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Germany, August 31-September 3, 2007
Part 10 - Aug 31 - Sept 3:
Ultra-style and ultralight go hand in hand
By James Huang
Lazer Helmets dives into urban market
Belgium-based Lazer Helmets proudly states that it is the oldest helmet manufacturer worldwide that is still active, and appears to show few signs of slowing down since its inception in 1919. In just the last seven years, Lazer helmets have seized three world championships, an Olympic gold medal, Paris-Roubaix twice, and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
The top-end Genesis model carries on for 2008 in both road and MTB versions with Lazer's unique Rollsys circumferential fit system, Rigidity Brace System (RBS) internal reinforcement cage, color-matched pads and straps, and the same nineteen-port ventilation system used by Tom Boonen, Paolo Bettini, and the rest of the Quick Step-Innergetic team. Changes are mostly limited to aesthetics, but among the new colorways is a fantastic 'World White Gold' model resplendent in gold accents and hard-earned World Championship stripes.
The mid-priced Blade is revamped to create the Blade 2, which boasts a new shape and better fit courtesy of its Turnfit Pro adjustable retention system. Lazer also introduces the aerodynamic Bullet lid to supplement its existing Chrono 3 model. The Bullet comes equipped with fifteen vents, flexible coverage around the ears, and in-mold construction.
In a distinct departure from its competition-minded helmets, Lazer also displayed its new Urbanize concept intended for style-minded commuters. The casual shape includes an integrated visor, Rollsys retention system, and internal reinforcements. In addition, a proprietary lighting system is designed to snap directly into the front and rear of the helmet for nighttime visibility.
Assos introduces next generation of bib shorts
Assos is not a company that religiously overhauls its lineup year after year, so any major changes are generally fairly significant. For 2008, Assos revamps its premium F1 line of shorts to yield a new 'S5' generation. Claimed benefits include a 25% reduction in volume and weight and 23% less pressure in 'sensitive' areas, as well as a 35% increase in breathability and 18% more compression in muscle areas, all courtesy of a new 'Type A.430' compression fabric, refined cut patterns, and new insert shapes.
The top-end F1.13 S5 and F1.13 Lady's include an aggressively cycling-specific six-panel cut (think mildly uncomfortable when standing upright but perfect when on the bike) and an asymmetric gripper design. The men's version also incorporates a carbon fiber mesh back panel (carbon fiber?!). The slightly more casual F1.Mille S5 uses a less aggressive four-panel cut and antistatic mesh back panel.
Assos will also introduce its classically-styled and limited edition Six-Days jersey, based on Assos' popular SS.Uno jersey but includes a full spandex shoulder. The Six-Days jersey will be offered in a wide range of bold colors, and each will include a matching cap and pair of socks, as well as a commemorative book. The jersey, cap, and socks will only be available as a complete set, but Assos will offer matching gloves separately.
German firms combine forces to create 3.3kg machine
Eurobike is always an excellent venue to both display and view ultralight project bikes that easily shatter most people's conceptions of how light a bicycle can be. ProTour team riders may have the UCI's 6.8kg minimum weight ruling on their minds on a regular basis, but one German consumer obviously couldn't care less as his shockingly light 3.35kg (7.39lb) road machine was proudly on display at Eurobike.
The stunning showpiece was built around a German-made Spin custom carbon frame claimed to weigh well under 700g. Other component shockers include a 370g THM carbon crankset (with carbon fiber spindle), a 79g one-piece integrated saddle and post, sub-90g brake levers, and 9g shift levers.
To be fair, we're certainly not sure how well this bike would hold up under typical use, and the owner's claim of budgeting for just 20g of tubular glue doesn't exactly lend worlds of confidence. Other practical issues such as the five-speed straight-block cassette, non-indexed shifting, awfully uncomfortable-looking handlebar bend, and the bike's overall spindly-looking nature also raise serious questions.
Nevertheless, it provides a clear picture of how far the envelope can be pushed. How much further will it go? Wait until next year and see…
Pro bikes on display at Eurobike
A veritable fleet of perfectly 'normal' 6.8kg+ bikes were also on hand in Friedrichshafen this year in the form of various pro riders' machines. Included in the lineup were Gilberto Simoni's Scott Addict, Marianne Vos' Van Tuyl time trial machine, Cadel Evan's Ridley Noah and Erwin Vervecken's Ridley X-Night, and even Floyd Landis' BMC TT01 Time Machine.
Among the most unconventional of the pro machines on display, though, was Thomas Frischknecht's Scott Spark cross-country full-suspension bike. Frischi is well-known to be a certifiable weight weenie and while all of the equipment appeared readily available, there was still obviously a lot of thought put into where grams could be shaved.
Among the most radical component choices was his custom wheelset, which consisted of ultralight Ritchey WCS hubs (which are based on American Classic's design) and carbon fiber tubular rims wrapped in custom Dugast tubulars with actual Ritchey tread patterns.
Ritchey has been a long-time sponsor of Frischknecht, and the WCS world championship stripes also grace the saddle, seatpost head, handlebar, stem, grips, bar ends, crankarms, and pedals. There is no external bearing bottom bracket to be found here, though, as Frischi prefers to run Ritchey's forged aluminum and ISIS-compatible WCS crankset with just two rings and an especially narrow bottom bracket.
How light is the total package? We weren't able to weight it ourselves, but it should suffice to say that it certainly isn't heavy.
What show are we at again?
Not every bike that was displayed at Eurobike was bred for competition. Commuter and trekking bikes are also popular in the region, but some could easily have come straight out of the North American Handmade Bicycle Show. One particular creation was virtually guaranteed to win the 'heaviest in show' prize and made no apologies for it.
Tucked away in the Tr!ckstuff booth were the works of 'cycloholic' metal artist Oliver Baur, including a gothic-looking chopper and a pair of the most industrial-looking (and fantastically durable) bicycle repair stands we've laid eyes on.
Baur says that most of his raw materials come from metal scrap yards, and the end results typically only begin to take their final form once he ascertains what he has available to work with. For example, the legs of the repair stands spent their past life as part of a hospital bed.
North America-based consumers should expect to pay a hefty shipping fee as Baur is based in Germany, but well-heeled European cycling aficionados with a penchant for something unique owe it to themselves to pay him a visit. More information is available on Baur's web site at www.cycloholic.de.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by James Huang/Cyclingnews.com