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2018 Road Bike Buyer’s Guide



    Danny Summerhill. If you’re unfamiliar, he’s a cyclocross prodigy with a penchant for road racing. However, this is putting things lightly. As a junior, he became one of the first, and still only, American’s to stand on a World’s ‘cross podium. And now, going into his third season of racing for UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling, he’s quickly moving up the ranks of professional road cycling.  I caught up with him right before the start of the Tour of Utah to see how his preparations have been going, and just as importantly, to get a feel for one of American cycling’s rising [...]

    To some, it was a war of attrition, for others, a road to perdition, and in terms of the chase for Yellow, the Tour was akin to a medically induced coma, with the fleeting pangs of excitement resulting from the involuntary finger twitch. Sure, it certainly began with potential, but after Stage 10, the Tour turned into the same race that it is every year — a battle for second place. Though, of course, this is summarily speaking. Between the margins, the race was actually more nuanced and interesting than it’d been in years. So let’s take a skip down Memory [...]

    Coconut water is naturally sweet and high in the electrolyte potassium. So it’s not uncommon for people to ask about the use of coconut water as a real food sports drink. But, when assessing the use of coconut water as sports drink, what comes to mind is C.G. Jung’s idea of “shadows” — the aspects of our lives that are in actuality completely opposite of what we think or perceive. It’s an apt reference point, because if sports drinks have a dark shadow, it’s coconut water. Coconut water is fine if you just want something real to drink when you’re not [...]

    If you search the Internet for training advice, you’ll find more than just a few words of wisdom about how to get faster. But for the sake of consolidating it all for you, the consensus out there is that, to get faster, you have to go harder. And while long slow distance (LSD) training definitely has its place (especially when it comes to ultra events), it won’t make you any faster. Instead, you’ll just suffer less during your training. So, the question begs to be asked: How do you know how hard to go? Well, that’s where heart rate training [...]

    Photos: Re Wikstrom | Location: Golden, Colorado It would make sense if you’ve been wondering, “What’s up with Yeti?” After all, it’s been a while since we’ve seen any new hardware from the boys in Golden, Colorado. As it turns out, though, the radio silence has been masking some big changes, with the new SB5C serving as the first shot fired in Yeti‘s latest offensive. And to answer your immediate questions: Yes, it’s the new incarnation of the SuperBike lineup, it also has 27.5-inch wheels, it won’t be offered in alloy, and the suspension design isn’t like anything that you’ve ever seen. [...]

    If you’ve been paying the slightest bit of attention to the Tour thus far, you’ve noticed the all-encompassing swell of crowds along the English roadside. Sure, it’s been impressive, and at times deafening, but it’s also yielded some stern warnings from the peloton, caused numerous crashes, and oddly enough, inspired a complete and utter damnation of selfies — praise to this simply on principle. In all, though, the swarming mass of irresponsible behavior should be viewed as less than alarming, especially from a country where hooliganism is nearly passable as a recognized sport. Surely, there must be a common thread. [...]

    Photos: Re Wikstrom Intense’s flagship Tracer 275 Carbon rolled out amid a media blitz unlike anything I can recall seeing online. And while the campaign had its share of detractors, it’s obvious that Intense put everything it had into developing this new platform. For this reason, it’s understandable if you’ve been put off by the expensive advertising campaign. But if you’re not quite sure why you’d want to buy an Intense, it’s time to let you in on a secret — this bike absolutely rips. The Frame The carbon frame, which was engineered by German composites firm SEED, isn’t built [...]

    “Abandon all hope ye who enter here” This was the inscription Dante saw fixed upon the Ninth Gate of Hell, which, if I had my way, would also be a well-suited banner ad fixed atop any cycling news site this week. I suppose that placing “of news” after “hope” would be a more apt addition, but hell, who’s counting anyways. Yes, it’s the week preceding the Race Who Should Not Be Named (because of its army of IP attorneys), meaning that we’re all left in a vacuum of banal controversies and who-really-gives-a-shit stories. It’s a tiresome week, but a penance [...]

    Maybe it’s fitting that talk of a brand steeped in “football’s” past be discussed during this WC season, right on the heels of the Giro, where, in case you hadn’t noticed, the overall winner and his early Aussie pursuer were both wearing a certain Italian label’s kicks. It just shows the reach that Diadora — with humble roots originating in the manufacture of custom hiking boots — has on the highest level of multiple world sports. Its top-end Vortex Pro Shoes are no exception, as they were created for the most demanding racing cyclists, with power transfer, a precise fit, [...]

    Photos: Ben Kuhns | Location: Empire Pass, Park City Alright, alright, I’m sure that there’s at least five forum members out there who’re either grumbling, or shouting, something heinous at your screen right now, so let’s go ahead and address what might be on your mind. You could be thinking that a carbon Merlin is pure blasphemy. Fair enough. To me, though, it’s nothing short of progress. Not surprisingly, this sentiment is also shared with some of the original Merlin staff. As it’s been explained to me, titanium was never used and propagated solely for the sake of warm fuzzies, instead, it [...]

    Over the past 14 years, David Millar has worn every jersey at the Tour, won National road & time trial championships, and taken stages at every Grand Tour. Just as important, though, he’s maintained a strong sense of altruism that’s extended itself to his final season via the Eloquence in Movement Project. True, he’s had highs, and he’s had lows, but he’s come out the other side as an open book, full of unabashed opinion and candor. And because of this sense of openness, there isn’t much that we don’t know about his career. Luckily, though, my interests tend to [...]

    Slim-fitting and muted-toned outerwear is nothing new in the current equally-at-home-on-the-bike-and-at-the-office category of cycling apparel. But when you have an established brand like Giro bringing its knowhow, a fresh approach (and color palette) is added to this seemingly saturated corner of the market. Originally conceived as a collection of functional riding apparel that borrowed heavily from casual street wear, Giro’s New Road continues to evolve beyond that initial scope. And while the California-based label’s aim is to provide alternatives to the loud-Lycra team kit standard, it’s doing so in a way that appeals to a variety of cyclists through smart [...]

    If you’ve ever registered for a race (or known a serious runner), you’ve probably had (or heard stories about) an epic pasta-filled meal the night before the starting gun fires. Carbohydrates are the primary way to top off your glycogen stores. But there are other ways beyond just white bread and pasta to get the energy you need to reach the finish line strong. Why carb-load at all? Consuming carbohydrates before exercise tops off the stored glucose in your muscles and liver—also called glycogen—and reduces chance of premature fatigue for athletes of all types.¹ Muscle glycogen is the primary source [...]

    Photos: Re Wikstrom True, there were plenty of full-suspension 29ers before the Santa Cruz Tallboy, but its arrival marked a huge shift in the way that big-wheeled trail bikes were perceived. It was nimble, composed in corners, and accordingly, it quickly dispelled many of the mythological shortcomings of “wagon wheels.” And much like the Tallboy, one might tell the same story about the Tallboy LT Carbon. It was one of the first longer travel wagon wheelers that aggressive riders really felt at home on. And while it’s been unchanged for a few seasons now, it’s still every bit as capable [...]

    Photos: Re Wikstrom Some have argued that the Bronson Carbon’s position in Santa Cruz’s lineup was challenged with the arrival of the new Nomad. Well, it’s true that the Bronson isn’t as all-out aggressive as the Nomad, nor is it as snappy and quick handling as the 5010. But rather than seeing this as a liability, it’s actually why I like the Bronson as much as I do. Suspension The Bronson’s redesigned VPP suspension platform rides considerably higher in its travel than earlier generations of VPP bikes — a trait that I appreciate, as it adds to the pedaling efficiency, [...]

    Photos: Re Wikstrom Niner’s name makes it perfectly obvious that the brand stands for all things wagon-wheeled, and the R.I.P. 9 RDO represents the Colorado brand’s take on the ultimate trail bike. Naturally, this means that it’s efficient, lightweight, and capable. And while it certainly is all of those things, there’s something, well, special about the ride that’s hard to pinpoint, yet impossible to ignore. Suspension Part of the R.I.P. 9′s magic is in its CVA suspension platform. At 125mm travel, this rendition of the parallel link platform is designed around the increased bottom bracket drop that’s characteristic of 29er [...]

    The week after a Grand Tour is traditionally dedicated to post-race lessons and analysis, and there’s certainly plenty to talk about from the 2014 Giro d’Italia. But what stands out for me is how well the race, dedicated to 1998 champion Marco Pantani on the tenth anniversary of his death, reflected the positive aspects of Pantani’s racing while still being almost unrecognizable when compared to the Italian’s greatest wins. Pantani has a complicated legacy. While pretty much every notable rider of his generation relied on EPO, Pantani’s hematocrit levels — a measure of red blood cell density and a tell-tale [...]

    As an American, I can attest to a feeling of longing for heritage brands. After all, most American companies that are older than a century are usually limited to jeans, beers, and whiskeys. And while I’m known to imbibe, I can’t help but feel that shallowness overcomes my romanticism when I wander the plastic halls of a store. However, there are brands like Mavic that still fill my heart with the good stuff. This year, Mavic is celebrating its 125th anniversary, and for us to celebrate this celebration, I sat down with Mavic’s Road Product Line Manager, Maxime Brunand, to [...]

    Photos: Re Wikstrom Yeti’s SuperBike lineup is legendary for a reason — the bikes rip. But while the 66 has a pedigree of being one of the most aggressive trail bikes out there, the 95 tempers the formula with a more conservative ride. Granted, it still has the suspension and geometry to get you in and out of scary situations, but I found it to be most at home on long, incredibly fast rides. Suspension Yeti’s Switch Technology eccentric pivots create what’s effectively a miniature parallel linkage. This lets Yeti control the wheel-path through the stroke, while a rate-modifying link [...]

    Through my Internet travels yesterday, I unassumingly stumbled upon this piece in Bicycle Retailer. The article tells of an e-bike drivetrain manufacturer, NuVinci, that’s partnering with Evelo Electric Bicycles on an incentivized weight loss promotion scheme of some kind. The gist of it is that, for 30 days this summer, they’re putting up $10 a pound for every pound that you lose on one of their bikes. Needless to say, like with most advertising campaigns, my thought process went clear in the opposite direction of the ad’s intent. Sure, there’s the obvious low hanging fruit to be plucked clean regarding [...]

    Stage 16 of this year’s Giro, with back-to-back climbs of the Gavia and Stelvio, was intended to be a sweeping, memorable day with a serious GC impact — what might have been called an “epic” ride back when that word still had meaning. In many ways, it over-delivered. While complaints that the stage was run in full (or even at all) abounded, most controversy surrounded an escape by Movistar’s Nairo Quintana, and several other riders, that took place on the Stelvio descent after race radio and Twitter announced — inaccurately but fairly unambiguously — that the race had been neutralized, [...]

    You’ve been pushing hard for the last hour. You have 30 more minutes to go, but your training partner is challenging you to a minute-long sprint. Not one to be perceived as a weakling, you accept their duel and push through. Your muscles scream as you push them faster, faster, faster. Eventually the burn gets so bad that you need to bring your body back down to an easy pace. “LACTIC ACID!” you curse. As an endurance athlete, there has probably been at least one time that you’ve used the term “lactic acid” as a synonym for a swear word. [...]

    Photos: Re Wikstrom Chris Cocalis, of Pivot Cycles notoriety, has a history in the bike industry that rivals many of its legends, and by all accounts, the guy also rips. That probably has something to do with why the Mach 6 is such an unadulterated shred machine. It’s billed as an enduro racer, so as you’d expect, it’s not the fastest climber — although it does the job surprisingly well. Get it pointed down a hill, though, and in many situations, it’s actually faster than a full-on downhill bike. But the real surprise is that, for being so aggressive, the [...]

    Somewhere, despite awkward fat jokes and an endless train of ghost-written regret-rospectives, cycling in the US has given birth to the most important bike race in the world right now: the Amgen Tour of California. Don’t believe me? SRAM chose ATOC to launch its new wireless electronic groupset, arguably the biggest tech development of the season. Then there was Shimano, which rolled out its pre-launch action cameras by rigging them to John Degenkolb’s and Koen de Kort’s bikes. The resulting footage speaks for itself: I have my quibbles with the specifics of each marketing effort (SRAM initially dressed their components [...]