Thursday, July 25, 2013

Friend of Ben's Cycle - Bike Camping Trip

Camp fire success with a can of hobo beans.

Specialized Unveils New Line-Up of Cross Country Mountain Bikes

VeloNews posted a review of the new Epic 29er mountain bike series from Specialized. Riders coming into Ben's Cycles have three awesome cross-country options for high-performance trail riding: The S-Works Epic, Epic World Cup, and Stumpjumper hardtail. 

I've been riding the Stumpie hardtail (alloy version) for a few years and love the responsiveness.

Specialized launches latest Epic 29er line for 2014

  • By Logan VonBokel
  • Published Jul. 16, 2013
DURANGO, Colorado (VN) — The venerable Specialized Epic full-suspension XC bike is getting a facelift for 2014. A complete frame redesign is on tap for the bike, which will only be available as a 29er, and for the first time ever, Specialized will offer two distinct frame lines under the Epic headline.
The Epic was the first full-suspension bike to win a world championship under Burry Stander. Last season, Yaroslav Kuhlavy piloted the Epic 29er to World Cup wins as well as Olympic gold, again, two firsts for a full-suspension 29er.

Specialized has completely revamped its cross-country lineup for 2014. The S-Works Epic, Epic World Cup, and Stumpjumper hardtail now give Specialized riders three options when choosing a cross-country race weapon. Photo: Logan VonBokel |

Two models, one name

The Epic has long been a single-frame design with a variety of builds and frame materials being offered. For 2014, Specialized will offer two frame designs: the classic 100mm travel Epic and the new 95mm, single-front-ring drivetrain specific, World Cup (WC).
In essence, riders will now have a choice: the standard Epic, similar in design intention to the one currently on the market, or a stripped-out, race-day version.
The bottom bracket of the 95-mm World Cup bikes is 2mm higher, the chainstays are 9mm shorter, and the headtube is a half a degree steeper when compared to the standard Epic, which carries over a nearly identical geometry from the 2013 Epic.
The World Cup offers an extremely aggressive platform. The chainstays are nearly a centimeter shorter, making the bike feel compact and whippy. The seat stays are the same length as the standard Epic, as the 5mm reduction in travel allowed frame designers to recycle those.
The steeper headtube of the WC paired with 5mm reduction in travel of the Rock Shox Sid World Cup makes the front end feel much more aggressive. Specialized claims that both models of the Epic are stiffer than the current model. The increased front-end stiffness could be easily attributed to the new wheels or the 15mm thru-axle that Specialized has finally come around to stocking on its cross-country bikes.

Build specs

As always with the Epic, every model comes equipped with a Fox shock and Brain inertia valve, which firms up the suspension when it is not needed — on smooth trails, or when climbing, for example. The Brain is relatively unchanged, though it is supposed to have a smoother opening action from the firm setting. Additionally, there are now only five positions, making it easier for riders to tune it to match the RockShox Sid fork with Mini Brain that is spec’d on every model, save the entry level Comp.
The S-Works carbon framed models (both the 95mm and 100mm versions) come equipped with Kashima coated Fox shocks, RockShox Sid World Cups, and Roval SL 29 wheels, making for extremely lightweight, and expensive builds. However, the best balance between build specs and price will be the Marathon, which comes with slightly heavier Roval carbon wheels, SRAM XO, and Magura MT6 stoppers. The Marathon build is only available in the 100mm-travel frame version.
The World Cup will be available in two builds, an S-Works equipped with SRAM XX1, a custom 95mm RockShox Sid World Cup. The Epic Expert WC will be offered with XO1, a RockShox Sid, and Roval carbon 29er wheels. The S-Works WC will also be available in a frameset.
The standard, 100mm version of the frame will be available in S-Works, Expert, Marathon, and Comp builds, spanning a price range of $10,500 to $3,300. The S-Works will use the same 11m carbon as the World Cup model of the same name, while the Marathon and Comp will use lower-grade carbon and the Comp has an aluminum rear triangle.

Builds and prices

Epic S-Works Carbon World Cup: $10,500
Epic S-Works Carbon: $10,500
Epic S-Works Carbon framesets (World Cup or Standard): $5,500
Epic Marathon Carbon: $7,250
Epic Expert Carbon: $6,300
Epic Expert Carbon World Cup: $6,750
Epic Comp Carbon: $4,200
Epic Comp: $3,300

The full-suspension: re-imagined

Until now, carrying two bottles on most full-suspension bikes has been impossible, at least without getting bottles caked in dirt under the down tube or on the back of the seatpost. Riders had to retrofit their bikes in order to carry enough water and tools for an all day adventure; that is, without carrying a pack or stuffing jersey pockets.
The engineering team at Specialized, headed up by Eric Schuda, sought to make the rider’s life easier. The result is what the company is calling SWAT (Storage, Water, Air, and Tools). The SWAT system took three years to engineer, a full year longer than the new Epic took.
The SWAT system, which mounts at the bottle cage using an extra mount bolt on the frame, allows for the use of two water bottles and hides away a multi tool, CO2 canister, and has storage space for a tube. It’s all tucked neatly into the frame.
The first step was to fit two bottle cages inside the front triangle of the Epic, a goal achieved by tucking the custom Fox shock into the top tube and moving the new concentric pivot — like that of the Specialized Camber from last year — higher up the seat tube.
The new shock placement also acts as a storage point for the SWAT multitool. The multi tool has bits for everything a rider should want, including a specially machined 8mm driver for pedals that still fits in the tool without being too bulky. The multitool pulls double-duty as the driver piece for the chain tool, which is integrated into the top cap, along with a spare masterlink.
The World Cup frame will not come standard with the SWAT kit, but the standard 100mm S-Works, Marathon, and Expert carbon models all come equipped with the system.
The SWAT kit can only be used on SWAT Level 3 prepped frames, or frames which have an extra bottle cage bolt on the downtube. As of now, only the Epic, Epic WC, and Stumpjumper are Level 3 bikes.

First rides

I was fortunate to get time on both the S-Works as well as the S-Works World Cup. The S-Works was extremely similar in both build and ride to the model that we reviewed in our cross-country bike VeloLab. The new Brain, with its fewer clicks, did make for a much quicker setup and quickly gave me a middle that was perfect for all-day riding, but when I knew we were about to hit the last descent of the day, I could quickly open the valve. Not being able to make those Brain adjustments on the fly remains a drawback of the Brain compared to other bikes’ remote lock-outs. But most of the time the Brain is great to set and forget.
The World Cup was the standout for me. The Brain of the WC is tuned to be firmer, though not overly so and again has the same five settings as the standard S-Works. Overall, the WC is noticeably more aggressive in both handling and gearing choice. The World Cup is intended for exactly what its named; fast World Cup racing. It’s not a bike for the every-day rider, but perfect for someone looking to upgrade from a hardtail to a full-suspension race bike.
The World Cup was downright impressive on the trail. The 95mm of travel was perfect on every trail we took it in Durango. Surely on more technical descents, the 95mm could be a bit on the short side, but the low weight — our model with pedals and cages was about 21lbs — makes this bike easy to throw around under foot.
For my intentions, racing everything from short tracks to doing some big miles in the high country, the WC is an amazing weapon. The Expert model with XO1 will save buyer’s some coin, and still give riders plenty of room to shed more weight from the wheels and components.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

American Andrew Talansky finished a very respectable 10th in his first Tour de France. His bike? the Cervelo R5, the same bike you can test ride at Ben's Cycles. It's fast, stiff, and capable of getting you to the top of Alpe d' Huez or your local hill climb faster than your friends.

Pro bike: Andrew Talansky's Cervelo R5

Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) entered his first Tour de France with high hopes. He isn't on Cervelo's new RCA model, instead sticking with the R5 VWD he rode last year. The whole team made the move to Shimano's new 11-speed Dura-Ace 9070 Di2 electronic group before the Tour, and he's on the team-issue 3T cockpit and seatpost. He has moved to a Fizik Aliante saddle from the Arione we spotted him on last year.

Talansky rides with a saddle height of 71.5cm and a reach of 53.5cm, from saddle nose to bars. Photo: Caley Fretz |

Here is a slideshow of Talansky's bike!
Alberto Contador of the Saxo Tinkoff pro cycling team finished fourth at the Tour de France. Here's profile of his S-Works SL4 Tarmac.

You can check out the bike at Ben's Cycles. Talk to us about a test ride, and you'll see why this is one of the fastest bikes in the pro peloton. And it can be yours!

Pro bike: Alberto Contador’s Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL4

Sam Dansie
Tour de France
No one can deny Alberto Contador’s (Saxo-Tinkoff) attacking flair during the2013 Tour de France. First he fought Chris Froome (Team Sky) for the yellow jersey and then, in the Alps, tried for a spot on the podium.
The Spaniard eventually finished fourth in the final general classification, slipping down in the rankings in the last few stages after some determined riding by Froome, Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha).
The machine that saw him through the 2013 Tour was a Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL4. Contador rode a custom painted Tarmac SL4 at the start of the Tour, the simple three-colour design drawing on his status as winner of the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta a España. Unfortunately, the bike was damaged in a crash on stage 16, and the 30-year-old swapped back to this identical – save for the paintwork – spare for the remainder of the mountain stages.
Contador has already secured one Grand Tour victory on a Specialized – the 2012 Vuelta a España.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Tour de Speed: Designing the Ultimate Race Bike

Tour de Speed: Designing the Ultimate Race Bike
By Jon Marcus | Published: 
Inside a nondescript steel building in an industrial park just north of Charlotte, North Carolina, a cyclist leans over his handlebars, pedals as hard as he can—and stays precisely in place.
According to the complex data projected on the floor for the rider to track, his bike is going 40 kilometers an hour. But it’s doing that inside the A2 Wind Tunnel, a spinoff of a company founded primarily to test the aerodynamic efficiency of racing cars.
The engineering that takes place in this wind tunnel improves the cyclist’s efficiency by 24.1 percent. And as the Tour de France 2013 heats up, it’s just one way that this technology is being used to make huge advances in a 200-year-old invention that seems about as simple as they come.
“It’s a bike, it’s got two wheels, you pedal it. You’d think not much can change. But conventional wisdom has been challenged on that,” says Kevin Dessart, director of coaching education and athlete development at USA Cycling in Colorado Springs. “The manufacturers and the riders are always looking for the next advantage.”
The bicycle has been evolving since 1817, when the German baron Karl von Drais first built a wooden frame connecting two wheels, which the rider pushed along with his feet. It took until the 1860s for a pair of Frenchmen, Pierre Michaux and Pierre Lallement, to add pedals, which they attached to the hub of the front wheel. The Scotsman Thomas McCall moved the mechanical crank to the rear wheel in 1869.
Early bicycles were made of iron and wood with high seats and solid rubber tires, which made them particularly uncomfortable for the “bicycle jockeys” who rode them on the cobblestone streets of cities. That led to another breakthrough bit of mechanical engineering: the Bike Jockey Strap, the first jockstrap, which was invented in 1874.
The bicycle itself, meanwhile, continued to transform. The large front wheel was made smaller and the saddle was moved back. A chain drive replaced that original crank, and gearing was added. So were pneumatic tires—by another Scotsman, John Boyd Dunlop—to soften the ride, and a rear freewheel was developed to let the rider coast down hills. To help him stop, the cable-pull brake was invented.
And there things stood for decades, despite all of these impressive bursts of technological improvements, constrained largely by the limitations of steel frames.
Today, with international bicycle sales topping $61 billion a year and riders ready to confront the French Alps and the Olympic velodrome in London, engineers have returned to the challenge of improving the design of this seemingly simple machine. New materials have allowed them to reduce the weight of a road-bike frame to about two pounds, down from the 48 pounds of those cumbersome original iron-and-wood models, and shape its once-boxy form into a curvy and almost sensual work of art.
The ultimate goal, of course, is not to look good. It’s to go fast. And computer-aided design and the science of fluid dynamics are steadily increasing efficiency.
The use in bicycles of carbon fiber instead of steel and aluminum has not only reduced the weight of a bicycle frame by one third, says Jean-Luc Callahan, engineering manager for road bikes at Specialized. It also “opened a lot of doors on design—how we manufacture, and the ability to make the frame in different shapes.”
Next comes aerodynamic simulations and wind-tunnel testing. After 200 years, says Callahan—and more than a century of racing—“the industry is still in its infancy in terms of aerodynamic knowledge. There are a lot of theories out there, but even to simulate those properly requires skill, specialized software, and manpower.”
Even the minutia of bicycle design affects the aerodynamics, he says.
Tour de Speed: Designing the Ultimate Race Bike
By Jon Marcus | Published: 
“The helmet is a huge percentage of your drag,” he says. That’s resulted in new styles of helmet, including egg-shaped models. Vertical shifting levers cause wind resistance, so manufacturers have incorporated shifters into the brake levers, and are developing push-button shifting. Some new bikes come with spaces for battery packs and other obtruding components in the frame or seat. Deep wheel rims extending inward toward the hubs are also meant to cut down friction, and can act like sails in a crosswind.
It takes as long as two years to design a new bike for the mass market, Callahan says. Engineers use rapid-prototype machines to build full-sized mockups.
The finished products go into a wind tunnel.
“The smallest change can make a big difference,” says USA Cycling’s Dessart. Aerobars, for instance, which let riders lean far forward, are credited with having helped cyclist Greg LeMond win the Tour de France in 1989. Since then, the space between them has been narrowed, further increasing their aerodynamic efficiency.
Competitive cyclists “are the product testers,” says Dessart, who is himself a cyclist and an Ironman triathlete. They’re the real-world R&D.”
They’re also a little different from the NASCAR drivers with whom general manager Dave Salazar usually works back in that North Carolina wind tunnel.
Sure, says Salazar, a mechanical engineer—there’s a cultural difference. But in the end, he says, “We’re all after the same goal: We’re all just trying to go faster.”
PTC delivers technology solutions that transform the way you create and service your products. 
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Monday, July 15, 2013

Get Your Commute On: Specialized TriCross

For durability and ride quality while commuting, it's hard to beat a steel frame. When you're dealing with potholes and crevices in the pavement, the bumps get evened out with steel.

Specialized has not given up on steel. Here is the TriCross redefined with a triple crankset, to make it up that hill while loaded down, and disc brakes to slow you down consistently in rain or snow!

Here is the initial review from Bicycle Times, a really great little magazine about the bicycle lifestyle.

Stop into the Ben's Cycles pro shop for more details. And check out our wide selection of accessories for commuting, including fenders and lights.

Cyclocross: The Specialized Carbon Crux Pro

Cyclocross Bike Review: The Specialized Carbon Crux Pro

Cross season is almost upon us. It's time to look at your bikes, wheels, tires, and other equipment to make sure you're ready.

Specialized released its carbon Crux last year to great reviews. With a slight redesign and new paint jobs, the new bikes for the 2013-14 season are stunning and will be available soon.

Specialized has spent a great deal of time and energy designing its Crux frame. I'm riding the alloy version now and it has amazing geometry that keeps me centered on the bike, able to make precise off-camber turns. The bike goes where I want it to go!

For a specific review, here is an article from Cyclingnews. My carbon Pro Disc Crux has already been ordered!

Stop in at Ben's Cycles pro shop to learn more about this bike and other cyclocross bikes! We also stock tubular and clincher tires and wheels, shoes, pedals. We'll review and recommend other cross products in future blog posts.

Here too is a profile of Rebecca Rusch's carbon disc crux that she used to win the Dirty Kanza 200 gravel bike race.

Tour De France Bikes: Cav's Specialized Venge

Mark Cavendish's Specialized Venge

Love him or hate him, Mark Cavendish is fast. Wicked fast. He's already won two stages of the Tour de France and, even with one really bad day, sits second in the competition for the green jersey, awarded to the most consistent sprinter in the race.

Cavendish's bike? The Specialized Venge. This frame is a beast: aero like Specialized's time trial bike the Shiv, stiff like the Tarmac. It is pure performance.

You too can ride Cav's bike. Come in to the pro shop and talk with us. We'll get you a test ride so you can see and feel the power, snap, and aerodynamics of this bike. 

Cyclingnews profiled Cav's bike for their Tour coverage. The photo comes from their site. 

Tour de France bikes: Cervelo R5

Irishman Dan Martin, riding for the Garmin-Sharp team at the Tour de France, rides the Cervelo R5 frameset and as of today sits 10th in the overall classification. profiled Martin's Cervelo with its special paint job. Martin won the ninth stage on Cervelo's RCA frame.

You too can own an R5 or any of the other finely-tuned bikes from Cervelo. Stop into Ben's pro shop to get more details. Photo is from

Friday, July 12, 2013

MKE Bike Co. Polo Bruiser with New Polo Specific Prototype Parts

  Our newest Polo Bruiser build featuring a few new polo specific components currently in their testing stages.  Be sure to check our blog and Facebook for further updates.  Head over to our Flickr account here for more photos of this stunning bike!

New Ben's Cycle T-Shirt Now Available

   New Ben's Cycle t-shirt design is now available on our website for sale.  Limited quantities available!  Following the link here to grab one.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Available Soon: Milwaukee Bicycle Co. Polo Hubs

Versatile gearing, 100/120mm spacing, Allen bolt-in axle, ISO disc and 48h drilling.  

Commence drooling, now!

Now In Store Stock: Surly Krampus

Come down to our store and view one of our newest stocking complete bikes, the Surly Krampus!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Ride a Single Speed

Over the last few years, biking to work and for leisure has become an important lifestyle for many people in Milwaukee and Madison, Wis...