Taiwan’s Microshift

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by Mark V on Jul 03, 2014 at 1:03 AM

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.

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

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by Byron on Jul 02, 2014 at 8:44 AM

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.

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Pinhead Locking Skewers

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by Mark V on Jul 02, 2014 at 12:14 AM

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

Pinhead locking skewers & accessories

Pinhead locking skewers & accessories Pinhead locking skewers & accessories

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Trek’s Emonda

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by Byron on Jul 01, 2014 at 2:34 PM

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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Ortlieb Seatpost Bag and Arkel TailRider Bag with Seatpost Rack

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by Mark V on Jul 01, 2014 at 9:41 AM

Ortileb Seatpost Bag

Arkel TailRider Trunk Bag on Arkel Seatpost Rack

It’s summer, and oh boy are you ready to do a few mini-epic rides. Maybe you wanna do the “long loop” or make that route down the coast and back in one day. But you can’t fit all the energy bars, mobile phones, cameras, multi-tools, tubes, CO2, etc in your back jersey pockets. Or maybe it’s not epic-ness you’re looking for, maybe you just wanna ride your bike to the next town over, walk about town and eat at that one restaurant, and then ride back. But you really wish you could bring some cargo shorts, regular shoes, and maybe a T-shirt so you can amble about in comfort and avoid being “that lycra douche” at the cafe. Even if your bike cannot mount racks and panneirs, there are a few ways to carry more stuff with you on a ride. You could go with a randonneur-style handlebar bag for the front of your bike, but it’s not so easy to mount the necessary rack onto most bike and not everyone likes how a bike handles with that much weight in front of the steering axis. You could get a backpack, especially the ones from Osprey or Camelback that have lots of pockets/compartments for storage. While that is simple solution that actually works great for rough, technical riding like on mountainbikes, sometimes you just don’t want that weight and bulk on your back when you’re riding in the summer heat. In that case, how about a big saddle/seatpost bag? The classicists among us will choose Carradice, but there are some very clever bags available that would compliment even the most modern bikes out there.

Ortlieb’s Seatpost Bag quickly attaches to your seatpost using a notched plastic belt and levered buckle, similar to a clip-on fender but considerably more secure. With 4-ltr of internal volume, the Seatpost Bag is made of lightweight, waterproof fabric with internal plastic stiffeners, so the bag is not prone to swaying about despite how far over the rear wheel it cantilevers. The bag seals to the elements using Ortlieb’s classic roll-up closure. There is a bungee laced into the top of the bag, which is useful for lashing items like a windbreaker or a pair of sandals. At just 443gr for the Medium size (there is also a Small size), the Ortlieb Seatpost Bag has a good ratio of weight to payload. Ortlieb says the bag will fit 25.4-34.9mm (but no carbon seatposts); however I feel it fits 27.2-31.6mm best. The angle of the clamp isn’t adjustable, so if your bike has a freaky seatpost angle (like some full-suspension mtb) then this may not work out for you. Retail $100.

Arkel’s Randonneur Seat Post Rack and TailRider Bag combination goes a little beyond Ortlieb for versatility and load capacity. The rack ($100) attaches at two points: it clamps to the saddle rails behind the seatpost cradle and then fastens to the post. By taking its stability from the saddle rails, the rack does not harshly clamp onto the seatpost. As such, Arkel’s rack works well with carbon seatposts and even works reasonably well with some non-round seatposts and ISPs. The visual bulk of the Randonneur Rack belies its lightweight construction, weighs only 568gr, and is adjustable for a range of seatpost angles. The saddle rail clamp has two positions to allow the rack to be fitted lower relative to the saddle on larger bikes that have a lot of space between the saddle and rear wheel, to keep the mass of the rack and its contents lower to the ground. On smaller bikes, the rack can be fitted close to the saddle so that it can clear the rear wheel.

Arkel’s TailRider Bag (11-ltr capacity, 540gr weight, $105 retail) is essentially a trunk bag that can fit on a variety of rear racks, but it does superbly compliment their Seat Post Rack. It fits to the deck of any rack via hook&loop straps. The TailRider has an assortment of external pockets and an internal divider. Zippered pleats allow the bag to expand slightly for more internal volume. The TailRider is resistant to water to a certain extent, but in the event of a steady or intense rain, one would use the yellow rain cover, which fits in a convenient yet hidden pocket at the front of the bag.
Ortlieb Seatpost Bag on Bianchi

more photos after the jump

Ortlieb saddle clamp Ortlieb top straps

Arkel Seatpost Rack

Arkel TailRider bag

Arkel TailRider bag

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Kimmage Interviews Froome about a Book Walsh Wrote

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by Byron on Jul 01, 2014 at 8:58 AM

It is a shitty business…Kimmage interviews Froome about a book Walsh wrote and Michelle gets teary during it. He’s upset we think he’s a doper, but understands it. He’s really upset about the TUE thing, even though he never shared his asthma with us.

I wrote about Froome and his clothing sponsor Rapha in a post on Medium last week. One of our contributors, Tim Jackson, addresses his stem looking on Red Kite Prayer

It’s Tour time, which means three weeks of Chris Froome staring at stems… but what else were you going to do with the month?

The Climb is available from Amazon now for as an $14.97 eBook and $23.38 hardcover. My take is that if the most unlikeable Maillot Jaune wearer were a villain, it may work, but instead he’ll just look down at his stem. As we learn in the book and interview, with his mind 10 years ahead.

Though if his exit plan in the next decade includes hotels and condos, like George the Loyalist, he’ll do just fine.

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Tour de France: A Few Things You Need to Know

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by Byron on Jun 30, 2014 at 5:49 PM


Best Tour de France Promo we’ve seen….

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Barfly Mount for Cateye….um, cool for a moment

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by Mark V on Jun 29, 2014 at 9:45 PM

This is a tale of plastic:

I have a sordid little secret. I’m not really techie when it comes to electronics. I don’t have a Garmin or other form of GPS, and I’ve never remotely been interested in Strava. I just want the basics: speed, distance, time, and I don’t want to bolt on a flatscreen telly to the stem to get those. A simple, cheap Cateye is all that’s necessary, but how to mount it in an elegantly clean manner? Enter the Barfly handlebar mount for Cateye cyclo-computers. Nice and discreet piece of plastic cleverness.

Then came a crash. Pop goes the plastic. And there exits the Barfly handlebar mount for Cateye. It was nice while it lasted.

Now the computer is mounted to the stem.

Fin

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Saw Mark V on the Climb

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by Byron on Jun 29, 2014 at 7:26 AM

My favorite part of this story, is when Gluckman texted me during the Leavenworth Grand Fondo and said, “just saw Mark V on the climb.”

And that was it.

Nothing else like which climb, he looked good, or was dying, or whatever. Then I didn’t hear from either of them for like another week, so I conclude, “oh that’s not good.”

Mark’s rode-a-dirt-fondo story originally appeared in Issue 13, available now on iTunes and the Web for $4 an issue or $16 annually. I’m sharing it for free this weekend in the Medium Bicycles Collection. I hope you follow us on Medium too and considering subscribing.

Gran Fondo Leavenworth

Ad-free and subscription based, your money directly support the authors, photographers, and editors who contribute to Bike Hugger® Magazine.

My gravel ride of the year will happen in August in an Idaho you don’t know.

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PressCamp 14: Cannondale Synapse

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by Byron on Jun 28, 2014 at 9:28 AM

Cannodale’s Synapse

It’s not like we have anything against Cdale. It’s just however the demos align in a season, we haven’t spent much time on their bikes. So when I was meeting with them during PressCamp, I asked Bill their PR guy, what bike he thought I should ride. He said this one, the Synapse. Then rolled it outside for some photos.

Fork asymetrical, perhaps?

Do the front brakes pull that fork to the left?

I rode their Evo during the SRAM Hydro launch and as soon as the Synapse arrives, I’m on it. Jim told me it is one of his favs and I’ll want to know if the front brake pulls the fork to the left, how it does on the big hits, and what the all-day comfort is like.

High moduls

High modulus and comfortable? A’ight

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