Home  Cyclingnews TV   News  Tech   Features   Road   MTB   BMX   Cyclo-cross   Track    Photos    Fitness    Letters   Search   Forum  

Recently on Cyclingnews.com

Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

Tech News – September 11, 2008

Edited by James Huang

Got tech? Send press releases, news, and tech questions to the Cyclingnews tech desk.

Rock Racing to Fuji for 2009?

By James Huang

Fuji designed this special edition SL-1
Photo ©: Fuji Bicycles
(Click for larger image)

While much of the professional peloton seems to be playing musical chairs in terms of bike sponsorship for the coming season, Michael Ball’s Rock Racing team has toyed with more bike brands this season on its own then many retail shops carry on their shelves.

Rock Racing spent the ’07 season on Scott bicycles and then made a very brief switch to Look before ultimately settling with DeRosa for ’08. However, according to Rock Racing team manager Haldene Morris, the agreement isn’t with DeRosa directly but rather with US importer Trialtir and only covers a specific number of bikes. As such, the team doesn’t have as many DeRosas as it’d like and team riders have been spotted on a variety of non-DeRosa machines this year including Scott, Look and even Cannondale (former rider Mario Cipollini supplied his own custom frames made by a favored builder in Italy). Most notably, Rock Racing’s Tyler Hamilton even won this year’s USA Pro national road title not with the team-issue DeRosa, but on a Fuji SL-1 instead.

Meanwhile, Rock Racing’s Tour of Missouri squad was spotted aboard a brand-new Fuji time trial machine. We’re sure to get more information on this decidedly swoopy model at Interbike but suffice to say there are a number of intriguing features including a reverse-mounted front brake and fully-shrouded rear plus an integrated seatmast mechanism similar to that of Trek’s new Madone.

According to Fuji Bikes marketing and communications manager Karen Bliss, the unofficial pairing of Fuji and Rock Racing dates as far back as the Commerce Bank Triple Crown (better known as ‘Philly Week’). Freddy Rodriguez had apparently crashed and broken his DeRosa the day before the men’s pro road race and the team didn’t have a proper spare.

Coincidentally though, Fuji happened to be located in Philadelphia and Bliss already had a connection with the team. "I knew his mechanic from the old days and he knew that I was working with Fuji", she said. After a couple of quick phone calls, Rodriguez had a Fuji SL-1 at the ready. As it turns out, Rodriguez ended up using team-mate Oscar Sevilla’s spare for the race but the wheels were already in motion, so to speak.

Rock Racing used this brand-new Fuji time trial machine
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

"So we got them a bike and it turned out that Freddy didn’t use it in the race", said Bliss. "They used Oscar Sevilla’s spare apparently but they kept the bike just to sort of test it out and do whatever. Tyler took that bike and loved it apparently and they let him ride it the rest of the year and that’s what he rode at Nationals."

Not only has Hamilton been using the SL-1 but now the entire Rock Racing team is currently racing on them at the Tour of Britain and the Fuji logo is clearly visible on the team’s jerseys. Moreover, all of the team’s bikes bear distinctive Rock Racing graphics and Bliss confirmed that Fuji is "working on a special project with Rock Racing right now" that will sell at Harrod’s for... US$18,000.

Though some unnamed team insiders have already confirmed that Fuji will be the official team sponsor next season, Bliss’ response to questioning was expectedly politically correct. "There is no controversy per se but I really can’t say anything officially. We’ll know more in the next few weeks."

Rock Racing team owner Michael Ball was similarly non-committal and offered up this statement: "Rock Racing is in talks with Fuji as well as with other bicycle manufacturers. During this selection process, we are testing the products in race situations to determine the best partner for us."

RockShox debuts next-generation Boxxer

RockShox has taken advantage of its stanchion printing process
Photo ©: SRAM
(Click for larger image)

RockShox has revamped its venerable Boxxer platform to be lighter, stiffer and more adjustable than any previous iteration. The biggest structural change comes with the new 35mm upper tubes, upsized from the previous 32mm pipes. While making for a more rigid chassis, they also allow for a pared-down steerer tube and lighter trussed crowns. More weight savings comes from a new Maxle Lite DH that shaves another 28g and aluminum internal shafts for the spring and damper. The top-end Boxxer World Cup now reportedly weighs just 2760g (6.0lb) while the Team and Race versions both hit the scales at a still-impressive 2950g (6.5lb).

Inside, RockShox fits the new Boxxer World Cup and Team with upgraded Mission Control DH dampers that offer adjustable low- and high-speed compression damping in addition to beginning and ending stroke rebound; the entry-level Boxxer Race will carry on with Motion Control IS.

The top two forks are also equipped with new bottom-out adjustments in the form of an adjustable air volume (thus altering spring rate) on the Solo Air-equipped World Cup and a new Drop Stop setup for the coil-sprung Team. The Drop Stop system inserts an MCU within the coil to smoothly ramp up the spring rate as the fork approaches full travel (this is similar to what Cannondale used to run in early generation Headshok forks for those of you who can remember back that far). A top-mounted adjuster will let riders set when the MCU kicks in. Race models make do with a basic coil.

All new Boxxers will be compatible with direct-mount stems (including the forthcoming Holzfeller from Truvativ) and will be available in early 2009.

Fi’zi:k developing new lightweight time trial saddle

Fi'zi:k launched its new Ares time trial-specific saddle.
Photo ©: fi'zi:k
(Click for larger image)

Fi’zik is set to add a new time trial-specific Ares saddle to its lineup come spring 2009. Prototypes were first seen under Garmin-Chipotle riders David Millar and Ryder Hesjedal during this year's Tour de France and time trial specialist Dave Zabriskie has now started using one as well.

"We pushed for a prototype TT saddle under pressure from Jim Felt as he was preparing Dave [Zabriskie]'s new TT bike for the Giro," explained fi’zi:k US marketing manager Suzette Ayotte in a press release. "He requested a lower profile from the older fi’zi:k Chrono TT and something significantly lighter. The project was delayed in order to finalize details on a similar [to the Ares] new ultra-weight road saddle being introduced at Eurobike and Interbike."

While sporting a claimed weight of just 135g with its k:ium rails and lighter, denser CX padding, the key feature of the Ares is its shortened nose which should help riders achieve a proper position (or as close to it as possible) while still passing UCI regulations for saddle setback. Final specifications are yet to be determined but we would expect production versions to closely follow these numbers.

New Mantra for Selle San Marco

Selle San Marco will add a new top-end saddle to its road collection for 2009 called the Mantra. Claimed weight is just 200g but its enormous cutout, dense ‘BioFoam’ padding and ‘NoShuffle’ shaping (which is basically marketing speak for a narrow nose to prevent thigh chafing) promise good long-distance comfort, too.

All Mantra saddles will also feature a carbon-reinforced shell, lightweight ‘Xsilite’ rails, and a breathable ‘Microfeel’ cover. Five different color combinations will be on tap (including white, of course) and all will fetch a US$260 retail price.

First Endurance debuts EFS Liquid Shot

First Endurance will soon make available
Photo ©: First Endurance
(Click for larger image)

First Endurance will introduce its first energy ‘gel’ since the company’s creation in 2002. Though admittedly late to the game (GU debuted in 1991), the company claims that delay has allowed it to learn what works and what doesn’t and, more importantly, learn from others’ mistakes in developing its new EFS (Electrolyte Fuel System) Liquid Shot.

"The EFS Liquid Shot is actually a long time coming", said First Endurance VP of research and development Robert Kunz in a company press release. "We’ve been researching the gel market for six years now. The dilem¬ma for us, though, was that our sponsored athletes wanted us to develop other products first. Because we had been look¬ing at gels for a quite a while and our athletes have been giving us tons of great input and feedback, our research and development team had accumulated a lot of valuable knowledge and were able to develop something really unique. Not just a "me too" product, but a dramatic step up from a formula and packaging standpoint."

Each EFS Liquid Shot serving will pack 400 calories, over 1500mg of electrolytes and 1000g of amino acids and will come in a reseal-able and reusable flask for easier and cleaner ingestion. One significant difference from other gels on the market is that Liquid Shot really isn’t a gel; as the name suggests, it’s less viscous than most of its competitors which First Endurance claims eases digestion and absorption.

First Endurance will offer EFS Liquid Shot in vanilla flavor only for now and availability is currently scheduled for October 15.

New road and TT helmets from Louis Garneau

Louis Garneau's new Diamond road helmet
Photo ©: Louis Garneau
(Click for larger image)

Louis Garneau continues to expand the premium end of its helmet line with new road and time trial models for the coming season. Clearly adhering to the edict of ‘more vents is better’, the new Diamond boasts no fewer than forty of them to help keep riders’ heads cool. Eight of those vents are Venturi-style as well, which suggests that incoming air is supposedly accelerated as it’s brought in.

Louis Garneau bolsters those vents with an external shell (including a ‘Monocoque Structural Base’ to protect the bottom) and its EXI concept (EXO-Insert) which mates two polycarbonate reinforcement bars with nine fiber composite bridge inserts. According to Louis Garneau, this allows the helmet to meet safety standards while posting a competitive 285g weight.

The Superleggera time trial helmet is one of the latest bits of aero equipment to use surface texture technology with the aim of reducing drag. The golf ball-like front is said to reduce drag by improving laminar air flow while two intake and three exhaust ports keep air moving through for rider comfort. Louis Garneau also claims the optimized center of gravity also yields reduced rider neck fatigue during longer events.

FFWD wheels to offer carbon hoops in white

Dutch wheel company FFWD
Photo ©: FFWD
(Click for larger image)

One of the last component holdouts on the white-is-the-new-black movement has been carbon wheels but Dutch wheel company FFWD (say ‘fast forward’) will now offer its F2R climbing model in a gloss white finish.

Save for the gleaming hue, the white F2R wheels share the same build components as the standard version which include the shallow 20mm-deep carbon tubular rim, DT Swiss 190 or 240s hubs, and DT Swiss Aerolite spokes. The sidewalls are left bare to retain braking performance.

The white finish does add 50g per pair but the total weight still ends up at a paltry 1049g (claimed).

‘Tis the season for Clif Bar

Clif Bar has rolled out its annual range of seasonal flavors for 2008. This year’s collection includes Spiced Pumpkin Pie, Iced Gingerbread and Pear Apple Strudel. Each is made with 70 percent organic ingredients including organic oats and soybeans. Calorie counts per bar range from 240-250 with 43-45g of carbohydrate in addition to a slew of other vitamins and minerals.

Most importantly though, we’ve personally tested each of the seasonal flavors and found them mighty tasty. Yum!


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us

Images by Fuji Bicycles

Images by Jonathan Devich/

Images by SRAM

Images by fi'zi:k

Images by Selle San Marco

Images by First Endurance

Images by Louis Garneau

Images by FFWD

Images by James Huang/Cyclingnews.com