there are many questions that could be asked of the world of professional cycle racing, questions other than 'why?'. for instance, who first came up with the streaming of differing levels of teams, such as continental, pro-continental and world tour? whose idea was it and why was it necessary? why couldn't they all play happily together under the one roof? are the riders in a continental team really that much less competitive than the guys who ride the classics and the tours?
those are, of course, all rhetorical questions. if you don't know the answers, either e-mail me or look it up on google. any of the above brought to the surface at the coffee shop after the sunday ride would likely result in catcalls of derision, or at very least, ostracisation in the domestic peloton. that does not, however, mean that there are not valid questions to be asked, the current one that springs to mind (one that has hung around for at least a couple of years) is why so few sponsors make use of their sponsorship when it comes to magazine adverts?
as a reasonably high-profile example, cast your minds back a few years to recall europcar's tommy voeckler nabbing the yellow jersey in le tour and hanging onto it for around ten days, thereby reprising a situation that first occured during the now unmentionable armstrong years. as has become traditional, colnago provided mr voeckler with a bright yellow c59 to match his jersey, shorts and helmet. yet when it came to advertising, the only example to feature this cornucopia of brightness was one from europcar's tyre sponsor; hutchinson.
having hastily painted a top of the range colnago for tommy's express usage, you'd have thought ernesto would have capitalised on those ten days by plastering it all over every road-cycling magazine in europe. it seems you really can lead a horse to water...
however, continuing the yellow trend, clothing sponsor for britain's jlt condor mavic, not only offer shoes of unparalleled yellow brightness, along with helmets of similar hue, but they have edged the bibshorts worn by the likes of kristian house with the selfsame yellow and bearing not only their own logo but those of both jlt and condor. in fact it is house who features in their double-page spreads. to me at least, this seems like a decent attempt to gain a worthy return on their investment. sadly, it seems that they may be ploughing a lonely furrow.
there are three notable points of contact between rider and bicycle: saddle, bars and pedals, the latter being the most consistent. though i have never mastered the art of riding no-hands myself, in case of an unexpected victory, it appears the ability to do so is a necessary preserve of the aspiring professional. few of us, unless ensconced in a recumbent, will complete a bike ride without at least lifting our posteriors from the saddle at least once. the very fact that cycle shoes have ruddy great plastic cleats on the sole would indicate that our feet are intended to remain firmly affixed to the spinney bits.
on this basis, it behoves us well to choose carefully when it comes to purchasing cycle shoes. they have need of providing unparalleled support throughout sprinting, climbing, racing, training, headwinds, tailwinds as well as rain, hail and shine. though it's an inescapable fact that we too have need of surviving the same, rarely do we have to do so mere inches from crappy roads. like i said, choose those shoes carefully.
mavic's cxr ultimates could not fit the bill with any more aplomb than i have observed over recent weeks. visually impressive and noticeable due to their built-in oversock, mavic have managed to place all the comfort in the right places while hardly neglecting stiffness where it is most required. the ultimate, quite naturally as the top of the tree, features a ventilated yet stunningly stiff full carbon sole. the black heel has what mavic refer to as their energy lock heel hold, preventing any untoward flexing where untoward flexing has no place to be.
unlike many other shoes, mavic have eschewed what we would regularly refer to as the tongue. in the case of the ultimates, the shoe body folds over and is attached on the outer side with an elastic strap. this makes it simplicity itself to put the shoes on, all the while ensuring a comfortably close fit before the shoes have been fastened. on the cxr ultimates, mavic have opted to use a variation on the boa closure system, labelled ergo dial; this makes it quick and easy to close and open each shoe, with the ability to adjust the tension individually at each point.
the aeroflap has been specifically designed to improve the shoe's aerodynamics. i have no doubt that mavic have conducted windtunnel tests to verify the latter, but to be honest, there was never any way i was going to find out for myself. bike riders would probably have to ride a lot faster than yours truly to notice any difference. however, the zipped flap does provide a nice aesthetic and unless you really are kristian house, offer a professional 'je ne sais quoi' that might just bring an enhanced and speedier reputation. zipping up the aeroflap does nothing to disturb their superb ventilation.
these are remarkably comfortable shoes which so far have avoided becoming besmirched with any untoward road crap, for which their yellow brightness is undoubtedly grateful. however, when winter arrives on cattle infested roads, i am ever hopeful that their aerodynamicism extends to shirking grubby marks. when shoes look this good, it would be nice to keep them that way.
mavic cxr ultimate road shoes are available in sizes ranging from 3.5 to 13. retailing at £260 they come with a set of cleat screws and a mesh bag. thanks to condor cycles and jlt condor for assistance with this review.
wednesday 22 july 2015..........................................................................................................................................................................................................