Looking Ahead to 2017

Looking Ahead to 2017
Now is the time to reflect on the past year and plan for the next year, like the two-faced Roman god Janus. 2016 saw Chris Froome and Team Sky dominate the Tour de France, Vincenzo Nibali win the Giro d’Italia, and Nairo Quintana overcome his disappointing third place finish in the Tour to claim the Red Jersey in the Vuelta a EspaƱa. Peter Sagan defended his world title and the Tour de France Green Jersey for the fifth consecutive time. 2016 also saw the retirements of Fabian Cancellara, Michael Rogers, Matt Goss, Ryder Hesjedal and Frank Schleck.
Despite the reluctance of pro cycling riders, disc brakes were becoming more and more popular among the cycling public Bike manufacturers came out with more disc brake compatible models, and more disc brake wheels became available. Bike manufacturers also continued to introduce different types of road bikes. Aero bikes, comfort/endurance bikes, lightweight bikes, hybrids, cyclocross, and racers filled the local bike shops (LBS). The popularity of lightweight bikes that are below the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI, the world governing body for the sport of cycling) weight limit of 6.8kg (14.99lb) and disc brakes are a sign of the bikes available to consumers are deviating from what the professionals ride.
Technology became more of a part of road cyclists lives. There are sensors for cadence, speed, power, and heart rate and bike computers that calculate some more statistics from these sensors. It is to the point where a cyclist needs to carry a few extra batteries for a ride now. Slowly electronic shifting is becoming more common, but the pricing remained high, along with the price of carbon fiber wheelsets (Zipp introduced the 454 NSW for $4,000 for the wheelset late in the year).
As you look back at your own year, you’ll remember the good rides or rides where you completed that significant achievement. You’ll probably remember more of the bad rides, where you had multiple flats, ran out of water on a miserably hot day or when you crashed. For cyclists who have bike computers, Strava, Training Peaks or some other ride log, you can wonder at how you rode all of those miles and climbed so high. And you can hope to ride further and higher next year. For those of you that are really into the numbers, you can review your VO2 max, Functional Threshold Power (FTP) and maximum wattage over the course of 2016.
Now with the sun low in the sky and colder temperatures forcing you to wear full finger gloves, jackets, and leggings, it is time to plan for 2017. You look forward to another pro cycling season. The Tour Down Under begins January 14th. At this point, Team Sky looks to dominate the Tour de France again, barring injuries, or a change in the rules regarding team sizes in Grand Tour races. Nairo Quintana will appear in both the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France and Alberto Contador will attempt to recapture past glory in the Tour with Trek – Segafredo. In 2017, the race organizers and the cycling teams have to mix motorcycles and the bicycles safely during each event.
For the rest of us, there is figuring out which charity rides to sign up for the coming year. You can choose from the local charity ride, the fun remote rides, and the challenging rides. Based on you past fitness and mileage, you can dream of topping the miles and feet of climbing in 2017. You will probably consider upgrades to a new bicycle, or components. A standard joke is that the Federal Income Tax refund is an annual cycling industry stimulus.
I have compiled a series of postings from my books and blogs for you. They include a review of the end of the year bicycle maintenance, the types of road bikes available today (if you have spent most of the past 5 years on the service side and not on the sales side of your LBS in the last 5 years, things are very different there).
Annual Road Bike Maintenance
For many cyclists in the colder parts of the Northern Hemisphere where it snows, or rains, during the winter, it is time for annual bike maintenance. Hopefully, the minor maintenance, like chain cleaning and lubing has been done, and your bicycle has been kept clean all year.

Your bike is a big investment. In some cases, it may be the second or third largest investment behind your house and car. An LBS will charge from $100 - $150 to do the maintenance listed below. And you should ask if they cover all of the items listed below. Of course, many of these things can be done at home.

  • Check brake pads, replace if necessary
  • Check cassette, replace if necessary
  • Check rear derailleur alignment.
  • Replace rusted bolts. The bolts on my stem are always rusting, due to the salty air around the beaches where I ride.
  • Replace your helmet pads.
  • Remove your seatpost, replace grease or carbon paste and reinstall. You don’t want your seatpost to become stuck in your downtube.
  • Replace worn, or corroded, cables
  • The overhaul includes disassembly, cleaning & lubrication. Keep in mind; each component requires a different type of lube and amounts.
    • Bottom bracket
    • Wheel bearings and freehub body
    • Headset
    • Pedals
Like car maintenance, cyclists take different approaches to bike maintenance. Some are very diligent, cleaning their bikes after every ride and checking their chain on a regular basis. Others, they wait until something goes wrong.
However, many components gradually drift out of spec, and there is a tendency for cyclists to accept a little problem here and there. Some will tolerate noises and bad shifting rather than perform the daily, weekly, quarterly and annual maintenance.
Cleaning your bike is probably the best maintenance task to do on a regular basis. Not only does it keep your expensive bicycle clean, but it also focuses your attention on your all parts of your bike while you wash and dry your bike. I wipe down my bicycle after nearly every ride, to get rid of the road dust. And once a week, I will wash down my bicycle. It takes just a few minutes, and it is worth it.
A Different Road Bicycle for Everyday
Five years ago when I bought my Trek Madone 6.5 via the Project One program, the choice was simple. I could choose between either the Madone road bike or the Speed Concept Triathlon/Time Trial bike models for road bikes. Today, most major bicycle manufacturer has four major types of road bicycles to choose from; Race, Aerodynamic, Endurance and Triathlon/Time Trial. A cyclist buying a new bike is faced with a range of bikes, features, and capabilities that they have to sift through to make a decision. The specialized roles that each of these bicycles fill has an effect on the pro tour. Alberto Contador of Tinkoff-Saxo Bank changed bikes during the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France, switching to a lighter race bike for climbing. Will it become normal to see many pro cyclists swapping bikes during Grand Tour stages depending on road conditions or the upcoming route elevation? Below is a chart of what bike industry marketing professionals have given us.

Road Bike Types
TCR Advanced
Propel Advanced
Defy Advanced
Trinity Advanced
Tarmac, Allez
Roubaix, Diverge
Supersix EVO, CAAD12
Supersix EVO Hi-MOD
Synapse Carbon, Synapse
Speed Concept
AR Series
Z Series
IA, DA, B, S Series

With any industry or sport, the success of any competitor is quickly copied by every other competitor. The marketing staffs have unleashed the engineering staffs at many of the bicycle manufacturers to design and produce bicycles with specific roles and price points.
Race bicycles are typically lightweight carbon fiber, or aluminum, bicycles that are at, or just below, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), weight limit of 6.8kg (14.99lb). The UCI is the governing body for cycling sports. Trek introduced the Emonda that can be configured to weigh 4.5 kg (10 lbs). Trek says that the Emonda is the lightest production bike today. Manufacturers develop the lightest frames that are safe to ride to reduce weight, whether carbon fiber, or aluminum, and carbon fiber components throughout the bike, like handlebars, saddles, and wheels.
Aerodynamic bicycles have teardrop shaped tubes to allow them to pass through the air more efficiently. Traditional cylindrical tubes do not move through the air as well as teardrop shaped tubes. Since their introduction a few years ago, these bicycles are slightly heavier than race bikes and can have harsher rides, due to the shapes used. The shaped tubes are not as compliant as cylindrical tubes so these formed tubes will transmit road buzz more. Manufacturers are trying to design more comfort into these types of bikes.
Endurance bicycles, or comfort bikes, are designed for longer rides with more compliance built into the frame. They provide softer rides to the cyclists. Bike shops will bring this option up if the shopping cyclists are 1) not competing in criteriums, or crits and 2) express discomfort with the harsh rides of the aero bicycles. Some of the bicycles have the latest technology for road bicycles, disc brakes. Disc brakes have better stopping power in the rain and give the cyclist a better feel while braking. Everyone who has used disc brakes in my LBS gush over the second advantage, all of them saying the touch that you have is great.
Triathlon or Time Trial bicycles are the only road bike type that has largely remained the same over the last few years. They are still at the top end of pricing, and because of the cyclist positioning and the fact that steering these bikes through a technical course, their numbers are limited. Except on the Pacific Coast Highway between Los Angeles and Camarillo, which can be as many as 30% of riders on the weekend, from my observation. This is due to the sea breeze that runs west to east, primarily a steady headwind for cyclists heading away from LA.

For the average shopper cyclist, facing a wall of road bicycle choices puts a burden on the customer. You have to know what type of riding and the expected routes that you will be possibly using over the next few months, or years. Buying road bikes over the Internet could be impossible with these many choices. The experienced staff at an LBS would help any prospective buyer to make the right choice. After choosing the bike frame, then you have to pick your components. One day very soon, the experience of shopping for a road bicycle may rival the experience we endure at the local car dealership.