Welcome to the June 3rd, Mid-Week Report!
PHOTO OF THE WEEK: GET OUT AND RIDE
We’ve been hitting the road, putting in the miles and focusing on the simple pleasures of riding a bike.
NEW PRODUCTS: THESE JUST IN
When it comes to making good investments to gain performance, wheels remain at the top of the list. While lighter wheels are always attractive to knock off a few grams, the true advantages come in by virtue of increased stiffness, durability and aerodynamics. Boyd Cycling was founded by Boyd Johnson in 2009 in his search for a better cycling experience in the way of new wheels.
Like the rest of the industry, Boyd, too, has been bitten by the gravel bug, and when we ran into him recently, he spoke of a new wheel called the TrailBlazer that was perfect for our gravel riding exploits. As the kids would say, our immediate reply was, “Send it!”
Funny thing is, weeks later, when we pulled the wheels out of the box, our first thought was that the wrong wheels got shipped to us owing to the “29” imprinted on them. We called Boyd to see if the wrong wheels were sent, but no, it turns out that the TrailBlazers, although originally designed as a 29er XC/ marathon mountain bike wheel, also happen to be a great option for gravel.
PIECE-BY-PIECE: 3T STRADA PROJECT BUILD
It is a fact that the majority of Euro bikes rolling on the roads of America all started off as a bare frame that had to be built up. For a variety of reasons, it’s easier for American distributors to deal with importing bare frames than complete bikes. Equally, for a variety of reasons, American cyclists looking to build their Euro dream bike prefer to create their custom bike by piecemealing the effort from a wide-ranging menu of products
It was three years ago (RBA, October 2017) that the radical-looking 3T first appeared in the mag The bike was of course the brainchild of Gerard Vroomen, who had made a name for himself as a designer for a rash of attention getting and race winning Cervelos. Prior to the Strada’s arrival, it had been preceded by a string of keyboard-fueled rumors and opinions. While the bike bore certain similarities to earlier Vroomen designs, it nonetheless stood apart as something new and different. And, where was the front derailleur?!
That’s right. In the days since his departure from Cervelo, Gerard had come to appreciate and embrace the newfound concept of 1x drivetrains. While the 1x gear range was just beginning to gain favor with the gravel crowd, the thought of applying a single chainring to a racy road bike seemed unthinkable. Welcome to the mind of Gerard Vroomen.
In fact, in that first test we commented on the “level of confusion” that surrounded the bike and its unique profile. Was it a climbing bike? A crit bike? A gravel bike? A track bike? It was simply a road bike, albeit one with a different set of design parameters. Which, as we said then, “It’s all about the numbers—aero numbers, rolling-resistance numbers, unique geometry numbers and stiffness numbers. The bike stands apart as it minimizes, maybe even eliminates, all forms of excess and focuses instead on the essentials of performance.” Talk about inviting!
Belgian cycling team Deceuninck-Quick-Step announced on Tuesday that they had scheduled their first training camp since the coronavirus lockdown for mid-June in the Flemish Ardennes. Quick-Step, who boast French star Julian Alaphilippe and highly-rated Belgian youngster Remco Evenepoel among their ranks, will stay at a villa instead of a hotel to “limit contact with people from outside the team”
They said that medical staff are working on a way to ensure the riders can be tested for COVID-19 on arrival. The World Tour season, suspended since mid-March, is scheduled to resume in early August, with the Tour de France set to start on August 29, despite the French government’s ban on professional sport until September.
BEST GRAVEL BARS
Handlebars are a bit of a personal choice, and I don’t have one that is my go-to. It’s important to note that not all flared handlebars are the same, since the amount of drop will affect the amount of flare. I like a little flare to offer a wider position with minimal drop, because if there’s too much flare, the brake levers and shifters end up in too funky of a position. I also run my stem a bit higher, offering a more upright seating position, which also takes pressure off my hands. Then, the position in the drops is lower than my normal road bike hoods, but much higher than the drops position on the road bike.
Personally, I think bar tape is probably more important than flare. I like the Lizard Skins 2.5mm tape for most gravel riding. It’s thin enough that it doesn’t add bulk, but has enough material that I’m comfortable. For really long events, I’ll use the 3.2mm tape, which adds bulk but a valuable layer of vibration damping as well. One other thing to consider are handlebars with added compliance, like the Lauf Smoothies.
FREE ACCESS TO RBA’S DIGITAL LIBRARY
Road Bike Action Magazine is available for free online. Stay up-to-date on the happenings in the world of road and gravel bikes. Get expert tips and advice alongside comprehensive bike and product reviews. Cycling’s premier print magazine, Road Bike Action, can be yours for free!
DIRTY KANZA RESCHEDULED
– Jim Cummins
MAMMOTH TUFF – SEPTEMBER 19th
There’s more to explore in Mammoth! The first official gravel ride on the mountain is set to take place September 19, 2020. A 45 mile “Tuff” course with 2000 feet of climbing and a 100 “Tuffer” course with 8000 feet of elevation gain are planned but no official course maps have been released. Mammoth Mountain is a favorite locale of ours and over the years we have continued to return to the annual Gran Fondo. With Mammoth Tuff now the following weekend we are planning to extend our stay to get in all of the best riding that Mammoth has to offer.