January 2016

Ridden and Reviewed: Winter tops from Assos

From VeloNews.com

Assos IJ.Bonka.6
MSRP: $519

Do you need a $519 cycling jacket? Of course not. There are sub-$200 cycling jackets that work in the same deep-winter temperatures as this one. So the calculus shifts to figuring out what the IJ.Bonka.6 offers over a $200 jacket, and how much extra you’re willing to pay for those features. And, honestly, if companies like Patagonia and Arc’Teryx can charge more than $500 for ski shells, Assos’s prices are hardly unprecedented.

The first bonus — as with Arc’Teryx apparel — is fit. How many of the 32 different pieces that go into this jacket were required to give it its precise shape I can’t say, but the IJ.Bonka.6 is so tailored to riding that it’s almost difficult to zip up unless you hunch over. Fit is so important to Assos that this jacket actually comes in two options at each size: The super-trim Cento, tested here, and the roomier Mille. It is, without question, the best-fitting winter cycling jacket I’ve worn.

The next bonus is engineering. The windproof front panels have a brushed, insulating lining to offer two layers of protection. Assos uses the same windproof material on the sides of the jacket, but with a more breathable lining. The arms feature an even burlier windproof, water-resistant fabric on the front and top, with a thinner rear panel. Three separate panels run the full length of the back — a wicking, breathable strip down the middle and, on either side, slightly more insulated single-layer panels.

Each panel is engineered for specific warmth and versatility. I’ve comfortably ridden this jacket below freezing — with only a base layer — and up to about 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Performance-wise, there’s nothing I would change.

Then there are the details. The IJ.Bonka.6 features an integrated neck gaiter that tucks away flat down the back, a 1.5-inch-wide insulating strip behind the zipper, and a zippered fourth pocket out back with a rubberized headphone port. The rear panels have minimal vertical stretch, so the pockets don’t sag even when they’re loaded down. Assos also offers a robust warranty and repair program. (The company will even repair garments damaged in a crash, free of charge, within one year of purchase.)

My only quibble with this jacket (aside from reflexively pausing at the price), and with all Assos products, is the overly complex branding. For example, Assos has built its line around four climate ranges: summer, spring/fall, early winter, and winter. Fair enough. But instead of calling them “summer,” “fall,” “early winter,” and “winter,” Assos has gone with Shasha, Tibaru, Habu, and Bonka. Run those out over jerseys, bibs, chamois options, base layers, jackets, fits, and genders, and it’s a mess. I’ve had Assos reps explain it all to me, studied it online, and tested various garments, and I still can’t keep it straight.

The branding gets in the way of what is arguably the best cycling apparel on the market. An IJ.Bonka.6 called something like “WinterJacket.6” would be just as extraordinary but would be much easier to understand.

And it is extraordinary. The IJ.Bonka.6 fits, insulates, and breathes better than any winter cycling jacket I’ve come across.

IJ.Habu5
MSRP: $379

Offering the same ride-specific shape of the IJ.Bonka.6 but in a much lighter package geared toward temperatures from the mid-40s to 60 Fahrenheit, the IJ.Habu5 is as light and thin as a regular long-sleeved jersey. But it boasts a lined, windproof, water-resistant front and the same weather-blocking panel behind the zipper as its more robust sibling.

Honestly, given the $519 price for the much more involved IJ.Bonka.6, this one seems a stretch at $379. For the temperature ranges this piece is geared toward, a long-sleeved jersey and good vest work just as well and are arguably more versatile — and much cheaper. The fit, again, is second to none. But I would still have a tough time suggesting this piece at this price.

LS.SkinFoilEarlyWinter_Evo7
MSRP: $129

This one is a resounding yes. Winter riding always requires a form-fitting base layer that can wick and insulate without adding bulk under tight-fitting jerseys and jackets. Assos nails that here with tubular construction that allows for anatomical shaping with minimal seams.

The Evo7 also delivers moderate compression and varied surface textures for added loft or more stretch in strategic areas. The fit is so clean and friction-free, I’ve worn this as a base layer for skiing and as a lone top for cold-weather jogging. Even in sports with much more upper-body movement than cycling, the Evo7 delivers.

If you don’t want to fork out for an entirely new cycling jacket but do want to be more comfortable in cold temperatures, the EVO7 will make every jacket and winter jersey perform better.

Read more at velonews.com

Be careful riding your Mountain Bike at Miramar Marine Corps Base

Bicyclists learn a lesson at Miramar Marine Corps base: Know where you are

Damian Hiley was hours into a ride on a West Sycamore Canyon trail in Scripps Ranch when he and his cycling group came upon a man standing in the middle of the path, a gun at his hip.

“At first I thought they were looking for someone or that it was a police raid,” Hiley said. “I was blown away when they told us we had stepped into the eastern boundary of the [Marine Corps Air Station Miramar] base.”

Hiley and the other mountain bikers were escorted around a bend, where six to eight Marines in vests and flight suits stood next to a pile of bikes. They explained to the riders that they were being ticketed for trespassing on federal land and that their bicycles would be confiscated.

Marines issued tickets to 50 people for trespassing and impounded 45 bikes and three motorcycles over that recent weekend, said 1st Lt. Matthew Gregory, the base’s public affairs officer.

Gregory said the military had worked diligently to inform hikers and mountain bikers about off-limits areas, slowly escalating over months from giving warnings to impounding bicycles. Roaming around the east side of the base can be dangerous, Gregory said, since gun ranges — where more than 9,000 Marines go for annual rifle and pistol qualifications — are in the area.

“There is a very real safety hazard for anyone that may come onto the federal property, and the trails in question place those who trespass onto the base in potentially life-threatening danger,” he said.

Signs and warnings, Gregory said, are posted across the property. Hiley said his group didn’t see any when they crossed into base property from Santee.

See the most-read stories this hour >>
“What’s really upsetting for us is that there are really no signs,” he said. “As first-time riders on that trail, we had no idea we were on [the base].”

The Marines told them ignorance was no excuse, Hiley said. All of the riders got tickets and may have to pay fines, depending on what a judge decides when they appear in court. The cyclists were told they would get their bikes back after the tickets were handled.

From the LA Times, click here to read full article

Amgen Tour of California | 2016 Route Preview

Eleventh Annual Event for World’s Premier Professional Cyclists Tees Up Eight-day Northbound Journey and First Four-day UCI Women’s WorldTour Race

The 2016 Amgen Tour of California, presented by AEG, will kick off this spring in the heart of San Diego for the first time in its 11-year history and conclude in Sacramento, the first time the state capital will host the overall race finish. Competing across nearly 800 miles of quintessential California terrain from May 15-22, the course will lead World Champions, Olympic Medalists, top Tour de France competitors and other elite professional cyclists south to north for only the second time since the race began in 2006, with 12 cities to host starts and finishes along the way.

In addition to the men’s event, top professional women cyclists from around the world will converge during the latter half of the race to compete in the Amgen Tour of California Women’s Race empowered with SRAM, the most expansive women’s event in race history. The race will be the first U.S. event on the first-ever UCI Women’s WorldTour (WWT).

“Each edition of the Amgen Tour of California is more challenging and more beautiful than the last, and I’m excited to say that this year will be no exception,” said Kristin Klein, president of the Amgen Tour of California and executive vice president of AEG Sports. “With one of the longer courses in race history packed with iconic and fan- favorite locations, the highest caliber of racing on U.S. soil and four days of women’s racing, the worldwide audience the Amgen Tour of California continues to attract has something special to look forward to with the 2016 edition.”

The Amgen Tour of California is regarded as the most internationally respected and esteemed stage race in the U.S. and one of the largest sporting events in the country.

“The Amgen Tour of California brings the perfect combination of stellar competition, amazing scenery and superior organization,” said Bradley Wiggins, the 2014 Amgen Tour of California Champion. “I look forward to returning to the Amgen Tour of California with Team Wiggins to once again take on the top competitors in the sport.”

“The Amgen Tour of California is an important race on the world cycling calendar because it attracts the best in the sport,” said long-time professional cyclist Jens Voigt, who will be returning as an Amgen Tour of California Ambassador for the second year. “It’s always a thrill to race (and cheer on the race) in such a beautiful place as California, and I’m proud to continue my role with the race. The outpouring of fans really makes it one of the best sporting experiences in the world.”

Stage 1 – San Diego, May 15, 2016

The Amgen Tour of California has entered North San Diego County twice before, but for the first time, the race will reach the heart of the city with Stage 1’s start and finish on the water near Mission Bay and downtown San Diego.

Stage 2 – South Pasadena to Santa Clarita, May 16, 2016

Stage 2 will begin in first-time Host City South Pasadena, with much of the race contested in the Angeles National Forest, ending with the stage conclusion in veteran Host City Santa Clarita. Of the 2016 lineup, Santa Clarita has the distinction of having hosted the most stages (11).

Stage 3 – Thousand Oaks to Santa Barbara County, May 17, 2016

As well as serving as a popular training ground for professional and weekend cyclists alike, Thousand Oaks is home to biotechnology company Amgen, the race’s title sponsor since its inception. The day will conclude with a thrilling, first-time mountaintop finish at Gibraltar Road that has been 11 years in the making (road conditions precluded the oft-requested finish until this year).

Stage 4 – Morro Bay to Monterey County, May 18, 2016

Racing on Highway 1 south to north, this stage will highlight two first-time hosts this year, Morro Bay and Monterey County. The riveting and technical race day conclusion will be at a venue known for speed – the Laguna Seca Recreation Area, host to auto and motorcycle racing at the highest level.

Stage 5 – Lodi to South Lake Tahoe, May 19, 2016

From here out, the four-day women’s race will run in conjunction with the men’s, including the same start and finish cities except for this day, when the women begin and end in South Lake Tahoe. Lodi welcomed the 2015 Amgen Tour of California and is back for a second round with a men’s stage start this year. South Lake Tahoe hosted a successful two days of the Amgen Tour of California Women’s Race last year, and this will be the first of the four-day women’s race. Featuring a long day of climbing, the stage will reach the highest elevation ever mounted by the race: 8,600 feet.

Stage 6 – Folsom Individual Time Trial & Women’s Team Time Trial, May 20, 2016

The men’s individual time trial returns to Folsom where Team Sky’s Bradley Wiggins dominated en route to his 2014 overall Amgen Tour of California victory. The women will compete in a team time trial on the same course.

Stage 7 – Santa Rosa, May 21, 2016

In 2006, the world took notice as record crowds flooded downtown to watch the race roar into Santa Rosa for a spectacular finish. This year’s stage will incorporate a portion of the uber popular Levi’s GranFondo, with the men and women competing on different courses.

Stage 8 – Sacramento, May 22, 2016

As an 8-time host, Sacramento has seen some of the most exciting stages and race moments, and will up the ante for 2016 with the grand finale of both the men’s and women’s races for the first time.

Watch the promo video here > http://scvtv.com/2016/01/27/amgen-tour-of-california-2016-route-preview/

The smartest upgrades for your road bike Read from Velo News

Ask a Mechanic: The smartest upgrades for your road bike

From VeloNews.com

Five of the most desirable road bike shoes of 2016

A rider’s shoes form arguably the most important connection between them and their bike, and so it’s hardly surprising that today’s cyclists are spoilt for choice when it comes to cycling kicks.

In this video, we take a closer look into five of the most desirable road shoes on the market. Featuring models from SIDI, Fizik, Shimano, Giro and Specialized, there’s something to bring on a bout of footgear fetishism in most roadies.

From BikeRadar.com

JET Roll releases 12-gram tool roll

JET Roll has added an ultralight model to its tool wrap range. The JET Roll Hypersonic X-15 weighs just 12 greams without its strap. To save weight, it lacks the two-button closure of the standard Jet Roll Hypersonic.

The special edition JET Roll X-15 model includes a lightweight black nylon strap with metal buckle and two JET Roll Tube Bands, and is available in Vapor White/Neon Orange and Vapor White/Neon Yellow.
The JET Roll Hypersonic X-15 model is available in the Black Project Division section of the JET Roll shop.

MSRP is $50.

More information at justenoughtools.com.

Commuting By Bicycle

Every day tens of thousands of Californians experience the benefits of commuting by bicycle: regular healthy exercise, and savings on fuel and parking, while helping reduce traffic congestion and air pollution. Plus they get to ride a bike to work!

Here are some basics for getting started:

Set a goal you can live with. Consider how riding your bike will fit in with your job duties and work schedule, the distance between home and work, and your current level of fitness. It’s perfectly OK if you decide to ride your bike for only part of the week or to use public transit for part of your commute-you’re still making an important difference!

Plan your route.
The route you bike to work probably won’t be the same route you drive-and you don’t want to figure this out on your first day of riding to work. Consider using some combination of parallel side streets with less traffic, streets with bike lanes, and dedicated bike paths-check for maps online or contact your local bike advocacy organization for route advice. Drive the route to identify any tricky intersections or other potential hazards, then ride it on a weekend to see how long it’ll take you (if you’re like most bicyclists, you’ll travel about 8-10 MPH). If you’ll be using public transit for part of your commute, familiarize yourself with the bus or train schedule and the rules for traveling with a bike. The Bikes on Transit Database is a good place to start.

Talk to your employer.
Find out where you can park your bike at work and make sure the location is safe and secure-bringing your bike indoors is best. If you must lock it elsewhere, get a good U-lock (like Kryptonite brand). Also ask about whether you can receive the employee bike commuter benefit authorized by federal law. If your employer doesn’t offer it, request it. See below for more information about the benefit.

Check your bike.
Make any needed repairs, inflate the tires to the proper pressure, clean and oil the chain, check the brakes, tighten wheel attachments (quick-release mechanisms), and adjust the height of the seat and handlebars. If you need help with any of these adjustments or you haven’t ridden your bike in a while, get it tuned up at your favorite bike shop.

Gear up!
Choose comfortable riding clothes (bright or reflective is best), rain-gear, and a rubber band, clothespin or ankle strap to keep your pants cuffs away the chain. Consider carrying a set of work clothes as well as a toiletries kit and towel (or leaving them at work), so you can clean up and change once you arrive. Be sure you have the required front and rear lights and reflectors. A helmet and riding gloves can help prevent or reduce injuries in case of a fall.

Know and follow the rules of the road.
State law gives bicyclists the same rights and responsibilities as motorists. When riding, do so only where you can ride legally, obey all traffic signs and signals, and ride safely and predictably at all times. Scan ahead of you for such hazards as potholes, sewer grates and opening car doors, especially along bike lanes.

Trick the Trainer

If you were asked to visualize the perfect ride, you probably wouldn’t describe squirming atop a stationary trainer, trapped indoors and fighting off trainer boredom on a winter day. The perfect ride would take place outside, perhaps under the warm spring sun and out in the fresh air. But it would also involve feeling fit and going fast, which is why many of us put up with the miserable stationary trainer in the first place.

If you’re serious about cycling but are sometimes forced indoors by bad weather or darkness, riding the trainer is a necessary compromise. And, yes, it is a compromise—training to be the best cyclist possible means cultivating skills like bike handling and preserving momentum on varied terrain, not just the strength to pedal hard in a static environment.

Read more at bicycling.com

5 Great Tires

This rubber is ready to meet any road.

Specialized S-Works Turbo 26mm
Fast race tire in an unusual width This minimalist tire is light and lively and offers great feedback—giving the rider plenty of time to pull back when approaching the limits of grip. Flat protection is admirable, too: Ours picked up a few stray pieces of metal, but no debris got through the belt. The trade-off: Don’t expect great mileage.
Price: $65
Info: specialized.com

Continental Grand Prix 4-Season 28mm
Tough, all-season tire with a cushioned ride Two layers of puncture protection and sidewall reinforcement give this tire a cushioned, if somewhat sluggish, ride. But it’s really all about durability. One of our testers could find absolutely no visible damage to the tires even after taking them on long sections of rocky and unpaved roads.
Price: $75
Info: conti-online.com

VeloFlex Corsa 25
Simple, light, smooth, traditional This Italian clincher is handmade in the “open tubular” style, with a cotton casing, thin tread, and minimal flat protection. The result: a supersupple ride with excellent response. The trade-off: They don’t last long. Ours showed wear after 650 miles. Best bet: Treat yourself to this tire for a summer of riding on smooth roads.
Price: $70
Info: veloflex.it

Bontrager R3 TLR 25c
Tubeless tire that feels as good as a clincher We’ve been waiting for a tubeless tire that’s light, lively, and has great road feel. This one hits the mark by having a thinner casing, a compromise that means it’s not quite airtight and can’t be used without sealant—which almost all riders who use tubeless tires rely on anyway to automatically seal small punctures and cuts.
Price: $74
Info: bontrager.com

Challenge Triathlon 23
High-quality ride for low-quality roads Thicker tread rubber, a polyester casing, and belts with double puncture protection increase this tire’s rolling resistance and make it feel stiffer. But these details also mean you’ll flat less often and get more miles out of it than most. Despite the extra material, the feedback from the road’s surface is pleasant.
Price: $74
Info: challengetech.it

Read More at bicycling.com

Integration invasion: Three bar/stem combos reviewed

Integration has become a hallmark of aerodynamic bicycle design — from brakes to Di2 ports to seatposts. As one of the major leading edges of a bicycle, integrated handlebar/stem units provide aerodynamic gains by eliminating cylinder shapes, which yield 10 times the drag of aero shapes of the same size. While the one-piece designs are less adjustable than individual components, they increase front-end stiffness for a more confident riding experience.

Each of the bars we tested has internal cable routing options, further cleaning up the front of the bike. And while aerodynamics are the defining concern here, ergonomics are vital, too. No point in using a fast bar if you don’t want to wrap your hands around it.

FSA Plasma Integrated Compact
$659
42x12cm (as tested)
400 grams
4/5 stars

Giant Contact SLR Aero Road Integrated Handlebar
$550
42x12cm (as tested)
380 grams/390 grams with adapter
3.5 stars


Ritchey WCS Carbon Solostreem Integrated Bar/Stem

$500
42x12cm (as tested)
380 grams
3 stars

Read Full Review at Velonews.com