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Las Vegas, USA, October 5 - 8, 2002
The US bike industry is known for clever engineering, but also for the short life of some innovative companies. Gerard Knapp looks at what's new from three long-term innovators: American Classic, Speedplay and Graber.
American Classic rolls on
Bill Shook is a riding and products development legend in the US bicycle industry. The former champion rider has many patents to his name, so many that he forgot to renew one he was granted for a bottle cage design and was only reminded of it when the design was copied by another manufacturer.
No matter, he has companies like Rolf and WTB to attend to, who are using his patented six-pawl rear cassette hub design. Shook points out that no other multiple pawl system on the market can ensure that all pawls are engaged at the same time, which he says offers greater strength and longevity compared to other rear hub freewheel systems. It can also be pulled apart and fixed quite easily, unlike the 'don't touch' approach of the major component makers' products.
This design is the centre-piece of the lightweight and strong American Classic wheelsets on offer, while the company is also offering conversion cassette sprockets which allow Shimano rear hubs to be used with 10-speed Campagnolo drivetrains.
Other products included quick release skewers, bottom brackets and seat posts. Almost all American Classic products are covered by one or more patents, an indication of the clever design applied by Shook.
More information can be found at www.amclassic.com
Speedplay's free floating, single-piece Frog cleats for MTB
At Interbike the innovative US manufacturer of road, track and MTB pedal systems, Speedplay, was demonstrating the redesigned cleat for its Frog MTB pedal. The new single-piece design is said to be stronger and easier to use than before, while remaining compatible with all SPD shoe systems.
The company continues to spread its products around the world and has developed a strong support base in Europe, with the RDM Flanders team in Belgium and Amore & Vita in Italy using the Zero pedals. For next year Speedplay has also received expressions of interest from other teams, such as Ernesto Colnago's development team.
On the US front, the company's Zero road pedals were used by the Mercury Cycling Team (who won 97 races this year), Prime Alliance and Navigators teams, who all enjoyed great success on the road. Speedplay's main sponsored athlete in the Credit Agricole squad, Jonathan Vaughters, resigned from racing in Europe during the middle of this year's Tour de France, perhaps the company's only setback all year as it continues to grow.
More information can be found at www.speedplay.com
Graber spins up a world first
The world's first magnetic trainer with progressive resistance was the claim made by Graber Products when it unveiled the CycleOps Magneto indoor training unit on its booth at Interbike this year. The Magneto uses rare earth magnets supported by springs to provide resistance which varies depending on the rider's cadence and rear wheel speed - the centrifugal force of the spinning unit pushes the magnets away from the centre of the unit. The faster it spins, the greater the resistance; it could be considered something like a wind-trainer, only quieter.
Each of the Magnetos also comes with a training video directed by Carmichael Training Systems and one month's free coaching, while there is a lifetime guarantee on the magneto unit. With a resistance trainer, the effort in the workout is determined by gearing and leg speed and they provide simple and reliable indoor training units.
On the very high-tech side of the Graber Products booth was the upgraded CycleOps PowerTap onboard power measurement system. This uses a torque sensor in a specially designed rear hub housing that detects the power output through the drive train and sends a power reading to the handlebar-mounted recorder, which also doubles as a speedometer, tripmeter and heart rate monitor.
The system now features enhanced weather sealing for the rear hub unit and improved display for the handlebar unit. Once the ride is over, data can be downloaded to a PC via a serial cable for storage and analysis.
The PowerTap is slightly heavier than a standard rear hub, and the absolute power reading is slightly lower than a dynamometer, compared to an SRM which has a reading slightly higher than a dynamometer. That didn't seem to bother Dede Demet-Barry in this year's Montreal round of the Women's World Cup, which she won while using her PowerTap rear wheel.
More information can be found at www.graberproducts.com
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