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Germany, August 31-September 3, 2006
On Show 2006: Eurobike, September 6, 2006
Part 6: Home-grown gear from Storck, Schwalbe, Ortlieb and Gore
As well as being the first of the season's major international shows, Eurobike's location in Friedrichshafen, Germany makes it the place to be for Germany's domestic bike industry. James Huang looks at four equipment makers in the vanguard of the on-going German bike boom.
Storck goes aero
In its decade-plus of existence, Storck Bicycles has become somewhat of an icon in the German bicycle industry with its highly engineered and thoroughly tested machines. For 2007, Storck introduces its first full-on time trial machine, simply named Aero.
Historically, Storck designers have always been more concerned with the overall performance of their frames rather than just what they measure on the scale. That being said, the carbon fiber Aero is still competitively light at 1200g but is said to be the stiffest time trial frame in existence for efficient power transfer. Storck uses a two-piece bonded construction method for the Aero, which also includes the company's rear-entry carbon fiber dropouts.
As befitting its namesake, the Aero features heavily sculpted tube shaping, internal cable routing, as well as a particularly cleanly done aero seatpost cover. The slightly sloping frame geometry will be offered in two sizes, 51cm and 55cm.
In addition to the new Aero, Storck has also introduced the Scenario CD 0.8. The new frame is still in the preproduction stage but will be the company's first sub-900g road frame that still lives up to its stringent test standards. Storck uses its rear-entry carbon fiber dropouts here as well, but opts for a three-piece bonded monocoque carbon construction method.
The workhorse Adrenalin full-suspension mountain bike frame gets updated for 2007 with a longer-legged 129mm travel version. The rear triangle features appropriately altered geometry as well as a new carbon fiber linkage.
Schwalbe goes practically puncture-proof with the Ultremo
Tire maker Schwalbe had a nifty little display set up to demonstrate the densely woven Vectran breaker used on its new Marathon Supreme trekking tire. A short section of pointy toothpick was mounted on the end of a pivoting weighted arm that was mercilessly driven into an inflated tire. As you'd expect (no sense in setting up that sort of demo if you don't already know the outcome, right?), the toothpick pierced the soft rubber tread but was then deflected by the protective breaker. Tire and tube 1, toothpick 0.
Schwalbe also integrates this new layer into its new Ultremo road racing tire. Woven Vectran is becoming increasingly popular as a protection layer as it is extremely resistance to punctures and cuts, yet it weighs next to nothing. In addition, it does little to affect the ride characteristics of the tire, unlike other reinforcements which have tended to kill a tire's road feel and increase rolling resistance.
When we asked Schwalbe race support guy Lars Teutenberg to repeat the same demonstration on the new Ultremo, he was rather hesitant, saying that he'd "never tried it before". The mounted display tire showed no punctures in the tread whatsoever so I was apt to believe him.
Nevertheless, Teutenberg set it up and let the weighted arm fly after a bit of prodding. With a look of relief, the score was now Tire and tube 2, Toothpick 0. Interesting, indeed. Vectran layer aside, Schwalbe covers the casing with a new triple compound slick tread with a longer wearing center, softer shoulder, and high rebound base compound to decrease rolling resistance. The Ultremo will be offered in both clincher and tubular versions, and the clincher version weighs in at an impressively light 195g for a 700 x 23c casing.
Ortlieb - German for "waterproof"
Ok, well no, not literally, but it may as well be. German outfit Ortlieb's complete line of packs and panniers is all waterproof to some degree with heavy duty linings, taped seams, and special waterproof zippers littered throughout the range. In fact, some of its products are rated waterproof down to a depth of 100m. I'm not sure what you'd be doing with a bike down there, but so be it!
For 2007, Ortlieb expands its saddle bag range with the MudRacer, a waterproof EVA soft foam box that will be offered in three different sizes. The foam is waterproof on its own, and Ortlieb encases the entire top half of the bag (including the wraparound two-way zipper) with a form-fit silicone 'hood'. A mounting bracket attaches to the saddle rails and allows for easy installation and removal, and an internal foam liner quiets down the contents.
Wet weather commuters that prefer not to use panniers will likely be enamored with Ortlieb's new Cor13 backpack. The pack can swallow 13 litres of stuff and protects its contents with fully waterproof fabric and Ortlieb's unique TIZIP waterproof zippers. An internal sleeve is sized for a hydration bladder, and Ortlieb even provides a port (hermetically sealed, of course) for passing the hose to the outside.
The exterior of the pack is dressed up with a removable compression panel and well padded foam back for ventilation. Did I mention that it's waterproof?
Gore Bike Wear couples thoughtful design with top-end fabric technology
Textile powerhouse Gore continues to expand its collection of well-engineering cycling clothing. At the top of the heap for the upcoming fall months is the new Xenon Windstopper jersey. The bulk of the front of the jersey is made of Gore's three-layer Windstopper laminate material to guard against chilly winds, but carefully chosen zones use standard material for better breathability.
The cut of the garment is particularly unique, with an unusually high-cut collar up front (low cut in back) to provide better coverage when in the cycling position. Likewise, the bottom of the front side of the jersey is cut rather high so as not to bunch up at the waist. Pre-bent arms offer a more formed fit, and long zippered vents on either side of the chest offer flexible ventilation. As with all of Gore's Xenon collection, a plethora of reflective material offers 360° visibility.
Gore uses its lightweight Paclite material for a variety of cycling outerwear, including a jacket, pants, and even shorts. The Paclite laminate coating is waterproof and breathable (go figure, coming from Gore) and compacts particularly tightly for easy stowage. What on earth would you do with waterproof shorts, you ask? Just because it's raining doesn't necessarily mean that it's cold outside, and sometimes waterproof pants are just too hot. Gore's shell shorts easily go over your standard cycling shorts and should provide excellent protection to keep your chamois dry and comfy.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by James Huang/Cyclingnews