Robot Bike Co

Seen at Fort William World Cup – this innovative company  doing ti and Carbon bikes. 3D printed ti lugs ……

Only one model at the moment but sure to grow



The R160 is Robot Bike Co’s first frame, and whilst it may be our only one at present, this could well be the only bike you need. With aggressive geometry and 160mm of travel the R160 thrives in steep and technical terrain, yet at the same time it is equally at home on climbs and all day epics. The unique DW6 suspension system plays a key part in this versatility. The progressive leverage ratio provides the suppleness you need for grip at the start of the travel, support in the middle, and a bottomless feeling at the end for when you’re really pushing things, perfect no matter what situation you find yourself in. Of course alongside grip and composure you also want a frame that pedals well, and once again the DW6 design won’t leave you wanting, the R160 is as efficient as they come.

We believe that 27.5” wheels are the perfect partner for a bike of this nature as they offer great speed whilst crucially still being able to handle the sort of thrashing that they are likely to encounter on the R160. You’ll also find a 12x142mm rear axle for maximum compatibility purposes, and a proper threaded bottom bracket (no creaking here!). Talking of threads, apart from the bottom bracket ones you won’t find a single thread anywhere else on the titanium parts of the frame. We’ve seen too many frames written off by damaged threads, so all of ours are easily replaceable should that ever be required.

You can learn more about the technical details of the unique engineering that has gone into the R160 if you head to our tech section (needs link), but all that effort would be worthless if the frame didn’t fit you perfectly, and that’s why we believe a custom fit is so important. Once we have your measurements we will provide you with our recommend geometry. That recommendation will be based upon what we believe provides the ultimate blend of speed, fun, stability and agility. If you have different priorities/requirements then for a small extra charge we are more than happy to discuss these with you and work out what is best for you in order to create something truly bespoke, but we believe that the vast majority of riders will love our suggested geometry as much as we do.

Did some filming of them which will feature in a future Adventure show on BBC scotland


Things you remember – cyclist weekly

This made me chuckle – even though I am on the young end

Cyclists of a certain age may remember the good old days, when cycling was a real sport and bikes were bikes, etc

1. Checking your post-ride stats meant looking at the mechanical odometer down by your front fork drop-out. Or by how much your legs hurt.

2. It was totally okay to wear a shiny cycle jersey that included every colour and pattern known to the human race, and some that weren’t.

3. Carbon was the stuff Han Solo was frozen in, not what your frame was made of.

4. You knew exactly what people meant when they said “I were right about that saddle though5. Your posh mate had a Merckx bike, but most people couldn’t pronounce it.

6. Clip-on aero bars were the height of aerodynamic technology.

7. You spent a while deciding whether to make the switch from clips and straps to new-fangled clipless pedals.

Adrian Timmis's ANC Halfords Peugeot 1987 TDF Bike_Campag pedal Christophe toestraps_edit8. Your sports nutrition consisted of jelly babies and jam sandwiches (white bread, naturally).

9. Your helmet – if you owned one – had a cloth cover.

10. Brake levers were for brakes, not changing gear.

11. Cycling/Cycling Weekly magazine was the only way you could find out who won what and where.

1980s-cycling-magazine12. £20 was an insane amount to spend on any item of cycle clothing.

13. You never heard of any positive drug tests. No one took drugs, obviously.

14. A mobile phone consisted of a 10p piece and a wildly optimistic hope that there was a phone box within five miles.


15. Aluminium bikes were for show offs.

16. Specialized, Trek and Cannondale were ‘mountain bike manufacturers’.



of the wallet from road cycling top 100

legend venticinquesimo.jpg

Legend are a brand founded in Italy in 2009 by Marco Bertoletti, a man with 30 years of frame-building experience, who decided to take it all and make a new brand, one that builds stunning bikes from all four major materials.

They’re based in Presezzo, near Bergamo, right in the heartland of Italian cycling, one of the most cycling-mad places in the world. If you put stock in the cycling-rich roots of your bike brands, Legend’s bikes might as well come with a complementary place on the start line at the Giro because it doesn’t get much better.

Legend reckon the Venticinquesimo (which translates as 25th, and that one’s true) is one of the most stunning bikes they’ve ever made, and it’s hard to argue with that. The frameset is a combination of grade 9 titanium lugs and 3K weave carbon tubes, taking a classic frame building technique and mixing it with new materials.

Some of the techniques used to make this frame are genuinely amazing. For example, all the welding is done in an inert gas chamber, and then each weld is individually finished by hand until it’s all but invisible.

And every single frame is handbuilt to order, so the geometry will be tailored exactly to fit you – great for any rider but even better if you have specific fit requirements that make stock frames a difficult proposition.

Legend will build you one of these to fit mechanical or electronic shifting. Amazingly, Legend also offer a disc brake version of the frame, although you’ll need to contact them for pricing should you want one of them.

One thing Bertoletti pointed out to us when we spoke to him last year was that the Legend isn’t a performance bike. That doesn’t mean the ride quality won’t be lovely, but rather that working with dual materials provides challenges, and a dual material bike like this won’t – in pure performance terms – be quite like one of Legend’s full carbon frames.

Basically, this isn’t a bike for racing, it’s a bike for people who like bikes – setting aside the fact that you’d have to be completely mad (or eye-wateringly rich) to race on a frameset worth north of six grand.

Another big attraction of the Venticinquesimo is exclusivity. This bike is like the limited edition of limited edition bikes, and the factory in Italy only makes enough of these every year to scrape into double figures. So not only do you get a bike that’s made to measure for you, it’s one on which you will almost certainly never have to nod to someone else riding on your Sunday morning ride.

Every Venticinquesimo frameset comes with a unique serial number laser etched into the frame, a small mark that confirms you as a member of a very exclusive club should you choose to buy one.

Dream Bike: Ti Carbon Bastion Beastie


The technology is there and a few builders are utilizing it for sure, but you don’t often see a 3D printed frame with elegance like Bastion Cycles‘ titanium and carbon road bike.


This thing is a beauty and for me, was a pleasure to photograph. I love the contrast of materials, the 3d-printed NAHBS insignia on the driveside dropout and the mean fuckin’ stance of this road bike.


A sub 5 kilo ‘normal’ road bike – well for nearly stupid money

Amazing how the weight limit is dropping – will be interesting to see what UCI does for weight limits.

London Bike show (

This Rose X-Lite Team-8800 custom-made bike weighs in at a claimed 4.95kg. It would cost £4,768 in this build.

The frameset is sub 1,200g, according to Rose, and it is built up with a SRAM Red groupset, Ritchey bars, stem and seatpost, and a Selle Italia SLS Kit Carbonio Monolink saddle.

In its standard version it comes with Mavic R-Sys SLR wheels. However, if you want the super-light configuration shown here, you have to pay a surcharge for the AX-Lightness wheels.

Screenshot 2015-02-16 17.26.06

MENTAL mentaaaaalllll Monday Madness

This video might not be new but it is New to me …. can’t believe the madness – if it was me and it wouldn’t be I would definitely have some padding (maybe bike leather and a helmet) – this guy a pro by all accounts but what skill and mighty mighty Cojones. Sense of skill comes when he casually plucks the balanced GoPro back from the truck at 70kmh one handed.


This rider from Brazil who last month clocked up an astonishing 124 kilometres an hour while drafting a lorry – and all filmed on a Go Pro camera that he attached to the back of the truck and retrieved after hitting that top speed.

To begin with, it’s just a couple of guys riding behind a truck as they pick up speed, but things get interesting at around about the halfway point when the road heads downhill, including some bunny hops at more than 100kph – and they’re having an awful lot of fun, too.

The video’s description on YouTube doesn’t give too much away, but it does pin the language down to Portuguese.

The sponsor of one of the rider’s kits, ATP Gráfica Editora, is a graphic design business in the city of Curitiba, in southern Brazil, and a little bit of detective work led us to the Facebook page of the cyclist who took the video, Evandro Portela.

In response to comments about his apparent lack of regard for his own safety, one of his friends says: “It’s not for everyone … I’ve known Evandro Portela for a long time and I’ve never seen anyone ride a bike like this guy.

“As they say in all the extreme sports TV shows, “Don’t try this at home” … So if you’re risk conscious and value your safety, leave it to those who developed the technique. He knows the risks he’s taking.

“Enjoy the video and put the criticism to one side because each of them knows what he’s doing.”

At 77 miles an hour, the speed Portela set is some way short of the 112mph that Guy Martin achieved last year in a programme for Channel 4.

Unlike Portela, who was riding a Wilier road bike, Martin set his speed on a bike built for the purpose, the lorry had a massive fairing attached to the rear of the cab, and the Isle of Man TT star was wearing motorcycle leathers, not Lycra.

Carbon Fat Bike – gear junkie

from gear junkie
fat bike drivetrain.jpg

Carbon fat bikes can cost $5,000 or more. A new entry, the Carbon Alaskan from Minnesota-based Framed Bikes, will go for less than $2,400 when it comes to market this fall.

This summer GearJunkie got an exclusive test. You may have read our initial impressions in June, where we described the (at the time secret) bike as “super stiff and strong.”

Since then, we’ve put many more miles on the Framed, testing both the size medium and large versions.

framed bikes.jpg

Although they were both prototypes, and Framed is making changes to part specifications as well as the frame, below is the first full ride review available anywhere.

There are only a handful of these bikes on the planet right now, all of which are being ridden by product developers. Here’s the GearJunkie first look. —Tom Puzak

framed carbon alaskan fat bike.jpg

The Gear: Framed Alaskan Carbon

Price: Starts at $2,395

Available: October, 2014

First Impressions: Beefy, solid, unbreakable. The frame is the stiffest, strongest fat frame we’ve ever seen.

carbon fat bike frame.jpg
The naked, unidirectional carbon fiber can be seen here on the prototype frame, but we are told that production bikes will be painted with a matte finish

Where To Test It: The Alaskan is fun in the summer, as the Bluto fork allows the rider to hit mountain biking terrain without getting beat up too badly. But, of course, fat bikes really shine on snow and sand, and that’s where the Alaskan is most at home.

Who’s It For: The buyer looking to a fat bike to fill multiple voids in his quiver.

Boring But Important: The base build specs the Bluto fork, SRAM X7 drivetrain, and Avid BB7 mechanical brakes. The rear hub spacing will be 197mm with a 12mm through-axle. All in, the bike will weigh about 31.5 pounds. A second premium build will feature SRAM’s X1 drivetrain, with pricing and other specs TBD.

fat bike bluto shock.jpg

Killer! The SRAM Bluto is awesome. We continue to be impressed at how well the front end of Bluto-spec’d bikes absorb bumpy terrain and track through corners. We hope to never ride another fat bike in the summer without one.

Flaw: The wheels are heavy. Even though the Maxxis Mammoth (26” x 4”) tires are great, they are a bit sluggish to get up to speed mounted to these 80mm rims. When questioned on this, Framed mentioned that the bike may be spec’d with lighter tubes (the bike had full weight Surly tubes in). Regardless, finding a second set of wheels would be a great upgrade if you want to save weight and gain speed.

carbon fat bike framed.jpg
These 120tpi Maxxis Mammoth tires were excellent on the trail this summer, a good choice by Framed

Who Should Buy It: The all-mountain summer rider, the winter rider, or the endurance racer who upgrades the wheels to get the build light enough to be raced.

We are hoping that the brand comes to market with a 1×10 drivetrain with a Wolftooth 40t cog conversion on the base $2,395 bike, but we are told that dream is still in the works.

The bike is likely the most versatile fat bike on the market due to its large range of available modifications straight from the company. Let Framed know what you want and they can get you a rigid front fork for another $300, or go the other direction and grab a dropper seatpost straight from the brand (our test bike had one).

fat bike framed bikes carbon.jpg
We suggested that Framed feature both a SRAM X1 build and a second build using the poor-man’s X1 (with Race Face and Wolftooth). Both systems offer plenty of gear range, but separate front rings for summer and winter might be ideal

Bottom Line: Framed is making a good fat bike here. A strong beast of a fat bike. One could say it’s bordering on being overbuilt but with carbon, you don’t pay much of a weight penalty for that extra strength. The parts are the best you can get for the money. Try it, you’ll probably love it. If you want to love it more, upgrade the wheels some day and you’ll have an even lighter and faster ride.

More Info: Click here for specs, geometry and additional images.

Would you spend £12k on a bike and would it help

I am too purist and into my ti and steel to do so (and broke as a matter of fact) but here is an interesting article in the ‘tory’graph about what it can do for you …


In 1963 German sports car maker Porsche introduced a radical new car that would famously become a firm favourite of racing car drivers on their days off. In the hands of a skilled driver the rear-engined, turbocharged 911 was a snarling, all conquering testament to raw power and German engineering.

However, in the hands of a normal punter, the Porsche morphed into something all together more sinister. Its brutal power, delivered in staccato by the revolutionary air-cooled engine, and race car handling had a habit of tempting drivers into pushing the limits of their ability. By the end of the 1970s, the 911 had earned the nickname ‘The Widow Maker’. Not that Porsche flinched from selling it – instead, the car’s reputation for danger only added to its appeal among those with enough money to buy the iconic car.

A Porsche 911 GT3

Which brings me to the Pinarello Dogma F8 bicycle, the official bike of Chris Froome’s Team Sky, designed in conjunction with British sports car maker Jaguar. The bicycle, equipped with the latest electronic Shimano Di2 gear system and lightweight wheels, sets you back as much as £12,000 – which is almost enough to buy a second-hand widow maker.

Like the Porsche, the F8 boasts a design that doesn’t conform to conventional theory. I took the version I have been riding to The Bicycle Academy in Frome for their frame building experts to take a look. Their verdict on the bike’s aesthetic was mixed. Pinarello has pioneered a concept of distinctive asymmetric design on the Dogma range. Couple this with some of the touches provided by Jaguar to improve the overall aerodynamic performance of the bike and you have a very radical looking machine. It’s certainly not one for the purists.

Just like the early buyers of the Porsche 911, people interested in the F8 who aren’t racing seriously or being paid to ride a bike must ask themselves whether they actually need such a two-wheeled beast. That being said, high-end design and hi-tech specifications can always be guaranteed to pique the interest of even the most amateur of club cyclists. To test the bike out, I decided to take it on my usual short 17-mile circuit around Box Hill in Surrey. From the first pedal stroke, I was genuinely surprised by its performance.

Andrew Critchlow’s Strava display after riding a 17 mile circuit around Box Hill

The bladed forks and reduced profile of the head tube (the focus of much of Jaguar’s design energy) deliver a stunningly fast bike – reducing drag by a claimed 40pc. Power transfer through the pedals is also incredible, as are the electronic shifters, which make for breathtakingly quick gear changes.

Quite simply, the F8 makes you want to ride faster. During my test, the bike immediately had me riding in the big chain ring, at least three gears higher than I would normally spin. I was able to hold the big ring even on the slopes of Box Hill. However, it was on the decent that the F8 showed its true colours. This bike makes you try things that you really shouldn’t on a bicycle. It’s constantly compelling you to ride faster, brake later into the corners, push the boundaries of your cycling ability and even beat the lights. On the descent from Box Hill I almost lost it. Could this be the bicycle equivalent of The Widow Maker?

Not quite. The F8 is assured and – unlike some carbon-fibre bikes I have ridden such as the Giant TCR Advanced SL – its handling is predictable. As a result, you can comfortably ride the bike faster than you would normally think possible. The proof in the pudding comes when I download my ride data at the end of the circuit. Clipped in to the F8, I have knocked 7 minutes off my time and achieved 63 personal records on Strava.

The downside of the F8 for a normal rider like me who isn’t followed around Europe with a Team Sky bus is maintenance. This bike needs looking after properly by expert bicycle mechanics, so forget about tampering in the kitchen with a set of hexagon keys. Also be careful about frame size. I am six-foot and the bike I tested was a 58cm – my usual frame size – but this was on the large size for my taste.

I have always aspired to owning a 911 because of its potent mix of race car engineering and Niki Lauda cool. My final verdict on the Pinarello is the same. I want one, pure and simple.

Dream Bike – English Cycles 5.8kg (13lbs) steel and carbon beauty


Remember the stunning Naked time trial bike from Oregon-based frame builder Rob English last year? Well, Rob is back with an even more striking build, this time the V3.1 built for customer Irvin and dubbed by Rob as the ‘Tron’ bike.

Rob has got a way with frame building that has seen him pick up the much coveted Best of Show award at the 2013 North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS), and that flair for creativity is expressed beautifully in this latest creation. It’s a stunning bike don’t you think?

The frame is a marriage of True Temper steel tubes, including a discontinued S3 aero down tube, and carbon tubes from Enve. The use of carbon has allowed the weight of the complete bike to tip the scales at a shockingly low 5.8kg (13lb). Just the carbon seatstays alone, the first time Rob has used them, saved 40g compared to equivalent steel tubes. The skinny carbon seatstays finish in a neat steel wishbone assembly that flows into the steel top tube.

There’s some lovely details. Just look at that head tube for example. The carbon is on display at the head tube and seat tube, with the integrated seat mast capped with Rob’s own custom seat clamp.  The carbon head tube, seat tube and seatstays are bonded into the steel tubes, with a small titanium pin through each joint. The fork is a 235g THM Scapula painted to match the frame, work which was carried out by Colorworks.

The build is nothing short of top draw either – you couldn’t really deck out such a frame with nothing but the best could you now. A Shimano Dura-Ace 9070 Di2 groupset – the battery concealed inside the seat tube – is complemented by a carbon fibre THM Clavicula M3 chainset with Praxis chainrings and Zero Gravity brake calipers. The crankset, an updated version released earlier this year, a modular design that works with any chainring configuration or bottom bracket standard. The crank arms weigh just 344g and a double spider (there’s a choice of spiders for different chainring combinations) is 39g. In other words, seriously light.

The build is finished with a custom English stem weighing 122g with an integrated mounting boss for the Di2 control box. Wheels are Enve SES 3.4 carbon tubulars.

Check out for more

World’s lightest 29’er

finger lifting good
finger lifting good

Open co-founder Gerard Vroomen has no problem one-finger lifting a bike he claims is the lightest 29er hardtail in the world.

There is no UCI minimum when it comes to mountain bikes, but if there was it’s safe to say two new concept bikes from Open would be flagged illegal. As it is the pair of hardtail 29ers on display at Eurobike (one fully rigid, one with a 60mm leaf spring fork) are both under the UCI’s 6.8kg minimum for road bikes.

This fully rigid steed weighs just 14.1 pounds.

The fully rigid Open weighs in at 6.4kg (14.1 pounds), while the suspended version tips the scale at 6.7kg (14.8 pounds). Both bikes are spec’d with a litany of lightweight parts and wheels from German-weight-weenie parts maker AX Lightness, plus SRAM XX1 drivetrains. The suspension fork is the yet-to-be-released 990-gram Lauf TR29, which uses glass fiber leaf springs instead of more traditional suspension mechanisms. Tires are Schwalbe Furious Fred. The cranks are THM Clavicula.

“We did it because we could,” explained Open co-founder (and former Cervélo) boss Gerard Vroomen. “They are exceptionally lightweight but they are still bikes that are fully functional and can be raced. These are not spec’d with crazy drilled out stuff that breaks when you look at it.”

Frame weight of the O-1.0 is under 900 grams for a size large, added Vroomen, who figures these are the “lightest 29er hardtails in the world.”

Vroomen also gave a thumbs up to the yet unprovenLauf fork. “I think one really big advantage is that it solves the problem of stiction,” he said. “Normally there’s a slight delay in the initial action of a fork, but not here. So over small bumps this fork reacts much quicker. But we still need to do some fatigue testing before we commit to spec’ing it on our bikes.”

However, Vroomen said that sort of testing has already been done with these two super light bikes. “We brought them to the testing agency here in Germany,” he explained. “And they said there were the lightest mountain bikes that have ever passed even though when we first brought them in they were sure that they wouldn’t pass.”

Screen Shot 2013-09-12 at 09.15.23

This proof-of-concept steed weighs less than the UCI minimum for road bikes.

The rigid Open is available as a fuselage only, meaning drivetrain and wheels are not included, and retails for $6,700. The suspended bike is simply a proof of concept and is not yet available for sale.

how light is your bike?





Most top-end bikes easily make a mockery of the UCI’s imposed minimum weight limit of 6.8kg and this week Ridley revealed their lightest ever Helium SL at an incredible 5.52kg (12.16lbs). Don’t all go rushing to your nearest Ridley dealer with a charged credit card though; this is strictly a one-off.

Last year, the company launched a limited edition Helium SL 58 that you can buy weighing just 5.8kg. That’s a size medium with pedals, a SRAM Red groupset, Zipp 202 wheels and 4ZA Cirrus Pro finishing kit. The claimed weight for the frame is just 750g, putting it in the company of some extremely light frames like Cannondale’s SuperSix Evo and Cervelo’s R5. It’s right up there.

Ridley though reckoned they could skim a bit more weight from the build and so set themselves a challenge. All good challenges need a few rules, so they decided it had to rely on WorldTour approved components, the wheels had to be the same 202s and they didn’t want to compromise stiffness and strength.

With these goalposts in place, they set about putting commercial director Anthony Kumpen’s bike on a very strict diet. His bike is a size small, so they’re cheating a little bit there. They did, however, manage to strip the weight down from 5.74kg to 5.52kg, a 220g saving. Yes it’s only a couple of hundred grams, but on a bike that was already so light, that’s impressive.

And they managed it without resorting to any crazy one-off machined parts that you or I can’t buy. Okay so the parts they used are eye-wateringly expensive, but light bikes come with heavy price tags, as we all know.

So where did they save the weight? They replaced the bog standard bottom bracket and hub bearings with full ceramic bearings, they fitted lighter jockey wheels and they swapped the saddle for a San Marco Aspide Carbon FX. Ridley readily admit they could have saved more weight with the saddle, but they didn’t want to sacrifice comfort. A good call, we’d say.

A full carbon seatpost is used. Titanium bolts are used in the stem and they fitted a 10.5g seatpost clamp.

On went a set of Look Keo Blade Carbon Titanium pedals (94.7g each).

And the final touch was a set of Nokon cables.

There you go, a bunch of marginal changes that contribute to a reasonable weight saving, all while using off-the-shelf parts.

Who hasn’t looked at their bike and eyed up a few changes here and there that could shed some weight. Are you planning any weight saving upgrades? Let’s hear about them. I’m eyeing up some lighter wheels for race season myself, and perhaps a lighter seatpost while I’m at it.

Strathpuffer 24 hr race report (from the winners mouth)


(I do believe i am the sick boy – sorry)

As with childbirth, memories of Puffer Pain soon disperse, leaving just the blush of Heroic Daring-Do and insane plotting for Doing Better Next Time. This time is different though: I’m Over It. The Puffer Itch is Scratched, and here’s why…

Running into the Puffer for the fifth time of asking, the uppermost thought was avoiding the dreaded DNF. Last year’s debacle (injured Steve at the half-way mark; my inability to rise to the challenge of a switch from Pairs to Solo; the Sirens’ voice of a couple of bottles of red wine…) had left the itch of unfinished business. This year, with Robbie’s seemingly endless road miles weighing on the mind, and memories of equipment carnage from previous years all too vivid, the key goals were (a) survive unhurt, (b) finish, and (c) keep my end up for the full 24 hours. Beyond that, somewhere in the Top 10 seemed a plausible aim, but such vagaries bedevil a Puffer that more detailed thinking in that regard is simply vainglorious.

Still, having the Puffer dangling in the post-xmas haze does focus the mind a little in the fag end of the year. Endless mud-plugging enlivened by some new bike bling (a sweet On One Carbon Race 29er) kept the interest up. As January wore on, weather forecasts for Oop North were scrutinised, and the decision not to get Ice Spikers for the 29er was beginning to look more and more suspect. By the Tuesday before race weekend, some panic buying on-line, and payment of a next-day-courier supplements saw the big spiky hoops delivered. And what a good idea that turned out to be.

Driving up on the Friday through a full-on blizzard, things looked grim. But surprisingly, further north was colder but less snowy. Robbie’s Camper was to be home for the next 48 hours to two pairs of riders (me & Robbie; Thomas & Richard), Young James the mechanical help, Jason the ever-perky handy-sort-of-chap-to-have-around, and about seven trillion cold germs that were wafting off Richard in the style of “Pig Pen”. Highly-tuned athletes in a small fuggy cocoon with depleted immune systems, and the Puffer equivalent of Typhoid Mary – what could possibly go wrong?

Year-on-year, more and more people seem to be laying their towels down on the route, so even though we were early on site we had to drive a good way up the route to find a camp spot. This meant that each rider lap ended with about 4 minutes or so of hard climbing after the official lap end (at the dibbing station) to the change-over at the camper. Still, we were happy with that, and we got the muckle great army tent up (eventually) after being laughed at by the Adventure Show camera man, and set up gennys, bike repair station, latrines, rock patio etc etc.

Rumour was that the route was very icy higher up: and how true that was! The main fire-road climb was sheet-ice that never cleared despite some serious raining overnight. The upper section was snowed-up rock and slab that did gradually clear; and the descents and lower slopes were the usual Puffer mix of puddles, oozy mud, drainage ditches to be bunny-hopped, and swoopy single track. Ice tyres were really only needed for the climb, but were a reasonable compromise for the rest of the route and so stayed on throughout.

Saturday dawned OK-ish: cloudy, little wind, about two degrees. Over the first race day, the wind got up, and the rain came on for 6 or 7 hours overnight while the temperature hovered at just above freezing. As the course got wetter, water being thrown up from the wheels was as wetting as the rain, but hey – it’s The Puffer.


Robbie rode first and came through in the top twenty riders or so, putting Farty Aardvark & The Scotherbs in 6th place in the Pairs race. The next 10 laps we both rode alternately at between 38 and 40 minutes. That felt fast and consistent, and a conscious decision was made to dial it back a little. At this point only about 20 minutes separated 3rd to 6th, with i-Cycles comfortably ahead by a lap. It was still fun at this point, but mechanical issues were mounting up, as were anxieties about tyre choice. Robbie was on one or other of his On One 29er hard-tails throughout. I did several laps on my (ancient) 26 full suss (as it had ice tyres), then a good few on my 29er hard tail (now ditto), before resorting to a Clydesdale full-travel 26 full suss because of chain suck on the 29er. Three laps on the 29er muscling round on the big ring was quite enough thank you!

By about midnight, the rain was full on, we’d ground our way to second, and I felt sick as a dog from the effort and a dodgy feed strategy. Jason and James were performing minor miracles to keep bikes together, throw food at us and generally act insanely cheerful. Thomas and Richard were falling apart as a team, with some erratic change-overs, uneven lap distribution and Sick Boy taking to his bed. Tsk tsk. Meanwhile, Robbie was metronomic in pulling off consistent laps of 42-46 minutes, while I was drifting to 50 with one duff one of 54 that finished at 6am, but dragging it back under control to the mid-40s as daylight seeped back and the rain let up. Apart from constant bike worry, the relentless nausea from before midnight was making for Category Two enjoyment (things that are only enjoyable in retrospect) verging on Category Three pleasure (not enjoyment of any kind – but kinda fun to brag about later…). However, I’d also realised that riding laps in the rain and the dark with some pounding music in the ears was actually better than sitting in the camper trying not to throw up. Rule Five (MTFU) was applied…

Meanwhile, text messages from Captain Aardvark and many others were telling us the daunting truth that we were now in first place. Oh crap – that was never part of the plan: now we had Something To Lose. Potential shame drove me on, with the appalling thought that it was likely to come down to one last nail-biting lap with me being chased to the line by i-Cycles. I could see that that wasn’t going to end well. To my intense relief, I wriggled off that hook when Robbie completed our 33rd lap just before ten a.m. and i-Cycles came in after ten meaning Victory Was Ours by just eleven minutes! Unbelievably, we’d nicked it!! As I read later on a blog from one of the other teams battling for the podium “Team aardvark were just too strong…”.

So that’s that then. A Puffer victory at 50 has put the seal on it, and I’m done with the Puffer, for now, at least. And yes, I did get sick (thanks Sick Boy!).

After all, how can you top that? While Robbie was emailing me within 24 hours with long lists of Things To Do Better, I am steadfast in my determination to take on a new role as Logistics Aid for his Solo attempt in 2014. Those vows made in the wee small hours have – so far! – been honoured. Now that’s another first!

Of course, there are many other challenges that beckon – and I’ve just thrown my hat in for The Cairngorms Loop in May: a non-stop 186-mile 30-hr push to ride (off-road) twice around the Cairngorms. Hope it doesn’t snow like last year…

With thanks to Robbie, James, Jason, Thomas, Sick-Boy Richard, Catherine, Captain Aardvark, Ron & Sheila, John The Bike, Thom, the Newport Mudsuckers and to all who sent encouragement and kept the pressure on – THANK YOU!

AC72 goes turtle

Not a great day for the yanks as their entry for the Americas Cup goes over in testing.

That is going to cost a sweet penny to fix. Suddenly the New Zealand entry looks stronger …..


Oracle Team USA’s AC72 has capsized during training. The incident occurred at approximately 1500PT on San Francisco Bay. All crew and team members are safe. It was the boat’s eighth day on the water since the launch in August.

The capsize took place during the team’s eighth day on the water. Conditions were fresh, with building winds whipping up waves against one of the strongest ebb currents of the year. As the team turned the boat downwind, the front of the boat nosedived and the boat pitch-poled.

As tactician Tom Slingsby described it: “We called for a bear-away as we were out training. The winds were blowing about 25 knots, and there was strong ebb current at the time. We started the bear-away, and as the boat accelerated it pitch-poled.

“We didn’t know what was going to happen with the new boat. When the nose went down, the wing hit and a few guys went in the water. We were unsure if the wing would snap, so we all climbed off the boat.

“Luckily, everyone is accounted for and no one was hurt. The wing is pretty badly damaged, and we are working to get the boat back in position to return to Pier 80.”

The crew and boat will return to the team base at Pier 80 in San Francisco and assess the situation further.

Images of the boat after the incident show that the flaps were separated from the main element on the impact, the wing subsequently destroyed as the big cat lay over on its side in increasingly large waves as it was washed out to sea on the strong ebb tide.

As darkness fell, the team was still working to secure the catamaran platform and bring it back to base. The wing is destroyed.

“There’s no question this is a setback. This will be a big test for our team,” said skipper Jimmy Spithill. “But I’ve seen these guys in a similar situation in the past campaign before we won the America’s Cup. A strong team will bounce back from it. This won’t stop us from winning the America’s Cup.”

Event organizers say the setback to the American team won’t impact the 2013 racing calendar.

“This is a challenge for Oracle Team USA,” said Stephen Barclay, the CEO of the 34th America’s Cup. “The team will assess how to fix the damage caused by the capsize to this boat and will adjust its program as necessary. We expect them to be ready to defend the Cup as planned.”

Seven launch their lightest bike ever – titanium carbon love fest

US bespoke brand Seven Cycles are launching a new road bike with a carbon fibre and titanium frame that’s their lightest ever.

The 622 SLX weighs 1kg in a 54cm frame size. It uses rider-specific carbon tubes joined using titanium lugs that are designed to be stiff and durable as well as adding a whole lot of style.

Seven Cycles already make frames that blend carbon fibre and titanium – their Elium SL and Elium SLX road models, for example – but they reckon the 622 sets new standards in that it retains the feel of a metal bike but in a lighter weight.

“We hear a lot of riders who love the road feel of our metal bikes wanting a lighter option, and we hear a lot of the people riding our carbon bikes express an interest in getting more road feel,” said Seven Cycles founder Rob Vandermark. “This bike is really for them. We wanted to maximize the positive characteristics of each material, and we wanted to do something with an almost sculptural aesthetic.”

We have to agree that the 622 is a good looking bike, those beautifully shaped lugs lending a classy air that distinguishes it from the crowd.

The 622 name refers to the materials used, six being the atomic number for carbon and 22 being titanium. It’s available as Seven’s ‘custom kit’ option which is a full bespoke service. You visit an approved retailer and order a bike that is sized specifically for you and comes with features of your choice. You get to choose the degree of drivechain stiffness you get, the amount of vertical compliance, the speed of the handling and so on.

Of course, a bespoke bike like this is never going to be cheap. You’re looking at £4,950 for the frameset. Youch! And then you’re going to have to factor in a lot more cash for the build – you’re not going to want to deck it out in kit from the parts bin.

Why you should be riding Steel (or Ti) and not carbon

Courting controversy this one but some interesting thoughts ….


So you’re about to mosey on over to your local bike shop and drop more coin for your first genuine racing bike than most people pay for an entire motorcycle. You’re either new to the sport of cycling or you’ve been riding for a few years, learning the ropes on an old aluminum frame that’s one season away from the dumpster.

independent fabrication’s Light Weight

You’ve been watching all the Spring classics, the Giro, the Vuelta, and the Tour taking notes on who’s riding what. You’ve drooled over your own teammates’ high-dollar race rig that has more carbon fiber on it than the International Space Station.

You’ve done all your research, have test-ridden all of the latest, high dollar, carbon fiber machines, and you’ve picked your winner. The checkbook is in hand cocked and ready to besmirch every last dollar in your savings account, and all that’s left to do is negotiate with the shop so you at least have a little bit of cash left to buy some inner tubes.

But before your visions of grandeur run rampant and your checkbook becomes more hollow than Landis’ Maillot Jaune, are you sure carbon is the right frame material for your needs?

Don’t take it wrong, carbon indeed has its merits, but the recent carbon craze seems to be heavily tied to bandwagon mentality; whatever the pros are doing is what the masses want to do too. It was true in the ‘70s with drilled-out components, in the ‘80s with copious amounts of hair gel and Briko shades, in the ‘90s with those horrific lycra shorts designed to look like blue jeans, and today with carbon racing bikes.

And why shouldn’t carbon be popular? A frame and fork weighs less than a six-pack of brew, they’ve got terrific road damping capabilities, are stiffer than an I-beam – at least initially – and most importantly, carbon fiber has an indisputable cool factor. As a testament to the popularity of carbon, custom bike builders who made their name in steel are now crossing over to carbon. Names like Steelman, Serotta and Independent Fabrications all offer bank account-busting custom carbon frames.

To many bike racers, the mere suggestion of racing on a steel frame, let alone training on one, would be considered a joke. For some unwarranted reason, steel has gained a reputation in certain circles as being slow, heavy and technologically retarded – similar to the now unfounded reputation diesel-powered cars earned in the United States.

But the reality is that steel has never been stronger, lighter and more durable than it is today. And more than that, no other material can offer the versatility to custom build a bike which fits its rider perfectly.

Mass-produced Taiwanese carbon frames, which often cost more than a custom-built steel frame, cannot even come close to providing the right fit, feel and ride quality that steel can provide, let alone its durability, which will last its owner a lifetime if cared for properly.

Dekerf ti – although they also are very well known for steel

So before you write that check, consider these reasons why steel is indeed real:

Custom Fit – Today’s production carbon bikes, in addition to being astronomically expensive, are not custom fit for you, the rider. And although one of the big advantages of carbon is its exceptional shock absorption and ride, every frame is designed for the heaviest common denominator, in other words, about 220 pounds. So what you have is a 150 pound rider on a bike designed for a 220 pound pilot. How do you think the ride is? Stiff. Rigor mortis stiff. So stiff that it can lead to unpredictable handling characteristics, which inevitably results in an intermediate rider crashing his brains out.

Alternatively, a custom-made steel bike is designed and built exactly to the rider’s height, weight, inseam and torso specifications, which will not only deliver a far better fit, but significantly better handling, compliance and ride quality.

Robin Mather – great for steel – good enough for Rapha

Timeless Style – Yes, carbon fiber looks cool, but its look has not stood the test of time like a custom-built steel frame. Hand-carved stainless steel lugs, fillet brazed tubing, and subtle accents provide far more personalization than a mass-produced carbon frame can ever wish to offer. It’s like comparing a nice suit you buy at Brooks Brothers to a suit that was made with raw fabric, by hand, in painstaking detail and care, by a master tailor.

A custom built steel frame from names like Baylis, Eisentraut and White also reflect the owner’s appreciation for keeping alive the tradition of handcrafted bicycle artisanship, which goes back over a century. A typical carbon frame can be manufactured in a matter of a couple hours or less, anonymously cranked out on an assembly line with a thousand other frames just like it. Brian Baylis claims that every single one of his frames has a minimum of 100 hours of his own masterful labor invested, and no two frames in his nearly 40 years of building are alike. With steel, you’re not just buying a bike, you’re buying a timelessly stylish piece of art.

Minimal Weight Difference – Perhaps the biggest complaint about steel is how much heavier it is than carbon. But like this author’s penchant for hyperbole, the difference is greatly exaggerated. The advancement of technology has been a driving force behind carbon’s arrival into the mainstream of the bike industry. Carbon frames are pushing the limits of shedding weight, with some frames dipping below the two-pound mark. But technology has also benefited steel, primarily in the form of thinner-wall tubing that provides not only more tensile strength, but also lighter weight.

The lightest steel frame you’ll probably find comes in at three pounds, but spec the bike the same, and you’re only talking a one pound difference over a carbon frame. Is that one pound weight penalty really a deal breaker? Are you that much of a weight weenie? Is weight really that much more important than ride quality? Ask a 180 pound rider who’s piloted a 15 pound bike down a windy mountain pass at 50 miles an hour if he’d be willing to sacrifice a little weight for a more predictable ride.

o rourke loveliness

Durability – Frame builders have been working with steel for over a century for many reasons, but one of the most popular reasons is because of the material’s durability. Evidenced by bikes built 50 to 100 years ago still roaming the streets today, steel has proven its worth as a “lifetime” material. Carbon? Not so much. Have you ever ridden an old, monocoque carbon frame with tens of thousands of miles on it? Wet noodle is the first descriptor which comes to mind.

I distinctly remember the joyous look on my buddy’s face when he got his brand new Team CSC Cervelo Soloist frame, it was the happiest day of his life as a budding Cat 2 racer. But that look of joy was nothing compared to the look of utter dejection he had upon returning from a crit in which he crashed and cracked the brand new frame clear through the seat tube. $2,500 down the drain purely because the tube landed on someone else’s handlebars at a bad angle. A steel frame would have scoffed at the mere thought.

And if you’re the type of person who has more muscle than common sense, absolutely steer clear of carbon. Steel frames can handle the over-tightening of bolts with no qualms, but over-tighten the front derailleur clamp on a carbon frame, and the resulting crack you hear will make you want to stick your head in a vice and over-tighten.

Also, be extra careful when loading that carbon bike in the back of your car. One misplaced blunt-shaped object will render your brand new $5,000 carbon racing machine more lame than a racehorse with tendonitis.

Value – Given the same amount of money spent, would you rather have a custom frame, designed to your exact size and weight specifications, that was built with the loving care and meticulous detail of a metal artisan, or a mass-produced frame banged out on a Taiwanese assembly line designed with the most common denominator in mind?

With proper care, a steel frame will most likely outlive you, while a carbon frame will hardly outlive the credit card debt you’ll be mired in regardless of what frame material you end up buying.

In Conclusion

Of all these aforementioned reasons, what I think the carbon versus steel argument really boils down to is durability. You’re shelling out a significant chunk of change for a bike. This is a bike you will be riding every single day (optimistically) and racing a few weekends per month (even more optimistically). If you have a finite amount of money like most normal people in this world, you want a bike that can deliver durability and reliability to last as long as possible, so at a minimum, when you’re done with it, you can sell it to someone else with a clean conscience knowing it will provide the next owner years of enjoyment.

Owning a carbon bike makes sense in some situations, like if you get insane “bro deals” from sponsorships or you’re on the payroll of a UCI-sanctioned race team, and are fed free bikes on a monthly basis. In these situations, durability isn’t as much of an issue, because you’re either selling it after one season or you’re constantly riding a brand new frame free of charge.

But if your goal is to buy a bike which will last at least 5 to 10 years, you owe it to yourself to check out some of your local custom steel bike builders. Or head to events like the annual North American Handmade Bicycle Show or San Diego Custom Bicycle Show, which will really open your eyes to the beauty and legitimacy of steel as a bona-fide racing material.

But whatever your decision, have fun, be safe and keep the hammer down!

In other disciplines such as cyclocross, having the absolute lightest bike is arguably more important than even with a road bike, because you have to constantly lift it and lug it on your shoulder. So carbon naturally has an initial advantage over steel. However, carbon frames have very tight clearances, and when the course resembles a mud wrestling pit, that featherweight carbon bike will turn into a mud-clogged anchor, making a steel bike with greater clearances pounds lighter. That is, unless of course, you’re fast enough to warrant having a backup bike with someone at the ready to exchange with you (I’m assuming this isn’t the case).

The Bike has arrived

Hooray I said coming in the door and spying the bike box in the hall

1st decant

There is a lovely christmas feeling as I lifted the frame out of the box … something lovely about that first assembly … but maybe not this time.

Problem One … no pedals despite the listing showing pics with pedals although no work in the listing about their inclusion or exclusion.

then a bigger problem as I look at that bloody stupid Hope Headset design that requires expander bolts …. so 10pm I am lying on my back in the hall with the bike on tope of me upside-down with a torch in my mouth trying to thread the bolt in the headset. Feck that is impossible so Saturday sees me at the bike shop looking to get the fork fitted and to buy some pedals.

Problem 3:

‘Why is the headset steerer cut?’ so short asks Carl ….. Only one bolt on the stem can cinch it shut …. fine on a turbo but you don’t want to be doing 70mph down a hill with that surely?

an inch short - story of my wife ....

So anyone with a small bike want an Easton EC70?

eBay to the rescue and so i have just bought a Look HSC5 SL to replace it.

I like the bike though … so far in an hour turbo ride it seemed good …. need to hit the road for a test ride.

Carbon Road Bikes are so weak and fragile Blah di Blah di Blah

I don’t have a carbon bike but this is one of the criticisms that i have heard rolled out …. well have a gander at this.

If you’re one of those people whose reflex action when you see Peter Sagan or Robbie McEwen pull a wheelie on a road bike is to issue a terse ‘tsk,’ you may wish to look away now. You certainly won’t want to press ‘play’ on the video above.

If you’re still here, that’s great – hit the ‘play’ button and sit back and watch a couple of Neil Pryde frames being put through some Danny MacAskill-style moves with the help of assorted bleachers, berms, steps and picnic tables.

There’s limited info on the background to the video – at the end it says that stunts were performed by Rick “The Clutch” Roth and Tony “The Sack” Roth, and Neil Pryde gets a namecheck, as do Shimano, Enve and Tune “for making products that hold up.”

The video appears to have been put together by Tucson, Arizona-based Fair Wheel Bikes – we can’t find anything on their blog about it right now, but perhaps that’s because we got distracted by posts showcasing some great custom builds…

We’re not sure we’ll be incorporating this kind of routine into our bike tests, but tech ed Nick will be casting his eye over the video later to see if he can ID who supplied precisely which parts… the Dura Ace wheels on one of the bikes being a given, of course.

UPDATE: In fact, what happened was we received a very thorough response from Fair Wheel’s Jason Woznick which you can read after video.

The story from Fair Wheel Bikes in Tucson, Arizona

Naturally, having seen the video, we had to ask some questions and Jason Woznick from Fair Wheel Bikes in Tucson, Arizona came back overnight with his answers: Did you break anything? – Well, we had to ask

As far as things that got broken, the list was pretty small, one flat tire, one chipped fork (from the crash at the end) and a couple of slightly bent teeth on a chainring. It looked like the guys were riding different set ups so did you have different builds for different types of stunt?

There weren’t really planned differences in setup, both bikes were just  typical road bikes.  We didn’t build these bikes specifically for this video; these bikes were already built and being ridden. The black one is my daily rider and the blue one is Richard our web editor’s daily rider.  When we decided to finally shoot the video we wanted to use our regular bikes.  It’s not uncommon for those bikes to drop a ledge, or a flight of stairs on a typical ride or commute so we really didn’t have any concerns about durability or setup.  The only changes that were made for the video were that the tires were swapped to 28c commuter tires and the pedals were switched to platforms. Oh, and did you have any reasons for choosing particular components to use on the bikes?

The reason we chose the particular components for each bike was that those are what we like to ride. Finally having done this video do you think there’s more that can be done in terms of road bike stunts?

There are definitely a ton more things that can and should be done.  When we started planning the shoot we expected to have more time but logistics just didn’t allow it.  We ended up having only 2 mornings to shoot which limited not only our time but also our locations.  We had a ton of stuff which we wanted to do but just never found the time.  Half of this video was Tony and Rick just trying to get used to being on bikes they’d never been on before.  We had plans to do more at the dirt jumps as well as an indoor bmx/skate park, we wanted to hit some of the trails as well.  There were lots of things that we planned on coming back to once everyone was warmed up, but then time would be up and we wouldn’t get back. Finally, finally, are there any particular things that road bikes actually work well for?

(Tongue in cheek) It would have to be road racing. They definitely do that better than they do trials and dirt jumping.  Though the only real issue with them was toe overlap.

What I find most interesting about this whole thing was that this version of the video was never suppose to make it’s way out to the public.  This was just a sketch put together here in the shop.  We have a much better editor who was working on the actual planned release version.  Over the weekend somehow an earlier copy of this sketch got leaked.  We tried to reel it back in but every time we got a site to agree to pull it down, it would pop up somewhere else.  Once it went over 20,000 views we finally realized we’d not be able to stop it so instead we released this sketch which was at least a more completed version.

I think that’s a little sad as I know the other version will be better.  We shot on 2 days with 3 cameras, this sketch was compiled with only half of the recorded footage so just to start it was already limited from the other version.  Not to mention the other version is being put together by an experienced editor.  We still may release the other version when it’s done as a directors cut or something like that.  We’ll also be putting lots of other footage and out takes on our face book page.  We shot a total of about 2 hours of footage on each camera each day so we have lots of stuff that didn’t get included.


The Bike Specs

Bike 1 – the black one, belongs to Jason

Neil Pryde Alize
Dura ace Di2 shifters derailleurs.
Enve rims on Tune Mig 70 Mag 170 hubs with CxRay spokes, 20/24
Enve compact bar
Enve stem
Tune Concord saddle
EE brakes
Prototype EE cranks. (compact 34/50) 172.5mm
Lizard skin tape
Conti top contact tires 28c
Vittoria Latex tubes
Dura Ace 11-28 cassette

Price somewhere around $11,500. This one with it’s normal tires is well below the UCI limit of 6.8kg.
Bike 2 – the blue one

Neil Pryde Alize
Dura Ace 7900 group (shifters, derailleurs, cranks, brakes, cassette (11-28), chain.)
Dura Ace C50 wheels
Conti top contact tires 28c
Vittoria latex tubes
Lizard skin tape
Specialized Toupe saddle
Pro PLT bar and stem

Price about $8500

Trials riding using a carbon road bike

Fantastic madness

It’s not every day that you see a carbon road bike being used as a stunt machine — hopping over boulders at the beach and styling it up at the skate park.

British trials legend Martyn Ashton does just that and more in his latest video, The BikeRadar Roadie.

The clip sees Mountain Biking Hall of Fame member Ashton hit the tarmac on his carbon Raleigh Avanti Team on his way to the UK’s premier bike festival, BikeRadar Live — which took place on 10-11 July.