Congratulations to All the 2015 Tour de France Competitors
The winner of this year’s Tour de France is Kenyan-born Chris Froome, who proudly wears the ceremonial yellow jersey signifying the winner. Racing for the UK’s Team SKY, Froome grew up in Kenya and South Africa. He is a second time winner of the race, having won the Tour de France in 2013. A major crash during the fifth stage of the 2014 Tour de France knocked Froome out of the race. Team SKY has secured a second win for Great Britain at a time when the British bicycle industry is in high gear. Sales of UK-made bicycles jumped 70% between 2013 in 2014, with Brompton and its folding bicycle design leading the pack.
Of course, given the notorious reputation that the Tour de France has acquired over the years for illegal doping (not in small part due to Austin’s own discredited Lance Armstrong) there is a generalized level of suspicion about bicycle races, which is unfortunate. What we found interesting this year is that there was less concern about actual drug use among the riders and more rampant speculation about the possibility of cheating by means of what insiders are calling “moto-doping”.
What is Moto-Doping?
The concept is simple: as electric motors and batteries become smaller, there is a theoretical possibility that clandestine power assist motors could be installed in the hubs of Tour de France bicycles. (See our recent article on new developments in power assisted bicycles for commuters). These would be particularly helpful in the mountain segments of the race. To be clear, there is no evidence that this happened, but it’s obvious that the technology is evolving to make this yet another thing that will have to be verified in bicycle races moving forward.
Normally we think about innovations in bicycling starting out first in the racing / touring world and then cascading down to the general bicycle enthusiast or commuters who ride their bikes to work. To get some inspiration and perhaps an expensive wish list together for a dream bicycle, we look to cyclist Mark Beaumont. He won a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for the fastest bicycle rallied around the world back in 2008. Though that crown has since passed on to a faster rider, Mark’s trek was captured in the BBC program “The Man Who Cycled The World“. (See a clip from this program above.)
What Bike Gear Does Mark Beaumont, Guinness Book of World Records Holder, Use?
Much of the gear that Mark Beaumont tested in his 18,000 mile ride around the globe has become highly sought after. Here Chris Rishworth reviews some of the critical components. At the top of the list are Koga bicycles, known for their tough endurance on long-distance treks. External derailleurs are passé for these biking professionals; instead the cool kids are riding on Rohloff internal gearing hubs, which (mostly) keep the grease in and the dirt out. Speaking of grease, you’re much less likely to mess up your business attire when commuting on a bicycle equipped with a carbon fiber belt instead of a traditional metal bike chain.
Another new innovation for bicycles hasn’t actually made its way to Tour de France racers yet. We’re talking about hydraulic disc brakes. First fitted on the breakthrough Citroen DS car in 1955, hydraulic disc brakes are now starting to make their appearance on high-end touring bicycles. If you’ve ever experienced bicycle brakes that overheat or fail completely in wet conditions, you will appreciate how this innovation could be lifesaving indeed.
But brakes aside, if there is one innovation that we civilian bicycle enthusiasts are looking for from the top of the line racing and touring bikes, it’s a bicycle tire that won’t go flat! There’s nothing more maddening than to be far from home and have a flat tire on your bicycle. It can cause even the most diehard bicycle commuter to consider going back to the car to get to work. But, based on the recommendation of long-distance touring enthusiasts, the Marathon brand bicycle tires from Schwalbe may be just the ticket. We’re going to put them on our very own bicycle Wish List.
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