumatic applications. This system can seat the bead on a 29” tubeless mountain bike tire in less than 4 seconds and can inflate up to 37” vehicle tires. $839.95

ACCESSORIES

The TLC Inflator can be used for airing up bike and vehicle tires, as well as adding compressed air to any inflatable item with a valve stem. Designed to be a mechanic’s favorite, it comes with a rotating, fully serviceable Presta Head attachment, a pre-installed Quick-Connect Stud for air hose connection and a normally closed Quick-Connect Coupler for connecting various inflation attachments. Available in 0-120 PSI and 0-160 PSI air pressure gauge. $69.95

Also available are water bottles, tubeless valves, C02 dispenser and tubeless repair kit.

For more info, head to viairbike.com

VIAIR TLC BIKE LINE OF MOBILE AIR

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WATCH: TEAM QUICK STEP BIDS ADIEU TO MARK CAVENDISH https://roadbikeaction.com/watch-team-quick-step-bids-adieu-to-mark-cavendish/ Sat, 03 Dec 2022 15:42:16 +0000 https://roadbikeaction.com/?p=60106

They made each other famous, and now the team tips their cap

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Despite a few up and down moments, there’s no denying the amount of winning and magic moments that the Mark Cavendish and Team Quick Step partnership provided the racing world. Although the prospects of  “The Manx Missile” gaining a team berth to compete in the 2023 Tour de France where he could battle to become the all-time leader in  stage wins are looking dim, there’s always hoping that some team will seen the benefit of trying to make it happen.

Regardless, the Quick Step team produced this video to celebrate their shared years that included some historical wins.

 

Will Mark Cavendish get the opportunity to surpass Eddy Merckx as the all-time leader in Tour de France stage wins in 2023?

 

SOHAR, OMAN – FEBRUARY 11: Mark Cavendish of United Kingdom and Team Quick-Step – Alpha Vinyl celebrates at podium as Red Leader Jersey winner after the 11th Tour Of Oman 2022 – Stage 2 a 167,5km stage from Naseem Park to Suhar Corniche / #TourofOman / on February 11, 2022 in Sohar, Oman. (Photo by Dario Belingheri/Getty Images)

 

Tour de France 2021 – 108th Edition – 5th stage ChangeÕ – Laval Espace Mayenne 27,2 km – 30/06/2021 – Mark Cavendish (GBR – Deceuninck – Quick-Step) – photo Luca Bettini/BettiniPhoto©2021
Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey 2021 – Mark Cavendish (GBR – Deceuninck – Quick-Step) – Jasper Philipsen (BEL – Alpecin-Fenix) – Andre Greipel (GER – Israel Start-Up Nation)
Tour de France 2015 – 102a Edizione – 7a tappa Livarot – Fougeres 190.5 km – 10/07/2015 – Mark Cavendish (Etixx – Quick Step) – foto Luca Bettini/BettiniPhoto©2015

 

 

Photos: Bettini/Sprint Cycling Agency

WATCH: TEAM QUICK STEP BIDS ADIEU TO MARK CAVENDISH

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WHERE ART AND PRECISION COMBINE: SLF MOTION DERAILLEUR PULLEYS https://roadbikeaction.com/where-art-and-precision-combine-slf-motion-derailleur-2-2/ Sat, 03 Dec 2022 15:11:38 +0000 https://roadbikeaction.com/?p=60104

Blake Young crafts his speed bling parts one at a time

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By Zap

Blake Young is the kind of cycling personality/entrepreneur that, to me, makes up the heart and soul of the cycling industry. Just one man with plenty of vision and passion working alone in his garage producing some incredible looking bike parts, specifically artisan-level, oversized derailleur pulleys. His SLF (Smoother, Lighter, Faster) Motion brand pulleys epitomize the notion of eye candy on a bike, and as biased as I am, I would happily add, “What else would you expect from a former pro motocross racer?!”

Want to standout in the group ride with some wild colors? No problem here!

It was after I saw another exotic bike built by Two Hubs Cycling Boutique that I first learned about the SLF Motion pulleys, and the mere sight of the carbon cage and anodized pulley wheel combo drove me to know more about them. For the 37-year-old Young, life in the bike biz began as a hobby back in 2017, but it has since become a full-time pursuit. Currently, he makes cage/pulley combos for Shimano, Campagnolo and SRAM derailleurs in both standard and aero versions with a host of color options.

 

INSIDE WITH SLF MOTION

Blake Young has come far as a as a one-man company, but with a recent hire he’s expecting even greater things as a two-man company….still in his garage!

What is your cycling background?

I started racing BMX when I was 3 years old and traveled all over the country going to races with my dad in a four-door Honda Accord until I was 13. After BMX is when I got into motocross. I suppose I chose a drivetrain component (pulley wheels) initially simply due to the fact of it being an actual performance part. I knew I wanted to go straight into that side of the game, because with my racing background, I’ve always loved the performance aspect of everything. Designing a cool-looking water bottle or a cool-looking seatpost wasn’t really on my radar. I wanted something that actually could help you go faster.

What’s the story behind SLF?

After I quit racing motocross, I worked for Caterpillar for five years as a 3D product designer and got into riding bicycles. At first, I was just tinkering with new parts and then started making standard 11t pulleys with ceramic bearings as a nighttime hobby. It was after I got them tested by an independent lab in Colorado and they proved to have 48 percent less friction than a version made by a competing brand, I decided to get serious as a business. From there I just began to lean on my years of product design to come up with something trick and even better.

Although I’m still just a one-man operation working in the garage of my house, for my new Evo line of cages I had some help from an outside designer.

Blake’s latest advance in derailleur artistry are these 3-D printed cafes with anodized titanium pulley wheels. Wow!


Can you break down the production process?

It all starts with 24×24-inch slabs of carbon that I get shipped to me from California, and then I machine each cage individually. At first I was just using production bearings, but now to best control things like the radial play and clearance ratings, I build the bearings to my own specs. The wheels (14t top/18t lower) are made from 7075 aluminum and are anodized locally. I have both standard and narrow-wide pulleys.

At $600 each, the cages aren’t cheap, so what are the selling points for an oversized pulley?

I would be the first person to say that probably 75 percent of the cyclists who buy them are doing so for the aesthetics alone. And even if someone buys them just for the looks, I say, great, because when it comes to the aesthetic battle (over other brands), I still win! Still, even if only 1 percent of them find any speed advantage, to me that’s still great. As expensive as they are, mine are still close to $200 cheaper than some others on the market.

“I would be the first person to say that probably 75 percent of the cyclists who buy them are doing so for the aesthetics alone.” 

As for performance, the bigger-diameter pulley wheel sheds the friction, and when you add a low-friction bearing, the chain articulation becomes smoother. Again, all that said, I won’t be the guy to say I guarantee that you’ll feel the difference by using them.

I know some people might say they don’t make sense, but after three years at it, in 2020 I had my best year ever, and then in 2021 I sold three times as much, so clearly there’s a market out there.

As a long-time motocross racer, Blake also produces some small parts for the moto world as well.

What do some people feel are the cons of using an oversized pulley?

The most consistent critique I hear is that they will hurt shifting performance, but I can make a stock system shift badly; it all comes down to the setup. Setup with the B- and C-tension screws is key. Some people say the cages aren’t durable, but they might be referring to a competitor’s cage that uses a plastic composite cage that has less structural integrity than mine that are full carbon. I also use titanium hardware.

Despite what some people think, I have a top triathlete (Lionel Sanders) and gravel racer (Lauren De Crescenzo) using them in 2022 and I doubt they would do so if it hurt their performance.

What’s in store with the future of SLF?

I have big ideas and intentions for the future of SLF Motion. Drivetrain performance upgrade components are only the beginning. Why not a complete drivetrain groupset? Why not a new take on a stem or handlebars? Why not a radical new hub/spoke design? There’s plenty of ideas up in this noggin of mine; it’s just making them happen. A huge part in the next step for SLF Motion is when I bring on my first employee in about two weeks. The days of a one-man operation are over!

www.slfmotion.com

 

WHERE ART AND PRECISION COMBINE: SLF MOTION DERAILLEUR PULLEYS

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SPECIALIZED S-WORKS TORCH ROAD SHOES REVIEW https://roadbikeaction.com/specialized-s-works-torch-road-shoes-review-2-2/ Sat, 03 Dec 2022 15:09:36 +0000 https://roadbikeaction.com/?p=60100

The Torch gets the S-Works treatment.

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The Specialized footwear team has been on a seemingly endless winning streak. They have been launching new models but this time, they are giving the Torch their ultimate upgrade. The Torch has been the brand’s bread and butter road shoe with prices ranging from $120 to $230. Now they go all out with the S-Works version that will set you back $450.

So why have Specialized shoes been doing so well you might ask? It’s simple, they are the Google of cycling fit data with their Body Geometry technology offered for over 20 years. Simply, they scan and save more feet and bike fit data thanks to their Retul system than anyone else. The data is then used to create, refine and optimize every shoe. The new S-Works Torch is no different and thanks to the data and team’s knowledge, this could be their best shoe yet.

First Impressions

The fit of the new S-Works Torch is slimmer than the S-Works 7 and S-Works Vent, and more in line with the ultra-light S-Works EXOS which is tighter just behind the toebox. While much of the S-Works 7 tech is from 2018 and the upgrades to the S-Works Vent came in 2020, in our opinion it has remained one of the best offerings in the market.

The Torch is definitely an all-new design and from our first few rides makes small improvements over the 7. There are two significant differences from the SW7. The first is that the Torch removes the toebox strap and only has two CNC’d alloy BOA S3-Snap dials per shoe. The top dial cable now runs through two loops on the tongue to help retain the position. Both of the dial cables can be removed from the loop guide for easier on/off fitment.

Specialized S-Works Torch shoes have two BOA dials and no toe strap.

The second is an all-new carbon plate sole. This is the first S-Works shoe to step away from the design that was launched with the S-Works 7 shoe. The new carbon sole seems to have been aero optimized and has just one under the toe vent. The whole thing is much sleeker and if we know Specialized, probably saves watts.

Specialized S-Works Torch shoes with new carbon sole (top) vs the S-Works 7 (bottom).

For us, the biggest difference is hard to see and is how much slimmer the fit is between the arch and the toebox.  The upper seems to have less volume for our foot in that area. With the removal of the toebox strap, Specialized seems to have added some structural material that adds retention beyond the two dials. The toebox itself seems to have about the same amount of room but the heel cup is slightly wider but still holds well.

The entire upper is perforated for ventilation. This ventilation is not at the same level as the SW Vent but still seems to work well. The toe of the shoe has a reinforced plastic section that extends the life of the shoe and minimizes damage if you have a bit of toe overlap with your front wheel. The external heel cup is also plastic that molds to the carbon sole. On our shoes, there is no stiffness rating like some of the other Torch shoes have, but they are extremely stiff. For us, they feel stiffer than any of the other S-Works offerings and we wouldn’t be surprised to see it eventually be the base for the entire S-Works line.

Specialized S-Works Torch shoes are perforated for better ventilation.

Verdict

For us, the S-Works Torch is a solid shoe that completes the Torch lineup. The fit is a bit slimmer than the S-Works 7 shoe, but many will appreciate that. Dropping the weight of the toe strap probably gave Specialized the ability to add a tiny bit more material to the new carbon sole and stiffen it up. The most notable trend that Specailized continues is the removal of the large and overwhelming branding. The S-Works Torch shoes have very subtle branding, and we think this could give them an edge over the other S-Works offerings with riders who don’t ride a Specialized.

We have always liked the custom CNC’d alloy BOA S3-Snap dials. The 1mm micro-adjustment and easy to feel and turn knob make getting a perfect tension easy, even if you need to adjust it during a ride. Since the fit has changed from the previous models it might be a good time to get your foot measured and even better, consider a set of custom-molded footbeds.

The Stats

  • Full sizes from 36-49
  • Half sizes 38.5-46.5
  • 5 colorways available
  • 460 grams Pair (size 43.5)
  • Three-bolt cleat pattern
  • proprietary alloy BOA dials
  • Price: $450

www.Specialized.com

 

The opening on the Specialized S-Works Torch shoes is more centered than the S-Works 7.
The $450 S-Works Torch (left) next to the $170 Torch 2.0 (right). Which would you buy?
SPECIALIZED S-WORKS TORCH ROAD SHOES REVIEW

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VAN VLEUTEN, EVENEPOEL WIN VELO D’OR AWARD https://roadbikeaction.com/van-vleuten-evenepoel-win-velo-dor-award/ Fri, 02 Dec 2022 17:20:27 +0000 https://roadbikeaction.com/?p=60098

The best riders of the year

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Vuelta champion Remco Evenepoel was rewarded for a prolific season in the saddle by winning the coveted Vélo d’Or trophy on Thursday. Apart from his first Grand Tour triumph, the 22-year-old Belgian was also victorious in the Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the World Championships. The award has been given annually since 1992 to honour the rider of the year, as voted by an international jury of journalists brought together by Velo Magazine.

The Quick-Step rider took the award with 139 points, well clear of his compatriot Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), who polled 88 points, and Slovenia’s Tadej Pogacar (Team UAE, 80 points). Tour de France winner Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) was fourth with 80. Dutch rider Annemiek van Vleuten, who won the three grand tours and the world championships this year, was the comfortable winner of the first women’s Velo d’Or.

The Movistar rider notched 145 points, more than twice as many as Belgian Lotte Kopecky (Team SD Worx, 69 pts). Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) and Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (BMC MTB Racing then Ineos), tied for third with 48 points.

RBA/AFP Photo: Sprint Cycling Agency

VAN VLEUTEN, EVENEPOEL WIN VELO D’OR AWARD

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BIKE OF THE WEEK: VAN NICHOLAS ZEPHYR TITANIUM https://roadbikeaction.com/bike-of-the-week-van-nicholas-zephyr-titanium/ Fri, 02 Dec 2022 08:00:11 +0000 https://roadbikeaction.com/?p=60093

More new road titanium

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Designed to keep you fresh in the saddle for a full day’s competition, this finely poised endurance geo puts comfort at the forefront. And delivers exceptional handling and power transfer. Suitable for 35-622 (700x35C) tires.

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 road tires (up to 35mm), they have added another level of comfort to help iron out the lumps and bumps of any road surface.

Check out our first look at the new disc offering

Frame Spec:

  • LIFETIME FRAME WARRANTY
  • ENGRAVED HEAD TUBE
  • BRUSHED FINISH
  • HYDROFORMED TUBING
  • 3D SCULPTED DROPOUT
  • T47 BB
  • INTEGRATED HEADSET
  • INTERNAL CABLE ROUTING
  • ELECTRONIC SHIFTING
  • ROAD DISC BRAKES
  • THRU-AXLE
  • SIZES: XS, S, M, L, XL

Price:

From $5271

For more info, head to www.vannicholas.com

BIKE OF THE WEEK: VAN NICHOLAS ZEPHYR TITANIUM

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