Cancellara’s Trek Madone

The legend’s Trek Madone. If I had to buy an “off the peg” bike and money was no option this would be high on my list. Of course it’d be much better with the new wireless SRAM eTap groupset, but #Spartacus is old school and rides mechanical. Not sure about the look of that stem though.

The Madone is arguably as aero as the Specialized Venge ViAS and in my opinion much easier on the eye. Not a bike to own if you’re wrench-shy as having seen our mechanic set one up, it can be a pain to work on!

Getting more aero! #freespeed

As the weather was rubbish today and I’d already logged 175 miles this week I decided to have a closer look at my position on the time trial bike. For various reasons I only got in a handful of rides on it last year so I’m hoping I can find some form in 2016 as I really enjoy riding the Stealth. I knew my current position wasn’t great so there was always going to be room for improvement.

I got a new helmet too so I needed to see how that fit. It’s a medium tail MET Drone Wide Body, as used by MTN Qhubeka last season (see image above). With the help of my turbo and some iPhone video I got tinkering…

Here’s my starting position, the same measurements as last year:
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And here’s where I ended up after a bit of tweaking:
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It feels comfortable and looks a lot more aero. Notice how the tail of the helmet sits flush into my back. Of course getting really aero is only part of the equation as I need to see if I can still ride comfortably and put out some power in this position! Here’s the two photos in a side-by-side comparison:

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I’m still not 100% happy with saddle choice – something to look at – and I could really do with a Sigma Sport SanRemo 2.0 Speedsuit to complete the package! ;-) Once the weather improves I will go for a proper spin around my local testing roads and do a bit more fine tuning. #aeroiseverything

Hands on with mechanical doping

Recently I had a chance encounter with the guys from Typhoon, who build intriguing “motor assisted” road and mountain bikes. They had on display a motorised carbon road bike that on inspection shared an extremely close resemblance to one recently discovered in the world of cyclocross.

At first glance I didn’t spot that the bike was modified. It just looked like one of many very sleek carbon road bikes. In fact the weight wasn’t even that bad, I’d guess around 9kg, no featherweight but less than my fully kitted winter bike. Even on close inspection the only clue was a barely visible wire running from the storage bottle into the seat tube. The guys assured me this would be totally hidden in the future and that the storage bottle would be much smaller.

IMG_0988Click on the pic to enlarge. You still won’t be able to tell it’s an e-bike!

This particular pre-production model had a three-speed motor activated by a tiny switch hidden on the bars. Once turned on it kicks in when you pedal, providing up to an extra 250 watts of power in high mode.

Yes, that’s an extra TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY WATTS!

According to the guys they are currently two months away from a proper release, but with the recent publicity surrounding mechanical doping in the pro ranks they brought a couple of examples to the Bike Show to ride the wave of that publicity, so to speak!

At a cost of around 12,000 euros I don’t think you’ll be seeing many on the club rides any time soon, but this undoubtedly proves that the tech is out there, works perfectly and is accessible to the general public.

Now if only I could score a proper test ride…

The London Bike Show 2016

Yesterday thanks to work I took a trip to the London Bike Show to check out this year’s latest and greatest cycling releases. I’d never been to the London show before so was really looking forward to it. A short car journey and three trains later I arrived at the ExCeL Centre around 1pm.

First call was the Specialized stand to see the S-Works Venge ViAS. I’d been hankering over a peek at this bike and it did not disappoint. I will admit to not being a fan in the past, but this version has totally changed my opinion! I’ll have a more in-depth feature for the Venge ViAS in a future post.

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From there I did a quick (okay, very slow) few laps on the Street Velodrome, where I almost crashed when I clipped the exit during my timed two laps and got my ass handed to me by a 12 year old kid! That going around in small circles at speed is harder than it looks…

IMG_1027Another highlight was sampling the different flavours and brands of energy bars on the market. We stock many brands such as Torq, Honey Stinger, Mule Bar and SiS but to be honest I’d never tried many of them! I still much prefer to make my own ride fuel. At least then you know exactly what is in them. The ever expanding Mule Bar range was by far the tastiest.

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There were plenty of high end road and mountain bikes on display for punters to ogle over. I was particularly taken by the growing number of titanium offerings, plus the Argon 18 range of aero road and time trial bikes. Lets just say there was no shortage of serious cycle porn on display! Clothing, accessory and component brands were also well represented with the likes of EDCO, Continental, Mavic alongside smaller independent brands all mixing it up for a slice of the consumer pie.

IMG_0986One day I will have my own Van Nicholas titanium beauty!

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I was a bit disappointed  not to see any SRAM eTAP on display (apparently there was one bike on the Pinarello stand) or Rotor’s hydraulic groupset. Also I didn’t see the new 9-series Trek Madone, the closest competitor to the Venge ViAS. Apart from that, all the usual suspects and high end brands were present. If you’re at a loss for something to do this weekend, the London Bike Show may just be the ticket!

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Just how long is Shimano Di2 battery life?

Bettery life is something that a lot of potential Di2 or EPS (and now SRAM eTap of course) customers consider before taking the plunge. How many miles am I going to get? Will it suddenly go flat mid ride? Is there any warning?

I’ve been riding Shimano’s 10-speed Ultegra Di2 since late last year and have covered quite a few miles on it now. I absolutely LOVE IT! It hasn’t missed a beat, is a real pleasure to use and most of all makes you feel totally pro.

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With Shimano, you get a nifty little indicator light on the stem-mounted junction box to let you know roughly how much charge is remaining. Press the shifter paddle for a second or two and it lights up in one of four different sequences:

Solid green = From 100% down to 50% battery level remaining
Blinking green = Around 50% remaining
Solid red = Around 25% remaining
Blinking red = Charge me now!!

CXzwANbWcAAqB5PEven on blinking red you still have (apparently, I haven’t tested it out) over 200 shifts left before completely draining the juice. When it gets really, really low, first the front derailleur quits shifting, then after a couple of hundred more shifts the rear derailleur stops in whichever cog you happen to be riding at the time. From then on you’re single-speeding home!

From a 100% charged starting point, the indicator light on my system changed from solid green to blinking green at 750 miles (1200km). I do change gear quite often, but not so much on the front which requires more battery power.

After 1030 miles (1650km) the indicator light changed to solid red. Not wanting to chance it, I then charged the system up to 100% again! Charging is simple enough. A port on the side of the junction box connects to a USB cable so you can charge from your computer/laptop or any other USB point.

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I’m guessing the battery would be good for 1300 miles on a single charge, probably more. That said I’d be inclined to charge it as soon as you hit solid red – maybe sooner if you’re planning some really long rides. So there you go, as long as you’re sensible and keep an eye on that all-important indicator, there’s no reason for your Shimano Di2 to ever run out of juice while out on a ride! Just keep an eye on that light!