Not everything pro mechanics do can be considered best practice. They clean bikes with power washers, sometimes blowing the grease out of bottom brackets, wheel bearings and headsets in the process — but these bikes are continually stripped and re-built.
They also cut into expensive gear, file, tape, drill, bend and melt if necessary to make the riders happy.They are often coming up with solutions to problems, such as incompatible parts, to keep sponsors happy.
Here are a few of the hacks on the pro circuit.
1. Power banks
There are few things worse than losing front shifting when you’re on a ride because you forgot to charge your Di2, EPS or eTap battery. Imagine the same thing happening at the end of a race Imagine if you had to charge a whole team's worth of stuff.With portable power banks becoming more popular, the World Tour teams are taking advantage of these compact power sources to keep drivetrains fully charged.
2. Water bottles
Mechanics use chopped-up bottles to hold things other than water.The classic is for mechanics to mix up their concoction of degreaser in an old bottle, which is then painted onto the drivetrain when the bikes are cleaned.Mechanics also use chopped bidons to hold tubular glue as they prep tyres and wheels. While most dip a paintbrush in the glue, the some mechanics use an intact bidon as a squeeze bottle to lay down a bead of glue on the rim before spreading it with a brush.The most creative use for a bottle is the Katusha-Alpecin wrench, who fashioned a race number holder from a bottle and a bolt.
3. Ultegra cassettes
Something many a bike shop has been preaching for years is the use of Ultegra/Force cassettes in lieu of Dura-Ace/Red. Last year Dimension Data, Quick-Step, Cannondale-Drapac, were all running Ultegra cassettes.They are considerably cheaper and shift just as well; the only downside is they are a touch heavier. But, with the UCI still enforcing the 6.8kg minimum weight limit, it serves as functional weight, rather than dropping chain links or fishing weights down the seat tube.
4. Tyre valve tape
A piece of electrical tape, around the valve stem is a tried-and-true solution for rattly valve stems.Wheel and tyre brands have purpose-made stickers that do the same thing, and you could probably use a valve nut too, but a small piece of electrical tape is quicker, faster and looks cleaner than the alternatives ; it works, too.
5. Shrink-wrapped cables
To prevent the snake pit at the front of the bike, many bikes have cables and Di2/EPS wires can be shrink-wrapped or taped together.Not only does this make the bike look much neater, and prevent rattling, it also means there's one less thing to get snagged during a crash or quick bike change.
Selecting the right bike can be a daunting task and many newer riders get directed to focus on items in the wrong priority. In order of importance, focusing on the following offers a foolproof way to get a really good bike for your needs the first time.
Many riders make the mistake of choosing a bike first and then having it 'fitted' later. Completing a proper bike fit first allows you to find the frame geometry and component options that match your needs. Regardless of the price of the bike, your experience level, or any other variable, you should not have to adapt your body to the needs of your bike; your bike should be selected because of its ability to fit the needs of your body. Proper fit and bike selection affects everything from handling and stability to comfort and efficiency and it is the most crucial step of proper bike selection. read more
When it comes to how your bike fits, rides, handles and reacts, the frame is the most important physical part of the bike. The frame is also usually the most expensive part of the bike and the most involved to replace. Buying a bike with the right frame the first time can not only help you enjoy the benefits of a better riding and performing bike now, but can also save significant money down the road as you will only need to buy some new parts, instead of buying a whole new bike, to upgrade.
When selecting a frame, make sure the geometry allows for plenty of adjustability in your riding position so that it can adapt to suit your needs in the future as well as now. You do not want to end up on a bike that compromises stability and handling in order to achieve your riding position or one that cannot be adjusted to accommodate for positioning changes as you grow as a cyclist. Do not worry about what brand or model your friends or professional athletes ride when choosing your bike – their use, size and positioning needs may bear little resemblance to you. You need a bike that has stiffness, comfort and handling traits that suit you well as an individual athlete.
During riding, hands, butt and feet all interface with the bike constantly; making sure that you have a saddle, handlebars and pedal/shoe combination that you are happy with can go a long way towards making riding more comfortable and more fun. These are personalized parts and your dealer should work with you to exchange parts on the bike towards others as needed.
Good wheels can make a basic bike ride a lot better while sub-par wheels can make an otherwise exceptional bike feel mediocre – wheels matter. After the frame, the wheels are the next most expensive part on the bike, yet most bike companies spec wheels that are below the level of the rest of the bike in order to hit a certain price point. From a performance perspective, wheels are often an important place to consider upgrading at the time of purchase or soon after.
With the drivetrain and braking systems, focus on getting parts of a level that are designed for people that ride their bikes regularly. In the case of Shimano equipped bikes, 105, Ultegra and Dura Ace level components are designed for committed enthusiasts and all of SRAM’s current offerings are designed for people who ride their bike regularly.
In the big scheme of things, individual components are relatively easy to upgrade at the time of purchase or down the road. If higher average riding speed is the determining factor, a better frame or wheels will always trump the difference between component levels.
One big intangible in the whole bike buying equation is your bike dealer. A good dealer’s fit, mechanical set-up and support can make a big difference; a rider on a less well known bike brand that is fit and assembled well will always be faster than they would be on a big brand bike that was not. Buying from a dealer who understands bike fit and set-up for the type of riding you do, has strong product offerings and knowledge, and is willing to work with you to get your bike set-up for you as an individual will not only help you enjoy your new bike as much as possible now, but also saves you time and money down the road.
Bianchi XR4 Shimano Ultegra Di2 Zipp 404
September 15, 2017
Now this is a special one, check out this Bianchi Oltre XR4 built on Zipp 404 NSW wheel set, Shimano Ultegra di2 groupset, Deda finishing kit and to top it all off a custom Fizik Antares saddle
Bianchi XR4 SRAM Red eTAP Zipp 303
January 16, 2018
The latest Bianchi Oltre XR4 custom to leave the shop this week, this stealthy bike is built on SRAM Red eTap, Quarq powermeter, Zipp 303 firecrest wheels, Zipp carbon SL finishing kit, Fizik Antares saddle and Canecreek EE brakes, we are looking forward to its new owner Simon riding it this weekend.
Bianchi Specialissima long term review
I’ve been lucky enough to ride a Bianchi specialissima CV regularly over the past couple of years. It has made such an impression that it is hands down the best race bike I have been on. We are able to ride the elite frames produced by such luminaries as Bob Parlee, Ernesto Colnago, Sacha White and Gerard Vroomen as well as the more high volume offerings from the big beasts of our industry. To say the Bianchi Specialissima outperforms these is a strong claim but one supported in a number of areas.
I tend to think of the performance of a racing bike in four main categories: climbing, descending, acceleration/ straight line speed and endurance. I’ll tackle these individually.
When the designers at Bianchi developed the specialissima I’m pretty sure climbing was seen as the most important field, this bike is built for the high mountains. A lightweight frame (780g) is one thing but the reaction to pedal stroke is what makes the difference between a climber and an anchor. My steel bike at 7.5kg outclimbs many much lighter carbon frames due to its planted nature. The specialissima has both, the steady but significant feedback from every individual effort and the light weight to allow the rider to spin at threshold seemingly never-endingly. On the 8km/7% clip to Selvino outside Bormio the bike was in its element even on the steeper double digit pitches near the summit. As the race for lightweight reached conclusion in the late 2000s bike like the Scott Addict SL and Cervelo RCA sacrificed all ride quality at the altar of weight weenieism. Nothing that foolish here.
So you’ve crested the mountain. What now? Now the thoroughbred nature of this frame shows its other side. On a 120km day on the south downs I pushed this bike to the limits, drifting it around gravelly corners on filthy Sussex lanes. Equipped with Vittoria Corsas (no crossover “all road” setup here) the bike tracked wonderfully round fast or tight corners, allowing for mid bend adjustments and recoveries as the stiffness of the front fork (and Racing Zero front wheel) stood up to anything I could throw at it. My ride buddy, an MTBer originally from north wales, riding his now local lanes on a S-Works Venge remarked on how well suited the Bianchi Specialissima was well outside its home territory. Add versatility to the mix. Just don’t ask how long it took to clean the matte fluoro CK 16 Celeste frame after that ride!
The Bianchi Specialissima is clearly not an aero bike, so how does it compare to the more modern looking bikes out there sporting huge oversized down tubes and Kammtails? I’ve not raced the Specialissima but it’s been in some pretty fast chaingangs and it will happily hold 40kmph at cruising effort. That planted nature mentioned earlier means seated efforts whip the bike up into high speeds and keep it there. If aero concerns you then drop a pair of deep section rims into it but never forget that those massive oversized tubes have a couple of very significant compromises of their own, a drop off in both ride quality and comfort and more subjectively in looks.
So, does all this high performance beat you up all day? Far from it; the Specialissima is one of the most comfortable all day rides out there. More aggressive than the softer endurance frames (Domanes, Roubaix etc) the position is inherently steeper (one for your bike fitter https://www.bicyclerichmond.co.uk/bicycle-fitting/new-bike-fit-consultation ) but the CounterVeil license Bianchi paid the big bucks for comes into its own on this frame. The CV allows for a hitherto impossible level of vibration cancelling as all owners of Infinito CVs will testify to. I’d happily take on Lands End - John O’Groats on this frame and I’d be smiling (most of) all the way. This balance of performance and comfort is superior even to the 2012-2016 iteration of the Cervelo R5, my previous benchmark for a “comfy” thoroughbred.
There are three stock colourways, Bianchi Celeste in both Matt and gloss and a black option, plus almost infinite semi custom paint through the Tavalozza scheme. We offer a full custom bike build service with bikes going out this year on Sram’s wireless eTap groupset, Shimano’s Dura ace 9150 di2 and of course (and personally recommended) Campagnolo’s Super Record gruppo. Wheel options have ranged from Mavic’s climbing R-SYS SLR, fulcrum racing zero for a stiffer option and deep section offerings from both Zipp and Utah’s carbon specialists ENVE composites. We’re always here to help you make these crucial decisions!
We have access to a number of Specialissima demo bikes provided by the awesome Geoff and Lucia and the team at Bianchi UK so if you fancy a ride on one then just get in touch, we’d be delighted to arrange your next super bike.
Bianchi XR4 Shimano Dura Ace Di2 R9150, Zipp Firecrest 303
March 24 , 2018
Custom Bianchi Oltre XR4 black/graphite that is off to its new home this weekend. This bike is built on Shimano Dura Di2 R9150, Zipp 303 Firecrest Wheels, Vision 5D one piece bar/stem, Fizik Arione Saddle and Vitroria Corsa Tyres, designed, built and fitted by us @bicyclerichmond; what an awesome bike built for a very deserving client, who we know will fully appreciate this amazingly clean and understated build