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Interbike Expo: Light wheels, light helmets — and lights, too

By Zack Vestal

2009 Interbike: Reynolds got together with Paul Lew to make the RZR wheelset.

2009 Interbike: Reynolds got together with Paul Lew to make the RZR wheelset.

Photo: Zack Vestal

The rumor that Interbike 2009 might be smaller than in years past didn’t seem to hold up on opening day — there was quite a crowd queued up at 8:45 a.m. for the show’s 9 a.m. opening at the Sands Expo and Convention Center, and we’re seeing plenty of cool new products in every category.

Reynolds RZR carbon wheelset

Renowned composites engineer Paul Lew is back with Reynolds Cycling as director of technology, and he wasted no time created a head-turning new wheelset, the RZR.

This carbon fiber/boron wheelset is claimed to be the lightest production wheelset at less than 900 grams per pair. The materials blend is said to maintain strength despite the astonishingly low weight. When we saw Lew at Eurobike, he said a test pair had just passed the 20,000km mark and was still going strong.

The wheels feature unidirectional, ultra-high-modulus carbon fiber in a 46mm deep rim, with boron placed at various points to enhance performance. The carbon spokes, brand new to Reynolds and Lew, have a true airfoil shape, are replaceable, and the wheel is trueable. The rear hub has a third flange in the hub center, called “Torque Flange.” It’s in the same plane as the rim and helps prevent deflection as pedaling torque is applied.

The RZR wheelset uses 16 spokes in the front, 20 in the rear, comes with a recommended rider weight limit of 180 pounds, and will set you back a whopping $6000.

Easton toes the line against Zipp

Challenging Zipp’s position at the top of the aero-wheel food chain, Easton introduces a new deep-section carbon tubular that they say tests faster than a Zipp 808 at many yaw angles.

The Easton EC90TT uses a new, super-slender 90mm carbon fiber rim and slippery, narrow hubs to achieve very low drag numbers in the wind tunnel.

Features include a front hub with flanges only 50mm wide, which reduces spoke frontal area for improved aerodynamics. The rim is very narrow at the leading edge where the nipples are located, thanks to what Easton calls “Variable Nipple Bed” technology. By concentrating material at the spoke holes while reducing it between spokes, the inner rim edge can be much sharper, which improves trailing-edge aerodynamics and keeps the rim lighter. The EC90TT weighs 1424 grams per set. Spoke count is 12 front and 16 rear, and the hubs use ceramic bearings. MSRP on a pair is $1900, with included Swiss Stop brake pads.

Another new wheel from Easton is the EC90SL carbon clincher. It’s reasonably light at 1460 grams per pair in a 38mm deep rim, with no rider weight limit, but the real story is braking performance — Easton uses a ThermaTec coating on the brake track to help dissipate heat and simulate an aluminum-like feel in braking.

The EC90SL clinchers use ceramic bearings, straight-pull Sapim spokes (18 front and 24 rear), and cost $1800 with included Swiss Stop brake pads.

Also new from Easton Bell Sports:

• The Giro Prolight helmet, which will be available in January for $200. It weighs around 200 grams, thanks to a lighter RocLoc SL made from webbing and elastic and the elimination of the internal frame. The new shell structure is 100 percent EPS foam, which forced reduced vent size, but Giro maintains airflow by deepening the internal channels.

• Giro Havik 2 sunglasses, which are redesigned for fit and tension on the earpieces. Pressure on the temples is now reduced by a third, with no reduction in fit or retention. Plus, new pearl graphics with matching nose pieces are on the way.

• New graphics on certain Bell helmets, including the Drop and Faction gravity-oriented helmets, plus the Variant and Sequence trail helmets. Skateboard artist and Santa Cruz local Jimbo Phillips was brought in to do the artwork, and it’s available on certain products at no extra charge.

• A new Blackburn Flea light, with a USB charger and solar charging option.

• New Blackburn trainers, which are benchmarked for stiffness and stability, plus widely variable resistance to suit riders with different power outputs.

• Easton Haven Disc MTB wheels, which are a light, sturdy trail wheelset with internal rim width of 21mm and a weight of 1650 grams. New rim and spoke nipple technology permits the wide rim at a lighter weight with no sacrifice in strength. Haven wheels are UST compatible, available in 26- or 29-inch sizes, and adaptable for both standard QR or 15QR hubs.

Light and Motion is as bright as ever

The year 2009 roughly marks the 20th anniversary of Light and Motion. In 1989 the company made a scuba-diving light from a motorcycle battery and halogen bulbs, and the rest is history.

For 2010, Light and Motion continues to provide lights that are as bright and light as ever. The Stella 150L uses a two-cell lithium-ion battery and a single LED to put out 150 lumens for four hours, all in a sub-200 gram package that requires only five hours to charge. The lamp unit is a sweet, svelte, red-anodized alloy, and the battery pack has a new rubber strap for fast, easy mounting to a stem or top tube. Retail price is $230.

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