If you’re thinking about ditching your car to take your kids to school, more posts about cargo bikes are in our archives. Also see this post from 2013 when we hit peak cargo bike after the Wall Street Journal and New Your Times mentioned them.
While your mileage may vary with your kids, as our cities fill up with cars, we expect more families to reconsider their transportation needs. In Austin, where the traffic is some of the worst in the country, my good friend Shawn takes his kids to school on a cargo bike and wrote about that earlier this year.
I wasn’t at Sea Otter this year, but heard that the emergence of 27.5+ and 29+ wheels and tires was the talked. I asked our magazine contributor Nathan Wright for his take and he said told me this drinking a few beers
As with fat bikes, the industry is attempting to create a new niche to sell a few more units. This is due to a lack of sustained industry growth. Basically, fat bikes, and 27.5 didn’t yield the financial returns companies where looking for so they combined them hoping to produce the magic formula for profits. They failed. In reality the 27.5+ and 29+ is the industry finally admitting the failure of fat bikes for the masses without saying it. The marketing teams have been up late trying to make a bad idea seem less terrible. If they couldn’t sell a fat bike, the next best thing is to sell a chubby bike. Going forward 27.5+ and 20+ will be known as muffin top tires.
The guys at Bike produced a nice video about the new 27.5+ and 29+ wheels and tires. They asked the question of whether or not the new sizes were simply a scam to sell more product. While the guys at Bike left it open to viewer to decide for themselves, ultimately the bottom line will be the final judge. It is unlikely either 27.5+ or 29+ will be around for more than a few seasons. As with fat bikes, it will be hard to convince people to buy a heavier, slower machine with a limited performance range. It is worth noting that both Alex Cogger from Rocky Mountain and John Riley from Trek both compared their bikes to the revolutionary iPhone. Could it be 27.5+ and 29+ will change the world? Or has the industry doubled down on Apple Maps and is lost? Maybe they where simply all in the same marketing meeting.
My response was
My latest demo is a 29r drop-bar adventure bike with barcons. In overly segmented times like these, when I hear complaints, I say. “You know there just happens to be a custom builder than can make whatever you want.” Can’t decide? Have a monster cross, camping wonder made that’ll run whatever wheels you want. Let the marketers fall on their own swords and ignore the trends that are confusing.
The sun is out in Seattle and so are the cyclists…just a few pedal strokes south of this location is where I took the City with No Children in it photo during the winter. When it seemed no one was out riding but me. Thanks for the company.
Packing slip inside a card like a wedding invitation
This box and the package Rapha sent probably best explains who they are, how they’ve come into their own, and best understand their market. As the quote says
Cycling to me is not just about the numbers, it’s about the style. – Peter Kennaugh, Team Sky
The last time I unboxed a product packaged this, it was a MacBook Air and after that, an iPad. It’s about the details, back story, and being engrossed and living that style – paying for it too. I’ve not see equally technical and high-quality product or kit from another brand ship like that.
Bidons inside corrugated wrapping like they were fine glassware
Tear strip with a motivational phrase, indicating Rapha’s prepared.
The kit in the box is from their Pro Team Lightweight line, in the Data Print. Read the details on their site. When it warms up a bit more here in Seattle, I’ll wear it on a ride, appreciating the art and science.
For Spring/Summer 2015 the Pro Team collection features the Data Print, a unique collaboration that creates a little art from science. Taking ride data from an individual racer’s entire grand tour, a dynamic graphic was generated and applied as a repeat pattern. This data-driven pattern charts performance levels for each stage of one rider’s grand tour, with the resulting chevrons mapping distance, elevation gain and TSS levels.
This week the UCI approved the use of disc brakes in trials this summer, more testing in 2016, and if the experience is satisfactory, they’ll get officially introduced during the 2017 UCI World Tour. Between the Mark and me, it’s an ongoing debate on their value and he discussed brakes at length in his Issue 23 Paris-Roubaix article. Well he’s anti-disc brake for the Pro peloton and I disagree, we both advocate large volume tires for road bakes.
The greatest benefit that disc brake bikes might bring to the race is to give the pro riders access to production frames and forks which can accommodate tires larger than 27-28mm since that is about all the clearance that can be had on a production frameset built around the ubiquitous short-reach brake caliper.
Expect to see more disc-brake marketing from the industry this summer and see our reviews of disc bikes in past issues.
As I lean into the turn, a slight mist from the Pacific Ocean beads up on the chrome-accented top tube. The sun burns through the haze hanging over the sleepy, deserted coastal road just outside Santa Cruz, while this $20,000 Specialized S-Works McLaren Tarmac bicycle and I get to know each other. The process repeats over and over: lean into a turn, tap the brakes to burn off speed, jump on the pedals, and accelerate coming out of a corner.
Hugging the fog line, I roll up and down every inch of road I can find within a few square miles. Through the taut frame, I swear I feel every rock and the viscosity of the tar that binds them together. As cars pass me, it’s funny to think how many of them cost less than my ride.
“I’ve ridden plenty of bikes from Specialized,” the I wrote article continues, and this one is quite different. What Specialized learned from McLaren is the template for their next generation of bikes. Importantly, what drove this Mclaren-izing of their to-market process is certain staleness in the bike industry. With a lack of innovation following aero road bikes a few seasons ago, Specialized felt they’re reached the limit of their understanding and delivering significant milestones with new product. For 20 years prior to this development, carbon bike makers did it all hand, by gut, their wits, and determination. Before the McLaren version, I rode the new Tarmac when it launched, and shared how that bike was iterated in our magazine
That’s what designers, engineers, and marketers at bike companies are chasing now. Like the perfect wave for surfers, it’s all about the ride. The Tarmac delivers that and Specialized engineered not only a new platform, but a handling benchmark.
That new Tarmac platform was developed with help from McLaren and read the rest of the Wired story for what that means. Also, how that ride was designed with intent and experience in mind.
ISO view of the S-Works McLaren, a screenshot from their toolkit
As magazine contributor Nathan Wright noted, with the impressive engineering done, Specialized now must educate customers about the Tarmac platform. Because, unless people ride the bikes and feel the difference, the numbers appear arbitrary; however proven and backed up they are with McLaren’s expertise.
Seeing this old Litespeed in a shop invoked memories, with its geometrically enhanced tubing. Ti-3Al-2.5V was borrowed from aerospace, where strength, weight, and malleability are critical factors for hydraulic systems. Shaping tubes into triangles and then welding them at the joints, takes a skilled welder, and when done right, Ti is superior material for bike frames. Later carbon overtook the demand for Ti, but it’s still our all-around fav. That’s because of the springy ride and durability. Good titanium frames happen when high quality tubing is joined by expert welders, who join the tubes cleanly without ruining the raw materials.