Top Pro Cycling Gear For The Everyday Cyclist
All of the best cycling innovation and technology starts at the top with the pro’s and trickles and down to the serious local riders and the hobby cyclists as time goes by. Not all advancements make it down the ladder because of cost or practicalities, however in the last few years the technology coming from the professionals to the everyday cyclist is getting better and better, as well as being more affordable. So the pro cycling gear that you need in your life.
12 Speed Groupset
As bike manufacturers have looked for an extra edge over the years, the number of sprockets on a cassette has increased from 6 through to the 11 and now 12 speed groupset that are commonly on offer. The simple advantage of this is that you can have a wider-ranging selection of gears, with less shifting on the front chainring, while also reducing the jump between gears for a smoother ride. While this may have the disadvantage of increasing weight it can create further mechanical inefficiencies with the front chainring.
Many brands have countered this by using a simplified 1x12 speed drivetrain and ridding themselves of the mechanically inefficient front chainring, particularly on mountain bikes. The only other disadvantage is the inability to upgrade easily as you need 12 speed specific components, although these are already becoming cheaper and far more common. If you want to get your hands on a bike equipped with a 12 speed groupset, the Merida Scultura and Reacto 9000-E both come in 12 speed, as do a host of our mountain bikes, with SRAM’s SX Eagle groupset bring 12-speed to the masses at a more affordable price.
Electronic shifting is starting to gain traction in pro ranks with groupsets such as Shimano’s Di2, and Campagnolo EPS making their mark on rode scene, while SRAM AXS is setting the standard in World Cup level MTB. Electronic shifting offers an increased level of precision as the front mech acts differently depending on the sprocket you’re in, whereas mechanical shifting acts the same every single time. Electronic shifting also gives you quicker shifting as you can shift from one side of the cassette to the other when you hold in the lever. Electronic shifting also prevents chain rub and minimises regular maintenance so that you can spend more time riding your bike. You can upgrade from mechanical to electronic shifting by changing as few as four parts, the shifters and derailleurs as well as adding the wiring harness and battery if you already have an 11 speed drivetrain.
Improved safety and technology has trickled down from pro level helmets to the everyday rider as aerodynamics and safety improve with every passing year. Multi-directional Impact Protection Systems (MIPS) was designed by a Swedish Neurosurgeon to offer the best helmet protection against rotational forces without significantly impact helmet weight or aerodynamics. This technology is prominent among pro teams, with Australians Richie Porte and Simon Gerrans sporting the innovative GIRO Aether MIPS in recent Tours. Professionals are often pushing their limits on dangerous descents and crowded peletons, so it makes sense that this technology would be utilised by the Pros. Comfortable, lightweight safety is important for everyone and MIPS is now used by 80% of major helmet brands, ranging from kids helmets to mountain bike and road helmets.
Tubeless tyres have a range of benefits, including improved speed, comfort, grip and puncture protection. Tour teams recognise that they are faster and have less rolling resistance for an overall improved performance product which has been proven for several years now. While there are a lot of benefits, there are a couple of drawbacks, such as being harder to fit and compatibility issues between rim and tyre brands which affects the quality and reliability of the tubeless tyre. Tour level riders make use of tubeless tyres in time trial stages when speed is everything and every second matters.
While it was once uncommon to see disc brakes on bikes in the Tour De France, now it’s not uncommon to even see bikes with disc brakes winning mountain stages. Despite the slight increase in weight, many believe that the superior braking power of disc brakes add that edge when you need control. Whether it be on race day or your local ride, disc brakes will give you confidence and control that is much better than rim brakes, while also performing much better in the wet, so they not only improve performance but also safety. Merida clearly believe that disc brakes are the way of the future, as their high-performance aero road bike the Reacto is only available with disc brakes, a clear sign of the times.