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Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, September 24 - 28, 2007
Part 10: Eat your heart out, Imelda
By James Huang
Shimano trickles down custom-fit footwear
Shimano brings some of the custom fit technology of its top-end SH-R300 and SH-M300 shoes downscale to three of its new road models for 2008. The SH-R220, SH-R160G, and women's-specific SH-WR80 'elite racing' road shoes all utilize heat-moldable material around the heel area as well as heat-moldable insoles for a more comfortable feel and a secure hold. The SH-R220 and SH-R160G are further augmented by the inclusion of anti-slip heel linings that are enhanced with woven-in metal fibers.
All three use synthetic and mesh uppers built upon stiff, vented fiber composite soles. The SH-R220 and SH-WR80 use a single ratcheting buckle-plus-two forefoot strap upper (with the women's version built with a specific last) while the SH-R160G uses a simpler array of three hook-and-loop straps.
Shimano's heat-moldable Custom-Fit insoles will also be available separately for those that just want to improve the fit of their current shoes. The heat-moldable base material surrounds a rigid EVA structure for support, and the optional modular metatarsal button and longitudinal arch can be applied depending on rider preferences.
Shimano has also been busy on the wheel front for 2008, including an entirely new line of five Dura-Ace hoops for 2008. The 50mm-deep WH-7850-C50-TU carbon tubular wheelset will likely remain a popular choice among the ProTour with its competitive 1467g per pair weight, but it is also now joined by a similarly-dimensioned carbon-and-aluminum clincher version that supposedly adds just 113g.
Carbon and aluminum are also used on the new mid-profile WH-7850-C24, which uses a reinforcing layer of carbon fiber over a thin aluminum extrusion. According to Shimano, this construction offers the predictable braking performance and heat dissipation of aluminum rims but the uniquely damped ride of carbon fiber. Shimano will offer the WH-7850-C24 in both tubular and clincher varieties, weighing a claimed 1257g and 1392g per pair, respectively.
The WH-7850-SL clincher will remain Shimano's sole Road Tubeless-compatible offering but receives significant updates. Along with all of the Dura-Ace wheels, the WH-7850-SL gets a new titanium freehub body that is backwards-compatible with most of Shimano's older cassettes, a new bearing arrangement with lower friction seals, and wider hub flanges for improved wheel rigidity.
Lake Cycling debuts new mid-level carbon soled shoe
Lake Cycling was arguably one of the first to introduce heat-moldable fit technology to stock cycling footwear with its CX400 model, and the Jelly Belly squad will continue to use the top-end kicks for the 2008 season. The CX400 requires no special oven and includes heat moldable materials around the heel for a positive, custom-tuned fit. Lake now offers the CX400 with a Speedplay-specific sole for 2008, and the custom fit features will also be available on the triathlon-specific CX410 and MTB or cyclocross-appropriate MX400.
Last year's mid-level CX230C model receives an update for 2008 and becomes the CX235 in the process. The CX235 retains the conventional three strap arrangement but gains a new snazzy-looking upper built upon Lake Cycling's one-piece carbon sole (also shared on the CX330C).
More Euro style from Sidi
Sidi already made headlines with the long-awaited introduction of its Dragon 2 Carbon SRS shoe, which includes the company's first-ever full-carbon mountain bike sole. Also found on the Dragon 2 Carbon SRS, though, is an all-new buckle which will also be shared on the Genius 6.6 and 5.5, Ergo 2, and Dominator 6 models.
The new buckle does away with the unique half-step ratchet adjustment but is supposedly much easier to adjust, especially while on the bike, and far more resistant to clogging from mud and debris. More to the point, though, the new bit of hardware was supposedly specifically requested by Saunier Duval-Prodir rider Gilberto Simoni.
Simoni may have gotten his wish for a new buckle, but the Sidi-sponsored Liquigas team will get its own team-edition Genius 6.6 model for 2008. The bright green-and-pearl white shoes are arguably a bit garish, but undoubtedly Euro-chic and proved to be surprisingly well-received by the decided US-centric crowd at Interbike. This may also serve as a more general indicator of changing US tastes, as Sidi will also bring in a number of bright hues formerly considered to be Euro-only stateside. Sign us up! We'll still pass on the white shorts, though…
Speaking of Euro… Northwave airs up for 2008
Treviso, Italy-based Northwave tops its Aerator line of road shoes for 2008 with its new Aerlite range. The Aerlite uses a new five-layer carbon fiber sole that features an intake duct at the toe and two exhaust ports just aft of the cleat mounting area. Internal channels actually ensure some proper airflow, unlike some other systems which consist of little more than a couple of holes.
The ventilation theme continues with the all-new upper, which includes a large mesh vent placed right up front along with liberal applications of airy mesh along the sides. Northwave's Web Power Cage construction pulls the instep into the heel cup with an adjustable EVA-padded buckled strap for a solid hold, along with a synthetic 'cat's tongue' material in the heel liner. A novel thermoformed and bonded wood insole (yes, it's real wood) supposedly offers better heat regulation, ride comfort, and power transmission.
Adidas fits Jonathan Page with new red slippers for the 2007-08 season
Sunweb-Projob cyclo-crosser Jonathan Page's new eye-catching red shoes have certainly attracted some attention (when they're not covered in mud, that is), likely to the delight of Adidas Cycling. Page's adiStar XC Ultra utilizes a full-length carbon sole with a dual-density TPU/rubber outsole, secured with a single ratcheting buckle and Adidas' unique Fast Strap forefoot closure system, now adjustable to accommodate a wider range of foot widths.
A similar upper is used on the road-going adiStar Ultra SL, which sheds 10% of the weight of the standard adiStar Ultra for a final claimed figure of 290g each. Not far behind, though, is the substantially less expensive Race SL shoe, which trades the top-end model's carbon fiber plate for one made of 'Alu-Tex' (think aluminized fiberglass), and the ratcheting buckle for a simpler and lighter trio of Velcro straps. The Race SL also shares Adidas' bacteria and odor fighting Agion treatment, which is (thankfully) applied throughout the range.