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Tech News – January 4, 2008

Edited by James Huang & Greg Johnson

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SRAM family grows with Agritubel addition

SRAM's momentum in the marketplace has carried over into the realm of team sponsorship with the addition of the Agritubel squad for 2008. Along with carryover team Saunier Duval-SCOTT and recently signed Astana, the roster of top-level supported teams has quickly grown to three after the company introduced its first complete road offerings less than two years ago. Agritubel will utilize both SRAM's latest Red group and the well-proven Force group on its new Kuota KOM framesets.

"Agritubel is a great racing program with tremendous riders who are known for their aggression. We are a proud partner in providing this team the World's most innovative, ergonomic, and lightweight componentry for 2008," said SRAM's Global Marketing Director, David Zimberoff.

BMC drops carbon hardtail from '08 range

BMC showed off its full-carbon Team Elite 01
Photo ©: James Huang
(Click for larger image)

BMC has announced that it has temporarily dropped the all-carbon fibre Team Elite 01 hardtail mountain bike frame from its 2008 range. The Swiss company has not specified exact reasons behind its decision, but did state that it was having difficulties meeting its rigorous quality standards tests during the latest production run.

"In fact, the rollout of this product started in 2007, but from the very beginning, technical obstacles in the serial production impeded the effective delivery into the several international markets successfully competed by BMC," read a release from the company. "Until last week, the Swiss manufacturer of high-end bikes hoped, together with its manufacturing partner in Taiwan, to be able to handle in due time the important quality fluctuations within the serial production.

"Unfortunately BMC failed to convert exactly the claimed quality level of the prototypes into the serial production," it continued.

Retail customers unfortunately won't be able to place orders for the new frame, but BMC insisted that its production issues would not affect existing agreements with its sponsored athletes and teams. According to BMC, only a later run of the bike is affected by the technical production issue and there are enough TE01 frames in existence that have already passed inspections to fulfil those obligations.

"In the customer's interest and in respect of the good label image of BMC, this very difficult decision had to be made," said BMC's statement. "BMC deeply regrets to disappoint in 2008 numerous potential customers who waited for a long time the delivery of their dream hardtail bike."

Despite the disappointment the company believes its decision is testament of its aim of ensuring it sells only the highest quality product to its customers globally. /GJ

Team Type 1 announces healthy partnerships for '08

The newly created Team Type 1 has announced a host of technical suppliers for its 2008 season, including Orbea as its bike supplier. The new American Continental squad, which is lead by Australian professional Matt Wilson, will have SRAM components and Zipp wheels fitted to the Orbeas during its debut season this year.

The team is aiming to increase diabetes awareness and, with some 13 riders on the team's professional and development squads suffering from the condition, hope to prove that it doesn't stop sufferers from competing at the highest level.

"Our goal is to inspire people with diabetes around the world to take control of their health through diet, exercise and proper health care," said team co-founder Phil Southerland who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at just seven months old. "As a professional team, racing against the world's best cyclists, we'll be able to deliver that message to a much wider audience."

The new North American outfit has also announced that Champion System will be the team's clothing supplier this season.

To read more about Team Type 1 see our feature on the team's launch. /GJ

North American Handmade Bicycle Show floor space almost full

With only ten booth spaces left, the 2008 North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS) is set to be the biggest yet by a wide margin. This year's show, to be held in Portland Oregon, February 8-10, has already signed up 134 exhibitors, up from 103 in 2007, and organiser Don Walker is confident of filling the remaining ten booths.

"Heading into our fourth [year] we are growing beyond my expectations," said Walker. "I am very confident we will sell all our booth spaces. With seven weeks until the show, we only have ten spaces left, and I am talking with companies that wish to fill those spaces."

A craftsman-orientated alternative to the major trade shows, NAHBS showcases the work of the small framebuilders and component makers who have undergone something of a renaissance in the last few years. Exhibitors signed up for 2008 include longstanding flag-wavers of the 'make your own stuff' movement, such as Bruce Gordon Cycles, Richard Sachs and Chris King components, plus show newcomers like Australia's Llewellyn Custom Bicycles and Portland locals Hufnagel Cycles.

The 2008 show will also host several big-name exhibitors such as Shimano, FSA, Continental Tires, Selle Italia, fi'zi:k, SRAM and Zipp, all of whom will be on hand to demonstrate their support for smaller builders. Notably absent from the exhibitor list, however, is Campagnolo.

Retül rethinks 3-D bicycle fitting

Todd Carver of Retül fits Toyota-United rider Chris Wherry
Photo ©: James Huang
(Click for larger image)

Todd Carver, former biomechanist at the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine in Boulder, Colorado, has spread his wings with business partners Franko Vatterott and Ivan Faul to launch their own 3-D fitting system dubbed Retül (say 're-tool'). The company is barely nine months old but Retül has already lined up such high-profile clientele as former USPRO Road Champion Chris Wherry (Toyota-United), top-level triathlete Craig Alexander (who finished second at this year's Ironman World Championships in Hawaii), and the entire Slipstream/Chipotle presented by H3O team.

The system is built around three major elements: a harness of seven active LED markers, a standalone sensor array, and a desktop or laptop PC loaded with the Retül software. According to Carver, the active markers are far more tolerant of ambient lighting conditions than passive reflective ones, and the sensor array isn't thrown off by reflective accents on the riders' footwear or clothing. In theory, the system can even run outdoors.

Once the rider is set up with their bike on a stationary trainer, markers are placed on key anatomical rider features and the sensor array is set up about 2-3m from the rider's side on level ground… and that's about it. According to Carver, the system is intentionally "dumbed down" as much as possible to minimize operator error ("There is so much intelligence built in," he says) but the results and potential capabilities of the system are anything but low on the IQ scale.

Three sensors record the spatial position
Photo ©: James Huang
(Click for larger image)

After a short warm up session, the system is ready to begin acquiring data and only two scans (one per side) are required for a complete picture. Although the sensor array is in only one location off to the side of the rider, Carver insists that it offers true sub-millimeter 3-D accuracy for parameters that include (but are not limited to) knee angle, knee-over-pedal spindle, back angle, and even side-to-side knee tracing throughout the pedal stroke. There's also an integrated power meter, although Carver admits that it's not currently as accurate as he would prefer (an improved version is already in the works). A customizable report details all of the measured parameters in an easy-to-understand format and all data is acquired in real time; there is no post-processing of any kind.

Among the most interesting developments on the immediate horizon is an 'LED on a stick' that can be used to nearly instantly model frame geometry: just place the marker at a critical point, record the location with the sensor array, and bingo, the system can produce an accurate stick-figure representation of a rider's current machine.

Carver says that Retül has already received payment for three of the US$10,000 systems with an additional 15-20 units "in the works." The company is focusing on cycling for now, but readily admits that its ultimate goal is to enter into any/all motion sports analysis opportunities, including running, swimming, golf, or throwing sports. Keep an eye on this one. /JH

Team Barloworld set to receive first round of new Bianchi training bikes

The new paint job
Photo ©: Gregor Brown
(Click for larger image)

Team Barloworld is already set to receive its first round of training bikes from new sponsor Bianchi just weeks after the official sponsorship announcement was released. Riders will first find themselves on the carbon 928 T-Cube, although it was not disclosed which rigidity level they would use.

Team bikes will be equipped with Shimano transmissions and Mavic wheels, while FSA will provide its cranksets, brake calipers, handlebars, stems, and seatposts. /JH

SiS joins revamped Astana

Sports nutrition provider Science in Sport is the latest organisation to partner with the revised Astana cycling team. The Kazakh-backed squad has undergone a period of massive change during the off season, with the former team management dumped in favour of a Johan Bruyneel-led organisation.

"We are excited and looking forward to working with the new Astana team as it will provide us with valuable feedback to further develop our leading range of energy, recovery and adaptation products" said Science in Sports' Peter Slater. "It will also present Science in Sport with the opportunity to work closely with riders such as [Alberto] Contador and [Levi] Leipheimer to further improve and develop our existing range of products.

The Astana squad has been rebuilt from the ground up over recent months, with a host of new rider and sponsorship announcements being revealed since the former Discovery Channel boss was appointed to direct the outfit. After several high-profile doping scandals forced the team's departure from last year's Tour de France, the team has much work to do to revamp its image and SiS is hopeful that Bruyneel can steer the supposedly new-and-improved Astana team into calmer waters in '08.

"Like Team CSC the new Astana team are committed to the anti-doping program developed by Dr Rasmus Damsgaard, which was an important factor which influenced our decision to support Astana," added Slater.

The announcement of the relationship with Astana takes the total of ProTour teams that Science in Sport works with to three. "We, the Astana team have chosen SiS as our energy provider because we believe it is the best product out there, and also because they continuously strive to make that product better still," said Astana director sportive Sean Yates. /GJ

Ritchey Design extends Health Net and Symmetrics deals

Ritchey Design has re-signed agreements with both the Health Net presented by Maxxis and Symmetrics fueled by FarmPure teams for 2008. The announcement comes just weeks after Ritchey Design signed on as a sponsor and supplier of another top North American squad, Jelly Belly Professional Cycling Team.

"Health Net and Symmetrics are two of the toughest competitive teams on the professional road racing circuit," said Steve Parke, General Manager and Vice President of Marketing for Ritchey Design. "We believe bike racing is the best place to prove our component designs. By signing with these two superb racing teams, we continue to move forward in producing the most innovative, top-quality products on the market."

Ritchey will supply Health Net with its World Championship Series (WCS) Carbon One-Bolt seatpost, alloy handlebars, Carbon 4-AXIS stems, and Pro oversized 30-degree stems and alloy adjustable stems for time trial bikes.

"To run a consistently successful racing program we have to use equipment that can take the beating of 140 days of racing and 16,000 miles of training," said Thierry Attias, President and Director of Sponsorship for Health Net Presented by Maxxis. "Ritchey products can do that. Its products are cutting edge and super reliable. Any other partnership would be a compromise."

The 2008 season will be Ritchey Design's fifth year sponsoring Health Net and its third year with Symmetrics. /GJ

Specialized recalls S-Works 2D helmets

Specialized has recalled its lightweight S-Works 2D helmet
Photo ©: James Huang
(Click for larger image)

Specialized, in cooperation with the Consumer Product Safety Commission, has issued a voluntary recall of its range-topping S-Works 2D helmet in the U.S. and Canada. Approximately 3000 helmets are included in the recall, although helmets sold in other markets are not affected.

According to the official CPSC recall notice, the helmet does not currently meet North American safety standards. Specialized, however, claims the testing failures have been solely isolated to the chin strap buckle. Currently, no injuries have been reported.

2D owners are asked to immediately return their helmets to a Specialized dealer. Affected helmets will be replaced by a complimentary Decibel model (as in yes, you get to keep it) until new helmet shipments arrive this month. The new helmet will simply be dubbed 'S-Works' and will also include a protective hard carrying case.

Additional information can be found on Specialized's web site: www.specialized.com /JH

Dahon announces voluntary recall

Folding bicycle specialist Dahon has announced a voluntary recall on its seat post bolts in selected models of its 2007 range after the bolt's steel material was found to fail specified strength requirements. While it is believed the faulty bolts only affected select batches of its 2007 shipments, all seat post bolts will be replaced as the company has been unable to isolate specific production runs.

Affected 2007 Dahon models include the Matrix, Jack, Espresso, Cadenza, Tournado and Smooth Hound bicycles, all of which feature bolt-on 27.2mm diameter seat posts labeled "BioLogic™ PostPump". Owners of such models should contact their original deal or another local Dahon dealer for a free replacement bolt.

For more information, including instructions on replacing the bolt, see the company's website: www.dahon.com. /GJ


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Images by James Huang/Cyclingnews.com

Images by Retül

Images by James Huang/Cyclingnews.com

Images by Gregor Brown/Cyclingnews.com