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Race Tech: Sea Otter Classic, April 16, 2007
New gear from Gary Fisher, Trek, Litespeed and Yeti
By James Huang in Monterey, California
Gary Fisher HiFi goes carbon, previews revised 29er lineup; Trek 69er family grows to three
The Gary Fisher HiFi trailbike will receive a carbon big brother for 2008, aptly named the HiFi Carbon. The basic elements of the original HiFi have been retained, including the company's new Genesis 2.0 front end geometry, 120mm of travel front and rear, and a simple and reliable linkage-actuated single-pivot suspension design. With the new model, however, Gary Fisher engineers set out to make what it considers to be "the finest trail bike on the market the lightest trail bike on the market."
Indeed, the new carbon fiber front triangle drops the overall frame weight of the HiFi Carbon down to just 2.14kg (4.71lb, claimed), and also adds a reported 40% improvement in stiffness-to-weight ratio. Rather than just utilize conventionally bonded shock and linkage mounts, Gary Fisher engineers integrated the aluminum hard points directly into the carbon mold in such a way as to maximize adhesive strength and carbon fiber loading. Reliability on the new-style mounts is said to be significantly improved, but the new co-molded bits are lighter as well, saving 40g on just the upper shock mount alone.
The HiFi Carbon will be available in two models, the HiFi Carbon and the HiFi Carbon Pro. A premium build spec on the HiFi Carbon Pro drops the weight of a complete medium-sized bike to just 10.6kg (23.3lbs) without pedals, and G2 geometry-specific forks on both models will now be supplied by Fox Racing Shox.
Gary Fisher will also add a 29" version of the standard HiFi, but also previewed a completely revamped lineup of all of its big-wheeled mountain bikes. Aluminum models now make liberal use of hydroformed tubing for increased tire clearance, fork crown clearance, and front end rigidity, and a full OCLV carbon model finally joins the family.
Trek previewed its take on the intriguing 69er concept at last year's Sea Otter Classic, and announced the addition of two more 69er models just as the original singlespeed models are hitting showroom floors. Travis Brown's signature model will now be joined by a geared 69er aluminum hardtail as well as a geared full-suspension Top Fuel 69er which will incorporate Trek's latest R1 rocker-link rear end.
Component-wise, the Rhythm line will gain two new 29" models, the Rhythm Comp and Rhythm Elite, both of which are analogous to their 26" cousins. Spotted on the horizon, though, was a new Rhythm Pro model which uses premium-level hubs and a 'crow's-foot' spoke lacing pattern (where a radially laced spoke bisects a pair of conventionally crossed spokes) to improve lateral rigidity.
Litespeed pushes the titanium envelope with Archon
Titanium has been virtually completely surpassed by the glamour of carbon fiber lately, but its legitimately good material properties still make it a perfectly viable candidate for high performance bicycle frames. Litespeed, in particular, is on a mission (for obvious reasons, we must say) to bring titanium back into the realm of top performance, and its new Archon road frame might go a long way to doing so.
Litespeed-sponsored Team Maxxis riders only race on the dirt, but XC standouts Geoff Kabush and Mathieu Toulouse train heavily on the road and have provided the company with a lot of valuable feedback. Litespeed's designers focused more on overall performance than the gram scale as a result and the new frame has a "stiffness-to-weight ratio in a range that [titanium] has never been," according to Brad DeVaney, Engineering Manager for American Bicycle Group. DeVaney didn't go so far as to say that it would match that of carbon fiber (and to be honest, we'd have been rather skeptical if he had), but he did concede that Litespeed's ultralight frames have historically really been better suited as climbing bikes.
Much of that improved stiffness-to-weight ratio lies in a new heavily shaped tubeset, including a multifaceted and radically flared top tube and asymmetrically shaped chain stays. A novel construction method also partially wraps the top tube and down tube around the head tube for a more solid front end.
DeVaney added that the current UCI weight limit also indirectly aided in the design. Since wheels and components have lightened up the point where the frame is no longer the limiting factor in hitting the minimum 6.8kg target, the ruling "lets us put more material where it's needed." As such, the roughly 1kg Archon gives up about 200g relative to Litespeed's ethereal Ghisallo, but if that extra material adds up to a sturdier feel and more precise handling, we'll gladly take it, plus it'll be a sad world when we actually consider a 1kg frame to be heavy.
Litespeed will produce the Archon in both traditional and compact frame geometries, and US$4500 will buy you a frame with an Easton EC90SL full carbon fork beginning sometime in June.
Yeti Cycles returns to the cyclo-cross fray
Golden, CO-based Yeti Cycles has been known to knock out a cyclo-cross frame from time to time for special occasions (and special people), but the guys-in-turquoise have now released a bona fide production machine that the general public can buy themselves.
The ARC-X uses Yeti's proven Pure aluminum tubeset and also incorporates the company's trademark 'loop' stays in which the chain and seat stays flow seamlessly into one another in a graceful arc. A CNC-machined chain stay yoke delivers gobs of mud clearance for the ugly days of late fall/early winter, and a shaped top tube promises comfortable portaging.
The Yeti folks wouldn't quote a retail price just yet, but frame weights are said to be "just over 3lbs (1.36kg)" and production items will be available in time for the 2007 'cross season.
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Images by James Huang/Cyclingnews.com