Monday, 31 October 2016

Tech Talk: Trek Domane SLR

Trek Domane SLR

The Trek Domane may not have been the first endurance bike when it was launched in 2012 but it played a pivotal role in defining the genre of comfort-focused race bikes. Now Trek are back with the Domane SLR and have upped the ante once again. It’s an exceptionally comfortable machine – but one which, in its Pro Endurance geometry, retains the handling and responsiveness of a true race bike.
The second generation Domane SLR offers an improvement in ride comfort and smoothness over the previous model. Like the original Domane, this new version was developed with input from Classics specialist Fabian Cancellara. 

The original IsoSpeed concept relied on the entire seat tube to flex under bump forces but this latest Domane SLR borrows the current Madone’s twin seat tube design to separate structural and ride comfort roles. The new Domane SLR still incorporates a ‘decoupler’ at the seat cluster but whereas the original Domane’s seat tube and integrated seatmast were one continuous section, those parts are split apart on the Domane SLR and sandwiched next to each other with the smaller half behaving like a flattened leaf spring. 

Slide up or down to fine the right tune of rear compliance

The main seat tube is now rigidly attached to the top tube and down tube as on a conventional carbon fibre frame while the thinner, secondary seat tube is moulded as one piece with the no-cut integrated seatmast and anchored down near the bottom bracket. It’s this smaller, secondary frame section that passes through the IsoSpeed decoupler. “You’re using the seattube as the leverage point, just as you did in the original Domane, but now you have a level of adjustment,” says Ben Coates, Trek’s road bike product manager. “As you move the slider up, you reduce the compliance by using less of the seattube, and as you slide the slider down, you’re increasing compliance by using more of the seattube.” Moving it toward the bottom bracket yields the longest spring and softest spring rate; moving it up makes it progressively shorter and stiffer. According to Trek, the most comfortable setting is now 14% softer than before but the least is 25% more firm. Changing the ride quality requires just a few seconds with a 4mm hex wrench and your fingers.

The front Iso Speed Decoupler look like

The front IsoSpeed Decoupler allow fore and aft movement, but not side to side

A common complaint with the original Domane centred around the front end feeling much stiffer than the compliant rear end. To solve this, Trek has integrated an IsoSpeed decoupler into the head tube, allowing a specially shaped carbon fibre steerer tube to bend slightly between the two headset bearings. Normally, a bike’s front end will flex at the fork’s legs, and then a very small amount where the steerer tube protrudes above the top headset cap, plus a bit in the handlebar and stem. By adding a pivot in the head tube, Trek engineers allowed a much longer section of the steerer tube to flex. Since it’s anchored on either side, there is no laterally play in the steerer, so it feels like a normal bike when you are steering, climbing or cornering.

Bontrager dropbar with IsoCore

Trek’s Bontrager division contributed to the new Domane with a handlebar technology dubbed IsoCore. Sandwiched between the layers of carbon-fiber composite is a layer of thermoplastic elastomer. This layer reduces high-frequency vibration by 20 percent compared to a standard handlebar, Trek’s press-release states, and according to Coates only adds about 20 grams to the handlebar (claimed weight for a 42cm width is 249g). If this sounds somewhat familiar, it’s because IsoCore sounds a lot like Counterveil, which is found in the frame and fork of the excellent Bianchi Specialissima. The difference between the front IsoSpeed and the IsoCore handlebar, Trek say, is the former deals with big hits dished up by the road, while the latter is focused more on high-frequency vibrations. Combined with the adjustable rear IsoSpeed, Coates says the Domane SLR offers “an incredibly balanced front and rear end feel.”


Seattube: The tube where the seatpost going, its linked a downtube, toptube, chainstay and seatstay.

Toptube: The tube link between the headtube and seattube.

Downtube: The tube link between the headtube and bottom bracket.

Headtube: the head tube is the part of a cycle's tubular frame within which the front fork steer tube is mounted


Ride On!

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Tech Talk: Zerode G Series

Zerode G2 

The derailleur system, been around since 1800’s, still going strong. The parallelogram method has had one hell of a good innings. Campagnolo’s Gran Sport of 1949 vintage, Suntour’s slant of 1964 and Shimano’s index system from 1985 have all advanced the pastime of cycling. Trouble is mountainbiking involves a load of shit being introduced to such systems – mud, grit and finely tuned transfers have never had a fully engaging life off–road. Pure downhill is a sport of few shifts especially on the non–competitive side, many have proved that even a bike less its mode of drive can sometimes be faster…chainless races. 

The idea of a gearbox was intriguing to say. For a start, the gears and the parts used to shift them are packed away in a weatherproof housing. Mud and water can’t get at them, wear is reduced and there are no fragile bits of metal to snag and break on rocks. Shifting is smooth and consistent – smashing in another cog under maximum exertion over the finishing line will feel exactly the same as your first shifts of the day rolling around the car park. But, they have hardly taken off. Heavy, overly engineered and expensive, nobody has really introduced anything that is anything more than a passing flirtation. New Zealand manufacturer Zerode have an answer to many of these questions.

Custom Shimano Alfine Internal Gear Hub

Zerode gearboxes are modified Shimano Alfine planetary hub transmissions. The crankset drives the hub transmission, which then in turn, drives a single sprocket at the rear wheel. The G's high-pivot swingarm would normally create massive amounts of chain growth, but the frame's jack-shaft arrangement allows Zerode to use the placement of the gearbox hub to all but eliminate it.

Two Chainline

Zerode suggest using a 32th ring up front and a 21th at the rear. In the manual that comes with the frame they suggest the recommended different chain lengths needed using these ring sizes. To keep the drive-chain tensioned throughout the suspension cycle, a stock Alfine tensioner is used on the inside of the chainstay. Another benefit of the gearbox is that the chain-line remains straight as an arrow - which takes stress off of the drivetrain and prevents mid-course derailments.

The Chainline was Crankset-Gearbox-Freehub

There is one chain that connects the rear wheel to the gearbox, and another chain from the chainring to the second ring on the gearbox. The chain that attaches to the crankset is also able to be tensioned via the bolts that connect the gearbox hub to the frame. This takes up the slack in the chain and the Alfine.

For those of you out there who maybe worried about the complexities of having a ‘gearbox’ on your bike, you needn’t worry too much. This is actually a Shimano Alfine rear hub, a relatively common item here that can be serviced. This type of hub has been used on folding bikes for years.While the hub maybe a heavy item, with it’s location in snugly above the shock in the mainframe, the weight isn’t so much of an issue. It takes weight away from the unsprung part of the bike, this offers better suspension performance, allowing a more sensitive rear end through the rough stuff.


Chain growth: The distance between the bottom bracket and rear axle lengthening as the bike goes through its travel


Ride On!

Saturday, 29 October 2016

(Don't) Be Like A Pro

Pro cyclist taught as many ways to build, maintain and boost our cycling performance. We can admire and imitating their discipline, race strategy or the way of their life, from nothing to something. But, there's certain parts of their job we should think twice before imitating.

1. Extreme Technique


Crouching low on the top-tube, and pedalling it looked extreme. Whether it was, as Froome claimed, a “spur of the moment thing” or an act of extreme calculation conceived aboard Team Sky’s ‘Death Star’ coach, it was something that even he suggested should be left to the pros. “Please don’t try this at home #safetyfirst,” Froome tweeted, though he swiftly undermined that by retweeting a video of a six-year-old doing just that…

Transferring your weight to the front of the bike destabilises you and heightens the risks of falling should you hit a pothole or stone. Descending off mountains has enough inherent risks without adding more to the pot. Never be afraid to have fun on your bike but be aware of the variables that professional riders are able to control. They have the whole road to play with, a high level of confidence that motor vehicles won’t get in the way and they may well have extensively recced the stretch of road they attempt the risky maneuver on.

2. Being A Weight Weenie

The price of that parts sure more weighty than your writing in paper

Saving grams anywhere they can is an obsession for some riders: see the way Alberto Contador has changed his bike before the final climb of a stage for a bike with tyres so fine and light that they’ll only be used once. Do the pros take it too far? Perhaps, but why they go to such lengths is because they’ve nothing to spare from their bodies. Ben Wilson, a coach for says: “People often go for the easy buy rather than take the time to learn the skills that will make their hobby more fun or safer. It’s a shortcut to lose weight from the bike by spending money, rather than lose it from yourself.”

3. Tubs

Ask yourself, can you patch and sew that thing?

‘Tubs’ are the tyre of choice for the pros; they’re a lighter overall package have a reduced chance of puncturing and they allow cyclists to continue if they do flat. Tricky to fit, even trickier to repair, tubs also depend heavily on the skills of the mechanic fitting them. A bad glue job can lead to a tyre rolling off the rim, with predictably catastrophic results. With the cons heavily outweighing the benefits, tubulars are totally impractical for everyday use. Even pros will train on clinchers and, in time trials at least, some are now using them in competition.

4. Riding Through Injury

Hardcore enough eh? He must go because he paid for that, if its you, you better stop riding and go to hospital because nobody paid you for that

In the crazy world of pro racing, where contracts are short and careers forever on a knife-edge, riding through injury is an occupational hazard. It can almost be excused if the injury happens during a big stage race. But if the rider is going through a season from race to race, with persistent injury, it’s a recipe for disaster. As amateurs, we should give ourselves much more slack than professionals get. We cycle for enjoyment and if an injury is impeding that, we need to rest up and come back when we’re fit and healthy. If we’re injured or come down with illness during or just prior to our big season goal, it’s worth testing the water to see if you can continue. If you can’t, fine – you can stop without regret.

5. Full Carbon Wheels

Oww Yeah!

All pros run these, no matter the conditions or terrain, but we should think twice. Carbon wheels, depth for depth, are lighter than alloy rims but their braking ability in the wet plummets – and while pros are skilful enough to overcome this, we might not be. “In events in the mountains, a solid, reliable set of wheels is better than a lightweight set that might not last the duration of your trip,” says Ben Wilson. Full carbon wheels can also be tricky to maintain, particularly when spokes break, and although the technology has come on in recent years, the heat build-up in the rims from braking can deform the wheel. However, this is only a problem when you use rim brakes – disc brakes are hugely improved performers in the wet. They’ll prolong the life of your wheel, and perhaps do the same for you too.

6. Training for hours and hours

C'mon dude, just a little bit more..

Pros train all day everyday because they race ridiculously long distances that we will never race and only a few will ever ride. Us amateurs don’t have all day to train, as family, jobs, university or school all get in the way. Mostly we can only race in the evening or at weekends, and then only if it doesn’t clash with so and so’s wedding, or birthday party, or the kids shopping session. Do yourself a favour: forget high mileage and get a turbo trainer; use it all year round to supplement your real riding. Concentrate on quality not quantity as cycle races are not won by those who can cycle the furthest, but those who can cycle a set distance the fastest. Train for the amount of time that matches your races. If your races last 2 hours, train to ride fast for 2 hours, not steady for 4 hours.

Not every parts suit your needs and not every technique safe for yourself. 

Remember, we cycling for health and happiness, not for living.

Cycling Plus, November 2016

Ride On!

Friday, 28 October 2016

Tech Talk: Specialized S-Works Venge ViAS

Specialized S-Works Venge ViAS

Two minutes. That’s how much faster Specialized claims the new Venge ViAS is compared with a standard road bike over a flat 40km. Tested to be a full minute faster than the previous Venge, the 2016 Specialized Venge features dramatic aero features such as a truncated head tube, an integrated low-riding stem, an elongated front brake mounted behind the fork and a rear brake tucked midway up the seat tube. 

The ViAS was modelled in McLaren’s in-house MIDAS (McLaren integrated data analysis integration software) system, the same system the car manufacturers use for mathematical simulations of the interaction between a track and their Formula One cars and equipment. Spesh then took that bike to their wind tunnel to optimise aerodynamics and develop what they claim to be razor-sharp handling.

 Specialized S-Works Venge ViAS Frameset

At 1,150g, the Venge ViAS frame is certainly not light. But after long-term modelling work with McLaren Applied Technologies, Specialized is highly confident that the massive reduction in aero drag will override the weight penalty for most riders in most situations in terms of overall speed. In overhauling the Venge, Specialized's designers decided to focus on making the most aero, best handling road bike possible. Freed from the “it has to be ultralight” mandate of most road bikes, Specialized designers, engineers and product managers like Chris D’Alusio, Luc Callahan and Mark Cote pushed the envelope.

The front end is nearly as stiff as the current S-Works Tarmac, and the bottom-bracket-area stiffness is higher than any Specialized road bike. With a longer seatpost than before, there is a slight increase in flex and thus comfort, though Specialized declined to quantify how much. But what about those brakes? Early aero road bikes were notorious for sub-par braking, as designers often compromised brake mechanics while chasing aero performance. 

Radical Looks Caliper

Longtime Specialized designer Chris D’Alusio started tinkering with the Venge brake design years ago. Largely unconstrained by a weight target, D’Alusio was free to focus on aerodynamics and brake performance. D’Alusio and Specialized studied wheel flex in relation to various points on bike frames in general, and found that there was more movement below the bottom bracket at above the seatstays than in between the two, where the Venge brake is anchored. Specialized aero engineer Chris Yu also pointed out that tunnel testing showed the under-the-chainstay brake location is not good for aerodynamics, as the down tube can speed up and funnel air through that area. “We tested against [Shimano] Dura-Ace 9000 for feel, modulation and power,” D’Alusio said. “And the Venge ViAS brakes are right on par.” 

Less is more

Sleek and cables in front end

In building the Venge ViAS, Specialized adopted a holistic approach. While one man’s integrated can be another man’s incompatible, Specialized decided the gain in aerodynamics was worth giving up some compatibility. Aero, non-standard seatposts are now common on road bikes, but integrated stems and brakes are a step further. Similarly, with the new Venge ViAS, the swooped handlebar is a requirement, too, unless you happen to want a really low bar position. While cables might not seem like much, they certainly can increase drag on a bike, which is why you increasingly see them hidden away on time trial bikes. To hide cables and wires from end to end, Specialized employed wide headset bearings to route the derailleur and brake lines from inside the stem down into the frame.


Stem:The stem is the component on a bicycle that connects the handlebars to the steerer tube of the bicycle fork. Sometimes called a goose neck, a stem's design belongs to either a quill or threadless system, and each system is compatible with respective headset and fork designs.

Seattube: The tube where the seatpost going, its linked a downtube, toptube, chainstay and seatstay.

BB/Bottom Bracket: The bottom bracket on a bicycle connects the crankset (chainset) to the bicycle and allows the crankset to rotate freely. It contains a spindle that the crankset attaches to, and the bearings that allow the spindle and cranks to rotate. The chainrings and pedals attach to the cranks. The bottom bracket fits inside the bottom bracket shell, which connects the seat tube, down tube and chain stays as part of the bicycle frame.

Seatstay: The tube connect seattube with rear drop out

Headset: The headset is the set of components on a bicycle that provides a rotatable interface between the bicycle fork and the head tube of the bicycle frame.


Ride On!

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Tech Talk: Specialized Stumpjumper FSR 650B

Spez Stumpjumper FSR 650B

When it comes to heritage, prestige and experience, the Specialized Stumpjumper FSR rules supreme. From the very beginning it defined every generation of innovation, changing from hardtail to full suspension, and stood as the yardstick by which all were measured. 

The Stumpjumper has always been Specialized’s do-it-all trail bike. As such, they haven’t gotten too carried away adding heaps of travel and making it overly long or slack. A 67-degree head tube angle makes for a surefooted descender, and the 74-degree seat tube angle creates a comfortable pedaling position. The Stumpjumper now offer significantly shorter chainstays thanks to the Taco Blade front derailleur mount first introduced on the Enduro 29. The chainstays are about as short as you can get for a full suspension bike at 420mm (16.5″).

Short Chainstay

The front triangle is carbon fiber paired with aluminum seat and chainstays. Like Specialized’s other carbon mountain bikes, the Stumpjumper features a SWAT (Storage, Water, Air, Tools) door behind the water bottle cage. If you’re unfamiliar with the SWAT concept, it’s a removable trap door located underneath the water bottle cage that allows you to put a tube, tools and anything else into your downtube.

SWAT door open

The water bottle cage screws into a flat and wide plastic door on a hinge, and the door clips positively into place with no hint of a rattle when riding. Inside the frame the carbon is immaculately smooth, the internal cables are housed inside moulded piping, and a little plastic net clips into place at the bottom to stop anything from dropping down too far towards the bottom bracket. Specialized includes a tube inside a protective wrap and a small tool roll, sans tools.It’s a handy way to always have your bike ready to rip without needing to cram tools in your jersey pockets or carry a pack.

This shock features "autosag" from Spez

The Rockshox Monarch RT shock gets a bespoke "Rc Trail Tune" and "Autosag" side valve for easy setup of the 150mm travel. Jan Talavasek created Autosag so that it is super easy to set up your sag. The idea is that it's quick, correct and repeatable. Specialized tuned Autosag with Rock Shox and Fox, depending on was making the shock at the time, so that the shock settled into its travel where we though you would want the experience on each bike to be. 

Most shocks have a port that balances the positive and negative air chambers inside the shock. The Autosag system works on that balance. You over-inflate the positive air chamber so the bike is totally extended, the riders sits on the bike in their riding gear with the shock fully open, the press the Autosag button and it bleeds out the excess air. It automatically balances the positive and negative chambers to whatever sag-level Specialized set. The rear shock uses a custom cradle to connect to the shock driver yoke, which in turn connects to the u-shaped linkage of specialized FSR kinematic (The arrangement of pivots and linkages in a suspension system and how they interact)


Head Angle: Angle of headtube in bicycle frame

Seattube angle: Angle of seattube in bicycle frame

Chainstay: The tube connect BB house with rear drop out

Sag: The amount of suspension travel used up when the bike settles with a rider on board.


Ride On!

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Tech Talk: Lauf Grit

Lauf Grit

Those with a keen eye for bicycle developments will have taken note of the rise in gravel bikes – road bikes with wider tyres, relaxed geometry and a go-anywhere attitude. When it comes to crossing loose, rough roads, their slacked-out angles give stability and confidence while wider treads aid grip and comfort. However, when things get really bumpy or roughness is maintained for a prolonged period, fatigue and discomfort aren’t far away. 

The Grit has a carbon main body with two carbon lowers, which are attached to the main body by 12 glass-fibre leaf springs. The wheel sits on a bolt-thru-axle between the lowers that moves in relation to the upper and provides the suspension. the fork sits nicely into around 6mm of sag and the (sagged) AC length of 409mm shouldn’t mess up your geometry. 

That's looking weird eh?

Whereas traditional suspension forks have stanchions moving past seals into a lower, the leaf spring design of the Grit means there are no moving parts creating friction between each other. Usually it’s this friction that kills high-frequency buzz and so the ride from the Grit is incredibly smooth. 

While most suspension forks allow adjustments to compression and rebound, and often lock-outs, the Grit has none. Lauf argues that the short travel and stiff-ish spring means that there’s little need for adjustment. The glass fibre springs themselves have a bit of damping in them. The carbon construction means that the fork is light, coming in at a claimed 900g. That's heavier than a regular carbon road fork but considerably lighter than most suspension forks. Be warned, it does have a rider weight limit of 110kg.

Flat Mount Brake Spacing

You must read it before install the caliper

The Grit should be compatible with most gravel bikes on the market, with a tapered 1 1/4–1 1/8” steerer, and included 1 1/2” adaptor, 160mm (min) flatmount brake spacing (It’s designed around a 160mm rotor minimum. So, to run a standard disc brake caliper on a 160mm rotor, you’ll only need the 140mm spacer), 12x100 and 15x100mm axle options and 700x42c (or 27.5” x 2.1”) maximum tyre size.

Love it or hate it


Ride On!