Archive for the ‘Tech Cyclist’ Category

SRAM XX To Start Shipping In August

June 9, 2009

In an article posted on Bike Europe it is reported that the new SRAM XX 2X10 speed mountain bike gruppo will start shipping to dealers in August. The group, with the first 10 speed rear cassette dedicated to off roading, will be the centerpiece of SRAM’s 2010 offerings. Spanning all of SRAM’s component manufacturers, XX will include brakes from Avid, crank sets  from TruVativ, and even fork offerings from its Rock Shox brand.

According to the report on Bike Europe, the XX group has been in development for two years and was tested by several pro athletes along the way. The Cyclist expects that Shimano and perhaps FSA, (which has been rumored to be working on an 11 speed cassette/shifters for mtb and road), will be showing components to compete with XX this fall. SRAM will “officially” debut the XX group at this falls Eurobike trade show, although this seems to be more a formality at this point.

Steel Is Real

April 22, 2009

In 2007, Wired magazine (among others) noted the resurgence in steel bikes in an article titled Cycling Purists Rejoice: Steel is Back.  Now, two years and trade shows later, the question remains: has steel finally “arrived”?

Truth be told, steel never actually went away.  But it’s market share sure did.

What has changed in the last 20 years is the inclusion of other worthwhile framebuilding materials.  As widely discussed, and beyond the scope of this article, each frame material (or combination thereof) has a it’s own positive and negative attributes.  Make a brave stand for your preferred frame material(s) on one of the more popular online cycling forums and you’ll see what I mean.

However, there is one important thing that separates steel from the competition … it remains to be the choice of artisan framebuilders.  Here are a few visuals to emphasize the point:

  • Ellis Cycles — Dave Wages might be the “new kid”, but he’s been on the block for a while.
  • Cicli Polito — Award winning handcrafted steel by Dan Polito.
  • Vanilla Bicycles — Sacha Whites’ instant legacy.

As you may already know, none of the three builders above fit into the stereotypical “retro-grouch” archetype.  Rather, they (and others like Sam Whittingham of Naked Bicycle and Design) are young, hip, savvy, and likely to write a blog or two.  More to the point, these steel bikes are a youthful stand against the bike mass-ufacturers — a symbol of individuality and appreciation of hands-on craftsmanship.  This movement against the mainstream is what has really spurred the revival in steel … especially lugged steel bikes.

The other somewhat obvious contributor to steel’s “comeback” is the fixie (fixed gear) factor.  Prior to the development of the specialty niche fixies, like Milwaukee Bike’s Bruiser, the common fixie was a used lugged steel bike with horizontal dropouts.  In other words, the vintage steel bike made the perfect platform for an affordable urban bike that could take some abuse, provide simple transportation, and allow the Mission Hipster a platform for self expression.

Of course, the growing popularity of these handmade steel and simple transport bikes is not lost on the major manufacturers.  So in an effort to expand this “new” market niche, the manufacturers have gone back to what originally brought their success … steel bikes.  The reason for the latency into the market is the slow churning cogs of mass production.  Tim Jackson, the brand manager of Masi Bicycles recently wrote / blogged / Facebooked / Tweeted that Masi already wrapped up their 2010 model line-up specifications before the 2009’s even hit the stores.  Obviously, having to anticipate trends, production, and materials almost two years in advance is a tough task.

That said, Urban Velo recently published a brief list of commonly available steel road bikes.  When combining this list with the hundreds of a custom frame builders, and the hundreds of thousands of vintage steel bikes still on the road, it is reasonable to speculate that steel still dominates the bike industry.

Three other highlights that may, depending on who you ask, contribute to the allure of steel:

  • Early versions of carbon fiber bikes are literally “coming unglued”.  Unfortunately, there is not much that can be done about frames like this, but thankfully the industry has improved and refined the carbon frame construction process.
  • Steel is both repairable and less likely to have a catastrophic failure.  Using my personal steel commuter bike as an example, I have crashed it hard AND (I can’t believe that I am admitting this) I have driven my car into garage while the bike was still attached to the roof rack.  Sure the frame has a small ding in the top tube … but I have ridden it 1000’s of miles since.
  • Steel manufacturing techniques and materials continue to improve and evolve.  While other materials currently receive more coverage from the cycling media, the makers of steel haven’t been dormant.

Steel is a great medium for creating bicycles … it is plentiful, affordable, easily welded, stunning in the right hands, and has a handcrafted appeal like Grandma’s apple pie.  Contrary to the opening statement of this article, steel has never really been in a “comeback” position, rather it has simply lost some of the mainstream spotlight.  But like anything worthwhile, consumers will eventually eschew the latest-and-greatest in favor of the time-tested favorite.

Bryan @ Renaissance Bikes bio coming..

Sea Otter 2009: Components

April 20, 2009

Wandering around Sea Otter this year revealed several technical advancements and components that caught my eye for one reason or another. Here’s a brief rundown for you…..

Fizik introduced a new saddle and new Team colors

Fizik introduced the Antares saddle in new Team colors

Fizik’s “Antares saddle, which is offered as an inbetween choice for those that do not like the Arione’s length or the Aliante’s concave top, is now available in “Team Colors” which celebrate Fizik’s sponsorship of several Pro road cycling teams.

The Antares, which is somewhat shorter than an Arione and one centimeter wider, is another “flat” profile saddle, unlike the Aliante.

The saddle is also offered in several other color options and rail types.

Fizik's new test saddle program: Coming to a shop near you.

Fizik's new test saddle program: Coming to a shop near you.

Fizik also showed this test saddle program that dealers can get and allow riders to try before they buy. A reasonable solution to the “what if I spend all this cash and hate it” problem that high end saddles engender.

All three of Fizik’s saddles for road are featured with the Aliante, Antares, and Arione done up in a special “Test Orange” so you won’t be able to get away with just riding off into the sunset with a free saddle.

I suspect it should be a hit as WTB’s similar program has been pretty successful at much the same thing for mountain bikers.

SRAM announced the "Select Program" with five colors for components.

SRAM announced the "Select Program" with five colors for components.

SRAM announced a unique new option for buyers of X-0 and Noir parts with their “Select Program”. Basically, there will be anodized or colored decals for various bits in five colors. The colors are “Red, Pink Slip, Gold Nugget, Tango, and Cash”. Colors can be added to shifters, cassette carriers, rear derailluer paralellograms, and cranks. Much of the color is anodized aluminum with the Noir cranks getting individually colored graphics across the arms.

Some sharp eyed folk may notice other colors than those listed on pro’s bikes. These are special “Black Box” Select Program parts for professionals that will not be offered for sale to the public.

Bontrager showed the newest Switchblade fork at Sea Otter

Bontrager showed the newest Switchblade fork at Sea Otter

Bontrager showed the new G2 Switchblade carbon fork at Sea Otter. This fork will be available in 26 inch and 29 inch versions with the G2 offset, (51mm- 29″er/46mm-26″er), and “standard” 29″er offset, (46mm).

Amazingly, the fork will weigh nearly 300 grams less in 29″er form than the current Switchblade fork. Also, the new version will have 100% carbon fiber construction for the legs and an aluminum steer tube, crown, and drop outs. The drop outs face forward and feature a post mount for the disc brake. No cantilever mounts will be offered.

Even more stunning- Bontrager isn’t going to charge anymore money than it does now for the current Switchblade. $299.99 will score you this fork when it becomes available in the summer of 2009.

Rogue Wheels Profile: The Pofahl 36″er

April 20, 2009

The first time I became aware of a 36 inch wheeled bicycle was back around 2002 when I saw a picture of a Coker cruiser. That was pretty much a novelty bike. I didn’t really think anything more about that. However, in 2006 when Ben Witt of Milltown Cycles told me he was designing one, I was floored. He was adamant that he thought the concept would be more than just a curiousity, and his enthusiasm for the project got me really excited about it too. Then, in 2007 at the annual dealer open house at Quality Bicycle Products I saw it, and rode it. It was as I said at the time, “the most grin inducing bike I have ever ridden.” That still holds true today, and now that very bike, painted red now, is at The Cyclist for some ride testing.

Designed by Ben Witt, brazed by Mike Pofahl. The 36"er!
Designed by Ben Witt, brazed by Mike Pofahl. The 36″er!

I’ll be putting some miles on this bike and along the way I will detail out some of the specifics that go into making a bike like this. I’ll also give you some answers as to what this sort of rig is good at, and what it isn’t good at. I’ll have other rider’s reactions to taking it out. I will also be using it on a variety of surfaces ranging from pavement commutes, gravel road rides, and even some mild singletrack.

One thing that it is excellent at: making you smile when you ride it! This bike is pure fun, and you can take that to the bank! Stay tuned for more on the specifics of this particular 36″er and more on 36″ers in general here on The Cyclist.

Sea Otter : Fox Racing Shox Upgrades

April 19, 2009

It looks like Fox Shox are revamping their line a little bit.  Originally brought to you by Cyclingnews.com

The FIT (Fox Isolated Technology) cartridge-style dampers previously introduced on the 36 and 40 platforms are now littered throughout the 32 range for 2010 from the racer-oriented F-Series all the way through the coil-sprung Vanilla.

By separating the damping oil from air, the new floating piston designs reduce the chance of oil cavitation – and the loss of damping performance that results – relative to the existing open-bath models while the reduced oil volume also helps shed 71g, too. Additional massages to F-Series chassis shave even more weight, now making the top-end cross-country forks truly competitive weight-wise at 1.43kg (3.15lb) for the lightest models.

Smaller diameter damper shafts afford lower-friction seals, too, while an expanding rubber bladder at the top of the cartridge accommodates internal volume changes without any extra o-rings, thus maintaining comparably low levels of friction as on the open bath models.

Another feature Fox brought us their “ProTune”  to compete with the several suspensiong tuning companies out there.  Some companies, like Push, even revalve the suspension to make it ride as you need.

Trek District Full Bike Photos

April 17, 2009

Trek District Debut

April 17, 2009

district_vintagegray

Finally after being pushed back about 8 months the belt drive bike from Trek, the District, is being shipped!  One arrived at our shop this morning and we will be building it up this morning.  Keep a look on this post as we update it with photos and a short spin around on the bike.

12:40pm  On boxing photos :

5:$5pm Busy day at the shop, click over at the latest post for full photos.

Jango Bikes Now Available in the US

April 16, 2009

The line of bicycles by the name of Jango are finally hitting the US market this month.  The line is brought to the market by Topeak, makers of cycling tools and accessories.  We first saw them at Interbike 2008 with the catchy colors and designs on the paint schemes. There are 6 different models ranging from 26″/700c and men’s or women’s specific.

jango

The unique design of these bikes are the “ports” that allow plug and play off many various accessories including cages, fenders, racks and so on.  The number is sitting around 30* for all these accessories but more are being released as the months pass.

We are looking forward to the first reviews of consumers and stocking shops as the bikes are built and put on the shops floors.  The only downfall I see of these bikes are the specific oriented accessories.  You won’t be able to walk into any bike shop and purchase these accessories off the show room floor.  I’m intrigued to see how dedicated these parts will be, years ago Trek tried to have a dedicated plug and play rear racks on their Navigator (comfort hybrid) series.  The system ran for a couple years and now all their frames are standard braze on rack months.

*Here are the accessories listed on the Jango website as of date:
U-Beam Lock
Side Frame for U BeamRack
Trailer
Trailer Fender
QuickTrack Tubular Rack, Front
Tubular Lowrider with Kickstand
Trailer Pole and Flag
Side Pannier Bag
Handlebar Bag
Wedge Pack
Topeak Ratchet Rocket
Topeak Mini Morph™
Topeak Mt. Rocket ALT MasterBlaster
Topeak BabySeat
Topeak Handy Phone Pack
MTX TrunkBag
MTX TrunkBag EXP
Adjustable Chain Cover

DeFender™ M3 for 26″ Bike, Rear
Panoram JV12
RedLite™ UFO, mini

Dynamo Front Light (EQ models)
Topeak RedLite™ UFO
WhiteLite™ JP 2W

WhiteLite™ HP 2W PowerPack
Easy Mount Kickstand
QuickTrack Tubular Rack, Rear

QuickTrack U BeamRack
Topeak Modula™ Cage
Fender for 700C Bike, Front

Fender for 700C bike, Rear
Topeak DeFender™ M1 for 26″ Bike, Front
Cable Lock

Handmade Bicycles : The Series

April 3, 2009

Editor’s Note: In this series, Grannygear introduces us to some custom frame builders and takes a closer look at the process of making and delivering a custom, handmade bicycle to a customer.

Part 1 – The Custom Frame Experience

Part 2 – Chosing Materials and Builders

Part 3 – Meet the Steel Frame Builders

Part 4 – Meet the Aluminum Frame Builders

Part 5 – Meet the Titanium Frame Builders

Part 6 – The Fit

Part 7 – The Fit Part II

2010 Shimano Ultegra Preview

April 2, 2009

1238632387ultegra_groupIRVINE, CA (BRAIN)—Shimano Ultegra 6700 is entirely new for 2010 and borrows the look and many features of the Dura Ace 7900 series to drop 150 grams of weight compared to Ultegra 6600.

The most noticeable change is the redesigned crankset that borrows Dura Ace technology for its hollow large chainring to keep things light and stiff for crisp shifting. The look is also clearly Dura Ace inspired. The new crank saves 15 grams over the current Ultegra SL crank.

And like Dura Ace, ST-6700 Dual Control Levers feature hidden cables so everything is under the tape. The levers have carbon blades, are more compact than previous Ultegra levers, now have reach adjustment and easier braking from the hoods.

ST-6700 levers are backwards compatible with 6600 series Ultegra drivetrains and brakes, though Shimano says mixing the groups will not take full advantage of the new features. The front derailleur stroke of the new group is similar to the 6600 front derailleur, but the brakes have revised pivots like Dura Ace.

Derailleurs all adopt wider pivots for less flex and the group uses an asymmetrical chain similar to Dura Ace.

Brakes have revised pivots similar to Dura Ace groups, but because the front derailleur stroke remains similar to 6600 Ultegra, backward compatibility is possible.

Rounding out the new group is the WH-6700 Ultegra wheelset, which weighs 1650 grams and is Road Tubeless compatible.

Find the original article here.