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Tech News – June 4, 2008

Edited by James Huang

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It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Super Record!

Is this the new shape of Campagnolo for 2009?
Photo ©: James Huang
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Campagnolo's official launch of its 2009 product line is still a few weeks away but a rash of leaked information already has our mouths watering for what's to come.

First, the big news: Campagnolo will apparently make the jump to an 11-speed cassette for its top three groups which will now include a modern revival of the Super Record nameplate. According to unconfirmed rumors (which, admittedly, seem decidedly accurate), that extra cog will be squeezed into the same space as the current 10-speed setups.

While this means likely backwards compatibility with existing hubs and wheelsets, it does signal narrower cog spacing and chain widths (and a likely subtle adjustment in chainring spacing) as well as yet another shifter and derailleur ‘standard' that will surely create some headaches on the retail level. The new chain is also supposedly just 5.5mm wide which raises the obvious concerns regarding drivetrain wear although we all said the same thing when 10-speed was debuted, too. We'll reserve judgment here until we're able to try it ourselves and, for now, will just hope that Campagnolo engineers have done their homework.

There is also speculation on the new lever shape and we can only imagine that it might resemble the curvaceous prototypes we spotted at the Ronde van Vlaanderen back in April. The current shape admittedly works well for most but is getting long in the tooth nonetheless so we won't be surprised to see something new here.

Much as Campagnolo did back in the day with the original Super Record group, the new version is said to feature some performance-enhancing material upgrades. The current Record group is already rife with titanium hardware but Super Record will likely be fitted with ceramic bearings across the board, including the bottom bracket bearings (which still use the current Ultra-Torque system as far as we know), hubs and derailleur pulleys. With Record pricing already at stratospheric levels, one can only imagine how far into the ionosphere Super Record will go.

Those ceramic bearings are also rumored to find their way into updated Bora and Hyperon wheelsets and it sounds as if Campagnolo will (thankfully) jump on the road tubeless bandwagon with two options for 2009. Other groups from Centaur down are also said to be wholly redesigned.

New CX-1 road frameset from Colnago

Colnago is adding a new CX-1 road model
Photo ©: Veltec Sports
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Colnago's 2009 range will be joined by a new "aggressive, ultra-modern" carbon fiber CX-1 frameset. In spite of the misleading name, the CX-1 is designed exclusively for road use and will be the lightest the company offers with a claimed weight of 995g, about 100g below the current Extreme-C.

The CX-1 will be built in Asia with a monocoque front triangle and separately lugged and bonded B-Stay-like seat stay and chain stay assemblies. Main tubes bear a multi-sided polygonal profile while the stays are treated to a somewhat more traditional shape. In a first for Colnago, the CX-1 will also make use of a semi-integrated internal-cup headset.

In typical Colnago fashion, the CX-1 will be offered in a generous spread of eight sizes (sloping only) with effective top tube lengths ranging from 51-59cm. Final retail pricing is yet to be determined but is estimated to range in the low- to mid- US$4,000 range for frame, fork and headset; complete bikes with also be offered. North American consumers should expect to see the new CX-1 in stores around November.

Sneak peak at upcoming range of Bontrager mountain bike shoes

The new Bontrager mountain bike shoes
Photo ©: James Huang
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Bontrager is nearing completion on a new range of mountain bike shoes that will contain at least three models, presumably for release later this year. The top-end Race X Lite prototype we saw features a carbon sole plate and synthetic upper secured with a ratcheting buckle and two forefoot straps. The main strap is well-padded and adjustable in length while the molded heel cup appears to be well ventilated.

Among the most exciting features, though, is the inclusion of an OEM version of eSoles' custom insoles. The Bontrager semi-custom version uses interchangeable arch and metatarsal inserts to provide personalized support that comes close to the full-blown version, at least in theory. Several different shapes and sizes of inserts will be included and Bontrager may offer the semi-custom insoles in the aftermarket as well.

The next model down is said to swap the Race X Lite's carbon fiber sole with a carbon-reinforced nylon plate while the remaining shoe is intended as more of a multipurpose trail shoe with a more flexible sole and beefier tread for walking.

Mt. Borah debuts custom jerseys made from recycled fibers

Mt. Borah's uses recycled material for its jerseys
Photo ©: Mike Kane
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Custom cycling clothing specialists Mt. Borah has begun using a new ‘green' fabric that contains 47 percent recycled fibers. Both post-consumer and post-industrial materials are incorporated into the fabric which the company claims to save two gallons of gasoline for every twelve jerseys.

"We spent a lot of time researching fabrics which were being marketed as green," said company owner Chris Jackson in a press release. "In the end, our focus was on recycled fabrics rather than some of the alternatives such as bamboo and coconut. What we found out is that the process to convert some of these materials into fibers involves the use of toxic chemicals. Under controlled conditions this may not be so bad; however, developing countries are not necessarily as concerned about the health conditions of their factories, which is where our concern lies."

This interest in preserving the environment is also reflected in its membership in ‘1% For The Planet', an alliance of companies that contributes 1 percent of sales to various environmental groups around the globe.

But while the company's efforts are admirable in and of themselves, it is Mt. Borah's early dedication to the relatively new process of digital sublimation that has earned it a fast-moving position in the world of custom cycling clothing. Traditional screen sublimation is a labor-intensive process that involves producing a physical screen and transferring the dye through that screen on a heat-transfer paper. On the other hand, Mt. Borah's digital process prints the dye directly on to the paper via a wide-format printer, thus reducing setup costs and increasing design flexibility.

"The ink and the paper that we use for the digital process are more expensive than the ink and the paper that you could use on the traditional screen print process," said Jackson. "But really the substantial savings is on the labor end of it because we don't have as much time involved in the setup. We have the artwork, we have the template, and then we have an [Adobe] Illustrator file that just gets ripped and printed. It's nowhere near as labor intensive."

According to Jackson, this yields lower prices to custom apparel purchasers although the real advantages lie in faster turnaround times and lower minimum order requirements which currently stand at only four weeks from time of art approval and just six jerseys, respectively. When finalizing designs for its sponsored Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast road team, Mt. Borah even produced one-off samples for approval prior to production.

Jackson admits that digital sublimation still lags behind traditional screen printing in color vibrancy although the difference is barely noticeable judging by our sample. "That's been one of the drawbacks of digital dye sublimation in the past. With the new advances, every day it's getting closer and closer to achieving that same vibrancy of color."


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Images by James Huang/Cyclingnews.com

Images by Veltec Sports

Images by Action Images

Images by Mike Kane/Tough Girl Cycling