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Quick Spins – October 26, 2007

Edited by James Huang

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Welcome to Quick Spins, an all new section within Cyclingnews' tech coverage were we put some of the smaller items that land on the tech desk to the test.

Gaerne G.Air Carbon - footwear of choice for Cadel Evans

Gaerne's top-end G.Air Carbon shoe
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The grippy heel pad
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The interior of the rear of the shoe
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A high-quality aluminum buckle
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Italy-based cycling footwear maker Gaerne occasionally gets caught in the shadow of some of its more prominent compatriots, but it boasts a 40-year history as well as a storied reputation easily on par with the best in the business. Its top-end G.Air Carbon is also the shoe of choice for Predictor-Lotto rider Cadel Evans, who likely favors it for its rigid full-length carbon sole and dizzying array of footholding accoutrements.

The well-ventilated Lorica and nylon mesh uppers are augmented by Gaerne's Power Control System, which surrounds the ankle area with a sturdy external heel counter and a fairly rigid polyurethane 'cage' secured by a ratcheting aluminum buckle. The two forefoot Velcro straps include the clever Safety Lock Strap System, consisting of a pair of toothed plates per strap that lock on to each other when the straps are pulled tight, while the back half of the shoe's interior is also dotted with sock-gripping appliqués. Rider comfort is promoted by the densely padded (but suitably thin) tongue, as well as a moveable instep pad, dubbed by Gaerne as the Adjustable Instep Closure System.

This army of features certainly locks in securely, and there is virtually no chance that any of the straps will loosen up even during the most violent of sprints. Likewise, the polyurethane cage does live up to its billing by stabilizing the rear of the foot, thus preventing it from moving around too much either laterally or in rotation. In addition, Gaerne's EPS Carbon outsole is quite possibly one of the most rigid we've tested in recent memory and power transfer is simply a total non-issue. If your goal is to go, these things can definitely handle it.

Unfortunately, though, the G.Air Carbon isn't quite as comfortable as it is secure. While the Power Control System is undoubtedly stout, its geometry tends to pull the top of your foot down into the shoe, as opposed to back into the heel. Moreover, the adjustable instep 'pad' doesn't really have much in the way of actual padding and is rather flat. Thankfully, the sides of the uppers curl up quite far around the top of the foot so this is ameliorated somewhat. Still, though, our insteps tended to ache occasionally on longer rides and we still experienced a bit more heel lift than we expected (although to be fair, it didn't present an issue while on the bike).

The fit of the G.Air Carbon is decidedly Euro, with a fairly narrow toe box that doesn't leave much room for wide-footed riders or custom insoles or inserts. We also found the G.Air Carbon to run a hair large in terms of sizing; while we would normally have used a sz43.5 or 44, the sz43 ended up fitting us best. Neither of these are faults per se, but both definitely warrant a definite trial fit before purchase.

Overall, the G.Air Carbon shoes delivered superb security, a ridiculously rigid and efficient carbon sole, top-notch materials, and excellent construction quality. More casual long-distance riders might look towards something a little less aggressive, but if a solid hold and excellent power transfer rank at the top of your list (and if your feet aren't too wide), the Gaerne G.Air Carbon is worth a look. /JH

Weight: 710g (1.57lb) per pair (sz43)
Price: US$309.99
Pros: Uber-rigid carbon sole, ultra-secure strap system, excellent construction quality, comprehensive size range (sz37-49, with half sizes available from 41-45)
Cons: Instep pad could use more actual padding, Power Control System would be more comfortable with altered geometry, relatively narrow toebox, could be lighter
Cyclingnews rating: Click for key to ratings
More info: www.gaerneusa.com


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Images by James Huang/Cyclingnews.com

Cateye Strada Wireless - little, yet big

The new Cateye Strada line of computers
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The wireless sensor is easy to install
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The innovative ClickTec interface
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Cateye's latest computer line, the Strada, boasts one of the smallest form factors to date but also wears one of its biggest displays thanks to its clever design. The main display is a whopping 14mm tall, which makes checking your speed a mere glance rather than a squint, while the secondary readout displays all of the unit's other functions and is still a very-legible 7mm tall. Each member of the line (which includes the standard Strada wired version, the Strada Wireless, and the Strada Cadence) shares similar dimensions with the head itself measuring just 46mm long and 30mm wide. As-installed weight of our entire Strada Wireless test setup is a paltry 46g.

The elegant design is definitely attractive, something that many people commented on when asked if they liked the unit. The clean look eliminates conventional buttons in favor of Cateye's ClickTec system, which effectively turns the screen itself into a button and maximizes real estate for the screen.

But how I hear you ask? Cateye designed the computer mount such that it acts as a cam or rocker, such that when the user pushes down on the screen, it pivots from the front and compresses a small rubber button on the unit's underside. The design works surprisingly well although it does require a slightly harder push than is usually required on a conventional interface.

Installation is a breeze thanks to the new tool-free FlexTight mount, which can be mounted on either the handlebar or the stem for that truly 'euro' look. The versatile design will work for most stems or bars, but if you have an odd shape handlebar and don't want to run the unit on your stem, it would be best to check first before purchasing. The sensor is similarly easy to mount with the included zip-ties, but like the head unit mount, it may be best to check first if your fork has oddly shaped blades.

All the normal functions such as speed, distance and various timers are included, and Cateye also incorporates an auto start/stop feature, auto power-saving mode, programmable odometer, pace arrow, and dual wheel size capability into the unit. One feature that is particularly useful is the secondary trip distance, great for measuring a weeks worth of training. One notable omission, but one that is admittedly hardly necessary, is a backlit screen that only users who spend a lot of time riding in the dark will miss it (Cateye does include one on its Micro model, though).

Overall the Strada Wireless is a superb unit. It includes a comprehensive feature set, looks great, is easy to read and use, super light, and even a breeze to install as well. /PV

Price: US$60
Weight: 46g (complete assembly, including head, sensor, wheel magnet, and all associated mounts and hardware)
Pros: highly legible, small footprint, easy to install, mounts on both handlebar and stem, typical Cateye reliability
Cons: ClickTec interface requires a bit more force than usual, no back light
Cyclingnews rating: Click for key to ratings
More info: www.cateye.com


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Images by James Huang/Cyclingnews.com

Prendas / Santini Faemino jerseys

The complete ensemble
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A short zipper
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The sleeves are just the right
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The cotton cap is great for riding,
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UK cycle clothing retailer Prendas has reproduced one of the most famous jerseys from the 1970's. Originally made in wool and worn by arguably the greatest cyclist ever, Eddy Merckx, this series of Faemino jerseys comes in two colour schemes.

As a tribute to the grand master himself, the original team jersey features the world championships stripes on the sleeves and neck, which Merckx earned in 1967 in Heelen, The Netherlands. The other option flies the colours of the Belgian national champion, a race he won only once in his career, in 1970. This is the jersey that Merckx wore at the start of the 1970 Tour de France, before trading it for the yellow jersey as he claimed his second of five victories in the event.

These classic reproductions are made in Italy by Santini, but unlike the original, they are not made from wool. Santini swaps the natural fiber for its own high-grade and lightweight 'Play' fabric - which contains a polyamide (nylon) on the inside for breathability and comfort and polyester on the outside. The quality of the stitching is as expected from an Italian clothing manufacturer, i.e. second to none.

The fit of the jersey is also what you would expect from an Italian manufacturer, tight and snug but without restricting movement. During rides in warmer weather the jersey proved to be cool as well as comfortable. A short 14cm zipper is provided, but a full length version would have been appreciated for a little more ventilation flexibility. Quite understandably, though, Prendas opted against this in keeping with the retro theme of things (pros in the 1970's never had the luxury of a full length zip), as one minor gripe back in the day was that the old metal versions often got stuck and took a few goes to either zip up or down.

The jerseys come with three rear pockets to keep your spare tubes, bananas, iPods, or mobiles secure and handy and they performed their function as would be expected.

Also supplied was a matching cotton cap and musette. The cap is handy if you want to keep your hair and/or the sun out of your eyes, or just prefer one under your lid. Considering its ubiquitous nature, the musette is not really handy for much unless you plan on using it as a race feed bag. Again, these items are meant more as a tribute to the old days than purely functional contemporary bits so keep that in mind.

Overall, the jerseys are comfortable and of high quality, perfect for summer riding or just posing at the cafe. If you are into the retro look (or remember that era like it was yesterday) and no issues wearing a jersey that displays the stripes of a previous world championship winner or those of the Belgian champion, then these jerseys are for you. For the rest of you, probably best to look elsewhere for your summer cycling needs. /PV

Price: £39.95 (Faemino Jersey (Belgium Champion or Team) - Short Sleeve); £6.00 (Faemino team musette); £6.00 (Faemino cotton cap)
Pros: Good quality jersey perfect for the warmer months, looks cool
Cons: short zipper, the retro look and those championship colours aren't for everyone
Cyclingnews rating: Click for key to ratings
More info: www.prendas.co.uk


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Images by Paul Henderson-Kelly/Cyclingnews.com