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…
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
In yet more indoor training news, Zwift has introduced a new annual membership that gives you 12 months’ use for the price of 10.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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).
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”.
“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.
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.
In case you missed it earlier in the week…