The exclusive Gold Award celebrates products that not only show exceptional performance or design, but those that also push the sport and industry further, opening up exciting new possibilities. The Gold Award recognises either perfect product design and function, or innovation that sets a new standard and inspires future product generations and forward-thinking approaches.
Fabric Cageless Bottle
Most of today’s innovations represent advances through intelligent, incremental steps of evolution, and it’s rare to see a small brand question a long-established design. UK company Fabric have demonstrated a very different approach, totally rethinking a classic design that has been unchallenged for generations. Since the birth of bikes, the simple bottle and cage has largely remained unchanged; those same two bottle bosses mounted in the frame have remained unaffected by new standards and changing technology. The system certainly works, but when the bottle is removed from the bike, you are left with that same ugly bottle cage, obtrusive and inelegant.
With their new Cageless Water Bottle, Fabric have challenged tradition, and the end result is a masterpiece of design. By incorporating a simple, new mounting system that uses the existing bottle bosses in a very different way, Fabric have revolutionised the function of the simple bottle. Two tiny plastic studs are screwed into the bottle cage bosses, weighing only 1.5 g each, and a BPA-free bottle simply slots into place. The connection is firm and secure, and despite the test team’s best efforts, the bottle could not be shaken loose. When the bottle is not in place, all that is left behind are the two almost invisible, impressively light studs, keeping the lines of the bike clean and tidy. In use, the inexpensive bottle is initially a little trickier to locate than some caged designs, but all you need is some practice. From a design standpoint, the form and lightweight function is unmatched. Furthermore, the Fabric Cageless Bottle design will inspire other designers to question the established, think the unthinkable, and create truly new solutions to issues that others have overlooked.
Details: €14.90 | 74g (68g bottle only) | fabric.cc
Magura Vyron eLECT
Installing and bleeding hydraulic seatposts is a pain, and cable-operated posts are subject to corrosion and breakage. As our bikes become increasingly electrified, it seems certain that electronic actuation of dropper posts will be the future. Well, the future is now! Magura has brought us the Vyron eLECT dropper seatpost, featuring wireless Plug and Play technology and electronic actuation. The Magura Vyron eLECT is the first post to be fully wireless, making installation and maintenance a trouble-free process. The Vyron offers 150 mm of adjustment and is controlled via an ANT+ remote, and available in both 31.6 mm and 30.9 mm diameters.
The onboard USB-rechargeable battery has a forty-hour life, and should you forget to recharge it will operate for twenty cycles in manual mode to get you home. Fitting the post is simplicity itself: simply insert into the frame, attach the remote to your chosen side, and then go shred. If you have chosen to use compatible eLECT suspension, then the remote doubles as a way to firm up the compression too, keeping the cockpit extremely uncluttered. The Vyron is not perfect – the remote is a little larger than we had hoped, and the short delay while the post locks into position takes a small amount of getting used to. However the Vyron is a clear step towards the future of dropper posts: wireless technology is here, it works, and it will make our lives easier than ever.
Details: €400 | 574g (dropper post), 20g (remote) | magura.com
The bike category is dead! In these exciting times, bikes are blurring the lines between the traditional definitions; there are even exemplary bikes that offer so much potential they simply refuse to be defined at all. One perfect example is the new Open U.P., the ‘Unbeaten Path’– a bike defined as “GravelPlus,” but which offers so much more. Compatible with 700c road, gravel, and cross wheels (up to 40 mm width) and 650b mountain bike tires up to 2.1 inches wide. Is it a mountain bike for a roadie, or a road bike for a mountain biker? Or something entirely new?
The design is beautifully crafted: a dropped chainstay allows for a super-compact 420 mm rear end, resulting in stiff and responsive power transfer, while ultra-thin seatstays add a degree of vertical compliance. A Syntace 12 mm thru axle adds more lateral stiffness to the rear for off-road action. The frame is drop-dead gorgeous too: internal cable routing keeps the lines clean, while the striking colour scheme demands attention everywhere it goes. With relaxed and versatile geometry, the Open U.P. is more than a blending of genres, it’s a study in versatility offering endless possibilities, carving out a unique identity all its own.Never have the polar-opposite worlds of mountain biking and road biking been so connected. The Open U.P. is a bike that lives up to its name, opening up previously unridden gravel roads and singletrack where the adventure can continue, taking riders far from the very real dangers of traffic and onto the beautiful network of unexplored trails and tracks.
Details: €2900 (frameset) | 8.26kg complete bike | opencycle.com
Scott Genius LT 700 Tuned Plus
Scott have always been pioneers, pushing the boundaries of new technology and attempting to redefine the rule book. It’s perhaps no surprise that they were also a driving force behind the new plus-size tire technology. We have found that plus-size tires are not the magic bullet that they were first marketed as, but do mark a very real and attractive choice for many riders. The plus tyre brings a level of control and confidence that has never been experienced before, allowing a normal rider to go faster in more control over rough terrain. Until now, tire choice has been the bottleneck that has halted the growth of plus-size bikes in the mainstream, but this is improving rapidly and now benefits can be observed on increasingly diverse terrain.
One bike that brings plus technology together perfectly is the 160 mm Genius LT 700 Tuned Plus. Its Twin Loc technology allows fork and shock to be adjusted simultaneously to suit the trails, but it’s the harmonious integration of the 2.80” tires into a perfect package with amazing overall performance that make this bike stand out from the rest. Despite its svelte 12.7 kg weight, the Genius LT 700 Plus simply charges through rough terrain with ease, serving up bags of traction from the monster-truck rubber. Climbing, cornering, and technical terrain are handled with complete authority, and the LT 700 is sublimely balanced. From the very beginning, Scott have been the catalyst behind the plus-size tire movement, and their experience and passion shines bright in the LT 700.
Details: €7999 | 12.70kg | www.scott-sports.com
Trek Madone Race Shop Limited
Everyone knows that fast has to be uncomfortable, right? Wrong! The new Trek Madone has changed everything, setting a new standard in performance while offering a level of comfort that rivals the best endurance bikes. The new Madone is sublimely beautiful and aerodynamic: the sculpted OCLV carbon frame flows gracefully from the head tube to rear axle, with a slippery Kammtail profile leaving nothing to disrupt the airflow. The Madone is more than just an aggressive road rocket, though – it has a softer, more gentle side. Trek have added the IsoSpeed decoupler from their cobble-eating Domane to isolate the movement of the seat tube from the rest of the frame, improving vertical compliance and comfort. Trek is also conscious that the new Madone, probably the most desirable road bike on the planet, will not only ridden by the pros of the Peloton, but also by “normal” riders, so they offer the frame in two different geometries, H1 and H2. Those who do not want the discomfort of the extreme position of the H1 aero-optimised geometry can still benefit from arguably the fastest bike on the planet in the more comfortable H2 form.
From a design standpoint, the Madone is simply perfection – from the one-piece aero bar and stem with hidden cables, to the sublime Vector Wings that cover the brakes, everything has been beautifully crafted to improve airflow. The Madone is a master of all trades: not only can it power along the flats, but it is also a strong climber that can then dominate the descents (all with enough comfort to live with day to day). The Trek Madone is a revelation, an engineering masterpiece, striking a perfect balance between aerodynamics, ride performance, and comfort. Representing a new generation of race bikes, it will inspire competing brands to make race bikes faster, more comfortable, and ultimately more versatile than ever before.
Details: €12999 | 7.18kg | www.trekbikes.com
Until now, turbo training has never been considered enjoyable – but California-based Zwift have an answer that will make visits to the pain cave a lot more fun. Their new software links seamlessly with your turbo trainer, placing you inside an immersive, detailed 3D world where you can race with other riders to measure your performance in a fun and competitive environment. The carefully rendered 3D landscape is rich in real-time statistics, allowing you to improve your performance in a scenario that mirrors a real-world race. Zwift is compatible with a wide range of both smart and classic trainers, and is compatible with all ANT+ power meters. The lifelike graphics and clever social interactions help to keep you motivated, even as your legs are turning to jelly.
Zwift can be controlled from a smartphone app, allowing you to enjoy the game, and also check in to see who has been riding while you have been away. Working with a compatible trainer, the Premium version of the game will change the resistance electronically based on the road’s gradient for the most immersive experience possible. With their new software Zwift have created a revolution, embracing the best of gaming technology and fusing it with fitness analysis to transform the lonely pursuit of indoor training into a fun, social experience.
Details: $10 / month | zwift.com
For more information on the awards head to the Design & Innovation Award website.
Words: Trevor Worsey Photos: Christoph Bayer, Fabian Rapp, Noah Haxel, Ross Bell
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