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Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, September 24 - 28, 2007

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Part 5: Pushing the envelope

By James Huang in Las Vegas, NV

Team Maxxis chooses Reynolds Cycling for 2008

Reynolds Cycling introduces the new SDV 66
(Click for larger image)

Geoff Kabush and Matt Toulouse of Team Maxxis will roll with Reynolds Cycling carbon wheelsets as they tackle the upcoming 2007-08 cyclocross season. Kabush and Toulouse will not only use the 32mm-deep MV32 and 46mm-deep DV46 clincher wheelsets for racing (Reynolds will supply Attack wheelsets for training), but also Reynolds' complete line of components including the Ouzo Pro Cross fork, carbon seatpost, aluminum stem, and excellent (yet sadly unheralded) carbon drop bar.

In addition to the big sponsorship news, Reynolds goes deeper for 2008 with its new SDV66 (Super Deep-V) wheelsets, whose NACA-registered airfoil profile supposedly produces "one of the very lowest drag coefficients" around (although there is no mention of the test conditions, such as wind angle). Reynolds matches the new rims to Reynolds-specific DT Swiss hubs and a blend of DT Swiss Aerolite and Competition spokes. The SDV66 will be available in both tubular and full carbon clincher varieties, weighing just 1365g and 1650g per pair.

Reynolds will also introduce its first full-carbon disc wheel, dubbed Element. The 1100g tubular-only flat disc is built from unidirectional carbon plies and incorporates a clever carbon fiber valve access port that does away with the often difficult-to-find 90° 'crack pipe' inflation adapters typically required with most discs.

Race Face reinvents the Next crank for 2008

The new Race Face Next crank boasts hollow carbon construction…
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Vancouver-based Race Face has reintroduced a carbon fiber XC crankset for 2008, and unlike the original Next LP of the late 90's, this one doesn't just use carbon appliqués. The new Next uses full-carbon construction with hollow box-section arms and no internal aluminum spine to yield a final weight of just 750g including chainrings, bottom bracket, and all associated hardware. Pedal and bottom bracket spindle inserts are co-molded and mechanically locked, and Race Race insists that they'll never separate or creak.

The Next also uses Race Face's new EXI spline interface which supposedly makes for easier installation and removal while retaining the original system's adjustable chainline. Bearings feature new wiper seals and Phil Wood waterproof grease for improved reliability. Somewhat surprisingly, Race Face will not outsource manufacture of the new crank to Asia, preferring instead to produce in its own British Columbia facility. The Next will retail for approximately US$600 and will be available this April.

Race Face has also revamped its all-aluminum Deus XC and Evolve XC cranks with new styling and the same improved bearing seals, waterproof grease, and EXI spline interface. A new complete Deus XC crankset weighs a competitive 860g, while the Evolve XC adds another 80g while supposedly delivering the same strength as the decidedly more upscale Atlas.

NoTubes does the unthinkable

Stan Koziatek of NoTubes crosses over
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Ok, quick question: how many (commercially available) tubeless road clincher setups are currently on the market? Did you answer 'one'? Try again.

Stan Koziatek, the king of tubeless, has taken Hutchinson's Fusion 2 Road Tubeless clincher and adapted it for use with other rims using his well-established latex-based sealant and components. Koziatek admits that he's attempted the tubeless road clincher concept before with only passable success, but Hutchinson's non-stretch carbon fiber bead has finally provided the key to making the system more reliable.

The conversion process is analogous to NoTubes' MTB procedures and is decidedly straightforward. Rims with solid outer walls such as Mavic's Ksyrium lineup or Fulcrum's higher-end clinchers only need a NoTubes valve stem and about 60ml of sealant; others require a layer or two of NoTubes' sealing tape. The benefits are also similar to the MTB setups, including better air retention and nearly instant repair of most punctures.

Go ahead, stab it!
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How well does it work? Koziatek insists that the system is flawless, although Hutchinson obviously isn't quite as enthusiastic and we'd imagine that Shimano likely feels the same way. Nevertheless, it's an intriguing idea, and one worth keeping an eye on.

Koziatek has also somehow found a way to make an even lighter version of his NoTubes ZTR tubeless-compatible clincher mountain bike rim. The new ZTR Race rim supposedly weighs just 284g, knocking an almost-unthinkable 60g from the existing ZTR Olympic. In spite of the feathery low weight, Koziatek claims the relatively broad width (~25mm or so) and short bead hooks offer impressive lateral rigidity and provide excellent tire casing support.

NoTubes will only the ZTR Race as part of a complete wheelset for now, but liberal options include American Classic, DT Swiss, WTB, or Hope hubs and a range of DT Swiss spokes and nipples.

New slippers from Pearl Izumi

The new Octane SL uses a full-length unidirectional carbon plate
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Tony Torrance hopes to bring apparel icon Pearl Izumi back into the forefront of the cycling footwear market with an all-new range of high-performance shoes for 2008. By all early indications, the footwear designer looks to have earned at least another year of employment as preseason orders of the new line have supposedly already eclipsed last year's total shoe sales.

The new top-end Octane SL road shoe has clearly done much to erase the stains of Pearl Izumi's aging current lineup with a superlight 396g weight (sz42, per pair), full-length unidirectional carbon sole with an exceptionally thin 7mm stack height, and striking soccer cleat-inspired black-and-white styling. The new synthetic upper hides an internal thermoplastic heel cup, which is also lined with a synthetic material whose increased conformability provides better heel hold than external mechanisms or one-way fabrics, according to Torrance. A single sole vent and welded-in mesh ports in the uppers provide cooling airflow without adding unnecessary stitching.

The Octane SL will also be available in a mountain bike version, which utilizes its own full-length carbon plate, dual density outsole, and lightweight TPU toe bumper. Even with the extra hardware, though, the Octane SL MTB is as light as many other top-end road shoes at just 670g (sz43, per pair). Both the road and mountain versions of the Octane SL will retail for a very competitive US$300. Only unisex sizes will be available for now, but the size range will at least dip all the way down to sz38.

The new Octane jacket is built
Photo ©: James Huang
(Click for larger image)

The all-new P.R.O. Road models wear the same unidirectional carbon soles as the Octane, but use a more conventional ratcheting buckle-and-two strap synthetic upper and external nylon heel counter. Pearl Izumi taps into the Italians for the first time for the new buckle mechanism, and a lightly padded tongue provides long-distance comfort. The mountain bike version foregoes the welded-in mesh for stitched-in versions and adds a rubber toe cap, and both models will list for a value-packed price of just US$200.

Pearl Izumi just landed a contract to clothe Jonathan Vaughter's Slipstream/Chipotle squad, who will likely tackle the winter training season with the new Octane jacket. The foul-weather specialist uses a waterproof and breathable four-way stretch material throughout, along with a concealable drop-down tail and detachable hood that is large enough to wear over a helmet. David Millar, Christian Vandevelde, and David Zabriskie will probably also make use of Pearl Izumi's successful Optik jacket, which receives new stretch side panels for a better fit.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by James Huang/Cyclingnews.com

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