We have loads of new bike products to tell you about this week from the likes of Muc-off, Quoc and Restrap, along with a bike that’s powered by magnets, but we’re starting with news that SRAM is at least considering using natural fibres like flax and hemp in its Zipp wheel range, and maybe for other components too…
SRAM is planning to make bike wheels made using natural fibres including flax, hemp, jute, kenaf and sisal in order to improve comfort, control and safety, judging by a patent application (US 2023/011429 A1) just published.
Why would SRAM want to move away from carbon fibre?
“Carbon fibre composite bicycle parts… have a high specific stiffness which is unfavourable for a rider of a bicycle in certain applications,” says SRAM. “This may result in undesirable locomotive energy losses due to vibrations transmitted from road asperities through components of the bicycle, to the rider. This may lead to physiological fatigue and compensation by the rider.
“Carbon is also an electrical conductor that may shield wireless signals used by electronic components of the bicycle.”
SRAM says that natural materials can perform better in certain circumstances.
“The disclosed [wheel] rims… made of thin-ply low-density cellulose composites provide superior vibration damping, sound attenuation, and more ductile failures [which leads to fewer catastrophic failures than are associated with carbon composites] while keeping a unique balance between stiffness, weight, and processability,” says SRAM. “[They] may also be non-electrically conductive, allowing wireless signals to pass through.”
This is relevant because SRAM offers wireless groupsets and Shimano has semi-wireless systems. It looks very much like Campagnolo Super Record will be wireless in the near future too, and numerous other bike components – such as power meters and computers – communicate wirelessly.
SRAM points out that cellulose fibre composites can be also low-density. This means they can be used to save weight in areas that aren’t heavily dependent on specific fibre tensile strength while an increase in vibration damping improves comfort and control.
SRAM says, “A cellulose fibre composite may be processed in layers thinner than 0.25mm, giving the cellulose fibre composite the ability to be processed in the same way as standard composites for bicycle part manufacturing, and be tailored for specific path loads. The ability to be processed like carbon fibre composites provides that the cellulose fibre composite may also be used in a hybrid layup with carbon and/or other engineered fibres.”
In other words, SRAM could use a laminate of one fibre – hemp, for example – alongside a laminate of another fibre – such as flax – and possibly a laminate of carbon as well in order to achieve certain characteristics.
SRAM says that a number of natural fibres provide a combination of low material density and sufficient stiffnesses to make them suitable for various different types of components, including cranks arms, handlebars and derailleur cages, suggesting that its work in this area might not be limited to wheels.
This isn’t the first time we’ve covered the use of natural fibre composites in wheel manufacture on road.cc. Back in November, we featured new BioFiber wheels from Dart. As well as the performance, Dart is keen to shout about its wheels having “a far lower CO2 footprint than wheels made from carbon fibre”.
SRAM could be planning to do the same although it doesn’t mention anything along those lines in its patent application. Plus, the resin used is important here too.
Will we soon see SRAM bring its natural fibre wheel design to market through its Zipp brand? As with most patent-related matters, we just can’t tell you. Patent applications relate to intellectual property rather than indicating intent to bring a product to market. We’ll just have to wait and see on this one.
Our sister publication off.road.cc told you about two new off-road shoes and a pair of slides from Quoc earlier in the week but we’ve not yet had the chance to let you know about the brand’s new Escape Road shoes. Like the other models in the Lalashan Collection, it’s said to be inspired by forest mushrooms, believe it or not.
“The collection features fungi-derived pastel colours in the form of dusty pink and amber models, as well as organic patterns in the detailing such as the breathable air holes of the shoe,” says Quoc. “Escape Road is designed for the thrill-seeking road rider whose adventures aren’t always along a perfectly paved path.”
It comes with a carbon composite outsole that’s “designed to balance stiffness and comfort", malleable heel padding and a foot-hugging fit.
The polyurethane upper is intended to be durable and easy to clean while closure is handled by a single dial.
Quoc claims a weight of 262g per shoe (EU 43). The Quoc Escape Road is available now at £150 a pair.
Sticking with footwear, Muc-Off has released new waterproof socks with a polyurethane membrane that’s designed to keep your feet dry and warm.
The socks feature a ‘durable and breathable’ polyamide/elastane outer, a moisture-wicking polyester inner lining, and a seamless construction.
Muc-Off has also unveiled a heavy-duty Absorbent Bike Mat (£49.99) that’s designed to soak up any excess protectant sprays or lube that drip off during maintenance…
…and a Metal Utility Toolbox (£40) that measures 36 x 17 x 18cm.
Electric bikes have become a norm, and we’ve of course seen bikes powered by all sorts of technologies in the past. But a gearless magnet bike? This must be something new.
We’ve stumbled upon Tom Stanton’s YouTube video in which the physics expert builds a gearless bike drivetrain system using magnets. In essence, he attaches two discs, one full of magnets next to a metal one, and sees if the two will create a sort of magnetic clutch. When you’re pedalling, the magnetic disc that is connected to the cranks by a regular chain would propel the wheel round, and once you stop pedalling the magnets slow down the bike.
Without trying to explain the entirety of the very nerdy process, we’re going to cut the chase and tell you whether it worked. Yes, it did. Kinda. But the system was very energy-inefficient, meaning that you’d be simply wasting your precious energy trying to use this system, and the only thing that it would save you is brake pads.
Stanton concluded that he would not recommend this for anyone’s bike - especially if you wish to climb any hills. But it is some very cool stuff.
Sweet Protection has unveiled the Falconer 2Vi Mips helmet available for the Spring 2023 season.
“The new Falconer AERO 2Vi Mips helmet (£269) and the Falconer 2Vi Mips helmet (above, £219) are Sweet Protection’s top-of-the-line road cycling helmets, giving riders the extra edge with improved wind tunnel-tested aerodynamics that decrease drag in multiple head/body positions,” says Sweet Protection.
The Falconer AERO 2Vi Mips (below) offers detachable magnetic ventilation covers so you can choose whether to prioritise aerodynamics or cooling.
“The 2Vi technology platform… allows for increased protection performance compared to previous generation helmets at both low- and high-impact speeds without compromising on weight and volume,” says Sweet Protection.
“2Vi helmets include variable elasticity shell technology that balances rigidity and flexibility to optimise impact distribution, a complex geometry multi-density shock absorbing liner to improve impact dissipation, and unique two-layer Mips tech integration.”
Bikepacking brand Restrap has introduced a Hike a Bike Harness that’s designed to allow adventurers to carry their bikes in comfort.
“The Hike a Bike Harness is ideal for riders who love heading on rugged off-road trails where there might be long sections of hike-a-bike, where the bike may need to be carried up steep tracks or over unrideable terrain,” says Restrap.
If you’re struggling to visualise how it works, Restrap has made a video to show you.
The Restrap Hike a Bike Harness is priced at £49.99.
It’s not maybe the most appealing thought when it comes to a drink, but Styrkr’s new SLT07 hydration product mimics the electrolyte profile – and ratio – of human sweat. The British endurance sports nutrition brand says that this product is one their users have requested and builds upon the SLT05 hydration sachets.
To use the SLT07, you simply drop the tablet (or half) into 500ml of water, shake and drink. The fizzy (effervescent) tablet form should make the contents more readily available for the body, as Styrkr explains: “The bioavailability is the rate that something is absorbed into the bloodstream to elicit its effect on the target area of the body. Effervescent tablets have a quicker rate of bioavailability than tablets or capsules and higher absorption rates within the body.“
The tablets, which each contain 1000mg of sodium, 100mg of potassium, 25mg of magnesium and 15mg of calcium are quite chunky, so you can decide to half them if you’re not a heavy sweater or are doing lighter exercise.
The tablets are also all vegan, GMO and gluten-free and responsibly sourced. There is a single ‘mild citrus’ flavour available and the tabs come in a tube of 12 each costing £9.99. We are currently testing a bunch of Styrkr products so watch this space to hear our verdict on their performance…
If you’re a fan of a mid-ride stop, a new book – a coffee table book, appropriately enough – brings together a collection of 22 unique cafes, routes to ride, and a limited-edition free coffee card.
“The cafés are brought to life in the book through stories that focus on the people behind the businesses alongside 200+ pages of specially commissioned photography for cycling fans to enjoy,” says Kitty Pemberton-Platt, author of Cycling Cafés.
“The new book is designed as an ode to the places where the love of riding often starts. The featured cafés are not only where regular rides are hosted and supported, they have also been where the passion and sense of community around cycling grows from.”
Cycling Cafés, with a foreword by Giro d’Italia winner Tao Geoghegan Hart, is priced at £30.
In case you missed them, here are all the other tech news stories we've covered this week: