Joining VeloClub not only supports the work we do, there are some fantastic benefits:
by James Huang
March 25, 2016
Photography by James Huang
The explosion of road bike sub-categories has thoroughly cast aside the idea of standard gear ratios. Whereas even just recently there were essentially three primary choices for chainrings — 53/39T, 52/36T, and 50/34T — the rising popularity of gravel and adventure bikes has spawned the need for even smaller rings better suited to rough terrain, or panniers loaded with gear.
As the name suggests, FSA’s new K-Force Light Modular Adventure and SL-K Modular Adventure cranksets both feature interchangeable spiders that can be configured for a variety of applications. The gravel and adventure setups are the most interesting, however, with inner chainrings that bolt to direct-mount outer rings, thus saving some weight and complexity over a standard spider and also allowing for smaller chainring sizes. To start, FSA will offer each with 48/32T or 46/30T ratios.
Mainstream road bikes have largely avoided the single-chainring drivetrain revolution that has swept the mountain bike market, but the format has found a warm reception with gravel and adventure riding, where the conditions are often more demanding and outside aid more difficult to come by. FSA will offer five 1x crankset options from the hollow carbon fibre SL-K level down to the more value-oriented Vero solid-forged aluminium model. All use FSA’s ‘MegaTooth’ profile with extra-tall, alternating thick/thin chainring teeth.
On the cockpit front, weight-conscious riders may take interest in the new FSA extraLIGHT carbon fibre handlebars, with claimed weights as low as 170g and available New Ergo or compact bends. Meanwhile, FSA sister brand Vision showed off a new Metron 5D Integrated bar and stem with one-piece carbon fibre construction, internal cable routing, a recess for Shimano Di2 junction boxes, and a bolt-on mount for Garmin computers. Profiled headset spacers will be available, too, to help maintain the sleek appearance all the way down to the top tube.
Finally, the 2017 model year will also bring a new K-Force Light stem with a moulded carbon fibre body, four-bolt aluminium faceplate, and titanium hardware; and new Metron carbon fibre seatposts with secure two-bolt heads, extra-long lower cradles for better saddle rail support, and both 0mm and 32mm setback options.
FSA’s new modular K-Force Light can be fitted with 48/32T or 46/30T chainrings for gravel and adventure riding.
FSA is moving many of its cranks to a modular design that frees up more options for chainring sizes and offsets.
Rather than use a conventional chainring spider with a downsized BCD to accommodate the burgeoning demand of gravel and adventure riders, FSA’s latest chainrings feature inner rings that bolt directly to one-piece, direct-mount outer rings.
FSA is fully embracing the 1x road drivetrain with lots of options for 2017.
FSA’s 1x road cranks and chainrings use the company’s MegaTooth profile with extra-tall teeth and alternating thick/thin cross-sections.
Single-ring drivetrains actually make sense for a lot of time trial riders, which generally don’t need the range of a traditional 2x setup.
FSA sister brand Vision launched the new Metron 5D Integrated cockpit, complete with a hidden compartment underneath the stem for Shimano Di2 or Campagnolo EPS junction boxes and a bolt-on mount for Garmin computers.
Electronic drivetrains are more popular than ever so it’s good to see some companies adapting their bars and stems to suit.
Custom headset spacers maintain the aero look.
The new FSA extraLIGHT carbon bars are claimed to weigh as little as 170g.
FSA will offer its new extraLIGHT handlebar in both New Ergo and compact bends.
FSA is even giving adventure riders a dedicated handlebar option, featuring durable aluminium construction and a slight outward flare to the drops.
FSA’s latest K-Force stem uses a moulded carbon fibre body, an alumium faceplate, and titanium bolts.
Well in time for this year’s cyclocross season comes a new carbon fibre disc-compatible fork from Ritchey, featuring post mount tabs for 140mm or 160mm rotors, a tapered 1 1/8-to-1 1/4in steerer tube, an integrated lower bearing race, and swappable inserts at the dropouts that will accommodate either the more widely used 100x15mm or newer 100x12mm thru-axle hubs and axles.
According to Ritchey, the fork is also built using an asymmetrical lay-up schedule designed to resist the twisting forces produced by disc brakes for more predictable handling. Claimed weight is 440g.
Ritchey’s Zeta II wheels aren’t new, but they will now be available in a polished silver version for roadies that prefer a more traditional aesthetic. Otherwise, they’re completely identical to the standard edition, with 17mm-wide (internal width), tubeless-compatible aluminium clincher rims, an asymmetrical rear rim profile to help balance the spoke tension from side to side, and Ritchey’s novel Phantom Flange hubs that boast the clean look of straight-pull spokes but the practicality of standard J-bend ones. Frequent flyers who regularly hit the road with dedicated travel bikes will also particularly like the convenience of the rear hub, which pulls apart with no tools required and packs nearly flat in an S&S or Ritchey Breakaway case.
Claimed weight on the Zeta II wheelset is 1,440g.
Long a fixture in the cockpit and wheel markets, Ritchey will soon add accessory mounts to its extensive catalog. The new Universal Stem Mounts bolt directly to four-bolt faceplates on the company’s C-220, 4-Axis44, and Adjustable stems and work with SRM computers, GoPro cameras, or Supernova lights. Curiously, the ultra-popular Garmin quarter-turn interface is conspicuously missing, although that option is hopefully coming later.
Prefer the classic look of polished silver? Ritchey comes to the rescue with the more traditional looking Zeta Classic wheelset.
The 17mm-wide (internal width) aluminium rims are tubeless compatible.
Ritchey’s Phantom Flange hub design sports the look of straight-pull spokes but actually uses traditional J-bend ones throughout, making it far easier to source replacements if needed.
New for 2017 from Ritchey is this carbon fibre cyclocross fork, complete with swappable 12/15mm thru-axle inserts.
Ritchey has launched its own range of bolt-on accessory mounts. Currently, only GoPro, Supernova, and SRM interfaces are listed. Noticeably absent is Garmin.
Rotor’s new 2INpower (pronounced “twin power”) power meter uses the same spindle-based platform as its single-sided INpower device, but now with an additional set of strain gages embedded inside a special driveside crankarm to provide independent, direct power measurements from both legs. Dual ANT+ and Bluetooth wireless functionality should make the 2INpower compatible with virtually every cycling computer and smartphone on the market, too, while a switch from standard AA to rechargeable Li-ion power is expected to offer competitive run times.
The crank itself features the usual Rotor construction methodology, with aluminium arms drilled throughout the length to help save weight, and a wide-format 30mm aluminium spindle that will work with nearly every bottom bracket standard on the market. Relatively narrow crankarm cross-sections keep the stance width at 147.5mm — essentially identical to Shimano Dura-Ace. Despite Rotor’s sporting intentions for the 2INpower power meter, the company will only offer it with a five-arm 110mm chainring spider for now. In fairness, this will allow for a wide variety of chainring sizes to be used, but racers that prefer standard-sized rings will likely experience more chainring flex under load.
Claimed weight is 645g (without chainrings or bottom bracket) and retail price is €1,499.
Whether Rotor will be able to make significant inroads with its new power meter remains to be seen. but perhaps the most interesting aspect of 2INpower is its associated software, which not only helps users analyse their performance in terms of total output, but also with more refined metrics. A graphical interface display called Torque360 shows power output at each point in the pedal stroke to help analyse pedalling efficiency, while another custom metrics help users determine their ideal rotational position for Rotor’s own Q-Ring adjustable elliptical chainrings.
Rotor also showed off its new Q-Ring Carbon outer chainrings, which use the same shape and tooth profiles as the standard Q-Rings, but with a hybrid aluminium-carbon fibre construction that is supposedly 8% lighter and 20% stiffer for improved shifting performance.
Rotor is getting into the dual-sided power meter game with the new 2INpower crankset.
Whereas the left leg’s power is measured by strain gages located inside the 30mm-diameter aluminium spindle, the right side uses sensors that are embedded inside the crankarm.
Whereas the standard single-sided Rotor INpower power meter uses a replaceable AA battery, the dual-sided 2INpower setup uses a built-in rechargeable cell.
The bonded-on cap conceals the channels that are drilled through the length of each arm to save weight.
Rotor’s custom inPower software can help identify the optimum position for its adjustable Q-Ring oval chainrings.
Rotor claims its carbon fibre-backed Q-Ring Carbon is 8% lighter than the standard all-aluminium version and 20% stiffer for improved shifting performance.
Performance claims aside, the carbon fibre will undoubtedly offer some visual appeal to some.