Virgin, Utah (August 8, 2018) – Red Bull Rampage is mountain biking’s truest test of skill and mental toughness. Featuring the sport’s best athletes and set in one of the most demanding locations on the planet, the event has evolved over 18 years to become freeride mountain biking’s most coveted title. The 2019 edition promises to be the best spectator and athlete experience in the event’s history. Today, the near-complete lineup of those world-class athletes has been set, comprised of 10 pre-qualified and 8 invited Wild Card riders. Riders like Reece Wallace and Gee Atherton have competed in the past but haven’t been part of the mix for a few years will return and look to mix it up with veterans like Cam Zink, Carson Storch and Graham Agassiz. The pre-qualified riders earned their right to compete in 2019 by finishing in the top 10 in last year’s Red Bull Rampage. The remaining eight riders who make up the Wild Card athletes were chosen by a Red Bull Rampage Committee — consisting of pro riders Cam McCaul, Aaron Chase, Nico Vink, Randy Spangler, Dave Smutok along with event organizer Todd Barber — and invited based on the following criteria: past results from similar big bike contests, proven skill, and current video segments. 2018 PRE-QUALIFIED ATHLETES (2018 Top 10) Brett Rheeder (CAN) Andreu Lacondeguy (SPA) Ethan Nell (USA) Tom van Steenbergen (CAN) Thomas Genon (BEL) Tyler McCaul (USA) Kyle Strait (USA) Szymon Godziek (POL) Kurt Sorge (CAN) Brendan Fairclough (UK) RED BULL RAMPAGE 2018 WILD CARD ENTRIES Brandon Semenuk Cam Zink Carson Storch Antoine Bizet Graham Agassiz Reece Wallace Vincent Tupin Gee Atherton With the edition of the Marzocchi Proving Grounds many of the still hopeful Wild Card athletes will receive a final chance to earn a spot to this year’s Rampage. This event will take place September 6-8 near Bend, OR., and will allow athletes like Emil Johansson, Jaxson Riddle, Max Fredriksson and for the first time a female Casey Brown the opportunity to compete on the world’s biggest freeride platform. The event will be on a totally new, custom-made course that will mimic Rampage-type features including huge drops, doubles and rhythm sections. For more details on athletes attending and ticketing information visit www.h5events.com Red Bull Rampage is supported by Kia Motors America, BFGoodrich, Utah Sports Commission and Red Hydrogen. ABOUT RED BULL RAMPAGE Featuring a world-class broadcast team including Sal Masekela, Pat Parnell, Tina Dixon and freeride mountain biking legend Cam McCaul, Red Bull Rampage coverage begins Friday, October 25th at 9:00am PST/Noon EST, live and on-demand on Red Bull TV. Red Bull TV is distributed digitally as an app across mobile phones, tablets, consoles, OTT devices, Smart TVs and online at www.redbull.tv. Limited tickets will go on sale later this summer — find updates at redbull.com/rampage. ABOUT RED BULL TV Red Bull TV features beyond the ordinary live events and videos featuring inspirational stories covering sports, music and lifestyle entertainment. Anytime, anywhere. Red Bull TV is available on the web, connected TVs, gaming consoles, mobile devices, and more. Accessible via the web atwww.redbull.tv and its Android, iOS and Windows Phone applications, Red Bull TV is also available as a pre-installed channel on Apple TV and Samsung Smart TVs and as a free, downloadable app on Amazon Fire TV, Kindle Fire, Chromecast, Nexus Player, Roku Players, Roku TV models and Xbox consoles. ABOUT THE MARZOCCHI PROVING GROUNDS The Marzocchi Proving Grounds presented by Five Ten will be the first official athlete qualifier for Red Bull Rampage. The event will take place at Oregon Dirt Park, just east of Bend, OR – go to www.h5events.com for more information. ABOUT UTAH SPORTS COMMISSION: The Utah Sports Commission is a not-for-profit 501c3 charitable organization governed by an all-volunteer Board of Trustees consisting of statewide sports, business, community, and government leaders. The Sports Commission was created to be a catalyst for Utah in its Olympic legacy efforts and to help enhance Utah’s economy, image and quality of life through the attraction, promotion and development of national and international sports. The Sports Commission works closely with communities, sports entities, and organizations to provide event services ranging from the bid process, on-site logistics, volunteer coordination, sponsorships and promotional opportunities and other related services. For more information, visit www.utahsportscommission.com
The Specialized Epic has to be one of the classic cross-country race bikes, and for 2020 Specialized has given it a complete overhaul to drop the claimed frame weight to less than 800g. Weight is still a massive consideration when it comes to cross-country racing, which is why Specialized says it’s spent a lot of time and engineering resource shaving weight wherever possible from the Epic HT. The result, based on my brief time on the Epic at its launch, is a bike that certainly won’t hold you back on the climbs – read on for my initial first ride impressions. Best mountain bikes – how to choose the best one for you How XC bikes got their cool back The top-end S-Works frame boasts a 790g frame weight (manufacturing variances actually give weights between 760–790g), resulting in a claimed 7.8kg build weight (£8,000 / £9,150), while the base level bikes, which start at £2,250 / $2,110, still benefit from a sub-kilo frame, with their FACT 11 frames weighing in at a claimed 930g. However, that’s not the only area that sees updates. Virtually market-wide, we’re seeing a move towards more ‘aggressive’ race tracks, which has meant that even cross-country racers aren’t immune from the long, low and slack treatment — as well as giving more thought to how stiff a bike’s chassis needs to be. With a longer geometry and shorter offset fork, I found the Epic perfectly comfortable railing turns. Harookz As a result of gnarlier tracks, bikes need to have ‘better’ handling so that racers are able to push on the descents. A nervous, super-stiff, upright twitchy bike is never going to hold its ground when competing down rough, rocky and rooty tracks, such as at Nove Mesto. Another reason for this change in geometry and design, according to Specialized, is that an ‘easier’ bike to handle lets its riders rest more on descents, leaving them in better shape to attack the climbs. This has all led Specialized to design what it claims is the lightest, most capable XC bike on the market. It’s still race-focussed, but Specialized reckons marathon racers will appreciate the added comfort, and the changes to geometry should make it even more useable as a day-to-day bike for regular riders, too. Epic weight shaving Getting a frame down to this weight takes a fair bit of engineering. Specialized employed 3D modelling technology (as most brands probably do to some extent) to cut down on material usage in the frame: less material equals less weight. One area that Specialized worked on was the overlap of different sheets of prepreg carbon fibre. With computer modelling, it was able to work out the minimum overlap required to maintain the strength and stiffness needed, without using excess material. Furthermore, keeping the insides of the tubes as smooth as possible also reduces material usage. Neat cable routing keeps the bike looking fast. Harookz When it comes to the tube junctions, Specialized reckons that, in certain areas, less is more. It told us that smaller interfaces can be just as stiff if engineered properly, while also being lighter. This is why the frame has a particular skinny look to it, especially at the bottom bracket junction and where the seatstays meet the seat tube. The same focus was also given to the type of carbon used. Thirty different types of carbon fibre feature in the frame, with different carbon and resin compositions. Carbon with less resin in the sheet tends to be stiffer and lighter, but less impact resistant, so these have been placed in appropriate areas to help reduce weight. Slender stays and a slightly bent seat tube are said to improve comfort. Harookz Finally, little details such as the cable routing have been optimised, according to Specialized. The hose and cable guide entries are all moulded as part of the frame (so no bolt-in cable guides), which saves weight, as does the elimination of aluminium inserts at the dropouts. You also get a co-moulded aluminium threaded bottom bracket insert, which is no heavier than the effective block of carbon used when making a press-fit bottom bracket shell. It is also, ultimately, more user-friendly. Specialized Epic geometry improvements Longer and slacker is the name of the game here, which is also the case across the entire mountain bike spectrum. In a size large the Epic has a reach of 455mm, which is relatively long for a thoroughbred XC bike, and a head angle of 68.5 degrees, which is 1.3 degrees slacker than the previous model. Even with the post up, I still felt fairly comfortable rolling this rock – it helps having an audience. Dylan Dunkerton Longer, slacker bikes, in conjunction with the shorter 42mm offset fork (51mm previously), should help to calm down handling for an easier ride on technical terrain. This has been done in conjunction with running shorter stems (60–75mm) to ensure handling doesn’t end up too lazy. SRAM’s wireless AXS Eagle groupset keeps clutter to a minimum. Harookz Conversely, Specialized said it didn’t want to make the Epic into a barge, so the shorter offset fork helps keep the wheelbase relatively snappy at 1,146mm in a size large. The seat tube sits at 74 degrees, while the bottom bracket lies 63mm below the axles at a height of 309mm. Chainstays are 430mm, and the size large seat tube is 470mm with a stack of 622mm. Comfort is key Specialized’s product testing included 15 frames with slightly different builds, which were ridden by a number of testers to get the feel of the frame fine-tuned. In the end, Specialized went for a slightly stiffer front triangle, which gives precise handling and makes it easier to haul on the bars when climbing, with a slightly softer back end. This provides more compliance and comfort, and also helps keep the rear wheel stuck to the ground; stiffer frames tend to get a bit pingy through rocks and round rough corners. There’s a reasonable amount of space for moderately chunky tyres. Harookz The seat tube has a 30.9mm diameter, so is dropper post ready. The slight curve, in addition to the thinner seatstays, adds compliance, according to Specialized, so no comfort is apparently lost over the previous, skinnier-posted Epic. Bikes are specced with 2.3in tyres and there’s plenty of clearance for mud. Specialized Epic models Specialized Epic HT S-Works SRAM AXS £8,000 / $9,150 This is the top-end Epic model and comes with the sub-800g S-Works frame, a Brain-controlled SID Ultimate fork and SRAM’s 12-speed wireless AXS drivetrain. Specialized’s new Epic HT claims to be one of the lightest in the world. Harookz Specialized Epic HT Expert Carbon £4,250 / $4,310 With a sub-kilo frame, the Expert level Epic comes with a RockShox SID, and features Brain damping and a SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain. Expert level bikes get a Brain SID fork and a GX Eagle drivetrain. Specialized Epic HT Comp Carbon £2,750 / $2,610 The Comp Carbon has an NX Eagle drivetrain and a RockShox Reba RL fork. The Comp level bike gets a Reba fork and NX Eagle drivetrain. Specialized Epic HT Carbon £2,250 / $2,110 The entry-level Epic still gets a sub-kilo carbon frameset and relies on a SRAM SX Eagle groupset and RockShox’ Judy Gold fork. The entry-level Epic comes with SRAM SX Eagle and a Judy fork. Specialized US Specialized Epic HT models Our lucky US readers get a few extra models that don’t appear to be being imported into the UK. Specialized Epic HT Pro $5,510 RockShox SID Brain, SRAM X01 Eagle Specialized S-Works Epic HT XTR $8,510 RockShox SID Brain Ultimate, Shimano XTR 12-speed groupset Specialized S-Works Epic HT Ultralight $9,210 Fox 32 StepCast, Magura MT8 brakes, SRAM XX1 drivetrain Specialized S-Works Epic HT AXS / Quark $9,510 Spec of the S-Works Epic AXS but with a Quark power meter as standard Specialized S-Works Epic HT frameset $2,000 The 790g frame is available for your own custom build Specialized S-Works Epic HT AXS first ride impressions During the bike’s launch, I rode the top-level Specialized S-Works Epic HT AXS on unfamiliar tracks near Lake Tahoe for about four hours, so these are only very brief, initial ride impressions. I hope to get a bike in for a thorough test soon though. Put the power down, and there’s a fair turn of speed. Harookz With a very light build, it was no surprise that the bike felt lively riding up fire road climbs. While it’s clichèd to say, it really did feel like every watt of power was going to the rear wheel and being converted into very effective forward movement. Traction was reasonable, but in loose, dusty conditions the Fast Track tyres were never going to be the grippiest option. Still, 500m of climbing on the Epic felt a lot friendlier than other 500m climbs I’ve done in the past. The dropouts lose alloy inserts to shave weight, while the AXS mech sits pretty without cables. Harookz Once the Epic got flowing on singletrack it was rather fun, in its own ‘head’s down XC racer’ kind of way. No hardtail is ever going to give you the comfiest ride, but with 2.3in tyres and the additional compliance of the new bike, the Epic isn’t as harsh as some other pure cross-country bikes I’ve ridden. On smooth trails the bike seemed to zip along very, very happily. Handling was fairly calm, and despite the rain coming in and the rocks getting wet, I certainly felt comfortable letting go of the brakes. When things got rougher the bike encouraged you up and over obstacles, maintaining a resemblance of flow. Like all hardtails, you have to work the bike more to maintain speed, but if speed was lost, a quick kick of the pedals got it all back up and running again. Specialized and RockShox have worked together to develop the auto-adjusting platform-giving Brain SID fork. Harookz The Brain-controlled SID fork was also fairly impressive. The system opens the damping when impacts are detected and closes it when things are running smooth. There’s an adjustment on the top of the fork to change the threshold of how it reacts, and there’s a noticeable difference at either end of the scale. I ran it open the majority of the time, which only really let it stay closed on smooth road and fire road drags, leaving it open during pretty much the whole descent. Roval’s carbon hoops and skinny Fast Trak tyres help keep weight low. Harookz With such limited time on the bike, it’s hard to give a thorough first ride review. But initial impressions do count, and I think Specialized is on to something with the Epic. It’s not a bone-shaker, nor is it terrifying as soon as the gradient gets below horizontal. When the trail kicks up, the Epic is certainly going to be a long way down your list of excuses for not smashing every KOM/QOM going.
Back in June we ran a competition in association with Decathlon, asking to hear all about your summer goals. You didn’t disappoint! We had a huge number of entries and it was a pleasure to hear the remarkable challenges people are setting themselves, and the stories behind them. We’ve whittled the entries down to the top three – and we’re thrilled to announce the winners of our Decathlon Summer of Cycling competition. Now it’s time to introduce our riders, take a look at their riding challenges for summer, and understand why they’re so driven. Each month in Cycling Plus magazine, as well as here on BikeRadar.com, we’ll be following their journeys and tracking their progress. Decathlon will be providing our riders with the equipment and support they need to get the most out of their summer goals – and we’re excited to see how they get on. Joss Winter — solo adventurer Joss Winter is making up for lost time with what she calls her ‘Tour of Friends’ Immediate Media After spending the last two years at a desk dreaming of bike adventures, Joss is finally pursuing her dream this summer, atop a Triban Women’s RC 520. She’s dubbed it her Tour of Friends, cycling around the UK to visit all the friends and family she feels she’s neglected over the years, camping along the way. The journey will take her from the Midlands across Snowdonia to Rhyll, and up to Edinburgh via the Lake District. From there she’s heading down the east coast to visit Hornsea and make her way down towards London, stopping along the way to take in Kielder Forest, Brimham Rocks and the Chilterns. Eventually she plans to cross the channel to Guernsey, before culminating her adventure in Dorset for her grandmother’s 90th birthday party in September. For Joss, this journey isn’t just about reconnecting with loved ones, but also about exploring her country, testing her own limits and gaining new skills on the bike. Rob Jenkins — back in the saddle Rob Jenkins is finding his love of cycling again after dealing with a family tragedy Immediate Media Six years ago, Rob’s teenage daughter took her own life, and understandably in his grief he lost all interest in sport and exercise for a long time. Come 2017, his youngest daughter challenged him to enter his first open water swim, which turned out to be the boost he needed to start exercising again. It’s been an ongoing battle to overcome the loss of his daughter, and both he and his wife were helped immensely by the Samaritans helpline when they reached their lowest point. This summer, following his 50th birthday, and with the help of a Van Rysel bike from Decathlon, Rob is taking on a bunch of endurance challenges, including an open water swim in Lake Coniston, a half marathon in September and the Sussex Downs Classic sportive close to his Suffolk home. He also rode the Prudential RideLondon 100 in August, raising money for the Samaritans, as a thank you for helping his family through the hardest time in their lives. This is his return to cycling after a long hiatus, and his love for it has already been reignited. Ben Riddle — regaining confidence Ben Riddle is getting into gravel riding after recovering from a nasty crash Immediate Media Ben had a nasty crash during his winter commute in Manchester after hitting tram lines, injuring his head and face. He has no memory of the crash. While there was no permanent damage, his confidence suffered so Ben wanted to set his sights on a summer target to get his motivation and confidence back. Having got into cycling via mountain biking before moving to the road, the new gravel riding movement really appeals to him – not least for a lack of slippery tram lines! He rode Grinduro Scotland in July on his mountain bike but wants to experience gravel the way it should be, on a lighter, faster gravel machine, and Decathlon will be furnishing him with their RC520 Gravel bike. It’ll be with him for his target event in early September, the Dukes Weekender in the Trossachs, a two-day festival of cycling that includes a hill climb race of the 1.9km Dukes Pass on the Saturday and a 70km gravel enduro on the Sunday. How to follow their stories We’ll be updating you on Joss, Rob and Ben’s progress later this month, so stay tuned to see how they get on. CyclingPlus will also be running full profiles of each rider over their next few issues, so make sure you check those out as well.
Cycling tech often trickles down from the top-end of the sport, which makes the Tour de France the general public’s best glimpse at the bike tech they may be riding tomorrow. Whether it’s a time-trial superbike or something as simple as a super aero zipless jersey, much innovation seen at Le Tour eventually makes its way down to the cycling proletariat. But what about the tech we haven’t seen yet? What crazy new innovations will we see in future editions of the race? Drawing inspiration from kit seen at this year’s Tour and looking to the fringes of cycling tech, I’ve gazed into the (ceramic) mystic ball of the cycling industry to give you my top three predictions for the Tour tech of tomorrow. 9 of the best Tour de France riders to follow on Strava Tour de France 2019 bikes, gear and tech Suspension on road bikes is the future Pinarello released a full-suspension version of the Dogma earlier this year Pinarello I can’t imagine how many times people have made this exact point, but you would never consider buying a motorbike or a car without suspension. Why is it then that road bicycles, which travel on the exact same terrain as these vehicles, remain unsprung? To be clear, when I talk about suspension on road bikes, I’m not suggesting that Marzocchi Super Monster T-like levels of bounce will be making its way onto your dainty-tyred go-fast pew-pew wagon. The Topstone is built around a shockless rear suspension system Cannondale To my mind, I imagine suspension on road bikes of the future taking the form of something similar to that seen on the Cannondale Topstone carbon gravel bike. Cannondale’s Topstone gravel bike gets shockless leaf-sprung rear suspension This recently announced bike uses a shockless rear-suspension system that relies on the whole rear triangle acting as a leaf spring to provide up to 30mm of rear-wheel travel. While less sophisticated than any modern mountain bike suspension layout, this setup is far lighter and less complex. By all accounts, it also still adds a genuinely useful degree of comfort and control in rough terrain. Why couldn’t a similar concept be ported to the road? Pinarello’s Dogma FS is another key example. This bike uses a coil spring and a hydraulic damping circuit in the fork that runs in conjunction with an electronically lockable elastomer in the rear to provide fully-automated suspension. Our own Oli Woodman rode the previous generation of this bike and found the whole package to be very impressive. Team Sky to ride full-suspension Pinarello Dogma at 2019 Paris-Roubaix Assuming it works and could be proven to be faster (not only in rough terrain), what’s stopping further development of suspension for road bikes? Weight is, of course, the spanner in the works here. It’s inevitable that adding suspension to a road bike is going to make it heavier. However, given we’re still adding lead weights to some bikes to ensure they’re above the 6.8kg UCI limit and that pros are also happy to ride bikes above this limit in the name of aero performance, is it that far-fetched to think that an ultralight suspension system could be seen on the bike of tomorrow? Throwing the shackles of current thinking out of the window, why not imagine a future where we all ride road bikes that have a ridiculously light magnetorheological-damped suspension system that is powered by a dynamo in your jockey wheels, with the whole thing somehow utilising blockchain technology (because everything in the future is set to be built on blockchain technology). Jesting aside, this is one I’m almost willing to put money on. Watch this space. Everyone will be on tubeless and there is nothing you can do about it Tubeless tech is slowly but surely being adopted by the peloton. Ben Delaney / Immediate Media Tubeless tyres have made a surprise appearance during this year’s edition of the Tour de France — and not just during a time trial. As reported by CyclingTips, tubeless tech has made the jump onto traditional road stages at the 2019 Tour, with the entire UAE-Emirates team running 25mm Vittoria Corsa tubeless tyres during stage one. Why switch to tubeless in the first place when tubulars have worked for so long? It all comes down to speed. Tubeless tyres have been proven to have measurably lower rolling resistance than tubulars (Bicycle Rolling Resistance has extensive comparative reviews between all different types of tyres and is well worth looking into). Best road bike tyres in 2019: everything you need to know This has been common knowledge for some time and tubeless tyres have been gaining ground against the clock in the time trialling world. Outside of time trialling, tubeless technology has also seen success under Alexander Kristoff at this year’s Gent-Wevelgem cobbled classic, though the Norwegian later punctured at Paris-Roubaix on a set of 25mm Vittoria Corsa Graphene 2.0 tubeless tyres. Sagan’s bike was set up with tubeless Specialized Turbo tyres in a 26mm width in the run up to the Down Under Classic, though opted for tubulars on the day. Jack Luke / Immediate Media Peter Sagan also teased us with the suggestion he’d run tubeless tyres (on an aluminium bike no less!) on the opening stage of this year’s Tour Down Under, though he eventually wussed out and went for tubulars on the day. Peter Sagan to race alloy frame and tubeless tyres The impending announcement of an industry-wide standard for road tubeless tyres may also help usher in their arrival. Oddly, of all of the things in the list, this is the one I am most skeptical about. Tubular tyres still offer significant safety advantages in the event of a puncture because they are less likely to completely blow out and can still (just about) be ridden even if a tyre punctures. Nonetheless, speed trumps almost everything else in the pursuit of a Grand Tour win, so if tubeless tyres offer a significant advantage over tubulars, it’s entirely possible their use will become more widespread. Besides, it’s not as if the peloton cares about safety anyway; half of them are still using dang rim brakes (I’M KIDDING). Road discs are great, but do you actually need them? Aero really, really is everything The Notio Konect measures wind speed, air density, rider speed and other things, then works with a Garmin Connect IQ app to display aero information on a newer Garmin Edge computer. Oli Woodman / Immediate Media Power meters are now ubiquitous in pro racing and, as it currently stands, I honestly can’t imagine that someone would be able to win a Grand Tour without one — being able to maintain and monitor efforts within specific zones is vital to ensuring a rider is performing at their very best. Likewise, wind tunnel time is pretty much mandatory for anyone who takes their racing (particularly time trialling) seriously. How to ride faster without pedalling harder With this in mind, I can foresee devices that can measure and estimate live aero data becoming the norm at the top-end of the sport. This isn’t as far fetched as it may sound. The PowerPod from Velocomp, which measures wind speed to estimate power data, has been around for a very long time. Taking this idea further, the Konect by Notio uses a pitot tube, similar to that used on the front of a plane, to actually estimate live CdA (coefficient of aerodynamic drag). A wind tunnel on your handlebars: how real-time aero measurement could be the next big thing Notio Konect provides all your aero data without a wind tunnel With such a device at their disposal, riders would be able to adjust their position in reaction to real-time data, potentially offering a significant performance advantage mid-race. With a device like the Notio Konect, riders would be able to say whether or not their position was aero with confidence. Zac Williams/SWpix.com Such a device also opens up the possibility of a world where a directeur sportif can chide slouching riders with data-driven confidence from the side of the team car — pantomime meets the peloton! One can dream. I should add that when discussing the entries for this list, some on the BikeRadar team reckoned there was a high chance that the UCI would move to outlaw any device like this being used in competition. Given the body has recently moved to ban socks above a certain length, this doesn’t sound that unreasonable. Don’t get your chamois in a twist Look, this guy doesn’t like tubeless tyres or drag sensors either — you’re not alone. Matthew Allen / Immediate Media As an aside, even if you hate the idea of any of these ideas becoming a reality, remember that in 2019 it is still perfectly possible to build a thoroughly retro-grouchy classic steel road bike with rim brakes. I know this because I have just built one. As my esteemed colleague, Matthew Allen, once said: “a manufacturer bringing new products to market doesn’t somehow invalidate the ones you already own” — faster, lighter or more aero doesn’t necessarily mean better for you. Trust me, just because it exists, doesn’t mean ‘the man’ is going to make you ride a full squish road bike with more sensors than a jet fighter and — horror of horrors — tubeless tyres. What do you think? Am I a tech-obsessed industry-insider that can’t see that all of this progress is eroding the purity of cycling, or should we embrace the future our Di2 overlords have in store for us? As always, leave your thoughts in the comments.