Issue 12: Aerobars for Safety

Cinelli Spinaci


After all, most seasoned road riders have at least one story about some douchebag trying to ride on the aerobars within the pace line of a group ride and nearly crashing the whole party into the tarmac.

Mark V in Issue 12 of our ad-free, subscription-based magazine.

Huggacast Shorts: Dropped Chain

PRO Tip! What to do when your chain drops. Don’t panic, back pedal, then coax it back onto the ring with the front shifter. Doesn’t always work, but sometimes you can correct it without stopping.

Riding v. Racing and Training

Ben descending

Ben rode that Tarmac super fast and hard, but doesn’t “train”

Wish I would’ve recorded and Instagramed, Ben Delaney’s morning dissertation on “training” v. “riding” during the Spesh New Tarmac event. It was almost mystical and predictive. During the presentation of his thesis while sipping on espresso Chris Reikert poured, I was reminded how some of the fastest dudes I ride with, don’t put a number on their back, they just ride. Hard, like on lunch rides.


An Equator Coffee pour

A couple of them wrote articles for our magazine this month and it could’ve been an op/ed on just riding or flying across the Pacific for a stage race.

Matt Fit

Matt got super fit once


Anthony is in top form, don’t know when he’s not

Some get motivated by the challenge of a race or a long ride. I make room for both ways, but this season have gravitated to finding the perfect ride, like a surfer after a wave, and got into a zone on the Santa Cruz twisty descents. Here are excerpts from Matt’s take and Anthony’s race report…

I spent a year and a great deal of money on training seriously. It took its toll on my body, on my marriage, and on my family. By the end of the season and the year, I kind of hated cycling. Mostly it was the gruelling way I felt forced to be out there on my bike punishing myself and suffering 6 days a week when I had a family to take care of as well as a business to run. My cyclocross placings in lower category racing went from bottom third to firmly middle, sometimes better than mid-pack, but never on any podium. – Matt from My Not-Getting-Gapped Year

As he disappeared up the road, I switched to “remora mode” (a remora is a fish that attaches itself to a shark for a free ride). Chasing, sitting on, patrolling, disrupting, etc. With two guys up the road, my duty was to protect and serve, while not completely pissing the rest of the peloton off. From that point on, it was accelerate, and cover. – Anthony from Tour of Friendship

So what did Ben say? It was something like, “just ride man,” but said much more eloquently.

Take a Ride with Nokia Lumia Icon


Tern and Nokia

Nokia had such a good time with us and Tern at SXSW 14, they had custom Lumia bikes made and are giving them away. It’s a Facebook contest to win a a Nokia blue Tern Verge P9 with a dyno hub and mount.

Details are on Nokia’s page and maybe we’ll see one of those bikes at a future event.

Why “Anatomic” and “Women-Specific” Handlebars Suck

From a distance and to the untrained observer, the drop handlebar is the giveaway that the bike is meant for the road. Arguably, this is a misconception since there are many instances where a dropbar might be used on something other than a road bike.

“Pandering to women cyclists” might sound dismissive, yet I don’t mean to imply that there are not average morphological differences between men and women that are best accommodated by gender-tailored products. But there is no reason for a woman to buy a handlebar because it is labeled “women-specific”. Not unless it fits her. That is to say, women on average have smaller hands, narrower shoulders, and shorter arms and torsos than men, so it would make sense that she might look for a handlebar that has less reach, less drop, and a narrower width. But the numbers alone do not complete the picture, and there have been plenty of dropbars that were marketed as women-specific or especially ergonomic that were in fact horrible.

First, perhaps we should consider the whether it is valid to assume that there is an “ideal” handlebar width for a given rider. Historical, handlebar widths have followed trends. Forty to fifty years ago, handlebars tended to be quite narrow by todays standards; 38-40cm centre-centre on road bikes was quite common even for taller riders and 44cm was rather rare. By the 1980s, quality dropbars such as Italian brands 3T, Cinelli, and ITM had settled on 40-44cm as the standard range. In the 1990s, Grant Petersen of Rivendell Bicycles became something of a tastemaker for non-racers; he argued that dropbars should be wide, perhaps as wide as 48cm c-c. I’ve spoken to Jan Heine of Bicycle Quarterly about the subject, and he contends that wider handlebars followed trends in steering geometry. He pointed out that some of the older French cyclo-touriste bikes had bars as narrow as 36-38cm with low trail steering. As another twist to the narrative, as professional bike racers become more concerned with aerodynamics, a number of riders, particularly powerful sprinters, have chosen relatively narrow bars in an effort to improve drag coefficients. What should you take from all this? That handlebar width has been influenced by trends and prevailing theories of bike fit. It is certainly logical to choose a narrower bar if you are a smaller rider, but there is some conjecture about if there may be an ideal width for you. As Jan pointed out, bike fitters have been using the “width of the collar bone” rule for decades, but somehow they used to come up with smaller numbers back in the day. Personal preference may justly be a factor.

As for reach and drop, these dimensions should take into account overall rider height, flexibility, hand size, and component (lever model) choice. Here’s where some many handlebar designers have gotten it so wrong. Pictured below is one of my most hated handlebars, the Ritchey Biomax II, which is in the category of “anatomic bend” handlebars. Notice how sharply the bar bends below the hood, creating a distinctly acute angle. This bend does achieve a short drop but as a consequence the palm of the hand is moved up and back some distance, making the reach to the levers’ controls all but impossible for small hands. Only an adjustable reach feature in the lever can mitigate the problem, but there were no such levers on the market when the bar was originally produced. On a handlebar such as this, a rider with small hands can really only use the drops on flat road sections, whereas ideally one would like to be able to use the brakes/shifters in the drops for technical cornering and descents.

Handlebars: Anatomic vs Traditional

Handlebars: Anatomic vs Traditional

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