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TECH NEWS

How much weight can you shave off by drilling your chainring? Plus the 15g rear bike light, Wahoo x Zwift discounts, new stuff from Campagnolo and Insta360, and loads more…

Is this inflatable helmet “four times safer than testing standards”? Are chainless bikes a genius or terrible idea? And is this really the smartest ever action camera? All will be revealed in our round-up of the week’s top bike tech…

We’ve got loads to share in this packed edition of Tech of the Week, including lowered prices from Zwift and Wahoo, new products from Campagnolo and Insta360, and the inflatable helmet that packs down smaller than a water bottle, but we’re starting off by finding out how much weight you can save by getting busy with power tools…

How much weight can you shave off by drilling your chainring?

If you’re chasing those all-important marginal gains, how much weight can you save by taking a drill to a chainring?

There’s nothing new about drilling away material to save weight and ending up with ‘drillium’ components. It’s as old as the hills and some people, like the Campag Kid on Instagram, for example, have turned it into an art form. How much can you really save, though?

Well, August Bicycles, based in Norwich, took a 55T Campagnolo outer chainring and spent several hours adding some lightness, drilling out the teeth and then adding holes to the body of the chainring.

According to the scales, the chainring started out at 102.9g and ended up at 84.7g. That works out at a saving of 18.2g, or about 17.7%, and we must say it looks pretty cool too. At least, it looks pretty cool when clean. We’re not sure how neat it would look after a mucky British ride with all those holes filled with gunk, but that’s not going to be an issue...

“This chainring won’t be getting used in anger, it’s more for display purposes so we will never know if it will explode or catch fire the first time it sees a significant amount of watts,” says August Bikes.

That’s probably for the best. Component manufacturers don’t tend to use more material than necessary just for the fun of it. As a rule, it’s there for a good reason.

Insta user johnkelkin asked rhetorically, “What could possibly go wrong?”

Ollibooth said, “For increased strength and stiffness! Proof: the toiletpaper always rips in the places without holes.”

jamiebellham said, “I used to do this by hand to my Shimano triple chainset years ago! They filled up lovely with Thetford grinding paste!”

A drillium triple? That must have been quite some look.

What do you think? Is drillium due a comeback?

Is this inflatable helmet really “four times safer than testing standards”?

The Inflabi inflatable helmet – which offers higher impact absorption than traditional helmets, according to its inventors – has hit its funding target on Indiegogo after just six hours.

2023 Inflabi helmet Indiegogo - 3

We first told you about the Inflabi design back in the summer but the project has moved on since then. The main thing you need to know is that this is a helmet you inflate. Yes, you are understanding that correctly: when it’s time to get on your bike, you whip out a pump and blow it up to 30psi (2 bar).

The Inflabi team says this takes 20-45 seconds. The helmet’s valve comes with a pressure gauge so you’ll know it's inflated to the right level.

2023 Inflabi helmet Indiegogo - 1

Obvious question: is it safe?

Inflabi says, “Our unique technology is designed to provide the highest level of safety for cyclists. Inflabi uses air channels to provide superior impact absorption compared to traditional EPS [expanded polystyrene] foam helmets. We will exceed the European standard requirements for helmets.”

That’s ‘will’ – future tense.

“We are confident that Inflabi will be certified very soon,” says the team. Certification for the rest of the world isn’t planned just yet.

What’s the advantage of an inflatable helmet?

The Inflabi team says that EPS helmets can break easily if dropped and are bulky and annoying to carry around. In contrast, the Inflabi won’t crack – it’s reusable even if you crash – and you can deflate it in a couple of seconds when it’s not being worn. The designers say the helmet packs down smaller than a 500ml water bottle.

2023 Inflabi helmet Indiegogo - 2

Inflabi – which is aimed at urban mobility rather than sports-type riding – is made from a polyamide material laminated with a TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) membrane. It's intended to resist abrasion, tears and punctures. The weight is expected to be about 250g which is lighter than most (but not all) EPS helmets.

You currently need to pledge at least £104 to be in line for an Inflabi helmet with delivery expected in April 2024 (the planned RRP for the finished helmet is £138).

Is the Inflabi a clever design or a bit of a gimmick? Let us know what you think.

Find out more here

Zwift pulls the plug on Hub Classic trainer as Wahoo drops Kickr Core prices

It’s all been going on in the indoor training world lately, with Zwift discontinuing its Hub Classic trainer and Wahoo dropping prices on its Kickr Core. The two companies have also announced new bundles where you get a year’s Zwift membership when you buy any Wahoo Kickr trainer.

2023 Wahoo Kickr Core - 1

This is a huge about-turn in relations. It was only a year ago that Wahoo announced its intention to sue Zwift, claiming that the Zwift Hub (recently rebranded as the Zwift Hub Classic) infringed three patents relating to its Kickr Core trainer.

> Read our review of the Wahoo Kickr Core Smart Trainer

That dispute came to an end in September, when the two companies issued a joint statement saying they intended to “embark on a renewed approach to collaboration”. Wahoo granted Zwift a limited licence to use its patents, while Zwift said it would return to selling a selection of Wahoo products on its website.

Zwift has now discontinued the Hub Classic although the new Zwift Hub One – with virtual shifting and single cassette sprocket – remains in the range.

Wahoo has dropped the price of the Kickr Core trainer (without a cassette) from £549 to £449 and unveiled a range of Kickr x Zwift membership bundles, the idea being that you get “a new ready-to-ride experience straight out of the box”.

“This marks the next exciting phase in the renewed partnership between Wahoo and Zwift, aiming to increase the accessibility of indoor cycling and offer a seamless and simplified user experience,” says Wahoo.

2023 Wahoo Kickr Bike Shift - 1

The new bundled pricing, which includes a year’s access to Zwift’s virtual cycling world, is available across the entire Kickr range.

The Kickr Core bundle (with Zwift membership) comes with a pre-installed 8/9/10/11/12-speed cassette at £549.99.

The other prices (including a year’s Zwift membership) are:

Find out more here 

Zwift announces cheaper annual membership

In yet more indoor training news, Zwift has introduced a new annual membership that gives you 12 months’ use for the price of 10.

2023 Zwift - 1

Previously, you could only pay monthly. At £12.99 per month, that works out at £155.88 per year.

You can still do that, but Zwift now offers an annual membership at £129.99 – a saving of nearly £26 over the monthly price.

Find out more here 

Check out the 15g rear light that costs £113

It’s one of the ironies of cycling that the more you pay, the less you get, and that’s certainly the case with this tiny rear light from Germany’s Carbonworks that weighs under 15g.

2024 Carbonworks rear light - 1

It comes in two versions, the first offering continuous light for up to 7hrs and the second providing flash/pulse modes for up to 15hrs.

Where’s the mount? There isn’t one. Instead, it’s held in place by magnets glued directly to your seatpost.

2024 Carbonworks rear light - 2

We’ve not used this rear light but somehow doubt it’ll rival any of the best rear lights in terms of visibility, but it’s an option for any event where a rear light is compulsory and you want to minimise weight. It's priced €129.90 (about £113).

Find out more here

Are string-drive bicycles a genius or terrible idea?

Hmm, maybe a bit of both. We first covered the concept of using string rather than a chain at Eurobike way back in 2011 but CyclingAbout has just made a good video explaining the tech. 

Will string-drive bikes ever hit the big time? Nope. Still interesting, though.

Campagnolo debuts Dream Bigger clothing for staying warm this winter

If you fancy adding a touch of Italian class to your winter cycling wardrobe, component specialist Campagnolo has unveiled its new Dream Bigger clothing collection for men and women.

2024 Campagnolo Dream Bigger - 1

The Dream Bigger Long-Sleeve Winter Jersey (€169, around £147), for example, is a polyamide/elastane top that’s designed to “maximise thermal insulation whilst also being highly breathable”.

2024 Campagnolo Dream Bigger - 3

The lightweight Winter Jacket (€129, around £112) is intended to be windproof and breathable, and it comes with a 5K waterproof membrane. It’s small enough to fold away into a rear pocket when not in use.

2024 Campagnolo Dream Bigger - 1 (1)

The Dream Bigger Winter Bib Tights (€189, around £164) come with Acquazero Eco fluorine-free water-repellent technology to help keep rain and road spray out.

If you really want to get Campagged up to the max, there’s also a base layer (€79, around £69), neck warmer (€29.90, around £26), and gloves (€79.90, around £70).

Find out more here 

Insta360 launches “the smartest ever action camera”

Insta360 has unveiled two new action cameras suitable for cycling, among other activities, that are said to “deliver smarter capture powered by AI and incredible image quality”.

2024 Insta360 Ace Pro action camera - 2 (1)

> Is the Insta360 GO 2 a good camera for cycling? 

“Both cameras are packed full of unique, smart shooting features that utilise the latest in AI developments,” says Insta360. “Practical elements like a vlogging-friendly 2.4in flip touchscreen provides excellent creative flexibility. Meanwhile, innovative functions such as the option to pause or cancel a recording, gesture and voice control, plus the brand new AI Highlights Assistant and custom-keyword based AI Warp feature transform the shooting and editing experience.”

If that all sounds like a different language, you can find out more about those features here.

2024 Insta360 Ace Pro action camera - 1 (1)

The flagship model is the Insta360 Ace Pro (£429.99), co-engineered with Leica of Germany. It offers 4K 120fps video and 48MP photos. The Insta360 Ace (without the ‘Pro’ bit) is a slightly simpler model that’s priced at £359.99. Each is waterproof and is available as a ‘Cycling Kit’ that includes mounts alongside the camera itself, bumping the prices up to £501 and £431, respectively.

Find out more here

In case you missed it earlier in the week…

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21 comments

Avatar
froze | 3 months ago
0 likes

I hope drillium comes back, I really liked the looks of that stuff, but if they're going to do it, then go all out with drillium chainrings and derailleurs.

Avatar
marmotte27 | 3 months ago
1 like

I'll obviously want to spend a minute to inflate a helmet every time I get on my bike, so like 2 to 5 times on a typical shopping trip.
Where, for there to be a point to such a helmet, you'd need to deflate your helmet every time you get off the bike...

Avatar
Benthic | 3 months ago
1 like

Remember, kids, a cracked (not crushed) helmet is one that has failed to do its job of reducing deceleration of your brain.

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Adam Sutton | 3 months ago
0 likes

Weakening components on your bike, yeah sounds sensible. Just have a shit before you leave.

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lesterama replied to Adam Sutton | 3 months ago
1 like

I've got loads of '70s drillium chainrings, all beautiful, all still going. If I wanted to go faster, I'd get lightweight carbon.It's the Swiss-cheese looks that count.

Avatar
mattw | 3 months ago
1 like

There comes a point when the best way of shaving off weight is by shaving off the hipster beard.

Does wonders for the appearance too, so one can show off in the breakfast cereal bar.

/not at all prejudiced

Avatar
OldRidgeback replied to mattw | 3 months ago
0 likes
mattw wrote:

There comes a point when the best way of shaving off weight is by shaving off the hipster beard.

Does wonders for the appearance too, so one can show off in the breakfast cereal bar.

/not at all prejudiced

Shaving off the beard will improve aerodynamic performance too.

Avatar
Secret_squirrel | 3 months ago
1 like

Those Insta cameras have 100mins of battery life and probably less in real life.

They are overspecc'd for a commuter cam, under batteried for a lot of road rides leaving only Action cam usage as the primary reason to have them, so probably better off on Offroad.cc

Jezza Vines Insta 360 is a better choice from their range as a commuter cam.

Why can't any of these Action Camera makers provide an optional mega capacity battery for them?  Or even a power bank charging kit?

 

Avatar
Rik Mayals unde... | 3 months ago
5 likes

129 euros for a light which will no doubt get lost on the first ride when it dislodges from the magnets whilst bouncing along on our wonderful roads.

Avatar
ChasP replied to Rik Mayals underpants | 3 months ago
1 like

And what weight weenie would want a magnet permanently stuck to his seatpost when he's saving 15g by leaving the light off?

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I love my bike replied to Rik Mayals underpants | 3 months ago
0 likes

I'm sure they could sell you a finely crafted cabon grey Dyneema cord loop for €50  1

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ktache | 3 months ago
6 likes

They are not quite there, but those cord drivetrains almost use L shaped cranks.

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to ktache | 3 months ago
2 likes
ktache wrote:

They are not quite there, but those cord drivetrains almost use L shaped cranks.

I give you the drivetrain of the American Star - cutting edge tech (well, maybe not so new) from 1886!

OK, technically these are treadles rather than cranks, but look at the ergnomic shape!

Avatar
OnTheRopes | 3 months ago
2 likes

I suppose the hill climb specilists will go back to drilling out the chainring and other things to compensate for their heavy disc brakes now that   rim brakes are officially dead

Avatar
Secret_squirrel replied to OnTheRopes | 3 months ago
1 like

Not if you're Andrew Feather!

Avatar
Global Nomad | 3 months ago
1 like

The inflatable helmet still feels like a good idea in the lab, but risky in practice, the weak point remains the users who have to pump it up correctly/regularly - I can imagine someone getting hurt and the beginning of a legal battle over whether the helmet was used correctly. 
The type of users are likely to be those who you see riding with helmets tipped back off their forehead or dangling off their handlebars becasue its too warm or they are familiar with the roads...i.e. not being conscientious .  

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to Global Nomad | 3 months ago
3 likes

Pump it up?  Wouldn't you just use cylinders to inflate?  (You could link it to an accelerometer too, like those terrifying Hovding ones that look like you're been attacked by something from Aliens).

Also - just add a bit of redundancy:

Avatar
Capt Sisko replied to Global Nomad | 3 months ago
3 likes

As far as I'm concerned it's right up there with gloves with built in indicators, gel saddle covers, lights that give laser 'lanes', the soft top type canopy rain umbrella and the folding helmet that someone else thought was good idea. None ever make it to year two.

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Xenophon2 replied to Capt Sisko | 3 months ago
1 like

Hey!!!  I'm still using a laser lane light!  Got it after my previous bike got nicked and I acquired a new one, then realized that I'd forgotten about the lights and the Lezyne laser drive was all they had left in stock.

Only later dit I realise that there's no way to turn off the lasers.  In all fairness, it's gotten me through 2 seasons of daily use (except from mid april - august) and performs well.  I've had (a lot) worse at far higher cost.

 

Avatar
mattw replied to Xenophon2 | 3 months ago
0 likes

Higher cost than Lezyne.

Wowzer ! devil

I got a Lezyne in a half price effort from Sport Pursuit, and it still felt like an arm, a leg and 3 back teeth.

Avatar
Benthic replied to Global Nomad | 3 months ago
0 likes

Like tyres?

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