Who Started This Gravel Bike Nonsense Anyway?
The "Global Cycling Network" is a site and You Tube channel that is very popular. They have a great sense of humor and their videos are always very well produced and written. More like a television production, really. Anyway, last weekend I was alerted to watch their latest (at that time) video on gravel cycling and "who is to blame for it and 'gravel bikes'".
Well, much to my surprise and enjoyment, they mentioned Trans Iowa and had former Trans Iowa rider and winner of T.I.v5, Joe Meiser on, and he mentions me by name in the interview GCN did with him. (See the video here) The piece was done in association with Salsa Cycles, by the way, so that would account for maybe why I got mentioned, I suppose, but either way, I was pleasantly surprised to see the piece.
Even if you don't agree about any part I had to play in things, check out the video. It's pretty well done, and the opening bit is hilarious.
|An excerpt from the latest LOOK Bicycles Press Release|
LOOK, This Isn't Funny:
I heard about a weird press release a while back out of LOOK Bicycles which featured news about a gravel racing team they were going to support. I eventually must have made the cut to be on their radar as I received the same release only a day later. This was late last week when I saw this.
So, things start out well enough with the typical marketing banter about gravel, how exciting and popular it is, and how this team is going to be at certain high profile European based gravel events and hopes to be at "....UNBOUND Gravel, the most prestigious event on the American calendar,".
Okay, that's all fine. No harm, no foul. But then you scroll down and the team members are presented. The image shown here is the first you see- the "Team manager"? Ah........My first reaction was, "It's not April 1st, is it?" Wow! And the other three member's profiles are no better. We have Rémi Aubert, AKA "The Doctor", shown in clinical whites with a .....wait for it.....a hypodermic needle in hand! The next rider is nicknamed "The Gardener", and is shown with a gardening shovel on his shoulder with the tag line of " Legend says that the road is never the same after he has ridden it". I don't even understand that. Must be a French thing. Anyway....
I suppose this was meant to be 'funny' and somehow be genuine and 'down-to-earth', like grassroots gravel, but it sorely misses the mark. It certainly doesn't seem serious, and I still don't know if I should laugh, (it is a joke?) or what I should think of that press release. One thing is for sure- That's maybe the weirdest press release I've ever been sent!
Isn't It About Time For Handlebars To Evolve?
|PRO Vibe Evo handle bar. Image courtesy of Shimano.|
For all of the evolution in design we see- from pedals, drive trains, wheels, brakes, and even the clothes we wear for cycling- handle bars seem to have been overlooked. While we get a few different shapes, and maybe a stem clamp diameter change every 20 tears or so, the basic handle bar remains pretty much as it has been for over a century.
Well, maybe that is all about to change. In my opinion, the only reason handle bars haven't changed radically is due to the archaic way that the controls are attached to them. Especially on drop bar bikes. The ancient band clamp mechanism works, certainly, but it also limits the bar to a certain diameter and shape for much of its length on drop bars.
The advent of electronic shifting has kind of accelerated the idea of having your shifter work, and mount, in brand new ways. Shift pods, buttons, or other triggering gizmos are going to free up how we shift. Think about the hybridization of mechanical and electronics, as with the Archer Components (scroll down page linked) system I tried last year. That button system could be molded right into a handle bar of any shape or size. Brake lever perches could be adapted to slide along a track to accommodate different ergonomic needs. It could be pretty interesting.
Obviously 'standards' would need to be set within the industry. This is why a component giant like Shimano should be watched closely as they have the horsepower to set trends. Did you know that it was Shimano, in cahoots with Fox, that got the industry to switch from 20mm through axles to 15mm ones? And flat mount brakes? Who do you suppose started that deal?
So, when Shimano introduces a new handlebar with integrated grips and an aero shape, it gets me to thinking, maybe something else is coming along these lines. Something for gravel with integrated vibration damping grips, remote 'pod' shifters, and who knows? Maybe even a hybridized electric/mechanical shifting set up.
SRAM to Counter GRX With Rumored "XPLR" Gravel Group:
|SRAM AXS Rival may have a companion gravel group soon called "XPLR". |
Rumors are flying that SRAM is about to unleash a new wireless gravel group set of its own to compete with Shimano's GRX groups.
Rumors have it that the group will be a 1X12 featuring a 10-42t cassette. The name for the group is said to be "XPLR", which is interesting since the tire company Donnelly uses that same name for its gravel tire range.
Along with the 12 speed rumors scuttlebutt is that there will be a companion dropper seat post and a Rock Shox branded gravel front suspension fork. When these parts will become available, or even announced, is not yet known, but web watchers have reported that some online retailers have already posted listings for the parts, (no images), so introduction seems imminent.
Stay tuned......Gravel Promenade Tomorrow With N.Y. Roll:
Yes, you too can ride with the great N.Y. Roll! He has a little gravel soiree' lined up for ya. It's about 77 gravelly miles out in Eastern and Southern Black Hawk County. He is leaving at 8:00am sharp from Prairie Grove Park which is in South Waterloo.
I've ridden all of this, unless he's going places out of Black Hawk County that I haven't been to, and I can vouch for the 'cool' factor here. It's a great route and you will have a good time of it if you go. You should go too, ya know. N.Y. Roll doesn't think anyone will show up, so prove him wrong, why don't-cha?
That's a wrap for this week! I hope that y'all get outside and enjoy a ride or two! Thanks for reading G-Ted Productions.