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TECH NEWS

“Hey Siri, give me another gear”: is SRAM’s voice-activated shifting the Next Big Thing in cycling? Plus more tech news from Canyon, Rapha, Assos, Hunt, Raleigh & more

Find out about new clothing from Assos and Rapha, super-cool wheels from Hunt and Syncros, and your last chance to buy an iconic Raleigh Chopper

We have loads of new products to tell you about this week from the likes of Rapha, Assos, Hunt and Syncros, but we’re kicking off with news of a just-granted patent from SRAM that suggests you may be able to change gear without touching the shifters – either by using special gloves or even voice commands.

“Hey Siri, give me another gear”: is SRAM’s voice-activated shifting the Next Big Thing in cycling?

You’ll be able to shift gear in the future via finger movement while wearing a pair of specially designed gloves, or even through voice command, if designs described in a SRAM patent published this week come to market.

SRAM says that the type of electronic shifters out there today are all well and good but there are times when we want to change gear and our hands aren’t next to the shifters.

2023 SRAM shift gloves patent - 1

“Additionally, should the rider wish to operate the [shifter] while braking, [they] would have to remove their hand from the brake lever and temporarily interrupt braking” says SRAM. “There exists a need to provide control of remotely operated electronic devices of a bicycle while allowing the rider to maintain contact with the bar and a visual line of sight with the road ahead.”

> Read our SRAM Apex XPLR AXS first ride review 

As usual, SRAM’s patent (US 11,703,118) drifts far and wide but it essentially “provides a means of wireless control of multiple devices without the rider changing hand positions on the handlebar”. In other words, you can shift without using traditional shifters or even the satellite Blip shifters that are now available.

Oh yeah, “multiple devices” covers front and rear derailleurs but also other wireless components, such as suspension systems.

2023 SRAM shift gloves patent - 2

How would these magic gloves work, then? SRAM describes various designs that include pressure sensors, optical sensors, switches, and accelerometers. There would be a battery on the back of the hand along with a control processor that would transmit wirelessly to the bike's components. When wearing the gloves, you'd activate the components with certain finger/thumb movements.

SRAM says:

Some examples of these movements include:
1. Flicking of the index finger;
2. Touching the thumb and any of the other fingers together, perhaps with some threshold force;
3. Hyper-extension of any of the five digits beyond the normal operating range;
4. Compression of the tips of the fingers rather than the pads; and
5. Any combinations of the above actions.

It could be that “a right-hand actuator would cause a shift of the rear derailleur in one direction, a left-hand actuator would cause a shift of the rear derailleur in the other direction and activating both actuators simultaneously would toggle the front derailleur to the other of its current inboard or outboard position.”

That’s how SRAM’s current eTap systems work with standard levers (or Blip satellite shifters).

It could be that you press two “conductive pads” together to perform a shift, one on a fingertip and one on the thumb.

“When the rider brings two pads into contact, a circuit is closed or the state of the circuit is changed,” says SRAM.

2023 SRAM shift gloves patent - 3

SRAM suggests that in this system touching the index finger and thumb together would upshift the rear derailleur while bringing the thumb and middle finger into contact would downshift.

SRAM also describes a system where it is the pressure that leads to the shift, so you’d just need to press a fingertip against the handlebar, for example. The gloves would contain something like “a flexible pressure sensitive resistor, sold under the trade name Flex/Force manufactured and sold by Tekscan”.

2023 SRAM shift gloves patent - 4

SRAM says, “When a rider desires to shift the bicycle, the rider pushes down on the sensor. As the force or pressure on the device increases, the resistance decreases. With a decrease in resistance comes an increase in current. Once the current reaches a predetermined threshold, the shift control processor determines that a shift is desired. The shift control processor is programmed to ignore forces below the predetermined threshold, thus avoiding unintended shifts.”

Yet another method of shifting involves the use of accelerometers in the gloves. A CPU (central processing unit) would be “programmed to only recognise accelerations above a predetermined value as an intended shift signal, thereby allowing the rider to generate this value by tapping a finger on the bar itself with sufficient force”.

2023 SRAM shift gloves patent - 5

Intriguingly, SRAM also throws a helmet-mounted microphone into the mix. The helmet would carry an electronic control unit (ECU), a control processor, a battery, and a wireless transmitter.

“The control processor of the ECU is configured to receive input signals (generated by voice commands) from the microphone and analyse the input signals with well-known voice recognition software,” says SRAM. “The control processor may be configured to generate control signals for controlling… a bicycle gear shifting component or system, a suspension component or system or any other controllable components or systems of the bicycle.”

Stripping out the patent waffle, you’d be able to speak to your bike and have it respond to your commands.

All we can really say is, wow! Are gloves and microphones to operate shifters the way forward, or are you happy with the way things are? We’d be really interested to hear your thoughts.

Check out these workshop skills: advanced level

2023 trimmed handlebar - 1

If this is a joke, it’s a good un. If it’s not a joke… Crikey!

Rapha releases Pro Team Time Trial kit

Rapha Pro Team Time Trial collection

Rapha has released its Pro Team Time Trial collection, offering you a shot at marginal gains just like the pros. The collection includes the same Pro Team Time Trial Suit that propelled EF Education-EasyPost's Ben Healy to a stage victory in this year's Giro d'Italia.

> Check out our review of the Rapha Men’s Pro Team Powerweave Bib Shorts

Rapha says that its fastest-ever Pro Team Time Trial Suit (£400) has been worn by top UCI men's and women's teams, including EF Education-Tibco-SVB and Canyon/SRAM. The suit claims to deliver 12.4-watt energy savings at 55 km/h (34mph) compared with the previous team-issue package. 

Rapha Pro Team Time Trial collection back number

To get the maximum marginal gains (is that, then, mediocre gains?), the collection also includes the Pro Team Time Trial overshoes (£65), Pro Team TT mitts (£40), and Pro Team Time Trial socks (£50), to complete your aerodynamic ensemble.

Read more

Assos partners up with Boss on a new collection

2023 July 22 Tech of the Week Assos Boss - 1

Assos has dropped its collaborative collection with Boss, a brand well-known for its premium clothing. The capsule includes 24 pieces, from base layers to shorts, jerseys, wind jackets, and insulated gilets, catering to both men and women. The garments are split into two collections, one that's directed towards road cycling, and another for commuting.

> Read our review of Assos Equipe R Bib Shorts S9

Is it gonna be a suit that you ride on a bike then? Not quite. Picture classic Boss neutral hues infused with Assos's expertise in technical, performance-boosting fabrications and finishes. They've even got you covered with essential cycling accessories too – socks, gloves, and spider bags (a type of lightweight backpack). 

Assos x Boss

The performance cycling collection includes padded shorts (£130), short-sleeve jerseys (£135), a jacket (£140) and a long-sleeved jersey (£175). 

The commuter collection is a broader selection and includes a sleek-looking insulated gilet (£310), commuter cargo shorts (£135) and a little looser fitting – kind of mountain bike style – top and liner shorts. 

Read more

Hunt announces limited-edition wheels

Sussex-based wheels brand Hunt has announced limited edition wheels with Team COOP-Hitec Products to mark the Norwegian squad’s first appearance at the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift. The Team-Edition Hunt 44 Aerodynamicist Carbon Disc wheels feature the names of the 2023 stage start and finish towns on the carbon fibre rims.

2023 Team-Edition Hunt 44 Aerodynamicist Carbon Disc wheels   - 3

“At the start of the Tour, a limited number of new identical sets of these exclusive wheels will be available for purchase, while the team races on the wheels throughout France,” says Hunt.

> Check out our review of the Hunt 44 Aerodynamicist Carbon Disc wheelset

The wheelsets are priced at £1,249.

2023 Team-Edition Hunt 44 Aerodynamicist Carbon Disc wheels   - 1

“At the conclusion of the Tour, we will make 10 pairs of wheels, ridden by Team COOP-Hitec Products and signed by the riders, available for sale to those seeking a rideable piece of cycling history,” says Hunt.

Read more 

Your last chance to buy an iconic Raleigh Chopper

Raleigh Chopper 70's

The relaunch of the Raleigh Chopper in June was a heartfelt journey down memory lane for many, with countless stories and cherished memories shared by previous owners - according to Raleigh. Now, the Raleigh Chopper, the ultimate 70s must-have bike, is back in stock again.

> Back to the future: Raleigh relaunches iconic Chopper (again)

Raleigh Bikes has announced one last chance to snag this iconic ride, and the second and final drop for 2023 is happening on Tuesday, 25th July, at midday.

After the first drop sold out in the blink of an eye, the Chopper's return clearly had a lot of people buzzing with excitement. 

So, if you missed the first wave, now’s your chance to set your alarms, mark your calendars, and get those typing fingers ready. Purchases will be restricted to one Chopper of each colour – one Ultra Violet and one Infra-Red – per order. A range of compatible spares will be available, with most being back-compatible with the different Chopper models. The price is £950 per bike. 

Read more

Pocket-sized self-flying camera shoots video as you ride

This is a strange one! Hover X1, a self-flying camera called that can follow you and capture footage as you ride, has raised over £1 million on the crowdfunding site Indiegogo. This isn't an exclusive cycling product but Zero Zero, the brand behind it is certainly targeting cyclists.

2023 Hover X1 - 2

Hover X1 “automatically flies around you like a personal photographer and constantly optimises the flying paths to get the best shot”, says Zero Zero.

It weighs 125g and offers 2.7K 30fps (frames per second) and 1080p HDR video recording.

“Hover X1 comes with a selection of pre-programmed flight paths and you can even customise whether you want to take photos or video clips, as well as adjust the height, distance, and angle,” says Zero Zero.

The Follow mode, for example, can track you from the front or back at up to 20km/h (12.5mph), and keep you centred in the frame. It’s probably not going to keep up with you on anything other than climbs while you're road riding but maybe it’ll be interesting for gravel and mountain biking. We’ve requested one for review.

You need to pledge at least £255 on Indiegogo to be in line to receive a Hover X1. It will launch on Amazon and on its own website in August. 

Read more

Who said wheels have to be round?

Round wheels? They’re pointless. This guy has been busy making a bike with triangular wheels…

It’s what the internet was invented for.

Syncros unveils Capital SL one-piece carbon wheelsets

Scott Sports-owned brand Syncros has this week launched all-new Capital SL carbon road bike wheels that have already been used by Team DSM-Firmenich in the Tour de France.

2023 Syncros Capital SL wheel - 1

“The one-piece carbon design delivers a lighter, stronger and more responsive feel that will make cyclists faster on both road and gravel,” says Syncros. “Faster acceleration, faster cornering, better handling and unreal aero performance is achieved on a wheelset tipping the scales at 1,170g for the Capital SL and 1,290g for the Capital SL Aero.”

Syncros says that it uses a patented manufacturing technique to make its wheels.

“Our unique and modern construction process reduces overall weight and moves weight from the outside of the wheel, near the rim, to the inside of the wheel, near the hub. Delivering lower rotational inertia means less power output for the rider when it’s time to up the speed.”

2023 Syncros  - 1

Syncros says that its carbon spokes weigh less than steel spokes while being 35 per cent stronger.

“Unlike traditional spoke fixation, the Capital SL’s spokes are bonded directly to the rim and run over the flange to the other side of the rim while being woven at the intersection, increasing and optimising torsional stiffness,” it says. “This results in better and more precise handling of the bike in any riding condition.”

Syncros says that going for hookless rims allowed it to increase strength while reducing weight. It also says that the absence of hooks makes for a smoother transition from the tyre to the rim, reducing drag.

2023 Syncros  - 2

Syncros developed specific front and rear tyres with Schwalbe.

“The all-new Pro One Aero front tyre is designed with the most aerodynamic shape on modern rims, while the Pro One Aero rear tyre is dedicated to low rolling resistance with plenty of durability,” says Syncros.

The Syncros Capital SL (£3,999.80) has 40mm-deep rims while the Capital SL Aero (£4,199.90) has 60mm rims. 

2023 Syncros Capital 1.0s Aero wheel - 1

Syncros also offers carbon rims with conventional spokes. The Capital 1.0s (£2,199.80, 1,335g) and Capital 1.0s Aero (£2,399.80, 1,470g) come with DT Swiss 240 hubs and Aerolight Straightpull spokes, while the Capital 1.0 (£1,599.80, 1,480g) and Capital 1.0 Aero (£1,699.80 1,630g) use Syncros hubs and spokes.

And there is also a gravel version of these available

Read more 

Canyon/SRAM launches new design for Tour de France Femmes

Canyon/SRAM kit

While the men’s Tour de France is coming to an end, we have the women’s Tour to take its place and offer us a spectacle like no other. Canyon/SRAM Racing is celebrating the return of the women’s race with a brand-new clothing and equipment design. 

The team has crafted the exclusive collection featuring special edition artwork across their Canyon clothing, Giro helmets, Elite bottles, and Canyon Aeroad and Ultimate bikes. 

The collection, which incorporates elements from Zwift's visuals, has been designed by Ultan Coyle, Canyon's Global Creative Director, and uses bold pink and orange colours, paying tribute to Zwift's #WatchTheFemmes campaign which supports equality, participation, and empowerment.

Canyon/SRAM kit

“It’s a cool new design, and we will have a lot of style in the peloton, especially with the ‘Allez, Allez, Allez’ on the back of the jersey, ” Canyon/SRAM rider Soraya Paladin said. 

“It will bring a lot of attention to our team! Wearing the colours of Zwift, with our Canyon and SRAM logos, shows our gratitude to each brand for their effort into the team and for women’s cycling overall. When Canyon makes a special edition change for us as riders, it definitely gives us a special feeling and makes us proud to have team partners like that. The best thing will be to win in this design, to thank everyone and every partner for their hard work!” 

Zwift is also offering non-pro riders the chance to earn the limited edition jersey for their Zwift avatar by joining the Canyon/SRAM Watch the Femmes rides on Zwift between 23 and 31 July. 

The limited edition jersey, race cap, and fan t-shirt are available on Canyon's website now. 

Read more

Vaude introduces Aqua Back Light pannier

Vaude Aqua Back Light pannier

Vaude has launched the Aqua Back Light, a pannier that's designed to be lightweight yet robust. The pannier is constructed from lightweight 2D-welded material and is designed to withstand demanding bikepacking and cycling adventures without compromising stability. 

With a total volume of 38 litres for two bags and weighing only 1,040g for the pair, this pannier offers a spacious main compartment with a waterproof roll closure. Inside, you'll get a handy pocket for your valuables, and outside, a reflective logo enhances visibility in low-light situations.

You can carry the bag with the removable shoulder strap and there’s a cargo net at the front that provides compression and a perfect spot for your rain jacket or spare shirt. The pannier is equipped with Vaude's QMR 2.0 attachment system, which is also lockable.

The Aqua Back Light is made with 100 per cent recycled Eonyl and is PVC-free. It’s available in two colourways and sets you back £130 for a pair.

Read more

Pirelli recalls P Zero Race TLR tyres

Pirelli has issued a voluntary recall of some of its P Zero Race TLR tyres. The tyres affected are size 28-622 – so they are 28mm wide and fit on 700c wheels – and were produced between the 10th week of 2023 and the 24th week of 2023 (so from 6 March to 24 June).

Pirelli says, “The recall refers to certain problems of compatibility of the tyre with some wheel rims.”

The tyres involved in the recall are these:

2023 Pirelli recall - 1

If you have any of these tyres, the methods of recall will be announced on Pirelli’s website.

Read more


In case you missed it earlier in the week…

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6 comments

Avatar
boardmanrider | 7 months ago
1 like

'Hey Siri, make it easier...' 

"I'm sorry I can't do that. It appears you are suffering. I have found a number of hospitals in the area. Would you like me to call one?"

or, as is the case in my area with poor celluar coverage:

"Working, just one sec, try again later..."

Avatar
jaymack | 7 months ago
2 likes

On far too many hills I'd imagine my bike would go all Hal 9000 on me as I demanded another gear "I'm sorry...I'm afraid I can't do that...".

Avatar
HLaB | 7 months ago
3 likes

I can't imagine voice activation shifting would work with all the background noise, and even if it did work I suspect that you'd be riding 100% solo after a while.

Avatar
Miller | 7 months ago
3 likes

Re Sram, I am not going to wear techno gloves to operate my bicycle.

Avatar
levestane replied to Miller | 7 months ago
0 likes

Maybe there is an alternative for some?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kq7aMPG-4go

 

Avatar
Global Nomad replied to Miller | 7 months ago
0 likes

having just been on holiday and had a rental car its the same 'unwanted'  technology notiunally keeping us safer (not!)  ...auto lights, auto wipers, lane keep assist, i cannot open the boot if the key is in the ignition, annoying chimes.etc etc.....you can tranlate all of those safety features to bikes as well in a few years....no pedalling without a helmet, no wet rides without rain tyres, no gears without tech gloves....

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