Cyclist Off Road

Autumn 2020

New for gravel and adventure riding

United Kingdom
Cyclist Holdings Ltd

in this issue

2 min
ed’s letter

The year 2020 will never be forgotten, that’s for sure. In terms of the UK gravel scene, though, sadly it won’t be for the reasons we were expecting. September should have been the month in which we crowned our first national champions in gravel disciplines, with the coveted jerseys to have been awarded at the inaugural British Championships in Suffolk. Like so many events, the coronavirus pandemic forced its postponement to 2021, yet the fact that we are at this stage at all is a huge deal. Gravel is no longer an outlier, the stuff of those with a penchant for facial hair topiary, but a bona fide, recognised and respected cycling discipline. Next stop the Olympics. OK, maybe I’m getting a little ahead of myself, but why not? Gravel racing can…

3 min
campagnolo ekar groupset

£1,449, Historically Campagnolo has always been the first of the ‘big three’ to add another sprocket into its groupsets. By launching its 13-speed Ekar it maintains that pedigree but the groupset also heralds several significant firsts for the Italian marque. Most notably Ekar is gravel-focussed and the brand’s first off-road-dedicated drivetrain since it ceased making mountain bike components in the 1990s. Part of the reason its foray into mountain biking was abandoned was higher costs versus Far East competitors, but this time Campagnolo has focussed on accessible price points. The Ekar is 1x only and there are no electronics in sight, only good old mechanical shifting. New innovations include a tiny 9-tooth sprocket on the cassette (which also uses a new freehub standard), a very curious downshift lever and finally Campagnolo has…

2 min
factor ls

£6,999, Factor is best known for its top-level road race bikes so when it entered the gravel market with the LS, the brand says it chose to step in with the same focus on efficiency and reactive handling. The company claims the LS has a frame weight of 950g and says its experience in carbon frame manufacture - the company owns its own factory in Taiwan - helped it to achieve a low weight while still making the frame robust enough for the rough-and-tumble of gravel riding. The geometry chart supports the bike’s racy premise. Stack and reach figures of 585mm and 391mm respectively (for a size 56) are certainly at the longer and lower end of the gravel bike spectrum. What’s more, the head tube angle and trail figures are only marginally…

2 min
spinergy gxx wheels

£1,199, Don’t ask us to explain the physics (we really do understand it, honest), but bicycle wheels don’t ‘hang’ from their upper spokes but are instead supported, pillar style, by their lower spokes. Counterintuitive? You betcha, and it’s a fact made even more mind-bending when you consider Spinergy’s GXX wheels, whose PBO spokes are floppy like string when not under tension. That’s a serious departure from your common-or-garden metal or carbon spoke, but Spinergy has long since championed the design, claiming the 30,000 polyphenylene bensobisoxazole fibres that go into each one are half the weight yet have three times the strength of stainless steel. Not only that, Spinergy says its PBO spokes make for more comfortable wheels and hence can help reduce rider fatigue by creating a smoother ride Of course this would all…

2 min
bmc urs 01one

£8,600, No it’s not URS, it’s mine. My UnReStricted gravel bike. The BMC URS is one of a growing number of gravel bikes boasting rear suspension, in this case 10mm of active rear end travel, which is achieved without the frame having any actual moving pivots. It’s all down to a sophisticated carbon layup (the orientation of the carbon fibre pieces in the mould), which allows the URS’s chainstays to flex vertically. This vertical movement is controlled by an elastomer positioned just behind the seat tube that compresses under load, but again due to the clever carbon layup lateral stiffness is preserved, claims the Swiss manufacturer. This Micro Travel Technology is far from a new idea – US brand Moots developed pivotless suspension in its metal frames as far back as the…

1 min
giro manifest helmet

£249.99, In most MIPS helmets the ‘slip plane’ is a thin plastic cradle that sits inside the main EPS structure to help reduce rotational forces associated with impacts and thereby reduce the risk of serious brain injury. In the Manifest helmet, though, Giro has partnered with MIPS directly to go one step further. With what it calls Spherical Technology, Giro has created the helmet in two parts in such a way that the inner EPS foam section can actually rotate within the outer shell, ball-and-socket-style, to dissipate and redirect impact forces. The advantage is that there is no hard plastic cradle in contact with the skin, which can cause discomfort, reduce airflow and can also cause abrasions in the event of a fall. Elsewhere Giro’s popular Roc Loc fit system is in…