VeloNews' Matt Pacocha picks out three solid choices for a broad spectrum of conditions.
Challenge Grifo Pro
Niels Albert is on a roll. The world cyclocross champion, a rider who became the discipline’s new prince last season, started his season with four victories in the lead-up to the first World Cup in Treviso, Italy, which he went on to win. Until now, Sven Nys has been regarded as the king of ’cross, but he’s had a very different start to his season. After a top-15 placing at the 2009 mountain bike world championships, his cyclocross season had a rocky start.
Mafia Racing’s Jake Wells is the working class hero of last week’s CrossVegas. A look at his Felt race bike.
Professional bike racing in the U.S. is different from just about every European country. When they say "pro" there, it means everyone in the race makes money doing it. Not so in the U.S. For some, becoming a professional means little more than cherry picking a few smaller races and paying USA Cycling $150 for an elite license. It was easy to see the differing ability levels at CrossVegas, as almost half of the field ended up lapped.
Rabobank rider Bram de Groot is a good sport. The Belgian came to Las Vegas to race CrossVegas, though he hasn’t raced cyclocross in years. To open up his legs for the race, Giant’s Andrew Juskaitis took him for a mountain bike ride on Interbike’s Outdoor Demo Caldera loop — almost two hours of dry, loose trail embedded with rocks as sharp as razor blades. De Groot had never ridden a mountain bike in his life. It was 6 p.m. when he climbed on the big bike, with ace mountain bikers Adam Craig and Carl Decker for riding partners.
Giant Bicycles brought a prototype TCX Advanced SL carbon bike to Interbike for Adam Craig to race in Wednesday night’s CrossVegas event, and VeloNews took an exclusive first look mere hours after team manager Frank Trotter finished building it.
A special request by Cannondale pulled several of us out to Interbike’s Outdoor Demo at an uncomfortably early hour on Monday and then to a “secret location” billed Area 88 — actually a local self-storage unit — via vintage Mercedes Unimog to see a “proof of concept” prototype of the manufacturer’s Simon suspension fork. The Simon is a computer-controlled, electronically damped suspension fork, a project without a specific release date. Cannondale engineer Stanley Song has poured five years of undivided attention into the project.
Editor's Note A version of this review first ran in VeloNews.com last December, too late for most cyclocross racers to make tire buying decisions for the race season. Matt has reviewed the information to make sure it is still relevant, and re-written parts. Watch for Matt's review of some new Vittoria cyclocross tubulars soon — and look for the VeloNews issue containing the US Gran Prix of Cyclocross Guide on newsstands October 1.
During the middle part of the 2009 racing season the Subaru-Gary Fisher team gave Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski, a racer with a preference for hardtails, a new full-suspension bike. To the surprise of many he raced it in some of the biggest events during the second half of this season. JHK rode Fisher’s new Superfly 100 in two world cups, the marathon national championships, which he won, and the last two stops of the Pro XTC series (where he won the overall series).
There is the right tool for every job, and on some race courses that ‘right tool' may be a 29er, or a full-suspension bike or maybe even — gasp — a 26-inch hardtail.
Editor's Note: For more on Matt's test protocol and tools and a review of three of his favorite 29ers, see Singletrack.com. The 26-inch wheeled hardtail mountain bike is, indeed, dead. OK, so I’ve been intentionally stirring the pot this summer with that proclamation. What you’re about to read is no exception.
For 2010, Scott's Voltage line gets a new chassis addition — the Voltage FR, an 180mm-travel freeride bike built specifically for park riding.
You’ve seen it, we’ve reported on it and everyone expected it to eventually be offered for sale and now it’s finally official: Adam Craig’s Anthem X Advanced SL carbon racer will be included in Giant’s 2010 mountain bike line. The new World Cup-worthy full-suspension carbon race bike will be accompanied by a ground-up redesign of the Trance composite platform, which was absent from the line in 2009, but will be offered again in 2010 as the Trance X Advanced SL.
Anthem X Advanced SL
If the podiums at the recent Mountain Bike Nationals in Granby, Colorado, are any indication, the hardtail 26-incher may soon be going the way of thumbshifters and beartrap pedals. The elite podiums in Granby were dominated by 29ers (both hardtail and full-suspension) and full-suspension 26ers.
Skil-Shimano is the only team in this year’s Tour de France with a component manufacturer as a co-title sponsor. Naturally with Shimano making such investment into this Continental Professional team from the Netherlands, it made sure to outfit it with its latest and greatest components.
The 2009 men’s podium at Mountain Bike Nationals at SolVista Resort in Granby, Colorado, looked like this: First place: Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski, Gary Fisher SuperFly 29er; Second place: Adam Craig, Giant Anthem X Advanced full suspension; Third: Sam Schultz, Gary Fisher SuperFly 29er; Fourth: Jeremiah Bishop, Cannondale Scalpel full suspension; Fifth: Jay Henry, Gary Fisher SuperFly 29er.
Subaru-Gary Fisher team rider Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski began his mountain bike racing career in Winter Park, Colorado, just south of the SolVista Resort, the site of the 2009 and 2010 Mountain Bike National Championships. For all intents it’s a home course for JHK and his wife, fellow Subaru-Gary Fisher racer, Heather Irmiger, who each took home national cross-country titles this weekend.
In recent years many time trial bikes have sprouted nose cones and structural fairings to improve aerodynamic, but more recently the UCI has signaled that it intends to crack down on designs that infringe on its '3:1' rule, which says frame and components can't be more than three times wider than they are tall; a 1-centimeter-tall handlebar, for example, can't be more than 3 centimeters wide from front to back. The enforcement doesn't necessarily limit innovation. Trek Bicycle, for example, was already looking beyond nose cones and fairings.
Back before Lance Armstrong won his first Tour de France he lived in Nice, France. In 1998, he, like many pros in the area, started using the Col de la Madone to test his fitness. At 10 kilometers, the climb has been described by Armstrong as not easy, but not too hard, a perfect road to gauge fitness. Armstrong’s most magical moment on the Madone came in 1999. He went there by himself, on a normal training ride, and did the climb on his own. He recalls the time as 30:45, “with a lot of watts,” adding that he’s never gone any faster.
We recently bumped into Jim Felt, head bike designer of his namesake company Felt Bicycles, in the Cote d’Azur airport. He is in the middle of a three-week trip that first took him to Aigle, Switzerland, to visit the UCI, where he met with Jean Wauthier, the organization’s technical director and Phillippe Chevallier, the road coordinator. Felt was on his way to the start of the Tour de France in Monaco where he’ll be embedded with the Garmin team for the first 10 days of the race. Felt was happy to talk about his meeting with the UCI while waiting for his traveling companions.
In 2008, sunglass and apparel manufacturer, Oakley passed the $1 billion mark in terms of annual sales. That figure had been the goal of the company for the better part of a decade. That marked a milestone for an iconic brand whose futuristic building is perched atop a hill at the end of Icon road in Foothill Ranch, California. VeloNews visited Oakley’s Interplanetary headquarters this spring. You’ll have to pick up a copy of our August issue, on newsstands now, for the whole story, but as a supplement, we’re more than happy to take you on a photo tour, right here.
Giant Factory Team rider Adam Craig won the 2008 national championship cross-country race in Mount Snow, Vermont, using a single 35-tooth chainring and half of MRP’s System 3 Carbon downhill chainguide. That race underscored his and other top cross-country racers’ commitment to leave behind multiple front chainrings for a light and simple single-ring solution.
You’ve heard the rumors about SRAM XX. There’s been speculation about how many speeds it would have, what gear combinations would be available, how light it would be and what it would be made of. Now we have all the answers. XX is SRAM’s first complete off-road group, featuring an industry-first 10-speed mountain bike cassette and the first double-ring crankset from a major group manufacturer.
Julien Absalon (Orbea) has had a carbon crown and steerer for his 32mm stanchioned SID World Cup since late last season and now you can have one too. RockShox has announced that the SID World Cup, its flagship cross-country racing fork, will get an upgrade for 2010. After a two-year absence, RockShox will bring back the carbon crown and steerer for the World Cup model.
Cinelli’s XCr frame is an interesting experiment that mashes together classic steel bicycle frame craftsmanship with new world technology. From the classy side, the XCr features its choice of steel for a material, exquisite Italian welding and craftsmanship, not to mention, a classy design — including the seatstay-integrated seat post clamp. These features are juxtaposed by the incorporation of, arguably, the industry’s most advanced steel alloy, a progressive BB30 bottom bracket design and an integrated headset.
Cross-country riders aren’t the only mountain bike racers with a weight obsession. The World Cup gravity crew has been working on trimming grams, too, and that’s a big issue when you have a bike like Yeti’s 303DH, which excels in just about every aspect … except for that hefty number of grams that might be trimmed.
You’re likely to see lots of Felt bikes in the coming days, especially with the Garmin-Slipstream team at this week’s start of the Giro d’Italia. Rest assured, however, none of them will racing this new bike from Felt. We caught a glimpse of this prototype mountain bike last month. It’s a new full suspension cross-country machine that Felt makes for sponsored racers.
Raffling for a worthy cause is smart fundraising, according to Ibis co-owner and front man Scot Nicol. If the product is cool, the cause is solid and the tickets aren’t too expensive, then you can raise some good money. For example: Last year Ibis donated a Silk SL road bike to fatcyclist.com to support the webmaster’s fight against cancer. That bike brought in $37,500 for the LAF foundation through the Livestrong Challenge avenue.
On Friday, SRAM released its new Force group, which features redesigned brakes, new graphics and the addition of a BB30 crank. The company also displayed its latest version of Zipp 303 wheels, which first hit the road on the cobbles of the 2009 Paris-Roubaix. SRAM Force With the inclusion of the new BB30 crank and bottom bracket, a Force group now weighs 1,957 grams (the standard group with a GXP crankset weighs 2,097 grams).
When you come to Sea Otter with a sharp eye, you’ll bound see all sorts of cool stuff, whether it’s new team equipment or an in-the-works prototype. We saw wheels from Easton, a new bike from legend John Tomac and some natural wax lube designed by a MIT grad student — among other things.
The product development offices Crankbrothers comfortably fill a medium-sized building three blocks from the water in downtown Laguna Beach, California. Step out the front door and you are presented two choices: Turn right to surf or left and take a short spin to rough trails that require a healthy dose of bike handling skill to negotiate. The area is the stomping ground of the Laguna Rads, a long-established group of mountain bike riders, many of whom were instrumental in shaping the sport in its early days.
If you pay attention to how mountain bike development goes over at Giant Bicycles, you already anticipated the arrival of the composite Anthem X model. This is how it works at Giant: First they prototype a model, build the first production model in aluminum and then follow it up with a composite flagship after the design has proven itself to the consumer.
It may strike some as a bit unusual that Giant Bicycles chose to present its 2009 mountain bike team — a team dominated by some of the best endurance riders in the world — at Woodward West, a freeriding, BMX and skate boarding haven in Tehachapi, California. Make no mistake, you can hardly pigeon hole any members of this team into the ‘XC Racer’ stereotype. They like to think of themselves as all-rounders and they did a good job of proving it in this latest meeting with the press.
With two laps of the finishing circuit remaining in the penultimate stage of the 2009 Amgen Tour of California, Fränk Schleck attacked on his Specialized Tarmac SL2 — but victory eluded him. Undaunted, Schleck again took the initiative during the final stage on Palomar Mountain and then out-sprinted his lone breakaway partner, Liquigas’ Vincenzo Nibali, in a short kick to the line.
Mavic France placed a voluntary recall on all of its front R-SYS wheels this winter and a domestic recall followed suit two weeks later. The reason for the domestic delay was the CPSC’s approval of Mavic USA’s action plan for the recall. That plan was considered voluntary, but Mavic used verbiage and took action that made is seem more serious. Mavic stated consumers should “immediately cease use” and took the added measure of shipping R-SYS owners its Aksium model, which relies on steel spokes, until the situation can be rectified.
Ag2r-La Mondiale’s Rinaldo Nocentini scored a tough win in stage 7 of the Amgen Tour of California aboard BH’s G4 Global Concept team bike on Saturday. While we don’t have the winner’s bike to profile, we did catch up with the team earlier in the week and managed to grab some shots and details about the team’s bikes, produced by Spain's Fabricante de bicicletas de Álava.
While the Liquigas team hasn’t had the race it might have wished for at this year’s Amgen Tour of California, it does appear to have a new bike. When questioned, Cannondale reps only acknowledged that the team has been testing prototype frames. The prototypes were created using the feedback Daniele Bennati provided after racing on a Super Six frame with custom geometry last year. That frame also served as a proving ground for Cannondale to test the use of high modulus carbon fiber, which is now found in the 2009 production model.
Giant Bicycles had something special at the Amgen Tour of California: Two teams riding a time trial bike it’s developing. This isn’t out of the ordinary, except for the fact that one of the teams has a different bike sponsor. You’ll notice that Rabobank and Columbia are on quite similarly designed bikes, but one says “Giant” on its downtube, while the other sports a “Highroad techdev” label.
Recent word that the UCI was poised to impose an immediate change to its equipment regulations regarding aerodynamic tubing caused a small panic at this week’s Amgen Tour of California. Rumor had it that cycling’s international governing body was ready to apply rules that would have kept a significant number of time trial bikes off the starting line in Friday’s stage 6 time trial at Solvang.
There are two bikes in the Cervélo TestTeam stable here at the Amgen Tour of California. The S2 and S3 are new aero road models and are available to consumers in 2009 and what the team is currently racing. Interestingly, none of the riders are using Cervélo’s R3 frame. Even Carlos Sastre, a R3 holdout, is competing on an aerodynamic road bike.
The questions came in to us here at VeloNews after stage 5 of the Tour Down Under: What sunglasses did Lance have on? The answer: Oakley’s new sports spec, called Jawbone.
Matching your tire to a course’s conditions is a key to achieving the best possible result. There are currently three major tubular tire manufacturers that design, manufacture and produce complete tire lines: Challenge, Dugast and Tufo. Each manufacturer’s line is made up of three models — file tread, all-condition and mud — in a multitude of sizes.
To a cycling enthusiast, the fall Garmin-Chipotle team camp may look like Christmas for the 28 riders on the squad, but to them it’s another day at the office. Whether they’re thumbing through Fi’zi:k’s ‘Blackbook,’ the brand’s 2009 saddle catalog, trying to decide which saddle to choose or test, or they’re submitting sizes for 2XU compression gear, or sitting through a lecture on wheel selection by sponsor Zipp — it’s all work. [nid:85344]
That wasn’t just any old Trek XO cyclocross bike Travis Brown was riding in last weekend’s Boulder and Redline Cup races — it was a prototype belt-driven bike. The Trek product tester first raced the anodized green machine, dubbed the XOB, at CrossVegas, held in conjunction with the Interbike trade show in Las Vegas.
A new bike: It’s the time of year for new stuff. Interbike is over, but every manufacturer has something that’s still new, and they’re all excited to talk about their latest and greatest. Giant Bicycles is no exception. Andrew Juskaitis, Giant’s Global Communications coordinator, made a trip out to VeloNews’ home of Boulder, Colorado, for a fall ride on his brand’s new Anthem X performance cross-country bike, which Adam Craig rode to victory at this year’s national cross-country championships in Mount Snow, Vermont.
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Challenge, the handmade Italian tire manufacturer, has a new tire that’s ready for the coming cyclocross season. The Grifo Fango mud tire rounds out the brand’s line that includes the Grifo XS file tread, which is built for sand and smooth courses and the Grifo, an all-conditions tire that’s over 20 years old, easily recognized by its chevron tread pattern.
Anyone can attest it’s hard to sleep when you’re hot. It's a fact that Garmin-Chipotle physiologist Allen Lim knows well. It’s why, among other things, regulating his riders’ temperatures on and off the bike is key to keeping them as fresh and fast as possible. This concept plays into both short-term and long-term performances; the former being a stage performance and the latter being the whole of the three-week race like the Tour de France.
On the eve of this race’s final test, the 53-kilometer time trial from Cérilly to Saint-Amand-Montrond, CSC-Saxo Bank’s Carlos Sastre leads Frank Schleck by 1:24, with another 9 seconds to Bernard Kohl and — perhaps most ominously — 1:34 to Cadel Evans, who sits fourth. In this Tour's first time trial, a super-flat 29.5-kilometer race circumventing Cholet, Sastre finished 1:16 behind Evans and four seconds in front of Kohl.
If Mavic sold the pro-only version of the R-SYS, which popped up at this year’s Tour, it would have been a winner from the beginning.
The paint job on Erik Zabel’s Colnago was originally used 25 years ago, but even that classic look can not hide the new form beneath it. Zabel debuted Colnago’s new EPS (Extreme Power Special) frame at this year’s and is the only rider using in the peloton.
Belgian-based frame builder Ridley has completed two new models in time for this year’s Tour de France with the goal of putting Silence-Lotto's top rider on the top step of the podium in Paris on July 27. Anyone can hope, of course, but Ridley has the technological chops to back it up. Aside from Team Columbia's prototype Giant, which we’ll look at in another piece, Ridley’s Dean and Noah are the big tech stories of this year’s Tour. And, unlike Columbia's new time-trial bike, both Ridley models are slated for 2009 production.
CSC is not a Shimano-sponsored team. Instead, it buys the Shimano components it uses. You might be surprised that a team like CSC pays for its drivetrain components, but there are multiple reasons why it pays. The primary reason is because of other sponsor obligations, namely to FSA. But it has always been the team’s practice to pick and choose the parts its director Bjarne Riis feels are the best. A byproduct of not being tied to a certain manufacturer’s parts is the ability to experiment.
Shimano’s electric time-trial shifters made their racing debut on Tuesday during the stage-4 individual time trial in Cholet. Ever since the “E-Dura-Ace” group showed up three years ago there was speculation that it might become a powerful time-trial tool. The system can be routed internally through a radically shaped time trial bike without hampering shifting performance. And the time-trial version sports shift buttons in both bar-ends and brake levers, which means a rider can shift regardless of whether he’s on the aero bars or the bullhorns.
When Caisse D’Epargne superstar Alejandro Valverde stormed past Columbia’s Kim Kircken in the last 200 meters of the opening stage of the 2008 Tour de France he did it on a brand new bike. The winning bike wasn’t new in the sense of a new design — it is the same bike as his teammates ride, a Pinarello Prince — but it was new to Valverde. In fact, it was his first ride on the new bike.
The first four stages of this year’s Tour take place on the windy, often rain-soaked roads of [nid:79435]northwestern France. The riders don’t truly escape it until the first time trial in Cholet. Because of the conditions, many teams, or individual riders, take special measures to ensure their safety and ability to perform in the less than perfect weather on less than perfect roads. [nid:79433]
Robbie McEwen’s bike was lined up unassumingly, mid-pack, among his teammates' rigs in front of a roped off and guarded Silence-Lotto bus. All of the extra protection was meant to protect the race favorite — McEwen's teammate Cadel Evans — but McEwen’s bike benefited. He was suppose to start the race on Campagnolo’s new 11-speed group, but instead he unassumingly rode away from the team bus on a 10-speed bike. [nid:79347]
Last year Oakley revamped its most popular sport sunglass the M-Frame into a new sunglass. Though the M-Frame is still available its predecessor, the Radar, has become as instantly popular as the decade old staple of Oakley’s line. Using the opening stage of the Tour as a springboard, Oakley introduced a complement to the new Radar in the form of a newly styled Racing Jacket. Columbia’s George Hincapie and Credit Agricole’s Thor Hushovd are the two riders charged with introducing the new shade, and the only two riders who currently have it. [nid:79335]
A day before the start of the Tour de France is almost too late to accomplish anything significant. Nonetheless, it’s a frantic time for mechanics and support staff as clock ticks down to the start of the world’s biggest bicycle race. Teams build bikes up to the last minute, busses are stocked and there are always bikes, kits and cars to be washed and shined in last hours before the race kicks off. Instead of diving right into a single piece of equipment for this year’s race, let’s take a look at the frantic activity on the eve of the Tour.