The IRONMAN (Men's) World Championship just happened, the UCI World Championships are over, and the cyclocross bikes are coming out of their summer slumber. Sure, the Veulta is still going, and the women still have their IRONMAN World Championship to complete, but the racing season is pretty much over. That being the case, it's as good a time as any to talk about some of the most interesting tech (in my opinion) in 2023.
They say to start with the most engaging topic, then the weakest, and finish with another strong topic. I am going to do that. However, I know nobody is going to agree about the tech I am most excited about. We're kicking it off with valves.
We all know John Dunlop "invented" the first modern air-filled tire 135 years ago so his son could enjoy riding his bike more. Since then, there have been a few innovations in valve technology. The original valve is the Dunlop/Woods/English valve, and it's still common for bicycles, just not in North America. It kinda looks like a Schrader and Presta valve had a baby being Shrader in diameter with an external core.
Next was the Schrader valve, brought to the world by Agust Scrader in 1891. The Schrader valve has the same diameter as the Dunlop but an internal spring-loaded core. The significant innovation of the Shrader is not having to unscrew the core to adjust air pressure. The Presta/Fench/Sclaverand was developed around the same time as the Schrader.
The Presta valve has a fairly interesting history. It is commonly attributed to the Frenchman Etienne Sclaverand in the 1890s. Still, there are rumors that it was invented in England by persons unknown (aliens?). The reason was that the English were proud of their Dunlop valve and didn't want some skinny little valve stealing its glory, so they called it French. Its diameter is the key to the Presta valve and why it's so common in cycling.
The Presta is narrower than the Dunlop and Schrader, which means it can fit into a narrower rim. As bike racing gained popularity, rims and tires got narrower and narrower, and Schrader/Dunlop would not fit or would severely weekend the rims. Presta became the "go-to" racing valve and held that title for over 100 years.
The Regina valve also looks like a Presta with a big nut on top. Regina valves are also known as Italian valves. The nice thing about them is that you cannot bend the valve core like you can on a Presta. Regina valves are uncommon.
Wow, Adam, you are right. Nobody cares about valves that haven't changed in 100 years. But there has been an innovation, and a huge one at that.
Reserved has come out with a completely new kind of valve. The beauty of the Reserve valve is there is no core.
Now that you have had time to catch your breath, this is why the coreless concept is so important. Tubeless tires have become the standard in cycling. Tubeless requires sealant to protect against punctures.
The annoying thing about sealant is it will effectively seal the valve stem since that is where air can escape. The Reserve valve has a poppet valve that is flush with the rim bed, so sealant cannot pool in the valve stem and seal. Just an amazing and simple idea.
Oversized Pulley and Jockey Wheels
Next up are oversized pulley and jockey wheels. Oversized pulley and jockey wheels have been around for a long time but were banned in the mid-2000s. However, they are legal again and popping up all over.
The idea is that a bigger wheel reduces friction in the drivetrain. The larger diameter of the wheel means it does not have to spin as fast as a small wheel, thereby reducing the friction in the bearing. Having a larger wheel also means the chain does not have to bend as much around the wheel, reducing friction.
Fun Fact: Jockey wheels are known by different names depending on where you are from. I know them as Top = Jockey / Bottom = Pully. Some call them Top = Guide / Bottom = Tension. Both are correct, and technically, they are both Jockey Pully. The distinction was more important in the past when the Top wheels had a floating bearing to help with shifting. That is no longer the case, so call them whatever you like (I am pushing for "Little toothy spinnies").
The third and prettiest innovation I have seen in 2023 is the split seatpost. I think this innovation has the potential to be the next big thing in cycling. Aerodynamics is king in track and tends to bleed over into the road. That is why I am so excited about the 2024 Paris track bike being tested and raced.
Hope figured out a spit seatpost is more aerodynamic than a one piece, and shortly after that LOOK came out with their own version, and several other brands have followed. I'm not going to get into the aero advantages of the concept. I'm just going to say these might be the coolest bike designs ever.
That's some stuff I saw this year and thought was interesting. If you have any questions or want to nerd out on some tech, feel free to contact me.
Bonus content: Adidas Adios Pro Evo 1
The Adidas Adios Pro Evo 1 came out on 9/14/2023. It is a complete super race shoe like the Nike Mayfly. It weighs 138g and is only good for 42k. With a $500 price tag, it equates to $19.08/mile.
Coach Adam Sczech is an IRONMAN University Certified Coach, USAT Level I Certified Coach, NASM Certified Personal Trainer, and VFS Master Bike Fitter based out of the Western Slope of Colorado. Adam has years of experience coaching beginners, juniors, elites, and clubs as well as a year focusing specifically on special needs athletes. Adam's expertise with bike fitting is extensive with over 15 years and 8,000 fits for athletes that include two world record holders, a national champion, several IRONMAN Pro/Age Groups winners, and an ITU winner. He has completed several full and half Ironman races, as well as numerous Olympic and Sprint races.