Tech of the Month November: SRAM goes sailing, Bianchi's new hyperbike, gravel worlds on a road bike and the Scott Foil Ultimate FC

We discuss SRAM's involvement in the America's Cup, Bianchi's controversial aero bike, how to convert your road bike for gravel and dig deeper into the new Scott Foil

TOTM Nov
(Image credit: )

If you ever needed evidence of the eclectic nature of cycling in the 21st century then this month’s TOTM is here with irrefutable proof.

We look into SRAM’s involvement with the America’s Cup sailing race and ponder what it is they are bringing to the table? With Ineos and UAE Emirates also involved in this year’s event we could be witnessing the renewal of cycling rivalries at sea?

Next up is Bianchi’s new aero superbike, which caused quite the stir on release. Inspired by F1 tech we discuss what all the fuss is about.

Gravel feels omnipresent these days, whether it's the steady flow of related products or the upsurge in the racing scene. The recent UCI Gravel World Championships appear to be another stepping stone on the discipline’s journey of dominance - but interestingly the winning bike was a lightweight road model with a few modifications.

Last but not least is our Bike of the Month, the updated Scott Foil, which looks fast standing still.

As always, there's plenty of interesting tech and talking points to enjoy. But first read on for the highlights.

Competition

This month we’re going to kick off with our Garmin giveaway, and we’re going to be putting a Tacx Neo 2T up for grabs. 

The Neo 2T, sits as Tacx’s highest offering in smart trainers, only being bested by the full blown Tacx NEO bike. As a range topping smart trainer, it has all the bells and whistles you can think of, including but not limited to, inbuilt rocker feel, cobble riding effect, excellent power accuracy, a really nice feeling ERG mode and just being incredibly quiet. 

To be in with a chance of winning, simply click this link (opens in new tab) or fill in the form below. We’ll get in contact with the lucky winner by the end of this month. If you don’t end up being the lucky one – don’t worry, we’ll be running it again next month.

SRAM goes sailing

Image shows American Magic yacht

(Image credit: SRAM)

If Shimano can make fishing rods and reels then there’s probably no reason why SRAM, its rival groupset maker, can’t dabble in components for sailing yachts.

And that’s just what the US-based brand is doing. It partnered with the New York Yacht Club American Magic racing team as they bid to win the 37th America’s Cup, taking place in Spain in September and October 2024.

At the time of filming, details on exactly what SRAM will be bringing to the captain’s table were unclear. But that didn’t stop us speculating. Could it be sharing its wealth of aerodynamic knowledge garnered through the development of Zipp wheels. Or perhaps, having acquired cycling computer brand Hammerhead, it’s going to be sharing some of its GPS navigational expertise? 

Perhaps though more likely it’s the brand’s bread and butter drive chain and crankset tech that is most transferable to the winches used on today’s sailing boats? Only time will tell…

Bianchi’s F1-inspired Oltra RC

Bianchi bike

(Image credit: Bianchi)

It doesn’t take much to get the internet up in arms, especially cycling’s keyboard warriors who are quick to take aim at every new product that hit;s the market - especially if it's driven by marketing hyperbole of the highest order.

Bianchi declared its new aero race bike, the Oltra RC, capable of starting an “aerovolution”. It features ‘air deflector’ technology borrowed from not just F1 cars but also apparently from the aerospace and architecture worlds also. What this looks like is two ‘duct-like intakes’ either side of the headtube to help reduce drag.

There’s also an aero-enhanced integrated cockpit that features yet another hole. This cavity, situated in the centre of the bar and stem conjunction, apparently generates what Bianchi describes as “a vortex” that reduces the air pressure and resistance hitting the rider’s legs. ‘Harness the Vortex’ the strapline read. The internet, as you might imagine, reacted accordingly!

UCI Gravel worlds won on a road bike

Image shows riders racing gravel on converted road bikes.

(Image credit: Getty Images - MASSIMO FULGENZI)

There’s some irony in the fact that the inaugural UCI gravel world championships were won on what’s essentially a road bike, giving the industries desire to sell us gravel-specific everything and anything.

Gianni Vermeersch triumphed in the men’s race, held in Italy, on Canyon’s lightweight climbing bike, the Ultimate CFR. Certainly, his choice was in part a reflection of the course, which was raced for the most part over hard packed grit that didn’t require super wider tyres, and subsequently a bike that could handle such high-volume rubber.

His victory raised the question about the adaptability of road bikes to handle some gravel riding, and we look at how you can adapt your road machine to handle a bit of extra curricular off-road action. It was Tom Ritchey who once said ‘every bike is a gravel bike’. Look like he was right all along.

Bike of the Month - Scott Foil Ultimate FC

Image shows Scott Foil

(Image credit: Anna Marie Hughes)

We got to ride Scott’s updated aero bike, the Foil Ultimate FC, in Italy over varying terrain. It’s safe to say we were suitably impressed.

Previous iterations were criticized for their lack of comfort and Scott has sought to address these issues while still creating a machine that’s fit for purpose, which in the case of an aero race bike is going as fast as possible. 

It’s lighter too - our test model tipped the scales at 7.2kg - with confident handling, making it a far more rounded bike than the outgoing model. 

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Freelance writer

Luke Friend has worked as a writer, editor and copywriter for over twenty years. Across books, magazines and websites, he's covered a broad range of topics for a range of clients including Major League Baseball, the National Trust and the NHS. He has an MA in Professional Writing from Falmouth University and is a qualified bicycle mechanic. He fell in love with cycling at an early age, partly due to watching the Tour de France on TV. He's a passionate follower of bike racing to this day as well an avid road and gravel rider.