Grinduro: What A Difference A Year Makes

Grinduro 2018

Just a year ago on these actual pages I was lamenting my desire to build the perfect bike for Grinduro and while standing at the lunch stop in Taylorsville, California at this years Grinduro it is clear I was not the only one.

Grinduro 2018 Fabric saddles

The biggest change at this gravel/adventure/road/everything ride/race/ramble in the Gold Country north of the San Francisco Bay Area, actually north of Chico, was the number of bicycles built specifically for conditions experienced in these them-there hills.

There were “gravel” bicycles from the big players, including Trek, Cannondale, Felt, Open, Specialized and Giant. There were custom builders also weighing in on the genre, including bicycle from Caletti, Rock Lobster, SyCip, Speedvagen, Blue Collar Bicycle and many more.

The wheelbases are long, the tires are big, and I mean really big, brakes, for the most part, are disk and rear cogs are massive.

Grinduro 2018 Blue Collar Bikes

Last year it was surprising to see someone aboard a properly and purposely built gravel bike, but this year it was more odd to find someone riding a full-suspension mountain bike or a cyclocross bike. They were there, but their herd is getting much thinner and thinner.

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And this is where the story really begins.

The procurement of a proper whip.

Since my day job includes riding Pinarellos, it only seemed wise to start there. And I was lucky enough to land a “demo” Pinarello GAN GRS Disk from the lovely crew at Pinarello USA.

Grinduro 2018 Pinarello GAN GRS Disk

After a couple of shakeout rides, I decided I was going to need to swap a couple of items in order to feel more confident in my second attempt at this ridiculous, yet rewarding, shindig.

So I ordered myself the biggest cassette Shimano will let you pair with their Ultegra 2x setup, an 11×34. This would enable me to get a 34-34 as my easiest gear. A crucial situation.

I also pulled my workhorse Zipp 302s from my F10 Disk and mounted up a new pair of Donnelly X’Plor MSO 36mm tires to the beast.

Grinduro 2018 Ted King

I then set about testing the premise this bicycle was going to make my day in the mountains as pleasant as humanly possible.

This Pinarello rips on the descents, is admirably fast and functional on the road and handled the singletrack with aplomb.

If I had my druthers, I would probably have put on even bigger rubber and more gears, but all things considered, I was superstoked.

Grinduro 2018

Fast forward to the night before Grinduro and I’m sitting in my room at the straight-from-an-80s-movie Ranchito Motel in lovely Quincy, California, sipping a beer, watching Ted stuff his jersey pockets with maple syrup and brushing my teeth at an actual sink.

If you remember correctly, my whippy fast and delightful unprepared companion from last year’s Grinduro, Ted King, and I slept in a tent at the fairgrounds and thoroughly froze our asses off. So in a moment of pure wonder, we decided to get a couple of hotel rooms, with hot running water and a lock on the door. And other than marrying my wife and moving to California, this will stand as one of the greatest decision I have ever made.

In the great battle of tent vs. motel, motel wins hands down. At least in regards to fairground camping.

Grinduro 2018

Anyway, I am pulling together my kit and essentials for the next day, while one of my riding companions in the room next door is dialing in his very own Pinarello gravel bike. He was complaining of a noise in the seatpost, so he was adding a touch of lube and double checking the seat binder bolt.

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And then I hear it.

The sound.

That gut-wrenching sound.

The sound of someone’s day going horribly wrong.

The sound of a broken seatpost bolt reverberating through the innards of a carbon fiber frame.

The sound of Grinduro heartbreak.

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Ok, so here’s the thing. I’m not really a nice guy.

But I was born in the midwest and with that comes certain obligations.

And so when push-came-to-shove, I gave up my seatpost bolt so my traveling companion, dare I say, my friend, could ride this event for the very first time.

So having cannibalized my beautiful steed, and in the process ending my chances of glory, off to bed I went.

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So instead of kitting up the next morning, I pull on some jeans and spend the next day hopscotching all over the course, cleaning rider’s filthy sunglasses, shouting support and eavesdropping on riders.

There were distinctly three categories of riders on the road.

First, those looking for glory.

Second, those claiming they were just here to enjoy themselves.

Finally, those who were just hoping to survive. With the course being 60 plus miles and almost 8,000 feet of climbing, no matter your fitness it is a legitimately difficult day in the saddle.

Grinduro 2018 Trek

As luck (and hard work) would have it my roommate, the rider formerly known as the King of Gravel, Ted King, took first place overall.

This changed our post ride party into a fest and made it a whole lot more fun: the band sounded sweeter, the beer tasted better and the pork rinds were all the more delicious.

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The one thing I think we can all count is there will be a Grinduro next, there will be more and more race specific gear and race tactics will play a bigger and bigger part in the outcome of the podium.

Grinduro 2018

And just when I think I have my “which whip?” issues all ironed out, it turns out Ted King, won Grinduro aboard Cannondale’s new mountain bike, The F-Si. I mean come on, what the what? And we’re pretty sure women’s winner, Lindsay Dwyer, was aboard her Trek mountain bike. Let the search and handwringing continue.

Grinduro 2018 winners

10 Notable Steeds Of Interbike

Favorit F3 Adventure Interbike 2018

I, too, just got back from Interbike and it was undoubtedly smaller, as you have probably already heard. But there was still plenty of gear at the show to drool over. There were bikes that have already been announced, and then there were steeds that were totally new. In either case, it’s always better to see them in person than just reading up marketing copies. Here are ten bikes, well, not counting the Merlin Newsboy we highlighted in another post, that caught my attention.


Basso Palta

Basso Palta Interbike 2018

I ran into the Basso folks during media review on the eve of the show and on the table was the company’s new Diamante road bike with this hot electric sky paint. Beneath the booth was the company’s 2019 catalog, flipped to the page of an even more interesting bike. Palta, a local Italian dialect for “dirt, mud or similar,” is Basso’s gravel bike. I visited the Basso booth the next morning and my, it looked even better in person. The term “made in Italy” is often a marketing catch phrase, but Basso products are still proudly produced at their own factory in Northern Italy. The company is quite open about its manufacturing process, down to their specific layups for each frame. Besides the radically shaped Palta fork, the 1x specific, full thru-axled frame can be fitted with up to 42mm tires, a removable chainguide, as well as mounts for three bottles with three mount holes on top of the downtube for more available position. The Palta uses a proprietary-shaped seatpost secured with a triple bolt hidden clamp and a vibration-reducing rubber gusset sandwiched in between. Four sizes will be available and the bike can also be purchased with two add-on kits: An “endurance pack” with the addition of a 20mm vibration-reducing spacer, or the “mudfest pack” that includes removable front and rear fenders.


Dean El Diente Super Lite

Dean El Diente Super Lite Interbike 2018

Dean showed off a 13.14lb El Diente Super Lite complete with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 and über bits such as Lightweight Meilenstein carbon clinchers, THM Clavicula SE carbon cranks, a semi-integrated Chris King headset on a 44mm straight tapered-headtube, a carbon-railed Selle San Marco Aspide saddle, an ENVE fork and Schmolke seatpost. It’s a fully ridable machine owned by one of its employees. Dean is happy to custom build one of these 3/2.5 titanium rider-specific tubbed frame for $3,200 including customization such as choice of bottom bracket, brake, cable routing, dropout, geometry, and seatpost sizing. How much does the pictured super bike cost? Well, enough to purchase a number of wickedly fast motorcycles.


Ritchey Ultra

Ritchey Ultra Interbike 2018

Tom Ritchey sold his first Ultra mountain bike frame 30 years ago and the American innovator who forever changed the landscape of mountain biking with the first production mountain bike is back with a new iteration of the Ultra. No, the frame is not carbon, it’s still being built with tried-and-trued Ritchey Logic steel tubing but with a modernized geometry to accommodate both 27.5”x2.8” or 29”x2.4” wheel sizes depending on the terrain or the rider’s preference. The update didn’t stop there though. It’s got a boost 148×12 rear end, an internal dropper post routing, and a forged and machine tapered headtube. The new multipurpose Ultra comes in three frame sizes and is designed around a 120mm suspension fork. It is also competitively priced at $999. It’s been a while since we got excited over a steel mountain bike and we can’t wait to get our hands on one of these.


Donnelly C//C

Donnelly C//C Cyclocross Interbike 2018

Better known for its tires, Donnelly announced their foray into frames at Dirty Kanza this past May and the cyclocross-oriented C//C and the gravel-specific G//C frames are finally shipping. The C//C, shorthand for Cross Carbon also just won the inaugural RenoCross by factory rider Lance Haidet so rest assured, this bike is no fluke. Besides it’s race-specific geometry, clearance for up to a 700x40c tire with thru-axles front and rear, and flat mount disc brake mounts, the C//C looked very clean with its integrated cable routes and sharp limited edition Amy D Blue. The C//C will retail for $1,999 as a frame set in five sizes, with complete build starting at $2,999.


Cannondale SystemSix

Cannondale SystemSix Interbike 2018

The wait is over. Cannondale finally made an aero bike with a rather familiar name: SystemSix. First introduced in 2007 as an aluminum and carbon venture, the SystemSix takes Cannondale’s integration philosophy to heart where frame, fork, handlebar, seatpost, stem and wheels, basically all major components were designed together as a system. Highlights on this disc-only bike include the 64mm deep KNØT64 carbon clincher wheels plus a massive KNØT bar-stem combo to which all cables stay hidden to reduce drag. The Inclusion of Speed Release thru axle should also boost stiffness and make wheel change a breeze. The higher end models such as this $7,500 SystemSix Hi-Mod Ultegra Di2 will be pre-installed with a Power2Max powermeter that can be activated by Power2Max for $490.


Van Dessel Whiskey Tango Foxtrot – Urban Gravel

Van Dessel Whiskey Tango Foxtrot - Urban Gravel WTF Interbike 2018

Van Dessel has been expanding their lineup of gravel bikes and the Urban Gravel build is an interesting one. While it uses the same 4130 Double-butted Cro-Moly frame as the drop-bar and 700c wheels equipped, do-it-all Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (WTF, get it?), the WTF-Urban Gravel edition is spec’d with a 1x Shimano SLX drivetrain, 650b wheels and riser bar for more upright riding. It can do a bit of cross, gravel, commuting, and grocery runs and it’s $1,799. The Indigo Candy Blue fade shown here, however, is limited only to 50 units. Further, if you’d like a higher-end frame, Van Dessel can also apply the same Urban Gravel treatment to its A.D.D and Whiskey Tango Foxtrot 853ltd frames.


Riese & Müller Multicharger

Riese & Müller Multicharger Interbike 2018

I was bombarded with emails about eBikes weeks before the show even started so I was pretty turned off by them by the time the showed started. I didn’t spend a ton of time at the e-Bikes section but the Rise Müller Multicharger reminded me a lot of the Tern GSD I recently reviewed, yet it was so different at the same time. It’s got 26″ wheels, a Gates belt drive, a Bosch drivetrain with dual battery option, Magura disc brakes, Cane Creek Thudbuster seatpost, suspension fork, and cargo racks that can be added with two custom 33-liter bags and a passenger kit rated to carry up to 132lbs/60kg. The Multicharger will be available in 5 trim options starting at $4,989. A cargo-capable eBike that can pull double-duty on the dirt? Yes please.


Favorit F1 Classic

Favorit F1 Classic Interbike 2018

I must admit I didn’t notice the 92-year old Czech company until the Basso guys stopped by to borrow a pump while we were off shooting the Palta. It was a bright booth with a ton of good looking bikes like the gravel oriented F3 (Top) with a Lauf Grit suspension fork in matching paint, but the most unique one has to be the F1 classic. It looks as if the bike is made out of steel with what appears to be an old-school flattopsteel fork and its seatpost/seatstay junction. Not so. The F1 Classic just happens to be a classy-looking carbon steed. The 7.7kg/16.9lb bike shown comes with a tan leather saddle, tan bar tape, a silver cockpit and Campagnolo Potenza silver 11-speed mechanical grouppo with rim brakes.


A Pair of Custom Painted Felt Bicycles

Custom painted Felt Interbike 2018

I am a sucker for a good paint job and these two at the SmartWasher booth sure got a lot of buzz. First, a wood-themed Felt TK2 track bike with matching saddle bag, helmet, crank arms and pedals. Second, a Wonder Woman-themed Felt TT bike. Enough said.

Custom painted Felt Interbike 2018

[elelemtly_recommended]


High Tide Raises All Bikes

I just got back from Interbike. And despite all of the hand-wringing and moaning and armchair quarterbacking, it was a delightful event. The venue was clean. Parking was plentiful. Food was quite delicious and reasonably priced. The energy level was surprisingly high. There was a nice mix of legacy brands and dreamers. And overall it made me excited to say I was at the very first Interbike held in Reno.

The thing I still can’t figure out is where were all the heavy-hitters. The big brands were once again nowhere to be found. I have had plenty of conversation with people on the inside and on the edge of the industry as to why this continues to be the case, but it is my opinion as we go into the future this will be considered short sighted by the big names.

In the “good old days” if you wanted to get media coverage for next year’s product launch, you had to be at Interbike. Anyone and everyone knew Interbike was the window to the world, it hinted at where the industry was going, and from the feel of the show you could feel the health of all things bicycle.

And then along came the internet and the ability, or at least the perceived ability, for brands to craft their own message. They didn’t need to make big advertising buys and wait for the media to show up at Interbike to get the word out on their latest wonder. They could take to social media and spread the word themselves. And so they started to abandon the bicycle media with their ad dollars and they left Interbike. They started to hold their own events. Bringing in media to their new bike launches and getting them one-on-one to control or craft a more focused narrative, at a time when they didn’t have to compete with everyone else. They could have the “news” cycle all to themselves, and so instead of relying on a journalist to tell their story, they turned to “influencers” to share on social channels.

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The Millner-Haufen Tool Co. booth had a constant crowd who was curious about their line of drill bits and diamond-plated grinding wheels.

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"That's mil-spec!" yelled one attendee.

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Part work. Part fun.

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VR at the STAC Zero booth.

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Who's bigger?

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Kelly Valyou of Bicycle Sport Shop in Austin competes during the semi-final of the annual mechanics challenge.

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Still room for more.

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The outdoor section was a nice addition and provided a breath of fresh air after spending hours on the show floor.

All of this is to say, I understand why they left Interbike. It became an expensive and dated way to get face-to-face with the people they wanted to see and the press they desired to have. They wanted a more focused time with those folk, including their dealers or would-be dealers.

Interbike Reno 2018

And it worked, for a while at least. But, in my opinion, things are changing again. And it’s time for the Big Boys to return to Interbike. Not just for themselves, but for the fans. We, the bicycle nuts, are ready to have our version of MacWorld/ComicCon/SXSW returned to us in all its glory. We want to make an annual trek to someplace like Reno and see all the bicycles, jerseys, widgets, tools, tires and trinkets all under one roof.

We want to geek about our plane tickets to Interbike and rifle through our t-shirt collection in order to see and be seen by all of the other bicycle geeks. We want to pour through the magazines and websites trying to get some small idea of what we might see at the Big Show. We want to have one destination, one weekend, one opportunity to join our cult under one roof to celebrate this thing we love.

And in order for this to happen, we need one of the big boys to strike the match, start the fire and invest in attending Interbike. They need to see through their current marketing plan, to see the ROI in attempting to returning Interbike to its former glory. They need to realize their current strategy of viral videos, influencers and single one-off media events can be enhanced by helping make Interbike like a trip to Burning Man. One weekend of bicycle worship for the benefit of all things cycling.

It’s shortsighted of the bicycle industry, especially the bigger players, to let this event wane. They should be looking a little farther down the road. Because as the social channels become bigger and more numerous – and as those channels start to reach deeper and deeper into their pockets – investing in Interbike and returning it to its former glory, will make it a place to reach their people at a grassroots level.

Bring on the high tide.

Editor’s Note: A special diamond-studded cog to Cannondale, Shimano, SRAM, PivotThule and all the other manufacturers who stuck around after everyone said the party was pretty much over. Long live Interbike.

Photography by Stephen Lam/ element.ly


Cannondale Unveils Topstone Gravel Bikes

2019 Cannondale Topstone Gravel Adventure Bike

Cannondale dropped a new line of aluminum-framed bikes for the gravel/adventure crowd today. While the bikes, named Topstone, look great as one would expect from the storied Connecticut firm, the biggest selling point of the new lineup is perhaps its budget-friendly price.

2019 Cannondale Topstone Gravel Adventure Bike

With three models to choose from starting at $1,000 with Shimano Sora to the top of the line, $2,000 iteration with Sram Apex 1 hydraulic disc brakes and a dropper post, expect these to fly off the shelves… Oh and they’re available now.


A Special Bike From Pas Normal Studios

Pas Normal Studios Cannondale Supersix Evo Hi-Mod
Photo: Pas Normal Studios

It’s unfortunate that this gorgeous one-off Cannondale SuperSix Evo Hi-Mod Disc is not for sale, but you can enter a raffle to win it by showing up to any Pas Normal Studios Destination Everywhere group ride throughout Europe this year.

That’s right, all you have to do is do a group ride to own this custom-painted SuperSix EVO Hi-Mod disc in full SRAM RED eTap HRD gruppo, Zipp cockpit and wheels, and a Fabric saddle.

It’s that simple and the winner will be announced on November 1st.

You can sign up for any of the rides here: https://www.pasnormalstudios.com/destinationeverywhere/


Commute in style with the Cannondale Bad Boy

I always had a soft spot for a Cannondale Bad Boy ever since its inception in 2000. I was relatively new to the whole cycling thing then, but that monochromatic theme made quite an impression to me (a kid) that I almost convinced my parents to buy me a 2001 Bad Boy Jekyll… from Copeland Sports, no less. A former race mechanic eventually steered us away from buying a Bad Boy to race high school cross country (he was right).

But the want factor remained.

Perhaps it’s the fact that Cannondale got into the whole murdered-out black color theme way before it was even considered cool, or maybe because the Bad Boy always carried a unique narrative within the Cannondale lineup parallel to that of an unassuming sleeper car. Over the years, proven technologies from both the road and mountain segments such as the HeadShock suspension fork, the one-sided lefty, and the SpeedSave rear triangle design all made their ways into the Bad Boy line up. The redesigned 2017 Bad Boy is no different. In fact, it’s a gem with all the subtle integrated details.

The rigid lefty fork design remained but with all the room inside the hollow rigid tube, designers at Cannondale integrated a LED light strip directly into it. Dubbed the LightPipe Lefty, the USB-rechargable strip is a continuous light with a claimed 24-hour run time that functions like an aftermarket front light would to increase visibility. 

See that white strip on the lefty fork? That’s a light. Oh, and there’s the one-piece headtube and downtube assembly.

The LightPipe is by no means a replacement for your 1,000 lumen headlight, but the said model shown at InterBike this past September was plenty bright to be noticeable, not to mention all the light integration made the Bad Boy significantly less cluttered, more streamline even, as if the Bad Boy got hooked on Kondo Method and was a believer of marginal gains.

The Bad Boy shown at InterBike.

With the front LightPipe covered, Cannondale also added a built-in red taillight into its massive 31.6mm seatpost with three modes: Continuous, blink and wave. Run time, as I was told, will be about 50-hour in continuous and blank modes and 100-hour in wave. It’s powered by 2 internal AA batteries.

Integrated taillights within the seatpost.

Yet the makeover did not stop at the lighted fork and seatpost. While the previous Bad Boys came with 700c wheels, the ’17 Bad Boy will have 650b wheels throughout. The frame is new too, most notably with its massive one-piece 3D-forged headtube and downtube assembly. The Bad Boy is available in disc-brake only, so plenty of power for those endless stop and goes around town.

The Bad Boy will come in four models in various built favors from $870 to $1,840. The top-of-the-line Bad Boy 1 will come with a belt-drive drivetrain with an eight-speed Shimano internal gear hub. So yay for less maintenance, no lube getting on your hands/pants, and a smooth silent ride.

It’s worth noting that only the Bad Boy 1 and 2 will have the LightPipe fork and illuminated seatpost.

The last detail worth mentioning is the rubber strip along the top tube to protect the frame from whenever it’s leaned on. It’s a simple design touch but nevertheless a refreshing sight to see a company go great lengths to execute a well thought out performance whip as opposed to a boring hodge podge commuter bike.

Obviously it’s not a bike for everyone’s taste, as some might still scoff at the idea of a single-side fork, or fat aluminum tubes even for that matter. If you’re looking for a well-designed, high performance commuting machine with an understated look though, look no further.


Cross over to the SuperX

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Photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly

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More of that slick finish on the all-carbon disc fork. Photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly

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Toptube logo. Photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly

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The SuperX utilizes Shimano's flatmount for both front and rear disc brakes. Photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly

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Schwalbe's excellent X-One knobbies were fast and predictable. I just wish they were tubeless ready. Photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly

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The Shimano 105/RS505 levers worked brilliantly but the slight bulge inside the hood was a bit awkward. Photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly

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Grippy Cannondale gel bar tape. Photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly

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Fabric's excellent Scoop Shallow Elite was comfortable and easy to clean. Photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly

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Just can't get enough of that paint job. Photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly

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Instead of the heavy stock wheels, we spent half of our test period using a pair Stan's ZTR Avion Team and the difference was night and day. Photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly

You’re probably asking why I’m reviewing a ‘cross bike now that cross season is all but over.

But hear me out for a few minutes here.

After InterBike (I know, so long ago), I was told that a SuperX was on its way directly from the show floor and I was stoked! I’ve been hearing a lot of great positive things about the SuperX and simply couldn’t wait to give it a run. But before I got the package, I got called out to cover the Loma Fire in the Santa Cruz Mountains. So the wife had fun lugging the giant box into the garage. Thank goodness the bike was light.

When I got back from the fire, the box was sitting there taking up all the space in the garage, but wait, there’s a crack in the box. Let’s see which SuperX we have here:

It was the SuperX 105 with arguably the best paint job in the entire line up. I mean, just look at the fork.

But I am not here to review paint jobs and how much it weighs. I want to ride it and maybe abuse it a little to see how much it can or can’t do.

Fast forward to February 2017, the bike is now on its way back to Cannondale and I am sad to say that I am smitten with the SuperX.

Compared to a lot of cross offerings on the market, the SuperX has a rather different geometry than most in such that the headtube notably has more slack (71 degrees) with the fork using a bit more offset. This results in the bike handling nicely on low speed technical stuff yet staying rock steady as speeds head north. I took the SuperX to the Super Moon ride (in the dark) and the more time I spent riding it, the more I realized how much confidence-inspiring the SuperX is even when I was essentially riding blindly with merely the moonlight. Its carbon fiber frame will take all your lines and soak up all your mistakes comfortably.

On the race course, the SuperX takes loose off-camber turns like a champ and the 42.2 cm short chain stay feels agile with plenty of traction at the wheel. The thru-axles (10×100 front, 12×142 rear) also make a difference on long twisty descents when I use it as a gravel bike. Speaking of riding gravel, while the SuperX is a pure-breed cyclocross race bike at heart, it will do gravel very nicely.

Now, I know Cannondale offers a bona fide gravel bike, the Slate, but I don’t care. The SuperX is arguably lighter (our test bike was weighed at a respectable 19.5lbs) and better as a gravel bike than using the Slate as a cross bike, plus I can still use my old wheels as long as 1: they’re disc and thru-axle compatible, and 2: able to re-dish the rear wheel 6mm toward the non-drive side to play nicely with the SuperX’s asymmetrical chain stay (they call it Asymmetric Integration (Ai)).

The stock Maddux 2.0 wheels, though, were a bit of a disappointment. They are tubeless ready alright, but they felt sluggish as if the bike got bogged down by a pair of boat anchors. For comparison sake, I swapped the stock hoops with a pair of Stans’ ZTR Avion Pro (of course I re-dished the rear), a $2,300 upgrade that costs as much as the SuperX 105 itself but the difference was night and day as if the red bull got its wings.

So my suspicion was confirmed: With a good set of race wheels, the SuperX will fly.

And Cannondale, the Schwalbe X-One tires had just about everything I had hoped for in an all-around cross rubber: Plenty of traction and rolls fast, but why not throw in the tubeless version instead? And while I am going to nitpick here, I am just going to say that I am not a fan of the shape of the 105/RS505 hydraulic STI shift brake lever. Functionally, it worked beautifully but the bulbous bulge located inside the lever just never felt right.

So if you’re still wondering why I am writing about a cross bike in February, it’s because…

She stole my heart and I’m ready for cross season to be all season long.


Bikes, Bags, and Shades, the Latest and Greatest From Summer PressCamp

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Midweek editor's ride led by all-around good guy Eric Porter. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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The behind of scene of every bike beauty shot. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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Product demonstration area at White Lighting. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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Koroyd engineering cores in various shapes and forms. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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Gerard Vroomen of OPEN showing his ONE+ superlight hardtail (with plenty of room for 3" tires) Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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Would love to see more company doing subtle paint details like OPEN. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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Custom Pinarello logo on this Mavic spoke. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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Filed under "cool stuff you cannot have" aka dual-sided Stages powermeter made for the US Olympic track pursuit team. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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The gravel crew in the afternoon. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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Start 'em young! Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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Love them Alpinestar gloves. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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For 2017 GT is also bringing back that Performer BMX you wanted back in 1986. You know you want one. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

PressCamp in Park City is still one of my favorite events of the year. The laidback atmosphere, killer rides, that ride party at Eric Porter’s House, the daily doses of epic breakfast bacon, and of course plenty of fun new gear to talk about. Here are a few of the highlights from the week-long meetings. We will have more individual highlights/reviews in the pipeline.

Cannondale

The vaulted SuperSix EVO Hi-Mod will be available this fall with disc brakes. While the bike looks almost identical to the caliper brake version sans the brakes, the frame is brand new given that you just can’t slap a brake caliper mount to the frame mold and call it a day. The geometry is the same but the disc frame will have a different layup to accommodate different loads generated by disc brakes.

photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
Cannondale SuperSix EVO Hi-Mod disc with Ultegra Di2. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

Even then, the weight penalty is minimal. Otherwise, the most noticeable differences are the utilization of the Flat Mount standard for the brake calipers, improved tire clearance up to 28C tires (the bike we were shown had 25C Schwalbe one tubeless clincher mounted to the Cannondale Hollogram carbon clinchers with a 19mm inner diameter), and the 12×100 thru-axle for the fork. What’s interesting, though, is that Cannondale kept the traditional 135×9 quick release for the rear wheel. The model we were shown, a SuperSix EVO Hi-Mod Carbon Disc with Ultegra, will retail for $6,200 and I expect more disc models at different price points will be available as well.

3T

Better known for their cockpit components such as stem, handlebar and seaports, the storied Italian component maker 3T carried a truck full of their new Exploro gravel road bikes and they did not disappoint. In fact, they were so good they would have easily won the best of camp if there was one.

3T Exlploro. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
3T Exlploro. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

The loaner I rode was mounted with 2.1×27.5 WTB Nano mountain bike knobbies (and it’s compatible with 700c for road and cross) and it blew me away in terms of how playful the bike was over the rocky dry terrain at Park City. Oh, and it’s an aero gravel bike designed with bottles, fat tires and mud in mind that 3T went as far as 3D printed mud for testing.

THM Calavicula SE crankset. Bling. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
THM Calavicula SE crankset. Bling. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
3T. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

Now, at $4,200 for the top of the line LTD frameset, the Exploro will definitely take up a good amount of your hard-earned moola but it’s one hell of a super gravel bike if you can only have one to do it all.

Fabric

It’s only been a short time since Fabric came to the US market and they have yet to disappoint with their ingenuity. New for 2017 are their lineup lights. In particular, the $39 R30 rear light.

New Illumination offerings from Fabric. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
New Illumination offerings from Fabric. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

Thirty lumens LED strip capable of running in 4 different modes off a USB rechargeable lithium battery rated for 8-9 hours depending on running mode, all housed inside a IPX5 water resistant outer case. Beneath the hood, Fabric added an accelerometer so the light will automatically glow brighter when the user brakes to slow down, just like the taillights on a car.

Ryders Eyewear

I must admit I am not familiar with Canadian sunglasses maker
Ryders Eyewear despite seeing their products at different places over the years. Sales of sports sunglasses is one tough competitive market but Ryders seems to have a lot of good technology neatly integrated across the board from their entry level model all the way to the no holds barred models.

(L-R) Aero, Seventh and Incline by Ryders Eyewear. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
(L-R) Aero, Seventh and Incline by Ryders Eyewear. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

A few details that caught my attention: Grilamid TR90 materials on all their non-metal frames that is super flexible. We tried to pull apart a frame without success, yet it was able to retain its shape after our post-presentation abuse. Second, integrated anti-fog in the back of the lens and hydrophobic coating in front to shed water. No more aftermarket mods!

Blue

Typically better known in the time-trial/triathlon scene but at PressCamp, however, Blue showed up with a slew of new additions to their 2017 line up and the Prosecco EX Carbon gravel bike is possibly one of the best value bikes from PressCamp. For $2,699, you’ll get a full carbon frame, hydraulic brakes AND Shimano Ultegra Di2 electronic grouppo. Also cool is the slippery looking Leigh carbon track bike, race ready straight out of the box.

Blue Prosecco EX carbon Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
Blue Prosecco EX carbon Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
Blue Lehigh track bike. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
Blue Lehigh track bike. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

GT

GT Pantera: Seems like brands are putting more focus on introductory/middle tier models this year at PressCamp and for that reason, GT reintroduced the Pantera back into their 2017 mountain bike lineup. Only this time with a sturdy new aluminum t6 frame, a competitive spec and most importantly 27.5+ wheels for comfort, maneuverability, and fun factor for the price ($1620 for the top of the line Expert model). It’s a very playful bike and I think it’ll be a hit next year.

GT Pantera Expert. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

Pinarello

Pinarello is now in the gravel market with the addition of the GAN GR and GRs, with the latter equipped with a elastomer rear suspension delivering 10mm of travel similar to the absorber found on their Paris-Roubaix proven K8-S machine. Both models are disc only and heavily features design cues from their top of the line F8 road frame, but with ample tire clearance and fender mounts as well as a lower price point ($2850 with Shimano 105 and $5250 with Shimano Ultegra.)

Pinarello GAN GRS gravel bike. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
Pinarello GAN GRS gravel bike disc with Shimano 105. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
Elastomer suspension with 10mm of travel to soak up the road chatters. photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
Elastomer suspension with 10mm of travel to soak up the road chatters. photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

Thule

Many associate Thule with being the brand that makes racks and accessories for your car but the Swedish company is much much more than just a one trick pony. Thule has developed products such as rugged phone cases, and luggage bags. What caught my attention was the Covert Camera Bag: a rolltop-style backpack that’s been the rage lately but the dedicated camera compartment had some of the nicest inserts I’ve seen. We will be reviewing one very soon so stay tuned for updates!

Thule Covert camera backpack Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
Thule Covert camera backpack Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
Nicely padded inserts for the camera compartment. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
Nicely padded inserts for the camera compartment. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

Smith

Smith, being the first to incorporate the novelty Koroyd material into bicycle helmets, is back with two new affordable helmets (with Koroyd, of course) called the Rover (for MTB) and Route (for road.) While the original Overtake and Forefront helmets saw a full wrap of koroyd around the helmet, it drove the price of the helmet.

(L-R) Smith Route and Rover helmets. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
(L-R) Smith Route and Rover helmets. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

For the Rover and Route, Smith was able to strategically place Koroyd panels in the areas where it would likely see impact, thus lowering the price point. I know the last few sentences were full of Koroyd. I, in fact, was treated to an interesting presentation directly from Koroyd, 45 minutes on a single material backed by data, Surprisingly, though, it was also one of the more memorable, and convicing presentations during the week that would make you want to wear nothing but Koroyd gear. It’s that good.

Ridley

Ahh, the slippery fast Noah SL, now better with disc. We tested a caliper brake version of the Noah SL a while back and had a great time with it. For the Noah SL Disc, Ridley designers went back to added thru-axle front and rear for security and stiffness. Ridley’s split aero fork remains and we expect the bike to be even more capable than its caliper brake brethren.

Ridley Noah SL Disc. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

Ellsworth

Six month is a long time in the bike biz and Ellsworth is back at Summer PressCamp with a new owner and a spiffy looking Rogue Sixty enduro machine with 160mm of rear travel. The iconic ICT suspension remains but founder Tony Ellsworth incorporated a 420mm short chain-stay, mil-spec dual row bearings, slack geometry, and hex taper-axles that should translate this carbon-framed bike into one sweet tight berm riding machine.

Ellsworth Rogue Sixty in orange and black Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly