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Nerd Alert Podcast
The CyclingTips Nerd Alert Podcast dives deep into the bikes and tech we all love. Road, gravel, mountain bikes, we cover it all. Hosted by James Huang, Dave Rome, and Caley Fretz.
2 days ago
Designing a cyclocross race bike that isn’t a gravel bike
This/next week’s episode of the Nerd Alert Podcast has dropped a little early. That’s because it’s a timely chat about the new Cervelo R5-CX cyclocross race bike that was just announced. Our guests for this episode are Cervelo’s director of product management, Maria Benson, and the company’s engineering manager, Scott Roy. Dave Rome fills in as host and chats about all the nerdy details of the new model (such as the new threaded bottom bracket!) that was designed specifically for Marianne Vos and Wout van Aert. It’s worth a quick note to say that while the regular CyclingTips podcast does occasionally do special sponsored episodes that take a deep dive on new bike releases, this isn’t one of those. Rather we just thought it would be interesting to have a candid chat about the discipline-specific design elements that some of the world’s best racers request.
5 days ago
Loved products that didn’t make our top 10s
This week’s episode of the CyclingTips Nerd Alert podcast sees tech editors Dave Rome and Ronan McLaughlin take control of the airwaves. They chat about new headset bearings that apparently can’t be killed, some big industry news, and a few new features you can expect to see on Zwift. Ronan and Dave then share a few of their most loved products for this year that didn’t make their respective Top 10s. And finally, the episode wraps up with a teaser of what they’re working on for CyclingTips now.
1 hr 1 min
Nov 22, 2021
Turns out some bikes are more sustainable than others
Trek released an inward-facing sustainability report a few months ago, and it’s eye-opening. The document doesn’t paint an especially rosy picture (e-bike haters will have a field day with this one), but it does provide some very useful information along with a solid roadmap for how to improve things. In this episode, The Nerds sit down with Trek’s director of brand marketing and public relations, Eric Bjorling, to discuss some of the details of the report, and also ask some hard questions about how to deal with some of its inconvenient truths.
1 hr 1 min
Nov 15, 2021
Are we finally getting turtle shells for indoor cycling?
The Nerds have been pining for some sort of Mario Bros and Zwift mashup that lets us toss turtle shells at our competitors, but Zwift still seems to be too serious for these kinds of shenanigans. However, a new indoor bike called Tiltbike from UK outfit Muoverti nevertheless gives us some hope that we’ll see something like that from someone because built into one of its levers is — for real — a joystick! Will our prayers ever be answered? We chat about some other tech news items in this week’s show — and answer a bunch of Ask a Mechanic questions, as usual — but really all we care about is the turtle shells.
1 hr 2 min
Nov 5, 2021
Aero gravel wheels are coming
Aero road wheels are everywhere these days, but it turns out the idea is much harder to execute when it comes to gravel. Why is that, you wonder? We ask the questions, and Hunt wheel engineer Luisa Grappone has the answers.
Oct 29, 2021
All of our bikes and parts should be repairable
The Right to Repair movement primarily targets the electronics industry, but the concepts behind it strike at the heart of cycling, too: Products should be designed to be repairable, all small parts should be made available — and stay available — manuals, tools, service procedures should be accessible to everyone, and it shouldn’t cost more to repair something than it costs to replace it. In fairness, it’s not all that bad in this respect as far as the bike industry is concerned, but it could be better.
1 hr 15 min
Oct 22, 2021
If we ran the bike industry…
The Nerds make a living nitpicking and critiquing, instead of designing and creating. So what would we change if we could? What products and features would we keep, and what would we get rid of? What would the bikes look like? Be warned: the crew might have gotten a little more animated than usual on this one.
1 hr 15 min
Oct 14, 2021
Risks vs. rewards of internal cable routing
After several weeks on the road, the Nerds are finally back in the studio! We’ve got a lot to talk about this week, too, like why the same kinds of fork recalls seem to be happening over and over again, what Pon’s recent takeover of Dorel Sports means for consumers and retail, and a recap of the cool stuff James saw at the recent Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, California. We also start digging through the giant pile of Ask a Mechanic questions we’ve accumulated, like if you can run road tubeless tires without sealant, what chain lube to use if you’re lazy, and whether you should grease your freehub body before installing a cassette. Make sure to have some popcorn handy!
1 hr 9 min
Sep 30, 2021
It turns out even pro teams can’t get bikes or parts, either
Sorry, folks, we know our usual Nerd Alert schedule has been a little off-kilter, but we figured it’d be better to shuffle things around to accommodate the World Championships — and next week, Paris-Roubaix! Thanks for your patience, and rest assured, there’s more Nerd Alert to come sooner than later! This week’s episode takes The Nerds to the UCI Road World Championships in Belgium! Caley, Ronan, and Shoddy scoured the team pit areas for all the shiny new bits, and they found what looks to be new hookless-compatible GP5000 tubeless tires from Continental and some interesting new rollers from Wahoo Fitness. Worlds is always a weird one for the mechanics given the mix of national and trade teams, and it’s even weirder this time around. We’ve all grown accustomed at this point to not being able to find bikes or parts, but if it makes you feel any better, it turns out that even top pro riders and teams can’t get them, either. A Roubaix win on Shimano 105??? Stranger things have happened.
Sep 17, 2021
3T’s homegrown Italian robots and the future of carbon fiber
3T recently wound down its carbon fiber frame production in Asia and brought it in-house to Italy. Manufacturing frames the same way would have prohibitory expensive with Italian labor costs, though, so 3T instead developed an entirely new, and highly automated, process that not only dramatically slashes the amount of manual labor required, but also supposedly makes the frames better. What’s the secret sauce in 3T’s new frame building technology, and what are the company’s plans for it moving forward? In this episode of the CyclingTips Nerd Alert podcast, we sit down — virtually, of course — with 3T co-owner Gerard Vroomen, who gives us the full scoop on what this technology is, how it’s different, and what its future might look like.
Sep 10, 2021
Clearing up the confusion about road tubeless wheels and tires
Are you confused about road tubeless? What works and what doesn’t? Is there an actual rim standard yet? What’s the deal with hookless rims? And why is the whole situation with road tubeless such a mess, anyway? Helping us answer all of these questions — and more — is Zipp product manager Bastien Donzé, who may be feeling a little sore after the flurry of questions the Nerds sent his way on this week’s show.
1 hr 10 min
Sep 2, 2021
Inside the mind of Dangerholm
This week’s Nerd Alert podcast is a deep dive into the mind of Gustav Gullholm, aka, Dangerholm. Dangerholm is best known for building crazily light and bling mountain bikes, whether they’re for cross country racing, enduro or even downhill. And in recent times some of his builds have included stealthy integrated electronic shifting, or hacked suspension lockouts and dropper posts that run off a single controller. Now the Jort-wearing Swede has turned his attention to the drop bar world and modified his first gravel bike. Senior tech editor Dave Rome chats to Gustav about the new build, the design process of such bikes, and DIY paint. If you haven’t already, then be sure to check out the full feature on Dangerholm’s Scott Addict Gravel.
Aug 26, 2021
Separating chain lube testing fact from fiction
Welcome back to the Nerd Alert podcast, in this week’s episode Dave Rome steps in as host and goes full nerd while diving into the murky waters of chain lube testing. The amount of mixed information related to chain lubes is staggering and it’s undoubtedly one of the more confusing product areas for consumers. That’s an issue because your choice of chain lube can make a substantial difference to the durability and efficiency of your drivetrain. To help unravel these issues we called up Adam Kerin of Zero Friction Cycling and the founder of FrictionFacts Jason Smith to talk all things within their domains. Here they reveal what makes a great chain lube, what tests work and why, and what tests you should be sceptical of. For related reading, stick your head down the rabbit hole of all things related to bicycle chains.
1 hr 19 min
Aug 20, 2021
Desperate times call for desperate measures
We all know there’s still a massive worldwide parts shortage going on. Need a chain? Cassette? A suspension fork??? Ha ha, good luck with that. Groupsets may be particularly hard to find, but it’s important to remember there are more options than just Shimano, SRAM, and Campagnolo. Are off-brands like Microshift truly diamonds in the rough, or is it yet another example of you-get-what-you-pay-for? The Nerds also chat about how the most recent Strava updates might help prevent bike thefts, an encouraging new way to buy refurbished cycling clothing, and the pros and cons of $30 socks. Last — but certainly not least! — we reveal the banging new jingle for our Ask a Mechanic segment.
1 hr 12 min
Aug 13, 2021
Thermoplastic carbon composites are back!
The world of carbon fibre composites is continually progressing, and yet, the way most carbon bicycle frames are made today doesn’t differ all that much from how it was done in the 90s. However, aeronautical and automotive industries are continually investing in improved methods and processes, and the cycling market serves to benefit from just that. One such example is the recent rebirth of thermoplastic composites which have the potential to reduce costs, offer superior impact resistance, and be recyclable. Our guest in this week’s deep dive episode is Ben Lloyd, a Research and Development specialist at Cygnet Texkimp Ltd, a leading carbon composite manufacturing machinery company. Lloyd is an expert in thermoplastic manufacturing and also in touch with the bicycle industry.
Aug 6, 2021
Just because you can 3D-print it doesn’t mean you should
3D-printing is an undeniably cool way to make things, but that doesn’t mean it’s always the best way. Is a printed titanium hammer better than a welded one? Do $2,000 printed cycling shoes move the bar enough to justify their existence? What’s the point of printing sunglass frames? And was that handlebar that failed so dramatically at the Olympics even 3D-printed at all? What is definitely very neat, however, is a new trend whereby companies like Muc-Off are starting to ship products in powder form whereby you add the water at home, instead of the company burning resources to ship mostly water around the globe. We also chat about Ibis’s move to local frame production, an insane alleged Ponzi scheme involving three well-known Italian cycling brands, and finally, we finish up this week’s episode with a bunch of reader questions for our always-entertaining Ask a Mechanic segment.
1 hr 13 min
Jul 29, 2021
Something old, something new, something borrowed, something red, white, and blue
Track events at the Tokyo Olympics are set to kick off next week with a full week of exciting racing around the 250-meter Izu velodrome. Felt is once again the official bike sponsor of the US team, and the company has supplied a brand-new bike — the TK FRD — for mass-start events that features a new aero shape and a new take on the frame geometry. But for the individual events, the American riders are on the same bike as they used in Rio five years ago. In an event where fractions of a second can have major impacts, and when several other federations have brought radically cutting-edge machines to Tokyo, how is it that the Americans are using bikes that are half a decade old? Then again, maybe all isn’t as it seems.
Jul 23, 2021
Oversized derailleur pulleys for everybody!
Oversized rear derailleur pulleys might be good for some marginal gains, but even the terrible watts-per-dollar ratio hasn’t stopped a growing number of brands from launching their own versions — and AbsoluteBlack’s HollowCage is now one of the most expensive ones out there (but also one of the blingiest). Speaking of looks, is a clean front end enough to justify all high-end road bikes going to fully internal routing in spite of the adjustability and serviceability headaches? And how much bigger are road tires going to get? We discuss all that and more in this week’s episode.
1 hr 14 min
Jul 16, 2021
So you say you want to build your own carbon frame…
It’s not uncommon for custom frame builders to change direction from time to time: from lugged to TIG, steel to titanium, maybe different bike styles. But it’s far more unusual for an established builder who specializes in metal to make the wholesale switch to carbon fibre — and not just tube-to-tube construction, but moulded frames like the major brands. Yet that’s just what Carl Strong has done with his new venture, Pursuit Cycles. What’s involved in starting something from scratch? Why embark on something so challenging? And what would those frames offer to people that you couldn’t get already, anyway? Strap in for this deep-dive episode.
Jul 9, 2021
On the roadification of gravel bikes and the return of molded carbon wheels
Gravel bikes were once the rebels of the drop-bar bike world, but now that they’ve gone increasingly mainstream, it’s perhaps inevitable that they’d adopt features from road racing: aero shapes, hidden cabling, similar claims about weight and stiffness, and so on. Is this a good thing? Also making a possible comeback are solid molded carbon fiber wheels — and they’re not just for fixies, kids. And what do we think you should bring with you on an unsupported 4,700 km ride? You’ll get all that and more in this week’s round of Ask a Mechanic.
1 hr 20 min
Jul 2, 2021
The scoop on that crazy single-sided Cervelo, and digging for details on Cannondale’s new TT bike
This week’s Nerd Alert episode takes a closer look at two recent events in this year’s Tour de France. In stage 1, Jumbo-Visma rider Steven Kruijswijk finished the stage missing an entire seatstay from his prototype Cervelo, and in stage 5, EF Education-Nippo riders tackled the stage 5 individual time trial on a new Cannondale TT bike. We chat with Cervelo to find out how that bike could have possibly survived — and apparently without Kruijswijk even knowing! — and get some tantalizing tech details from Cannondale on that new bike before its official release. Sorry, folks, this one’s pretty long, but we promise it’ll be worth your time.
1 hr 38 min
Jun 26, 2021
Wireless 12-speed Shimano Dura-Ace is real!
The full crew is finally reunited for this week’s Nerd Alert podcast! Now that Shimano’s new 12-speed Dura-Ace Di2 groupset has made an appearance in the wild, we dive into what we can confirm (it’s black), what we think (wiredless?), and what we hope to see (a mechanical version in polished silver!!) in the company’s new flagship road components. We then debate the pros and cons of hookless road wheels, the idea of a flat-proof tube, and finish with an extended Ask a Mechanic segment with questions fielded exclusively from our Veloclub members — and Zach mostly kept his promise to not be too salty this time around.
1 hr 19 min
Jun 17, 2021
Preventing mechanicals with pro wrench Brad Copeland
This week’s CyclingTips Nerd Alert episode is a deep dive into preventing ride or race-ending mechanicals and how to deal with them when things do go wrong. For this episode, tech editor Dave Rome rang up mechanic to the stars, Brad Copeland. As the personal mechanic for former cross country mountain bike world champion Kate Courtney, Brad is incredibly detailed in ensuring his riders are able to consistently get to the finish line. The lessons here are just as applicable to everyday road and gravel riders as they are to those racing mountain bike world cups.
1 hr 11 min
Jun 11, 2021
Digging through the tech at Unbound Gravel
It seems everything cycling-related is fetching inordinate amounts of money on the used market these days, and so we figured it was a good time to trade in Caley and Zach for a special guest host: Dan Cavallari, former tech editor for Velonews and now freelancer extraordinaire. Dan covered Unbound Gravel for CyclingTips this year, so it only seemed right for James and Dave to run through all the interesting gravel tech with him. Wondering about tire inserts? Tire sizes and pressure? Handlebar setups? Gearing? We go through it all, and bookend it with the usual round-up of tech news and Ask a Mechanic questions. And don’t worry, Caley and Zach will be back next week — probably. Maybe.
1 hr 18 min
Jun 4, 2021
Tubulars aren’t dead yet
We’ve chatted an awful lot lately about how tubeless and tube-type clinchers seem to be slowly replacing tubulars in pro road racing. Even though high-performance clinchers offer a big rolling efficiency advantage (as much as 12 W according to some figures), tubulars are still more popular for all the same reasons as usual: they’re lighter, they’re safer if you get a puncture, they handle impacts better, and they just have a distinctive feel that clinchers still can’t quite match. What if you could have a tubular that offered all of that, and yet was also just as fast as top-end clinchers? What might the landscape look like then? That’s just what Challenge claims to have developed with its latest experimental tubulars, and James gets the scoop from the company’s technical director, Morgan Nicol.
May 27, 2021
Expensive vs. budget carbon wheels, and why Wahoo should look down, not up
In this week’s episode, The Nerds chat about some cool parts and accessories Dave saw at the recent Handmade Bicycle Show Australia, including some hyper-expensive wheels from Partington that are trying to go head-to-head with Lightweight. Carbon wheels have gotten incredibly good at the opposite end of the price spectrum, and we make the argument that, unless you’re dripping with cash, it’s awfully tough to justify the price premium. Speaking of which, we also chat about Wahoo Fitness’s new Elemnt Bolt GPS cycling computer, which makes us wonder where the company might go from here. A new high-end model sort of makes sense, but a killer budget model even more so.
1 hr 14 min
May 21, 2021
How much mountain bike is too much when it comes to gravel bike geometry?
In this week’s Nerd Alert episode, tech editor Dave Rome has a chat with Australian custom builder extraordinaire Mark Hester of Prova Cycles. Hester was a very early adopter of MTB-style geometry on gravel bikes, incorporating things like long front centers and shorter stems when most other brands — especially mainstream labels — were still using dimensions mostly borrowed from road racing machines. Yet as with anything bike-related, if a little bit of something is good, lots more of it surely makes it even better, right? Hester has some interesting thoughts on the idea, and you won’t want to miss hearing where he thinks things are going from here.
May 14, 2021
How 3-D printing is revolutionizing the Australian custom bike industry
Australia’s entire population may only be roughly equivalent to Shanghai, but it has an outsized custom bike industry with astonishing levels of ingenuity and innovation. Tech editor Dave Rome recently visited the Handmade Bicycle Show Australia in Melbourne, where 3-D printing is playing a big part in setting a number of these builders apart from the rest of the world. Also in this week’s show, we chat about upcoming developments in gravel bike suspension, whether CeramicSpeed’s Driven shaft-drive drivetrain really will see the light of day now that the company has an extra million bucks on hand and the likelihood that Ineos-Grenadiers riders might race at the Tour de France on clinchers.
1 hr 6 min
May 7, 2021
Summer is coming, but don't put your trainer away yet...
Indoor training is not top of the list of things most of us look forward to in the summer, but should it be? When the summer sun consistently comes out, the turbo trainers usually go into hibernation. We investigate if maintaining some level of indoor milage might improve your fitness and if World Tour pros are moving indoors for sessions regardless of the weather. Ronan chats with David Bailey (head of performance at Bahrain Victorious), Stephen Barrett (coach and head of research and innovation at AG2R Citroen), and Jonathan Lee (TrainerRoad) about indoor training gains and losses.
1 hr 11 min
Apr 30, 2021
High fashion meets high tech: the science of cycling clothing
Cycling apparel may look similar between various brands, but when you dig a little deeper, there are often seemingly small variations that can make a world of difference in terms of how well they work out on the road. In other words, that tag may say “polyester” on it, but that only tells one tiny part of the story — and it’s time to learn a little more about the rest of it.
Apr 23, 2021
Electronic shifting is supposedly what people want — but is it what they should want?
The Nerds have an awful lot of tech news to talk about this week, such as SRAM’s recent decision to seemingly go all-in on electronic shifting, the ins and outs of two big high-end wheel introductions, the unmentioned pitfalls of fully internal cable routing for everyday enthusiasts, and some big changes for DT Swiss’s workhorse hubs. There’s also been yet another push in the drivetrain friction front from Silca that uses... diamonds? Finally, we debate the ideal gravel bike in a What Bike Should I Buy segment for a new gravel rider on a “flexible budget.”
1 hr 6 min
Apr 16, 2021
The science of Everesting
This week Caley and Ronan interrupt the regular schedule to bring you another deep dive episode. Deep diving into the science of Everesting, the Nerds discuss the training, wattages, equipment selection, marginal gains, and time left on the table from Ronan’s recent Everesting world record ride.
1 hr 26 min
Apr 8, 2021
Can computers make us faster cyclists?
TrainerRoad offers training plans and workouts for the individual rider and has always been focused on making us faster. They recently launched an Adaptive Training method that combines machine learning and science-based coaching to adjust training plans based on coaches feedback. The goal? "So you get the right workout, every time". This week Ronan chats with TrainerRoad co-founder and CEO Nate Pearson about the new Adaptive Training and explains just how it knows what it's doing. They also discuss what the future might hold and if Adaptive Training can replace coaching as we know it.
Apr 4, 2021
What worked — and what didn’t — on Ronan’s crazy-light Everesting bike
Ronan Mc Laughlin joins us this week to go over the details of the hyper-optimized bike he used to shatter the Everesting record. Weight matters a lot here as you’d expect, but so does aerodynamics. Canyon’s precious container of new bikes is finally free from the grips of the Suez Canal, Enve announced its new custom carbon fiber road bike program, we question if we’re all worrying a little too much about weight (and paying the price as a result), and we finish up with a discussion of whether it makes sense to build your own bike from scratch using open-mold frames and parts since new bikes are nowhere to be found.
Mar 25, 2021
Designing bikes when there’s no stock
You’ve heard us talking about the supply issues currently facing the booming cycling industry, so this week we dive into what it’s like designing bikes when things are in such short supply. Our guest this week is Sydney-based materials engineer and bike designer Dave Musgrove, someone who’s deep in the industry and in touch with the industry’s Covid-related supply issues. From two year lead-times on certain components to slower and more expensive shipping, this conversation details why you may want to hold onto your existing bike for a little longer. Dave Musgrove is the brand manager for Polygon Bikes in North America and Oceania, a consumer-direct bicycle manufacturer sold through bikesonline.com.
Mar 18, 2021
MIPS, new Speedplay, and our sketchiest repairs
James, Dave, Caley, and Zach discuss a wide range of topics in this week’s episode, like how much Speedplay’s revamped pedal lineup matters relative to the changes to its dealer service, whether MIPS really is a must-have when it comes to helmets given lingering questions over human scalps and hair, and what drastic changes in Cervelo’s sales figures indicate about changes in the drop-bar bike market. And then in this week’s Ask a Mechanic segment, we tackle perhaps the most important repair and maintenance question of all: what’s the sketchiest repair job Caley has ever done?
Mar 11, 2021
Clinchers and inner tubes at Paris-Roubaix?
Team Deceuninck-QuickStep and Bora-Hansgrohe — together with sponsors Roval and Specialized — have been doing a fair bit of experimenting with their wheels and tires over the past couple of years, gradually moving away from traditional tubulars to tube-type clinchers for time trials and tubeless clinchers for road races. In an unusual move, both teams say they’re now wholly committed to clinchers and latex inner tubes for everything — even possibly (but not likely) Paris-Roubaix. To find out more about the surprising decision, James and Dave have a chat with Roval engineering manager Jeff Meyer, as well as three key players from the Deceuninck-QuickStep team: technical director Ricardo Scheidecker, team scientist and coach Koen Pelgrim, and head mechanic Nicolas Coosemans.
Mar 4, 2021
Broken handlebars, flexy seatposts, and power meter pedals to the (Shimano) people
Mathieu van der Poel didn’t let a little broken handlebar on his Canyon Aeroad keep him from finishing Le Samyn, a cobbled race in Belgium, but why did it break? And what’s up with the flexy seatposts on those bikes, anyway? The Nerds share their thoughts on those topics and then look into a Specialized patent for a wacky flexy seatpost design of its own. And is the wait finally over for power meter pedals for Shimano SPD-SL pedal fans? It sure looks that way. Last but not least in this week’s episode, The Nerds bring back the “What Bike Should I Buy?” segment to discuss the ultimate one-bike solution — or if it even exists.
Feb 25, 2021
Can cycling apparel brands cut back on plastic bag use?
With very few exceptions, every piece of cycling clothing you buy comes in its own individual bag — or “polybag” as it’s commonly called in the industry. When you take into account the size of the global cycling apparel industry, and the number of individual garments, that’s a lot of plastic bags. Has it always been this way? How did we get here? And what do we do about it? In this week’s episode, James chats with two apparel brands, Ornot and Pearl Izumi, to assess the current state of things, find out how things are already improving, and why we still have a long way to go.
Feb 18, 2021
Making sense of the latest tech chaos
Dropper seat posts for Super Tucking on road bikes? Mountain bikes with fully internal cable routing?? Road Boost hub spacing??? $6,000 aero bars???? Some of the recent developments in the bike world actually make a bit of sense, but there’s an awful lot of other stuff that’s so silly that, well, it’s pretty much guaranteed to happen. The Nerds dig into what’s going on and try to make sense of the madness.
1 hr 9 min
Feb 11, 2021
Nerding out on custom wheels
In this week’s Nerd Alert, James and Dave go deep into the rabbit hole of custom bicycle wheels with Adrian Emilsen of Melody Wheels in Perth, Australia. Why should you care about wheels? Are custom wheels really better than factory-built ones? How would you build a set of wheels for a light rider versus a heavier one? What are some strategies you can pursue at home if you want to get into the basics of truing, or maybe want to build a set of wheels for the first time yourself? Hope you’ve got some time set aside because we get real nerdy on this one.
1 hr 15 min
Feb 5, 2021
Wireless for everybody!
Recent filings with the US Federal Communications Commission reveal that Shimano’s next generation of Dura-Ace Di2 will be at least semi-wireless — and not only that, but SRAM looks to finally be bringing its AXS wireless system down to the Rival level. Both developments are very exciting, but what do they mean for wired drivetrains, and will both companies be able to deliver in the current environment? While drivetrains are trending toward wireless, indoor trainers might be moving in the other direction with hardwired connections for better signal reliability. Finally, we tackle a whole bunch of fresh questions in our Ask a Mechanic segment (and Caley actually has something meaningful to contribute this time around).
1 hr 10 min
Jan 28, 2021
Is it possible to have too many tools? No, it is not.
You might look at tools just as utilitarian items — cold lumps of lifeless steel. For the true believers, the difference between good tools and bad ones is like the difference between gas station sushi and the real thing: they both might get the job done, but one is certainly a lot more satisfying, while the other is more likely to leave you feeling more than a little bit of regret. But, what makes a good tool, why is designing one so hard to do, and why should you care? James and Dave get the lowdown with Jason Quade from Abbey Bike Tools.
1 hr 1 min
Jan 15, 2021
Outlandish safety claims, a better way to Zwift, and the merits of chain waxing
The Nerds gather for the first podcast of the new year and it does not take long for things to get spicy! We discuss the lawsuit filed against Trek and Bontrager for their allegedly outlandish claims regarding WaveCel helmet technology efficacy, the way ZwiftHub is out-Zwifting Zwift in a few key ways, and the pros and cons of Sea Otter’s recent announcement that they’re moving the show (at least for 2021) all the way back to October instead of April. Finally, in our Ask a Mechanic segment, Caley and Zach reaffirm their disapproval of chain waxing (Dave and James are still fans), we provide some ideas on how to keep your bike from corroding into nothingness in harsh winter conditions, and debate the wisdom of drilling holes in your frame and fork (spoiler: it’s a bad idea).
1 hr 31 min
Dec 18, 2020
It’s time for the 2020 CyclingTippy awards!
Yes, folks, it’s once again that time of year where we here at CyclingTips hand out the most prestigious, coveted, and occasionally dubious awards in all of cycling: the CyclingTippies! What was the most important bike launched this year? What was the biggest miss? What was just the flat-out most ridiculous, or most annoying? And what was the absolute biggest bummer of the year? We cover all of this, and more, in this week’s episode.
1 hr 1 min
Dec 4, 2020
The wheels on the bus go 'round and 'round
James has locked the Nerds out of the recording studio for this episode, disregarding the traditional format to instead do a (very) deep dive into the world of bearings. What makes for a good bearing or a bad one? Are ceramics really all that? How are we supposed to take care of these things? And why does press-fit suck in the bicycle world, but is the norm in industrial settings? Hope you’re sitting somewhere comfy because we’re nerding out big time for this one.
1 hr 17 min
Nov 19, 2020
The fifth element - magnesium stages a comeback
We’ve said before that we’re in a “golden age” of chain lube these days, with big advancements in recent months that not only reduce drivetrain friction but dramatically extend the lifespan of your components, too. We discuss the latest releases from CeramicSpeed and Silca — one for wet conditions, the other for dry — and make the argument for why they’re actually better bargains than you might think. We’re also on the cusp of a potentially big revolution in frame materials, with magnesium finally emerging (after multiple attempts in the past) as a truly viable alternative to carbon fiber, aluminum, titanium, and steel. James chats with Bruno Maier, the president of “Super Magnesium” maker Allite Inc., to find out exactly why magnesium is so promising, and why this time around might be different than before. James has already reviewed the new Vaast gravel bike if you're interested in reading about that. Finally, we cap off this episode with another round of Ask…
1 hr 18 min
Nov 6, 2020
Disposable bike economy with Erik Bronsvoort
Winter is coming, and so is new winter riding gear. Nerd Alert this week kicks off with a discussion about the new Assos winter jacket that retails at $725 USD (0:03:40) as well as Rapha's new Windproof Explore Pullover sweater (0:13:10). There are more and more companies adopting environmentally sustainable methods, like Trek's new packaging for their Marlin hardtail. (0:19:10). James chats with Erik Bronsvoort, author of "From Marginal Gains to a Circular Revolution: A practical guide to creating a circular cycling economy", about the environmental impact of bicycle production (0:23:35). The Nerds discuss the "platform model" of Bronsvoort's, and how the bike industry used to be before full bike build options were the norm (0:53:20). Would a leasing model work? Ending the podcast on an up-beat note Zach, and the rest of the Nerds, answer listener questions for the ongoing "Ask a Mechanic" segment (1:09:30). Remortgage the house: Assos launches new winter collection with a $725 j…
1 hr 26 min
Oct 23, 2020
12-speed for everyone!
In this episode of Nerd Alert, we discuss the merits of Ratio Technology’s new 12-speed conversion kit for SRAM 11-speed levers, as well as the pros and cons of wireless technology for Shimano’s next-generation Dura-Ace Di2 groupset. We then have a chat with the folks at Cadex and discuss the challenges of positioning a high-end “in-house” brand against established third-party aftermarket labels. Finally, we finish off with another round of “Ask a Mechanic”. Moral of the story: don’t take mechanical advice from Caley. Rome's tyre article can be found here: https://cyclingtips.com/2017/12/tips-for-installing-removing-impossibly-tight-tyres/
1 hr 21 min
Oct 8, 2020
Your next road bike might look like an airplane
The UCI has a lot of silly technical rules, but there’s one that isn’t on the books that could potentially keep a lot of riders from crashing. It doesn’t have anything to do with the bikes themselves, though; it would apply to bottles and cages. Existing rules for aero tube shapes are also about to change either way and how exactly that will affect the shape of future bikes is anything but certain. Will your next bike sprout a seatpost out of its top tube? Will road bikes look like triathlon bikes? Maybe, or maybe not.
1 hr 21 min
Sep 23, 2020
Tech of the Tour de France
With the Tour de France wrapped up, we take a look at the tech that popped up and discuss what it might mean for the rest of us.
1 hr 2 min
Sep 9, 2020
Bike tech that makes us go… no thanks.
What's the saying? Those who can't make something, podcast about it? With much adoration for the good people behind our favorite bike stuff, sometimes things just miss the mark. This episode is a celebration ... no, the opposite of that ... of bike tech that makes us want to pull our hair out.
1 hr 21 min
Aug 18, 2020
Are two-speed internal hubs the new front derailleur?
We kick off this week's episode with some tech news, including a discussion of the new Classified two-speed hub, which gives you a 2x without a front derailleur. James chats with Luke Musselman about tire width standards, and why the number on the sidewall often bears little resemblance to a tire's actual size.
1 hr 41 min
Aug 3, 2020
Garmin's hack, Mavic's future and a banker's take on the bike boom
This week's episode kicks off with a discussion of EvilCorp's ransomware attack on Garmin's systems, then we take a look at the future of Mavic now that it has new owners. James hops on the phone with an analyst from Bank of America who has been looking into the bike industry and has some good news. Finally, the tool nerds debate the merits of various brands of hex key.
1 hr 22 min
Jul 21, 2020
Inside the company that sells carbon to bike brands
This week's episode is a deep dive interview with Jason Gabriel of Toray Advanced Composites, the company that provides much of the raw material to carbon bike manufacturers all over the world.
1 hr 5 min
Jul 6, 2020
Should you tip your mechanic? And other important questions
This week's episode discusses new wheels from Reserve (Santa Cruz) and the return (again) of Spinergy. Then, we ask our resident pro mechanic your reader questions. Should you tip your mechanic? Should you bring a six pack of beer? What assembly compound will stop a press fit bottom bracket from creaking?
1 hr 13 min
Jun 22, 2020
Pretty paint and SRAM's wild front derailleur patent
We open this week's episode with a discussion of SRAM's wild patent for a front shifting system that puts three derailleurs on the chainrings themselves, plus a look at the company's new 52-tooth cassette. Then, James speaks with the head of graphics and design at Trek. Finally, we jump back into a What Bike Should I Buy. Who will take home a coveted Podcast Point?
1 hr 11 min
Jun 8, 2020
The future of road wheels
New wheels from Zipp and Roval have just hit the market, and both bring with them as many questions as answers. Roval is ditching tubeless and Zipp is requiring it. What's going on? Finally, we Ask a Mechanic about BB90, chain cleaning, and disc brakes that won't line up.
1 hr 15 min
May 25, 2020
How to spot a good mechanic
There's much tech news to dissect in this week's episode, from Strava's aggressive new paywall to the new Cannondale Scalpel to which podcast host did the dumbest weightweenie things to his XC bike back in the early 2000s. Plus, we bring back Ask a Mechanic, and Zach runs through how to fix a floppy SRAM hydro shifter, the best way to wrap bars, and more.
1 hr 9 min
May 12, 2020
Fixing broken carbon fiber
This week's episode is a deep dive on carbon repair. After Caley broke his mountain bike, he sent it off to be fixed. We speak with Shawn Small and Dan Steinle from Ruckus Composites about the process, what they'll fix, and what they won't. Then, James chats with Raoul Leuscher about why carbon bikes break in the first place.
1 hr 39 min
Apr 27, 2020
The golden age of helmets
This week's episode opens with the latest tech news, from new POC helmets to fast lube from Silca, and then dives into helmet safety with Kali Protective's Brad Waldron.
1 hr 9 min
Apr 13, 2020
Tires for Roubaix
This week's episode opens with the latest news from Pond Beaver 2020, CyclingTips' virtual trade show. We have new wheels from Fulcrum and Enve, new cranks from Rotor, and much more. Then, James calls up an engineer at Continental, who lets us in on what the company and some pro teams had planned for Paris-Roubaix. Hint: It wasn't tubular.
1 hr 32 min
Mar 30, 2020
Does bike weight really matter?
Ok, show of hands: who among you has picked up a bike to see how much it weighed? That’s what we thought. Here’s the thing, though: Although we all know that it’s easier to climb on a bike that’s lighter than one that’s heavier, what isn’t as obvious is exactly how much it matters. And as it turns out, it doesn’t matter as much as you probably think it does. In this episode of Nerd Alert, tech editor Dave Rome takes a deep dive into the hard science of how mass affects performance in relation to other factors like aerodynamic efficiency and friction. How much is too much? How do we know when a certain amount of weight savings will really help, and by how much? How much should we care about any of this, anyway?Fair warning: If you’ve always considered yourself a weight weenie, be prepared, because you might not love what you’re about to hear.
Mar 16, 2020
Peek behind the carbon manufacturing curtain
This is a coronavirus-free podcast. Just a bunch of nerds sitting around talking bikes. This week's episode kicks off with a look into the somewhat shadowy world of carbon manufacturing. We speak with someone who has built bikes for big brands and small, and who provides insight into the way the whole system works. Then, we Ask A Mechanic about corroded cables, proper brake bleed technique, and more.
1 hr 28 min
Mar 2, 2020
What's next for gravel bike geometry?
This week's episode comes to you from our Gravel Bike Field Test, and, unsurprisingly, we've got gravel bikes on the mind. James and Dave dig into gravel geometry, and specifically on the ways that gravel bikes are borrowing from mountain bikes. Sometimes that borrowing is a good thing, sometimes it's a bad thing. Then, a What Bike Should I Buy with everything* on the line. *Everything, in this case, is doing the dishes at the CT gravel house.
Feb 17, 2020
The nature of sponsorship and rim brakes with fat tires
Elite amateur bike racers deserve free stuff, right? Well, not so fast. This episode, James digs into the world of sponsorship, including dos and don'ts of requesting it. Then, we ask Zach some mechanic questions, and try to figure out which rim brake bike can fit 32mm tires.
1 hr 3 min
Feb 3, 2020
How to make the perfect disc brake
This week, James chats with brake engineer John Thomas about the difficulties in perfecting disc brakes, and how the very nature of the way we put bikes together these days makes it almost impossible to make them completely silent. Then, we pepper pro mechanic Zach with audience questions, and help Jakob pick a new bike in a contentious What Bike Should I Buy segment.
1 hr 5 min
Jan 20, 2020
Walking the pits at TDU and talking bike fit with Adam Hansen
This week your favorite Nerds are in Adelaide, Australia for the Tour Down Under, and the episode opens with a walk through the mechanic's pits. What's new in 2020 pro equipment? Then, we sit down with pro, and known geek, Adam Hansen to discuss his scientific and real-world exploration of bike fit.
1 hr 18 min
Jan 6, 2020
The tech of the decade and predicting the future
It's Awards season! James, Dave, and Caley sit down to award the best tech of the last decade, and discuss where those developments are going. Is the future of road disc brakes finally quiet? Will mechanical shifting stand the test of time? What will gravel bikes look like in ten years' time?
Dec 19, 2019
It's a gravel bike. It's a mountain bike. It's a grountain bike?
This week's episode opens with a few indoor riding topics - Zwift's new off-road courses and Rapha's indoor riding clothing. We then switch gears to gravel and discuss the new Evil Chamois Hagar, which looks (and will ride) like nothing else on the market.
Dec 5, 2019
An unhealthy obsession with chains
Welcome to the CyclingTips Nerd Alert podcast! Although we’ve done all-tech podcasts in the past, the new Nerd Alert will now come to you on a more regular basis — every other week — and will be co-hosted by global tech editor James Huang, Australian tech editor Dave Rome, editor-in-chief Caley Fretz, and professional mechanic Zach Edwards, who owns and operates Boulder Grupetto in Boulder, Colorado. For this initial episode, we discuss in details the key findings in Dave’s most recent tech feature, which dives into Adam Kerin’s incredibly exhaustive research on chain efficiency and durability. Which chains last the longest, and which ones aren’t worth the extra money? What’s the most economical way to keep your expensive drivetrain running smoothly? And what are our hosts’ favorite chain lubes? All this and more can be found in this week’s episode, and be sure to subscribe to make sure you don’t miss a thing.
Nov 24, 2019
Coming soon: Nerd Alert Podcast
The world of bicycle tech is just too big to live exclusively within the confines of our regular podcast, so we’re now expanding Nerd Alert into its own regular pod, which will be released every other week. Subscribe now to make sure you never miss an episode.