Well, 2021 wasn’t quite the return to normalcy we expected, was it? But like in 2020, if we had trouble finding a constant in second year of oddity, there was still the bike (and the end-of-year listicle).
Fortunately, unlike 2020, cycling events have always been happening and I have come to rely on the pace of the Surrey cycling year. The prospect of the East Surrey Hardriders in early March means I can’t let the comfort of Christmas linger for too long. Of course, I’m not going to win, but it’s such an iconic event that you can really say it’s the participation that counts.
It also means I’m going spring in pretty good physical shape, and this year I was in good enough shape to do some decent testing on the bikes in our £ 5,000 road bike group test. The proving ground was a loop that went through Leith Hill and Box Hill, both local to me. The winner, the Giant TCR Advanced Pro 0, was my favorite bike of the year and is the first product on my list.
Giant disc TCR Advanced Pro 0
I’ve lost count of how many TCRs I’ve flown over the past few decades, starting with the bright yellow ONCE in the ’90s, but this one is by far the best (and quieter).
It still looks like a TCR with the top tube tilting sharply. It was quite unusual in the 1990s when it first came out and now it’s unusual again with most modern bikes going for a more horizontal top tube and lower seat stays. But this latest version adds aerodynamics to the compact frame and low weight – all tube profiles are ‘aero optimized’.
This model comes with an Ultegra Di2 groupset, a Giant SLR 1 under 1500g wheelset and a double-sided power meter. The spec was the best on paper, it was the lightest in the test at 7.3kg and on the road the Giant was also the best performing.
When I look at my year’s fitness on Strava, the little orange line peaks around April, coinciding with my time on the TCR. It was so much fun to ride that I went there every opportunity.
We did a group test video for our YouTube channel in the Surrey Hills (click the image above to watch it) and I think you can tell by my cheesy smiles how much I loved driving this bike.
Read more: Full review of the Giant TCR Advanced Pro Disc 0
Wattbike Atom New Generation
In 2020, I spent a lot of time on Zwift – like most people – and it made me realize the importance of a decent indoor setup. I had used a vintage lo-pro with a smart wheeled turbo and both were badly corroded from sweat. I felt particularly sorry for the lo-pro, who had a nasty brown rash that was starting to spread across his delicate blue paint. And when I tried to use the stem for another bike, it turned out that anything that could seize had seized up.
So for 2021 I decided to sort out my interior configuration.
I was not one of the lucky ones to Weekly Cycling who had initially tested the Wattbike Atom but I used one when I had my pedaling efficiency analyzed at the Boardman Center in 2020. Normally we return the products we test but I wanted to keep the Wattbike, so it didn’t There was no choice but to get my credit card released.
At £ 1,999 the Atom is cheaper than the £ 2,299 Tacx Neo bike and the £ 2,999 Wahoo Kickr bike, but I couldn’t see anything that these bikes were offering that the Atom did. not done.
I compared the two specs – the 25% max incline matches the Tacx and is a bit better than the Wahoo. The Next Generation version has a new electromagnetic resistance – an upgrade of the mechanical resistance of the original Atom.
He looked great on paper and his performances are just as solid. Really solid in fact, as it weighs 44kg. Heard it needs a rocker plate, but so far haven’t found that I need it.
So weighing that much, it’s not going anywhere, but the Wattbike has a smaller footprint than a bike on a turbo – it’s only 100cm long and 50cm wide.
I just finished paying for it now, but I have no doubts that it will be worth it for my fitness over the next few years. This orange Strava fitness line is starting to trace its way back to where it was when I drove the Giant TCR – but there’s still a long way to go and I hope the Atom’s sweat-repellant lives up to it. .
Read more: Complete review of the Atom NG Wattbike
Wahoo Speedplay Zero Pedals
I had never been a Speedplay user before and had even dismissed them as some sort of assignment – cycling has no shortage of them, as we all know.
But I reluctantly agreed to try the new ones that Wahoo had redesigned and relaunched.
The unboxing wasn’t promising – bags of screws, metal plates, weird objects I couldn’t even name let alone attach to the bottom of a cycling shoe. It was literally layers of complexity. But, after I remastered the lost art of reading instructions, the cleats came together, the pacifier pedals were attached to the cranks and after stabbing the sole of my shoe a bit, hoping the pedal would find the cleat hole , they engaged with the most satisfying, positive click I have ever experienced.
They didn’t immediately disengage with the same click – in fact, I almost fell because I hadn’t set any float limits yet. But once I manipulated the adjustable float to only have the exact amount I needed, I started to feel like an elite club member (enough?) Speedplay and suddenly I had understood why all the fuss was.
Read more: Full review of the Wahoo Speedplay Zero
Le Col x McLaren Project Aero Jersey
Col and McLaren launched their Project Aero clothing line in 2021 thanks to their sponsorship from the Bahrain McLaren WorldTour team with big claims: In every scenario, this kit has outperformed them all.
So when Le Col invited reporters into the wind tunnel at the Silverstone Sports Engineering Hub to test it against our own kit, it was an opportunity I couldn’t miss.
My Bioracer club suit is hardly at WorldTour level, but I had always assumed that since it was a suit it would be faster than a jersey and shorts, even if the jersey had aerodynamic features such as ribbed trigger lines on the forearms.
I was wrong: the Le Col x McLaren Project Aero LS jersey showed an improvement over my club suit of 4.7 watts at 40 km / h then 4.3 watts at 45 km / h.
It’s not much but it was enough for me to immediately switch to the Le Col jersey and my club shorts (Col boss Yanto Barker told me that it is difficult to design aero shorts that offer a real advantage, which is why there are no shorts in the new range) for the rest of the season, including the UCI Bandit closed circuit champions.
Of course, it’s no faster than a modern skinsuit, but I like its versatility: apart from being ideal for club time trials where you can easily wear it for a pint afterwards, it wouldn’t seem out of place on a quick or secret party tour try a Strava segment, while one skinsuit says you might be taking things a little too seriously.
Read more: Complete test of the Le Col x McLaren Project Aero LS jersey
GameChanger TT abuse
Time trial was my first passion for cycling – but I hadn’t found my perfect match in pointy hats until the Abus GameChanger TT arrived.
When “head fairings” became time protection helmets after the UCI changed the rules in 2003, they became bulbous, heavy, hot and uncomfortable. Even now, it’s hard to find one that doesn’t slide across your face, restrict your vision, pinch your ears, or distract you from work in progress – which involves hitting the pedals so hard. as possible while keeping your body as still as possible.
But the Abuse GameChanger is really comfortable. It stays in one place on my head, I have full vision in all directions, the ventilation is as good as any, and it has low volume, so it doesn’t look like a mushroom (or POC). Tempor).
I wore it in the pre-1999 UCI Bandit Bike category at the closed circuit championships in October (screenshot from video above) for the first time in competition so haven’t tested it yet. in summer, but I’m sure it will be good all year round.
Of course, I haven’t tested it in the wind tunnel against others, but for me – someone for whom more training would have a greater effect than a faster aero helmet – comfort is the most important thing. important.
Keep an eye out for my full review once the season relaunches.