Specialized has announced an all-new high-performance tubeless road tyre called the S-Works Turbo RapidAir, claimed to be faster than the tubular tyres usually favoured by pros. Launched on the second rest day of the 2019 Tour de France, where a select number of Deceuninck-Quick-Step riders have used the tyre, Specialized seems poised to consign tubulars to the dustbin of cycling history. The Tour tech of tomorrow — 3 predictions for the road bikes of the future Have we just spotted the new Schwalbe Pro One? Continental has FINALLY developed a tubeless road tyre — GP 5000 TL first look Specialized S-Works Turbo RapidAir key features and specs Claimed to be the all-round fastest, lightest and most puncture-resistant tyre Specialized has ever made 700×26mm and 700×28mm widths 120tpi casing with butyl-wrapped bead Specialized Gripton compound BlackBelt puncture protection layer 240g claimed weight (700×26mm) Better than tubulars in every way? Specialized’s press release on the new Turbo RapidAir quotes Wolf Vorm Walde, director of tyres and tubes, as saying: “Our goal was not to develop a tubeless tyre, but a tyre that is faster, more comfortable, better handling and self-sealing”. Citing lab testing which pitted the Turbo RapidAir against Specialized’s own S-Works Allround tubular, the brand claims the tubeless tyre offers more grip as well as lower rolling resistance. Specialized claims its new tubeless tyre is both faster and grippier than a comparable tubular. Specialized At a claimed 240g for a 700×26mm tyre, it’s reasonably if not exceptionally light. Of course you need to compare the whole system weight to make a meaningful comparison between tubulars, tubeless and standard clinchers; while a good tubeless tyre is typically lighter than a tubular, a tubeless-compatible rim is generally heavier than one designed for tubulars. Pros have traditionally favoured tubulars for their combination of low weight, ride quality and the fact that you can, if you must, ride on a flat tyre. Weight and ride quality are debatable these days depending on exactly what you’re comparing to, but, on that last point, Specialized counters with the following: “While pros love the run-flat capability of tubulars, we thought to ourselves, ‘Why not eliminate the flat in the first place?'” It’s a fair argument, and one we’re intrigued to see put to the test in the real world. As it happens, select riders of the Specialized-sponsored team, Deceuninck-Quick-Step, have apparently already ridden stages on tubeless this Tour. The S-Works Turbo RapidAir tubeless road tyre has been tested by the Specialized-sponsored Deceuninck-Quick-Step team. Specialized Given there’s no mention of the current race leader, Julian Alaphilippe, in Specialized’s press pack, we can’t imagine the Frenchman is among them, but we’ll doubtless hear all about it if one of the team takes a stage or suffers a spectacular tyre-based failure. Do you think tubeless has a real future in pro cycling? Let us know in the comments. Specialized S-Works Turbo RapidAir pricing and availability The new tyre will be available to buy this autumn, with pricing to be confirmed.
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.
To conquer an event such as L’Etape du Tour, as Team Alpecin set its sights on, you need to ride your bike a lot. As long as you do regular rides that get within touching distance, or ideally surpass, the Etape’s 135km length and 4,500m elevation, and at the same time reduce your weight and boost your watts per kilo ratio, you’ll be absolutely fine. Meet the Team Alpecin riders training to take on L’Etape du Tour 2019 Team Alpecin part 2 | conquer road descents Team Alpecin part 3 | Taking on the Fred Whitton Challenge There’s no question that when you get to a certain point in your cycling experience, adding a bit of structure to your training will help increase fitness when gains become increasingly hard to make. “Put simply, not everyone needs structured training,” says Florian Geyer, a coach at Radlabor in Germany who’s been taking care of the trio’s training since their initial fitness tests back in March. “When you are completely untrained and new to cycling, then you don’t need any structure to improve. Just riding your bike more often will increase your ability. However, there comes a time when your body reaches a threshold for adaptation. Structure helps you adapt to the demands of your event. “There are two options to move the threshold upwards. Either you increase the intensity of your training, the duration, or you do both. Therefore, up to a certain level, it is sufficient to simply continue riding more often. However, it is impossible to continue increasing training duration indefinitely. This is where intensity comes into play and you need to stick to a structure in order to prevent over- or under-training.” Numerous things can get in the way of a structured training plan: a lack of time, illness and injury, family life – even where you live Structure not only helps you monitor your training volume and load, but helps you adapt to the demands of your event. For example, if you’re racing, only training to improve your functional threshold power (FTP – the power you can sustain for an hour) won’t help you cope with the constant bursts of power required in a road race. Numerous things can get in the way of a structured training plan: a lack of time, illness and injury, family life – even where you live. Team Alpecin’s Nick Mayer has been frustrated by a few of these issues. “I work for London Ambulance Service and it has been challenging to fit training in around work. Twelve-hour shifts mean that I need to get up early before work to try and squeeze in the training session for that day. There have been a fair few 5am starts! “Living in London means it is hard to conduct training sessions out on the road. I have struggled with a lot of the tempo training sessions that require me to build up a bit of speed/power to get my heart up. Some days the traffic, pedestrians or traffic lights just don’t allow me to do it.” Team Alpecin: Nick Mayer, Marie-Louise Kertzman and Michael Rammell. © Henning Angerer What do you do when you don’t meet the targets? “It’s very important to get right to the heart of the issue, because if you don’t understand the reasons for missing a target, then it is impossible to define a new one,” says coach Florian Geyer. “It’s a good idea to set milestones along the way to reaching a defined goal or target. That way, it becomes clear early on whether you are on the right track and can still take mitigating action without the whole season going to pot.” For Michael Rammell, it’s been a psychological as much as physical battle. “I’m finding the variation in efforts and power zones to be a challenge. It’s as much a mental challenge as it is physical. Some mornings I wake up and just want to go for a ride, but the agenda calls for a disciplined session of 6 x 30-second sprints. I have to consider what time of day to get out and train, and which roads will be best suited to the schedule for that given day.” Marie-Louise Kertzman’s triathlon background, a sport more conducive to following a structured training plan,has come in useful. “My target in terms of training was to improve my FTP, and to extend my endurance. I have surprised even myself with how much difference a few short months of coaching have made. It requires discipline, especially with polarised training, where the easy should really be easy, and the hard should really hurt. “Training to a plan is never without its challenges and having a remote coach means that sometimes there are communication issues. The coach may expect you to do one thing, whilst ‘real’ life has another idea entirely!”
Hunt claims that its all-new £479 / $549 34 Aero Wide Disc wheelset is “the world’s fastest aero-tested alloy disc-brake wheelset”, with Hunt’s own wind-tunnel testing suggesting that when mounted with a 28mm tyre, the wheels are faster than Zipp’s £2,678 202 NSW carbon wheelset. Hunt releases “world’s fastest aero disc wheelset” (and actually backs it up with data) Hunt Sprint Aero Wide wheelset review What makes these wheels fast? The release of the new wheels comes hot on the heels of Hunt’s Limitless 48 Aero Disc wheelset, which is claimed to be the world’s fastest mid-depth carbon disc wheelset. The new alloy wheels borrow much of the same tech developed for the carbon version. The heart of this development is Hunt’s Limitless technology. Hunt published a comprehensive white paper detailing the development of this technology alongside the release of the carbon wheels but, in summary, it found that when used with modern 25mm+ tyres, wider rims perform better overall. The wheels are crazy wide for an alloy rim. Hunt To be clear, by wider, we are referring to the overall external width of the rims, with these rims measuring a whopping 26mm wide at their chunkiest point. This is a fair bit off of the 34.5mm seen on the carbon wheels but it is still very wide for an alloy rim. Putting this profile to the test, when mounted with a 25mm Schwalbe Pro One tyre, Hunt’s 34 Aero Wide Disc wheelset is claimed to be faster than a number of popular alloy wheels, according to its own testing: Hunt 34 AWD — 16.67 watts Zipp 30 Course — 17.48 watts DT Swiss ER 1600 Spline 32 — 18.53 watts Mavic Cosmic Elite UST Disc — 19.29 watts The more impressive figure comes when comparing the wheels to Zipp’s 202 NSW carbon wheels, which were fitted with a 28mm version of the same tyre: Hunt 34 AWD — 18.23 watts Zipp 202 NSW — 19.41 watts And to think Hunt’s wheels don’t even have dimples! If Hunt’s claimed weights (which are normally pretty accurate) are to believed, the alloy wheels also only carry an 88g weight penalty over the Zipp 202 NSW wheels, which we weighed at 1,460g As well as their claimed aero performance, the price of the wheelset is the other big talking point here, costing just £479 / $549 for a pair. Zipp’s aforementioned 30 Course wheels come in at around £800 and the 202 NSWs at £2,678, some £321 and £2,199 more expensive than Hunt’s new wheels. £2,199 is a big premium to pay for something that may actually be (admittedly only 1.18 watts) slower. The wheels are built on Hunt’s well-proven hubs. Hunt In terms of other specs, the wheels are built around Hunt’s proven Sprint 7.5 hubs, include end caps for all common axle standards, will arrive pre-taped for tubeless setup and come with tubeless valves as standard. Who exactly are these wheels for? Are you, like this rider, fibre-phobic? These wheels might be for you. Hunt Hunt’s claim that “aerodynamic development has almost exclusively been focussed on carbon rims” holds truth — I cannot recall the last time an alloy wheelset was was claimed to be particularly aero. This is probably because few who are shopping for alloy wheels actually care about aerodynamics. Alloy is predominantly the material of the everyday rider, with carbon wheels of greatest use to racers and those interested in performance. With these wheels, I think Hunt is tapping into a new market (or, for the cynics among you, a market that hasn’t had clever marketing messages thrown at it), with crash-prone or fibre-fearful racers most likely to be interested. The wheels can be pre-ordered now, with delivery expected in the second week of September. What do you think? Does the idea of aero alloy rev your engine or does carbon make your heart sing? As always, leave your thoughts in the comments!
Cannondale has just announced two brand new electric mountain bikes: the Habit NEO and the Moterra. The Moterra name has been used before, but the 2020 version is new in all but the name. It’s built for gnarly riding with a 66-degree head angle, 160mm of rear-wheel travel and a 160mm fork — apart from the SE model, which uses a 180mm-travel RockShox Boxxer up front. Best electric bikes BMC Trailfox AMP SX review The Moterra SE is equipped with a 180mm travel RockShox Boxxer fork. Cannondale The Habit SE is more of a trail e-bike and gets a 140mm fork and 130mm travel out back, as well as a slightly steeper 66.5-degree head angle. The Habit NEO shares many features with the Moterra, but is aimed at mellower riding with 130/140mm travel. The top-spec bikes get an integrated front light. Cannondale Cannondale Moterra and Habit NEO frame features Both use the new Bosch 2020 CX Line motor, which is more powerful, more compact and lighter than previous Bosch motors. It also uses a conventional chainring (rather than a small chainring with a geared drive), which reduces drag when pedalling above the 25 km/h assistance limit. Cannondale was the development partner for this new Bosch Generation 4 system. The top-spec bikes come with a large 635wh battery (though not quite as big as the 700wh unit you get on the top-end Specialized Turbo Levo), while the cheaper models get a more standard 500wh unit. Either way, the battery is neatly integrated into the down tube. The Bosch Gen 4 motor has a conventional-sized chainring for better un-assisted efficiency. Cannondale The motor is positioned far forwards in the frame which allows Cannondale to keep the chainstays (which are often very long on some full-suspension e-bikes) fairly short. They measure 455mm on the Habit NEO and 450mm on the Moterra. The motor is compact and mounted as far forward as possible to shorten the chainstay length. Cannondale There are four models of each bike, all of which use what Cannondale calls its BallisTec Carbon Front Triangle, along with an alloy rear end. Both bikes feature a skid plate to protect the motor. Like with Cannondale’s regular Habit, the upper suspension linkage is tweaked slightly for each frame size so that the anti-rise (the effect of braking on the rear suspension) is similar for riders on all frame sizes. Cannondale calls this proportional response, and it’s designed to compensate for the fact that taller riders will otherwise experience more brake dive due to their higher centre of gravity. The upper rocker link is positioned slightly differently on each frame size so the braking response is more similar for tall and short riders. Cannondale Component highlights One (very literal) highlight is the inclusion of integrated lights in the top-spec Moterra 1 and Habit NEO 1. The Super NOVA M99 Mini Pro front light is powered directly from the battery and is controlled via a button on the bar. This allows the light to be set to low-beam (450lm) for road-riding or high beam (1,150lm) for after-dark shredding. A powerful front light is powered by the battery in the top-spec bikes… Cannondale …which is controlled with a bar-mounted switch. Cannondale Unlike most e-MTBs, which typically use 650b wheels with 2.8in tyres, at least on the back, the Moterra and Habit NEO use 29in wheels with 2.6in tyres front and rear, apart from the size small bikes which use 27.5in x 2.6in tyres. The Moterra SE comes with a dual-crown RockShox Boxxer fork, with 180mm of travel. This is rare to see on an e-bike, but the stiffer fork is sure to be a benefit when descending fast on such a heavy bike. For similar reasons, all models of both bikes get a 220mm front rotor. This is pretty much unheard of on stock bikes, but makes sense with a heavy motor and 29in wheels, which have more leverage over the brakes than a smaller-radius wheel. All things being equal, a 220mm rotor on a 29in wheel will provide just slightly more braking force than a 200mm rotor on a 27.5in wheel. 220mm front rotors make a lot of sense for 29er e-bikes. Cannondale Cannondale Habit NEO pricing Habit NEO 1: £6,999.99 / €8,249 / $N/A / CAD$N/A Habit NEO 2: £5,499.99 / €5,999 / $7,000 / CAD$$8,750 Habit NEO 3: £4,499.99 / €4,999 / $N/A / CAD$N/A Habit NEO 4: £3,999.99 / €4,499 / $5,500 / CAD$7,000 The cheapest Habit NEO 4 looks like a pretty compelling electric trail bike option for £4k. Cannondale Cannondale Moterra pricing M Moterra 1 (27.5/29 ): £ 6,999.99 / €8,249 / $9,000 / CAD$11,500 M Moterra SE (27.5/29 ): £ 6,199.99 / €6,999 / $7,000 / CAD$8,750 M Moterra 2 (27.5/29 ): £ 5,499.99 / €5,999 / $6,000 / CAD$7,800 M Moterra 3 (27.5/29 ): £ 4,499.99 / €4,999 / $8,500 / CAD$10,500 So are they any good? We’ve not had chance to ride either bike yet because, apparently, it’s been difficult for Cannondale to get one to us simply because they’ve sold so fast. We have just taken delivery of a Moterra 2 in size small, which weighs a pretty average 23.7kg, and we’ll let you know how it rides in the near future.
Team Ineos riders have the Pinarello Dogma F12, launched in May as the successor to the F10, and Dogma F12 X-Light to choose from at the Tour de France. The X-Light drops approximately 100g from the frame weight. Pinarello As defending champion, Geraint Thomas wears the number one dossards. Note the Welsh flag next to Thomas’s name, while the Cardiff-born rider’s race transponder is tucked under the saddle. Pinarello Thomas’s F12 also has a Welsh dragon on the head tube, beneath the one-piece MOST cockpit. Pinarello Egan Bernal may only be 22, but the Colombian started the Tour as co-leader alongside Thomas. Pinarello Sometimes it’s the simple things… a sticker indicates Bernal’s saddle height. You can also see how Ineos’s mechanics have trimmed Bernal’s race number to sit flush with the aero seatpost. Pinarello MOST is a sub-brand of Pinarello, with this bike equipped with a Talon Aero 1K Di2 one-piece handlebar and stem. The out-front computer mount is integrated into the handlebar too. Pinarello The ‘fork flap’ fairings (stop sniggering at the back…) carry over from the F10, having originally been borrowed from the Bolide time-trial bike. Pinarello Shimano provides the team’s Dura-Ace Di2 groupsets and Dura-Ace wheels, wrapped in Continental Competition Pro Ltd tubular tyres. Pinarello However, Team Ineos has been spotted using Lightweight Meilenstein Obermayer wheels on climb-heavy stages. The full-carbon wheels have a scant claim weight of just 935g. Tim de Waele/Getty Images While some teams have shoe sponsors, Ineos riders are able to choose their kicks. These are Shimano’s flagship S-Phyre RC9 shoes. Pinarello The team’s bikes and Castelli kit received a makeover after Ineos took over from Sky as headline sponsor in April. Pinarello Wout Poels’ Dogma F12 X-Light gets some last-minute adjustments. Pinarello The Bolide TT is Ineos’s time-trial bike of choice, rigged up here to a Wahoo Kickr turbo trainer. Wahoo’s Headwind fan keeps things cool in the warm-up. Pinarello The 2019 Tour de France has two time-trials, a 27.6km TTT on stage two and a 27.2km individual time-trial on stage 13. Pinarello The Bolide TT has integrated front and rear brakes, while the tri-spoke front wheel is a Pro Textreme Tubular. Pinarello Ever wondered how a WorldTour pro warms up for a time trial? Pinarello Ineos finished second in the stage two team time-trial, 20 seconds behind Team Jumbo-Visma. Pinarello Will Geraint Thomas stand on the top step of the podium in Paris? Pinarello Pinarello has enjoyed something of a dream relationship with Team Ineos (formerly Team Sky) since the squad was launched in 2010, with six of the subsequent nine winners of the Tour de France triumphing on the Italian firm’s bikes. Sir Bradley Wiggins was first in 2012, before Chris Froome took the 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017 titles. Geraint Thomas then became the third British winner of the Tour in 2018. Thomas is now bidding to make it two in a row, co-leading Ineos with Colombian hot-shot Egan Bernal. Who’s riding what? Here’s every bike in the 2019 Tour de France Tour de France climbs: 5 key ascents where the race will be won and last Thomas has the Pinarello Dogma F12 and F12 X-Light at his disposal in France. The Welshman won the 2018 Tour on the Dogma F10, but the F12 launched in May is said to be lighter, stiffer and, of course, more aero than its predecessor. The F12 X-Light, meanwhile, shaves approximately 100g from the standard F12’s claimed weight of 820g (unpainted frame). With this year’s Tour touted as one of the hardest in recent history thanks to five summit finishes, three of which are above 2,000m, that may come in handy. Team Ineos (formerly Team Sky) has won six of the past seven Tours de France. Pinarello Still, Team Ineos has sought to save additional weight by switching to Lightweight Meilenstein Obermayer wheels for climb-heavy stages, with riders ditching their sponsor-issue Shimano Dura-Ace hoops in favour of the uber-expensive, 935g wheels. 9 of the best Tour de France riders to follow on Strava Team Ineos races on £5k Lightweight Meilenstein Obermayer wheels Shimano still provides the groupset components, with the entire team running Dura-Ace Di2 drivetrains. While some teams, including the Deceuninck-Quick-Step squad of Julian Alaphilippe, have switched entirely to disc brakes, Ineos remains resolutely committed to rim brakes. Otherwise, Fizik provides the team’s saddles and the Competition Pro Ltd tyres come from Continental. Pinarello’s Bolide TT bike steps in for time-trial duties.
All hail First Look Friday, your weekly look at the hottest new road and mountain bike swag to land at BikeRadar HQ. This week we have some flashy Russian-made road hubs, a step-through mountain bike designed for older riders, an alarmingly light saddle and some shred-tastic goggle-like shades. If that isn’t quite enough to tickle your tech pickle, nuggets lovingly picked from the rich gold seam that is launch season in the cycling world that have made their way onto the BikeRadar homepage this week include Cervélo’s new go-fast gravel bike, Colnago’s bang-on-trend V3RS, Specialized’s first-ever foray into the world of electric bikes, Yeti’s all-new 27.5in-wheeled SB165 and much, much more. In the meantime, sit back, relax and immerse yourself into a world of true tech nerdery. Raketa road hubs Raketa, a brand based in Russia, has just released its first ever road hubs. Raketa Raketa — a Russian brand specialising in high-end hubs — has just launched these delectable road hubs. The hubs have been two years in the making and are its first-ever road offering, previously only producing track hubs. The hubs are compatible with all current axle standards and Raketa claims that, due to the hubs’ construction, adapting them to any future standards should also be possible. The hubs are built around an Alto Cycling freehub. This 4-pawl freehub is made in the USA and boasts a near-instantaneous 2.5-degree engagement. It is availble in XD, Shimano HG or Campagnolo bodies. The hubs are claimed to weigh 342g for a rim brake hubset and 421g for the disc equivalent Raketa claims that it considered developing its own freehub system but, acknowledging that it is a young company with limited resources, it decided to focus on the hub itself, leaving the whole freewheelin’ business to those who have experience in the area. The hubs are triple-sealed, with labyrinth seals on the end caps, a rubber lip on the freehub and sealed bearings rounding out the package. On the subject of bearings, the hubs are built around NSK bearings and, should these develop any play, a small bolt can be undone to adjust the preload. No special tools are required to do this and it is claimed that it can even be done with the wheels still fitted to the bike. The hubs are claimed to weigh 342g for a rim brake hubset and 421g for the disc equivalent — a respectable figure that is comparable to similar premium hubs with inbuilt preload adjustment (lighter hubs exist but they typically don’t feature external preload adjustment). The hubs are available in any spoke drilling from 12 to 32 spokes, with any custom combination possible. Raketa has in-house anodising facilities, so dozens of different colours in either a gloss or matt finish are available. Custom engraving is also offered. The hubs are also available in a disc version. Raketa The hubs are available in rim and disc brake options. 6-bolt hubs are currently available for discs, with centre lock to follow later in the year. The novelty that the hubs are designed and made in St Petersburg, Russia — a nation not widely known for its cycling manufacturing provenance — also undoubtedly adds to their cool factor. The hubs cost $468 for the disc version and $448 for the rim brake version. While certainly not cheap, they (on paper at least) present decent value for money compared to, say, a DT Swiss 240s hubset (approx $560). The hubs are due to start shipping throughout August and September, with pre-orders now open. International pricing is not available but worldwide shipping is offered. If freewheelin’ ain’t your thing, as mentioned, Raketa also produces a number of track bike hubs, chainrings and cogs, all of which look as lovely as its road hubs. Disc hubs: $468 Rim brake hubs: $448 Buy these delightful road hubs direct from Raketa Islabikes Jimi The Jimi is a MTB designed for older riders Jack Luke / Immediate Media Islabikes launched the Janis, Joni and Jimi — a range of bikes designed specifically for older riders who still want to live life on two wheels — earlier this year. We have got a hold of the Jimi — the step-through mountain bike from the range — for testing and, so far, we like what we see. Much like its expansive selection of early-life tot-to-teen-sized bikes, the Icons range features a number of touches that are designed to make cycling a more accessible and enjoyable experience for those in their golden years. Starting with the obvious, the bike is a step-through design, which makes a bike easier to mount. This is vital if age-related mobility issues begin to creep in. You’ll be able to spin up just about anything with this diminutive 26t chainring Jack Luke / Immediate Media The gearing is also generously low, pairing a 10-40t Sunrace cassette with a spin-tastic 26t chainring. This chainring is mounted to Islabikes’ own crankset, which is claimed to have a lower-than-average Q-factor. This can improve pedalling performance and comfort for some riders. The bike is fitted with SRAM Grip Shifters. Interestingly, the profile of the rims is specially formed to ease tyre fitting and removal. This means the rims are not tubeless compatible but will make life a lot easier should you get a trailside puncture. A rigid carbon fork is employed to reduce weight. Jack Luke / Immediate Media Reducing weight was also a priority with the bike, and our size medium model comes in at a respectable 10.28kg. With this in mind, given the bike is designed for those that are less likely to get their thrills from sending mad huckz, it should come as no surprise that the bike forgoes a suspension fork in favour of a lighter carbon fork. This bristles with mounts for Anything-style cages or mudguards. The whole package feels very well refined and as a general do-it-all bike — for riders of all ages, really — the Jimi appears to be a compelling choice. Stay tuned for a full review soon! £1,199, international pricing TBC Buy the Jimi direct from Islabikes Schmolke TLO saddle The saddle was so light we had to tie it down to stop it floating away! Jack Luke / Immediate Media This ludicrously light (64g!) saddle from Schmolke — the German composite expert’s first saddle to wear the TLO (The Lightest Only) crown — is said to be the result of Stefan Schmolke’s experiments in his own “secret lab”. Remarkably, this full carbon shell saddle is rated for both road and mountain biking. The saddle feels reassuringly solid despite its low, low weight Jack Luke / Immediate Media While this is, at best, anecdotal, giving the remarkably tough feeling Schmolke TLO saddle a squeeze results in considerably less concern for our undercarriage compared to similar ultralight perches. The 8Nm maximum torque value on the rails is also reassuringly high. While not the absolute lightest saddle on the market — that crown goes to Gelu’s 38g K3 saddle — it is a whopping €5 cheaper than that model. It also has a marginally more generous 100kg max rider weight compared to the Gelu’s 95kg. This is obviously a very, very niche choice that is unlikely to appeal to the vast majority of cyclists but, for those who want an ultralight option that appears to be actually usable, it could be a compelling option. €495, international pricing N/A Buy Schmolke’s TLO saddle from Star Bike Smith Wildcat sunglasses You too could look as cool as our Mallen with Smith’s Wildcat sunnies. Jack Luke / Immediate Media Smith’s lairy, large and loud Wildat goggle-like sunnies are a bold statement that is bound to delight the outgoing on-bike fashionista. The nose bridge is adjustable. Jack Luke / Immediate Media The extra-large coverage of the lenses extends way into the periphery, keeping the frames well out of sight. The replaceable nosepiece — which is coated with a tacky hydrophilic (i.e. it stays sticky when wet) rubber — is also adjustable for fine-tuning fit. The legs are coated with the same material. The hinge mechanism is satisfyingly… clicky? Jack Luke / Immediate Media The arms have a deeply satisfying indexed click when moving them into the open position. Swapping lenses is also very easy. The lenses are also coated with a hydrophobic coating, which is said to keep things clear in moist conditions. The glasses are available in three different frame colours and three different lenses, including a clear option. We have the stealthy Matte Moss frames, but the office favourite is by far the Refresher yellow-and-pink Matte Citron finish. At £165 RRP ($199.00 / AU$299.95), the Wildcat’s come in at roughly the same price as, say, an Oakley Jawbreaker, though you do get the additional clear lens and a hardshell bag for that price. £165 / $199 / AU$299.95 Buy Smith’s Wildcat sunglasses from Optimal Optic
The second week of the 2019 Tour de France sees the battle for the yellow jersey ramp up, quite literally, as the peloton prepares to enter the high mountains. We’ve picked out five of the key climbs from this year’s race. Although the general classification contenders have already tested their mettle in the Vosges, the Pyrenees and the Alps remain the most-anticipated mountain challenges of the Tour de France. Both are littered with some of the Tour’s best climbs – bucket-list ascents on which some of the most memorable moments in the race’s history have played out. The iconic Tourmalet, Izoard and Galibier are all to be conquered, with the fabled yellow jersey very much still up for grabs, while lesser-known ascents such as Prat d’Albis and Val Thorens are also likely to have a significant bearing on who becomes the 2019 champion. Where will the general classification be decided? Which climbs will sort the haves from the have nots? BikeRadar has picked out five decisive climbs from the final two weeks of the race. 9 of the best Tour de France riders to follow on Strava Can an e-bike beat a road bike to claim a QOM? 1. Col du Tourmalet (stage 14) One of the Tour’s headline climbs, the Col du Tourmalet has featured in the race more than any other mountain pass. And yet, this year’s race – the 87th time it has featured – will be only the third occasion a stage has finished at the summit. Last time, back in 2010, Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador’s thrilling battle for the yellow jersey played out on its slopes – the Luxembourg rider winning the stage, but El Pistolero retaining the yellow jersey. Julian Alaphilippe will have good memories of the climb, too, having been the first rider over the top in last year’s race. Can Geraint Thomas climb into the yellow jersey once again? Russell Ellis/SWPix.com The peloton will tackle the Tourmalet’s western ascent – a 19km drag from Luz-Saint-Sauveur – which climbs more than 1,400m at an average gradient of 7.4 percent. The climb, which peaks at 2,115m, gets steeper toward the summit and is a popular must-ride Pyrenean ascent; more than 25,000 Strava users have tackled it to date (more than any other 2019 Tour climb). None have been faster than current KOM holder Thibaut Pinot, however – he set an average speed of 20.7km/h during the 2016 Tour. Strava segment: Col du Tourmalet 2. Prat d’Albis (stage 15) In complete contrast to the Tourmalet the previous day, the final climb of stage 15 – Prat d’Albis – has never been tackled at the Tour de France. The climb plays out over eight hairpin turns, rising for 11.8km from Foix on a narrow, twisting road with a thigh-numbing 6.9 percent average gradient. The steepest pitches are early on, with some ramps steeper than one-in-ten, though the latter half of the climb is fairly steady. Best cycling apps: 16 of the best iPhone and Android apps to download Can we steal a Strava KOM on a tandem? While Prat d’Albis is without the prestige and history of the Tour’s most iconic climbs (yet), Strava offers some clues as to what to expect on stage 15. Some 926 users have tackled the ascent, with an average time of almost exactly an hour. The three Strava pros to have taken it on took less than 45 minutes, however. The current mark to beat is 38:51 minutes — expect the Tour’s leading riders to go quicker on 21 July. Strava segment: Prat d’Albis 3. Col du Galibier (stage 18) Often the highest point in the Tour de France (though that will not be the case this year), the first major Alpine test of this year’s race includes the Col du Galibier on stage 18. Climbing to a breathtaking 2,642m, the 2019 Tour will take on the southern ascent. The race road book has the climb down as 23km in total, starting from Le Monêtier-les-Bains at 1,454m, but that also includes the Col du Lautaret. From the Lautaret turn-off, there’s 8.5km left to climb at an average gradient of 6.9 percent, but the yellow jersey contenders will need to leave something in reserve. The steepest section is towards the summit – a draining 12 percent kick to the top. The Col du Galibier is one of the Tour’s most iconic climbs. SWPix.com Like the Tourmalet, the Galibier’s prestige is evident from its popularity on Strava – where more than 23,000 users have registered attempts to climb it. The average user takes 51 minutes to ascend the final 8.5km of the southern ascent, at an average speed of 10.7km/h, but the Tour pros will be looking nearer to Daan Olivier’s 25:08 KOM mark. Former Team Jumbo-Visma rider Olivier used a power meter for his ride, putting out an average of 334 watts and recording a Strava VAM (Vertical Ascent in Meters) score of 1,380. Strava segment: Col du Galibier 4. Col de l’Iseran (stage 19) The highest point of the 2019 Tour de France is the Col de l’Iseran, which peaks at 2,770m after 89km of stage 19. This will be the climb’s first Tour appearance since 2007 and only the eighth time it has been passed in total. Felicien Vervaecke and Gino Bartali did battle on the ascent when it first appeared in 1938, and its appearance late-on in this year’s race should make it a key GC battleground again. The Col de l’Iseran is the fourth categorised ascent of stage 19 and officially starts at Bonneval-sur-Arc. From there, it’s a 977m rise, with the 12.9km ascent featuring an average gradient of 7.5 percent. Romain Bardet, pictured attacking at the 2018 Criterium du Dauphine, holds the current KOM for the Col de l’Iseran. Alex Broadway/ASO That gradient is inconsistent, however, with the disruptive pattern of the climb making it hard to find rhythm – several sections are more than 10 percent. Romain Bardet currently holds the Strava KOM for the segment, with the Ag2r-La Mondiale team leader’s mark of 43:46 minutes standing unconquered for the last five years. The average Strava user takes double that – with the average speed of 9.88km/h reflecting the disruptive, leg-sapping nature of the Col de l’Iseran. Strava segment: Col de l’Iseran 5. Val Thorens (stage 20) More famous for being Europe’s highest ski resort, Val Thorens is also the final climb of this year’s Tour de France. Whoever leads the general classification at the summit will ride into Paris in yellow. It’s 25 years since Val Thorens’ last (and only other) Tour de France appearance, when Colombian mountain goat Nelson Rodriguez won at the summit. The full climb to the summit covers 33km, which can be split into clearly-defined sections of its own. It ramps up sharply early on; undulates a little in the middle, with even a small downhill section; before a consistent 6km drag of around 7 percent. One more small downhill section then makes way for an 8 percent kick to the finish at 2,365m up. Just over 400 people have tackled the full segment on Strava, with the most recent KOM time set at 1:36:54 hours – propelled by a recorded average power output of 276 watts. Strava segment: Val Thorens