Editorial by Greg Pelican
There was a period when racing a “state of the art” bike could be a scary experience because of the bike design!
It’s interesting to look back at how much racing bikes have evolved and improved over the past 20 years.
During this period I was a competitive masters racer and worked in the bike industry, owning Bethel Cycle in New England and currently working for Trek Florida as our Marketing Manager. I’ve been lucky to test, race and sell the best bikes in the world from Cannondale, Cervelo, Guru, Serotta, Seven, Look, Colnago, Pinarello and Trek.
Over the years some bikes stand out both good and bad.
There was a whole period from about 2000 to around 2012 when most of the brands sought to increase the stiffness or decrease weight resulting in a bike that was either too harsh riding or too flexible descending. It took a lot of nerve and skill to race these bikes at the limit.
I can remember descending on a Look carbon bike that had a fork with a 1 inch carbon steerer tube. It was fine climbing but downright dangerous descending. The bike was so flexible it couldn't hold a line cornering and was prone to high speed wobbles. The contrast to this was Cannondale. Owning a shop in their hometown of Bethel Connecticut, I was intimately familiar with their oversized aluminum bikes. Light, tough and great for sprinting but if the road was rough your wheels bounced off the ground.
Back then the big brands put more of a priority to hyping stats such as the lightest weight or stiffness to weight ratio then they did to ride quality. It is no wonder why custom brands like Serotta, and Seven flourished and were sought after. The forgiving yet strong properties of steel or titanium matched with great design produced awesome riding bikes.
It’s fair to say that during the first decade of the 21 century bike manufacturers were learning how to work with carbon fiber. The art was not totally refined and mistakes were made. Several carbon fiber fork companies had design failures and didn’t survive. I had a teammate who got badly injured when his carbon fork snapped.
All during this period Trek developed and refined the first mainstream full carbon bike, the OCLV, which offered a nice balanced ride. Early on Trek understood the need for oversized headset bearings and an oversized tapered steering tube for their carbon frames and forks. Trek took a more conservative approach, focused on ride quality and as a side note won a lot of big races.
Fast forward to the current day… cycling research and technology has advanced nicely. It is now common knowledge that good brakes allow you to race faster, wider rims – tires and lower air pressure help you corner faster and do not increase rolling resistance, and the right amount of suspension keeps your wheels safely planted on the ground. All of these advances make you faster, but also have the really nice side benefit of making the bike more comfortable and easier to ride fast!
Trek’s aero Madone is now in it’s second generation. Trek did an awesome job refining the already industry benchmark aero bike. Trek’s excellent white paper explains their research and design objectives for the Madone SLR.
The new Madone SLR is the epitome of the evolution of the road racing bike! Not only is it the fastest aero road bike, it is smooth and stable in all conditions. Trek incorporated the following features into the design.
In conclusion, the Madone SLR is like a well-balanced knife, very sharp but easy to control. What blows me away is how easy and fun it is to ride fast! The Madone SLR takes the lead in ride quality and refinement of the current generation of racing road bikes. And is light years ahead of the first generation carbon fiber bikes.
If you are riding a road bike more than 5 years old I highly recommend testing a Madone SLR and see for yourself!
Don't get me wrong, we are all about getting people riding bikes! Peloton has done a great job marketing and getting people riding indoors on their spin bike. But we would like to propose another option...
Did you know you can buy a real carbon fiber road bike, plus a smart trainer for less than the cost of a peloton?
Did you know Peloton's spin bike is "dumb" compared to a "smart trainer" like a Cycleops M2 or H2?
Check out the following video for a full feature and cost comparison.
Please share with anyone who is considering buying a peloton. Why not be able to ride inside and out! Click on the "Drop the Peloton Promotion" button if you want to order or learn more.
One of the rights of passage for any cyclist is changing a tube out on the road... but even this can happen to veterans! After the short teaser video watch the excellent flat repair video from Joaquin Herrera our Estero Service Manager.
Joaquin does a great job explaining and demonstrating the nuances of on the road flat repair! Enjoy...
Full flat repair video below...
by Greg Pelican
Power meters have become a mainstream training tool for serious cyclists and triathletes. The price has come down and there are many variations and manufacturers. Garmin’s third generation Vector 3 pedals not only offers a great lightweight pedal and flexible solution for power, but also includes Garmin’s Cycling Dynamics which open up a whole new world of useable ride data.
This bog post explores the untapped potential of Garmin’s Cycling Dynamics.
As a techie, racer and bike fitter the potential use and application of Garmin's Cycling Dynamics fascinates me. Yet when I search for relevant research from coaches of how this is being used I found next to nothing. The truth is that the technology is still so new there is not much out there.
Cycling Dynamics provide great info you can see real time on a ride or post ride:
A member of our Segafredo-Trek Tri Team, Grace Plager, was advised by her coach to see me for a bike fitting after experiencing pain and loss of power in her left leg at Ironman UK. Despite her bike issues Grace had a fantastic race and qualified for the World Championships in Kona this Fall! I was excited to help her out.
I knew Grace from the club but never had worked with her as a bike fitter before.
When I put her Trek Speed Concept on the trainer I noticed that she had Garmin Vector 3 pedals. This got me thinking... I asked her if she had her Garmin file from the Ironman race. She did! Grace even told me she noticed during the race that the "PPO" screen (Pedal Platform Offset) was way off. Very interesting! I was wondering about the left to right power balance as well. When I reviewed the Garmin Connect file the average PPO for the left was +1.1 mm (towards outside of the pedal) and for the right -4.1 mm (towards the inside) . The average power data was also skewed at a 48/52 right bias.
When I dug deeper into the Garmin Connect file (see charts above) the actual data fluctuated a huge amount so the average didn't tell the whole story. When I compared the PPO standard deviation from Grace's file to one of my own it was over 3X greater. There were many points greater than 10mm off the center axis for both her left and right leg. Her left to right power shifted much more than the average too, and the trend for both power balance and PPO got worse deeper in the race.
Next I had Grace ride on the trainer both and observed that her seat was very high and she was rocking her hips and reaching at the bottom of pedal stroke. Motion capture and measuring with a goniometer confirmed that the seat was high. We were able to replicate the PPO data from the race, and she felt pain in her left knee.
Now here is where it gets interesting...
I lowered the saddle to the correct height and had Grace pedal. With the seat at normal height the PPO went to the center for both pedals! After looking at the Garmin file, before seeing Grace ride, I was suspected this might be a cleat position problem that could be solved by moving the cleat. But clearly that wasn't the case or the solution!
When her seat was high Grace was rocking in the saddle which caused the uneven pressure to the pedal, and wide fluctuations. It is likely that when she experienced pain in her left knee she shifted her position on the saddle to minimize the pain, and this also shifted her pedal platform offset.
This story has a happy ending! The changes I made to Grace's bike setup resolved her pain and comfort issue and she is again training hard for Kona! And for me I was able to use a new tool, Garmin Vector 3 and Cycling Metrics, to quickly pinpoint and resolve a fitting issue. What was unique was to be able to use hours of race data to better understand the cause of the problem and get real time data feedback in the fitting studio to confirm the solution.
My brain is now wondering how oval Q rings effect the position and length of the Power Phase when pedaling. But I digress, this has nothing to do with Grace, I'll save this for another blog!
In closing stop by one of our 8 stores and check out the new Garmin Vector 3 pedals. I highly recommend them and Cycling Metrics as an excellent training and racing tool.
CONGRATS GRACE AND GOOD LUCK IN KONA!
There is no question that disc brakes offer a big advantage off-road but there has been much debate if they are needed on road bikes. This debate has been fueled by the UCI’s (pro cycling’s governing body) slow approval of disc brakes on road bikes.
Now that the UCI has approved disc brakes many of the pro teams have made the transition to the technology including Trek Segafredo Pro team which will be stopping with discs at this year’s Tour de France.
The argument against disc brakes goes like this... current brakes work good enough, disc brakes are heavier (about 6 ounces per bike) and they are more expensive. Interestingly this was exactly the same "against" argument used when disc brakes were introduced in Cyclocross 5 years ago. The UCI was slow to approve, some of were slow to adopt, but once racers were winning with disc brakes they became the norm.
If you are considering a new road bike purchase, and are debating whether to get one with disc brakes, perhaps the best way to look at this is from the perspective of which brake system offers best overall system performance.
For that we should examine two other bike technologies / trends that came first that have at influenced the need for disc brakes.
In conclusion if you want to take advantage of full carbon wheels and use a wide range of tire sizes, disc brakes offer the best solution! The new normal!
Gravel bikes make up the fastest growing segment of the bike industry right and you are probably asking yourself...
What is a gravel bike?
Do I really need another bike?
Perhaps I am getting ahead of myself. Maybe a better question is WHY is gravel so popular?
My theory... I come from New England where there was a dyed in the wool hard core roadie scene. But what was really thriving in recent years, as road races went away, was Cyclocross. And despite being wicked hard the cross scene was fun, fresh and challenging. Racing in mixed terrain sharpened your bike handling skills and each course added a new twist and adventure.
In the fall and winter we always trained on the quiet hilly dirt farm roads either on a road bike with fatter tires or on a cyclocross bike. As gravel races started (such as D2R2 in Massachusetts) they immediately filled up, got a buzz and this started a cult following. Cults eventually becomes mainstream and here we are...
THERE IS GRAVEL / DIRT ROADS / TRAILS / SAND in FLORIDA!
Gravel bikes are fun and open up your cycling possibilities! Think of riding 10 miles on the road to a park, then hopping on a gravel path, riding through pine needles, a little single-track and then on a beach, and then back home on the road. I did exactly this in the video below!
Getting off road is a welcome diversion from riding on a bike lane with cars flying by at 70 mph inches away. This ride (video) was in SW Florida but there is over 100 miles of gravel roads on top of the South Florida Water Management District Levee System. And I just started to explore some of the vast network of dirt roads and levee's that cross the everglades. Perhaps one day we can organize a gravel race across the everglades!
I hope I've peaked your intersted and answered "why gravel".
Here is the "what": A gravel bike is a do anything road bike. It has a drop handlebar a frame with tire clearance up to 45mm tires, disk brakes, wide gear ratio and lots of options for water bottle, rack and fender mounts. Generally the wheelbase is longer with a lower bottom bracket for increased stability for fast and bumpy descents.
Check out Trek's new Checkpoint gravel bikes. The SL 5 and SL 6 models feature carbon fiber frames and an IsoSpeed decoupler rear suspension. The ALR configurations start at $1789 and feature a light aluminum frame and a carbon fiber fork.
Visit one of our eight stores today and take a Checkpoint out on a test ride!
by Greg Pelican
Over my breakfast coffee I was thumbing through Bicycling's Buyers Guide and read a review on a Canyon road bike. It was the typical great review (it seems that all bikes they write about are awesome), but what caught my attention was the magazine's blurb about the online brand's "Perfect Position System".
Interesting, as a bike fitter I wondered how they factored in the rider's flexibility or core strength. Seat height is fairly easy to get close with a good inseam measurement, but the perfect bar height and reach are very much affected by the rider's experience, flexibility, age, core strength, and of course their anatomy dimensions.
So I went to Canyon's website to see if their "Perfect Position" matched my bike's position which I have honed over many years of riding.
First it had me pick the bike type, bike model and bike spec. Next I entered my gender, weight and 5 body measurements. There was no explanation of how to take these measurements (for example where does the torso measurement start and end) so I used the practice defined by the old "Fit Kit".
The "Perfect Position System" answer was a bike size that isn't even close to what I ride. The top tube and cockpit reach was short and the drop from the bars was extreme. The bike size was too small. My current road bike is well proportioned (see pic lower right), has a reasonable drop, especially for someone 59 years old, is comfortable and fast. There is no way I could get comfortable on the bike size which was recommended.
When finding the perfect bike size and setup, there is no substitute for a experienced bike fitter, and no substitute to getting on a real or fitting bike to determine the optimum position. I find this especially true when fitting older cyclists or riders who are coming off another type of bike such as a hybrid and buying their first road bike.
At Trek Bicycle Stores of Florida we start with taking body measurements, and then get the cyclist riding on a trainer on a real bike. From there we adjust the position based on the rider's flexibility, core strength and feedback. This often requires a stem change, and sometimes a bike size or model change before everything is dialed in perfectly. I often give posture tips and make a video of the customer riding to help reinforce the proper posture and position.
In person bike fitting is a great no-charge added value that we offer with each road or tri bike purchase. Come on in to one of our stores to truly find the Perfect Position and Perfect Bike!
True story... before I worked for Trek, I owned another brand's popular tri bike which sold for over $5000. The crazy thing is that the bottom bracket virtually stopped spinning with just 500 miles of use. It had a $25 press fit (PF30) bottom bracket with plastic cups and the plastic race that held the bearings disintegrated. I ended up upgrading to a $100 Praxis Bottom Bracket with metal cups. Problem solved.
The point is that the even though a bottom bracket is a key component to your drivetrain it is often skimped on by manufacturers and or not replaced as needed. The end result is added drag with every pedal stroke.
We have had great success upgrading customers to ceramic bottom bracket bearings from Kogel High Quality Bearings. With current Trek models this upgrade cost only $100 for the bearings plus $25 labor. Kogel offers a wide range of high quality bearings including ceramic bottom brackets to fit all bikes with prices ranging from $100 - $190.
Joaquín Herrera, our Estero Service Manager, has taking the lead in this area and introduced our stores to Kogel. He got to know the owner Ard when he worked in a bike shop in El Paso Texas in 2014. Ard went on to form Kogel.
3 Main Advantages of Ceramic Bearings (From Kogel's Website)
Take this Simple Test: Lift your chain off your chainrings and spin your bottom bracket. If it doesn't spin a few revolutions easily (see video below) think of the power and speed you are wasting. It is time to get that bottom bracket replaced and perhaps upgrade to ceramic bearings!
Email if you want to learn more or schedule an appointment!
Check out the cool time lapse video of a Kogel BB Upgrade made by John Halstead a tech in our Estero shop.
Here is one more great example of the power of cycling to help our community.
The Avalon school just 3 miles from the glitz and opulence of Naples Fifth Ave, but the students might as well be light years away.
The average family income of the student’s families is only $14,000. Fortunately, 95% of the students qualify for free breakfast and lunch which they eat at school during the week. The real problem is what happens over the weekend. Kids go hungry. This is the critical gap that the Pan-Florida Challenge fills.
Over the past three years the Pan-Florida Challenge ride has raised money to provide 3 million meals to over 2,500 children across Florida.
The aid is in the form of a “Power Pack”. A nutritious package of meals designed to sustain a child and also help feed their family over the weekend.
I volunteered to help package and hand out Power Packs at the Avalon school in Naples and was it was a moving experience. The school, teachers and kids were awesome! I came away with the feeling that school wasn’t a place they didn’t want to go to, (that was sometimes how I used to feel as a kid) but it was a sanctuary.
One of the counselors showed me a picture of one of the kid’s living conditions. It was a trailer that was damaged by Hurricane Irma. The walls were covered in mold. If the trailer was inspected it would be condemned and then the family would be living on the street.
Meeting the children and seeing their plight made this much more than a charity or a cause, it made it real for me.
The awesome Pan-Florida Challenge Organization has done an excellent job raising money and awareness to feed hungry children right in our backyard and across Florida.
I am proud to say that Trek has supported and sponsored the Pan-Florida Challenge since its inception. Besides handling Trek’s marketing and support for the event I rode and raised money last year. This March 10th and 11th Sue Fleming and I will be leading a team for Trek. We will be riding 200 miles from Naples on the gulf to the Vero Beach on the Atlantic Ocean. We welcome riders on our team and hope to field a contingent from the Segafredo-Trek Tri Club.
Please join our team, or donate to this great cause!
One of our core values is to support local cycling and our community. We want to thank you for your support of two recent local events that not only featured great rides but also supported local charities.
Trek Poker Ride
by Greg Pelican
The Trek Poker Ride was a fun event that took place on December 3rd. Tony Prater our Ft. Myers store manager came up with the Poker theme and creating a ride that tied our Ft. Myers, Estero and Naples Stores together.
The idea was to ride to each store and back and pick a card at each stop. This resulted in 5 stops (5 cards) for the out and back 80 mile trip from Ft. Myers, Estero and Naples. At the end of the day the best Poker hand (5 cards) won a gift basket worth $500. We did the same but with a blackjack hand for the a shorter 40 mile out and back route to Estero and back. We donated 100% of the entry fees to the local chapter of the United Way.
I rode on the 80 mile ride with Sue Fleming, our Naples Store Manager and some of our fast Trek Tri Team triathletes. It was a blast! We had perfect weather and a nice fast group formed working a double paceline. The best part was the food stops every 20 miles at each Trek Store (cutorsey of sponsor Wells Fargo).
Big thanks go out to the Caloosa Riders for their help in marking the route.
It was fun seeing other groups coming and going on the road and in the stores. It was like a car rally. Once back in Ft. Myers Trek Triathlete Alex Sardina won the Poker hand with 3 aces. And there was a six way tie on the blackjack hand! This resulted in each picking another card and high card winning. And the winner is... Mark Cochran!
We look forward to making this an annual event!
Check out this short video!
Irma Relief Ride Raises Over $13,000
Trek was a proud sponsor of the Naples Velo promoted Irma Relief Ride. We want to thank all the volunteers, sponsors and participants for making the event a success.
Over $13,000 to the Bonita Assistance Office and the Guadalupe Center for Immokalee.