By Matt Pacocha
Challenge Grifo Pro
While not nearly as exciting at the limited run of white Grifo tubulars that can be spied under Challenge’s sponsored pros in Europe — the brand promises a few will be coming to the U.S. late this season — its new nylon foldable Grifo Pro clincher looks to be a solid tire for those who haven’t made the jump to tubulars yet. By forgoing its ‘open tubular’ construction in favor of a traditional vulcanized clincher design, Challenge keeps the price down — $45 instead of $80 for the open tubular — on this 60tpi clincher. By increasing the tread’s knob height by 0.3mm (the Grifo tubular and open tubular uses a 2mm knob height) it gives the new model a much more aggressive look, which will likely translate to more traction out on the course. A 30tpi wire bead ‘OE’ version will be available to manufacturers.
Raleigh made its already cool Rainer single-speed cyclocross frameset even more ‘core’ for 2010 by teaming up with the Portland, Oregon, faction that puts on single speed cyclocross world championships, to offer 50 commemorative SSCXWC framesets.
The hook is that 49 of the butted aluminum frames and Easton EC90X forks are painted with a brown SSCXWC scheme, while one is white. The frames are randomly boxed and the lucky rider who opens the box with the white frame and fork in it wins an over-the-top single speed build kit from Shimano. The kit includes: Dura-Ace WH-7850-C24 carbon tubeless wheels, Di2 brake levers, Dura-Ace crankset and cockpit components from PRO. The frameset costs $725 and goes on sale on raleighusa.com on October 19th. For details about the component group giveaway see the SSCXWC website at: sscxwc09.com
Ritchey Cross Headset
FSA was the first to integrate a front cantilever brake hanger into its headset top-cap, but Ritchey’s Cyclocross headset with integrated cable hanger is pretty darn slick, too. The Ritchey headset costs between $50-80 depending on model (WCS, Pro versions available in standard and integrated models) and features a barrel adjuster that threads into a pivoting bushing, so that the cable can align itself for its smoothest possible operation. It’s a sweet addition any ’cross bike, but especially to one already using Ritchey’s cockpit components.
Schwalbe Rocket Ron ’Cross
Schwalbe launched its new Rocket Ron mountain bike tire last season and for 2010 follows up with a version of the acclaimed all-conditions tread for cyclocross.
While the tread pattern is new, the real story of the tire is its 127tpi casing; by contrast, the older Racing Ralph uses a 67tpi casing. The new casing promises a supple, faster rolling ride because of a better ability to conform to the terrain. It’s also a claimed 40 grams lighter than the Racing Ralph.
The new casing is mated to Schwalbe’s triple compound tread, where a harder center tread and softer side tread are molded onto an even softer underlying compound, which is said to deform and absorb shock to make the tire faster by allowing the external tread to conform to the terrain. The Rocket Ron clincher comes in a 35mm width and costs $75.
We’ve told you — and if you’ve tried it, you know — that Shimano’s top-of-the line $380 M310 mountain bike shoe isn’t a good option for cyclocross. It’s too stiff and its minimalist sole is just too slippery if you miss your pedal on the first attempt.
That said, we do believe that the Japanese component manufacturer makes some of the most comfortable and most durable shoes available. Our search for good cyclocross shoes brings us to one of the brand’s new 2010 mountain models, the M161.
The new shoe costs $150 and packs huge performance. It comes with Shimano’s micro-adjust buckle and offset straps just like the top-of the-line M310, but its carbon composite sole (not true carbon fiber) offers a bit more flex for your off-the-bike efforts. The feature that will make cyclocrossers rejoice, however, is the shoe’s tread, which is full rubber from tip to tail; obligatory replaceable toe spikes are included. Fashionistas will appreciate that the shoe’s look doesn’t tip others off to its economical price. And if Shimano’s track record for durable footwear is any indication, this new model will provide many seasons of service.