The fourth Bespoked handbuilt bike show opened yesterday at the magnificent Lee Valley VeloPark in London.
BikeRadar dashed round the great, the good and the downright wacky stands to see what this year’s raft of exhibitors had brought with them for the weekend ahead.
If you’re heading to East London for the show, here’s some of our must-visit stands
Cofa Engineering is based above the velodrome floor, handily next to the Look Mum No Hands Caf?. They’re showing this outrageous 26in mountain bike. Steve Major built this rig just because he should. Cofa Enginnering usually machine bespoke parts for other manufacturers – turns out he can build the entire thing too.
Cofa Engineering’s mountain bike
Hit the velodrome pit and turn right. That’s London-based Oak Cycles’ stand right there. Have a look at the Time Machine. Beneath the retro Penguin paperback paintjob is a seriously cool bike – a light racing frame and ENVE fork combo that’s also a tourer. It’s constructed from Columbus Spirit Tubing, got the best mudguards we’ve ever seen (because you can’t really see them) and an SRM. It’s lush.
Oak Cycles’ Time Machine
Yorkshire builder Ricky Feather, perennial award winner at Bespoked and British handmade bike royalty, has a big, obvious stand decked in his beautiful steel frames. He’s just launched a race team with his mates and you can see the fleet of bikes here. They look great.
Feather Cycles’ racing team bikes
Worth the entry fee alone, Veloboo brought along a €38,000 bike! For the money you get a bamboo frameset and Campagnolo Centaur. Not even Super Record. The reason why it’s so expensive, of course, is the 24-carat gold plating on the components – rims, brakes and bars. The Hungarian company didn’t gold plate the rear derailleur, because that would have been “too much”, Rafeal Petrocz at the stand told us.
Veloboo’s gold-plated bamboo frameset
Ed Vavilovas has about two square metres of floor space and three extraordinary carbon frames. He makes them at home in East London flat. There’s a standard carbon model, an ultra-high modulus version, and one that uses T700S carbon in rectangular tube profile. The name Tsubasa is the Japanese word for ‘wing’, and it’s his homage to his Japanese wife, who has been very understanding of his hobby. The carbon’s sourced from a German company – a difficult task he said – and the wooden brake mount where the seatstays converge is a wooden floorboard from his flat. Legend.
Tsubasa’s angular looking carbon monocoques frames – all homemade
There are so many great stands we could have but didn’t include in our cursory tour: Paulus-Quiros, Woodrup, Moss, Condor and Enigma for starters. If you can get down to the velodrome, do – it’s a great show and we’ll bring you more coverage this weekend.
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Online shopping giants Wiggle are poised to start selling a line of ultra lightweight road and mountain bike exotica made by a consortium of high-end brands such as the German label, Tune.?
Dubbed the Wiggle ‘Black Series’, UK distributor Poshbikes will now supply the weight-weenie friendly, hard-to-find components in a neutralised anodised black from its roster of high-end components makers which includes THM, Mcfk and AX-Lightness.
Prices are expected to be as competitive as the products are light. A 1,312g Tune alloy road wheelset will be available for ?611 (approx US$1,000/Aus$ 1,110.)
Others brands are expected to enter the Black Series programme shortly, said Poshbikes.
Poshbikes‘ Andrew Wallis said: “We’ve always taken pride in the fact that we can build up a complete bike to our customers exacting specifications whatever the price.
But with plenty of customers wanting rims from brand ‘a’, hubs from ‘b’, bars from ‘c’ and so on, the biggest problem is that it’s difficult to end up with a bike that has a unified look.”
Starter items in the range – expected to be on the Wiggle website before the end of the month – includes ultra light quick release skewers and thru-axles, bar ends, seatposts and chainsets – all from Tune.
Yesterday BikeRadar attended Cycle Vision, a trade show held by UK distributor Zyro. We got a glimpse into what’s to come from Zyro’s portfolio of brands in 2014.
Japanese tyre manufacturer Panaracer has released two new 650b tyres. Well, they aren’t exactly new – they’re rebranded versions of Pacenti tyres, which Panaracer acquired a little while back.
Originally designed by 650b pioneer Kirk Pacenti, the Neo-Moto is a square blocked all-conditions tyre that’s aimed at the enduro market. They’re available in 2.1 and 2.3in widths, and there’s also a 2.1in 29er version. They are set to retail at ?39.99
The second tyre to newly hold the Panaracer name is the Quasi-Moto, a 650b-specific, 2in tyre that is ideal for hard-pack and loose terrain. It’s also priced ay ?39.99.
Panaracer’s existing Swoop and Comet tyres have also been updated with 650b options, while the Drive Pro cross-country marathon tyre will now be produced for all three wheel sizes.
BikeRadar has already given our readers the run down on Magura’s nifty new eLECT technology, which uses a series of accelerometers to automatically adjust a fork for different riding scenarios.
The technology is now appearing on the German company’s latest line of forks, namely the TS8, which retails at ?999.99. Magura says you can retro-fit the eLECT system to all Magura forks produced from 2010, but it’s not a cheap upgrade as it costs ?599.99!
A new degreaser is available from UK cleaning experts Fenwick’s. The Fast Blast degreaser is an ideal solution for when you’re short on time or if water isn’t readily avaialble. It’s a solvent-based liquid degreaser and is more aggressive than the water-based foam cleaner that the company already offer.
The product also leaves a protective film over your chain, so you won’t be coming back to a rusty chain if you find you have run out of chain lube. A 500ml can costs ?9.99.
We also checked out the revised line-up of Co2 inflators from Genuine Innovations.
At ?14.99, the Microflate Nano is currently the cheapest route to ditching your conventional pump. It uses an auto-select head so you needn’t worry about your valve type, a single 16g threaded cartridge is included.
Then there’s the new for 2014 Hammerhead, for ?19.99. It uses a simple and easy to control push to inflate button system, once again it uses an auto-select head and is happy to accept threaded CO2 cartridges in either 12g, 16g, 20g, or 25g sizes. This one also comes with a 16g cartridge.
The top-of-the-line threaded inflator is the Airchuck. Weighing just 16g it’s super minimal, and for ?24.99 you’ll get the Airchuck plus one 16g and one 20g CO2 cartridge.
If you want to go riding without a pack or are simply looking for a convenient place to stash your CO2 inflator then Genuine Innovations have a solution – the ?6.99 X-Mount is compatible with any of the above inflators and simply straps the tool plus its cartridge to your bike frame.
For those of you who don’t fancy cold hands there are two threadless inflators, the Ultraflate Plus (?19.99) and? Proflate (?26.99). Replacement 20g threaded cartridges are sold in packs of two for ?7.99 or six for ?19.99.
Visitors to the London Bike Show in February 2014 will be in line to win a race ready ?1,799 Canyon 29er mountain bike if they pick up their discounted tickets before 8 December.
The London Bike Show, taking between 13 and 16 February at the London ExCeL, has teamed up with the German bike company to offer early bird ticket buyers a chance to win the SRAM X9-equipped Grand Canyon CF SL 7.9 2014, plus ?250 to spend on accessories. ??
Each booker will be automatically entered into the prize draw when they buy tickets for the show. BikeRadar will be at the show too, offering pro-level advice on training and fitness.
The London Bike Show runs alongside the Triathlon Plus Show, Telegraph Outdoor Adventure and Travel Show and the London International Dive Show. A London Bike Show ticket provides entry into all halls.
Visitors can save 40 percent on the ticket price if they book their tickets online before 31 December.
For more information on the show and to buy tickets, visit The London Bike Show.
Center-drive-motor system retains the name of its predecessor.
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Ritchey’s R&D crew has been busy, and the company released a flurry of new product for the 2014 model year. Updated bars, stems and seatposts are a given from the cockpit component juggernaut but also coming soon is an all-new road hub design with some intriguing convenient features.
Introducing Phantom Flange hubs
Ritchey bucks industry trends for its new road Phantom Flange road hubset, passing over straight-pull spokes in favor of traditional J-bend spokes that are easier for riders to source and replace. A clever hidden front and rear non-driveside flange design, however, lends the appearance of a straight-pull hub that may appeal to those seeking a more modern look. Rear driveside spokes are all laced heads-in to increase effective flange spacing while a slight offset prevents excessive spoke bending as they travel from hub to rim.
Other features include a conventional four-cartridge rear and two-cartridge front bearing layout but a new six-pawl driver mechanism underlying the interchangeable alloy freehub bodies. The new hubs are also light with claimed front and rear weights of just 70g and 207g, respectively.
Cyclocross racers who typically see lots of nasty weather – and frequent travelers – will likely be interested in the new hubset’s ease of disassembly. Hand-removable freehub bodies are nothing new but the Phantom Flange rear hub’s axle and driveside bearing can also be extracted without tools. This makes for quick-and-easy cleaning and relubing but also a more compact shape if you need to pack a bike into a travel case. Despite the apparently light press-fit, Ritchey marketing director Sean Coffey insists that the design isn’t prone to creaking.
The new Phantom Flange rear hub can be easily disassembled for easier servicing or more compact packing in a travel case
Ritchey will build Phantom Flange into three new road wheelsets for 2014: the WCS Carbon Apex 38mm Tubulars ($1,830; 1,379g); the WCS Carbon 46mm Clinchers ($1,980; 1,526g); and the WCS Zeta II Clinchers ($950; 1,444g). European customers will also get an ultra-deep section WCS Carbon Apex 88mm tubular option. UK pricing was not immediately available.
Tubular rims are mostly carried over from previous model years but the Zeta II Clincher hoops are all new with a 17mm internal width, tubeless-compatible profiles, and an offset rear cross-section for a more evenly balanced spoke tension. Impressively for the sub-1,500g claimed weight, Ritchey builds the Zeta II Clinchers with durable brass spoke nipples instead of lighter – but more finicky – alloy ones.
The new Ritchey WCS Zeta II alloy clinchers get wide-profile, tubeless compatible rims along with the Phantom Flange hub design
All of the new road wheels will be available in December. Notably absent, however, are any disc brake-compatible versions or MTB variants. Coffey says that certain design elements of the Phantom Flange hubs will eventually work themselves into other wheel models, though.
New Vector Evo monorail saddle system
We can hear the complaints already: “another monorail saddle system?” Ritchey claims its Vector Evo design, however, builds in greater ride comfort than either the Selle Italia Monolink or SDG I-Beam while offering similar benefits in terms of weight and adjustability.
According to Coffey, the Vector Evo’s slightly curved thermoplastic rail is built to flex a bit, which in tandem with Ritchey’s split rear shell attachment design supposedly creates a sort of leaf spring setup to take the sting out of rough roads and trails. Selle Italia’s carbon fiber Monolink, on the other hand, is exceedingly rigid and was primarily built to allow for an extremely narrow saddle nose while SDG’s I-Beam rail is typically fully attached to the shell from nose to tail, allowing for little flex.
Ritchey claims its new Vector Evo monorail saddle design offers benefits over similar systems
Even with the additional rail flex, though, Coffey claims that a specific goal of the Vector Evo design was to prevent long-term sagging, which can adversely affect a rider’s fit in as little as a few months depending on the saddle model. Since the flex is built into the rails, the Vector Evo shells are thicker and more rigid so as to better retain their shape over time.
“We wanted to come up with something where you’re not relying on excessive padding,” he told BikeRadar. “Vector Evo is designed to afford a level of compliance that you can’t get out of a traditional titanium or carbon fiber rail by distributing stress throughout the shell so that the shell can be the shell and the padding can be the padding.”
Thankfully, Ritchey’s Vector Evo saddle doesn’t necessarily require a wholly dedicated seatpost as the company’s current two-bolt ‘LINK’ posts can be retrofitted with a new top (incidentally, a Selle Italia Monolink-compatible clamp is available, too).
Ritchey’s LINK seatpost range works with a variety of rail systems just by swapping the clamp head
Vector Evo is incorporated into two saddles for 2014: the narrower, flatter, and more sparsely padded WCS Vector Evo Streem (175g) and the wider, cushier, and curvier WCS Vector Evo Contrail (220g). Both retail for $150 (UK pricing not immediately available) and are available now.
Updated bars, stems, seatposts, tires, forks, and headsets
Ritchey has tweaked several of its most popular bars and stems, too.
The alloy WCS NeoClassic sports a similar traditional-bend shape to the extant WCS Classic but with a shorter 73mm reach and shallower 128mm drop – 7mm less than the Classic. Claimed weight creeps up to 253g (42cm) as compared to the standard Classic’s 220g but retail price stays constant at $90. For now, just the alloy version is available but Coffey suggests a carbon version is being considered.
Ritchey updates its traditional-bend alloy bar with a shorter reach and drop for 2014
Likewise, the much more anatomically shaped alloy WCS Streem gets a shorter 77mm reach and 128mm drop to become the WCS Streem II. The tops also get a more aggressively flattened cross-section. Claimed weight is 275g and suggested retail price is $110.
Prefer an anatomic bend? Ritchey’s revamped WCS Streem II gets a shorter reach and drop plus more aggressively shaped tops
Stem changes are mostly limited to a couple of additional sizes. The forged aluminum WCS C260 stem ($120, 103g) will be offered in a -25? angle while the WCS Trail stem ($100) now comes as short as 45mm.
Seatposts are essentially carried over but there’s one neat new optional add-on: a plastic plug that adapts current aluminum and carbon fiber seatposts to work with Shimano’s new Di2 internal battery.
Ritchey will offer this simple Shimano Di2 internal battery adapter for just $10
New tire options for 2014 include the return of a high-end road slick and a new 27.5″ MTB model. The new Race Slick lays a single-compound layer of 60a rubber over a nylon casing and will available in WCS (700×23c and 700×25c with 120TPI casing, $40) and Comp (700×23c only with 60TPI casing, $20), both with folding aramid fiber beads. Fans of Ritchey’s evergreen WCS mountain bike tread will get new 27.5″ options, too.
Intriguingly, Ritchey has partnered with German output Acros for its new Block Lock Headset, which features an additional steerer clamp with a protruding, interlocking tab that limits movement to +/-90 degrees to prevent frame damage in a crash. Ritchey will offer the new headset in both tapered and standard sizes for $80.
Finally, there’s the all-new WCS Carbon Disc CX – a dedicated disc-only fork specifically designed for cyclocross with a 395mm axle-to-crown length, 45mm rake, and competitive 460g weight. Ritchey will offer the new fork only with a straight 1 1/8in steerer, which combined with the sleek shape should make it a better visual fit for metal frames – read into that as you will.
Look but don’t touch – Ritchey’s all-new disc-specific carbon ‘cross fork won’t be available in time for this season
Retail price is still to be determined but that’s just as well since you won’t be able to buy one in time for this year’s cyclocross season anyway. The new fork won’t be available until early February.
This mid-size pack from German mountain sports specialist Vaude has beenaround for a few years, and little has changed since it launched.?But the mantra ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t ﬁx it’ certainly applies here, because the Splash has stood the test of time.?
It’s the go-to backpack for many riders, and is ideal for full days or longer trips on the bike.
The body is made from hardwearing polyamide cloth, which is polyurethane-coated to help keep rain and spray out. We ﬁnd it does a good job of shrugging off splashes, wheel spray and?light rain, and when the rain gets heavier there’s a fold-out rain cover anyway.
The Splash’s main compartment is 20 litres, but can be expanded to 25 by releasing a cunning zipped bellows section should you need?it (such as when the bladder is?full, for instance). Vaude don’t supply a bladder, but there is a separate internal section to hold the hydration system and an exit for the hose.
The Splash has six external pockets, and the side compression straps work well to squash things down when it’s less full and prevent the contents bouncing around. There’s a clip-on helmet holder provided too.
The AirFlex curved mesh back provides good ventilation, keeping it comfortable and stopping your back getting too sweaty even after hours in the saddle.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.