2013 Year in Review – From Cyclocross Worlds to How to Climb

While we’re already looking ahead at 2014, but as we close out 2013 we wanted to take a moment to look back at some of the best stories and posts that we’ve shared throughout the year – we’ve got even more planned for the coming year, so stay tuned!

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Real Advice: Commuting by Bike

Our coworker Aaron’s story of his 20 mile commute struck a chord with many of you out there – check out the comments for tales from fellow commuters.

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Fuji Pro Bikes at the 2013 Amgen Tour of California

In May we were lucky enough to catch a few stages of the Tour of California, where we got an up-close look at 2 very different professional rider’s Fuji bikes.

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Event Recap: 2013 UCI Cyclo-Cross Worlds

Of course we weren’t going to miss seeing the very first Cyclocross World Championship held on US soil – we summed up the craziness in this post from a very chilly and wet Louisville, Kentucky.

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Cycling First Aid Essentials – What to Pack

We don’t like to think about, but riding bikes means that sometimes we’re going to crash. Our first aid essentials for cyclists post covers the basics of what to carry to be prepared.

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Our Take: 10-Speed vs. 11-Speed

If there’s one post that generated much heated discussion, it was definitely our take on the 10 vs. 11-speed debate – you might be surprised by what we have to say!

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Real Advice: How to Lock Your Bike

There aren’t many worse feelings than having a bike stolen – our Real Advice column breaks down a robust locking strategy to make sure that it won’t happen to you next time.

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Real Advice: An Intro to Climbing

If there’s one thing that most of us would like to do better, it’s learning how to improve our climbing skill – it turns out that it’s not as hard as you think.

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Real Advice: Weight Loss

One of the great side effects of a love for cycling is being able to maintain a healthy weight – but another one of our Real Advice posts covered some straightforward tactics to help you keep the pounds off.

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Real Advice: Wheels

Another great conundrum of cycling – what upgrade provides the best bang for the buck? It’s no secret – we think that it’s all about the wheels.

The Scattante CFR Race

Product Profiles: The Scattante CFR LE and Scattante CFR Race

Finally, we profiled some great gear this year as well – including the latest iteration of our always popular Scattante line of road bikes.

Road Bike Party 2 Video

Martyn Ashton Road Bike Party 2

This doesn’t even look possible!

If you have yet to see the new Road Bike Party 2, featuring the amazing skills of trials-riding impresario Martyn Ashton and friends Danny MacAskill and Chris Akrigg, then you need to stop what you’re doing and watch it now! Even if you have already watched it, do yourself a favor and watch it again:

Despite suffering a serious accident in a trials-riding demonstration earlier this year that left him paralyzed from the waist down (covered in a very good article in Bike Magazine), Ashton was determined to finish this amazing movie as a testament to his will to recover and carry on with his life. His good friends, and equally talented riders, MacAskill and Akrigg, ably filled in for the injured Ashton to complete his vision. After you’ve watched the sequel, don’t forget to check out the original Road Bike Party:

And don’t miss the outtakes reel too, just to show that these guys are human, sometimes:

Wordless Wednesday

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Product Preview: Scattante CX 350

The Scattante CX350

The Scattante CX350

The Scattante CX 350 is a brand-new workhorse cyclocross bike that our guys over in the bikes division dreamed up. The CX 350 is designed from the ground up to be a do-it-all kind of bike. It features a stiff, durable alloy frame, reliable, premium Shimano components, and mechanical disc brakes for all-weather stopping power. The bike also features full eyelets, for mounting fenders or a rack.

No matter what you’re looking for in a bike, the CX 350 is the bike that can do it. It’s ready out of the box to ride ‘cross if that’s what you’re into. Have some fire roads in your area? Head out and explore, confident that the knobby tires and disc brakes will give you plenty of traction and control. Or you can change out the knobby tires for some road tires and head out for a road ride. Need to get to work? Mount a rack on it, attach some lights and you’ll get there in no time.

There’s a million ways to ride the Scattante CX 350—but only a limited time to get one.

Stay tuned for more bike profiles, coming soon.

Shimano shifting components deliver crisp, snappy shifting

Shimano shifting components deliver crisp, snappy shifting

Mechanical disc brakes give the SCX350 all-weather stopping power

Mechanical disc brakes give the CX350 all-weather stopping power

A 46/34 cross crankset gives you plenty of gearing for any course or terrain

A 46/34 cross crankset gives you plenty of gearing for any course or terrain

The alloy frame is durable, lightweight, and completely versatile

The alloy frame is durable, lightweight, and completely versatile

Top 5 Essentials For Riding In The Rain

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While most cyclists prefer to stay indoors when it rains, there are a hardy few who venture out when the weather is miserable. There are, of course, sometimes when riding in the rain is unavoidable—you just kind of get caught in it. But as anyone who has ridden in the rain can attest to, it imparts its own kind of pleasure. It’s cold, it’s wet, and it’s miserable, but it also comes with a feeling of toughness and the kind of pride that can only come with facing down the elements.

It’s even more enjoyable if you’re properly prepared. Here are our Top 5 Essentials For Riding In The Rain.

1. Rain Jacket: There are many options when it comes to choosing a rain jacket, and the right one will depend on the conditions. A lightweight, packable rain jacket will easily fit into a jersey pocket, but generally these jackets are only water-resistant and don’t breathe particularly well. On the flip side, a good water-proof rain jacket like the Shower’s Pass Double Century EX or the Performance Borough rain jacket will keep you dry in even the worst downpours and breathe well to prevent moisture from building up inside, but they are bulky and will not easily fit into a jersey pocket or hydration pack.

The Performance Borough rain jacket will keep you dry in even the worst weather

2. Fenders: Fenders are essential for riding in the rain, especially if you’ll be riding with a group. There are few things more irritation than being behind a rider who has a rooster tail of road spray shooting up into your face from his rear wheel. Don’t be that guy. There are several options to choose from when it comes to fenders, from traditional eyelet mounted options, clip on options, or the venerable “beaver tail”.

The SKS Raceblade fenders will help protect you and other riders from road spray, and are designed to fit road bikes without fender eyelets

3. Lights: Even if it’s daylight out, you should ride with lights—for the same reason cars turn their lights on in the rain. The sky is darker, rain can obscure your outline, and drivers are already distracted. Using lights will make you more visible, and help you stay safe.

The Blackburn Flea 2.0 USB is a favorite around the office for it’s small size, bright light, and long battery life

4. Cycling Cap: A cycling cap, worn underneath your helmet, will help keep the rain from running into your eyes while you ride, and help shield your face from the rain. Plus, few things make you feel tougher and like you are seconds away from winning Paris-Roubaix than pedaling along in the rain and seeing the drips fall off the brim of your cap.

A cycling cap (always worn under a helmet) will help keep the wind and rain out of your eyes

5. Chain Lubricant: When you get home, the first thing you should do—before you even hop in the shower—is wipe your chain dry and apply a fresh coat of lubricant. This will prevent your chain from corroding and forming rust from staying wet. You should also apply a small amount of lubricant to your derailleur springs and brake pivot points.

A good lubricant, like Tri-Flow, will help protect your chain and other hardware from rust and corrosion when they get wet.

6 Tips For Getting Your Bike Ready for Winter

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Winter riding serves up its own special blend of challenges, but by following these easy tips, you’ll be ready for the worst of what the season can throw at you.

  1. Change Your Tires: Unless you live in a warm, dry climate, you’ll probably want to leave the 700×23 tires at home. In the winter, opt for a 700×28 tire (or as wide a tire as your frame will allow) with a minimal tread. Resist the urge to go with knobby tires. Snow will just pack between the treads and make the tire more slippery.
  2. Lower The Tire Pressure: If it’s below freezing outside, lower your tire pressure. Lowering the tire pressure will increase your tire’s contact patch, which means more traction on potentially slippery roads.
  3. Leave The Race Wheels At Home: Full carbon fiber wheels, while delivering amazing performance and looking totally awesome, aren’t the best for winter riding. They don’t have the greatest braking performance in wet or icy conditions, plus, all the road grime and salt may stick in the pads and destroy the carbon brake track. Use a set of wheels with an alloy brake track for better and safer braking performance this winter.
  4. Light It Up: We can’t emphasis this enough. It’s winter, which means it’s getting dark earlier. Even if you think you’ll be home before dark, always bring a set of lights with you—even if it’s just a set of blinky lights you throw in a jersey pocket. Click here to find the light that’s right for you.
  5. Mud Guards or Fenders: Don’t be that guy. Use mud guards or fenders during the winter to both protect your bike parts, and shield the guys behind you from the worst of your road spray.
  6. Clean It Up: The second you walk in the door after your ride, do not pass go, do not go shower. Keep that kit on and go straight to the garage or the bike shed and clean your bike off. The longer you let the salt and road grime sit on there, the more damage it can do—and that kind of damage is expensive. Wipe down the frame and fork, wheels, hubs, and components—and don’t forget the hard to get to places like around the bottom bracket and around the brake bridge. After you’re done cleaning, dry and lubricate your chain and brake pivots. Click here to find the cleaning supplies and chain lubricants that make the job easier.

Now, stay safe and go ride your bike.

Wordless Wednesday

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Our Take: 10-Speed vs. 11-Speed

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In the last few years, Campagnolo, Shimano and SRAM have moved to 11-speed and the technology is becoming more main stream. Lately when we’ve discussed 11-speed bikes, many of you have had some questions and concerns about the new systems. To answer some of them, we found one of our employees who has been riding both 10- and 11-speed groupsets for a while. Here’s his take on things.

I’ve been riding both 11-speed Campagnolo and 10-speed SRAM  for several years now, and I switch between the two often enough to be able to tell you there are some definite differences between 10- and 11-speed drivetrains. Generally, adding an extra cog means you have more gear ratios to choose from which can make your riding more efficient. But I’ve been asked to address the 6 most common questions we get about 11-speed, so here it goes. (And please remember, this isn’t a Campy vs. SRAM article– it’s 10-speed vs. 11-speed).

Is 11-speed less durable?

Answer: There’s not really much difference. I currently have about 2500+ miles on an 11-speed cassette and chain, and neither is worn out yet. I also have yet to break an 11-speed chain while riding. So far my Campagnolo chains and cassettes have lasted about as long as my SRAM 10-speed ones. I guess the thinner cogs and chains make people nervous, but I haven’t had any issues so far. I haven’t ridden the new Shimano stuff, but I’ve read that their new PTFE chain technology actually makes the chains stronger than their 10-speed chains.

Isn’t the shifting compromised?

Answer: Shifting performance isn’t really  affected by the addition of another cog. Aside from the different shifter designs, I have noticed very little, if any, difference in performance between 10 and 11. If anything the 11-speed shifting feels smoother and crisper than 10-speed. My 11-speed bikes do need to be put into the stand a little more often (about once every two weeks) for some basic rear derailleur adjustments, especially after high mileage weeks, but it’s a quick 2-minute cable tension adjustment, and that’s it.

Do you need new wheels?

Answer: Yes*. Contrary to what you read on many bike message boards, you do need a new rear wheel; the reason being that the new wider cassettes require a wider axle than a 9/10-speed wheel. If you look at an 11-speed wheel, the drive-side spokes are nearly in-line with the hub flange. I have converted a set of Mavic and a set of Reynolds wheels from 10- to 11-speed Campagnolo, but it was a pretty involved process and each conversion required the wheel to be re-dished and trued. And, of course, the manufacturer cannot guarantee how a wheel will perform with a converted freehub. Your best bet is to get a new wheel.

 *with the exception of Mavic wheels with an M10 freehub body, which technically should work with Shimano 11-speed if you leave off the Mavic spacer

Are 11-speed wheels less durable?

Answer: Maybe, but that kind of thing really depends on your riding style. For folks who really beat up on their wheels, you might notice a difference. I’m not very tough on wheels, and rarely need to have them trued, but I do have a set of 11-speed wheels that need to be trued more often than their 10-speed counterparts. However, I also have another set that has gone almost 2 years without needing to see the truing stand, so it’s hard to tell.

Is it worth it?

Answer: That all depends. In my experience, I love having the extra 11th gear. And yes, I definitely do notice that it’s not there when I switch back to a 10-speed bike. The biggest benefit to me is that the shifting is smoother and more progressive, since there are fewer big jumps in cog size. I don’t have to keep two different cassettes around anymore (one for the usual riding, one for climbing), since I can still have an 11-25 cassette, but with a 27t or 29t cog tacked on that makes it perfect for climbing as well. 11-speed cassettes also offer a bigger range of gearing options that make it easier to find that comfortable cadence in any variety of conditions, whereas when I switch back to a 10-speed bike, I sometimes struggle to find the right gear.

Why upgrade? Won’t they just go to 12-speeds soon?

Answer: Don’t quote me on this, but no, I don’t think they will go to 12-speeds any time soon. I know Tiso has a 12-speed gruppo out there, but they had to scrounge up some breathtakingly expensive stuff to make it work (i.e. all titanium cassettes), so I doubt it’s ready for mass market appeal. As you read above about wheels, it seems to me like 11 cogs are about as many gears as they’ll be able to cram into the standard 130mm rear spacing. To fit in any more gears without sacrificing wheel durability, I believe that road bikes would need to adopt the MTB standard 135mm rear spacing, and I don’t see that happening any time soon. But then, nobody really saw disc brakes for the road coming either, so anything is possible.

Wordless Wednesday

Diamondback Bicycles pro rider Kelly McGarry taking second place in the 2013 Red Bull Rampage with a backflip over a 72-foot-long canyon gap (the first place run wasn’t too bad either, as GT Bicycles rider Kyle Strait took the win with a suicide no-hander).

Wordless Wednesday

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