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Nerd Alert Podcast

The CyclingTips Nerd Alert Podcast dives deep into the bikes and tech we all love. Road, gravel, mountain bikes, we cover it all. Hosted by James Huang, Dave Rome, and Caley Fretz.

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The CyclingTips Nerd Alert Podcast dives deep into the bikes and tech we all love. Road, gravel, mountain bikes, we cover it all. Hosted by James Huang, Dave Rome, and Caley Fretz.

Digging through the tech at Unbound Gravel

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It seems everything cycling-related is fetching inordinate amounts of money on the used market these days, and so we figured it was a good time to trade in Caley and Zach for a special guest host: Dan Cavallari, former tech editor for Velonews and now freelancer extraordinaire.

Dan covered Unbound Gravel for CyclingTips this year, so it only seemed right for James and Dave to run through all the interesting gravel tech with him.

Wondering about tire inserts? Tire sizes and pressure? Handlebar setups? Gearing? We go through it all, and bookend it with the usual round-up of tech news and Ask a Mechanic questions. And don’t worry, Caley and Zach will be back next week — probably. Maybe.

Jun 11 2021

1hr 18mins

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Tubulars aren’t dead yet

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We’ve chatted an awful lot lately about how tubeless and tube-type clinchers seem to be slowly replacing tubulars in pro road racing. Even though high-performance clinchers offer a big rolling efficiency advantage (as much as 12 W according to some figures), tubulars are still more popular for all the same reasons as usual: they’re lighter, they’re safer if you get a puncture, they handle impacts better, and they just have a distinctive feel that clinchers still can’t quite match.

What if you could have a tubular that offered all of that, and yet was also just as fast as top-end clinchers? What might the landscape look like then? That’s just what Challenge claims to have developed with its latest experimental tubulars, and James gets the scoop from the company’s technical director, Morgan Nicol.

Jun 04 2021

54mins

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Expensive vs. budget carbon wheels, and why Wahoo should look down, not up

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In this week’s episode, The Nerds chat about some cool parts and accessories Dave saw at the recent Handmade Bicycle Show Australia, including some hyper-expensive wheels from Partington that are trying to go head-to-head with Lightweight. Carbon wheels have gotten incredibly good at the opposite end of the price spectrum, and we make the argument that, unless you’re dripping with cash, it’s awfully tough to justify the price premium.

Speaking of which, we also chat about Wahoo Fitness’s new Elemnt Bolt GPS cycling computer, which makes us wonder where the company might go from here. A new high-end model sort of makes sense, but a killer budget model even more so.

May 27 2021

1hr 14mins

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How much mountain bike is too much when it comes to gravel bike geometry?

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In this week’s Nerd Alert episode, tech editor Dave Rome has a chat with Australian custom builder extraordinaire Mark Hester of Prova Cycles.

Hester was a very early adopter of MTB-style geometry on gravel bikes, incorporating things like long front centers and shorter stems when most other brands — especially mainstream labels — were still using dimensions mostly borrowed from road racing machines. Yet as with anything bike-related, if a little bit of something is good, lots more of it surely makes it even better, right? Hester has some interesting thoughts on the idea, and you won’t want to miss hearing where he thinks things are going from here.

May 21 2021

49mins

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How 3-D printing is revolutionizing the Australian custom bike industry

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Australia’s entire population may only be roughly equivalent to Shanghai, but it has an outsized custom bike industry with astonishing levels of ingenuity and innovation.

Tech editor Dave Rome recently visited the Handmade Bicycle Show Australia in Melbourne, where 3-D printing is playing a big part in setting a number of these builders apart from the rest of the world.

Also in this week’s show, we chat about upcoming developments in gravel bike suspension, whether CeramicSpeed’s Driven shaft-drive drivetrain really will see the light of day now that the company has an extra million bucks on hand and the likelihood that Ineos-Grenadiers riders might race at the Tour de France on clinchers.

May 14 2021

1hr 6mins

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Summer is coming, but don't put your trainer away yet...

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Indoor training is not top of the list of things most of us look forward to in the summer, but should it be?

When the summer sun consistently comes out, the turbo trainers usually go into hibernation. We investigate if maintaining some level of indoor milage might improve your fitness and if World Tour pros are moving indoors for sessions regardless of the weather.

Ronan chats with David Bailey (head of performance at Bahrain Victorious), Stephen Barrett (coach and head of research and innovation at AG2R Citroen), and Jonathan Lee (TrainerRoad) about indoor training gains and losses.

May 07 2021

1hr 10mins

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High fashion meets high tech: the science of cycling clothing

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Cycling apparel may look similar between various brands, but when you dig a little deeper, there are often seemingly small variations that can make a world of difference in terms of how well they work out on the road.

In other words, that tag may say “polyester” on it, but that only tells one tiny part of the story — and it’s time to learn a little more about the rest of it. 

Apr 30 2021

54mins

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Electronic shifting is supposedly what people want — but is it what they should want?

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The Nerds have an awful lot of tech news to talk about this week, such as SRAM’s recent decision to seemingly go all-in on electronic shifting, the ins and outs of two big high-end wheel introductions, the unmentioned pitfalls of fully internal cable routing for everyday enthusiasts, and some big changes for DT Swiss’s workhorse hubs.

There’s also been yet another push in the drivetrain friction front from Silca that uses... diamonds? Finally, we debate the ideal gravel bike in a What Bike Should I Buy segment for a new gravel rider on a “flexible budget.”

Apr 23 2021

1hr 5mins

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The science of Everesting

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This week Caley and Ronan interrupt the regular schedule to bring you another deep dive episode. Deep diving into the science of Everesting, the Nerds discuss the training, wattages, equipment selection, marginal gains, and time left on the table from Ronan’s recent Everesting world record ride.

Apr 16 2021

1hr 25mins

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Can computers make us faster cyclists?

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TrainerRoad offers training plans and workouts for the individual rider and has always been focused on making us faster. They recently launched an Adaptive Training method that combines machine learning and science-based coaching to adjust training plans based on coaches feedback. The goal? "So you get the right workout, every time".  

This week Ronan chats with TrainerRoad co-founder and CEO Nate Pearson about the new Adaptive Training and explains just how it knows what it's doing. They also discuss what the future might hold and if Adaptive Training can replace coaching as we know it. 

Apr 08 2021

42mins

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What worked — and what didn’t — on Ronan’s crazy-light Everesting bike

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Ronan Mc Laughlin joins us this week to go over the details of the hyper-optimized bike he used to shatter the Everesting record. Weight matters a lot here as you’d expect, but so does aerodynamics. Canyon’s precious container of new bikes is finally free from the grips of the Suez Canal, Enve announced its new custom carbon fiber road bike program, we question if we’re all worrying a little too much about weight (and paying the price as a result), and we finish up with a discussion of whether it makes sense to build your own bike from scratch using open-mold frames and parts since new bikes are nowhere to be found.

Apr 04 2021

1hr

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Designing bikes when there’s no stock

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You’ve heard us talking about the supply issues currently facing the booming cycling industry, so this week we dive into what it’s like designing bikes when things are in such short supply. 

Our guest this week is Sydney-based materials engineer and bike designer Dave Musgrove, someone who’s deep in the industry and in touch with the industry’s Covid-related supply issues. From two year lead-times on certain components to slower and more expensive shipping, this conversation details why you may want to hold onto your existing bike for a little longer.

Dave Musgrove is the brand manager for Polygon Bikes in North America and Oceania, a consumer-direct bicycle manufacturer sold through bikesonline.com.

Mar 25 2021

51mins

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MIPS, new Speedplay, and our sketchiest repairs

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James, Dave, Caley, and Zach discuss a wide range of topics in this week’s episode, like how much Speedplay’s revamped pedal lineup matters relative to the changes to its dealer service, whether MIPS really is a must-have when it comes to helmets given lingering questions over human scalps and hair, and what drastic changes in Cervelo’s sales figures indicate about changes in the drop-bar bike market. And then in this week’s Ask a Mechanic segment, we tackle perhaps the most important repair and maintenance question of all: what’s the sketchiest repair job Caley has ever done?

Mar 19 2021

57mins

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Clinchers and inner tubes at Paris-Roubaix?

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Team Deceuninck-QuickStep and Bora-Hansgrohe — together with sponsors Roval and Specialized — have been doing a fair bit of experimenting with their wheels and tires over the past couple of years, gradually moving away from traditional tubulars to tube-type clinchers for time trials and tubeless clinchers for road races. In an unusual move, both teams say they’re now wholly committed to clinchers and latex inner tubes for everything — even possibly (but not likely) Paris-Roubaix. To find out more about the surprising decision, James and Dave have a chat with Roval engineering manager Jeff Meyer, as well as three key players from the Deceuninck-QuickStep team: technical director Ricardo Scheidecker, team scientist and coach Koen Pelgrim, and head mechanic Nicolas Coosemans.

Mar 11 2021

59mins

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Broken handlebars, flexy seatposts, and power meter pedals to the (Shimano) people

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Mathieu van der Poel didn’t let a little broken handlebar on his Canyon Aeroad keep him from finishing Le Samyn, a cobbled race in Belgium, but why did it break? And what’s up with the flexy seatposts on those bikes, anyway?

The Nerds share their thoughts on those topics and then look into a Specialized patent for a wacky flexy seatpost design of its own. And is the wait finally over for power meter pedals for Shimano SPD-SL pedal fans? It sure looks that way.

Last but not least in this week’s episode, The Nerds bring back the “What Bike Should I Buy?” segment to discuss the ultimate one-bike solution — or if it even exists.

Mar 04 2021

53mins

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Can cycling apparel brands cut back on plastic bag use?

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With very few exceptions, every piece of cycling clothing you buy comes in its own individual bag — or “polybag” as it’s commonly called in the industry. When you take into account the size of the global cycling apparel industry, and the number of individual garments, that’s a lot of plastic bags. Has it always been this way? How did we get here? And what do we do about it? In this week’s episode, James chats with two apparel brands, Ornot and Pearl Izumi, to assess the current state of things, find out how things are already improving, and why we still have a long way to go.

Feb 25 2021

45mins

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Making sense of the latest tech chaos

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Dropper seat posts for Super Tucking on road bikes? Mountain bikes with fully internal cable routing?? Road Boost hub spacing??? $6,000 aero bars????

Some of the recent developments in the bike world actually make a bit of sense, but there’s an awful lot of other stuff that’s so silly that, well, it’s pretty much guaranteed to happen. The Nerds dig into what’s going on and try to make sense of the madness.

Feb 18 2021

1hr 8mins

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Nerding out on custom wheels

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In this week’s Nerd Alert, James and Dave go deep into the rabbit hole of custom bicycle wheels with Adrian Emilsen of Melody Wheels in Perth, Australia. Why should you care about wheels? Are custom wheels really better than factory-built ones? How would you build a set of wheels for a light rider versus a heavier one? What are some strategies you can pursue at home if you want to get into the basics of truing, or maybe want to build a set of wheels for the first time yourself? Hope you’ve got some time set aside because we get real nerdy on this one.

Feb 11 2021

1hr 15mins

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Wireless for everybody!

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Recent filings with the US Federal Communications Commission reveal that Shimano’s next generation of Dura-Ace Di2 will be at least semi-wireless — and not only that, but SRAM looks to finally be bringing its AXS wireless system down to the Rival level.

Both developments are very exciting, but what do they mean for wired drivetrains, and will both companies be able to deliver in the current environment? While drivetrains are trending toward wireless, indoor trainers might be moving in the other direction with hardwired connections for better signal reliability.

Finally, we tackle a whole bunch of fresh questions in our Ask a Mechanic segment (and Caley actually has something meaningful to contribute this time around).

Feb 05 2021

1hr 9mins

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Is it possible to have too many tools? No, it is not.

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You might look at tools just as utilitarian items — cold lumps of lifeless steel. For the true believers, the difference between good tools and bad ones is like the difference between gas station sushi and the real thing: they both might get the job done, but one is certainly a lot more satisfying, while the other is more likely to leave you feeling more than a little bit of regret. But, what makes a good tool, why is designing one so hard to do, and why should you care? James and Dave get the lowdown with Jason Quade from Abbey Bike Tools.

Jan 28 2021

1hr 1min

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The golden era of podcasting

By Tomer.Tzafrir - Apr 28 2020
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Great team dynamic, great content. Five stars every time.

Engineering Cyclist Dream

By TriRussell - Dec 10 2019
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If you are an engineer and you ride a bike, you should listen to this podcast!