GCN Tech Show: How disc brakes won the National Hill Climb Championships

With the dust settling on another hill climb season here in the UK, we take a look at what it takes to win

Clock18:08, Thursday 2nd November 2023

This week on the GCN Tech Show, Alex Paton and Manon Lloyd look at what it takes to claim a National Hill Climb Championships after the best climbers in the UK headed to the Lake District to race up the infamous climb: The Struggle.

The name tells you everything you need to know about the climb, and although it's just over 4km. in length, and averages 8.2%, there are some seriously steep sections due to a flat section in the middle of the ascent.

Read more: 8 standout bikes from the UK Hill Climb Championships

Taking another National Hill Climb Championships title this year was a friend of GCN, Andrew Feather. He managed to set the fastest time of the day over the course finishing in 11:48. In order to do that he rode at an unbelievable average power of 459 watts, which equates to 7.28 watts per kilo.

To put this into perspective a study conducted on 144 WorldTour pros from seven teams found that the 90th percentile of male riders can hold seven watts per kilo for just 10 minutes. So Feather's numbers were pretty impressive to say the least.

From a tech perspective, the bike Feather decided to ride was interesting as well. The Hunt Wheels-supported rider used a disc brake-equipped Cannondale LAB71 Supersix Evo. This marks the first time that a disc brake bike has been ridden to victory in the event.

Even with disc brakes, the bike was absurdly lightweight. The complete build was just 5.6kg, which Feather has said is within a few hundred grams of what you would expect from a rim brake bike.

Over the course, 100 grams of additional weight would cost just under a second in time. However, a saving of 10 watts would be worth considerably more. There is also the added advantage of disc brake bikes using thru-axles that offer better stiffness and power transfer.

Read more: Disc brake takeover and weird tech: National Hill Climb Championship gallery

Hot tech this week

Elsewhere on the show, we take a look at some of the latest news and the hottest tech to have been released in the past seven days.

Aston Martin x J. Laverack .1R

Aston Martin has paired up with specialist titanium frame builder J. Laverack to create what they are calling "the world’s most bespoke, advanced, and meticulously engineered" road bike. The bike is manufactured using a combination of 3D-printed titanium lugs and carbon fibre tubing. This allows for every bike made to individually fit each rider, making them truly bespoke.

The bike also features an array of custom and bespoke finishing kit, including integrated brakes that are housed directly in the frame and fork along with some special edition Continental GP5000s tyres in 30mm.

Paul Smith x Factor Ostro VAM

Continuing the custom theme, Factor has recently partnered with legendary fashion designer Paul Smith to create a limited edition run of Ostro VAM frames and complete bikes.

The first we saw of this was when Chris Froome was spotted on one at the Singapore Criterium at the end of October. Since then the brand has announced that they will be made publicly available for purchase.

It is not just the frame that gets a makeover, with Smith working closely with in-house finishing brand Black Inc. Alongside the limited edition frames will be the Paul Smith Edition Black Inc Integrated Aero Barstem and Paul Smith Edition Black Inc Bar Tape. Both will be available to purchase separately.

Following on from our recent story on whether you should be using your phone as a bike computer, there is a competition running to win one of 25 Mous cases to mount your phone to your bike*. You can enter that here. Good luck!

Wrapping up the show this week are the usual features of Comment of the Week and the Bike Vault. This week it is up to Manon and Alex to decide what earns a prestigious super nice - does this mean it will be easier than when Ollie is in the studio? Watch the video to find out.

If you think you have a bike that is deserving of the 'super nice' accolade, submit it in the GCN App to see if we agree with you!

Watch the best live racing all year round on GCN+, with unrivalled analysis, highlights, and replays on demand. Territory restrictions apply, check availability here.

*Entries for the Mous case and bike mounts competition close at 10am GMT Friday 10 November. Winners will be announced in a GCN Show from Tuesday 14 November.

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