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Headset spacersDear Lennard,
I have seen several references that suggest that 30mm of spacers below the stem is the maximum you should have for a full carbon fork steerer tube. I have seen others that say 40mm would be the maximum. What is your position on this matter?— RichardDear Richard,
Even though people want a blanket answer to this question, there is no way such an answer can be given because it depends on so many things.
Obviously, stress on the steerer and how many spacers can safely be used depends on the construction of the steering tube — its wall thickness, types of fibers incorporated and their orientations, the resin used, and the compaction and complete wetting of layers with resin.
It also clearly depends on the weight of the rider and his or her position on the bike, which determines what percentage of that weight is resting on the handlebars. Another critical dependency is how long the stem and handlebar are, as greater leverage puts greater stress on the steerer. The shape of the stem clamp and sharpness of its lower edge also affects the stress on the steerer.
Finally, the spacer height that can be safely used depends on the type of riding the bike will be subjected to. If the rider pedals it gently on smooth roads, the answer will be different than if he rides it into curbs and big potholes or off of semi-truck loading docks.
I have a philosophy on this that is colored by the fact that I design and build both custom and non-custom bikes for very tall, and often very heavy, people. I don’t want to ever have a steering tube fail, and, for that reason, we use a long, glue-in aluminum insert inside the top of carbon steerers on the bikes of big riders. Only then am I confident enough to use a tall spacer stack on the fork steerer.
Tall riders who do not have a custom frame that fits them often have a big spacer stack of as much as 100mm under their stem in order to get their handlebars high enough. They are playing with fire, in my opinion, if they have a carbon steering tube and don’t have one of our inserts inside the steerer. Breaking a steering tube is a guaranteed crash. And even flexing the steering tube, when flex is an issue for the entire bike and fork for any tall, strong, heavy rider, reduces efficiency and control.
We go to considerable expense and extra effort to install our glue-in insert system in the carbon steering tubes of forks that go on bikes for tall and heavy riders, as it provides a greater margin of safety for big riders. We have never had a customer break a carbon steering tube, and we intend to never have it happen; going to all of this extra trouble is our way of further ensuring it doesn’t happen.
Most carbon forks come with a simple expander system that is about an inch long. We feel that it doesn’t give us the same certainty of longevity of the fork steerer, nor does it provide as much stiffness to the steerer as ours does. Those expander inserts ONLY support the steering tube directly under the areas inside the stem clamp. Worse, if the user has a tall spacer stack above the stem, there may be no support at all inside of the stem clamp. And, critically, even if the expander is in the right spot inside of the stem, it provides no support of the steering tube below the stem. That may be enough, and for most riders it probably is, but I insist on a bigger margin of safety for a really big rider; I want to reinforce a long way down inside of the headset, even if the rider uses a bunch of spacers below or above his stem, or both.
Long ago, we had True Temper make special carbon forks (called Alpha Q Z-Pro) for us for tall bikes; they had 450mm-long double-thickness steering tubes. Despite that extra thickness, True Temper supplied, and we used, a four-inch-long, glue-in insert for them (it was an Alpha Q insert for a 1” steerer, rather than for a 1.125” steerer; because the steering tube wall thickness was so great, that’s what fit).
window.iad_1 = googletag.defineSlot('/21732621108/velonews', [300, 250], 'ad-iad-1').defineSizeMapping(szmp_3x2).addService(googletag.pubads());googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('ad-iad-1'); });When True Temper quit making carbon fiber bike equipment, Ben Serotta, who had bought the Reynolds Composites factory, made carbon forks for us with 450mm steering tubes. When Serotta shut its doors in 2013, ENVE made us rim-brake forks with 400mm tapered steerers. Now, ENVE offers the Gravel Road Disc fork with a 400mm tapered steerer. Both of these steerers have the same wall thickness at the top as all ENVE forks and come with a standard expander plug. Since I have never heard of an ENVE steerer breaking, maybe I’m being overly cautious, but I don’t want to mess around when building bikes for 6-foot-10, 350-pound riders; consequently, we get special glue-in inserts made specifically for these forks.
The Alpha-Q insert was four inches (100mm) long and had a star nut pounded down into its bore. Wheels Manufacturing, which is conveniently located near us, now makes us a five-inch-long (125mm) aluminum sleeve insert with integrated thread inside for the top cap bolt. We glue it in with JB Weld epoxy.
We first sand inside the steerer, blow it out with compressed air, and wipe it clean inside with a clean rag soaked in rubbing alcohol. After epoxying it in, we leave it sit for 24 hours before adjusting the headset and tightening the stem clamp.
We sell that insert separately.
For a while about nine years ago, Isaac made a 60mm-long expander plug, which I think is also a more secure method than standard expanders, but I don’t believe those exist anymore.
Anyway, that is a very long answer to your question. If you are a lightweight rider who sits up very high on the bike with the handlebar much higher than the saddle (so that little of your weight is on your hands), and you ride on smooth terrain at relatively moderate speeds, you can probably get away with a very tall spacer stack (probably as tall as you want) on almost any carbon fork while using the standard expander plug under the stem clamp. But if you are heavy, ride with a long stem, and your handlebar is far below the height of your saddle, you should be cautious about using more than, say, 25-30mm of spacers. Same goes if you ride your bike fast on rough terrain.
I just don’t think I can give a blanket answer to this question that is more specific than this.― Lennard
Read the full article at Technical FAQ: Headset spacer stack height on

North America’s professional cycling circuit faces major challenges for 2019, with multiple professional squads facing an uncertain future, and a shrinking competition calendar. In the coming weeks, VeloNews will publish a series of essays written by the people within this community. The first column in this series is written by Thierry Attias, co-founder of Momentum Sports, which has operated a professional cycling team since 2003, most recently with the title sponsor UnitedHealthcare. In August Attias revealed to the public that his team was in jeopardy for 2019, with UHC not returning as a title sponsor. Attias says he is still hopeful that the team will continue next season.
I believe to accurately comment on the current state of U.S. pro cycling, one must compare where we are today, to where we were decades ago.
In August of 1991 I opened my bike shop, called, Cycle Sports, in Alameda, California. Back then cycling was booming as a form of recreation. Mountain bikes were all the rage, and new bike technology was everywhere. Fans had heroes like John Tomac, and Greg Lemond, and a young and charismatic Lance Armstrong, who was on his way up. At our shop, we often sold out of pro jerseys by the first week of the Tour de France.
We were blissfully ignorant of the doping culture that allowed us to witness superhuman feats on a bike.
Because of the growth both endemic and non-endemic companies wanted to get involved with cycling because the sport was cool and exciting. Most importantly, Americans were good at it. We were beating the Europeans at their own game.
The success had a snowball effect. As more companies became interested in cycling, they sponsored more races and teams. Each sponsorship was often the work of some champion of the sport inside the company, who explained why cycling met the company’s business goals. Team representatives typically met with a company and created an activation plan to address their marketing needs.
So, today, we find the bike racing industry in a much different state. As you have probably seen, it’s not a great moment for pro cycling. Bike shop sales have been clobbered over the past half-decade. The number of brick and mortar bike shops and wholesalers have dropped. Races are being canceled. Teams are finding it very challenging to find funding and the public is looking elsewhere for inspiration.
The $64,000 question is: Why?
In my opinion, two things are required in sports to create a groundswell of attention and to, simply put, make the sport cool. First: we need characters, or at the very least, big personalities (be they heroes or villains) to follow. Second: we need success.
These two elements give average fans — those who are not connected to the sport — a reason to identify with and become interested in the sport. It’s no coincidence that the cycling industry was booming during the Lemond and Armstrong eras, both in terms of retail sales and TV viewership. Both of these guys had big personalities, and they were highly successful.
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Here’s the part that disappoints me. From a sports marketing perspective, cycling is still one of the best deals in town! There are few participatory sports that offer a naming right at this price, as well as a return on investment that is anywhere from three to eight times greater than what a company could get in television advertising. A team sponsorship takes place over a 10-month season, and checks so many other marketing boxes that I can’t list them all (employee engagement, unique client experiences, etc.)
Every major company knows how to entertain at a golf tournament or inside a luxury suite at a basketball game. No marketing executive was ever fired for erecting a billboard. Unfortunately, investing in cycling is still seen as a great unknown for the majority of companies, a risky and untested marketing spend. Do you think some mid-level marketing person is going to stake his or her corporate reputation on the success of a bike sponsorship? Unfortunately, no.
I recently saw how these dynamics have impacted the sponsorship market. We at Momentum Sports Group (currently the UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team) were fortunate enough to know that our title sponsorship was set to end at the conclusion of the 2018 season. We allocated resources to recruiting new sponsors to take the place of UHC. We hired an outside company that specialized in sponsorship acquisitions. This company reached out to more than 120 different firms across 15 different industries.
Do you know how many solid leads this netted us?
Just one.
We then reached out through our network of friends, colleagues, and supporters to find additional leads.
Two more leads.
Finally, we hired a creative agency to run three separate campaigns on the social media platform LinkedIn. The campaigns created reached out to chief marketing officers and sponsorship decisionmakers and invited them to view our sponsorship proposal. Our campaign netted 11 views per week over the course of a six-week period.
Zero leads.
Our search included dozens of meetings, hundreds of hours of phone calls, and too many presentations to count. We spent tens of thousands of dollars on the search. And we got three companies that were interested in sponsoring the team. As any decent salesperson will tell you, success in sales is often a numbers game. The more viable options, the better.
We told each respective company that we were open to exploring a wide range of sponsorship arrangements: WorldTour, Pro Continental, Continental, Women’s WorldTour, or any combination of these.
As of today, we still have one viable lead we are working with, and we are still in the hunt. Our team is not off for 2019, and we hope to be able to register with the UCI for 2019.
My goal with this column is not to cast a negative view on the sport of cycling. In my opinion, our industry happens to be in a trough, due to the aforementioned occurrences. But cycling, like all sports, is cyclical. We will see good days again.
And there are multiple reasons to be excited about cycling, and some of these stories could help our sport rebound. There is the well-deserved growth and prominence of American women’s cycling. As was recently pointed out by USA Cycling CEO Derek Bouchard-Hall, the United States has some of the best female cyclists in the entire world. And these women are well-educated and highly articulate, in addition to being fierce competitors.
Cycling is also making a comeback as an alternative form of transportation that is being embraced by the millennial generation. Thanks to the work of urban activists, cities are building bike infrastructure. More casual cyclists equate to more visits to the bike shop, which should help the entire industry.
There is no quick fix for our sport’s current dip. In order to see another boom, we should continue to develop the characters that comprise the professional peloton. We should also step-up our game in data collection so that investors in the sport and industry know exactly who they are reaching, and what they are getting for their money.
I’ll leave you with this nugget. In our meetings with prospective partners, we spent about 20 percent of our time telling our story, and a whopping 80 percent of our time educating them about our sport.
If we can make Americans think that cycling is cool again, then they would already be experts. If we can make the sport of cycling attractive to mainstream audiences again, then we are sure to see another boom. Hopefully sooner rather than later.
Read the full article at The state of racing: Momentum Sports co-founder Thierry Attias on

FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Cyclocross world champion and rising classics star Wout van Aert appears ready to join LottoNL-Jumbo in 2019 — one year early because of troubles with his current team.
Overnight, the 24-year-old Belgian and his team, Veranda’s Willems-Crelan, announced they have severed their contract. That frees up the three-time elite men’s ’cross world champ, who made a big debut in the cobbled classics this spring, to join WorldTour team LottoNL-Jumbo next year instead of waiting. He had already signed earlier this year to join the team in 2020.
“Wout van Aert has unilaterally terminated his contract with Sniper Cycling on Monday evening, September 17, 2018,” read a release from team management company Sniper Cycling.
“This decision came despite the fact that the team management tried to unblock the situation last week, e.g. by offering him an improved contract for 2019.
“Van Aert did not accept this proposal and has opted to terminate his contract unilaterally with immediate effect. The team management regrets that decision. This matter is now in the hands of our counselors. No further comment will be made in the meantime.”
Last month, van Aert said “it’s been enough” when team general manager Nick Nuyens announced the squad would merge with Dutch outfit Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij for 2020. Van Aert’s agent Jef Van den Bosch explained, “he is not happy with the situation. It is clear that he is not served well with the merger.”
Van Aert won the last three cyclocross world titles. He is transitioning to the road, making a big splash this spring when he placed ninth in the Tour of Flanders and 13th in Paris-Roubaix.
He was under contract with Belgian team Veranda’s Willems-Crelan through the end of 2019. The team reportedly was planning to merge with Aqua Blue, but instead announced at the end of August that it would merge with Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij.
Van Aert would have been the star rider of the announced merger. The new Roompot-Crelan team will ask the other riders to step up, but it’s now unclear if the team will even exist since the merger may hit a roadblock without van Aert included in the package.
Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij includes Taco van der Hoorn, who brought in a recent WorldTour stage victory at the BinckBank Tour.
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Van Aert is just beginning his cyclocross season, but it’s not known which kit he will wear. An announcement is expected soon.
“From the airport of Schiphol, where I am currently waiting for my flight to Chicago, I can only confirm this news,” Van Aert told Wielerflits Tuesday. “The last few days, things have happened that made any cooperation with the team impossible. Unfortunately, I cannot tell you anything more at the moment due to the delicate aspect of the case.”
Van Aert will be racing at the upcoming Waterloo and Jingle Cross events in Wisconsin and Iowa.
“What I can say? I do not have a team at the moment,” he added. “I board the plane to the United States in great ignorance about the practical aspect of the case. It’s annoying, but we will sort it out in the coming days.”
Read the full article at With ’cross contract annulled, Wout van Aert free to join WorldTour on

Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) has responded sarcastically to Lucien Van Impe’s dismissal of his victory in the king of the mountains classification at the Vuelta a España. The Belgian pointed to his own palmarès, which includes a victory on Mont Ventoux and a podium finish at the Giro d’Italia. In an interview with Sporza, Van Impe – a six-time winner of the polka-dot jersey at the Tour de France – complained that “the mountains jersey is no longer worth the same as it used to be.” While the 1976 Tour champion stressed that he respected De Gendt as a rider, he noted that the best climbers are no longer attempting to win king of the mountains competitions at Grand Tours. “I have a lot of respect for him, he tries to grab that mountain jersey at almost every race,” Van Impe said of De Gendt, but added: “The real climbers are not fighting for the mountains jersey. Maybe they have to invent something else; I know how I won my jerseys.”ADVERTISEMENT Van Impe had already expressed a similar point of view when Richard Virenque overhauled his and Franco Bahamontes’ joint record of polka-dot jerseys on the Tour in 2004, and again in 2010 when the hitherto unheralded Anthony Charteau carried the jersey to Paris. De Gendt took to Twitter on Monday to offer a pointed rebuttal of his fellow countryman’s critique of his king of the mountains victory. “I am a little ashamed that I have won it,” De Gendt wrote. “I am sorry to be on exclusive lists where I do not belong. (Stage winner 3 Grand Tours, podium Giro, mountain jersey Vuelta) #everythingwasbetterinthepast”
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Although Trek-Segafredo announced in August that they had signed talented young Colombian rider Ivan Sosa on a two-year deal, the rider's new agent has insisted that he is still on the market and talking to several teams, including Trek-Segafredo and Team Sky. Sosa changed his agent in the summer, switching from Paolo Alberati to Giuseppe Acquadro, who works with the likes of Nairo Quintana, Michal Kwiatkowski and another Colombian talent, Egan Bernal. Alberati helped bring Bernal to Europe when he turned professional with Androni Giocattoli in 2016 but does not represent high-profile riders. Acquadro confirmed to Cyclingnews that reports of Sosa's uncertain future were true but that a deal could be announced in the next five days.ADVERTISEMENT "It's not signed," Acquadro told Cyclingnews. "There was a misunderstanding before I was working with the rider but I am now looking after his interests. We are talking to Trek and other teams." According to reports in Colombia and Europe, Sosa's previous agent signed a letter of intent for the rider to join Trek-Segafredo after the UCI's transfer deadline on August 1. However, with Acquadro insisting that a full contract had not been signed between the rider and the American team, the door is potentially open for rival teams to swoop in and sign the talented 20-year-old. He has won the Adriatica Ionica Race, the Vuelta a Burgos and a stage at the Tour de L’Avenir this season. Sosa is due to lead the Colombian under-23 team at the Innsbruck road World Championships. Acquadro already has riders at Team Sky, including Bernal, with reports already circulating that the British team had already picked up Sosa. Acquadro denies that an agreement had been reached.
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JLT Condor have announced that they will fold at the end of the season after being unable to find a new title sponsor for the 2019 season. They are the second men’s British domestic team to stop this season with ONE Pro Cycling choosing to close their men’s team and set up a women’s team. Set up by Condor Cycles, and managed by John Herety, the team has been a fixture of the British domestic scene since 2007. Multinational company JLT joined the team as a secondary sponsor in 2013, replacing the bicycle clothing brand Rapha. The following season, they signed a three-year deal as primary sponsor, which was set to run out at the end of 2018. Though they will not race as a team next season, Condor Cycles remain hopeful of finding a new sponsor in the future. “This past decade of supporting the team has made me extremely proud. I’ve seen Condor bicycles ridden to National Championship victories, to wins in Australia, Japan, France, Spain and South Korea, to name but a few,” said Condor Cycles managing director Grant Young. “There have been highs, lows, and many medals. We have all enjoyed working alongside JLT, a business of enthusiastic people keen to learn more about the sport, many of whom are cyclists.ADVERTISEMENT “Up to now, we have been unable to find a partner to fill the position of JLT, but we will continue to search for one. Condor will continue to support cycle sport in Britain, as we have done since my father started the brand in 1948.” JLT will not completely step back from cycling and is set to sponsor JLT Condor rider, and multiple Olympic track champion Ed Clancy on his route to the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. Korsaeth decides to quit cycling Truls Korsaeth has made the surprise decision to bring his contract with Astana to an early conclusion and stop his career as a cyclist. The news was first broken by Norwegian broadcaster TV2 on Tuesday and confirmed by the team a short while later. Porte’s coach David Bailey joins Bahrain-Merida Tour de France mountains jersey gets new sponsor
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Despite having a relatively quiet Vuelta a España for a rider of his stature, Richie Porte believes he’s still on track for a serious crack at the rainbow jersey at the World Championships in Innsbruck, Austria, later this month. The Australian's primary objective for the season, the Tour de France, once again ended in disappointment as he crashed out of the race with a broken collarbone, but he has been finding his feet again on the roads of Spain. While many assumed he'd be in contention for the overall title, it quickly became clear it was the last thing on his mind as the BMC Racing leader began to lose time as early as the first few stages. Barring a couple of innocuous breakaways, he had little impact on the race, even in the final week.ADVERTISEMENT "It's been nice to come here and not be stressed with the GC and all of that. I'm kind of where I expected I would be so it's no big surprise that most days I've lost time. But I think I'm getting better. I'm certainly better than when I started," Porte told Cyclingnews at the end of the race. "At this time of the year it's easier to be here doing such a hard race to try to find form than being at home kind of being forced to go out and do efforts. It's a hard race, with hard finishes, so it doesn't matter if you're up trying to win stages or just in the group; it's not an easy race. Even if you get dropped and ride up the climb at a decent tempo, it's better than a day's training at home where you dilly-dally around and do an effort on the climb." Along with Bahrain-Merida's Vincenzo Nibali, Porte has been riding alongside some of the other favourites for the rainbow bands, such as the Yates brothers (Simon and Adam of Mitchelton-Scott), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), and the Colombian trio of Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana), Rigoberto Urán (EF Education First-Drapac) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar), all of whom were engaged in the battle for the general classification.
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Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) netted his third win of 2018 in his hometown race Sunday when he beat Jonas van Genechten (Vital Concept Cycling Club) and Timothy Dupont (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) in a bunch sprint to finish Grote Prijs Jef Scherens in Leuven, Belgium. The 26-year-old winner of the 2016 Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne took his first 2018 win last month during stage 4 in the Binck Bank Tour, beating Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott) and Zdeněk Štybar (Quick-Step Floors) in a field sprint. Stuyven took the Grand Prix de Wallonie on September 12 with a late-race move, and then topped off his hat-trick of late-season wins with Grote Prijs Jef Scherens four days later in the town where he was born, raised and currently lives. "This feels really great," Stuyen said after Sunday's race. "It may not be a WorldTour race, but it’s my hometown race, and there was a lot of pressure on my shoulders. I was really motivated and asked the guys to go all-in like a big Classic, and they did. They really rode incredible, and then it's really nice to finish it off and win in front of the home crowds. The feeling is hard to describe."ADVERTISEMENT Trek-Segafredo put pressure on the race throughout the day, first with a pace that whittled the peloton down to 50 riders, then with a late attack from Toms Skujins that created a three-rider break over the final two laps. Lotto-Soudal pulled the lead trio back with 9km to go, and Skujins worked to keep Stuyvens in position from there. In the finale, Stuyven tagged onto the Wanty-Group Gobert leadout train and timed his sprint for the win. "I think I am on a good streak at the moment and it’s really nice to finish the season in this way," Stuyven said. "I had a strong spring campaign with a lot of top 10s, and now I grab podium places and wins, and that feels really good. Today the team believed in me, it was great teamwork all day, and this also gave me more confidence for the sprint. I am happy to pay back the team with this victory."  
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