Tech of the Week: sandpaper saddles and lightweight disc bikes

The World Championships may be over and the cycling season drawing to a conclusion, but there's still a steady stream of tech hitting the headlines. Here's our pick of the tech highlights from last week, including the world's lightest disc brake road bike, and a pretty painful saddle modification by a former world champion.

Tony Martin’s sandpaper saddle

tony martin saddle sandpaper

We’ll start with the biggest story from the Cycling Weekly website this week: Tony Martin’s gruesome injury from his sandpaper-topped saddle. The three-time former World Champion really didn’t have a good time of things in Wednesday, not only suffering the ignominy of finishing a distant seventh behind Vasil Kiryienka, but also having the grip tape on his saddle rub all the way through his shorts to reach his bare skin.

>>> Review: Essax Shark saddle

However, we’re not sure whether this can really be seens as the reason behind Martin’s disappointing performance, with the German having used grip tape on his saddle to stop him from slipping forward for a number of years now, including on the Specialized Shiv time trial bike that he used in this year’s Tour de France.

The world’s lightest disc brake road bike

storck aernario disc signature

A pro saddle wouldn’t normally take top spot in our weekly tech round-up, so we’re back into familiar territory with the new Storck Aernario Disc Signature, which was launched at the Cycle Show over the weekend, and is being promoted as the world’s lightest disc brake road bike at just 6.3kg.

>>> The lightest production bike in the world, the Merida Scultura 9000 Ltd

This makes the complete bike 500g lighter than the Focus Izalco Max Disc launched earlier this summer. However, much of this weight loss comes in the finishing kit, with the Focus actually having the lighter frame of the two. And that finishing kit is pretty special. Only 51 of these bikes are being produced, made in celebration of company founder Markus Storck’s 51st birthday, and they’re being built up to Storck’s dream spec, meaning Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 shifting and Ax-Lightness rims.

Best Lightweight Bikes of 2016

And if you’re a bit of a weight weenie, then we’ve got plenty more for you with our pick of the best lightweight road bikes to keep an eye out for in 2016. There’s plenty of choose from, including the Canyon Ultimate CF Evo and the 4.96kg Fuji SL which was only launched last month.

>>> The five most exiciting bikes of 2016

However the standout bike has to be the Ax-Lightness VIAL evo ULTRA, which has clinched the title of the world’s lightest production bike, hitting the scales at a pretty stunning 4.4kg. The German carbon specialists have achieved this by using less resin in the frame, and selecting some impressive finishing kit including a pair of 800g U24 tubular wheels.

Should you slam your stem? Yes or no?

Slammed stem

Our tech question of the week concerned one of the biggest points of contention in modern cycling: should you slam your stem? Now we always thought there wasn’t much debate around this; slamming your stem looks cool so why wouldn’t you do it?

>>> Handlebar height – how to get it right (video)

Well apparently throwing away all those headset spacers can cause numerous problems, especially if you’re not flexible enough to cope with a bigger drop between your saddles and bars, with all of the bike fitters we talking of the importance of finding a comfortable and maintainable position that won’t cause back problems. Very sensible indeed.

More from the Cycle Show

Taking place at the NEC in Birmingham last week, this year’s Cycle Show was packed full of cool and interesting things to see. A particular highlight was a new prototype Canyon, which is believed to be the new Speedmax, but there was plenty of other things to take a look at too.


Canyon’s new prototype

How to fit handlenar

And finally… We have produced a handy video on how to wrap handlebar tape. Watch the video to find out what you’ll need for the job and how best to approach it. Al uses a figure of eight approach that works best with drop bars and modern shifters. Follow his advice carefully and you’ll have a fresh looking set of bars in no time.

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