As shared on Twitter yesterday, that had to be the wettest and grimiest ride of 15. If scientists are looking for more evidence of climate change, just ask any cyclist that rode yesterday.
I’d enter this photo as evidence in the court of public opinion of why we’re running discs in the Pacific Northwest. My disc bikes don’t have fenders yet, cause I haven’t been riding much, but in the new year the Boone will.
Also, for more on what we’re wearing in the wet and cold, see Issue 30; including the prevailing style of slick booties….
Rode that road and stayed upright with good tires from Zipp
Rode that road, a few times now, and in the rainy season it gets deceptively treacherous…gotta watch the permanently-shaded areas and painted lines. If you’ve been following along this year, I’ve been mentioning tuned rides, and complained about the lack of tires for roadies. Get on a new 27.5+ plus MTB bike, and you should get what I mean. It’s all about the contact patch and roadies are riding on one the size of a dime. Whenever the aero road bike arms race ends, let’s hope product managers turn their attention to traction, and how that makes us go faster, and stick to the road; even in the backstabbing slick of the wet winter Pacific Northwest.
The most and widest rubber that’ll fit into your frame is what I’m riding and recommend you do too. Many factors contributed to a change from road bikes with skinny tires at 160PSI to a min of 25 wide at 100 psi. Ride quality is one of them, taking off the edge of that overly stiff bike, but also better grip. The best way to avoid flats too, and I’ve tried them all, is to stay out of the gutter and put quality, thick rubber on your wheels.
Recently Zipp upped their game with wheels and tires that compliment each other’s girth. This has the benefits of a wheel that really rolls, as I shared in that story from Maui last year, but also the grip I want in the Winter.
Locals maybe thinking, running good tires in the Winter? Yes, ‘cause SEE PHOTO ABOVE. If I shared this location with you, we’d stop mid apex, clip out, and step carefully on the road, and try not to slip.
Water-siping tread pattern
The Zipp Tangete Course 28s retail for $65.00 USD and are available from a shop near you or online. I run them at no more than 100 psi, when I descended that corner earlier this week, they were at about 85 PSI. The Tangete Courses are on my rain bike, it’s built up with SRAM Force 22 and a Quarq.
High performance sport and training tire
28mm (R28) and 30mm (R30) widths
120tpi nylon casing
Nylon puncture protection layer under tread
260 grams (R28), 306 grams (R30)
33.15 watts of rolling resistance @ 40kph (with Zipp butyl tube)
70 ShA durometer rubber (Shore A)
New water-siping tread pattern
Comfortable in rough conditions
Parse those bullet points to mean: a high quality, rainy conditions tire, with high volume for a comfortable ride.
HT to Ben Moses for the edits on the road photo. Thanks Ben!
A few days ago I wrote about counterfeit carbon that people buy off of eBay or from dodgy internet sites, and I remembered that counterfeit bikes are nothing new. I mean, it’s not like carbon fiber is some sort of new conduit for IP theft…like a flaw in a phone app that allows unscrupulous cads to steal delicious selfies off of Scarlett Johansson’s iPhone. Once upon a time, bikes were made of steel tubes and lugs that anyone could buy. Sure, there were differences in craftsmanship…in the way a lug was thinned or a dropout tang was filed, but it was often much more subtle than today’s counterfeit carbon frames. Further confusing things is the fact that a larger European frame maker would employ a staff of craftsmen; you’d have to be daft to think every Colnago frameset was individually caressed by the hands of Ernesto himself. And each of those workers may have worked for other brands or just as easily made their own frames on the side, using the same techniques and sometimes the same materials. And after that, a frame coated in a thick layer of chrome and the typically indifferent 1970s-era Italian paint jobs…how would you know?
Just because a bike has a Cinelli bottom bracket shell, that doesn’t mean it’s a Cinelli.
Well, it still takes a lot of effort and skill to make a mediocre steel frame, and unlike shite carbon frames, they usually give warning before they separate at the head tube. So maybe riding an off-brand steel bike back in the day wasn’t necessarily a perilous venture. However I have seen vintage bikes that were revealed to have failed at the seat stay/dropout junction….simply because some craftsman in a small shack in Europe 35 years ago had left the junction filled with mainly flux rather than brass. If that had been a more critical stress area…like a fork blade……
On my way out of Trader Joe’s one day, I saw a “De Rosi” bicycle; never heard the name before I saw it on that down tube. The internal cable routing, cable guides on either side of the head tube, and “decor” style paint suggest early to mid-90s Italy. Was there an actual framebuilder named De Rosi? Or was this a half-hearted attempt pass it off as a De Rosa? I doubt I’ll ever know.
I guess I could have waited for the owner to come out, like a creepy stalker, but I had a load of frozen Trader Joe’s taquitos in my messenger bag. I threw a leg over the chipped, red tubes of my 1983 Sannino road bike. Years after he made this particular frameset, Mauro Sannino stopped making bikes under his own name and began designing and building frames for the German brand Corratec. Today Corratec offers a signature model of custom carbon frames, handmade by Mauro.
I am really excited to see this fork on 3T’s website. I first spotted this fork on Open Cycle’s new Unbeaten Path at Sea Otter this past spring. Open Cycle is the new bike company started by Gerard Vroomen, once co-founder of Cervelo. The Unbeaten Path, or U.P., is Open’s first non-MTB design: a dropbar bicycle with the ability to run 700C with cyclocross tyres or 650B with MTB treads. To do that, the frame and fork need to have 1) disc brakes and 2) shitloads of tyre clearance. The way Vroomen accomplished this with the frame was really interesting, but I was far more interested in the potential of that fork.
3T Luteus II fork, with 15mm thru-axle
Vroomen and 3T have long had ties in development and production. Cervelo bikes have comes OEM with 3T bars and stems: 3T and Cervelo forks share many features and come with the same packaging etc. Vroomen must have kept those ties when he moved on to the new company since he had that fork on the U.P. pre-production samples 7 to 12 months before 3T even bothered to admit it existed. I mean, at Interbike three monhs ago I made a beeline for the booth of 3T’s distributor, Vittoria North America, and the first thing I did was ask them about the Luteus II. No one there had any idea what I was talking about. There was a picture in one of their catalogs but not the other, and there was absolutely no trace of pricing, delivery dates, or even a sku#. And there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years in the dealing with distributors, and it’s that you could stab them to death with their own product but if it doesn’t have a sku# then they would insist that they’re not bleeding because the thing doesn’t exist. Even weirder, I saw an Open Cycle U.P. on display at the Hed Cycling booth and it had an unlabelled ENVE thru-axle fork (also very new). What gives? I thought. But last week I just happened to browse 3T’s website, and whoooopthere it is.
ENVE Thru-Axle Disc Brake Cyclocross Fork
Now that I’ve mentioned the ENVE Thru-Axle Disc Brake Cyclocross fork (note to ENVE: your fork moniker is too long; you need an acronym or trite marketing name), it also has the ability to run 650B MTB treads and 700C cross tyres. I’m really curious to compare the Luteus II and ENVE’s TADBC fork side-by-side fork tyre clearance. At a more or less industry standard axle-crown height of 395mm, it’s no great feat to leave enough room for 700C x 40mm tyres. The real trick is how big of a 650B tyre can fit. Since the 650B mtb tyres typically come no skinnier than 2.0-2.1” for most brands/styles, that would be the minimum acceptable. ENVE states 2.0”; 3T says 2.1”. Comparing the head-on view of both of the forks would seem to confirm that the 3T has more clearance, but I would actually like to compare the forks directly by placing the same wheel/tyre in both and measuring the clearance around. But that might not actually be feasible, which brings me to an important difference between the two products: thru-axle standards.
ENVE has decided to make their fork 12mm T-A, falling in step with what the majority of the industry is adopting for disc brake road bikes, while 3T uses 15mm T-A, a standard common in MTB bikes and also among the first wave of T-A cyclocross fork designs. ENVE clearly is looking to the future when loads of new 12mm T-A wheelsets will soon be available; whereas bike makers who have already released CX bikes with 15mm thru-axles were banking on the already existing selection of lightweight 29er wheels with 15mm T-A. But in the context of this article, the key issue is that no one is making 650B wheels with 12mmm T-A, so if you got the ENVE fork with the idea of using 650B wheels on it, you either need to build wheels specific to that bike or hope that your existing 650B wheelset has an easily convertible front hub. Personally I think 12mm T-A is stupid and that the arguments supporting its introduction are classic marketing sophistry. But I understand why ENVE would choose 12mm so as to follow the industry; it’s easier to flow with the tide than to swim against it. Meanwhile Gerard Vroomen wrote at length on why he chose 15mm, echoing my thoughts exactly. From my perspective, I wouldn’t use the same wheels on both my CX and my road bike (even if I felt compelled to acquire a disc road bike), so I would much prefer to have a CX bike with standards compatible with my MTB.
Both forks use tapered 1.5-1.125” steerers and are provided with a thru-axle. ENVE uses their very clean thru-bolt design, installed with a 6mm Allen. 3T uses a lever-type axle. The cable routing on ENVE’s fork is the same carbon clip they’ve used on previous disc brake designs. It makes for the cleanest, most elegant external routing on any fork you’ll see, but I’m usually terrified when I have to install or remove the carbon fibre clip that it will break in my hand as I stretch it open. I never heard of that happening though. 3T just uses zip ties to hold the hydro hose into a groove down the inside of the left blade. The 3T fork is 50mm rake while ENVE is 47mm. For a number of reasons I think that industry-wide bike designers should probably use a skosh more rake than they have for about 25 years, and I’ve been glad to see that some manufacturers like Specialized have started to use more rake on their designs. However, most makers have not readily followed that philosophy, and only a few years ago 43mm was considered enough for CX forks. So again, I’m not surprised that ENVE chose 47mm as their rake, since that number is neither short nor long in the current perspective. But I like more rake, especially in smaller frame designs that have slacker head angles (IE alllllllll of my bikes), or in applications that use bigger or heavier tyres. Glancing through Cervelo and Open Cycle geometry charts, I can see that Gerard Vroomen has had similar thoughts, and I’ll wager that his influence probably pushed the rake out to 50mm. I hypothesize that he wanted more rake than that but had to comprise so that 3T could market the fork as OEM to manufacturers who had less fringy beliefs about bike geometry. It would be so awesome if 3T made this fork in 50 and 55mm rakes, but the probability of that happening is approximately zero.
I still have no idea when the Luteus II fork will become available, though it should ring in at $585. As for the ENVE Tadback (oh, you think you could come up with a better name?…well, please do then!), it is shipping right now. I just installed one for the first time on a 333fab titanium last week. Retail price is $549.
Painted ENVE fork on an Open Cycle U.P., as seen at Hed Cycling’s 2015 Interbike booth
Of interest for this season, is the Pro Team Softshell Jacket from Rapha. As their marketing says, it’s the definitive technical garment for changeable conditions.
When Rapha began working with Team Sky, riders requested a wet-weather shell that protected them from the elements but also breathed well and didn’t cause them to overheat when going flat out. The result was the development of the Rapha Pro Team Softshell Jacket that we’ve now updated as version II with Polartec’s innovative Power Shield Pro fabric. The seams are fully taped, and laser cut ventilation holes under the arms allows air to circulate. Zips on the cuffs and an oversized puller make the jacket easier to put on – and remove – with gloved hands. The fit is in line with the Pro Team collection, with a slim and close fit suited to a low riding position. $295.00
Also, Gore has again stepped their game up again–taken on our Tortilla Test– and made an all-new Gore-Tex Active, which is lighter and more breathable than ever. It’s just the Gore-Tex membrane that’s mechanically waterproof with no outer face fabric, making it permanently water repellant with no use of a DWR coating. I’m hearing the results are amazing and as I say to all the product managers, “Uh huh, well send it out and we’ll see, cause of the rain here, ya know.” Also, no DWR should help resolve that sad moment, when even the most technical of fabrics soak through.
With no outer fabric, is it clammy? Will it moisten an stale tortilla? Too early to know.
So far, Gore hasn’t disappointed, not with their Active Shell, or the Gabba. Not sure why Gore is teasing the new jacket and not just releasing it, but here’s their microsite and see the video above. Let’s hope they’ve developed a glove to match, maybe that’s still not too much to ask?
The issue of counterfeit carbon frames has popped up in media a few times in the past couple years…typically along with disconcerting images of separated head tubes. Sometimes people get them from eBay, or maybe they’re searching the deep web for an impossibly good deal. Or maybe they realize the deal’s too good to be true. Maybe they just want something that looks like the object of their desire. Or even more, maybe their cynicism has assured them that brand identity or no, all carbon bikes are the same anyways. Me? I don’t think it’s any marvel of craftsmanship or industrial science to make a serviceable carbon road frame that weighs a bit more than 3.5-lbs. Maybe not a highly tuned ride, but you know…if you had the know-how, the moulds, and some acceptable carbon fabric…didn’t try to save on the resin cost by cutting it with pudding mix or something…you could make a frame that might not fall apart. But I don’t think you can make a frame like an S-Works Tarmac, tuned ride and sub-kilo weight, for a fraction of Specialized’s costs and expect it to hold together. Personally I’d rather get an open mould, no-name carbon frame rather than some cheesy, knock-off Pinarello, but I’d then again, there are so many other easily available metal frames out there, new or used, that it’s difficult for me to imagine a scenario in which I would seriously consider doing that. I don’t know…maybe I’d need a carbon frame to practice painting techniques or some shit.
You know what counterfeit carbon items I wouldn’t buy? Handlebars or stems. Even respectable companies have some difficulty making proper examples out of carbon, so I’m not about to put one on my bike. I’ve seen a fair number of bars and stems fail, and when they do the situation can go bad real fast. So I’m puzzled why fake label carbon bars and stems litter eBay. And some of them are so laughably bad at imitating premium components….like Louis Vuitton bags made from a recycled naugahyde sofa…that I cannot but wonder if people aren’t buying them as a joke.
3T and ENVE seem to be among the more common targets for counterfeiters. The item below is so obviously not ENVE, I can’t fathom how someone could simultaneously recognize the value of the ENVE brand name and yet be so unfamiliar with their actual product. Hint: ENVE doesn’t make an integrated dropbar/stem.