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Horse for the Course: Trek Speed Concept for 12hr World TT Champs

A 12-hour time trial is not something I was ever considering until listening to an episode of The Cycling Time Trial Podcast by Mark Florence. While Michael Broadwith, the two-time British 24-hour time trial champion, recounted his experiences, it occurred to me that much of the training I’d done this year for long gravel and mountain bike races would translate fairly well to a long-format time trial.

  • 10 steps to your best-ever time trial
  • BR editor smashes world 12-hour TT record with 305.5mi

I grew up time trialing, racing mostly the 20-kilometer as a junior, but hadn’t raced a TT bike for quite some time. A quick internet search showed that RAAM’s 24-Hour World Time Trial Championships took place in early November in Borrego Springs, California. Also offered were six- and 12-hour options. I signed up after a bit more research (and reading how former BikeRadar editor Jeff Jones smashed the 12-hour record back in 2011).

  • The course: The desert landscape of Borrego Springs, California plays host to the race. A mostly flat course means that aerodynamics take priority over weight. Racers ride an 18-mile loop until 1.5 hours to go, when they switch to a 5-mile loop. Both are flat and for the most part offer smooth pavement.
  • The equipment goal: Effectively balance aerodynamics, efficiency and comfort to maximize speed and minimize the need for stops.
  • The horse: A Trek Speed Concept with Shimano Ultegra Di2, a Stages power meter, Profile Design hydration, Cobb Maxx saddle, Vittoria Corsa Speed Open tires, Wheelbuilder AeroJacket disc cover and Speedplay Zero Aero pedals.

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The 12-hour bike: Trek Speed Concept

There are a lot of fast time trial bikes on the market these days, and a growing number are designed without the UCI’s rules in mind. Because the 24 Hour World Time Trial Championships are run by the Race Across America (RAAM), I didn’t need to worry about pesky measurements, much like those who race in the time trials in the United Kingdom.

Trek’s Speed Concept can be ordered with a UCI compliant fork and bar, or — as I used it — with a more aerodynamic fork, base bar, Speed Fin rear brake cowling and Speed Box. There are more radical bikes now on the market that offer integrated storage, but I’m very familiar with the Speed Concept and wanted to ride a known quantity.

Using the Wisconsin company’s Project One program, Trek applied the custom bright blue paint and a beautiful pearl overcoat. Shimano’s Ultegra Di2 electronic shifting was key over such a long day of riding and I set up both aerobar shifters to change the rear derailleur. This meant that even while eating or drinking from a bottle, I could easily change gear with whatever hand was still on the bar. The course was exceptionally flat and I never used the small chainring except when leaving the race’s pit area, so I never missed having that option with the left aerobar shifter.

Other 12-hour gear

Bontrager Aeolus 5 wheels with Wheelbuilder AeroJacket Disc Cover

Vittoria Corsa Speed Open TLR tires

Stages Power Meter

Garmin Edge 820

Speedplay Zero Aero pedals

Cobb Max Saddle

Profile Aero HC and RML bottle carriers

Other bike prep notes

12-hour clothing, helmets and nutrition

Specialized Evade Skinsuit

IceFill Arm Coolers

Nopinz ATS Trip Sockz

Giro Aerohead MIPS and Bontrager Ballista MIPS helmets

Nutrition

The 12-hour experience overall

You can read more at BikeRadar.com

Transit strike no worry for Philly Bike Expo

PHILADELPHIA (BRAIN) — Organizers of this weekend’s Philly Bike Show say a transit workers strike, which began Nov. 1, should have little effect on this weekend’s show.  “The good news is that Regional Rail services are not affected by the transit strike,” organizers said.

Epic International bringing Australian bike storage system to US market

CINCINNATI (BRAIN) — Steadyrack of Perth Australia has named Epic International as its U.S. retail sales and marketing agent for its Steadyrack bike storage products

Surly Bikes dismisses rumors of impending troubles

BLOOMINGTON, Minn.

Hawley-Lambert lays off 13 in restructuring

LEXINGTON, S.C. and LÉVIS, Quebec (BRAIN) — Hawley-Lambert has laid off 13 staff from its Lexington offices as it continues to integrate both companies and finalizes the transition of back-end functions to Lévis, Quebec

Robot Bike Co R160: the future of bike design?

If you’ve ever dreamt of having a mountain bike that’s totally designed around you, then Robot Bike Co’s new R160 could well be the answer.

Rolling on 27.5 wheels and sporting 160mm of rear wheel travel the bike may look relatively conventional, but that’s where the similarity with anything else currently on the market ends. By using a combination of additive manufacturing – that’s 3D printing to you and I – and clever software technology, each and every bike is tailored to the exact dimensions of the rider, allowing a fit that’s fine tuned like never before. It could well point to the future of bike design, certainly at the high end of the market.

  • Dutch robots have made a rideable 3D-printed stainless steel bike
  • Mojo/Nicolai’s GeoMetron plots a future for mountain bike design
  • Best enduro bike: buyer’s guide and recommendations 

Fit as you like

The four people behind Robot Bike Co are a trio of engineers plus time-served mountain bike journalist Ed Haythornthwaite. While the idea about using additive manufacturing and carbon tubing to create a bike had been floating about between them for a long time, it was the restrictions of current high end bikes that was the deciding factor in kicking the project off. As Ed says when speaking about bikes currently on the market: “They’re supposedly no compromise bikes, but they’re compromising on one of the most important elements – fit.”

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Instead of a fixed mould and set sizes, the R160 is instead made by bonding carbon tubes to 3D printed titanium lugs. As bicycle construction techniques go, lugged tubing is one of the oldest, but taking this technique and throwing the latest technology at it has huge implications. Computer generated designs can be created from titanium powder that’s sintered into a solid form by a high power laser in layers just 60 microns thick, allowing an unprecedented design freedom.

The most important element is that they’ve been freed from the constraints of conventional carbon fibre bicycle manufacturing, where costly moulds limit the sizes on offer and preclude any flexibility beyond the layup of the carbon weave. The additive manufacturing process means that the shape of the lugs and hence the geometry of each R160 can be altered with very little difficulty on a bike-by-bike basis. It’s all to ensure that no matter what shape the rider is, they’re getting a bike that’ll feel and fit exactly how Robot Bike Co intended. 

Custom as standard

Suspension specialist

While everyone at Robot Bike Co is a specialist in their own field, when it came to the suspension platform, they realised they needed to get someone else involved. A quick email to designer Dave Weagle later and he was on board with the project. What he came up with, called the DW6 system, is a rather complicated design that has the goal of being able to isolate pedalling and braking forces as well as keeping tight control over the suspension leverage curve and axle path. To that end, the heart of the system is two small links that are mounted above and below the BB shell, giving a virtual pivot point slightly in front of the lower shock mount. It’s designed to work well with chainrings around 30-32t, though Robot say it’s possible to alter the layout of the design to work with larger chainrings, should you wish to run one. The pivot on the chainstay means that the system should stay active under braking, much like a conventional Horst-link style design, while the rocker-driven shock allows progression to be controlled. Having the shock vertically packaged and mounted to the BB avoids the need for anything to be mounted directly to the down or top tube, keeping things simple and the weight lower.
Talking of weight, at a claimed 7lbs/3.2kg for the frame and shock, it’s certainly not the lightest machine in this class out there. For example, a Mondraker Dune Carbon frame tips the scales at around a pound lighter. Even so, a complete bike build should come in at around 29lbs. Robot reckon that they could go around 200g lighter on the frame weight, but that they’d much rather make it able to last a lifetime and accordingly, it’s got a lifetime guarantee. Indeed, when testing the tube-to-lug bonding, the five-times safety limit of 6kN of force before failure was exceeded by a large margin – in fact the test machine broke before the bond did at 26kN.
You’d better be sitting down when it comes to the price tag. At £4,395 for the frame, this is not a cheap bike, but the level of technology involved means it was never going to be. Robot don’t plan to do complete bikes – they feel anyone wanting something so personalised is unlikely to want a set menu approach to finishing kit – but they can build you something up if you desire. In a day and age when it’s perfectly possible to spend similarly serious money on a mountain bike prised from a mould in the Far East, having a totally custom bike made especially for you is a rather special thing. Compared to conventional custom bikes, which can often take months from design to delivery, their unique process means they estimate a turnaround time of just four weeks, depending on demand. 

On the shoulders of engineering giants

Altair is an engineering design company that specialises in software and services. A particularly impressive and important software package allowed the basic design of elements of the bicycle to be highly refined by inputting the forces they’ll be subjected to and then calculating exactly where and how much material will be needed to provide suitable strength and stiffness. For example, the chainstay yoke went from being a fairly conventional looking item with a cross brace to an amazingly delicate and almost organic form. It’s a prime example that shows that this soft of software combined with the additive manufacturing process can free designers up to create components in ways that simply haven’t been possible before.
HiETA are also additive manufacturing specialists based nearby to Altair and when Robot Bike Co approached them for advice on setting up a business, they quickly became involved, with two of the Robot crew joining the company. For HiETA, it’s a chance to show the power of additive layer manufacturing and to demonstrate that this is a technology that’s ready to be commercially exploited right now, rather than a niche and specialist process only used in applications where cost isn’t an issue.

Are Robots the future?

There’s no doubt that the R160 is an extremely niche proposition. It’s a premium product at a premium price, but it does offer something never seen before; namely the completely new approach to fit and sizing. It’s obvious that the technologies used to create this bike are only going to more advanced, less expensive better understood and therefore exploited in even newer ways. Will this replace the way entry-level bikes are made? Almost certainly not, but at the high end, it could point to a future where the idea of buying off the shelf is an unthinkable as this sort of mass customisation is now.
We can’t wait to get out on the bike and see how it rides in the real world, something we hope to be able to do soon. Regardless of performance, the R160 could be one of the most influential machines ever made, simply because it points to a future where what was previously unachievable becomes commonplace
If this has intrigued you enough, then the robotbike.co website is now up and running and ready to take orders. Do let us know what you think in the comments below…

You can read more at BikeRadar.com

RockShox High Pressure Digital shock pump

Shock pumps are specific items for mountain bikers with air spring-equipped suspension. Suspension is best set up using externally measured sag but an accurate pump can make tuning and re-adjustments far easier.

Most pumps on the market use rather simple dial gauges, which typically work just fine. However, these can lead to some level of human error in reading and so for absolute accuracy a digital gauge is hard to beat.

Finishing second in our recent shock pump grouptest, this digital pump is sure to lead to greater inflation accuracy. While branded RockShox, this same pump can be found with Fox or even Truflo branding too. As a result, we’d recommend simply picking the one at the best price.

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  • The best mountain bike shock pumps – 11 tested

The digital gauge proved to be equal in accuracy to the test winning Syncros SP1.0, but an otherwise simpler and more generic construction brings the price down. This exact accuracy does allow for extremely precise suspension adjustment, something that can make a noticeable difference on the latest generation of high-volume, long-travel forks and shocks.

The generic valve head is basic but effective and we’re yet to see it leak air on release. It’s connected to a long hose that makes it far easier to thread into awkward gaps on some frame designs.

You can read more at BikeRadar.com

Brooklyn Bicycle Co. adds hybrids

NEW YORK —Brooklyn Bicycle Co. has expanded its lineup with the introduction of two hybrid models, the recreational bike brand’s first hybrids — the Roebling and Lorimer

Brooklyn Bicycle Co. adds hybrids

NEW YORK —Brooklyn Bicycle Co. has expanded its lineup with the introduction of two hybrid models, the recreational bike brand’s first hybrids — the Roebling and Lorimer. Brooklyn’s lineup now covers 12 models.

Industry veteran Tony Karklins buys Guru Cycles assets

CSG still owns trademark name. Karklins planning domestic carbon frame business.