There’s always room for improvements to protective gear in the rough-and-tumble world of mountain biking. More riders than ever are strapping on lightweight pads for those ‘just in case’ sections of trail.
Here’s a look at some of the best new gear we saw at the Eurobike and Interbike tradeshows.
It looks rather like a turtle shell (and it’s intended to serve much the same purpose) but unlike a turtle, you can jettison the extra baggage when you’re in a rush.
The Pro Pack nearly covers the wearer’s entire back
As you might expect from a company with its roots in protective gear, protection comes first – and this pack has a CE2-certifed spine protector.
The Pro Pack in ‘race’ mode (left) and ‘touring mode’ (right)
The Pro Pack can be used in two modes: ‘race’ and ‘touring’. In race mode, the back can be streamlined by zipping off the exterior of the pack, which provides an addional 12 litres of storage capacity suitable for all-day rides. Even in this minimalist configuration, the pack offers a hydration bladder, helmet carrier and enough cargo capacity for a spare tube, pump and multi-tool.
The Pro Pack will retail for US$199. (UK and Australian pricing TBA.) Expect to see it in production in early 2015.
Neckbrace specialist Leatt has had a line of protective gear and packs for several seasons, though never as wide-ranging and polished as what the company is debuting for 2015.
The DBX Carbon is Leatt’s flagship full face
Leatt’s new DBX helmet line features impact-dissipating cone technology borrowed from Kali Protectives, along with what, at first glance, appear to be tiny wind turbines positioned inside the helmet.
These tiny turbines rest under the pads and rotate under impact
These ‘turbines’ are not intended to keep the wearer cool, but rather, to twist in a crash, thereby reducing friction between the skull and the interior of the helmet in a manner that is functionally similar to the MIPS system.
There’s even more new gear in the gallery above.
A blog by NBDA executive director Fred Clements. Editor’s note: This blog post was written by Fred Clements , executive director of the National Bicycle Dealers Association .
CatEye’s Stealth 10 is a practical, weatherproof, essential-data GPS computer with online setup and syncing at a great price. It also has some unique features that make it particularly mountain bike friendly.
There are no sensors to get knocked in transit/crashes, and this means setup is easy too. The Jubilee clip mount fits securely on stems, bars or top tubes. There’s no way for water to get into the sealed unit, which charges and uploads/downloads via a spring-loaded USB ‘shoe’. It occasionally takes a bit of wiggling to get it to connect to the free CatEye Sync software, but you can set up the basic functions on your home computer and upload them rather than fighting with tiny buttons. You can upload directly to sites such as Strava and Training Peaks or CatEye Atlas too.
The power button is hidden underneath, which irritated us to start with. Once you’re used to reaching round though, the fact you can’t accidentally turn it on/off is an advantage. Once connected, the single front function button simplifies operation, and the fixed speed digit at the top, clock display in the middle and essential info scroll at the bottom are easy to see thanks to a constant low-level backlight. There’s an ANT+ compatible Stealth 50 that syncs with cadence, rear wheel speed and heart-rate sensors too.
This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.
Bottecchia has more than 70 bike models in its 2015 range, and talked BikeRadar through three of the highlights at Eurobike 2014.
The big news for 2015 is the Emme3Gara, a professional carbon disc-equipped race bike that’s set to cost between €5,000 and 10,000.
There’s also the T1 Tourmalet, an aerodynamic frame that’s new for 2015, to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the first Italian Tour de France winner, and the Zoncolan carbon mountain bike, with Shimano XTR and a RockShox RS1 fork. See all three in the video below:
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Video: Bottecchia 2015 Emme3 Gara, T1 Tourmalet and Zoncolan
As we discussed in our first article on multi-day mountain bike racing bike setup, it’s important to arrive prepared for such epic adventures. After all, you want enjoy yourself out there, rather than getting stuck in the wilderness having a miserable experience.
In this three-part series, we’re speaking to the riders, mechanics and organisers of the iconic Crocodile Trophy, a mountain bike stage race held annually in far North Queensland, to gather some insight into what works – and what doesn’t – when it comes to bike setup, nutrition and general preparation. This second piece will cover some tips and tricks for when it comes to putting fuel into your body.
This is by no means a complete answer to the tricky questions of nutrition and hydration. But with a focus on some of the world’s hardest multi-day racing conditions, and insight from two top international riders, every cyclist should be able to benefit from the information below.
For 2014, the Crocodile Trophy gains UCI S1 classification and moves to a truer mountain biker’s course, with plenty of singletrack. Based on their harsh conditions, past events have been proving grounds for hydration and eating habits – the general feeling is that what works for the Crocodile Trophy should certainly suffice in less extreme environments.
BikeRadar chatted to Cory Wallace, a mountain bike marathon professional and nutrition consultant – and he told us it’s important to get your diet sorted a few weeks before the event. “I’ll try to thin down a bit – just eating healthy and riding heaps seems to do it for me,” Wallace said. I try to eat as many vegetables as I can in the lead-up to the race because you don’t get these rich nutrients as often during the event.”?
The events always have plenty of food, but it’s a good idea to bring along some stuff you know and love too
“Show up with your comfort foods,” Wallace continued. “These organised events sure feed you enough, but it’s nice to have the stuff you’re used to – and it will help keep you sane. Hemp seeds are one of my choices – they’re super high on protein and you’ll get, like, six hours of energy out of them.”
It’s often said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and it’s certainly the case before a long and arduous bike race. The problem is that many stage races have early morning starts to avoid extreme heat or running out of light, and that often presents problems for many who just don’t feel like eating or drinking at those early hours.?
Wallace has seen many riders getting it wrong: “White toast isn’t enough – you need good fats and proteins to get you through the whole day,” he said.
However you decide to get that intake, ensure you can stomach it in training. This is an important tip and one that applies to everything you eat and drink while away racing – just make sure it works for you.
Along with food, hydration before the race is critical. “Just overdo it on the water, drink and drink until you hate the sight of water,” Wallace went on. “You really have to force down your food and drink, you won’t feel like it at the starting hours, but you just have to.”
As a five-time 24-hour solo mountain bike world champion, Jason English knows how to fuel his body, something that’s even less surprising considering his wife – Jen – happens to be a sports nutritionist.
English told us that on a 40?C day at the 2012 Croc Trophy, he started the day by taking on 2l of milk, an electrolyte mix and a heap of cereal. English reiterated what Wallace had said to us – “you just have to drink and force it through”.
If you’re planning to use bottles and have them take to feed-zones, English suggests freezing them for hot days, so as to avoid them getting super hot from sitting in the sun by the time you get to them.
Once you’re on the bike, your goal is to consistently replenish what you’re burning. A general rule is to aim for 60g per hour of carbohydrates, though of course this will vary based on body weight and dietary preferences.
Martin Wisata, one of the co-ordinators and multiple-time competitors of the Crocodile Trophy, told us of some doctors who had visited the race for research purposes in the past. They found that the elite riders didn’t burn much fat during racing, because they knew how eat on the bike – and not into their reserves. Expert-level riders, while still fit, were losing fat and quickly digging into their reserve tanks – certainly not an efficient way of racing after multiple days.
Some races held in extreme heat will have daily weigh-ins to monitor your hydration levels
It shouldn’t be surprising to hear that many riders don’t eat or drink enough while on the bike. Just like getting in enough breakfast before the start, forcing in energy and hydration while racing can get pretty challenging.
However, it’s crucial to remember that the better your food and drink intake is on a stage, the better you’ll do the following day. This is a key thing to remember while on the bike and if you’re questioning if you really need ‘another gel’.?
“I’ve seen a guy start his recovery while still on the stage,” Wisata said, “just shoving watermelon down his jersey and eating along the way to the finish. Pretty disgusting if you ask me, but whatever works.”
Remembering and keeping track of when to eat is a key factor – watching the clock is one proven method, but Wisata also mentioned another novel form of motivation. “We’ve seen guys write on their stems, such things as ‘Eat, you fool’,” he revealed.
Wallace mentioned that plain water is a waste of hydration in extreme heat conditions, and that you want some form of electrolyte or even calories in your bottles.
Regarding eating plans, he stated: “I usually stick to bars in the first few hours, then move to Clif shot blocks (chewable gel) before moving onto gels in the final hour or two. The solid foods take longer to digest, so while you still have plenty in the tank, your body has time to process these.”
Most races will offer some supplies along the way, but the top guys will generally stick to their pre-planned energy food
“Don’t start eating two or three hours into the race – that’s just too late,” Wallace continued. “You want to start in the first hour – 300 to 400 calories is an ideal every hour. That’s roughly half a bar, a gel and a bottle of hydration mix for me.”
Jason English’s energy plan is quite different to Wallace’s. While he does eat plain white bread sandwiches and other solid foods, he tends to use a gel every half hour.
“I use Shotz gels, which work really well for me,” English revealed. “The key thing with gels is not to overdo it on the caffeine – I save those for the final hour or two of racing only.”
Once you’ve finished the day’s stage, it’s important to straight away start thinking about your recovery for the next day.
“A common mistake is being too social after a stage. Once you cross that line just get some food and liquids into you,” advised Wallace. “Fruit and protein is a good one. A recovery (or protein) bar is another good option.”
As many riders finish the stages completely wrecked, digesting solid food can be a real chore – so recovery shakes or similar liquid meals can be a blessing.
Wallace backs this up, with the recommendation to first stick with simple sugars that are easy to digest and that go straight in, avoiding heavy and solid foods until after. “Oranges and watermelon are great as it’s hydration and sugar,” he said.
Keep the heavy and hot foods for after you’ve replenished your sugar levels
It’s important to not mix too many foods at once, because doing so can cause serious stomach issues. Wallace also advocates spacing out your hydration from your eating so as to avoid diluting the acid in your stomach, which, he told BikeRadar, can also lead to stomach issues.
“I like to get my fruits down, give it some time and then go for more solid, hot foods such as meat and pasta,” said Wallace.
English agrees: “The first thing I’d eat after the race is a gel or two; it’s a focus on hydration and glucose first. I’ll then eat protein and more solid foods afterward.”
So what about the big question that’s no doubt on many readers’ lips: is beer a suitable recovery fuel with which to reward yourself after each stage?
“In theory there’s nothing against it,” Wallace concluded. “It has some good stuff in it and if it helps you relax, why not? But it’s not a miracle cure – only have it if you know your body handles it well.”
In the last article of this series we’ll cover training preparation and other general tips for marathon events. BikeRadar recently visited Cairns and rode some of the trails that the?2014 Crocodile Trophy?will go through, including the start at Smithfield,?Atherton?and the ending at?Port Douglas, where the race concludes after nine days.
LAS VEGAS (BRAIN) — Gita Sporting Goods is reporting that someone swiped a new Pinarello Dogma F8 from its display at Interbike’s OutDoor Demo last week. The bike stole was a size 53, built with Dura-Ace Di2 and a Fulcrum Racing Speed carbon tubular wheelset. The paint color is called “Naked Red” and the serial number is 5CM5300361154
CHICAGO (BRAIN) — Giant Bicycle USA will use Channel IQ’s services to manage its unilateral minimum advertised price (UMAP) policy across online channels and to monitor unauthorized listings on third-party websites. “Supporting our Giant Authorized Retailer network by creating innovative products, and industry leading retail profits has always been what Giant Bicycle does best,” said Allen Needle, sales operations manager for Giant USA. “Now we’ve launched innovations to our partner policy that will ensure the best experience for all consumers by ensuring new Giant products will only be sold through our retailer partners and never on a third party site such as eBay, Amazon or Google Shopping
BOSTON (BRAIN) — QBP is now distributing bike-specific custom insoles from currexSole. The company’s BIKEPRO insoles are designed to stabilize knee movement on the bike, boost muscle efficiency and accelerates muscular regeneration. Customization can be done in-store or by using online analysis that evaluates foot type, knee rotation and leg axis. The insoles are available in three profiles and five sizing options. “We are very excited about joining forces with the number one cycling distributor in the world,” said Lutz Klein, MD and CEO of currexSole Americas
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (BRAIN) — Rubbers Brand Bicycle Tubes feature minimalist packaging, cheeky positioning, and a bundled glueless patch included with each tube. The brand’s lineup includes road and mountain bike tubes in common sizes and formats, including 27.5 and 29 inch mountain tubes. Rubbers’ tubes come wrapped in a tapered sleeve, designed to slide easily into a bag or jersey pocket.
Andy Gowan, one of the co-designers at Zealous, was working for Trek/Gary Fisher when they introduced the first mass production 29ers over a dozen years ago, but a decade later he still hadn’t seen one from anywhere that combined the steamroller smoothness with the chop and change agility he still loved his 26er for. So he started designing his own…
The keystone of the Division is the ‘Eclipse’ seat tube, which uses a stirrup-shaped twin lower section. This lets the rear wheel slot right in above the bottom bracket for super-short chainstays without creating a wonky seat angle. While a 2.3in knobbly or 2.4in semi-slick is the most practical fit limit, the open hoop means that it’s almost impossible to clog with mud.
The rear wheel tucks right up inside the stirrup-shaped base of the Eclipse seat tube to create a super-short, yet mud friendly rear end
Licensed versions of DMR’s universal axle ‘Swopout’ dropouts sit at the far end for maximum stiffness and upgrade potential. A 44mm head tube way out front of the sloping top tube and lazily curved main tube give 110-130mm stroke tapered fork capability too.
The Division rides as distinctively as it looks, with no trace of twist or vagueness in feedback from the front end. A relatively low bottom bracket means the bike hunkers down onto the trail with brooding authority too. There’s absolutely zero flex in that short tail and power barks and crackles from pedal to rear wheel like a rally car exhaust.
The Division’s super short rear gives great agility and power delivery
Jab the go pedal or drop it through the gate at the top of a descent and all hell breaks loose. Forget subtle nuance, smoothed impacts or squirming compliance – the Division is almost demented in its determination to get to the bottom by the fastest, straightest route possible. If you ride like a passenger then it will kick the crap out of your knees, punish your palms through the skinny grips and shake your brain in your skull like a maraca.
You need to get used to the rearward weight distribution trying to pivot the whole bike round on the back wheel under power. It’s that whip round turn potential and belligerently accurate attitude to attacking the trail that gives the Division its premier league technical trail performance though. It genuinely pumps jumps and rollers, slingshots berms and pops off drops like a smaller wheeled bike but with all the speed sustain, grip and surefooted traction of a 29er.
The result is a ferociously fast, infectiously involving and fantastically rewarding ride for those riders who have the skills to really make the most of it. Despite the hefty frame weight, undiluted power transfer means it will hustle up climbs or cut between black runs with impressive efficiency.
Specifications As Tested:
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.