Podcast: Tires are getting softer, but road bikes are getting … stiffer?

It turns out there isn't really a consensus on compliance in road bikes.

Escape Collective
by Escape Collective 26.10.2023 Photography by
James Huang
More from Author +

Winter may be coming for those of us in the northern hemisphere, but if you look around in the bicycle world, things are definitely heating up, as we discuss in this week’s episode of the Geek Warning podcast.

First up, Merida has revamped its Silex range of gravel bikes, with an even more MTB-inspired geometry (so slack!), more tire clearance, suspension fork and dropper compatibility, lots of mounts, and a wide array of models in both carbon fiber and aluminum. Out of the box, Merida is seemingly aiming it at more adventure-type rides, but as Matej Mohoric recently demonstrated at the UCI gravel world championships, it’s also apparently a pretty good go-fast gravel rig. It looks good, too, but sadly, American buyers won’t be able to get one.

Perennial value leader Polygon is at it again, with a new Tambora gravel bike that almost seems too good to be true in terms of what you get for the money. US$3,000 for a carbon frameset with SRAM Rival AXS! It may not be the most elegant-looking thing, but money left over in your pocket generally makes people feel pretty good.

At the opposite end of the visual elegance spectrum lies Campagnolo’s new Hyperon mid-depth carbon road wheels, which use the same 37 mm-deep rims as the Hyperon Ultra flagship model – including the same stunning HULC surface finish – but paired with aluminum hubs and less fancy (but still hybrid ceramic) bearings. They’re about 100 g heavier as a result, but also US$1,000 less expensive, which will put you one-third of the way toward that new Polygon Tambora.

We recently wrote about the financial troubles that have beset UK online mega-retailer Wiggle, and our resident geeks certainly have a lot to discuss with this one. The new may conjure some feelings of schadenfreude for independent shops that have long suffered under the brand’s history of hyper-aggressive pricing, but make no mistake: this isn’t good news for the bike industry on the whole, and hopefully isn’t a sign of larger problems to come.

Focus – one of the many bike brands under the Pon Holdings corporate umbrella – just announced the latest version of its Izalco Max road racer, and it’s about what you’d expect: more aero, lighter, stiffer. But quite curiously, Focus also seems quite proud of the fact that the ride quality is substantially stiffer than its predecessor, perhaps accommodating the requests of sponsored racers. But does this make sense? Given all the improvements we’ve seen with wider tires and lower pressures, haven’t we generally decided that less comfort doesn’t necessarily equate to more speed? 

Dave also had an idea for a new Geek Warning segment called “Pick One!”, where our panel of geeks reveal their favorite product for a given category. Kicking things off? DRLs.

And speaking of which, this week’s PSA may be a repeat, but it’s one that’s also worth repeating. If you’re running a DRL – rear or front – do yourself a favor and check that it’s actually visible in daylight, because based on what we still see regularly on the roads, there’s a very good chance it isn’t.

You can listen on iTunesSpotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. Or click play below.

Of course, we have more over on the whole Escape Collective podcast network.


11:23 – Merida’s new Silex gravel bike breaks cover
13:51 – Polygon debuts its first carbon gravel bike, the Tambora
18:08 – Campagnolo’s new Hyperon is arguably a pretty good value
21:36 – Wiggle’s economic woes may be a sign of things to come for the rest of the industry
29:30 – The new Focus Izalco Max sparks a discussion on compliance in road racing bikes
48:45 – Pick One! The geeks reveal their favorite DRLs
1:01:28 – Speaking of DRLs, the one you’re using right now might not be doing what you think it is

What did you think of this story?