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Las Vegas, USA, September 26-30, 2005
Road coverage, Day 1: trade show floor
Sands Convention Centre, Las Vegas, Nevada, September 28
Crank Brothers finally releases their Cobalt crank and revamps their pedal lineup
By James Huang
Well, there was clearly no shortage of exotica to be found on the first official day of Interbike 2005. Most of the crazier stuff was rather discretely displayed (and occasionally practically hidden!). If nothing else, many of these components serve as testament to the fact that carbon fiber component development still has a long way to go. I for one am eager to see just how far it'll go. Otherwise, there were plenty of other interesting things to be seen, including some promising suspension developments and some more detailed photos of SRAM's much anticipated new road group.
The innovative and creative Crank Brothers released some more information on their new '06 products during the second day of the Outdoor Demo. First off, their much anticipated Cobalt crankset has finally been released for production after a very long wait. The crankarms use a unique two-piece construction with a stainless steel "cap" bonded to an aluminum base. The hollow end result is allegedly lighter and stiffer than a one-piece aluminum setup.
Crank Brothers have added even more titanium to their top of the line Egg Beater and Candy pedals, with new "4ti" versions of both. The previous Egg Beater 3ti pedals were already silly light, but now even the mini-platform Candy 4ti pedals break the sub-200g barrier at 196g per pair. Spindle lengths on both pedals have been reduced by 4mm per side in response to overwhelming pro rider and consumer requests. In addition, the top level pedals also receive more durable cleats that also now incorporate an additional 2mm of lateral adjustability.
The new 5050 pedal is the first platform pedal to offer removable pedal plates. The removable plates make for easy access to the platform pins, and the plates themselves are slightly harder than the body for better impact resistance. The pins are fed through from the inside of the pedal so there is almost no chance of grinding off the allen heads during use and pin length, quantity, and location are fully user-definable.
Litespeed 2006: bucking the industry trend
While the rest of the road world seems to be on an endless quest to add as much carbon fiber to their bikes as possible, Litespeed has taken an interesting turn by reverting back to full-titanium construction on nearly their entire line. 2006 sees the introduction of radical tube shaping which is reported to increase drivetrain rigidity and aerodynamic efficiency, improve ride quality, and reduce weight without the need for carbon fiber. The astounding 770g weight of their '06 Ghisallo is proof positive that titanium development is far from over.
Luciano USA: Smaller Colorado Springs bike builder with big aspirations
Luciano Bicycles has been quietly offering upper end road, mountain, and TT bikes in the Colorado area since 2001, but are reaching out into bigger marketplaces for 2006. Their Primavera road bike is constructed using Dedacciai EM2 main tubes paired with Dedacciai's vibration-damping DAVS monobox carbon chainstays and Blacktail carbon seatstays. The XCR hardtail mountain bike frame uses more pedestrian 6000 series aluminum but with some nice details such as the elegant headtube gusset and seamless transition into the vibration-damping carbon seatstays.
All of Luciano's bikes at Interbike had a nicely finished and complete look to them with clean lines, well integrated graphics, and impressive parts spec including rare carbon road and mountain cranksets from Stronglight. We weren't able to ride any of these bikes, but the numbers and materials suggest that they should hold their own quite nicely.
First impressions: Temple Cycles Colibri
Temple Cycles is definitely not your typical custom bike builder. The Santa Barbara-based company charter limits frame output to only 300 units per year, and the cost of complete bikes has averaged approximately US$12,000. The custom-only frames are made from a mix of 6/4 and 3/2.5 titanium alloys and carbon fiber, with tubing diameters and frame geometries and configurations adapted to suit the performance requirements of each customer. By itself, that doesn't seem to justify the exorbitant cost, but the numbers don't nearly begin to explain the whole story.
Lance Johnson, Temple's founder, refers to their custom process as "expressioneering". Rather than offer their customers a laundry list of options from which to choose, Temple Cycles simply asks their customers what exactly they want or desire in their bicycles and will stop at no length until that goal is achieved. Frames are typically outfitted with a host of imported exotica from companies such as AX Lightness, CarbonTi, M5, and Schmolke. Some components offered by these boutique companies can run as much as some complete entry-level bicycles. Still, though, bolting a bunch of rare lightweight bits to a carbon and titanium bike isn't all that newsworthy.
Temple Cycles is solely dedicated to satisfying every need of their customers and likens itself as the "Four Seasons hotel of the bike world". Other hotels can provide a comfy bed and well-appointed room, but when you put in the request for a champagne-filled bathtub, they'll not only say "ok", but also ask what brand you prefer. To that end, Temple Cycles can not only build a premium-level machine in terms of performance, their bespoke services go above and beyond to meet any customer's desire. They don't just do custom paint; they do custom-tanned leather saddle covers and matching leather handlebar wrap. Custom-anodized Nokon cable housing, gold leaf decals, jeweled headtube badges, custom-tinted carbon clearcoat…you name it, they'll find a way to do it. As Johnson affirms, "anything is possible", and options are not limited just to what is commercially available or even reasonable.
Temple Cycles sent me out on an exclusive test ride of their Colibri, their top-level 6/4 Ti and carbon road bike outfitted with an exotic mix that added up to just about 13.5lbs. This particular bike was fitted to be a purpose-built climber and was simply amazing going uphill. Drivetrain rigidity was admirable, and the ride quality was excellent without diminishing road feel. The weight balance was a little too far back (leaving the front end a little too light) so I wasn't really able to hang it out on the fast descents of the 13 mile long Red Rock scenic drive, but admittedly, this frame was not built specifically for me.
All in all, I can't say that the Colibri was a head up on the competition in terms of performance, but that isn't really its intended purpose. If what you desire is a high-performance bike that is as much a custom coachpiece as it is a bicycle, a Temple is an easy decision.
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Images by James Huang/Cyclingnews.com