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By Matt Pacocha
Day three of the Eurobike Exhibition in Friedrichschafen, Germany, marks final day that the show is closed to the public, it also marks our final day of web coverage for the 2006 edition. When the doors open on Sunday morning and the hordes pay their 19 euros each to bump elbows among the exhibitors things get crazy. Most product managers duck out to avoid the chaos, something that can be described as a shark-like feeding frenzy. At least here, the chum is merely comprised of stickers and catalogs.
The Eurobike Exhibition had over 820 registered exhibitors from 69 countries, spread out over the 72,000 square meters of booked booth space in the Messe convention center. All were showing new products for the coming 2007 season. Josef Büchelmeier, the mayor of Friedrichschafen and the charmain of the Messe convention center estimates, that when the 2006 show closes its doors over 30,000 people will have passed through them. Among the 800-plus exhibitors, consumers can see the same items we checked out today from Orbea, Time, Fi’zi:k, Brooks, Selle Italia, Castelli, BH, Prologo, Canyon and Felt.
Orbea has already won an award for its redesigned Orca road bike, a Eurobike design award to be precise. Miriam Bengoetxea, Orbea’s composites engineer, explained that the new design specifically blends comfort, performance and aesthetics. “It was time to redefine the product,” she said. “The market asked for a reinvention of the frame. We wanted to best the success of the first Orca to confirm Orbea’s brand identity as a top level bicycle producer.”
The new Orca is made from a blend of Toray M30S and M40J, but the material is only a part of the equation. Bengoetxea said that the Orca redesign was actually a task of designing five new frames. “To design and optimize five different bicycles is a totally different concept,” she said. “ But it’s what the customer needs, we know this because we work very closely with them.” Each size uses carbon’s properties and a Size Specific Nerve or SSN to deliver the same level of performance to its specific customer regardless of size and based on their needs. Gone are the days of a 54cm being the optimally performing size, says Bengoetxea.
Time Sport International
Time has new components smattered throughout its line including two new pro-level frame modules, the VXR Pro Team and the VXR UL Team. The Pro Team has a standard seat post while the UL Team has the Translink integrated system and weighs in at 915 grams without the seat mast. The entire UL Team module complete with a new UL Team fork weighs, stem, seat mast and clamp weighs 1605 grams.
Time also has a new RXS UL Team Carbon Ti pedal. This top end model has only been in team riders’ hands since the Tour de France. It features a carbon composite body, titanium spring and hollow Ti spindle. The retention mechanism hasn’t changed. The RXL is a women’s specific pedal, the main feature is a slightly softer spring for easier entry and exit.
The 220-gram UL Team shoe perfectly complements the new pedal. It features a high-frequency molding method that virtually eliminates stitching on the shoe; there is only one stitch across the heel cup. Time believes that the closer a rider’s foot is to the pedal the better the power transfer, thus the sole is 7mm at the thickest point. DMT no longer makes this shoe. Time has taken on its own production. The UL Team will be available in red and blue.
Yet another refinement of the well accepted Arione. It’s called the k:1. It weighs 149 grams, 50 less than the Arione Carbon, but its look the most striking feature.
The saddle pits a clear gel layer over the carbon base. The base is suspended on the Mobius Braided C4 circular rails, which are made of unidirectional fibers encased in a woven carbon outer tube.
Fi’zi:k also introduced a line of freeride inspired attire that is unmistakably Italian. The line has multiple shirts, denim pants, outer shell and hat.
Who has ever heard of a $64,000 saddle? Selle Italia custom made this one from 18 karat gold. Over 200 diamonds were inlayed into the gold base and rails for an unnamed Middle Eastern sheik’s daughter. This piece was one of three concept saddles Selle Italia had on display. The other two were molded from carbon. One weighs a mere 30 grams and has rails incorporated seamlessly to its shell, while the third is seat/seat post combination.
This new brand is a line of Italian designed saddles manufactured by Velo Saddles in Taiwan. The new brand took Eurobike by storm. Its display was a modest 10 by 10 foot booth that shared space with Velo, but the unique saddles were all over other manufacturers bikes. It seemed every time one turned around there was another Prologo in a different color. The catch to the manufacturer’s flagship saddle is its interchangeable cover that comes easily on and off via snaps. Currently there are three covers available, a perforated summer version, a gel version and a solid winter version. The saddle is expected to sell for around $150 in the U.S.
Castelli says its Super Leggera Jersey is the lightest in the world. It only weighs 74 grams, and 140 when wet. The company claims that its competitors can weigh upwards of 400 grams when wet. This all leads to Castelli claiming a minute advantage over a five-hour Tour de France stage. While this may be a tough one to prove, the super-light top looks very comfortable and should pack down smaller than anything else available.
The German brand Canyon is the brainchild of designer Christian Smolik; he has been designing bicycles since the early ‘80s. His concept time trial bike proved one of the most interesting designs of the show. He has over 690 hours into its development.
The bike features hydraulic brakes built into the carbon chainstays and fork. Smolik has been designing bikes with integrated mechanical brakes since 1982.
The hydraulic brake on his TT bike is a simple single piston design, the drive side brake is the only movable part; it pushes a pad to a rim’s brake track and then pushed the wheel over to a fixed pad on the non drive side. The fork’s brake works in a similar fashion.
The bike was set up with a custom configured Campagnolo compact crankset and mountain chain ring with 54 teeth. “This bike is only for study,” says Smolik. Though he does have hopes of producing it. The bike featured a Suntour Mark 2 rear derailleur because he didn’t like how Shimano and Campy derailleurs use cable-housing loop; the cable mounts to the Mark 2 in a straight line without housing.
Jim Felt has a new bike. It’s a time trial and triathlon bike that delves seriously into the art of aerodynamics and it marks a strong step for the company. Felt named it the DA. “It’s different than anything ever done before,” said Felt. “It’s something I have wanted to do for the last five years. The goal was to design the fastest, slipperiest UCI legal bike.”
Felt thinks that he has achieved his goal on the first try, according to his own testing in the San Diego Low Speed wind tunnel; he believes his bike is faster than everything else currently on the market. Key features include a rear brake that is tucked behind and below the front derailleur, a one-inch hinged head tube with integrated fork and stem, not to mention full internal cable routing.
It would be an interesting experiment to see how Felt’s new bike performs in the wind tunnel, if it’s close to his claims it should surely win a fair share of races. Something Felt is already pursuing, “I’m working on getting someone to ride it in Hawaii [the Ironman on Kona],” said Felt. So we’ll only have to wait about a month or so to see how the DA stacks up.
BH was one of the first company’s to bring an integrated seat mast to the consumer market over three years ago in Europe. BH calls the technology, Global Concept. For 2007, the company is incorporating nanotechnology and polycarbonates into its frames. Its flagship road racer is extremely light. BH claims a weight of 804 grams in a size small with its integrated mast. The same technology will also be incorporated into its top-level time trial bike. BH bikes are currently available in the U.S., and have been since the beginning of 2006.