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2018 Road Bike Buyer’s Guide



    A blood-curdling shriek pierces the darkness. “Rampage!” It’s Friday night at an impromptu campground in Virgin, Utah. The sun set hours ago, and the revelers are carrying on. Walking through the campsite is like being in an exposed field during an electrical storm. In the moments of eerie silence, you can feel the next eruption coming, long before the thunderous chanting streaks though the night sky. The energy builds like atmospheric static, and when it’s discharged in the form of a deafening roar, the experience is awe-inspiring. We spectators are a force of nature. Good Friends and Ripping Girls: The [...]

    Photos: Ben Kuhns With today’s fabric capabilities, making something water- and windproof isn’t exactly an achievement. Instead, the true testament to design capability is incorporating the aforementioned into something that’s lightweight, comfortable, and breathable. Not surprisingly, though, this is where most manufacturing titans begin to wane. However, what is surprising is that the tiny, American-made first-timer, Search And State, achieved all of the above with its first time out of the gate. And gladly, all of these characteristics are housed in what I can only call, simply the best fitting jacket that I’ve ever ridden in. First Impressions: It’s black. [...]

    In any discipline of bike racing, there’s arguably no component that’s more important than tires. This is especially true in mountain biking, where the amount of variables in both trail conditions and tire design are staggering. Whether you’re riding in a desert or a rainforest, choosing the right tires will make the difference between feeling like you’re on rails, and being straight up out of control. However, while grip is key, nobody wants to feel like they’re riding around on tractor tires either. In other words, the most aggressive option isn’t always the best choice. To start, I’ll handle a [...]

    By: Jeff Stewart When the world first thinks of Assos, we first think of unparalleled quality. Second, we think of you. How long have you worked with Assos, and how did your relationship start? I really doubt the Ellipse Community think of me in second place. Are you sure you wouldn’t prefer to interview the Assos girl instead? But, in answer to your question, I have been working with Assos since 2005. I was looking for sponsorship, and had asked someone I knew who worked there if they could help. Two days later, I received a phone call from Assos [...]

    Michael Barry: Bikes

    Like most cyclists, I have several bikes hanging in my garage. Which is my favorite? That’s easy—the Mariposa porteur bike that my father built for me eight years ago. I cherish it, because he built the frame and the carriers, with their simple beauty, and he then carefully selected the parts. But I also cherish it for the memorable rides it has provided. Trips to friends’ houses, back and forth to my dad’s shop, around town with my family discovering parks and back alleys, or out on the town for a night with my wife, Dede. On a bike, the [...]

    If your winter consists of sporadic lows down into the 50s, you might as well stop reading right now. I’m here to tell you how to survive a real winter, no offense to California, so that you’re able to break the monotonous drawl of indoor trainers. First, let’s examine why you’re dependent on a trainer in the first place. Yes, 30 degrees is really cold, and yes, road conditions aren’t ideal in the middle of a snow storm. But, with the right gear, attitude, and some common sense, you shall overcome. Shout it from the mountain top. Now, let’s start [...]

    I was getting fitted for a tuxedo when the very attractive woman sizing me up asked me about my pants. After telling her that I was testing them for a review, I mentioned that I wasn’t sure about the sea foam green color. Without missing a beat, she said, “Oh no, I like the color. I’d definitely wear those.” I replied with, “that’s not exactly what I’m going for.” She laughed. At that moment, it dawned on me that I was wearing my new favorite pants. The Levi’s Commuter line has been around for a few years now, and the [...]

    It’s hard to imagine the shattered peloton’s few remaining survivors were enjoying their surroundings when they hit the lower slopes of Little that afternoon. The fact that Utah’s earliest pioneers chose this stunning spot to harvest the granite for their downtown temple most likely didn’t cross any of the riders’ minds, either. By this point in the day’s horrendously difficult “Queen Stage,” the Tour of Utah’s participants had raced down from the northern part of the state, up and over multiple canyon passes, to this location some 100 miles and roughly 7,500 feet of climbing later. Anything will do as [...]

    The Feed Zone Cookbook by Dr. Allen Lim and Chef Biju Thomas is packed with 150 athlete-friendly recipes that are delicious, simple to prepare, and ready to fuel your rides. The book includes breakfasts, portable snacks, like Allen Lim’s famous rice cakes, after-ride dishes, dinners, desserts, and recovery drinks. And if you enjoy this recipe, you’ll love the new Feed Zone Portables, a cookbook for athletes with easy, healthy recipes and snack ideas that will nourish your best performance. Allen and Biju’s tip: We’ve put a gluten-free spin on the classic fig cookies that many of us grew up eating. These cakes make a [...]

    Michael Barry: The Cross

    Racing cyclocross was once a common method for professional cyclists to stay fit in the off-season. Until the late ’80s, road champions like Roger De Vlaemink, Eddy Merckx, and Bernard Hinault appeared at ‘cross races through the winter. For many of them, it was not only a way to stay active, but also a way to earn a little extra income with appearance and prize money. Then in the ’90s, as the road season became longer, the training more specialized and the peloton more competitive, fewer riders crossed over to the dirt. In the modern peloton, only a select few [...]

    “Well, it really comes down to whether it’ll be an open or a closed casket.” This rather grim quote was spoken to a friend of mine by a coworker during a conversation centered on motorcycle helmets—specifically, the only difference between full and open face options. And while the rather gruesome visual that accompanies what this guy was saying is bad enough, what’s worse is the damned-regardless-of-what-you-choose message that was being implied. It was the classic case of phrases we bike riders, motor-equipped or otherwise, are all too familiar with; “The car always wins” and “You’re no match for a multi-ton [...]

    It was hard not to hate the guy that day. He did everything right, and that signature little grin never left his face, regardless of how brutally steep the roads became. I mean, at one point he just sat there in the chase group while descending Big Cottonwood, causally sipping a Coke before launching his stage-winning assault a short while later. And let me just say, as someone intimately familiar with the roads in that canyon—growing up just a few steps from the mouth—it ain’t exactly a breezy joyride up there. In actuality, I really like Chris Horner. He’s been [...]

    Saturday was a race in Den Bosch, Holland. It was a non-series race. I had very dull legs, but I fought on. I’m trying something different with my training to see if it makes a difference throughout the season. In other words, I expected this bad feeling, but it’s never fun when you’re in the moment. At the end of the race, Amy’s family was there and gave me the hug of someone you’ve known and loved for 100 years. They’re amazing. They had been yelling their asses off for me the whole hour. It was truly inspiring, and I [...]

    It was seven in the morning, brisk air, and the sun was still low in the sky. I was a quarter of the way on my commute to work, only about half a mile from home. Today was the first ride on a project bike that was a year in the making. Life was feeling pretty damn good. As per usual, I caught the green to turn left onto the one-way, except today, I was hit by a car going 40 miles per hour. When it happened, I was halfway through my turn, and frankly, I never saw it coming. [...]

    By mid August, the professional peloton begins to yearn for the off-season. The Tour de France is over and the rest of Europe is vacationing in coastal towns or mountain chalets. But while the fatigue from the racing and travel sets in by late summer, the final finish line of the year isn’t crossed until October. Now that it’s here, the riders will let loose for a few short weeks filling in their time off the bike with everything they were unable to do during the racing season. But after a brief moment of reprieve, and jamming as much forbidden [...]

    In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a massive buzz around running a one-by chainring setup in cyclocross. First of all, though, what is it? Well, unlike road bikes that have two chainrings, a one-by setup only uses one. Not to difficult to grasp. This single-ring setup is used with a chain guide that virtually eliminates the possibility of a dropped chain. There are a few reasons people like running this setup. The first is that it’s simple and foolproof. And if you haven’t tried cyclocross, you can start to act like quite a fool after you’ve been racing at your [...]

    With SRAM’s release of a full lineup of trail-specific brakes, it’s about time for some feedback on the X0 Trail brakes that were released a year ago. The X0 Trail brakeset is aimed at the enduro, all-mountain market, and utilizes a four-piston, dual-diameter caliper. Four-piston calipers are nothing new to mountain bikes but what’s different about this design is the dual diameter pistons. In the initial lever stroke, the smaller leading piston starts pushing the forward portion of the pad, creating a “toed” engagement. This results in more modulation at the lever during this portion of the stroke and the [...]

    - In case you’re looking for indisputable evidence of the decline of modern civilization, Google the word “thinspiration”. What you’ll find is cultish worship of the spectral female form. It isn’t what you might expect — piggish men objectifying women in a newer, crueler way. Rather, it’s women speaking to women, using image after image to condemn all bodily shapes save the cadaverous. In thinspo’s contradiction of common sense and human nature, it smacks of the jubilant madness of mysticism. So much to find despicable there. And then I look at the calendar. It’s the waning days of October, with [...]

    Things were a little crazy when I first got back. The family was very excited to see me, and of course, I was happy to see them, too. They’d dealt with a lot while I was gone, especially Cori. They had come to Belgium 15 days before me, because the kids couldn’t be any later for school with Emma in the 4th grade and Milo in the 1st. We’d had some renters over the summer that weren’t the best, and the construction projects (new floors and central heating) that should have been done 3 weeks prior to the family arrival, [...]

    Northwave. Maybe you’ve heard of it, maybe you haven’t, but this Italian manufacturer has a cult following, including the soon-to-be-defunct Vacansoleil-DCM cycling team. Regardless of perceived popularity, though, after spending the past six months in a pair of its Extreme Tech road shoes, I now consider myself part of the cult—time to break out the Kool-Aid. Like you, surely, my requirements for road shoes are pretty simple, yet hard to achieve in one package. Yes, I’m talking about the pentagon of perfection—light weight, rigidity, ventilation, comfort, and durability. And while I’m blessed to have a pretty normal sized foot, I’ve [...]

    To most people cycling is freedom. When asked what their first memory of riding is, they’ll likely recall the joy they felt as they took their first pedal strokes or when they coasted down their first hill. In those moments, they became free from their parents’ grasp and free to move fast and see the neighborhood alone. Above Photo: Walter Lai In a similar way, the sporting experience should be one of personal growth and development. But for many amateur athletes, it isn’t. Their sense of freedom becomes blurred. Instead, the playing field, or racecourse, becomes a feeder system to [...]

    What makes a Liege waffle so special? Well, other than it being frickin’ delicious, it’s made from dough while traditional American waffles are made from batter. Why should you care? Because unlike batter you can make a large amount of dough at one time, cut it into portions and freeze it for easy use when you don’t have time to cook from scratch. Plus, did we mention that they are super yummy? Liege waffles are one of Chef Biju’s favorites because hey, who doesn’t want to eat a waffle during a long workout or travel day instead of a processed [...]

    This is the last time. Never again will I be so hasty and thoughtless. You repeat this to yourself on the side of the road while hopelessly searching for some hidden corner within that little satchel. You keep fingering around in there, hanging on to a sliver of hope that if you continue looking, somehow, miraculously, you’ll find what you need to fix the lousy situation you’re in. But you don’t. You didn’t plan ahead and now you need to make the call. Yes, that call that no one wants to make. The one that’s made after you’ve stood there [...]

    Most of your equipment choices in cyclocross are made months before the season even starts. What frame you’re on and the components you use is a given come race day. However, one choice that even the top professionals leave to sometimes minutes before the start of the race is tire selection. This is because tire selection is very condition dependent. For any given tire company, there are basically three different tread patterns to choose from (fortunately not more). These include file treads (minimal traction, minimal rolling resistance), all around (medium traction and rolling resistance), and mud (maximum traction and rolling [...]