Here it is again, our weekly roundup of the top tech stories in the off-road cycling world. In this edition, we're gearing up for the UCI Gravel World Championships 2023, exploring the critical role of bearings, delving into the world of knee pads for mountain biking, and taking a closer look at SRAM's latest entry into the e-MTB market with the Eagle Powertrain drive system. This week has also seen quite a few new bikes enter the market... so let's dive into these stories.
UCI Gravel World Championships 2023
The gravel World Championships are nearly here and the excitement is starting to build up, as are speculations of who the possible winners could be. We've taken a look at this year's courses and the pro - and not pro-riders who are going to hit the dusty trails of Italy for the second time to compete for the rainbow stripes.
Bearings on a bicycle: everything you need to know
Bearings on a bicycle, by Aaron Borrill
Bearings play a critical role in bicycle performance and require regular maintenance. They are found all around our bikes: in the headset for steering, bottom bracket for pedalling, and wheel hubs for smooth rotation. Two common types are loose bearings, found in perhaps a little older bikes, and sealed bearings, which are the more commonly used modern version.
We've explored what bearings are all about, and how to maintain them.
Knee pads - everything you need to know
Knee pads are essential protective gear for mountain bikers, offering injury prevention and boosting rider confidence. There are two main types: hard-shell and soft-shell knee pads. Which ones should you choose, and what part do they play in your essential mountain bike kit? Read the feature to find out.
SRAM introduces the Eagle Powertrain e-MTB drive system
It's been long speculated, but now, SRAM has unveiled its Eagle Powertrain e-MTB drive system, marking the brand's entry into the e-MTB market. Developed in partnership with Brose, the system features a proprietary motor offering 90Nm of torque and 680W of peak power. It includes two support modes, Range Mode for conserving power on longer routes and Rally Mode for maximum power.
SRAM's Auto Shift technology eliminates the need for manual gear shifting by sensing rider input and adjusting gears accordingly. The Eagle Powertrain drive system will be available on e-MTB models from several manufacturers soon.
2024 Liv Devote gravel bike launched
Liv Devote Advanced Pro_Liv Cycling.jpg, by Liv
Liv has revamped its Devote gravel bike range for 2024, with an aim to make the bike more racey. The women-specific bikes now feature a redesigned geometry, internal cable routing, and frame storage. The geometry changes include a lengthened top tube, shortened head tube, increased reach, and reduced stack.
Perhaps the most interesting tech update is the flip-chip dropout system which allows riders to fine-tune geometry and rear-wheel tyre clearance. The bikes are built with Giant's Advanced-grade composite frames, and some models come with a new Contact AeroLight Stem for improved aerodynamics and integrated downtube storage. Prices start at £1,299 for the aluminium frame models and go up to £5,599 for the Devote Advanced Pro.
Specialized Creo 2 first ride review
2023 Specialized Creo 2 launch riding 2.png, by Specialized
Specialized has released the Creo 2, an e-gravel bike with updated geometry and a quieter SL 1.2 mid-drive motor. The new gravel machine features a 2.2-inch tyre clearance and dropper post, adding to its off-road capabilities. I took the bike out for a ride, and think the bike's performance on gravel is impressive, with stable handling, natural assistance, and efficient motor operation. While it comes at a premium price, the Creo 2 Expert is a comfortable and versatile e-gravel bike suitable for various terrains. Prices start at £5,000.
Merida updates its One-Twenty trail mountain bike
Merida has updated its One-Twenty trail mountain bike with more travel, and prices that start at £1,900. The new 29er features a redesigned alloy frame with Merida's P-Flex design and Agilometer sizing, offering enhanced stability and handling. It boasts 130mm of suspension at both ends, a flexible seat stay for weight savings, horizontally mounted shock, and space for two water bottles in the front triangle.
The bike also includes an accessory mount under the top tube and Merida's headset-integrated internal cable routing. With size-specific suspension tunes and aggressive geometry, the updated One-Twenty aims to blend climbing efficiency with confident descending. If you want to read more about how it rides, you can check out Liam's first ride impressions here.
Fizik releases new Ergolace GTX mountain bike shoes
fizik_ergolace-gtx_4.jpg, by Fizik
Fizik has launched the Ergolace GTX trail mountain bike shoes, available in flat or clipless versions. These weatherproof mountain bike shoes feature Gore-Tex for waterproofing and breathability. They have a low top, off-centred lace-up closure, X2 outsole, and Vibram rubber tread for superior grip. The clipless version offers an extended cleat track for flexibility in cleat placement. Available in sizes 36-48, they weigh around 363g and cost £200/$210/€189.
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