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New Arrivals – March 28, 2008

Edited by James Huang

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Welcome to New Arrivals, a section showcasing the latest equipment that's landed on the Cyclingnews tech desk. Look out for reviews over the next few months when we've clocked up some saddle time with this stuff.

Easton EA90 Aero wheelset

Easton's EA90 aluminum clinchers
(Click for larger image)

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.

Price: US$800

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.

Price: US$700

Blackwell Research One Hundred wheelset

Looking to cheat the wind?
(Click for larger image)

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.

Price: US$1910

Challenge Forte tubulars

The Challenge Forte is Rock Racing's tire of choice
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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 it.

Actual weight for our testers is 283g each.

Price: US$89.99

Michelin Pro3 Race clincher tires

Michelin says its new Pro3 Race clincher
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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.

Price: US$59.99

Selle San Marco Zoncolan saddle

The Zoncolan is one of Selle San Marco's newest saddles
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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 also available.

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!

Price: US$199

Sampson Sports Stratics TT saddle

Sampson's Stratics TT saddle
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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.

Price: US$239

Sampson Stratics Al stem

The Sampson Stratics Al stem
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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 components.

Price: US$69

Blackburn Neuro 5.0 computer

The Blackburn Neuro 5.0 computer
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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.

Price: US$174.99

Camelbak Podium bottle

Camelbak now wants its name
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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)

Photography

For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by James Huang/Cyclingnews.com