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.
Just as the road bike-specific category has splintered into a handful of subcategories, so, too, has the gravel bike market become more varied in recent years. Where we once started off with repurposed cyclocross bikes, given the wide range of usability, we now have purpose-built gravel rigs that span the specific use of everything from touring to racing.
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The problem today is that despite over 20 years of R&D, much of the information pertaining to tubeless use is outdated and, even worse, it doesn’t apply to current road offerings at all.
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Geraint Thomas took a big tumble in the final meters of stage 4 at the Tour de Romandie on Saturday. Inclement weather has been a constant through the race with riders being drenched all week long. Stage 4 finished atop Thyon 2000 6500 feet above sea level in a downpour.
“I had no feeling whatsoever in my hands and I tried to change gear but instead I just lost the bars,” Thomas said.
“It’s so frustrating because even if I had just stayed in that gear and just come second.”
“I just want to win a stage.”
This Saturday marks the beginning of the 2021 Giro d’Italia headlined by a litany of the WorldTour’s best finishers. 2100 miles are bookended by time-trials in Turin and Milan. Three flat stages and five hilly stages will give the sprinters more than a few opportunities to take advantage of the relatively mountainous course this year.
Uvex has been designing protective eyewear in Bavaria for nearly a century. They’ve updated their cycling catalog with a few modern, one-piece sunglasses for 2021. The Sportstyle 231s have a stereotypically German moniker but at 34 grams, the wide-lens, full-frame shades offer a competitive field of view when compared to top-tier offerings from big name brands. Available in six colorways with 5 lens options the 231s are a stylish and practical bargain.
Former Tour de France champion Egan Bernal will share leadership duties on his Giro d’Italia debut with Pavel Sivakov as part of an eight-man Ineos team announced Tuesday. Bernal, 24, is one of the favourites for the Giro and will also have Colombian compatriot Daniel Martinez for support in the three-week race which starts in Turin on Saturday.
Over the last six years snub-nosed, short saddle designs have exploded in popularity, and saddle makers acted quickly to adapt to the demand for the practical benefits the limited surface area has. As riders found the increased comfort in more aggressive positions that the short saddle provided, more favorable old-world saddle makers did their best to respond with their own take on the shortened design.
For 2021 Italian marquee saddle brands Fizik and Selle San Marco released their own versions of the snub-nose design. Fizik added the Terra Aidon X3, which they claim is an e-bike-oriented saddle. The Terra Aidon joins a dozen other short saddles in Fizik’s catalog, including the new drop-bar-oriented Terra Argo X3 and X5.
We paired the Selle San Marco Aspide Short Open-Fit Carbon FX against the Aidon to compare the differences in ride quality between a performance-oriented design and the more comfort-oriented Fizik Aidon, as well as highlight the benefits on the road of each.
I had just finished a 40-mile road ride on a new gravel bike, and as I was closing in on the final few blocks to my house, some lady on a Celeste Blue Bianchi darted out in front of me from a side street. As I rode past, I offered the customary wave and “buongiorno” greeting that I give to everybody I meet on a ride. At that precise moment, all I was really thinking about was getting home and guzzling some quasi-Celeste Blue Gatorade.
Next thing you know, I hit a red light, and as I sat waiting for the green, the lady on the Bianchi rode up next to me. “Where are you headed?” I asked. She replied that she wasn’t exactly sure. Apparently, she was new to area and was only told to ride until she got to an Arco gas station. “Then what?” I asked. Again, she said she wasn’t really sure.
TOO NICE OUT TO STOP
Wait, did I mention that it was yet another one of those classically beautiful SoCal days that makes it difficult to stop riding? It was, so I figured I would attend to the newcomer and ride along with her for a while so she could learn the roads. The blue Gatorade was going to have to wait.
About eight miles later we passed through the town of Sierra Madre, and I pointed out both the town square where the weekly Montrose ride finds its finish, as well as the handful of four-way “cop stops” where the local constables lie in wait for any cyclist who fails to heed the big red stop sign.
When we finally reached the city limits, my immediate thought was to flip it and get back to my Gatorade. I did my best to describe a route that would loop around and get her back to the Rose Bowl from where she would know how to get home. Of course, my directions made no sense, and so finally I just shrugged and said I would do the loop with her. My planned 40-miler would now jump closer to 70.
As we rode westward along Huntington Dr., she noticed the 40mm tires that I was rolling on and asked what kind of bike it was. When I replied that it was a gravel bike, she quickly retorted, “Why would you ride with drop bars in the dirt?”
My counter came just as quick: “In fact, the better question is, ‘Why would you ride with flat bars in the dirt?!’”
While the need for being “aero” has always played an important role in the road world, you would be excused for assuming that traditional triathlon brands (where being aero is the basis for life itself) would’ve been jumping into the aero-road category over the course of the last decade. But, in fact, they haven’t—until now.
Legacy tri-geek brand Quintana Roo has been in the slippery-fast tri business since its inception 30 years ago. With a racing pedigree that has included everything from wetsuits and swim caps to triathlon and time-trial bikes, the triathlon world has been good to Quintana Roo. But an aero-road bike? Nope. Until now.
Last year marked QR’s first attempt at a modern aero-road frame—disc brakes with a purpose-built and wind-tunnel-tested frame that is available in a variety of iterations.
Otso’s Waheela line has evolved over the last few years from a suspension corrected steel frame featuring Otso’s rear drop-out tuning chip, to their latest carbon long-haul rig. New for 2021 is a stock fork that has three bottle bosses on either side for bikepacking cargo. The Waheela C maintains its massive tire clearance with room for up to 700x54cm tires, along with four new colorways Forest & Coral, Black & White, Burgundy & Red, and Matte Desert & Black.