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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. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. 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.

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