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    Reviewed: SRAM XX1

    Inside Greg Herbold’s lair, our XX1 loaner bike gets assembled by SRAM’s Chris Hilton and Andy Benz. One look at a bike with the XX1 drivetrain and every front derailleur and chain guide-equipped bike looks cluttered and antiquated. Note the initials on the seatstays— H-Ball’s personal bike. Note to self, rubber side down. Another note to self, those are some pretty narrow tires on for Moab, we’re going to get schooled. If you are lucky enough to be an XX drivetrain owner, you already know how good the cassette is. The same zero flex, machined steel masterpiece is used in [...]

    During our visit to the 2012 Dealer Camp we check out the upcoming line of helmets from POC.

    The Vittoria Corsa EVO CX Clincher is what we’ve been trained to see as a high-performance tire. It has a round profile, a file tread down the middle and diagonal sipes on the shoulders, and a heat transfer label embedded on the edge of the tread. Everything about it says ‘handmade tubular.’ It’s not as modern as a Michelin or Schwalbe, or as industrial as a Continental: the Vittoria embodies the traditional tubular aesthetic. Tests indicate it yields performance on par with its image. The Bike Tech Review tire testing guru, Al Morrison, has tested this tire and found it [...]

    We’ve become fans of mid-weight tires over the years. These are, in our definition, tires that are a hybrid: typically folding beads with a somewhat supple casing, and a healthy amount of tread. Originally, this seemed like a netherworld between fancy racing tires and rough low-end tires, but the offerings seem to get ever better. The Schwalbe Lugano fits in this realm. It’s a fairly pedestrian offering; you probably haven’t noticed that these tires come as standard equipment on many bikes from several brands, including Pinarello and Cannondale. That also tells you something about the tire. It’s good enough to [...]

    We’ve become fans of mid-weight tires over the years. These are, in our definition, tires that are a hybrid: typically folding beads with a somewhat supple casing, and a healthy amount of tread. Originally, this seemed like a netherworld between fancy racing tires and rough low-end tires, but the offerings seem to get ever better. The Schwalbe Lugano fits in this realm. It’s a fairly pedestrian offering; you probably haven’t noticed that these tires come as standard equipment on many bikes from several brands, including Pinarello and Cannondale. That also tells you something about the tire. It’s good enough to [...]

    Eat real food. Seems like advice we’ve heard before from Michael Pollan or Allen Lim. Looking into it online, it seems like Mark Bittman might be the coiner, though it seems his effort to get ERF adopted as an acronym has failed. The principle of eating ‘real’ seems to be something in which more and more people believe. Healthier, perhaps. Even if ‘real’ is kind of an empty adjective; if it exists, it’s real. We generally agree with the idea that eating real food is better (we take it to mean less processed by machines), particularly when it comes to [...]

    Reviewed: open O-1.0

    Mavic has been making shoes for several years now. Mavic’s Zxellium Ultimate Shoe, when seen in Mavic Service Course Yellow, is probably the most recognizable shoe in the pro peloton. While it shares the one buckle with two Velcro strap retention scheme with most other top shoes, it is very much a unique offering. It is those differences, and the yellow, that make the shoe interesting to us. The ‘ultimate’ in the name refers to Mavic throwing all their best technology at the shoe. For example, they claim the shoe is both stiffer and lighter than earlier iterations because they’ve [...]

    Of all the performance-enhancing tools at our disposal, supplements and vitamins seem to reside in the greyest of grey areas. Testing them, as we have done with First Endurance’s MultiV multivitamin and Optygen HP supplement, is a big challenge. It’s not just that there are lots of conflicting studies, or that there’s little regulation in terms of safety or validity of claims, or that the results can take a long time to measure and are subject to so many variables that are nearly impossible to control. It’s that there is no consensus on the subject anywhere. It’s easy to find [...]

    - What’s more precious for a cyclist-in-training, spare time or spare energy? It’s probably an even tie, which is why ‘The Feedzone Cookbook’ is so impressive. Nearly all of its recipes take fewer than 20 minutes prep time, they can be made beforehand, and they have five star flavor. Best of all, you probably can’t get better nutrition. No matter how time-strapped or exhausted you may be, you’ll never again choke down another footlong Subway BMT sub. Whether its rice cakes, chicken tikka masala, or fruit-braised pork, ‘The Feedzone Cookbook’ shows just how easy a delicious meal can be to [...]

    - A tip of the hat to the reader who alerted me to this installment of ‘Calvin and Hobbes.’ It’s the final word on Strava – - With rare exceptions, the Giro is the best race of the year. The 2012 edition surpassed all requirements for drama and beauty by a long shot. Despite all the gritty portraiture and jawdropping landscapes, my favorite images are always of the tools of the trade. That is, the bikes themselves. Nothing spawned more conversation here than this photo of Damiano Cunego’s bike– Normally you see a void at the center of a Campagnolo [...]

    Whether or not you believe a clean bike matters probably will influence your feelings about VeloShine Bike Wipes. On the one hand, most people would prefer to ride a clean bike rather than a dirty one. And it’s not hard to have a bias against racing behind someone with months of crust built up on their ride. But, is a clean bike more important than watching the Giro, cleaning the house, or taking care of the kids? We used to ride with a guy who always managed to have a sparkling bike on messy winter rides. When every other bike [...]

    - So far this has been my Year of Strava because of how it turns every climb and every interesting stretch of road into a race. Rest days are now an impossibility. I’m better off just staying off the bike. Another casualty has been mid-ride conversation. It’s curious that the competitive pressure created by a social network is making riding anti-social. My casual Strava use became addiction. This addict, sadly, has hit rock bottom. I now see how nothing good comes from obsessing daily about time and VAM and the mind games needed to confront threshold pain. It’s not good [...]

    Hunt For Steel

    - This week’s dream bike. - This week’s dream component. Not Alfredo Binda, but beautiful all the same. - This is one part of what we dream about when we dream about Girona. - After mentioning a few weeks back that I was on the hunt for a steel road frame and fork, I went ahead and ordered a Dave Kirk. I’ll keep folks posted here about the purchase process. My last email to Dave revealed that there are plenty of questions for us to answer – Dave – Sorry for the delay in getting back in touch. I think [...]

    - Taking hairpins in the left lane. Flipping off idiot drivers. Running red lights. Refusing to opt out of the crit-ending field sprint. Inside every bike racing lifer is a deep vein of rage. And with that comes a tolerance — no, an embrace — of ill-considered behavior. And in the shadow of Mother’s Day, it’s proper to acknowledge that, indeed, it’s the woman who pays. It’s the mothers and wives who tolerate our absence from home, nevertheless sow the seeds of joy, and then welcome us back as if we haven’t just spent the morning doing very bad things. [...]

    The Giro d’Italia. It’s a grand tour like those races in France and Spain, but something about it seems different. For us, the big thing is more chaos. This quality seems to stem from no clear patron, a course that changes dramatically year to year, the leader’s jersey getting swapped from rider to rider to rider, dramatic changes in climatic conditions, and bitter feuds played out in media. But there’s another larger reason for Anglophones’ distance from the Giro. Unlike the Tour, there is little in the way of history of the Giro to give context and meaning to what [...]

    Low-tech/high-tech. There must be a name for this growing category of cycling clothing. Clothing that uses the latest materials, cuts, and joinery, but consciously tries to evoke earlier eras. This is the place we see the Giordana Sport cycling clothing slotting. The name comes from the tags that the company sewed onto the inside hem of the jersey when the company started, a common placement in those days. Back in 1979, the jersey fabric of choice was wool. They made spandex shorts, and were quickly moving to work with the then-new polyester and elastic fabrics as well as classic wool. [...]

    We’re dedicated to the idea that all of cycling deserves careful analysis. Some time ago, we decided that socks aren’t merely a foot covering that protects your skin from your shoes, but a clothing item that, when done right, improves performance. So it is that we now turn our attention to Swiftwick socks. Swiftwick makes a point of calling their foot covers “compression socks,” and the melding of socks with compression alone is one worth investigating. We picked up two pair: the Aspire and Pursuit. The Aspire is the jewel of their line. The sock is heavy on the Olefin [...]

    - The question used to be Do you use Strava when you ride? But, like clipless pedals or heart rate monitors, it’s taken ahold of our sport with a rare combination of broad and deep appeal. So the better question now is whether you use Strava as a verb or, in a moment of mid-ride hypoxia, find yourself playing word games – Stravacide, [strah-veh-sahyd] noun To ride significantly harder during training than originally planned (e.g. on a climb or a defined stretch of road) in order to increase one’s ranking on the Strava Leaderboard for a specific segment. Stravasnipe, [strah-veh-snahyp], [...]

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