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By Matt Pacocha
Giant unveils prototype TCR
Team High Road is starting the Amgen Tour of California on prototype Giant TCR Advanced frames, as the company continues a long-term relationship with the team once known as T-Mobile.
The California tour will give the bikes their first public showing.
Giant officials say the team riders are always pushing for stiffer and lighter frames, and they say the new models meet that need, with a beefed up headtube area and a stiffer pedaling platform thanks in part to an integrated bottom bracket design. And Giant’s engineers claim the TCR has more ride compliance than previous models.
The team will ride the prototype frames throughout the season. A production version will be available for the 2009 season.
We’re barely into 2008 and manufacturers are already talking about changes for 2009. Shimano is offering details of new wheels and mountain bike components, including a new cross-country and all-mountain group called SLX.
Offroad group changes
SLX is derived from the current LX group, but also borrows some features—including the Shadow low-profile rear derailleur design—from the XT group. As for LX, it will morph into a group for upscale commuter and trekking bikes, with pavement-specific gearing and an optional front hub dynamo to power a headlight.
The SLX rear derailleur is said to be tougher than the current LX model (thanks to the low-profile design) and 45 grams lighter.
The group’s RapidFire Plus shifter pods have a two-way release trigger and easily removable optical gear display. The two-piston hydraulic disc calipers are mated to Servo Wave brake levers with tool-free reach adjust and 20 percent more stopping power than the current LX brakes.
The group is available with a standard triple crank or a double with 36- and 22-tooth chainrings and a honeycomb-style bashguard. Both feature Shimano’s Hollowtech II construction. Triple- and double-specific front derailleurs will be available.
The high-end XT and XTR offroad groups also get a few tweaks, with slightly revised brake levers said to improve ergonomics.
Shimano and Fox Racing Shox developed a new 15mm through-axle system called E-Thru for short- to mid-travel suspension forks. The system is similar to a standard quick release, only beefed up. Shimano claims that the new system’s stiffness is nearly equal to a 20mm through-axle, but nearly 100 grams lighter. The 20mm design will continue to be used for longer-travel applications.
Deore XT will have a new pre-built wheel, WH-M778, that incorporates the new design. The design also will be offered in XTR- and XT-level hubs. The design saves almost 350g over the WH-M776 20mm thru-axle wheel.
A new Dura-Ace tubeless wheel uses a 390g carbon-wrapped aluminum rim with a 24mm profile. (Editor’s note: Shimano’s Naming department must have taken a break after absolutely nailing it with the Sharkfin chainstay guard, so we don’t know how to distinguish between the wheel models other than using model numbers, which in this case is WH-7850-C24-TL.) The set weighs just 1400 grams. Two additional wheelsets, the WH-RS80-C24-CL and the WH-RS60-C24-CL, will use the same carbon-alloy rim technology but carry more affordable price tags. Those sets weigh 1521 grams and 1590 grams, respectively.
Fulcrum introduces carbon clincher mountain wheel
Fulcrum’s new 26-inch RedCarbon mountain clincher wheel is one of very few in this emerging category. Other carbon mountain wheels on the market are from Tufo, which makes a tubular mountain wheel; Reynolds, which makes both a tubular and a clincher; and DT Swiss, which makes a clincher.
The new wheels from Fulcrum weigh 1450 grams a pair.
According to Fulcrum, the RedCarbon represents three years of development and is lighter and stiffer than the Red Metal Zero, the model used by Julien Absalon at the 2007 World Championships.
The RedCarbon wheels are 15 percent stiffer than the Red Metal Zeros, even with eight fewer spokes per set (20 front and rear).
The rims are asymmetrical front and rear to reduce dish necessitated by the cassette and disc brake.
Specialized teams up with Toyota-United
Specialized is now the helmet and sunglass sponsor of the Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team, and the team will be showing off its new lids and shades this week at the Tour of California.
The S-Works helmet weighs 225 grams in a medium size and is claimed to be the lightest available. Specialized molds Kevlar reinforcements into the helmet’s foam to achieve the low weight and allow for larger vents, including the trademark Mega Mouthport vent up on the forehead.
The Miura sunglass is Specialized’s flagship model with a photochromic lens. The lens is tinted to enhance reds, to make taillights and stop signs more noticeable. Specialized also offers a non-photochromic lens for bright conditions.
Specialized also is supplying the Quick Step and Gerolsteiner teams. Both teams are aboard the new Tarmac SL2 frames, while Quick Step also uses the company’s Roval wheels.