To the degree that I had any questions on just how broad a range of bikes disc brakes would appear in MY 2015, that curiosity was settled in a single meeting. Cannondale will be offering a CAAD10 with discs. This particular build sported SRAM’s new Rival 22 with hydraulic discs. While I didn’t get a suggested retail on this bike, I suspect will go for less than $2000 as the CAADX with 105 and discs is $1570.
To their credit, Cannondale didn’t just slap some discs on this bike and call it good. It features an all-new fork. The dropouts are turned forward to make sure that under hard braking forces pull the wheel up into the dropouts, rather than out. Stay tuned for a full review of this bike.
Cannondale has increased the number of disc brake versions of its popular grand touring model, the Synapse. I had the chance to ride the Hi-Mod disc edition earlier this year and really liked the bike. There are now nine disc brake versions of the Synapse—six in carbon and three in alloy. This suggests that for Cannondale’s product managers, disc won’t so much join Cannondale’s product lineup as replace the rim brake versions. Certainly, at the low end, rim brakes will continue to be spec’d, but I expect we won’t see any rim brakes on a bike above $1000 after 2016.
With the Synapse, Cannondale went the extra step of spec’ing its own wheel, the new C-Zero. It features centerlock hubs, straight-pull spokes and a carbon rim with no brake track. It was arguably the coolest wheel on display from someone other than Zipp, Enve or Reynolds. They also went the extra furlong in spec’ing the Schwalbe One in a 25mm width.
During my New England winters I spent hours best left uncounted on a stationary trainer. Generally speaking, they are devices that share as much appeal as a past-date Powerbar. I was fairly secure in my belief that I wouldn’t have the urge to return to this sort of training until I encountered Bkool. I sat, nearly slack-jawed, through the presentation. First, it’s a good deal cheaper than any product it competes with. The ANT+ trainer goes for $649.99. It features a magnetic resistance unit controlled by Bkool’s software. What’s significant here is the way the Spanish maker has programmed momentum into the unit. One missed pedal stroke does not immediately cause the unit to arrest. Changes in output ramp smoothly and the unit can dish out up to 1200 watts of resistance. Cat 1 upgrade anyone?
What’s truly significant about Bkool’s system is that it the software allows for some very heady interaction. It’s social in a manner similar to Strava in that you can download routes you’ve ridden and then will recreate those routes for you to ride (in terms of profile and distance) on the Bkool trainer. There’s also a video editor feature so that you can shoot the route while out on a ride and enjoy a visual reminder of the course. Better yet, you can download routes from Bkool. Depending on how you define a good time, you can pedal the Col du Galibier and see the views that you might on a vacation. I pedaled a portion of a stage of the Vuelta a Burgos.
The unit folds up easily so that you can slide it under a bed or stash it in a closet when not in use. One nice thing about the system is that because so much of what it does is based on software, every time they upgrade the system, downloads are free and easy to update. Some features, such as the video component, do require a premium membership. The premium upgrade allows you to participate in challenges, racing against other riders. Strava in your bedroom all year long, and not limited by where you live. It’s a compelling argument for riding inside.
The big reveal from Enve this summer is for smaller riders. The Utah company that likes to brag “U.S. made by choice,” has introduced a 650C set of carbon clinchers, the SES 5.6. The rim depths are 48mm front and 56mm rear, putting them just between the 3.4 and the 6.7. Honestly, it sounds like a terrific option for 700C wheels as well. However, the mission here is to give more diminutive riders, triathletes in particular, an option for a hi-zoot carbon clincher other than the Zipp Firecrest 404.
SRAM introduced an update of its affordable Rival group, bringing it into the fold of 22 gears and hydraulic disc (and rim) braking. It employs the same Yaw front derailleur as well as rear gearing options, including the WiFLi mid-cage derailleur that will allow riders to use an 11-32 cassette. The dual pivot calipers have been opened up slightly to make it easy to run 28mm tires.
One of my favorite features of SRAM’s engineering is that when the company produces a more budget-oriented group (Rival will be mostly destined for sub-$2000 bikes), the components don’t sacrifice performance. Rival’s double-tap levers work just as well as Red’s, but they give up the carbon fiber and titanium for aluminum and steel. One long-standing complaint I’ve had with Shimano is that Tiagra brakes have a fraction of the stopping power of the Dura-Ace units. Not so with Rival. I enjoyed a brief spin on a Rival-equipped bike and can attest that the Rival dual-pivot calipers have loads of stopping power.