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TECH NEWS

Following huge investment, is Classified's front mech-killing Powershift system really going to take over? Plus the £15,000 3T/Lamborghini collab and more from Rapha, Zéfal, GripGrab...

Classified set to expand range following cash injection from investors behind Rapha and Evans Cycles, plus the rest of the week's tech news

This week’s roundup of the biggest bike tech stories includes a 3T/Lamborghini gravel bike, merino T-shirts from Rapha and other new products from Deda, GripGrab and Zéfal. We're starting, though, with news of a hefty investment in Belgian brand Classified...

Is Classified's front mech-killing Powershift system really going to take over?

Classified, the company behind the Powershift wireless shift system that’s integrated into a bike’s rear wheel to replace the front derailleur, has just received a serious cash injection of €22 million (around £19 million) in a funding round led by Active Partners, the investors behind well-known brands Rapha and Evans Cycles.

This indicates a huge amount of confidence in the system and the possibility that it’s soon going to become much more mainstream, including in the e-bike market.

2022 Classified Powershift hub only - 1

We've been keeping you updated on Powershift for months because we think this is a really significant product. Bike innovations come and go so you can be forgiven for being cynical, but Classified’s system is the real deal, as indicated by our recent review. Check out our video if you want an explanation from none other than all-round cycling legend Tom Boonen, but the concise version is that it is a planetary 2x hub gear system that operates wirelessly and is powered by contactless energy transfer from the thru-axle.

2022 Classified PowerShift - rear hub 2.jpg

The Belgian design effectively moves the functionality of the front derailleur into the rear hub. You still use a rear derailleur and a multi-speed cassette in the normal way, but there’s no need for two chainrings up front. It shifts super-fast – even under load – and it’s maintenance-free. Oh, and it’s UCI-legal too.

Active Partners is also an investor in Soho House members’ clubs and other niche-that-became-mass-market brands from the UK. This is its first investment in mainland Europe. 

Classified says, “The new investment will be used to reinforce innovation power and to strengthen business development and service globally.”

2022 Reilly Gradient Classified - 4.jpeg

Company CEO Mathias Plouvier said, “With this investment, we are fired up to further develop groundbreaking products and launch into the e-bike market.”

Classified Powershift is already available through more than 25 distributors and 300 dealers and ever more bike brands have been speccing it as an option since it was launched last year. Of course, the front derailleur is going nowhere anytime soon but familiarise yourself with Classified’s design because we’re confident you’ll see it in more big-name bike ranges in 2023 and beyond.

Find out more here

Will you be saving for a Lamborghini gravel bike? Yours for £15,000

Super-posh sports car brand Lamborghini has teamed up with Italian bike/component company 3T to launch the Exploro Racemax X Huracán Sterrato gravel bike. Fancy getting your hands on one? You’re looking at 15 grand.

2023 3T Exploro Racemax X Huracán Sterrato gravel bike Lamborghini - 1

Huracán Sterrato? It’s Lamborghini’s new off-road-capable supercar: “the first super sports car delivering maximum driving pleasure even when the asphalt runs out”. Apparently. It’s also the one with the painfully cringey voiceover in its debut video that we told you about a couple of days ago.

2023 3T Exploro Racemax X Huracán Sterrato gravel bike Lamborghini - 4

Why the collab, as we believe the kidz call it?

“That same DNA [found in the Lamborghini Huracán Sterrato] distinguishes the Exploro Racemax, 3T’s flagship bike designed to be equally capable on and off-road.”

See, it all makes sense when you think about it. Plus, there’s the fact that they’re both Italian brands.

2023 3T Exploro Racemax X Huracán Sterrato gravel bike Lamborghini - 2

The Exploro Racemax carbon-fibre frame is made in 3T’s facility near Bergamo, and the Torno crankset, which is said to be the world’s lightest aero model, is also made in-house using the same materials.

The Exploro Racemax X Huracán Sterrato gravel bike is built up with a SRAM Red AXS groups and 3t’s Discus 45 I 40 LTD wheels with Carbon Ti hubs.

2023 3T Exploro Racemax X Huracán Sterrato gravel bike Lamborghini - 3

We’re not too sure what Lamborghini brings to the party other than inspiration for the black/gold finish and the name on the top tube, but we must admit that the bike does look very, very cool.

Assuming you do find £15,000 down the back of the sofa, you can order now for delivery from March 2023.

Find out more here  

Deda unveils three new wheelsets

Deda – or Deda Elementi if you prefer – has unveiled three new wheelsets for 2023.

The SL6 DB (disc brake) uses a 62mm rim design with a 26mm wide section “that guarantees lightness and stability”. The rims are tubeless-ready.

The RS freehub features a 20T two-ratchet system, the smaller ratchet located in the freehub body with the bigger one inside the hub flange. The new RS front hub has a frontal area that’s 20% smaller than before.

2023 Deda SL6

We don’t have a UK price but the Deda SL6 DB is €1,450,00 without tax.

2023 Deda SL4 wheels

The SL4 DB is a similar design but with 45mm-deep asymmetric rims and a price of €1,350,00 without tax.

2023 Deda RS3 DB

The RS3 DB alloy wheels also benefit from the RS hubs upgrade. These use 30mm welded rims that are also tubeless-ready. The price is €675,00 without tax.

Find out more here 

Rapha delivers first merino collection for mountain biking

Rapha Performance Trailwear continues to evolve with their Trail Merino Collection for mountain biking, although we reckon it'll be just as suitable for riding around town, for those who aren't of a muddy persuasion. It's made up of four merino wool tops for men and women, in a variety of colours. 

2022 Rapha merino mountain biking

Rapha says, "this collection optimises airflow and allows for a complete range of motion so you can confidently charge on your favourite trails."

Merino wool has been an integral part of Rapha's cycling apparel for years, "renowned for its sweat-wicking, odour resistance, and thermoregulation."

Rapha uses Performance Merino Off Road Wool which is said to be more durable than normal for their Trail Merino Collection. Each garment comes with a set of colour-matched iron-on patches for home repair. Great idea.

The collection is made up of short- and long-sleeve T-shirts for men and a tank and 3/4 sleeve top for women. Let's hope women don't want a more conventional sleeve length!

Find out more here

GripGrab introduces Explorer Waterproof Gravel Shoe Covers 

GripGrab's Explorer Waterproof Gravel Shoe Covers are based on the brand's existing Flandrien Road Shoe Covers. They say, "this off-road cousin brings style and waterproof functionality to off-road riding." 

2022 GripGrab Explorer Waterproof Gravel Shoe Covers front

The Explorer shoe covers feature a "three-layer waterproof construction," which consists of an insulated inside knitted layer, "fully waterproof" membrane and a "robust" outer knitted layer. 

There's also a zipper-less design which GribGrab say will reduce irritation and extend product life compared to standard zip designs. 

2022 GripGrab Explorer Waterproof Gravel Shoe Covers underneath

The difference between the Explorer and the Flandrien shoe covers is the toe cap reinforcement made from injection moulded TPU. GripGrab says the toe caps are "key to the enhanced durability of the gravel-specific design." 

There is also reinforcement on the underside of the shoe cover, again made of TPU. This is to help avoid damage to the knitted fabric and is positioned between the forefoot and heel treads for when walking off-road. 

The Explorer shoe covers cost £79.95

Find out more here 

Zéfal releases Gravel Mini Pump

What is it with all the gravelly news this week? Tech of the Week has a definite gravel bias this time around with Zéfal having introduced a Gravel Mini Plum developed for tyres ranging from 35 to 47mm wide, with a maximum pressure of 80 psi. 

2022 Zefal gravel mini-pump

The barrel and handle are made of aluminium making the whole pump "robust and light." 

Zéfal says it weighs 105g and is 180mm long, offering "the best compromise between inflation volume, ease of reaching the desired pressure and compactness." The best cycling mini pumps are light and take up little space. 

Another feature of the mini-pump is Zéfal's flexible Z-Turn connection which they say, "avoids twisting or breaking" the valve. The fitting is for Presta valves but can also be adapted to Schrader valves. 

This mini-pump costs €34.95 (∼£30). 

Find out more here 

Wahoo teams up with UCI World Cycling Centre

Wahoo X users have the chance to go behind the scenes at the UCI World Cycling Centre in Switzerland through a new series of video workouts. 

The new “A Week With the UCI World Cycling Centre” series is available to watch and ride on the Wahoo SYSTM platform.

2022 Wahoo X UCI video series - 1

“Produced as part of Wahoo Fitness’ long-term partnership with the UCI World Cycling Centre, Wahoo Fitness were given unrivalled access to the UCI World Cycling Centre’s facility, coaches, riders and staff to create a one-of-a-kind and immersive training experience,” says Wahoo. “Athletes have a unique opportunity to experience the life of a UCI World Cycling Centre athlete, training like a pro cyclist with the track, road, MTB and BMX racing teams.”

The series includes four workouts, each focusing on one of the different cycling disciplines.

2022 Wahoo X UCI video series - 2

Wahoo and the UCI are also holding a competition where anyone completing the series and earning the UCI World Cycling Centre badge in Wahoo SYSTM by 23rd December 2022, will be entered to win exclusive prizes from the UCI World Cycling Centre.

Wahoo X is available for US$14.99 a month.

Find out more here

Vittoria launches programme to recycle tyres and inner tubes 

Vittoria is launching a programme to recycle used bicycle tyres and inner tubes involving bicycle shops in Italy to increase the sustainability of their products. All types and all brands of bicycle tyres and inner tubes will be collected. 

2022 Vittoria launches tyre recycling

It's difficult to recycle inner tubes and tyres and hence, "more than four million bicycle tyres and inner tubes end up in Italy's general waste every year." 

2022 Vittoria and Esosport tyre granulate

In collaboration with Esosport, the used tyres and inner tubes will be used for pavements, playgrounds and sports tracks. 

> How green are your bike tyres? What the big brands are doing, and what YOU can do to help

Vittoria says it believes sustainability is a key factor for success in the cycling industry.

Stijn Vriends, President and CEO of Vittoria, says, “We have to work hard to create real circularity in the bicycle industry. With the Vittoria Re-Cycling programme, we make the first important step. We promise that many more will follow!”

> Check out the best bike inner tubes 2022 here 

Vittoria doesn't have a similar scheme in the UK although Velorim is a UK recycling scheme for inner tubes and tyres. You can find your local Velorim Centre to dispose of your used rubber here.

Find out more here

Emily is our track and road racing specialist, having represented Great Britain at the World and European Track Championships. With a National Title up her sleeve, Emily has just completed her Master’s in Sports Psychology at Loughborough University where she raced for Elite Development Team, Loughborough Lightning.

Emily is our go-to for all things training and when not riding or racing bikes, you can find her online shopping or booking flights…the rest of the office is now considering painting their nails to see if that’s the secret to going fast…

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12 comments

Avatar
RM | 1 year ago
0 likes

How long until Specialized sue Deda over the use of SL6?

Avatar
RM | 1 year ago
1 like

Can't see the Classified hub taking off with roadies. Most are too obsessed with weight.
Could be a good thing for commuters and perhaps gravel riders and MTBers

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pockstone | 1 year ago
1 like

“We have to work hard to create real circularity in the bicycle industry... "

I thought Dave Brailsford and the boffins at Sky had nailed that one years ago?

Avatar
peted76 | 1 year ago
0 likes

I think that the Classified hub/system could well take off. 

With the big three making groupsets so expensive the market is ripe for some innovation, while internal gearing has been tried before (and has an existig niche market) this one could stick and if it does, it could see off FD's in the same manner discs have seen off canti's. 

Avatar
OnYerBike replied to peted76 | 1 year ago
2 likes
peted76 wrote:

With the big three making groupsets so expensive the market is ripe for some innovation. 

Although if the goal is cost-cutting I'm not sure the Classified hub is the answer (at least not anytime soon). Even if you take into account the cost saving of not having a FD, only need one chainring, offset the cost of the hub being replaced etc., at current prices you're still spending significantly more to get the Classified hub rather than a standard 2x system (and of course you still need to pay for the rest of the groupset - ideally an expensive Di2 system for proper integration).

It's certainly an intruiging proposition, and certainly this new investment along with existing partnerships appear to bode well for the company, but ultimately a lot of small, innovative companies fail because the marginal benefit to the end user don't justify the significant cost to early adopters, and companies get sucked into a spiral of needing to keep prices high per unit sold to cover costs, which prevents widespread adoption and economies of scale.

Avatar
Griff500 | 1 year ago
3 likes

A bike only needs one FD and one set of rings, but every rear wheel will require a Classified hub. That set of £200 winter wheels you promised yourself will now cost £1500 after adding on £1300 for the classified hub. Interesting that this came up concurrent with a thread running over on the forum titled "are bikes getting too complicated".

Avatar
IanMSpencer replied to Griff500 | 1 year ago
3 likes

That cost is why I think Classified may kickstart the idea, but ultimately will fail to compete. The cost is out of scale with both the cheap and cheeful, if flawed system it is replacing (though my current GRX equipped gravel bike hasn't yet dropped a chain, much to my surprise), but also out of scale with the cost of existing internal hub systems. I believe the core mechanism of the Classified is removable, so perhaps their thinking is you swap the gear mech between wheels, but you are still talking custom wheels rather than commodity.

If this system does take off, are Shimano not going to be able to take a Nexus hub and strip it down, SRAM not going to be able to take their old SACHS derived hubs, and are Sun Race not going to be able to repackage their Sturmey "tech"? As discussed elsewhere combining hub gears and derailleurs is not a new or innovative idea. There is enough prior art to limit the patent protectability of the hub, after all Shimano already have an electronically shifted hub gear, so what is patentable?

Putting that more positively, if buyers decide that this is the preferred solution, then we should rapidly see a variety of competing solutions driving costs and improved implementations (e.g. a standard hub shell compatible across brands allowing different gear systems to be locked in and wheel manufacturers to be able to be brand independent), and again as mentioned elsewhere, I'd expect the re-emergence of the triple via the hub, removing the need for dinner plate cassettes.

Avatar
shufflingb replied to IanMSpencer | 1 year ago
2 likes

> That cost is why I think Classified may kickstart the idea, but ultimately will fail to compete.

As an independent probably right; not enough scale to bring the costs down and too much potential competition. But perhaps that is not the business plan. DT Swiss, Rotor, Hope, Magura, Campagnolo, etc - enough companies with both the engineering expertise and motivation to get volume up and production costs down to a competitive level if they were to license the  technology.

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Xenophon2 replied to Griff500 | 1 year ago
2 likes

I've been riding with a classified system for 18 months now.  When I took the leap my two biggest fears were that they might fold if things didn't pan out and I'd be stuck with a system for which I couldn't get any spares or that the system might be very delicate and prone to breaking down.

So far, no problems.  It's installed on my commuter/gravel bike and it's got about 16k km on it in all kinds of weather.   In the beginning they  had an issue with a bearing which was not up to snuff and caused lateral play in the wheel but that's fixed now. 

As for the wheels:  you don't need new hub internals, it's easy to switch those out.  But you do need a wheel fitted with a classified hubshell.  Either you'll have to contact a wheelbuilder or make use of the deal they closed with a number of manufacturers (Reynolds, DT Swiss...) to offer wheels built up with a shell or even an entire system.  Also:  you need to use their cassettes but I'm still on the first one, the durability is very good.  

Everyone needs to decide for themselves if it's worth the cost/risk but I haven't regretted taking the leap.

 

Avatar
IanMSpencer replied to Xenophon2 | 1 year ago
1 like

One thing that puzzles me is that the space inside the wheel is free space so what is it about the mechanism that needs to create space in the freehub that requires a special cassette. Surely you could have an Alfine sized casing and work your magic within that while pairing with normal cassettes? The custom cassettes just seem like an unnecessary burden of the system (a bit like SRAM being proud of their unnecessarily expensive cassettes engineered from a single piece of metal. Is it an over-engineered solution?)

Avatar
fenix | 1 year ago
3 likes

Love the idea of the Classified system.
Is anyone using them on the Cyclo cross circuit ? I'd have thought big shifts like that would be useful off road.

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Xenophon2 replied to fenix | 1 year ago
2 likes

I'm not into cyclo but ride gravel.  The first time you hit that button right before a sudden, muddy uphill section and the system switches in a blink and you can breeze up it's almost like magic.  Even now, with the technology starting to be known in Belgium I occasionally get questions how I manage (or if I'm riding with a hidden motor) when they see me tackle really steep passages with what seems like an 11-34 cassette and a 42T single.

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