Before the Tour Starts


After a week of sharing new products from PressCamp, super bikes, and before the Tour starts, a little Bike Path Fun. Met a couple taking selfies and a couple cruisers. Didn’t ask, but they may not even know who’s racing the Tour this year or care.

Taiwan’s Microshift

Microshift homepage

Shimano, SRAM, Campagnolo, and…..Microshift? Will there be day when you can’t say the first three names without including the fourth?

Microshift is a Taiwanese-based component manufacturer that has been around only since 1999, with production in both Taiwan and mainland China. In Taiwan, Microshift derailleurs and shifters are stocked in local bike shops as commonly as Shimano, but abroad they are mainly known as OEM spec on less expensive bicycles. Nonetheless, Microshift has developed a comprehensive line of products including Shimano-compatible 10sp integrated shifters and derailleurs and a host of mtb and city bike shifters. They are also hard at work bringing their own 11sp road levers to market for 2015 (no confirmation as to Shimano-compatibility) as well as an electronic drivetrain. Microshift components are also being produced for brands such as Gevenalle (nee Retroshift).

To become a real player in the bicycle drivetrain market, access to cheap manufacturing alone cannot guarantee success. A company must innovate, not just to attract consumers, but to also break free of the shackles created by existing product patents. It is no mean feat to design an integrated brake/shift lever for drop handlebars that doesn’t fall foul of patents owned by Shimano, SRAM, or Campagnolo, though perhaps a dawning era of electronic shifting may bring greater design freedom.

In my brief experiences riding Microshift products, I would never mistake their finish or function for higher tier product from like Shimano Ultegra, but they did seem like solid competition against Shimano Sora. Microshift will be seen on some entry-level 2015 road bikes from Specialized, but as Microshift grabs more share of OEM, might they one day take a bite of the high-end of the market? Over the next five years, it will be interesting how far Microshift will go.

S-Works McLaren Tarmac: $20K with Helmet and Shoes

Spesh Hero

McLaren Tarmac

The first sign the Tour was about to start was when I saw an old roadie in Mapei-Clas kit on the bike path and then the Wilier was released, a 10.2 lb production Trek, and now this S-Works McLaren Tarmac. When we were at the Tarmac launch a month ago, what Spesh learned from McLaren was present. I discuss how they rely on the data now in my new Tarmac review published in Issue 12 of our magazine.

When I asked if a McLaren Tarmac edition was planned, Reikert quickly flipped on the Rancilio espresso machine, poured an obsessively-perfect cup, and changed the subject to the day’s ride. “Fair enough,” I thought, and thanks for the coffee!

It’s been 2 seasons since the Venge (that I rode too) and now the S-Works McLaren Tarmac is launched. So Spesh has taken the new Tarmac and tricked it out even further, including a build kit, helmet, and shoes.

More than just strictly a frame and fork, the S-Works McLaren Tarmac is a complete collection of cohesive parts and equipment that add up to one incredibly unique, and exclusive performance package. Every single Specialized piece of equipment on the bike has been designed specifically for this project and was engineered for complete performance. Included with the bike is a Body Geometry Fit consultation to ensure the proper sized frame is selected. In addition to frame size, a range of component sizes are selected to best fit the customer including handlebar and saddle width, stem length and crank size. Exclusive to the S-Works McLaren Tarmac is a custom sized pair of S-Works Road Shoes as well as a S-Works Prevail helmet, both color matched to the bike.

EE Brakes

with EE brakes

For $20K, you get custom EE brakes too.

The S-Works McLaren Tarmac maintains all of the outstanding performance characteristics of the standard S-Works Tarmac via Rider-First Engineered design while reducing the weight of the overall frame and fork by between 9%-11% depending on frame size. Thanks to a proprietary carbon layup process developed exclusively with McLaren, the weight savings come at zero cost to the overall performance of the bike itself – not often an easy task to accomplish.

Like the Emonda announced yesterday, Spesh is marketing a complete system (bike and build kit) and both bikes get closer to what I called for in a Medium post after the Hydro recall. If they thought they could make money at it, I’d expect both manufactures would make a drivetrain too. Price a super bike at 30K and why not? Also offer VIP concierge, roadside service, so the owners are immersed in a complete experience and not pulling a chain back on a ring or fixing a flat.

Crank

S-Works crank

Find the rest of the photos on G+ and more from Spesh on the S-Works McLaren Tarmac site.

Pinhead Locking Skewers

Pinhead locking skewers & accessories

Pinhead provides locks for headset caps, seatpost clamps, and wheels (both QR and solid axles). They can be purchased as a complete package for all items or you can have add-on pieces keyed to match existing Pinhead locks. These anti-theft device take the place of regular skewers/bolts to prevent opportunistic thieves from swiping you components.

I’ve installed these items on customers’ bikes. They do the job, but for the utmost security make sure you use their newer “POG” washers to foil especially well-prepared criminals. I also recommend that you leave the skewers long rather than cutting them to minimum necessary, because a bit of skewer sticking past the lock face will allow key/wrench to stay in place a little better. Without that, it’s really difficult to crank on the skewer to get it tight enough to hold like a regular QR; the key wants to slip off the lock face. Annoying…very. Pinhead wheel skewers wouldn’t be my choice for a bike with horizontal dropout, though the solid axle lock might hold fine in such a frame.

Pinhead locking skewers & accessories

Pinhead locking skewers & accessories

Trek’s Emonda

Emonda

10.2 lbs with a 190 lb rider weight limit

Today Trek Bicycle announced the Emonda

The world’s lightest production road line, which includes the 10.25lb/4.65kg Émonda SLR 10, the lightest production road bike ever. Originating from the french verb émonder meaning “to prune or trim away”, the three-year Émonda project began with the most stringent frame tube optimization ever. Carbon frames are often designed as much for aesthetics as for function, but Émonda focused solely on making sure every strand of carbon served a purpose. Form followed function, beautifully, and the result is svelte, elegant, minimalist perfection. Every detail of the Émonda line, from frame design to each component choice on every model, serves the same audacious goal: to produce the lightest line of production road bikes ever offered.

bar/stem combo

Bar and Stem Combo

Interestingly and to their credit, Trek Bicycle has gotten closer to what I called for in a Medium post last year after the Hydro recall, when I asked for a company to develop a complete bike. Looks like, except for the drivetrain, that’s all their in-house spec.

The idea was; we have the resources to build a complete bike system. Let’s use that advantage to look at every aspect of the bicycle and how each component interacts with all the others,” said Trek Road Product Manager Ben Coates. “Once we covered the basic bike functions, we focused on every minute detail. Every decision was based on what was the overall lightest option for the system.”

built in magnet

Built-in power meter magnets

While superlight bikes aren’t our thing, as I wrote about this morning in another Medium post, what this bike does too is resolve Trek’s OCLV weight image and give them a superbike to market at $16K.

More photos of the Emonda are on G+.

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