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VN tech ticker: SMART metal tires; Canyon Aeroad cockpit; Zwift updates saving rides feature, and offers double points at ToW

Here's what's making tech headlines on Thursday, March 18.

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Metal “Mars” tires coming soon from SMART

The SMART Tire Company is making waves with its METL NiTinol+ tire.

The metallic tire is fabricated using the proprietary Shape Memory Alloy Radial Technology (SMART) which needs no air — nor sealant — to maintain its shape. SMART says, “we don’t need sidewalls except for aesthetics and to keep debris out of the tire.”

While not engineered to be the lightest tires on the planet, SMART METL (Martensite Elasticized Tubular Loading) tires are claimed to be competitive on the scale with mainstream tires for gravel, mountain bikes, and ebike tires.

Designed in conjunction with NASA, the consumer-grade tires use technologies similar to those incorporated in the Mars lander wheels.

The production tire will be coated in a synthetic rubber-like material called Polyurethanium, and was developed in consultation with a principal engineer from Goodyear.

SMART says the tire carcass won’t degrade over time, and the contact surface can be renewed when it wears down.

Pricing and availability will be announced later in 2021, and the production-ready tire product should be available for consumers in early 2022.

Mathieu van der Poel’s broken Canyon Aeroad CF SLX handlebars.

Canyon Aeroad updates delayed until Q3 2021

After Mathieu van der Poel broke the right side of his handlebar in the final few hundred meters of Le Samyn several weeks ago, Canyon issued a stop-riding request for all Aeroad CFR owners.

The German bike manufacturer who supplies bikes for van der Poel’s Alpecin-Fenix team, Movistar Team, and Canyon-SRAM, asked that all private owners of the newly released aero road bike — both the Aeroad CF SLX and CFR models — stop riding the bikes until replacement cockpits can be provided.

Canyon also has since determined that there may be some issues with the seatpost on the same model and year of the aero road bike.

Updates to the component design are planned to be available to consumers later in 2021, and bike owners are promised compensation for the delays in availability, and lost saddle time.

“The improvement of the seat post will take longer than we originally thought,” the company said in a statement. “We currently expect to have found a suitable solution by autumn.”

While the bike and components did pass required safety certifications and meet ISO standards, a reinforced modular handlebar is being manufactured and will be offered as a replacement to the cockpit which had shipped with the bike.

“We will equip all CFR and CF SLX bikes in the market with the new drop bars, which will be available from July. We have asked our customers not to use their Aeroads until then.”

The brand has also announced that it will credit customers — US exchange of  €1,000 for use in the parts swap — as a thank you for their loyalty and patience upon completion of the bar-swap.

Those who have ordered these models of Canyon may experience delays until later in the year.

The 2021 Zwift Tour of Watopia is set for March 29 – April 29. Photo: Courtesy Zwift

Zwift updates saving rides feature, and will award double experience points for Tour of Watopia

Zwift just released an update for Mac and PC users — sorry mobile users, you’ll have to wait on this one — that allows you to save a route and not exit the game if you want to start a new route (and new .fit file).

Once you finish a ride, you’ll be presented with the option to save that ride, view the ride data, and then a dialogue box asking if you want to exit the game, or go back to the screen where you select your world and your route.

You can now save a Zwift ride and start a new ride without exiting the game. Photo: Courtesy Zwift

Zwift is also teasing users with earning double the experience points, beginning at the end of the month.

The 2021 Tour of Watopia (ToW) set for March 29 – April 29, 2021, will offer double experience points for participants of each stage.

Those who’ve not leveled-up to qualify to ride the Alpe du Zwift: Now’s your chance to take on its 21 turns while also scoring experience points at twice the standard rate to more quickly attain higher levels in the game.

If you’re a more experienced rider who’s looking to unlock new bikes or wheels in the Drop Shop, this is an excellent opportunity to get qualified faster.

After completing just one stage, the Zwift ToW jersey will show up in your ”garage,” and after finishing all five stages an additional ToW jersey will be made available to you.

If you’re new to cycling or Zwift, or just want to have an easier session on the bike, the Tour of Watopia Rookies Rides (noted as “E” when registering) will roll along at a relatively calm 1-1.5w/kg to allow the group to stay together.

The other Zwift ride categories for the ToW are as follows: A for the stage long route, B for the stage short route, and C for women’s-only rides.

If you’re interested in the 2021 Zwift Tour of Watopia, registration will be available in the Zwift Companion App, or on the Zwift ToW website.

2021 Zwift Tour of Watopia stages
Stage 1: March 29 – April 2, Winding Way
Stage 2: April 3-7, Core Climbs
Stage 3: April 8-12, Hilly High Score
Stage 4: April 13-17, Double Dirt
Stage 5: April 18-22, Big Boss

Make-up days to follow for those who have missed a stage.