CyclingTips Digest: Harrison Ford E-bike Denial, Gravel Bike Field Test, Plague Updates, Women's TdF, Fraud, & More

Mar 11, 2020
by Sarah Lukas  

What's going on in the curly bar world? CyclingTips Digest showcases articles from our sister site, CyclingTips. In each installment, you might find endurance coverage, power-to-weight ratios, gravel bike tech and, of course, lycra.

Despite denials, Harrison Ford definitely rides an e-bike
By: Iain Treloar

Here’s a sentence I didn’t expect to write today: this week, Harrison Ford appeared on US chat show Ellen, where he angrily denied riding an e-bike despite all evidence to the contrary.

At CyclingTips, we pride ourselves on our investigative reporting, so I did a little dutiful digging behind the blindingly obvious of looking at the pictured e-bike that Harrison Ford, star of Cowboys and Aliens, was definitely riding. It was a (not particularly) wild ride that plunged me into a seamy underbelly of paparazzi shots and online tabloids, with assistance from industry sources along the way.

(Watch Harrison's dislike towards e-bikes here.)

2020 Gravel Bike Field Test: 12 bikes, four riders, and endless dirt
By: James Huang

You know what’s even better than testing one bike at a time? Testing a dozen of them all at once.

Inspired by Pinkbike's Annual Field Test, CyclingTips recently brought 12 of the latest-and-greatest gravel bikes, four test riders, a giant box of control tires to eliminate one key variable, and a support mechanic to the red-dirt paradise of Sedona, Arizona. We divided those bikes into three categories — racing-focused bikes, MTB-inspired bikes, and budget bikes — and rode the wheels off of them on a wide range of terrain until we had decided on winners, losers, what we liked, and what we didn’t like among all of them.

Check out the CyclingTips Field Test 2020 here.

First up is Evil's Chamois Hagar.

Evil Bicycles infused a massive helping of mountain bike design into the recipe for its Chamois Hagar gravel machine. It’s unquestionably one of the most unusual — and visually striking — drop-bar bikes in recent memory. However, does that different approach actually deliver an improved experience, or is it different for the sake of being different?

Read the full review on CyclingTips.

The Secret Industry Insider: No bikes for you
By: The Secret Industry Insider

You've heard from the Secret Pro, but with all that's going on in the industry we wanted to hear from the Secret Industry Insider:

Greetings from the underground biohazard bunker I had specially built here in China last month! Shit’s getting real over here, and if you thought this whole coronavirus thing has been wreaking havoc on the race schedule and trade shows, wait until you start thinking about how it’s affecting the actual bikes you might have been hoping to buy this year.

(Read more.)

Coronavirus and cycling: A continuously updated timeline of events
By: CyclingTips

How is coronavirus affecting cycling on the road side of things? The news is moving fast. It feels like we’re posting a story every few hours on the subject, as national authorities, the UCI, teams, and race organizers respond. So we thought it’d be handy to put it all in one place.

The following timeline is in reverse chronological order – most recent first – and we’ll keep it updated as things change. Days and times are correlated to European time.

(Follow along here.)

Could a women’s Tour de France be on the way?
By: Sarah Lukas

Le Télégramme reports that Tour de France organizer Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) is working on bringing back a women’s Tour de France.

“We are seriously working on a project for a women’s stage race. We want to organise it in the short term,” Tour director Christian Prudhomme told Le Télégramme. “We want to talk to everyone, not just 50% of the population.”

(Read more.)

Astana riders and staff have not been paid for two months
By: Dane Cash

The riders and staff of the Astana team have not been paid for two months.

Spanish newspaper AS reported the news on Monday, noting that those on Astana are starting to get nervous after two months without salaries. According to AS, Astana brass had not yet provided team personnel with date for the payment of salaries.

Following the publication of the story, the team confirmed the delay but also offered a timeline for payment in a statement to media from general manager Alexandre Vinokourov and managing director Yana Seel.

(Read more.)

The curious case of Bruno Armirail, quarantine escape-artist
By: Iain Treloar

In the days and weeks since the 2020 UAE Tour screeched to a premature halt, wild stories of the race and its aftermath have slowly emerged.

In these stories, there has been both light and shade. There have been smuggled Playstations and teams entertaining themselves with hotel corridor Olympics; there have been vivid reports of a fever-wracked person shivering in the corner of a makeshift quarantine facility in a hotel laundry. The journalists that had been held in the media hotel have now all been allowed to return home, and so have most of the riders – only Gazprom and Team UAE remain, with several of their riders under suspicion of having contracted coronavirus.

It has, putting it mildly, been a bizarre couple of weeks for professional cycling.

(Read More.)

Oleg Tinkov battles extradition to the US on tax fraud charges
By: CyclingTips

And just for funsies...

Oleg Tinkov, former owner of the Tinkoff-Saxo cycling team, is currently battling extradition to the US on tax fraud charges.

Tinkov appeared before Westminster Magistrates Court last Thursday, where he paid a £20 million bail to avoid jail-time as he fights extradition. US prosecutors have accused him of financial deception – specifically submitting a false tax return, under-reporting his 2013 income – and have issued a provisional arrest warrant.

(Read More.)
Montpellier - France - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Oleg Tinkov pictured during stage 11 of the 2016 Tour de France from Carcassonne to Montpellier 164.00 km - photo NV PN Cor Vos 2016


  • 76 25
 Why ride gravel bikes when you can ride MTB bikes
  • 94 5
 If you don't have great MTB trails where you live gravel bikes make riding way more fun. Riding a small hill by my house gets boring pretty quickly on my 165mm full suspension enduro bike, but doing it on my cyclocross bike makes it sooo much more of a challenge. Being underbiked kinda rocks sometimes.
  • 66 3
 Apparently a lot of people decided to come full circle and want to see what mountain biking in the 80s was like.
  • 14 0
 Less Corona on the gravel travel. Gets absorbed by dust particles and falls to the ground, then ground into nothing in the gravel rocks.
  • 13 5
 @WE-NEED-MORE-ROOST: I’m fully with you re being underbiked, but a 100mm XCO FS bike or even a HT, is way more fun than a slack road bike.
  • 3 0
 @jclnv: Eh arguable, think about how much XCO bikes are though?
  • 9 3
 @WE-NEED-MORE-ROOST: Cost? Hardtails are pretty cheap. I’d still rather ride a used FS like a Spark if I had really tame trails than a drop bar bike. Drop bars and zero suspension is no fun IMO.
  • 9 0
 @jclnv: Eh to each their own I guess. Personally I think gravel bikes with no suspension are awesome cause of how under-gunned you are, but the world would suck if we all thought the same.
  • 19 0
 MTB Bikes = Mountain Bike Bikes...

Sorry. I woke up early and I'm bored.
  • 8 0
 @jclnv: But if your ride is 80% road with 20% off road. They make more sense.

It all depends on where and what you plan to ride I guess. You can use any bike for any discipline, just some will do the job for efficiently.
  • 9 0
 I know this is mostly a joke but for those taking it seriously, it is a completely different world. It's like saying why go for a walk when you can go on a hike. Different strokes for different folks.
  • 1 10
flag jclnv (Mar 11, 2020 at 23:05) (Below Threshold)
 @WE-NEED-MORE-ROOST: I disagree. If we all thought that living in harmony with ecosystems and other species the world would be a far healthier, better, place.

See you’re wrong about that and you’re wrong about gravel bikes ????
  • 5 4
 Tried gravel...made my roady slow on the tarmac and was lame on the dirt. A hardtail is a way better 'gravel' option.
  • 7 0
 For me for doing a more funny unlimited road rides, so you can skip dangerous roads. Ride it on tracks on muddy and cold days.
The question us if you are an enduro rider why having a XC bike and DH bike... Gravel or Enduro broo, what else?
  • 2 0
 @jclnv I don't really think it's a question of wrong, really just what you personally prefer. If you don't wanna get a gravel bike, then don't get one. I'll start trying to force you buy one if I ever get around to starting a bike company.
  • 3 0
 @slimjim1: Eh that does kinda suck about gravel bikes huh. I'd only ever use a gravel bike for just that, gravel, they're pretty sluggish road bikes.
  • 6 0
 @PauRexs: N+1 is always the answer!
  • 3 0
 Well, it is fun and welcome variation to riding MTB. Also it is good training. Riding trails on gravelbike not so much, but exploring local gravelroads and doubletracks is actually so much fun. Planning routes, sometimes getting lost, sometimes finding absolute blast routes, it can be pretty addictive. Got my gravelbike couple years back and it has turned one of the best biking related purchases i´ve done.
  • 2 0
 @WE-NEED-MORE-ROOST: My wink emoji morphed into ?????
  • 3 0
 @PauRexs: This. I want one so I can do road rides without riding busy roads.
  • 1 0
 yeah ,i look at some gravel bikes and think that would be great with flat bars on
  • 3 0
 Because gravel bikes can make boring trails intresting again.
  • 12 0
 @SkuxLaz Gravel bikes are for riding fire roads, not trails. MTB's are for riding trails, not fire roads.

Horses for courses.
  • 3 0
 @nick1957: 29er hardtail from 2-10 years back, rigid forks if you like, a set of 29er wheels with 1.9 or 2.0 fast tyres, a set of 27.5 wheels with 2.8 tyres, big wide curvy bars. Uses- commuting (road and off road), relaxed family rides, fire road fitness rides when trails are sodden, spicing up less gnarly trails, bikepacking, shop/pub/campsite bike. Does all these really well and does not seem out of place in any situation.
  • 3 0
 @jclnv: all bikes are fun if you have an open mind! Trail, DH, XC, road, gravel... heck, I even smile riding my wife’s cruiser around the campground and I’m sure an eMTB would make me giggle too. Bikes are fun.
  • 2 0
 Because N+1 is the perfect number of bikes to own.
  • 1 0
 @jclnv: oh you again.. @WE-NEED-MORE-ROOST He just Eco Bro'd you.
  • 1 0
 @SkuxLaz Absolutely! I never understood the whole drive of people getting gravel bikes
  • 3 0
 Everyone has their own reasons I suppose, but I ride my gravel bike when it's to wet and muddy to ride so no one gets pissed at me for wrecking the trails. Plus it's great for training.
  • 2 1
 @WE-NEED-MORE-ROOST: exactly right. The people always bitching about it either can't afford to buy one or don't have the skills to ride one off road.
They are great fun on easy trails and make your bike handling when you get back on the MTB even better.
Trust me once you can manual a gravel bike and do decent sized drop offs doing it on an MTB with suspension is a piece of piss.
  • 1 0
 Gravel bikes are a smoth transition from road to dirt. You can even build a gravel bike with a mtb HT frame and 1.5 semislick tires , someone maybe needs to lock the fork . Asides marketing positioning Gravel bikes are closer t the MTB spirit rather than other machines with assisted power input
  • 1 0
 @jclnv: unless its on the small hill by your house right?????
  • 1 0
I never understood the whole drive of people that run, I mean they have heard about bikes, right?

In all seriousness, it might just be that people are different from one another. I happen to like all the bikes, and I've owned just about all the bikes. Just never a downhill bike, but I do understand people that own downhill bikes, they appear to also like bikes.
  • 5 0
 A gravel bike is just a road bike that isn't trying to kill you. They're ace.
  • 1 0
I love my gravel bike, but I kinda disagree with your statement. My gravel bike has whipped me onto my head so fast several times. Most are basically crit bikes with maybe 10 mm longer reach a degree taken out of the head angle, and more tire clearance. They are great, but especially for this tall person they are the same story as the 80's and 90's MTB's that I started out riding..sketchy off-road, but awesome for what they are intended to do.

The gravel genre is starting to split into a few distinct groups and then the bikes will be great at handling the terrain they are intended to.
  • 4 2
 Let me try to explain
1. It is different kind of fun. You can go further and if you put a couple of bags on it, you can go camping in the woods.
2. It's easier to bunnyhop
3. You care less to brake things, because it costs less
4. It's way less maintenance. No suspension, dropper posts or other BS. Just tune your gears and ride.
5. It's easier to enjoy RIGHT NOW. On MTB you need to find all your protection, check tire pressure up to 1 PSI precision and then drive or ride to the trails. On gravel bike you put your tights and a bottle of water and you can go riding.
If I had to choose only one bike - I'm afraid it would be a gravel bike. Though I do like to huck a drop on my MTB or hit a steep rooty enduro trail, gravel riding gives me most fun per $.
  • 2 0
 @WE-NEED-MORE-ROOST: Gravel bikes seem like a good idea but I'm not a fan of drop bars or fixed seat posts. Get some flat bars and a dropper and I'm in!
  • 1 0
 @DanielP07: Flat bar gravel bikes are soooo fun.
  • 2 1
 You could build a killer, light XC bike instead and have more fun too
  • 1 1
That is called a full rigid MTB. Also fun but not really what most consider as a gravel bike.

I also find it really hard to do many hours of road type riding with only one hand position. That is why the long distance MTB bikepackers are mostly running some bar with multiple hand positions, like an H-Bar or running bar ends on the inboard side of the grips. You need someplace else to put your hands if you are riding for long distances.
  • 16 1
 Somebody needs to invent a comfortable gravel bike with straight handlebars, wider tires and suspension!
  • 7 6
 For long distance riding, drop bars are more comfortable than flats, not to mention the benefits of an aero position when things get windy.
  • 3 2
 @alreadyupsidedown: I disagree. I think most people find a more upright riding position more comfortable. Look at cruiser motorcycles versus sportbikes. Drop bars are mostly just for aerodynamics. That's why they give you the option to put your hands on top too for more comfort.
  • 4 3
 @dlxah: You can disagree all you want, but there’s a reason road bikes have drop bars.

First off- you don’t have to pedal a motorcycle, so that’s a terrible analogy. Try riding a beach cruiser bicycle for 50km up and down varied terrain, into the wind, and tell me if that relaxed position is still comfortable. You’ll be sweating hard and hating your life after an hour or so.

There’s more to comfort than just feeling ‘relaxed’. A hugely upright position will not be as fun if you have to expend twice the energy. Aerodynamics really do matter, for distance riding at speed. Aero is a big part of what makes road bikes comfortable, and don’t get it twisted- Gravel bikes are just road bikes that can handle rough surfaces.

Riding into the wind will force you to position your body low and forwards to minimize drag. If you’re on an MTB, this means crouching and sticking your elbows out, which is not comfortable.

Also, you realize drop bars can be placed to put you in any number of positions, from aggressive to quite upright? You can buy a road bike that is more upright in the drops, than a mountain bike with a low front end.

The other comfort benefit of drop bars you don’t seem to understand, is having options. It doesn’t really matter which is more comfortable, up or down- Keeping your hands and body position one way for hours can cause cramping and discomfort. The ability to mix it up makes all-day riding much more enjoyable.
  • 1 0
 Do you mean an XC bike?
  • 1 0
 @alreadyupsidedown: aren't drop bars used cos that's what uci regs demand? Without the strict geo regs I'd imagine road bike would look closer to TT bikes than the classic road bike.
  • 1 0

Yeah I don’t know why the UCI does that- I think you should be able to run whatever bar you want, to your detriment.

Doesn’t change the fact that multiple hand positions are critical for long distance riding.
  • 14 0
 The field test needs slo mo footage of tyres and rims bottoming out in gravel ruts.
  • 26 0
 6 inch huck to flat.
  • 4 0
 @bigtim: That's what she did.
  • 13 1
 Would rather read about this than another e-mtb review/article.
  • 8 0
 "Harrison Ford, star of Cowboys and Aliens" lol ya that's the one we know him from
  • 3 0
 He acted in Blade Runner as well. Not surprised to find him now on a cyborg bicycle...
  • 3 0
 I was trying to decide on the Evil vs the SC Stigmata, but ultimately I couldn't cope with paying significantly more for a frame with only a 3 year warranty (evil). When is Evil going to get with the times on warranty duration? I'm sure they are rock solid frames, but a $2800 frameset that is intended for gravel riding should have at minimum a 5 year warranty against defects in manufacturing...
  • 4 0
 Funny enough, the Evil frame is literally ‘rock solid’ stiff, according to the review.

In my mind, that’s a huge reason not to consider it. I don’t understand why anyone would want a bike that’s intended for fast descents on rough surfaces to be so stiff. I have a feeling Evil has never had the experience of building carbon bikes without suspension.

My favourite thing about my Norco Search XR Steel, is the engineered vertical compliance of the steel seat stays and carbon fork. It soaks up road vibrations, and keeps the bike very planted and stable- No weird geometry needed.

Oh yeah, and it has a lifetime warranty on the frame.
  • 1 0
 @alreadyupsidedown: yeah I saw that too, and it makes sense. While I'm sure carbon manufacturing has become more commonplace, mtb companies probably consider comfort on a rigid bike to be a "nuance" that can be overlooked. The stiggy rides smooth, and is a replacement for my tarmac so already feels like a couch in comparison. That search is an attractive ride for sure!
  • 2 0
 @alreadyupsidedown: has any one ever actually measured the "vertical compliance" of a steel or carbon) rear triangle? I haven't but my gut seems to think there would be f*ck all vertical movement of the rear axle due to the rigid triangular structure.
  • 1 0
 @borisimobike: Indeed it is, although I too, would love the Stigmata.

@dirtyburger: I don’t know that they have, but like you say, it can’t be much. A few millimetres at most- just enough to kill those small, high frequency vibrations. The fork definitely deflects enough to be visually noticeable on hard bumps.

End of the day, tires and contact points will make the biggest difference, but I do believe the frame plays a part. If you look closely on a lot of better steel bikes, the rear stays are given curvature so they can deflect.

I’m no scientist, but I have ridden many steel bikes with similar tire sizes, with different results. Some vintage bikes feel like a cloud, but are super flexy. I’ve ridden steel track bikes with straight blade forks and stays that are ass-hatchets. And then there frames like my current bike that have a reasonably stiff front triangle, but also feel great after a long day. It’s subtle, but the effect on your body is noticeable.
  • 5 0
 My road bike sports 29mm id rims with 2.3" Rene Herse tires.180 rotors, flat pedals and a steel frame. Build what you want.
  • 1 0
 I like it.
  • 2 0
 I enjoyed watching the cyclingtips guys ride the Evil bike with a dropper all the way up down hills- then post a review where they said the bike didn't need a dropper post. The mysteries of bike reviews
  • 1 0
 Hahah! Yeah, this review is disappointing. That bike rips. This review does not.
  • 1 0
 @dlxah: well, I'm all for a womens tour, my comment might appear derogatory but it wasn't meant that way. But please let me know, practically, what happens a couple of hours into the stage when people start to want to relieve themselves? The male riders either flop it out while moving or stop quickly in the open. Yes sometimes they just hold on, for a long time in a breakaway for instance, but as soon as they are caught they are stopping if they need to. I don't expect all the women to hold on the whole stage, maybe they can have a bank of portaloos at a specified point or something? But no one wants to take more time at the side of the road than they have too even if the peleton slows. 3 weeks of racing is a survival thing, if the usual comforts are denied every day of racing it can't be good for the body. If they are racing, they should be doing it in the best physical condition.
  • 4 0
 I like my ass.. I'll stick to a full suspension thank you very
  • 3 0
 No woman in Tour de France? I fart in zee general direction of your all male road race.
  • 3 0
 No man, you don`t hallucinate unfortunately: there`s NO woman Tour de France. It tells long about the mentality of that category of bicycle and about the gap there is between our dear discipline and that fvcking lycra world.
  • 2 0
 Hell in a hand basket...ooooo ... wait ....what are those shiny new gravel bikes?
  • 1 2
 Just get a nice hardtail. Better yet, get an okay hardtail frame and build it up with all of the extra parts you have lying around from so many years of biking. I absolutely love my hardtail. My knee doctor told me I need to give it up, but I'm not sure I can.
  • 2 0
 Two Evil bikes on PB in one week? The apocalypse is nigh!
  • 2 0
 ITT a bunch of people whose trails are perfect rideable all year long.
  • 1 0
 Looks so slack the seat tube angle of that evil...
  • 1 0
 74deg.. Looks can be deceiving.
  • 1 0
 Cock nipples and tit balls.
  • 1 0
 You know that thing has a dropper post, right?
  • 1 0
 The best part.
  • 2 1
 indiana fckin cunt!
  • 2 4
 I`ll like roadies when hunting them with a bow and rusted arrows will be allowed.
  • 1 4
 A women's stage race of any substance is limited by only one thing....they can't piss and ride at the same time.
  • 5 0
 Not with that attitude.
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