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    The Hostile Takeover

    Trek bikes so celeste. Vacansoleil Bianchis matte black? Coppi sighs. Aside from the hostile takeover of Italy’s most storied color, the top story from the opening weekend of le Tour might be the hyperactive breakaway activity of Euskatel-Euskadi. The cynical might attribute it to the looming threat of sponsorship loss. But I’ll credit it to something completely different: The magic of the 2014 Orbea Orca Race the team is racing on. It’s gotta be the bike. OK, maybe that’s a stretch. But a weeklong test ride of the all-new Orca had me giddy with silent x’s , dreaming of pintxos [...]

    - Two happy snapshots from the Competitive Cyclist HQ – - Speaking of the home office, like any ambitious e-commerce company we’re eagerly seeking more software engineering talent. What, exactly, are we looking for? Click here, then filter down to “Category: Software Engineering.” If you send a referral our way and we end up hiring him/her, we’ll give you a $1,000 Competitive Cyclist gift card. It’s pretty simple: When someone applies, have them include your name as a referral. That’s all the paper trail we need. For somebody who can code, who digs continuous delivery, and who loves to ride [...]

    - Dear Strava – I’m too cheap to pay for a Premium subscription, but I’ll offer you a handsome sum to intern with you. I feel like I have a lot to offer the company. Although this season has been a weak sequel to 2012 for me in terms of fitness, I feel more keenly connected to Strava than ever before. During the bonus time I’ve gotten with every climb this year my mind has gone electric with ways to make your site more awesome. Consider these suggestions my intern application – 1. Rip off the Yahoo Weather/Flickr integration. I’m [...]

    For a couple of years, the 27.5-inch wheel’s potential seems to be all that the mountain biking community has been able to talk about. And when it comes to all-mountain riders, this is even more of a truth. Intuitively, the ‘in-between’ wheel size makes sense, as it represents a compromise between the limitations of both 26- and 29-inch designs. For example, if we were to generalize the entrenched standards, we might say that 26in bikes are nimble, but they run out of momentum on long, technical sections. Conversely, 29ers dominate straight, rock-strewn descents, but they lumber around turns, and accelerate [...]

    - Has anyone else noticed the horrific start so far for bike industry sales this year? February data were scary, but when Leisure Trends reported March I nearly fell out of my chair. Total merchandise sales in March fell 23 percent year-over-year. Bike unit sales dropped by a whopping 24 percent while the average selling price only increased by 1 percent. Average selling price is a crucial datapoint because its steady increase over the last couple of years had been the saving grace of the bike industry. The industry hasn’t seen a year-over-year increase in bike unit sales for quite [...]

    - Hey Drew, why don’t we sell this tape on this site? - Last week I asked for advice about the paint scheme of my now-built-but-unpainted David Kirk steel road frame. At the time I was trending toward a traditional Italian tricolore with a splash of yellow. Several of you created a virtual moodboard and I’m grateful for the awesome material you sent. Thank you. Two updates: (1) In case you didn’t catch it, Dave Kirk himself provided a crucial point of clarification. He had nothing to do with Serotta’s production of bikes for 7-Eleven. Instead he was involved with [...]

    The Art of Being Hip

    This is a What’s New about steel bikes. Let us now praise the timeless connection between beautiful, steel bikes and the art of being hip. Not hipsterdom. Just hip – - Note the steel bike at the hero image atop this article pertaining to Velominati rule number 5(b): Eddy never complained. - Longtime readers may recall that about a year ago I decided to buy a handmade steel frame. Part of it was curiosity about the process, and the other part of it was a wish to own at least one bike with a steel frame, steel fork, and parts [...]

    - For the bike-mad, the most glorious of Boston races has always been the Fitchburg Longsjo Classic , not the Marathon. Alas, a purported lack of interest took Fitchburg down. (Might we credit the amazing success of the Pan-Mass Challenge?) So even before last week’s events, with just a hint of being bummed, I would’ve admitted that the Marathon overshadows anything related to the bike. But following those horrors, the meaning of the race to New England America has taken on massively more meaning than before. Regardless of the sport, it might now be our country’s most important sporting event. [...]

    - More than a week has passed since Paris-Roubaix. Have you been able to shake its spell? For me, it’s been like a glow — one that pulses even hotter every time I see my bike. For the first time in ages I have full recollection of how I fell for the sport in the first place. The way I once stole every spare moment to tend to my bike, to think about it when others spoke to me, to doodle it when I should’ve been paying attention to something else. After a lifetime spent in the industry and two [...]

    BMC GranFondo GF01

    BMC’s GranFondo GF01 is a bike designed for long rides on rough roads. A cursory glance speaks volumes — the frame and fork are nothing like anything BMC has produced, yet as a whole, it still carries a distinct BMC flavor in its dramatic tube shapes and seat cluster — the latter of which is about the only thing that looks even remotely like the BMC flagship race bike, the SLR01. BMC engineers have created zones in each tube (even the seatpost) where the material and shapes are carefully designed to provide a degree of compliance while maintaining the torsional [...]

    With a high molecular weight polyethylene outer construction, the Clam Shell case provides a heavy protection at a light weight. On the interior, the case sandwiches your wheels between high-density foam padding for a shift-free, dependable level of protection. The case can hold two wheels, road or mountain (even 29er wheels with mounted tires), and it features two outer straps and two Velcro straps for the locking mechanism. This means that your wheels are not only protected from abusive handling, but they’re also protected from greedy hands, too. And to make transportation easy, the case also features a durable, topside [...]

    While most component groups burst onto the market touting one amazing, new technology, every piece of Dura-Ace 9000 has a complete redesign that makes it better than 7900. In the case of the levers, they’ve been built lighter, stronger, crisper, and more comfortable. The aesthetics are stunning, the feel is unparalleled, and even better, all of the new additions work symbiotically to achieve the perfect harmony between your body and the bike. 11-speeds? Absolutely. Lighter weight? You got it. The marriage between a standard and compact crankset? Amen. The Shimano Dura-Ace FC-9000 11-Speed Crankset has once again revolutionized the market [...]

    The angularity of the Orbea Orca Silver is unmistakable, and it’s a striking quality that leaves you with a lasting impression. At first glance, it looks almost brutish, like its planar design is there to skew its radar signature at some terrifying top speed. It shares this same overall shape with the more expensive Orca Gold, though this one makes use of a materials mix that leaves all the performance out on the road without producing such a lasting effect on your wallet. It’s not a stretch to think of the Orca Silver as the Ultegra of the Orca line. [...]

    The Excalibur/SRAM Rival bike is a perfect everyman’s race bike. It’s light, tough, and at under $1800, it won’t rip your wallet to shreds. It’s a spectacular entry into a carbon frame, and features the same geometry as the ProTour-tested Helium.

    Reviewed: Ridley Icarus

    If you cringe at the thought of taking your race-day bike out for those long, preseason training days, or you’re simply looking to dip your toes into the world of performance cycling without re-financing your home, the Ridley Icarus Shimano Tiagra Complete Bike removes all the heavy lifting from your decision-making process and quickly gets you riding. The Icarus is very much a workman’s steed, being a race-worthy and exceptionally upgradable platform thanks to geometry derived from the top-shelf Ridley Excalibur, and able to take the abuse of day-in day-out training, thanks to the light and strong 7005-series aluminum tubing. [...]

    The Zipp 202 Firecrest Carbon Clincher Wheelset is not only the lightest Firecrest clincher in the Zipp war chest, but even as a clincher, it reigns supreme as the ultimate Zipp climbing wheel.

    The new Quarq Red GXP Powermeter is the latest revolution in powermeters; not only by being the first powermeter to be designed into a SRAM gruppo, but also by increasing reading accuracy while decreasing overall weight. If you’re looking to take your riding to the next level, it’s an obvious choice.

    Garneau’s Course Apparel features next-to-skin fit and Garneau’s lightest, most aerodynamic fabrics. The Superleggera kit has mesh inserts throughout to keep you comfortable in sweltering summer temperatures, while the Race kit provides compression to reduce muscle fatigue and enhance performance during competition. The Course vest features a strategic cut-out in back that allows you to access your jersey pockets with ease.

    Ergon designed the SM3 saddle from the ground up. The ultra-thin shell was developed using finite element method analysis to map loads and areas of stress. This gave the saddle its distinctive shape, and allowed Ergon to tune the shell for optimized deflection. The shell has progressive dampening layers that are individual to the different saddle widths. Every size option gets its own layer for rider-specific compression. Adding to the SM3′s trail taming is a nose-mounted micro-damper. This damper, located in between the shell and rails, filters out smaller vibrations.

    - (1) In the literary cult of Spring Classics literature, the most cultish book is Joe Parkin’s ‘A Dog In A Hat.’ The book spawned Joe’s tripidicular blog ’6 Years In A Rain Cape’. It was part Belgie reminiscences, part how-to PRO manual. Somehow, someway, in the time between the Parkin Authorial Apotheosis in 2009 and 2013, Joe lost control of his blog’s URL. Have you seen it now? Bummer. (2) In the bike biz, the Heavyweight Battle of the Titans is Specialized v. Trek. The Wizards of Wisconsin have suffered mightily over the last year. Seemingly every important one-day [...]

    Dear Brendan

    From: Jill Layfield Subject: Getting on the same page Date: March 25, 2013 11:16:01 AM MDT To: Brendan Quirk Dear Brendan - Given how tumultuous last week was, I thought it’d be wise to send you an email summarizing our conversations up to this point. As you recall, upon receiving your resignation/confession, I asked you to reconsider. I suggested that a 72-hour ‘cooling off period’ might be beneficial to you. So for three days you vanished. Upon your return you made it clear you were conflicted. You told me you spent the time wandering the streets of San Francisco — [...]

    Dear Jill

    Jill Layfield, CEO 1678 Redstone Drive Park City, UT 84098 Dear Jill – I’m writing you less as boss and more as friend. In the same way, this feels less like my resignation, and more like my confession. It’s with a heart heavy with regret that I must tell you my time has come. I’ll forever cherish my 19 months here at No other company and no other group of people would’ve offered the same opportunity, challenge and joy. I wish I could remain part of it. But, alas, I now answer to a higher power. You see, [...]

    Skratch Labs is onto something different –a drink mix optimized for hot water. Seasonal flavors are something we’ve seen from Clif Bar and Mountain Dew and elsewhere, but it’s new to the electrolyte drink scene, as is the idea of making something for hot water. This is a limited edition flavor; so next winter there should be something new. And to highlight the unique offering, it also comes with a glass jar, which you can reuse and reuse and reuse. Skratch Labs appeared in late 2011 under the name Secret Drink Mix, or SDM. This was playing on the fact [...]

    - The first in an occasional series highlighting the architecture that helps make the world’s most beautiful races just that, beautiful. We kick things off with a photo from one of America’s toughest mountaintop finishes. The Snowbird Ski Resort is becoming as synonymous with the Tour of Utah as Geelong Heights is to the Tour of Langkawi (please note I did not make an analogy to a European race, thank you.) The dizzying mountains of the Little Cottonwood Canyon provide plenty of drama. But things look that much more otherworldly on race day due to Snowbird’s Brutalist architecture. Let’s be [...]