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By The editors
The doors opened on the 2002 Interbike International Bicycle Expo on Sundayas crowds of dealers, industry types and shop rats descended on the SandsConvention Center in Las Vegas. In the mix, VeloNews editors scouredthe halls for a glimpse at what will by plying the roads and trails inthe coming year.
We’ll offer updates throughout the show, but these are things that jumpedout at us on our first day.
Pinarello Dogma: With a front triangle built using Dedacciai’snew magnesium tubeset, the Dogma stole show today as every roadie in Vegasmade a pilgrimage to visit this near-holy beauty. With the rest of theshow floor littered with carbon and aluminum copy-cat amalgamations, theDogma stands alone with an exclusive agreement to be the only bike on theblock to use the hyper-light, double-butted weldable magnesium tubing.
A swoopy “Onda” (meaning “wave” in Italian) graces the front end, whilean equally graceful carbon rear end compliments the front. The same rideof Basso (best young rider in this year’s Tour) and Zabel can now be yours.Available in sizes 48 to 60cm.
Specialized S-Works (Epic): War was declared on the show floortoday. While no causalities listed, no bloodshed, Specialized fired morethan few shots over the bow of other full suspension manufacturers withthe North American unveiling of its Epic line. With six models in its race-positioned, Brain-equipped quiver, (S-Works at $4060, Epic Marathon at $3080, EpicPro at $2800, Epic Comp at $2500, and just plain Epic–Men’s and Women’smodels–at $2100) Epic was easily the mountain bike darling of the show.
Hourly treadmill demonstrations cleverly illustrated to the strollingmasses how Epic’s “Brain” shock operates only when it encounters a largeenough bump, and automatically locks-out under regular pedaling forces.
Santa Cruz Blur: As a direct counterstrike against Specialized’sEpic line, Santa Cruz launched a cross country assault of it own with theunveiling of full-production Blur line. Using VPP (Virtual Pivot Point)technology, the Blur is said to achieve a wheelpath that offers minimalpedaling interference with a fully active performance.
For $1500 (Anodized with Fox Float R), you too can own the next-generationof VPP technology.
Giant VT: Not content with playing second fiddle to the rattlingsof Specialized and Santa Cruz, Giant debuted its VT (Variable Travel) freeride-ishtype line. Adjustable from 5 to 5.75 inches in the rear, the VT line getsexclusive (there’s that word again) use of Manitou’s new SPV rearshock that licenses the technology found in Progressive Suspension’s FifthElement shock. Lighter than Giant’s AC line, but more hearty than NRS,VT is said to be the next-gen of the ever-popular freeride movement.
Salsa Campeon Road: Probably the most impressive road value ofthe show is the Salsa Campeon Road. Built of size-specific Scandiumtubeset, the $790 (frame and fork) boasts a carbon fork, Scandium fronttriangle and carbon rear triangle. Available in sizes from 50-62cm, Salsamakes riding Scandium possible for all us financial mortals.
Sadly, one glaring absence from this year’s show was anticipated thirdincarnation of the cooperative efforts of two Italian icons: the scheduledunveiling of the CF3, a joint project of Colnago bicycles andthe Ferrari motor company. Instead of the smiling Ernesto Colnago,show goers were greeted with a brief note explaining that “the CF3 bicyclehas gone missing during the shipping from Indianapolis (where it was presentedto the Formula One aficionados at the U.S. F1 Grand Prix) to Las Vegas.”
So, if some stranger shows up on your next group ride with a fancy newColnago/Ferrari… well, give Ernesto a call. If the bike does show up,we’ll of course, be here to report on that, too.
Even though there has been a lot of advanced publicity about them,Shimano’s new XTR components are still definitely the coolestcomponents as a group around. We jumped at the chance to ride them at Saturday’sOn-Dirt Demo. The brakes work great, the shifting is flawless, the cranksare noticeably super stiff, and any bike equipped with the entire grupposeems feather light.
A little XTR review: The cranks have a huge, hollow spindle fixed tothe drive side crank with oversized bearings external to the bottom bracketshell. The hydraulic disc brakes are small and light, and the rotors fitonto splines on lightweight hubs. The derailleurs are shifted by flickingthe brake lever sideways. The stock rear derailleur is Rapid Rise, meaningthat pushing the brake lever down with either hand gets you to a highergear, while flicking either lever up with the back of your finger shiftsdown.
There is also a little removable add-on thumb lever for those who findflicking the lever with the back of the finger unwieldy. I find it unnecessary,and, if the brakes are set up with the clamp right up against the grip,it is a pain, since the entire reservoir moves when you pull the brake,and that lever hits your thumb. Just remove it, I say. Without the lever,though, for those who don’t like Rapid Rise and are using the old XTR derailleur(like Specialized), it may be hard to work against the spring with theback-of-the-finger shifts.
Shimano is also offering its new Look-type road pedal in an Ultegra(PD-R600) version that still weighs in at 305 grams while offering thesame ease of walking and nice pedaling features as the Dura-Ace model.
Polar’s 225-gram power sensor is finally available, albeit unveiledlast year. Claimed to be within five percent of SRM’s accuracy, it is muchless cumbersome to set up than an SRM or PowerTap system which requireeither a dedicated hub or a dedicated crank. Polar determines power outputas the product of chain tension and chain speed.
A chainstay-mounted sensor finds chain tension by listening to the pitchof vibrations of the chain the way you would when tuning the tension ona guitar string. Polar also measures the chain speed with an optical sensorattached to the lower jockey wheel on the rear derailleur. The Polar 710heart monitor attached to a mount on the handlebars tells, besides heartrate and power, altitude, cadence, speed, and other standard computer functions.It downloads into a computer (PC only) with an interface. In March, the720 will be available, which requires no interface and downloads directlywith an IR wireless connection.
Avid’s Saago stem uses the same collet clamping mechanism thatmachinists use to hold cutting tools in a milling machine. Three boltson top of the stem screw into the top of a cup-shaped closed collet withslits on the side. Its external dimension is tapered and mates with a taperinside the stem to clamp uniformly down around the stem as the bolts pullit up. This is claimed to reduce the uneven pressure on carbon-fiber steeringtubes that is known to damage them, and in some cases, cause their failure.
CAT USA of Athens, Georgia has a dual-pivot CNC-machined roadbrake that weighs 80 grams per caliper, meaning that two of them weighthe same as a single Dura-Ace caliper. It is an innovative dual-pivot designwith a rocker cable attachment and a Delrin spring. CAT claims that ithas the same stopping power as Dura-Ace.
Wippermann has a completely titanium chain that is hand-assembled.It costs big bucks but saves a third of the weight.
Finally, a number of new forks are cool here. Cannondale’s new LeftyMax TPC Plus has the three-piston damping system of a Manitou Doradoinside the Lefty’s leg, giving it lighter and easily adjustable dampingon both compression and rebound.
Marzocchi’s Marathon SL and Marathon S forks are for endurancerides like the TransAlp Challenge requiring smooth movement, strength,durability and resistance to contamination. They are also beautiful examplesof Italian styling, with curvaceous white pearlescent outer legs and shapelypolished crowns.
Manitou’s aptly-named Sherman is a mass of burl. Designed forthe oversized “one point five” headset systems, it has a 38mm steeringtube. It will even fit in a Cannondale frame meant for a Lefty. It hasmassive stanchions and reverse-brace outer legs with lots of overlap, verysmooth action and huge travel with a single crown. The Sherman we triedon a Tomac 6-Shooter at the Outdoor Demo worked smoothly on all of thebumps, drops and jumps and steered through the tightest technical sectionswith ease.