I remember hearing about some electric bike that Lee Iacocca was behind over ten years ago. I thought it was a pretty ridiculous idea. I had a lot of reasons to doubt them. I was a category one bike racer who was definitely too proud to even consider one. I also thought that if the batteries on my laptop would only last 75 minutes, how good could the batteries on these bikes be? The question marks went on and on. Ten years later, Alison was looking at Orbea’s city bikes in a catalog made specifically for the European market and she saw an electric model that she thought would be cool. We tried and tried to get them to import one for us. It never happened. In 2013, we were (admitingly with some reluctance in my mind) able to get our hands on one of Cannondale‘s European electric bikes. Alison immediately adopted the bike into her day to day routine and my doubts were declining quickly. The only problem was that we couldn’t source another one as this model was only for the European market. A few months later, the guys at BMC introduced us to their Swiss sister company, Stromer and told us to bring a couple of bikes in to try. Within three months, we each had the ST1 model my Buddy Gas scooter was on KSL.com. Needless to say, we were hooked.
In the following year or so, I’ve really opened my eyes to how many different people an E bike can appeal to. It doesn’t matter who you are (or how fast of cyclist you are), the electric bike is for everyone. It’s just that we will all find different ways to integrate it into our day to day. For us, they are the answer to getting out of the car or off the scooter and to making lots of short trips in and around town. Alison and I use our bikes for running errand, grocery shopping, going to University of Utah games, getting dinner or even taking our dogs for a cruise in our Burley Tailwagon trailer. Other E bike equipped friends make much longer commutes that sometimes includes hopping aboard Trax or commuter rail. Some use E bikes to not have to play the parking game that seems to be getting harder and harder in Salt Lake. Others use them to ride with their fitter and faster spouses or to overcome their physical limitations or to simply get back to their house at the top of the avenues or high-up in Emigration Canyon. One five minute ride on the Stromer will help any cyclist see that there is a place for an E bike in their world.
Frequently I am asked why not ride my everyday bike for these same short trips. It’s a fair question and one that I expect. A normal bike is certainly fine for these types of trips and there are a lot of people doing just that. I certainly respect them for doing it. For me, most of my daily cycling trips aren’t long enough to get dressed up in my cycling gear or even to consider the ride beneficial or physically rewarding/challenging. At the same time, the short half-mile ride from the shop to my house climbs at least 300 feet and is just enough to break a sweat and to drive my heart rate up. Not a great way to end the day and it has even made falling asleep difficult in the past. So I figure if I’m not going to get all geared-up, I might as well ride a bike that allows me to stay cool, to get there quickly, to keep dry and safe (fenders, lights), and to carry stuff that has no place on my road bike. The added bonus is not needing to carry a second pair of shoes or a change of clothes. Also worth mentioning is that there is no need for special licenses or insurance like a scooter. In general, if riding my bike is why I’m getting on the bike, then I’ll break out the mountain or road bike and the appropriate attire to make it happen. If the ride is more of a means to an end, then the E bike (and a helmet) is all I need!
We all know that cycling in general is a pretty green activity and we can easily see how if a quarter of the city’s population rode bikes, that it would be a much better place from several viewpoints. And if E bikes can help us get there, then we should be all for it. It is pretty rare that something like this can appeal to such a broad range of people. From a 14 year old student who thinks of an E bike as their first vehicle to someone who just wants to be cruise the bike paths and feel the wind in their face, the E bike really has something to offer everyone.
So I’d encourage everyone to get out and ride an E bike. I think you’ll see that they really are for Everybody.
Here’s a pic of me on a lunch run courtesy of the Google street view folks.
Nate introduces his choice for great new product of 2015, the Mavic Ksyrium Pro Disc wheelset. Being an avid commuter, bike tourer and uphill racer he likes his bike parts to be reasonably lightweight with a high degree of durability. That being so, he feels that Mavic‘s first disc road wheel checks all the right boxes. Mavic is responsible for some of the world’s most popular road rims and mountain wheelsets so they took the best of each to make a bomber road disc wheelset that weights just 1553 grams. Featuring machined rims, bladed spokes and carbon hub bodies, the Ksyrium Pro Disc Road wheels are light and strong while offering great aerodynamics in a wheelset that can be used for cross racing, gravel grinding or daily road use.
TIME‘s new flagship, the Skylon Aktiv, was launched last fall. We were excited to see what the new bike offered over the ZXRS model. For sure the claims of lighter and stiffer and more aerodynamic are always appealing, but as always the end-all-be-all for us is how does it fair in a “do-it-all” ride test. Unfortunately, early framesets didn’t have the new Aktiv fork and we had to reserve our judgement on the new Skylon frameset over the winter as production of the Aktiv fork was ramped up.
The Aktiv fork’s goal is to take ride quality to another level through an internal mechanism known as a tuned mass damper. A quick Google search of tuned mass dampers reveals that these things are used for everything from helping the tallest buildings in the world survive earthquakes to damping vibrations on NASA rocket boosters and were used (before being banned) by Formula One drivers to improve control of the car. TIME has long been at the forefront of vibration control in bicycle frames. In the beginning, the carbon frame itself was were this attention was focused. Later, they used different materials in the weave such as Vectran to help improve carbons ability to dampen vibration. When other brands were still touting metal frames as best in class, TIME was researching various methods to take it their composite frames a step further. In 2008, TIME’s filed for a patent with the concepts behind the Aktiv fork.
Basically the Aktiv fork works on the same principle as a noise canceling earphone. The movement of the damper itself is designed to absorb or dissipate (or cancel) the unwanted vibration. In the Aktiv fork’s case, this is a small weight mounted to an alloy/composite lever arm inside the fork blade. Sounds simple. It isn’t. The tough part is first figuring out what frequency range you want to try to cancel out. Luckily, TIME has years of research isolating which frequencies are fatiguing to our body or detrimental to controlling the bike. Ultra high frequencies don’t have the negative effect on our body as a lower frequency. Second, how the damper works in one frame isn’t how it is going to work in another. In other words, the damper has to be precisely calibrated for a frame based on stiffness of the frame. The weight of the damper changes from frame size to frame size and from model to model.
So that’s a lot of science. Does it work? The answer is undoubtedly yes. In a world where spongier bar tape or swapping from 23mm wide tires to 25mm wide tires has everyone chattering about how much more comfortable their bike is, the Aktiv fork might be the start of the second French Revolution. Our initial testing on Salt Lake City streets with a narrower than average set of tires has us amazed at what the fork is doing. Although you still feel the bigger bumps, the effects of cracks/seems in the pavement are greatly reduced and overall road chatter seems to be minimized. We definitely wonder how the Aktiv fork and a set of nice 25mm tires will eat up chip-sealed roads.
In the end, the TIME Skylon Aktiv frame is an incredible frame. TIME’s commitment to 100% French production and to building the best riding bikes out there has not been forgotten. Keep in mind that the Aktiv fork is available on other models that might appeal more to other types of riders.
Be sure to check out TIME Sport USA to learn more about the Aktiv fork and all of TIME’s other great products.
Staff member Cody Wignall shows you one of his favorite new products for the 2015 season, the POC Octal AVIP MIPS Helmet. One year after the release of the Octal, POC decided to feature MIPS technology in the same helmet. The helmet is lightweight while offering lots of ventilation for warmer rides. MIPS aids in reducing the rotational forces to the brain in the event of an angled impact.
You may have heard Ryan referred to as “Bird”. At a big bike race years ago, his name was reported in the VeloNews on two occasions as “Ryan Littlebird”. Someone started calling him “Littlebird” and it eventually evolved into just “Bird”. Later on, in trying to come up with a catchy screenname, in a reference to that song that goes “bird-bird-bird, bird is the word” (Surfin’ Bird by the Trashmen), he came up with Word is Bird and it has stuck with him for nearly 20 years.
So why not start a weekly column called “Bird is the Word”. This week’s installment covers Ryan’s take on why Blood Lactate Testing for cycling training is the preferred performance testing to track progress.
We often get asked why we use a blood lactate test rather than a twenty-minute test (or one of the other testing protocols) to determine lactate threshold and to structure training zones. We could just say “that is what the pros do” and that would probably be good enough. Works for them right? Really, there are a lot of good reasons for doing a blood lactate test.
First and foremost, a blood lactate test more accurately pinpoints the important physiological breaking point between the balance of lactate production and clearance. Using a twenty minute time trial as a test is physically challenging and mentally difficult. We’d prefer to use that hard effort for a training session rather than a testing session. In addition, poor pacing during a steady state test, going out too hard or making a hard push at the end, will lead to diluted numbers. In an effort to make the most of our training time and effort, accuracy is critical to help draw the line where we are doing enough work but not too much.
Second, a blood lactate test offers more insight than simply telling you your lactate threshold. The shape of the curve helps tell how your low, mid and high-end are trained. In addition, comparing lactate test results over a period of time (say monthly) will also tell the complete story on where progress is being made and where work still needs to be done. Since a lactate test is not a maximal effort, or even a 20 minute time trial, we can do them more frequently without impacting our overall training regime.
Blake Vatne is a seasoned pro. He has performed hundreds and hundreds of lactate tests. With a degree in Exercise Physiology from the University of Utah, he knows his stuff. To schedule a test with Blake, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Long time Contender Bicycles staff member Julian shows off one of his favorite new items for 2015, the Scott Genius 900 Tuned mountain bike. Julian is into this top-tier Scott Genius 900 Tuned for its extremely lightweight carbon frame, Fast rolling 29 inch wheels and “super hot” paint scheme. The Scott Genius is a popular bike amongst Contender Bicycles employees and customers alike, as such the bike shown here has already sold! Not to worry though, Scott offers a wide range of Genius models with alloy or carbon frames and choice of components. Come on in and take one for a spin.
Thank you for all of the great photo submissions for our 2nd Annual #ContenderBikeLove Photo Contest! There was a whole lot of bike love submitted! Check out the gallery below! We apologize if somehow your photo was over looked. We had so many photos that we lost a couple!
Get a FREE Contender T-Shirt by submitting your photo to our I HEART MY BIKE photo contest!
Combining Valentine’s Day and a winter full of neglecting your bicycle, it is time to do something special and show us your real love. We’re having a photo show-down to see who has the most love for their bike. This is better than Facebooking about your “steed” or “whip”. We’re looking for great photos of your bike (& yourself if you feel so inclined) that demonstrate the love you have for your bike! Send us a shot or two of your favorite bike loving activities and we’ll kick down one of our new Bike Love inspired T-Shirts.
Every entry receives a Contender Bicycles tee! However only one photo receives the grand prize of a $50 Contender Bicycles Gift Card! So send your pics ASAP! You can email them to email@example.com or simply submit a photo on Instagram with the hashtag #ContenderBikeLove. (Please note we are only able to see hashtags from public Instagram accounts).
We can’t wait to see all your pictures! Contest ends February 14 (that’s right Valentines Day!) at midnight. We’ll announce the winner on Instagram and Facebook on Monday, February 16. Stay tuned!
**After submitting your photo, please swing by the shop to pick up your t-shirt. Limited to one t-shirt per person while supplies last.
Last week saw the delivery a unique addition to the sports nutrition category in the form of cookie mix by Skratch Labs. Cookies? You may ask. Yes cookies, like when you were a kid. Cookies like you’ve been avoiding in your grown-up attempts to eat “healthy”. Skratch Labs leader Allen Lim believes that active adults benefit from the proteins, calories, salts and sugars that real food provide. That is why his company doesn’t produce any of the over-synthesized ‘power foods’ that are heavily marketed towards runners and cyclists. In turn his Skratch Labs drink mixes enhance hydration with actual, perishable ingredients not chemical rich combinations flavored to taste like such. Also, Mr. Lim would like cyclists to get their energy from balanced meals, rice cakes and now, yummy cookies.
Since I like cycling and cookies, in equal measure, I bought a box of the Skratch Lab cookie mix and headed for the kitchen. This mix does require the addition of a cup of butter and one large egg to make a batch of cookies. The easy to follow directions suggest adding fruit for taste as the sweetness will compliment Skratch Lab’s salty mix. I made my batch with some fresh strawberries and the results were well received. Upon initial tasting you will notice that these are some distinctly salty cookies. Don’t worry though, the salt is there to aid your body’s re-hydration by replacing lost electrolytes. I’ll up the fruit ratio next time to balance the taste profile, and I’m already planning a batch with high cacao chocolate on top. Sports nutrition just got delicious thanks to Skratch Labs cookie mix.
We invite all local junior cyclists to join us for a series of indoor riding clinics. Hosted by Contender Bicycles, this series of four clinics will be led by retired professional bike racer and Train Louder founder, Jeff Louder, and are designed to cover basic training principles with the goal of instilling good training habits at an early age.
The clinics are open to USA Cycling junior categories in all cycling disciplines (road, MTB, CX, etc.). The clinics will start at 4:00 PM. Arrival as early as 3:45 is encouraged for bike set up on CompuTrainers. Each clinic will last approximately 45 to 60 minutes and will involve moderate to strenuous exercise.
The cost of all four clinics is $30. Registration can be made HERE on Contender’s site. Space is limited to 25 junior riders. Registration closes at 1:00 PM MTN on Tuesday, February 3rd. Attendance at all four clinics is not required; however, the cost is the same regardless of how many sessions attended.
Any bike that fits on a standard trainer can be used
A slick rear tire is required for mountain bikes
Rear wheel should have a trainer skewer – can be purchased for $12.99 at Contender if you don’t already own one