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Ridden & Reviewed: Specialized Turbo Levo

July 26, 2016

40 years after the advent of the mountain bike, there is an exciting new development in the fat tire world every rider should experience – the Specialized Turbo Levo pedal-assist mountain bike! Determined to put it to the test, Bicycle Sport Shop headed out to Reimers Ranch with the Turbo Levo FSR Expert 6Fattie.

The Turbo Levo closely resembles the latest in the Stumpjumper category from Specialized and features full suspension, 27.5 plus tires, and a Command Post IRcc dropper seat post. All of this coupled with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery to power a pedal-assist motor with Eco (power saving), Trail (moderate assistance), and Turbo (full power) modes. The mode can be controlled with buttons on the down tube of the bike, but for the tech savvy rider there is a Mission Control app that allows you to manage the power use and fully control the Turbo technology system.

Initially skeptical of a mountain e-bike, our time at Reimers quickly changed our minds. Climbs were achieved effortlessly, flats were traversed quickly, and we were able to hit more of the trail in less time with less effort due to the 530 watts of pedal assisted power. It simply multiplies the power you put to the pedals, but you still ride it just like you would a non-powered bike. That doesn’t mean that skills aren’t necessary. We recommend you have a basic knowledge of how to ride a mountain bike and at least an intermediate skill level before hopping on a Levo, as the principles of shifting weight and properly handling the bike are important.

The Specialized Turbo Levo serves as a great option to help bridge the gap between ride partners with varying fitness and skill levels. If exploring a new trail, the Levo will help you cover more ground than you ever thought possible in one ride. It’s also a great for those moments when you’re pressed for time—like squeezing in a ride during your lunch break.

The Turbo Levo truly needs to be experienced first-hand. Bicycle Sport Shop has demos available for you to test ride. We’re also scheduling demos at Reimers Ranch, so check our calendar for details.

It’s important to note that the Levo and other pedal-assist mountain bikes are not legal to ride on many of our local trails. The only trail where they are allowed in the City of Austin is City Park, so don’t take them on Barton Creek or out to Walnut Creek. Travis County has no such restrictions and you may ride them at Reimers Ranch and Pace Bend, as well as on the LCRA managed trail at Muleshoe Bend, all three of which are great trails for pedal-assist bikes. Just like any other trail that you ride, always be respectful of other users and follow IMBA’s Rules of the Trail.

Check out the video below to see footage from our day at Reimers!

 

 

Beginning Racer Program

July 19, 2016

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Have you been a Driveway Series spectator but interested in finding out what its like out there on the track? Then join us at the Beginning Racer Program!

Sponsored by Bicycle Sport Shop and taught by the elite racing team Super Squadra presented by Eliel Cycling, The Beginning Racer Program will teach you the necessary skills for your race debut. The five clinic series is designed to give you a baseline in fundamental pack skills, cornering, improving situational awareness and pack positioning, and sprinting basics. Since the clinics are not weekly, you can hop in a race on the off week and come to the next clinic with questions.

Participation varies from clinic-to-clinic, but overall what brings people is an excitement to learn a new way to have fun on their bike. Most have never raced a crit before, while some want to brush-up on what they do know. You’ll get the most out of attending the full series, but you have the option to drop in and attend any clinic for a specific skillset.

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The Super Squadra team competes locally, in the state-wide TXBRA series, and at select events across the country. They have a wealth of experience and talent on their team. They’re helpful, knowledgeable, and patient. Each clinic begins with an explanation of the skill for the day, a warm-up, and then drills that they’ve perfected in order to relay the basics of that skill. Each clinic ends with a practice race. After the clinic, stick around for complimentary beer and watch Super Squadra compete in the Pro 1/2/3 Men’s race.

If you’ve ever wanted to race the Driveway, sign-up for the Beginning Racer Program. It will help you transition from recreational rider to bike racer with ease.

Schedule:
July 21: Basic Pack Skills
August 4: Cornering
August 18: Improving Pack Awareness
September 8: Sprinting Basics
October 6: Bringing it all Together

Use discount code BRPFriend20 (for $20 per clinic) and BRPFriend100 ($100 for the series).

A Tale of Three Treks

July 15, 2016

Bicycle Sport Shop’s elite racing team, Super Squadra presented by Eliel Cycling, is racing on Trek bicycles and Bontrager shoes and helmets this year. The team competes locally, in the state-wide TXBRA series, and at select events across the country, and also holds cycling clinics throughout the year the weekly Driveway Series race. Each team member was given the opportunity to choose their own bike from Trek’s wide selection of road racing machines.

Here, three of the team’s top racers explain why they chose the bike they’re on, how they made it their own, and how they’re liking it so far.

 

Kyle Anderson
Age – 23
Occupation – Student / Bicycle Mechanic
Bike – Emonda SL with Shimano Ultegra drivetrain

Hailing from the wind torn plains of Wichita Falls, Kyle Anderson is a new addition to the Super Squadra team for 2016. An already established Category 1 racer, Kyle is a perennial top finisher in the TXBRA overall strandings and brings a depth of experience to the team.

“I chose the Emonda SL 6 because as a college student that works at a bike shop money is tight and I wanted a bike that was affordable and I would still be able to race competitively.  With race wheels it is 15 pounds and light enough to fly up the hills with ease. Not that we have many of those in North Texas!”

“What sticks out most is how smooth the ride feels. It has bit longer chainstays that smooth out the rough chip’n seal of North Texas roads. And although its has a smooth ride it’s still very responsive when I jump from the saddle and hit corners hard. These two aspects of the bike really stood out at the Sealy Stage race, where the country roads were rough, and the criterium had three very tight corners and points sprints every 15 minutes. I was able to roll every breakaway and pull out a 2nd overall atop the Emonda.”

“From the standard set up, I upgraded the handlebars and stem to Zipp Service Course Sl, and put a Fizik Volta R1 saddle on. These upgrades were all for comfort and personal preference. My girlfriend also added some very adorable cat stickers.”
Devin Carroll
Age – 30
Occupation – Mechanical Engineer / Project Manager
Bike – Emonda SLR with Shimano Di2 Ultegra drivetrain

The Super Squadra team’s reigning king of #dadwatts, Devin is regarded as one of the fastest sprinters in Texas. You can regularly find him sporting an orange leaders jersey in the Pro,1,2 race at the Driveway Series, or standing atop a podium holding his new daughter, Everett.

“I chose the Emonda SLR because I wanted a machine that was fast on race day, and versatile for training. My riding life consists of racing, long and adventurous weekend rides, and lots and lots of early morning trainer time. This amounts to a very diverse set of demands for a race bike—speed, performance and durability, and a high level of comfort. Of course, the classic styling and matte powder blue paintjob didn’t hurt either.”

“I really like round classic bend handlebars. Something about that style of handlebar just feels right in my hands. I’ve also been running a gold KMC chain on my race bikes for years now. It counts for style points, I suppose, and it helps me stay on track with keeping the bike clean. It is well known within the team that my bike is the cleanest—ALWAYS.”

 

Phil Wikoff
Age – 35
OccupationBio-scientist (formerly, brewmaster for Eastciders)
Bike – Madone 9 Series with Shimano Di2 Dura-Ace drivetrain

Phil is a former TXBRA overall winner and a father of two, who remains competitive at national-level criteriums. His fashion forward taste is unrivaled throughout the state.

“I wanted the newest, fastest, most custom bike Trek made. See: Madone Project 1. Through the P1 program, I was able to get the H1 geometry that in general is longer and lower on the front end. For maybe the first time ever, I got the correct size ‘large’ bike that I need.”

“In addition to the geometry I needed, I selected shock orange paint with only an electric pink 72 font TREK logo. The amount of comments and adoration I receive from anyone who gazes at the bike, tells the whole story. Once you start staring at the racy lines, with all the integration of the Shimano Di2 components, rendered in that infamous orange paint, you are hooked. I am hooked. The Madone not only looks fast, it is fast.”

Three questions with a Beginning Racer

May 6, 2016

Why is Thomas Lea of Steiner Ranch Cycling stoked? Because he just successfully completed his third Beginning Racer Program clinic, in which he learned the finer points of riding a fluid echelon and handling his bike in close quarters. (Also, he won a $150 gift card raffled to clinic attendees by clothing company Eliel Cycling.)

Bicycle Sport Shop’s Beginning Racer Program is a progressive series of five cycling clinics, aimed at equipping cyclists with the skills and knowledge necessary to race their bikes with confidence. The clinics are led by the Bicycle Sport Shop-sponsored racing team, Super Squadra, and held during the Driveway Series races.

The next Beginning Racer Program is on May 19, and will focus on sprinting. You can register for the clinic, here, and also earn a chance at winning a $25 gift card donated by Bicycle Sport Shop. This Q&A is the first in a series of brief Beginning Racer profiles, exploring what drew these riders to the competitive side of the sport.

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How did you get into cycling?

I had a couple friends that were crazy into cycling. I used to make fun of them, because it seemed like that’s all they did. That was 11 years ago, when I was 35, and now cycling is all I like to do. I ride five days a week, at least. Saturday and Sunday are our club rides. Those are pretty standard. Then, I do a lot of indoor training on my KICKR during the week, intervals and stuff.

 

Tell us about your first race?

I never really wanted to race, but we have a couple guys on the team who’re really fast, and doing well in the TXBRA series. One of those guys is moving, though, and I’m currently the president of the club, so I figured I should step up and participate, and try and improve the club’s standing in the TXBRA rankings. My first race was last year at the Pace Bend road race. I could’ve done a little better, I placed 13th in our age group, the Master’s Category 4/5 race. It was raining, so that added an element of drama. But there weren’t any other incidents, everything worked out.

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So what motivated you to do the BRP?

One of the many reasons I haven’t been doing a lot of racing is because I’m terrified of crashes. I figured I could pick up some really great bike handling skills at these clinics, and that would help keep me safer in criteriums and other races. I really like the cornering drills. That really changed the way I take turns at speed, I realized I was doing that completely wrong. Also, the three other guys who’re doing these clinics and myself now practice bumping into each other on our team rides. Everyone looks at us like we’re nuts, but it’s helped us get comfortable riding really close to other people, seeing that it’s not a big deal, and not panicking.

 

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220 Miles of Biking Bliss

April 8, 2016

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Austin has reached an important turning point in its evolution to becoming a great place to ride a bike.  There are more people than ever riding bikes on our city’s streets, but all too often friends and acquaintances say that they are no longer willing to take a chance riding in the city due to our crowded roads and distracted, impatient drivers, and there are too many folks who won’t consider trying cycling for themselves and their families because they’re scared for their well being.

We can, and must, do something about that!  Please join me in working to improve the environment for cycling in Austin by taking 3 simple steps that will help implement the city’s Bicycle Master Plan. The Bicycle Master Plan will create 220 miles of “all ages and abilities” protected bike lanes and trails, a city-wide system that would allow anyone from 8 to 80 to feel safe and secure riding in them.  This will encourage the 50% of Austinites who want to ride bikes regularly to do so because they will have physical protection from vehicle traffic, with an added bonus of removing 20,000 cars from our inner city streets every weekday.

Three easy steps to success to begin transforming Austin into the best American city in which to ride a bike–

#1—Sign Bike Austin’s petition to encourage Mayor Adler and the City Council to fully fund the Bicycle Master Plan.  http://ourstreets.bikeaustin.org/.  (And take the next step by RSVP’ing for their rally on April 26th to deliver those petitions to City Hall)

#2—Take the City of Austin Mobility Survey with an emphasis on cycling and pedestrian facilities.  On question #4 please check “Construct missing segments in the street, sidewalk and bicycle networks.”  On question #8 choose “Local Mobility Needs” as your top choice.

#3—Join Bike Austin and support the great work they are doing to represent the cycling community with their education, outreach and advocacy for cycling in Austin.

Thanks for your consideration of this important opportunity. Working together we can live in a city that prioritizes safe, convenient mobility for everyone who wants to ride a bike for transportation and recreation.

It’s Time to Ride!
Hill Abell

Super Squadra’s Beginning Racer Program at The Driveway!

March 2, 2016

Ah, spring in Austin… bluebonnets bloom, the sounds of SXSW fill the air, and bike racers around central Texas prepare their two-wheeled steeds, shake out their legs, and focus their minds on the Driveway Race Series.

Held on a 1.8-mile car racing track in east Austin, the Driveway Series brings together a wide variety of cyclists, from newbie racers to local Pros. It’s the highlight of the week for most local racers, and a great entry-point into criterium racing for new and aspiring racers.

I first found out about the Driveway Series when I lived in Boston I had only raced two criteriums prior and was unsure of what to expect. I imagined a small, perhaps disorganized event, similar to most grassroots competitions. I was very wrong. The Driveway Series is a well-oiled and incredibly organized machine. Spectators line the course. Children eagerly anticipate the always-exciting kids race. And free beer and cider flow.

Today, when friends from around the country come to visit me, they leave green with envy after attending the Driveway Series. The casual, but also professional, event where we can both mingle with friends and test our skills and fitness in the one of the country’s best weeknight races, which certainly contributes to Austin’s status as a cycling Mecca.

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Photo Cred: Alex Roszko

Last year, I recall counting down the days until my first Driveway Series race. I was filled with pre-race jitters at the season opener in March. I looked around the Category 3/4 field, not knowing a single participant. I’d done my fair share of Strava stalking to find average speeds and results, but I was still nervous. Criterium racing can be a daunting experience for any racer. I didn’t know a single thing about tactics or pack riding, and I ended up taking long and hard pulls on the front leading into the final laps. I blew up and needless to say, I didn’t take home the win. But the thrill of finishing my first Driveway race unscathed, and the throbbing feeling in my legs long afterward, is something I’ll always remember.

For new and less experienced racers, I suggest attending the Bicycle Sport Shop Beginning Race Program, a series of cycling clinic series ran by the shop’s elite racing team, Super Squadra p/b Eliel Cycling. These clinics are designed to instill new racers with the necessary skills to compete confidently and safely. Super Squadra is a team with years of experience and national titles under its belt, and these clinics provide a great opportunity to learn the best criterium racing techniques and tactics from some of the state’s top cyclists.

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The Beginning Racer Program is a series of five clinics with a progressive curriculum, starting with basics like riding in close quarters and cornering, and moving onto more advanced skills like riding in a fluid echelon formation and positioning for sprints. As each clinic builds on the next, you’ll discover newfound confidence on your bike and a deeper understanding of the nuances of criterium racing. Heck, you might even walk away with the coveted leader’s jersey at the end of a Driveway Series race!

As an added bonus for attending the clinics, male category 5 and female category 4 riders will receive TWO upgrade points per clinic. Here is the official flyer for the clinics.

If you have any questions regarding what the clinics entail, please join us Monday March 14 at our Lamar store for a happy hour, a brief presentation on the clinics, and a Q&A with the members of Super Squadra p/b Eliel Cycling. The first Bicycle Sport Shop Beginning Race Program is schedule for the Tuesday, March 15, preceding the start of the Driveway Series.

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Ridden and Reviewed: Specialized Diverge Elite

February 22, 2016

“Please don’t get a flat.”

That’s what I muttered to myself as I realized I didn’t bring a tube when I set out to give the Specialized Diverge Elite a proper test ride on the Holey Roller course in Smithville, TX on Friday afternoon. I grabbed the 56cm Diverge from our Rental Department, threw on Speedplays and a Garmin mount, and I was ready to hit every road terrain conceivable.

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The Specialized Diverge falls into the broad category of All-Road bikes. Is it a cross bike with slick tires? Is it a road bike with fatter tires? Carving the niche for the all-road bike means getting down to the technical features of the bike. It has the classic endurance geometry that Specialized has refined with years of making the renowned Roubaix, sporting a taller head tube for more upright riding and a slightly longer wheelbase than a standard road bike for increased stability on looser sections of roads. For added vibration reduction, the bike features ZERTZ inserts on the fork and seatstays, and a cobble-gobbler seatpost for additional vertical compliance. On the Diverge Elite, we get the incredibly stiff yet compliant DSW smartweld frame and a carbon fork. The combination of all these features gives you an incredibly smooth ride that doesn’t necessitate stopping every 15 miles to realign your spine and shake out your hands.

I wanted to push the bike and myself to the limits, so rather than ride the Holey Roller course at a leisurely pace, I decided to up the watts and go for KOM for the entire course. All 50 miles of it. If you’re doing the Holey Roller this year, there’s a challenge for you at the end of the article.

Strava Route for Holey Roller

The first section of the course is on standard Texas pavement, relatively smooth with some chip seal patches along the way. The bike rolled along with ease as the plush 32mm Roubaix tires made short work of the rougher patches. It wasn’t until mile 12 that I could test out its gravel crushing capabilities.

This first gravel section was the mildest. I was chugging along at around 23-25mph in these sections, and admittedly was skeptical if the bike could handle these higher speeds in this terrain. But this is where it really WOW’d me. I never lost a bit of traction in the marble sized gravel. When I stood up to put power on the uphills, the bike never washed around beneath me.

The downhill sections were rougher. The gravel got bigger, and the washboards caused by car tires made me feel like I was riding a BMX pump track. Still, the bike never faltered and tracked perfectly through these sections around mile 17.

The farther along I got into the course, the more I appreciated what Specialized had created. The Diverge Elite is a great value at $1,499. Equipped with the updated Tiagra 10 speed, courtesy of Shimano’s trickle-down effect, the price drops in comparison to other models yet provides tried and true Shimano shifting.

Back to the ride.

The Holey Roller course has a long, formidable gravel hill to tackle around the halfway point. I was still making good time, but I noticed my heart rate pumping towards +173bpm. I figured I should hydrate but, “No! My bottle was gone!” I assume somewhere along the course it rattled free of its cage, leaving me parched and in pursuit of the KOM with only a small amount of water left in my other bottle. I pushed on. I was too far out and too committed to stop now. And pushing this bike to the limit was too much fun!

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At this point, I had reached the second leg of the course. The scenery changed abruptly. I came out of the tall pine forest, some of which was ravaged by previous years’ fires, and into a bucolic paradise. On previous gravel rides on my race bike, I had to carry a bandolier of tubes and still call someone to pick me up (5 flats is my limit). The Diverge gave me the confidence to plow through the choppier sections without hesitation. Sure, at times I second guessed going 30mph down a gravel road, but the bike didn’t. I got that same white-knuckle thrill I do from riding BMX.

I rounded the last few turns and hopped back onto the original road where I started this ride. One final hill was left, and the KOM was in my sights. Cresting over the top and seeing that smiley faced water tower was a relief. I got to test out one last critical capacity of a bike — high speed descending. The beefy tires hugged the road like no other as I careened at 45mph into Rocky Hill Ranch.

Versatile. That’s my one-word summation of the bike. Want to do some light bike touring? The Diverge has front and rear rack mounts for your adventure needs. Doing a gravel race? The clearance on the bike is immense, accommodating up to a 35mm tread. All those compliance features smooth out the edges of a rough ride, but don’t sap all your power. For central Texas and beyond, the Diverge is an ideal option. And again, $1,499! It’s a whole lotta bike that won’t break your bank.

Now, the KOM. For those of you participating in the 2016 Holey Roller, I have a challenge for you. The male and female KOM/QOM on the segment BSS Holey Roller 2016 will get a Bicycle Sport Shop prize package! Just upload the route to Strava and we’ll contact the winners. The prizes will be at the Lamar location Monday after the ride.

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