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Sea Otter Classic - NE

USA, April 6-9, 2006

In the pits at Sea Otter: Day Two

As well as an extended weekend of road and mountain bike racing, the Sea Otter Classic has become the standard venue for bike and component manufacturers to conduct early launches of new equipment that will appear in the shops later in the year. James Huang has been lurking in the pits and expo area to find out what's new and coming soon.

SRAM’s X.9 trigger shifter
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Avid ups the ante
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Avid’s new Ultimate two-piston
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Truvativ is moving upscale
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A mountain bike version
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SRAM launches bevy of MTB products at Sea Otter

SRAM introduced two complete road groups this year but clearly didn't want to ignore its off-road roots. There's therefore a heap of new MTB components from SRAM, including new trigger shifters and derailleurs, a new Avid hydraulic disc brake, and a brand-new line of carbon fiber cranksets from Truvativ.

The X.9 trigger shifter has been revised to not only offer near-X.0 performance, but also appearance as well. "Zero Loss" lever travel provides faster downshifts and the two-position adjustable clamp adds greater user adjustability. The new rear derailleur features a new forged aluminum B-knuckle and X.0 styling along with a full range of short, medium, and long cage flavors. A new X.9 front derailleur borrows heavily from the previous X-Gen version but with forged aluminum links and a cut-out cage to drop 18g.

Avid introduced a new lighter-weight Juicy hydraulic brake dubbed the Ultimate. The new top-level XC offering features a magnesium master cylinder, carbon fiber lever, and completely new one-piece forged aluminum caliper complete with a full complement of titanium hardware. Weights will start at 343g complete with 160mm rotor, but 185mm and 140mm (rear-only) rotor options will also be available.

Truvativ will make a lot of headway in shedding its somewhat pedestrian 'good value and solid performance' reputation with a new high-end carbon fiber line called Noir. The new line will feature unidirectional carbon fiber laid over Al-66 spines with integrated carbon spiders along with Truvativ's unique GXP bottom bracket system that minimizes lateral loads on the bearings. Mountain, road, and road compact versions will be offered, along with an ultrahigh-end HCT (HardCore Technology) road version that swaps the full-length spine for separate pedal and crankhead inserts that reduce the weight down to 750g, complete with rings and bottom bracket.

In addition to the component introduction, SRAM also introduced a new mounting option based on its Avid Juicy clamp. Special rear clamps incorporate mounting points not only for X.0 or the new X.9 trigger shifters, but can also simultaneously accept the new aluminum Rock Shox PushLoc remote lever.

As expected, Giant is developing
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Carbon fiber is also used
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Adam Craig’s race bike
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A dual-bolt clamp
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Giant introduces new carbon fiber Anthem XC race bike

Giant's aluminum Anthem cross-country full-suspension race platform was successful enough of a market success that the company went ahead and introduced a carbon fiber version of it here at Sea Otter. Frames are still in the prototype stage, but team rider Adam Craig was sufficiently impressed that he chose to race the new frame this weekend even though he had only ridden it for four days. The carbon Anthem not only uses a full carbon fiber main triangle but also a full carbon fiber rear assembly as well, save for the aluminum hard points.

Giant won't discuss too many details on the new frame, but Giant PR man, Andrew Juskaitis, assured us that it would be "significantly lighter" than the current version without compromising performance. In addition, a new carbon fiber Trance trailbike is in development and will also be offered next year.

Merlin collaborates with Ellsworth to produce Works 4.0 full suspension MTB

The Works 4.0
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Merlin collaborated with Ellsworth
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Titanium fabrication
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Merlin is one of a few
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Merlin has licensed Ellsworth's Instant Center Tracking rear suspension technology to produce its first true full-suspension mountain bike frame, the Works 4.0. The new design features 4in of rear wheel travel provided by an aluminum Ellsworth rear end along with a cleanly designed 3/2.5 titanium front end by Merlin. The final design is still being revised, but American Bicycle Group's engineering manager, Brad Devaney, promises that the Works 4.0 will be lighter, but also "significantly more expensive", than an Ellsworth Truth. Rear suspension duties will be handled by Magura's Hugin rear shock.