This week’s roundup of the biggest bike tech stories includes a 3T/Lamborghini gravel bike, merino T-shirts from Rapha and other new products from Deda, GripGrab and Zéfal. We're starting, though, with news of a hefty investment in Belgian brand Classified...
Classified, the company behind the Powershift wireless shift system that’s integrated into a bike’s rear wheel to replace the front derailleur, has just received a serious cash injection of €22 million (around £19 million) in a funding round led by Active Partners, the investors behind well-known brands Rapha and Evans Cycles.
This indicates a huge amount of confidence in the system and the possibility that it’s soon going to become much more mainstream, including in the e-bike market.
We've been keeping you updated on Powershift for months because we think this is a really significant product. Bike innovations come and go so you can be forgiven for being cynical, but Classified’s system is the real deal, as indicated by our recent review. Check out our video if you want an explanation from none other than all-round cycling legend Tom Boonen, but the concise version is that it is a planetary 2x hub gear system that operates wirelessly and is powered by contactless energy transfer from the thru-axle.
The Belgian design effectively moves the functionality of the front derailleur into the rear hub. You still use a rear derailleur and a multi-speed cassette in the normal way, but there’s no need for two chainrings up front. It shifts super-fast – even under load – and it’s maintenance-free. Oh, and it’s UCI-legal too.
Active Partners is also an investor in Soho House members’ clubs and other niche-that-became-mass-market brands from the UK. This is its first investment in mainland Europe.
Classified says, “The new investment will be used to reinforce innovation power and to strengthen business development and service globally.”
Company CEO Mathias Plouvier said, “With this investment, we are fired up to further develop groundbreaking products and launch into the e-bike market.”
Classified Powershift is already available through more than 25 distributors and 300 dealers and ever more bike brands have been speccing it as an option since it was launched last year. Of course, the front derailleur is going nowhere anytime soon but familiarise yourself with Classified’s design because we’re confident you’ll see it in more big-name bike ranges in 2023 and beyond.
Super-posh sports car brand Lamborghini has teamed up with Italian bike/component company 3T to launch the Exploro Racemax X Huracán Sterrato gravel bike. Fancy getting your hands on one? You’re looking at 15 grand.
Huracán Sterrato? It’s Lamborghini’s new off-road-capable supercar: “the first super sports car delivering maximum driving pleasure even when the asphalt runs out”. Apparently. It’s also the one with the painfully cringey voiceover in its debut video that we told you about a couple of days ago.
Why the collab, as we believe the kidz call it?
“That same DNA [found in the Lamborghini Huracán Sterrato] distinguishes the Exploro Racemax, 3T’s flagship bike designed to be equally capable on and off-road.”
See, it all makes sense when you think about it. Plus, there’s the fact that they’re both Italian brands.
The Exploro Racemax carbon-fibre frame is made in 3T’s facility near Bergamo, and the Torno crankset, which is said to be the world’s lightest aero model, is also made in-house using the same materials.
The Exploro Racemax X Huracán Sterrato gravel bike is built up with a SRAM Red AXS groups and 3t’s Discus 45 I 40 LTD wheels with Carbon Ti hubs.
We’re not too sure what Lamborghini brings to the party other than inspiration for the black/gold finish and the name on the top tube, but we must admit that the bike does look very, very cool.
Assuming you do find £15,000 down the back of the sofa, you can order now for delivery from March 2023.
Deda – or Deda Elementi if you prefer – has unveiled three new wheelsets for 2023.
The SL6 DB (disc brake) uses a 62mm rim design with a 26mm wide section “that guarantees lightness and stability”. The rims are tubeless-ready.
The RS freehub features a 20T two-ratchet system, the smaller ratchet located in the freehub body with the bigger one inside the hub flange. The new RS front hub has a frontal area that’s 20% smaller than before.
We don’t have a UK price but the Deda SL6 DB is €1,450,00 without tax.
The SL4 DB is a similar design but with 45mm-deep asymmetric rims and a price of €1,350,00 without tax.
The RS3 DB alloy wheels also benefit from the RS hubs upgrade. These use 30mm welded rims that are also tubeless-ready. The price is €675,00 without tax.
Rapha Performance Trailwear continues to evolve with their Trail Merino Collection for mountain biking, although we reckon it'll be just as suitable for riding around town, for those who aren't of a muddy persuasion. It's made up of four merino wool tops for men and women, in a variety of colours.
Rapha says, "this collection optimises airflow and allows for a complete range of motion so you can confidently charge on your favourite trails."
Merino wool has been an integral part of Rapha's cycling apparel for years, "renowned for its sweat-wicking, odour resistance, and thermoregulation."
Rapha uses Performance Merino Off Road Wool which is said to be more durable than normal for their Trail Merino Collection. Each garment comes with a set of colour-matched iron-on patches for home repair. Great idea.
The collection is made up of short- and long-sleeve T-shirts for men and a tank and 3/4 sleeve top for women. Let's hope women don't want a more conventional sleeve length!
GripGrab's Explorer Waterproof Gravel Shoe Covers are based on the brand's existing Flandrien Road Shoe Covers. They say, "this off-road cousin brings style and waterproof functionality to off-road riding."
The Explorer shoe covers feature a "three-layer waterproof construction," which consists of an insulated inside knitted layer, "fully waterproof" membrane and a "robust" outer knitted layer.
There's also a zipper-less design which GribGrab say will reduce irritation and extend product life compared to standard zip designs.
The difference between the Explorer and the Flandrien shoe covers is the toe cap reinforcement made from injection moulded TPU. GripGrab says the toe caps are "key to the enhanced durability of the gravel-specific design."
There is also reinforcement on the underside of the shoe cover, again made of TPU. This is to help avoid damage to the knitted fabric and is positioned between the forefoot and heel treads for when walking off-road.
The Explorer shoe covers cost £79.95.
What is it with all the gravelly news this week? Tech of the Week has a definite gravel bias this time around with Zéfal having introduced a Gravel Mini Plum developed for tyres ranging from 35 to 47mm wide, with a maximum pressure of 80 psi.
The barrel and handle are made of aluminium making the whole pump "robust and light."
Zéfal says it weighs 105g and is 180mm long, offering "the best compromise between inflation volume, ease of reaching the desired pressure and compactness." The best cycling mini pumps are light and take up little space.
Another feature of the mini-pump is Zéfal's flexible Z-Turn connection which they say, "avoids twisting or breaking" the valve. The fitting is for Presta valves but can also be adapted to Schrader valves.
This mini-pump costs €34.95 (∼£30).
Wahoo X users have the chance to go behind the scenes at the UCI World Cycling Centre in Switzerland through a new series of video workouts.
The new “A Week With the UCI World Cycling Centre” series is available to watch and ride on the Wahoo SYSTM platform.
“Produced as part of Wahoo Fitness’ long-term partnership with the UCI World Cycling Centre, Wahoo Fitness were given unrivalled access to the UCI World Cycling Centre’s facility, coaches, riders and staff to create a one-of-a-kind and immersive training experience,” says Wahoo. “Athletes have a unique opportunity to experience the life of a UCI World Cycling Centre athlete, training like a pro cyclist with the track, road, MTB and BMX racing teams.”
The series includes four workouts, each focusing on one of the different cycling disciplines.
Wahoo and the UCI are also holding a competition where anyone completing the series and earning the UCI World Cycling Centre badge in Wahoo SYSTM by 23rd December 2022, will be entered to win exclusive prizes from the UCI World Cycling Centre.
Wahoo X is available for US$14.99 a month.
Vittoria is launching a programme to recycle used bicycle tyres and inner tubes involving bicycle shops in Italy to increase the sustainability of their products. All types and all brands of bicycle tyres and inner tubes will be collected.
It's difficult to recycle inner tubes and tyres and hence, "more than four million bicycle tyres and inner tubes end up in Italy's general waste every year."
In collaboration with Esosport, the used tyres and inner tubes will be used for pavements, playgrounds and sports tracks.
Vittoria says it believes sustainability is a key factor for success in the cycling industry.
Stijn Vriends, President and CEO of Vittoria, says, “We have to work hard to create real circularity in the bicycle industry. With the Vittoria Re-Cycling programme, we make the first important step. We promise that many more will follow!”
Vittoria doesn't have a similar scheme in the UK although Velorim is a UK recycling scheme for inner tubes and tyres. You can find your local Velorim Centre to dispose of your used rubber here.
Emily is our track and road racing specialist, having represented Great Britain at the World and European Track Championships. With a National Title up her sleeve, Emily has just completed her Master’s in Sports Psychology at Loughborough University where she raced for Elite Development Team, Loughborough Lightning.
Emily is our go-to for all things training and when not riding or racing bikes, you can find her online shopping or booking flights…the rest of the office is now considering painting their nails to see if that’s the secret to going fast…