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Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, September 24 - 28, 2007
Part 3: September 26: Interbike's indoor expo opens up its doors
By James Huang in Las Vegas, NV
Cervélo brings alternate fit option to Vegas
Cervélo has only been around for just over a decade, but is now riding a wave so large that it almost seems unimaginable that it will ever crest. For 2008, the stellar R3 and Soloist Carbon platforms will be joined by yet another carbon model called the RS.
The RS closely resembles the R3 in many respects, with so-called Squoval tube shapes, tall chain stays, and almost impossibly-thin seat stays. However, the RS is less substantially less expensive than Cervélo's other carbon offerings at US$2,200 for the frameset (with Easton EC90 fork), and also uses a modified geometry.
The RS head tube is slightly longer to provide a moderately taller bar height for riders who are either unwilling (or incapable) of assuming a relatively race-ready position, or just want to ditch some headset spacers. The tall chain stays are then lengthened by 1cm to correct the rearward weight shift that accompanies the more upright riding position, and to add a little more vertical compliance, Cervélo arcs those spindly seat stays in a graceful arc.
Still, company principal Gerard Vroomen is adamant that the RS is no casual coffee shop ride. Handling characteristics are supposedly inline with the R3, and frame weights are still highly competitive. Framesets will retail for US$2200, while complete Dura-Ace-equipped machines will command about US$4000.
Titus revamps key players
Titus concentrated its efforts on revamping the bread-and-butter of its lineup, the aluminum Racer-X and Motolite. Production for both bikes moves to Sapa (commonly remembered as Anodizing, Inc.) in Portland, OR, and gain all-new 6069 aluminum tubesets which are said to be 18% stronger and 10% lighter than the old 6061 pipes. In addition to the new alloys, the new TUF (Titus Unlimited Forming) tubesets receive more aggressive shaping. Claimed weight for the new Racer-X is now just 2.13kg (4.7lbs).
Last year's El Guapo 155mm-travel platform gains an upscale titanium version for 2008 that is not only more durable than the aluminum counterpart, but also roughly 230g (0.5lb) lighter as well with a claimed frame weight of just 3.13kg (6.9lbs) with shock. The head tube gets upsized to a beefier 1.5" diameter, but the rest of the tubinc is size-specific tubing to help retain consistent ride characteristics across the size range.
At the opposite end of the travel spectrum lies the all-new Fireline titanium hardtail, which sheds nearly 0.45kg (1lb) from last year's Eleven with a claimed frame weight of 1.5kg (3.3lb). S-bend stays replace the chunky wishbone unit and also provide more tire clearance. The convertible dropouts carry over, though, which easily accommodate both geared and singlespeed configurations.
Titus also showed a particularly interesting prototype road model, which was unnamed at the time of the show. The concept bike employed the striking Exogrid concept on the top tube and down tube, but in this case it was applied to a Reynolds 953 stainless steel tubeset. Titus hasn't settled on materials yet, but the intent is to produce a price-point Exogrid road frame with a target cost roughly 20% lower than the Vuelo. Personally, we hope it sticks with steel, since the idea of a frame that offers the distinct ride quality of high-quality, thin-walled steel but with lighter weight and more rigidity sounds awfully appealing.
Brooks continues to pull out the stops
Leather specialist Brooks unveiled a fantastically decadent messenger-style bag at this year's Interbike show. The Barbican boasts a water-resistant antiqued cotton body with a padded partial-leather back, leather accents nearly everywhere, a slick magnetic closure, and a wonderfully unique and elegant strap arrangement that integrates a stabilizing waist belt into the main shoulder strap. Brooks will offer the Barbican in both large and medium sizes with suggested retail prices of US$399 and US$379, respectively.
The new Brick Lane roll-up panniers are easily the most stylish example of the breed we've encountered to date. The relatively simple design is reminiscent of European style panniers that are essentially just laid over the top of rack. A magnetic closure system keeps things secure when the bags are loaded, but a clever roll-up system tucks everything up and out of the way when empty, and a convenient handle up top allows user to cart the whole thing away when needed. Retail price is US$299.
Riders that want to carry items up front can also turn to Brooks and its Hoxton basket. The Hoxton uses welded aluminum construction and a pressure-treated waterproof wood bottom, all attached to a handlebar with the now-nearly universal ClickFix bracket. Leather plays a part, of course, with the snap-down handle and associated washers which keep things nice and quiet. Suggested retail price is a surprisingly reasonable US$159.
Knog brings on the Aussie style
Knog's 'Dog' line of messengers offers consumers their choice of landscape or portrait orientations in a variety of sizes from small and cute to big and massive. As usual, they're all loaded with style and cleverly designed, with features such as 'no scratch' laptop sleeves, heaps of organizer pockets, taped and sealed seams, and ambidextrous strap arrangements (not to mention some fairly controversial, but undoubtedly eye-catching, graphics treatments).
Among the slickest details, though, is Knog's new Universal Hub which is cleanly integrated into the back of several members of the Dog family. The low-profile 'port' accepts any of three very useful accessories which transform the bags into either a handlebar bag, pannier, or backpack. Also included in the line are waterproof 'Dry Dog' packs with fully waterproof nylon construction and roll-top closures, and a 'Leather Dog' that is, obviously, constructed of ex-cows.
Knog carved out its niche several years ago largely thanks to its handy silicone bodied LED lights, and the range continues to grow for 2008. The new Gecko houses three LED emitters, in either clear or red depending on the application, in a tidy silicone body that easily straps around just about anything on your bike. Red LED models offer six modes (five flashing, one steady), while white ones offer just three (two flashing, one steady), and burn time is estimated at thirty hours of constant use using two standard AAA batteries. Retail price is pegged at US$19.95, and bodies are offered in both white and black.
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Images by James Huang/Cyclingnews.com