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By Zack Vestal
Journalists and cycling-industry representatives descended upon the quiet resort town of Sun Valley, Idaho, last week for Press Camp, a three-day event that included rapid-fire, one-on-one meetings each morning, followed by afternoon test rides and demos.
It was a lot of information to absorb in just three days — but we’re finally catching up and passing the word along to you.
Clif Bar: New drink, new flavors for bars, Bloks
Clif Bar and Company, based in Berkeley, California, used Press Camp to introduce Quench, a new bottled electrolyte drink. Unlike Clif’s powdered drink mix, Quench is not meant to be a significant energy source, just a flavorful rehydration drink. One bottle contains 90 calories and a blend of electrolytes, including sodium, potassium and magnesium. The four flavors (fruit punch, lime-ade, orange and strawberry citrus) are clean and bright, with a very subtle salt note in the finish (an artifact of Quench’s electrolyte profile). A bottle costs $1.49, and it will be available in natural food stores.
In keeping with Clif Bar philosophy, the new drink contains just seven ingredients (including water) and lacks any artificial color, flavor or preservative. Quench is 88 percent organic, using organic evaporated cane juice rather than high-fructose corn syrup for flavor and carbohydrates. Without artificial colors, Quench is completely clear, so the bottles are completely wrapped in bright labels to create visual interest and help differentiate flavors. And the “clean and green” mentality extends to the bottle itself: Clif uses an industry-leading 40 percent post-consumer recycled PET #1 plastic in the bottle.
In other Clif news, White Chocolate Macadamia Nut adds to the already extensive line of creative flavors of Clif Bars, a new lemon flavor “builds” the Clif Builder’s protein bar line, and Mountain Berry adds to the Shot Bloks collection. And the FastPak packaging for Shot Bloks, introduced last fall, has completely replaced the original pouches, cutting Clif’s use of packaging materials for Shot Bloks by almost 50 percent.
Saris T-Bones: storage and transport solution
The Madison, Wisconsin-based Saris Cycling Group introduced T-Bones, a hitch-mounted rack aimed at city dwellers who need more functionality than the average hitch rack provides. It just started shipping to dealers in early June.
“We were looking for new opportunities,” said product manager Darren Snyder. “Most dual-arm-style racks weigh about 40 pounds. We were looking at the urban market and saw an unmet need: people living in high-rise condos and apartments. It’s where most of the building growth in the last decade has been, the revitalization of urban and downtown areas.”
The modular T-Bones can transport two or three bicycles on a rack that weighs only 10 pounds (in the two-bike version). The rack tower and arms assembly detaches for easy transport while the receiver-hitch hardware remains locked to the vehicle. A transport bag is included.
Also included is a T-Stand, a four-legged base receiver for the rack tower when it’s not in use on the vehicle. With the rack tower in place, the T-Stand becomes a bike storage rack for home or garage. No tools are needed to attach or remove the rack tower to either the receiver hitch base or the T-Stand, and a lockable lever called the “Qwik Dock” holds the tower in place and prevents theft. Finally, the tower includes an integrated cable lock so that bikes can be locked to the rack and the vehicle when the rack is on the hitch.
Every rack made by Saris is built in Madison. In fact, the injection molding facility that creates the distinctive, arc-shaped, zero-rust plastic arms is just a few blocks from company headquarters.
Lazer: New lids for TT, MTB — and maybe Le Tour
Belgian helmet company Lazer began making helmets in 1919, primarily for the equestrian market. As four-legged transport lost ground to bicycling and motorcycling, Lazer adapted and produced helmets for the newcomers.
Lazer is one of the largest helmet manufacturers in Europe, with distribution in 40 countries. While Lazer is headquartered in Brussels, the bicycle division is in Antwerp, with a core group that focuses on the specific needs of cyclists.
“The benefit of being associated with the Lazer moto division is that they can take advantage of technology that was developed for motorcycle helmets and bring it over to the cycling division when appropriate,” said company rep Christopher Smith. In fact, Lazer’s Rollsys retention system was originally developed in the motorcycle division.
Rollsys provides one-handed retention adjustment via a smooth thumb wheel on the top rear of the helmet. Tightening the Rollsys wheel cinches an orbital lobe retention strap that extends 360 degrees around the helmet, including the forehead pad. The wheel turns smoothly and provides very easy, nearly infinite adjustment of fit and retention.
The Rollsys system expands the range of fit for a given shell size: for example, the top-of-the-line Genesis comes in only two sizes, and the 02, one.
Both the new Tardiz TT helmet, worn by Team Katusha, and the Nirvana MTB helmet, still in pre-production, will feature the Rollsys system.
The Tardiz was designed with significant input from pro athletes and places a premium on both ventilation and aerodynamics. Time trial and triathlon helmets typically eschew large ventilation ports to boost aerodynamic efficiency, but the cost can include severe overheating. The Tardiz adds a large exhaust port at the rear of the helmet to help draw air through the front.
The Tardiz also has a hole at the very top, called the “Aquavent.” During hot days, a rider can remove its square rubber cap and pour water through the port. Channels in the foam structure of the shell and in the antimicrobial X-static padding help distribute the coolant. Tardiz will be available in two shell sizes.
The Nirvana mountain bike helmet brings more angular styling, a visor and oversized ventilation ports, since aerodynamics are less of an issue when riding off road.
Finally, the current top-shelf model, the Genesis RD Race, is about to be replaced by a new model called the Helium. Planned features include three shell sizes, weight of about 220 grams and the use of carbon fiber in the internal structure to save weight. We’ll keep our eyes open for the Helium’s debut at the Tour de France.