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By Matt Pacocha
The second day at the 63rd International Cycle Exhibition in the Nuova Fiera Milano proved substantially more hectic. In the past the show has been limited to industry insiders for the first two days; this year, only one day was afforded. When the doors opened this morning there was an air of urgency in everyone’s step. For the consumers, it was simple excitement, but for the vendors it was anticipation of a hard day’s work ahead.
Highlights Saturday included visits to Shimano and Campagnolo. FSA had Ivan Basso on hand for a marathon autograph session promoting its compact cranks. Components from Carbon Sports, the makers of Lightweight wheels, proved eye-catching, as did the works of two smaller Italian frame manufacturers, Pegoretti and Scapin. Tire manufacturer Tufo had some exciting news for cyclo-crossers and mountain bikers. Fulcrum had Paolo Bettini’s gold-medal-winning Olympic bike on display. French tire manufacturer Michelin proudly displayed a newly released cross-country mountain bike tire. And finally, a company better known in the States for performance automobile parts had a beautiful belt-driven town bike on display.
Shimano provided items for 2006 that were long overdue – a Dura-Ace-level triple crankset and accompanying shifter, as well as a compact crank. In addition, the 105 group undergoes a complete revision for the upcoming season. Both cranksets are constructed using Shimano’s current Hollowtech 2 technology. The 841-gram Dura-Ace triple is available in seven lengths ranging between 165-180mm. One chainring combination is available, a standard 52-39-30.
The compact crankset comes with a 50-34 chainring combination. Though the crank is not designated for a particular group, it is best described as Ultegra-level. It comes in four lengths between 165 and 175mm. The new 105 kit brings 10 speed to the 105 level and features most of the improvements applied to its higher-priced cousins, Ultegra and Dura-Ace. The main differentiation between the groups now only applies to weight and materials utilized.
Campagnolo made some small refinements to its current groups, but no major changes. The biggest news for Record is a new chain that promises to be narrower, lighter and stronger than the 2005 version. The big news at Campagnolo is its wheels – the Eurus has been completely redesigned. The most noticeable change is the use of aluminum spokes. Other features include a refined hub, which is still quite user-serviceable. A new rim features a solid inner wall that eliminates the need for a rim strip, similar to the Mavic Ksyrium. The rims are asymmetric, which reduces weight and increases the wheelset’s aerodynamic properties.
The rims feature a dynamic balance, a detail only expected from a company with Campagnolo’s stature. Dynamic balance refers to balancing the valve hole with the rim’s seam through precise machining that reduces hop and shimmy.
Also new for 2006 is a Chorus-level flat-bar control lever. Though it’s not for racing, expect the same quality and detail afforded to other Chorus components.
FSA drew a crowd rivaled by few during an hour-long autograph session with Basso, one of the bright stars of Italian cycling. Though some companies with a racing pedigree still believe compact cranks are for weaker riders, FSA and Ivan have embraced them as pro-level technology.
The top-of-the-line K-Force MegaExo crank will be available in a compact configuration for 2006. Rumors abounded regarding a complete FSA group, but nothing could be confirmed here in Milan. Still, FSA is offering some exciting products aside from the compact cranks. FSA will offer an aftermarket MegaExo bottom bracket with ceramic bearings; the samples on display were incredibly smooth and friction free. FSA says once its pro riders try the ceramic bearings they will not go back to the standard. And the bearings are said to last 10 times longer than traditional steel bearings.
Finally, the sleeper at FSA is its hollow cast aluminum Afterburner MegaExo mountain bike crank. This crank features the three-piece MegaExo design and weighs only 750 grams, almost 100 grams lighter than the top end K-Force MegaExo carbon mountain bike crank.
Carbon Sports of Germany was showing its new Ventoux road wheel. The wheel was first seen ridden by Jan Ullrich in this year’s Tour of Germany. It is now in production with two versions: One features Tune hubs and weighs 950 grams for the set; the other features a more economical DT/Swiss hub set and weighs 1020 grams. Discovered sitting on the bar in the CS booth was a prototype Lightweight brand derailleur.
Said to be close to production, the full carbon derailleur has a target weight of 100 grams, compared to Campy Record’s 190 grams. There are plans for both Shimano- and Campagnolo-compatible versions; the Campy version will be ready first, in late January. The price will be in the neighborhood of 600 euros.
Dario Pegoretti’s unique style showed through in his display. Each bike featured a matching and very unique Fiz:ik saddle. And top-of-the-line frames are constructed of Columbus’ heat treated Spirit Niobium steel alloy tubing, with proportions like no other bike on the showroom floor.
Not far from Pegoretti’s display is another small Italian frame builder’s booth. The detail of Stefano Scapin’s bikes, particularly in the head tube and seat clamp, underscores his level of commitment to the craft. See the Scapin article in the print edition of VeloNews, volume 34, issue 16.
Tufo bicycle tires are a staple in the cyclo-cross community, which can expect a new ‘cross tire to be released in the next week, just in time to show at Interbike. For 2006 the company hopes to break into the mountain-bike market with a tubular wheel system. Tufo has had a tubular-clincher available for mountain bikes for some time, but for ’06, they’re taking it a step further.
Playing on Thomas Frischknecht’s use of 650c carbon rims and custom-made Dugast mountain bike tubulars, Tufo has designed a similar system composed of a 26-inch deep-dish carbon rim, disc-compatible hub, and tubular tire in two tread patterns. Tufo is marketing its tubular adhesive tape as the key for consumers new to mounting tubulars.
Michelin released a new intermediate-conditions cross-country race tire called the XCR Dry 2. The new tire plays off the ever-popular Comp S design and incorporates Michelin’s dual-compound technology. Julian Absalon rode the tire extensively during its prototype phases. The tire promises to be most at home on dry and fast courses.
Just tested by VeloNews in volume 34, issue 17, are Fulcrum’s new road wheels. Not much will change with these hoops for ’06, but the opportunity couldn’t be missed to post a photo of Paolo Bettini’s stunning Olympic championship Time.
Momo design is well known in the U.S. for aftermarket automobile accessories, including seats, steering wheels and shifters.
Proof is in any Subaru WRX. Here in Milan, the company had one of the most exotic town bikes on display. The carbon-fiber steed was equipped with a belt-driven, internally-geared hub.
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