Shimano and Customer Service

After using my XTR spds for quite some time the spindle sheared and there was no way to repair it. 

But it was a known issue and Shimano through the distributor and the LBS have replaced it free of charge with a new set. Now that is how companies should operate – I always get XTR as they are normally low maintenance …… and now I am a lifelong buyer …..

Electric Bike Gears go off road – Shimano XTR 2015

Shimano 2015 XTR goes electric. Races it this weekend in Albstadt.

So this is making me think about the weight penalty of my Rohloff more than I should for something that has been trouble free for 5 years


As of… now! we’re allowed to officially tell you what many of you already suspected – that there was going to be a further reveal to the Shimano XTR 11speed story. Already well established in the pro peloton and also used successfully for the last couple of years on the cyclocross circuit, Shimano’s Di2 electric shifting system has been incorporated into Shimano’s flagship groupset. With development taking place over the last three years as part of Shimano’s 20,000km pre-launch testing of XTR, we’re expecting nothing short of a spectacular groupset, and initial impressions are very favourable.

Here’s the zoom-splash video!

Shimano’s confidence in the group is impressive – as it has equipped some of its top racers (like Julien Absalon and Dan McConnell) with the new groupset and, with less than a week of testing it on their bikes they’re all set to race this Sunday’s UCI World Cup on it.






Di2 is already in its second incarnation on Shimano’s Dura Ace groupset, having been slimmed down a lot so that the motors are a lot less noticeable than before. This continues over to XTR, where only a couple of bulges on the front and rear mech suggest the electric nature of the gearing. Shifting is controlled by wires (in case you were expecting something wireless like SRAM’s recent road groupset has in development) and there are a pair of neat shifters on the handlebars, along with a digital screen that indicates the gear selected, the battery level and which mode the system is in. There’s also scope to integrate Fox’s iCD remote shock lockout system too (it’s not the first time the two companies have worked together, Shimano helped develop the 15mm thru-axle used in Fox’ forks and provides batteries and other tech for Fox’ electric lockout systems)

In its simplest mode, there’s a pair of up/down buttons under each thumb, with the left side doing front shifting and the right pair doing rear shifting (assuming you’re running two or three rings up front. Running 1×11 will only need a single shifter pod). Being an electric system, though, the buttons are just switches and can be re-programmed to suit – so if you wanted a more ‘paddle shift’ approach to gears, that can easily be done by the (PC only) control box that hopefully your local shop will buy. This box of tricks can also do a lot more, setting up the special modes…

Things get more interesting though when you go into one of two special modes. Here, you can get the gears to shift sequentially front and rear – which needs only a single shift unit, even if you’re running 3×11. The sequential gears can be run as a true sequential gear system, shifting at the front and back to choose the smoothest way through the gears, or it can additionally be set up with two different profiles (that you can select while riding). You could, for example, have a profile that keeps you in the big ring for the whole of the rear block, keeping the chain tight and only bailing out into the inner ring when you’ve used all those gears up. Or you could have a ‘first lap of the race’ setting where it only keeps you in the big ring, then you select regular mode for the rest of the race. It all has great potential.

In terms of reliability, we’ve seen road Di2 used extensively in the worst conditions in cyclocross racing for a couple of years. Shimano have then done years of additional testing to make sure it withstands the rigours of off-road bumping around and filthy conditions. There are still some potential vulnerabilities in the flexible wires used to connect the shifters and mechs. While Shimano expects that all OEM speccing of the system will be on bikes with neat, internal routing, the aftermarket is a different matter and we think we’ll still see a few bikes with external cables taped on to the outside of frame tubes. There’s also the possibility for a wire to get hooked on a branch, or sliced by a suspension pivot – or for a mech to get smashed by a rock (the motor safely disengages from the mech if, say, a stick gets caught in the wheel) – but these are dangers with any system – although the price of failure is higher with a £400 rear mech. It’ll be interesting to see where manufacturers hide the battery, as the internal battery will only fit inside the seatpost (as it does on road bikes) if you’re not running a dropper post. Inside the fork steerer tube is one suggestion we might see, otherwise an external bottle boss, chainstay or BB mount will work.




Overall, though, it looks like Shimano has put a lot of work into making sure that XTR is as durable and reliable as possible. The shifting motors are reasonably unobtrusive and the ‘Firebolt’ shift buttons are small and neat. The shift action has more throw than a road Di2 switch (though way less than a mechanical shifter) and a more positive click to make it discernible over the bumping around off road. There are two clicks in either direction, to allow for quick rear shifts, plus a ‘push and hold’ option. The front mech will auto-trim (and comes in either a double or triple setup) and the motor is said to be 50% stronger than Dura Ace.

Chipps is in Albstadt, Germany right now at the World Cup XC race, where it’ll be campaigned in anger this weekend by Shimano’s top sponsored riders – and he’ll also be getting an exclusive ride on the new XTR Di2 groupset, so stay tuned for his first impressions. We expect to see production samples start to come through around New Year 2015.

UK Prices:
Rear Mech: £429.99
Front Mech: £269.99
Left and right shifters £149.99 each
Batteries: Internal £99.99. External £49.99
PCE1 (optional cable/programming interface): £179.99
Junction boxes and cables will be another £100 (approx) a bike.

Front derailleur (FD-M9070 D-type) | 115 grams
Rear derailleur (RD-M9050-GS) | 289 grams
System display (SC-M9050) | 30 grams
Shift switch (SW-M9050) | 64 grams

In case that’s not enough enthusiasm, here’s the official press release.

Shimano is pleased to announce the launch of the first electronic groupset for mountain biking, XTR Di2 (M9050).  This development is the result of a very extensive testing program and is the moment many mountain bikers have long been waiting for. XTR Di2 comes in addition to the previously announced XTR M9000 mechanical groupset. The Di2 platform offers a number of advantages over a regular mechanical system including faster, more accurate and more powerful shifting which remains consistent in all riding conditions. Shifting requires minimal effort with a simple press of a button.  XTR Di2 also brings a new programmable shifting layout called Synchro Shift. XTR Di2 offers a clean appearance on the bike and low maintenance thanks to the use of electrical wires.

Electronic shifting is not controlled by a regular mechanical shifter; it is controlled by a new electronic switch. Working with Shimano’s test riders and professional racers, Shimano engineers designed and tested many varieties of switches before the perfect solution was found. The result is Firebolt; an electronic shift switch that provides a natural feel, feedback and ergonomics. XTR’s easy to reach, compact shift switches offer a short stroke with tactile feedback.

Intuitive operation
One of the main advantages of electronic shifting is the programmability of the system. With new XTR Di2 it is possible to have the best shifting setup for every individual riding style. XTR Di2 works on the same E-tube platform as Shimano’s current road Di2 groupsets. The E-tube platform offers full programmability of the groupset and transmits interactive signals and power supply to each individual part by ‘plug & play’ connection. E-tube makes it possible to customise your shifting system by changing the function of the shift buttons. For example, it is possible to change the control of the front derailleur to the right switch and/or the control of your rear derailleur to the left switch. Multi shifting is also possible with XTR Di2 and is fully programmable. Multi shift can be engaged by pressing and holding the shift switch. Not only is the speed of the shift customisable but also the number of shifts, whether you want to shift up to a maximum of two sprockets with a single hold, or all the way through the cassette.  Working with E-Tube electric wires also means no rust and no cable stretch while ensuring low maintenance and consistent shifting compared to a traditional mechanical cable-operated system.

One of the most unique features of XTR Di2 is the new Synchro Shift option. XTR Di2 has undergone over 20,000 test kilometers. This extensive test period allowed Shimano engineers to closely analyse the most used gears to be effective. With Synchro Shift enabled, it is possible to control both derailleurs with just one shifter. The front derailleur reads the position of the rear derailleur and automatically operates the front shift to position the gears in the most efficient gear and best chain line so the rider never has to worry about front shifting and correction shifts again. Synchro Shift is best explained in this video and improves efficiency of shifting and riding.

Shimano have used all the data from test riding to produce two pre-set shifting maps. E-tube allows the rider to change these pre-sets and create their own preferred shifting map. While riding it is possible to change between the programmed shifting maps or change back to manual mode. XTR Di2 provides fast and accurate shifting with less effort compared to mechanical systems.

Powerful shifting
Responsible for these shifts are the XTR Di2 derailleurs. These derailleurs deliver powerful, accurate and consistent shifting. The Di2 front derailleur is twice as powerful as the current M980 front derailleur and provides reliable, fast and smooth gear changes, even under heavy load. Shifting becomes effortless regardless of the terrain with a simple the push of a button. The rear derailleur is upgraded with new Shadow RD+ technology for Di2. Besides the regular on and off switch it is now also possible to externally adjust the spring tension of the rear derailleur with an Allen key (see video). The derailleurs react instantly to rider input and take up an accurate position in every gear combination using the front derailleur auto-trimming function. The electric wires guarantee stable and consistent performance.

Clean appearance and system expansion
The ‘brain’ of the XTR Di2 system is the digital display. This display indicates the battery level, gear position, shift mode (manual or Synchro) and the suspension mode. Using a button on the display it is also possible to change the shift mode to either manual or choose one of the two Synchro Shift maps, even while riding. The display also functions as a charging port, connection to the E-tube software (for personal settings) and includes 3 E-tube ports. Thanks to the E-tube platform, mountain bikes get a cleaner appearance. Electronic wires are easy to hide inside the frame and it is possible to integrate the Fox suspension system which minimises the visible cables on the bike and handlebars.

XTR Di2 M9050 uses the same batteries as its road equivalent. The external SM-BTR1 battery and the internal SM-BTR2 battery.

Ultegra 6800 review

from – this is my next purchase – I have old Ultegra on the Lynskey and was waiting for it to wear out but 3800km later it is still as sweet as …. well soon then – interesting point about potentially needing new wheels.

Hot Damn. Shimano’s 11-speed Ultegra 6800 groupset is really, really, really good. That’s this review in a nutshell, but in the spirit of drawing things out I’ll write a few more words on the matter. There’s lots to say. But the bottom line is: for the serious fitness rider or privateer racer, as a package, this is as good as a mechanical groupset has ever been.

It was last May when Ultegra 6800 was unveiled (…) and now you can get a huge range of bikes sporting the gun-metal grey componentry. Ultegra always follows the lead of Shimano’s flagship Dura-Ace gear and this incarnation is no exception. It’s eleven speed, it uses the new four-arm crankset and the redesigned symmetrical dual pivot brakes, the STI levers are redesigned and so are the derailleurs, especially the front one. It’s quite an overhaul. There are even some new wheels to cope with the ever-so-slightly wider cassette. But we’ll deal with them in a separate review. Let’s take the parts one by one.

Shifters 9/10

Shimano have been doing a lot of work on the shift feel, and Ultegra 6800 takes on board what they’ve achieved with Dura-Ace. The shift mechanism has been redesigned so that, in theory, the shift from 24 to 28 at one end of the cassette feels exactly like the one from 11-12 at the other. Shimano call it Vivid Shifting (everything has to have a special name) and it’s quite noticeable that the lever resistance doesn’t ramp up anywhere near as much, although you do need a bit of extra push for the big cogs.

The action is lighter, too. That’s especially true of the front shift thanks in the main to the redesigned derailleur but both shifts are easier, and the throw of the lever is reduced, which is good news for smaller-handed riders and for when you’re shifting from the drops.

Shifting is precise and sensitive. Although it’s light you still get reassuring feedback from the lever. It’s still possible to miss a downshift if you accidentally catch the main lever as the mechanism doesn’t engage, which has been an issue for a number of incarnations of Shimano’s STI system. It’d be nice to see it fixed although it’s not a major problem.

Shifting under load is really, really good: so good that it’s almost better putting the power down when you’re shifting – especially down the block – than easing off slightly like you would with a lower-end groupset. Certainly it’s very hard to make an upshift fail even under heavy load, and it’s nigh-on impossible with a downshift.

The lever hood is slimmer, like the Dura Ace one which in turn borrowed its curves from Di2. That should make it easier to grip for smaller hands; mine are like shovels but I still prefer the new shape, which you can wrap your hands round a bit more, than the old.

Front derailleur 10/10

Shimano have done a lot of work on the front derailleur and it shows. The mech now has a much longer activation arm to reduce the shift effort, and it features a support bolt, like the Di2 unit, that comes into contact with the frame to stiffen up the structure. If you have a carbon frame you’ll want to cover the contact point with the stick-on alloy plate to avoid damage. All that work means much lighter front shifts, with an excellent pick-up from the chain and the chainring ramps on the upshift.

Rear derailleur 9/10

The rear dreailleur comes in short- and mid-cage incarnations, the latter able to handle up to a 32T sprocket for the really steep stuff. The spring rate has been tweaked to give a more linear feel to the shifting. Both mechs have been designed to work best with Shimano’s new polymer-coated cables, which reduce friction in the system. We’ve been to the launch and done the pull-this-one-then-pull-that-one test to feel the difference; in real world conditions it’s hard to say how much the reduced friction makes but it can’t be a bad thing, and the rear shifts are excellent.

Brakes 10/10

Another area to get a complete overhaul is the brakes, and the braking is perhaps the most noticeable improvement in the whole groupset.

The brakes are dual pivot, as before, but instead of using the brake bolt as a pivot the Ultegra units have two symmetrical pivots that are attached to a carrier, that then mounts to the normal point. At least that’s one option: Shimano are heavily touting direct mount as The Next Big Thing, where the two pivots mount directly to the frame. That’s been more widely adopted for brakes with chainstay-mounted rear brakes than it has at the front, or on the seatstays, but those bikes are appearing.

On top of all that there’s a new brake shoe compound, and Shimano’s new polymer-coated cables too. Shimano claim that all those improvements add up to a 10% increase in braking power. I didn’t crack out the accelerometer and the calculator, but these brakes really are excellent. The braking effort to stop you is reduced, and that means less arm fatigue on long rides. Haul them on and they’re both powerful and controllable. The improvement over the previous Ultegra callipers is especially noticeable in the wet, which is possibly down to the new brake compound rather than the redesigned body, but everything works very well together here.

Brake shoe wear is decent; they’re not the hardest pads but it’s always a trade-off between pad life and stopping power, and the Ultegra pads are in the happy middle ground of great performance and acceptable wear.

Chainset 9/10

It’s fair to say that Shimano’s new four-arm design divides opinion as far as looks are concerned. Personally, I think it looks smart, but what’s not in doubt is that it’s a very stiff, configurable, and light unit.

The idea behind the unequal spacing on the four-arm chainset is that the arms are placed to deal with the stresses that a chainset endures from your pedalling. You don’t apply equal pressure all the way round the pedal stroke, so by moving the arms and reducing their number by one, you get the same stiffness but for a lower weight.

That big gap between arms two and three wouldn’t really work with a standard single-piece alloy chainring, as the gap is too big and the ring would flex. But the outer chainring on the Ultegra 6800 groupset is two alloy plates sandwiched together, with a hollow centre. As such it’s much stiffer, and able to bridge the gap effectively.

The other thing that’s changed significantly is that the same spider can cope with all the combinations of chainrings that Shimano offer: that’s Rider Tuned, naming-things fans. There’s a 50/34 compact, a 53/39 standard and a 52/36 that we don’t really have a name for. Semi-compact? Faux-pro? Anyway, there’s that. And a 46/36 cyclocross one as well. All use the same bolt spacing, so switching from Standard to Compact is just a case of swapping the rings and nudging your mech. I’ve swapped between a compact and standard set of rings with no issues and minimal faff.

In use the chainset is very stiff, and the shifting at the front is excellent. You can choose 170mm, 172.5mm or 175mm cranks. A chainset is the kind of component you only really notice when it’s doing something bad. This one was stiff, silent and stealthy throughout testing. Examination of the chainrings after a couple of thousand miles shows minimal wear. I’ve used it with press-fit bearings and a standard Hollowtech II external bottom bracket with no issues at all.

Cassette 8/10

You can have your Ultegra cassette in one of five flavours: 11-23T, 11-25T, 12-25T, 11-28T or 11-32T. It’s ever so slightly wider than a 10-speed one which means that you need an 11spd compatible wheelset. Mavic wheels since 2001 should be fine, just lose the spacer. Other wheel manufacturers may be able to supply you with a different freehub for your existing wheels, some (Zipp for example) will want you to send them back for re-dishing, too. You might have to bite the bullet and get some new ones.

Is it possible to just bolt the 11-speed cassette on to a 10-speed freehub anyway? Well, as the new cassette is 1.8mm wider the issues are getting the splines on the smallest cog, and the threads of the locknut, to engage. And after that you might have an issue with your chain rubbing on the frame in the 11T as it’s closer to the dropout. In short: probably not. There’s no official upgrade path for Shimano’s own wheels, either.

Anyway, assuming you have the right wheels to fit it to, the cassette works splendidly well and you can bask in your extra ratio, which in all cases is an 18T cog between the 17T and 19T. Does it make much difference? Not noticeably in everyday use. If you do a lot of time trialling you might be glad of an extra straight-through jump but for most mortals that extra sprocket isn’t that significant a leap. The other changes to the groupset are much more worthy of note. Still though, incremental gains and that.

Chain 8/10

Shimano teased us with directional chains for a couple of years, which I always fitted the wrong way round, and now we’re back to symmetrical ones that any ham-fisted home technician can get right. The big news is that the chain has a new surface coating called Sil-Tec that reduces friction between all the moving parts. In the swing-this-one-then-swing-that-one test at the launch the difference is noticeable and impressive. It’s unclear how long that treatment is supposed to last, although I’ll wager that 2,000 miles in and several scrubbings later, it’s a memory. The chain wear is good though, with the Park CC3.2 suggesting there’s loads of life left in it even after a harsh winter. The chain joins with an extended pin that you snap off, like all Shimano chains do; I’ve replaced that with a SRAM 11spd connector as I find that a much simpler way to join and re-join a chain. It’s probably not allowed, but it hasn’t impacted on performance.


As a whole package, and assuming that you’re not going to be fuming over your wheels not working with it, Shimano Ultegra 6800 is everything you want from a mechanical performance groupset. It’s light, the shifts are crisp and quick, the braking is truly excellent. At the RRP of just under a grand it represents a significant but worthwhile investment if you’re upgrading; the fact that you can have it for not much over half that online makes it the go-to groupset for anyone building up a nice bike at home. For everyone except the true racers, the difference between Ultegra and Dura-Ace at the moment is so small – both in terms of weight and performance – that you’re effectively giving away nothing by speccing the second-tier kit and saving yourself a bunch of money. Do that.


Top-end performance from Shimano’s second-tier groupset: great shifting, fantastic braking.

Touring Bike Build #3: Gears and Steers and a bit of SS rack

A miserable day out there and so I cycle in my mind with some more purchases for the Touring Bike.

Panniers arrived – Axiom they look great but review once they get used
Mercian Frame (reynolds 631) fork and Seatpost on their way
Brooks Saddle B17 Champion – I have a spare

So groupset.

Decided on a triple as i am sure those lower gear inches will come in handy once i see some hills. Ribble have a decent deal on so ordered a Shimano 105 triple in Silver

Also a rear Stainless Steel rack.

Groupset and Rack
Groupset and Rack

Then there is steering.

Nitto Rando-2

  • Nitto Rando B135 Bar and a quill stem -Classic randonneur touring style, also great for cyclocross and dirt drop riding
  • Bar slopes upward from the center to the corners, the drops are splayed outward
  • A randonneur is a participant in a randonnée or brevet – a long-distance ride that passes through check-points within a specified time limits. It is not a race, but a test of endurance with distances of 200-1000 km
  • All Nitto bars are measured center to center
  • 120mm drop
  • 105mm reach

Screen Shot 2014-02-08 at 18.02.32

Genesis Croix de Fer tweaked for 2014

been thinking of this bike more – this from their own blog so none of my words …..

2014 'Croix - Tweaked & Refined

Our boundary-blurring and irrepressible Croix de Fer might look a little niche on paper to many, but, in reality, it’s our best-selling model by a country mile. It tentatively falls under the ‘cross’ section, but, truth be told, we really could’ve picked from an abundance of similarly suitable tags. A large part of the models’ success is undoubtedly down to its incredible versatility. Perhaps ‘Jack-of-all-trades’ might’ve been more apt.

The ‘Croix certainly slots nicely into the ‘one bike’ mantra for many of you, sitting directly in the no-man’s land between road and dirt (and everything in between), and that’s exactly how we intended it to be – designed from a ‘see it, ride it’ perspective. A bike for exploring with!

With this in mind, we didn’t want to go changing things too drastically for 2014 – refinements and improvements as opposed to change for change’s sake whilst clinging onto the £1149.99srp…

Probably the biggest and most obvious improvement is the move to an inboard-mounted disc caliper. Many of you had expressed the faff of fitting a rear rack and mudguard to the previous design, having to space out the stays to clear the disc caliper. With the new design they’ll bolt straight on saving you having to rummage the parts bin to fabricate a suitable longer bolt and spacer combo. It also means that the rack no longer has to be a disc-specific model (with built-in clearance for the caliper).

We know a lot of you use the ‘Croix predominantly on tarmac so perhaps found the dedicated CX knobbies a little OTT for daily duties. On the other hand we didn’t want to completely abandon its off-the-beaten-path capabilities. Step forward the excellent compromise that is Continental’s semi-slick Cyclocross Speed 35c tyres. The lower profile diamond file centre tread will hopefully give  a faster rolling performance on tarmac and hard-pack surfaces whilst the side knobbles should mean enough grip and traction for any off-road jaunts.

We’ve upped the gear range via a 12-30T cassette out back. Combined with the compact 50/34T Tiagra chainset up front it should give enough low-range spread for fully-laiden touring adventures into the unknown.

Hayes excellent CX Expert (formerly CX5) mechanical disc brakes take up the stopping duties. They give a nice a nice positive braking feel thanks to the stiff, forged one-piece caliper and include an integrated barrel adjuster for cable adjustments. We’ve offset the slight weight gain in the caliper body with their L-Series lightweight drilled rotor, so the overall is comparable to last years’ Avid BB7 setup. If you want to get really pedantic then I guess you could argue we’ve dropped rotational weight also.

The new M:Part Elite sealead cartridge bearing headset and upgraded Shimano Deore M525 6-Bolt hubs (vs. Shimano M475) should mean smoother steering and rolling for many a mile and drastically reduced service intervals.

So, there you have. Not massive changes by any stretch of the imagination but hopefully all small choice tweaks to improve the versatility, everyday use and overall ride characteristics of what is our best-selling model. If you think we’ve missed something out or you’d like to see certain features or kit integrated further down the line please let us know below – we’re all ears…

candidate for new wheels – useful on crappy* Scottish roads

Stan’s NoTubes Alpha 340 Team 3.30R wheels are light, fast and strong, and allow easy tubeless setup if you want to ditch your inner tubes.

Tubeless technology is prevalent in the automotive industry and over the last ten years has become commonplace on mountain bikes. So far there has been very little adoption among road cyclists, but with increasingly more choice of wheels and tyres from the big manufacturers, that’s slowly starting to change and road tubeless is seeping into the public consciousness.

Stan’s NoTubes is a name familiar to any mountain biker. The US company has made tubeless technology its USP, with special rim strips, valves and tubeless sealant able to convert most wheels into a no-tubes setup. The company has also developed its own rim, with a special internal rim shape, that it sells in a range of mountain, cyclo-cross and road wheels.

These Alpha 340 Team 3.30R wheels, with their 1,445g weight and £580 price, are very competitive. For comparison purposes, they are about the same weight as Shimano’s Dura-Ace 9000 C24 tubeless-ready wheels and lighter than Fulcrum’s Racing 1 2-Way Fit wheels, but cheaper than both.

The wheels use Stan’s unique rim profile, which incorporates its Bead Socket Technology. This is essentially a sidewall that is 2-4mm lower than a regular rim, and which secures the tyre bead firmly into place. Once it’s locked in there it’s not budging. I’ve had no problems at all inflating tubeless tyres with a hand or track pump onto these rims, and once the tyres are up they stay inflated.

The rim is 22.6mm deep with a 20mm external width and 17mm internal. They’re laced to DT Supercomp Black spokes (24 radial front, 28 2-cross rear) to a pair of 3.30R hubs, with DT Silver Alloy nipples. They’re diddy little hubs and nestled away inside are stainless steel cartridge bearings, which have dealt well with heavy and sustained rain and taken a pasting riding over mud and shit covered roads the past couple of months. The machined braking surface has offered decent braking and shows no sign of wear. The freehub is 11-speed compatible.

Going tubeless couldn’t be easier

The rims are pre-fitted with 2-layers of Stan’s yellow rim tape and a 44mm tubeless valve. Fit a pair of tyres and some sealant and away you go. It really is that easy. The wheels can be run with inner tubes if you prefer, that simply requires removing the valves.

One of the best selling points of tubeless is reduced punctures. Removing the inner tube obviously eliminates the risk of pinch flats – when the inner tube is sandwiched between the tyre and rim. You have to hit a pothole pretty hard to do that, but it’s not impossible.

The most frequent punctures are those caused by glass, sharp stones, flint and thorns puncturing the tyre and popping the tube. They’re more frequent at this time of year, with generally more crap on the roads, but also rain acts as an annoyingly good lubricant for sharp objects to slice into tyres.

Remove the inner tube then, and replace with a liquid latex solution that solidifies upon contact with oxygen, and you have the recipe for less time spent repairing flats. Who doesn’t find that appealing?

I tested the wheels with a pair of Schwalbe Ultremo ZX tyres (you can read the review here Installation couldn’t have been easier, with the required solution poured into the tyre, they inflated first time and have remained trouble-free for the couple of months I’ve been riding the wheels and tyres so far. The tyres are secure on the rims, with no hint of the tyre bead trying to shift in the rim.

Ride: Quick and strong

The wheels offer a sprightly ride, as you would expect from their low overall weight. They zip up to speed quickly, with a good response during out of the saddle sprints. They’re reasonably stiff: push the wheels hard in a flat-out sprint or through a high-speed corner, and there’s no detectable lateral flex.

They’re also comfortable, the alloy rim and double butted spokes a good advert for classic box-section clincher wheels such as these. There’s enough spring in them that rough roads are handled with good composure, making them an ideal year-round well, but especially good as we head into winter.

They’re strong wheels, with impressive durability. I’ve been hammering them purposely through holes and cracks in the broken Tarmac on my local roads, and they simply shrugged it all off. I’ve not even needed to take a spoke key to the nipples yet. The bearings are still lovely and smooth after a couple of months.

They can take the punishment. That makes them ideal wheels for anyone who hammers their bike over rough roads, whether in sportives or racing. Their weight and stiffness makes them ideal on a lightweight racing bike, though they might not have the outright stiffness of carbon wheels for crit races, but longer road races should see them shining. For long distance touring or sportives they’re well suited, with the added peace of mind that the tubeless setup provides. And they’re light enough to put carbon wheels three times their price to shame when it comes to climbing.

I’ve been really impressed with these wheels. The simple tubeless setup, their weight and decent price and staggering good strength and durability. They come with a rider weight limit of 230lb (16 stone/105kg) though.


The Stan’s rims have provided an easy route into road tubeless, with none of the complications often cited by tubeless detractors. The rim profile makes setting up tubeless tyres a doddle, and the fact they come ready to go is a nice touch.


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

Sabbath Silk Route – tourer titanium


The Sabbath Silk Route is a load lugging all-rounder that creates its own niche by using a titanium frame. Thoroughly practical but we suspect most buyers would prefer to start with a frame and make their own component choices.

Titanium framed touring bikes are a rarity, probably mainly because they tend to be regarded as a luxury in the relatively traditional world of pedal powered haulage, but also because most of the big name titanium frame builders tend to demand a higher premium for their wares than British company Sabbath. Based on a £1199 frame (some outlets include the fork at that price) this complete Silk Route shows that a titanium-framed tourer can be had for a UK average month’s salary.

The Silk Route is a fairly recent addition to Sabbath’s range, which has been slowly evolving over the past six years. The frame is designed in the UK and built overseas to keep costs low. It’s nicely designed and well finished, with a practical blend of plain gauge tubes biased towards luggage hauling durability rather than minimum weight.

The frame on its own weighs 3.65lb/1.65kg (size dependant), which is fairly hefty for a titanium frame, but the resulting stability in ride feel when loaded front and rear is precisely what’s required on a bike like this. If you’re not looking for a haulage bike you should probably look at one of Sabbath’s lighter, butted-tube models.

All Sabbath’s frames use the well regarded 3Al/2.5V drawn tubes (the figures refer to a 3% aluminium, 2.5% vanadium mix in the titanium alloy). There are six models in the range covering racing, touring, everyday or sportive use and the racy models use lighter butted tubes.

While the Silk Route is designed for touring, its long wheelbase, easy-riding geometry, Surly steel fork and big tyre clearance make it suitable for steady trail use as well as ideal for rough roads. There’s enough room for 38mm tyres if you feel a need for bigger treads than the 32mm Continental Touring Pluses fitted, and the 36 spoke wheels with Mavic 319 rims and Shimano LX hubs can take a fair bit of punishment.

A Brooks B17 saddle is a nice touch on a bike like this too, and a reminder that Brooks’ saddles, while not light, are still among the most comfy seats around.

There will be riders who’ll baulk at dropping £2199 on a Shimano LX/105 level bike with a workmanlike steel fork, trouser-guard equipped crankset and middle of the range finishing kit, but if you’re attracted to the idea of your new bike being based on a titanium frame you’d be hard pressed to build a rack and mudguard equipped tourer with decent wheels and a Brooks leather saddle at this price.

You can remove that trouser guard if you don’t like the look of it and Surly’s steel fork is fitted because it’s one of the best off the peg touring forks on the market, with threaded eyelets for every rack type and the sort of stability, combined with the thick plain gauge steerer tube, that justifies its relatively high weight.

Handling was rock solid, even riding hands free with front and rear loads. We’re not particularly recommending this but it’s a great way of testing stability on touring bikes and a great way of getting your loads spread properly assuming the basic geometry is fine. Another good front end stability test is being able to brake hard without fork flutter with an outer cable guide mounted on the upper part of the head tube: many bikes with cantilever brakes need the cable guide to be mounted on the fork crown.

The Silk Route could be an ideal starting point for riders who like the idea of owning a utility rather than race focused titanium frame. But we can’t help but think that most of those riders would prefer to make their own parts choices. A few of the parts on the Sabbath just don’t look at ease on a £2000+ bike. But that’s probably missing the point. You could find yourself paying this much for a frame alone from some of the more established titanium frame brands, and you’re still getting a tough maintenance free frame that won’t rust.

All Sabbath framesets can be built with different component parts and custom finishing options so the details on our test bike are not set in stone. Its ‘bright brush’ titanium finish with subtle, almost invisible, sandblasted graphics is practical, and part of the appeal of titanium is that it’ll buff up like new year after year.

Tubing shapes of the Silk Route include curvy rear stays for extra heel clearance, a biaxially ovalised top tube for lateral rigidity plus big weld contact areas at the seat and head tube and an oversized, ovalised down tube.

All the tube profiles are said to be designed to improve stiffness and stability when hauling loads, and our ride experience bears this out. Long chainstays ensure that panniers stay clear of your heels, and Sabbath say it’s built to carry up to 35kg: the test bike rack, a fairly basic Tortec model, is limited to 25kg.

There’s are three sets of bottle cage bosses (one set underneath the down tube) and threaded rack mounts, all welded rather than riveted into the frame, and in keeping with the traditional touring bike approach there’s even a pump peg on the head tube for a frame sized pump.

Our test bike weighed in at almost exactly 28lb/12.6kg without pedals. There is masses of bar/stem height adjustability and in addition to the components we’ve already mentioned the finishing parts included a standard Shimano LX touring crankset (with removable trouser-guard), 105 3 x 10 gear mechs and 105 shifters, Pro seat post, stem and compact handlebar, SKS ‘guards and LX cantilever brakes.

The gear range was more than adequate for the most mountainous terrain, the wheels were well built and the geometry and riding posture emphasised comfort and stable control at both low and high speeds. The head angle on the medium frame is 71.5 degrees, the seat angle is 73.5 and the horizontal top tube length is 56.5cm, with a 54cm (centre to top) seat tube and a 15.5cm head tube.

Don’t expect a sturdy long wheel base bike like this to feel as lively as a steep angled race bred model. Snappy acceleration or sprightly handling will never be highlights, even if you strip the touring gear off and fit skinnier treads.

But there’s something incredibly soothing about a bike like this once you’ve got it up to speed, with big sweeping turns on long descents being a real highlight. That said, slow speed traffic riding is also incredibly confident, with the long front centre meaning no mudguard toe overlap if you make sharp turns. Our month of riding uncovered no unpleasant foibles, loaded or unloaded.


A thoroughly practical titanium touring bike, both utilitarian and potentially superior in durability to the traditional steel framed approach and more comfy than most aluminium framed options. Most riders would probably start with a frame alone and equip it to suit their particular needs.

Niner release the beautiful cross one


RLT9-8Designed for the spaces between pavement and singletrack, Niner’s latest is–as evidenced by the skinny tyres and curvy bars–a departure for the brand.  The RLT 9 (or Road Less Traveled… 9) is an aluminum-framed, carbon-fork’d ride designed to take the shape of your dreams.  That is, if your dreams combine drop bars with rough roads and smooth trails.  Billed as a 29er (sort of), monster-cross machine (yup), occasional cyclocross racer (sure), and gravel grinder (why not), the disc-equipped bike even sports the rack and mudguard mounts to serve as a super-commuter or even a light touring bike.

Low-pro disc and rack/fender mounts.

Low-pro disc and rack/fender mounts.

The RLT 9′s aluminum frame is designed and shaped to meet “Niner’s ride quality standards” and the 27.2 seatpost will aid fat tyres in keeping things comfy.  A PF30 bottom bracket shell can take big-spindle’d cranks or be paired with Niner’s new BioCentric 30 eccentric bottom bracket for singlespeed use.  Internal shift cable routing is standard and Di2 compatibility (complete with seatpost charging port) readies the frame for an eventual electronic upgrade.

Fat tyres, reflective sidewalls.

Fat tyres, reflective sidewalls.

“Fire Road Geometry” gives the RLT 9 longish chainstays, a low bottom bracket, and a slackish head tube- all of which should make for a stable ride on bumpy roads.  While it isn’t intended as a ‘cross racer, there is no reason not to run with the Niner on your shoulder from time to time.  Build-wise, the company looks to have done a killer job with the two kits.  The $2,000 RLT 9 105 comes with a Shimano 105/Tiagra drivetrain and Shimano cable discs in the lovely “Industry Gray” (blue) shown above.  The $3,000 RLT 9 Rival pulls out the stops, adding Stan’s Iron Cross wheels, a SRAM Rival drivetrain, and SRAM hydraulic disc brakes in a classy mint/cream.  Framesets will be available for $1,049.


Minty fresh

Niner bikes are distributed in the UK by Jungle Products.


Another ride out on the bike

This morning was a ride and a plan that i don’t do often – got dressed up in my mtb gear pushed m bike down to the school and dropped the girls off and set off directly from there 9am. I don’t normally get up that early for a bike ride but it was well worth it. The sun was out and already i had stuffed my jacket into the camelbak.

ride with gps screen
ride with gps screen

What a blast – up to Bearsden and the hills beyond on my Lynskey Ridgeline 29er. I think I love this bike …. a lot. It is so effortless and quick. I did trails today quicker and with less effort (and mainly with less fitness than I did them before) The bike flows over obstacles so much better than my old carver. I even bagged a KOM on one section with little effort …. mind you only 68 people before and only a few seconds up on my previous attempts.

Wooo Hooo KOM (for a day or two)
Wooo Hooo KOM (for a day or two)

Went up some old trails and was also impressed by the traction once again from the Maxxis Ardent tyres so grippy yet still fast rolling.

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grippy Maxxis Ardent UST
grippy Maxxis Ardent UST


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I went down some trails that I had never been down before – one in particular seemed very sweet then suddenly the angle got steeper and steeper – suddenly it was a 45 degree slope and i was hanging on. I guess over time I have become particularly good at crashing so did a slow slide of doom before i had to jettison prior to going over the bars. I loved it I picked myself up laughing with a scrape on my leg and mud on the gloves. Stopped on the way home at the garage and used the jet wash – a quick and cost / time effective way to clean the bike.

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bushed – mud and helmet hair

strava - click on to link
strava – click on to link

Ultegra 11 speed

And to think this year might see an upgrade for my group set


Shimano have launched a brand new Ultegra groupset, 6800. The new gear contains masses of trickle-down from Dura Ace 9000. Grabbing the headlines will be addition of an extra cog to give 11 speeds at the rear, but the improvements to the shifting and braking performance are more worthy of note.

“Ultegra normally takes the latest technology from Dura Ace and provides it at a much more competitive price”, Shimano’s Mark Greshon told us. “It’s for real world riders who want good performance.” Certainly Ultegra has been a staple groupset for privateer racers and keen sportivistes for many years, offering much of the functionality of the top-end transmission components. Dura Ace jumped ahead last year with the release of the 9000 groupset, but Ultegra is back snapping at its heels now.

“Ultegra uses technology that’s been proven in WorldTour races, proven at the highest level”, said Mark. However, Shimano are aware that not everyone riding Ultegra has racing ambitions. All day comfort is important, and there’s a large percentage of Ultegra riders who spend most of their time riding on the hoods. Shimano have been thinking about comfort, and braking and shifting performance predominantly from that riding position. The lever stroke is shorter than before, and lighter too, meaning less shifting effort, and like Dura Ace 9000 the new drivetrain evens out the force required across the cassette, meaning that shifting in the low gears is as easy as it is at the bottom of the cassette; vivid indexing, Shimano call that.

Hood shape is borrowed from Dura Ace mechanical, which in turn took its cues from the Di2 lever. It’s a lot slimmer than before which Shimano say gives better grip and comfort; certainly Mat was a fan when he tested Dura Ace. “I’ve got large hands and I find the reduced size to be an advantage”, he said. “People with smaller hands are likely to notice it even more”. The brake lever is carbon, as it was on the mechanical version of the last Ultegra groupset. The Di2 version was alloy.

The front derailleur has seen a significant change in design. It now features a support bolt, like Di2, that comes into contact with the frame to stiffen things up. The pull arm is much longer, like Dura Ace, to reduce shift effort.

The rear mech comes in short- and mid-cage incarnations; you’ll need the longer mech if you plan to run 32 teeth at the rear, which is the largest cog it’s designed to handle. Again, it takes technology from Dura Ace 9000 down to the next level, with the more linear spring rate for more equal shifting across the block. Both mechs are designed to work best with Shimano’s new polymer-coated gear cables.

For braking there’s the new symmetrical dual pivot design, ported from Dura Ace 9000. Instead of using the brake mount as one of the pivots the calliper has two independent pivots equally spaced on either side of the brake. Polymer-coated cables reduce friction and increase the amount of power for a given force at the lever. The upshot of these improvements is that Shimano claim a 10% increase in braking power over Ultegra 6700.

There’s a direct mount version of the brake available that does away with the central mounting bolt and instead bolts directly to the frame at either side, which is better for stiffness; quite a few frame manufacturers are already adopting the standard.

Mat called out the performance of the new Dura Ace callipers as a highlight of the new 9000-series kit. “The amount of bite on offer is one of the best features of the entire groupset, and it’s incredibly easy to apply – you require very little effort through your fingers”, he said. “And the more powerful the braking, the longer you can safely leave it”. Hopefully the Ultegra 6800 callipers will be just as capable.

Rider Tuned is how Shimano describe the available gearing options. “The groupset has been designed to be as efficient as possible, so that all your energy goes into moving the bike forwards”, Mark told us. We’re pretty sure that’s always been their policy though.

Bascially you can have anything from a full-on race setup with a standard chainset and a straight-through cassette, to a compact and a wide-ratio block at the back. 53/39 and 50/34 chainsets are available of course, but there’s also a middle-ground 52/36 option which was introduced on Dura Ace last year and is sure to appeal to anyone that wants to look like they’re sporting a standard setup but could do with some help on the hills. Pretty much everyone, then. There’s a 46/36 cyclocross-friendly option too. There’s no triple chainset at the moment, but one is in development.

The chainset has the new four-arm design from Dura Ace, which is designed to maintain stiffness but reduce weight by moving the arms to cope with the different forces at different parts of the pedal stroke. It’ll spin on a redesigned bottom bracket that shaves 14g off the old Ultegra one.

The cassette is available in 11-23, 11-25, 12-25, 11-28 and 11-32 configurations. The additional sprocket means that the cassette is straight through for a bit longer, so generally that’s the addition of an 18T cog over ten speed. The new wider cassette means a new Ultegra wheel too, the WH-6800. This wheelset features a tubeless-ready rim, wide-flange hubset and tool-free hub adjustment system, as well as the wider 11-speed freehub, designed to take the extra torque possible from a 32T rear cog. A tubular version of the wheel will also be available and they’re all hand-built in Shimano’s own factory.

The chain is redesigned for 11-speeds; it’s symmetrical so you don’t have to worry about which way round you fit it, which is good as we always got that wrong. It also features a PTFE coating, called Sil-Tec, for increased durability.

The Ultegra pedals are unchanged, save for a cosmetic update.

We saw the groupset a few months back, and also got to have a quick play on the prototype shifters and mechs. It quite literally was a spin round the car park, so not enough to get a proper feel for the groupset, although first impressions were positive. We’ll be getting in a production version just as soon as we can.

The published weights for the groupset are as follows:

Shifters ST-6800 (set): 425 Gram
Rear derailleur RD-6800 (SS):195 Gram
Rear derailleur RD-6800 (GS): 207 Gram
Front derailleur FD-6800 (brazed type): 89 Gram
Front derailleur FD-6800 (band type, size Loser: 104 Gram
Chainset FC-6800 (53-39T with BB): 765 Gram
Cassette CS-6800 (11-23T): 212 Gram
Chain CN-6800 (114L): 253 Gram
Bottom Bracket SM-BB72: 63 Gram

Toys for the Two Wheeled Set (and the well heeled)


It doesn’t matter what you ride or how you ride, this is the time of year when the bike biz incites your lust for new stuff.

Whether you ride in shorts or a skinsuit, with hairy legs or shaved, in chunky shoes or carbon kicks, there is almost certainly something in the bike mags that’s got you drooling. There was so much good stuff at the Sea Otter Classic we needed a bib. Everywhere we looked, we saw something that had us reaching for our wallets.

Here’s a small sampling of the stuff that made our list.

Pactimo, Day of the Dead Jersey

If you’re looking to stand out from the pack – and what cyclist wrapped from head to toe in what their friends affectionately call “Spandex” isn’t – look no further than Pactimo’s limited-edition designer jerseys. The Denver-based outfit works with a laundry list of designers, some of whom actually have cycling backgrounds, to deliver wearable art that works.

“You can show up on a ride with something completely different than anybody else has,” said Karl Heidgen, VP of Custom Sales. “Keep it different.”

Pactimo’s been making gear for eight years, and started with a simple idea: Focus on custom kits for individual riders, smallish teams and their private label business. The designer gallery is an opportunity to engage their growing customer base without the hassle of going into the retail space.

The vibrantly colorful Day of the Dead kit designed by Arlene Pederson is available in a jersey with a matching bib for men and jersey/shorts for women. Other designers who’ve worked with Pactimo include Gregory Klein, Kristin Mayer and Miguel Paredes.

Want one? Better move fast. Each design is limited to 100 pieces.



Colnago C59 Disc

If there was ever any concern that disc brakes would look like hell on a road bike, check out the Colnago C59 Disc. We couldn’t take our eyes off it. It’s a thing of beauty.

Colnago took the C59 and redesigned the chainstays and fork to compensate for the force of braking moving downward from the traditional brake locations. What the bike gains in weight beefing up the frame and fork has been matched (almost) by the weight saved by running discs over traditional road brakes. Look for the weight to keep falling as the technology improves.

So far Colnago isn’t saying whether we’ll see the C59 Disc as a frameset or complete bike, and it definitely did not mention price.


Smith Pivlock V2 Max

Pivlock shades may not be the trendiest-looking shades, but if you prefer function to form, Smith has you covered.

The Pivlock was designed specifically for athletes, which means you can keep your eyes on the road regardless of what the terrain throws at you. They feature an adjustable nosepiece to keep ‘em where you want ‘em and three sets of lenses: clear, rose and dark. Changing lenses is a snap, too.

They come in a variety colors and are available in the smaller Pivlock V2.



Moots MX Divide

Moots is no Johnny-come-lately to the big wheel game. It arguably was the first to the table a dozen years ago with the YBB 29er, and it’s upping the ante with the MX Divide.

“Our goal was to build a really well-balanced cross-country and recreational bike,” said company president Rob Mitchell.

Moots drew from its long history of lustworthy mountain rides when designing the MX Divide. It is one oversized titanium tube after another, beautifully welded by builders who can only be called craftsmen. The front triangle joins the rear end via a carbon link, keeping weight down and stiffness up. The ride is plush throughout its four inches of travel, with minimal bobbing.

We can’t wait for Moots to send us one for a thorough and thoughtful review. (Rob, you still have our number, right?)

$4995 frame


Patterson Transmission

If you have been thinking about a belt-driven commuter bike but concerned about being locked into a bike with meager gearing choices, stop worrying. Patterson’s just doubled your choices.

The Transmission is a two-speed planetary crankset, with internal gearing equivalent to 28- and 45-tooth chainrings. The crankset has been available in a chain version for about a year, and the new belt drive converter lets you run a Gates carbon drive. It couldn’t be easier, too.

“It’s like a Mr. Potato Head,” said Sam Patterson, who invented it. “You can yank one piece off and slide another one on. Super simple inside.”

Dave Lev of TI Cycles used a belt-drive Transmission on the rig that won “Best Experimental Bike” at this year’s North American Handmade Bicycle Show. We saw a few other manufacturers chatting Patterson up at Sea Otter, so you’ll probably see them showing up on other rides soon.



Cardo Communications System

Trying to chat up your riding buddy can be a frustrating experience. Even chatting up the stoker on your tandem can be a challenge. It doesn’t have to be.

Cardo has been making motorcycle Bluetooth communication systems since 2002. You can see where this is going – the company has designed a helmet-to-helmet system specifically for bicyclists. It can accommodate three riders, and with a range of half a mile, they’ll hear you complaining about the pace before you fall off the back for good.

Once they’ve dropped you, you can pair your headset to any Bluetooth device so you can listen to your iPod or call home and ask for a ride.

$269.95 single / $469.95 pair


Yeti SB95

Spotting this at Sea Otter was a bit like catching a glimpse of Bigfoot – we’ve heard it existed, but never expected to see it.

Yeti’s big-wheeler is so hot the Golden, Colorado, company can’t build ‘em fast enough. And for good reason. This is a bike you can spend all day on, riding just about everything from technical twisties to fast fire roads. Built using Yeti’s very own Switch Technology and redesigned with the 29er platform in mind, this five-inch trail bike looks to be loads of fun. The SB95 has a low top tube providing ample stand-over height, it’s through-axle compatible and has short chainstays. This bike would be great for riders transitioning from a 26er.

“It’s pretty damn fun and it will make you faster on a lot of trails,” said Dave Ziegman, Yeti R&D/Test Rider.

Want one? The line starts behind us.



Kappius Hubs

How many points of contact are enough?

Russ Kappius kept asking himself this question, mostly because he didn’t think guys like Shimano have enough in their rear cassettes. He gave the whole design a serious rethink and came up with his own number. That number is 240. (even my favourite Chris King Hubs only have 45 teeth)

That’s an astronomical figure, given that the average rear hub has between 18 and 36 and even the incredibly awesome Industry Nine Hubs have 120. To accomplish this, Kappius redesigned the hub, clearing out the area beneath the cogset to install an oversize spline. That spline sits atop an externally mounted drive. We’re still wrapping our heads around it, but Kappius claims the system is stronger, with less play and better power transfer.

The goal was building a bombproof hub that doesn’t weigh a ton and is super easy to use. He appears to have succeeded; his mountain bike hub weighs 269 grams, and the cassette slips right on. No chainwhip or cog tool required.

And the sound? Oh, the sound. It’s like angry bees on steroids. We’re not sure our riding partners will like it, but we love it.

$699 rear / $299 front


Shimano Shadow Plus

Shimano is trickling down the rear derailleur stabilization tech from its flagship XTR mountain group to those of us without sacks of cash to spend on gear. The new Shadow Plus system promises fewer dropped chains, better control, less slap and a quieter ride.

What’s not to like?

Well, the tech carries a heftier price and a bit more weight than the current Shimano offerings. But they believe the advantages outweigh the drawbacks and the resulting shifting stability makes switching a no-brainer.

Of course, SRAM offers similar technology, called the Roller Bearing Clutch. So there is that.


Camelbak, All Clear

Few things suck more than having to drink nasty water or not being able to drink it at all. Camelbak is here to help with a UV system that purifies water in just 60 seconds.

It couldn’t be easier. The UV bulb is built into the cap. Pour in water, turn the indicator on, swirl the whole thing around a few times and wait. An LCD screen tells you when you’re good to go.

Camelbak says the system eliminates more than 99.9 percent of bacteria, viruses and protozoa. Yummy!



Danny Shane, Cross-Hybrid polo

Danny Shane’s been making jerseys for about two years and introduces the Cross-hybrid polo, a top designed to be worn after you get off the bike. A fashion piece, if you will.

Each jersey is infused with white ash, produced by burning bamboo, and said to be breathable, light and stink-resistant. We tried one, and everything Danny Shane says is true. These jerseys are comfy. And plaid. Very, very plaid.

“We’re really inspired by the European cycling culture,” said sales manager Christian Beer. “Argyle has been popular, but nobody has done the plaid before.”


Intense Hard Eddie

Intense made its rep building big-travel bikes for the downhill set, so it’s a surprise to see it wandering into hardtail, 29er territory. Hard Eddie is a bike those of us who aren’t into big air can love.

Hard Eddie frame comes in at impressive 2.7 lbs, with 135 mm, 142 mm or single-speed rear dropouts. Regardless of whether you’re building a lightweight single speed or put a freeride rig with 100 mm of travel, you’re covered. This is a smoking-hot package from a bike company with legit cred.

$1889 frame / $430 rigid fork


Teva Links Mid

To anyone who was actually around in the 1980s, the thought of Tevas being at all cool may seem wrong on many levels. But the company has come out with a freeride mountain-specific cycling shoe that is, dare we say it, fashionable and functional.

The Links Mid is, as the name suggests, a mid-height cut of the brand’s popular Link mountain shoe. It’s got flexible armor across the toe, a sole designed to play well with pedals and something called ion-mask technology to make them waterproof.

Light, comfortable and stylish? Yes. Seriously. Look for them by the end of May in any color you like as long as it’s black.



2013 Giant Anthem X Advanced 29er

The number-one-selling full suspension bike in Giant’s stable gets a revamp for 2013. The top-of-line version now has a carbon fiber front triangle and is lighter, stiffer and sexier.

The Anthem X slimmed down and stiffened up. Giant claims the new frame is 7 percent stiffer up front. The headset is the super-beefy Overdrive2, and the impressive girth of the downtube makes it appear the Anthem will take anything you throw at it. This is one stunningly attractive race-ready ride, with a claimed weight of 23 pounds.

It’s also insanely expensive. The range-topping Anthem X Advanced 0 will run you $8,900.

“The catch, if you will, with composites is obviously price, so we will continue to sell the aluminum version,” said Andrew Juskaitis, Giant marketing. “It’s the hand labor that goes into producing a frame like this. There’s no way around it. There is no way to automate it. This is something that takes a long time to build by hand.”

Disc brakes on mtb, cycle cross and now finally on roadie porn

colnago 2013 C59 Disc

Colnago has beaten the other top-end bicycle manufacturers to the punch and unveiled their C59 Disc road bike at the Taipei Show in Taiwan. The C59 Disc, based on the popular C59 frame used by team Europcar, comes equipped with hydraulic disc brakes, carbon wheels, and Shimano Dura-Ace Di2. The use of Formula hydraulic discs and Di2-enabled hydraulic drop bar levers sets the C59 atop the disc road bike genre.

The C59 Disc has an all new rear end that has been reinforced in key areas to accept the Colnago-branded Formula R1 calipers and 140mm rotors. Similarly, the fork is totally new and, like the frame, can only be set up with disc calipers.

Formula’s hydraulic and electronic levers power all the braking and shifting, and the dual-purpose hydraulic levers set the C59 Disc apart from the current pack of disc brake road and cyclocross bikes. Colnago also released the Artemis Disc wheel, which is what the C59 Disc will be rolling onto the showroom floor with. The wheels have 24 spokes front and rear wich, most importantly, use a mountain bike-standard 135mm rear hub. That means that any mountain bike hub can be used in the 135mm dropouts of the C59 disc.

Along with the C59 Disc, Colnago also released their Prestige Disc cyclocross bike. While less flashy than the C59 Disc, the Prestige Disc still uses Shimano’s Di2 group paired with SRAM BB7 brake calipers. Like the C59 disc, the Prestige Disc will accept 140mm rotors and the rear hub is spaced to 135mm.

Do discs have a place in the roadie world – what do you think?

The bike and the story: Signal Bikes

sometimes you see a bike that just seems so there …. This is just one of those bikes ….. A found a link to Signal cycles and although I read about them in Paved Magazine and seen reference to them on the hand build shows I hadn’t ever explored their site. Like all custom makers they are dedicated to the craft of making beautiful bikes for the right reason. In the days of the giant makers and carbon cyber bikes it is good to see that the artisan maker is entering a new golden age.
Even if I haven’t got the cash to get one myself – it is nice I think to give them a shout out.

Signal Cycles are handmade bikes from Portland Oregon. Each bike is built with the full attention of Nate Meschke and Matt Cardinal. We started our company in the fall of 2007 and have been building momentum and beautiful bikes ever since.

There is a lot of talk of a new golden age of handmade bikes, and the US builders are leading the way. More people are experiencing the joy of working with a custom builder and realizing the importance of being able to collaborate, discuss, design and shake hands with the builder of their bike. Signal is proud to provide this experience. We wouldn’t want it any other way.

Pete’s Racer Equipped Road Bike

Pete is a bike mechanic and has been for a long time. He wanted a fender bike for long gravel rides in the rain and for maybe even doing some weekly races on at Mount Tabor. He sold his carbon bike and decided he wanted a steel Signal with Paul Racer brakes. We used direct post mounts for the brakes to keep things tidy and functional and built a unicrown fork that really goes with the fillet brazed frame.

Pete built the bike up with Shimano Dura-Ace, Chris King, and Thomson parts. The rims are ceramic coated to add durability to the sidewalls and they work great in the rain.


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

Genesis Day One Finish Line – the Reynolds 853 steel Alfine hub gear beauty

20111012-201212.jpg Genesis are launching a new version of their Day One all-rounder with Shimano’s 11-speed Shimano Alfine hub gear. We’re pretty sure that this is the first production Shimano Alfine 11-speed equipped drop bar bike – it’s certainly the first we’ve seen. The combination of an Alfine 11-spd hub and drop bars is made possible by the new Versa 11-spd lever, a piece of kit almost as eagerly awaited as Shimano’s Alfine hub itself.


The bike is inspired by the Genesis Croix de Fer Cross bike that Vin Cox used to set his round the world cycling, hence the ‘163 days’ badge on the seat tube – referring to the amount of time his epic ride took. Had the 853 version of the Day One frame been available when Cox set out on his ride that is what his bike would have been based around. According to the guys from Genesis the inspiration provided by Cox’s round the world record-setting bike extends beyond merely the way this Day One is built up – the frame geometry has changed a touch too becoming slightly more relaxed for a more stable ride.

You don’t have to think quite that ambitiously to get the most out of the Day One Alfine 11, though. Genesis see it as a multi-purpose set-up that’ll turn its hand to pretty much anything, including commuting duties. You can even take the Day One back to its roots by converting it to a singlespeed – removable cable guides are a nice tough offering a neat finish should you choose to go down the one gear route… although don’t forget where you leave them.

The frame is made from Reynolds 853 steel – with heat-treated, air-hardened, butted tubes – whereas all the other Day Ones are Reynolds 520. The fork is cromo – that should lop a chunk of weight out of the frame and compensate for the extra weight of the 11-speed hub– and you get a full complement of mudguard and rack mounts for multiple set-up options.

The wheels are similar to those Vin Cox used on his global ride – or as close as Genesis could reasonably get on a production bike. That means you get the Alfine hub at the rear, obviously, and an alloy front hub laced up to Alex CXD rims with stainless black spokes – 32 per wheel. The tyres are 28mm Continental Ultra Gatorskins and the brakes are Avid BB-7 mechanical discs.

The Day One Afline 11 will be available in October and will cost £1,699.99.


Frame and Fork

Frame Reynolds 853 Steel
Fork Cr-Mo
Headset n/a
Colour White


Shifters Versa 11spd Sti
Rear Derailleur Alfine
Front Derailleur n/a
Chainset iveline 40t 3/32″
Bottom Bracket Cartridge
Chain KMC K810 3/32″
Freewheel Alfine 18t


Hubs Alloy Disc Fr/Alfine 11spd Rear
Rims Alex CXD
Spokes Stainless Black
Tyres Continental Ultra Gatorskin


Brakes Avid BB-7
Brake Levers Virsa Sti


Weight 10.4 kg
Sizes 52, 54, 56, 58, 60cm

Bike bling goes Big and Black

well it does according to Wired Mag …

PowerTap G3


The bike industry will converge on Las Vegas next week for the annual Interbike trade show, where brands from around the world will roll out their 2012 product lines for stores and distributors in the U.S. We got a preview of several product highlights this summer at an industry retreat in Utah and tried them out on roads and trails above Park City. Here are a few of our favorites.

PowerTap G3

The power-meter category is exploding this year. These devices measure a rider’s direct power output in real time, measured in watts. For training purposes and for gauging effort in races, power is vastly superior to heart rate as a measure of effort, as it’s not affected by temperature, diet, stress, and other factors that can tweak your pulse.

PowerTap, one of the dominant players in this category, has completely revamped its system for 2012. The heart of the setup is still the sensor integrated into the rear hub. But that new hub, called the G3, is about 20 percent lighter than the current top-end PowerTap hub and also much easier to service. All of the key electronics are housed in a cap that unscrews from the hub body.

The G3 hubs will start at $1,199 and will also be offered in complete high-end wheel sets starting at $2,999. Entry-level PowerTap hubs and wheel sets will be $799 and $999, respectively.




Ridley Noah

Ridley Noah

For price-is-no-object cyclists, Ridley has released a refined version of its Noah aero-road bike. The Ridley FB features front and rear brakes integrated into the fork and frame. The fork legs and seat stays (the tubes that extend from the rear wheel to the seat post) are much wider than you’re used to seeing and feature a split design. The front half of each looks normal, but the back half hinges at the top. These are the brake calipers, tucked completely out of the wind. The Belgian company claims the design—three years in the making—reduces weight, increases aerodynamics, and actually improves braking performance. We didn’t get a chance to test the bike. And given it’s $5,395 price for the frame and fork alone, we probably won’t be riding one anytime soon. But it’s fun to look at.


NuVinci on Ellsworth

NuVinci on Ellsworth

This carbon-fiber Enlightenment hard tail from Ellsworth is lust-worthy on it’s own. But it gets even better when you realize it’s built around a NuVinci N360 hub. Unlike standard internal hubs, which use interlocking cogs to provide up to 14 gears without the need for derailleurs, NuVinci hubs use a “planetary” design built around interlocking spheres. Gearing isn’t incremental but, rather, progressive, like a dimmer switch. The hubs are heavy (5.25 lbs) but getting lighter. NuVinci’s first model was well over 8 lbs.


Lazer Magneto

Lazer Magneto

Laser was showing off a prototype setup that eliminates sunglass temples in favor of magnets integrated into the glasses and the helmet straps (the patch on the red strap). The glasses were very rough prototypes, so we weren’t allowed to take photos. But they are basically just wraparound lenses with magnets at each end that cling to their counterparts in the straps—no temples. It’s a slightly odd-looking setup, and it’s difficult to see how flexible straps would be a more secure purchase for eyewear than our ears. But we won’t be able to make a final call until we get a chance to ride in production samples.


GT Zaskar 100

GT Zaskar 100

GT is putting its storied Zaskar name on a full-suspension bike this year. The full- carbon Zaskar 100 features four inches of suspension travel, front and back, and is about 1 lb lighter than the Marathon model it replaces in the GT lineup. The build includes a RockShox Reba RL fork and a mix of parts from Shimano, SRAM, Formula, and others. Price will be $4,200.


Assos Fugu Speer Socks

Assos Fugu Speer Socks

Yes, socks. And $60 socks, at that. The Speer features two types of insulating fabric plus a layer of wind-proofing material over the toes to reduce the foot-numbing cold that accompanies every winter bike ride.