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2018 Road Bike Buyer’s Guide



    Summer is fast upon us, and while mere mortals seek refuge from their cubicles in the warming suns of some far off place, professional cyclists find themselves in full-on race mode. However, this isn’t to say that they don’t carry a bit of a Spring-Break-Daytona-Beach-2007-Forever mindset with them to southern Europe for the season. As you’ll find, most still seize the opportunity to work on their tan lines, play games, mock the unsuspecting, and most importantly for the Euro pro, score some chicks. So, insert a little hoop earring, throw back your silk polkadot scarf, and see what’s been happening [...]

    Words: Charly Wegelius, Photos: Offside/L’Équipe There are just two clues in our home that cycling has any place in my life. Two pink jerseys hang in my office, one for each Giro d’Italia that I “won” without ever getting anywhere near the podium: one as a rider, one as a directeur sportif. Sometimes guests peak in through the door and their attention is invariably drawn to these symbols. “Wow”, they say. “What an inspiration!” Well, actually, no. I have only ever found success to be a rather poor fuel for further endeavour. That’s quite a peculiar state of affairs when [...]

    Photos: Re Wikstrom It’s been over three decades since Scott Nicol built the first Ibis frame. In that time, the brand has innovated, grown, been sold, been put to rest, and ultimately, resurrected. But not everything has changed outright over the course of history. For some time, Nicol has been back at the helm, and Ibis is just as strong, if not stronger, as ever. With all of this experience, it’s not surprising that Ibis prefers to refine existing designs rather than reinvent the wheel on a seasonal basis. Perhaps this explains how the Mojo HDR 650B came to be? [...]

    Yes, a conversation with that Alberto Contador, or the Alberto Contador depending on your level of fandom. But as you can gather from the range of my questions below, my geek-level is pretty much off the charts. Honestly, though, who really cares about me right now — let’s get the introduction rolling. In case you’ve been living under a rock, a rock located deep in a cave that’s hidden even deeper in a crevasse nearing the center of the earth, Alberto Contador has won just about everything that there is to win in cycling — multiple times over at that. And [...]

    I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t greet the opportunity to test the Marc Pro Muscle Recovery and Conditioning Device with some hesitation. I’m not sure if this hesitation emanated from a primordial fear of applying electricity to my body, or if it instead teetered on snake oil skepticism. But, in the midst of this internal dialogue, I remembered, oh yeah, I used to use something just like this in physical therapy after a reconstructive knee surgery. With my fear subsided, I remembered just how effective it is to have a tool like this in your recovery war [...]

    It’s been 10 years since my last sanctioned race, and while life’s been nothing short of organized chaos since that point, I’ve had little more than one constant in my existence equation — shaving my legs. There’re a number of reasons that I could say as to why I do it, but honestly, most of those reasons would be complete and utter bullshit. In all honesty, the rationale is equal parts expressing a commitment to cycling and sheer vanity. And for 95% of cyclists, this sentiment rings true, regardless of if we admit it to ourselves or not. Really, though, [...]

    Laurens ten Dam Beer Slog When you couple this video of Laurens ten Dam slinging beers with the Optum Pro Cycling pizza party video below, you’re just a Black Flag song away from a full-fledged TV Party. Though, I can’t help but wonder what the reaction to a commercial like this would be in the US? Most likely, people would just be throwing their Amstels at the screen instead of drinking them, while also demanding the return of Dennis Miller. Pizza Party Tonight Just imagine it — a world where pro cyclists are also human beings, human beings that down [...]

    It isn’t easy to get a feel for a bike from geometry charts and images alone, much less an accurate comparison between similar models. For example, take the Ibis Mojo HDR 650B, Pivot Mach 6, and Santa Cruz Bronson Carbon. All three of these carbon, mid-wheeled trail-shredding machines have similar geometry, suspension, and intended usage, yet each is a distinctly different beast. Not coincidentally, these three frames are the basis for our upcoming 27.5-inch Featured Bikes Program this year. And since you may not have the luxury of logging hours on each bike, I’ve taken the liberty of doing precisely that. [...]

    As you surely know, tomorrow marks the beginning of the 97th Giro d’Italia in Belfast, Ireland. Oddly, though, tomorrow also kicks off the Giro’s remembrance and celebration of Marco Pantani. One stage will follow his old training route, while two mountain stages at Oropa and Monte Campione are dedicated to two of Pantani’s greatest victories. On one hand, the decision delivers a moving sentiment for a legendary figure, but to be perfectly honest, RCS Sport’s decision to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Pantani’s death leaves me with more disappointment than warm fuzzies. To some degree, the decision embodies the turmoil [...]

    Foreword from the Editor In case you haven’t noticed, we’re back in the business of cycling sponsorship, and we couldn’t be happier with the Backcountry Bike Team. Accompanying the Goat, you’ll find the Competitive Dots, but outside of the banality of a simple uniform, the team has been crushing at every race this season. Evelyn Dong took 3rd at Sea Otter, 5th in Fontana, 2nd at Bonelli Park, and just recently, 3rd at the Whiskey 50. And while she’s just come back to racing for the year, Chloe Woodruff has already taken 4th at Sea Otter and top honors at [...]

    Whether you’re a racer looking to replicate race conditions in training, or a coach seeking new ways to help your athletes, motorpacing is a proven step on the path to a successful season. In this piece, Dr. Allen Lim of Skratch Labs takes you through the basics of motorpacing, showing you how to perform this powerful training exercise both effectively and safely. Why It all comes down to specificity. There’s simply no other way to replicate both the speed and the power that an athlete will encounter within the peloton. When you’re racing in the peloton, your power profile is [...]

    I don’t care what site or magazine it is, 90 to 95% of published reviews are based on gear that a writer get’s for free — it’s a little ugly, but that’s just the business end of the matter. Sometimes it works out and we’ll test a product that we actually like, and sometimes the product totally sucks and we don’t even bother reviewing it. And on an even more rare occasion, a writer will actually buy a product for personal use, and loving it so much, will feel compelled to spread the word. Today, I am that writer, and [...]

    Most athletes are used to eating gels or energy blocks. A sticky bite uses everyday ingredients to deliver that sweet kick in a more palatable way. Even more importantly, the higher moisture content in the carbs allows the body to more quickly absorb energy than a highly concentrated sports nutrition product. Chocolate and Sea Salt Sticky Bites are an athlete favorite for their one-bite combo of salty sweetness. In this new video, Chef Biju Thomas shows you how to make them. Watch the video and then try this recipe yourself. Related Articles - Allen Lim: Hydration Science - Cooking From [...]

    Friends Forever Over the course of this year’s Spring Classics, we witnessed the real fruits of friendship between Luca Paolini and Pipo. And aside from whatever’s going on here, the incident at Roma Maxima was easily the best 52nd place line crossing of all time. Friends Forever. The Wedding Crashers Cannondale Pro Cycling making wedding crashing an art form on a “routine” training ride in Belgium a few weeks ago. At least it was good enough to make it into the local paper. I’m still torn on if this is the one of the most fun teams to be [...]

    My first reaction to the Kitsbow A/M Shorts was, “wow,” which was immediately followed by a much louder, and more expletive-laden version of, “wow,” upon hearing the cost. There’s no two ways about it — they’re expensive. Over the years here at Competitive, I’ve become increasingly well accustomed to ever-more expensive bikes, clothing, and parts, but something about a pair of baggies breaking the $250 mark was different. That said, after a full year in these shorts, I’m able to say with confidence that, not only would I buy them again (if they wore out, but more on that later), but [...]

    I can’t speak to the why exactly, but for some reason, I’ve been growing increasingly agitated with the debate surrounding doping. This unease is compounded by a myriad of issues, and the more that I delve into the lineage of the subject, the murkier every side’s logic becomes. It goes without saying that the history of drug use in cycling is staggeringly extensive, but I have a weary suspicion that most don’t realize just how far down the rabbit hole it goes. Do you have a cycling hero from before 1998? Well, if his name isn’t Greg LeMond or Bernard [...]

    photos: Ben Kuhns Given the cycling industry’s track record, it’s easy to denounce star-shaped fasteners as a ploy to fuel capitalism. It’s easy to get a little agitated. Believe me, if you’ve found yourself stifled by the lack of a T25 during a hasty pre-ride adjustment or trailside repair, you’re not alone. So the question begs to be asked, “Is this a profit-driven inconvenience?” What? There’s a new fastener that forces the purchase of up-to date tools? Son-of-a-Corny Capitalist! Well, before we reach for Silca pumps, trail-tools, and polo mallets to storm the castle, let’s take a closer look, as the [...]

    Photos: Ian Matteson, Jeff Stewart Imagine it: You tackle your favorite climb, and instead of turning around where the road ends, you keep going. With equal parts planning and bravado, the fiery question of what lies beyond is quelled. As a cyclist, you are now whole. Sure, that’s a glorified lens to gaze upon gravel through, but seriously, tell me that you don’t want a piece of this, mile after mile:   Depending on your geography, there are probably plenty of fire/service roads around you that are easy to tackle on your everyday 25mm road rig. It’s like Tom Ritchey [...]

    Photos: Ian Matteson Maybe you’re getting used to unusual gear being strapped, stretched, and ratcheted to the bodies of pro cyclists as they roll out for battle each year. Or maybe you aren’t. Regardless of the camp that you fall into, once you actually heft and test some of these space-exploration-looking items (e.g., current road helmets), you’ll begin to see exactly what lies beyond the veil. Such is the case with the POC Octal, or “POCtal” as I like to call it, which is the inaugural road release from the Swedish brand. Those in the snowsports arenas have long been [...]

    For some, embrocation is the Belgian equivalent of Flubber — a nearly magical substance that breathes fire into the legs and courage into the heart. In reality, though, it’s a borderline toxic material that I’m frankly surprised isn’t flammable. It conjures many lyrical references — Ladytron’s “Destroy Everything You Touch” comes to mind, namely — but it’s to be handled with care, and really only to be used for racing. But if you’re like me, and you’re dead tired of wearing warmers on every ride, the late spring is the perfect environment for dry or wet weather embro’ application. Here’s [...]

    - The end is nigh. Unlike last year’s faux resignation — a well-intended joke that no one found funny but me — this farewell note is real. For 16 years, my sense of being has been inseparable from my care for Competitive Cyclist. Now, after turning in my company Visa and my key card, I’m reminded of the famous Shakespeare quote, “Exit, pursued by a bear.” In stepping into a non-Competitive Cyclist world, my terror runs deep. Will I ever love anything as much again? My final act was to organize some jottings. They’re memories, really. Old ones and new ones, [...]

    Photos: Michael Barry & Mike Barry Sr. We pulled up in the van midmorning, as steel barriers were being put in place to close off the course. Some of us were half asleep, our necks kinked against the windows, while others punched away at Game Boys and paged through cycling magazines. Nervous excitement spun in each of our minds for the day of racing ahead. Men wearing low-slung jeans and grimy T’s, with rolled cigarettes hanging from their lower lips, unloaded hundreds of galvanized steel barriers from flatbed trucks. The barricades lined the curbs of the town center criterium course, [...]

    Photos: Garson Fields The Sea Otter Classic is a madhouse. Every year, the Laguna Seca Raceway is bombarded by hoards of industry types, representing the gamut from established players to startup brands. Not surprisingly, they’re all vying for the attention of the legions of bike fanatics that are also in attendance. Over the past week, I witnessed the RockShox Bluto and Borealis Echo both leading the charge of fat bikes departing the realm of snow, while E-bikes set upon solidifying their presence in the market. And while the latter’s sheer presence in the pits made the case, the proof came [...]

    Johan Vansummeren Crash There really isn’t anything witty or profound to say about this — it’s pretty tragic, actually. Some, like Cancellara in the final kilometers of the 2013 Paris-Roubaix (6:45), use road furniture to their advantage. And some, like Vansummeren, are unfortunate enough to never see it coming. Here’s hoping that the spectator involved in this nasty crash has a speedy recovery. More on the story More Euro Than Human It’s hard to say whether the blood in this man’s veins is more akin to Hinault or Gallagher? After all, the idiocy of motorpacing at these speeds sans-helmet is one [...]