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Germany, August 30-September 2, 2007
Part five - Pushing the envelope and eco-consciousness
By James Huang in Friedrichshafen, Germany
BMC 2008: Astana who?
BMC looks to have already put the sour experience of its Astana sponsorship well behind it based on the thoroughly encouraging range on display at Eurobike. There was not a single reference to the Kazahk-based team to be found within its sprawling booth, and few seemed to care much, if at all.
The stunning full-carbon mountain bikes BMC showed off last year finally make their much-anticipated official debut this year with production frames already shipping to dealers. Both exclusively use unidirectional carbon fiber plies and bear BMC's distinct Integrated Skeleton Design styling cues, but only the 100mm travel full-suspension Fourstroke 01 uses Easton CNT-enhanced resin. BMC claims frame weights of just 1.79kg (3.93lb) for the FS01 (without shock) and 1.26kg (2.77lb) for the Team Elite 01 hardtail.
Far and away, though, the aluminum Fourstroke 02 and Team Elite 02 receive the most attention with thoroughly overhauled frames for 2008. Gone is the machined aluminum Crosslock Skeleton seat cluster design in favor of a lighter tubular design, and BMC now makes liberal use of hydroformed tubing that eliminates additional gussets without compromising frame strength. The FS02 is now an all-aluminum design with a welded rear end; the carbon rear triangle option is just a memory but the Virtual Pivot System dual-link suspension kinematics remain the same from last year. Still, bare frame weight (without shock) is claimed to be just 2.31kg (5.08lb) and the hardtail is said to be 1.65kg (3.63lb).
Last year's awkward-looking Superstroke all-mountain platform has been replaced by the decidedly more handsome Supertrail which offers 140mm of rear wheel travel in a lighter 2.76kg (6.07lb) package (without shock). The top tube is made from hydroformed halves that are welded down the center, and triple butting shaves unnecessary grams. The replaceable rear dropouts are gone, but that's probably no big deal since they were so insanely massive last year that it's unlikely anyone ever broke one (feel free to submit pictures otherwise!).
Just in time for cyclocross season comes the upgraded CX01 which now boasts nearly identical construction as the SLT01 Team Machine road frame. All of the main triangle tubes are now carbon fiber for lighter weight and a refined ride, while carbon is still used for the wishbone-style seat stay assembly. As with the SLT01, the main tubes are bonded into BMC's Crosslock Skeleton-design aluminum lugs.
BMC's road frames carry over mostly unchanged from last year, with the exception of new carbon fiber lay-up schedules at the bottom bracket for the SLC01 Pro Machine for a little added stiffness.
Pedro's grows greener year by year
Few bicycle companies can brag about the extent of its environmental practices as much as Pedro's. Its new Super Pit Kit 2.0 now exclusively includes biodegradable cleaners and lubricants, the brushes incorporate natural fibers (and wood handles on some), and Pedro's even includes a real sea sponge (which works better than synthetic ones, anyway).
Pedro's aims to carry its eco-friendly theme throughout its entire catalog (it claims about 70% right now) and has targeted its complete fluid line to comply by 2009. The company moves towards that goal with the new low-viscosity Go! chain lube which uses a natural canola oil base. In spite of its plant-based origins, Pedro's insists it still works well (and you can feel a little better about yourself at the same time).
Perhaps the most ambitious of Pedro's projects is its new Ethik fabric, which was developed in cooperation with Criteria G.E. Environmental Management of Canada. The tightly woven material is made of high-purity, highly recyclable high-density polyethylene (HDPE) that is printed with water-soluble soy-based inks. The fabric itself is even woven in local factories chosen based on a number of factors, including distance which impacts the size of the end product's carbon footprint.
Pedro's hopes you'll consider using its Ethik Metro Market Bag instead of disposable grocery bags (and ride your bike there, too, as it's specifically sized to fit Wald baskets). Pedro's claims a ten-year lifespan for the stuff, and you can chuck it in the recycling bin when it finally gives up the ghost.
A slightly tougher sell might be its Ethik Seat Bag which uses an unconventional (for a seat bag, at least) roll top closure. In combination with the inherently watertight HDPE, though, the dry bag construction does render the bag impervious to wet commutes. It's a bit odd-looking (Pedro's admits it hasn't settled on a print yet) but usefully-sized and ultralight.
Schwalbe revises most popular models, expands use of Triple Compound technology
These days, about the worst anyone can accuse Schwalbe of is using goofy names for its otherwise-excellent tires. The Racing Ralph gets an all-new tread design that is supposedly faster rolling than before and provides better grip, especially when cornering thanks to its Nobby Nic-like 'U-Block' side knobs.
Fast Fred apparently had a bad year as it's now dubbed Furious Fred and is out for blood. The original design was already blazingly quick, but the new one looks to deliver similar rolling characteristics as well as much improved grip on hardpack thanks to a dramatic increase in the number of biting edges. Both the Racing Ralph and Furious Fred are now also built with Schwalbe's exceptional Triple Compound technology which pairs a high-rebound (and fast rolling) base tread covered in a dual-density compound that has proven to hold up surprisingly well in the past.
Select models also get the tightly-woven Vectran breaker belt used in the road-going Ultremo, and optional Snakeskin-equipped versions also add further protection against sidewall damage. New Evo Tubeless casings on UST-compatible models supposedly drop 100g from last year's versions.
Niterider TriNewt: ouch, my eyes!
Niterider says its newest TriNewt model is its brightest ever with a claimed output of 500 lumens. The high-power and high-efficient LED emitters are carefully arranged within a custom reflector and shielded with a Borafloat lens which Niterider says is more efficient than glass lenses. The accompanying Li-ion battery offers 3 1/2 hours of run time on the highest setting, and the system is easily mounted on handlebars or helmets with a clever gimbel-style mount that allows for precise aiming. An optional wireless remote will likely appeal to helmet-mounted riders who will now be able to adjust light settings without removing their hands from the bar. System weight is claimed to be just 519g.
In a sign of LED technology's rapid development, last year's MiNewt has already been replaced with the MiNewt 2 which not only boasts double the light output but more than twice the run time in the same ultra-compact body.
Niterider is still committed to HID technology, though, and actually introduces a new model dubbed the Enduro Lith. The new lighting system is the least expensive HID model Niterider has ever offered at just US$349, yet offers the same blinding 10W Solarc lamp and characteristic blue-white beam as on its premium models. A useful 2:15 run time is supplied by the included Li-ion battery which recharges in just an hour and a half.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by James Huang/Cyclingnews.com