Week in Tech: Esports World Championships
Here’s the Week in Tech — all the gear news, tips, and announcements you need and none of the marketing gibberish you don’t.
Esports World Championships slated for 2020
Warm up the smart trainer and calibrate the power meter. Zwift is teaming up with the UCI to lend legitimacy to indoor racing with the inaugural Esports World Championships, to be held in 2020. Official dates and locations haven’t been determined yet. The partnership is banking on bringing in a younger audience more in tune with current esports and other gaming opportunities. Zwift identifies sustainability and accessibility as the driving factors; there’s a lower barrier to entry for riders in terms of skills and access to both training and race environments, and the format essentially eliminates traditional barriers for organizers such as securing permits, closing roads, and hiring extensive staff. In a practical sense, however, it’s not exactly cheap for the rider, who needs not just a bicycle, but also a smart trainer (or a ‘dumb’ trainer with a power meter) and a computer to access Zwift’s virtual environment. In an increasingly connected world, Zwift is betting that won’t be too much of an issue for the population of riders most drawn to this new discipline.
Wahoo Fitness makes a pedal purchase
Wahoo bought some new pedals. More accurately, it bought the pedal brand, Speedplay. In case you missed it, Ben Delaney wrote about it earlier this week here. While Wahoo was tight-lipped about its reasons for acquiring the pedal brand, speculation abounds that we’re likely to see a pedal-based power meter from the company before long. That theory makes a lot of sense, especially as Wahoo expands its range of products to compete with Garmin’s dominance. (Garmin acquired MetriGear several years ago in a move to create its own pedal-based power meter, and SRAM acquired PowerTap earlier this year to expand its power offerings.) And with Wahoo’s strong foothold in the indoor cycling market, it’s possible the acquisition opens up opportunities for indoor-specific gear and technology.
100% sets a Racetrap…and a Renshaw
100% is out with two new models for Fall 2019: the on-bike Racetrap and the more casual Renshaw, a pair of shades you can wear on and off the bike. The Racetrap features a less angular look than some of 100%’s other offerings, which all sport a distinctive, look-at-me aesthetic. 100% says the Hiper lens and unique frame shape offer 360-degree field of vision and an “enhanced fit.” It’s not clear exactly what that means. The Renshaws look far more traditional, with nearly-square lenses and a solid-looking frame. Both are available now.
ICYMI: Strava perceives your exertion
Last week Strava announced two new metrics on its platform: perceived exertion and fitness. Perceived exertion allows you to manually enter your workout intensity, on a 1-10 scale. That way, you can track patterns over time as to how your workouts felt to you. It applies across the three main disciplines Strava tracks — cycling, swimming, and running. It’s a subjective scale based on how you felt during your activities, but it allows you to collect data over time and recognize patterns in your workouts. The fitness metric measures your accumulated efforts from your workouts and takes into account how rest and increased training loads can impact your overall fitness. It’s based off the perceived exertion scale (as well as heart rate, if you wear a heart rate monitor). Perceived exertion is free to all Strava users. But you’ll need a Strava Summit subscription to access the fitness feature.
Hunt launches carbon spoke wheels in advance of World Championships
Hunt’s 36 UD Carbon Spoke Wheels will make their debut this Sunday in the men’s road world championship race under Canyon DhB’s Rory Townsend. The carbon rims are laced to TaperLock Sprint hubs (with CeramicSpeed bearings) via TaperLock high-strength UD spokes. According to Hunt, these spokes offer 31% more stiffness over the 26 CarbonWide Aero spokes used on its other wheels. That means the spokes essentially deflect 31% less, which should in theory translate into better handling, particularly while cornering. It should also mean less power loss during sprints and climbs. The set weighs 1,295 grams, and costs just $1,549. You can preorder your set on Hunt’s website now, for November delivery.