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On Show: Sea Otter Classic, April 25, 2008

Manufacturers bring plenty of carbon fiber to Monterey

By James Huang

Tomac expands carbon range

Tomac Bicycles adds to the hardtail revival
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Tomac also brings back the spirit of the old Manitou hardtails
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Tomac Bicycles has added a carbon hardtail to its lineup to go along with the existing Carbide full-suspension model. The new Type X carries a claimed weight of just 1100g (2.4lb) for a large frame and, naturally, comes with usual carbon claims of lateral stiffness and vertical compliance. Geometry is fairly standard with 70/73° head/seat tube angles, relatively short 420mm (16.5") chain stays, rangy top tube lengths across the board and a fairly low 299.5mm (11.8") bottom bracket height for snappy handling.

In contrast, the new Cortez aluminum hardtail harkens back to the days of the old Manitou frames with its CNC-machined chain- and seat stay yokes. Claimed weight for the AN6-tubed Cortez is 1542g (3.4lb) for a medium size frame and the geometry is slightly more aggressive with 70.5/72° head/seat tube angles, slightly shorter top tubes and a taller bottom bracket height.

Aluminum also makes its way into the new Automatic full-suspension frame which offers the same basic rear suspension design as the more expensive Carbide but with an extra 10mm of travel (100mm total). Claimed weight is 2450g (5.4lb) for a large frame with the included Fox Racing Shox RP23 rear shock.

Perhaps the most interesting bike in the Tomac booth at Sea Otter, though, wasn't even a true production model. The limited-edition DB10 commemorates the company's tenth anniversary but is also a throwback to the days when Tomac was racing off-road with drop bars. As Joel Smith of Tomac Bicycles puts it, "Since that day, I've always wanted to make another one, but do it the right way."

That 'right way' comprises a straight-gauge chromoly frame with modern dimensions and fittings, all welded by Chris Herting of 3D Racing fame. The custom finish is by Spectrum Powder Works, who also painted the matching Manitou R7 fork. Much of the associated componentry is fairly standard fare, save for the old Cinelli Tomac-signature edition drop bars (supposedly sourced out of someone's personal stash in Germany), Shimano Dura-Ace STI 9-speed right-hand lever, left-hand bar end shifter and Shimano Dura-Ace 9-speed rear derailleur.

Want one? Act fast; Tomac will only be making ten of this and when they're gone, they're gone.

Fulcrum adds its own carbon mountain bike wheelset

Fulcrum debuts its Red Carbon mountain bike model
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Fulcrum has brought its road-going carbon fiber rim knowledge to the off-road side with its new Red Carbon wheelset. The total package weight is impressively light at a claimed 1450g for the pair but that weight is presumably shifted away from the wheel's circumference for an even faster feel.

Each asymmetric rim is laced with just 20 aluminum spokes, although Fulcrum curiously omits its trademark 2:1 lacing pattern. The hubs feature oversized 20mm aluminum axles and will be available in either six-bolt or Center Lock patterns. Suggested retail is an equally impressive US$3000 for the pair.

Fulcrum is also applying its wheel talents to the 29" side of things with two new models, providing even further indication to the legitimacy of the format (especially considering the staunch resistance to 29ers in Europe). The 29 XLR is the lighter of the two at 1880g for the pair and features UST-ready aluminum rims (no tape necessary), 28 bladed stainless steel spokes per wheel and oversized aluminum hubs with 20mm alloy axles and six-bolt rotor compatibility. The less expensive 29 SL adds another 140g with its more conventional non-UST-ready aluminum rim.

Edge Composites emerges from the shadows

Edge Composites products have appeared
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Edge will offer a wide range of mountain bike rims
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Two road forks are included in the Edge lineup as well
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Edge Composites made its official debut as an aftermarket supplier at Sea Otter after flying under the radar the past couple of years with OEM spec (and perhaps a bit of surprisingly effective viral marketing).

One of the company's most visible products is a carbon rim line which includes tubular and clincher varieties for both road and off-road use (and we're not just talking about the huge 'EDGE' logos, either). According to engineer Kevin Nelson, Edge rims aren't just another 'me too' carbon hoop. "It's all about the deliverables," he said. "The consumer must be able to pick up on the benefits."

Among those purported benefits are noticeably improved steering precision, superb build quality and extremely high spoke tension potential, not to mention lighter weight. Edge will offer 26" and 29" clincher versions in both cross-country (24mm) and all-mountain (30mm) widths. Claimed weights for the 26" rims are an impressive 330g and 370g, respectively, while an ultra-svelte tubular 26" version is just 280g.

Naturally, Edge's carbon road rims are similarly feathery: the 38mm-deep 1.0 tubular is said to weigh just 280g while the 68mm-deep 1.0 is just 350g. Impressive rim weights and strengths aside, though, all of the rims are also decidedly pricey with costs ranging about US$600-850 each.

Edge is also applying its carbon know-how to forks. The 340g 2.0 road fork is full carbon straight through to the co-molded dropouts while the accompanying 2.0 Aero adds deeper-section blades for just another 40g. Both incorporate surprisingly thick steerers for torsional rigidity. A new 'cross fork is also in the works (available around spring or summer) as is another road model developed in conjunction with Chris King.

The latter includes a special Chris King base plate that omits the usual 90° crown seat in favor of more carbon-friendly oblique angles. According to Nelson, this fork will drop down to about 310g or so, including the modified base plate, while also boasting better strength.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by James Huang/Cyclingnews.com

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