Tech News March 24, 2006
Edited by John Stevenson
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Cyclingnews tech desk.
2007 XTR: the inside line
New shifters, improved brake levers, carbon/titanium rings and, yes,
lots of options in new MTB group
By James Huang
Try as Shimano might to keep the lid on details of the upcoming 2007
XTR group, there's only so much pressure that can build up before the
top starts to blow. The new group will bear the M970 designation, signifying
a total overhaul, and reliable industry sources have confirmed that Shimano
has pulled out the stops for the new kit which promises to contain some
very interesting new features. We don't have any pictures yet, but these
tidbits of information should sufficiently whet your appetite.
This is perhaps the most exciting part of the new kit. Although Shimano
will continue to offer Dual Control gear changing, the company has clearly
devoted a lot of resources toward developing a new trigger shifter in
response to widespread demand (and the somewhat lukewarm response to Dual
Control). Shimano has already released photos of the 'Dual Release' badging
on the new XT shifters, but details as to its meaning were a bit on the
As some had speculated, the new release trigger will, indeed, be able
to shift two gears in one pull for the first time in Shimano's trigger
shifter history. However, Dual Release also signifies that the release
trigger can be actuated by either pulling it back in traditional fashion
or pushing it forward. Two gears can be shifted when moving the trigger
in either direction, meaning that you will be able to quickly shift up
to four gears in one combined movement. Since Shimano will offer both
low-normal (Rapid Rise) and traditional rear derailleurs new XTR group,
this means that riders will easily be able to shift multiple gears in
either direction, regardless of which rear derailleur configuration they
Speaking of multiple gears, the new XTR group will almost certainly still
use a nine-speed rear cassette, contrary to rampant speculation that Shimano
was going to introduce the MTB market to ten-speed. Shimano apparently
hasn't given up on the 14spd rear cassette idea that it patented a few
years ago, but it is reportedly trying to push a new 140mm rear hub spacing
standard on the industry first (hate to say it, but this is largely a
good idea, in my opinion).
The new triggers will also feature enhanced adjustability with a new
low-profile clamp that is designed to sit either inboard or outboard of
the brake lever depending on rider preferences.
If you can mount the triggers either side of the brake lever, that means
there will be separate brake levers, right? Well spotted. Singlespeeders
now have yet another reason to throw down another beer as Shimano has
finally developed a separate XTR-level hydraulic brake lever. Our sources
have informed us that the new lever is intentionally slim and low-profile
for a clean overall look.
Improvements in the lever internals may also provide improved performance
as well. Reports suggest that Shimano has done away with the unnecessarily
complex 90 degree banjo style of attaching the hydraulic line to the lever.
This not only cleans things from an aesthetic perspective, but it also
makes for a more direct path for the hydraulic fluid which is said to
dramatically improve brake feel. The fluid reservoir for the new lever
may also be integrated into the perch, although that detail could not
The new hydraulic disc caliper appears to have received relatively minimal
changes as the later versions of the XTR calipers were already quite good
to begin with. Our sources suggest that Shimano may have slightly increased
the fluid capacity of the caliper, though, to better combat brake fade
due to overheating.
Shimano will also continue to offer both six-bolt and Centerlock disc
rotors for XTR, fulfilling the promises of "lots of options" for the new
Shimano will continue with its very well-received Hollowtech II outboard
bearing bottom bracket system but is apparently feeling a bit deficient
in the carbon department according to our sources. The crankarms themselves
will still be hollow-forged aluminum (a material Shimano continues to
argue is the best for the job), but Shimano has clearly heeded the cries
of current XTR users that the existing middle ring displays somewhat poor
The new middle ring will be a carbon and titanium component similar to
those made by smaller firms such as CarbonTi. The teeth themselves will
be made of titanium for durability, but they will be attached to a carbon
fiber main body for reduced weight (and points for coolness, no doubt).
It still remains to be seen how Shimano will incorporate their signature
complex arrangement of ramps, pins, and gates into this hybrid construction,
but there's little doubt that it will be there in order to maintain's
Shimano reputation as having the best shifting chainrings in the industry.
For the first time in the group's history, Shimano will offer an XTR-labeled
clipless pedal (which will also bear the XTR-specific PD-M970 part number).
The new pedal is said to offer an enlarged pedal platform for better support
and stability as well as improved power transfer. There's no word yet
on whether or not the new pedal will require a new cleat, but it would
come as no surprise considering that Shimano is generally happy to abandon
standards in pursuit of improved performance and the SPD cleat has remained
virtually unchanged since its introduction. In fact, a new cleat would
not only be somewhat expected, but may even be warranted if it can truly
offer improved performance over the existing SH51 version.
Shimano is clearly hoping that the new M970 XTR group will make at least
a big an impact as M950 did back in the mid-90s. Whether or not they will
admit it, Shimano is clearly feeling the competitive pressure from "the
other big S" over in Chicago and is doggedly determined to claw their
way back into the undisputed Number One position. Whatever the outcome,
let's hear three cheers for healthy competition, eh? It's a good time
to be a mountain biker.
Deda Elacta carbon fiber
Deda Electafies handlebar
Component maker Deda Elementi has announced a new carbon fiber road bike
handlebar, the Electa. Weighing in at a claimed 207g, the new bar has
an extra-wide 31.8mm section so that aero bars can be easily mounted next
to the stem clamp, ergonomic top section, and larger cross-sections in
the curves for increased rigidity. Campagnolo users will also like the
double cable channels that provide a tidy place for both gear and brake
The Electa is available in 24cm, 44cm and 46cm widths, measured edge-to-edge.
More info: www.dedaelementi.com
Rudy project pins tail on helmet
Rudy Project Syton carbon helmet
Last year the question was "Where are all the UCI-approved aero helmets?"
This year, it seems we can't move for them, and here's an imminent new
entry into the arena from Rudy Project. Better known for its eyewear,
Rudy also has a helmet line, and is supplying Damiano Cunego and Lampre-Fondital
with lids this year.
The helmet Cunego's wearing here is a carbon fiber version of Rudy Project's
Syton time trial helmet but as well as a change of materials from the
Syton Supercomp model, the composite incarnation sports a much longer
'tail' that extends all the way to the rider's back. This should improve
airflow off the helmet, improving times against the clock. At the moment
the new lid is at the stage of being a handmade development sample and
Rudy Project isn't saying much about details such as construction techniques,
except to drop hints that something very clever is going on.
Rotor rings claim first road win
The elliptical chainring renaissance continued in Portugal a couple of
weeks ago when Sergio Ribero of Team Barbot-Halicon scored the first professional
road race win by a rider using Rotor's elliptical Q-rings. Ribero took
first place in stage 1's uphill sprint finish, and followed it up three
days later with second in stage 4 to finish second overall in the four-day
Developed as a lighter and less expensive alternative to Rotor's cam-action
crank, Q-rings are claimed to help reduce the effects of the 'dead spot'
in a rider's pedal stroke by effectively reducing the size of the chainring
at that moment. This lowers the gear the rider is pushing and speeds the
foot through the point at which little or no force can be applied to the
More info: www.rotorbike.com
Battaglin's 1985 prologue rig.
Probably not UCI legal.
Blast from the past in Italia Bici
latest special promotional feature in our Italia Bici series takes a look
at perhaps one of the most unusual bikes ever built. It was the mid-eighties
and after Francesco Moser's demolition of the Hour Record on a bike with
disc wheels it seemed like we were about to enter a whole new era in bike
design. In just a few years we'd be hanging aerodynamic carbon monocoque
bikes in the garage next to our flying cars.
Into this new world, Italian bike maker Battaglin rolled out a radical
time trial bike for the prologue of the 1985 Giro d'Italia. Not only did
it have an aerodynamic, monocoque frame, but its super-wide, bulbous front
wheel acted as a fairing to shield the rider's feet from the wind. That
rider was Roberto Visintini and he'd been going three seconds per kilometre
faster in training on the new bike. Giovanni Battaglin tells the tale
Other features in our Italia Bici section take you behind the scenes
at a fizik
promotional shoot with Damiano Cunego; look at the development of
Italia seats; examine the history of De
Rosa; go inside clothing maker De
Marchi; give you the inside gen on Fulcrum's
new wheels and get to the bottom of shorts comfort with lining maker