Friday, April 12, 2024

Friday News And Views

 A Weekly Appearance in Today's FN&V:

Cycling Sports Fantasy League Announced:

Life Time Sports announced last week that they are promoting a fantasy league where individuals can choose riders who they think will do well on Life Time's Grand Prix series. 

The Grand Prix is a series of seven events spread across MTB and gravel disciplines. 60 riders are taking part, evenly split amongst Men and Women. The riders must appear at five of the seven events and one of those has to be the season concluding Big Sugar 100 mile gravel event in the Ozarks. 

The top 15 Male and Female athletes at the end of the series will be invited back for the 2025 season with the remaining slots to be filled by invitation. 

Fans of the series now can choose five Men and five Women who they think will finish best at each event. Fans can only pick the same rider twice, making the fantasy league more challenging, and making each fan get to know more athletes in the series. Points for the best choices will be awarded for each event and then a season champion will be crowned at the end of the series. Details can be found at this link HERE

Comments: It is no secret than fan based fantasy sports leagues are very popular. While fantasy sports are typical in stick and ball sports, it is rare to see this in the cycling niche. Life Time, no doubt, gets information and that can be sold to advertisers and marketers. Maybe some day they monetize the league further, but besides the harvesting of info, they also will hopefully get more engagement and possibly more people buying into their events via registration fees. 

It is an interesting twist in the continued monetization of cycling sports and gravel events in particular.

The Stinner MADE Photo Stick

Portable Bike Prop For Photos Announced:

At the last MADE Show, (custom bicycle show, sort of like what NAHBS used to be), Stinner, a custom bicycle brand, showed a "Photo Stick". This is a device that is, essentially, a stand to lean a bike on for remote photo shooting. 

The device got its name from the MADE Show so it is called the MADE Photo Stick. It breaks down into three pieces which can screw together by the use of water bottle bosses and threaded bits which are welded into the steel rods that make up the MADE Photo Stick. 

The MADE Photo Stick is Cerekoted steel and has rubber tips. There will be a raw, bead blasted titanium version edition in limited numbers available soon as well. Price for the steel version has been set at $59.99. 

Image courtesy of Ridley Bikes
Ridley Bikes Debuts Entry Level Gravel Bike:

Ridley Bikes, located in Belgium where the UCI Gravel World Championships will be held (??!!) has announced a new, entry level model for gravel riding and urban cycling called the "Kalazy"

The Kalazy will be offered in three types, one with a flat bar. The spec is 8 speed Claris or 10 speed Sora. Drop bar models have flat mount mechanical disc brakes from Tektro while the flat bar model has hydraulic brakes. 

While the bikes have a focus on gravel, and share the same geometry as Ridley's Kanzo gravel bikes, these Kalazy models also have some nods to urban cycling as well. The frames feature braze ons for a stand brake, and there is a mount for a rear mount kickstand as well. Traditional rack and fender mounts, along with top tube "bento bag" mounts are also featured. 

Image courtesy of Ridley Bikes

Probably the most surprising feature of the Kalazy frame is the use of fully internalized cable routing. Cables will exit the handlebar and pass through a boot where the stem spacers would normally be visible and then through the headset and frame. This is a feature normally not seen on entry level bikes. 

Prices range from about $1299.00 - $1599.00 USD. 

Comments: This introduction is something of a surprise from Ridley Bikes who normally have not dabbled in "entry level bikes" in the past. It is a welcomed thing, as far as I am concerned, to see a company at least try to serve this market and it could launch Ridley in the US as a contender for the average gravel cycling fan's dollar. It could also serve the gravel cyclist that is looking for a gravel bike to use for general purpose riding and therefore save the race bike for racing.  

However "entry level" bikes at over 1K is something I'll have to get used to. The floor for entry keeps getting raised, and I understand that everything is more expensive these days, but still... 

Image courtesy of Ridley Bikes
That said, where have you seen any company send out a presser for a gravel bike that sits in this price range? Maybe Salsa Cycles Journeyer, but besides that? This is pretty rare and I applaud Ridley Bikes for at least trying this. 

I'm not sure how it will play in North America, as the Ridley dealer base is not widespread, but if the presser is to be believed, these Kalazy bikes should be a hit in Belgium and Europe. 

The presser said that the features which are more urban oriented are maybe a bit unusual for a gravel bike, but this sentiment only underlines, in my opinion, how "gravel" was the wrong term all along for these bikes. To my mind, the Klazy represents exactly what I thought the "all - around" bicycle should have been from the get-go. Yes - you could ride gravel, but the bike should also be a practical bike for everyday use as well.  This Kalazy model is a prototypical example of my ideal "all - arounder" bike. 

By the way, the Kalazy can handle up to 47mm tires, which really makes this bike even more interesting from a practicality standpoint. The geometry, again based on the Kanzo, so it is dialed in to what I would consider to be a good, all - around stable geometry for everyday riding. So, overall, I like the bike and besides the goofy all-internal routing, I have no quibbles with the Kalazy.

Image courtesy of YT Industries

YT Industries Announces More Affordable Szepter Gravel Bike:

Another shot at making a bike nmore affordable here with YT Industries announcing a spec level addition to its Szepter range. 

The Szepter Core 2 model features the same carbon frame and geometry as the other models in the range but has a spec that lowers the retail price to $3,499.00 USD. 

The Szepter Core 2 features a Suntour GVX 32 40mm travel gravel fork, DT Swiss G1800 wheels and a Shimano GRX drive train. 

Comments: The term "affordable" can mean different things. Obviously, a boutique MTB brand offering a gravel bike in carbon is not going to be able to reduce costs at the same level as a brand moving more numbers, so you have to look at this in context. 

It is interesting how the MTB-centric brand's gravel bikes all feature geometry reflective of the 'geo-du jour' reflected in MTB bikes in 2024. Slack (for gravel) head tube angles and steep seat tube angles. The slack head tube angles do not scare me, but I am not sure that steep seat tube angles are the answer, even if you use the bike on single track. YT says the steep seat tube angle benefits climbing. But at 74.3°, it feels like we are talking about a tri-bike geometry. It just seems like it is the wrong direction to go for a gravel bike. 

But this is probably the "enduro-dude's" gravel bike and is built to appeal to such folks. Probably not so much aimed at a Mid-Western, miles upon miles of rollers type of rider. I get that, if that is what YT is doing here. 

Image courtesy of Wolf Tooth Components

Wolf Tooth Announces New Ripsaw Flat Pedals:

And you thought we'd get out of this FN&V without a mention from Wolf Tooth? Ha! No way! 

I honestly don't plan this, but it seems that Wolf Tooth's marketing strategy for 2024 is to release some news once a week. Well, this time it is a pedal machined and assembled in their Minnesota headquarters called the Ripsaw.

The Ripsaw is a $199,99 pedal that is CNC machined from a block of aluminum billet and, according to Wolf Tooth, that takes 37 minutes per pedal body. 

The Ripsaw pedals have replaceable pins and are rebuildable as well. They are 118mm long and 102mm in width. The platform is thin, being about 12mm at the thickest end, and have a slight, concave shape to help hold the foot. The Ripsaw pedals are available in Raw, Black, or Purple anodized finishes. 

That's a wrap for this week! Thanks for reading Guitar Ted Productions and I hope that you get out for some riding this weekend!


Tman said...

Really? A $60 stick?! With more expensive versions to come? Grant Peterson is looking smarter and smart as the years roll on.....

MG said...

I don’t know if I’d ever be interested in a bike that includes the word ‘lazy’ in its name. And the cable routing at the headset looks absolutely awful. I don’t see how this is better in any way than traditional routing, and it’s definitely much uglier. Yuck.

Guitar Ted said...

@Tman - Yeah..... Some people will dig it. Me? I have plenty of natural, recyclable sticks at my disposal here. So, it isn't for me. ;>)

Guitar Ted said...

@MG - I noticed that about the name also. Not a fan of head set routed cables either, but almost all high-end bikes are doing this now so some folks may see it as an "upgrade". Like I said, it is the one thing I'm not a fan of on the Kalazy.

Still, there is a lot to emulate here for other brands and I like the overall direction of the design.