Socks are the candy bars of the cycling world. They are sugary, diverse and offer an ever-changing array of flavors. Each year someone at Interbike shows a pair of socks that captures some essential zeitgeist. This year, as it is most years, Sock Guy gets my nod for the best socks I have seen at the show. You can consider these an open letter to Valdimir Putin for his stance on gay athletes. They ought to sell by the million. I need to mention that while I’ve always liked Sock Guy socks, I mostly wore them with sneakers because they were so thick. These, however, are thin enough to fit along with your foot inside a tight pair of cycling shoes.
Xpedo has been doing great work in the pedal market and yesterday they were quietly showing a functional prototype of a wattage pedal. While they were willing to talk target pricing for it (which didn’t make me gasp), they aren’t ready to allow that to be published just yet. The system is promising if only for the fact that once you install or remove the pedal, no additional work is required; there are no additional parts to worry about.
BMC showed off a new edition of the Team Machine that I’m told has been lightened significantly without sacrificing comfort or stiffness. Road feel is said to be improved, which fits with my general experience with what happens when you remove material from a frame.
BMC also had disc-brake editions of the Gran Fondo. This is the GF02—the aluminum bike, which I’m told is every bit as compliant as the carbon version.
I’d call B.S. were it not for the fact that these seatstays are just as tiny as the carbon ones.
This is the new EC90 carbon wheel from Easton. This wheel is the first to put together aerodynamics, a wide rim profile, carbon clincher and tubeless. It’s a total no-brainer at least as far as appeal. The last time I was this excited to ride a wheel was following the introduction of the Zipp Firecrest line.
The carbon layup work on this wheel was remarkable. This is definitely the first carbon fiber rim bead that seemed capable of holding on to a road tubeless tire. And as I mentioned on Monday, the new hubs seem to have a design that will put previous bearing issues to rest. More than any other product I saw, these left me with the desire to commit a felony.
Pearl Izumi showed off lots of new apparel as you’d expect, but this new chamois caught my eye. The surface of the chamois itself was remarkably smooth, rather than, well, bumpy from lots of different foam profiles. The idea was to create something that would contact your skin more naturally and lay flat against your skin more easily, rather than just relying on the compression of the bibs.
These are the new P.R.O. In-R-Cool bibs in which the new pad will be used.
Among a great many other items I saw that I liked, this mountain bike kit was pretty interesting. I’m not huge on baggy shorts; it just doesn’t make much sense to me, but if you can have shorts that conceal the Lycra and still offer a fairly tailored fit, I can see the point. The zippers for ventilation at the front of the legs made immediate sense. The jacket was really well-cut and looked to be breathable enough so the inside didn’t turn into a hothouse.
Cervelo has revamped both the R3 and the S3.
Previously, when Cervelo has offered a revision of a lower model following big gains in a flagship model, the result has been a lighter, livelier ride. I should be able to get on both these bikes this winter. I’ve liked the R3 and thought it did a better job of replicating the ride of the top bike than most companies manage. The question now is just how much the ride of the S3 has been improved.
Primal Wear does a lot, nay, a metric ton of charity ride jerseys. I figured they just gave good pricing to the folks running these events. I was wrong about that. It turns out they donate a stunning amount of money to charity events each year, paying the charities a small royalty each time a jersey is sold. Based on what I was told, I estimate it’s somewhere in the mid-six-figure range.
They were showing two new base layers that will combine Primal’s penchant for affordability with their ability to source soft, breathable fabrics.
One of the things I most love about Primal Wear’s apparel is their ability to produce simple pieces that are both comfortable and affordable. So often, when I see stuff that seems a bargain, like this $60 jersey, they will be hamstrung by stiff threads or material that doesn’t breath well. This was a refreshing display of careful design and sourcing.
While brevity isn’t what most folks come to RKP for, these posts are necessarily brief and incomplete for two reasons: 1) the limited amount of time I have between walking out of the show and walking back in. There will be plenty more posts to come.
This year, the Interbike show has moved to a new venue. Even though it’s still all the same (most of the same) companies inside, everyone I spoke to admitted that they were getting lost in the show and often walking in the wrong direction. It’s definitely a first-world problem, but until I was lead through the door as the show closed this evening, I couldn’t have told you which way was north, even with a compass and a map.
There are a lot of clothing manufacturers that have significant history in the cycling industry. DeMarchi has been around since Italy’s reconstruction after the Second World War. While there have been some companies doing faux replicas of old jerseys, DeMarchi is the only company still in existence that was doing the high-end embroidered wool way back when. They’ve brought that quality of work back. They are featuring two lines that give people a chance to have that classic work. The Bottecchia jersey pictured above features the classic tube construction with set-in sleeves, hand embroidery and mother-of-pearl buttons. And at $250, they are undercharging for it.
The jersey above is a cotton piece that blends the look of the collared jersey with an easy to care for cotton fabric. It’s a piece I think I’d be more likely to wear with jeans than on the bike.
The DeMarchi family owns Cytech, the makers of the elastic interface chamois. The bibs featured above and below incorporate a proprietary pad that uses four layers of foam sandwiched together, to offer a chamois that presents what I’m told is an unusual degree of comfort for days that may go longer than six horus.
The bibs come in several colors and all of them feature a very breathable mesh to keep them dry on long days.
Gore apparel continues to surprise and impress me because of how well-thought-out so many of their products are. This jersey began its life as a kind of backpack. The white ‘V’ of fabric is cut from a material that features very little stretch. The idea was that those panels might function as straps to keep the jersey pockets from sagging down like a skirt if you loaded them up. While the jersey wasn’t a great fit for the mannequin, it was obvious that the design kept the overstuffed pockets from sagging to the floor.
Same jersey, different color way, from the front.
This short sleeve jersey from Gore features Windstopper for spring and fall conditions, or even winter conditions in more temperate places when combined with Gore’s Windstopper arm warmers.
The Lake CX237 had a really clean, classic look. It featured an upper cut from genuine leather and used a double BOA closure system. The amazing thing was that as I was admiring how handsome this shoe is, I was told it wasn’t the top of the line.
I’m fortunate not to need a winter shoe, but this Lake winter shoe looks like a rather instant life-improvment scheme.
Chrome was showing this Merino wool pullover. It had a high collar, a great half zipper and thumb loops to keep the sleeves down as you ride. It reminded me of cotton pullovers I have in that it was super soft and didn’t attract attention, but this could be a stunningly versatile top in a rider’s wardrobe.
Chrome is offering a new bag perfect for racers. The netting on the outside is ideal for separating dirty clothes from clean ones and for carrying your helmet.
Sugoi was showing a new shell for rainy conditions. They had a little demonstration set up to show the difference between most waterproof fabrics and the material used in this piece. They had a pump bulb attached to hose to allow you to try to push air through the membrane of their jacket and another popular waterproof material.
This shot shows air bumbles pushing right through the jacket, but when you weren’t pumping air through, impressively, the water volume wasn’t decreasing from water draining through the jacket. I’ll definitely be reviewing this.
Brevity isn’t our usual approach, but I just want to get you an introduction to some of the things we’ve seen that impressed us. This is, to some degree, simply a heads-up on many items I’m interested to review next year. By no means is this all I saw, but it’s all I have time to write about before heading back to the show.
In the 15 years I’ve been coming to Las Vegas for Interbike, I cannot recall a year where the conditions were more inhospitable for riding than today and yesterday. One set of reports I saw put yesterday’s high temperature at 106 degrees, while today’s dropped a single degree but added a steady wind that could gust north of 15 mph. Not many things can dampen my enthusiasm for bikes, but feeling like I’m sitting in the oven along with the pizza I’m cooking isn’t conducive to bike riding. I didn’t ride as much today as I wanted or expected to, but the upside is that it gave me more time to talk with people.
Zipp had a couple of announcements. They revamped their Service Course bars to make them a bit more intuitive for fitters. There are three bars, all of which feature a flatter drop to the levers—the SL70 has the shortest reach of the bunch and is bound to be popular with riders who want to run a long stem. The SL80 has an 80mm reach, while the SL88, pictured above has the longest reach and a slightly modified take on the classic bend. I stopped using a classic bend bar even before Greg LeMond retired and can’t stand them now, but the bend on this bar is opening up just enough I can get my hand in there comfortably.
The 808 received a new hub that is supposed to be much stiffer than the previous one. It features virtual three-cross lacing, new larger bearing and plenty of input from Mark Cavendish.
Zipp says the change in the ride experience for the rider will be that the wheel will be much stiffer laterally without picking up any additional stiffness vertically. And for really powerful sprinters who have complained about the wind-up of Zipp wheels, this new 808 addresses that issue square-on.
There weren’t a lot of titanium bikes at the show, but I decided I wanted to try to ride each of the different frame materials once during the Outdoor Demo. I dropped by Litespeed and checked out the T1. This is produced from 6Al/4v and while this is meant to be the successor to Litespeed’s Archon model, it is also true that this is their flagship metal bike and in that it reminded me of the old Vortex, both in terms of stiffness and handling.
The chainstays are asymmetric, and while engineer Brad Devaney did a fine job of explaining just why they chose to build the bike around two different chainstays, the explanation will have to wait for a full review of the bike. It was a delight to ride.
To make the bike easy to build up with current parts and to give it as many performance attributes found in the current carbon bikes, Litespeed went with a BB30 bottom bracket.
It’s also easier to increase front-end stiffness if you’re not building around a straight 1 1/8″ fork. The T1 uses a fork that tapers from 1 1/8″ at the stem to 1 1/2″ at the fork crown. This was easily the stiffest ti bike I’ve ridden to date.
I’ve been dying to ride Felt’s redesign AR model since seeing it at their global product launch back in August. One of the reasons Felt has been such a great value at the mid and low end of the market is their price-point bikes come out of the same mold their high-end bikes do. This bike is the AR4; it’s exactly the same frame as the AR FRD, except for the material used. So while it didn’t offer quite the road sensitivity that their high-end bikes do, this is an Ultegra-equipped bike that retails for $3499. And honestly, some companies’ top bikes offer no more sensitivity than this one does.
The AR uses an unusual seat post and clamp that pinches not the post itself, but the walls of the post, allowing them to make an exceedingly thin-walled seatpost that doesn’t need to withstand crushing forces. The point is to increase rider comfort. I will say that this bike was stunningly stiff in out-of-the-saddle efforts. However, I wasn’t able to get much of a feel for how much comfort it offered because the road surface I was riding on was pretty smooth. And, frankly, I cut my ride short because there was a steady 10 mph wind that was gusting to 20 mph. An aero bike with aero wheels wasn’t dynamite, but truly, it was so bad out there that any bike riding wasn’t much fun. Where’s my Visine?
The large bottom bracket area not only helps smooth the wind’s flow over the lower part of the bike but helped give it the stiffness necessary to stand up to hard sprints. And because the rear brake was mounted to integrated posts, the braking offered terrific power and sensitive modulation.
There’s plenty more we saw at Outdoor Demo and more posts will be coming. Contributor JP Partland rode a great many bikes as well, so this won’t be the end of the ride reports.
Do you remember that Coyote and Road Runner cartoon where Wile E. Coyote purchases the Acme rocket sled only to shoot up into the stars upon ignition and explode, thus turning into a constellation of an archer? Well that’s what it feels like to climb out of the car in the dusty gravel parking lot at Bootleg Canyon. No matter how well you have planned, there is always a sense (for me at least) of, “Ohmigod, where do I start?”
This year after grabbing my credentials and saying a few hellos, I headed to Shimano’s air conditioned tent (bless their blue souls) for the introduction of their new line of mountain bike shoes. The new shoe brings Shimano’s Custom-Fit technology to the off-road world. While I haven’t molded them yet, I installed a set of cleats and decided to walk around in them a bit and ride in them to see how stable they felt when walking on gravel and if they felt good while on the bike. They were surprisingly comfortable both on the bike and off. Expect a review of these.
I’ve long liked Easton wheels for the quality of their builds. Every set of wheels from them I’ve ever ridden stayed remarkably true. However, a couple of them did have issues with bearings, and while the more recent wheels I’ve ridden have been trouble-free, I know that others have not been as fortunate. For 2014, Easton has completely redesigned their hubs to eliminate bearing preload problems and solve the problem with bearings wearing out prematurely.
The entire freehub body has been redesigned and among the new features is a headset bearing that allows the pawls to engage after only seven degrees of rotation. The old carbon wheels have been eliminated in favor of one new wheel which they are reporting is the fastest wheel on the market. You can see the wheels on the Calfee below. They say their wind tunnel testing shows they are faster than the Zipp Firecrest 404s, and the Enve 6.7s.
Easton is running a promotion, about which you can get details on our Facebook page, that will give you a chance to win a dream bike. Among the bikes are this Calfee Manta Pro, plus bikes from Rock Lobster, Black Cat and others.
The Calfee features rear suspension. I’m told it has 12mm of travel, which may not be the 120mm of some mountain bikes, was still enough to soften the bumps in the road. This seems to be a very new design and while it certain did what it purported, there was some twisting in the wishbone when I was out of the saddle that caused the rear brake to rub.
It’s been a while since I’ve gotten to look at a Calfee up close and they continue to be beautiful bikes that are exceedingly well crafted. The touch of the internally routed brake cable was something I’ve not seen before.
When I see Craig Calfee at the show later this week, I’ll be asking him just how this suspension works. It’s unusual looking, but it was effective.
In my many years on this planet I never enjoyed the opportunity to ride a Rock Lobster until today. I’ve got a host of friends who are big fans of Paul Sadoff’s work; some of them own multiple Rock Lobsters. This was one of the other dream bikes that’s a part of the Easton contest.
This road bike was built from Easton Scandium tubing. It’s been perhaps as many as 10 years since I last rode a Scandium frame and I’d forgotten just how good they feel. For a moment out on the road, I though the bike was steel. At least, I did until I looked again at the weld bead. This was a surprisingly light bike and felt smooth in a way I just don’t associate with aluminum.
Says it all.
I got pretty excited about the BMC TMR01 at last year’s show when it was unveiled. I finally had the chance to ride one today. It was a very fast ride. No one confuses Mavic carbon Cosmics with the fastest wheels around, but they are definitely faster than a box rim. I’d put it in the same class of aero bikes with the Cervelo S5 and Litespeed C1R and ahead of the Specialized Venge.
With the front brake shrouded and the rear brake tucked up under the bottom bracket, this bike has a distinct advantage over some bikes aerodynamically.
My initial impression was that this bike isn’t so stiff to rattle your brain and offers better sensitivity to the road surface than most aero road bikes. I’ve requested one of these for an in-depth review. Honestly, I think it’s the most interesting bike BMC makes, and they make many interesting bikes.
When I posted my last update on Pat McQuaid and the election for the presidency of the UCI, five federation presidents had requested the UCI voluntarily allow CAS to rule on its recent rule changes. The idea was that by clearing up the validity of the rule changes ahead of the election, the outcome of the election would be the final word on McQuaid’s future. But for CAS to hear the case, the UCI had to voluntarily agree to allow CAS to hear the case.
The letter of request is the one with the oft-quoted line describing their attitude as, “amusement to outrage, from bewilderment to astonishment.”
Bear in mind that we’re talking about the organization that shut down it’s own internal review process. Did anyone ever really believe that the UCI was going to voluntarily submit itself to review by an outside entity?
Okay, well if you did, I suspect there is a future for you in palmistry. Not as a reader, but as a customer.
Meanwhile, details are beginning to emerge from the “dossier” on Pat McQuaid. To my eye, the most significant morsel yet revealed is how McQuaid and Hein Verbruggen are alleged to have attempted to extort a 250,000€ bribe from Igor Makarov, the owner of the Katusha team. When I read this, two things became immediately clear. First, it explained why Katusha had been denied a WorldTour license even though all of their paperwork had been in order. It was the perfect example of the sort of retribution to which I alluded in my last post. It also explained why when Makarov and Katusha appealed the denial to CAS, they won.
The attempted bribe also explained why Makarov was the man responsible for putting together the dossier that caused Mike Plant to publicly announce the end of his support for McQuaid. Plant is as experienced at the politics of sport as can be found, and not just experience, but exceptional in his insight and ability to negotiate. After all, he put on one of the biggest stage races every held on U.S. soil at a time when cycling wasn’t half as popular in the States as it is today. Clearly, he knows something of diplomacy.
But Plant’s cold shoulder to McQuaid, while telling to anyone who respects Plant (that Venn diagram includes essentially everyone in bike racing except Pat McQuaid), was really just a bit of theater.
The dossier is alleged to detail another attempted bribe, the one in which Alberto Contador’s positive test from the 2010 Tour de France was to be covered up, had it not been for some fine investigative reporting by a German publication. Suddenly, the delay until October to announce the positive made perfect sense.
It seems a moment befitting Scooby Doo: And I would have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn’t been for those meddling kids!
Meanwhile, McQuaid has decided that the best approach to his future is a Vegas-style gambit: double-down. That’s right; one retroactive rule change isn’t enough. How about two?
First, the Lithuanian federation sent a letter asking that the transition clause in the constitution be removed. This is the bit that doesn’t permit retroactive rule changes. So now two federations want a time machine.
Better yet, he has managed to cajole the Barbados federation into proposing yet another retroactive rule change to the UCI constitution. This one says that the UCI president is eligible to stand for election because he is UCI president. It takes incumbency almost to the point of divine right. Seriously the only idea more ludicrous than this would be retaining the presidency because of incumbency. The rule change eliminates the need to be nominated. It puts forward the idea that being president you have the right to be voted into continuing to be president.
There are African dictatorships more democratic than this.
Wait, that’s not all. The Turkish federation made exactly the same request.
Some years ago I managed to attend the track World Championships for all the “B” countries. It’s a preposterous notion, but I didn’t understand at that time that the UCI is a place where bad ideas go to find life support. What I noticed as I watched riders from Israel, Morocco, Egypt and more was just how poorly outfitted many of these teams were. I belonged to an amateur team in Southern California that was much better equipped.
It occurs to me that most of the federations of the world are so poor that McQuaid really wouldn’t have to promise all that much to them to secure their vote. Clothing and bikes might be all it would take. In some cases, maybe only a goat. I don’t mean to demean the cyclists of other nations, but I do mean to point out how easily manipulated some of them might be. As I noted before Brian Cookson could secure every vote from the European nations and still lose the election. Some 42 votes will be cast. Following the recent congress of the European Cycling Union (UEC), Cookson learned that he had secured 14 votes from them. Those plus Australia gives him 15 of the votes he’ll need to achieve the presidency.
I’m going to make a prediction. Cookson is going to lose the election. I believe that not only will every cycling backwater vote for him, but I expect we will be shocked by some of the powerhouse nations that vote for him. McQuaid has pointed out that the vote will be conducted by secret ballot, but the cynic in me thinks that it will only be as secret as he needs it to be. I think he’ll know who casts the crucial votes, which could cause a nation like the U.S. or Spain to support him. Worse, vote tampering doesn’t seem beneath him.
Of course, the moment he wins the election an appeal will be filed with CAS on the legitimacy of his presidency. As the incumbent, McQuaid will continue to preside over the UCI while this is adjudicated. If this turns out to be as hard-fought as the Floyd Landis or Alberto Contador cases were—and why wouldn’t it be; a career hangs in the balance—it is likely to drag out for years.
Eventually, and by that I mean some time after Taylor Phinney retires, the cases will be resolved. Yes, cases, because each of those retroactive rule changes is likely to result in its own case before CAS. Even if the proceedings are all rolled together, there will be individual appeals, defenses and decisions rendered on each of those rule changes.
The UCI will lose the cases and McQuaid will have to vacate his office in Aigle, but not before an all-night document-shredding session takes place. By the time Cookson is awarded the office of president, every bike team on the planet will be reminiscent of the professional teams of the early 20th century in that they will all be sponsored by bike companies, and every non-endemic sponsor the industry had will have fled screaming, like a teenager in a horror flick.
Sponsorship in professional cycling is going to suffer so much sponsorship loss that it seems likely wages for all pros, even the superstars, are going to fall. Chris Horner may need to ride another 10 years to make enough money to retire.
For Part I, click here.
As I mentioned near the opening of this review, the C1R was part of that rare group of bikes in which I noticed the extra complement of speed provided by the aerodynamics in the first mile of riding it. I tell you, if you ride enough different bikes, the one with significantly improved aerodynamics will call attention to itself. Think Ford GT40 pulling away from a stoplight.
There was a short window earlier this year—prior to the birth of the Deuce—when my form was fair adjacent. I wasn’t actually fast, but I was fit enough to get to the front of the rides I did, even if I did blow up almost as soon as I got there. At least I could get there. With the aid of the C1R and a set of Zipp 404s, I had the ability to get to the front, do a brief pull and then get out of the way before blowing up. As achievements go, it was as dubious as a Wall Street broker claiming to save souls, but the difference for my own riding was too great to be ignored. The combination of frame and wheels was worth about as six weeks of training. It was as remarkable a change as the difference I’d experience from when I’d decide it was time to knuckle down on my training and that first day when I’d think, “Hey, we’re making progress here!”
That change takes about six weeks for most folks, me included.
My review bike was a large; it had a 57cm top tube, parallel 73-degree seat and head tube angles, 4.3cm of fork rake and 6.8cm of BB drop for neutral handling. The front center on this bike was a longish 59.8cm while the chainstays are a rather short 39.5cm. If that long front center and short chainstay design sounds familiar to any geo geeks out there, they ought to. This bike is the heir apparent to the old Litespeed Ultimate, arguably the most beloved bike Litespeed ever built. The C1R is offered only as a frameset. It goes for a very reasonable $2999. The C1, Ci2 and C3 are all offered as complete bikes and even the best spec’d C1 is only $5299.
Because so many riders seem so resistant to the idea that aerodynamics can make a significant difference in performance, I keep working to think of new ways to convey the extra speed. My initial rides on an aero road bike, on the Cervelo SLC-SL, was one of those Candid Camera moments, an occasion was so significantly out of whack with my normal experience that I doubted perception and nearly wondered if someone was messing with me. Fast forward a year and the same thing happened on the Felt AR. Then with the Cervelo S5.
Think about the difference you feel between sitting up with your hands on the top of the bar and then what you gain when you put your hands in the drops. Yeah, well an aero road bike is worth even more. It is easily worth a cog, sometimes more.
Now, we all know the knocks against aero road bikes. Riding one is like playing jockey to a jackhammer; they twist like Chubby Checker, and they offer all the road feedback of a couch cushion. Helluva pitch. Like trying to sell someone a box of ticks.
Imagine my surprise when I got on the C1R and it didn’t ride like I was doing laps over railroad tracks. I’m about to review a traditional road bike that has a harsher ride than the C1R. It’s no Specialized Roubaix, but I’d put it in a range of comfort on a par with almost anything rolling on 25s, or a fuzzy robe. The road sensitivity was a shocker, too. Wall thickness was kept to a minimum in the midsections to help transmit more high frequency vibration while the lack of paint or 3k weave cut down on the deadening effect of coating a frame in non-structural material. This thing is yet another argument for bike companies going to the extra expense to use materials like high modulus carbon fiber with resin infused with carbon nanotubes.
The engineer responsible for this bike, Brad Devaney, told me that the integrated seat post was a real point of conversation on the C-series bikes. He said he was determined not to let an ISP dictate the ride quality of the bike. Even so, he says the C1R will move to an aero seat post for 2014.
Brad also told me that wind tunnel testing confirmed that this bike gives riders a greater aerodynamic edge than a set of Zipp Firecrest 404s. That’s a bunch of free speed. Combined with a set of 404s and your friends will be inclined to kid that you need to pee in a cup. Trust me. On a long run out the coast to the far reaches of Malibu I found myself doing 24 into the wind on a false flat and I was only riding at a moderate tempo. Given my fitness at the time I estimate that’s 3 mph faster than what I would have done on a regular road bike with box-rim wheels. I was enjoying myself. Friends were coming up to me to comment on how well I was riding. Look, when you’re friends bother to comment on how well you’re going, when it’s so noticeable that they feel a need to comment, well that is all the independent confirmation I need.
As disclosures go, I should make clear that Brad and I go way back. Summer of 1989. We worked on two sides of a Park repair stand at the Peddler Bike Shop in Memphis, Tennessee. Brad was majoring in engineering at the university across the street and any time we ran into a thorny mechanical problem, something we couldn’t figure out how to resolve, we turned it over to him. He had a rare combination for insight into materials science, logical thinking and creative problem solving, even among a shop full of competent bike mechanics. I have a soft spot for his work because I really believe in him. He’s a fierce competitor with a gentle nature and the natural smile of someone who can give compassion as readily as he receives it. That compromises my impartiality, but if I thought this was a crap bike, I’d never have asked to review it. There are ways to dodge that kind of awkward.
Brad told me that it was important to him to give the C-series bikes lines that flowed, rather than taking a single aero shape and “sweep it from head tube to bottom bracket.” For me, that’s part of the beauty of this bike. One of the points he’s most proud of on this bike though was the concave surface on the down tube where the bottle bosses are. With that shape the bike is actually more slippery with the bottle and cage than it is without it. Yes, according to wind tunnel testing, this bike is slower without the bottle than it is with it.
As I noted previously, the frame’s weight was just a nick over 1kg. That relatively low weight for an aero frame was a big contributor to the ride quality both in overall comfort and road feel. But because it lacked another 200 or 300g in carbon fiber found in some of its competitors, this bike did flex some under out-of-the-saddle efforts. I’d compare it favorably to that first generation of oversized steel. You could move it around some in a sprint, but not enough to disturb the handling. However, descending was the one occasion when the bike’s tube shapes and low weight came up as something other than diamonds. On tight, technical descents, the bike lacked the crisp carving of the current generation of American carbon fiber road frames. It wasn’t sloppy the way the French carbon fiber stuff used to be, but it just wasn’t quite as precise as what I’m used to and that was enough for me to sit up a bit and scrub some speed with my torso.
It was on big, exposed descents, ones where cross winds can push you a bit that exposed the C1R’s greatest weakness. The constellation of C1R, Zipp 404s and cross wind created an oscillation that caused me some puckering. It wasn’t a typical high-speed wobble, but arguing fine points on the particular flavor of wobble isn’t really necessary. I suspect this bike would be a problem in the Front Range of Colorado and a few other mountainous places where you can encounter stiff winds.
That’s, what, maybe five percent of the United States? Most places I rode, most places I might ever ride, this bike handled perfectly fine. Even in crosswinds on the flat it wasn’t a problem. It was only after my speed was up over 40 mph and there was a crosswind that there was a problem. When I switched out the from 404 for a 202 the issue was cut considerably.
The lesson for me was that we’re at a point where all aero road bikes give up something. All of them. The S5 beats you to death. The Venge gives up a bit of speed to offer better handling and not quite as much pistol-whipping of your undercarriage. The C1R is the only aero road bike that gave up some torsional stiffness to gain ride quality and comfort. I don’t have any objective data to confirm that it’s as fast as the S5, but it is at least in the same class. As a result, for those considering an aero road bike, the C1R is a real alternative. A different approach to a common problem. This is easily my favorite aero bike I’ve ridden so far.
When I think about the riding I used to do in Tennessee, lots of flat roads that run straight for miles at a time, I appreciate just what a daily asset this bike could be. Man, if I wanted to race again, I’d train on a steel bike with box rims and then race this on the weekends. With this bike I could break stuff—legs, wills, records.
Let’s be honest, if you’re going to try to revamp what everyone thinks cycling clothing is or needs to be, you can’t just dispense with the padded short. There are too many of us who know the truth. And as a guy, once you’ve experienced the non-migratory comfort of the bib short , anything else is a step backward. I don’t want to understate what a serious problem I think this is. I think it would be easier to keep Charlie Sheen off something—hookers, blow, whatever—than to convince me to ride a bike for more than an hour while wearing something other than bibs.
Not gonna happen.
So it is that the most significant piece within Giro’s New Road line is the one you’re least-likely to see: the bibs. The Bib Undershort is meant to be worn beneath a pair of shorts that aren’t exactly baggy, but they aren’t Lycra-tight. All the basics are there—a fit that is as unsurprising as the taste of water, grippers to keep the shorts from riding up, bibs that wick quickly. However, it’s the extras that show you how well-thought-out these are. They have a fly. Think about it: If you’re wearing cycling shorts and over them you’re wearing another pair of shorts so that you don’t have to look like you’re ready for the races, and the shorts have a fly, well why wouldn’t the bibs also have a fly? Am I right? Then there are the pockets at the waist on the shorts. Getting to them is easy enough; just reach your hand beneath the tail of the top you’re wearing and because the openings for the two side pockets are cut at a slight angle, they are easy to access.
The bibs go for $150 and come in six sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL and XXL.
Genius doesn’t begin to describe how smart building the apparel around a functional set of bibs is. It’s not just a matter of genius. It’s also a statement of respect, that the product developers at Giro didn’t lose the plot line and still understand that a piece of foam in the crotch is the root of all comfort.
The 40M Tech Overshort is the piece that the public sees. It features a four-way stretch fabric that allows the shorts to move in a pretty natural way. They are gusseted like climbing shorts so you’re not restricted to movement in just two dimensions. There are stretch panels as the waist and in the legs to make sure they move almost as freely as normal cycling shorts. A small strap that attaches to buttons on the inside of the waist band allows you to adjust the waist. There’s a zippered cell-phone pocket on the left, but it’s snug enough that you’re only going to get a smartphone with no protective case in it, at least, if you want to do it comfortably. The zippered fly lines up perfectly with the fly on the bibs, which, I’ll admit, amazed me slightly. I can think of a dozen companies where the fly on one short would have been three inches off of the fly on the other short. My one knock on the fit of the shorts is that the crotch was sufficiently below the waist that when riding, the shorts would ride up a bit. The issue wasn’t one of comfort. On the contrary, the issue was strictly one of appearance. The inseam of the 40M Overshort was just short enough that once they rode up, the black leg grippers of the bibs would show below the hem of the 40M Overshort. Not a big deal, but not perfect, and I note it only because Giro so often manages something approaching perfection.
The 40M Tech Overshort goes for $120, and while I can’t be certain it will outlast all of my cotton shorts, I have been wearing them with regularity and can say they show no signs of wear so far. Frankly, they are terrific to wear with tighty whities; there have been a few occasions I pulled them on because they were at the top of the drawer. I have plenty of stuff that I’m pleased just lasted through this summer. It comes in six waist sizes and two fits: 28, 30, 32, 34, 36 and 38 in both slim and regular fit. I have been wearing the 32 regular fit. They come in three colors: jet black, pewter and desert. The sizes of the 40M Overshort line up with the sizing on the bibs. I’m a 32 in the Overshort and I’m a medium in the bibs.
I did have one minor issue with the Overshort. The distance from the waist to the crotch is a bit long. The way they hand when I’m standing isn’t how they wear when I’m on a bike. They slide up until the crotch of the shorts actually reaches my crotch. This moving around isn’t that disconcerting, but it did end up exposing the grippers of the Bib Undershort because the legs of the shorts were no longer long enough to cover the bibs. Not a big deal, but not quite perfect and Giro so often does perfection, that this detail surprised me.
By basing most of their tops on a high-quality Merino wool Giro does three things. First, they manage to make a technical garment out of a material no one will confuse with a spaceman outfit. Second, they provide the rider with something that wicks well and keeps you comfortable over a broad range of conditions. And third, they manage to hit what has become a common touchpoint for retro cycling cool. Merino is the Teflon of the cycling world in that no criticism of it really sticks. What’s the worst you can say about Merino? That once you’re good and sweaty you smell like a puppy that needs a bath? That the stuff isn’t as cheap as cotton?
Come on, boy, what you got? Bring it!
Merino evokes old-school hardman cycling, hipster alt knowledge and high-end craft, all in a single stop.
Take that Fruit of the Loom!
I’m not going to spend any time talking about the Merino Base Layer. It’s a base layer, cut from a fine Merino. It’s the perfect answer to the changeable day. It was as comfortable as kitten fur, or at least as comfortable as I’ve come to expect from a Merino base and the fit was slim without being snug. And at $60, while not cheap, it’s perfectly reasonable given how pricey some base layers are. It comes in six sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL and XXL.
The Ride Jersey relies on 80 percent Merino and weaves in 20 percent polyester to give it stretch without stretching out. Anyone who has ridden in an original Merino jersey knows that you had to buy them a full size smaller than what you needed, otherwise when you put anything larger than a phone number in your pockets the jersey would sag to your thighs, making you look like a cross-dressing spaceman. Been there, done that. Got the looks.
So the Ride Jersey keeps its shape. And it comes with a zipper longer than the one in your jeans. There is also a gripper at the hem to keep it more or less in place when you bend over. Now, if you look closely at the photo above, you’ll see some openings that look a bit like epaulets. Yes, epaulets, which would be really silly on a cycling jersey, which is why these things aren’t epaulets. They aren’t silly. They are vents. They help channel air over the shoulders and to your back, keeping you cooler and speeding drying of the jersey, which cuts down on that whole wet-Lab-smell thing. Honestly, they looked a bit gimmicky when I saw them. Then the first time I got going more than 16 mph, I felt them at work. Not bad.
I’ve been wearing the $150 Ride Jersey in small. It’s available in five sizes: S, M, L. XL and XXL. They could definitely use an XS. If I, a 160-lb. skinny white boy can wear the small, there’s a whole generation of reformed cross-country runners who will be forced to wear nothing but Castelli and Assos due to the Lilliputian sizes they offer.
Finally, I’ve got a piece that’s a slight variation of one of the tops you’ll find on the web site. The SS Merino Crew looks like a tradtional one-pocket T-shirt. However, this is cut from Merino wool and sports not just the chest pocket, but also back pockets. I have a straight-up T-shirt with the one pocket in the front but no pockets in the rear. I absolutely love the T-shirt I have and wear it plenty more than my errand running could demand. I mean, look at that thing. It’s simple and stylish. What’s not to like? Given the crazy amounts of money I’ve dropped on good dress shirts that I wear a handful of times each year, $120 for something of this quality and feel that I’m willing to wear almost weekly seems fair. Like the jersey, this is available in five sizes, S, M, L, XL and XXL.
I’m doing a long ride in the morning. Of all the cycling clothing I have, I can say with some conviction that this stuff isn’t even in contention for what I’ll ride. But in the afternoon, I’m going to go for a ride with #1 son, aka Mini-Shred, Philip. I’m hoping the ride will be more than just a mile or two, and so I plan to wear this for our spin. I’ll be able to hang at the playground and be just as comfortable off the bike as on. That’s no small feat.
As a kid, I could never quite wrap my head around a visit to the toy store. On the one hand, everything I could ever want was there. On the other, I knew I couldn’t have it all, and so an ontological crisis ensued any time my parents asked me what ONE thing I’d like to take home with me.
Interbike is like that.
Even my jaded adult self has trouble quelling the rip tides of gear lust that drag me down every aisle of the show until I’m standing in front of some booth at the outer reaches of the convention center staring at glittery, fluttery grips for kids’ bikes. There, in that comical space, I can take a breath and do some not-wanting.
Last year, Padraig and I walked the floor together, shaking hands with friends old and new and trying not to let on how badly we wanted at least four of the things in their booths. I will confess now that the things that grabbed me last year were, in no particular order, Giro’s Empire shoes, Pegoretti‘s paint jobs, and the Chrome backpacks they were customizing on-site. This is the short list, the stuff I wanted to grab and make a break for the exit with.
My natural aversion to Las Vegas, or more specifically the Vegas strip, where America spills its banks so ostentatiously, does little to dampen my interest in the latest and greatest cycling finery. It is only fortunate that most of what’s on display is not for sale, and I am, by and large, able to drag my weary bones back out to the airport and doze quietly while some poor soul who didn’t get quite enough, deposits the last of his cash into a slot machine in the departure lounge.
This week’s Group Ride wonders what YOU are most interested in seeing from Interbike. What new products are on your horizon? What should we be looking for, bringing back pictures of, reviewing for the upcoming season? What toy would you pluck from the shelf, if you could only pick one?