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EICMA show -
Milan, Italy, November 6 - 11, 2007
Part 4 - Classic Italian from the halls of EICMA
By Gregor Brown in Milan
Bianchi's three tiers
Bianchi is almost as much a part of cycling as the bicycle itself - the nameplate has been rolling on Italian strade since 1885 - and offers discerning riders three high-performance tiers for 2008. The Hor Categorie (HOC) range focuses on minimizing weight, and includes the carbon fiber 928 Carbon SL and the aluminium FG Lite. The curvy 928 Carbon SL employs 'Nano Tech' composite to help it achieve its superb 850g claimed weight for a medium-sized frame. Complete bikes will weigh just 6.1kg (without pedals). Named after company representative and cycling great Felice Gimondi, the all-aluminium FG Lite is similar to what Liquigas' Danilo Di Luca used in early 2006 and is built with aggressively shaped and butted Dedacciai tubing.
The Born for Performance (B4P) line-up is best represented in 2008 by the 928 Carbon T-Cube, with the "T-Cube" signifying Bianchi's use of tube-to-tube construction technology instead of lugged construction. The extra rigidity of the frame as compared to the lighter 928 Carbon SL will likely see it used by the 2008 Barloworld team in the early season Classics and sprint races. The tube-to-tube construction will also allow for custom frame geometries if the team requires it.
The B4P line will also include titanium and aluminium frames in the form of the titanium S9 Matta and 1885 TB Hydro/Carbon. According to Bianchi, the Matta was built on experience the company gained when Magnus Backstedt rode an almost identical machine to victory in the 2004 Paris-Roubaix. For 2008, the frame gains a newly integrated headset and an all-titanium rear end. At the other end of the spectrum, the more entry-level 1885 is built with triple-butted 7000-series aluminium augmented by carbon fiber seat stays.
As is fast becoming the trend among all the major companies, Bianchi will offer a slightly more relaxed geometry with its Coast to Coast (C2C) range. Modifications from its all-out racing line will include longer chain stays and a slightly more comfortable ride to appeal to Gran Fondo-type riders who are still looking to get to their destination quickly but without the racing number. The 928 Carbon is an all-carbon affair while the Nirone (named after the address in Milano where Signor Eduardo Bianchi got started) uses an aluminum front end with carbon seat stays. Both incorporate so-called 'K-Vid' in the fork and seat stays for added shock absorption.
Campagnolo offer slight but significant modifications
Campagnolo didn't debut any major introductions at this year's EICMA show but did come forward with some more subtle modifications and additions that include new carbon Centaur cranks, a more versatile front derailleur, and titanium flavoured Shamal hoops.
Centaur's new Ultra-Torque carbon cranks have substantially raised the stock of Campagnolo's third tier Centaur group, which is now nearly on par with the top-end Record and Chorus offerings in terms of performance if but a little bit heavier. The cranks add to a group that now includes a carbon-enhanced rear derailleur and Ergopower levers, as well as the company's striking D-Skeleton brake design. Campagnolo will offer the carbon Centaur cranks in 170, 172.5 and 175mm arm lengths with either compact or standard-sized chain rings.
Campagnolo was one of the first companies to supplement its standard front derailleur with a compact-specific version but will assimilate the two into an all-in-one cage design for 2008. The new Record QS model will now accommodate both standard and compact cranksets, making for less confusion for consumers and fewer SKUs for shops. According to Campagnolo, the updated cage shape is also more rigid than previous versions for faster and more accurate shifts.
The third significant change is with the Shamal Ultra wheelset, which will now be offered in a titanium-look for 2008. The updated version will be a functional carryover from last year with the same milled aluminum hoops, bladed aluminum spokes, and 2:1 and G3 lacing patterns as before. Not surprisingly, claimed weight is also the same at 1395g for the pair.
Italian shoe manufacturer Diadora brought its racers to the EICMA trade show, only in this case those racers were shoes, not riders. Last year's Proracer Carbon model now becomes the Proracer Carbon Evo model thanks to a new dual-density heel cup that supplements last year's Morpho Cage design to provide additional stability, support, and comfort. The ratcheting Multifit Adjust strap offers three-position length adjustment to accommodate a wider variety of foot volumes, and the underside of the strap is fitted with gel inserts to minimize pressure.
As Sidi has professed for years, Diadora says that feedback from riders like Damiano Cunego has indicated that an ultra-rigid full carbon sole may be good for some sprinters but too stiff for normal racing conditions. As such, the Proracer Carbon Evo uses a full-length carbon insert surrounded by a hard nylon outsole that provides a bit of engineered flex for better long-distance comfort. Diadora will offer the new Proracer Carbon Evo in red, white, or black.
Last year's Teamracer stays mostly the same for 2008 but with many options. The shoe comes in both Race Fit and an extra-wide Magnum Fit, as well as four colours: pearl/silver, black/silver, silver/royal, and dark silver. The latter two don't use a carbon insert for the sole, instead integrating a nylon/fibreglass construction.
Speedracer is a completely new model for 2008 that is built with a wider toe box. Like the Teamracer, the Speedracer will be available in both carbon/nylon and fiberglass/nylon soles and a variety of colours: white, black/white, black, red and white/yellow.
Santini flies the flag
Santini's Italian heritage is flying high for 2008 with its Flag line, whose basic colours are highlighted by the classic tricolore. The jerseys feature a quick-drying fabric that Santini says works best without a base layer, and the bib shorts include a Gel Intech Anatomic (GIA) chamois. Externally stitched silicone leg grippers promise to keep the shorts put without leaving indentations in your leg.
Flying around the Italian Alps might be a heated affair during the summer months but descents can be chilly. In response, Santini offers a lightweight sleeveless windbreaker vest made completely of polyester, and complemented with three rear pockets. After the ride is through, feel free to wrap yourself up in the front zip and pockets of Santini's cozy new post-ride track jacket.
Other summer 2008 offerings from Santini are the Geometry, Supereroi and Dragonfly lines. The Geometry follows cycling's carbon trend with its 1% carbon-infused polyester fabric, augmented with a reflective zipper and labeling, and Santini also offers up a more lighthearted look with the Superman, Batman, and Zorro themes of its Supereroi ('super heroes') line of jerseys. The Dragonfly is Santini's women's-specific line, incorporating high-performance wicking fabrics and internal electronics pocket into its bella print designs.