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Tech News April 11, 2003
Edited by Paul Mirtschin
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Specialized trials shock-absorbing road frame
Specialized's new Roubaix road frame was spotted by Cyclingnews' eagle-eyed photographer Chris Henry on its first public outing at the Ronde van Vlaanderen last weekend. This aluminium and "advanced composite" frame has strategically placed elastomers to damp the roughness found on some surfaces (like the ride home from this office), and was seen being tested by Daniele Bennati in Flanders recently.
The frame is still very much in the prototype phase and Specialized's Sean McLaughlin told Cyclingnews, "It's a new design we are developing with our riders for long races and/or particularly rough courses. The working name for the project is appropriately "Roubaix", given the length and pavé of the parcours".
Sean wouldn't tell us exactly what type of aluminium was is used in the frame, nor when the bike would see a retail release.
Trek semi-compact in development
Lance Armstrong recently hinted to Cyclingnews European Editor Tim Maloney that he was testing a new bike for "the Tour and maybe even in Liège this year." That comment generated a flurry of emails from Cyclingnews readers who claim to have seen and talked to people about this new bike.
We hear that Lance has been riding a new semi-compact OCLV frame, a similar configuration to the LeMond frames now being ridden by Saturn. Word from our readers is that Trek supplied Lance with compact and semi-compact designs and the semi-compact shape got the nod from Big Tex.
A new OCLV frame shape is a big undertaking for Trek. Cyclingnews understands that the Waterloo, Wisconsin, firm spent $100,000 on new tooling for the lugs for the Women's Specific Design OCLV frames, so Trek will be working closely with Lance and US Postal to get the new design exactly right before committing to tooling.
That said, the combination of the latest OCLV and titanium LeMond frames provide a venue for less costly experimentation - it's a lot easier to change the shape of a welded titanium joint.
Sources at Trek are remaining tight-lipped about the new bikes.
SRAM gets trigger-happy for 2004
The trickle-down effect is something the majority of cyclists don't think too much about. We all hear and lust over the latest and greatest components, but never stop to realise just how the innovative properties of the components affect the lesser parts; the parts most of us end up with on our bikes.
As mentioned a few weeks back, for 2004, SRAM is releasing two new groups, and both are to be based heavily on last year's top-end X-0 components. The X-9 group (to replace the 2003 9.0 group) and the X-7 group (replacing the 7.0) both bring the design and operation of the 2003 X-0 components, while keeping the cost down to what most of us can afford.
The highlight of the package is the new trigger shifters, completely re-designed from the Gemini triggers released by SRAM in 2001. Like most triggers, the X-7 uses a thumb lever to pull the cable, but for release, the finger trigger pulls up towards the bar instead of towards the rider as Shimano levers do.
One push of the thumb lever moves six gears-worth of cable for the rear (three for the front), more than enough to counter most situations you might encounter while riding, while the finger-trigger releases only one gears worth, ala Shimano triggers. Moreover, the placement of the finger trigger means that if you sit your triggers inboard on the bars a little, you can easily use your thumb to activate both levers.
The indicators on the triggers are kept nicely out of the way by being built into the bar-clamp; an ideal location that should minimize the chance of smashing your indicator windows.
SRAM has not forgotten the party faithful, and will be releasing an X-7 Grip Shift. However not a lot appears to have changed from the 7.0 Grip Shift.
Down the back, the rear derailleur has had a total redesign, mixing the design of the X-0 derailleur with the cheaper manufacturing costs of aluminium and steel. The open design of the X-7 should allow easy clearing of mud, while the aluminium derailleur bolt should reduce the cost of replacing derailleurs and hangers.
Although the components we have are were pre-release models, they are very close to finalised. The finish was almost perfect, so we are sure that the delivery date of the middle of 2003 for most of these parts is accurate.
Cyclingnews will be putting the SRAM gear through its paces over the coming weeks, so stay tuned for an in depth review of next year's parts.
Images by Paul Mirtschin/Cyclingnews.com
It seems that each week a little more information trickles out about the next incarnation of Dura-Ace. This week sees the release of CAD drawings of the new cranks, which in turn gives us a look at just what is going into the 2004 components.
The design is very similar to the 2003 XTR, 2004 Saint and 2004 XT cranks. All these cranks use a two-piece construction that has the bottom bracket axle joined to the drive side crank. They also feature the out-board bearing setup first seen on the 2003 XTR cranks, allowing a larger axle to be used as well as a wider separation of the bearings - 82mm rather than 52.8mm for the 2003 model.
The broader interface with the chainrings will add stiffness to an already stiff crank, while the crankarms themselves appear to be wider. However, we have been told that the Q-factor will not change from the 2003 model.
Images by Shimano
Sale of Cannondale assets passed
Although most people knew it was a given, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Connecticut (Bridgeport Division) approved the asset purchase agreement between Cannondale and Pegasus Partners II, L.P.
Pegasus is now the proud owner of a very successful bike company, and a not so successful motorbike company. Based on the terms of the asset purchase agreement, Pegasus believes that there will be insufficient funds from the proceeds of the sale to fully satisfy the claims of its creditors. Cannondale also believes that its equity has no value and that its existing stockholders will not receive any distributions because of their shares of common stock in connection with the resolution of the bankruptcy case.
For the general bike-riding public however, this will mean very little. The daily operations of Cannondale continue without change, and Cannondale is rumoured to be ramping up for a few new model releases next year.
New road cranks from Full Speed Ahead
The day before Milan-San Remo, Cyclingnews's European Editor, Tim Maloney, visited Claudio Marra of Full Speed Ahead Europe, who gave us a sneak peak their latest new carbon fibre crankset. Named the Carbon Pro Elite, the new crankset is "an evolution of our Carbon Pro Team Issue model," said Marra. "These cranks have a narrower Q-Factor and we have used a manufacturing technique from racing motorcycles where we CNC the elements from a single billet of carbon fibre. This makes them even lighter and stronger than the previous model."
Weighing in at 510 grams, FSA's Carbon Pro Elite is to be used by Tyler Hamilton (CSC) and Fred Rodriguez (Vini Caldirola-Sidermec). Look for FSA's Carbon Pro Elite to hit the market in August 2003.
Planet-X track bike
Here's some pics from Luc "Acadian" Albert of the new Planet-X track bike that is being developed for Team Florida Cycling.
The matt black aluminium frame is welded from diamond shaped aluminium tubing, and this lends itself to a very funky looking frame. Carbon components are used where possible, including the wheels, seatpost and fork. Dura Ace and Ritchey share the parts spec, and a Cane Creek headset holds the front end together.
Images by Team Planet-X
Navigators on Optygen
First Endurance has announced that they will be the official supplement suppliers for the Navigators Professional Cycling Team for 2003. Navigators' director sportif Ed Beamon said, "I have really surprised myself with the strength and recovery that I have exhibited. I raced the elite race in NYC, and the first 45 miles of the Saturn Cycling Classic (before I had to get in the car to take over my real responsibilities)."
"I have tried about every supplement under the sun in the pursuit of going faster on the bike and recovering more quickly," said Navigator's rider Burke Swindlehurst, "alarmingly the only thing most supplements did for me was lighten my wallet and leave a bad taste in my mouth!"
Navigators will be racing in its 10th season as a UCI TT2 in 2003, and plan to race all of the major North American events and the Pro Cycling Tour (US), as well as an increased presence in the European peloton.