Easton EA90 Aero wheelset
Easton's EA90 aluminum clinchers
Once known in the bicycle world almost solely for its tubing, Easton
continues to build on its wheel range which includes the all-purpose
EA90 Aero road wheelset. The aluminum 'Gen4 Aero' clincher rims
use a 31mm-deep section out back but a slightly shallower 28mm profile
in front for easier handling and a less jarring ride, not to mention
slightly reduced weight.
Easton mates these to its proprietary R4 hubs which feature cartridge
bearings with (woo hoo!) adjustable preload, interchangeable alloy
freehub bodies and a sculpted shape that looks trick regardless
of whether or not they really are more aerodynamic. Thoughtful details
include the use of high-quality Sapim bladed stainless steel spokes
all around, brass nipples on the rear driveside and alloy nipples
elsewhere. Total weight is a competitive 1576g for the pair (666g
front, 910g rear) without the included skewers.
Componentry aside, build quality is of prime importance in any
wheel and these look to be top-notch based on our cursory inspection
and quick run with our FSA spoke tensiometer. We'll see how these
fare as the season wears on.
Easton XC One wheelset
Easton also offers a mountain bike wheel lineup which is capped
by the XC One. Easton emphasizes the design's stiffness as compared
to conventional offerings yet they're still reasonably light at
1606g for the pair (721g front, 885 rear) without skewers.
The welded disc-specific rims are just 20mm deep but 23mm wide
and the double-butted straight-pull Sapim staineless steel spokes
are laced two-cross throughout. As on the EA90 Aero, alloy nipples
are used with the exception of the rear driveside which features
stronger brass material. The XC One hubs use cartridge bearings
with self-adjusting preload and an alloy freehub body fitted with
a three-pawl driver.
We're heading out on the standard 26" version, but Easton is expanding
the XC One range with both 26" singlespeed and 29" versions as well.
Blackwell Research One Hundred wheelset
Looking to cheat the wind?
As the name implies, Blackwell Research's new One Hundred wheelset
boasts a wind-cheating 100mm-deep carbon rim with a blunted nose
that designer John Cobb claims offers manageable performance in
crosswinds. At just shy of 1900g for the pair, the wheels aren't
particularly light (or cheap) but we expect their deep section to
do well in time trials, triathlons, or road races where there isn't
too much climbing.
The imposing-looking hoops are laced with 18/24 bladed spokes front/rear
to alloy cartridge bearing hubs. Freehubs are easily swapped between
Shimano/SRAM and Campagnolo standards. Our testers arrived in tubular
form but the One Hundreds are now also available for use with clinchers.
Challenge Forte tubulars
The Challenge Forte is Rock
Racing's tire of choice
Challenge's Forte tubulars are apparently the race tire of choice
for Michael Ball's colorful Rock Racing team with its versatile
22mm width, squirm-resistant file center tread and siped sides to
evacuate water. As with all Challenge tubulars, the Forte is hand
made, not vulcanized like most mass-produced rubber. According to
Challenge, this delivers a smoother ride, reduced rolling resistance
and improved cornering performance. The Puncture Protection System
belt helps keep you rolling on the road, not standing beside
Actual weight for our testers is 283g each.
Michelin Pro3 Race clincher tires
Michelin says its new Pro3
Michelin's road clincher tire range is now topped by the new Pro3
Race model. According to Michelin, the new model's dual compound
tread draws on the company's Moto GP division for a supposed 20
percent gain in straight-line grip and a whopping 40 percent increase
in cornering adhesion relative to the existing Pro2 Race.
A new High Density Puncture Protection belt offers additional flat
resistance, yet even with the reinforcement our test tires' casing
feels noticeably suppler than other Michelin models we've sampled.
Actual weight for our 700x23c clinchers is just 197g apiece.
Selle San Marco Zoncolan saddle
The Zoncolan is one of Selle
San Marco's newest saddles
Selle San Marco's new Zoncolan is one of several new models offered
in numerous widths by the storied Italian company. Our 235mm-wide
sample is the narrowest in the range but 245mm and 255mm sizes are
The narrow nose is sparsely padded in the transition area but decidedly
cushier right at the end. The rather flat rear should hopefully
relieve some pressure from soft tissue areas while the surprisingly
flexible carbon-reinforced shell should add a bit more cush. The
genuine leather top is offered in either traditional black or the
most currently fashionable white.
Titanium rails help bring the weight of our tester down to just
214g. Uphill we go!
Sampson Sports Stratics TT saddle
Sampson's Stratics TT saddle
Eric Sampson's latest saddle design looks downright painful but
he insists it's actually quite comfy (we'll know soon enough). The
carbon fiber shell and rails contribute to the paltry 112g actual
weight while a trio of removable, washable and replaceable high-density
closed cell foam pads aims to soften the blow. Mated with Sampson's
similarly light Stratics carbon post, the combination is under 250g.
Sampson stresses that the saddle is intended primarily for racing
and although he's confident of its strength, the Stratics TT still
carries a 77kg (170lb) rider weight limit.
Sampson Stratics Al stem
The Sampson Stratics Al stem
Sampson offers high value with its Stratics Al stem which fetches
just US$69 yet weighs just 126g for our 110mm tester. Cold-forged
aluminum construction and an oversized extension promise long-term
durability and good stiffness while the opposing two-bolt steerer
clamp and four-bolt faceplate should be relatively easy on carbon
Blackburn Neuro 5.0 computer
The Blackburn Neuro 5.0 computer
The new Neuro line of computers from Blackburn features 2.4GHz
wireless transmission across the board for faster and more reliable
signals with better reliability. Our high-end 5.0 model includes
an integrated heart rate monitor with five training zones, cadence
and an easily legible four-line display. Other training-specific
elements include a 50-lap chronometer, weekly and monthly ride time
displays and an on-board interval timer. As with many computers
these days, the Neuro can be used on two different bikes but our
tester can also automatically detect which one it's on; no more
manual settings required.
Blackburn has made some efforts to ease setup, too, thanks to an
ultra-clean one-piece wireless speed and cadence sensor, preprogrammed
wheel sizes and sensible menus. The included bar mount can be used
on both standard and oversized diameters and a stem mount is tossed
into the box as well.
Total as-installed weight is 144g including the HRM chest strap.
Camelbak Podium bottle
Camelbak now wants its name
Camelbak's new Podium bottle has made its way into the ProTour
on the bikes of Saunier Duval-Scott. The new bottles feature a large-diameter
'sip or squirt' self-sealing valve (anyone else remember the Specialized
Racer's Edge?) that allows for plenty of flow when you're really
thirsty. When you're not, there's also a built-in shut-off valve
to keep your gear bag dry.
Other features include an anti-microbial treatment to ward off
the funk, six color combinations and both 21oz and 24oz sizes. Saunier
Duval-Scott riders naturally get their own team logos.
Price: US$8.00 (21oz); US$9.00 (24oz)
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here