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Have bike tech wars turned cycling into Formula 1? Some pros think so, plus more tech news from Shimano, Zwift, Le Col, Dahon, Fairlight + more

We have champagne-coloured shoes, some very cool shades, new commuting clobber, and an update to one of our favourite all-rounders

It has been a hugely busy week in the bike world with the release of champagne-coloured shoes, some very cool shades from Koo, new Jack Wolfskin commuting clothing, and an update to one of the most versatile bikes out there, but we're starting with a question for you...

Is bike tech turning cycling into Formula One? Some pros seem to think so

Has bike technology become so important that it’s turned cycling into Formula 1? That’s the view of a bunch of pro cyclists and team managers quoted in a piece by France 24 media yesterday.

2022 © Zac WiLLIAMS (t-a Photography Hub Ltd) - 1

Pic © Zac WiLLIAMS (t-a Photography Hub Ltd)

UCI regulations assert the primacy of man over machine. In other words, the rules are designed so that racing success is more about the rider rather than the bike. However, Thomas Damuseau, a former pro racer who is now head of equipment at AG2R, said, “Obviously, the rider is still the horse, but between fully-developed bikes from manufacturers with means and others who are more limited, it’s night and day.

“The riders understand this, they talk about it among themselves in the peloton. And when they have to choose their future team, they look at the bike before the contract.”

That’s quite a statement.

AG2R sporting director Julien Jurdie said the best bikes attract big-name riders who are, in turn, the key in the “war to get the contract of the right manufacturers” – so it’s a self-perpetuating system.

“When it comes to recruitment, in all the discussions we have, the first question that comes up is the bike,” he said. “Those who have the stars also have the best bikes.”

2023 Tour Down Under Cannondale SuperSix Evo - 1 (2)Pic © Zac WiLLIAMS (t/a Photography Hub Ltd)

Brands are forever boasting about the advantages their latest product will provide. Just this week, for example, Cannondale launched its new SuperSix Evo 4 with the claim that the various tweaks have resulted in an 11W saving at 45km/h (28mph) over the SuperSix Evo 3 and 12W over the current Trek Emonda SLR. In other words, Cannondale is saying that a rider on its new bike can achieve the same speed as a rider on one of those other bikes while putting out less power.

2023 POC Propel cycling glasses aero benefitsThis is standard stuff, of course, and it’s not just bikes. In recent weeks we’ve had Poc claim that its Propel glasses enhance aerodynamics and performance and lower down this very page you’ll see Le Col say its new McLaren Racing clothing is its fastest-ever as a result of lessons learned in the wind tunnel. The bike industry runs on his stuff.

Has it gone too far, though? Anthony Perez, who rides for Cofidis, is quoted by France 24 as saying, ”Before, [riders] all had almost the same bikes. Today, there are big differences.

“The frame, the wheels, the tyres... add everything up and you go from a tradesman’s two-wheeler to a rocket. Cycling has become like Formula 1.”

Do you agree? And is this a bad thing or all part of the fun?

Find out more here 

Shimano unveils special-edition champagne S-Phyre shoes

Shimano has announced a special-edition of its updated RC903 S-Phyre road shoe. Don't say they look gold because Shimano says they're definitely champagne. 

2023 Shimano RC903 S-Phyre shoes champagne - 1

The RC903S model is the same as the existing RC903, but with this champagne finish and new BOA Li2 metal dials.

> Check out the best cycling shoes with the Li2 BOA Fit System 

“Amplifying the RC903’s hallmark slipper-like fit, the low-profile BOA Li2 metal dials combine with a new crossover lacing pattern for a quick micro-adjustment system that will ensure a snug and comfortable fit every time – even on the fly,” says Shimano.

2023 Shimano RC903 S-Phyre shoes champagne - 2

Shimano claims a 225g weight for an individual size 42 shoe.

The Shimano S-Phyre RC903S is available in standard and wide sizes from 36 to 48 (including half sizes from 37 to 47), and retails at £349.99.

Find out more here

Fairlight updates Faran bikepacking and touring bike

Fairlight has updated its hard-to-categorise steel Faran, which is a big deal because the last version got a whopping 9/10 in our review

2023 Fairlight Faran 2.5 - 1

We called it “An excellent bikepacking and touring machine that loves being loaded up and pointed at the wilderness”. Fairlight also calls it a randonneur, adventurer, commuter, gravel and utility bike… so yeah, versatile.

> Check out our review of the Fairlight Cycles Faran 2.0

The latest version – the Faran 2.5 – features Bentley x Fairlight Mk II dropouts and a heat-treated rear triangle that, Fairlight says, allows for reduced weight and increased compliance.

2023 Fairlight Faran 2.5 - 3

“The Faran 2.5 features subtle but authentic refinements, such as the addition of a heat-treated rear triangle which has allowed us to remove 0.15mm wall thickness from the chain stays [they’re now 0.8mm thick], resulting in reduced weight and increased compliance,” says Fairlight’s Dom Thomas. “The v2.5 also sees the inclusion of the Fairlight x Bentley Mk II dropouts which feature beautifully CNC machined fully modular inserts on both sides.”

2023 Fairlight Faran 2.5 - 4

The dropouts feature replaceable CNC inserts on both sides.

Other new features include:

  • Clearance for 650x60mm (width as measured) tyres.
  • New 0.8mm heat-treated seatstays.
  • New size-specific top tube and seatstays for 61R and 61T sizes, designed for bigger, stronger riders.

We’ll see if we can persuade Fairlight to let us review one.

Fairlight Faran 2.5 framesets start at £999, with Shimano GRX 600 builds from £2,099.

Find out more here 

Jack Wolfskin introduces new Bike Commute collection

Jack Wolfskin says that it has prioritised “a more sustainable environment” in its new Bike Commute clothing and equipment collection available this spring.

2023 Jack Wolfskin Commuter Jacket - 1 (1)

“Designed to provide comfort and weather protection for urban riders in styles that crossover into everyday attire, each of the pieces is thoughtfully constructed with recycled or reused materials to minimise its impact on the planet,” says Jack Wolfskin.

“By using a single material type (here PES/polyester), the jacket can be recycled at the end of its use phase. Only the zippers and reflective elements have to be removed before the recycling process.”

2023 Jack Wolfskin Commuter Jacket - 1

The Bike Commute Mono Jacket, available in men’s and women’s versions, is said to have a 10,000mm waterproof rating and breathability of 6,000g/m2/24hr. 

You get a long tail and extended cuffs along with two raised hip pockets, a back pocket, and an inner pocket.

The Jack Wolfskin Bike Commute Mono Jacket is priced at £270.

Find out more here 

Koo releases limited-edition Supernova eyewear for Strade Bianche

Italy’s Koo has launched two brand new versions of its Supernova eyewear that are said to be inspired by the men's and women's jerseys for the 2023 edition of the Gran Fondo Strade Bianche, the event for amateur riders that takes place tomorrow (5th March 2023), following today’s professional race.

2023 Koo Supernova Strade Bianche - 2

“The men’s version boasts earthy nuances blended with bright colours of the sun-kissed hills, whilst the women’s version flaunts the warmer earthy tones typical of a Tuscan sunset,” says Koo.

Okay, or you could just say that one pair is green and the other is red.

They are equipped with a new photochromic lens that are said to transition within 20 seconds.

2023 Koo Supernova Strade Bianche - 1

“The Supernova Pine green lenses assume a red mirror tint following this photochromic transition, whilst the Supernova Siena red lenses switch to a striking gold mirror,” says Koo.

They’re available to buy on, priced at £190.

Find out more here

Le Col says new McLaren Racing collection is its fastest-ever clothing

The Le Col x McLaren Racing collection returns for 2023 with the UK clothing brand saying that it is “considerably faster than before”.

2023 Le Col x McLaren Racing Collection - 1 (3)

Le Col says, “Uniting McLaren Racing’s world-leading data scientists and aerodynamicists with the technical composition and pro rider insight, we have produced our fastest race apparel to date by implementing learnings from the wind tunnel and translating them to your everyday ride.

2023 Le Col x McLaren Racing Collection - 1 (1)

“Key upgrades have been made to the previous ground-breaking version, including an update to the strategically placed aerodynamic panelling on the arms of the skinsuit, which has been rigorously tested and proven to breakthe  up airflow at the leading edge and manage its flow around the body.”

2023 Le Col x McLaren Racing Collection - 1 (2)

The range comprises:

Le Col x McLaren Racing Jersey (£180)
Le Col x McLaren Racing Long Sleeve Skinsuit (£395)
Le Col x McLaren Racing Long Sleeve Jersey (£195)

All three are available in both men’s and women’s versions.

Find out more here 

Dahon unveils its first electric cargo bike

Dahon has introduced its first foldable cargo e-bike which it has called… the Dahon Foldable Cargo E-Bike. You can’t argue with that.

2023 Dahon Foldable Cargo E-Bike - 1

“[We have] stepped up to the challenge of producing a luxury cargo ride for speedy, sturdy and convenient cost-effective travel,” says Dahon.

“Designed for stress-free mobility, Foldable Cargo E-Bike is a low-centre-of-gravity cargo bike that folds quickly and compactly, reducing its size by 35%, and making it an easy fit for tight spaces like elevators. It comes with five gears, backed up by four levels of electric assist, plus great climbing ability from the 250W mid-motor, and boasts a range of 160-200km (100-125 miles) thanks to the 48V/20Ah Samsung battery.”

“The R&D team focused on stability and a maximised cargo capacity of 250kg (551lbs), holding 50% more than cargo models of the same standard. For more flexibility, child seats can be fitted, and parts can all fit neatly together into the cargo box if disassembled.”

2023 Dahon Foldable Cargo E-Bike - 2

The bike comes with a 24in front wheel and a 20in wheel at the rear. Its folded footprint is 1273mm x 937mm x 877mm (50.1in x 36.9in x 34.5in)

We’ve asked for a price and will update if we get one.

Find out more here 

Zwift to host cycling events for Olympic Esports Series

Zwift and the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI, cycle sport's world governing body) have announced their participation in the Olympic Esports Series 2023, organised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). 

2023 Olympic Esports Series - 1

Zwift and the UCI will be responsible for delivering the cycling events at the live, in-person Olympic Esports Series finals, taking place in Singapore, 22nd-25th June. As usual, racers will compete on trainers to power their avatars in Zwift’s virtual environment.

Sixteen finalists (eight men, eight women) will compete, with selection based on performances at the 2023 UCI Cycling Esports World Championships and the Zwift Grand Prix

Cycling Esports will be one of nine disciplines represented at the Olympic Esports Series 2023. Others include archery, tennis, sailing and, believe it or not, Taekwondo.

Find out more here 

MyWhoosh reschedules Race Championship 

Speaking of virtual cycling, the MyWhoosh Race Championship that we told you about a couple of weeks ago has been put back, organisers saying that this is to allow it to cope with the amount of interest the series has received.

2023 MyWhoosh Arabia - 2

> MyWhoosh announces $1 million prize pot for online race series

“Interest from the cycling community for the MyWhoosh Championship event has far exceeded our expectations, and we have received feedback from experienced racers on how to make the series even better. As a growing platform, we value the voices of our community and as such we will be enhancing the racing experience of this series with some new features. These include a player attack notification and the ability to connect your secondary power source to MyWhoosh.

“Together, these will help strengthen performance verification and ensure the highest standards of sportsmanship and fairness.

“To embed these features and give riders the best possible experience, the decision has been taken to postpone the event.”

The six-stage virtual race series will now be held from 28th April to 5th May 2023. Registrations will open on March 27th via the MyWhoosh events page.

Find out more here 

Lavelle launches Fireroad carbon gravel wheel with Classified hub

Lavelle has introduced a new version of its Fireroad wheelset that’s compatible with a Classified system.

2023 Lavelle Fireroad Classified - 1

If you don’t know about Classified, where have you been? It’s essentially a substitute for a front derailleur and a second chainring that’s hidden in the rear hub. Kind of. You can get up to date here

The Lavelle Fireroad is a 5-spoke monocoque design with an internal width of 25mm and an external width of 32mm. The wheels are said to be made with five different carbon fibres and weigh 1,600g. The price is €2,979 (around £2,640).

Find out more here 

Restrap adds options to bespoke bags

Yorkshire’s Restrap has updated the way it makes Custom Frame Bags, now offering you the option of a second zip.

2023 Restrap Custom Frame Bags - 1

“Between colours, sizes and zip options, we now have up to 40 combinations of options available – and that’s with the custom shaping designed by our customers using our straightforward design process,” says Restrap.

Restrap Custom Frame Bags cost from £119.99 to £189.99, depending on the size, zip configuration and material.

Find out more here 

In case you missed it earlier in the week...

Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.

Add new comment


blinddrew | 1 year ago

That Classified hub system, isn't that the same as what Sachs were doing 30 years ago?

A quick google:

SPENGLE Carbon | 1 year ago

Like the look of those Lavelle wheels - classified hubs sound like a sick addition!

SimoninSpalding | 1 year ago
1 like

"called… the Dahon Foldable Cargo E-Bike. You can’t argue with that."

Erm, except it has three wheels, meaning it is no longer a bicycle, but a tricycle?

Although I am only inferring that there will be another wheel the other side of the box otherwise it will be an absolute pig to balance.

Velophaart_95 | 1 year ago

No, it's more like the WEC.......

And anyway, Downhill MTB is called the F1 of cycling.....

Xenophon2 | 1 year ago

Like the look of that Lavelle gravel wheelset and would like to read a review.   And they even sell a Classied version.  But for 3k Euro....couldn't possible justify that one.

Rome73 | 1 year ago

I used to work for Formula 1 Management - many years ago in the era of Schumacher and Hakkinen. The attention to detail was intense. And it probably made a difference. We used to discuss, informally, the consequences of putting Schumacher in the worst performing car. Would his dominance still be total? The drivers were important. Like  top cyclists they were athletes. And the drivers were small. Genetics is a very large part of a success in all sports. However good I may be at driving, however, fearless, quick and concentrated, I was never gonna fit in an F1 car. I was too tall. 

open_roads | 1 year ago
1 like

The Lavelle wheels aren't "said to be made with five carbon spokes" ..... they are evidently a 5 spoke wheel.

Mat Brett replied to open_roads | 1 year ago
1 like

You've misread what it says.

Nick T | 1 year ago
1 like

It's getting more like F1 in that the bikes all look the same under the sponsor's logos, and the technology is increasingly superflous to the simple pleasure of riding a bicycle 

Global Nomad | 1 year ago

Like most media driven consumption nee sport , cycling at pro level has responded to the huge increase in riding in general, F1 having a viewer resurgance, football had the same scale change 20 years ago. Both have very strict rules on budgets and use huge amounts of data driven analysis. The marginal differences are still key, though how they add up or are available to different teams or in what combination still keeps things interesting. I think bike racing is still much more about the rider than F1, but getting the best kit with the best riders will have expected cause / effect misrepresentation.

Rik Mayals unde... | 1 year ago

I don't think the technology is going in the right direction for anyone. You could argue that it doesn't matter to the pros, as they don't have to buy the kit, and if the bike breaks they get a new one. But watch any pro race now, and see how many times a rider has to change bikes because the gears have gone into crash mode. See how long a wheel change takes thanks to discs and through bolts.

Not so good for the likes of you and me. If your electronic groupset throws a hissy fit, and the manufacturer isn't interested, it's going to cost you dearly. If you're out on a long ride, and your groupset decides to stick in one gear 60 miles from home, you're stuffed. 

I do not like the carbon handlebars with integrated cables through the bars and stem. It may look neat, but take your bike to a bike shop to have a new gear cable fitted. It'll cost you around £100, due to the labour costs involved, as it takes so long to change the cable. I've watched many a race where the carbon bars have snapped on some poor rider. I will stick to alloy bars, thanks. My nephew is very good mates with a British pro who is very well known but shall remain nameless. He rides with my nephew when he comes home to see his parents, he will not use carbon bars, and says many pros are returning to alloy bars for the safety aspect. 

I have a beautiful Colnago C60, with Campagnolo Super Record RS Ltd edition mechanical groupset. It is a thing of beauty, and it simply works every time. The new C68 is electronic only, so you're forced to go electronic, or buy another make. My C60 cost me £7,500 in 2015. If I were to buy today, a similar spec and wheels would set me back almost £15K.


And £350 for a pair of shoes? My head hurts. I can buy a pair of mountain boots to use in the Himalayas for less than that.

I really don't know what the outcome will be, are they going to price mere mortals out of the market?

kil0ran replied to Rik Mayals underpants | 1 year ago

Agree. All this integrated stuff makes cycling less sustainable and more expensive. Yes it's got its place - in the peloton but it's a pain for the average rider. Basic service parts/tasks like replacing headset bearings, replacing cables, even cutting a steerer, are made far more tricky due to integration. My new bike has hydros which are routed internal to the fork leg, which means disconnecting the caliper, pulling out the hose, reversing that procedure, and then bleeding the system, just to cut the steerer. I'd have been perfectly content with the brake hose being cable-tied to the back of the fork leg which would have saved a good hour of labour. 

ktache replied to kil0ran | 1 year ago

My Ultimate Commuter, rebuilding her at the moment, everything external. Doesn't look that pretty, cable tied, very practical. More places to collect filth, but so much easier to do anything.

Awavey replied to Rik Mayals underpants | 1 year ago

but I think this proves the point they havent gone all F1, disc brake wheel changes are "long", because none of the bike teams put any focus on coming up with a slick change process and practicing it till they can do it blindfold in their sleep, they simply muddle along with it, and complain, which is why it badly fumbles sometimes.

this weekend in F1, each team will have done probably minimum 100 practice pitstop wheel changes before the race, plus a combination of when things go wrong, they actually give their mechanics gym work so they are peak fitness to do it.

thats the difference in F1 and procycling they really do focus on the marginal gains, because a 10th of a second gain equates to hundreds of thousands of pounds of aero development costs,  they dont just talk about this stuff as a nice soundbite to chuck at the press (not that weve heard it much lately).

how many watts was Kristen Faulkner wasting having her arm warmers flapping around in her back pocket yesterday ? why did Demi Vollering have to remind Lotte Kopecky to tuck her head down to be more aero on the descents ?

even if their bike tech is giving them the power of nth watt saving over 50km, most of the riders are just wasting it.

Rendel Harris | 1 year ago

I'm sure the gaps between bikes were far greater in the 80s and 90s as the first aero TT bikes came in, carbon frames, clipless pedals, aero helmets etc etc. I very much doubt we'll ever again see a rider lose a whole race due to inferior kit the way Fignon  did to Lemond in '89. There will always, and always have been, marginal gains, but put Pogacar on the "worst" bike in the peleton and he'd still win, I believe - I don't follow F1 but as I understand it if you put Lewis Hamilton in the worst car and he'll be at the back of the field.

ktache replied to Rendel Harris | 1 year ago

Even in a slightly iffy car his far less experienced team mate was consistently better than him last year.

It starts again this weekend, so I have to remember to avoid news websites and most TV news. Except for ch4, of course. Only highlights for me.

Bit like not coming on here, when I get home, when the grand tours start.

NOtotheEU replied to ktache | 1 year ago

Been watching the testing and practice this week. Aston Martin and Ferrari seem to be the best of the rest after Red Bull with Alonso looking really strong. Mercedes are struggling again which as a Ferrari fan is great news for me. Sadly as a Ferrari fan I'm already expecting the usual exciting start followed by the inevitable disappointing failure.

ktache replied to NOtotheEU | 1 year ago

What's happened at Aston?

NOtotheEU replied to ktache | 1 year ago
1 like

Not really sure although Sky F1 said they have had a lot more wind tunnel time than the teams that finished above them last year. Hopefully The Reserve Drivers will go into it when they do their race review, if only to see how many innuendos and double entendres they can make out of Aston engineer Mike Krack's name.

marmotte27 | 1 year ago
1 like

I'd be surprised if the claim about the latest bikes being faster turned out to be anything other than the usual marketing bollocks.
Bikes didn't get faster between the 1930s and 2010, I don't think anything has really changed since then.

Blackthorne83 replied to marmotte27 | 1 year ago

Well, bikes have gotten faster and riders stronger. But as of the past 20 years, only in the tiniest of margins. And the next 20 years? Yep, coming up soon there will be no more tech gains to be had and it will be about strength, endurance, and strategy as it was in the beginning.

marmotte27 replied to Blackthorne83 | 1 year ago

"bikes have gotten faster"

That's what I'm actually asking myself. Thinking about it, it wouldn't be very difficult to prolong the curves used by Bicyclque Quarterly with the results between 2010 and 2022.
I'll see, if I find a moment for that sometime.

Paul J replied to marmotte27 | 1 year ago

Can you summarise that article for us? It's not very accessible.

1930 they were still using wooden rims. I'm guessing these had some benefits in terms of ride quality over rougher roads back then (Binda, Guerra, Pelissier, etc., were doing gravel riding before the term existed) - as some riders kept using wooden rims long after metal rims were available. But they would have been heavier I think, and I imagine with higher rolling resistance?

High quality machining of bearings, at least for high-end use if not mass market, was widely available by 1950s, if not much earlier.

Be interesting to read that comparison.

Awavey | 1 year ago

I think they need to provide more evidence than a few bike manufacturers make ridiculous nth watt saving claims that bike technology is becoming F1 like, we havent yet seen the kind of aero nonsense that style of thing has brought into MotoGP yet.

As for LeCols kit, how have they managed to make it look exactly like last years if its different ?

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