What's Cool In Road Cycling

INTERBIKE 2015 Round #6

We’re gettin’ down to the bottom of our Interbike 2015 coverage but there’s still plenty to drool over, like Alé Bikewear, Cinelli bikes, Cadence Collection clothing, Devinci cycles, and Scott’s Addict Gravel bike and Premium Road Shoe.

 

ALÉ BIKEWEAR
Entering just their second full season, Alé Bikewear are no longer the new kids on the block.  And don’t worry that many of you haven’t seen their name before – company owners APG have been in the cycling apparel biz for 30 years, making top tier gear for many brands – some of which you’ve already worn.

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The Interbike show floor is awash in cycling clothing brands – personally I’d think twice before getting into this category because there are so many brands vying for consumer attention – quality and price points run the full gamut from ultra cheap to over the top expensive – there really is so much for every taste that in order to make a mark, you can’t just be good – you gotta be very good – (‘amazing’ doesn’t hurt either) – and that’s still no guarantee you’ll catch consumer attention.

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The PRR line (stands for Pro Road Race) is what Alé’s pro sponsored teams ride (including the Alé-Cipollini women’s team).  Fit, construction, and details are geared for long hours in the saddle – I really like the anatomically shaped gripper-band that anchors the front of their jerseys.  Womens bibs will run $150 and jerseys $150.

But after riding Ale’s PRR and Klimatik lines (see my Klimatik review here) over the past 12 months, I’ll confirm that they’re turning out very high quality at mid-range prices – even the top line PRR kit comes in around $300 for jersey & bibshorts together.   USA distributor (and former Giro podium finisher) Pietro Caucchioli confirmed sales have been exponential, with a very strong custom business driving much of the growth.

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The full range of Alé clothing is large enough to cover all seasons, budgets, tastes, and even disciplines.   The Cyclocross skin suit ($252 above left) should intimidate most of your competitors (also avail in black & yellow).  The Gavia kit (above right) is a staple of the Classic Collection ($210 for the complete kit), and uses the same fabrics as the PRR lines, but sewn together with a more price conscious design.

On top of high quality hand-made construction in an Italian factory, the first thing that draws me to any clothing is how it looks.  Choosing kit to look good, or at least to please our own eyes is what sells 99% of all clothing, and Alé’s selection of colors, patterns, designs and cuts might be undeniably flashy (but don’t worry – they also offer plenty shades of black for the less adventurous).  Cycling safety and visibility are top of mind for most riders these days, so how brands choose to present potentially garish hi-vis colors in ways that actually look cool can make or break their season.   Credit Alé’s Italian designers with full marks here – they’ve done a beautiful job of presenting bright colors that are eye-catching in a good way.

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Maybe the best news for teams and clubs is the growth in Custom kits from Alé.  Digital printing machines, fabrics that take and hold colors well, and man’s basic desire to be different have allowed custom kits to be almost a necessity.  All ordering can be done online (they’ve even got some easy to follow videos that show you just what to do), and orders are guaranteed in 60 days – which is not at all bad for real Italian-made clothing.  I visited the factory near Verona Italy in October and witnessed with my own eyes kit being sewn together by a skilled workforce of Italian women who did some pretty amazing things with a sewing machine – and these same skilled workers sew the inline kits AND your custom orders.

• See the AléBikeWear website here and their custom apparel page here

CINELLI
There are certain brands that have “cache”.  No amount of marketing bucks or grand tour wins will ever change that, and few brands can compete for cache with Cinelli – with roots in post-war Italy where founder Cino Cinelli (himself a lauded professional with wins at the Giro di Lombardia (1938) and Milan-San Remo (1943)) began making components to replace the stuff that he saw others breaking. Better known for stems & bars, they’ve also built some of the nicest frame sets anywhere, and never fail to catch my eye at the show.

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The first thing I noticed at their booth was this ‘knight in shining armour’ XCR in all its stainless steel tubed beauty.   Anyone who’s been around cycling long enough to know bikes were once made from materials other than carbon fibre will appreciate the steely steelness of the XCR.  Aficionados confirm nothing rides like a steel bike, and there’s something decidedly ‘hard man cool’ about riding one.

Thankfully Cinelli has applied modern technology to this classic material – turning out the XCR from Columbus tubes that have been bored through – not wrapped and welded like other metal tubes.   That’s a laborious and precise operation, but necessary to create a steel bike that shaves grams where other guys are adding weld beads, and this one sounds like a tuning fork when you flick it with your finger.

Weighing in at 1430 grams for the frame plus 350 grams for the fork is not near the same levels as the lightweight carbon frames we see now, but that means little to the connoisseurs who’ll gladly shell out $4700 for this frame set.

The oversized headtube holds a 1.125 – 1.5 inch tapered steerer tube secured to a fat Chris King external bearing, which combined with the large bladed carbon fork is there to increase response from rider to road and vice versa.

The show bike was adorned with Cinelli’s more famous smaller parts: the Neo Morphe carbon bar that boasts four hand grip positions (yummy), the Neos stem and seatpost. The one-off saddle was made just for the show, but I’m told they’re planning something like it for the public later in 2016.

Cinelli was started in Florence, but moved to Milano many years ago when the fashion capital was also the top of Italy’s cycling industry. The company also owns (or vice versa) the Columbus tubing company – so it’s no surprise their material of choice is steel.

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Cue segue to the all new for 2016 NEMO – made of you guessed it – Columbus tubes – this time tig-welded instead of joined with the more traditional lugs.  The $2750 frame set uses a sloping top tube, fatter tubes and tapered headtube to deliver a more modern geometry and frame shape in a steel package.  It’s 1800 grams for the frame and another 350 for the carbon fork and right now you can buy black or purple in the US, but other colors are available on special order from Italy – just ask your nearest Cinelli dealer.

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By now you should have figured out I’ve got an old school streak in me, so before my puddle of drool caused the Cinelli guys to politely ask me to move along, I did some heavy breathing near their all-carbon racer – the Strato Faster.

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Built for speed, it plays up Cinelli’s racing heritage in a 980 gram frame set made with materials, tube shapes, and geometry (medium sized frame is a 74 degree head tube angle & 74.5 degree seat tube angle) that’s all about power transfer.  A fat hex-shaped down tube, triangular shaped top tube and seat stays, and angular dropout joints make it pretty obvious what kind of ride they’re going for here. The finish is Cinelli’s usual standard – ie: very high. It comes in black or white (as ridden by the LA Sweats women’s cycling team), and will set you back a pretty reasonable $3500 for frame & fork.

• See more at Cinelli-USA.com

CADENCE COLLECTION Clothing

interbike15-cadence-all640 The daunting size of the show floor makes it hard enough to find the big brands we already know, but some of the most interesting gear is found in the tiny booths that often get overlooked in the vastness of the “Mighty Hall”.

For example – I found Cadence Collection in a booth space so small that three people was almost capacity.

Started in San Fransisco in 2003 by Dustin Klein – a once bicycle messenger who was dissatisfied with the lack of cycling / lifestyle clothing that existed at the time – so he decided to do it better himself.  (… a story I can relate to.)

The brand grew into more performance riding gear and offers road specific gear in cool unexpected designs.

For a company with just 3 full time employees – they’re offering a pretty extensive line of goods, ranging from technical jerseys and bibs, to more casual off-bike jeans jackets & hoodies (that are designed for on bike use too) to accessories like bar tape, bottles, bars and stems.

Designs are all original from Dustin’s relocated office on Portland, while production & distribution is overseen from their Los Angeles office.

West Coast styling is prominent – and I really liked the laid back vibe of the brand, but appreciated the higher and mid range pricing.

What really caught my eye were the cycling-minded denim.  The Raw Denim jeans are priced at $120 a pair, and offered in two fits – original which is slimmer fit – and the new relaxed fit with more room in hips and thighs – but tapered below the knee so you don’t need to roll em up for riding.  Both are traditional blue colored denim, but they also offer a slim fitting Exon denim in over dyed black for $130 (yep – that’s a play on the oil company name).

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Rise is mid length (10 inches) to cover up potential butt crack – denim is a mid-weight 12 oz so durability should not be an issue.

And adding to that is their unique double sewn butt – all models feature an extra layer of denim stitched over the seat to make em that much tougher for riding – inspired by messengers who’d literally blowout the seats of their pants.  The back pockets are also double layered as well – messengers love em because they last longer.

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Sizes run 28″ up to 36″, all with a 32″ inseam, and the garments are made in Los Angeles.  You can buy ’em in selected shops, or online and they’ll ship anywhere.

• See more at Cadencecollection.com

DEVINCI CYCLES
The Great White North saw good representation at the Devinci Cycles booth – where the Hatchet SX gravel bike was getting lots of attention.  Devinci’s dna is made of Alu, so it’s no surprise to see this rig built in the metal of their origins.  Disk brakes, tons of tire clearance (up to 40mm skins will fit), and the best part is the price $1399 and that’s with the high-end SRAM X1 gruppo.  This gravel road thing is here to stay…

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The brand’s flagship LEO SL was the other head-turner on the road side.  I reviewed the original Leo SL here and loved the ride.  It was fully redesigned for the 2015 model year, with more purpose-driven tube shapes, and attention to details at all levels.  The front end / downtube / bottom bracket are built for power transfer and control.  The big round curve of the seatstay / chainstay junction promises to smooth out road chatter, and the thin seat stays look to make this one a very smooth ride.  $5599 will get you one – see Devinci.com for more info.

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SCOTT Addict Gravel Disc
While we’re on the subject on gravel bikes – a quick look at Scott’s rather racy offering is in order – their Addict… fully souped for gravel riding.  They started with their 990g HMF Carbon frame, added a beefier carbon fork, better suited to disc braking and the rough terrain you’ll want to ride this on, fully kitted it with disc stoppers, widened the tire clearance, and finished ‘er off with a Shimano Ultegra gruppo.  Priced at $4000 it’s serious bike, but with the Addict’s proven race heritage and ‘road comfort’ geometry, it should deliver some serious fun too.

• See more at Scott-Sports.com

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And while we’re on the subject of Scott – the ‘named without fuss’ Road Premium Shoe showed off some clean lines and nice style.  Adorned in high gloss orange and matte black, it was an eye-catcher to say the least.  I really liked the low profile of the lower – and mid-foot velcro straps, while the single Boa clincher across the top of the foot will lock you down for maximum security.

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Underneath, the outsole is Scott’s HMX carbon – their lightest and stiffest mix while still offering torsional flex to accommodate the natural range of movement in a pedal stroke.  Cleat placement should be super easy with enough lines and numbers to take the guessing out of where your cleat goes.  That toe vent lets in enough air to actually make a difference when the going gets hot, and the toe and heel are capped with click-clack deadening material to minimize annoyed stares at the coffee shop.  Inside is their adjustable footbed (via moveable modules) that let’s you dial in the comfort regardless of your foot shape.  See more at their website here.

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Thanks for reading – and stay tuned for still more from Interbike 2015 on PEZ.

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