CyclingTips Digest: How to 3D Print Titanium, $10,000 Handlebars, Chain Lube Testing, & More

Sep 6, 2021
by Sarah Moore  

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.


LoThe Team GB Lotus x Hope track bike used by the British cycling team at the Tokyo Olympics certainly generated a lot of buzz when it debuted in October 2019, given its highly unconventional design (we even paid Hope a visit right after its debut). More recently, however, the bike has also generated some serious controversy as renowned cycling engineer and aerodynamicist Richard McAinsh — together with Dutch brand Kú Cycle, which McAinsh founded with Alex Bok — is now claiming the design was stolen.

Bok’s history with McAinsh dates back more than a decade, to when the former was running professional triathlon teams, and when 3T — for whom McAinsh was working at the time — was a sponsor.

(Read more.)


I have spent the better part of a day now trying to fill in the gaps, but they’re big gaps and impossible to fill. Nearly three years of gap. I am specifically intrigued by the very end of it. Wednesday morning, in fact. Maybe Tuesday night.

I want to know about the hours in which my bike, mostly disassembled but not entirely so, ended up locked to a very visible fence not half a mile from where it was stolen.

(Read more.)


Modern technology is continually opening the door to new ideas. Metal hydroforming, computer-controlled milling, and laser cutting are all now commonplace within bicycle parts manufacturing. And while still niche in its usage, you can add 3D printing to the list.

When it comes to 3D printing metal for bicycle purposes, few have more hands-on experience than the Melbourne-based team at Bastion Cycles. They first used 3D-printed titanium lugs in 2015 to produce the first custom road bike of its kind and the brand continues to refine the technology today. For the past three years, the young Australian company has relied on in-house printing capabilities.

(Read more.)


Welcome back to the Nerd Alert podcast, in this week’s episode Dave Rome steps in as host and goes full nerd while diving into the murky waters of chain lube testing.

The amount of mixed information related to chain lubes is staggering and it’s undoubtedly one of the more confusing product areas for consumers. That’s an issue because your choice of chain lube can make a substantial difference to the durability and efficiency of your drivetrain. To help unravel these issues we called up Adam Kerin of Zero Friction Cycling and the founder of FrictionFacts Jason Smith to talk all things within their domains.

(Read more.)


Cycling can be a beautiful and often meditative sport, but sometimes even the smallest of body niggles can make it a downright miserable experience. How you sit on and interact with the bike can make or break your cycling, and that only becomes more true as your mileage increases.

Clipping into your pedals brings numerous performance and bike control benefits, but it does mean you’re effectively locked into pedalling in a set position. Getting this position right is arguably the base to being comfortable and efficient on the bike. Get it wrong and it’s likely your calves, knees, hips, or even your lower back will complain.

(Read more.)


3T is celebrating its 60th year in business, and like any self-respecting bike brand with that kind of history behind it, the company has released a limited-edition model. In 3T’s case, it’s a special version of its Exploro RaceMax aero gravel bike, though the party includes far more than just a bike.

There’s a garage, too. Really. Well, sort of.

(Read more.)


Melbourne-based bikepacking standard bearers, Curve Cycling, have form when it comes to interesting handlebars. In late 2019 they released the Walmer – an ultra-wide drop bar that measures up to 750 mm at the drops. Now, they’ve come out with the Remlaw – yup, that’s ‘Walmer’ backwards.

What’s the Remlaw? It’s a flat bar for drop-bar bikes. As anyone who’s retrofitted a flat bar onto a bike with geometry designed around a drop handlebar might know, that usually ushers in some compromises, shortening the reach and negatively impacting on the bike’s handling.

(Read more.)


Do you really need suspension on a gravel bike? The idea of suspension forks on gravel bikes has always been a contentious one, and the bike industry hasn’t exactly done itself any favors given what was available early on.

Several of the most popular ones were just chopped-down obsolete mountain bike forks, and they looked and rode like them. They were heavy, they were ugly, and the afterthought tuning just didn’t work well enough to convince enough people that they were worth the substantial hit in weight and cost. Cannondale’s Lefty Oliver fork has probably come the closest functionally, but its single-sided design and proprietary hub present its own hurdles to adoption.

(Read more.)


With a rear derailleur, a wide-range cassette, and a pair of dropbar shifters all for US$287, you’d be easily excused for assuming that MicroShift’s Advent X drivetrain components are kinda crummy. Instead, they’re solid proof that bike parts don’t need to be expensive to function reliably.

In a market almost devoid of low cost 1x drivetrain options suitable for gravel riding, this single-ring mini-groupset is a glimmer of hope. However, some aspects of it shine brighter than others.

(Read more.)


Ashton Lambie has cemented a place for himself in the history books as the first person to ride a 4 km pursuit in under four minutes. An achievement of immense magnitude, some might say it is at least the cycling equivalent of Roger Bannister’s sub-four-minute mile in 1954. While Bannister achieved what many considered physiologically impossible at the time and broke down an apparent collective mental barrier for humanity, there was a certain inevitability about someone, sometime soon, breaking the four-minute 4 km pursuit barrier.

That is not to detract from Lambie’s achievement but is rather a collective acknowledgement of the progression in modern sport. The sub-four-minute pursuit became an equation: massive human engine + sports science and physiology understanding + technological advancement = 3:59.930

(Read more.)


On paper, Shimano hydraulic brakes have always been rather simple to bleed, but in practice little things such as getting the hose to stay on the bleed nipple offered room for improvement.

Shimano recently released three new bleed tools aiming to smooth the process of bleeding its brakes, and while they’re still made of plastic, they offer some notable (but small) improvements over the old.

(Read more.)


  • 39 0
 If I am correct 4km in sub 4 min would mean an average speed of over 60kph. Mind blowing
  • 28 0
 From a standing start! Try getting up to speed on a 64x15
  • 21 0
 And the current hour record is averaging 55 kph, for an hour! There are some truly superhuman cyclists out there! Might be real far from my particular segment of cycling, but I still celebrate them.
  • 2 22
flag Almostredbike (Sep 6, 2021 at 23:56) (Below Threshold)
 @kylar: how do they become superhuman…doping…still cool though
  • 7 5
 And not an e-bike in sight. Thankfully.
  • 13 0
 Based on the comments alone on the lube article there are still things I've yet to overthink in this world. Yay
  • 5 1
 Listened to the whole podcast patiently waiting for the best lube is.... Not telling! Time I'm never getting back.
  • 2 0
 @ryandodgeshaw: we all perfectly know what lube is the best...
  • 9 0
 @ryandodgeshaw: Appreciate the feedback.

The goal of that podcast wasn't to tell you the best chain lube (which is dependant on conditions and desired user effort related to prep/cleaning/ongoing maintenance), but rather to inform people on why so many manufacturer claims don't add up.

We'll have a feature and podcast that dives into the "best" in the near future.
  • 2 0
 @DaveRome: Enjoyed the podcast - some very interesting information. I look forward to the feature on the best lube choices.
  • 11 0
 Should have been titled fact or friction Smile
  • 1 0
 If you cover your chain it will last many times longer, not really important for riding in a velodrome, but off road in muddy condition?
However sponsored riders are not allowed to take advantage of this, but everyone else can!
  • 2 0
 @DaveRome: it was very interesting just thought it would have said ceramic dry or wet etc etc was better.
In the UK it rains ALOT so I run a Ceramic wet lube from FinishLine pretty much all year only putting less on in that one dry day. I do also put it on the inside of the chain. Bugs me when you see people putting it on the outside of a chain. Thanks for responding and keep the podcasts coming. It helps pass the time at work.
Hope my boss doesn't read this!

  • 1 0
 @ryandodgeshaw: Simplest way to keep chain in good condition is covering in molten wax?
But still not as good as completely sealed chain drive!
  • 8 0
 CyclingTips articles seem to often be very well written and informative, props to you guys
  • 8 0
 That stolen bike story was crazy!
  • 2 0
 Seems to be an innovative small business in the bike industry is a scary thing.
  • 5 3
 Hard to belive and highly unlikely two bike designers can come up with similar radical unique fugly design. Legal mumbo jumbo aside this appears to be a case of blatant ripoffery. Thank God we dont have these problems in the rear suspension mtb world no sir...........ducking
  • 2 1
 The accusations are pretty far from rock steady in patent terms from what I can see in my almost non existant experience. The wide spaced fork legs and chainstays are actually the only similarity beyond how all road and track bikes are similar. It looks closer to "took inspiration from" than blatantly ripped off in my opinion. Within the confines of the UCI definition of a track bike there is not a lot of wiggle room and aerodynamic principals for tube shapes don't change with the application of a patent.

I would be surprised if the hope/lotus team had not seen that patent and implemented some of those ideas on their machine, whether that has been taken far enough to count as an infringement would be what highly paid lawyers would be sorting out.
  • 2 0
 The first company that makes a cheap drop bar wide range (10-50+ cassette) 1x system will clean up in the gravel space. Microshift are so close but a big fail on the cable only brake levers. It blows my mind that Shimano or SRAM can't see the obvious opportunity
  • 2 1
 My tip on how to set up cleats. Step 1: ride flats and be able to use them very well. Sometimes your foot will be a little forward, a little backward on clombs, but eventually you'll know whether you want the position that is good for cranking up hill, or that position that does everything, or that position that gives great control on tech descents. 2: Go to clips and replicate your favourite position. And ignore any thoughts about the location or direction of the cleat. My cleat placements are not perfectly symmetrical because my body isn't.
  • 3 0
 Anyone know why the GB paralympic cyclists weren't on the same lotus/hope bike as the rest of the GB team?
  • 3 0
 I wondered that too, they all seemed to be on their own bikes (rather than a standard 'team issue' bike) which may make sense if they have customisations
  • 1 0
 I want to put those microshift gears on the pursuit bike… ah we miss you @bicyclepubes
  • 1 0
 Does anyone know why he left? My insta feed became a lot more boring.
  • 1 0
 aerodynamicist might just have bumped cosmonaut off the top step of the cool job title podium.
  • 1 0
 3D printing titanium sounds interesting, but is it cheaper
  • 20 3
 Bastion’s 3D printed handlebars cost nearly $5000 (aussie) and they snapped at the Olympics. Bastion shouldn’t be telling anyone how to 3D print anything.
  • 3 0

At LBS.....I was just riding along and I taco'd my wheel.

At Olympics.....I was just riding along and now have splinters on my nose
  • 15 2
 It's not cheaper, but at least it's heavier and less reliable.
  • 2 1
 A lot more expensive! I went down this rabbit hole last winter and sent out some lug designs to some 3D print shops… was going to be about 4-5k for lugs alone for a hardtail!
  • 1 2
 @MtbSince84: not quite? an aquaintance of mine runs a company that 3d prints stuff has been doing it for a few years firstly he makes a great deal of custom bars for team INEOS (froome won many stages and tours on bars that were 3d printed plus a host of others) and despite being a former composites expert (and by that I mean not self professed he's the go to guy when you get stuck) in the F1 and aerospace sectors has proved many times that 3d printed titanium is equal if not lighter than its carbon equivalent, They manufacture the seat rail clamps also for the Pinarello f10 from memory again a production component that cost no more than the equivalent CNC machined version , of course joe blogs in his shed is going to think things are expensive a one off bike with one off lugs isnt going to be a couple of hundred dollars (and thats what they expect),I used to make fixtures building bikes on they were the cheapest available at one point and folks still used to moan about cost, the thing i learned was to never underestimate the ability of a customer to whine its not a rolls royce when they're paying cheap money. As for Bastion they have literally tons of product out there which is doing just fine the ability for something to fail on the world stage is part of life at the top end , we made carbon fibre gearboxes for F1 cars for many years and saw them blow up in front of millions worldwide sometimes it was our fault sometimes something else decided to let go simply go back and analyse what the hell went wrong and im pretty sure they will have learned from the whole scenario
  • 5 1
 @Compositepro: The difference is the understanding of the absolute mess that is the crystalline structure of 3D printed anything, unlike a part made from a typically formed stock or billet, there isn’t a uniform dendritic structure in 3D printing. It’s not an insurmountable problem but for a boutique bike brand selling bikes it’s a bridge too far, hence they pulled the product. They also showed some rather strange design philosophy. It was a track bike going around a velodrome. Light weight isn’t helping anyone. And that bar was very thin on the walls.

My profession is also motorsports, my daily job is failure analysis and risk mitigation for a multiple championship winning team across two continents. Is failure a part of motorsports? Yes. Is it something we accept? No. We’ve won multiple championships and it wasn’t by having spectacular failures. It was through reliability, lifing of marginal components.
Bastion wasn’t making some super trick one off part. It was for sale to the public (they subsequently retracted it). Only a fool is taking risks there. Lawsuits alone aren’t worth the effort. As for top tier competition, The only peeps taking big risks are those with nothing to lose. Australia were medal favourites. Even a 500g heavier bar wasn’t going to loose them a medal. The idea of risking it to win the biscuit is a nice romantic thought. And a foolish one. To finish first first you must.

As for cost of 3D printed parts it comes down to print time. Small parts can be economical. Larger parts tend to suck time wise. And often still need post print machining of key elements.
  • 1 0
 @JoshieK: ill agree you do need to machine sme parts the rest i think we are both looking at the number from opposite sides but you see 9 and i see 6
  • 2 1
 @JoshieK: It appears that the bolts securing the handlebar were over torqued during assembly. This lead to stress cracks surrounding the bolt holes. The team mechanic is responsible for the component failure. It highlights the importance of using a correctly calibrated torque wrench during assembly.
  • 1 0
 @Mcbellamy: exactly Bastion didnt need a 5 minute motorsport engineer to tell them how to do an analysis on what they have and the rest of the world has been doing and has literally reams of data on
  • 1 1
 @Mcbellamy: “It appears”...

it highlights lack of safety margin. Good engineers factor loads. The aircraft industry typically works to a margin of about 1.8:1. They run the closest as they are concerned with weight. And it’s also why everything, much like a race car, has a life. It doesn’t matter how shiny and new it looks, once a component reaches its lifing limit it’s replaced (aircraft typically use cycles - takeoff/land, race cars typically use mileage). Cyclists tend to life things by either when they see something else they can’t live without if they are dentists and until it fails for everyone else.

Sure over tightening a bolt can be bad. With good design the worsted that should happen is stripped threads.

Just about every single motorsports category and bicycles (via the UCI) have a minimum weight. Building a track bike under the uci limit isn’t hard. Nor is it important (for a velodrome race)

You’ll note also the the break line is fairly neat and tidy. That suggests to me that the failure happened along a print layer, highlighting the lack of a uniform dendritic growth that is typical of 3D printing.
  • 1 1
 The team mechanic admitted to not following the documented assembly procedure for the component. The bikes from the same team which were assembled correctly did not encounter failures.
  • 1 1
 @Mcbellamy: I’ve yet to see anything which confirms your statement, least of all Bastion cycles. AM metal parts are well known for being much more brittle than their forged or machined counterparts. Couple that with a super thin wall and you have a recipe for disaster. Again the effect of a well designed part being over tightned should be a stripped thread. Especially when you are selling said item to the public. Marginal components are no place for average joe blows.
  • 2 1
 @Mcbellamy: so basically human error not actually anything to do with opinions on 3d printing
  • 2 1
 Where's all the sweet jumps?
  • 1 1
 That's quite the collection of self-indulgent writing. Those articles have more filler than a used car for sale in Romania.
  • 1 0
 Never go full Outside
  • 1 0
 They have been doing this cross over for like a year. I like it, curated stories from a space I don't usually follow gives you the most interesting bits without wading through a lot of stuff I don't care about. I would love to see more, a collaboration with a BMX publication would be great.
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