The Paceline Podcast #49

The Paceline Podcast #49

We are putting Speed X back under the microscope. This was a bike company that first caught our attention during Episode 13. Now they have a new model, called the Unicorn (yikes), and some new promises.

Compact gearing is gearing down with what is being called subcompact. We hear from an innovator in the area. Plus Padraig tells us why he thinks 48-32 or event 46-30 is the way to ride.

Cyclocross Nationals has been looking more like a slip-and-slide show. Greasy mud and some steep pitches have stolen the show.

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Show Links:

Padraig’s thumbs up for compact gearing

3T Cycling

FSA Adventure Compact

Thunderbolt Sportswear

Peaky Blinders

CX  Nationals



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  1. David

    My problem with SpeedX is this: We’re supposedly getting Canyon in the US in 2017. In terms of direct-sales and spec for the dollar, what is SpeedX doing better than Canyon, or some of the other–especially European–online sales sites that will ship to the US, like Chain Reaction. On Chain Reaction right now, I can get a last-year’s-model Cube Agree with Dura-Ace for $2200. So again, what’s SpeedX doing that’s really new?

    1. Padraig

      Well—allegedly—the SpeedX Leopard is the world’s fist smartbike. Whatever that is. If you need a smartbike, what other bike could you possibly buy? No one else is making a smartbike. *sigh*

      To your point, to top Canyon right now … oof. That’s a tall order. Their bikes, from everything I know, are stellar.

      Now, that said, it is worth noting in SpeedX’s defense that they aren’t trying to compete with Canyon or Trek or Specialized. Their entire marketing plan is to capture people from outside the cycling mainstream. The upshot is that they can get away with producing a bike that doesn’t measure up to the likes of Canyon.

  2. Les.B.

    I download these podcasts then listen to them in my car. I don’t drive much since I retired, so I’m woefully behind in listening. I have some comments on a podcast, but having a time of it locating that podcast on the site. Speaking strictly for me, it would be a help linking a downloaded podcast to its place on the site if the podcast number were included in the filespec. NPR does that with their podcasts.

    Anyway, listened with horror and laughter over the incident of causing a friend to crash by grabbing his brake (was it Fatty?).
    Talking of anecdotes, I have a suggestion for a topic for another round of anecdotes. To Quote Patraig’s “The No-Drop Zone” book, regarding every cyclist’s first bonk story,
    “…the stories are invariably hilarious…after the fact.”
    First-bonk stories might be some good entertainment.

    1. Padraig

      Thanks for the feedback Les. We’re having a difficult time figuring out just how to keep our descriptions of the show congruent with what, say iTunes, does to tag the shows.

      Your suggestion of discussing our first bonk is likely to generate comedy gold. Thanks for that.

  3. Quentin

    Having recently been in China I got a sense of a lot of ambition by the young entrepreneurs there. Sooner or later SpeedX or one of the Chinese OEM manufacturers will be an international success and be able to compete with the big brands. There will be some rookie mistakes that experienced people in the industry wouldn’t make, but they will learn and improve and eventually there will be ideas that originate there that will be genuinely good ideas. I have no idea whether the Unicorn represents a step in that direction or not, but I believe it will happen.

    1. Padraig

      Ambition and manufacturing competence have never been issues for the Chinese. Design is, as evidenced by a road bike with 6cm of BB drop. If they ever come to understand bike fit and geometry the way some of the product managers do here, the American brands will need to watch out. If they figure those things out and then figure out sales, marketing and distribution, the American companies will be in trouble.

    2. Jeff Dieffenbach

      It’s not clear to me what big advantages the Chinese will really have. Aren’t most of the bikes sold by Specialized, Trek, manufactured in that part of the world? Given how little margin there is in selling bikes, is there really that much more efficiency to wring out of the system while still providing the same performance? I’m not saying that it can’t happen, just that I don’t know enough to see the path.

  4. Jeff Dieffenbach

    I raced CX Nats in Hartford in the 50+ non-championship race on Tue Jan 3 (as a Cat-4-for life racer, I can’t race “true” age group nationals until I turn race-age 55 in 2020). We were the last field to race that day, at 3:20p. By then, the course conditions were dramatically different than when we rode course inspection at 10a. The “slip’n’slide” was still rideable at 10a (and Adam Myerson rode it in the race right before ours … but he’s Adam Myerson), but I chose to walk it during course inspection, as a good number of the pre-riders were falling when they tried to ride it.

    Here’s my POV video beginning just before the slip’n’slide:

    Could I have ridden it? Maybe? Did the risk/reward make riding it smart? No, although I didn’t realize until after my slide on lap 1 how sketchy the slide was … with other riders nearby and needing to keep hold of my bike, there was definitely a chance of injury with both sliding and riding.

    In any event, we like to think that we were the only fields that rode the “true” nationals course. What was 2.0 miles per lap for us became ~1.5 miles for the rest of the week. (Ellen Noble, Lance Haidet, Katie Compton, Stephen Hyde, and the other champions might disagree.)

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