Trend # 6
Endurance bikes gaining momentum, slowly
Two years ago we predicted a rise in popularity for the endurance class – softer ride, long-distance-appropriate ride position. It hasn’t quite come true yet, but we’re still optimistic buyers will acknowledge Cadel Evans’ bike requirements may differ hugely from the rest of ours. ‘Sportif’ bikes aren’t slower than racers; in fact during (say) the Double Century, a rider who’s less fatigued from road vibration is more likely to be quicker on the final few punishing hills. To add to Specialized’s Roubaix and Cannondale’s Synapse, here are a couple more.
Fabian Cancellara’s disastrous season aside, the guys at Team RadioShack-Nissan-Trek were well equipped for the classics, with real innovation built into this exciting new bike from the Wisconsin company. It’s all about the IsoSpeed hinge that isolates the seat tube from the main triangle, allowing it to bow along its whole length, rather than just at the seatpost. The result is a radically smooth ride, absorbing the vibrations from even the most pocked surfaces. Other tweaks like a slightly slacker head angle and longer wheelbase keep the handling tidy, but out of the saddle, it goes like a rocket. It’s quite remarkable.
Consider the fact that Alessandro Ballan rode this bike to third place in Roubaix this year. While it’s not designed to feel snappy in tight bends like its racier brother (TeamMachine), it’s clearly not any slower. Chainstays are longer, with a tilt upwards towards the dropout (the design feature is carried through with the fork, too), and skinny seatstays join the main triangle low on the seat tube; all to deliver a forgiving ride. It’s still stiff though, with boxy, tapered head tube and stout BB area.