Tech round up: Schwalbe Natural Bike Soap, SaveMyBar plugs, WattBike customised gearing and Muoverti Tiltbike
From an environmentally-friendly bike cleaning product to Tour de France-winning bar bungs
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The pursuit of a more realistic indoor training experience is at the heart of two the featured products this week. Both the established WattBike and the upstart TiltBike seek to achieve this by increasing the level of customisation to better resemble your road bike.
However, considering it's summer and you probably want to be outside riding an actual bicycle as well, we're providing some necessary counterbalance with two more products, designed for the real not the virtual world: a fresh look at the humble bar plug inspired by Tour de France conquering giants Jumbo-Visma and a bike cleaner that eschews plastic while whipping up a lather in the process.
Schwalbe goes old school in pursuit of 'greener' cleaner
Reducing plastic waste is a necessity. But as an individual or a family it’s not always straightforward given that many everyday products are still packaged using plastic. Bike cleaner is no different. Regardless of the brand it usually comes in a plastic bottle, and one that you might not refill. With this in mind, Schwalbe has drawn inspiration for an age-old product and created a soap for bikes.
The soap, which is made entirely from natural ingredients, is vegan friendly, free of microplastics and 100% biodegradable. It comes as part of a starter kit, which alongside the soap, features a recyclable tin container to store the soap and an organic horsehair brush to help with the cleaning. It’s all held in a reusable net bag made from wood fibre, which is then compostable after you’ve finished with it.
According to the German tyre giant each bar of soap is good for 100 washes, which would make it both long-lasting and economical. Product Manager at Schwalbe Peter Krischio also heralds certain properties of soap that make it a good match for bikes. “It has an excellent cleaning and degreasing effect and is highly foaming,” he says “The dirt particles on the bike gets wrapped and can be washed off afterwards, without scratching. The soap also has fat dissolving properties. It‘s all very simple.”
It would appear so. Devoid of packaging, easy to use and to carry, a bar of soap might just be the green bike cleaning breakthrough we’ve been looking for. And one that was right under our noses all along.
For more information visit schwalbe.com (opens in new tab)
Jumbo-Visma team up with CloseTheGap to help save your carbon bars
You’d need to have been eagle-eyed to have spotted the SaveMyBar bar plugs fitted to the Jumbo-Visma team bikes at this year’s Tour de France. After all a plug, end or bung isn’t exactly a bit of kit you’re likely to drool over. But there they were, at the behest of the Dutch team no less. An innocuous bit of plastic designed to make the life of the team mechanics a little bit easier.
The aim of this bar plug is to prevent abrasion damage to the ends of carbon handlebars. It does so by fitting over the end of the bars, rather than into the end like a regular plug, essentially providing a layer of plastic that will take the hit before the bars do.
It’s created with minor crashes in mind, meaning that busy team mechanics can get away with just replacing the damaged bar tape, rather than having to fit a new pair of bars. Given the faff of today’s internally routed cockpits, and the number of crashes in any given stage or race, it has the potential to save a fair amount of time.
A marginal gain for pro mechanics, for us mere mortals, who can take as long as we wish to fettle our bikes, it still should provide some low-cost protection for an expensive carbon component.
The SaveMyBar plugs, which weighs just 8g, retail for 9.95 euros and are available in black and yellow, the latter adorning Jonas Vingegard’s celebratory Cervélo (see above) that he rode triumphantly into Paris.
For more information visit closethegap.cc (opens in new tab)
WattBike brings custom shifting to the Atom
The trend for trying to make indoor trainers ride more like an actual road bike continues with WattBike’s customised virtual gearing.
The tool on the WattBike Hub app allows users of its Atom and AtomX smart bikes to select from a range preset groupsets and shifter configurations, with the intention of making indoor rides more realistic.
The five options enable users to choose from 11 speed, 22 speed, compact, semi-compact, and climbing configurations. While the first two are standard WattBike gearing, the remaining three options replicate set-ups that many of us will be familiar with. The compact option mimics a 50/34t chainrings with an 11-34t cassette, while the semi-compact matches a 52/36t with 11-30t. The climbing option sees a 46/30t paired with an 11-36t cassette, which is akin to the gearing combinations often seen on all-road and gravel bikes.
The update to the app also allows WattBike users to configure their shifting, choosing between ‘Dual’ and ‘Standard’ modes. The former mimics the operation of a regular road bike, with the left shifter operating the front derailleur and the right shifter the rear. The latter uses WattBike’s existing linear shifting, with the right shifter moving the gears up and down.
If customised gearing on a smart bike sounds like music to your ears but you’ve yet to invest in a WattBike, its flagship Atom is currently available with a £250 saving. This equates to its lowest ever retail price of £1,749.
For more information visit wattbike.com (opens in new tab)
Tiltbike home trainer enters production phase
First unveiled as a prototype at Rouleur Live in 2021, Muoverti’s TiltBike has now entered the production stage. The first run of the indoor training bikes, which are manufactured in the UK, will be used for what Muoverti describes as “compliance testing and further rider feedback”, with selected persons who’ve purchased the bike and are on the ‘waitlist’ used as part of this beta testing.
Like the aforementioned WattBike, TiltBike is another virtual trainer that’s seeking to make the indoor cycling experience more realistic. It aims to achieve this through a design that allows riders to balance, steer, brake and accelerate. In essence its USP is that the bike moves freely under the rider, made possible by a self-centred digitised steering.
The TiltBike also offers a degree of customisation to enable users to replicate their road bikes. Similar to the WattBike, digital gearing and shifting can be selected to match groupsets from leading manufacturers via an app. Frame adjustability allows for sizes from 49 cm to 64cm, while the crank arm length can also be adjusted. Both frame and handlebars are interchangeable, so riders can swap between designs and set-ups that mirror road, time trial and mountain bikes.
To help navigate the production phase Muoverti have assembled what Christoph Wilfert, CEO and Co-founder of TiltBike, calls “an amazing team and awesome technology partners that are ready to fulfill our mission.” The line-up includes former employees of McLaren as well as software and biomechanics experts.
For more information visit muoverti.com (opens in new tab)
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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.
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