The 2020 launch season is in full swing with Specialised, Trek, Large and a great deal of different massive manufacturers having launched cool new bikes over current weeks, and listed here are among the key developments that we have seen up to now.
Not all of those developments are new, in fact. That is the factor with developments – they develop. With extra launches deliberate for the subsequent few weeks, it will be fascinating to see which of them are taken additional by different manufacturers.
Light-weight bikes get extra aero
Over the previous few years, all the massive manufacturers have had a light-weight race bike and an aero race bike within the vary, though the excellence has change into ever extra blurred: aero options have been added to the light-weight fashions, whereas the aero bikes have been lightened to give you the perfect of each worlds.
These developments have continued with main launches in 2020. Large, for instance, hadn’t integrated aerodynamic options into its light-weight TCR vary earlier than, figuring that in the event you wished to scale back drag you’d go for its Propel aero bike.
When the 2021 TCR Advanced was announced back in April, although, Large stated, “The brand new TCR takes a serious leap ahead in aero efficiency. That is the place its most quantifiable positive aspects, in comparison with the earlier era, may be discovered.
“Each tube form was analysed, engineered and examined to create an total construction with considerably decrease drag at a wider vary of yaw angles. The result’s a TCR that’s quicker than ever, particularly in sprints and solo efforts.”
The tube profiles are truncated ellipses and the shaping of the down tube is designed to work aerodynamically with a water bottle in place.
Then in June Trek added aerodynamic features to its lightweight Émonda for the primary time.
“The apparent aim was to get extra aerodynamic however we did not wish to find yourself simply designing one other Madone or one thing actually near it, so we picked a well-known climb, Alpe d’Huez [8.6 miles/ 13.85km at an average gradient of 8.1%, a frequent feature of the Tour de France], and made that our goal,” stated Trek aerodynamicist John Davis.
Trek’s engineers targeting the entrance finish of the bike – the handlebar/stem, head tube and down tube – as a result of that is the place most positive aspects may be made, and examined with and with out a water bottle in place.
“Within the wind tunnel, the brand new Émonda is about 60 seconds per hour quicker [than the previous version] at excessive speeds, and with our Alpe D’Huez goal it is about 18 seconds per hour quicker,” says John Davis.
Simply this week, Specialized has launched a new SL7 version of its lightweight Tarmac, which it says is so aerodynamically environment friendly that the Venge aero highway bike is now superfluous.
“We now have the technical means to create a motorbike that is as aero as guidelines permit and as gentle as guidelines permit in a single package deal,” stated Cam Piper, the product supervisor behind the Specialised Tarmac SL7. “Anything can be forcing riders to make a compromise on race day, and we simply weren’t okay with that anymore.
“By focusing on the tubes that really impression the aero efficiency of the body, whether or not it is the seat tube, the seatstays, the top tube or the fork blades, all with shapes from our FreeFoil Form Library [the collection of airfoil shapes that Specialized has developed], after which mating them with the quickest parts that we’ve got at our disposal and integrating the cabling, we created a package deal that’s 45secs quicker over 40km than the Tarmac SL6.”
It is solely Specialised that claims the time for separate light-weight and aero bikes is over, however the model’s declare that you just now not want to decide on between them does make you ponder whether we have entered a brand new period in highway bike growth.
Tyre clearance will get ever bigger
Tyres have been getting wider within the highway bike world for years, and this development continues.
Though 25mm tyres are fitted as commonplace, there’s sufficient clearance to run 32mm tyres from most manufacturers on the disc brake bikes within the new Giant TCR Advanced range, for instance. That is broad for a highway race bike.
The brand new Specialized Tarmac SL7s ship with 26mm-wide tyres, however there’s sufficient clearance to suit 32mm-wide tyres right here too.
The identical goes for Open’s new MIN.D highway bike.
You’d count on a comfort-focused bike like Merida’s new Scultura Endurance to take broad tyres, and it does – you’ll be able to match 700 x 35mm slicks comfortably, though 32mm is commonplace.
Cervélo says that its new Caledonia is ‘race bred’ and designed with the Paris-Roubaix cobbles in thoughts. Once more, you’d most likely count on a beneficiant quantity of clearance right here; 28mm tyres are fitted however you’ll be able to go as much as 34mm in the event you like.
After all, gravel bikes are at all times going to have wider tyres than highway bikes, however even in comparison with most different platforms of its style, the updated Specialized Diverge has lots of clearance. You’ll be able to match a 700C x 47mm tyre, or a 650b x 2.1in, with 6mm of area round it. Specialised incorporates a 15mm-long flat part of carbon-fibre into the driveside chainstay with the intention to present the room.
3T’s Exploro RaceMax gravel bike has extra clearance than earlier Exploros too – 700C × 40mm or 650B × 54mm.
Not each new bike has area for enormous tyres – the brand new Trek Émondas have conservative clearance for 700C x 28mm, for example – however the development is unquestionably upward.
Threaded backside brackets return
A number of new bikes launched this 12 months have featured threaded backside brackets, in a transfer that is going to please many.
Pressed in backside brackets have dominated the mid to high-end bike marketplace for the previous few years, however they’ve by no means been universally well-liked. Some techniques are vulnerable to creaking and set up/removing may be troublesome.
Whereas earlier Émondas featured Trek’s BB90 backside bracket system with the bearings pressed into the BB shell, all the new Émonda SLR and SL models use T47, which is a design that the model started utilizing on its Domanés final 12 months.
First launched by Chris King and Argonaut Cycles, T47 backside brackets thread into a large shell. Trek says you could count on to see T47 used extra extensively throughout its highway vary in future.
Pressed in backside brackets are nonetheless vastly well-liked, however with Trek and Specialised transferring again in direction of threaded techniques, we would not be stunned to see different manufacturers following go well with.
Extra energy meters specced on full bikes
It wasn’t so way back that energy meters had been solely an costly aftermarket improve – and so they nonetheless are, in lots of instances. Nonetheless, we’re seeing extra of them specced on full bikes .
Every of the three SRAM eTap-equipped Trek Émonda SL and SLRs is fitted with a Quarq energy meter, for instance, the least costly of those fashions being the £5,250 Émonda SL 7 eTap.
The S-Works Tarmac SL7 Red eTap will get a Quarq energy meter too, and the S-Works Tarmac SL7 Dura-Ace Di2 incorporates a Specialised energy meter, though every of those bikes is priced £10,500.
Cervélo specs energy meters on a few of its new Caledonia bikes too. The £6,399 Caledonia-5 Power eTap AXS comes with a Quarq energy meter, for example.
A number of new Giant TCR Advanced bikes include energy meters. The £3,299 TCR Superior Professional 1 options Large’s personal crank-based PowerPro system, for instance, whereas the TCR Advanced SL 0 Disc we reviewed had a Quarq design.
Cables on present are a no go
Cables and hoses routed within the body have been de rigeur for years, and there is nothing new about hiding them contained in the handlebar and stem both, however it’s changing into ever extra well-liked.
It raised a number of eyebrows when Large determined to go away cables/hoses uncovered between the handlebar and the down tube and fork leg with the brand new TCRs, with some highway.cc readers commenting that it appeared quaint. Large stated that it made the choice with the intention to hold changes easy.
Trek hides the cables on the Émonda SLRs because of Bontrager’s new carbon Aeolus RSL VR-C built-in handlebar/stem.
The cables/hoses do not run internally however are positioned in a channel beneath the handlebar part whereas a carbon clamp sits underneath the stem. This lets you swap the bar/stem with out having to re-route the cables/hoses. Trek says the design is optimised for digital shifting, however that it really works with mechanical setups too.
The headset spacers are a break up design. You’ll be able to separate the 2 interlocking components to take away them, that means that adjusting the handlebar top is comparatively simply.
The higher end Specialized Tarmac SL7s function the S-Works Aerofly II handlebar first launched on the Venge. Each the brake hoses and kit cables are totally hidden and also you needn’t re-cable with the intention to modify the match.
Though the Cervélo Caledonia has partially exterior hose/cable routing, it is totally inner on digital variations of the brand new Caledonia-5.
Cervélo has advanced the design from its S3 highway bike, utilizing a D-shaped fork steerer with a break up ring that permits brake hose and Shimano Di2 cable routing from Cervélo’s current AB09 carbon handlebar into the physique of the stem and down into the body.
The cables aren’t utterly hidden on the new Merida Scultura Endurance – you’ll be able to see them beneath the stem –however the bike incorporates a new ‘Wire Port’. That is the place the shifting and brake cables are routed by way of the headset for a much less cluttered entrance finish.
Most manufacturers prefer to say that concealing the cables is not simply an aesthetic matter, it reduces drag too.
Disc brake-only highway bike fashions are extra frequent
Not so way back, the considered providing a brand new highway bike solely in a disc brake choice would have been unthinkable, however this has change into more and more the case over the previous couple of years.
Nonetheless, the Specialized Tarmac SL7 is designed with highway racing in thoughts and the identical goes for the brand new Trek Émonda SLR and SL fashions. You’ll be able to’t get rim brake variations of any of them.
Trek made clear when launching the 2021 Émondas that fairly than foisting disc brakes on an unwilling public, it was responding to demand. When disc brake and rim brake variations of the identical bike have been obtainable prior to now, discs have been way more well-liked.
The new version of Merida’s Reacto, launched just this week, is disc brake-only too.
On the flip facet, Large does provide its 2021 TCRs in each disc brake and rim brake fashions.
Wheels are nonetheless getting wider
Now that greater tyres are extra well-liked and rim brake callipers are much less of a limiting issue – as a result of there are such a lot of disc-brake bikes round – wheels are getting wider than ever.
Roval’s new Rapide CLX wheels have completely different profiles entrance and rear; the rear one is 60mm deep with a 30mm exterior width whereas he entrance one is 51mm deep and a colossal 35mm.
“For the reason that entrance wheel induces the overwhelming majority of instability from gusts, we made the entrance rim shallower and wider than the rear,” stated Roval. “This form boosts stability, whereas boasting impressively low drag. For the reason that rear wheel impacts stability a lot much less, it’s deeper and narrower, optimised extra singularly on minimising drag.”
Parcours launched the Strade aero wheelset back in January, aerodynamically optimised to be used with 28mm tyres. These have broad rims too.
Parcours got down to provide a brand new sort of aero wheelset that would not sacrifice experience high quality or consolation for pace. It reckons it has achieved this by creating completely different profiles for the entrance and rear wheels (like Roval, above) – one thing it concluded was vital after conducting evaluation of real-world wind circumstances and the impression of yaw angle on wheel design.
The broader, U-shaped entrance rim – 49mm deep with a most exterior rim width of 32mm – is designed for extra stability whereas the rear, which is much less affected by crosswinds, is deeper and narrower – 54mm deep with a most exterior width of 30.5mm – with a V-shaped profile.
In contrast with the fashions talked about above, Zipp’s new 45mm-deep 303 S tubeless wheels do not appear that chunky, however the hookless 700c rim is 27mm broad – 2mm wider than that of its predecessor, the 302 Disc Brake – with an inner width that has elevated by a whopping 7mm to 23mm.
The wheels are stated to be quickest with 28mm-wide tyres fitted, however the additional width signifies that they’re cable of supporting gravel tyres as much as 50mm broad. For as soon as with Zipp, it isn’t all about aerodynamics.
“The broad rim optimises tyre profile to permit decrease tyre stress, particularly with tubeless tyres,” says Zipp. “That helps to scale back rolling resistance and gives a extra compliant experience with fewer vibrations.”
Traits to look at for 2022
Lengthy prime tubes and shorter stems on gravel bikes
Merida launched the Silex gravel/journey bike again in 2017, giving it an extended prime tube and a brief stem – options borrowed from the world of mountain biking. The thought was to offer a steadiness between stability and nimble dealing with.
The new version of Specialized’s Diverge takes a broadly related method with a slacker head tube angle than beforehand (by virtually 1°), an extended attain and a shorter cockpit. Specialised is trying to enhance stability whereas retaining the saddle-to-handlebar distance much like earlier than. The shorter stem also can make the steering extra energetic.
It will be fascinating to see if this mountain bike-inspired method positive aspects additional floor over coming months.
Though 1x (single chainring) techniques are extraordinarily well-liked, sub-compact 2x chainsets – ones providing decrease gear ratios than a 50/34-tooth compact chainset – proceed to change into extra frequent as gravel and all-road bikes develop in reputation.
Shimano’s GRX RX800 gravel groupset presents a 48/31-tooth chainset, for instance – as discovered on Specialized’s Diverge Comp Carbon (£3,600) – whereas GRX RX600 is on the market with 46/30-tooth chainrings.
SRAM presents 48/35 and 46/33 chainsets, plus a brand new 43/30-tooth choice in its Power eTap AXS Large groupset.