Featured Bikes, Reviews

2016 Cannondale CAAD12 Ultegra Dics Review

2016 Cannondale CAAD12 Ultegra DiscI purchased my new 2016 Cannondale CAAD 12 Ultegra 58cm in November 2015. Principle use is daily commuting to work @40miles round trip. I am 6′ 220 lbs who has competed in triathlons and Ironmans for the better part of 3 decades and I only write that qualification to illustrate the fact that I have ridden many bikes across many miles. After having ridden so many high performers I could not settle on a more traditional commuting bike and the CAAD 12 is a perfect blend for me.

The CAAD 12  is an outstanding value and I would rate it as one of the best bike I have ever ridden. For me it has the perfect blend of comfort and stiffness enabling me to end my rides without having my nerves rattled and maintaining the responsive feel of a solid road machine. The cockpit has a great feel to it, enabling several position changes while maintaining control and access to your systems.  The CAAD 12 is a great cornering machine as well allowing you to go deep and fast while never feeling that you are on the edge. This is a great road machine for club racing or; lets say, high performance commuting. My CAAD 12 was purchased at Nytro in Encinitas CA and the team at Nytro did their predictably outstanding job setting it up and are always available for the kind of support you simply won’t get from the larger format stores.

So every Ying has it’s Yang and under the heading of opportunities for improvement there are only a couple that I discovered in the 200 or so miles I have logged so far on this CAAD 12. I would say for me the jury is still out on the disc brakes. For me it feels like the caliper brakes arrest forward momentum much faster but perhaps with less overall control. Its not that the disc doesn’t stop you but it feels like I need to apply more pressure of my levers to get the same stopping power I would be familiar with in the caliper systems. When I say the jury is out, I mean that if I were using this bike for hard core club racing I would likely for with the caliper brakes only for the weight savings. The other very minor finding I had was the pain job. That matt finish is very attractive and looks fast. However, the grey highlights seems to be very difficult to clean especially if you get any of your chain grease on it. Nytro recommended the WD-40 Bike formula  but I have not tried it just yet but they never steered me wrong yet.

2016 Cannondale CAAD12 Ultegra Disc

The bike is one component of your purchase experience and I would be remiss not to mention  that the experience of purchasing this bike and receiving the support of a professional cycler like Nytro in Encinitas CA made the acquisition of this bike a dream. Overall I have never felt compelled to write a review on anything I have purchased but I have also never been so satisfied with a purchase and would highly recommend this bike to anyone looking for performance without taking a second on your home.

-Frank Keefe

Gear, Reviews

Hoka Stinson EVO review

Hoka Stinson review

My first impression of the Hoka One One shoes was ‘how does anyone run in those moon boots?’. Looking at the shoe they seem cumbersome and bulky, nothing could be further from actuality. I have now been using the Hoka Stinson Evo shoe for two months.

The first big test I had for the shoes was after I ran a 100km race in another pair of shoes and my feet were trashed. I wanted to complete a 100 mile week and my feet were in pain laying in bed. Once I laced up the Hokas and started running, I couldn’t feel a single blister or the swelling that was in my feet. I even had a cacti needle wedged into one toe and it didn’t phase me in the 40 miles I ran in 4 days. I had another friend who could barely walk around on a broken toe but he could run in his pair of Hokas. Extreme testing but positive results.

As far as fit, it fits me true to size. It has a very roomy toe box but I haven’t experienced any front slippage. I did have to use the top eyelet to lace the shoe and that is one fault I found with the Hoka. It came pre laced with the quick laces however, it was not to the top eyelet. In order to prevent heel movement I needed to lace it up to there for my narrow foot. The laces were not adjustable and I had to cut them off. Hoka did supply a pair of standard laces. Laced to the top my feet are very stable inside of the shoe.

Looking at the shoe it appears to have your foot very elevated and this is another illusion. The heel is not raised and the shoe does not cause instability while running. For the amount of cushioning you feel with this shoe it is amazing how much trail feel you also have. If you were a princess you could feel the pea but it wouldn’t bother you at all. Hoka provides two choices for insoles for those that are particular. I am not but I do know people who have done modifications for hammer toes and other ailments and are very satisfied.

For how big the shoe appears it is remarkably light. If you want to know the specifics check out the website but I can attest that they are feather light. This is something you appreciate the further into a run you go.

Hoka Stinson EVO review

Prior to wearing the Stinson Evo I was unable to run downhill as fast as one of my training partners. He was wearing Hokas. Once I got myself a pair, he no longer could gap me on a descent. These shoes promise that is time to fly, and they deliver descending. The traction on loose gravel and dirt is fantastic and you don’t feel disconnected from the trail but you don’t feel like the trail is hammering itself into your legs.

At the beginning of a recent run we crossed a river up to mid-thigh. Needless to say, my shoes were drenched. I was amazed at how light they still felt and how quickly they dried out. No rubbing problems when wet and great drainage.

I haven’t taken flight in my Hoka Stinson Evos yet, but they have taken me to the top of the world. I will be using these shoes in my quest to be a Leadwoman this summer. Dorothy had her red slippers to take her home, I’ll have my Hokas!

By Kirsty Marritt

HOKA ONE ONE Stinson available at Nytro

Gear, Reviews, Uncategorized

A Megastar Is Born!

Hoka One OneYou won’t find it in your Facebook invites or as one of the latest tweets in your feed but Hoka One One is inviting “you to come run with us.”  If I were you I’d take this new kid on the block up on their offer because pretty soon they will be in so much demand that these type of invites will be few and far between as their time will be spent tending to the hundreds of thousands of orders they have to fulfill and the new spring lines to launch.  Yep you heard it here first…a new megastar has been born so grab your backstage pass and run, don’t walk, to Nytro Multisport to grab your pair of these new running shoes that are taking the endurance community by storm.

Hoka One One was founded by two trail running enthusiasts.  They set out to design a shoe that was beneficial for runners of all abilities.  So in 2010, when most of the major shoe companies were designing models that followed the minimalist profile standard, Hoka went in an entirely different direction.  The shoe company from “down under” took notes from the leaders in the tennis, mountain biking, skiing and golf industry and decided to go big.  Yep, just as Callaway had revolutionized the golf industry with its line of Big Bertha drivers, Hoka designed a running shoe that was 15% lighter than average running shoes but yet 2.5 times larger in the midsole than it’s mainstream competitors.  The results have been monumental.  Consumer demand for the product has been extraordinary and industry leaders are so impressed that they are buying the shoe for their daily training.  Multisport industry legend Dan Empfield stated,

“For a quarter century I’ve been limping along in my running, wanting and waiting for a particular shoe.  I knew the features; knew what I wanted; but nobody would make it.  Finally a company made that shoe, and Hoka One One is that company.”

So what makes the Hoka so special?  The designers have created a shoe that encourages natural running mechanics while blending the benefits of a light “minimalist” feel with the traction and cushion of a “makimalist” shoe.  Thus the athlete feels as if they are floating while running as compared to pounding the ground in traditional running shoes.  Hoka refers to this sensation as “levitation.”  The unique design of the shoe allows the athlete’s body to be relaxed while running because the low ramp angle of the heel and the extra cushioning allows for an astonishing 80% shock dissipation to occur.  I guess you could say that Hoka truly has the Midas touch!  This shock absorption is a God-send because it allows for two to three times more vertical travel than conventional running shoes can provide.  If you are a trail running enthusiast, the shoe can be manna from heaven!  Your ability to navigate uneven terrain with greater efficiency and comfort is increased exponentially.  Plus, that larger outsole surface allows for greater grip and stability so those slippery slopes along the river path aren’t nearly as treacherous as they used to be. According to triathlon superstar Scott Tinley, “Certainly the shock-absorption aspect of running shoe design has been overlooked in the pop-driven, barefoot boom. But in all the shoes I’ve run in since my first pair of Indian moccasins in 1970 (true story), I’ve yet to run in a UCS (ultra cushioned shoe) that retains the control and weight of Hoka.”  Move over Jeep 4×4…you have met your match!

So there you have it…the latest in running shoe technology that is in a league of its own.  The Hoka One One has set the standard high and is running away from the rest of the field and leaving its large footprint firmly embedded in that mud that is settled along the creek path for all the competition to look at and you are invited to come along for the ride of your life!

Available at Nytro.com

Gear, Reviews, Uncategorized

It’s All About The Shoes

NytroshoeblogYour feet carry you thousands of miles during your training. You demand a lot from them…they have to navigate the uneven half-lit terrain during your 5:30 AM interval workout on the trail near the lagoon. They faithfully pulled you to a half-marathon PR last summer. And of course how can you forget their dedicated performance at Ironman Arizona a few years back when they weathered the tough 140.6 that the desert dished out and brought you through they finish so you could hear Mike Reilly shout, “You are an Ironman.” With all the camaraderie and loyalty your running buddies have provided you, don’t you think it is only fitting they get the perfect fit? Here are the top three shoe brands the Tri world has to offer your fearless fliers. So time to read up, grab a pair of socks and take one of these new kicks for a spin. After all, fall Ironman season is just around a corner, and you my friend have some distance to put in.

Zoot, formerly known as a “race day brand,” has brought its A game to the table and is now taking the Tri and running world by storm by providing everyday trainers that give the athlete’s foot stability, cushion and flexibility while encouraging a natural running form without a zero drop or extreme sole. Shying away from riding the waning trend of the “minimalist revolution,” this true-to-form line has continued to bring endurance athletes one of the most reliable and comfortable trainers in the industry so that when toe meets starting line, the question isn’t “How fast am I going to race?” but instead, “How much faster am I going to race?” According to new GM of Zoot, Erik Vervloet, “Zoot has never been a brand to chase fake technology or trend. Instead holding themselves to the standards that Ali’i drive demands. For thirty years Zoot has done one thing…innovative solutions for the most demanding endurance athletes. While our bread and butter has always been race day, we are very excited to bring running shoes for the other six days that end in ‘y.’ Whether you are going long and slow or tempo and track, Zoot makes the perfect shoe for you. Light, fast, comfortable and cushioned. What else could you want?” This company gets kudos from me for paying attention to detail when it comes shoe fit and comfort. Who wants to feel 500 stitches barricading their way into your foot when you force on a racer after you get off a hundred mile plus bike through the sweltering lava fields of Kona? Barefit technology allows the athlete to say goodbye to annoying foot chafing and instead allows total freedom from bothersome and bulking stitching. Move over Princess and the Pea…there is a new comfort revolution taking place! And with models ranging from $110-$150 as compared to $150-$175 for most trainers in their category, you racing budget gets a little breathing room.

Newton, known as the shoe that “supports a natural running motion,” might intrigue those of you who are attracted to a minimal drop shoe. This type of shoe is designed to encourage and support your body in it’s natural running form. The biomechanical sensor plate in the shoe means less padding is required and allows for an interaction between the foot and ground. When the foot makes contact with the ground, it sends a signal to the brain which signals back to the muscles to perform. Bottom line…less stuff means a more innate running pattern will take place. A great feature of this line is that every shoe accommodates orthodics. Another cool feature of the brand that is named after the man who laid the foundation for classical mechanics, is that all the outsoles and laces are built with recycled materials. Now that is something Sir Isaac himself would be proud of. Gold stars for going green Newton! Buying a pair of Newton’s will cost a little more. With models ranging from $149-$175, you might want to ride your bike to work instead of driving to save your pennies. But if you are a mechanical stickler, then it is worth the extra pedal power!

Hoka One One is the new kid on the block. And with a name like that you think a lot of bullying might be in store for the newbie. Well, sticks and stones might break bones, but the oversized running shoe from down under will be laughing all the way to the bank. The brand combats the minimalist approach, and in fact has chosen to run in the opposite direction by constructing a shoe that is “oversized.” The Hoka One One is the Humvee bad-to-the-bone version of running shoes. Super-size me baby! That is exactly what the designers did when they created a trainer that has 2.5 times more midsole than other leading running shoes. What does this equate to? How about a 30% softer mid-sole than other shoes. With all this super-sizing going on you are probably thinking that although the Hokas offer stellar off-road capabilities and make you feel like a warrior of the road with that extra cushioning, they must weigh what the mighty military four-wheel drives do. You my friend are mistaken. How the geniuses were able to create a shoe that is this size but yet remains 15% lighter than it’s rivals is beyond me. All I know is according to multisport icon Paul Huddle, “I haven’t been able to run back-to-back days or gone past 1-hour in about 5-years.  Since putting these on, I’ve done both.  I got to run 1:50 a couple of weeks ago with my wife and am actually considering an attempt on Boston qualifying.  When running has been the backbone of your endurance life and then taken away, it feels like such a gift to have been granted a few extra ‘real’ runs.” Scott Tinley, World Ironman Champion even says, “Generally, I think the Hoka is a great addition to any athlete’s closet and for those of OBR (old beat-up runner) who want to eek out a few more miles before the GFLS (Great Finish Line in the Sky), they are heaven-sent.” The goal of the shoe is to create a softer running “ride,” allow for more traction and a better running posture with the build of the shoe. So if you want to add one of the mightiest members of the industry to your training fleet, I say run, don’t walk, to Nytro and pick up a Hoka One One. With all the extra miles you will be able to run in these, who knows, your new nickname might be “commander.”

So there is the skinny on all the good stuff that these stellar companies have going on. After all your feet do for you shouldn’t it be all about the shoes? Happy training!

Shop Hoka, Newton and Zoot shoes at Nytro.com

Gear, Reviews

Continental GP 4000S Review

I take the matter of purchasing tires as personal as my research and purchase of a saddle. Tires are the only aspect of the bike that comes in direct contact with the ground  (hopefully) and this becomes alarmingly apparent when hitting 50mph down Palomar or when you are suddenly caught out in a downpour. You want a tire that you can trust in all situations, no flats, no blowouts, no slide-outs. As with saddles, tires are also important in terms of comfort and overall ride quality.

A couple years back it seemed that the go-to tire was the Michelin Pro Race series. They had been tested and proven among amateur, pro, and recreational riders and could be found at a great price at just about any shop. Recently the tides have changed as the Continental Grand Prix 4000S series has quickly become a favorite.

At 460g for a pair they prove light enough for the hills yet they are able to maintain strength for rough roads. The 4000 S with added “Black Chili Compound” claims 26% reduced rolling resistance and 30% increase in grip over the 4000 line with no Black Chili.

No, Continental is not adding cooking spices to their tires. Black Chili Compound is composed of tiny black carbon particles incorporated into the rubber solution of the tire. With these particles being more flexible they are able to better mold to the road surface for better grip during cornering and also aid in rolling resistance.

Continental GP 4000 S tires are definitely not the cheapest of what Continental has to offer, but with tires cheap is the last thing you want. I have to admit to some personal, maybe accidental, testing of these tires through glass and gravel and they have yet to fail me.
Continental GP 4000S

Gear, Reviews

What’s different: Skratch Labs?

skatchlabsOur nutrition aisle is by the register at the front of the store. Triathletes mostly come in for some CO2, a valve extender, a carbon fiber bottle cage wing, whatever. On their way to checkout they quickly scan the nutrition aisle and reluctantly grab “something” almost at they’re making a choice on the lesser of evils. One customer said “this one made me throw up at my last race and this one over here made me bloated on the entire bike ride”.

Different things work for different people, when prompted I tell them that I’m a fan of real food and not big on gel or bars, but then again I’m not racing Ironman distance races so I’m not motivated to deperately grab calories anyway I can. This isn’t to imply that the long distance triathlete is relegated to junk and can’t eat better. As a neuroscience and physio graduate I used to talk to them about how our body absorbs the protein in food sources easier than in supplement form. The small intestine absorbs amino acids and has peptidase enzymes on it’s surface that splits most dipeptides and tripeptides into single amino acids.

A few of these dipeptides and tripeptides escape digestion and cross the digestive tract wall and enter bloodstream. These athletes would get conflicting information from nutritional faddists whom fail to realize that most proteins are broken down to amino acids before absorption. They urge people to eat enzyme supplements, unfortunately these enzymes in foods are digested in the same manner proteins are. Digestive enzymes are the only things by design that prevents them from being denatured or digested.

Some products are marketed based on their amino acid content others on their high carb or protein content and although you will need protein at some point in your long ride I’m not convinced you should be getitng it all from your bottle. Drink Skratch and eat real food (tons of great recipes on Skratch’s blog and in Allen Lim’s book )

So why do I like Skratch?

High Quality All-Natural Ingredients

No artificial anything

Optimal Sodium for exercise

Actual fruit used for flavor

Less sugar, more electrolytes

Environmentally conscious packaging (which they say will be improved again soon)

It has only a trace of sugar, so it doesn’t set off wild insulin spikes causing “sugar high” and “sugar crash” and is easily digested

Essentially less is more. I could ramble on about how a product is “laterally stiff but vertically compliant” but I feel all you have to do is try it and you’ll see why it’s my favorite nutritional drink.

Gear, Reviews

Mavic’s Aero Foray

mavicI had the opportunity to grab lunch with Mavic’s Communications Manager Zack Vestal today while he’s in town reaching out to local brand ambassadors to show off the impressive new Mavic Cosmic CXR 80 T. Seeing that Zack was coming out from Haverhill, MA, I had to encourage him to try some fish tacos while he was here since that’s what SD is supposedly known for, although I think craft beer brewing is gaining notoriety :). So what’s up with these wheels? The innovations aren’t the usual vertically compliant laterally stiff piffle and they aren’t dimpling their hubs either. This product is a legitimate and aggressive entry into the aero wheel market. No one has any doubts that wide rims are here to stay; the benefits range from better tire/rim matting to better rolling resistance and handling characteristics. Admittedly, Mavic is a few years late to the party, but they’ve benefited from seeing trends and ultimately unproven technologies come and go.

For every pair of Zipp or Reynolds “race day” wheels an athlete owns they also own a diehard pair of Mavics. This reminds me of a Ford investor call from a few years ago where the CEO voiced his concerns about Ford’s dwindling sedan sales and stated that for every Ford F-150 (America’s best selling truck) there was a Toyota Camry or Honda Accord in the garage next to it. Mavic is ready to earn the right to take all your money. So what has Mavic done here that is different? I’ll save you all the magazine talk about time they spent in Geneva’s windtunnel optimizing profiles (8 sessions in the windtunnel, more than 400 hours in the windtunnel, more than 160 configurations tested); this wheelset has a never before seen feature: The (CX01) blade that removes any gap between the tire and rim creating a completely seamless profile.

I was skeptical at first thinking this was some flimsy piece of plastic that was slapped or glued into place, but as Zack showed me there is a perfectly molded/machined bead that runs along the outer rim lip in which the blade snaps into securely. Another feature was the wheel/tire combo. Mavic wants to take what I think of as an Apple approach (design both the hardware and software) and is ensuring exacting specifications, quality, and functionality making the entire wheel system. A tire represents up to 85% of the total frontal area of a wheel. So, its contribution to the total aerodynamic drag of the system is of critical importance. The Yksion CXR tire is the most aero tire available for sale. There were many fine details that I appreciated; one was the reinforced yet pliable sidewall which could hold up to any damage the blade could cause, another detail was the thread pattern on the outer most sides of the tire that served to disrupt air, priming it to stick and increase laminar flow over the rim profile.

I look forward to Mavic bringing a wider rim to their Ksyrium line. Available at Nytro Multisport

Here are some quick facts about the wheelset: 2170 g pair > 995 g front / 1175 g rear (1630 g without tire)