Ridden and Reviewed: Fuji Transonic 1.3 Road Bike

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When Fuji launched their brand new Fuji Transonic road bike platform, they called it a “revolution in speed” and “aero unleashed”. It certainly looked like a fast bike, so when a Fuji Transonic 1.3 Road Bike – 2015 showed up at our home office, we couldn’t wait to take it out on the road for some real world testing to see what this bike is all about. We had the chance to meet with Fuji’s designers in person at their home office to learn more about this new super bike, and discover what went into making it a “revolution in speed.”

The Design

The Transonic is the result of 3 years of Fuji’s aerodynamic research, using lessons learned from the development of their other aero bikes, the Norcom Straight time trial bike and the Track Elite track bike, plus input from their pro riders. Fuji also optimized for stiffness and light weight. The designers eschewed standard aerofoil shapes that can compromise the rigidity of the frame and perform poorly in cross-winds. Instead, they used a wide cross-section tube shape made from C10 high modulus carbon fiber that cuts through the wind and increases your control of the bike at speed.

An aerodynamically contoured head tube-fork-downtube junction blends the frame areas together to ensure smooth, uninterrupted airflow over the front of the bike and across the downtube. The seat tube-seatstay junction is sculpted to reduce turbulent air exiting the seat tube and is contoured around the rear brake to shield it from the wind. There’s an aero seat post with an integrated seat clamp that produces cleaner airflow, plus a roughened surface on the front of the seat post to ensure the post doesn’t slip. The seat tube is also contoured around the rear wheel to minimize drag.

The Ride

Of course all of this design would be for naught if the bike was no fun to ride. Since we’ve been riding this very bike for a few months now, we can definitely say that’s not the case! The Transonic is a super bike that you can ride all day. Sure, it’s an aero road bike where you can can get long and low and attack the group on the flats. But it’s also lightweight and stiff (but not harsh) so you can put the power down going uphill too. All in all, it’s clearly a very well thought out and well designed road bike, and quite the looker as well (in our humble opinion).

Some spec highlights: direct-mount front and rear brakes remove excess mounting material, allow for improved aerodynamics, and (really noticeable) improved modulation – plus the rear brake is in a standard position where it is easily accessible. No funky hidden brakes here. There’s an integrated chain watcher to ensure smooth shifts without the risk of dropping the chain to the inside of the crank. The frame is also designed with the future in mind, with electronic/mechanical internal cable routing and space for wide-rim profile wheels and up to 28mm tires.

This particular Transonic 1.3 model comes spec’d with the impeccable Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 11-speed mechanical groupset and ultra-lightweight Oval Concepts 950F carbon clinchers wrapped up in Vittoria Rubino Pro slick tires. The rest of the bike is built to be race ready with Oval Concepts R910SL carbon bars, Oval 713 stem, aerodynamic Transonic seatpost. But the same revolutionary Transonic frame design is available with a wide variety of component options, both electronic and mechanical, including the exclusive value that is our Fuji Transonic 2.8 Road Bike- 2015.

The Bike For You

So what do we think of the Fuji Transonic road bike? In a word, it really is spectacular. It looks fantastic, it’s stable at speed, but it’s not going to flex when you want to sprint, it has well thought-out components, all with the added bonus of free speed from aerodynamic efficiency without a weight penalty.

Setting Up Garmin Connect LiveTrack

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With extreme hot weather hitting much of the American East Coast this week and next, it’s important that you stay safe during your rides. Make sure you are following the usual advice of staying hydrated, riding during the cooler hours of the day, and taking frequent breaks.

But there is another important aspect of staying safe during extreme weather (or any time really), and that’s making sure that someone knows where you are. If you get dehydrated or suffer a heat injury, having a friend or family member who knows where you are or the route you are taking can be invaluable to getting you help when you need it most.

One of the easiest ways to do this now is with Garmin LiveTrack. Garmin LiveTrack is a free service that can be used with a Bluetooth-compatible Garmin Edge unit, such as the Garmin Edge 510, 810, and 1000. Garmin Connect Live Track works by connecting your Garmin Edge to your smartphone via Bluetooth, and then sending your ride data to friends or family with a secure, unique website. This lets your friends and family instantly know where you are, what route you are taking, and more.

To activate Garmin Live Track: follow these steps:

1. If you have a Garmin Edge 510, 810, or 1000, ensure Bluetooth is enabled

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2. Download the Garmin Connect app to your phone

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The Garmin Connect app can be downloaded for Android, iPhone, and Windows phone

3. Ensure your phone’s Bluetooth is turned on, and pair it with your Garmin Edge

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Turn on Bluetooth in your phone’s settings and go through the pairing proceedure

4. In the upper left corner of the Garmin Connect app, look for the icon is 3 horizontal lines

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Next open up the Garmin Connect app, and open the menu

5. Select “LiveTrack” from the menu

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Now go through the process of setting up Live Track

6. Tap “Invite Recipients”

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Make sure the person you share your ride with will be able to help you in an emergency

7. Put in the email address of the person you wish to share your ride with, and select “Done”

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You can either pull from your phone’s contacts or just enter an email address

8. The person you have selected to share your ride with will receive an email with a link to view your ride on a web page (there are also options to share your ride to Facebook or Twitter)

9. Select “Start LiveTrack” at the bottom of the screen

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Now your friends and family can follow along on your rides

10. When you press the “Start” button on your Garmin Edge, LiveTrack will begin

If sharing your ride to Facebook or Twitter, make sure that you wait until you’re a few blocks away from your home to press start, to prevent people you may not know learning where you live.

Top 4 Highlights from the 2015 Sea Otter Classic

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Every year in April, the bike-riding world decamps to the friendly confines of the fabled Laguna Seca racetrack near Monterey, California for the unofficial kickoff to the cycling season that is the Sea Otter Classic. Part new gear show, part festival of cycling, part bike race – if it happens on 2 wheels, there’s a good chance that it will be happening at Sea Otter. Over 4 days, the infield and environs of Laguna Seca host 10,000 athletes and 65,000 fans of bicycles, plus countless purveyors of bikes and gear. Pro and amateur road, cyclocross, cross-country mountain bike, downhill mountain bike, and even dual slalom racing was on the agenda if you wanted to ride or just watch:

But the big draw for most of the folks in attendance is the chance to get up close and personal with the latest and greatest new bikes and gear. We walked countless miles around the massive expo to track down the most interesting new products and trends for 2015 – let us know in the comments which ones you want the most!

1. Updated Shimano XT and Electronic XTR Di2 Components

Shimano is always working on new and better versions of their components, and this year is no different with the introduction of the 8000 series XT drivetrain. XT is the workhorse of the Shimano MTB lineup, and the big news is a move to an 11-speed cassette. But everything about the group has been redesigned, from the shifters to the pedals. We’ll have a more in-depth look later, but XT has 1X, 2X and 3X crank options, along with a wide range 11-40T (or 11-42T for 1X11) rear cassette that fits on a standard freehub body.

And while not exactly brand new, XTR Di2 is still pretty rare, so it was interesting to see it up close and personal (even if the price tag is out of reach for most of us):

2. SRAM 1X road

SRAM‘s big reveal was all about doing more with less. They’ve taken everything that they learned from their XX1/Xo1 1×11 speed mountain bike and CX1 1×11 speed cyclocross drivetrain and applied it to road cycling. In fact they simply re-badged CX1 components as Force 1 (with added options for front chainring gearing) and then added a slightly heavier Rival 1 option below it. The rear (and only) derailleur features a clutch to eliminate chain slap and a straight parallelogram design with offset upper pulley (to accommodate a wide gear range). The mid-length model works with the 11-36 tooth cassette option, while the long-cage design is needed for the massive 10-42 tooth cassette (which also requires wheels with an XD driver body, which may mean a new set of wheels).

Up front, the chainrings feature the patented SRAM “narrow-wide” tooth design that keeps the chain in place without any retaining devices, and are available in the existing 38T, 40T, 42T, 44T, and 46T options, along with new 48T, 50T, 52T and 54T options for a more road-like feel (the 48T & 50T fit compact five-arm 110mm BCD spiders; 52T & 54T fit standard five-arm 130mm BCD spiders).

Sure, it’s not going to be for everyone, but if you’re looking for a simpler setup for your road bike and don’t mind a few compromises (or at least less flexibility) in terms of gearing range, then Force 1 or Rival 1 could be a great option for you. Crit racers, gravel riders, triathletes or people who just hate shifting their front derailleur could also find this new option to be just what they are looking for.

3. 27.5+ and 29+

Another big trend at Sea Otter (pun very much intended) was the prevalence of 27.5+ and 29+ mountain bikes. These mini-fat bikes, or maxi-mountain bikes, were visible at almost every mountain bike-inspired booth. So what exactly are these new wheel standards, and who are they for? We’ll get to the second part in a moment, but think of these as fat bikes for the masses. Whereas fat bikes roll on super-wide 26″ rims with massive 4″+ tires, these bikes roll on anything from 2.8″ to 3.5″ rubber (generally speaking). The wheels on 27.5+ mountain bikes end up measuring out to about the same diameter as 29er tires, albeit with a much wider footprint, while 29+ bikes are more agile fat bikes.

So who are these bikes for? Well, they are simply just fun trail bikes – you’ll pay a slight weight penalty over 27.5″/29″ mountain bikes, but you’ll get tons of traction back in return, along with confidence-inspiring tires that will roll over anything. We’re excited to see more of these bikes in action – especially the new lineup of Charge Cooker mountain bikes, which will be exclusively 27.5+ for the coming model year!

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4. New Gear

The final thing that grabbed our attention at Sea Otter was quite simply all the other new gear on display. Slick X-Sync chainring mounting from SRAM, MIPS technology in helmets from Smith, new shocks from RockShox and Fox, new carbohydrate additive Plus for Nuun, colorful parts from RaceFace, mini-GPS computers from Lezyne, bikepacking gear from Blackburn, new wheels from Easton (in many widths), new enduro helmets form Bell, enormous fat rims from HED, tasty new Rip van Wafels, aero helmets from Kask, and much, much more. If you get a chance to attend Sea Otter in person, don’t pass it up! It’s a fantastic event if you want to ride or just see what’s new in the world of cycling.

Ridden and Reviewed: Giro Empire SLX Shoe

The all-new Giro Empire SLX

The all-new Giro Empire SLX

When we first pulled the Empire SLX out of the box, we kind of didn’t want to wear them. They looked so amazing, with the shiny, opalescent white finish that we were afraid just putting them on our feet would somehow diminish them. But once we put them on our feet, we didn’t want to take them off.

We were already really big fans of the original Giro Empire, and with the all-new SLX, Giro continues to kill it with their shoe game. When Giro first launched the Empire, we’ll admit we had kind of the same reaction as everyone else: “Really? Laces?” But then we actually got to try on a pair, and were sold. The Empire SLX takes that retro-tech with a modern twist approach and steps it up a notch. Or three.

So if you don’t want to read the full review, we’ll sum up it up right now. 5 stars. Amazing fit, super lightweight, great performance and incredible finish quality. Plus, they look absolutely stunning. Like, Sunday best stunning.

If you want to know more, keep reading below.

The Fit

When it comes to fit, we loved the original Empires. They came pretty close to fitting our very low-volume feet, and the laces actually made it much easier to dial in the perfect fit without having to resort to our usual two-insole trick. Plus, the addition of laces meant that you could really customize your shoes by swapping out for different colors, and trying different lacing and tying methods to maximize comfort and adjustability. Last year’s Empire ACC was a little more polarizing around the office, mostly for fit reasons. Giro changed the last and gave the Empire ACC a higher volume fit, with a wider toe box. Obviously, this didn’t work for us, but some coworkers who found the original Empires a little too tight were overjoyed.

Giro even provided us with this handy guide to custom lacing patterns

Giro even provided us with this handy guide to custom lacing patterns

The new Empire SLX seems to split it straight down the middle, and has a fit that works for almost everyone. We had to lace them a little tighter, but didn’t have to go with a second insole, while our friend with wider, higher-volume feet was also able to wear the same pair without any pinching or hot spots. The toe box is pretty straight down the middle too. Our toes don’t feel pinched, but they aren’t swimming around either. It also looks like the spacing of the two sides of the shoe where they lace up has been slightly increased from the original Empire. This might seem like a weird thing to notice, but we’re pretty sure this is part of the secret of the new, more versatile fit. With more space around the tongue, it means that someone like us can lace the shoe tighter without pulling the lacing eyelets all the way together in the middle, while someone with a higher-volume foot gets more breathing room so the laces constrict less.

Basically, Giro seems to have finally really nailed their last shape with the Empire SLX, and created a shoe  that will work for most foot shapes.

 

By increasing the space around the tongue, the Empire SLX decreases hot spots and stress  from the laces

By increasing the space around the tongue, the Empire SLX decreases hot spots and stress from the laces

The Ride

The first time we wore the Empire SLX was on a 75 mile ride. This might seem like a really stupid thing to do with a new shoe, but in our ecstacy over receiving the Empires, we’d left our trusty pair of Bont Vaypor+ at the office. But fortunately, setting up your cleats perfectly on Giro shoes has never been a problem. That’s because Giro has some of the best sole markings for this purpose out there. The numbered grid includes both fore and after hash marks, as well as left/right. This makes it very easy to reproduce your cleat placement, even if you’re comparing them to another shoe.

The Easton EC90 soles provide excellent stiffness during hard efforts

The Easton EC90 soles provide excellent stiffness during hard efforts

During the ride, we didn’t even notice we were wearing a pair of new shoes (aside from the brilliant, magnificent shininess of them), which is actually one of the highest compliments you can give a cycling shoe. We wore them with some pretty thin socks, but never noticed any hot spots or problems. They shoes felt perfectly broken in from minute one. The only thing we did notice was the new, slightly-grippy material the Giro added to the heel irritated our Achilles tendon a little bit, but it was kind of minor, and after a while it went away.

The Empire SLX is also one of the lightest shoes we’ve ever worn—period, and it breathes really well. Even on some of the hotter spring days in North Carolina, it feels very light and airy on the foot, which is excellent. The sole is stiff, and power transmission feels exceptional, with not a bit of flex being felt through the sole, even when we did our annual Functional Threshold Power Test– which will put all of your equipment through the wringer. The low stack height also puts your foot closer to the pedal spindle which improves power transfer, but it may mean some riders will have to lower their saddle a few millimeters to maintain proper bike fit.

Giro really seems to have nailed the all the details, making these shoes among the most comfortable out there

Giro really seems to have nailed the all the details, making these shoes among the most comfortable out there

A big key to rider comfort is retention. If your shoes are too loose, or two tight, it can ruin your ride. With most shoes, that’s an easy on-the-bike fix. With straps, ratchets, and especially BOA dials, tuning the fit mid-ride is incredibly easy. With laces, not so much, since you can’t exactly stop and retie them without getting off the bike. Our best suggestion is to tie them according to the kind of ride you’ll be doing. Doing a hard, short hammer ride, intervals, or crit? Go ahead and lace them up tight to avoid any heel slip and ensure your foot is locked in. For longer rides though, we suggest scrunching your toes while lacing up and tying. This will create a few millimeters of wiggle room, which will give your feet some room to swell during the ride, avoid undue pressure, and keep you more comfortable.

The Empire SLX not only performs well on the bike-- it looks great after the ride, too

The Empire SLX not only performs well on the bike– it looks great after the ride, too

Wrap Up

The Empire SLX is easily one of the best shoes on the market right now, comparable in quality, comfort, and performance to other shoes at and above this price range. Giro has really refined the fit in this third iteration of the shoe, and it seems to fit a broad range of foot types.

Key Points

  • Great Styling
  • Low weight
  • Very stiff sole
  • Low sole stack height
  • Exceptional fit

 

Verdict

If you’re looking for a shoe where great looks that stand out from the crowd meet pro-level race winning Performance and industry-leading comfort, the Empire SLX is the only shoe for you.

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Ridden and Reviewed: Diamondback Haanjo Trail Cyclocross Bike

Diamondback Haanjo Trail Cyclocross Bike

Diamondback Haanjo Trail Cyclocross Bike (we installed pedals and water bottle cage for our test rides)

One of our favorite bikes of 2014, Diamondback’s Haanjo is back and better than ever for 2015 – this time in 4 different flavors. The updated 2015 versions take the Haanjos we loved from last year and step everything up a notch. We’ve been lucky enough to have a Diamondback Haanjo Trail Cyclocross Bike – 2015 in our test stable for a few months now, and it’s just a bike that feels right as soon as you hop on it. It will probably be one of the most versatile bikes you’ll ever own – perfect for everything from ‘cross racing to gravel grinding to touring to commuting to light trail riding.

The Ride

Diamondback designed this bike around their ‘Endurance Geometry’, which translates to a slacker head tube and longer wheelbase than a standard cyclocross bike. Then they layered on wide handlebars, fatter tires, and disc brakes for the ultimate in confidence and control. And that’s exactly the sensation that you get when you throw a leg over the Haanjo Trail.

This bike begs you to have fun when you go out for a ride – you can start out on the road, then veer off on that dirt road you just found, and even hit some single track on the way back. We even rode the Haanjo Trail on snow-covered trails, just because we couldn’t resist. Will this bike replace a dedicated skinny-tire road bike? Not exactly, but that’s not the goal with the Haanjo Trail. It’s a bike that lets you find whatever adventure comes your way on a ride: on-road, off-road or on your commute!

The Parts

The Diamondback Haanjo Trail Cyclocross Bike – 2015 is equipped with top-end components all around – starting with rock-solid and dependable Shimano Ultegra 6800 11-speed shifting components mated to an FSA Gossamer cyclocross crankset with 46/36T chainrings so you have plenty of gearing options for pavement and trail (this cross gearing is really valuable off-road).

HED disc-brake wheels provide a lightweight, fast, and durable set of hoops that can take anything you throw at them. Braking is handled by TRP’s excellent Hy/Rd system, which uses a traditional mechanical cable to actuate a hydraulic brake cylinder, giving you the simplicity of mechanical brakes and the stopping power of hydraulics.

The Haanjo Trail‘s frame is fully butted 6061 T6 aluminum tubing, with a tapered, integrated head tube for better steering response, control, and road absorption. A Gravel Disc Performance full monocoque carbon fiber fork rounds out the package, and smooths your ride. Our one quibble with the package has to do with the Kenda Happy Medium Pro 700×35 tires – while we loved the high volume and smooth rolling of these tires, we wished for more tread when we took the bike off road. With that said, the tires are a great compromise if you are riding a wide variety of terrain, on and off road. But you may want to swap them for something more rugged if you are spending more time on trails (don’t worry, there is ample clearance for this).

The Other Haanjos

Now if the Diamondback Haanjo Trail Cyclocross Bike – 2015 is not exactly what you are looking for, don’t give up on the Haanjo series just yet. The Diamondback Haanjo Comp Cyclocross Bike – 2015 takes the same DNA as the Haanjo Trail and outfits it with a bit more affordable parts.

Diamondback Haanjo Metro in action

Diamondback Haanjo Metro Plus in action

The Diamondback Haanjo Metro Plus Flat Bar City Bike – 2015 builds off of the same frame but ends up with an ultimate commuter package with swept-back handlebars and fenders. And finally the Diamondback Haanjo Flat Bar Cyclocross Bike – 2015 dials in the same go-anywhere mentality in a sport/fitness-oriented bike concept.

Diamondback has worked really hard this year to make sure that there is a Haanjo available for almost every type of rider – as long as you want to have a great time when you ride! Check out a video of the Diamondback Haanjo Trail Cyclocross Bike in action:

Ridden and Reviewed: Fuji Tread 1.1 Disc Road Bike

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The Fuji Tread 1.1 Disc Road Bike is an eye-catching bike, with it’s blacked-out look (with a few bright green highlights) and disc brakes. But what kind of bike is it, exactly? Is it a road bike with disc brakes, a commuter bike for utilitarian rides, or a gravel/adventure/cyclocross bike with slick tires? The beauty of the Tread is that it’s a little bit of all of these things – a truly versatile package that mixes an appealing design with a whole lot of practicality and performance. We’ve put in some hard miles on this Tread 1.1 Disc and came away impressed by the total package.

The Parts:

But let’s start with what you get with the Fuji Tread 1.1 Disc in terms of components. At it’s core is an aluminum custom-butted frame (based on their tried and true alloy cyclocross frame), carbon bladed and tapered fork, a capable Shimano Tiagra 20-speed drivetrain, and lightweight TRP SPYRE mechanical disc brakes. Oval Concepts supplies the handlebars, stem, seatpost, and Vera Terra wheels are clad in 700 x 32C Vera City Wide tires with Phalanx puncture protection for added safety.

On The Road

The Fuji Tread 1.1 Disc Road Bike has comfortable on-road manners with a sporty and quick steering response. It’s not a super-lightweight road racing machine, but a 50/34 tooth crankset and smooth-rolling tires (even though they are 32mm wide) mean that you can keep up with groups on the road or keep up a brisk pace on solo rides. We rode the Tread 1.1 Disc out on some fast group rides here at our office, and we only really felt at a disadvantage on climbs when the group was pushing the pace – the main culprit was the slight added weight and size of the tires as compared to super-light carbon racing bikes (which is no real surprise given the versatility of the bike).

Fuji Tread 1.1 Disc on the road

The Tread 1.1 Disc was a smooth roller on the road

 On Gravel

On gravel or dirt roads, the comfy wide tires and disc brakes of the Tread 1.1 Disc really shined. The stopping power and added control of mechanical disc brakes are a big plus when conditions aren’t great, so it’s no wonder that we were fans of the TRP SPYRE specced on the Tread 1.1 Disc. And while the 700 x 32C tires were not knobby, they had sufficient traction for most situations. We were even impressed by the Shimano Tiagra drivetrain – it has a light shifting feel and performed flawlessly for us, plus the 12-30 speed cassette allowed us to tackle any terrain.

Fuji Tread 1.1 Disc on a gravel road

Gravel roads were no problem for the Tread 1.1’s wide tires

Everything Else

The key word with the Fuji Tread 1.1 Disc Road Bike is versatility – it’s a bike you can ride around town, on the back roads, or just on weekend rides. It’s a great option for a utility commuter bike – there are eyelets for racks and fenders – but it’s not limited to any one ride or terrain. We even took the Tread 1.1 Disc out onto some local trails and had a blast. So what kind of bike is the Fuji Tread 1.1 Disc Road Bike after all? It’s whatever you want it to be – and a whole lot of fun on 2 wheels.

Fuji Tread 1.1 Disc on the trails

Even light trail riding was no problem with the wide gearing range of the Tread 1.1

If the Fuji Tread 1.1 Disc Road Bike isn’t exactly the bike you are looking for, you should also check out the rest of the Fuji Tread lineup. There are several other options and specs available, including an exclusive Fuji Tread 1.0 Disc Road Bike, which upgrades to Shimano’s excellent redesigned 105 5800 11-speed components.

Introducing CHCB Cycling Clothing

Most clothing projects around here usually start off trying to answer a performance need. More aero, lighter weight, sweatproof pocket, etc… So it’s not too often that one of our employee’s personal projects suddenly gets the chance to be turned into an actual line of clothing.

CHCB got its start when Zach, our clothing product manager, realized that he was having a hard time finding more casual clothing for riding around town in Chapel Hill. North Carolina gets pretty hot and humid, so he wanted some cycling clothing with the some of the performance features you find in bike clothing—like the ability to wick away moisture, but would still look like he was wearing everyday street clothes when he got off the bike. Sure, some mountain bike clothing could certainly fall into this category, but that stuff usually tends to be overbuilt for every day riding.

Zach spent almost half a year working with Alicia, our clothing product developer, to make his idea come to life. After months spent playing with fabrics, materials, designs, cuts and details, they finally came up with exactly what they had envisioned, and the Performance CHCB  cycling clothing line was born. CHCB  stands for Chapel Hill and Carrboro, small twin towns in North Carolina where our offices are located and where most of our HQ employees live and work.

Review: CHCB Crew Jersey

Since Zach was pretty excited about his new project, he wanted to get us riding around in them to see what we thought. Since it is winter, we haven’t had too many chances to test the shorts, but we’ve been wearing our crew shirt pretty much non-stop since we got it. As a baselayer on our commute to work, around the house, or around the office the CHCB Crew Jersey has become one of our favorite clothing items. The fit is superb, and is incredibly comfortable on and off the bike, and the understated, casual design is something we’ve really come to appreciate, since it looks just fine walking around the office, and even better on the bike.

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One thing we did notice was that the CHCB Crew Jersey got noticeably softer after the first wash. It’s not uncomfortable by any means straight out of the bag, but it got incrementally more comfortable when we washed it. Because it is a wool blend, we’d definitely recommend air drying it, to avoid any shrinkage.

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Review: The CHCB VC Shorts

Admittedly, we haven’t gotten too many chances to wear the CHCB VC Shorts on the bike yet, which is unfortunate because we really love the way they look and feel. Stylistically, they look similar to some other casual overshorts we’ve tried out, but the finish and attention to detail is much better. The slate grey is pretty classic and neutral looking, but on closer inspection actually has a subtle texture to it that gives it a really premium look. The fabric is also super soft and has a nice solid stretch to it that we’ve found incredibly comfortable, even when we’re just hanging out around the house. And what do we mean about solid stretch? Well…the stretch moves with you, but it has some resistance to it that gives us confidence in its wear-life, and that it will return to shape after a long ride. We also really appreciate the extra-stretch panels built into the waist band. They’re just as comfortable on the bike as they are sitting at the desk or on the couch, which is a big win for clothing designed for active wear.

Both the CHCB VC Short and Polo Jersey are available in a women's version

Both the CHCB VC Short and Polo Jersey are available in a women’s version

Another thing we loved about the shorts were all the small details, which showed a lot of thought. One of our pet-peeves about most lifestyle cycling shorts is that there aren’t any pockets. The CHCB VC Shorts give you two front pockets—which are a well-pocket design so your phone or wallet won’t fall out. Plus a side pocket for some smaller items you want to keep secure. The reflective back pocket tab will be great for those nights when the ride goes a little longer than planned, or when you forgot to bring your light.

The Jersey is also available in a Polo version with a collar

The Jersey is also available in a Polo version with a collar

Overall

We might be biased because Zach is a friend of ours, but we think he and his team did a great job with the CHCB line. It’s comfortable, well made, and has plenty of little features that anyone on a bike will appreciate.

We can’t wait for the spring when we can put some more mileage on these and wear them around town. In fact, we’re already planning on wearing them in September when we ride about 160 miles to Richmond, VA for the UCI Road World Championships.

 

Road Bikes: Rim Brakes Vs. Disc Brakes

 

rim-v-disc

The last decade or so has seen some massive changes for road bikes. The mainstream shift from aluminum to carbon fiber in the 2000’s marked the beginning of a new era in bike design, while the introduction of electronic drivetrains in the last 5 years or so has seen a fundamental rethinking of how bikes shift. But what about how bikes stop?

It started slowly. Very slowly, in fact. But in the last year or two, disc brakes on road bikes have really caught on, and are set to create yet another revolution. As always, there are fits and starts, and not everybody is on board (we’re looking at you, UCI), but like most changes, this one is gaining momentum.

Over the last year we’ve had a chance to test ride quite a few disc brake road bikes. Here’s how we thought they fared versus standard rim brakes.

STOPPING POWER

Disc brakes. There is no question about this. Disc brakes deliver incredible stopping power in pretty much all weather conditions. What’s more, that power is easily modulated, which means it’s easier to control how much brake you need at any given time. Often times no more than one-finger  is needed to stop the bike in a reasonable distance.

Rim brakes, especially with carbon wheels, can sometimes take a little bit to really bite into the rim and slow the bike. This is doubly true if your pads are worn or dirty.

The upward slant of the chainstay helps to minimize hits from bad roads, and helps perfectly position the disc caliper

Disc brakes provide superior stopping power and modulation over rim brakes

Shop for disc brake road bikes

COMPATIBILITY

Rim brakes—for now. Disc brakes are still going through growing pains, and in an industry where the term “standard” is pretty much meaningless, that can mean some headaches for consumers. Some disc brake bikes come with standard quick release wheels, some use thru axle. There are all different kinds of rotor sizes out there, and aftermarket wheel options are still fairly limited.

But these are actually fairly minor problems.

This year will pretty much guarantee a bumper crop of disc brake wheel options, and most of those will be interchangeable between QR and thru axle, making them more versatile for consumers.

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For the moment, rim brakes have fewer compatibility issues than disc brakes

Shop for road bikes

WET WEATHER

Disc brakes. This is a no brainer. No matter what is falling from the sky or laying on the roads, disc brakes don’t care. Snow, ice, and rain don’t have much of an effect on disc brakes—regardless of rim material.

Wet weather conditions can severely limit the effectiveness of rim brakes, especially carbon wheels.

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If you’re riding in wet weather, there’s only one way to go when it comes to brakes

Shop for disc brake road bikes

EASE OF INSTALLATION AND MAINTENANCE

Rim brakes. Frankly, these are pretty easy. Make sure they’re facing the right way, bolt them on, make sure they’re roughly centered and go. Every other year or so you change the pads.

Disc brakes…not so much. Mechanical disc brakes can be notoriously frustrating to install and get centered so they aren’t rubbing the disc rotor. Hydraulic disc brakes are easier to install, but maintenance can be an involved and time consuming, since you have to bleed the lines, replace hydraulic fluid, etc…

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For all their benefits, disc brakes aren’t always as easy to maintain as rim brakes

Shop for road bikes

WEIGHT AND AERODYNAMICS

Rim brakes. Because of the simple design, rim brakes are currently much, much lighter than any available disc brake system.

And, because of where the brake is placed, disc brakes are also much less aerodynamic than rim brakes.

Bear in mind though that this is  likely to change in the next couple of years. As disc brakes become more widely adopted and pressure builds to use them in racing, the industry is likely to begin refining the designs to be lighter, and better incorporated into frames for improved aerodynamics.

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What they lack in stopping power, rim brakes make up for in weight savings and aerodynamics

Shop for road bikes

THE VERDICT

More than any other decision, this is going to be a very personal choice. Disc brakes offer unquestionably better and more consistent stopping power than rim brakes, but at a cost of weight and aerodynamics, and they are still not yet race-legal.

It’s all a matter of what’s most important to you—and we don’t mean stopping power (that’s important to everyone).

What we mean is that if you love racing, fast road riding, and having plenty of wheel options, then it might be best to stick with rim brakes for the time being.

If you’re just looking for a road bike to ride for the love of riding, like to explore gravel roads, bomb big descents, ride in an area that experiences frequent bad weather, or even for racers looking for a second road bike for training and base miles, then disc brakes are probably the better option.

Without question though, disc brakes are the way forward—so love them or hate them, odds are in the next 5 years, most road bikes will be equipped with them.

So tell us your thoughts. What do you think about using disc brakes on road bikes?

4 Articles To Get You Through The Holidays

Happy Holidays from Performance Bicycle! We hope you’re enjoying the time with friends and family.

But like you, we’re starting to crave some bike time. Realistically though, that’s not going to happen for a few more days. So we went back through the blog and found some of our favorite articles that got us pumped to start get out and ride…or at least some motivation to avoid the cookie tray next time.

1. 5 Tips for Cold Weather Riding

No matter how cold it is, follow these tips and you’ll be able to enjoy a ride outside.

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2. Cyclists Guide To Surviving the Holidays—2015

Family time, food, and booze. Follow these tips to ensure you start the new year in (close to) good shape.

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3. Build a Home Gym On A Budget

Not feeling the outside riding? You can still get in a good work out, by building a complete home gym for as little as $250.

The foam roller is one of the best recovery tools available to any athlete

The foam roller is one of the best recovery tools available to any athlete

4. Alternative Road Bikes

Didn’t get the bike you wanted? Maybe this is your chance to get the bike you need. Today’s alternative road bikes are tough, faster, and more capable than ever.

The GT Grade is one of the most exciting gravel bikes yet

The GT Grade is one of the most exciting gravel bikes yet

5 Things We Can’t Wait For In 2015

2015

1. SRAM Electronic, New Drivetrain Players

Making a return from last year’s list: SRAM electronic drivetrains. This year we made the switch to electronic drivetrains on our personal bikes—with Campagnolo Record EPS and Shimano Ultegra Di2, respectively. We couldn’t be happier, but are increasingly intrigued by SRAM’s near-mythical wireless electronic shifting system. It’s said to be introduced in 2015, and we’re definitely looking forward to see how it stacks up against the more traditional wired systems.

2015 is also rumored to see the introduction of an FSA electronic drivetrain, and some sort of drivetrain from Rotor (fabled Spanish maker of aluminum cranks, power meters, and Q-Rings oval-shaped chainrings), although whether it will be mechanical or electronic is still unknown. This will give the drivetrain market its first real shake up since 2006 when SRAM introduced their Force groupset.

 

2. New Helmets From Performance

2015 will see a raft of new helmet brands and models hitting our proverbial and literal shelves. We can’t tell you exactly what they are yet, but we can say that they grace the heads of some today’s best professional racers. Also coming soon will be the Smith Overtake—which we’re super pumped about.

 

Here's a small hint...

Here’s a small hint…

 

3. Shimano XTR M9050 Di2

Di2 on a mountain bike? Sure, why not. Electronic shifting systems have already more than proved themselves on the road, so it’s about time that they made the switch to the trails. We got to take a quick peak at it at some of the trade shows and it looked mighty impressive. Shimano XTR is already arguably one of the finest mountain bike components groupsets available, so Di2 should only make it that much better.

The new XTR 9050 Di2 looks pretty amazing

The new XTR 9050 Di2 looks pretty amazing

 

4. Performance Custom Wheels

A long time ago, in another building far, far away, Performance was known as a one-stop shop for custom wheels. But while the wheel building machine in our warehouse has long since been shut down, we’ve never stopped thinking about the perfect hoops. So over the course of the past year we got to working on how we could start making the wheels we really want to ride, and providing them to customers at a great value.

In 2015 we’re excited to announce that we’ll be returning to the custom-built wheel game. We’ve curated a carefully selected wheel collection, and carefully matched up what we think are some perfect rim/hub/spoke combinations. The result are some unique and exciting wheels from Stan’s, Shimano, and Reynolds, custom-built only for Performance Bicycle.

 

New custom-built wheels, like these Shimano Ultegra hubs to Mavic Open Pro rims, will be arriving throughout 2015

New custom-built wheels, like these Shimano Ultegra hubs to Mavic Open Pro rims, will be arriving throughout 2015

 

5. New Clothing Offerings

It’s not just wheels that we gave some serious thought to this year. Clothing was also high on our agenda—more specifically clothes for those rides that are more about the destination than the ride itself (think riding around town, touring, bike camping, etc…).

We’ve been hard at work designing, picking out fabrics, and testing and are pretty pleased with what we came up with. We can’t show them to you just yet, but keep an eye out around February.

We can't show you too much...but here's a sneak peak of some new clothes in the works

We can’t show you too much…but here’s a sneak peak of some new clothes in the works

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