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Saucony PowerGrid Cortana Introduced to Saucony’s Growing Line of Minimalist-Inspired Shoes

With the recent trend amongst the running shoe manufacturers to introduce a “minimalist” shoe, there are now plenty of options for the light-footed runner who is after a little less on their foot. Here we take a look at a new option from Saucony. This is the brand who has recently brought us a myriad of “reduced drop,” lightweight shoes including the Progrid Kinvara, the Progrid Mirage and the new super minimal Hattori.

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The (already award winning) PowerGrid Cortana has been released as a “supportive cushioning” shoe. When compared to the popular ProGrid Kinvara, this shoe feels a little more substantial, and hints at a slightly longer lifespan. However, it remains a super light training option, weighing in at about 300g (Men’s size 9.5), falling closer to a “lightweight trainer” than a traditional cushioned neutral shoe (ASICS DS Trainer – 285g; neutral trainer option from ASICS the Gel-Nimbus – 340g).

The Cortana maintains the same reduced pitch as the previously released and hugely popular ProGrid Kinvara. Technically, this means there is less of a height differential between the heel of the shoe and the forefoot. This is a key aspect of minimalist shoe design, that, surprisingly, is often missed. To put this into perspective, Saucony has given the Cortana a 4mm drop – sitting your heel just 4mm above the forefoot. This is the same height differential that is common to many racing flats, whereas a traditional “neutral trainer” would typically have a 10-12mm height differential. This can’t be understated – in the Cortana (as in the Progrid Kinvara/Mirage) this 4mm drop is over 60% less than in a normal neutral training shoe. In terms of “feel,” this helps to encourage a more natural gait, and allows the runner to easily incorporate a little more “forefoot” emphasis into their gait, without really trying. Nice.

Fit and Feel

The upper incorporates “Sauc-Fit” – basically helping to lock the heel and mid-foot onto the midsole platform. This translates into a snug fit overall. There’s enough forefoot width, while at the same time I’m not left swimming in the shoe. The material feels breathable, but a little more secure than in the Kinvara – which some have found to be not quite as much support as they are looking for in a training shoe. The “Comfortride Sockliner” is an exclusive open cell foam sockliner, is antimicrobial (always nice) and seems pretty breathable.

Midsole

For someone coming out of a “normal” shoe, this will feel light, with a lot of forefoot emphasis and less rigidity than some of the more structured shoes on the market. The shoe incorporates Saucony’s PowerGrid with PowerFoam technology, which basically means it’s light, and provides the runner with great cushioning and a responsive feel.

Outsole

The PowerGrid Cortana has an IBR blown rubber compound in the outsold. This is hard wearing and will provide a bit more durability than the ProGrid Kinvara, falling in line with Saucony touting the Cortana as a bit more of a high mileage option.

Colour and Appearance

The shoe looks reasonably progressive and “racey,” but holds onto the roots of a traditional trainer. Despite the shoe having a bit more of a forefoot emphasis, Saucony have still played on the aesthetics of having “heel technology” by changing the colourway of the midsole through the crash-pad of the heel. This hints to the consumer that although the shoe is light and flexible, it is going to forgive you for the odd heavy heel-strike and suit a variety of runners. Personally, I’m not sure about the new “hue blending” that is popping up on a lot of shoes these days. Call me a traditionalist, but I prefer the stronger, more block colours. Overall though, the men’s model looks as good as any of the shoes on the market at the moment, and the women’s model looks edgy and a little brighter, perfect for the brighter days ahead.

The Run

Having been notoriously picky about my shoes, I approach new models with a bit of reservation. I often find myself thinking “what would someone else think of this” rather than: “what do I think of this?” Not this time. I put the shoe on, it feels natural. There’s enough width in the forefoot, the 4mm drop feels good. I’m reminded of a more forgiving, cushioned version of the Saucony Grid Type A4 racing flat from – a long-time favourite. The shoe feels very cushioned, but I feel flat, level and naturally positioned. Heading outside and I start to tick over a few strides – it feels natural. I can maintain a quick turnover, the shoe allows me to run tall, and I don’t have to force my form. It comes easily.

The run continues for a hilly 11km. The shoe feels cushioned, light, responsive and most importantly to me: natural. As a big fan of some of the more minimal approaches to running shoes, the PowerGrid Cortana stacks up well. It’s a softer, more forgiving option for sure – but when compared to the more traditional neutral high mileage training shoes, feels like a high performance machine.

Who’s It For

The Saucony PowerGrid Cortana is a great shoe for the runner who is conscious about running efficiently, wants a lightweight, high-mileage training shoe and wants it to last a little longer than some of the other models out there. The Cortana will help a range of runners run smoother, with a quicker turnover and less impact. There’s enough cushioning under foot to be a great option for a slightly bigger runner or someone who is just starting to work on their running form. It also will make a fantastic longer distance “natural” training shoe.

With a more neutral platform, it may be less suited to someone who is traditionally a heavier pronator, although the footbed seems to have ample room to accommodate an orthotic. Furthermore, a runner who generally uses more pronation control and is used to a heavy focus on the heel cushioning in their shoe may benefit from the reduced pitch and increased flexibility that the Cortana offers.

I’ve been waiting patiently for the release of Saucony’s Cortana and I haven’t been disappointed. It’s great to see a top-end, neutral training shoe incorporate some progressive design features that have already seen phenomenal success in Saucony’s minimalist inspired range. The reduced drop in the shoe, it’s lightweight feel and flexibility all combine to produce a shoe that is different from anything else that is out there at the moment. Different in a good way!

Shoe Type: Neutral Cushioned

Price: RRP $259

Weight: ~300g for men’s size 9.5, ~27g for women’s size 8.

Similar Shoes: To an extent..: Mizuno Wave Rider, Saucony ProGrid Kinvara, On Cloudrunner, Newton Neutral Trainer

Trizone Review
  • Fit and Feel
  • Midsole
  • Outsole
  • Colour and Appearance
  • The Run

Summary

With the recent trend amongst the running shoe manufacturers to introduce a "minimalist" shoe, there are now plenty of options for the light-footed runner who is after a little less on their foot.  The benefits of running in a more minimal shoe can be widespread, whether we look at traditional racing flats, or the new generation of "barefoot" shoes. A "closer to the road feeling" can be achieved, as well as a more natural gait pattern. Claims of fewer injuries, faster times and a more enjoyable running experience are often heard.

However, this is not another article on minimalist running, that's for a different day. Here we take a look at a new option from Saucony. This is the brand who has recently brought us a myriad of "reduced drop," lightweight shoes including the Progrid Kinvara, the Progrid Mirage and the new super minimal Hattori (stay tuned for write-up on this ultralight option!). This is also a brand that has had it's heart and soul in running from the start. The Jazz, Hurricane, Triumph and Grid Type A series were all brought to us by Saucony. In short, these guys know their running and know their shoes.

3.7

Triathlon and running technique coach, Australian Long Course Triathlon AG Champion 2010, World Ironman Championship competitor 2009

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Argon 18 Launches Cutting Edge Technology Notio Konect

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Argon 18, the international high-performance bicycle company, has announced the launch of Notio Konect evolving their 2016 Smart Bike Prototype, which debuted at last year’s Eurobike Show. Notio Konect, the first cutting edge innovation of the newly launched company Notio Technologies Inc, will be presented at the Argon 18 booth at Eurobike.

Following last season’s successful prototype launch of the Smart Bike technology, the bike manufacturer evolved the vision to develop Notio Technologies Inc., a subsidiary dedicated to R&D, innovation, performance and excellence within the bicycle technology industry sector.

“In today’s industry, there is so many metrics and methods to foster a relationship between the rider and the bike. But the disconnect was the way to gather, analysis and then use all this data in a way that a rider could benefit from all the various numbers and readings. Notio Konect was developed to build a strong relationship between the rider and bike, to go faster, to be efficient and improve your global riding performance,” said Gervais Rioux, president and founder, Argon 18. “We have created products to gather the numbers, bring them together so one can understand them and gain a complete riding analysis.”

Notio Konect is a usable device for all bicycle brands that combines measurements from eight families of data to revolutionize the rider analytics relationship to performance and comfort. A unique functionality of the Notio Konect is real time accurate data in a useable and understandable format in addition to post-race analysis capabilities. Notio Konect technology was developed using detailed testing with professional and high-performance athletes, including the Astana Pro Team during this year’s Tour de France along with various coaching companies and recreational teams. This cross platform testing has helped the company create a diverse demographic understanding of the data requirements of various levels of athletes in multiple endurance sports.

Notio Technologies Inc. plans to market various advanced, high-end products, targeting professional teams and high-level endurance athletes as well as bring to market products that create and build the relationship between rider and bicycle on a recreational and fitness level. Product line includes models developed for coaches, teams and fit studios.

“Notio offers a 360degree view of the data and a 360 degree view of the process, from setting goals to planning to executing and monitoring along sharing and collaborating. Notio takes these views of data and cohesively brings together the metrics into a useable and relatable format for all levels of athletes, ranging from the world’s top professionals to fanatics and enthusiasts, ,” said Marc Graveline, CEO of Notio Technologies Inc.

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MIPS Debuts New Brain Safety Products

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MIPS, the premier brain safety technology company, is offering their patented impact protection system in two new platforms that drastically increase the compatible helmet types and models. Both new platforms are built upon the same decades of research and study that went into the flagship MIPS system, expanding the MIPS low-friction layer into other helmet formats and expanding the integration of the existing technology.

The first product, the A1 (informally, the Pocket), is a series of plates embedded in the helmet’s interior and anchored between fabric layers. The plates move omnidirectionally, thanks to the low-friction plastic construction of the plates and the specialty elastic fabric layers. The A1 employs the same concept of the full-sized low-friction helmet liner, but integrates fully with the helmet padding, using the specially-designed plates to achieve the crucial 10-15mm of movement to redirect damaging rotational motion from oblique head impacts.

The second platform, the E2 (informally, the Beanie) solution, is a soft, cap-like insert that acts as a full-headed low-friction layer for full-face cycling, motocross, and street sport helmets. The Liner is made up of two multi-directional, stretch fabric layers sewn together around a thin, plastic foil. When inserted between the comfort padding of the helmet and the outer EPS shell, the Liner provides broad coverage from rotational motion without sacrificing comfort or sweat absorption.

The A1 and E2 products both build on MIPS’ 20 years of research by Sweden’s leading neuroscientists and engineers. This research strictly addresses a solution to the damaging effects of rotational motion experienced in a crash. All MIPS products ensure a 10-15mm relative motion between the head and helmet during the crucial 2-3 milliseconds after an impact. While all crashes are different, MIPS products can result in at least a 10% reduction in strain on the brain.

“MIPS is committed to protection from brain injury and, in order to make as much of a difference, we have to work with as many helmet brands as possible,” says Johan Thiel, CEO of MIPS. “Products like the A1 and the E2 expand how our technology can integrate with all kinds of helmets, giving MIPS the potential to help keep even more people at a lower risk for debilitating brain injuries.”

Both products, like all MIPS solutions, are integrated into the helmet design and represent a close collaboration with the helmet manufacturers. More and more brands are equipping MIPS into their products with all the manufacturers offering at least one MIPS model helmet in 2017. Models featuring the A1 and E2 will debut in the spring 2018 with several new and current helmet brand partners.

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TrainingPeaks Announces New Peak Performances Feature

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TrainingPeaks has announced the launch of Peak Performances, a new feature for TrainingPeaks web and mobile applications.

As the leader in performance-based training and athlete management software, TrainingPeaks saw a need to make progress easier to track outside of just testing and racing.

With this in mind, TrainingPeaks is happy to announce the release of Peak Performances for all Premium athlete subscribers and coaches. With this new feature, athletes and their coaches can now see progress in power, run pace over a given distance, and heart rate across all bike and run workouts.

“Achieving a goal is about consistency and progress over time, laying the foundation and then building upon it with longer, faster and often more intense workouts,” said Dirk Friel, President, Chief of Fitness Brands at TrainingPeaks. “While the goal is the ultimate destination, knowing whether or not you are on course to reach that goal is just as important to both an athlete and their coach—and Peak Performances makes it as simple as uploading a workout.”

Additionally, a timeline in the mobile app shows where each Peak Performance ranks among others of this year and/or all time. This historical perspective keeps athletes on track with every upload, motivating them to keep pushing harder, or showing them where their best performances rank across all time.

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CeramicSpeed Introduces World’s Fastest Chain Coating

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After more than 4,000 hours of lab and field testing, Friction Facts and CeramicSpeed now introduce the world’s fastest bottled chain product. UFO Drip Chain Coating is a breakthrough product. It began as a project with very specific goals, which at its core, shares the same DNA that defines the rest of CeramicSpeed’s exceptional product line: visionary ambition, research-based precision testing, and premium quality.

What is the UFO Drip Chain Coating?

The coating is a bottled product for chains that is applied in liquid form, and which hardens to a 100% dry chain coating. It generates less friction than any other chain lube on the market (being out-performed only by the factory-treated UFO Racing Chain). And as Friction Facts’ research has so often concluded: every watt lost to friction is one less watt available to power the bike forwards.

Chief Technology Officer at CeramicSpeed, Jason Smith, the brain behind this revolutionary product, explains:

“Other lubricants may claim to be “the fastest”, but data-driven testing – not to mention logic and semantics – suggests otherwise. There can only be one “fastest”. And UFO Drip Chain Coating is it.”

The Revolution

Jason Smith is the founder of Friction Facts, the independent friction lab that was acquired by CeramicSpeed in 2016. Smith had already invented the renowned UFO Racing Chain treatment – UFO stands for ‘Ultra Fast Optimisation’ – a factory treatment process that delivers the fastest bicycle chain in
the world. What makes the UFO Racing Chain the ultimate friction-beater, is an innovative factory-applied chain coating. However, CeramicSpeed had more radical ambitions – they wanted to liberate UFO-like speed from the bespoke factory process, somehow bottle it, and put it in the hands of the people.

“From the beginning, there was only one box to tick,” says CeramicSpeed Executive Vice President Martin Banke. “And that was to create the world’s fastest drip-applied chain lubricant. When CeramicSpeed do something, we do it 100%. UFO Drip Chain Coating is a revolutionary product – technically and performance-wise, it is unlike anything else on the market.”

After months of development, Smith came up with a formula consisting of 10 components; a blend of waxes, trace oils, and friction modifiers. It was a liquid product that was easy to apply to a bike chain, which hardened into a completely dry coating. It tested very, very fast; out-performing by far the best available drip lubes in frictional loss benchmarking.

More quantitative and qualitative testing than any other product in the market

“Personally, and in my capacity as the Chief Technology Officer of CeramicSpeed, I can proudly state that every claim we make about the performance of UFO Drip Chain Coating is 100% supported by the test data. If we haven’t tested it, we are not going to make the claim,” says Jason Smith, and continues, “I prefer to focus on the data. If the product works, I’m going to have masses of data that shows you it works. Friction Facts, now the dedicated drivetrain efficiency lab of CeramicSpeed, is the only facility with all friction- testing equipment under one roof. CeramicSpeed is the only manufacturer who have the capability to friction-test
so comprehensively, in support of a new product.”

The UFO Drip Chain Coating data proves:

  • The world’s fastest bottled product for chains
  • 20% lower friction than the second fastest bottled lubricant in initial pre-ride friction
  • 83% lower than the second fastest bottled lubricant in post-ride friction
  • 46% decreased drivetrain wear vs wet lubes
  • Minimum of 200k between applications
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Shimano PRO’S Fastest Tri-Spoke Wheel Now Available as a Clincher

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Joining the tri-spoke tubular and rear disc clincher wheels in its line-up, PRO now releases its Tri-spoke Clincher front wheel designed for triathletes and time trialists.

Whilst tubular wheels are the racing choice of the pro’s, it’s not possible to quickly repair a punctured tubular. Riders who puncture on a tubular during a race will usually take a spare wheel from their team car or neutral support service. For riders who don’t have this luxury, the new PRO tri-spoke clincher wheel offers high speed aerodynamics with the practicality of being able to quickly repair punctures on the roadside.

Shimano’s new PRO tri-spoke Clincher wheel (PRWH0040).

Tech features

The Tri-spoke Clincher uses the same technology trickled down from the Tubular version, with the same aerodynamic shape as the Tri-spoke Textreme wheel with a 3K 2×2 twill carbon weave and a wide 65mm deep rim design for optimum aerodynamics, suitable for 25mm clincher tires. The Tri-spoke Clincher is built around an Ultegra 6800 hub, weighing 1040g in total and comes with a protective PRO wheel bag.

The PRO Tri-spoke Tubular wheel is regarded as one of the fastest on the planet, being ridden to victory in multiple World Tour time trials by the likes of Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas of Team Sky, Richie Porte and Rohan Dennis of BMC, Primoz Roglic of LottoNL-Jumbo and Tom Dumoulin of Team Sunweb.

Together with the current PRO Rear Disc Clincher, the new PRO Tri-spoke Clincher wheel completes the full aerodynamic set up for triathletes and testers looking for the elite wheel technology that has helped many world-class athletes achieve the highest-level victories.

The PRO Tri-spoke wheel will be available from January 2018.

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Review: OTTO Tuning System – App for Adjusting Your Bike Gears

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Correctly indexing your gears can be a lost art for some. Enter the OTTO Tuning System. The system looks to remove the complexity by leveraging an innovative combination of tool and app combo to remove the thinking and give you a bike shop like tune up in minutes. But is it worth the investment? Let’s find out.

Nothing annoys a rider more than a mysterious tick on your bike. With your mind-set on smashing out a muffin and a coffee in an  hour, not having your carbon baby performing 100% is frankly too much to handle for you and your riding buddies.

Incorrectly indexed gears often are the cause of this and without resolution can quickly escalate from annoying to dangerous. The chain can slip under load, surprise you by changing gears randomly and ultimately make you feel like you have a gremlin in control of your Shimano Di2.

Tuning up the drive chain comes down to playing with the limit screws on the rear mechanics, nowadays understanding how to do this has become a bit of a lost art, often requiring you to splash out cash at your local bike shop to make even the slightest of re adjustments.

How does it work?

The OTTO tuning system works by tracking elements on a plastic gauge via your iPhone application. On opening the App it kicks off with a small 5 minute tutorial about how to use the tool, simple enough and easy to understand.  You have 2 basic options;

  1. Free: which allows you to check your indexing
  2. Subscription: will provide advice on how to tune your gears.  It’s important to note that to date it doesn’t support Android, which is quite frustrating, requiring me to borrow my mechanics iPhone just to complete the review. Does sound like a little oxymoron doesn’t it?

Subscription service 1-day: $1.99 / 90-day: $11.99 / 1-year: $26.99.

Once you have decided on your options the App asks you to put the tool on the derailleur pulley and align the targets on the gauge to the App. A procedure which reminded me about Luke turning on his targeting computer during his death star run except, this time, it hit the target.

After artificially tinkering with the limit screws prior to see how it would work, it picked up to the millimetre where the derailleur was miss aligned. Bravo!

The paywall service then kicks in, so if you have subscribed it gives you actual advice on how to adjust the barrel adjuster and limit screws, cable tension with complete videos, tutorials and the ability to recheck multiple times to get the adjustment right.

Teach a man to fish….

This surmises my biggest gripe with the product whilst reviewing the OTTO tuning system. I couldn’t help but wonder if my time was better spent actually learning how to adjust my gears rather than looking at video instructions on how to use the tool and App.

There’s several videos online that can take you through it and I’m sure if you buy your mechanic a coffee they will be glad to take you through it.  I can certainly see a place for the OTTO tuning system to check my indexing while learning how to adjust the gears. But for me to pay a subscription service for an App to tell me what to do?  I just couldn’t see the value.

Get thee to a spanner jockey

$50 dollars for the OTTO Tuning System is a relatively modest entry point, ($77 with the subscription service), compared to say 4 services a year your way ahead. However, behind every good rider is a good spanner jockey. Bike mechanics are the unsung heros of the Tour, Kona and Roth, and you need to be best buddies with yours.

Tuning up your bike is more than just adjusting the rear mech, it’s that relationship with your bike, your riding style and common mistakes (sorry for the cross-chaining Jimmy!) and your history that brings the art to the science. So whilst you may save a bit of coin on the mech adjustment, overall I think your life of a cyclist is better off in the hands of a knowledgeable mechanic.

Trizone Review
  • Functionaility
  • Price
  • Longetivity

Summary

Functional, but time may be better spent learning how to tune your gears.

2.3
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