Bored of watching 160 men cycle around France together? This might liven things up a little Just like the tabloids claiming it’s going to be ‘The Coldest Winter On Record’ or another Trump accuser coming out the woodwork, a mountain biker jumping over the Tour de France peloton seems like a guaranteed yearly occurrence. Canadian Dave Watson was first to make the jump, back in 2002 after he hoofed himself off a rocky takeoff, over the peloton and onto a pretty sketchy landing as the EPO fuelled cyclists wound their way up the Col du Galibier. This year’s jump looks to be a much less gnarly environment (but still bloody impressive) than that of Dave’s first jump, with a proper takeoff ramp and much less sketchy landing. Valentin Anouilh and his mates came prepared, too, with ample cameramen on hand in order to capture every possible angle of this pretty sweet feat. Give it a watch. You May Also Like Mountain Biking In Utah | Watch Reece Wallace Riding Big Lines In ‘Flight Path’ Danny Daycare | Watch Danny MacAskill’s Hilarious Attempt At Child Care The post Watch Mountain Biker Valentin Anouilh Jump Over The Tour De France 2019 Peloton appeared first on Mpora.
There are hundreds of sportives in the UK, you could take on a different challenge event every weekend if you were so inclined. However, there are only a handful of must-ride, iconic sportives that have become a fixture in the cycling calendar. The Fred Whitton Challenge stands out from the pack, now in its 20th year the 114 miles cover some stunning terrain, offer spectacular views around every corner and strike fear into the hearts of all but the hardest of riders. Part 1: Meet the Team Alpecin riders training to take on L’Etape du Tour 2019 Part 2: Team Alpecin conquer road descents The team chose to ride together. Immediate Media 2,500 cyclists set out every year to test themselves against the course. The fastest will be back in just under six hours, but it’s not uncommon to record 10 plus hours. Luckily for this year’s event the weather was fair, adding rain into the mix would bring another level of suffering. The Team Alpecin riders were all Fred-newbies. For Marie-Louise Kertzman the 114 miles distance would be her longest ride and for Michael Rammell the 3,700m of climbing would be an elevation PB. Any endurance event can be daunting. With the main climbs taking the limelight it can be easy to neglect nutrition and pacing. And let’s not forget, with an elevation gain comes descending, in the case of the Fred Whitton the descents demand 100 percent concentration. Team Alpecin part 2 | conquering road descents Leading up to the event the nerves and doubts steadily built, weather forecasts were being checked every few hours, praying for dry roads. Ride reports from previous years, social media tips and advice were consumed, looking for any encouragement possible. Nerves were palpable and all the talk was focused on the ride. In total there are 10 named climbs on the route. Fears, doubts and planning “In the week before I felt nervous but excited about the event,” says Nick Mayer, “but as the weekend arrived I started to become more nervous and I began to doubt my own abilities. “I think as a team we spent so much time talking about how hard it looked and I was reading things on social media platforms that only seemed to hype up the difficulty even more. I think that is what the Fred Whitton Challenge does to people — it’s such a notorious ride in the cycling scene, known for being the hardest in the UK; it casts doubt in people’s minds.” Nick Mayer. © Henning Angerer How each rider deals with fear or self-doubt is unique, telling a teammate not to worry are just hollow words. The only way to really conquer fear is to grab your bike and get stuck in. So, after registering on the Saturday the team stretched their legs with a 40km ride around Grasmere, guided by a couple of riders from Kendal CC with the aim of getting some local knowledge and boosting the confidence. The route took in the final climb of the Fred Whitton, Blea Tarn, which serves up stunning views that will signal the end of the climbing on Sunday. However, the road signs warning of 30 percent plus sent shivers down the spine. “After the ride we sat down as a team and went through the route together, discussing different climbs, descents and areas where we could recover,” says Nick. “Having the local knowledge was absolutely invaluable.” Marie-Louise conquering pre sportive nerves. Up and up It’s difficult to talk about nerves without mentioning Hardknott and Wrynose. The double header climb is the blockbuster conclusion to the ride. Steep, narrow, bumpy and full of other riders. The combination is the stuff of nightmares especially after 98 miles and numerous ascents. Talking to the local riders, they were very keen to highlight how dangerous the descents are and how much respect you need to show every section. It’s easy to get fixated with Hardknott. You see countless images of riders straining every sinew to crawl up the toughest sections. However, there is more to the Fred Whitton than the final climb. The team ride up some of the toughest climbs on the sportive. In total, riders tackle 3,700 meters of climbing, which is a big day out by anyone’s standards. When you realise the most height gained in one climb is just 298m it gives you an indication of just how many peaks you have to scale. The climbs are very similar in character: relatively short, very steep and narrow with a consistent, awe-inspiring backdrop. The difficulty level is taken to 11 when you add in hundreds of other riders sharing the small roads, everyone in their own private battle to get to the top. The differing speeds and styles can offer a new challenge at any moment. Your concentration needs to be sky high, ratcheting up the fatigue. Training for the event saw the team heading to any local hill to get some muscle memory in the legs. However, finding hills with similar gradients is much easier said than done… Marie-Louise Kertzman © Henning Angerer “I made sure to tackle as many hard climbs as possible during training,” says Marie-Louise, “luckily, there are plenty to choose from near Bath and I felt I was ready for most of the climbs come race day. Well, except for Hardknott. There’s no preparing for Hardknott. I definitely feared that one!” Busy climbs Another of the toughest climbs on the route is Honister with early ramps hitting 25 percent plus, the fact that the climb comes relativity early in the ride means a swarm of riders will keep you company. “I didn’t like the climb up Honister as there were simply too many people on such a narrow road and I couldn’t get into my own rhythm.” Nick reports. “I wasn’t worried about my ability to get up the climb but more concerned with the people around me. There are plenty of other riders on the climbs. Immediate Media “There was a lady in front of me, and she was out of the saddle, pushing hard but she seemed to be going backwards, I could see my front wheel getting closer and closer to her back wheel. A gap opened and I had to put in more effort than I would have liked so early in the ride, but I needed to get past for my own safety!” In total there are 10 named climbs on the route, they tend to merge into one another with only the most savage or scenic standing out. However, the cumulative effect of that number of short steep climbs really take its toll and pacing and nutrition are key to surviving the ascents and finishing strongly. Fuel for the ride “One thing I’ve struggled with is pacing on long climbs, but the issue with pacing wasn’t just restricted to long climbs – rather efforts in general,” says Michael. “I always get giddy and excited and start too fast, which usually leaves me empty with too much of the ride to go. I recognised after around 50 miles or so that I had probably worked too hard up to that point and had fallen foul, once again, of my own lack of pacing discipline.” Michael Rammell. © Henning Angerer The team had decided to ride as a group as much as possible, there are sections of the route, such as the A66 drag, where riding in the wheels will save energy. On the climbs everyone was free to ride at their pace but would re-group as soon as possible on the flat sections. A target time of eight hours seemed realistic and achievable with an average pace of 14mph: well within the riders’ capabilities. Kendal CC had advised against using the official feed stops, the first comes at 50 miles into the ride and is positioned just before the testing climb of Newlands Pass. A target time of eight hours seemed realistic, with an average pace of 14mph Climbing with cold legs and a full belly isn’t a great combination; also 50 miles into the ride would run the risk of under fuelling. The team decided to go for three stops at 30, 60 and 100 miles. A military operation on the Saturday had prepared three boxes of bottles, bagels, jelly babies and various snacks. These were divvied out to kind volunteers to be distributed on race day. This allowed for constant fluid and food intake from the start, with Marie-Louise giving reminders to keep eating. The benefits of good fuelling were felt at the end of the route. The benefits of good fuelling were felt at the end of the route. After the last few climbs there were a few gaps between the team but all the riders finished strongly setting a good pace on the flat sections back into Grasmere. “I ate religiously during this ride, right from the start, even when I really didn’t want to,” says Marie-Louise. “It was harder than I imagined, but it seriously paid off. I didn’t bonk and I had as much power in the final hour as I did in the first, which astonished me.” A downward spiral Needless to say, with short steep climbs come short steep descents. It’s rare to climb hills over 30 percent unless, of course, you are a true sadist, even the local riders told us they don’t tackle Hardknott on a regular basis. However, tackling descents over 30 percent was a totally new experience for the team. Steep and twisty with a bumpy road surface made for a true test of brake pads and arm muscles. Normally, the descent is the time to get some rest and power back in the legs. In the Lakes that really isn’t the case and the organisers and marshalls are exceptionally keen to highlight the myriad dangers that are lurking around every corner – cattle grids, pot holes, off-camber turns. The Fred Whitton route has it all and is a true test of endurance and bike handling. Because the descents got steeper and gnarlier as the ride went on, I can’t say I got more confident as time went on that day Over the 20 years since the inaugural Fred Whitton Challenge took place there have been many wet and soggy race days. How anyone manages to complete the descents from Honister, Hardknott and Wrynose in one piece is truly astounding. Tales of riders having to slide down on their bums make perfect sense. Certainly, walking down these hills in cleats would be totally horrendous. “Because the descents got steeper and gnarlier as the ride went on, I can’t say I got more confident as time went on that day,” says Marie-Louise. “However, now having completed the Fred Whitton Challenge, I feel much more confident in my ability to cope with the busiest and steepest descent.” A sting in the tail As mentioned earlier, the Fred Whitton Challenge finishes with the double-header of Hardknott and Wrynose. The whole route demands respect but the most feared and highly anticipated section comes at 98 miles. A line of riders snaking up the pass highlights what lies ahead, an average gradient of 13 percent doesn’t fool anyone, this climb is a beast and the early ramps of 25 percent sap the energy. If you make it past the first set of corners the gradient eases for a while before you are soon climbing sections well over 30 percent. Head down and pushing on up the FW climbs. “The sheer gradient forced me to adopt a strange position on the bike,” remembers Michael, “trying to stop the front wheel leaving the road but as others will attest; you do whatever works for you to get to the top.” “There was no settling into a rhythm or routine, it was just simply a case of dragging myself up whichever way I could and it certainly wasn’t pretty!” contemplates Nick. “I got to one hairpin and I thought, ‘That’s it, I can’t do anymore, just get off and walk’ but then heard someone shout, ‘Come on, this is the last hard part’, which gave me such a fantastic boost of confidence that I dug deep and continued.” Once over Hardknott, the challenge is not over as Wrynose awaits the weary riders. This is the easier side of the Wrynose climb and compared to what has just passed it is something of a respite. However, there is little time to recover and your legs certainly won’t thank you for another ascent. A relaxed post-ride atmosphere in Grasmere. The Fred Whitton Challenge is a special event, the atmosphere at the start/finish in Grasmere is relaxed and friendly with a very down-to-earth feel. No hype or over-the-top theatrics are needed. The location and route speak for themselves. The locals have taken the event to their hearts with shouts of encouragement and support from 6am until the last riders are finished some 11 hours later. Cheering crowds on the climbs, supportive marshals at every turn and even car drivers waving in support. It is going to take something very special to top that as a weekend of cycling. The support from locals for riders is astonishing. Immediate Media
The previous iteration of Scott’s Gambler first debuted in July 2012 and featured a radical-looking linkage-actuated single pivot. Back then, it also featured a bonkers stock 62-degree head angle that you could adjust with headset cups from 60 to 64 degrees, a high and low shock setting and chainstay length adjustment. The bike certainly set a new precedent with its adjustability and potential to grab headlines with its geometry figures — even compared to today’s bikes. Rad, red Maverick joins Juliana, and Santa Cruz Hightower gets an update Best cycle computer for 2019 | GPS cycle computers for riding, training, touring and navigation After a few years and several iterations that incrementally increased compatibility for 650b and 29-inch wheels, along with changes to the linkage, it became pretty clear more recently that the Gambler was up for a full refresh. Scott’s recent form shows great promise — the Spark, Genius and Ransom bikes all seem to be pleasing our testers, so we were all excited to see what they’d come up with for the new Gambler that we’ve seen Brendan Fairclough and the rest of the Scott team racing at world cups over the past year. 2020 Scott Gambler 900 Tuned frame details The graphics are simple and classy. Alex Evans The Tuned models in Scott’s range sit at the top end of the spectrum, normally made from the highest-tech carbon materials in a bid to create lightweight, maximum performance kit. The 900 bikes across Scott’s range usually come equipped with the plushest parts, too. So it’s safe to assume that the Gambler 900 Tuned is the range-topping, halo model. Stiffness was the objective What tech do you get, then? Both the front and rear triangles are made from carbon, as is the rocker link. The rocker link uses a traditional carbon layup that, Scott claims, weighs just 160g. The main frame is made using Scott’s Evolap layering technology, which it’s manipulated to generate what it claims is a perfect balance between stiffness and compliance. This balance is carefully generated by managing both lateral and torsional stiffness values. The idea is to maintain torsional stiffness along the bike’s length while being able to introduce lateral compliance that should, it claims, reduce rider fatigue. The latest iteration of the Gambler is the result of plenty of testing, and in a bid to investigate where the right sort of stiffness comes from, Scott built Gamblers in varying frame material configurations. The 900 Tuned Gambler tops the DH bike range. Alex Evans Scott’s findings revealed that a bike needs to be consistently stiff from front to back — if the rear end is particularly flexy, but the front is mega stiff, the bike will ride in an unruly way. But if the bike’s stiffness is uniform then the bike will corner and ride better. Scott says it worked hard to create a Goldilocks front to rear stiffness ratio after correlating bench testing with real-life feedback. That particular ratio is on a need to know basis though. The result is a bike that has boosted torsional stiffness with improved lateral compliance, or at least that’s what Scott claims. The other point it was keen to raise is that the bike’s compliance comes from its chassis — particularly the tubes and overall construction — not its pivots or pivot bearings. The chassis is easier to tune than a joint between two tubes, such as a pivot bearing. It decided to use double row bearings on the pivot that connects the seat and chainstays, and the pivot that attaches the seatstay to the linkage plate. This, it says, should help to improve the stiffness of the pivots. The suspension’s rocker is mega-light. Alex Evans Thanks to the bike’s overall construction Scott was keen to point out that, unlike some other bikes on the market and the previous Gambler, you don’t have to ride it to within an inch of its life to get the most from it — it’s just as happy cruising as it is being pummeled downhill over the gnarliest terrain by Brendan Fairclough. Proprietary chain device and bash guard The chain device’s mounts have rubber to help reduce shock transfer from impacts into the frame. Alex Evans In a bold but totally understandable move, Scott has decided to ditch the ISCG05 chain device mounting standard with the aim of having more freedom to design the best, strongest and stiffest chainstay to main frame link, shedding weight and not being constrained by the nature of where the mounting holes need to be. Normally, an engineer is forced to reduce the main pivot’s width and then shape the chainstay tube around the ISCG05 mounts, but not so with this proprietary design. The chain device is designed to be run with 32-, 34- or 36-tooth chainrings only. The bash guard is not mounted using a tradition ISCG05 system, instead using Scott’s own method. Alex Evans Scott was also keen to point out that it’s not designed and isn’t trying to implement a new standard here — the chain device and mounting system are bespoke for the new Gambler, so don’t expect to see it popping up on any other manufacturer’s bikes. Doing away with the in-frame threads that add considerable weight to the bike, Scott’s new chain device mounts using rubber shock absorbers that should reduce shock transmissions to the frame. As a bonus, it’s possible to remove the chain guide without taking the cranks off or having to creep an Allen key through the holes in the chainring. The chain guide attaches to the bike using the main pivot. Alex Evans The other key benefit is that the main pivot has been made as wide as possible, which should help the bearings to last for longer and make the pivot stiffer. Scott claims that the whole system weighs 113g. It was also very keen to point out that the chain device and its parts are going to be readily available from Scott’s website and retailers for a yet to be confirmed price. Flip chip geometry adjustment and wheelbase options The new Gambler has an impressive array of geometry adjustment options. There are four different shock mounting points: a high and low mode and more and less progressive modes that can be used in both bottom bracket height settings. Scott’s tuning guide has details on which settings are suitable for which tracks. It’s also possible to adjust the bike’s wheelbase thanks to two positions on the chainstay for the rear wheel, and Scott says you can use both short and long settings with 29- and 27.5-inch wheels. The 900 Tuned Gambler comes with a +/- 1-degree headset cup so you can further adjust the geometry, and a plus 15mm stack bottom headset cup if you want to run 27.5-inch wheels to reclaim some of the lost height that you get from changing to 650b from 29-inch hoops. The devil is in the detail You also get an integrated carbon down tube protector, internally-routed cables, fork bump stops and driveside chain and seatstay protection to help reduce noise. The integrated down tube protector is a nice touch. Alex Evans 2020 Scott Gambler 900 Tuned geometry Head tube angle: 62.9 degrees (low setting) / 63.2 degrees (high setting) Head tube length: 110mm/4.3in Horizontal top tube: 621mm/24.4in (low setting) / 618.9mm/24.4in (high setting) Standover: 712.1mm/28in (low setting) / 705.8mm/27.8in (high setting) Bottom bracket height: 345.4mm/13.6in (low setting) / 342.6mm/13.5in (high setting) Wheelbase: 1,270mm/50in (low setting) / 1,272.8mm/50.1in (high setting) Seat angle: 63.8 degrees (low setting) / 64.2 degrees (high setting) Chainstay: 438.7mm/17.3in (low setting) / 435mm/17.1in (high setting) Reach: 460.4mm/17.3in (low setting) / 465mm/18.3in (high setting) Stack: 633.5mm/24.9in (low setting) / 631.3mm/24.9in (high setting) *All geometry figures for size large. Low setting for 29-inch wheel. High setting for 27.5-inch wheel. Thanks to the bike’s flip chip, wheelbase adjustment and the headset cups, it’s possible to modify the bike’s geometry. The standard bike’s figures look good, too, and it’s nice to see a long wheelbase figure, a solid reach number and relatively long chainstays that can be made longer. The yellow pops! Alex Evans Seat angle issues Scott has increased the seat angle on the small and medium bikes to help smaller riders use bigger wheels. It thought that the biggest issue smaller riders had with running 29-inch wheels was that they couldn’t get the seat low enough without it buzzing the tyre. Scott’s solution to this problem is neat — essentially the seat has been moved forward away from the rear tyre by increasing the seat tube angle by three degrees on the smaller-sized bikes. The stubby seat helps to reduce contact with the back tyre at full suspension compression if you run your seat particularly low. Alex Evans Scott has also designed a custom saddle for the bike that should help to reduce tyre buzz even more. The seat’s rear has been made much shorter to help shorter people feel at home on big wheels. The seat is specced on the Gambler but will feature on the Ransom soon and will be available as an aftermarket purchase in the not too distant future for €99.90 — international pricing TBC. 2020 Scott Gambler 900 Tuned suspension The Fox X2 DH shock uses a coil spring and is highly tuneable. Alex Evans The most notable change to the Gambler is its silhouette — gone is the intricate linkage of the old bike. It has been replaced with a Horst link system that has the same look and technology as the rest of Scott’s full suspension lineup. With the ultimate aim of reducing anti-rise numbers (how much the bike’s suspension squats under braking, effectively countering the forward motion of your mass and preserving your bike’s geometry) compared to the old Scott Gambler, the engineers at Scott settled on the Horst-link design that, in this configuration, produces around 40 to 50 percent anti-rise. The most notable benefit of lower anti-rise is more active suspension under braking, which in theory helps improve control. Some people disagree with this statement, saying that it’s better to preserve the bike’s geometry and sacrifice suspension performance under braking because it makes the bike more predictable and reduces the feeling of being pitched forward. The two trains of thought are at odds with one another, but Scott clearly believes that lower anti-rise numbers are better — the old Gambler had a high figure (around 100 percent), while the new one is reduced. It has a striking yellow paint job that could be seeing its way on to all of Scott’s Tuned mountain bikes. Alex Evans The Horst-link system, it says, is also easy to tune and is structurally efficient, providing a stable and stiff rear end. It did experiment with high pivot points, and given how popular they’ve become in recent times we don’t blame Scott. Its research concluded that the benefits of a high pivot don’t outweigh the pitfalls of designing the system. Plus, high pivot bikes generate high levels of anti-rise, something Scott wanted to avoid. The flip chip lets you change BB height and how progressive the suspension is. Alex Evans The adjustable progression rate that’s dictated by the flip chip’s position changes the bike’s progression from 30 percent in the more linear mode to 35 percent in the most progressive mode. The progression curve is virtually straight for both settings so it makes the shock easier to tune — there are no abrupt changes to the bike’s inherent kinematic. To top it off, if you change the bottom bracket setting from high to low the progression rates remain virtually identical. This also means Scott was able to opt for a coil shock that’s inherently more linear than an air-sprung equivalent. 2020 Scott Gambler 900 Tuned specifications and pricing The Fox 49 fork is a DH stalwart. Alex Evans Frame: Carbon front and rear, Horst-link suspension, adjustable geometry, 12x157mm dropout, BB107, 27.5- and 29-inch wheels compatible Fork: Fox 49 Factory, 203mm travel, Kashima stanchions, GRIP2 damper, 20mm Boost axle Rear shock: Fox DH X2 Factory, 225x75mm, 500lbs spring (size large) Headset: Syncros DH adjustable +/- 1-degree Rear mech: SRAM X01 DH 7-speed Shifter: SRAM X01 7-speed Brakes: SRAM Code RSC, 200mm rotors (front and rear) Cranks: SRAM X01 DUB, 34-tooth chainring, 165mm arm length Chain device: Scott DH custom Bottom bracket: SRAM DUB MTB107 Handlebar: Syncros Hixon iC DH carbon, 15mm rise, 8-degree sweep, 800mm wide Seatpost: Syncros DH1.5, 31.6 diameter Seat: Syncros Comox 1.5, titanium rails Chain: KMC X11-1 Cassette: SRAM CS PG-720 DH 11-25 teeth Tyres: Maxxis Assegai 29X2.5-inch, Kevlar bead, DH, TR, 3C Maxx Grip Wheels: Syncros Revelstoke DH1.5, 32 spoke, tubeless ready Weight: 15.7kg / 34.61lb (size large, without pedals, actual weight) Price: €7999 The Hixon bar’s shape looks good to us. Alex Evans The all-in-one Hixon bar and stem certainly look the part. Alex Evans The bar and stem might not be to everyone’s taste though. Alex Evans The front end of the bike looks purposeful. Alex Evans The Hixon stem has an effective 50mm length. Alex Evans The X01 DH cranks are fitted with SRAM’s new rub protector. Alex Evans The 7-speed X01 DH mech is sturdy and compact. Alex Evans SRAM’s Code brakes have exceptional power. Alex Evans You’ll find stopping a doddle with the SRAM Code brakes and 200mm rotors. Alex Evans The integrated Syncros fender is tidy and well-designed. Alex Evans The mounting points on the back of the fork’s arch line up with the fender’s holes. Alex Evans The Greg Minnaar-designed Assegai tyres are a favourite among racers. Alex Evans The Syncros wheels are DH-specific but aren’t made from carbon like the bike’s frame. Alex Evans They’re tubeless-ready so you can run DH-casing tyres without the weight penalty of tubes. Alex Evans The 900 Tuned model is dripping in the best, latest and highest performing kit around that includes the fantastic 29er Fox 49 fork with the GRIP2 damper, a matching Fox X2 DH rear shock that, like the fork, boasts high- and low-speed compression and rebound adjustment and a thoroughbred selection of SRAM X01 DH drivetrain kit. You also get DH-casing tyres and a smattering of Syncros (Scott’s in-house component manufacturer) parts including seatpost, wheels, bar, stem and saddle. The all-in-one Hixon iC DH bar and stem combo is quite the looker and as an aftermarket product will set you back €349.90. The one-piece system is seen across Scott’s mountain bike and road range under different monikers and it’s interesting to see one on a DH bike. Scott openly admits that it’s a love it or hate it affair. There’s a lack of bar roll adjustment, so if you’re into freaky angles it might not be the one for you. Syncros has made an integrated front mudguard for the Fox 40 fork that looks incredibly sleek and is compatible with both 27.5- and 29-inch wheeled versions of the fork. The fender will be available to buy aftermarket for €19.90. 2020 Scott Gambler 900 Tuned frame kit The integrated fork bumper acts as the internal cable routing port Alex Evans A frame kit of the 900 Tuned version is available and is supplied with headset cups, geometry and suspension kinematic adjustment and chain device. It doesn’t come with the Hixon bar or Fox 49 fork, however. The integrated, internal cable routing looks smart Alex Evans The frame kit retails for €4,199 including shock. The bike will be available to buy in shops from mid-November 2019.
Specialized has launched the latest incarnation of its popular Demo downhill bike for 2019, and now it’s built around 29-inch wheels. Nino Schurter’s limited edition Scott Spark RC Best mountain bikes under £1,000 Any fans of downhill racing, particularly those who follow the French gent Loic Bruni and his teammates at Specialized Gravity (Finn Iles and, until this year, Miranda Miller), have been waiting for this moment. The Californian brand has been conspicuous in its development of the Demo 29. Versions of the prototype were rolled out for racing in 2018 and then shelved again, sent back to R&D for fine-tuning, with the team running the previous Carbon Demo to great success — Bruni of course won the 2018 World Championships in Lenzerheide, Switzerland. The less costly Demo Expert 29 is the ‘journeyman park and race bike’, according to Specialized. Specialized By UCI Downhill World Cup 2019 Round 1 in Maribor, Slovenia, Bruni and Iles were ready to race the bike at the highest level. Both riders proved exceptionally fast, with Bruni taking that opening race win and two further victories since. That’s three out of four 2019 World Cups for Bruni on this new bike – more wins in one season than his pre-2019 total. The bike clearly works. There is a caveat to this fairy-tale beginning, but we’ll address that later. Specialized Demo 29 development and geometry Specialized explains the months and years of hard work that has gone into the bike in simple terms. Its aim through development was a bike that was built around 29-inch wheels because they “better maintain their momentum in rough sections”, carried speed more efficiently over square-edged hits through refining suspension action, were more stable under hard braking and pedalled well when it was time to get on the gas. A refined, more rearward axle path is, according to Specialized, the key to bettering performance in square-edged hits. It hasn’t gone to the extremes here, because it believes in balance and not focusing on one characteristic at the expense of another. Too much and the bike’s geometry can noticeably change through the suspension cycle, as well as create excessive chain growth and sacrifice small bump sensitivity. It opted not to include an idler pulley (such as that on Commencal’s Supreme DH), which can help eliminate pedal kickback and allow a more rearward axle path, to avoid the extra friction incurred by this solution and because “the right amount of chain growth can help create effective anti-squat and improve pedalling performance”. Anti-squat on the new Demo 29 is increased by 300 percent over the previous model. This geometry chart shows the difference between the old Demo and the new Demo 29. Specialized Likewise, anti-rise increases by 70 percent, a move Specialized says was made in order to better the ride under braking. This increase means the bike compresses less during braking; more stable geometry means the rider moves around less to compensate. Geometry-wise, the Demo 29 is mostly bigger, longer and taller. Stack height is increased by 19mm to 633mm, bottom-bracket height is up by 8mm to 350mm in order to “balance the bike’s ability to corner, yet not hit pedals in pedalling sections of DH tracks”, head angle is slackened by nearly one degree to 62.7 degrees, front-centre, wheelbase and chainstay are all longer than before. Specialized Demo 29 wheel size All-in-all, the Demo 29 seems like a fierce speed machine that is likely to sell like hotcakes to the racing community. The caveat is that Specialized Gravity is gaining all its success with a 27.5-inch rear wheel on the bike (a recent change in UCI ruling means racers can compete with different size wheels, something previously not allowed). In Specialized’s own words, the “Demo is R&D in motion”, and we shouldn’t rule out the introduction of a 27.5-inch kit in future. Constant development is also the reason this bike is alloy, not carbon. The Demo 29 is available in three sizes, with two full-build options and a frame-only option. A frame kit, including shock is available. Specialized Specialized Demo Expert 29 Frame: Demo 29, M5 alloy, 200mm travel Colour: Gloss-Storm Grey-Rocket Red Rear axle: 148mm Fork: RockShox BoXXer Select 29 fork Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe Coil Select Plus Brakes: SRAM Code R 4-piston Drivetrain: SRAM GX DH 7-speed Price: £4,499 / $5,000 Specialized Demo Race 29 Frame: Demo 29, M5 alloy, 200mm travel Colour: Gloss-Metallic Black-Burnt Yellow Rear axle: 148mm Fork: Öhlins DH 29 Shock: Custom Öhlins TTX Brakes: SRAM Code RSC 4-piston Drivetrain: SRAM X0 DH 7-speed RRP: £6,499 / $6,500 Specialized Demo Race 29 frameset Frame: Demo 29, M5 alloy, 200mm travel Colour: Gloss-Acid Mint-Burnt Yellow Rear axle: 148mm Shock: Custom Öhlins TTX, trunnion-mount rear shock Price: £2,749 / $2,500
Cycliq Fly12 CE Headlight THE TECH The Cycliq Fly12 CE is a 600-lumen headlight with an integrated 1080p HD camera. They both run off the same internal battery with an average running time of eight hours. The Fly6 CE is a 100-lumen taillight that also records in the same 1080p HD with the average battery life at seven hours. The cameras record video and audio with looping footage, so there is no need to clear the memory card each time you use it or worry about it ever being full. This smart-looping technology utilizes setting and sensors within each unit to identify when an accident occurred “incident mode” and saves a specified length of footage before the incident, as well as 30 minutes after, before automatically turning off. That footage is then locked and cannot be written over until it is unlocked using the Cycliq app or deleted using a computer. Footage can be transferred to a computer for long-term storage or evidence of the incident. Both the Fly6 CE and Fly12 CE have multiple light modes. There is constant, flash and pulse with high, medium and low in each, as well as off. These settings are all available out of the box, but using the app you can customize them so that you only have to cycle through those you use. These lights are designed to run day and night, offering more visibility to others on the road. The footage is stored on a microSD card, but it’s not supplied with the purchase of a unit. This does mean you will need to buy two cards if you plan on running both front- and rear-facing units. The size of memory card you choose will determine how much footage you can record before it loops over the oldest footage, so we suggest the max of 32GB to be safe, but if you are on a budget, a 16GB is sufficient. We tried a 64GB card, too, but Cycliq says that 32GB is their recommended max. Both units charge from their USB-C port, and a cable is supplied with each unit. THE RIDE Using the Cycliq Fly6 CE and Fly12 CE is like any other new electronic accessory. There are a lot of options and settings, but if you take the time to initially set them up and are patient the first time through, it makes every other time simple and quick. There are no screens on the units, so the settings are either displayed with the use of blinking LED combinations or using the app. They do have ANT+ in each unit and offer a Garmin Connect app to also control and monitor their status. The mounting options are good and similar to most lights on the market. Using aero bars might be the only type to add complexity. There is what they call a universal mount adapter that mounts to a GoPro-style mount. The mounts use a round quarter-turn-style interface that is quick, easy and surprisingly very secure. For added security, we also used the supplied leash just to be safe. The lights function perfectly and provide more than enough power for night-riding visibility. With its 600 lumens on the Fly12, the high mode was so bright that we relied on the low or medium level. Both lights project light very well during the day, offering visibility a significant distance out and allowing others to make smart and predictable passes. We did have some trouble when we would stop for a long time or set our bike down when stopping. There are a few settings that will recognize no movement and automatically turn the unit off—when we would set the bike down for a quick nature break or repair, the camera thought we had crashed and went into “incident mode” before automatically turning off. This was an issue at first, because we assumed the cameras were still running and missed portions of the ride footage. The other part that is a bit of a bummer is there are no displays telling us what is going on. This cuts down on cost, weight, size and battery-life issues, but we can’t remember all the light combinations. This meant we had to rely on the app or just cross our fingers and hope we got it correct. We didn’t use the Garmin app, but other users have told us that it makes it a lot better. THE VERDICT Do running lights make riding safer? Yes, and we try to run them all the time. Does recording your rides make you any safer? Certainly not in the same way that the lights do, but given the many, many times that we hear about cyclists’ versions being dismissed, the on-board camera does provide a level of post-incident insurance by providing a third-eye version that can tell more of an objective story. There is a nice feeling of security that comes with knowing if something happens that there is a way to prove or disprove accusations. The real bonus is the lights don’t cost a fortune like many other options can, and in our book that’s a big win. PUNCH LINES • Lights, camera, action • Two-in-one convenience • No display means app-dependent STATS Price: $180, Fly6 CE taillight; $280, Fly12 CE headlight Weight: 112 grams, Fly6 CE taillight; 195 grams, Fly12 CE headlight www.cycliq.com THERE ARE SO MANY WAYS TO GET ELECTRIC BIKE ACTION In print, from the Apple newsstand, or on your Android device, from Google. Available from the Apple Newsstand for reading on your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch. Subscribe Here For more subscription information contact (800) 767-0345 Got something on your mind? Let us know at hi-torque.com The post Product Review: Cycliq Fly12 CE Headlight appeared first on Electric Bike Action.
Welcome the class of 2019 © Henning Angerer Michael Rammell © Henning Angerer Nick Maye © Henning Angerer Marie-Louise Kertzman © Henning Angerer Nick Mayer getting fitted for his insoles © Henning Angerer Expert kit advice from Alpecin © Henning Angerer Yes, it’s yours… for now at least © Henning Angerer Michael undergoes a fitness test © Henning Angerer At the Alpecin headquarters in Germany © Henning Angerer Our winners will be kitted out with Northwave shoes © Henning Angerer The Team Alpecin Kit © Henning Angerer The trio will face tough training challenges © Henning Angerer This time last year Cycling Plus magazine recruited three readers to a very special project. Laura Cook, Murray Cox and Les Pegler won a money-can’t-buy competition to train towards the world’s biggest bike ride, L’Etape du Tour. To help them on their way, they were given the keys to the castle in terms of the bikes, kit and expertise at their disposal. Best GPS cycle computers Best road bike: how to choose the best bike for you They had such a good time that a new batch of riders are aiming for the same event this year on 21 July – with the odd new wildcard along the way, including a tilt at Britain’s toughest sportive, the Fred Whitton Challenge (an event many will agree is tougher than the Etape itself). The riders. Nick Mayer, Marie-Louise Kertzman and Michael Rammell, alongside Cycling Plus’s own Adrian Miles, headed out to Alpecin HQ in Bielefeld, Germany in March to meet each other and the other riders from across Europe (and, for the first time, the USA) that comprise Team Alpecin. Welcome the class of 2019 © Henning Angerer The shampoo company has been back in the pro cycling scene for several years now as the sponsor of Katusha-Alpecin, but wind back to the mid-2000s and it, along with the majority of German companies, was quitting the sport in response to the Operación Puerto doping scandal that brought down German favourite Jan Ullrich, among many others. With the pro game off limits for the foreseeable, Alpecin decided to support amateur riders instead, creating Team Alpecin – now in its 13th season. No cycling was done in anger in Bielefeld, but the meet-and-greet served to dial in the basics that would send them on their way to the Etape, including a bike fit to their Canyon bikes and fitness tests that will serve as the basis for their personalised training plans. Over the next six parts we’ll follow the trials and tribulations of our trio as they take aim at pre-Etape events including the Fred and Schleck Gran Fondo and work hard to iron out the weaknesses that stand in their way of Etape glory. The Team Alpecin Kit The Team Alpecin Kit © Henning Angerer The team will be loaned a Canyon Endurace CF SLX with SRAM eTap AXS 12-speed groupset, and Zipp Course 30 wheels fitted with Continental Grand Prix 5000 tyres. Team Alpecin kit is supplied by Katusha, with on-bike kit including Northwave Extreme Pro shoes, Abus Aero / Airbreaker helmets, Oakley Radar / Jawbreaker sunglasses, and Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt computer and Core Trainer. Recovery is taken care of by PowerDot (electro muscular recovery stimulator), Blackroll (foam rollers) and Squeezy (nutrition). The team will be guided by former pro Jörg Ludewig and coach Florian Geyer. The riders Name: Michael Rammell Age: 31 Michael Rammell © Henning Angerer A rediscovered love of cycling opened the door to a mountainous opportunity “As a kid I was a keen mountain biker, throwing a leg over trail and downhill bikes. My enthusiasm was always far greater than my skills. Through my late teens and 20s I went over a decade without touching a bike, but got back in the saddle after the birth of my daughter. “We lived just a few miles away from my office and it felt very wrong to be making the commute in my family car, particularly given I’d topped 100 kilograms. “I got back on the bike and three years later I’m fitter and stronger than ever and I kick myself for not having discovered the road bike sooner. “I’m now eight miles from the office, but I never take the direct route, instead choosing the scenic routes between Ascot and Windsor, roughly 20 miles each way. On the days I have to take the car, it puts me in a grumpy mood. Michael undergoes a fitness test © Henning Angerer “Why did I apply? I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking how much faster the professionals are and I think, ‘If only I had the same support to train like that?’ One year to focus all my efforts to achieve my maximum potential on the bike. Team Alpecin was an amazing opportunity, which I was compelled to enter. “Pacing is my weakness. Living in the flatlands of Berkshire I can’t resist the urge to go as fast as possible. I’ve never ridden mountains like those of the Etape. My longest climb barely ever touches 15 minutes, so tackling a 30km climb makes me dread the worst. I want to learn how to push myself hard without always tipping over the precipice.” Name: Marie-Louise Kertzman Age: 27 Marie-Louise Kertzman © Henning Angerer One rider who’s focussing on the descent, not the ascent… “For the past couple of years I’ve been getting stuck into short course triathlon, so a 135km mountain sportive will be quite a jump. I still enjoy triathlon, it’s just that I wanted something bigger to set my sights on. “In January I saw the Alpecin competition was open and it was exactly the opportunity I wanted. It’s just that it’s a chasm from entering a competition and an email dropping into your inbox notifying you that you’ve been successful. Incredible! I imagine all sorts of scenarios that make me hit the brakes when I don’t need to “I want to push beyond the limits I have previously set myself and show other young women that cycling is a great thing to be involved in. When I think back to the self-conscious teenager who was afraid of endurance sports she wouldn’t recognise the person I’ve become, taking on the biggest amateur bike events in the world. “If you asked for three things that I want to improve as a Team Alpecin member I would say, in no particular order, descending, descending and descending. It’s my biggest weakness by far. “There’s a running joke among friends that I climb as fast as I fall – I lack both confidence and technique. I tend to shy away from taking the bend aggressively enough, as well as having a chronically overactive imagination about the bad things that might befall me every time I head downhill. I imagine all sorts of scenarios that make me hit the brakes when I don’t need to. “By improving my descending, I’ll be able to enjoy the fruits of my labours when it comes to climbing, because the way I attack a climb is in complete contrast to the way I hesitate on descents.” Name: Nick Mayer Age: 39 Nick Mayer © Henning Angerer Chasing the thrill of cycling and sampling life as a pro “In January 2006, I moved to New York City for a new job. Four months and more pizza slices than was healthy later, it was high time to shed the two stone I had piled on. I began riding around the West Side Highway and Central Park to get fit and explore my adopted home. It was such a social sport, too, and it helped me settle in. “Years later, I moved back to London and got a place on the first RideLondon-Surrey sportive. Ever since, I’ve been well and truly bitten by the cycling bug. “I’m a big fan of Cycling Plus and I’d followed the 2018 Team Alpecin riders closely. I’ll be honest, there were more than a few pangs of jealousy – it sounded like a dream. I’m a cycling fanatic and the prize was essentially the whole package I needed to move my cycling up a notch or two. Nick Mayer getting fitted for his insoles © Henning Angerer “My job is with the London Ambulance Service, which involves long, 12-hour shifts and I want to show that even with such a busy work life it’s possible to find the time to train for such tough events. “Also, I turn 40 next year and my only regret is that I wish I’d discovered the thrill of cycling earlier in life. This is the closest I’ll ever get to being a pro rider and I fully intend to make the most of this fantastic opportunity I’ve been given. “In terms of weaknesses, I’ve never done structured training of any sort. I don’t ride to heart rate or power or anything like that, so following a plan and tracking improvements is a step into the unknown. I want to improve my riding, but ensuring I don’t lose the things I love about being on the bike in the process.” We’ll be bringing you updates on how the Team Alpecin riders are getting on ahead of the big event later this month, so stay tuned.
Evans Cycles in the UK currently has some great deals on BMC bikes and we’ve collated the best for you here. Be quick though, because the options are running out quickly. Grab yourself a slice of cheap BMC performance below. Best cycle computer for 2019 | GPS cycle computers for riding, training, touring and navigation Cheap bike pedals: five affordable pedals for mountain biking, road and casual riding BMC Timemachine Road 01 ONE 2019 £11,000 £8,250 Compared to older aero designs the Timemachine is leagues ahead David Caudery/Immediate Media Looking for pure speed? That’s what the BMC Timemachine offers, with fluid handling and cutting-edge design. Read the full review of this 4-star bike. For the money you’re getting an aero carbon frame and fork, Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 22-speed electronic drivetrain, Dura-Ace hydraulic disc brakes, DT Swiss ARC 1100 12mm thru-axle wheelset mounted with Vittoria Corsa 700 x 25c tyres. Buy now from Evan’s Cycles with a 25% discount BMC Roadmachine 02 TWO 2019 £3,300 £2,475 Carbon-framed road bike built for speed with Ultegra groupset BMC If your budget is a little lower, this is an excellent option. It still has a carbon frame and fork with some aero detailing, plus Shimano Ultegra 22-speed drivetrain, Ultegra hydraulic disc brakes and Mavic Aksium Elite Disc UST wheeset mounted with Vittoria Rubino Pro 700 x 28mm tyres, which provide a little extra grip and comfort. Buy the BMC Roadmachine 02 TWO 2019 with a 25% discount from Evans Cycles BMC Alpenchallenge 02 THREE 2019 hybrid bike £975 £731 The BMC Alpenchallenge 02 THREE 2019 is a good choice for the commuter or leisure cyclist out there BMC For those looking for a commuter or leisure-friendly ride, the Alpenchallenge offers a winning combination of low price and good spec. A triple-butted alloy frame and fork forms the basis of the bike, with a Shimano Sora drivetrain providing 18 gears to play with and hydraulic disc brakes for consistent and controlled stopping power. DT Swiss R522D wheels are fitted with Continental Sport Contact tyres in a chunky 700 x 35mm width for added comfort. Buy the BMC Alpenchallenge 02 Three 2019 with a 25% discount from Evans Cycles BMC Teammachine ALR TWO 2019 £937 £1,250 Tiagra gearing, rim brakes and a carbon fork to soften road chatter — a pretty good package BMC A well-specced road bike with carbon forks for under £1,000? Not bad! This version of the Teammachine is constructed from an alloy frame, the aforementioned SLR carbon forks, Shimano Tiagra 2 x 10 groupset and Tiagra rim brakes. Buy the BMC Teammachine ALR TWO 2019 25% discount from Evans Cycles BMC Roadmachine 02 THREE 2019 £2,700 £2,025 For just over the two grand mark, this is a good looking package BMC When it comes to descriptive product naming, BMC is probably winning here. It is indeed a machine for the road. This one is race-focussed and designed to be as light as possible, with various features included to add comfort and compliance where needed. It’s constructed from a carbon frame and fork with Shimano 105 drivetrain, plus 105 hydraulic disc brakes. A Mavic Allroad Disc UST wheelset with Vittoria Rubino Pro 700 x 28mm tyres completes the build. Buy the BMC Roadmachine 02 THREE 2019 with a 25% discount from Evans Cycles There are lots of other BMC bargains to be had at Evans Cycles, so be sure to check the website to find yourself a bargain. Please note, these deals are only valid for the UK.
11spd is dead! Long live First Look Friday! Every week we bring you some of the shiniest, prettiest and occasionally quirkiest new bits and pieces to arrive in the BikeRadar office. It can be kit, clothing, accessories, tools, bikes, socks, nutrition or random tandem-related items that Jack has been sent to try on Cecil, his beloved tandem. Second Stranger Things BMX replica released ahead of 2019 season premiere DT Swiss celebrates 25 years with special edition 1,283g carbon clinchers Oh look, a Rapha jersey for £125,000 But the bike industry has forced our hand. What with the latest crop of 12-speed groupsets coming out, we neither want to get outdated in our naming policy nor find ourselves faced with ’20spd’ in the future. So our regular dose of newness has a new name and a new format. Don’t worry, there’ll still be plenty to look at, as well as our latest videos, top-rated articles, new reviews and the like. So grab a cuppa, sit back, and enjoy a First Look this Friday. Shimano Tiagra ST-4720 levers Tiaga hydraulic levers are, mercifully, no longer hideous Jack Luke / Immediate Media We’ve just taken delivery of Shimano’s new Tiagra ST-4720 hydraulic levers, and riders who are after a good quality budget set of shifters will be pleased to know that performance doesn’t now come at the price of looks. This is because, thankfully, they have aesthetics — and a build — that largely mimics last year’s updated 105 R7020 levers. The new ST-4720 lever now replaces the unforgivably ugly RS405 lever and we expect them to be a very popular OEM option in years to come. £165, international pricing TBC Buy now from BikeDiscount.de Wolf Tooth Pack Tool and Fat Paw Cam and Karv grips If you don’t like black, don’t worry, there are plenty of other colours available Immediate Media Co Minnesota-based company Wolf Tooth is formed of a collection of passionate riders who love good hardware and tools, so they came together to make their own. On the hardware side of things comes the Pack Tool, a relatively small and packable mech hanger alignment tool to get you back rolling when you’ve mashed your mech on a rock or similar. We fully admit that it isn’t the kind of tool the average roady or cross-country whippet is likely to consider ‘packable’ but it is the kind of thing that rugged, cycling across the middle-of-nowhere types may want in their (sizeable) bags. Pop it in your pack for mech hanger repairs when on the road Immediate Media Co For the rider who prioritises comfort, grips are one of those simple additions that can actually make all the difference. Wolf Tooth recently acquired another US-based company, RedMonkey Sports, and the result is a new line of grips. The silicone foam Karv grips are soft with a tacky surface, designed to help alleviate fatigue in the hands and provide good grip with or without gloves. Shift the grip round to different positions to get the most comfortable fit for you Immediate Media Co If you need something a little more tailored, the Fat Paw Cam grips are also made from silicone foam and measure up at a chunky 36mm diameter – ideal for large paws. As well as having the tacky feel of the Karv grips, they’ve also got an unusual ergonomic shape to them. Depending on how you like your grips to feel, you can fit them at different angles to provide more palm support, more finger support or more thumb support. And if you’re concerned about the lack of colour (surely black goes with everything, right?!) then don’t be, there’s a veritable rainbow of colour options to pick from. Wolf Tooth Fat Paw Cam grips $24.95 / £TBC / €TBC Available from Wolf Tooth Wolf Tooth Karv grips $19.95 / £TBC / €TBC Available from Wolf Tooth Wolf Tooth Pack Tool $19.95 / £TBC / €TBC Available from Wolf Tooth Dare2b men’s and women’s cycling kit The jersey and capri combo would work well for the gym or spin classes as well as riding Immediate Media Co Dare2b is well known for making accessibly-priced sportswear for runners, gym-goers, skiers, hikers and now cyclists. The selection we’ve got in includes padded cycling capris, jerseys and jackets, and interestingly, although the RRP is already pretty low, most of the gear also appears to have some serious discounts on it at the time of publishing. And when we say serious, we mean in the region of 60 percent. Not everyone will be a fan of the eyecatching yellow and black colours, but there are others available Immediate Media Co The kit is of a fairly standard entry-level design. Don’t expect lots of features or colourways. Do expect to be able to get a full top-to-toe outfit for under £100 / €120 / $150 though. The bibs have a fairly think chamois and pretty stretchy Lycra Immediate Media Co The other good news is that the kit has a fairly loose fit and an extensive size range, from UK8/US6 to UK18/US16 on the women’s side and S to XXXL on the men’s side. Women’s Dare2b kit Women’s Worldly Capri Cycling Leggings £50 / €57.03 / $N/A Available from Dare2b Women’s Theory Cycling Jersey £30 / €34.22 / $N/A Available from Dare2b Men’s Dare2b kit Men’s Palpable Bib Short £50 / €57.03 / $N/A Available from Dare2b Men’s AEP Clarify Multi Pocket Cycling Jersey £50 / €57.03 / $N/A Available from Dare2b KeepCup We’ve customised our KeepCup a little with stickers because why not?! Immediate Media Co ‘What’s a portable hot drinks receptacle doing in here?’ I hear you ask? Why, let me tell you! Bicycle riders are partial to a coffee or two. Indeed, we’re all somewhat known for it. And we like to ride in the great outdoors, enjoying the fresh air and beautiful scenery. So it’s only fair that we take some responsibility for looking after it, particularly if we want it to continue to be a pleasant and lovely place to ride bikes, both for ourselves and others. Disposable cups are extremely hard to recycle, and in the UK 2.5 billion of the things are used then thrown away with 500,000 littered every day, according to a UK Government report. That’s a whole lot of rubbish in hedges, green spaces and public spaces. So imagine if more of us switched to refillable cups for our pre-ride or post-ride coffee. Less waste, less rubbish in the countryside, AND with most coffee shops offering a discount for using them, the chances are you’d get money off your caffeine fix too. Bonus! And yes, there are other models available than KeepCup (though we like the interchangeable coloured bits) and even collapsable ones so if you’re a caffeine addict you could stow one in your rucksack or back pocket! KeepCup £15 Available from Keep Cup Available from John Lewis
Ariv is the brand name for an all-new electric folding bicycle from automotive giant General Motors. Designed from the ground up by GM engineers, and some faces very well known to the bike industry, Ariv bikes bring genuine innovation to a relatively stale sector. At last, a bike that isn’t hopeless from a car brand 5 disappointing collaborations from brands you’ll already know Is a drop-bar e-bike the ultimate commuter? The Ariv range consists of two models: the Merge and the Melve. We’ll concentrate on the Merge because the latter is just a simpler, non-folding version of the same bike that’s been created to hit a lower price point. All Ariv bikes use a 16in-wheeled alloy frame and fork that houses GM’s own motor system and a 240Wh battery that delivers a claimed range of up to 64km/ 40 miles on its most conservative power setting. A full charge of the removable battery pack will take three and a half hours. Unusually for folders, the Ariv range has hydraulic disc brakes on its 16in wheels. Full-length mudguards are also fitted as standard. The Ariv Merge in its folded and unfolded state Ariv/General Motors Ariv folding bike folding procedure GM clearly understands that in order for bicycles to be successful with people who aren’t already cyclists, it has to be user-friendly and intuitive. For that reason, particular attention has been paid to the fold of the Merge. The procedure starts with the pull of one tab at the front of the bike’s steerer assembly. Then, thanks to some very smart engineering, the handlebars can be rotated about the stem and, at the same time, the steerer assembly and central hinge are both simultaneously unlocked. Some very clever engineering means just one pull at this lever releases several catches at once. Oliver Woodman/Immediate Media Little more than some well-positioned force is then all that is required to get the bike totally folded. That said, I managed to make an absolute meal of it on my first, second and third attempts. More practice was definitely required. A folded Merge certainly doesn’t pack down quite as small as some of its competitors, but the folding process goes without all of the fiddly clamps and annoying fixtures that are commonplace on most folding bikes. While folded, the Merge can then easily be wheeled around thanks to the paralell positioning of its wheels. Peeping inside the steering assembly gives a glimpse into the complexity of this little folder The Merge comes in at a claimed 22kg /48.5lbs, while the Melve is lighter at 19.5kg /43lbs. Patented GM Motor system You will not recognise the motor on this bike from anywhere else. The GM-branded unit was developed in-house and uses planetary gears to achieve its claimed 75Nm power output. Despite its grunt, the motor is around 40 percent smaller in size than the majority of its competitors. This frees up more room for the 250Wh lithium battery, and also means the bike’s chainstays can remain compact. It isn’t the quietest but GM’s electric motor is seriously impressive Oliver Woodman/Immediate Media A simple interface on the handlebar is used to control the motor between one of four power levels, while the bike’s battery status and power button are neatly integrated within the top tube of the bike. The big red button on the handlebar is used to activate the bike’s walk assistance feature. The thumb controls for the GM motor couldn’t be easier to use. The red button is for the bike’s walk-assist mode. Oliver Woodman/Immediate Media Integration, integration everywhere The Merge’s smartphone integration goes far beyond the Quadlock handlebar mount, thanks to integrated GPS and GSM tech within the frame. Make use of the Quadlock phone mount and the Ariv app and you’ll unlock a lot more information from your rides. Oliver Woodman/Immediate Media With its own dedicated app, a connected rider will receive detailed information on human and motor power outputs, as well as ride statistics including elevation. It’ll also function as an odometer, measuring distance travelled. The bike will output power via a USB port so that a device will maintain its charge level while in use. The power button and battery status indicator are particularly nicely integrated into the frame itself. Oliver Woodman/Immediate Media GM has a dedicated team of software engineers that will commit to continually updating the app, with features such as GPS tracking already in the pipeline. Other examples of neat integration can be found at the front light, which doubles as a structural handle. The same can be said of the five LED unit that is built into the bike’s seatpost and includes a sliding foot so that this component can double as a retractable kickstand. The Ariv Merge seatpost incorporates five illuminated LED lights Oliver Woodman/Immediate Media Ariv Merge pricing and availability You won’t be finding these bikes in General Motors dealerships anytime soon. Instead, GM will sell these bikes directly to the consumer via three debut territories: Germany, Netherlands and Belgium. The Ariv Merge retails for €3,300 and the Ariv Melve at €2,800. International pricing for both bikes is still to be confirmed. A company called Life Cycle will act as a support network for those early adopters. Eventually, the bikes will be sold in other territories including America, where the bike will be produced in a faster 20mph version with a throttle. Ariv Merge first ride impressions GM staff joined us for a short cycle around Brussels during the launch event, which gave us a decent opportunity to find out exactly how the Ariv Merge rides. As someone who is more than familiar with the ride of a Brompton, and more recently, Brompton’s first electric bike, I was really curious how the Merge would compare. I also can’t forget the ride of this rather horrible electric folding bike, which lends itself as a benchmark for how to not create an electric folder. The Merge has a far more stable ride than anything else I’ve ridden with 16in wheels Ariv/General Motors Heading out on the ride, it was immediately obvious that a good deal of development had gone into the geometry of this bike. The steering is relatively fast and precise but has none of the twitchiness that a Brompton exhibits. The overall sense of stability far surpasses anything I’ve ridden with wheels of this size. I enjoyed the slightly floaty sensation offered by the Vee branded tyres too, which I’m assured offer a good level of puncture protection — something that’s particularly important with a folder because puncture repairs can be fiddly and time consuming due to space restrictions and tooling required. For what it’s worth, nobody in any of our groups managed to pick up a flat during the ride. The Goodie Goodie from Vee Tyres seemed to be an impressive choice At 6ft 3in / 191cm, I’m slightly outside of the height range this bike is designed to accommodate but, despite this, I never felt too cramped or uncomfortable. Developing its own motor is no small feat and GM seems to have come up with a really great first effort. The powerplant is eager and develops real shove right up until its limiter, though tapers off nicely towards the top end, so you don’t have that rev-limiter-style top out that you get with some designs. It also does a good job of smoothly cutting power, which again is more than can be said for some competitors. It’s very vocal though, and probably the loudest in its class. This isn’t something that bothered me, in fact, I actually quite enjoyed its peculiar little whine. The handlebar mounted controls and top tube display make for intuitive and simple operation, and it’s always easy to see the status of the battery. All of the controls are well chosen and work really well Oliver Woodman/Immediate Media The Merge is specced with an 8spd Shimano Alfine hub gear as standard along with a flat bar shifter. The hub shifts nicely in combination with the drivetrain and doesn’t snag or pull like some mid-drive options can. For the flat ride we enjoyed around Brussels, this gearing did seem a little excessive. The motor’s torque provides so much flexibility in terms of cadence that it almost didn’t matter which gear you were in. And when you consider that the Melve — a cheaper, non-folding version of the Merge — is equipped with a singlespeed transmission as standard, I reckon that for a lot of people, one gear might actually be enough. The Tektro hydraulic disc brakes offer well-modulated, powerful stopping in all weather conditions and are leagues ahead of any rim brakes. The Tektro hydraulic discs make for stopping that’s simply in another league from most folding bikes Oliver Woodman/Immediate Media A short section of off-road track was the ideal place to feel for flex in the mainframe and steerer. While some was present, it was far less than expected and the bike remained comfortable and very stable. This is definitely the least intimidating folder I’ve ridden, and yet, it was in no way boring. Overall, I was left incredibly impressed with the Ariv Merge from GM. I have some reservations around the fold, and the pricing is undoubtedly high, but the overall quality and ride characteristics give me the impression that this is going to be a very good bike indeed. Crucially though, this is a bike from a car company that is not simply a cheap rebrand of something that already exists. The automotive sector is finally taking electric bikes very seriously indeed and it could be for the benefit of us all.