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Interbike: Bikes, gossip and the art of the deal

The Interbike International Bicycle Expo moved into its second day at the Sands Convention Center in Las Vegas on Monday. The mood, despite signs of a troubled economy, have been generally upbeat as crowds of buyers, shop owners and plain old bike geeks work their way through aisles of new product. While manufacturers both big and small got down to the business of selling bikes, the aisles at Interbike also hosted serious negotiations of another kind. At this annual cycling confab, teams and racers have either been seeking new sponsors or putting the final touches on deals to set them up for

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By The Editors

The Posties were a big draw at the Sands

The Posties were a big draw at the Sands

Photo: Neal Rogers

The Interbike International Bicycle Expo moved into its second day at the Sands Convention Center in Las Vegas on Monday. The mood, despite signs of a troubled economy, have been generally upbeat as crowds of buyers, shop owners and plain old bike geeks work their way through aisles of new product.

While manufacturers both big and small got down to the business of selling bikes, the aisles at Interbike also hosted serious negotiations of another kind. At this annual cycling confab, teams and racers have either been seeking new sponsors or putting the final touches on deals to set them up for the coming 2003 racing season.

The employment scene
Topping the team news buzzing the Sands on Monday was word that the world’s No. 1 women’s cycling team will be losing some serious talent in the coming year. As expected, several sources confirmed the still-unofficial news that American Kimberly Bruckner will be moving to the T-Mobile-sponsored U.S. national for next year.

Perhaps more surprising is unofficial news that veteran Petra Rossner and her fellow German teammate Judith Arndt will also be leaving Saturn next year and joining forces with team Nürnberger. Word is that the German team made an offer that the two could simply not refuse… and one that the Saturn squad simply could not match. The third member of Saturn’s German triple-threat, Ina Teutenberg, will remain with the team.

On the men’s side, the Saturn team is close to finalizing its 2003 contractwith Chris Horner. The man from Bend had a spectacular start tothe ’02 season, momentum that probably would have carried him through theseason had it not been for that pesky motorcycle accident in which he brokehis foot. Saturn, however, took a chance that Horner won’t be repeatingthat move and is offering a healthy, but undisclosed, increase over hiscurrent Prime Alliance salary.

Meanwhile, Horner’s Prime Alliance team has moved quickly to replacetheir stage racing talent by signing none other than Crédit Agricole’sJonathan Vaughters. Vaughters publicly announced plans to leavethe European scene not long after crashing out of the Tour de France thisyear. The father of a two-year-old son, Vaughters opted out of the finalyear of his C.A. contract in order to shift his attention to the domesticscene. Word from the Vaughters home is that young Charlie enthusiasticallyendorsed the deal.

A smiling John Wordin has been spotted shaking hands and workingdeals in the on-going hunt for a replacement for his departing title sponsor, Mercury. No news yet, but Wordin and team director Thurlow Rogers seem confident enough to be working out deals for bikes, tires, jerseys and the other assorted sponsorship arrangements needed to keep a team that size alive and kicking.

Even the famous Marzocchi girls took time off to visit George.

Even the famous Marzocchi girls took time off to visit George.

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Celeb’ bike racer sightings were quite common on Monday as riders likeCSC’s Tyler Hamilton and some of the crew his old Postal team made appearances at booths around the convention center. George Hincapie, Roberto Heras and Floyd Landis vied for Clif Bar’s Beyond the Podium award, a $10,000 prize for “the unsung heroes of the peloton.” Heras took the top awardfor his help in the mountains during this year’s Tour de France.

Still, while the deals and celebrity sightings were big news, the hugedraw at Interbike is the bike stuff. So while some of our editors werenosing around in people’s personal business, the rest of our dedicatedstaff were out hunting down the best stuff they could find on the expansivefloors of the Sands.

Our favorite components from Monday
Titec C3 Carbon Stem: With no end in sight to the carbon invasion,it comes as no surprise that Titec debuted the industry’s first all-carbonmountain bike stem. Using Titec’s Muscle-Matrix carbon (which utilizesa mix of hand-laid, high-modulus, unidirectional carbon fibers and a duallayer reinforced aramid fiber weave) to achieve an amazing 135 gram weightwithout sacrificing torsional or lateral rigidity.

A 31.8mm bar clamp diameter is said to optimize bar rigidity withoutsacrificing grams. Currently only available in 120mm length, Titec plansto also sell this black beauty in 105 and 90mm extensions.

Interbike: Bikes, gossip and the art of the deal

Interbike: Bikes, gossip and the art of the deal

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Giro “Lone Star” edition Pneumo: While not a new design for theroad set, Giro’s Pneumo does now come in a premium edition(about 4000 made)Lone Star edition. The very same lid that Lance rode in his forth victoryof the Tour, the Lone Star offers all the features riders love in the Pneumoincluding Roc Loc 4 retention system, 19 vent Wind Tunnel ventilation,in-mold technology and P.O.V. adjustable visor but now comes styled-upwith United States Postal Team graphics with a cool Texas/Lance logo. Rumorhas it that the custom painted Giros that Lance used to ride weighed toomuch, so the weight-conscious Armstrong asked for an in-molded graphic.His request is now available for all to enjoy for $200 (includes customLone Star carrying pod).

Cane Creek Solos headset: A new top-of-the-line offering fromCane Creek, the Solos boasts very low friction stainless steel cartridgebearings with oversize (5/32 inch diameter) balls. An overhanging designwhich Cane Creek calls “Treacherous Path” minimizes contamination whilereducing friction. Weighing-in at 141 grams, the Solos also boasts an impressive 10-year warranty and comes in both standard and integrated versions (82 grams).

Sugoi Viper jacket: While it might not appear to be so formidable,Sugoi’s Viper rain jacket utilizes a new stretch fabric that is woven ofpre-treated thread that is almost impenetrable by water, by still allowsample breathability. Other features of this amazing jacket are underarmmesh vents, slanted sleeves for outstretched comfort, bottleneck collarand grip elastic holds on the lower back for security. A $115 price tagmakes it a steal of a value–on top of all that, you don’t even have totravel to Canada to get one. Your local stateside dealer should have ’emin stock by mid-November.

Interbike: Bikes, gossip and the art of the deal

Interbike: Bikes, gossip and the art of the deal

Photo:

TruVativ Rouleur crankset: One step above and 45-grams lighterthan last year’s Elita crankset, TruVativ’s new 585 gram Rouleur cranksetoffers forged, one-piece construction (from 7050 aluminum), a high polishmirror anodized finish, and nickel plated 39/53 (or 42/55) chainrings.ISIS drive, self-extracting crank bolts and alloy hardware round-out thisvery clean looking crankset. Available in mirror black or tech polished silver.

Our favorite bikes from Monday
Gary Fisher has gone far beyond the “let’s float these 29-inch-wheel bikes on the market as an experiment” stage. He is now producing very cool new models, combining his Sugar full-suspension system with the huge wheelsto make striking-looking bikes that Fisher says will roll over almost anyterrain.

“I rode my 29-inch hardtail in the TransAlp Challenge (where he partneredwith Marzocchi USA’s Bryson Martin),” says the bespectacled guru of mountainbikes and outlandish clothes. “I find that in every condition, I am betteron that bike. On the road sections, the rolling-resistance difference ishuge – I just roll away from everyone else. But any technical section,the momentum I am able to carry is so much greater than any speed low Imight suffer due to the heavier weight of the wheels and tires.”

Cook Bros. is celebrating its 25th anniversary by bringing backcruisers in the style of the ones it built a quarter century ago. Now,however, instead of having 26-inch wheels, they have 700C wheels with balloon tires.

“When we were building these 25 years ago, they were mostly juvenilebikes, so the 26-inch wheels made sense. But if you saw a kid standingnext to one, it was a big bike. So now we are doing an adult version in700C to be a similar size relative to the rider,” says Cook Bros. presidentJack Widmer. Widmer’s new cruisers have wide rims he makes himself paintedto match the frame. On his flagship model, the front rim is coupled withonly 18 spokes to a polished Schwinn hub from that company’s heyday.

The rear hub is a Rohloff internal-gear hub whose twist shifter is onthe seatpost to not mess up the bikes classic lines and beautiful, long,curved handlebar with long cable runs. The only brake is a rear cable-actuateddisc, while the cranks and quick releases are, of course, Cook Bros. own.The leather saddle is a cut-down Brooks-style riveted job. A unique featureis the “guidance system” consisting of a glass eyeball on the front ofthe stem, and, for depth perception, another one hanging from the leatherfront-hub polishing hanging loop. Widmer is also re-introducing the company’s stem of 25 years ago – a clamp-style unit for a threadless steering tube – revolutionary at the time. And, speaking of cruisers, Trek is introducing some retro models with springer-type front forks.

Craig Calfee is now making his Dragonfly 2-pound frame made ofa combination of boron and carbon fibers in custom dimensions. The customer is not limited in angles or tube lengths, since Calfee’s joint-wrapping method affords him complete sizing flexibility. Calfee claims the boron fibers greatly increase the strength of the material. He utilizes boron fibers combined with carbon in his superlight tandems as well as several single models. “My supplier told me that we are the biggest consumer of boron fiber outside of the Air Force (which uses it for airplane landing gear).” A custom Dragonfly will set you back $3900.

Orbea, based in the Basque Country in northeastern Spain, ispart of the world’s largest manufacturing cooperative, the CooperativoMondragón, boasting over 60,000 workers (Orbea comprises about 400of those). The cooperative was established as a means to uplift the lives of those living in the Basque Country , and Orbea’s owner/employees goabout it by working to make great bikes at a great value.

One way it does this is to bring Columbus’s Starship tubing technologydown-market. Due to the complexity of the heat-treating and aging processrequired for Starship, other manufacturers send their welded frames back to Columbus for treatment, which helps launch their pricing into the outer galaxies. Orbea, on the other hand, being perhaps the largest consumerof Columbus tubing in the world, has invested in a specific Starship-treatingfacility in-house. This allows it to produce the “Lobular” and “LobularCarbon” frames using slightly thicker-wall Starship tubing developed inconjunction with Columbus for idealized shaping, stiffness, and increasedstrength. And these frames come in at $950 and $1150, a full $300 cheaperthan, respectively, the Starship model and the Starship Carbon model withcarbon chainstays and seatstays. And speaking of carbon frame parts, Orbeahas re-introduced the famous Zeus brand on its carbon forks, carbon seatstaysand chainstays, and carbon monocoque seatposts with three saddle-clampingpositions for wide setback adjustments. The Zeus name also appears on Orbea’saluminum stems and handlebars.

Many years ago, Basso was one of the first to offer completemonocoque carbon bicycle frames. Perhaps you remember the Russian juniorwho was disqualified from his silver medal at the 2000 world road championshipsin Plouay, France for switching to one of these Bassos mid-race whose aspectdimensions exceeded the UCI regulations. Now Basso is back in the USA witha much lighter, more traditional-looking full-carbon monocoque road framethat is kosher with the UCI. It is sure to remind Americans of what wemissed by having this company, which also led the others with computercustom-fitting systems, out of this country for so many years.

Cannondale has sliced more beef from its Scalpel for 2003 – 100grams of it, to be precise, while making it more laterally rigid. The framethat won four national championships in two years now only weighs 4.9 poundsincluding the shock and hardware. Stronger, forged dropouts are one improvement,as is a new one-piece shock link that is not only lighter but also easierto service and detach the shock from. The flattened, pre-loaded (for negativespring), vertically-flexing and horizontally-stiff carbon chainstays atthe heart of the design remain unchanged. Coupled with a carbon Lefty electronic-lockout fork and the new XTR disc-brake group and Mavic CrossMax SL tubeless wheels (including a new front hub for the Lefty’s single-sided clamping system), make this one awesome-looking, superlight, $5,000 cross-country bike with almost three inches of lockout-able rear travel.

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