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Tech News February 6, 2004
Edited by John Stevenson
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Tubeless road tyres on the way
Tyre manufacturer Michelin has announced that some of the teams it supplies with rubber will be rolling on a new design for 2004: tubeless clinchers. Three new tyres will be supplied to pro riders this year for testing under race conditions, according to Michelin, and it's planned that the tyres will become available to the rest of us in 2005.
Tubeless clinchers are nothing new in mountain biking, where the slight weight disadvantage they sometimes have over regular tyres is outweighed by their virtual imperviousness to the most common off-road mechanical, the 'snake-bite' puncture. The extra weight comes from the thick rubber strip needed to seal some rims and the extra rubber coating on the inside of the tyre that keeps in the air, though in the last couple of years the gap has narrowed almost to zero. And with no inner tube to pinch if you hit a rock, tubeless tyres allow lower pressures for better traction, a big advantage in the dirt.
Michelin has teamed up with Mavic to bring tubeless technology to the road, and the French rim and wheel giant will be supplying the other half of the two-component system, a special rim designed to hold the tire and bead in position to help ensure air-tightness at high pressure.
Michelin says the advantages of tubeless for the road include easier fitting, because there's no inner tube to pinch, and reduced punctures. Michelin also claims the tubeless tyres take longer to deflate in the event of a puncture, so a racer can continue riding while waiting for a support vehicle. We can think of another advantage, straight from the mountain bike experience: the ability to run lower pressures for traction in poor conditions without snake-bite punctures. Can anyone say Paris-Roubaix?
It's no surprise then that one of the three tyres Michelin will supply to teams this year is the Pro Grip Special Paves Tubeless (a name that could only be any longer if you added 'presented by...'). The other two are the Pro Race Tubeless, for general road racing, and Pro Grip Tubeless, for wet conditions. The Pro Grip uses a rubber compound developed for Formula 1 and Motorcycle GP rain tires, and the Special Paves is a 24mm version with a tread design made up of diamond-shaped points on the central band to break the film of water or mud on cobblestones.
Given that Michelin-equipped teams have struggled with punctures in previous races on the pave, it'll be fascinating to see if these new tyres make a difference. Roll on Spring!
More on Bart's bike
Carbon fiber is everywhere it seems, and even bikes that aren't built in great numbers are succumbing to the lure of light-but-strong composite materials. After we ran a snap of Bart Wellens' Ridley carbon cyclocross bike from the world's earlier this week, we heard from Anthony Kumpen at Ridley, who explained that the carbon bike - called the X-Knight - didn't get used at the world's because Ridley and Wellens didn't feel he'd ridden it enough to take any chances on such an important event.
"Indeed Bart didn't use the carbon bike at the world championship," said Kumpen. "He received this bike not so long ago from us. He has been testing it a lot lately, also riding it in some smaller races. He is going to use this bike for the coming races and the coming season. We specifically asked him not to use it in the world championship as he hasn't been able to test it for a long time. So at the world championship he raced on our Ridley Supercross." And of course, won handsomely, out-sprinting Mario De Clercq on the line.
The Ridley X-Knight frame, fork and headset will retail for about 2,500 Euros when it becomes available later this year. The full spec of Bart's bike is:
Frame: Ridley X-Night Full Carbon Monocoque with integrated headset
(available in sizes 50/XS, 52/S, 54/M, 56/L)
CSC extends with Cervelo
Team CSC has continued its relationship with Canadian bike maker Cervelo for 2004 - and through into 2006. The extended deal was announced at CSC's recent training camp in Tuscany, and Cervelo co-founder Phil White says the relationship to date has been good for both parties, especially helping with Cervelo's development process.
"[Team CSC's riders] have also made us better bike designers," said White. "Their feedback was instrumental in the development of our new carbon frame. We listened to their comments, showed them our designs and several of the riders rode prototypes in the development phase. When three team members rode the final version to stage victories in the Tour, we knew we had succeeded. After the Tour the riders unanimously told us that they loved the new bike and not to make any changes to it. Of course, we will always continue to improve our bikes, but those statements clearly showed the collaboration is working."
As well as the new carbon frame, CSC feedback also went into the 2004 version of Cervelo's Soloist and according to Cervelo's other co-founder Gerard Vroomen, "riders now describe the Soloist as very similar in ride to the carbon frame."
Team CSC's 2004 Cervelo Soloist spec
Frame: 2004 Cervelo Soloist Team
Bianchi teams up with Alessio
Top Italian bike maker Bianchi, part of the Cycleurope group of companies, won't have its name up in lights as solo sponsor of a Division I team this year, but instead will co-sponsor the Alessio team, whose main sponsor is a Padua, Italy manufacturer of aluminium car wheels.
That might not sound like an obvious pairing, but we're talking about Italian companies here. Somewhere in the upper management of every major sponsor of cycling there's a bike racing fan, and at Alessio, it's the head man himself, Celeste Alessio.
"I have always been a great cycling fan, and ever since I was a little boy the Bianchi bicycles have attracted and fascinated me in a special way, for the reason that all the greatest cycling champions competed on Bianchi bikes," said Alessio at the recent Alessio-Bianchi team launch. "So, the possibility to see my name, my brother's name and the company name side by side with the great Bianchi logo was an exceptional opportunity. In fact, the development and innovation policy, and the constant investments in state-of-the-art technology, an essential element in the success of the Alessio brand and products on both national and international markets, go hand in hand with Bianchi's company philosophy."
Alessio-Bianchi's Bianchi EV3 team bikes come equipped with Campagnolo Record cranks, gears, and brakes and Proton wheels, Vittoria tyres, ITM bars and stems and Look pedals.
Javelin gets cash injection, sponsors Basis
Little Rock, Arkansas bike maker Javelin has announced a change of ownership that should see its production and presence increase in 2004, starting immediately with a sponsorship deal to supply bikes to the Basis women's team.
An affiliate of Citadel Group, a Chicago based institutional investor, has acquired the Javelin brand and select assets of Javelin Cycles, according to an announcement from Javelin. Javelin chief operating office Scott Warren told Cyclingnews, "100% of the stock is owned by Javelin LLC a new entity started by Dave Varwig of Citadel Group."
Javalin's bike range includes the composite-and-aluminium Brunello, the Arcole aero frameset for time trialists and triathletes and the Dolce, a 650C-wheeled road machine for younger racers.
As for the sponsorship deal with Basis, which was actually concluded in January, Warren said, "The Team Basis bikes are being built right now and should be ready mid-March. We are actively looking for other teams more specifically a men's team for 2005 probably at this point. The right men's team just didn't come along for 2004. Let me know if you have any leads."
Weight management from Polar
Heart rate monitor manufacturer Polar has announced a range of monitors designed to help people who need to lose weight achieve slow, sustained weight loss through a combination of diet and exercise. The WM2 and WM4 series monitors, in men's and women's models, incorporate features to assess calories burned in exercise and consumed as food, with the aim of helping the former exceed the latter.
Both monitors include the Polar Weight Management Program and weight diary. The WM21 and WM22 calculate the calories burned during each exercise sessions, while the WM41 and WM42 incorporate an electronic diary which shows your actual status not only regarding weight loss, but also the calories burned during exercise and your calorie intake.