By Matt Pacocha
The paint job on Erik Zabel’s Colnago was originally used 25 years ago, but even that classic look can not hide the new form beneath it. Zabel debuted Colnago’s new EPS (Extreme Power Special) frame at this year’s and is the only rider using in the peloton.
Its semi-integrated headset —a first for Colnago — and its oversized carbon tubes immediately give away the fact that this is a new approach for the venerable Italian framebuilder. EPS is a product of ColnagoRevolution a new design and development project from Colnago that will premier for the 2009 season. The EPS will sit at the very top of the range.
The EPS is a direct descendent of the Extreme Power model, which Colnago designed as a sprinters’ bike, but has been widely accepted by pro riders of all stripes the brand sponsors — sprinters and climbers alike.
The new bike differs from Extreme Power by material and tube design. It’s still made using tube and lug construction, but tubes and lugs are both made from Colnago’s ultra high- and high-modulus unidirectional carbon fiber, that’s finished with a 3K twill fabric. Colnago used finite element analysis modeling to achieve a balance between stiffness and comfort. The top tube tapers from 40mm at the head tube to 35mm at the seat tube. The seat tube is 35mm itself and accepts a 31.6mm seatpost.
The down tube is a constant 44mm from head tube to bottom bracket. Both the top and down tube feature Colnago’s 3PRS shaping and the down tube incorporates internal reinforcing ribs that vary in width and thickness. Internal ribs were also a key feature of the Extreme Power frame.
Colnago adopts an asymmetric head tube, headset and tapered steerer tube for the fork of the EPS. Like the others in the industry who have embraced the approach, Colnago cites better steering stiffness and stability as the system’s advantage. The design – called C-HS – relies on a 1.125-inch upper bearing and tube diameter and a 1.25-inch lower bearing and steerer. The system uses a semi-integrated headset design, which breaks tradition for the brand; until now it has always relied on traditional pressed in headsets. The NewStar fork completes the system and blends seamlessly with the head tube.
Following Colnago tradition the EPS is lugged like its predecessors, Extreme Power and C40, therefore it can easily be offered in custom sizes. The custom option is in addition to 14 stock traditional sizes and eight sloping sizes.
Even though the EPS frameset is 200-grams lighter than the Extreme Power, Zabel’s bike is still a ways from the standardized weight limit used by the UCI and ASO. His bike weighs in at 7.46-kilos with Shimano’s WH7850-C50-TU deep section wheel and 7.14-kilos with Shimano’s WH7850-C24-TU climbing wheel.
While Zabel has been consistently close in the sprints of this Tour others have obscured our view of this new Colnago on the finish line. Keep an eye open and before this Tour is over, we may see the veteran sprinter bring his new bike to the line without anyone blocking the view.