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Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, September 24 - 28, 2007
Part 14: Cool new parts and the tools to help you install them
By James Huang
Ritchey and Syncros deliver the goods
Once known as primarily an off-road company, Ritchey is arguably now just as well-recognized on the pavement side of things, thanks in part to its sponsorships of the Saunier Duval-Prodir, Gerolsteiner, Health Net, and Symmetrics pro cycling teams.
One of Ritchey's earliest road components was a drop handlebar and it continues to forge ahead in that area with the new WCS Carbon Evolution SL bar, which complements last year's introduction of the standard WCS Carbon Evolution model. The new SL version sheds 30g for a total claimed weight of just 190g in a 42cm size while offering the same ergonomic 3° backswept upper sections and modified anatomic drop that better accommodates today's integrated levers. The new WCS Carbon Evolution SL also now wears a stealthier unidirectional carbon finish. Both versions are offered in 38, 40, 42, and 44cm sizes (c-c) with variable reach and drop across the range.
Accompanying the new bar is the new WCS 4Axis 44 stem aimed at riders who prefer a stiffer feel up front. As compared to the standard WCS 4Axis stem, the new model uses a more squared-off extension cross-section, a broader face plate, and more widely spaced face plate bolts in addition to a gloss black finish. Even with its stouter profile, though, the new 4Axis 44 is still impressively light at just 132g (110mm). Ritchey will offer the new model exclusively in a ±6° rise but in lengths ranging from 90-130mm.
Two new carbon road forks will also debut in 2008, including the WCS Carbon Road, which boasts monocoque carbon construction and alloy dropouts as well as an uncut weight of just 298g. The mid-level Pro Carbon Road utilizes the same construction method but adds an extra 47g.
Ritchey's wheel lineup remains mostly unchanged with the exception of a new WCS Carbon 38mm road model. The new 38mm-deep rim will be offered in both clincher and tubular varieties (clinchers will use a bonded-on alloy cap), and the clincher version is reported to weigh a reasonable 1666g per pair (728g front/938g rear). Rear hubs will be available with either Shimano 10spd, SRAM 10spd/Shimano 9spd, and Campagnolo 9/10spd-specific alloy freehub bodies.
Ritchey has always had a wide range of seatpost offerings, but one thing that has been perpetually missing (and quite sorely, at that) is a zero-offset model. After the recent debut of its new single bolt 'SideBinder' head design, the world finally gets what it's been waiting for for nearly three decades! The new SideBinder head has now been added to the top of a new zero-offset version of the company's alloy WCS seatpost, which will be offered in 27.2, 30.9, and 31.6mm diameters. Apparently someone listens to us after all. Hi, Tom!
Sister division Syncros also continues to beaver away with a new 29" version of its versatile AM wheelset. The AM will be offered in a standard black or optional all-white finish, as well as either standard quick-release or 20mm thru-axle versions for the FL-series front hub. Syncros will also make available the bare 29" AM hoop, which shares the simple-yet-effective Bead Lock System with the rest of the company's wheel and rim line to prevent unwanted independent tire rotation when running low pressures.
The gnarly-looking Mental pedal line gets a less-expensive version dubbed 'Meathook', and Syncros will also debut its first-ever clipless pedal. The as-yet-unnamed resin-bodied model will be offered in either SPD- or Crank Brothers-compatible versions and is intended as a relatively inexpensive price point unit.
Syncros also gets its own version of the single-bolt SideLoader seatpost, albeit with a modest 5mm offset, as well as a trio of new saddles.
Install it, maintain it, and fix it with Park Tool
Park Tool has been a veritable fixture in the bicycle repair business for 45 years now, and the company shows no signs of slowing down with 27 new offerings for 2008. Team mechanics, shops, and individuals alike have recently developed a soft spot for Park Tool's Euro-inspired line of repair stands, which supports bikes by the bottom bracket shell and fork tips or rear dropouts. Do they offer the same flexibility of positioning as full-blown versions? No, but they are exceptionally stable, far easier to transport, safe for use on all frames (no tube or seatpost clamping required!), and are perhaps the ideal fixture for washing bikes.
With portable versions already in place, 2008 will see the introduction of a shop version called the PRS-23. This one intentionally sacrifices light weight for durability being made from beefy chromed steel and anchored to a 29kg (65lb) base. Additional features include quick-release height adjustability and an easier-to-rotate pivot design.
New tool offerings include the JH-1 bench-top small parts holder, the DS-1 digital scale that can be easily hung from a hook or clamped in the repair stand, and HT-6, -8, and -10 hex tools that are specifically designed to offer more leverage for crank bolts, pedals, and freehub body fixing bolts.
Still want more? The MW-SET metric wrench set includes nine combination open/12-point box-end wrenches ranging in size from 7mm to 15mm, there's a new line of shop quality screwdrivers, and the oversized SG-7 hacksaw guide that is specifically geared towards integrated seat masts and aero-profiled seatposts.
On the non-tool front, Park continues to develop its line of pumps, which now includes a trio of mini- and full-sized frame models. Of particular interest is the full-length PMP-5 that adjusts from 43-56cm (17-22") in length without tools, meaning that riders can easily transfer it from bike to bike, but also that retailers can now stock a single frame pump instead of the usual array of sizes.
Finally, for the cyclist who has it all (but yet still wants more), Park also introduces the bigger-and-better PZT-2 pizza cutter, BO-2 bottle opener, and BBQ-3 barbeque tool set, cleverly styled after the company's pedal and cone wrenches.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by James Huang/Cyclingnews.com