MID-WEEK REPORT: THE LATEST NEWS, PRODUCTS AND EVENTS

Take a look at the best of our trending stories from this week about the latest road bikes, tech, pro racing and more in the cycling industry.

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW: DISC BRAKES

In the pantheon of stupid things said about the bike industry, some of the more stupid have been the response to disc brakes becoming standard equipment on road bikes. The silliest has been the conspiracy theory that disc brakes have only became a thing because the bike industry wanted to sell more bikes. Selling more bikes—um, is there a problem with that?!

Even though RBA has been accused of being in on the nefarious plot (because we can sell more magazines), we’re still not sure what exactly is wrong with the bike industry trying to sell more bikes. Curious, too, is how the comeuppance of disc brakes is any more an insidious sales ploy than the arrival of carbon fiber or electronic drivetrains?! 

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ALAPHILIPPE WINS LA FLECHE WALLONNE

La Fleche Wallonne 2021 – 85th Edition – Julian Alaphilippe (FRA – Deceuninck – Quick-Step)

World champion Julian Alaphilippe won La Fleche Wallonne cycling classic in Belgium on Wednesday after reeling in Slovenia’s Primoz Roglic on the final mile long climb that hits gradients of more than 19 percent. The Frenchman, who also claimed victory in 2018 and 2019, sat up at the line and wagged a finger after his impressive late comeback.

“Honestly this one (of the three) does a lot of good, with the world championship jersey. I really enjoyed it. I’m really happy,” said Alaphilippe.

Roglic attacked near the bottom of the final Mur de Huey climb and only Alaphilippe and Alejandro Valverde were able to follow, as the Spaniard finished third, six seconds down.

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WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH DI2 CRASH MODE? 

Amstel Gold Race 2021 – 55th Edition – Mauri Vansevenant (BEL – Deceuninck – Quick-Step)

During the Amstel Gold Race today Deceuninck Quick Step rider Mauri VanSevanant got caught up in a crash, once back on his bike, he was unable to shift gears as the TV cameras watched his impressive effort to reconnect the peloton. Stuck in the small chairing and a high gear we knew exactly what unfortunate circumstance had befallen the 21-year-old Belgian… Shimano Di2 Crash mode.

It seems to be a bit of a hidden feature for most cyclists that even some bike shops forget. Shimano’s Di2 electronic drivetrain has a protection mode that it defaults to when it thinks there has been a crash. I say “thinks,” because I have had multiple instances where it just got bumped and went into protection/crash mode. I have also had countless real crashes where it didn’t go into protection mode at all.

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MASSIVE CRASH IN TURKEY

Mark Cavendish avoided a late crash to win a third consecutive stage at the Tour of Turkey on Wednesday
to remain in the overall lead of the eight day event. Nearly a dozen riders went down just behind Cavendish to block the road. Some riders required medical attention and were transported to the hospital. The 35-year-old Cavendish hadn’t won a race since 2018 before Monday but  was celebrating a third victory in three days after the 184.4km run from Alanya to the coastal town of Kemer.

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INSIDE FAVALORO HANDCRAFTED FRAMES

We first ran into Michele Favaloro back in 2017 at his then-small bike factory that was located in the garage of the family home. Cramped with a collection of drill presses, sanders and lathes was a wide swath of steel and aluminum tubes and drawers filled with sheets of carbon fiber. It was all there. At the time, Michele fancied himself a custom frame builder who, in addition to having plenty of ideas about how a bike should be built, seemed to have an endless amount of energy to hand-build frames for a growing customer base.  

Here we are some four years later, and although he has since moved on to a new workshop (not far from home) overlooking Lake Garda, Michele remains both as confident as ever about his frame designs and, seemingly, as productive as ever as his catalog of frames has only grown in number.    

Not only as the world of gravel brought him new design challenges, but so, too, have e-bikes, which have only added to the catalog offerings. And never one to settle for easy, Michele uniquely offers pedal-assist bikes with your choice of one to three batteries for extended ride time.  

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WHO IS TOM PIDCOCK?

Tom Pidcock (GBR – Ineos Grenadiers) – Wout Van Aert (BEL – Jumbo – Visma)

Much of the focus at cycling’s upcoming trio of Belgian classics will be on 21-year-old Briton Tom Pidcock, winner of the Brabantse Pijl cobbled classic in midweek, leaving world-class riders trailing in his wake. All this just three months after the rider from Leeds in northern England signed his first professional contract with star-studded British outfit Ineos, some of whose riders may already be peering anxiously over their shoulders. Pidcock’s bike-handling skills were picked up in cyclocross, and he says his main aim this year is to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics mountain bike event.

“I’ve been riding bikes daily since I was four, nothing is out of my comfort zone,” the confident youngster said in a recent interview.

Now the clean-cut Pidcock, who says he has never even drunk a coffee or eaten a sneaky pot noodle, is a star in the making in road racing too. With three high-profile Belgian one-day races coming up this week, Pidcock laid down a landmark victory by out-racing the most feared man in one-day classics, local hero Wout van Aert.’

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BIKE TEST: CERVELO ASPERO 5

If you remember, the RBA March 2020 issue, we reviewed the then-new Cervelo Aspero that carried a tagline of “Cervelo’s Aspero aims to be fast everywhere.” Well, as it turns out, it seems like the new Aspero 5 takes this to another level with more integration. When we first got the Aspero in late 2019, the build options had us scratching our heads. Sure, it was intended for the race side of gravel pursuits, but we still complained about the build options and lack of gear range. 

Well, a lot has changed in that short time, and the new Aspero 5 not only looks better (with an incredible paint job that borders on custom quality), but the full line has been updated with more range, which is a key benefit.

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FIRST RIDE: SRAM RIVAL AXS

 SRAM is making twelve-speed, wireless shifting easier to access for everyone thanks to SRAM Rival AXS.  Since the release of SRAM’s flagship Red eTap AXS wireless drivetrain in 2019, the Chicago-based brand released the mid level Force AXS drivetrain shortly after. SRAM continued to innovate further down their product line and for 2021, released a wireless, 12-speed Rival groupset.

Rival has traditionally been SRAM’s entry level drivetrain, comparable to Shimano 105. But SRAM have elevated the entry level series to a new league with the latest shifting tech the brand has to offer. Designed to benefit the enthusiast cyclist rather than the pro SRAM engineered the drivetrain to be more affordable with the trade-off being a few extra grams.

We had the chance to take the Drivetrain out for a couple test rides. We’ll breakdown what’s new and what’s not but there’s a Rival stamped component for nearly everything except the rotors.

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FROM BANNING THE SUPERTUCK TO BOTTLEGATE

As history as shown, when the non-cycling media picks up on a cycling related story it’s usually relating to something of a peculiar interest that reaches beyond any pure bike-geek specific moment.  Take for instance the UCI’s recent ruling  that banned  the “super tuck” position for riders trying to eek out an aero advantage. Not much play on CNN  or Fox News on that one.

However, in today’s New York Times, the Sports page was home to a big story penned by veteran cycling reporter Juliet Macur that offered a critical eye on another new UCI ruling that outlawed the indiscriminate tossing of musettes/bidons and water bottle bottles in non-secured or designated areas. While the ruling  seeks to prevent the errant trashing of a race course by riders tossing used items along the roadside, it has also put a stop to riders handing off their used water bottles or musette bags to schwag hungry spectators.

MORE RACING NEWS

 

THE BEST TIME TO REPLACE A CASSETTE

Q: How can I tell if my cassette is worn? My local shop says it needs to be replaced, but it’s not that old.

A: Don’t forget that chain and cassette wear is something that needs to be monitored simultaneously. Most people will wear specific gears more than others, but the combination of a worn chain and new cassette will lead to expedited wear. This will lead to inconsistent shifting. Most of the time it is the worn gears that actually shift better, and the less used gears are rough because they are not meshed with the worn chain. If you are changing a cassette, then it would be wise to replace the chain, too. The exception is if the cassette is fairly new and you are just changing ratios. On the flip side, a cassette can go through about three chains as long as the chains are changed before they wear too much. Get a quality chain checker, and every few weeks check it while you lube your chain, that way it becomes a habit.

MORE TECH TALK

 

BIKE OF THE WEEK: STORCK AERFAST3

Just in time for the launch of the new SRAM Rival eTap AXS groupset, STORCK Bicycle presents its Aerfast3 Comp Disc road bike with the brand new equipment. About a week before the official release of the new SRAM Rival AXS groupset, STORCK has already fuelled speculation with a mysterious “MARS” bike. Due to the current shortage of components and thus also complete wheels, STORCK’s “Silent Launch” has created a lot of interest. However, the fact that more than half of the available bikes were pre-ordered after only a few days came as a surprise.

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