VeloNews.com » Logan VonBokel http://velonews.competitor.com Competitive Cycling News, Race Results and Bike Reviews Tue, 03 Mar 2015 18:20:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 Specialized adds to saddle lineup with Power model http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/03/bikes-and-tech/reviews/specialized-adds-to-saddle-lineup-with-power-model_362031 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/03/bikes-and-tech/reviews/specialized-adds-to-saddle-lineup-with-power-model_362031#comments Tue, 03 Mar 2015 14:17:51 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=362031

The Specialized Power saddle is designed for road racers and triathletes. It resembles a time trial saddle, with its stubby nose, but the Power saddle is designed for any rider who spends a lot of time in a low position, whether that's in the drops or on the aero bars. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com

Specialized's new saddle is designed for riders who prefer an aggressive position and seek a blend of support and comfort

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The Specialized Power saddle is designed for road racers and triathletes. It resembles a time trial saddle, with its stubby nose, but the Power saddle is designed for any rider who spends a lot of time in a low position, whether that's in the drops or on the aero bars. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com

Specialized’s line of saddles is getting close to being as large as its line of bicycles. The newest model, the Power saddle, takes design elements from Specialized’s time trial saddle, the Sitero, and Specialized’s popular Phenom saddle.

At first glance, the Power saddle stands out with its wide cutout. Then you sit on it and feel the Power’s extremely stiff carbon shell.

“The Power saddle is made using a new construction that combines carbon and advanced polymers, achieving the stiffness of carbon and the durability of plastic,” Specialized’s Lucas Hartman said.

Hartman went on to claim the Power saddle’s base is 20 percent stronger than other S-Works saddles and is 12 percent stiffer. While I cannot corroborate the claim in regards to strength, as I’ve only ridden the Power saddle for a few hundred miles, I can say it’s the stiffest saddle I’ve ridden. But don’t misconstrue that to mean it’s uncomfortable because it’s not.

Fans of more classically-shaped saddles, such as the Fizik Aliante and Selle San Marco Regal, will likely find the stiffness of the Power off-putting. Those riders’ test rides won’t take them further than the bike shop’s parking lot. The lower-level Expert model uses a less-stiff shell and a little thicker padding than the two higher-end models and it’s also heavier, but riders scared off by the S-Works stiffness might try the less expensive model.

The snub-nose of the Power saddle is another eye-catcher. Hartman said the Power saddle has a nose about 3cm shorter than more traditional saddles. The nose is also at a different angle than the tail end. Specialized recommends to install the saddle so the nose is level with the ground, which will make the tail flare up. When you’re bent down in the drops and pushing on the pedals, the flare in the back keeps your behind planted, rather than sliding backward on the saddle.

I’ve spent about 300 miles on the Power saddle. It’s unlike any other saddle I’ve ever ridden. It’s not a saddle I would opt to ride for a long day of rough roads or in a cyclocross race, but that’s not what’s it’s designed for. It would make for a great option for someone who wants to ride the same saddle on both their road and time trial bikes.

Similarly, I would recommend any road racers who are suffering from numbness in their nether region to give the Power a chance. Specialized claims the Power gives riders the best blood flow of any saddle when they are in aggressive positions, such as in the drops. Whether or not that’s true I couldn’t say, but I can say that I didn’t experience any numbness while riding this saddle on two different road bikes, and I have dealt with numbness with many other saddles.

Now that I’ve put that image in your head, my recommendation: If you’re happy with your saddle, stick with it. But if you suffer from some discomfort, you might want to see if your Specialized dealer is going to have any Power demo saddles to try out.

Suggested retail price: S-Works: $300; Pro: $200; Expert: $130.
We like: Once dialed in, it’s surprisingly comfortable. You can feel the support without numbness after a long day.
We don’t like: Looks pretty silly, but unless you’re in the WorldTour, no one is likely to photograph your saddle before a race.
The scoop: Something different, but in the saddle world, the word “different” is taboo. It’s a great option for the rider who suffers from numbness and is looking for something new.

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Week in Tech: Enve, Bontrager wheels, and gravel bikes http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/02/bikes-and-tech/week-tech-enve-bontrager-wheels-gravel-bikes_361693 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/02/bikes-and-tech/week-tech-enve-bontrager-wheels-gravel-bikes_361693#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 16:14:36 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=361693

The Enve SES 4.5 wheels are available now, and they fill the void for riders looking for an Enve option in the 50mm-deep range. Photo: Enve

Enve rolls out new stems, wheels; Bontrager improves its road wheel line-up; Foundry delves into titanium, and Salsa goes carbon for gravel

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The Enve SES 4.5 wheels are available now, and they fill the void for riders looking for an Enve option in the 50mm-deep range. Photo: Enve

Here’s your Week in Tech — all the gear news, tips, and announcements you need and none of the marketing gibberish you don’t.

Enve launches Mtn Stem and new wheel depth

Enve has announced the Mtn Stem, which caters to the riders looking for an extra-short stem in a lightweight — and quite expensive — package.

The Mtn Stem will come in lengths of 40mm, 55mm, 70mm, and 85mm, each having a rise/drop of six degrees. With a full unidirectional carbon body, aluminum faceplate, and titanium hardware, the 85mm stem will tip the scales at 104g, while the 40mm stem will weigh just 85g. Enve claims the Mtn Stem has the greatest strength-to-weight ratio of any mountain stem. It will retail for $270.

On the road side of things, Enve is launching a new wheelset, the SES 4.5. Slotting in between the existing SES 3.4 and SES 6.7 wheelsets, the SES 4.5 sports a front wheel depth of 48mm and a rear wheel depth of 56mm. Following the trend of other wheels in the SES line, the SES 4.5’s front wheel is wider than the rear one, measuring 27mm; the rear measures 25.5mm.

Enve says the new SES 4.5 wheelset has already been pegged by Team MTN-Qhubeka as its go-to wheel for the season. Of course, MTN is able to choose from the full Enve lineup, should course conditions demand something different.

We expect the SES 4.5 wheels will retail for $3,050 for the clincher version with Chris King R45 hubs and $2,850 for the tubular version, as these are the exact same prices as the shallower SES 3.4 and deeper SES 6.7 wheelsets.

Both the Mtn Stem and SES 4.5 wheels are now available to consumers.

Read More >>

New Bontrager Aeolus disc and tubeless wheels

Bontrager has revamped its carbon wheel lineup, offering wider rims, select disc-brake versions, and tubeless options across the range. Bontrager claims it keeps the same “D3” shape with the new wheels, while increasing the inner tire bead width by 2mm. We spotted a prototype version of the Aeolus 5 tubulars on Jens Voigt’s one-off Madone at the USA Pro Challenge last summer.

Bontrager has been making disc-brake wheels for its elite cyclocross athletes for some time, but will now offer disc-brake versions of the 30mm-deep Aeolus 3 and 50mm-deep Aeolus 5. Like all of the offerings in the lineup, the disc models will be available in tubular or clincher/tubeless models.

Bontrager claims to have shaved weight from the new models despite the wider rims. We look forward to getting a set to test.

Read More >>

Foundry Overland titanium bike blurs lines

Foundry Cycles is a brand that built itself with carbon, off-road, drop-bar bikes. For 2015, the Minneapolis-based brand is releasing its first bike made of something other than carbon — the Overland, a titanium all-rounder.

As the stereotypical gravel grinder-ness of the name suggests, the Overland is positioned as a do-it-all drop-bar bike. However, the Overland’s bottom bracket height is not all that low, as most “gravel grinders” tend to be. That’s a feature that usually renders them slower in cyclocross races, where pedaling through turns and off-camber sections is a part of the job.

Compared to the Foundry’s only other offering, the Harrow (an unadulterated ’cross machine), the Overland sports slacker angles, a taller head tube, a 3mm lower bottom bracket, and about a 15mm shorter wheelbase in size medium. Compared to the new Salsa Warbird, the Overland still has a 2mm higher bottom bracket and a slightly shorter wheelbase, a testament to it being a true “in-betweener.”

The inspiration for the Overland came from Ultra CX events like Crushar in the Tushar — a true race, though not a common one. The Overland can run up to 41mm-wide tires, like most cyclocross and gravel bikes. It sports bosses for two water bottles and has front and rear thru-axles by DT Swiss.

As far as gravel bikes go, the Overland’s geometry and features add up to one of the more capable race bikes we’ve come across. Its slightly higher bottom bracket lends it to be capable enough on a cyclocross course, and its head tube angle is surprisingly steep for the category. So it’s no master-of-all, but it’s also not pigeon-holed into being a gravel bike.

At $4,700 for the complete bike with SRAM Force 22, the Overland is no cheap date. But remembering that it’s a titanium bike made for the rider looking for a single bike to tackle gravel races, some ’cross racing, and winter training, the Overland could be the ticket.

Read More >>

New Salsa Warbird Carbon gravel bike

Salsa Cycles, which has long supported the gravel-bike segment, unveiled its first full-carbon gravel race bike, the Warbird Carbon. Unlike the aforementioned Foundry Overland, the Warbird is more of a niche gravel bike, with a lowered bottom bracket and longer wheelbase.

Salsa claims to have significantly reduced road vibrations with its dramatically bowed seat stays — a design approach currently used by the Alchemy Aithon gravel bike. The Warbird Carbon will only be available with a SRAM Rival 22 build, while the Warbird Aluminum has 11-speed Shimano 105 or 10-speed Tiagra options.

The Warbird does not have fender mounts, but does sport a third water bottle mount on the underside of the down tube. Those qualities are testaments to the Warbird’s gravel racer identity, with an emphasis on “racer.” Like other Salsa bikes, the Warbird Carbon is priced to be ridden hard and put away wet at $3,500. The Warbird Aluminum 105 is just $2,500.

Read More >>

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Gallery: Santa Cruz Stigmata CC cyclocross bike http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/02/news/cyclocross/gallery-santa-cruz-stigmata-cc-cyclocross-bike_361001 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/02/news/cyclocross/gallery-santa-cruz-stigmata-cc-cyclocross-bike_361001#comments Tue, 17 Feb 2015 08:01:28 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=361001

The Stigmata CC is a new, carbon fiber, disc brake-equipped, incarnation of Santa Cruz's 'cross bike, which was on hiatus for three years.

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Santa Cruz re-launches Stigmata ’cross bike http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/02/news/cyclocross/santa-cruz-re-launches-stigmata-cross-bike_360828 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/02/news/cyclocross/santa-cruz-re-launches-stigmata-cross-bike_360828#comments Tue, 17 Feb 2015 08:01:23 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=360828

The Santa Cruz Stigmata CC takes the name of the old aluminum bike, and brings it to a modern race machine. Front and rear thru-axles are a welcome feature, though unfortunately Santa Cruz snubbed its standard threaded bottom brackets and went PressFit. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com

Prominent California mountain bike brand has a redesigned carbon frame to appeal to 'cross purists with front and rear thru-axles and more

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The Santa Cruz Stigmata CC takes the name of the old aluminum bike, and brings it to a modern race machine. Front and rear thru-axles are a welcome feature, though unfortunately Santa Cruz snubbed its standard threaded bottom brackets and went PressFit. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com

“What’s old is new again” is not a cliché that applies to the Santa Cruz Stigmata CC. Well, except for its name.

“Naming bikes is a process. Seriously, it takes months of circular emails being sent. It’s so much easier to name a new bike after an old one,” said Santa Cruz’s COO, Joe Graney.

The new Santa Cruz Stigmata CC, is a rekindled name for the California brand, and it’s in the same genre of bikes, though when the Stigmata cyclocross bike was cut from the Santa Cruz line-up in 2012, it had Easton EA6X aluminum tubes, handmade in Portland, Oregon, and was only available with cantilever brakes. It was on the verge of being an obsolete bike, with carbon ’cross bikes becoming commonplace, and the debate over discs reaching a head.

Photo gallery >>

“A no-holds-barred race machine”

Too often, a manufacturer will bring a new bike to market — especially in cyclocross — that blurs the lines of too many disciplines. The term “gravel grinder,” nauseatingly, comes to mind. Rack mounts, in-betweener bottom brackets, dropper posts, all these “features” take what could have been a cyclocross bike and turn it into something different. Something slower, in regards to pure cyclocross performance.

“No fender mounts. No rack mounts. It’s meant to be a no-holds-barred race bike,” said Josh Kissner, the Santa Cruz product manager.

The Stigmata CC will only be available in Santa Cruz’s top-of-the-line CC carbon. In the eyes of some, quite the upgrade from the aluminum model of four seasons ago, though the “made in the USA” tag that the previous Stigmata sported, is lost with the switch. “The goal was to make a high-end race bike. We do dip down a bit, offering a SRAM Rival build kit,” said Kissner.

The geometry is loosely based on the old aluminum Stigmata. Though the angles are a bit slacker and the chain stays are shorter than the old Stigmata, but overall, the Stigmata CC is on par with other mainstream cyclocross race bikes. The head tube angle is 72.5 degrees, which isn’t overly aggressive, like some 73-degree head tubes on the market, but it still feels agile. The geometry feels like a race bike, not a stretched-out adventure bike.

Santa Cruz claims that the Stigmata CC can accommodate up to 41mm tire, though we were unable to test that, the Stigmata looked to have plenty of tire clearance. We welcome the wider tires for training, of course, but for racing too. For those riders not toeing the line in a UCI event, the extra traction is likely to be just as beneficial as a narrower tread’s lower rolling resistance.

Stigmata builds

Santa Cruz went with completely internal cable routing, including the fork, which they designed. “When you’ve built frames, building forks is pretty straightforward,” said Graney.

To keep things quiet inside of the frame, Santa Cruz engineered a carbon sheath inside the down tube, to keep the hydraulic brake hose from slapping against the large, hollow carbon tube. The brake line sheath runs into the chain stay and out the exit port, near the caliper. So all a mechanic needs to do when changing brake lines is feed the line into the port on the left of the head tube, and it will exit at the brake caliper.

Santa Cruz sought to make the shift cables easy to maintain as well. There is an exceptionally large hole at the bottom bracket for them to exit, and the cable guide and cover are simple to install.

SRAM hydraulic brakes and drivetrains are used on all three of the complete bikes. The SRAM Red 22 model will retail for $6,600; Force CX1 will be $4,700; the Rival 22 model runs $3,700. Every model will be spec’d with Zipp Service Course SL bars, stem, and seatpost, and WTB Asym i19 rims, though each model will be laced to a different level of DT Swiss hub. For an extra $2,000 buyers can order a set of Enve M50 tubeless rims laced to DT Swiss 240 hubs. Frames will retail for $2,300.

Santa Cruz went with thru-axles front and rear, which we have to applaud, and choosing a proven thru-axle design like the RockShox MaxleLite only sweetens the deal.

Also a first for Santa Cruz, the Stigmata uses a Pressfit30 bottom bracket. The California brand has long been a proponent of the threaded bottom bracket, a feature we at VeloNews are fans of as well.

Kissner explained that with mountain bikes, thicker carbon is used at the bottom bracket in part to reinforce the frame as the bottom bracket junction on the down tube is prone to rock-strikes, and this also stiffens up the bottom bracket. On a cyclocross bike, the extra protection isn’t needed, so the Stigmata uses a thin carbon bottom bracket shell that is stiffened thanks to its sheer size and the BB30 spindle.

The Stigmata CC was set to be available in stores now, but due to port strikes, it will be delayed. We have to tip our hat to Santa Cruz for its effort to make the bike available well in advance of the race season.

However, we wish it were arriving with a threaded bottom bracket.

First ride

I only spent two short rides on the Stigmata CC, neither of which was on a proper cyclocross course, but the quality trails showed how the Stigmata performed over rough terrain. The Stigmata’s two water bottle bosses might be its only feature that isn’t reminiscent of a true ‘cross race bike, though we do welcome them, as rides like this are part of the fun of owning a cyclocross bike — it can be used for more than just racing.

The Stigmata’s compliance was noticeable, especially since I rode it with about 50 PSI in the tubeless Maxxis Mudwrestlers. I rode the Stigmata over abandoned mining railways outside Westport, New Zealand. A ride that would normally wear down on my lower back, but the Stigmata absorbed the large bumps better than I anticipated, even at speed when seated and pedaling.

The tube shapes are extremely square. For shouldering and suit-casing, it’s a nice touch, as the top tube rests on the shoulder comfortably but isn’t too big, so people with smaller hands will have no problem wrapping their fingers around it for a firm grip when suit-casing. The squareness on the underside of the down tube, will likely collect mud, however, as the large, flat area behind the front wheel is a good target for slop flying off the front tire. It’s a design that is not unique to Santa Cruz, as the large square tube shapes are supposed to be stiffer.

I look forward to testing the Stigmata CC at length this summer and fall. How much longer until CrossVegas?

Editor’s note: Santa Cruz Bicycles provided travel and accommodations for this product launch.

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First Ride: Santa Cruz Highball 29 and 27.5 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/02/mtb/first-ride-santa-cruz-highball-29-27-5_361015 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/02/mtb/first-ride-santa-cruz-highball-29-27-5_361015#comments Tue, 17 Feb 2015 08:01:09 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=361015

The Highball will be available in three models. The aluminum model has been using the updated geometry for a few months now. A lower-priced carbon model the "C" joins the "CC," and is just 200 grams heavier. Pictured is the flagship 29 CC XTR build. Every build is available in 29 and 27.5 models. Photo: Sven Martin | SvenMartinPhotography.com

Full-suspension heavyweight brand launches its carbon fiber hardtail with two wheel options and updated geometry

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The Highball will be available in three models. The aluminum model has been using the updated geometry for a few months now. A lower-priced carbon model the "C" joins the "CC," and is just 200 grams heavier. Pictured is the flagship 29 CC XTR build. Every build is available in 29 and 27.5 models. Photo: Sven Martin | SvenMartinPhotography.com

When you opened the Santa Cruz Bicycles homepage yesterday, you would have first seen a goggled rider on the Nomad, Santa Cruz’s 6.5-inch travel enduro bike. Then, you’d see World Cup downhiller Josh Bryceland on the latest iteration of the V10. Below the blown-out photos was a glimpse of Santa Cruz’s lineup: the V10, Nomad, Bronson, Heckler, and Tallboy LT. All full-suspension bikes, no hardtails in sight. There wasn’t even a true cross-country bike.

For better or worse, the hardtail is not a bike genre that people associate with the California brand, and while the latest iteration of the Highball may not change those mindsets, Santa Cruz is re-upping its investment in the category.

It’s still a hardtail. What’s left to change?

The major changes to Highball are the introduction of a 27.5”-wheeled model and new geometry across the board. The Highball 27.5 will be available in sizes small through XL, while the Highball 29 will be available in medium through XXL.

Both wheel sizes will be available in each of the five carbon builds. The CC frame will retail for $1,900, and the base-model Highball C will go for $2,800; the base CC with Shimano XT will retail for $4,300. The difference between the C and CC frames is just 200 grams, the higher-end CC is lighter thanks to stronger carbon — less of it needs to be used.

The new Highballs will be available in Santa Cruz’s less-expensive “C” carbon, in addition to the CC and aluminum models. The new Highball 29 C and Highball 29 CC will adopt the aluminum’s geometry, which quietly changed months ago, and like seemingly every new bike announced in the last two years, the latest Highball geometry is longer and slacker than the previous model.

The new Highball 29 sports a 70-degree head tube with the stock 100mm Fox Float CTD, which isn’t the slackest in this segment, but falls right in the middle. By comparison, a size-large Trek Superfly sports a 69.6-degree head tube, and a Niner Air9 RDO has a 71-degree head angle — which is on the steep end these days. The top tube is also lengthened by about 1.5cm across the size spectrum. Santa Cruz says the Highball can be run with a 120mm fork as well, though they do not offer a model with that spec.

The Highball 27.5 has a slacker head tube angle at 69 degrees and the stack height is 28.5mm lower than the 29 in a size large. The top tube lengths are nearly identical across the size spectrum between the 29 and 27.5 models. The 27.5 model offers lower stack and shorter chainstays (by 5mm), though the overall wheelbase of the 27.5 is about 20mm longer than the 29, due to the head angle.

Like the new Stigmata ’cross bike, the new Highball carbon uses full-internal cable routing, with the same internal sheath for the brake line to keep it from making noise, though on the first ride, my bike had quite the rattle going on in the down tube or chain stay. Though, it could have been in part due to my shorter and lower stem, which caused the brake line to bunch up. All the other riders had perfectly quiet bikes.

First Rides

Santa Cruz made the Highball 29 CC and the Highball 27.5 CC available for editors to test along the Old Ghost Road in the northwest corner of New Zealand’s remote south island. Both rides were around 20 miles long, on fairly tame terrain.

On the first day, I rode the Highball 29 CC with the XX1 build kit, and stock WTB rims with DT Swiss 240 hubs — the very same wheels as the new Santa Cruz Stigmata ’cross bike. The frame was stiff, it was lively, but most of all, the head angle and geometry seemed to be just right.

The Highball 29 was confidence-inspiring — I was navigating tight switchbacks, both up and down, a skill I’ve never perfected, but a challenge that demonstrates control on any bike.

I felt like I was able to drive the 29er. The stem was slammed. Giving me just the right amount of drop. When I switched to the Highball 27.5 CC the following day, I added a 5mm spacer, barely compensating for the 27.5’s substantially lower stack. I felt like my body weight was positioned above the 27.5, feeling almost top-heavy on the same switchbacks I’d ridden the evening before. When I was on the Highball 29er I felt like I was inside the it, not attached to it, like I did on the 27.5.

When it comes to a hardtail race bike, it needs to be a 29er for me, but I’m sure there are those that are shorter than my average 6-foot stature that would want the slacker head angle and smaller wheels.

The short amount of time spent on both bikes left me wanting more of the 29er, and I look forward to reporting back after giving it a proper test on my home trails.

Editor’s note: Santa Cruz Bicycles provided travel and accommodations for this product launch.

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Gallery: Specialized headquarters tour http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/02/gallery/gallery-specialized-headquarters-tour_360257 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/02/gallery/gallery-specialized-headquarters-tour_360257#comments Fri, 06 Feb 2015 19:46:04 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=360257

Specialized headquarters houses decades worth of pro bikes, concept bikes, curiosities, and many other forms of inspiration

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Reviewed: The versatile Lazer Z1 helmet http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/02/bikes-and-tech/reviews/reviewed-versatile-lazer-z1-helmet_360125 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/02/bikes-and-tech/reviews/reviewed-versatile-lazer-z1-helmet_360125#comments Thu, 05 Feb 2015 21:20:27 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=360125

The Lazer Z1 sports loads of vents. Low weight, a secure retention system, and plenty of color, if you'd like. Photo: Brad Kaminski | VeloNews.com

Logan VonBokel has a new favorite helmet in the lightweight and well-vented Z1. In a snap, the Aeroshell makes it warm for the winter miles

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The Lazer Z1 sports loads of vents. Low weight, a secure retention system, and plenty of color, if you'd like. Photo: Brad Kaminski | VeloNews.com

When one thinks of a helmet, “versatile” might not be the first adjective that comes to mind. But that’s exactly what the Lazer Z1 is. Thanks to its aftermarket Aeroshell, the Z1 can transform from a lightweight and airy summer helmet to a windproof lid, perfect for winter riding.

The Z1 is a top-of-the-line helmet through and through. Its weight — at 276 grams for a size large — is within grams of Giro’s Synthe and Smith’s Overtake. It is also attractive. Ventilation is superb, and the Z1’s price backs all of this up. At $270 the Z1 is $20 more expensive than the Synthe and Overtake. Its price is comparable to the Poc Octal, but the Lazer Aeroshell will set you back an additional $20. If you live anywhere in North America, you’ll get use out of this add-on at some point, though it likely won’t be in an attempt to make yourself more aerodynamic.

On a days below 35 degrees, the Aeroshell keeps threatening winds at bay, while a winter cap with ear flaps, like the Pearl Izumi Barrier Cycling Cap, will insulate your head. The Aeroshell easily snaps on and off the front of the Z1, completely closing off all of the front vents.

When the temperature rises, the Z1 — sans Aeroshell — is a top performer, far better than the Synthe or the Overtake. On slow, hot climbs, the new crop of aero road helmets, like the Synthe, do not perform at the same level as more traditional, heavily vented helmets, like the Z1. The Z1 has 31 vents, for those who keep track of such things, but internal design, vent size, and placement have greater impacts on ventilation than the sheer number of vents. That being said, Lazer’s airiness is superb. Rivaled only by the Poc Octal, a helmet that coincidentally, retails for the exact same price.

The retention system is an updated version of the Z1’s predecessors — Lazer’s Helium, and the Genesis before that. One considerable improvement is Lazer’s tri-guide, which slides securely on the straps but without a buckle. It’s a bit larger than normal tri-guides, but you can fine-tune it on the bike without needing to stand in front of mirror to get the straps to lay flat.

The Lazer Z1 looks attractive, even in a size large — some helmets look like mushroom caps atop my narrow face. The colors are also attractive. If the Gulf GT40 colorway doesn’t do it for you, black and white are available, as are a myriad of other bright colors. And if the Aeroshell idea sounds appealing, but you don’t want to throw down on the ultra-light Z1, the Helium is still available for at least $50 less and has its own Aeroshell.

Suggested retail price: $270
We like: $20 Aeroshell for windy winter riding; without the shell it is as well ventilated as anything on the market
We don’t like: Price tag. At $270 the Z1 is one of the most expensive helmets on the market.
The scoop: The Z1 is light, airy, and — if you want — warm; all while being good-looking.

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Week in Tech: Cyclocross worlds and new Shimano power meter http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/01/bikes-and-tech/week-tech-cyclocross-worlds-new-shimano-power-meter_359702 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/01/bikes-and-tech/week-tech-cyclocross-worlds-new-shimano-power-meter_359702#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 21:24:37 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=359702

Belgian riders Wout van Aert and Rob Peeters received special light blue Colnago Superprestige frames this week to match their Belgian kits. Photo: Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace Cycling Team

Scott's new disc-brake 'cross bike, Belgians get special blue bikes and Lazer lids, Nys' prototype Dugasts, and Shimano power meter spotted

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Belgian riders Wout van Aert and Rob Peeters received special light blue Colnago Superprestige frames this week to match their Belgian kits. Photo: Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace Cycling Team

Here’s your Week in Tech — all the gear news, tips, and announcements you need and none of the marketing gibberish you don’t.

Scott teases disc ’cross frame

Scott Bikes had quietly stepped away from the cyclocross market. Despite having racers on its bikes at the highest levels, the Swiss brand did not offer a single ’cross bike this season. Over the last couple of years, Scott kept its cyclocross marketing to a minimum, as it did not offer a disc-brake bike, but all that will be changing soon.

Swiss rider, Marcel Wildhaber raced the final round of the UCI cyclocross World Cup aboard a prototype Scott with disc brakes, and a front thru axle — we believe the rear end sports a thru axle as well.

Scott has posted the new bike all over its different social media outlets, so we expect to see the bike launched ahead of next season. Don’t get too attached to the paint scheme, though. The special camouflage is intended to blur the lines on the prototype frame, much like how car manufacturers mask prototypes.

Nys tests prototype Dugast Rhino

Sven Nys has been testing a prototype Dugast Rhino tubular during world championships course inspection in Tabor, Czech Republic. The new tubulars sport the same cotton casing and tread pattern of the current Rhino, but the rubber compound has glass beads and sand mixed in.

The special Dugasts give Nys added confidence in cornering on the snow and ice that currently cover the Tabor course. With more snow expected tomorrow, it’s likely that Nys will race his gritty new rubber come Sunday. According to Trek’s Matt Shriver, there might be a couple other riders on the prototype tires, though he was unsure.

This is not the first time Nys and Dugast have tested a tire designed for racing on ice. The Dugast Diablo famously — for those who pay attention to such details — never made it to market after the UCI banned it from UCI events, though we have higher hopes for this new Dugast.

Belgian riders sport special frames, helmets in Tabor

Belgian riders Wout Van Aert and Rob Peters will toe the line in Tabor aboard some new frames. Frame sponsor Colnago sent the two podium hopefuls light blue frames that pair nicely with the Belgian national team kit. Peeters and Van Aert will ride SRAM Force CX1, which Van Aert rode at Belgian national championships as well as the Hoogerheide World Cup.

Lazer helmets also provided the Belgian VGSP riders with a special black and light blue Z1 helmet. Lazer’s Chris Smith said on Twitter that the Belgian color would be available by next ’cross season.

Belgian teammate Sven Nys also received a special bike for the World Championships, with a similar light blue livery. Of course, every rider is hoping to trade in their current frames on Monday morning for a white model with some rainbow stripes.

Shimano power meter spotted in Spain

Outside of the ‘cross spectacle centered in the Czech Republic, Shimano’s first foray into mobile power measurement was spotted on triathlete Bart Aernouts’ BMC by Lava Magazine.

Shimano filed for a power meter design patent last year, though nothing has come of it, except for an integrated power meter on Shimano’s stationary bike used for bike fits. Shimano is currently not commenting on the power meter, but the design requires the use of Shimano’s TL-FC16 tool, which is normally used for attaching non-drive side Shimano cranks.

Lava’s photos lead us to believe the new power meter uses strain gauges on both the left and right crank arms, though how they are mounted is still a mystery. The system resembles Pioneer’s power meter that was launched last spring.

Read more >>

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Gallery: A look inside pro mechanics’ toolboxes http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/01/news/cyclocross/gallery-look-inside-pro-mechanics-toolboxes_359575 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/01/news/cyclocross/gallery-look-inside-pro-mechanics-toolboxes_359575#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 21:05:03 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=359575

Pro wrenches make the cyclocross world go 'round. Here's a look at the special equipment they need to do their jobs, day after muddy day

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Week in Tech: Aero helmets, Ohlins shocks, and a titanium commuter http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/01/bikes-and-tech/week-tech-aero-helmets-ohlins-shocks-titanium-commuter_359041 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/01/bikes-and-tech/week-tech-aero-helmets-ohlins-shocks-titanium-commuter_359041#comments Thu, 22 Jan 2015 22:03:18 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=359041

Enter to win this limited-edition Budnitz. A winner will be chosen on January 31. Photo: Budnitz Bicycles

New aero helmets spotted Down Under, Ohlins continues to dip its toes into bike market, and Bunditz and Gates raffle off a super commuter

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Enter to win this limited-edition Budnitz. A winner will be chosen on January 31. Photo: Budnitz Bicycles

Here’s your Week in Tech — all the gear news, tips, and announcements you need and none of the marketing gibberish you don’t.

Trek Factory Racing tests aero road helmet

The Trek Factory Racing team has been racing the Tour Down Under in a sleek aero helmet from Bontrager. The new helmet was first seen when Jens Voigt wore it during his hour record-setting ride back in September, though the all-black design of Voigt’s helmet made it hard to see much detail.

Now, the Trek team is racing in a white version of what appears to be a very similar, if not the same, helmet. Bontrager would not comment on the new helmet, only saying, “We are still in development of a final product.”

The new helmet appears to have three, small forward-facing vents and much larger exhaust vents on the rear, a design that is not unique to Bontrager and is used by nearly ever helmet manufacturer. Larger exhaust vents allow air to freely flow through the helmet and across the rider’s skull, keeping it relatively cool despite having less ventilation on the front of the helmet.

Marcel Kittel testing new Giant aero helmet

The largest cycling brands are developing more aero road helmets and rolling them out at the Tour Down Under. Marcel Kittel (Giant-Alpecin) won the People’s Choice Criterium ahead of the Tour Down Under wearing a new lid from Giant.

Giant-Alpecin recently announced that Giant would be its helmet provider, though a quick look at the Giant website will show that Giant does not yet produce an aero road or time trial helmet — two very important components in a WorldTour team’s equipment arsenal. For now, Kittel is the only Giant rider in the new helmet, and like Bontrager, Giant is staying fairly tight-lipped about it.

Giant’s global marketing director, An Le told VeloNews, “We have been working with the team to develop and expand our line of high-performance helmets. The helmet Kittel is wearing is a new Giant aero helmet that will be launched commercially later this year.”

Specialized tests prototype Öhlins fork and shock

Öhlins suspension, a high-end name in the motorsports world, has been working with Specialized for at least two years. The Specialized Demo 8 and Enduro Expert Evo sport Öhlins rear shocks. Unfortunately, Öhlins is not yet selling any of its shocks in the aftermarket, per an exclusive relationship with Specialized. Though that could be changing if Öhlins begins producing mountain bike forks.

This past weekend, we spotted a prototype inverted fork branded as an Öhlins product and a hidden rear shock on Specialized athlete, Brad Benedict’s Instragram. The fork, with an inverted design, is similar to the Swedish company’s motorcycle forks. Obviously, the fork is designed for a downhill bike, such as the Specialized Demo 8, which Benedict is riding. Seeing this posted on an athlete’s social media account, especially an athlete whose brother works in Specialized’s mountain bike marketing department, could be an intentional leak of what’s to come later this year.

For most in the cycling world, the Öhlins brand may hold no significance, but motorsport fans know that Öhlins works with brands like Ducati and Lamborghini. The cycling world could certainly benefit from a brand like Öhlins’ experience, and we hope that Öhlins continues to develop new suspension platforms for shorter-travel bikes. Hey, we can’t ride eight-inch downhill bikes all the time.

Budnitz and Gates Carbon Drive raffle titanium commuter

Everyone needs [wants] a titanium commuter with disc brakes, right? Well you might be able to score this one, and it won’t cost you a dime.

Budnitz Bicycles and Gates Carbon Drive have partnered in raffling off a custom-painted titanium Budnitz No.1 with Gates’ limited edition red belt drive system. The bike’s paint scheme is said to be Porsche-inspired.

It’s free, and anyone around the world can enter.

Enter Here >>

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SRAM wireless group to be tested at Tour Down Under http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/01/news/sram-wireless-group-tested-tour-de_358652 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/01/news/sram-wireless-group-tested-tour-de_358652#comments Mon, 19 Jan 2015 21:27:46 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=358652

One look at the drivetrain and it's clear that something is quite different on this SRAM-equipped bike.. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Ag2r-La Mondiale rider spotted riding a prototype SRAM electronic road group in Australia

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One look at the drivetrain and it's clear that something is quite different on this SRAM-equipped bike.. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

SRAM’s electronic, wireless road group is likely to make its first WorldTour start at the Tour Down Under in Australia on Tuesday.

Ag2r-La Mondiale rider Domenico Pozzovivo was spotted racing aboard a Focus Izalco equipped with SRAM’s prototype wireless group at the People’s Choice Classic, according to Ride Cycling Review.

The group, which we first spotted at the 2014 Amgen Tour of California, has shed its wires since its initial public unveiling — those wires were fake, part of a sly marketing move by the Chicago-based drivetrain manufacturer.

Images of Pozzovivo’s drivetrain components appear unchanged from what we photographed last year, meaning that prototyping adjustments are now limited to the wireless transmission technology or energy sources.

Of course, a wireless drivetrain raises eyebrows for many reasons. SRAM’s Jase Phillips told Ride, “The last thing we want to do is put it on the bike of one of the big stars and for something to go wrong. There’d be television cameras and footage and could potentially send the wrong message to our customer base. We are keen to have our groupset to market soon but we don’t want to compromise our product because we’re in a hurry.”

Putting one of the new groups on a bike at the Tour Down Under suggests that the group is nearing completion. But, as with any new technology, nothing is guaranteed.

Read More >>

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Pro Bike Gallery: Gage Hecht’s Moots Psychlo X RSL http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/01/gallery/pro-bike-gallery-gage-hechts-moots-psychlo-x-rsl_358625 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/01/gallery/pro-bike-gallery-gage-hechts-moots-psychlo-x-rsl_358625#comments Mon, 19 Jan 2015 17:55:14 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=358625

Junior worlds hopeful Gage Hecht rides a traditional titanium rig, and it has carried him to state and junior national championship titles

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Pro Bike Gallery: Katie Compton’s nationals-winning Trek Boone http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/01/gallery/pro-bike-gallery-katie-comptons-nationals-winning-trek-boone_358154 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/01/gallery/pro-bike-gallery-katie-comptons-nationals-winning-trek-boone_358154#comments Tue, 13 Jan 2015 20:26:17 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=358154

Compton opted for a disc brake bike in Austin, a departure from her usual canti rig, but that didn't stop her from winning her 11th title

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Spotted: Specialized Crux with thru-axles http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/01/bikes-and-tech/spotted-specialized-crux-with-thru-axles_358044 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/01/bikes-and-tech/spotted-specialized-crux-with-thru-axles_358044#comments Tue, 13 Jan 2015 14:12:35 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=358044

The rear thru-axle and disc brake cluster of the prototype Crux closely resembles Specialized's Stumpjumper hardtail. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com

The ‘Project Black’ ’cross bike is ridden to a top-5 in a master’s national championship race in Austin, Texas

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The rear thru-axle and disc brake cluster of the prototype Crux closely resembles Specialized's Stumpjumper hardtail. Photo: Logan VonBokel | VeloNews.com

AUSTIN, Texas (VN) — Rolling around the pits of Zilker Park, Specialized showcased a few limited edition pink framesets under its headline riders. Simultaneously, an all-black prototype Crux with front and rear thru-axles was being raced earlier in the week under 50-54 master Cal-Giant Specialized rider James Coats, who rode the prototype to a fourth-place finish.

The new frame looks very similar to the current Crux, aside from the thru-axles. The front brake line has a cleaner, albeit likely more bothersome for mechanics, internally routed line through the fork leg.

Other brands, such as Focus, Raleigh, and Giant, have been much more proactive in adopting thru-axles, and it seems that some of the larger brands have been slower in adopting a thru-axle platform for their cyclocross bikes. Focus, for example, uses its own RAT design, which makes for very quick wheel changes. It looks as though Specialized is recycling thru-axles from its cross-country mountain bikes, a design that lacks a lever and requires a 4mm hex wrench for installing and removing the thru-axles.

Specialized had no comment on the new bike, aside from reiterating that “‘Project Black’ bikes are always being tested in real-world racing conditions, under their elite athletes.”

Specialized was slow in adopting thru-axles on its mountain bikes, though after seeing Specialized use thru-axles on its new endurance bike, the Diverge, we wondered how long it would take to see thru-axles on the Specialized Crux. Similarly, Trek is using thru-axles on its Domane Disc endurance road bike. The brand’s top-end Boone ’cross bike, however, lacks thru-axles.

The timing and the finished-look of Coats’ bike has us hopeful that this bike will be at retailers by the end of summer, and not later this fall. We expect to hear more about this new Crux this spring or summer.

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Pro Bike Gallery: Danny Summerhill’s Felt F1x http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/01/gallery/pro-bike-gallery-danny-summerhills-felt-f1x_357735 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/01/gallery/pro-bike-gallery-danny-summerhills-felt-f1x_357735#comments Fri, 09 Jan 2015 22:16:26 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=357735

Summerhill is a favorite to challenge defending national champion Jeremy Powers on Sunday. Here's the bike that might carry him to victory

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Pro Bike Gallery: Mo Bruno Roy’s singlespeed Seven http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/01/gallery/pro-bike-gallery-mo-bruno-roys-singlespeed-seven_357590 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/01/gallery/pro-bike-gallery-mo-bruno-roys-singlespeed-seven_357590#comments Thu, 08 Jan 2015 18:19:44 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=357590

Take a look at the Mudhoney Pro that Bruno Roy rode to her second-consecutive singlespeed national championship title in Austin

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Video: 2015 U.S. cyclocross nationals course preview http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/01/news/video-2015-u-s-cyclocross-nationals-course-preview_357489 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/01/news/video-2015-u-s-cyclocross-nationals-course-preview_357489#comments Wed, 07 Jan 2015 20:51:11 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=357489

Preview the 2015 U.S. cyclocross nationals course.

Ride along with Adam Myerson, Mo Bruno Roy, VeloNews' Logan VonBokel as they check out the 2015 'cross nationals course

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Preview the 2015 U.S. cyclocross nationals course.

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Gallery: Festka’s colorful, ornate, unique frames http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/01/gallery/gallery-festka-frames_357398 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/01/gallery/gallery-festka-frames_357398#comments Wed, 07 Jan 2015 16:28:08 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=357398

The Czech company makes its frames by hand and often collaborates with famous street artists to decorate them with ornate paint work

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Pro Bike Gallery: Adam Myerson’s KindHuman Kudu http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/01/gallery/pro-bike-gallery-adam-myersons-kindhuman-kudu_357437 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/01/gallery/pro-bike-gallery-adam-myersons-kindhuman-kudu_357437#comments Wed, 07 Jan 2015 15:40:13 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=357437

A fixture on the New England 'cross scene, Myerson remains a traditionalist, with cantilever brakes and a perfectly horizontal top tube

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Pro Bike Gallery: Cody Kaiser’s Specialized Crux cyclocross rig http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/01/gallery/pro-bike-gallery-cody-kaisers-specialized-crux-cyclocross-rig_357353 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/01/gallery/pro-bike-gallery-cody-kaisers-specialized-crux-cyclocross-rig_357353#comments Tue, 06 Jan 2015 18:31:57 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=357353

Kaiser will line up for his first run at the elite cyclocross national championships on Sunday aboard Specialized's top-of-the-line Crux

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