Bikes, Journalism, and Integrity with CyclingTips' James Huang
James Huang, Global Technical Editor of CyclingTips, is one of the most-trusted cycling journalists in the industry today — and for good reason. He brings knowledge, experience, humor, and integrity to everything he covers. In this episode, Josh and James have a great, wide-ranging conversation — from their similar histories in getting into the cycling industry, to how the cycling world has changed, to the relationship of cycling journalism and product manufacturers, and much more.
Got a question you’d like to ask? Text or leave a voicemail at the Marginal Gains Hotline: +1-317-343-4506 or just leave a comment in this post!
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TY a ton for writing this, it was quite helpful and helped me quite a bit
On one of your previous podcasts, you discussed aerodynamics marginal gains on gravel. I recall that you said that deep section wheels would provide some benefit even with gravel tires. ENVE recently did a Q&A on Bikerumor, and they said the following:
“Q: It seems to be an industry wide agreement that gravel specific wheels (rims) should be quite shallow. As the American gravel scene seems to be the main motor in gravel R&D, with popular events like DK and others, why have the industry and ENVE in particular, decided that the aero benefit of a taller rim + a well-fitting tire, is less important on gravel, even when the ride is 200km + long?
Would love to hear your thoughts on this, both for your own company and others. Shout out from Norway! -JD
ENVE: Sure, and a great question. ENVE has been looking at this for many years at this point and we asked ourselves the question of â€œaerodynamics in gravelâ€ back in 2014 in the development leading up to the launch of the SES AR Series of wheels. What we learned is that basically once the tire exceeds 32mm and gains any side knobs/tread, you lose the majority of aerodynamic benefits. To make an aero rim for a larger tire is possible but it starts to get crazy wide and therefore exceedingly heavy, and again, this is assuming there is little to no tread on your tire.
In short, the value proposition just isnâ€™t there. On top of that, there is the fact that gravel riding is often on rough roads, if youâ€™ve ridden or talked to anyone whoâ€™s raced DK, you know that the race is rough and also pretty slow. On a long, rough course like DK, a shallow rim with a refined laminate like the ENVE G23 provides unprecedented compliance and therefore comfort which is so valuable. Also, most gravel rides and races include a lot of climbing. DK is over 11K feet. Again, lightweight trumps aerodynamics at the speeds most are climbing gravel roads at."
Question for Josh:
How different are the hoods from Shimano/SRAM/Campy, aerodynamically? If you imagine a rider in the drops, that hood and brake lever is going to be one of the first things hitting the air, and I’m surprised we haven’t yet heard from any of those manufacturers about how they put their levers in the wind tunnel. If people will pay a lot for an aerodynamic handlebar, presumably they’d do the same for a more aero hood, especially if ergonomics were preserved.
Hi Josh and Team! Love the podcast! I noticed more and more pro teams running what look to be custom foam pads for their time trial arm cups and this got me thinking back to your “Contact Points and Marginal Gains” episode. This no doubt is likely a low hysteresis material, but I would be interested in knowing if they perform any frequency response characterization for the foam for each rider. Adding this foam adds another spring/damper to the system and it’s performance also depends on the rider’s weight on each pad. Similar to tuning a mountain bike suspension, I wonder if these foam pads can be “tuned” for a riders weight. And if it could be tuned, I would like to hear Josh’s opinion on the optimal setup. Reject high frequency vibrations for a “smoother” feeling ride? or reject low frequency vibrations to dampen large impacts?
Love the podcast. Keep it up.
A question for the next episode: in the Netherlands, as in other countries, MyLaps Chips (or something similar) are often mandatory for races. Also mandatory is for them to be attached to the front fork of a bike. This makes the aero penalty roughly similar for all riders in a race.
However, a small advantage may be gained by covering the attached chip with a little rubber ring, cut from a (mountainbike) inner tube. At a TT a fellow aero geek rejected this idea because, he argued, it did not only smoothen the chip, but also added surface to a very exposed part of the bike. The penalty would be greater than the gain.
The question is: who is right? My opponent with the uncovered chip, or me, with the chip covered with an inner tube?
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