Cyclocross racing, with its drop bars, skinny tires and lycra-clad racers, might seem like a distant cousin to mountain biking, but it’s also definitely not the same as road riding. For starters, it’s done mostly off the road, and the bikes have wider tires with some serious tread. However, the sport still requires road strength and mountain bike skills, and a whole lot of finesse…and fitness. Have a look at some of this video of the UCI Cyclocross World Cup stop in Namur, Belgium this past weekend. I guarantee that course would be more than challenging for most fat-tire lovers. Yet the men and women racing on Sunday crushed it with fully-rigid bikes sporting tires no wider than 33mm.
2014/2015 UCI Cyclocross World Champion Mathieu van der Poel from the Netherlands took the win for the elite men on Sunday, as well as the previous day at the Scheldecross in Antwerp. Finally recovered from an injury that hampered his performance last season, van der Poel is on fire recently, taking several wins ahead of current world champion, Wout van Aert.
We had the good fortune to spend some time pouring over van der Poel’s Stevens Superprestige cyclocross rig before his win along the sandy river banks in Antwerp, Belgium. The Stevens Superprestige, named for the famed cyclocross series in Belgium, features a full carbon fiber frame and fork, with hydraulic disc brakes and Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 drivetrain.
Let’s have a closer look.
Pivot Cycles is billing its new Vault as a do-all cyclocross racer, gravel grinder and road bike. Pivot lowered the bottom bracket, shortened the chainstays and increased tire clearance and still created a frame shape comfortable for shouldering the thing if you’re the type to hop over barriers.
The frameset comes with flat-mount disc brakes (140-160 mm rotors), thru axles, internal cable routing, electronic shifting capabilities, a BB386EVO bottom bracket (with oversized 30 mm diameter spindle) and two bottle cage mounts.
The Vault comes in sizes XS through L for riders between 5’3” and 6’3”. One build kit is offered at $4,000 and includes Shimano Ultegra 2×11, Shimano CX 505 hydraulic disc brakes, Stans Grail wheels and Maxxis Mud Wrestler 700×33 tires.
After we rode the radical Cannondale Slate with its high-tech suspension fork, and got down and dirty with the Lauf leaf spring suspension fork on a fat bike, it only seemed like a matter of time before the two concepts came together.
Adventure riding is all about taking your bike places that you didn’t think it would go and having the freedom to explore. A suspension fork lets you push just that extra little bit harder and rip down that fire road or pothole street without worrying about every little bump.
Lauf has embraced that concept with its new Grit suspension fork for gravel and adventure bikes. Designed much like the brand’s mountain bike and fat bike forks, it uses a dozen glass fiber leaf springs to provide 30 mm of travel—just enough to take the edge off without changing the nature of the handling.
It’s available with either a 15 mm thru axle or the new 12 mm road standard, and can fit up to a 700×42 tire or 27.5 x 2.1. The 409 mm axle-to-crown and 47 mm offset pair with a tiny amount of sag to create a geometry that closely matches that of a traditional cyclocross or gravel fork. At 900 grams there is a small weight penalty over a standard fork, but being able to rip any descent should more than make up for it.
We have a Lauf Grit on the way and we’ll be putting it through its paces so keep an eye out for more. Consumer deliveries should begin in August and it will retail for $790.
Photos by Jesse Carmondy and the author
It was a pretty difficult prototype to disguise. When former professional racer Tim Johnson started ripping around on a modified Cannondale affixed with a Lefty suspension fork a few years ago it attracted quite a bit of attention. Would he race cyclocross on it? Was it even allowed? Was it just an experiment?
The concept isn’t new, of course. In the mid-1990s, RockShox debuted the Paris-Roubaix fork for road bikes and it carried its riders to the top step in the eponymous race three years in a row. While it seemed like a wave of the future, its popularity faded as quickly as it raced over the cobbles. In the early 2000s, Cannondale had a series of cyclocross bikes built with the brand’s distinctive HeadShok. The 2003 lineup saw both a HeadShok version and a disc-brake model—models that would then roll right into the history books. Lightweight carbon fiber dominated bicycle development for the next decade instead of suspension and braking technologies.
But the wheel keeps spinning and earlier this year Cannondale elicited a collective “what the…?” with the introduction of the Slate, a 650b road bike with an all-new version of the Lefty fork. While it may seem outrageous, if any brand was going to build such a bike it would be Cannondale, as the company has never shied away from some creative ideas in the course of its 35-year history.
As riders have continued to push the envelope of what is considered rideable on a “road” bike, Cannondale embraced the opportunity to create a bike that was overwhelmingly specific in its design purpose. It’s also likely to appeal to the rider who wants one bike that can do a little bit of everything and look like nothing else.
Everything about the Slate’s design began with the fork, in this case a completely new version of the Lefty chassis designed specifically for this model. Dubbed the Oliver, it has 30 mm of travel and a carbon case that keeps the weight at a reasonable 1,100 grams.
Attached to the Oliver is a 6069-alloy aluminum frame with several design cues from other Cannondale models. The seatstays and chainstays are radically shaped to allow for vertical flex, similar to the SAVE design used on other Cannondale models. There are fender eyelets at the rear dropouts, and two eyelets near where a seatstay bridge would normally be. Cannondale said it is working on a fender set designed specifically for the bike that will mount there.
While some Cannondale models use a smaller 25.4 mm seatpost for even more comfort, the Slate has a 27.2 mm post and can be outfitted with one of the few dropper posts on the market with internal cable routing available in that size.
There are three models of the Slate for 2016, and each of them ships with the Oliver fork, hydraulic brakes, Panaracer/Cannondale tires and Cannondale SI cranks. The frame is also identical on all three, with a 142×12 thru-axle and BB30 crankset. Cannondale is sticking with that design despite its less-than-stellar reputation, and mine creaked throughout my test ride.
2016 Slate lineup
Slate Force CX1, SRAM 1×11 drivetrain, SRAM Force CX1 brakes, $4,260
Slate Ultegra, Shimano 2×11 drivetrain, Shimano R685 brakes, $3,520
Slate 105, Shimano 2×11 drivetrain, Shimano R505 brakes, $2,980
While the frame and fork are designed to take the edge of the ride, Cannondale didn’t want to sacrifice performance, so its geometry falls in between that of its EVO race bikes and Synapse endurance road bikes. Because the outside circumference of the 650x42c tires is the same as a 700x23c tire, the chainstays can remain road-bike short at 405 mm. The front-center, however, is pushed out a bit compared to many road bikes for stability when traction is limited. A long reach, short chainstays, suspension fork and dropper post? Are you sure you aren’t reading Dirt Rag magazine right now?
Alright, so enough of the Powerpoint presentation, how does it ride? Well… it rides like a bike. Cannondale tuned quite a bit of low-speed compression damping into the Oliver so it operates with virtually no sag and doesn’t start bouncing around when you ride out of the saddle. If you do want to firm things up, a simple button at the top of the Oliver engages a virtual lock-out that will still open up into the travel if you hit a bump hard enough. Pressing the outer portion of the dial, which also controls rebound damping, will release the button. For idiots like me, they’ve labeled them “Press to climb” and “Press to descend.”
I was looking for the button marked “Press for larger lungs” as I joined a group of journalists and Tim Johnson for a test ride out into the Santa Monica mountains above Malibu, California. On the smooth shoulder of the Pacific Coast Highway and into the hills, the Slate feels likes just another road bike, albeit an especially comfortable one thanks to the fat tires. Made by Panaracer for Cannondale, they weigh just 300 grams each and are extremely supple at 40 to 45 psi.
From road to off-road
The SRAM Force 1x drivetrain offered more than enough gearing to get up and down the mountains, and if you spend much time on mountain bikes you’ll feel right at home with just one shifter. The hydraulic brakes are more than powerful enough to slow things down and while the hoods look a bit crazy, they are quite comfortable in your hands.
The singletrack is where I was really looking forward to pushing the Slate. If you’ve ridden a CX bike a bit off-road you know the most difficult part is holding onto the handlebars. The Oliver fork makes a huge difference in keeping the sharp shuddering to a minimum and greatly lessens the hand strength needed to keep steering. Make no mistake: this is no mountain bike, but over the long haul I know it will be much more comfortable with the suspension fork.
It felt great when moving forward but things got a bit hairy under braking or hard turning on the trail. For a bike with such an “all-purpose” attitude, the slick tires had a few of us scratching our heads. A file tread or cyclocross-type tread would be a great upgrade if you plan on riding dirty.
Someone I overheard described the Slate as an “N+3” bike for riders who want a very, very specific tool for a very specific job. On the other hand, it does seem to be an excellent choice as an all-rounder. Either way, it’s a creative venture to think so far outside the box, something Cannondale has never shied away from.
Watch for a long-term review of the Slate in an upcoming issue of Bicycle Times. Subscribe now to make sure you don’t miss it.
See it in actionTweet Print
By Jason Britton
Around this time every year, a few hundred dirtbags gather together to heckle each other, drink cheap beer, and compete for the coveted title of Single Speed Cyclocross World Champion. For the ninth iteration we traveled to Victoria, Canada and soaked in the beauty all around us. My companions and I chose to spectate rather than race this year and had a blast cruising around town, catching up with old friends, and spending time goofing off on bikes.
Our plan was simple: The four of us chose to rely solely on public transportation and our own two wheels for the journey. We took the Amtrak Cascades from Portland, Oregon, to Vancouver, Canada, and then a series of light rail, bus, ferries, and bikes to finally arrive in Victoria. The fun we had along the way made it a trip I won’t soon forget.
Next year the event comes back to Portland, Oregon for the 10th running. Come join in the fun!
To see full-size photos, click the magnifying glass in the corner.
This was the thirteenth year for Iron Cross. Some might want to lump it into the gravel event category, but that would be insulting. Ultra Cross might be a better term, even if the old Ultracross national series seems to have faded away. With something like 7000 feet of climbing in 64 miles, it wouldn’t be an easy pavement ride. But throw in a half-mile “run up” that averaged 28% grade, miles of forests roads with piles of rocks hidden under leaves, a few stretches of technical rocky singletrack, 50 mph descents, and a wintery mix of sleet and snow and you have a hard, hard day on the bike.
A sizable group of people thought this was a recipe for a good time, and 200 of them showed up for a 9:00 a.m. start in downtown Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Besides being well known as the home of Little League baseball, I also grew up there, so this was a bit of a homecoming for me.
Fall in Pennsylvania is as beautiful as anywhere on earth, and race photographer A.E. Landis captured the scene much better than my race-addled brain was able to handle. Check out his full gallery.
I wasn’t out there to mix it up at the front, and was lucky enough to run into BMC Trail Crew enduro guy Derek Bisset. We rode together for the first half of the race chatting about his new job as an engineer at Stan’s NoTubes, fixing old houses, and whether we should work to get in front of a group before we hit the singletrack. Once we reached the hardest climb in the race, I started to feel the effects of staying up until 3:00 a.m. with a high school friend. Derek swiftly pedaled away up the forest road as I dropped into my lowest gear and rode waves of nausea and cold sweats.
Take a good look at the picture above. That’s Derek in the red vest, me in the black vest (Saturn team kit dude is just a random). Normally you’d never see me leading Derek off road but, due to my dropper-post equipped mountain bike, I got a few chances to pass Mr Enduro in the rocky stuff, something that never happens when we are both on mountain bikes.
Some time after we finished the big fire road climb, we got to the “walk-up”. In a true cyclocross race, there is usually a short “run-up”, either a steep hill or a set of steps than can’t be ridden. This unrideable section was a classic East Coast hiking trail that ended with a scramble up a rock face that was steeper than it looks here.
At the top I got a high five from a guy in a mask and some beer from some guys in a van. That was more than OK.
It snowed on and off during the second half of the race. It was never enough to really do anything other than make the road and the riders wet, but it certainly didn’t feel great on some of the fast pavement descents, all of which seemed to be freshly paved.
I finished in just under six hours and was very, very glad to be in a downtown area that was ready with hot food and cold beers. I’ll be back next year. You should come. Here’s the website, where you can also get the full results.
I was expecting to have a review bike to ride, but after a lot of waiting for a ride than never made it to me, I scrambled the day before to create something suited for the race from stuff at hand.
The frame is a custom Black Cat I reviewed for out sister publication, Dirt Rag. It usually has at least 2.3 tires, a 120 mm suspension fork, and a singlespeed drivetrain. I swapped the tires to a WTB Nine Line 2.0 up front, and some equally-as-skinny Bontrager tire on the rear that seems to be out of production. I also when with a longer stem and the skinniest handlebar in my stash, which was still 730 mm wide. A single-ring drivetrain with a 30-tooth ring and 11-36 cassette was surprisingly good gearing for the event. I never had the energy to spin out the hard gear for long, and the low gear worked well for all the climbing. I’d probably opt for a double if I really wanted to race but for my “just in it to finish” fitness, this was fine.
I also tried out these Easton grips, something I wouldn’t normally comment on. I often deal with hand pain and numbness on rides, but can’t stand non-round or soft grips. These 33 mm diameter grips were plenty firm and seemed to give me more to hang onto than the typical 30 mm grips I usually prefer.
I once again skipped the lycra and felt comfortable the whole ride, unlike some people who suffered with the cold. Up top I started with a hooded Bontrager wool base layer. I never used the hood, but it was easier than carrying a hat just in case I needed it. Next up is a Giro Wind Guard wool-blend jersey. It has an odd waffle texture inside that seem to do an amazing job keeping this top comfortable in a wide range of temperatures and exertion levels. I topped it all off with a Giro Wind Vest that was small enough to tuck into a pocket if I got too hot.
Since none of my upper layers had any pockets, I wore a pair of Specialized SWAT bib shorts with three rear jersey-style pockets and a pair of small pockets in the front of each leg. The pants are Gore ALP-X Windstopper pants. These Gore pants would have been too hot if I was really racing, but they were supremely comfortable and were appreciated every time I was ripping downhill and not shivering.
Socks are Bontrager mid-weight wool, and shoes are Giro’s excellent Alpinenduro. Waterproof with light insulation and a Vibram sole, the Alpineduro kept my feet warm and dry even when taking bad passing lines though standing water. I reviewed them here and stand by that review 100 precent. Bern passed me a new FL-1 helmet to test at Interbike and so far, so good. Stay tuned for a full review in the first issue of 2016.
This last picture features Mike Kuhn. He promotes this race, and a host of others, including the Trans-Sylvania Epic mountain bike stage race. He does a good job but, even so, when you put on a race as hard as this one, I imagine you have to have his apparent look of “are these people mad at me for what they just paid to put themselves though or are they going to thank me?” pretty often. I heard few complaints, so I bet this was another instance where the look turned into a relieved smile.Tweet Print
CrossVegas has become quite the tradition in the bike industry. Held each year in Las Vegas during the Interbike tradeshow, the industry “wheelers and dealers” race is followed by professional-level men’s and women’s races. More than 12,000 people, from hardcore racing fans to casual observers, comes out to see the spectacle held under the lights through a collection of what are normally soccer fields. This year the event became even more prominent by being organized as a UCI World Cup event, the first ever held in North America.
Click on the magnifying glasses at the lower right to see full size images.
To see full results, visit crossvegas.com.Tweet Print
Photos by Justin Steiner
Ritte is an interesting company. With marketing that seems to drift between sarcastic, ironic, off-color, and bro-tastic, it continues to be polarizing. But even if one doesn’t care for the brand, its style is iconic and distinctive.
It might be easy to dismiss the Crossberg as just another aluminum cyclocross bike, and in a lot of ways it is somewhat cookie cutter. But it fits in with its intended purpose as a race bike. A true cyclocross race bike gets beaten down over the course of a season: mud, pressure washing, getting jammed into the back of cars with another two or four race bikes. All these things take their toll, a toll that can beat down a carbon bike.
Every time I rode the Crossberg I wanted to go fast, and that is what a race bike is all about. Other than a pair of water bottle mounts this bike doesn’t make any overtures to practicality. It isn’t for riding to work on Monday and racing on Sunday. You can’t install a rack and go for a short tour. But really, after riding it for a spell, I don’t want to. I just want to find a cross course and turn the screws on some fellow riders.
I selected a size large based on top tube length, which run short across the board. The seat tube is tall as well, which makes it easier to shoulder during a race course run up, or up the stairs to your fourth floor walk up. It took me a while to embrace stem lengths beyond 100 mm again, as my preferences have followed the short stem trends in mountain biking. But once I got over my bad attitude, the 120 mm stem I settled on got me out over the front wheel, helping it to bite in flat, loose corners and made for an excellent position for out of the saddle climbs and sprints.
Handling is solidly racy. Get on the gas, brake late for the corner, square it off, start pedaling directly after the apex, repeat, win races. This isn’t a bike that has the edge taken off for riding to the bar to compare mustache waxing styles, so be prepared to pay attention at high speeds, as letting your mind wander can lead to scary moments. Bombing dirt and gravel roads is certainly possible and still a ton of fun on this bike, but something lower, slacker and longer is a better choice if that is the majority of your riding and racing.
I was glad to see all the cables are externally routed on the Crossberg as it eases maintenance, something that is a regular occurrence on a race bike. Ritte says this aluminum model is a step in the development of a new carbon race bike, but I hope the carbon bike keeps the external cables, which is becoming a rarity in this day of internal routing.
One of Ritte’s marketing lines is: “We make competition-focused bikes for unusual people,” and I think that is a very accurate way to sum up the company. The Crossberg Disc is an excellent race bike, and a viable option to the more mainstream brands. While it might not attract as much attention as more expensive models, like a Mazda Miata setup for track use only, it is more than capable of embarrassing carbon wonder bikes under the right rider. If something more road oriented is your style, Ritte just released a disc road bike, the Snob, made from domestically produced stainless steel.
- Price: $1,250 (frame, fork, headset)
- Weight: 5.3 pounds
- Sizes: XS, S, M, L (Tested), XL, XXL
The Stan’s NoTubes Cyclocross Team is excited to announce its complete roster and calendar for the 2015-2016 cyclocross season. Dan Timmerman and Ally Stacher join returning riders Jake Wells and Kenny Wehn for the team’s fifth season.
The Stan’s NoTubes Cyclocross Team kicked off the season at the Full Moon Vista – Ellison Park Cyclocross Festival in Rochester, New York. Timmerman scored a second place finish in the UCI C1 race.
Team members will race major UCI categorized events throughout the U.S., the CrossVegas UCI World Cup in Las Vegas, Nevada and the U.S. Cyclocross National Championships in Asheville, North Carolina. Racers will be competing on Ridley X-Night cyclocross bikes with low-pressure, NoTubes tubeless wheel systems using the brand new Neo hubs. They are also enjoying support from Kenda, Shimano and Enduro Bearings.
“The Ridley X-Night bikes and NoTubes wheelsets are tried and true for us,” said Jake Wells, Team Manager. “We have the best setup, which gives us a lot of confidence going into the season.”
Dan Timmerman, 35, is in the prime of his cyclocross career after having established himself as one of the most accomplished elite men’s ‘cross racers in the United States. He was recently selected to represent the United States at the CrossVegas World Cup, and during the 2014-2015 cyclocross season, he stood on 11 UCI podiums and finished fifth at US Cyclocross Nationals. Based in Trumansburg, New York, he is also the current NECX series champion and is ranked fifth overall in the ProCX standings.
“My goal is hit the early season races running so that I can do well at CrossVegas and have time to gather up for a big push ahead of this year’s national championships in Asheville, North Carolina,” said Timmerman. “Also, I continue to improve after a major surgery in 2014 and am already ahead of 2015 levels.”
Returning team member Jake Wells is assuming team manager duties this year as well as continuing to race. “I am excited about having Dan as a teammate with me in races this year so that we can work together to get tubeless technology consistently on the podium,” said the 37-year-old Wells of Avon, Colorado. “Things have been clicking with the team and personally for me in my training. It’s gonna be a good one, for sure.”
Wells is targeting a top 10 finish at 2016 US Cyclocross Nationals as well as a good performance at the Pan Am Championships in Cincinnati. Last season, he finished fourth at the Cycle Smart International race, while his top results were 13th at CrossVegas and 17th at nationals.
Ally Stacher, 28, of Horse Shoe, North Carolina, is excited to become part of the Stan’s NoTubes Cyclocross Team program.
“My highest priority goal is US Cyclocross Nationals because they are being held in my hometown of Asheville, North Carolina, on a great course,” said Stacher. “I’m targeting the end of the season races. With ambitions of podium results and winning at the Hendersonville Grand Prix.
Last season, Stacher was second at both the Kingsport Cyclo-Cross Cup and the Biltmore NCCX Series Finals.
And last but not least, elite masters racer Kenny Wehn of Durango, Colorado, will do double duty of both racing and team support.
“I’m most looking forward to pitting for Dan Timmerman at the World Cup at Cross Vegas. The pits is where the true action is!” said Wehn. “I aim to help our elite athletes have the best possible support as we all showcase tubeless technology at the highest level.”
Wehn has been with the Stan’s NoTubes Cyclocross Team all of its five years. Last year, he was second overall in the New England Verge Series (45+ category), first in the NBX Grand Prix of Cross, on day one at Jingle Cross and in the Cycle Smart International.
Drew Esherick will provide additional team support for the 2015-2016 season.
Follow the Stan’s NoTubes Cyclocross team on its Facebook page.
Kona has been expanding away from its mountain bike background lately, and the sneak peak we got on the 2016 models takes things to the next level. Here are the four models that stood out the most to me.
Private Jake – $2,000
An all new aluminum frame offers modern updates like front and rear thru-axles, and geometry that is on the slack and low side for a cross bike. Combine that with sliding modular dropouts and a single-chainring specific design, and this might be more of a “fun bike” than race bike, and that is OK with us. It even has clearance for 40 mm tires.
Roadhouse – $2,400
Steel road frames and disc brakes aren’t common bedfellows. Which is a shame. The Roadhouse unashedly combines a Reynolds 853 steel frame, flat mount disc brakes and thru-axles for what is perhaps the most modern production steel road bike I’ve seen. But fear not, it isn’t all high-tech. Those looking closely will see rack and fender mounts. I am probably in the minority here, but about the only thing that would make this a better bike is a high-end steel fork.
Sutra LTD – $2,000
Fear not touring cyclists, the standard Sutra model is still around, still has a triple crank, Brooks saddle, and a rear rack. The Sutra LTD leans more towards use on unpaved roads and dirt. Combine a frame with lots of braze-ons, a 1×11 SRAM drive train with a wide-range 10-42 cassette, hydraulic disc brakes and 47 mm tires, and you should be ready for anything from long dirt-road tours to detours on the way home from work.
Essatto Fast – $TBA
We have almost no info about this bike, but we do know there are a surprising number of riders that want the speed of a road bike without the drop bars. This looks like it should fit the bill nicely for those riders.
As of this posting, Kona’s website isn’t live with the new bikes yet, but it should be soon.Tweet Print
The Foundry Overland is a titanium bike designed with drop bars for cyclocross or gravel riding and racing, a nice alternative to all the carbon and aluminum models on the scene.
Our 58 cm sample weighs 20.3 pounds with disc brakes and without pedals. Five frame sizes all share 68 mm of bottom bracket drop for a bit more stability, while head tube angles range from 71 to 72.5 degrees. The bottom bracket shell is threaded.
Where the Overland differs from dedicated ‘gravel’ bikes is in the shorter 42.5 cm chainstays. With ‘cross racing in mind, our test sample comes with Clement 33s, but Foundry says 40s will fit fine.
The rear frame triangle has post-mounts on the seatstays, with a 142×12 mm thru-axle. The Whisky No. 9 carbon fork has a 100×15 mm thru-axle, providing a stiffer ride than a traditional 9 mm quick release.
As you can see in the photos, old-school top-tube cable routing has been chosen, which requires a pulley mounted on a threaded seat tube boss. While the SRAM Force 22 drivetrain might look a little outdated compared to the company’s new single-chainring specific Force group. Foundry also includes internally-routed access ports in the seat and down tubes for electronic shifting.
Not in the market for a new complete bike? Foundry is offering the Overland frameset for $2,495. Need a new machine? The complete bike as pictured retails for $4,695, which includes DT Swiss R24 Centerlock tubeless-ready wheels, Zipp Service Course bars, seatpost and stem, and SRAM’s Force drivetrain with 46/36 crankset and an 11-32 cassette.
Click on the magnifying glass to enlarge images in our gallery, and stay tuned for our first ride impressions!
Indianapolis-based Zipp Speed Weaponry recently introduced its 1,530-gram/$2,400 Firecrest 202 and 1,645-gram, $2,400 303 carbon disc brake clincher wheelsets for cyclocross and road use, and today it’s introducing the 1,655-gram/$1,000 30 Course aluminum (above) tubeless-ready version, available in June. The design goal was low aerodynamic drag, greater stability and predictability in crosswinds, something we tested on California’s central coast Tuesday afternoon.
“Customers have been asking us for an aluminum, wide, tubeless wheelset, and the 30 Course is the answer,” said Jason Fowler, Zipp wheel product manager, during the company’s launch in Pismo Beach earlier this week. “This wheelset is targeted at the athlete riding cyclocross, mixed surface and gravel.”
Fowler emphasized that the new aluminum wheels are tubeless ready, though Zipp doesn’t make its own tire to go with it. “Zipp is not offering a tubeless tire today,” Fowler said with a smirk when asked if the company will be offering a larger diameter tire. Zipp already offers 700x23c clincher and tubular tires. This is Zipp’s first wheelset to be tubeless-ready, providing the ability to run lower tire pressures without risk of pinch flats.The 30 Course wheels include tubeless valves and carry a 250-pound rider weight limit plus five-year manufacturer’s warranty.
External width on the 30 Course rim is 25mm; internal is 21mm. According to Fowler, this means increased air volume, which spreads tire casing. This also helps increase the tire’s contact patch with the ground, while improving cornering grip.
While Zipp’s testing has shown a low aerodynamic drag with wider rims, speed demons will benefit from running 700x23c tires, but for more time savings—if that’s your aim—the Firecrest 202s are still faster. Fowler said there’s no tire size limit to the 30 Course rims; that’s based on your frameset’s clearances, but 700×23 is the smallest diameter allowed. Wheel depth is 26 mm, with 24 Sapim CX Ray spokes both front and rear.
New hub technology: 77/177D
The 30 Course wheels use the same 77/177D hubset as the Zipp 202 and 303 Firecrest disc-brake wheelsets, with bearing preload precision set, meaning no pre-load adjustment is needed. Additionally, this includes improved bearing protection and sealant, and for gravel and adventure riders, the hubs are thru-axle compatible. The 77/177D hubset comes with thru-axle end caps that can be swapped by hand. Front: 12×100 mm and 15×100 mm. Rear: 12×135 mm and 12×142 mm. Zipp also includes its newly designed quick-release skewers with a wider, more ergonomic handle to provide better leverage for opening and closing. When closed, lever contours neatly with the frame.
Zipp’s proprietary flange geometry and spoke-hole attachment pattern are designed for Sapim CX Ray spokes to maximize torsional and lateral stiffness without sacrificing weight or robustness. Also available with a 17 mm axle; a SRAM XD driver body for the 177D will be available separately.
77-177D Quick-Release Hubs
- 10 degrees or 36 points of engagement
- Weight: 145g/265 grams
- Compatible with SRAM, Shimano, Campagnolo and XD driver bodies
- Weight: 140 grams front, 260 grams rear
- Front: 12×100
Each wheel includes Zipp thru-axle end caps; one Zipp skewer; Zipp rim tape 700c X 20mm, and one Zipp tubeless valve (clincher). Rear wheel includes 1.85 mm cassette spacer 10-speed compatibility. The 30 Course Disc-brake Clincher rear wheel is available with a standard 10/11 speed driver body for SRAM/Shimano or for Campagnolo.
The 30 Course wheelset is made in SRAM’s Taiwan facility. A tubular version is also available. Stay tuned for a ride report and testing facility tour! Click the magnifying glass below to enlarge images in our gallery:
Photos by Sven Martin.
Santa Cruz is best known for its mountain bikes, including the legendary V-10 downhill bike, but it has dabbled in the road and cyclocross markets as well, most notably with the legendary Stigmata ‘cross bike. Last week Bicycle Times got a sneak peek at the return of that bike along with a few new mountain bike models.
The bikes were introduced on the South Island of New Zealand, perhaps the most picturesque place I’ve ever visited, and a warm respite from the bitter cold back at Bicycle Times HQ. Our guides for the week were Anka and Sven Martin, who get the eternal summer every year, splitting time between the race circuit in the Northern Hemisphere and the rest of the year down south. They also somehow find the time to run HouseMartin All Mountain Adventure guide service, and I’d be happy to recommend them.
On to the bikes….
About a decade ago Santa Cruz released the Stigmata and it became an instant favorite. Long after it ceased production Santa Cruz still received regular requests for frames and sponsored riders like Steve Peat were still riding their old Stigmatas for training.
The new Stigmata is full carbon fiber with all the modern standards, including a first for Santa Cruz, a press fit bottom bracket shell (we are as shocked as you are). All cables are routed internally and in true race bike style, there are no fender or rack mounts. Tire clearance is generous, with room for a 41 mm tire, so this could be a hell of a dirt road bomber as well.
After lunch in Nelson, we all headed about an hour out of town to stay at the Kimi Ora eco resort located inside the Kaiteriteri Mountain bike park. A small group of us took a quick rip on the Stigmata to get dialed in for the next day’s ride. Stateside, we know a bike park as ski resort/downhill trails, but this bike park is mostly purpose-built cross country tracks, with a few faster and more technical trails.
We took most of the next day to ride a abandoned mining rail line, ending up at the Rough and Tumble Bush Lodge in the early evening.
Our ride covered a ton of different terrain, from pavement to short bits of technical trail. The Stigmata handled it all in stride, feeling best when pushed hard, as a race bike should. I’m curious to try it with bigger tires, but I was impressed with the stock Maxxis Mud Wrestler 700×33 cross tires. These were set up tubeless on WTB i19 rims, and even at 60 psi they provided decent traction, and zero flats. Props to Santa Cruz for shipping these bikes (and most all of its bikes) set up tubeless.
I rode the CX1 model, and much like a 1×11 mountain bike drivetrain, I didn’t miss a second ring on my crank. I wouldn’t have minded a smaller chainring than the stock 42, but this is a race bike, and a 42×11-36 sounds like race gearing to me, so I should just HTFU.
Frame and fork will be $2,300, with complete bikes from $3,700 to $6,800. All bikes use SRAM drivetrains and hydraulic brakes.
Highball Carbon 29
We got to sample the mountain bikes on the almost complete Old Ghost Trail. When complete it will be New Zealand’s longest singletrack. More importantly than length, this is a stunning place to ride a bike. It is a 50-mile-long point to point trail that uses old mining trails and rail lines combined with some very modern trail building that snakes around, up and over some seriously amazing mountains.
The Highball Carbon 29 is now 10 mm shorter in the chainstays (430 mm) and longer in the top tube (24.6 in the large I was riding) with a steep 70.5 degree head angle with the stock 100 mm fork. This gives the bike a somewhat high-strung racy feel. Santa Cruz is aiming this bike at the cross country and endurance race crowd, and this geometry should appeal to that class of rider. I swapped out the stock 90 stem for a 70 mm and felt very at home after that.
We also sampled the Highball Carbon 27.5. For the first time ever, I actually preferred a 27.5 hardtail to a the 29er version. The slight differences in geometry ended up with wheelbases that are almost identical, but to me the day was won by the more reasonable headtube angle (69 degrees) of the 27.5. Or maybe it was the dropper post on the smaller wheeled bike? While these hardtails are aimed at the cross country race market, even that is seeing more riders on droppers.
Prices start at $2,800 for the base model to $8,800 for the full XTR/Enve bling bike. Bare frames only come in the CC level, for $1,900. Prices are the same for 27.5 or 29.
I shot a lot more photos than I usually do, but when I looked through my photos and what Sven Martin provided, I thought my readers would be better served with his work. Thanks Sven!
Even pro photographers can’t resist a helicopter selfie:
Editor’s note: Here at Bicycle Times we are as mindful of price as you are. So we gathered together a group of six very diverse bikes to showcase what you can find right now at the $1,000 price point. See our introduction here.
Marin describes the Lombard as having been “Birthed from cyclocross and touring parents…” and “Part adventure bike, and part urban warrior.” Those descriptions certainly had me sold from the get-go, this is my kind of bike: versatile.
We’ve had a lot of conversation around the office lately about just how good bikes around and under the $1,000 price point are these days. Assembling the Lombard further cemented that point in my mind. On initial impression, this bike is very well built and spec’d at the price point.
Let’s take a walk around the bike.
Due to the subtle matte grey and black palette, the Lombard’s gum-wall Schwalbe Road Cruiser tires draw your attention. These 35mm-wide tires seem like an awesome choice for a bike that will see terrain that varies from dirt to street.
The second thing to strike me were the Lombard’s subtle reflective graphics. Not only is the branding minimal and tasteful, it also adds an element of visibility after dark.
Promax Render R cable actuated disc brakes promise all-weather stopping power front and rear. Note the Lombard’s dual eyelets for both a rack and fenders. By mounting the brake inside the rear triangle, Marin greatly simplified rack and fender installation.
Check out that headbadge and ample tire clearance in the fork with the stock 35mm tires. Looks to me like a 40mm would fit no problem. Might even be able to squeeze a 45mm in there.
Rear tire clearance is generous at the seatstays, but a little less forgiving at the chainstays. Anything much bigger than a 40mm tire looks to be a tight fit.
The Lombard’s 9-speed Sora drivetrain with the 50/39/30 triple chainring offers a wide range of gearing. Let me tell you, this Sora group operates more like an Ultegra group from the 9-speed era than an entry level drivetrain. It really is that good.
Marin’s house-brand cockpit rounds out the build. All of these bits are functionally perfect and the fit is spot on for me.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified the brand of brake calipers.
Cyclocross season has begun, and what better way to get in the mood than a book about the National Championships? For those who participated in or witnessed the 2013 USA Cyclocross Nationals in Verona, Wisconsin, you’ll remember it was a four-day adventure that Mother Nature tried her best to tilt in her favor.
“Endure: Ballet in the Mud” is a limited-edition, 108-page book produced by several Wisconsinites. More than 300 epic cyclocross action was captured by noted photographers Peter DiAntoni, Darren Hauck, Jeffrey Phelps and Bicycle Times contributor Dave Schlabowske, who asked me, a Wisconsin native, to write the words. I interviewed several top ‘cross racers, including Katie Compton, Tim Johnson, Don Myrah and Kaitie Antonneau.
And when I say ‘epic’—a word I’ve been scolded about using on this page—I’m not just reaching into my hipster dictionary. The races were an incredible feast for the eyes, with nearly all four seasons whipped into a frenzy on the course prepared by race organizer Tom Schuler and his crew.
Proceeds from the $36 book go to the Wisconsin Bike Federation, which published the book in Milwaukee, and which exists to make cycling accessible for everyone in the Badger State. I’m proud of the book we produced, and this lithographed, case-bound hardcover book immortalizes those who endured the Wisconsin weather and crossed the line in triumph, regardless of their placing, at the 2013 USA Cyclocross Nationals last January in Verona. A fine addition to every cyclocross aficionado’s bookshelf!
Get yours here.
If these integrated shift/brake levers look familiar, it’s because you might remember them from their prior name: RetroShift. We reviewed the first generation of RetroShift shifters back in 2013.
But while they are built from traditional parts, Gevenalle’s products are hardly retro—they are hard-core cyclocross race products that have won races at all levels of the sport. With that goal in mind, the brand renamed itself earlier this year.
However not everyone is a hard core racer and is instead looking for a little bit of extra style from their shifters. Enter the Audax shifters, which take the same form as Gevenalle’s cyclocross products but swap in a silver lever blade and friction-only GranCompe shift levers.
While the original RetroShift models were a bit of choose-your-own-adventure DIY to them, the current models are ready out of the box, with all the pieces pre-installed and ready for the (included) shift cables. They are lighter than a bar-end setup, at $169 all-in they are competitive in price (or cheaper) than a bar-end setup, and they offer access to the shifters from the hoods.
While it is extremely difficult to imagine anything damaging these shifter other than a head-on crash into a wall, if you do managed to break them they can be rebuilt good as new for just $34. How’s that for a crash-replacement policy?
Once installed, the Audax shifters take a few minutes to get used to, but like most changes to control points, a few rides will get your brain dialed in. What’s simple about it is that if the shifter moves right, the chain move across the cogs to the right. If you move it left, the chain moves left. Because they are friction controlled they are never out of tune, and they can work with nearly any derailleur. The setup picture here is shifting 9-speed Shimano mountain bike derailleurs on a 10-speed cassette and chainrings.
I’m going to be riding them for the next few months in the Portland winter, which is a good test of anything that must face the elements, so keep an eye out for a review in a future issue of Bicycle Times. Order an subscription today and you’ll be sure to see it there.Tweet Print
Courtesy of Kona Bikes
On any given weekend during late summer through to early winter, cyclocross racers of all ages gather to test their mettle through mud and frozen grass, up and over obstacles, from Europe to North America and beyond. Kona has always loved cyclocross racing, from the camaraderie to the challenge, and of course, the unadulterated fun. As a testament to that passion, we follow three Kona cross racers from age 9 to 33: two racers from Rad Racing NW, one of the top youth development cycling programs in the U.S., and Kona Team rider Helen Wyman, one of the top female cross racers in the world. For us, it’s not only about creating bikes for future champions, but also inspiring a love for cycling that lasts a lifetime.Tweet Print
Cross season is here, and this time of year it’s always difficult to keep your shifty bits safe and functioning properly. Gevenalle, formerly known as Retroshift, has been innovating simple products that should keep your bike running longer, with less maintenance and expense.
The latest is the new BURD front derailleur. BURD stands for Blatantly Upgraded and Rebranded Derailleur, a reworked Microshift derailleur that is better suited to the rigors of cyclocross.Tweet Print
Niner is of course best known for its growing line of 29-inch mountain bikes, but the latest few products from the California/Colorado brand expand the boundaries of what a 700c wheel can be. This spring we rode and enjoyed the aluminum RLT 9, a cyclocross/gravel/adventure road bike and really enjoyed its versatility (watch for the full review in Issue #31). Now we’ve just got our hands on the BSB 9 RDO, a carbon fiber sister to the RLT that puts speed ahead of practicality.Tweet Print
Last year we saw a prototype fat bike rim from Stan’s NoTubes, and while we figured a 26-inch wheel was in the works, today we saw the finished product: the Hugo is a 50mm-wide, tubeless rim with a unique cross section and options in all three wheel sizes.
We also got the details and a ride in on the new Grail disc road wheel that is perfectly suited to all manner of “road” applications and slots in between the IronCross and Alpine models.
Read the full story