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Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, September 24 - 28, 2007
Part 1 - September 24: Record start to Interbike show
By James Huang in Las Vegas, NV
A record-setting 3,300-plus attendees made the journey out to visit over 120 exhibitors stationed at the new OutDoor Demo venue in Boulder City, NV to start this year's Interbike trade show. Whereas in years past the OutDoor Demo served as more as a warm-up to the indoor expo, this year's event was clearly more heavily devoted strictly to test rides of some of the latest 2008 gear, and riders were greeted with arguably the most pleasantly temperate weather conditions to grace the event in recent memory.
Chris King: deliberately forging ahead
Chris King is not a company known for its knee-jerk decisions when it comes to developing new product, but 2008 will still see several new items coming out of Portland, OR. Heavier-duty riders will finally be able to grace the front of their 1.5" head tube-equipped frames with the Chris King name with a new headset that promises the same exceptional bearing quality, bulletproof reliability, and top-notch performance that we've come to expect, along with the usual rainbow of anodized colors.
The new 1.5 NoThreadSet will come prepackaged with Chris King's own PreLoader mechanism in lieu of a conventional starnut, and 1.5-to-1.125" Devolution models will also be available along with the associated headset press cup adapters and baseplate setting tools. Claimed weight is 230g for the standard model and 250g for the Devolution version.
On the hub side of things, Chris King will offer a 12mm thru-axle, 150mm OLD disc hub and finally gives its singlespeed disc rear hub an integrated six-bolt rotor mount instead of the extraneous bolt-on adapter of yesteryear. A pair of 'cyclocross-specific' hubs boasts widely spaced and equally sized flanges for more even spoke tension relative to the standard road hubs… which leaves us wondering a bit why the road hubs aren't given the same treatment, but Chris King hasn't let us down yet so we'll see where this leads.
Chris Cocalis debuts Pivot Cycles
We already showed you what former Titus big cheese Chris Cocalis had cooking for the road, and now he debuted his new mountain bike line at this year's Interbike show. Pivot Cycles will launch with two new full-suspension models, dubbed the Mach 4 and Mach 5. The aptly named 4"- and 5"-travel aluminum machines both utilize Dave Weagle's dw-link suspension design, a distinct departure from Cocalis' formerly strict adherence to the Horst Link four-bar layout.
Pivot Cycles will offer the Mach 4 and Mach 5 as frames, frame kits which will include a fork and headset, or complete bikes with Shimano XTR, XT, or 'mountain mix' (with a mix of Shimano, SRAM, and Avid) component packages. Official frame weights weren't available during the OutDoor Demo, but were said to be 'competitive'. More importantly, though, a brief test ride demonstrated the bike's superb pedaling performance and impressive bump absorbing capabilities. We'll do our best to secure a long-term test bike in the near future. Keep an eye on this one, folks.
New off-road wheels from Shimano
We've been thoroughly impressed with Shimano's latest XTR wheels, and now Cannondale owners can experience the same level of performance with the introduction of a Lefty-compatible version for 2008. The new front wheel utilizes the same scandium-enhanced tubeless-compatible rim, straight pull spokes, and cold forged hub shell as on the standard version but the proprietary hub shell is designed as a straight bolt-on replacement for Cannondale's unique single-prong fork.
In yet another sign of 29" wheels' growing industry acceptance, we also spotted a pair of prototype Deore XT 29" hoops that looked fully production-ready save for the small 'prototype' stickers on the hubs. These sported the same rim profile, spoke attachment method, and red-anodized nipples as on the 26" version so we'd expect nearly identical performance from the 29" hoops. Wagon wheelers rejoice!
Felt offers sneak preview of full-carbon 29er hardtail
Felt officials hid a tasty prototype 29" carbon hardtail in the dark shadows of its tent at the OutDoor Demo. Dubbed the Nine C1 for now, the sweet-looking machine is claimed to weigh just 1100g and sported a massive down tube, one-piece seat stay-and-chain stay assemblies, and fantastic tire and chainring clearance. The complex tube shapes are also reminiscent of some of Felt's other carbon frames, which bodes well for handling precision and ride quality.
According to engineer Jeff Soucek, the new bike is just a prototype for now and probably won't be ready for sale until the 2009 season, but this glimpse into the future certainly gives us something to look forward to.
Sampson Sports and Sturmer-Archer drivetrains: separated at birth?
FSA may not have launched its much-anticipated complete road groups yet, but Sampson Sports and internally geared hub powerhouse Sturmey-Archer have already beat them to the punch at this year's show. The Sampson Stratics and Showtime groups are complete packages including integrated levers, derailleurs, cranksets, and brakes, while the Sturmey-Archer offering omits brake calipers. Still, all of them utilize nearly identical lever configurations and derailleurs (they are produced in the same factory), as well as similar styling.
The new levers operate on a 2:1 cable pull ratio for Shimano compatibility, and shifts are initiated with a fairly conventional two-lever setup. Shift action was crisp and positive on available testers, although the release trigger is difficult to access when in the drops.
Sampson's Showtime group features mostly aluminum construction all around and is designed to compete with Shimano's Ultegra offering, while the upscale Stratics model will be fitted with a multitude of carbon bits for lighter weight. Both groups will be offered with standard, compact, or triple cranksets.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by James Huang/Cyclingnews.com