Sunday, 22 January 2017

Handle The Headwind

Riding into a hardcore headwind can be like trying haul your bike up a particularly tough climb with your brakes on. Not only will they quickly drain all the fun out of a ride, but also all the energy from your legs. So how do you beat the blustery stuff when you have to ride into it?

1. Prepare

Check the weather forecast before any ride to give yourself the best possible chance of understanding what you’re heading out into. It’s worth pre-planning your route, too. A training ride that takes in sheltered roads is going to prove a fair bit more enjoyable than one that predominantly takes place on exposed ones. Think about the timing of your ride, as well. Winds tend to be lightest earlier in the day although it’s not always a given.

2. Elegance Ride

When you’re cycling, you should look to spend as much of it as possible turning the pedals in as smooth and steady a cadence as you can. Elegance is the order of the day but it’s not just about looking good. It’s about efficiency of energy. Headwinds are similar to climbs in the respect that you’re required to put in greater effort. So it pays to drop down a gear to maintain a smooth, fluid, pedalling style. Yes, this will mean riding a little slower, but it’s worth remembering that just because you can’t see it that headwind still presents a significant obstacle.

3. Keep going

It sounds corny but staying positive is the key to overcoming any obstacle, whether that be on a bike or off of it, and headwinds are no exception. As you cycle into that headwind, too, remember the words of Winston Churchill: if you’re going through hell –keep going! By which we mean don’t stop and let the enormity of the task overwhelm you, instead break it down into small, achievable victories, whether it’s reaching the next lamppost, that parked car, or the weeping cyclist at the roadside who’s found it all too much. It’s not supposed to be easy, remember, it’s supposed to push you beyond your limits.

4. Share the workload

Riding in a group, or sitting on a wheel, saves approximately 20 to 30 per cent compared to the effort required to ride at the same speed when exposed to the elements. The bigger the group, the greater the advantage, as if you’re sharing the workload – as you should – you will have a longer break in the bunch after doing your turn on the front. Stay close to the rider in front, six inches to a foot off their wheel, in order to maximise the slipstream.

5. Get down

While bicycle manufacturers seek to eek every aerodynamic gain out of their latest, greatest machine, the rider remains approximately 80 per cent of the frontal area, so get low in the drops and tuck your elbows in to reduce exposure to the wind. If riding into an ever-present headwind then you may be there for a while so it pays to have your position dialled in. Ensure that your clothing is close-fitting. That will already be the case for most performance-minded cyclists, but make sure your jacket also has a slim fit to stop it billowing in the wind and effectively acting as a sail.

Bikes Etc 1/2017

Ride On!

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Tech Talk: Specialized Turbo Levo FSR

Specialized Turbo Levo FSR

In terms of design alone, the Specialized Turbo Levo FSR is light years ahead of other e-bikes. With its battery pack concealed inside the down tube it looks like a conventional Stumpy on steroids, which is why it’s affectionately known as the Hulk. There’s no handlebar display either, so that’s one less thing to break. Instead, you control the three levels of power output (Turbo, Trail and Eco) with +/- buttons on the side of the down tube, where an LED display lets you know which mode you are in and how much battery life is left. A centre button powers up the battery with 10 LEDs showing current battery charge. Two buttons on either side of the power button take you up or down in electric assist and the LEDs show your mode when changing it, then the LEDs revert back to indicating battery life.

Mode button and battery life indicator

The system needs to read two things to engage, speed at the wheel and torque at the crank. The speed sensor is hidden behind the non-driveside dropout, the magnet mounted on two disc rotor bolts rather than a spoke. Why has Specialized gone to such lengths to do this? Simple. If the magnet for the speed sensor gets damaged or twists on a spoke the motor stops delivering electrical assistance and no one wants that on a 23.33kg bike. To measure torque, the system has a built in power meter. Using those and the mode selected, it essentially matches your effort. You pedal harder, the system outputs more. When coasting the system is off. 

Mission Control App

More complex controls are all managed with a phone app called Mission Control. Using the Bluetooth connectivity of the system’s brain located in the battery, Android and iOS users can adjust the level of assist in each mode, tune how quickly the assist is delivered, change modes, and run diagnostics on the battery and motor. The app also connects to Strava allowing you to automatically upload rides, even tagging them as e-bike rides. The app also provides a setting called Smart Control where the rider inputs parameters based on duration or distance and preferred remaining battery life at ride’s end. By checking in with your phone every 10 seconds, the system will automatically adjust its level of output. Mission Control also displays battery and motor health, number of charge cycles performed and an odometer for the motor. 

Specialized also worked with Garmin to allow Edge 1000, Edge 520 and Edge Explore 1000 users to pair with the Turbo Levo. Through Garmin’s Connect IQ app store, users can download a Specialized app that then displays assist mode, battery life, cadence, speed and power on screen. It also allows you to change assist modes on the Garmin’s touchscreen instead of reaching down to the bike’s down tube buttons. For further ergonomic enhancement, Garmin’s Edge remote can be used to toggle between Turbo, Trail and Eco modes. 

If you don’t have a newer Garmin, Specialized still has you covered. In the Mission Control app, you can use a “fake channel” to display battery life using ANT+. It will show up in your cadence or power window, depending on what you select. Battery charge time is three and a half hours from a completely flat battery to full. The custom lithium-ion battery is designed for 700 charge cycles, charging from empty to full. So, that’s nearly two years of riding every day using the battery completely each time out. Battery run times will depend on the modes used, rider weight and terrain, but typically 5,000 feet of elevation gain per charge is possible.

Only need a hex key to attach the battery

It is classified by the federal government (USA) as a low-speed electric bicycle and as such is limited to 20 mph with a maximum electric power output of 750 watts. This bike only offers a maximum of 530 watts, and an average of 250 watts when you apply force to the pedals. Assuming that the enthusiast cyclist produces about 200 watts, riding in Turbo mode is like the equivalent of having a ghost stoker on board providing an extra 250 watts of power. Trail and Eco modes both offer less assist and are independently adjustable with a smartphone app.

The downsides to the e-mountain bike seem just as clear as the benefits. Even though the Turbo Levo seems to be the best of its breed right now, it's still a heavier and more complicated machine than a regular bike. Technology will undoubtedly improve this area, but for now it’s what we’ve got. Pedaling it without power is as hard as you think. 

  • 3 mode to assist your pedalling
  • Clean and stealth look
  • Tune it with app in your smartphone
  • 530 watts ready to boost your speed
  • Connectivity with Garmin and Strava


Downtube: The down tube connects the head tube to the bottom bracket shell. 


Ride On!

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Tech Talk: Pivot Switchblade 29"

Pivot Switchblade 

The Switchblade is Pivot’s first frame compatible with both 29″ and 27.5+ wheels, the two wheel sizes have inherently very different ride attributes, so effectively two different bikes can be built from one frame. Two wheel sizes in one model of bike is not a new concept but two wheel sizes with one frame is. What’s most interesting is how two Switchblades can built with the different wheels resulting in nearly identical geometry, leaving the different ride characterise to be determined by the wheels only.

The Switchblade took five years to develop. Pivot had four prototype frames on-hand to illustrate the evolution of this bike. In the bike’s first iteration, clevis shock mounts were used to get the chainstays short, while generation two saw larger pivots and beefier links. Despite the changes, it still wasn’t as stiff as Pivot wanted it to be. As the third generation started taking shape, it gained an upper link similar to the one Pivot’s Phoenix downhill bike uses and Boost spacing. The bike was getting close to meeting Pivot’s standards—and then plus-size tires came along. 

Comparison between standard hub with super boost plus 157

To accommodate those bigger tires and still achieve the company’s stiffness and geometry goals, Pivot’s engineers needed to think outside the box. Enter Super Boost Plus 157. Super Boost Plus 157 optimizes existing standards to create what could just be a better mousetrap—especially for long travel 29ers and plus-tire-compatible bikes. It uses the existing 157x12mm rear hub spacing and the chainline that’s used for downhill bikes, but pairs that to a standard trail bike bottom bracket for 6mm more tire clearance—twice that of Boost 148. DT Swiss, Industry 9 and Reynolds are already on board, and SRAM are offering a similar 157 mm hub concept that’s also compatible.

Spacer under headtube

To ensure the BB height isn’t too low when riding with plus-size tires, Pivot delivers the bike with a spacer under the head tube. Interestingly, the same spacer can be used to slacken the head angle when running 29er wheels. According to Pivot’s founder Chris Cocalis, this offers 12mm of tire clearance and allows for super short chainstays, all while creating a stiffer, stronger wheel and frame. Q-factor remains essentially the same too. And there’s even front derailleur compatibility for 2x setups.

Q factor comparison

Super Boost Plus 157 cranks can use a PressFit 92mm or threaded 73mm bottom bracket shell. According to Pivot, several other manufacturers will also have compatible cranks available soon.The carbon front end is paired to a one-piece carbon rear triangle with a double wishbone, which Pivot claims provides excellent stiffness. Comes in at a featherlight claimed weight of 2,900 grams and shows off its descending potential with a humongous reach and a slack 67.25° head angle. Every frame size except the XS can accommodate a water bottle inside the front triangle. If you flip the shock body, you can fit an even bigger bottle.

Internal route cable

Besides the rear hub, it’s clear the Switchblade has been designed with a keen eye for detail. The internal cable routing and guides are well thought-out and there is a removable chip on the underside of the down tube near the bottom bracket for a Shimano Di2 battery. To protect the shiny carbon there are integrated rubber chainstay and down tube protectors and a metal plate to fend off chain slap.


  • Compatible with 1x or 2x chainring
  • Super Boost Plus 157 Freehub
  • Di2 ready
  • Can use it with 29" or 27,5+" wheels
  • Super Boost Plus 157 Crank
  • Adjustable head angle


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.

Downtube: The down tube connects the head tube to the bottom bracket shell. 

Chainstay: The chain stays run parallel to the chain, connecting the bottom bracket shell to the rear dropouts


Ride On!

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Achilles Tendinopathy

The Achilles tendon is an extremely strong structure that is put under enormous stress during high impact activities such as running. In many runners, the tendon will withstand this stress and allow the runner to enjoy miles and miles of pain-free running. However, it is common for the Achilles tendon to become injured.

Achilles tendinopathy is often considered an overuse injury, but can also occur in novice runners who are beginning to increase their mileage. Achilles tendinopathy is a degenerative condition in which the tendon is not able to withstand stress placed upon it. Stress or loading as a result of impact results in micro damage to the tendon, which the body is unable to adapt to.

Right it's wrong..left it's normal

Although Achilles tendinopathy is an extremely common injury, the mechanism by which it occurs is still not fully understood. There are various theories presented by scientists, and it is believed that a multitude of factors may contribute to an individual sustaining this injury.

Achilles tendinopathy is also more common in people who have certain types of arthritis, such as ankylosing spondylitis or psoriatic arthritis. It is also thought that your genetic 'makeup' (the material inherited from your parents which controls various aspects of your body) may play a part for some people who develop Achilles tendinopathy. It is also more common in people who have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes.

The primary symptom of Achilles tendinopathy is pain, which is often accompanied by swelling and tenderness to touch. Pain is normally described in a pattern, whereby it is worse in the morning, and eases with activity throughout the day.

Research suggests that runners with poor calf muscle strength may be more susceptible to injury, as the weakness in the muscle is compensated for by the tendon. This mechanism tends to be prevalent in novice runners who may be running more mileage than their body is prepared for, putting extra strain on the tendon.


Runners who undergo excessive foot motion (known as pronation) may be more susceptible to this injury. Pronation occurs when the bones of the foot move in response to striking the floor, either through walking or running. As muscles are attached to bones (via tendons) the muscles stretch when bones move, which is essential for stimulating them to contract. Over-pronation results in too much movement of the bones around the Achilles, meaning the muscles and tendons have to work in a greater range of motion than is optimal. This additional lengthening means that there is asymmetry within the system, which results in tissue micro trauma and pain for the runner. It is, however, important to note that pronation is a normal movement, and is required to absorb shock during impact.

There are a number of treatments that may help. The treatments below are usually suggested first. They are all considered as conservative treatments. This means treatments that do not involve surgery. 

Principles of conservative treatment:

• Improving the tendons tolerance to load.

• Biomechanical correction 

• Manual therapy 

• Strength training and correcting training errors

Rest and time off from sporting activities are important if you have Achilles tendinopathy. At first, you should stop any high-impact activities or sports (such as running). As pain improves, you can restart exercise as your pain allows. It is thought that complete rest, if it is prolonged, can actually be worse for the injury.

Painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen may help to relieve pain. However, you should not use ibuprofen or other NSAIDs for more than 7-14 days if you have Achilles tendinopathy. This is because they may possibly reduce the ability of the tendon to heal in the long term. They may also cause symptoms of Achilles tendinopathy to be masked, or covered up, which again may delay healing.

Ice packs
Ice treatment may be useful for pain control and may help to reduce swelling in the early stages of Achilles tendinopathy. An ice pack should be applied for 10-30 minutes. Less than 10 minutes has little effect. More than 30 minutes may damage the skin. 

Achilles tendon exercises

Exercise to strength your achilles

Some special exercises to help to stretch and strengthen your Achilles tendon have been proven to be helpful. You should aim to do these every day. Such exercises may help with pain control and stiffness. A physiotherapist may be able to help you with these exercises as needed. They may also use other treatments such as ultrasound and massage to help relieve symptoms and promote healing of your Achilles tendon.

An orthotics specialist may suggest changing your footwear or putting special inserts in your shoes, such as inserts to lift your heel. This may help to reduce pain and symptoms.

However, if conservative management has failed you then these are the more radical options you could consider:

Injections around, but not within, the tendon may help, but the research is really lacking. The most popular type of injection given at the moment is a high-volume steroid and saline mix. But many are cautious about using steroid near the tendon because of the potential for weakening the surrounding tissue.

There have been quite big advances in surgery and it is possible to have a minimally invasive operation. However, this type of surgery is relatively new and more data is needed to evaluate its effectiveness.

Running Fitness Winter 2016

Run On!

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Tech Talk: Focus Jam

Focus Jam
FOCUS have launched the JAM in both an aluminium and a carbon frame, featuring identical geometry and typical FOCUS trademarks like the large cable entry on the left side of the head tube. Developed in-house in Stuttgart, the carbon fibre chassis isn’t just super stable, but also lightweight at just 2.060 g (size M). One of the key design elements of this frame is the muscular front end, where the top tube seam- lessly flares into the head and down tube. Boost 148 and Boost 110 hub standards ensure stiffer and more stable wheels.

When it comes to its geometry the FOCUS JAM promising fun with its slack 66.8° head angle, long frame (reach 44 mm in size large) and short 425 mm chainstays. FOCUS paid particular attention to achieving a balance between the reach and the stack, which means the bigger frame sizes don’t just have a longer top tube but also a longer head tube.

The Guide and Main link
F.O.L.D. stands for Focus Optimized Linkage Design, and there’s essentially a multi-link rear end design with two rockers (the guide link and the main link), which FOCUS claim are responsible for a number of advantages. The system is divided into two main steps, known as its two-way travel arrangement. Within the lower 30% of travel, the system works degressively for super sensitivity, thereby eliminating micro-bumps and generating immense grip. For the remainder of the travel, the spring rate is progressive, keeping firm in its travel and delivering a lot of feedback.

2 phase kinematic shock
The core of the F.O.L.D. design is the one piece rear triangle with no bearing linkage in rear end, which results not only in massive weight savings but also significantly minimizes the unsprung weight. The linkages are made up of the wider outer Guidelink that connects the rear triangle in while maximizing rear end stiffness, and then the inner Mainlink that controls the shock’s movement. Everything is positioned closer to the center of the bike and lower for a lower center of gravity to deliver improved handling. The new suspension layout has the added benefit of sheltering the pivots and suspension hardware more behind the seattube and out of the way of mud spray for more long-term durability. On the seatstay bridge of the rear triangle, Focus has included a removable front derailleur mount that lets the bikes be cleanly built up with either 1x or double drivetrains.


  • F.O.L.D suspension technology
  • Run 1x or 2x drivetrain
  • Internal route for cables
  • Can add 1 bottle cage in the downtube
  • Boost axle spacing


Toptube: The top tube connects the top of the head tube to the top of the seat tube.

Downtube: The down tube connects the head tube to the bottom bracket shell. 

Chainstay: The chain stays run parallel to the chain, connecting the bottom bracket shell to the rear dropouts

Headtube: The head tube contains the headset, the bearings for the fork via its steerer tube.

Seattube: The seat tube contains the seatpost of the bike, which connects to the saddle

Seatstay: The seat stays connect the top of the seat tube to the rear dropouts


Ride On!

Friday, 13 January 2017

Tech Talk: Cannondale Bad Habit

Cannondale Bad Habit
Plus bikes are hot, not just because they are the new, shiny bikes on the display window but because they really work for a lot of riders. The extra traction and cushioning of the big tires at low pressure helps riders ride safer, go faster and have more fun. The all-new Bad Habit Carbon takes the spot-on trail manners of the Habit and supercharges them with 27+ wheels to create the ultimate technical trail bike. The Ai offset drivetrain delivers super short chainstays for superior traction and tons of clearance for full 3.0 tires.

Swallow 3.0 tyre
The Bad Habit Carbon gets the latest Cannondale racing tech featuring lightweight BallisTec carbon, SmartForm C1 swingarm, Boost 148 rear axle and a super light carbon link. A 68 degree head angle and 74 degree seat angle are spec’d here. Chainstay is 17.4 inches and that is pretty good for a bike that can take a full 3.0 tire. Bottom bracket height is a low 13.1 inches so this will carve up terrain nicely. Putting a smaller 2.8 tire will improve handling but will put the bottom bracket at 12.9 making tech climbs more difficult.

No pivot here
Key to the new frame design is its aluminium flex-stays. Instead of having pivots at the dropouts, the seatstays are tuned to bend vertically, which allows the 120mm-travel suspension to cycle without binding. This ‘Zero Pivot’ design also adds rigidity and saves weight. Up front, the Habit frame uses a straight oversized head tube to accommodate the 1.5in steerer of the one-legged Lefty fork. Internally, the latest generation has updated Trail+ damping and revised controls, including a lock-out button for climbing. This Lefty uses a single 44mm upper leg and 32mm slider, and requires a dedicated hub.

  • Updated Lefty fork
  • 3.0 tyres
  • Carbon frame with aluminium swingarm
  • Quick release
  • Boost 148 rear axle


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.

Chainstay: Tube connect BB housing with rear end


Ride On!

To provide the extra clearance needed for fatter tyres, the frame uses a . Oversized BB30 and expanding collet hardware on the main pivot and shock linkages increase frame stiffness too. Rather