Redesigned Nobby Nic and brand new Big Betty, plus new casings covering cross-country to downhill
By Seb Stott
Schwalbe has just unveiled its 2021 mountain bike tyre lineup and it includes two new tread patterns alongside a range of five casing options that will be rolled out across the MTB range.
All told, there are 144 new mountain bike tyre options from Schwalbe when you add up all the casing, compound and width combinations.
Schwalbe has expanded and renamed its range of tyre casings in a bid to cater to different riding disciplines and – in theory – make things easier to understand. It’s also tweaked the construction of the casings compared to older models.
Tyre casings are a tricky trade-off between weight and puncture-resistance, suppleness and stability, and rolling speed and damping for rough terrain control.
In a bid to suit the needs of everyone, there are now five casing options to suit the full spectrum of mountain biking:
Although Schwalbe has made subtle tweaks to the exact construction recipes, the SuperGround casing is equivalent to the outgoing Snakeskin models and the SuperGravity, SuperDownhill and SuperRace all have close equivalents in the old Schwalbe range.
The SuperTrail casing is completely new though, offering a middle ground to aggressive trail riders who find the Snakeskin tyres a little too flimsy, or enduro riders who want a little more suppleness and less weight than a SuperGravity tyre. Based on how it’s marketed, this new casing is probably roughly equivalent to the EXO+ casing in the Maxxis family.
In combination with these five casing options, Schwalbe still offers its four Addix compounds: SuperSoft, Soft, Speedgrip and Speed.
Softer compounds provide more grip and damping but roll slower and wear out faster.
A featherweight tyre with a cross-country casing and super-sticky downhill compound wouldn’t be much fun, so Schwalbe only pairs stickier compounds with the chunkier casings and tread patterns.
Luckily, Schwalbe provided this table to make clear which compounds and casings are available with each of its tread patterns.
While the Big Betty name is nothing new to Schwalbe, the 2021 tyre is new in all but name.
The aggressive tread pattern is available with the SuperDownhill, SuperGravity and SuperTrail casings. Although it can be used front or rear, Schwalbe recommends it as a rear tyre in combination with a Magic Mary up-front.
The laterally-aligned centre knobs are claimed to give it plenty of braking grip while reducing rolling resistance compared to the Magic Mary.
As a rear-biased, gravity-focused tyre with an eye on rolling speed, it should stack up against the likes of the Maxxis DHR2. We’ll let you know how it compares in due course.
The Nobby Nic is designed to be a versatile all-rounder for trail and all-mountain riding.
According to Schwalbe “the profile design has been reworked in detail and made more aggressive to take into account the development of modern bikes.”
The brand says it now works a little better in slippery conditions and responds better to hard cornering.
New to indoor cycling? Here are a few tips from the Buycycle team to help you lock down your training habit.
So you've got your subscription to a training app, and you're ready to lay down some watts and get fit. Indoor cycling generally entails a bit of suffering but it doesn't need to be a terrible experience; whether you're a KOM chaser or you have only a few indoor km’s on the saddle, a few simple steps will make the whole process something you won't want to quit after the first ride.
Not everyone has a garage or dedicated pain cave.
Indoor cycling trainers come in all shapes and sizes, and not everyone has the luxury of a dedicated pain cave where their trainer can live full time. It's important to consider where you are setting up, not only for your own sanity but also for those who live around you.
Have a look at the floor, is it carpeted, tiled, or concrete? Trainers are heavy, and you're going to be sweating bullets, so if it's a surface that you want to keep scratch and sweat-free, consider a mat. There are plenty of purpose-built trainer mats available, though you can use a towel or some lock flooring. A pretty cool mat is actually a strip of astroturf purchased from the local Builders warehouse.
Turbo trainers are noisy. Today's best turbo & smart trainers are noticeably quieter than the older generations, but even those quiet ones can test the patience of significant others, roommates, and downstairs neighbors. If you can, try to put your trainer in a separate room or garage. If you do set up inside the house, consider a bit of soundproofing for your guest bedroom turned pain cave; something as simple as a towel under the door quells quite a few decibels.
Staying cool while your riding is essential not only in terms of comfort but also performance
if your body gets too hot it will prevent you from reaching a peak in your training. Usually, the breeze from moving forward in space works to evaporate sweat and keep you cool, but when you're stuck in place, that's no longer an option.
So with that being said, you're going to want a fan, maybe even two. We suggest if possible to put one in front and one in the back at a 5 or 7 o’clock angle for maximum cooldown.
If you’re looking to create the ultimate training space, The Wahoo Kickr Headwind is a smart fan designed for indoor training able to pair with your Kickr trainer to simulate wind speed or pair to your TickR HR Monitor to be controlled by your Heart Rate. Although you could also grab a fan or two from your local retail store.
In the real world, it's helpful to see where you're going. In the virtual world, it's good to see what power you're putting down on the pedals.
When you're hunkered down in the depths of an interval, the last thing you want to do is break your neck to see if you're still on target for that KOM or how long you have to remain in your current effort. Especially if you're riding with aero bars, consider your line of sight and don't place your TV, computer, or tablet too high.
Finishing a workout at 99 percent intensity is better than not finishing it at all.
Some days you just don't have it in you to push big watts, while on other days you are feeling like you could push start a Boeing, and efforts that should put you deep in a hole barely spike your heart rate. Most indoor cycling apps designed for training have an intensity scale that adjusts your upcoming targets, and it's there for a reason.
Intervals are supposed to be hard, but if a workout just isn't working for you, there is no shame in dropping it a few percent or bumping it up to get the most out of it. Beware, bumping a workout up too early could result in a catastrophic explosion as the reps build-up while dropping down before you’ve warmed up will reduce the desired training effect.
ERG mode will adjust the resistance to maintain the desired power no matter your cadence.
If you have a smart trainer, ERG mode lets the trainer dictate the resistance rather than leaving you trying to find the right combination of gearing and cadence to hit a specific power.
If it’s set to 200 watts it will provide 200 watts of resistance whether you're spinning 80rpm or 110rpm, no matter what the cog on the cassette.
This is great if you're riding a workout with specific targets because the trainer will force you to do the work. If you're riding or racing in Zwift or using an app like Rouvy or FulGaz, you'll want to use Sim mode, so the trainer tailors resistance based on what's happening on the screen, such as climbs and descents.
While ERG mode has made indoor training more efficient, it has its caveats, and there is a learning curve. If you back off a little bit or start to get tired, the trainer will up the resistance to maintain the defined wattage, which can result in what's called the 'spiral of death’ — the trainer continues to up the resistance, and in turn, your tired legs continue to slow. Your cadence falls until your legs come to a grinding halt.
To avoid the spiral of death, before the start of an interval up your candace and hit the beginning of the effort hard to get on top of the gear to prevent getting bogged. On the other side, at the end of the interval ride through the end and wait for the trainer to lower the resistance; if you let up with one second to go, you will find yourself approaching the spiral of death.
There is a bit more to riding inside than just whacking your bike into the trainer and pedaling away; you're going to need a device to run your training app or entertainment, water, snacks, and maybe even your phone, if it's not on strava, did you really ride the trainer?
Most of us haven't figured out how to make things levitate, so you're going to need somewhere to put all of this stuff.
If you've already dropped a heap of cash on your new smart trainer, and don't want to spend a bundle more, a couple of sheet music stands or an ironing board can be the ideal solution. They are cheap, stable, height and tilt adjustable, and best of all they pack away easily.
A towel over your handlebars will catch the sweat droplets and keep your expensive components salt-free
When you're deep in the pain cave, it’s not uncommon to be literally dripping with sweat, giving your bars, stem, top tube, and headset a lukewarm salt bath.
We've all seen the horror stories online of someone pulling their tape off and finding a salty monstrosity underneath; draping a towel over your bars can help to mitigate the exposure, plus you have something to wipe your face with as you ride. We prefer the microfiber, camp-style gym towels to cotton or beach towels because they dry a bit faster, and can be bought pretty cheaply. A sweat catcher is also a great addition to your training accessory list.
If you're planning on training a few times a week, it's worth grabbing a couple, so you can rotate them through the washing machine.
Whether you're listening to some Hardbass gym technol to get you through a workout, a podcast, or watching a TV show, the people you live with may not want to listen to it as well, so you're going to want a good set of headphones for the trainer if you don't already have a pair.
We've gone through quite a few sets of wired and wireless headphones in the hundreds of hours we've spent on the trainer, and the best solution we've found is completely wireless earbuds like the Apple AirPod Pro. We especially like these headphones because the noise-canceling can drown out even the loudest wheel-on trainers.
If Apple isn't your vibe and you want to still hear your surroundings we suggest The Aftershokz Aeropex Bluetooth Bone Conduction Headphones
We especially love these because when you inevitably end up on the open road after turning yourself into a beast of a cyclist with indoor training, these headphones allow you to listen to your favorite tunes with clarity while being able to hear the traffic pedestrians and your mates asking you to take it easy on them.
These are just a few of the tips we have to make sure you have the best indoor experience, If you have any tips for your fellow cycling enthusiasts let us know in the comments below.
Original article credited to:
Ian Boswell has packed a lot of experience into his 29 years. A talented multi-sport athlete out of Bend, Oregon, the 29-year-old Boswell compiled an impressive pro resume, including riding a Grand Tour (the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta a España), before a series of concussions led him to leave the roads behind this past January. These days, Boswell’s races are on gravel—and no longer his full-time source of income. Boswell’s new career involves creating a full-time gravel program and hosting Breakfast with Boz, a podcast for Wahoo Fitness, makers of cycling tech including one device Boswell considers a game-changer for riders from the pro tour to every niche of cycling: the indoor smart trainer.
Trainers have evolved immensely over the last 10 to 15 years and today are so highly customizable that riding one feels like the real thing—and delivers major fitness and endurance gains when you do head back to the roads or trails.
Here are 5 ways Boswell says using the trainer to ride off of the roads can make you fitter, faster, and more efficient on them.
One of the biggest benefits of the smart trainer is it allows riders—and their coaches—to control every element of the ride, ensuring that workouts are completed as specified. Boswell’s coach sends him a workout file, and the trainer executes the ride, shifting gears and changing resistance according to the rider’s desired effort.
That personalization and push makes indoor training incredibly productive. Boswell describes it as, in a sense, forcing you to just do the workout. The more you do so, the more data you get about your fitness and ability, which you can then learn from and build on, thus further tailoring your training specifically to you. And onward the cycle repeats.
One of the benefits of riding indoors on a trainer is the freedom to be purely focused on effort and the workout at hand—no stoplights, no traffic, no flat tires. No outside interference.
“[The trainer] is so controlled,” Boswell explains. “The last thing you want to encounter in the middle of a five-minute, full gas effort is an intersection stop. You can just work out uninterrupted by any sort of real-world distractions or influences.”
Boswell’s suped-up Wahoo setup is a true 360-degree real-ride simulator. He’s got the KICKR, the CLIMB grade simulator, and HEADWIND fan, which does seem more appealing than dodging motorists at four-way stops and roundabouts. But even with just the KICKR, your indoor ride feels even more like the real thing, thanks to its new AXIS feet.
Boswell explains that the KICKR AXIS feet create five degrees of side-to-side mobility, which gives the same sensations and muscle stimulus as riding open roads or trails.
Pairing the KICKR Smart Trainer with the KICKR CLIMB (which replaces your front wheel), lets you raise and lower your bike to match ascents of up to 20 per cent and descents of -10 per cent. But even without the CLIMB, the KICKR can still automatically adjust resistance to simulate climbs up to a 20% incline. So you can take on any personal Everest challenge any time, no travel required.
That’s great for high-end athletes like Boswell, but also for anyone who doesn’t have 30 hours a week to dedicate to riding. Most of Boswell’s indoor workouts tend to be shorter in duration (60 to 90 minutes) and more efficient.
A ride that might take two hours of total effort outdoors (from getting dressed and prepping the bike to returning home and cleaning it) can be completed in half that on the trainer—with no dead time. Finding the perfect road and conditions are no longer viable excuses.
Older trainers forced you to guess about your power based on the gears on your bike and the resistance on the tire. But a direct drive trainer like the KICKR connects directly to your wheel gear and delivers pinpoint via the power meter, which constantly records and calibrates your speed, distance, power, torque, and cadence without connecting any extra sensors. According to Boswell, that makes the trainer indispensable for workouts—not just those five-minute, VO2 max-effort intervals, but the recovery intervals in between.
“Outside, by the time I get to the bottom of one interval, it’s already time to start the next. But the trainer automatically drops you into your recovery zone; you continue to pedal and get those adaptations of proper recovery without any guessing or interruptions.”
In fact, Boswell believes many coaches would actually prefer to have their riders do all their focused, high-intensity workouts exclusively indoors, just for that control and accuracy.
When it comes to trainers, Boswell says riders usually fall into one of two camps, both of which can enjoy the many benefits of indoor training.
The first are folks who ride for fitness and performance. Once their trainer is set up, they can subscribe to an online workout library like Wahoo’s The Sufferfest and download a training plan. Riders get a 10-week structured training program for free with a KICKR purchase, too.
“That would give you a really good introduction into what it’s like to train, how workouts are made, and how you can create a specific plan to participate in,” Boswell says. During the early days of lockdown, daily Sufferfest workouts allowed Boswell to continue his full-time training indoors with the same intensity.
The second group are the social riders. “They need people, they go on group rides, they have friends who ride,” Boswell says. Thanks to virtual ride platforms like Zwift, RGT, Bkool, and Rouvy, they can now do so via their smart trainer.
“That whole notion of, ‘I don’t want to ride inside because I’m alone’ is now irrelevant. You can go onto these platforms and ride the same ride with your friends and your community from the comfort and safety of your home,” says Boswell.
Italian helmet maker, Kask, has been a staple at the highest levels of cycling for many years. Their helmets have protected the noggins of Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas and Egan Bernal as they have won Grand Tour after Grand Tour. Italians know a thing or two about style and the country is home to arguably the world’s most advanced injection moulding technology. That combination drives their product development and, subsequently the all-new Kask Mojito 3.
Kask Mojito 3 Features:
With the all-new Mojito 3, Kask wanted to deliver a helmet that was safe and functional for road, mountain or gravel riding. No, it doesn’t have a visor (which isn’t requisite for MTB, but common), but it doesn’t look out of place on the singletrack — especially if you are the hard-charging XC type. That said, the overall look of the Mojito 3 is definitely sleek. It sits close to the head and doesn’t look bulky at all.
While Kask has chosen not to employ MIPS with the new Mojito 3, they are proud to say it is certified by CEN TC 158 / WG 11 (Working Group 11). To learn more about Kask’s commitment to helmet safety, you can go to kask.com/safety. Further, Kask states that significant improvements in impact protection were achieved over the Mojito X, the predecessor to the Mojito 3. Those are a 25% frontal, 32% rear and 12% top impact improvements. All that said, my personal preference is always MIPS, but it’s clear that Kask has put a lot of research into the Mojito 3 and it shows in its fit, comfort and overall feel.
One of the most important features of any helmet is overall fit. With this new design, the Mojito 3 uses a new Octo Fit retention system and thick, Blue Tech padding. With Octo Fit, you get a familiar dial system, but it also features easy width adjustments and up/down placement as well. Most retention systems are a “set and forget” type of deal, but I felt like the Octo Fit’s up/down movement was something I adjusted on every ride (even if it was just slightly).
As it turned out, the placement of the retention system became quite important when interfacing with sunglasses. I would say that sunglasses with curved temples (Bolle Lightshifter) were consistently better than those with straight temples. In fact, I could never get the Tifosi Sledge to work well, but I could get the Smith Attack Max and MTB to work if I adjusted the retention system just right. The moral of the story here: bring your sunglasses along to the shop so you can try the combination on for yourself. Fiddle with it and you’ll hopefully be able to get your glasses to work like I was ultimately able to do.
Alright, let’s talk about on-bike performance. Once in place, the comfortable straps disappear. The yoke adjustment did take a few rides to get situated, but everything sits just right and has since remained flush with my face. With a faux leather chin strap, I’m feeling quite chic (and comfy), but the buckle has proven to be more difficult to release than I’d expect. You have to squeeze it perfectly to get it to disengage. It’s not a huge deal, really, but a bit odd since buckles are hardly new hardware in the industry.
Since Kask bills the Mojito 3 as an all-rounder, I’ve spent hundreds of miles on the road, gravel and singletrack. No matter the terrain, the Mojito 3 stays put and feels absolutely secure. I love the head-cradling feel of the Octo Fit and Blue Tech combo on my shaved head. Once situated, it has always stayed put.
As far as ventilation goes, the Mojito 3 does a great job keeping my noggin cool. There are definitely more airy helmets out there, but I’ve felt very comfortable on mid-day rides in the ’90s. Of course, road speeds are best, but even at slower MTB speeds, I didn’t feel overly warm. Airflow is definitely felt and the helmet remains particularly quiet at speed (especially compared to the Specter WaveCel, for example).
The Blue Tech padding is THICK. I’m not kidding when I say it’s almost twice as thick as the padding on my other helmets. The benefits are obvious because this helmet feels absolutely fantastic on my head. In the product launch presentation, Kask engineers stressed how much they obsessed over the comfort and I’d say they nailed it. But, with all that thick padding, you do get an enormous amount of sweat buildup. Once saturated, it drips profusely (luckily, not into your sunglasses). And, at the end of any given ride, you get to squeeze a waterfall out of it. What I’ve settled on doing is just squeezing some out mid-ride every 30 minutes and that always keeps it from becoming oversaturated.
Over the course of testing, I was more than thrilled with the fit and overall function of the Kask Mojito 3. It looks downright sexy (I think) and it features excellent ventilation. Tops of all are the ultra-comfortable fit, which makes this one a pleasure to wear. However, on the safety side, it’s hard to overlook the omission of MIPS. That said, Kask swears by their research and stands by this helmet as being safe and protective. Once you get past the challenges of getting your sunglasses to fit, the Mojito 3 is a fantastic helmet.
Your first race can be a scary experience & preparation is key.
I have put together some tips from various sources to help guide you through your race day journey.
The cyclist’s week begins when others end.
Day of the big ride, solo, club or friends. Normally this 2-hour ride turns into 3 or 4 with a 2-hour coffee shop break, Getting up earlier than your body is designed to do on a Sunday,
Bicycle maintenance is one of the most important aspects of cycling. Whether you're a commuter, a racing snake, or just a weekend warrior out on the trails a couple of times a month, you always need to stay on top of basic maintenance to prevent unsafe conditions and costly surprises down the road which will ultimately end up becoming a frustration. Bike maintenance doesn’t have to be difficult or cost you an arm and a leg either.
You can keep your bike riding smoothly by following these simple bicycle maintenance tips.
Interval training is tough but it’s the quickest and most effective way of training to become a faster rider. Coach to the pros Alan Milway explains how.
Whether you're just trying to get your fitness up from the ground or aiming for another podium, or you simply want to give a challenge to the guys on your Saturday coffee ride which always seems to end up being a race, even though everyone agreed on the WhatsApp group that it would be a relaxed one.
Interval training is a great and effective method that can significantly improve fitness, it especially works well for mountain bikers — not only do mountain bikers need high levels of fitness to simply complete the climbs, mountain bikers also need a burst of sustained acceleration on every ride to tackle changes in terrain and gradient.