Wired: S-Works McLaren Tarmac

Bokanev

Riding an S-Works McLaren Tarmac, photo: Bokanev

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.

McLaren ISO

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.

See the rest of the photos from me and Bokanev on G+ and a related story on Element.ly about the owners of the McLarens.



In The Shop: Litespeed Ti

Ti

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.



Wired: 138 MPH Down a Ski Slope


While watching Paris-Roubaix this morning, also reading the story from my friends at Wired about How You Design a Bicycle to Hit 138 MPH on a Ski Slope. You know, as if the cobbles, aren’t extreme enough….

Once the suit and bike were ready, the team put Barone in the wind tunnel, happy to find that their computer modeling delivered the aerodynamic numbers they were hoping for. “It’s about the same approach as Formula One,” says Amerigo, or designing a plane.



A Road It Seems You Could Ride Forever

Tulips

Tulips by Ben Moses

Getting your groove back on the bike, experiencing that momentum once again, and immersing yourself in the ride is the theme for Issue 23 of our magazine. Dropping on the same weekend as Paris-Roubaix, it also includes a free cover story from Mark V about a race that is simultaneously one of the most famous and the least representative of the sport. There’s a crazy story I heard about Roubaix too.

A couple months ago, in Issue 21, Patrick wrote about a drop bar playground and how he

… Never stopped loving the way the bike could swoop and zoom over unpredictable terrain.

He said those words to me just a few hours after riding Old Caz on a Diverge. He was still buzzing from the experience, beaming from the afterglow. I said, “write that down!” And he did. The emotions of rediscovering what makes us ride long hours keeps us going through the lows and for new riders, it’s what you’ll end up chasing too. Doesn’t matter where you find it — a personal best commute, race, ride, or tour — just that you eventually do.

The groove happened for me a few weekends ago, when we decided to just keep riding on a nice day after so much rain, and finished at 5 hours and 100 miles. Stepping off the bike, within an hour I was doing chores, and having dinner with family. It hit me then, “just banged out a hundred miles, then vacuumed, some laundry, and NOT TIRED.”

Still in shape to ride that long, I gotta keep the momentum going.

Also, the sounds of that ride is wrote I about in Issue 22….



What is in Your Bag?

Bag

Reaching inside of this bag, I expected to find something illicit, illegal, or perverse, but instead I found a jug of cranberry juice.

Sort of a let down.

No vodka either.

I know Mark has carried much of his daily life in that bag. You can get one custom bag made sort of like it from R.E.Load or a bespoke bag maker near you.



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