Tech News September 11, 2008
Edited by James Huang
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Rock Racing to Fuji for 2009?
By James Huang
Fuji designed this special edition
Photo ©: Fuji Bicycles
While much of the professional peloton seems to be playing musical chairs
in terms of bike sponsorship for the coming season, Michael Balls
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 isnt with DeRosa directly but rather with US importer
Trialtir and only covers a specific number of bikes. As such, the team
doesnt have as many DeRosas as itd 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
Racings Tyler Hamilton even won this years USA Pro national
road title not with the team-issue DeRosa, but on a Fuji SL-1 instead.
Meanwhile, Rock Racings Tour of Missouri squad was spotted aboard
a brand-new Fuji time trial machine. Were 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 Treks 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 mens pro road race and the team didnt have a proper
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 Sevillas
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
"So we got them a bike and it turned out that Freddy didnt
use it in the race", said Bliss. "They used Oscar Sevillas
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 thats 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 teams jerseys. Moreover, all of the teams
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 Harrods 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 cant say anything officially. Well 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
RockShox debuts next-generation Boxxer
RockShox has taken advantage of
its stanchion printing process
Photo ©: SRAM
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
All new Boxxers will be compatible with direct-mount stems (including
the forthcoming Holzfeller from Truvativ) and will be available in early
Fizi:k developing new lightweight time trial saddle
Fi'zi:k launched its new Ares time
Photo ©: fi'zi:k
Fizik 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
"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 fizi:k US marketing manager Suzette Ayotte in a press
release. "He requested a lower profile from the older fizi: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
Photo ©: First Endurance
First Endurance will introduce its first energy gel since
the companys 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 doesnt and, more importantly, learn from
others mistakes in developing its new EFS (Electrolyte Fuel System)
"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. "Weve 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 isnt a gel; as the
name suggests, its 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
Photo ©: Louis Garneau
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 its 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
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
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 years 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
Most importantly though, weve personally tested each of the seasonal
flavors and found them mighty tasty. Yum!
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Selle San Marco