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Reviews and Testimonials

March 29, 2016

"They’ve eliminated virtually any chance for anything to wobble, lean, tilt or otherwise introduce slop to the system.  They're some of the smoothest wheels I’ve spun in recent memory. Sometimes, when things roll so smooth, there’s a bit of play at the axle, but there’s absolutely none here."  BikeRumor.com - Read full reviews here and here.

"Regarding the ride quality, the CC40 managed to hit the sweet spot for my weight (~75kg), such that the wheels felt firm and robust without ever being harsh. As for the lateral stiffness, I never noticed any brake rub, and when fitted to a bike with barely enough clearance at the chainstays for the 27mm wide tyres, the paintwork remained scuff-free."  Cyclingtips.com - Read the full review here.

"I’ve never felt smoother and freer-spinning hubs before. On the demo ride, I was amazed at how quickly the wheels would spin up and would then hold their speed."  RoadBikeRider.com - Read the full review here.

"The overall ride quality was one of the best I have experienced and it wasn’t accomplished by sacrificing stiffness." Fit Nation Magazine - Read the full review here.

"Smarter, not harder.  That is the impression these hubs left on me."  Kogel Bearings

"The wheels were everything Bobby claimed.  More responsive, less lateral flex and faster than the Zipps"  Bethel Cycle

"I'm super impressed. Not only is the lateral stiffness far better than what I've ridden before, but they just feel super fast."  Simon Kessler - Simon Says Coaching - Watch the video here.

"Right away, at the start of my first interval I was amazed at how well the wheels moved underneath me. Every watt was being transferred to the wheels. They just didn’t want to stop rolling. The team at Alto Cycling have really innovated the best wheel on the market." Adam O'Connor - Professional Triathlete

 

Alto Composite Manufacturing

September 05, 2015

The Alto R-Symmetric hub is an eye catching piece—it has naturally become the focal point of the brand—and we love it! However, as important as hub geometry is to ride quality, a wheel is only as good as the sum of its parts. We’re often asked, “why not just sell the hubs?” Since the answer wouldn’t fit in 140 characters, we wanted to give you a real response.

To begin our discussion of Alto carbon rims, let’s first talk about what carbon fiber is – a composite. A composite structure is anything made up of two or more individual materials (constituents) that come together to make a single material that better suits your application. Concrete is probably the best example, made up of cement and stone to create a material with incredible compressive strength. In the case of a bicycle rim, the constituents are carbon fibers and polymer resin. The great thing about composites is that you can combine those constituents in many different ways to construct a material that is perfect for your application!

The first task in creating your perfect composite material is to find exactly what loading scenario the finished product will undergo during use. In our case, that meant knowing the lacing pattern, bracing angles, and tension of the spokes, as well as the force applied by the ground as an athlete rides/corners/sprints. Once those forces are known, it’s then possible to set about creating the perfect laminate. “Laminate” is just a fancy word that describes the size and orientation of each carbon layer, or ply, that makes up the total thickness of the composite.

There are four main types of carbon fiber weaves (described as the ply’s “tow”):  12k, 3k, 1k, and unidirectional (UD).  An important thing to note about carbon fibers is that they only resist force in the direction of that fiber.  Woven plies (12k, 3k, 1k) have long been used in the cycling industry due to the increased durability and impact strength, but half of the fibers are always pointing in the wrong direction and providing nothing in terms of stiffness, which is certainly not ideal!  Improvements in polymer resin and molding techniques have allowed for increased usage of UD fibers, allowing engineers to customize a laminate structure to ensure that every fiber is working in the intended direction.

You will have noticed two terms in the last paragraph, strength and stiffness, which are often confused when speaking of carbon fibers and “modulus.”  First, modulus describes a material’s stiffness, not its strength.  There is a good metaphor that is usually taught to engineers to help describe these two terms—think of a rubber band and a wooden pencil.  A rubber band will bend, flex, and deform with breaking, and it is very easy to enact these changes in shape.  A wooden pencil, on the other hand, is very rigid and difficult to deform, but it is not very strong and will catastrophically fail with a small amount of force.  The rubber band has very high strength and low modulus, while the pencil has very low strength and high modulus.

The difficulty is designing a composite is that carbon fibers act as either the pencil or the rubber band, but not both. Strength and modulus are inversely proportional - as one goes up, the other goes down. So a carbon fiber product that is “high modulus” is typically used only as a marketing term. A well designed composite uses a combination of high modulus and high strength plies, in specific areas, to account for the forces that that particular area will encounter.

The next step in the manufacturing process comes down to molding, where there are many, many options. But for our purposes we will mention the two main techniques used in the cycling industry – bladder molding and expanded polystyrene (EPS) core molding. Curing techniques seek to achieve many things, but the main goal is to apply even pressure on the inner walls of the composite structure while it cures. The more even the pressure distribution, the stronger and more reliable the final product will be. Bladder molding is a common technique where plastic bags are inserted into the mold and inflated during the curing process. You can probably see the issue with this technique, as the bag typically doesn’t rest perfectly along the inner surface and creates voids/wrinkles that will inevitably cause the part to fail. EPS molding uses a solid foam mandrel, along with painted silicone, in order to apply even pressure throughout the inside of a complicated design. This means the engineer can use less carbon overlap without fear of internal defects that could cause failure. Basically, the inner surface is as smooth and perfect as the outer surface. You can look inside your rim or frame and easily notice the difference for yourself - if you find wrinkles, it was likely molded with plastic bladders.

With all of that being said, what does it say about Alto rims? We utilize high modulus UD carbon fiber plies with orientation specific to our hub’s wide spoke bracing angles. In fact, we change that ply orientation depending on rim depth, since the bracing angle increases significantly for deeper rims. You will find 1k and 3k tows on the brake track and rim bed of our clincher and tubular models, woven with higher strength fibers for added durability. This tow and fiber choice, along with a proprietary heat resistant resin, is why our braking will always be smooth and why you can trust our carbon clincher models in any terrain! Finally, take a flashlight and peer inside of one of our rims. Our EPS molding technique gives you the confidence in knowing that the rim isn’t just as light and stiff as it can possibly be, but also that it is free of internal defects and won’t fail while you are flying down a mountain pass. Safety is paramount!

The best part about being a wheel brand with real design and engineering is that we can continually scrutinize every aspect of our products. Some of those innovations will be ground breaking patents, while others will include existing technology, but you can be sure that every aspect was designed with the purpose of being truly great—to help you achieve the same result.

What is R-Symmetry?

August 09, 2015

Should form follow function, or function follow form? In other words, do you first worry about how a design looks, or how it operates? While we certainly want our designs to look pretty, engineers are taught that form should always follow function, and that a product should be optimized for performance before all else. That is why we at Alto take the approach that we do, and our R-Symmetric hub geometry was based off of that notion.

So, what is R-Symmetric geometry? It stands for Right-Symmetric, and speaks to the idea that a more symmetrical wheel is a more balanced wheel -- this creates a stiffer, faster, and more comfortable ride.

The main feature of our R-Symmetric geometry is the drive side flange, measuring 109.7mm in diameter and incorporating heads-in spoke lacing. The purpose of this is to increase the bracing angle (the angle that the spoke makes relative to the center plane of the wheel) as much as possible, allowing for a more equal tension distribution between the drive and non-drive spokes. A larger bracing angle also creates a wider and more stable wheel, further aiding stiffness and ride quality.

So why don’t manufacturers push the non-drive flange way out there as far as possible to create a really large non-drive bracing angle? Well, some try, but it’s not quite as simple as that. The larger the difference between drive and non-drive bracing angles, the bigger the spoke tension differential will be between the two sides. So you could create a very wide stance and, in turn, have very low tension on the non-drive spokes. This creates a poorly balanced and flexible wheel. The true optimization of hub geometry was a tough nut to crack, but our R-Symmetric design increases the drive-side bracing angle so much that it allows us to have nearly the widest non-drive flange spacing with only a 35% drop in spoke tension (as opposed to an industry average of 50%). It is this balanced design that has created the Alto ride quality that we love so much!

 Alto Spoke Bracing Angles

@altocycling   #GiveAlto

      

Le Tour de France is the pinnacle of bike racing. The best riders in the world compete on the world’s biggest stage for 21 grueling days of leg-destroying glory. Thousands of young cyclists dream of racing France’s grandtour, and the goal of Alto's #GiveAlto Sponsorship is to help them get there. The two founders of Alto, Bobby Sweeting and Shawn Gravios, know just what it’s like to attend college while attempting to race at the highest level, so they want to support other U21 cyclists who are racing toward the dream themselves.

Alto will be giving away a set of race wheels to one deserving cyclist who dreams of racing the Tour de France, but needs a better set of tools to get there. The fastest wheels in the industry will go a long way for these talented young racers, and Alto wants to give them the ideal opportunity to succeed!

If you know of a deserving U21 cyclist (maybe you’re one yourself), tag Alto and use #GiveAlto on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram to tell us who you think we should sponsor with a new set of race wheels to help them become one of the world’s next top cyclists! At the conclusion of the Tour de France, we will select 5 athletes for the public to vote on through a Facebook poll, and the winner will receive a free wheel set of his or her choosing! Good luck!

 

TERMS and CONDITIONS
Athletes submitted into the drawing must be under the racing age of 21
Alto board of directors will vote to select the 5 athletes to be entered into the Facebook poll
Winner may choose any wheelset in the Alto product line
Winner will receive all accompanying accessories that come standard with the chosen wheelset
Wheelset will come with standard warranty conditions
All nominations must be submitted before 11:59pm EST on July 25, 2015
The voting poll will be open until 11:59pm EST on August 2, 2015
No purchase necessary

 

Tulsa Tough

June 25, 2015

The Alto/SeaSucker Factory Racing team went into Tulsa Tough as the top criterium team in the country, and they certainly did not disappoint!  Led by national champion, Daniel Holloway, the team came away with the overall title, two stage victories, a second place, and third overall.

"You just can't become hyped enough before Tulsa Tough. The electricity that flows through this town is enough to bring in the lightning storms that delayed the race," said Holloway about the atmosphere is Tulsa, Oklahoma.  Holloway came to Tulsa after an injury prone couple of weeks, nursing an LCL strain that had forced him off the bike for a few days.  "I went to work with my Adhesion Breakers and RockSauce to release any and all muscles connected to the outside of my knee.  Like any cyclist, my piriformis and IT band were a mess and I did what I could loosen it up. On Thursday I had at least 6 feet of various RockTape pieces layered on my body."

The injured knee would not stop Holloway, nor would it deter his teammates from placing all of their confidence in him.  Holloway started the first night's Blue Dome Criterium at the back in order to test his knee, but he didn't stay there for long.  "I put in one attack at the 15 minute mark but it came back.  For the rest of the race I sat in and watched the team control the race; covering what needed to be covered, resting when needed and working together to stay safe.  It was perfect."  Jim Stemper and Aldo Ilesic took over the race with a few laps remaining, with Jim keeping the pace as high as possible before Aldo coming through on the last lap to set up Holloway for the final sprint.  "He took it from corner one all the way to the last corner and was accelerating the whole time. Going into the last corner he left the inside open for me to carry maximum speed. With one check under the arms at 30 meters to go, I knew I had it," said Holloway about Ilesic's last lap leadout.

The team went into the next night full of confidence, and ready to take on the Brady Arts District criterium.  A bit of a wrench was thrown into the plan when the skies opened up and the race was delayed 30 minutes.  The wet roads would make for  dangerous and unpredictable race, but experience pays off in situations like this and the guys knew exactly what to do.  "I went over to the neutral service to dial in air pressure for the race, as the final corner is the key to success on this course and we were expecting more rainfall," said Holloway.  A small crash occurred on the third lap, prompting the team to take to the front to stay safe.  "At that time I knew it was best to speed things up for a couple laps to see what would happen. A small break formed of  7 or so, and we worked well together for a little while."  That break would stay out front for 45 of the 60 minute race, and was surprisingly brought back into the field to set up the second consecutive field sprint.  "Jim and Aldo kept me hidden from the wind until the perfect moment. Just after the second to last corner Aldo popped out and turned on the gas.  Aldo slid inside to deter anyone from thinking about sneaking under, which left the ideal line for me. I had a good gap right from the start of the sprint and had enough time for the bow and arrow salute that my girlfriend had requested!"

 

The team went into the final day with two wins and the overall lead, but Cry Baby Hill never plays favorites.  The team planned to stay conservative and let the infamous hill tire the field out as much as possible.  The team did an incredible job to control the race, but it was tough going for Holloway after two very hard efforts earlier in the weekend.  "From the first time up the hill I knew something wasn’t right. My legs were off, my body was off and everything was a struggle from the start.  With around 8 laps to go I took some risks, dug deep, and finally got to the front where my teammates were gathering.  Once I made it up to Aldo I couldn’t even talk, he asked how I was and all I could do was shake my head. With zero panic or stress he said, 'stay close, I'll take care of you, we can do this,' or at least that's what I heard.  From that moment on I didn’t leave his wheel, but through the second to last corner I was done, the legs shut off. I yelled at Aldo to go for it as he looked back and saw the gap I had opened.  Ten other guys made it around me before the final turn, but Aldo had a great finish to place second after waiting for me on the hill."

The team's confidence in Holloway kept him going through the final stage, and his 13th place was enough to secure the overall victory at Tulsa Tough, with Ilesic taking the third.  In a very long list of wins, this was arguably the most successful weekend to date for Alto/SeaSucker, and the guys show no signs of slowing down any time soon!

The 2015 USA Crits Speedweek was historic for Dan Holloway and Alto/SeaSucker Factory Racing.  It’s only the second time anyone has won 4 of the 5 races throughout the week, only because Hollway first accomplished the feat in 2014!  Dan is also just the third rider in history to win back-to-back Athens Twlight criteriums; a list that includes legends Danny Clark and Gord Fraser.

“The pressure I put on myself to repeat Athens was enough to make those around me lose sleep,” said Holloway as he thought back to the days and weeks leading up to the event.  If that self-motivation wasn’t already enough, Dan found even more while getting to visit with his girlfriend, Andrea, for the first time in four months.  “She was able to take time out of her busy schedule to come visit for 36 hours and I’m very happy she did.  I love seeing her face light up as she talks about her job and school, and it was that little bit extra that fueled my fire for Athens."

The Athens Twilight course was new for 2015, with a more significant elevation gain and more challenge corners.  As the team was preparing their equipment, Dan realized that he had forgotten his glasses at the hotel about 20 minutes away.  “It wasn’t ideal,” said Holloway, “but I got my glasses and an unwelcomed dose of adrenaline before the start.” 

That adrenaline fueled an early attack up the home stretch that began to shape the outcome of the race.  “With the hit of adrenaline, the pulse of Athens, and without thinking of the outcome if it failed, I attacked up the hill to test the field.  To see who was ready to race, who had was fit, and who might be out of position.  It created some gaps and I found myself off the front with Christian Grasmann from Germany, a good friend from the Six Day track scene.  I was in great company.  We were joined by 6 others and had a small gap that was touch and go for a while.  But we stayed united and the gap grew until we lapped the field after about 20 laps.”

The racers, spectators, online live-stream followers, and anyone else in “the know” in bike racing knows that Dan Holloway is a sprinter.  That’s his weapon and it’s how he wins bike races.  So to lap the field once was an excellent move that put Alto Velo/SeaSucker in the driver’s seat, but what happened next showed that Holloway was going to leave absolutely nothing to chance.

“Once we got into the field I had to recover.  I was paying for my effort in starting the move and doing my part to get it around.  I was thankful for my GQ6 Re-Fuel Endurance at that point!  I counted on some of the other major teams to chase each other for primes and keep the field together.  It wasn’t until 30 laps to go that I started moving to the front to evaluate the situation.  It seemed that a lot of the guys from the break were tired from marking each other, and at that point Ruben Companioni struck out for a prime and got a solid gap.  Knowing about his win at Belmont a couple weeks prior, I knew it was a dangerous move and had to go with him.  Once there, I put in two hard laps doing 500+ watts up the home stretch to extend the gap and make it difficult for anyone who wanted to get across.  Once established we worked well together, closing in on the field in the final 10 laps.  But I didn’t want to lap up again and be amongst those fighting it out in the field sprint and get caught up in a bad situation.  Plus, it was easier to keep an eye on Ruben in a one-on-one situation.  Going into the final laps I knew I could win if I didn’t make any mistakes in the corners and didn’t give an inch to Ruben.  I came out of the final corner second wheel, waited 20 meters and took off with all I had.  I checked over my shoulder and saw that I had a large enough gap to enjoy the moment and give the fans a great victory salute.”

Dan, Chad Hartley, and Marco Aledia went on to dominate the remainder of speed week, also winning in Charleston, Walterboro, and Spartanburg.

Up next for the team will be the Wilmington Grand Prix on May 15th-17th, where Alto Velo/SeaSucker hopes to get back on the top step that they have made their own in 2015!

As we have mentioned before, there probably aren’t many cyclists out there who aren’t trying to tweak their equipment to make themselves faster in one way or another.  But in order to do that the bicycle needs to be looked at as a system, made up of various sub-systems that must all work together in the most efficient manner possible.  Nobody would run SRAM shifters with Campagnolo derailleurs and a Shimano cassette.  Perhaps you think Campy makes the best derailleurs, and maybe they do, but it doesn’t mean it is designed to work with your bicycle.

The same is true for wheels.  Generally speaking, the wheel system includes the rim, hub, spokes, and lacing pattern.  There are many individual components out there that, when tested on their own, perform very well.  But these tests do little to represent their value as part of a wheel system.  Just like the Campy derailleur that performs very well until you try to operate it with a SRAM shifter.

This is our focus at Alto: not to design and manufacture any one part as a stand-alone item, but to create a wheel system that works perfectly within itself and the bicycle.  The laminate design, lacing patterns, bracing angles, and every other variable have been optimized, not as the “best xyz variable in the industry,” but as the absolute best combination of variables to create the fastest, most idealistic wheel set in the world.

Why Alto?

April 03, 2015

Cyclists are always looking for an edge, always trying to find that extra mechanical advantage.  Anyone who has ever swung a leg over a bicycle has battled gravity, rolling resistance, air resistance, drive train friction, and a plethora of other nuisances that just try to slow us down!  It is, for some, an obsession to solve the puzzles related to these resistances, and free us to do what we wish: go faster.

Bobby and Shawn would spend their college days at the University of Florida attending class in the morning, training in the afternoon, and having evening discussions about the equipment that they had just done their intervals on, and how it could have been designed differently to make them faster.  A bicycle can be as simple or as complex as you make it, and with modern manufacturing techniques the design possibilities are limitless.

Alto was born out of this drive for perfection, a desire for a frictionless bicycle ridden in an ideal world with no air resistance.  While the laws of physics are unbreakable, you can circumnavigate them with clever product design.  And when Bobby and Shawn looked at the bicycle purely from an efficiency standpoint, the wheels provided the most opportunity to obtain the free speed that everyone seeks.

The wheel market in 2015 is, unfortunately, very crowded with brands taking the easy way out.  Crowded by brands that are comfortable in their use of unsafe manufacturing techniques, and without any proprietary design work or a desire to drive technology forward.  The market is, for lack of a better term, stagnate.  The wheel is the most crucial component related to speed on a bicycle, but it remains the most flooded market in terms of sub-standard product design and manufacturing.  This is not acceptable, and it’s why Alto exists.

Designing, testing, and manufacturing to the highest standards must return to the wheel industry.  We are here to make that stand, and we want you to join us.

First year teams, in the first race of the season, don't walk right in and win, do they?  That's exactly what Alto presented by SeaSucker did this weekend at the San Dimas Stage Race, with Emerson Oronte taking the general classification victory against some of the best professional teams in the country.

After a successful jersey defense on stage 2, Emerson and Taylor Shelden faced a fast, technical, and unpredictable downtown criterium on stage 3. "Given the time gaps on GC, we had to focus on two things: making sure nobody in the top 5 got up the road, and that no large break would wind up lapping the field," said Oronte about the team's tactics on stage 3.  "We figured that a lot of teams, on paper, would want to go for the field sprint, so we were confident that they would help us chase the larger breakaways.  With about 15min to go the sprinter's teams came to the front and I sat 15-20 wheels back to avoid the madness while also being sure not to miss any potential time gaps that could open.  I'm happy that I managed to do both!"

This is Emerson's first major stage race victory, requiring years of hard work and sacrifice.  "I'm not entirely sure it has sunk in.  Maybe when I'm back home looking at the yellow jersey on the wall it will sink in.  For now, I know that winning straight out of the blocks with the new team definitely puts a smile on my face.  The guys, especially Taylor, were awesome this weekend and I can already tell that this is going to be a real team that looks after each other, not just a group of guys riding around in matching spandex."

Next up for the team is the Redlands Classic, the first event on the National Racing Calendar, which features a stage 3 mountain top finish up Oak Glen Rd.  "To be honest, I'm already looking ahead to Redlands to make sure I'm ready to go there," said Oronte.  "I know for a fact that we turned a few heads at San Dimas, and I look forward to seeing what we can do to surprise people next."