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Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, September 24 - 28, 2007
Part 13: Light, limited edition, and custom
By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor in Las Vegas, Nevada
A Kuota for fast
The Italian company Kuota knows its carbon, and the Comali brothers showed off their new time trial bike, a new cyclocross bike, an updated road frame as well as the ultralight special it unveiled last year. Almost more important, though, was Kuota's announcement that it had signed a sponsorship agreement with the French Agritubel team for 2008.
The team will ride Kuota's lightest model, the KOM, which is reported to weigh as little as 870g in its smallest size. Rigidity is still a primary concern, though, and Kuota equips the KOM with an oversized one-piece front triangle and bulbous bottom bracket area, short and stiff 402mm chain stays, and its 'Super Drive' carbon fork which utilizes a 1 1/4" lower steerer tube diameter for improved handling.
The Agritubel team bikes will be fitted with Reynolds Cycling's top carbon wheels, Deda stems, fi'zi:k saddles, Tacx carbon cages, and SRAM Red drivetrains, and Kuota will offer similarly equipped machines for approximately US$7,000. The ink on the sponsorship deal must have been rather fresh, though, as no team paint schemes were displayed as of show time.
Kuota will also supply Agritubel with its new Kueen-K time trial/triathlon frameset, which will also be used by Ironman champion Norman Stadler. The stealth fighter-like styling includes aerodynamic frame tubing throughout, including on the integrated seat mast, as well as other time-shaving details such as the concealed front and rear brake caliper placement and internal cable routing. A replaceable rear dropout also adds some piece of mind when shipping the Kueen-K to various events.
Kuota's Kredo frame was the main bike for the Kodak Gallery-Sierra Nevada team this year and receives a major update for 2008. The new Kredo Ultra has an integrated seat post, a more heavily reinforced bottom bracket area, a new tapered and oversized KR1 fork, and one-piece carbon drop outs. Of course, no update would be complete without new paint and graphics! Suggested retail price is US$5,900 with Reynolds Assault wheels, a SRAM Force drivetrain, and Kuota's own K01 cranks and chainrings.
Beyond the road for 2008, Kuota is offering a new cyclocross entry, naturally dubbed the Kross. Claimed weight for the bare monocoque carbon frame is just 1150g, which should combine with the flattened underside of the top tube to make for faster run-ups and easier barrier crossings. Suggested retail is US$3,600 with Reynolds wheels and a SRAM Force drivetrain, along with Kuota's K01 cranks and chainrings.
Oakley keeps dealers exclusive
Oakley continued to show that it values the floor space that the local bike shop dedicates to its products, as well as the customer base that sees its products there. At this year's Interbike show, Oakley offered those independent bicycle retailers exclusive access to the limited edition 'Retina Burn' Radar sunglasses that David Millar (Saunier Duval-Prodir) used at this year's Tour de France, and the entire allotment was spoken for by only halfway through the show's second day.
According to Oakley Product Manager Steve Blick, the bright hue was originally created exclusively for Millar and a few others and was a retro look designed to be a throwback to when Oakley was just emerging on the cycling market. "I looked at the colour we used a few years ago, like a cool 1980s retro style," he said. "We tweaked it a little and called it Retina Burn."
Oakley hopes that its decision to release the limited edition models only to bike shops will serve as an assurance to its faithful dealers that despite recently merging with the Italian firm Luxottica Group S.p.A., the attention to its roots, particularly in terms of distribution, will remain a focus. "Everyone has heard of our merger and our distribution," said Blick. "But the cool thing is that you can only get this at the local bike shop, where we started. Yeah, we are a big company but we need to stay with our roots."
The limited edition Radar comes in two lens sizes, Pitch and Path, and each size is limited to just 500 pieces.
Calfee turns custom sizing focus on customer
Craig Calfee, best known for his custom carbon frames and unique bamboo-tubed creations, was at Interbike this year showing off a new idea - a versatile and user friendly bike sizing method that is completely adjustable 'on the fly', while the person is actually riding it.
"Everything is quick release and angles are stamped right into the frame," he said. "The top tube length is adjustable by the crank while the person is actually riding it. That is the main feature because when you are riding it you can immediately feel when it is too long or too short -- it takes very little time to get to that 'sweet spot.' While you are doing that you can raise or lower the handlebars to make a minor adjustment."
Other sizing features include adjustable crank arms, and seat tube and head tube angles, as well as a unique adjustable saddle method that can be done as quickly as the other adjustments. A twist of the saddle in one direction allows the user to set the saddle angle, while a twist to the other side adjusts the fore-aft position on the rails. "The saddle adjustment is not ours - Control Tech did it for a while as a regular seatpost clamp. It turns a little too easy riding on the road, but it's wonderful for sizing!"
In opposition to what some other well-established sizing gurus may say, Calfee feels that proper sizing is something that doesn't always require years of training and a piece of paper. "We've already sold some and they are on the market. You don't have to be a sizing guru to get someone comfortable on the bike. I want to demystify sizing; it is just not that hard to do. And the customer should direct the sizing by telling you what feels good and what doesn't. If they are a racer and want to optimize their performance, the best way is to measure their output and we have a a PowerTap built into it to hook up to a CompuTrainer."
The price for the basic frameset is US$1,695, while a more well-equipped model will run US$2,395. Other options, such as the PowerTap or adjustable crank arm length, are also available for additional cost.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Mark Zalewski/Cyclingnews.com