If you’re training for a sportive, time trial or race, chances are you’ll have come across ‘sweetspot’ workouts. Before you get too excited, it doesn’t mean a club run with multiple cafe stops. It refers to the intensity of that particular training session. But how does sweetspot training differ from, say, base training or high intensity interval training? And why should you consider including sweetspot sessions as part of your training? Base training for cyclists: myth or must-do? How to create a winter training plan | 5 steps to make this your best winter yet What is sweetspot training? As we’ve already alluded to, sweetspot refers to an intensity of training. While a number of specific definitions exist, according to Matt Rowe of Rowe & King Cycle Coaching, it typically refers to an intensity between the upper end of zone three and the lower end of zone four, if you’re using training zones. “I define sweetspot using Dr Andrew Coggan’s approach, which is 88-93% of your FTP (Functional Threshold Power) or your Functional Threshold Heart Rate, which is 75-85% of your maximum heart rate,” says Rowe. When training at sweetspot intensity, you are placing your body under sustained stress, but not so much that you can’t hold the efforts for a long duration. The efforts are also repeatable, without inducing high levels of fatigue. As the name suggests, you’re training at a level that hits the sweetspot between intensity and volume. On a cellular level, training at sweetspot increases your mitochondria density, according to Rowe. “Mitochondria are small structures found in almost all human cells,” he adds. “Their main job is to perform cellular respiration – taking in nutrients from the cell, breaking them down and turning those nutrients into energy. “The mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell and, by increasing your mitochondria density, you’re making your body able to create energy more easily. “Ultimately, through doing sweetspot training, you will feel an increased sense of fitness – in terms of ‘engine size’, threshold and ability to produce energy.” Training with heart rate vs training with power | Which is best for you? Sweetspot training can help improve your aerobic fitness. Robert Smith/Immediate Media What are the benefits of sweetspot training? In addition to the physiological adaptations that take place as a result of sweetspot training, there are a number of benefits from riding on the cusp of tempo and threshold. “Sweetspot offers the most bang for your buck in terms of training,” says Matt Bottrill of Matt Bottrill Performance Coaching. “If you’re limited on time, you want to maximise what you do have. “It’s quality training and probably one of the most beneficial ways to get fit.” Rather than slogging away for hours on base rides, sweetspot training makes it possible to see similar physiological adaptations and training effects from a much shorter session. This makes it an ideal tool in the training armoury of the time-poor cyclist – or, in other words, anyone who isn’t a professional. “For a cyclist who works and hasn’t got much time – maybe only 4-6 hours per week of training time a week – doing a couple of blocks of sweetspot in an hour’s turbo or Zwift session can give you the physiological benefits of a much longer road ride,” says Rowe. In short, sweetspot has the potential to fast-track your aerobic performance – increasing your Functional Threshold Power at the same time. “The net result when out on the road is that you will be able to produce more power and travel faster for longer,” says Rowe. What’s more, because sweetspot training is aerobic, the sessions are repeatable and rewarding, helping to keep motivation up compared to a painful, lung-busting threshold or HIIT workout. What is FTP and why does it matter for cyclists? Are there any drawbacks to sweetspot training? While sweetspot training has a number of benefits, it’s important to not become one-dimensional in your training, otherwise you risk neglecting other areas of your cycling fitness. “You’ll reach a ceiling,” explains Bottrill. “Once you’ve built the phase of sweetspot, you’re going to cap it, and you then want to progress to doing more [high-intensity] interval work.” While sweetspot is particularly well-suited to riders training for endurance events and long time trials, as well as alpine climbs, that doesn’t mean it’s a catch-all training solution for all cyclists. “It’s not suited to everyone,” says Rowe. “A track sprinter, for example, wouldn’t do a lot of sweetspot training. They don’t need any endurance and all their training is top end – in the gym they’ll either be doing their max or going super-easy to recover. “Sweetspot training builds the aerobic side of things, while track sprinting is an anaerobic sport.” The key is identifying the demands of the event or goal you are training towards and adapting your workouts accordingly. That will help you focus on the areas required to produce your best performance on the day. Three-time track world champion and Olympic gold medallist Dani Rowe says sweetspot workouts would be “few and far between” for sprinters. “It’s suited to cyclists at the endurance end of the sport,” she says. 60 minute turbo training sessions for time-crunched riders Training for a big ride in the mountains? You should consider sweetspot training. Immediate Media How can I include sweetspot in my training plan? First of all, you need to identify your training zones, regardless of whether you train with heart rate or use a power meter or smart trainer. Once you’ve built up a base level of fitness, both Bottrill and Rowe recommend including one or two sweetspot sessions per week in a training plan. If you are new to structured training, Bottrill and Rowe advise starting with five or ten-minute sweetspot intervals, before working up to 20 minutes. As your fitness improves, you can increase the number of intervals within a session. “Once you’ve mastered 20 minutes at sweetspot, you can build up to 2×15 minutes and 2×20 minutes,” says Bottrill. The end goal, he says, is a workout with an hour at sweetspot intensity. “Once you get to that hour, you’ll fly,” he adds. How to build a pain cave | 8 tips for creating the perfect indoor training space Example sweetspot workouts Here are three sweetspot workouts, for beginner, intermediate and advanced riders. Matt Rowe recommends using the turbo trainer for these sessions. ”If you were to complete the session on Zwift with ERG mode on [so the trainer automatically sets the resistance according to your training zones], it takes all the thinking out of it,” he says. Best smart trainer: top-rated turbo trainers Matt Bottrill’s beginner sweetspot workout Warm up for 10 minutes 5 minutes at sweetspot 4 minutes recovery 4 minutes at sweetspot 3 minutes recover 3 minutes at sweetspot 2 minutes recovery 2 minutes at sweetspot 1 minute recovery 1 minute at sweetspot Cool down Matt Bottrill’s intermediate sweetspot workout Warm up for 10 minutes – keep cadence relatively high (90-100RPM) 10 minutes sweetspot (90% FTP) at race cadence 5 minutes recovery with relatively high cadence (90-100RPM) 10 minutes sweetspot (90% FTP) at race cadence 5 minutes recovery with relatively high cadence (90-100RPM) 10 minutes sweetspot (90% FTP) at race cadence Cool down Luke Rowe’s advanced sweetspot workout 10 minute progressive warm up 20 minutes at sweet spot (90% FTP) 5 minutes easy (zone one) 20 minutes at sweet spot (90% FTP) 5 minute cool down
While we’re fans of even the most utilitarian of cycling swag, there’s little more pleasing than gawping at the wares available at the more frivolous end of the market. From a £70 bottle cage to a $16,799 indoor bike, we’ve got eight gift suggestions for the cyclist who appreciates the finer things in life. Runwell Aqualia spanner and Take 56 wrench Runwell makes some of the most beautiful bicycle tools out there. Our favourites from the brand’s range are the Take 56 wrench and Aqualia spanner. This could be the loveliest tool on your shadow board. Jack Luke / Immediate Media The Take 56 is a lovely, replaceable-bit 5/6mm Allen key wrench. The tool is designed for workshop use and it is an absolutely delightful thing. It has a lovely forged shape that is reminiscent of a stick of bamboo (‘take’ actually translates as bamboo from Japanese) and a neat paracord loop is tied onto the end of the wrench for storage. £24, international pricing TBC Buy the Runwell Take 56 from Tokyobike The Runwell Aqualia15 is the perfect 15mm spanner. Jack Luke / Immediate Media For the fixed-gear rider in your life, the Aqualia is the most beautiful 15mm spanner out there. This 15mm spanner is a thing of great beauty It’s beautifully made and, with no sharp edges, is even packable in a jersey pocket. £23, international pricing TBC Buy the Runwell Aqualia 15 from Tokyobike Draper Expert Metric coloured combination spanner set How could you not love these spanners? Jack Luke / Immediate Media If Runwell’s offerings don’t tickle your pickle, these spangly spanners from Draper will brighten up any workshop’s shadow board. These spangly spanners will tweak your bolts of desire Spanning sizes 6-through-19mm, the spanners form part of Draper’s expert range and, after two years of abuse, still look resplendent in their range of jazzy hues. £49.92 / $73 Buy the Draper Expert Hi-Torq metric coloured spanner set from Amazon Dickies duck apron Dickies workshop apron will keep you looking classy while you wrench away. Dickies But what to wear while fiddling with your aforementioned spangly spanners? You couldn’t possibly soil your funky Christmas jersey! Fret not for we have the answer – the classic workshop apron. There are loads of ‘cycling specific’ options from Park Tools or Muc Off out there but, if you really want the fancy-pants rider in your life to stand out, go for something classic from the likes of Dickies. With an earthy aesthetic that’ll look equally at home splitting a sequoia, this handsome duck brown number is versatile and fashionable. £50 / €59, international pricing TBC Buy the Dickies duck apron from Amazon Silca bottle cages How could you not love these outrageously expensive bottle cages? Immediate Media Silca’s Sicuro bottle cages are the very definition of excess but my goodness do we love them. At £70 (£70!) each, these cages sit at the truly frivolous end of gifting, but any roadie in your life will be delighted with a pair of these. £70 / $70 Buy the Silca Sicuro bottle cage from Merlin cycles Straight Cut Design tool roll Straight Cut Design specialises in fancy made-in-Scotland bike luggage. Straight Cut Design Sure, a saddlebag works totally fine, but nothing says ‘this person has a well-curated Instagram feed’ quite like an artisan saddle roll. Jesting aside, we like the sleek look and fit-and-forget function of a traditional saddle roll, and our current favourite comes from Straight Cut Design. Constructed from super-strong 500D Cordura, locked down with a clever camming buckle and handmade in Scotland, the cyclist in your life is guaranteed to be the talk of the cafe stop with this puppy loaded up beneath their peach. £30, international postage available Buy now direct from Straight Cut Design Spurcycle bell Spurcycle’s very fancy and exceedingly expensive bell is one of our all-time favourites. Oliver Woodman / Immediate Media We include a Spurcycle bell in this roundup every year, and with good reason. The now much-imitated (but never equalled) Spurcycle bell is a delightful little ding-a-linger, which is made in the USA almost entirely from metal components. Loveliness aside, it’s that ring that really makes this bell stand out — it’s loud and bright with a good sustain to boot. $49 / £49, international pricing TBC Buy the Spurcycle bell from Always Riding Anhängsel LOM plant pot The LOM is a vase designed to mount to handlebars, pannier racks or baskets. Anhängsel If the fashionable rider in your life also has a penchant for succulents, little else could make them as happy as the LOM; a charming bar-mounted plant pot from German design house Anhängsel. This bike-mounted plant pot is officially the most millennial bike accessory ever Made from fully-recyclable polyamide, this daft pot is bound to put a smile on anyone’s face. €9.99, international shipping available Buy the LOM direct from Anhängsel Elite Fuoripista indoor trainer The Fuoripista will look resplendent in your outrageously expensive penthouse. Okay, we don’t actually expect someone to buy this… but, if you do happen to be a bazillionaire and you’ve somehow ended up on this list, and want to buy a truly remarkable gift for the fashionista rider in your life, this is a pretty sure bet. The Elite Fuoripista is a striking indoor trainer constructed from glass and wood that will set you back a whopping $16,799. The Fuoripista has all the features you’d expect of a high-end smart trainer but will look better than a standard option in the middle of your penthouse suite overlooking Manhattan. $16,799, international pricing TBC Buy the Elite Fuoripista indoor trainer from Clever Training
Park City, UT — DESTROYER, a brand created in 2010 out of a need to promote individuality and progression, was originally known for making skate-inspired products. Now they bring that skate culture and aesthetic to the mountain biking world. All of their gear comes from a need for equipment with a style that simply did not exist. The Sitkum Jacket and Empire Pant are their newest models and are certainly among the most innovative mountain bike garments on the market. Both products protect the rider from the elements and from potential injuries without compromising that signature DESTROYER style. The Sitkum Jacket utilizes 4-way-stretch fabric that allows you to move around on the bike without getting tight or snagging. It’s waterproof/breathability rated at 10K/10K. The jacket also boasts waterproof two-way zippers and a hood large enough to go over your helmet. In the back, you’ll find a stash pocket for a snack and in the pits and zips to keep you cool. Looking good is one thing but being safe is another, which is why the jacket has pockets in which to secure the soft armor on your spine and elbows. The Empire pant shows the same attention to detail as the jacket and shares the 10k waterproof/breathability rating. The details aimed at riders are evident from the use of 4-way-stretch material, gusseted crotch, articulated knees, and zipped legs that allow easy on and off over pads. The Empire Pant is designed and built by riders for riders. Check out the Kickstarter link for more info: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/destroyerequipment/technical-mt-bike-and-adventure-apparel Or the DESTROYER website: https://destroyerequipment.com/ Photos:Dustin Lalik
My 2019 Summer of Cycling – make that Summer of Sport – has drawn to a close and it’s been quite the adventure. Whether I’ve been cycling, swimming or running, it’s been a year of constant activity, of pushing my stamina onwards and upwards. I’m already looking forward to the sporting challenges that lie in wait for 2020. There were two big reasons for my busy summer: to raise money for The Samaritans, the charity that helped me and my family when we needed it most following the death of our daughter in 2013, and to improve my own mental health by focusing on the physical. Not everything I’ve taken on this year has come off. In 2017 our youngest daughter challenged me to do my first open water swim, and I upped the ante this year with my attempt to swim around Lake Coniston in the Lake District in September. Unfortunately, it was curtailed after two-and-a-half miles – it was just too cold in 15-degree water. A week later, I did a sportive in Surrey that I also pulled out of mid-way through because I was feeling dizzy. Decathlon Summer of Cycling winners Decathlon Summer of Cycling winner is back in business on gravel Rob hopes to use his summer exploits as a springboard for 2020. Joseph Branston But pulling out of these events didn’t dampen my spirits and there have been successes too: the Suffolk Coast Bike Ride in September was a superb ride on as good a mid-September day as you could imagine; and the Great East Run, a half marathon which was a huge step up from the 10km runs I’m used to. Then there was RideLondon, my big target for the season. Although I finished, I didn’t do the full 100 miles. At the 40-mile mark, all was going to plan and I was hitting my target, but crashes further up the course brought the ride to a standstill several times and by the time I got to Leith Hill and Box Hill, the course had been diverted around them. The Triban Van Rysel has been getting Rob back on the bike. Joseph Branston Decathlon’s Triban Van Rysel bike is designed and tested in Flanders. Joseph Branston Rim brakes, as on the Van Rysel, are a rare sight on bikes in 2019. Joseph Branston That meant I missed out on the showpiece climbs. It was disappointing, as was the fact they’d run out of medals by the time I got there, but it remains the highlight of the year for me. Riding at high speeds, with thousands of others, and flying (legally) through red lights – what’s not to enjoy? All this has improved my stamina, but cycling continues to be a natural remedy for my mental health. I’ve had tough periods over the last few years and riding definitely helps combat that, by getting away from life’s worries. I can switch off and focus on what I’m doing, rather than the thoughts going around my head. It was, and remains, the main driving force for getting back into exercise. Suffolk’s countryside is an ideal training ground for Rob. Joseph Branston I’m already thinking about next year. A triathlon is on the agenda, for sure. It can’t be that hard to string all this running, swimming and cycling together in one go! Winters in Suffolk don’t tend to be as bad as other parts of the country but I’ve already got my old bike rigged up to my turbo trainer to keep me fit when the weather doesn’t allow me to get out. My wife says I should go to the gym and do it, but sitting on those stationary bikes just isn’t the same as my own bike. Zwift has been recommended to me so it might be something I look into. As for the Van Rysel, I’ve been surprised how big a difference it’s made. It’s about 2kg lighter than my old bike and you really notice it, especially on the hills. It’ll come in useful for those triathlons next year!
Muc-Off is well known for their popular Nano Tech Bike Cleaner and they have a lot of great products that often get overshadowed by their pink cleaner. Inside we take a look at their tubeless valves that have some very neat features. The Muc-Off (us.muc-off.com) nano cleaner products work really well at cleaning mud and grime safely from your bike and if you’re looking for an even better bang for your buck they sell it in concentrate format as well that allows you to dilute the cleaner yourself at a reduced cost. We like refilling the little bottles for easy on the road cleaning. The focus of this article however is on the Muc-Off tubeless valves. They’re available in eight colors in 44mm or 60mm lengths for $29.99 but we’ve found them a little cheaper on Amazon as well if you have an account there. For this article we are looking at the 44mm presta valves in gold. amzn_assoc_placement = "adunit0"; amzn_assoc_tracking_id = "sicklines-20"; amzn_assoc_ad_mode = "search"; amzn_assoc_ad_type = "smart"; amzn_assoc_marketplace = "amazon"; amzn_assoc_region = "US"; amzn_assoc_title = "Shop Related Products"; amzn_assoc_default_search_phrase = "Muc Off Tubeless 44 MM Valve"; amzn_assoc_default_category = "All"; amzn_assoc_linkid = "78d9d71af5d2179ca297ba04521e73c8"; amzn_assoc_search_bar = "false"; The contents include two presta valves along with a valve core removal tool that doubles as an extra valve cap, different rubber bases to fit various rims, and some stickers tucked inside the label. Rims with a square rim section should use the square rubber base while curved rims should use one of the curved rubber base. Most valves you buy may not have all these bases. Installing and removing the valves are made easier as there is a 4mm wrench hole on the backside and 11mm wrench flats on the nut to allow you to use a tool to hold the valve instead of using finger pressure. These are mainly for cases where a valve is stuck when it comes time to remove it but the 4mm can be handy for installation. You don’t want the valve too tight, hand pressure is more than adequate, as overtightened valves can also cause leaking. They’re lightweight at only 11g for the set and they’re made from 6061 aluminum. The extra valve cap included has a slot in it that allows it to double as a valve core removal tool. Comparing the Muc-Off valve stem to a few other valve stems you can see how they differ. The Cush Core (green) valve is one of our favorites as it has a big hole and multiple ways for fluid to pass through. Smaller valve like the ones you see on the left can get tubeless sealant stuck inside since they’re smaller. The black Orange Seal valve you see below also includes multiple rubber bases and doesn’t stick up as high in the rim bed comparatively if that’s a concern for your needs. In addition to those differences, the Muc-Off also features a bigger O-ring that should help to ensure sealing compared to other valves as you can see above. We are quite impressed with the Muc-Off valves and we’ve installed a set on a wheelset to see how they do in the long term. Muc-Off also sells No Puncture tire sealant that comes in a handy pouch that secures directly onto a valve core for easy installation. The recommended amount can be easily pressed out of the pouch but visibility through the pouch is difficult if you’re trying to put a precise amount in the tire and not the whole packet. The particulates in the sealant looks to have some decent sized granules and it looks promising to seal holes well. Additionally Muc-Off has a UV element that lets you see with a UV light where a puncture is or was when you’re inspecting your tires. Overall we’re impressed with these Muc-Off tubeless valves and the features they’ve packed in a product that many manufacturers just view as a check list item. Muc-Off’s valve system is well thought out and it’s clear they’ve had their fair share of problems with tubeless valves and have provided a product that isn’t just another tubeless valve. Key Points 4mm wrench / 11mm flat nut to allow for easier removal 44mm or 60mm long Big O-ring used on valve base 8 Colors to pick from Includes 6 rubber adapters to fit various rims Valve cap removes core Check back daily throughout the month of December as we post more content in our 25 days of Sickness! amzn_assoc_placement = "adunit0"; amzn_assoc_tracking_id = "sicklines-20"; amzn_assoc_ad_mode = "search"; amzn_assoc_ad_type = "smart"; amzn_assoc_marketplace = "amazon"; amzn_assoc_region = "US"; amzn_assoc_title = "Shop Related Products"; amzn_assoc_default_search_phrase = "Muc Off Tubeless 44 MM Valve"; amzn_assoc_default_category = "All"; amzn_assoc_linkid = "78d9d71af5d2179ca297ba04521e73c8"; amzn_assoc_search_bar = "false";
Virginia Tech’s Helmet Lab has released its safety assessments of 86 helmets it has tested in 2019. The designs span mountain bike, road and urban models, and include MIPS and non-MIPS helmets, as well as a number of Bontrager’s latest WaveCel models. Virginia Tech’s tests are carried out in collaboration with the US-based Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, and are more comprehensive than the standard test that all helmets must pass before they are put on sale. As well as straight-on impacts, they include assessment of oblique impacts, as well as points of impact on the side of the helmet. Best road bike helmets 2019 | 25 top-rated cycle helmets Best road bikes 2020: how to choose the right one for you Ten safest mountain bike helmets as rated by Virginia Tech Virginia Tech rated the Bontrager Rally MIPS as the safest MTB helmet out there. Bontrager Bontrager Rally MIPS Troy Lee Designs A2 MIPS Decoy Lazer Cyclone MIPS Giro Tyrant MIPS SP Troy Lee Designs A1 Classic MIPS POC Tectal Race SPIN Louis Garneau Raid MIPS Bontrager Blaze WaveCel Giro Chronicle MIPS Lazer Impala MIPS Ten safest road cycling helmets as rated by Virginia Tech Virginina Tech reckons the Lazer Century MIPS is the best performing road helmet. Lazer Lazer Century MIPS Bontrager Specter WaveCel Bontrager Ballista MIPS Bell Z20 MIPS Bontrager XXX WaveCel Lazer Z1 MIPS Specialized Echelon II MIPS Rudy Project Racemaster MIPS Lazer Blade+ MIPS Giro Aether MIPS SP Also in the top-rated helmets were the Bern Union MIPS and Bontrager Charge WaveCel urban helmets. They’re all rated five stars by Virginia Tech (along with the Specialized Ambush MIPS and Smith Route MIPS), with the testers recommending that you should use a helmet rated either four or five stars in their tests. The full list of the 86 helmets tested is here. It can also be filtered by the style of helmet, budget options costing under $100 and whether helmets are certified for use in snow sports or skateboarding, as well as for cycling. MIPS rules the roost Helmets with a MIPS liner rule the roost. Ben Delaney / Immediate Media MIPS-equipped helmets dominate the ratings, both for mountain and road helmets. 80 per cent of the top-rated helmets incorporated the sliding liner tech. It’s designed to help dissipate energy in oblique impacts so that less of the impact force is transferred to the rider. Many bike crashes involve oblique impacts to the head (when an impact occurs at an angle rather than a central impact) and Virginia Tech’s testing suggests that extra protection from this type of crash is an important feature. Helmets equipped with Bontrager’s proprietary WaveCel technology scored well. Immediate Media Another tech that comes up frequently is WaveCel. It’s Bontrager’s new tech, released earlier this year. Rather than the usual expanded polystyrene layer, WaveCel uses a crinkly honeycomb plastic layer that collapses in an impact. Unlike MIPS, it’s proprietary to Bontrager, which is licensed to a large number of brands. So to see the tech in four out of 22 top-rated helmets suggest that it’s a good alternative to MIPS. Also in the mountain bike list is POC’s Tectal Race helmet with its SPIN technology. It’s POC’s take on the absorption of energy from oblique impacts and uses silicone pads inside the helmet to allow it to move against the head in an oblique impact. It was the subject of a patent dispute with MIPS when it was launched, which ended up being settled by the two Swedish brands, with POC agreeing to adopt MIPS tech in its future helmets. How does Virginia Tech test its helmets? Virginia Tech tests helmets vigorously so, hopefully, you’ll come out unscathed in crashes like this. Peter Smith Virginia Tech’s testing uses a standard drop tower, which is the standard tool used to test bike helmets. It drops the helmet down a slider and lands it on a steel anvil. Virginia Tech covers this with coarse sandpaper, which it says helps to better simulate real-life road conditions. Tests are carried out at two different impact speeds and in six different positions on the helmet, including on the rim. The method tests oblique impacts as well as those taken head-on. Each test is repeated twice, for a total of 24 tests on each helmet. Accelerometers are positioned inside the headform on which the helmet is mounted to measure the linear and rotational forces acting on impact. A formula is then used to convert this data into an overall score and a star rating, with a lower score being better. Virginia Tech says that its testing is more complete than standard tests, which do not include impacts on the rim, although this is often where contact will occur in a crash. You can read Virginia Tech’s full description of its methodology here.
e*thirteen just announced two new wheelsets, both of which see not only new rim dimensions, but also a completely updated hub design – and an interesting one at that. The two versions are named after their inner diameter with the IW24 weighing 1,350 grams and IW28 weighing 1,520 grams. e*thirteen was kind enough to send out a set of the latter, but we’re just now getting a chance to bolt them up to an appropriate bike aimed at light duty trail… Details SRAM XD Driver or Shimano Microspline 1520 grams claimed (1581 grams our scale, with valves & rim tape – 29″) 6º engagement DT Swiss Competition Race spokes Aluminum nipples with washers Lifetime warranty Intended use: Light duty trail $1778 USD/pair Some of the biggest news here is the all new hub design. e*thirteen joins the tool free hub world with their own unique approach. In lieu of dealing with cone wrenches, there are two knurled end caps. So to pull the hub apart, simply unscrew them with your hands, then pull the axle out and yank the freehub so you can access it for a rebuild. To put it back together, reverse the process – you don’t need to crank down to tighten the axle by the way…The knurled caps will just keep spinning and spinning – the tension is set internally. There are two rim profiles for IW24 and IW28 – as you might have guessed there is a 24mm and 28mm, but in addition, the latter is shallower and wider to support wider tires. The former is deeper and narrower for aerodynamics and an ultra light weight as it’s aimed at XC racing. The wheelsets also have 24 and 28 hole spoke counts respectively. No centerlock option. That’s OK, it’s useless anyway…After all, who wants to carry a 2 foot long bottom bracket tool with them on the trail in the event things loosen up. e*thirteen utilize a 3-cross lacing pattern at the spokes, and varying spoke thicknesses. In the case of the IW28 wheels that we’re testing, they use DT Swiss Competition Race 2.0 / 1.6 / 2.0 spokes. The more XC oriented IW24 uses DT Swiss Revolution 2.0 / 1.5 / 2.0 spokes. Both wheelsets use aluminum nipples and washers. As you might expect with e*thirteen wheels, you’ll also get their nifty high flow tubeless valves which, unlike most, can be tightened down nicely with an actual tool (a 4mm allen key). Last, but not least e*thirteen backs the wheels with a lifetime warranty. We’ll keep you posted on how they work out in the coming months. e * thirteen
Zwift has announced new and improved features for mountain bikers, off-road cyclists and crit racers with a suite of new training plans, six new off-road bikes and a new course called Crit City that’s designed specifically for criterium racing. Designed to meet the specific demands of off-road events, where power outputs and pedalling techniques can differ massively to the road, the two new training plans join Zwift’s Gravel Grinder plan (which has been on the platform for a while now) to increase Zwift’s offering of off-road specific plans to three, with a fourth coming soon. Zwift’s new training plans are focussed on the specific demands of off-road riding. Zwift New Zwift off-road training plans Pebble Pounder: Gravel / Beginner / 6 weeks Aimed at beginner cyclists and made up of three rides per week of around 30 to 50 minutes, the Pebble Pounder features plenty of sweet-spot (around 90 to 95 per cent of FTP) and VO2 max work, as well as a focus on pedalling at lower cadences. According to Zwift, this is a great introductory plan for anyone who’s new to cycling or structured training. Gravel Grinder: Gravel / Intermediate / 7 to 12 weeks If you’re a keen cyclist with a foundation of fitness already in place, Zwift says the Gravel Grinder is a great plan to build up to your first big gravel race or event. Gearing, traction and cadence all play a part in this plan, and there’s even an expectation you’ll do some of the plan outside – as Zwift says: “some dirt skills require that you actually ride on the dirt”. Dirt Destroyer: MTB / Intermediate / 6 weeks Designed by Matt Rowe of Rowe & King Cycle Coaching, Zwift says the Dirt Destroyer plan will challenge your capacity to keep putting out the power at low cadences as well as your ability to repeat big surges in power with limited recovery. Lasting for six weeks, Zwift says the workouts range from 45 to 90 minutes and there are three to five workouts per week, including an unstructured ride that you should perform outside on your mountain bike to help develop your technical skills. Singletrack Slayer: MTB / Advanced / 10 weeks Details of the Singletrack Slayer plan are yet to be formally announced, but considering it’s aimed at advanced level cyclists, we expect it will be hard! Six new off-road bikes have been added to the Zwift Drop Shop. Zwift New off-road bikes in Zwift To complement the new training plans, Zwift has also added six new off-road bikes to its Drop Shop. You’ll need to have earned a fair amount of Drops (in-game credit) to unlock some of them though. There are two gravel bikes, the Cervélo Áspero and Canyon Grail, Canyon’s Inflite CX bike and three mountain bikes: the Specialized Epic, Scott Spark and Canyon Lux. All of the off-road bikes have different in-game physics and rolling resistances to road bikes, which means choosing the right bike for the various terrains within the Zwift worlds will have even more significance than before. The Crit City course is short and flat, but racing on it will likely be anything but easy. Zwift New Crit City course in Zwift If you’ve never raced a criterium (short circuit races), Zwift’s new event-only course might be the perfect way to get a flavour of the effort required and, for those with the legs, take a little bit of glory at the same time. The twisty circuit is just 1.9km long and includes a benign-sounding 26ft of elevation, but don’t be fooled, an (in)famous Texan cyclist once said: “sometimes you’re the hammer, and sometimes you’re the nail”, and if you turn up to an event on this course short of form, you’ll almost certainly end up as a nail. For those able to pause chewing their handlebars and have a look around, Zwift says there are a few interesting sights surrounding the new course. A graffiti mural inspired by the landscape of Watopia (Zwift’s primary and original world) adorns one of the buildings, for example. It’s an event-only course, so unlike other guest maps, such as Yorkshire, it can only be ridden by joining an event on the course. If you’re not quite ready to race, you can get a good look at the course by watching the live broadcast of events on the platform.
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