Shook off the bike-racing monk robes for a date night with Pam and Micheal Buble at the #Deltasea Flyaway event. Met him backstage, wearing Glass, and his reaction was like anyone I meet who hasn’t seen Google’s wearable computer before (he asked if I was a super villain and if anything weird was happening). The video also shows his appeal. He’s personable, a throwback to another, simpler time with a performance that represents the standards well.
The plan was for Max to podium in the Cat 4s on his Davidson and in Bike Hugger kit. Then move up, race well, and get his name and new bike out there – it’s built to race cyclocross in the Pacific Northwest mud and all conditions. After building the bike up and during Max’s first ride, I got two texts one Summer afternoon. The first was a joyful photo of a climb and then a few hours later…
As Max learned, the Davidson is NOT an MTB! He overcooked a turn on the descent and crashed. He’s recovering now, back to riding, and racing next season.
Notched chainstays for wide tires
We’ll tell you more about the bike when it gets raced. It’s an interation of the D-Plus with room for really wide tires. See more photos about Max’s first ride that ended in a crash on the Tiniest Princess’ tumblr.
Coolest thing about this project is when we were writing about cargo bikes, I called for a Pho Cargo project and well, here ya go. I was thinking it was a bakfietsen with pho pots, but this works too.
Conceived as a support for small pieces of lives, as an ephemeral house or as a vertical street food restaurant, it might deviate from its original yet wide function and become something else, an unexpected urban animal. A mini-concert hall? A poetry podium ? It probably just needs to circulate, to stroll around the busy streets of Hanoi and then it’ll decide by itself which disguise to adopt…
Seen during a trip to Rome in 2008; cycle chic, urban, and in traffic.
Occasionally during the seven years that we’ve been publishing Bike Hugger I’d post on the topic of the influence of bikes on fashion. This was usually precipitated by the bike’s re-emergence on fashion runways, in television, movies and in commercials.
For reasons that are better left to a sociologist, the bike’s lofty zenith seems to have passed and like Sandra Bullock it’s now headed back to earth at high speed.
The bike backlash has been noticed by trend-spotters in the media and several linkbait articles ran this weekend in the New York Times, Times UK, Specator, Deadspin and even on our local TV station. Cyclists are now the attackers of motorists. Pariah that break the law and leave damage behind them. Just like PotofStew did, you can follow the anti-bike sentiment on Twitter or anywhere else people gather online to rant and complain.
At the risk of further stoking flamewars, what’s important here is that cyclists have a PR problem and bike-lane people aren’t equipped to handle it. Thanks to the work of social planners we’ve got more bike lanes in this country than ever before but there isn’t the advocacy there to help teach anyone how to interact with a bike.
Maybe it’s when bikes got tagged as part of “transportation” or when “cycle chic” articles began to pop up in the press but the core issue is that motorists rule the road and a cyclist doesn’t look, act or feel like a motorist. We are “the other” and we all know how groups react to “others”.
Responding to bad PR isn’t the job of the planners and developers that got the bike lanes installed. They’re still celebrating increased bike ridership by setting up bike trip counters so we can admire how awesome we are.
With so much hate swirling around us, I want to keep it positive here on Bike Hugger. We’re going to celebrate bikes, not help tear them apart. For more related commentary on this topic, see posts from Seabikeblog, Freebeacon, and this comment from Fredcast.
Unfortunately, like many arguments in polarizing debates, this one from NYTimes is too idealistic and unrealistic. Making major and expensive changes to infrastructure takes time, money and will. These are three things in short supply in this country. Besides that, the author’s premise smacks of the same attitude that we see on the roads. It’s as if cyclists are lying on the floor, kicking and screaming, “but these roads are inadequate for ME so I won’t obey the laws. I won’t! I won’t! I won’t” Really? How hard is it to come to a full stop at a stop sign? How difficult is it to stay as far to the right as practicable? Is it really that hard to ride predictably and to signal your intentions? Really? If you want the money to come and the will to change, then invest the time. And the only way this will happen is with a change in attitude and actions.
One of our editors, David, started and ran the Rockland Bicycling club in his home county just outside New York City. Every ride the club did started with a safety speech, each one involved single-file riding with hand-signals for turns, full stops at signs and light and no one ever complained about the difficulty in following the rules of the road.
I’ll end this post with with a message bike advocates and media could share
The inattentive cyclist endangers only himself. The motorist must be held to a higher standard.
Last year, Sidi introduced the Wire as their flagship road shoe, replacing the Ergo3. Sighted in prototype form on the feet of riders such as Peter Sagan, the Wire is probably the most dramatic revision to the Sidi top-end in a decade, replacing the three fasteners of the Ergo series with just two twist ratchet/tension cord units that Sidi calls Tecno 3 system. The shoe is also offered with a choice of two carbon soles. The Vent sole is an all-new carbon design with vents underneath at the toe and mid-foot while the SP has a Speedplay-specific mount without vents. Since I ride Speedplay Zero pedals, I considered getting the SP, but in the end I chose the Vent because it was available in my size in the Cannondale Team colours.
Sidi always brings solid construction to their product, even if it seems to be laden with a lot of gimmicky devices. I have a 13 yr old pair of Sidi Energy shoes, then the flagship model from the same company. The Energy has a telescoping rod in the arch of the shoe that was designed to allow the rider to “fine tune the stiffness of the sole.” That shoe has held up quite well over time, but that rod in the shoe arch has never produced any noticeable effect. On the other hand, the Wire Vent’s array of features are all genuinely contributing something to the rider.
First off are the Tecno3 buckles that the Wire debuts. These are a further refinement of the cable & twist ratcher buckle that appeared on Sidi production shoes back in the 1990s with the Sidi Tecno. This time the twist mechanism is smaller and lighter than ever. The tension cord is much more supply than previous versions and despite the “Wire” name do not appear to be metal. By using just two Tecno3 buckles per shoe, the Wire eliminates the ratcheting instep buckle that has been a feature of the top-end Sidis since 1989. Instead the Wire winches down the instep pad with one Tecno3. The forefoot area, previously occupied by a Tecno2 buckle and a Velcro strap, is now managed by a single Tecno3. The thin tension cord leaves the tongue largely uncovered, and the shoe designers took advantage of this by incorporating vents into the padding of the tongue.
Compared to the older Sidi Ergo, the Wire upper feels more supple. With the Ergo, I generally adjusted the shoe before I mounted the bike and then adjusted once more after a couple hours. I find that I have to adjust the Wire a lot more often because I don’t instinctively know how the shoe will feel later in the ride. The shoe is distinctly better vented than my previous Sidi shoes; in fact the venting in the tongue felt a little weird at first since I’ve never had a shoe that cooled that area well. In time the fit of the shoe has become more familiar, but I will always be disappointed in the ergonomics of the Tecno3 ratchet. The buckle has a grab lever that flips up to allow you to turn the piece, but the tab to flip the grab is small enough to befuddle cold or gloved fingers. Usually I have to visually confirm the position of the buckle before I reach for it, because I cannot figure it out by touch alone. And staring at my shoes is not what I want to do in a pack of riders at full gallop.
A more subtle Sidi innovation is the Heel Security System (HSS), first debuted in the Sidi Ergo. Fitted to the back of the shoe right above the moulded heel cup, the HSS snugs the shoe around the knob of the heel without putting pressure on the Achilles. Newer versions of the HSS like on the Wire are adjustable (not while riding). Personally, I really appreciate how much this bit enhances the fit of the shoe, but I could hypothesize that someone with a different foot might not find this particularly advantageous.
The full-carbon Vent sole is more than adequately stiff, and again the vents are actually functional. However, the close-able toe vent interfered with mounting the Speedplay cleat, so I removed the portion of the vent that slides to close the opening. The cleat itself blocks a bit of the vent but not all. This is probably would not be an issue if my shoe were bigger than the hobbit-like size 39. Of course, I could have gotten the SP sole, but that wasn’t available in my size for the Team Cannondale edition. Also, the SP sole is a bit thinner than the Vent for total cleat/shoe stack, which would mean I would have to adjust my saddle height depending on which shoe I was going to use. Since half my road bikes have integrated seatposts, adjusting saddle heights is far from my favourite pre-ride ritual.
Compared to my old Energy shoe, the Wire Cannondale Team Edition is lighter (261gr/shoe vs Energy’s 282gr/shoe, size 39), but not nearly enough to put the Wire into the ultralight category. At $550 for the limited edition ($500 for the regular edition), the Wire is no bargain either. There are plenty of other shoes out there that can simply connect your foot to a pedal. If you’ve never liked the fit of Sidis, don’t even look here. If you calculate a shoe as an equation of dollars versus grams, your solution won’t be Wire. If you are buying a Sidi, particularly a flagship model, you are going for fit, quality/durability, and style. And if you buy the Cannondale Team version, make sure you like the colour green, because you’re gonna have that shoe for a very long time.
Some people can wear just about any shoe, cycling-specific or otherwise. They can use price, style, colour, or even weight as the top of considerations when shopping for a new shoe. And then there are other people for whom fit is the dominant factor in a shoe buying decision. And while no single model of shoe can fit all foot shapes, some seem to fit a wider variety than others. For me and many others, Sidi is the gold standard for cycling shoes. They are expensive but durable. They are well-made but somewhat heavy. They are consistent in fit and quality but perhaps a bit slow to incorporate new trends. And having established those traits as consistent, riders are willing to come back to Sidi whenever need or want leads them to a new cycling shoe purchase.
The pro racing is back in Louisville and I’m reminded of the time I spent there earlier this year blogging, writing for Wired, and racing. The conditions look dry this weekend in Derby City and not “Tundra of a frozen grass-mud course marked by rocks and roots,” like Worlds was. A photo from the racing that weekend is the cover for Issue 06 that dropped this week. The issue is about riding in all conditions and persevering: #rodeinit.
When my raced ended in Louisville, I stopped, crawled off the bike and it just stood there frozen, like Han Solo in carbonite.
While “enduro” is the hot trend in mountain bikes and accessories, “aero-road” is the new black for the pavement posse. In the pursuit of performance, aerodynamics is the last area ripe for exploitation. Specialized has been a leader in using aerodynamics as a major design philosophy for all aspects of road riding, and one of their sponsored teams rosters the best road sprinter of the day. You don’t need to be Nostradamus to foretell that Specialized was going to market an aero-road helmet and that it was going to be a strong product. They did, it is, and the helmet is called the Evade. Specialized claims that the helmet will save 46secs over 40km, or perhaps even more enticing to the sprinter set, 2.6m over a 200m sprint.
There is a good rule of thumb when talking about contributions to aerodynamic drag. In terms of equipment, wheels are most important, then the fork, then the frame. But you as a rider contribute more drag than all those other factors combined….and frankly your head is just awful, aerodynamically speaking. The only way to make it worse is to wear a giant wiffle ball atop your kopp. But a full time trial helmet (besides being illegal for mass start races) is just too bulky and has a narrow range of positioning and conditions in which it can provide a practical improvement. Enter the aero-road helmet. The general concept is simple: take the full TT helmet, shorten it to regulations, round the shape so the helmet aerodynamically works for varying head positions, and make it just ventilated enough that it can be comfortable in a long road race. Besides Specialized, other manufacturers to debut aero-road helmets include Bell, Giro, and Kask; all follow this basic formula.
That Specialized makes big claims of performance gains isn’t exactly a surprise; Specialized has always had a smart marketing thrust. I expect that 2014 will see an aero-road helmet from all the other big name helmet makers. This is going to be a high-profile trend, but is it just hype? Well, the science is there to support the concept, but whether or not you as a rider could ride fast enough to acquire any drag savings is debatable. On the other hand, the only real disadvantage to an aero-road helmet is that it probably is heavier and not as well vented compared to comparable conventional road helmets. If those two obstacles could be overcome, then an aero-road helmet could be beneficial whenever you go fast and is never a bother when it can’t be used to advantage. In the Evade helmet, Specialized more or less accomplishes that.
At 261gr in a medium size, the Evade is lighter than many high-end conventional road models. With many helmets I am uncomfortably between medium and large sizes if there are 3 sizes to choose. I find that the medium Evade fits my head exactly with the thin pads, but that might be because the back portion of the shell is rather open, so my oblong head has a little more room. There really is no room to fit a helmet liner or hat either. I was frankly surprised how comfortable this helmet is. The rear strap system, which Specialized calls Mindset, goes a long way to provide a secure fit despite its structural minimalism. The web straps are remarkably thin and light. The TriFix web splitter might reduce the web straps’ adjustability, but it is hard to fault the comfort and reduced complexity. When riding with the Evade, the helmet definitely seems to have a smoother airflow , with little buffeting sensation that I get from typical road helmets. The rear vents seem to vacuum hot air off your scalp as long as you are traveling more than 15mph.
The Evade has a small profile, adding barely any bulk to the rider’s head. Abdicating the long tails of full TT helmets, this helmet has a shorter, rounder shape that works better in a range of wind angles and head positions. The intake vents are kept to slim slots with particular attention paid to the internal channels and the rear exhaust ports. By keeping the helmet low profile and minimizing air flow into the helmet, the Evade hits all its performance targets, but by optimizing air channels to make the best use of the flow taken in, the same helmet seemed adequately cool enough to use except in very warm and slow conditions (ie, not a good choice for a summer hill climb). I found that the Evade was comfortable enough for most riding conditions, if not for the high summer. Aero-road helmets have been used at winter cyclocross races, early spring road classics, and even the Leadville 100, which is a sign that athletes believe that these helmets are not limited to specific conditions, that when heat is not a race factor then these helmets are without disadvantages….that an aero-road helmet is a worthy choice even if there’s only a slim chance that it could provide a decisive advantage.
I have ridden the helmet for a few weeks, and I’m impressed at how comfortable and practical it has proven. But can I verify the performance claims? No, and I wouldn’t believe anyone who claimed they did unless they provided numbers and robust test protocol from a wind tunnel study not owned or funded by Specialized. But the general science is sound. At $250, the Evade is no bargain lid, but it is no more expensive than comparable offerings from competing brands. But consider that the time savings that the Evade purports to offer are on par with performance claims of $3000-6000 aero-road framesets, and that price seems pretty reasonable.
For an issue about riding in all conditions and persevering, the setup was this starter paragraph from an Instagram post I sent out to our contributors.
Roaring through fog, blinky-lit red comet, breath-steaming locomotive, a racer stunned drivers this morning doing intervals before work. A disappearing act.
In Issue 06 downloadable now from iTunes, Mark V returns to spin a ragged tale of racing in the rains and chaos of an uncivilized land known as Florida. I write about a Chatty Friendly Lance and our contributors share their #rodeinit stories
All Change – Cycling, like any regular outdoor activity, increases ones awareness of the elements and heightens the senses to conditions and changing patterns. I’m still relatively new to the weather of Vancouver, BC, but I’m starting to feel and see the signs. By Martin Gisborne
No Bad Weather. Only Bad Clothes. – But I have to be out there. I can’t miss a ride. By Mark Talkington
To Hold Nothing Back – He was still dripping, a puddle formed on the floor where he sat, water pooled on the seat and a trickle started to spill down, Jackie wondered why he didn’t take his rain gear off before getting everything wet, were his seatmates sitting in the runoff from his plastic coat? By Zanne Blair
Riding the Impossible – It was at the seventh of the 10 switchbacks that my strategy fell apart. By Patrick Brady
Got-To-Gear: Hydro – Editors
Subscription revenues directly support the writing, editing, and production of Bike Hugger Magazine. It’s ad free and published monthly on iTunes for $1.99 per month or $3.99 an issue.
Cyrano handlebar shapes: Bull, Chameleon, and Snake (l-r)
Premium Italian saddle maker Fizik (pronounced “physique”) introduces a line of Cyrano drop handlebars and stems for 2014. The Cyrano bars (in several price levels of alloy and carbon) follow the company’s “Spine Concept” first applied to their saddles. The concept is based of the theory that the flexibility of your spine determines your optimum saddle shape. If your back is rather flexible, you would ride the Arione saddle; Fizik nicknames you a “snake”. If you’re not flexible, you’re a “bull”, and you take the Aliante saddle. In between the two would be a “chameleon” on the Antares saddle. Fizik extends this idea to their new handlebars.
I’ll be honest; I’m not sure I buy into this Spine Concept. I’m even less sure that the concept is valid when applied to a rider’s combined preferences for handlebar and saddle. What if I prefer a “snake” saddle and a “bull” handlebar? Am I not allowed to do that? An Arione saddle was designed long before Fizik started bandying about this fancy concept. Riders like Gilberto Simoni on Cannondale-Saeco and other Italian stage racers were consulted, and what Fizik ended up with was a saddle as long as the UCI would allow, with a extended tail that riders sit back on to get fuller extension of the legs while climbing long grades. The Arione’s long, flat profile allows riders to use the whole length of the saddle. I wouldn’t consider myself to be all that flexible, yet I love the Arione. It’s like my taint found its soulmate. But should my taint to choose my handlebar?
Still, handlebars have existed without taint theories, so maybe we should just consider the handlebars based on their shapes. Like the saddles, there three bar types: Bull, Chameleon, and Snake. All three of the bars use the modern 31.8mm clamp standard.
The Bull has a reach of 80mm and a 130mm drop. By those numbers and general form, the Bull could be described as a compact bend. The shape of the Bull is almost exactly in between the 3T Ergosum and FSA’s “Wing Pro Compact”. It has the tight radius transition from the ramp to the hook like the 3T, but a more curved hook with 3deg flare at the drop like the FSA (4deg). The Bull’s reach is within 5mm of the average compact bend, while the 3T’s 89mm is one of the longest of the lot. A less common trait that all Fizik bars share with Pro’s Vibe series of handlebar is that the bar maintains the 31.8mm diameter almost all the way across the tops of the bar, but the Fizik bars have the typical square shoulder of most modern bars rather the almost track bar shape of the Pro Vibe series. By keeping the diameter big up top, handlebar stiffness is improved. The angle of the ramps is about the same as the typical compact bend and much less than bars like the venerable Cinelli Giro d’Italia.
Bars like the Bull work best with the current generation of integrated brake/shift levers which are designed to be clamped high on the hook and create a continuous, flat transition from the ramp to the lever body. The Bull’s tight bend from the ramp to the hook means that the angle of the body changes rapidly depending on how far up or down you position the lever. In my experience, bars like this work better with SRAM or Shimano than Campagnolo levers because the first two have built-in reach adjustment. Thus you can independently align the lever body with the ramp and then use the lever’s reach adjustment to pull the lever blade in to make it accessible from the hook. Over the years many handlebar brands have marketed bars for smaller riders with “ergo” and “compact” bar shapes that have a short drop and tight bend at the top of the hook. The irony is that bars like this, including Fizik’s Bull, are easier to grab onto the hook, but without the reach adjustment in the lever, braking from the drops is almost impossible if you have small hands (as smaller riders oft have). Of course, riders typically use the lever hood as the primary hand position (with levers evolving in parallel), but it seems ridiculous to buy a bar that is easier to ride in the drops and then not ride in the drops because you can’t use the controls from there. The old Ritchey Biologic bars were horrible in this respect. Fizik says that “Bull” riders are often larger athletes with big hands, so the the curve was designed without tight bends that would cramp larger hands. However as a bike fitter, I know that this “Bull” bar is going to be chosen by many riders who are neither large nor endowed with big hands.
The Bull’s opposite is the Snake. More than the other Fiziks, the Snake looks a lot like a traditional road bar. With 85mm of reach and 140mm of drop, the Snake is perhaps best compared to the Deda “Deep” shape, still available on the Newton handlebar, except that the Snake has 3deg of lateral flare and a sharper transition ramp-to-hook for modern levers. Sometimes called a “Belgian bend”, the shape of the Snake requires the rider to reach pretty far down and out to grab hold of the hooks. Actually, the Spine Concept makes a lot of sense when you’re talking about the Snake handlebar, because a rider without a fair bit of flexibility isn’t going to be able to use this bar effectively. If the Bull was designed for large power full riders, supposedly the Chameleon was designed for limber riders. If you are thinking about switching from one of the more typical compact bend bars on the market to the Cyrano Snake, I’d recommend fitting a 10mm shorter stem.
The Chameleon (reach 85mm, drop 135mm, flare 3deg) is supposed to be right in between the other two Fizik bars. All of these bars are designed so that the grip portion down behind the hook will level or slightly up (ie, the ends of the bar pointing slightly down towards the rear axle), and when so positioned the angle of the hook is somewhat similar to the “ergo” or anatomic” bends that came out during the 1990s. However, the Chameleon lacks the abrupt bends of those bars, instead blending smoothly much as the typical compact bend. In my mind I see the Chameleon and Bull as two different flavours of the modern compact bend and the Snake as something of a throwback. I’m not saying that the Snake is a bad design, but I think it will be harder to market.
The average road bike consumer understands the compact bend; it allows him to run his bars really low “like all the pros”, but he does in fact realize he can’t ride in the drops as easily. But there are a few pros and all importantly a few consumers who have been waiting for a bar like this. With these three handlebar shapes, Fizik has taken an intelligent approach to giving riders clearly defined choices. An example of how not to market handlebars would be Zipp. As SRAM’s in-house brand for road stems, bars, and seatposts, Zipp clearly has design and marketing resources, but their model designations just confuse consumers rather than delineate the how the product lines interrelate. What’s worse is that they keep changing the shape and names of their bars so that there’s no continuity from year to year. Whether or not you believe in Fizik’s Spine Concept, you can easily remember what each of the bars is like. Looking at both the dimensions and the subtleties of shape, I like the Cyrano range of handlebars, regardless of my distrust of marketing concepts. The physical form of all three versions of the Cyrano are refined and devoid of quirky gimmicks.
I have not had a chance to ride any of these bars yet, but I have experience riding similar. I personally seem to gravitate towards either a Bull shape or the Snake depending on the bike. On my cyclocross bike I use more of a Belgian shape (though with less reach than Fizik’s Snake) because the bars are higher than my road bikes; thus I reach further down and forward relative to the top of the bar. On my road bikes I run the bars rather low, so I like the drops shallower and slightly more horizontal for my wrists when I move out of the saddle while sprinting. If you are still searching for the handlebar that works for you, I’d recommend taking a look at Fizik’s offerings.