Merckx Ickx The Race

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by Byron on Dec 02, 2014 at 4:19 PM


Ickx and Merckx. Merckx and Ickx.
Two great people. Two heroes. Two icons.
Two champions. Both with an impressive track record, both holders of multiple honorary titles. Both excelled in very different categories within their sport.
Two champions. Year after year.

As the site for Merckx Ickx The Race says,

First across the finish line 525 times, Eddy Merckx is the most successful cycle racer of all time. Jacky Ickx’s career is one of the richest and longest in the history of motorsport. His list of achievements is unrivaled in its variety. In 2015, Eddy Merckx and Jacky Ickx both celebrate their 70th birthday, as well as their long friendship. So it’s high time for the first major exhibition about this pair of Belgian sporting legends.

Follow along on and celebrate these two legends on Twitter, Facebook.

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Mark V Holiday Gift Suggestions

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by Mark V on Dec 01, 2014 at 11:22 AM

Bike Hugger HydroFlo water bottle by Purist ($15)

A cyclist can probably never have too many water bottles, but that doesn’t mean one can’t tell a good bottle from a bad bottle. A bad bottle ends up in the back of the cupboard, repurposed as a pen cup, or left at a race venue and only remembered a week later. A good water bottle is the one reflexively reached for. When you reach for the Bike Hugger Hydroflo water bottle by Purist, you grab onto a pliant case with a subtle, three-side cross section that fits the hand well and is easy to squeeze. The valve provides a high flow rate yet virtually eliminates inadvertent dribble. Oh, and it has that classy Bike Hugger logo, too.

Giro Supernatural Footbed Kit ($49.95)

One of the best features of Giro shoes is that they come with the company’s SuperNatural Footbed Kit (insole) that allows a rider to adjust the amount of arch support with 3 pairs of modular arch wedges. You can even tweak the fore-aft position of the arch support to a small degree. But even if someone has a different brand of shoe, the footbed kit is available separately so you can fine tune the fit of your own shoe. It’s a really nice idea as a gift because neither you nor the person receiving the gift needs to know exactly how much support is needed beforehand. The Giro SuperNatural kit is a cycling specific insole, unlike many others marketed to a wide variety of activities such as running and hiking; thus it takes up minimal volume in the shoe compared to most insoles. The top layer uses an X-Static anti-microbial treatment.

Personally, I find that these insoles work nicely in Sidi shoes, which despite being the gold standard for cycling footwear, invariably come stock with crap insoles. Giro SuperNatural Footbed Kit

Light & Urban 800 Fast Charge ($180)

The Urban series of commuter headlights from Light & are my personal favourites, and the sweet little Urban 800 Fast Charge is just a bit sweeter still. Throughout the 2014-2015 line, all the Urban headlights have a new charge port access that seals better against water ingress. This is nice if you like to hang the light upside-down on the handlebar leaving the bar tops less cluttered but giving water invasion a helping hand due to gravity. The new seal makes the current Urban lights waterproof at 1M for 30min.

Next, the latest LED tech and firmware allow L&M to squeeze even more output and burn times from these dainty lights. The Urban 800 is actually kicking out 800 lumens on high for 1.5hrs, 400 lumens for 3hrs, and a very practical 200 lumens for 6hrs.

Finally, the Fast Charge version of the Urban 800 only takes 2.5hrs to charge, as opposed to 6hrs for the standard Urban 800. Some riders would suggest that modern bikes are an exercise in planned obsolescence, that the bicycle was basically perfected by the 1970s, but today’s headlights beat the pants off of lights even ten years ago in EVERY parameter.

Light & Motion Urban 800 Fast Charge

Rene Herse: The Bikes The Builder The Riders by Jan Heine ($86)

When I was eight years old, I liked Garfield cartoons. I had a grandmother who ever after gifted me a Garfield book ever year at Christmas, straight on till my college years. Don’t be like Gran; if you’re gonna give a book, give them something wonderous and timeless. I suggest the Rene Herse book from Bicycle Quarterly Press.

The Frenchman Rene Herse became one of the most revered names in cycling, and this book is a story about the man, the bikes he built, and the people who rode them. More than that, it is a journey to a Europe of a bygone era, from the interwar years through the decades immediately following WWII, into what most would call the Golden Age of Cycling. It is a book so lavishly illustrated with photographs and anecdotes that you can almost feel the breeze and the sun on your face and smell the French countryside as you spin the pedals alongside those riders. If you put this book on a coffee table, I suggest it be laid out alongside a baguette with jambon de pays and gruyere.

Fizik Performance Classic bar tape ($24-28)

Fizik Performance Classic Tape (Orange Microtex)

My favourite bar tape is the Fizik Perfomance Classic. It has the Fizik’s durable Microtex (microfibre) backed by a layer of dense foam padding. It is embossed and stitched asymmetrically, so depending on how you wrap your bars you can have more or less texture. It’ll survive many scrapes and it washes up well too. The tape comes in seven colours, but I recommend you do NOT get the “Soft Touch” white. Sure it feels like suede, but it gets dirty like suede too; plus it doesn’t hold up like the white Microtex version of Performance tape. Fizik Performance Classic enhances anyone’s road bike.

Sugoi Zap Helmet Cover ($28-30)

This is kinda a no-brainer, especially if your cyclist lives in one of the cold, wet parts of the world, and especially if he or she has a really nice helmet. Today’s premium helmets are festooned with holes for ventilation, which isn’t actually desirable in a cold, wind-driven rain. Sugoi’s Zap helmet cover stretches over most helmets (sans visor) to give wind and water protection; you can easily stow it in a pocket or commute bag when not needed. It comes in two colours, black and hi-vis yellow. Both have reflective accents.

Abus Lock-Chain 585/75 ($40)

The 575/85 Lock-Chain from German company Abus is lightweight and a handy size. The fabric covered chain and elastomer encased lock head protect the bike’s finish, while the 5mm square-section punches above its weight against cutting devices. While the 575/85 is not the ultimate in bicycle security, it is exceedingly convenient to carry and use, while thoroughly outperforming the majority of cable locks. Available in a variety of colours. For heavier duty, see the Abus Lock-Chain 880 “Steel-O-Chain” or burly 1060/85.

Icebreaker Blast Vest ($260)

Icebreaker Blast Vest

Merino wool is awesome because of its ability to provide warmth without excess bulk in a wide temperature range, but synthetic technical fabrics usually win when it comes to wind resistance. Icebreaker’s Blast Vest puts a lightweight 150 merino layer against the body and then adds a polyurethane middle layer for wind resistance and a outer polyester layer to ward off rain. If you’re looking for a more casual piece that works well as a mid-layer, I’d recommend the Sierra Vest ($140) made with 200 merino without the layers. A soft, cozy vest with hand pocket, the Sierra Vest is great for hiking, hanging out, or working on bikes.

Hugga Tool Roll ($40)

My phone, my keys, and my Hugga Tool Roll…things I don’t leave home without. The waxed canvas is water resistant and durable without bulk, and the integrated strap allows you cinch the roll down so it’ll slide into a jersey pocket easily. Drop it into you backpack or pannier when you commute. Snug all you little bike-fix-it trinkets and a tube together and then unroll it before you when you need to work on your bike. I actually wrap the roll around a mini-pump for road rides, or I tuck a CO2-inflator in for mtb rides.

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SRAM expands the range of 11sp road cassettes with the 11-36T PG-1170

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by Mark V on Dec 01, 2014 at 11:15 AM

SRAM debuts an 11-36T range cassette in the 11sp series PG-1170. Marketed as a compliment to the CX-1 single chainring cyclocross drivetrain, the new 11-36T cassette gives a 13% lower gear than the earlier 11-32T 11sp cassette. In common with other 11sp road cassettes from SRAM (as well as Shimano), the cassette requires a hub with an 11sp cassette body, which is wider than what fits 8,9,10sp cassettes and had been an industry standard for more than two decades. However, it does not require the proprietary XD-driver like SRAM’s 10-42T 11sp mountain cassettes. Ostensibly, the 11-36T PG-1170 is only compatible with the CX-1 rear derailleur with the “X-Horizon” non-slanted parallelogram design. The design of the CX-1 rear derailleur excludes the use of multiple chainrings. However, I know that SRAM’s long cage “WiFli” road derailleurs can usually handle a 36T cog (depending on the dropout geometry of the bike frame), so I’m sure that you could incorporate the 11-36T item into a 2x11 drivetrain.

And that’s the thing about this cassette: 11-36T is kinda odd for cyclocross. On the vast majority of cyclocross courses, save perhaps for some local novelty events, there’s no need of a gear that low even if you only have a single chainring. Most people I know are running 38 to 42 tooth rings in 1x10 or 1x11 setups with either 11-28 or 11-32 cassettes. If the ground is either so soft or so steep as to require a lower gear, you’d almost certainly be better off running because your max width 33mm tyres wouldn’t be able to float or grip. I see this new cassette as being better within 1X drivetrains for those adventure rides or gravel grinders that see some intense climbing like Vicious Cycle’s Gran Fondo series in Central Washington. It could also make an awesome 1x11 setup for riding steep city streets like in Seattle or San Francisco. Or you could use the 11-36 with a compact double crankset to make a touring bike with a practical gearing. Touring bikes need that low end gearing which has in the past been achieved with the granny ring of a triple crank, but even Shimano seems to be phasing out triples in their road line-up. SRAM 11sp 11-36T cassette seems like less of a hotshot racer’s weapon and more of a tool for the everyday rider.

UPDATE:

Some people might be wondering why SRAM introduced an 11-36T cassette for a CX-1 derailleur that seemingly does not have the capacity to handle a 36tooth cog. I can confirm that the CX-1 derailleur can handle 12-36 and 11-36 cassettes from some drivetrain experiments this past summer.

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A Starry Night Bike Path on Cyber Monday

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by Byron on Dec 01, 2014 at 10:37 AM

Glowing

Was working on a Cyber Monday for bicycles, post, then I saw this in my newsfeed and my mind drifted to a place where bike paths are so prevalent, some become works of art. How lovely and inspired by Van Gogh’s Starry Night.

The recent Van Gogh-Roosegaarde bicycle path is made of thousands twinkling stones inspired by ‘Starry Night’. The path combines innovation with cultural heritage in the city of Nuenen NL, the place where Van Gogh lived in 1883.

Video on Vimeo and the rest of the story on Studio Roosegaarde’s site.

Back to the deals, see the recommendations from Go-Means-Go and DC Rainmaker; also, our Purist Bottles, Tool Rolls, and Amazon-featured bag closures. Also

and Mark V posted what he recommends too.

But oh those bike paths and that time we visited the Van Gogh museum.

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Trail Running in Sitka Alaska

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by Byron on Nov 30, 2014 at 12:22 PM


While in Sitka and with cross season mostly over tried trail running in shoes Scott Sports sent me. Not a subject-matter expert in running (besides with a bike), what I noticed was they gripped with confidence across a variety of surfaces and were comfortable. See what Scott’s running pros have to say about them like Ian Sharman, while I figure out what to do with my hands… and hey a good portion on what I do on the bike is running on trails with a bike on my shoulder up stairs, so there’s that!

On the trails I almost exclusively use the T2 Kinabalu and this has got me through multiple 100-milers really effectively. The tougher the terrain is, the better, since it’s got the perfect balance of cushioning, flexibility and grip for the trails. I feel like I can run over technical, sharp rocks without worrying about hurting my feet, but it’s also fine for running on the short road sections that most long races have to incorporate at some point. – Ian Sharman.

Ran

And I enjoyed running by the Russian Blockhouse, a graveyard, Totem Park, and with Mt. Edgecumbe always in sight. See the photos from this video on G+ and listen to the Afrobeat tunes from Ayetoro on Bandcamp.

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Sitka for Thanksgiving

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by Byron on Nov 28, 2014 at 11:32 AM

Cross Mountain

Sitka Sunrise

Before arriving in Sitka, for more than a month, we stocked up to go ‘into the black’ by the end of the year. We’re one of the many small business on Amazon and featured on their homepage and in a free book.

While here, we’re shooting sunrises, sunsets and this is one of our favorite places to ride. While it’s only a 14 mile loop, the roads and bridges are all new. They don’t fatbike here, cause there’s not much snow, but regular, old mountain bike on ATV trials.

Blockhouse

Russian Blockhouse

While not my favorite thing to do, I’m running through the many parks they have in Sitka and the old Russian graveyard where we found this blockhouse and gravestones.

Sunset

Sitka Sunset

Also keeping an eye out for eagles….

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Steve Hed, aero wheel innovator and all-around cool dude, passes away at 59

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by Mark V on Nov 26, 2014 at 11:28 AM

Steve Hed at Interbike

Here at Bike Hugger, we are saddened by the news that Steve Hed has died at age 59. Founder of Hed Cycling, Hed’s personal history has been deeply entwined with high performance cycling, particularly in triathlon and time trialing. Since the mid-1980s, Hed had represented the personification of the American innovator: creative, maybe a little kooky but willing to follow his ideas with equal measures of diligence and honesty. With many hours in the wind tunnel long before it was cool, he helped bring deep profile rims and disc wheels to cycling world, but when his own design for a composite spoked wheel did not produce good results in aero tests, he scrapped the idea (unlike several other manufacturers). Years later he would purchase the rights and equipment to manufacture what is now generally known as the Hed3 wheel. Then in the 21st century he was the leading proponent for the current philosophy of wide aero rims that acknowledge real world riding conditions. Additionally, he led the move towards wider clincher rims and wider tyres in performance road riding, as exemplified by the C2 Belgium rim and the even wider Belgium Plus recently. Something I personally respect is how clean Hed designs are, without all the trademarked and patented gimmicks that companies in Hed’s wake have added to distinguish their products in the consumer consciousness. Arguably, in an industry that is awash in hype, Hed represented a purity of design and purpose.

For such a small company, Hed Cycling has always had surprising connections to the biggest names in cycle sport. When I visited the Hed Cycling’s headquarters in MN a few years ago, the guys were glued to their monitors as they watched Levi Leipheimer power through his ToC time trial, knowingly commenting on how Levi had been consulting on wheels and positioning earlier that year. I walked through Hed’s shipping department to see a box of wheels to be shipped to some customer named “Contador” in Spain.

I couldn’t say that I knew Steve well. With longish, almost white hair, I could picture him blending in at a local coffee shop or farmers market. But he had certain sense of humour. One year he brought a downhill MTB wheel with a deep section rim profile to Interbike. He had this twinkle in his eye as he explained the design. Whenever I think about that occasion, I imagine that Steve built that prototype to answer a half-baked question or a bar bet, and then with the actual data hidden in his hand, he wanted to see how many people would hype it up.

I had met Steve several times at Interbikes over the years, but one of my favourite anecdotes I’m sure he never realized. I worked at a bike shop that was renowned for the retro tastes of one of the owners. That owner bought some vintage parts from a seller on Classic Rendezvous, and when they arrived at the shop I recognized the Minnesota address. In fact, Steve was the seller, and included some Hed Cycling paraphernalia as a bonus. Oddly, those items……erm…..disappeared from the box. So today I’m going to wear that Hed Cycling beanie as I ride one of many bikes fitted with Hed rims. Good bye, Steve.

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RIP Steve Hed, an Innovator

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by Byron on Nov 26, 2014 at 11:16 AM


As we’re heading out of town, heard that Steve Hed passed. Here’s a video interview with him from last year and it was always like that, every time we met, we geeked out on bikes.

RIP.

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Bicycle Black Friday

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by Byron on Nov 26, 2014 at 8:09 AM

Bikes and inventions

Been stocking up for weeks

Mentioned our Tool Roll yesterday, of course Clip-n-Seals (a best-selling, and Amazon-featured bag closure made by the parent company of Bike Hugger), and there’s gear on sale too, like this light, lock, and wool cap.

For more bike deals, see DC Rainmaker’s post and hey if you’re riding and relaxing instead of shopping on Friday, that’s what we’re doing, up in Alaska. They’re not on sale, but our Purist bottles are popular too.

Before leaving for Sitka, for more than a month, we stocked up to go ‘into the black’ before the end of the year. We’re one of the small business on Amazon and featured on their homepage and in a free book.

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Holiday Shopping Endorsement: Tool Roll

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by Byron on Nov 25, 2014 at 10:49 AM

Flatted

Tool Roll doing its job, that it does

This Tinyblackbox pic is our Black Friday/Cyber Monday every shopping Holiday endorsement! Also see the Wired review of the Waxed Canvas Tool Roll from earlier this year and now they ship for free with Amazon Prime.

They’re all hand made in Seattle and built to hold a spare tire, CO2 canisters, as well as a couple bike tools. Bundled up the roll fits right into your jersey pocket. According to Bike Hugger, they designed the roll to help organize flat tire tools, and offer an alternative to the traditional seat bag, which can rub against (and ruin) your expensive bike shorts.

And there’s Jim fixing a flat with his.

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