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By Matt Pacocha
If the scale of parking problems are an indication of interest, then Eurobike qualifies as a success. The line just to park at the Messe Friedrichshafen on the second day of the trade show was an hour long. Bumper-to-bumper traffic, all of it bound for Eurobike.
The show, held on Germany’s southern border, attracts exhibitors from more than 36 countries — and that includes everyone, from the biggest players to the most obscure little guys. Here’s what caught our attention on Friday.
The famous German Lightweight wheels have a new look these days. The new black all-carbon spokes on the deep-section models draw a second look, but the new clincher wheel takes the prize for the biggest news.
Carbon Sports, the parent company, calls the new all-carbon spoked wheels, Generation 3. Fabien Abbe, Lightweight’s race tech says that testing proved the new carbon spokes stronger than the original two-tone carbon, Aramid and Kevlar spokes. The spokes bring 30 percent more stiffness to the wheel and are only available on the deep-section versions.
The standard model costs 2750 euros (about $3200 U.S.), but the company hasn’t yet set a price for the American market). The standard is available with 12, 16 or 20 spokes in the front wheel, and each set comes with a 20-spoke rear. A set with a 16-spoke front wheel weighs 1075 grams. For 3400 euros, you can get the same wheel in a clincher. The lightest of two clincher options weighs 1080 grams.
Is the clincher a response to the American manufacturer Lew’s entry into the market? Abbe says no — it’s simply a response to customer demands. For an over-the-top conversation piece check out the 120-gram rear derailleur that’s ready for production. Its price? 750 euros.
The Swiss clothing manufacturer presented a new lightweight line of cycling shorts. Luigi Bergamo of Assos’ research-and-development team said the S5 shorts represent a new generation of Assos technology. The new line includes three men’s shorts, a F1.- Uno, Mille and 13, representing segments of training, long distance and ultimate performance, in addition to the first F1.13 women’s model, the Lady S5.
All of the shorts use a new fabric made from carbon, among multiple other materials, that is said to better transfer moisture and provide the same support while weighing 25 percent less than previous versions. The entire line of new shorts come packaged with Assos chamois cream and cleanser.
Pedals are considered rotating weight, so the old lighter-is-better mantra is something Speedplay took to heart. The new Nano Gram Zero weighs a mere 62 grams per pedal. That’s compared to the standard Zero Titanium at 82 grams per pedal.
In addition, all the components of the cleat that were molded from plastic in the standard Zero and Zero Ti are molded from a carbon resin for the Nano. The pedals rotate on a TIN (ti-nitride)-coated titanium axle and have the same 185-pound weight limit that the standard titanium pedals carry. Fabian Cancellara and the rest of the CSC team used the titanium Zero last season without incident. The price is not yet finalized, but is reported to be somewhere around $500.
Paul Turner’s company showed up with a big surprise — a new 36mm stanchioned fork. The final specifications of the new DUC 36 remain uncertain, but it will definitely feature 36mm alloy lowers and a carbon-fiber upper assembly. The upper is rumored to be three times strong as the alloy version. The larger chassis allows for more travel, and Maverick has plans to provide three models with 165, 180 and 200mm of travel. The weight of the fork is targeted at around 4 pounds. The company has yet to establish a price or a release date.
Just about every pro rider sponsored by Selle Italia sported a bright white team-edition saddle at this year’s Tour de France. The new Team Edition Flite weighs 200 grams and carries a price of 135 euros. The traditional saddle company broke its aesthetic mold by partnering with Troy Lee on three models. The Troy Lee Flite costs the same as the Team Edition, but sports graphics by the legendary designer.
White may be the color of 2008 if the European market is an indicator. FSA’s Wing Pro aluminum bar, OS-115 stem, XC180 flat bar, XC 282 riser bar, SL280 alloy and SL250 seatposts all will be available in white next year.
The company is pumping out new products quicker than we can keep up. Both the Plasma integrated bar-stem combonation and the K-Wing carbon handlebar are now available with a compact drop. FSA offers four different drop shapes in road handlebars.
Barely a year old, K-Force Light crank technology is already trickling down the line. The new SLK Light uses the same technology, but relies on less costly materials and standard bearings model. SLK Light offers both compact and standard bolt-circle diameters, and will likely be the go-to model for team CSC.
The K-Force line will get its first wheelset in 2008, simply called K-Force. The 1350-gram tubular wheelset has a 50mm rim with a FSA logo molded in. It’s hand built with carbon hubs equipped with ceramic bearings, straight-pull Sapim spokes and external nipples.
ISS is a new integrated seat and seatpost system that depends on a seat with a proprietary single rail built down its center that fits a special seat-post clamp. The seat, which will be available for purchase alone, will come with a clamp that retrofits to SLK, SLK Zero or SL250 seatposts. The system is said to save 60-70 grams over a conventional rail system, but the real benefit is comfort, says FSA.
For those with cyclo-cross on the brain, Schwalbe has one of the season’s most promising new items, a triple-compound tread design in a 35c tubular. The new tire is based on the Racing Ralph mountain-bike tread pattern, one of Schwalbe’s most popular models. The Focus and Stevens professional cyclo-cross racing outfits were an integral part of the design effort, providing feedback during the tire’s development. The main concept was to make it fast by maximizing its grip and rolling resistance. The casing is 127tpi, and the tube is made from latex. The tire’s target weight is 385 grams. With luck, it will make it to the U.S. in time for some bog-trotting this fall.