Two weeks to LOTOJA

LOTOJA

Now that the Tour of Utah has raced through our great state it is time for what is arguably our biggest cycling event of the year, LoToJa. On September 10th, 2016 the 34th edition of this one-day challenge will take place on the roads between Logan, Utah and Jackson, Wyoming. Covering over 200 miles with an impressive 10,000 feet of climbing, the route represents a big day in the saddle for any rider. And if that isn’t tough enough, LoToJa is organized as a race, slotting its 1500 participants into categories competing for the fastest times. Knowing that many of you will be rolling out at this year’s LoToJa we are here to offer some simple tips to make the distance a little easier on you and your bike.

Lotoja banner

For the rider: During training you have most likely discovered your favorite flavors of hydration mix and nutrition, stick with these! There is no reason to experiment while pounding out the miles on during the event. Just remember that all of the old rules still apply; drink before you get thirsty, eat before you get hungry and rest before you get tired. Following these rules will keep you fresh as the hours tick by. Also, remember to consume a lot of water along with your sports nutrition, this aids digestion and keep stomach cramps at bay. All of the gu and chews are great to keep sugar levels up, but you will need real food and calories to keep you going all day. Plan any rest stops around consuming plenty of food to keep you going. We would recommend eating a huge breakfast the day of as well.

For the bike: Now is the time to get your bike sorted for LoToJa. The basics like lubing the chain and checking the tires are always key. After all of your training you may need new brake pads or tires too. If you are experiencing any issues with shifting it is best to get those taken care of now, that way any new cables or parts have a chance to “break in” before being subjected to 200 miles in one day. You definitely want to avoid riding a bike with any squeaks or creaks as they are indicative of worn parts that need maintenance. Of course the great mechanics at Contender Bicycles are here to help make sure your bike is in top notch shape for this year’s big event. We’ll leave the riding up to you.

100 Farhrenheit = Hot Summer Riding Jerseys

Top Picks for Hot Summer Riding Jerseys

Hot Summer Sun

Summer is in full swing and with it comes the peak of the cycling season. Around the Salt Lake Valley, the hottest days of summer can hover around a blistering 100 degrees (and this year we have had way too many days over 100 with no end in sight). With scorching temperatures comes the necessity of wearing appropriate cycling clothing to comfortably carry you through the heat as you ride. Of utmost importance is your choice of jersey. The right jersey will help you stay fresh and dry during a long endurance ride whereas the wrong jersey choice can leave you drenched in sweat and fighting dehydration.

With countless options of jerseys to choose from, it can be hard to know what to look for when shopping for the right hot summer jersey. To help you as you shop, we compiled a list of features to consider when deciding on which jersey will best help you beat the heat of summer riding.

Materials

The best summer jerseys use technical materials that are masters of wicking moisture away from your body to the surface of the jersey’s fabric for quick evaporation. This allows you to stay comfortable and dry and without fear of catching a chill should the wind pick up and catch you drenched in sweat. In addition, pay attention to the fabric placement. A lighter material that is vented at the back and side panels of a jersey, for instance, will increase air circulation and keep your body breathing instead of suffocating under too much material.

Sun Protection

Long, summer days in the saddle can mean hours of prolonged exposure to the sun. Many jerseys use lightweight fabrics that are easily passed through by the sun’s harmful UV rays. This can leave your back susceptible to a nasty sunburn and long term damage to your skin. To mitigate this risk, many manufacturers have started producing jerseys with SPF and UPF ratings. Alternatively, look for a jersey that can accommodate a sun protective base layer comfortably beneath it, so your back is not left exposed to the sun.

Fit

It doesn’t matter how well a jersey breathes if it doesn’t give you the right fit. Over the course of a long ride, an ill-fitting jersey that rubs and irritates your skin can suck all the joy from your ride. Be sure to know the purpose of your riding to narrow down what you’re looking for. For instance, a racing or aero jersey will fit much tighter through the body and arms than a relaxed jersey that uses a more generous cut for rides that are more leisurely.

The Details

Extra details can come with an extra price, but there are a few details you should pay attention to when purchasing a summer jersey. A nice zipper down the front of a jersey will help you control how the jersey ventilates, while rear jersey pockets should be sturdy and easily accessible. To keep yourself covered at all times, a rear silicone hem will keep the jersey in place as you move in the saddle, and reflective details are important when riding at off hours in low light conditions when you’re trying to avoid the heat of riding under a full sun.

Now that you know what to look for when shopping for a summer jersey, here are our favorite jerseys here at Contender for riding in the hot, Utah summer:

ASSOS SS.CENTO_S7 JERSEY

Assos SS cento s7 Jersey Blue

For long endurance rides, it is hard to beat the Assos ss.cento jersey and its dialed-in fit that we’ve come to expect from Assos. Designed around a cyclist’s position in the saddle, the fit of the jersey stretches and contours in all the right places whether you’re in the drops or up on the bars. The jersey uses Assos’s low volume and highly breathable Type 145 fabric to skillfully control your body temperature. The fabric varies the speed of moisture transport from your body, speeding up when you’re working hard sweating but slowing down as you cool down and need more insulation to stay warm. A full-length front zipper and mesh panels under the arms also help keep the jersey ventilated and your body temperature regulated. The jersey includes three lower back panel pockets, a zippered pocket for valuables, rear reflective visibility stripes, and a silicone hem at the rear.

GIORDANA SAHARA JERSEY

giordana men's short sleeve jersey sahara white green front

While it’s the lightest jersey in Giordana’s collection weighing in at only 90g, the Sahara won’t leave you unprotected like other lightweight jerseys when you’re pedaling up the climbs. It uses a woven ceramic material with UV protection at its front and back panels so your skin won’t burn as you ride beneath the intense sun. It also takes special care to keep your body cool and breathing with lightweight mesh at the shoulders and sleeves. Plus sleeve cuffs finished with a soft turned-up edge to feel gentle against your skin. A full-length CamLock front zipper adds further customizable venting while three rear pockets with a pocket lip for protection keeps your small items safe and secure and easy to access as you ride.

CRAFT GLOW JERSEY (men’s and women’s options)

Craft Glow Jersey black flumino frontCraft Women's Glow Jersey view front

When riding at dusk or dawn to avoid the heat of the midday, it’s imperative to stay visible on the road. The Craft Glow Jersey does just that with its highly designed reflective print across its chest and upper back. It uses a cooling, polyester fabric to draw moisture from your skin to keep you dry and your temperature regulated, with bodymapped mesh inserts in particularly moisture prone areas for extra breathability. The fabric also contains just the right amount of elastane to give the stretch you need moving both in and out of the saddle. A wide, soft elastic band keeps the jersey firmly in place with a silicone print at the back, while three rear pockets give you plenty of room to carry your riding essentials. The Craft Glow Jersey is available in both a men’s and women’s option.

CONTENDER BICYCLES ELEVATION & CLASSIC JERSEY

Contender Bicycles Elevation Jersey Front2016 Contender Bicycles Classic Jersey

We are partial to the Contender Bicycles Elevation Jersey and Classic Jersey not just because they bear our name, but also because they keep us cool and ventilated when climbing up the Utah canyons that the Elevation jersey proudly highlights. Made from super lightweight fabric with advanced fibers and construction, the jerseys are highly breathable while blocking cold air and moisture from coming in. This allows your body temperature to be effectively regulated when riding in the heat. A full-front zipper and mesh side panels allow for further ventilation when the weather is particularly muggy. The jersey contains UV protection to protect your skin from burning in the sun and its antimicrobial properties keep you smelling fresh no matter how much sweat is dripping.

Finding the right summer jersey for your riding style is ultimately a personal choice. Our main concern at Contender is that you’re riding as comfortably and confidently as possible out there in the heat. Give us a call or come visit us at the shop to let us walk you through our selection of summer jerseys. Let’s take advantage of riding in this warm, sunny weather for as many miles as possible before winter hits and we’re begging for the heat once more!

My Thought’s on this year’s Tour

Tour de France - Stage 14

With LeTour in full force, it is that time of year where there seems to be a onslaught of discussions about race tactics and strategy. The TV coverage allows us to watch things play out and we get to hear some critique on what went down. With a week left in the race, I figured I’d share a few of my thoughts.

Despite a stage win and some time in the yellow jersey, BMC seems to be off to a less than awesome Tour with their so-called two-leader system. It was quickly evident on Stage 2 that there is confusion at BMC.  When Richie Porte flatted with just over 4km it was obvious that he was on his own for the finish this day.  After a neutral wheel change that took an eternity, he took the chase up on his own for some time before finally getting some help.  BMC is strong enough, they’re stacked enough, to have guys deliver the GC guys to the 3km “safe” mark and a couple more to keep the pressure on to set up some stage win aspirations.  Instead, BMC burned up most of their matches by 6-7 km to go in order to set up a shot at the stage with Greg Van Avermaet leaving the GC guys relatively unprotected. When no teammates stopped for Porte and the team car passed him too, I’m sure Richie went into “going to do what’s best for me” mode for the rest of the race.  Only a few stages later this was evident as Porte found himself riding at the front with Froome and Quintana on his wheel as Tejay was barely hanging on in the next group.  If these guys were working together, Porte would have followed or attacked those guys, but never just ridden at the front to extend the gap to the chasing group.

A Storm Named Froome

As the Tour entered the mountains a storm, named Froome, quickly put most GC contenders on their back foot.

The second thing that seems really obvious this year is that there are a lot of guys/teams who are content to race for second. This is something that became the norm in the Armstrong era and it continues when a rider as good as Froome shows up with a team as good as Sky.  The formula is proven.  On the first stage when taking time is possible, piledrive the competition and steal a minute.  It sets up a very boring competition for second place. The only difference this year is Froome took some of the time with a surprise attack on a downhill finish. Everyone keeps calling for a Quintana or Aru attack and I’m sure that will come. It is hard to understand how hard it is to attack after a 100km of hard riding by Vasil Kiryienka, Luke Rowe and Ian Stannard is followed up with some in-your-face tempo on the climbs by guys like Gerraint Thomas, Mikel Nieve and Wout Poels.  I doubt Froome could attack himself after all of that. So how do you go up against this?  The challengers (BMC, Movistar, Astana) need to put Sky on the defense early in a hard stage. It might take some collusion as they don’t need to just throw a wrench into Team Sky’s plans; they need to throw a hammer. They should race like the finish is on the first summit of a four summit stage.  Blow it up early and see how the pieces settle out. Get riders up the road and then have your GC guys ride aggressively from behind.  If third place is going up the road on a climb, the guy in second needs to let Froome/Sky stay in charge. If they falter, second place stands to benefit and take some time. If they don’t, chances are pretty good that everything stays the same.

Tour de France - Stage 12

One of the most wonderful things about watching the Tour (and the Giro & Veulta) is even when the racing is slow, or predictable the scenery is still stunning!

Finally, it seems like the traditional “lead-out” train is a bit different these days. The teams are so good, and there seems to be a bit of parity among teams like Quickstep and Lotto. The train that starts at 4km out and delivers their rider to 300m just doesn’t happen anymore. Between the fight for the front with the other sprinters’ teams and the GC riders’ team trying to get their riders to the 3km mark makes it almost impossible for a team to take total control like they did back in the Cipollini days.  This year it seems like that in the last 1500m, at least four teams take over the front of the race for a short period of time. In my opinion, and results would agree, this puts the thoroughbred guys like Griepel and Kittel at a disadvantage and favors the snappier/quicker guys like Cavendish and Sagan. These explosive guys need one or two teammates to move them into position, a bit of luck in not getting jammed-up, and they can sneak in and pick up the pieces as the big teams wear each other out.  This is compounded by the fact that there seems to be more turns in the last 3-4km this year.  Should Cavendish ride into Paris, it will be interesting to see how he fairs on the Champs, in what is traditionally a bit more of a horsepower contest, without Mark Renshaw. We’ll see if Sagan can match Cavendish’s four stage wins or if the stage will go to one of the monster-mashers.

The Upside to Bib Shorts for Women

 

Assos Women's Cycling

Staying comfortable in the saddle is a never ending battle. Over the years this has especially been the case for women. For years female cyclists were stuck with wardrobe options geared towards men, making their search for functional yet comfortable clothing incredibly frustrating. Recently, manufacturers have taken notice of the growing number of female cyclists and now offer a great selection of female-specific cycling apparel.

Women’s cycling apparel has come a long way in improving a woman’s cycling comfort. However, not every garment is equal. There is a lot of room for personal preference when choosing between female specific garments. This is really apparent when choosing between traditional riding shorts or bib shorts. Without a jersey do bib shorts make it look like you are wearing a unitard? Well, maybe. But at Contender we think that the added comfort offered by bib shorts for women is worth it, and here is why:

MORE COMFORT AT THE WAIST 

Bib shorts eliminate the need for a restrictive waistband. The elastic waistband of traditional riding shorts not only causes “muffin top”, it can also hamper your breathing and cause stomach discomfort. Wide, yoga waistbands may offer some relief from these issues, but not the full relief that bib shorts offer. By relying on straps to hold the shorts in place, bib shorts put no pressure on the waist, allowing you to breathe and move without restriction.

BETTER CHAMOIS PERFORMANCE

With constant movement and the accumulation of moisture, the chamois of a traditional riding short can sag over the course of a ride. Without the reliable performance of a precisely positioned chamois, you’re at risk for chafing, hot spots, and overall discomfort in the saddle. In contrast, straps on bib shorts offer more overall garment support, including the chamois, keeping it stable and in place throughout the duration of a ride.

NEW BIB STRAP DESIGN

In previous bib short designs, the straps were placed right over the most sensitive areas of a woman’s chest, causing a lot of discomfort. Recent designs, however, have taken care to take into account the curves of female bodies. At the shop we carry the Giro Chrono Expert Halter Bib, which scraps the use of traditional shoulder straps for a halter design, using lightweight mesh to spread pressure across the entire chest and not just in specific areas. We also carry the Giordana SilverLine Bib Short, which takes care to place the shoulder straps around and not directly on top of sensitive areas of the chest. Our favorite at the shop is the Assos T.laalalaishorts S7 bib shorts. With an easy to reach front magnetic front clasp in the center of the chest, the design eliminates straps over sensitive areas and makes adjustment and fitting of the bib extremely easy.

Giro Women's Chrono Expert Halter Bib

Giordana Silverline Women's Bibshorts Frontassos ladys tlaalalaishorts_s7 front

 

FULL SKIN COVERAGE

Compared to traditional shorts, bib shorts have a higher cut above the waist. So when you are in the drops or stretching your arms overhead, there is no worry of exposing your backside or belly to the eyes of an innocent passerby. This eliminates mid-ride jersey tugs and adjustments, helping you to stay focused on your ride and protects you from sun exposure in the wrong place. 

ADDRESSING RESTROOM BREAK CONCERNS

This is by far the biggest reason some women prefer to ride in traditional shorts despite all the comfort benefits of bib shorts. When you want to use the restroom, many female riders understandably find it a nuisance to take off their jersey in order to drop their straps. For us, this nuisance is small price to pay for hours of improved comfort riding. Additionally, several manufacturers have created bib designs that allow you to undo your straps without having to disrobe. Our favorites at the shop include the Giro Chrono Expert Halter Bib which has enough stretch to easily pull up and over a helmet and the Velocio Signature Fly bib shorts which use a rear zipper for easy bathroom breaks without bothering with your straps at all.

Velocio Signature Fly Bib Short

Ultimately, it is up to the individual rider to weigh the pros and cons and decide what shorts offer the most comfort and convenience for their riding style. At the shop we carry a large selection of both traditional riding shorts and bib shorts for women. Visit or call to have us walk through our selection with you. It’s our goal to have you as comfortable and confident as possible out there riding.

2016 Fantasy Tour de France

fantasy_tour_de_france

JOIN OUR FANTASY TOUR LEAGUE!

The Tour de France is upon us and that means it is time to root for your favorite riders in Contender’s Tour de France pool. This year we are taking on a fantasy league vibe. It is simple, fun and points will be on the line for every stage. Plus there are great prize packages for whoever accumulates the most points and finishes 1st, 2nd and 3rd overall!  Enter by posting a comment with your picks on this blogpost. You must submit your picks before the Tour de France starts this coming Saturday, July 2. Here is how it works!

You pick your squad. Choose nine riders who you think will win stages and the jerseys at the Tour. It is up to you! Pick climbers, pick sprinters, a time trial ace, an escape artist or whomever you think could potentially win a stage or finish on the final podium. Fill your team with riders from any team that will give you the most total wins! Each stage win receives 2 points. If a rider on your team wins the Yellow Jersey or is 2nd or 3rd overall, you will receive 9, 6 and 3 points respectively. With one of your riders winning the Green Sprinter’s Jersey you’ll receive 4 points and for the Polka Dot Climber’s Jersey you’ll receive 6 points!

SIMPLY SUBMIT A COMMENT BELOW, WRITE 9 RIDER FANTASY TEAM and then LIST YOUR 9 RIDERS!

Best of all here are the prize packages! The winners will be notified via email after Le Tour ends and points are tallied!

1st PLACE PRIZE PACKAGE
Your choice of Kask Protone helmet
Contender Bicycles Gear – 1st Place Goodie Bag

2nd PLACE PRIZE PACKAGE
Your choice of color and model Uvex 810 or 202 variomatic sunglasses
Contender Bicycles Gear – 2nd Place Goodie Bag

3rd PLACE PRIZE PACKAGE
Your choice of color and size Giordana Men’s or Women’s Fusion jersey
Contender Bicycles Gear – 3rd Place Goodie Bag

*choice of product is limited to in stock product at Contender Bicycles

Any questions? Email Contender’s Race Official Cody at cody@contenderbicycles.com.

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Salt Lake City Has Got it Going On!

Salt Lake City has earned itself a reputation for being perhaps the best city in America for accessing the outdoors. With too many ski resorts to count within an hour drive, some of the best rock climbing in the world and an innumerable number of other options from hiking to bird watching or fly fishing, it is really hard to disagree with the accolades. Needless to say, and we admit we are a bit biased here at Contender Bicycles, the greater Salt Lake area is a cyclist’s paradise (and that isn’t even taking into account the rest of the state). We love it so much we made video featuring just a small sampling of the local riding.

For those new to town, new to riding or just hoping to get a ride in during their next visit check out some of our favorite local rides below.

Some (but not all) of our favorite road rides:

A few of the mountain rides we think are amazing:

Points of Contact

Saddle Adjustment

There are three major points of contact when riding a bike, namely your hands, feet and seat. And the more time you spend riding the more important these three become. Each of these can be improved individually for the best fit, function and comfort while pedaling. To begin with, shoes and pedals are fairly easy to figure out as the old adage applies “if the shoe fits, wear it.” With a variety of brands and styles to choose from there are a lot of options for cycling footwear. Besides specific footwear for mountain or road riding, brands such as Sidi and Giro also offer narrow and wide shoe widths to best fit any rider’s foot. Different closure systems such as ratcheting buckles or twist-lock mechanisms add convenience and allow on-the-fly adjustment. As most riders will experience some swelling in their feet during long rides so they choose a shoe that offers a little more room in the toes to accommodate this. In addition, additional arch support through footbeds is something many riders consider.

On the front end of the bike there are numerous options for grips and handlebar tape. Many mountain bikers and commuters opt for the ergonomic grips which provide support for the palms, such as those by Ergon or shock-absorbing silicone grips, such as those by ESI or Fabric. For your road bike, the bar shape is probably the best starting point.  Wing shaped bar tops and shallower drop bars have recently gained popularity.  To wrap the bars, there is wide range of choices with various thickness and material to help will let you dial in comfort for your hands. For those looking for a bit more comfort, gel padding or a second layer of bar tape (often seen on the pro’s bikes during the cobbled spring classics) can be placed on the bar first before wrapping with new tape although this added comfort comes at the cost of added weight and for some a disconnect with the bike. Popular choices are a wing-shaped road bar with thick and tacky tape by Fizik or Lizard Skins which can offer great grip with extra cushioning. Of course good gloves are a crucial element here with long fingered and short fingered gloves coming with everything from thick gel padding to no padding at all.

Now onto the most subjective of these three, the saddle. There are literally hundreds of good saddle choices available to any and all cyclists. However, there are millions of cyclists so there definitely is not a “one size fits all” solution to saddle comfort. A good rule to follow, when you don’t like your current saddle, is to look for a new one that has a different shape than what you’re using. Basically, no amount of padding will make an ill-formed saddle work well. We have found that the best route to a more comfortable seat is to try a few before you buy. At Contender Bicycles we offer our Saddle Test Ride program with many of the most popular seats from Fizik, Fabric, Adamo, PRO and Selle SMP.

The best way to address these points of contact is with a proper bike fit, as this will give you an expert opinion on what it will take to make your bike both more comfortable and efficient. There are many ways of going about a fitting with most starting with the shoe/pedal interface and working up from there. As avid cyclists we are big fans of using shoe and pedal combos to better connect rider to bike. Being “clipped in” not only creates an efficient pedal stroke it also helps in isolating your body position and finding the best location for your saddle. Once the saddle is properly in place you and the fitter can go to work on finding the best location for your hands on the bars. Many of us have previous injuries or other physical issues that can be easily addressed in the fitting process making our time on the bike more enjoyable.

At Contender Bicycles in addition to offering a free fit with most bike purchases we are pride ourselves on helping customers walk out with the perfect bike, not necessarily the stock bike. While manufacturers often use more neutral saddles and select bar widths based on the frame size some riders find themselves needing to make changes immediately. In these instances we are happy to work with you to pro-rate the value of the parts you need switched out for those that will help you get the most out of your riding.

Please feel free to come by the shop if you have questions on any of these points of contact.

Mountain Biking Trail Etiquette

Zane at Gooseberry Mesa

With the weather warming up, snow melting – and summer right around the corner – Utah’s mountain biking trails will be getting busy. From Corner Canyon to Flying Dog and Pinecone, when the trails get crowded we all must deal with an increasing number of obstacles. Runners, hikers, dogs, horses and other bikers can all work together to keep the trails safe and fun for everyone by following these 8 tips for proper Trail Etiquette:

Ryan and Julian in St George

  1. Yield to uphill trail users; Regardless of mode-of-transportation the uphill trail user always has the right-of-way.
  2. Yield to horses; Yeah or nay, an equine always has the right-of-way.
  3. Yield to hikers; hit your brakes and pull over for hikers and runners getting a workout on your favorite trails.
  4. Ring your bell; a handlebar mounted bell is a great way to politely pass others riding your way.
  5. Stay on the trail; Resist the temptation of cutting through switchbacks as this greatly increases erosion.
  6. Avoid muddy trails; Though tempting, riding in the rain has a negative impact on our already sensitive trails. Deep ruts, potholes and other irreparable damage will ruin them for weeks to come.
  7. Tune in; Riding with headphones in, or bluetooth speaker blaring, may be fun but they both greatly reduce your ability to hear what is going on around you. Stay tuned to your surroundings to better avoid an incident.  
  8. Stay alert; Keep your eyes pointed down the trail to best see what is coming your way and be ready to slow your roll, or come to a stop, so everybody can enjoy themselves out there.

We want all of you to get out there and enjoy all of Utah’s great trails. Share the responsibility of keeping trails safe, fun, and in good repair, and you we will all be enjoying many miles of dirt far into the future.   

Thursday Night Ride

Trade up to ASSOS

Assos Trade Up Program

 

HAVE AN OLD PAIR OF SHORTS OR BIBS LAYING AROUND THE HOUSE? SHOW THEM TO US AND RECEIVE A $50 CREDIT TOWARDS A NEW PAIR OF ASSOS SHORTS OR BIBS!

  • Assos T campionissimo s7 Bib Shorts
    Assos T.campionissimo_s7 Bib Shorts
  • assos ladys tlaalalaishorts_s7 side
    Assos Lady’s T.laalalaiShorts_s7
  • Assos-T.neoPro_s7-Bib-Shorts3
    Assos T.neoPro_s7 Bib Shorts
  • Assos T equipe s7 Bib Shorts
    Assos T.equipe_s7 Bib Shorts
  • Assos T cento s7 Bib Shorts
    Assos T.cento_s7 Bib Shorts
  • ASSOS H.LAALALAISHORTS_S7 2016 Side
    Assos Lady's H.laalalaiShorts_s7
  • Assos T.tiburuShorts_s7 front
    Assos T.tiburuShorts_s7
  • Assos-H-milleShort-2
    Assos H.milleShorts_s7
  • Assos T.rallyShorts_s7
    Assos T.rallyShorts_s7
  • T.RALLYSHORTS_S7 LADY front
    Assos Lady’s T.rallyShorts_s7

From June 1 to June 30, show us your old bibs or shorts and receive a $50 credit towards the purchase of any pair of Assos s7 bibs or shorts. You can either show us a photo or bring them into the shop! Have two old pairs laying around? Walk out with two pairs of bibs having saved $100!

If you are unable to come by the shop, simply email us at info@contenderbicycles.com a photo of your bibs or shorts with the following information:

First & Last Name:
Gender:
Email:
Zip/Postal Code:

Upon receiving your photo, we will email you a coupon code to be used on ContenderBicycles.com to purchase your new Assos bibs!

Any questions? Email info@contenderbicycles.com.

Buyer’s Guide: Helmet Safety

Contender Helmet Display

>We happen to think you are a great person and we are pretty sure that your friends and family feel the same way. So of course we want you to stay as safe as possible out on the road and trail. Unfortunately, even if you take all proper precautions cycling can be a dangerous sport. While there are a number of simple practices such as a basic safety bike check or obeying the rules of the road and trail, the reality is that if you ride long enough you will eventually find yourself on the ground. Keeping your head safe is imperative and luckily there are a ton of helmet options to fit any budget or riding style. With that in mind we hope this basic guide can help you find the right helmet. So in the unfortunate event you find yourself closer on the pavement or trail you have your head covered.

Luckily there is a slew of helmet options to suit every type of rider. With options from under $50 to over $300, new technologies and aggressive marketing makes deciding which helmet is right for you a daunting decision. The most obvious concern is safety. Protecting your head and brain in the event of a crash is the purpose after all. Luckily, every helmet sold in the US is required to pass the same standards established by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and will have a sticker showing the model has passed the test administered by the CPSC or the independent ASTM inside. As a pass/fail test, it isn’t possible to distinguish helmets based on their ability to protect against impact, that doesn’t mean however that there are not additional safety features offered by various manufacturers that you may want to consider.

Coverage

While helmets designed specifically for road cycling tend to focus protection around the front, top and sides of helmets, some mountain biking and commuter helmets such as the Kask Rex or Giro Sutton extend further down the back of the head to provide better coverage to the back of the skull. In addition, many of helmets designed for mountain biking and commuting have fewer ventilation holes to improve protection from objects, such as pointy rocks and sticks, getting past the helmets protective foam. Even the road market has seen a large amount of resources put into improving protection for the areas most likely to impact the ground in the event of a crash. POC, for example, increased the amount of foam on the sides of their Octal helmet over the temples, where their research indicated this was the most exposed area to impact during a crash.

 

 

Visibility

>Perhaps the best protection a helmet can afford is helping protect from an impact ever occurring. This is particularly important on the road. With more cars and unfortunately more distracted drivers than ever, one of the best ways to stay safe on the bike is to be as visible as possible. While helmets have traditionally come in heavily black or white colorways, the last few years have seen an influx of color options. While greys, silvers and blues may not increase rider visibility significantly the fluorescent yellows and oranges available on many helmets from the budget Giro Revel or Foray to the carefully selected “Attention Visibility Interaction Protection” (AVIP) colorways of the POC AVIP Octal MIPS should help drivers spot you from further away and decrease the chances of an accident. The Belgian manufacturer Lazer has probably developed one of our favorite features for enhancing visibility in their integrated LED upgrade for their Rollsys equipped helmets (many also available in a highly visible orange) including the Z1 helmet. While it is not an LED designed for daytime use, it is a convenient way to ensure you always have a light in case you are caught out as the day begins to fade.

Fluorescent Orange (such as the Lazer Helium seen left) and yellow helmets help increase rider visibility, while still looking cool, to keep you safe on the road compared to more traditional color ways such as the black Lazer to the right.

Fluorescent Orange (such as the Lazer Helium seen left) and yellow helmets help increase rider visibility, while still looking cool, to keep you safe on the road compared to more traditional color ways such as the black Lazer to the right.

MIPS

Another new addition to the cycling helmet market is the Royal Institute of Technology/Karolinska Institutet of Sweden developed Multi-directional Impact Protection System (MIPS). MIPS is a thin, low friction insert built to sit between your head and the helmet foam and is designed to reduce the amount of rotational force your head (and thus brain) experience in the event of a crash. Hopefully this reduces the trauma experienced by your brain during a crash. While there hasn’t been a lot of real world data, leading to verification of the lab results, most helmets featuring MIPS only suffer a slight weight and cost penalty ($20 for most Giro models such as the affordably priced Savant MIPS). We think MIPS is promising. For those not wanting to take jump to MIPS, some research indicates rounder and smoother designs are less likely to catch or “stick” to the ground in the event of an impact thus reducing the amount of rotational force.

The yellow MIPS insert (left) provides protection from rotational forces by creating a low friction interface between your head and the helmet foam.

The yellow MIPS insert (left) provides protection from rotational forces by creating a low friction interface between your head and the helmet foam.

While higher priced helmets do not inherently provide improved safety that doesn’t mean that don’t offer advantages especially for a rider looking for more comfort or better performance on the bike. Most notably, as helmet price increases ventilation, weights, retention systems and as of the last few years aerodynamics, on road helmets anyway, generally all see improvements with each price jump. These become important considerations when selecting a helmet. If you find the helmet you purchased becomes too hot during summer ride, or the retention system or shape causes hotspots you may be less likely to wear it. A helmet left at home does nothing to help protect your brain in the event of a crash.

Helmets should fit snuggly but comfortably. Start by measuring your head and comparing with the sizing guide from the manufacturer. Some budget helmets come as one size fits all but these days a lot of models come in several sizes to help you get the perfect fit without looking like you have a mushroom on your head. A helmet should be worn level, with the retention system in the back (the number of riders we see with helmets on backwards is somewhat disconcerting) and the front about midway down your forehead. The retention system should be tightened enough that the helmet does not easily slide in any direction, without feeling like it is squeezing your head in any unfordable way, and the chin strap gently touching to help insure the helmet will remain in place should the worst occur.

Finally, it is important to remember that all helmets have a shelf life. Indeed, most manufacturers recommend replacing your helmet every 3-5years (each brand has determined their own lifespan so check the owner manual for your particular model to determine the life of your particular helmet). While you may not of crashed while wearing your helmet they still suffer a lot of abuse from everyday use (being tossed on a shelf, accidental drops, and UV degradation to the foam), and as perhaps the most important piece of safety gear you wear cycling you don’t want to find out your helmet is no longer ready to stand up to the forces of a crash after the fact. It is also important to remember that helmets are designed only to provide protection from a single impact, so in the invent to a crash, especially if you hit your head (helmet) at all, it is always best practice to replace your helmet even if there are no visible signs of damage.

Pinarello Dogma F8 and Dogma K8-S Demo

Pinarello Demo

Saturday, May 14 through Wednesday, May 18th is your chance to demo a bike in the iconic Pinarello Dogma line-up! The Pinarello demo truck will be at the shop and contains the much talked about Dogma K8-S and their Tour de France winning Dogma F8.

There will be no charge for a same-day demo on either Pinarello Dogma. A photo copy of your I.D. and credit card will be required. Additionally you will need to sign a release. Please contact Cody at cody@contenderbicycles.com, call 801-364-0344 or swing by the shop to reserve a day on any bike listed below. We have most sizes available for both the F8 and K8-S.

The new ROTOR UNO Groupset & a Visit to HQ

Rotor-banner

When we were invited to Madrid to visit Rotor Bike Compenents HQ, we really didn’t know a whole lot about the company. Mostly, we knew about their cranks and chainrings with them having a lot to offer from aero cranksets to cranks with powermeters to round chainrings to their oval Q-rings. We’ve seen the high quality of these parts as they are featured on just about every model in Cervelo’s lineup. However our limited knowledge certainly did not lessen our excitement to be part of the official launch of Rotor’s new Uno hydraulic shifting system. This is a huge step for Rotor to take further inroads into component manufacturing especially when taking on Shimano and SRAM. Needless to say we were excited to take a look.

We arrived at Rotor for a quick lunch and then a tour of the operation. In the States, they’d probably call it something catchy like the Rotor Campus as it occupies a few buildings and all facets of the business are taking place here. The buildings were in a small industrial park and it seemed like they had just grown into vacancies in the complex as needed. On display in the entryway were winner’s jerseys and the matching colored cranksets from three grand tour vicitories of Sastre, Hesjedal and Cobo.

rotor tour cranks

These guys are proud of the athletes and teams representing Rotor. Probably the best endorsement is that by Marianne Vos (who many argue is the best female cyclist ever) where she has basically strong-armed Shimano into allowing her to use Rotor’s Q-Rings.

As we waited for other members of our group to arrive, we were able to look at some of the inventions of founder Pablo Carrasco. During our visit with him it was obvious he is an innovator. So much so that he had once been offered a position in a engineering roll with a Formula One program. Hanging on the wall were probably twenty different iterations of his original project (what was eventually called the RCX) , a crankset where the crankarms traveled at different speeds, and out of sync with each other, during each pedal stroke through a series of gears and cams. The original crank is in the photo below.

The Original Rotor Crank

Pablo thought, and studies showed, there were efficiencies to be gained and that such a system might have less wear and tear on the body. The oval chainrings, or Q-rings, represent this idea at the simplest level. Pablo said that he and his team are working on just about everything on the bike other than seats, tires and frames and that he is trying to eventually bring to market a newer version of the RCX crankset.

Rotor seems ready to take on the future. They recently “merged” with a long time machining partner who is basically next door. They are well-funded and seem like a company just the right size to be able to innovate, produce and sell great bike components. We were shown a new powermeter and a mountain bike crankset that can use their oval chainrings.

Rotor’s Uno hydraulic system was the focus of our visit. With Shimano, SRAM and Campagnolo only having cable-actuated and electronic systems, this system is definitely unique. Basically hydraulic pressure from the shift lever triggers a clock-like mechanism in each derailleur to move the chain. In a cabled system, the ratchet is in the shifter and signals the derailleur to shift by pulling or releasing cable. Things like tight curves for internal routing, weathering of the cable and worn out housing all deteriorate the quality of this “signal”. The Uno system partnered up with German company Magura for both rim and disc brake options and to capitalize on their strength in hydraulics. Unlike most disc brakes, the shifting hydraulic line is very thin gauge (3mm in diameter) and it can run anywhere a Di2 wire can go.

The results is a group that seems to have a solid foundation for strong and precise shifting and that can compete with the electronic systems on the market. It also shares a lot of positive attributes of the electronic systems: it is very light, it should hold adjustment for a long period of time and it should require less routine maintenance, without the need to replace cables or charge batteries. Rotor is constantly improving the ergonomics and the actuation of the shifters through feedback from testing by two major professional teams. The future will bring multiple shifting points for a time trial bike, longer cage options for gravel and cross bikes and a mountain bike option. For bikes that get muddy, the Uno system should really be a plus. We are particularly excited for a one-by-eleven version to be released down the road.

Testing out the new Roto Uno hydraulic groupset.

Testing out the new Roto Uno hydraulic groupset.