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Las Vegas, Nevada, USA September 22-26, 2008
Part 21 - October 24: We're almost there but not quite; more gear from this year's Interbike show
By James Huang
Blackburn wants everyone to get Fleas
One of LED lighting technology's greatest draws is its compact size and few companies in recent memeory have capitalized on this better than Blackburn. The new Flea lights are among the smallest we've seen (each front or rear unit is less than 5cm long and only about 19g!) yet the four-emitter array reportedly packs up to 40 lumens of light. Both lights attach via a minimal hook-and-loop strap while the rear light also boasts a built-in clip for attaching to a bag or clothing.
Even more ingenious is the Flea's charging system. The tiny charger measures barely 2cm in size and weighs just 5g and can draw its source power from any 1.5V battery. Tiny magnets connect everything together, the LED emitters flash dimly to indicate an active charge, and built-in circuitry shuts everything off when the built-in battery is full.
Blackburn claims a brand-new D-cell battery will yield over 30 charges but the system can also conveniently suck out any remaining juice from partially used batteries as well. Retail cost is US$29.99 each or US$54.99 for the pair.
Blackburn has also downsized some of its mini-pumps as well. The 16cm-long AirStik SL weighs just 60g yet is still built with a durable anodized aluminum barrel and shaft. The head accommodates Presta valves only but as it's intended for road use only, we don't anticipate this to be an issue. The US$24.99 retail cost includes a bottle cage mount though given the pump's diminutive size, users are more likely to just stuff the pump in their pocket.
In contrast, the new AirStik 2Stage isn't particular small or light at 23cm long and 175g in weight but Blackburn does equip it with a switchable high-volume/high-pressure two-stage air chamber for easier inflating of both road and mountain bike tires. The AirStik 2Stage also comes with a Presta-specific head although in this case it also locks for more secure pumping. A bottle cage mount is included with the US$29.99 retail cost.
Acros moves on to US shores
Germany-based component manufacturer Acros isn't necessarily a household name with most US consumers but given the company's diverse range of top-end products and apparently unyielding commitment to precision and quality that may very well change in the near future.
Acros produces headsets, bottom brackets, hubs, stems, seatposts, handlebars, and even suspension forks and tools. Most of the rotating products are also offered with hybrid or even full ceramic bearings as standard equipment. Rear disc-compatible mountain bike hubs reportedly weigh as little as 242g while the top road rear hub tips the scales at just 183g.
One of Acros' most appealing attributes, though, is the rainbow of anodized colors available for nearly the entire range. Hues include the usual black, silver and grey but also red, orange, blue and yes, even purple. Limited edition colors are also available through the Acros 'Candy Shop'.
3T offers a solution to slipping seatposts
3T claims its new Palladio seatpost is the ultimate solution for riders who have troubles combating unwanted saddle movement during a ride. The unusual DiffLock head uses two separate saddle rail cradles mounted on to the ends of a splined central tube (picture the end of a Shimano Hollowtech II crankset spindle) which itself then matches up with a separate set of splines in the top of the seatpost mast.
If it sounds complicated, that's because it is. The Palladio provides tilt adjustments down to half-degree increments but making those changes is fairly convoluted and requires a near-complete disassembly of the head. Even so, the unique arrangement also makes it seemingly impossible for the saddle to move unless you want it to, even if the bolts loosen. This alone may be enough for some riders to justify the inconvenience particularly given that most riders will only set the position once.
New Roks and packaging from Clif Bar
Clif Bar's Clif Shot Bloks offer a tasty alternative to the usual array of bars and gels but their packaging hasn't always been conducive to eating on the go. New for 2009 is a far handier 'fast pack' that conveniently lines up each package's six Bloks such that you can easily pop them out one by one with one hand. The new packaging is a small change for sure but one that will likely be far better appreciated on the bike than on paper. Also new is a Mountain Berry flavor which will hit shelves around November.
Clif Bar also introduced a wholly new line called Clif Shot Roks. Intended more as a 'customizable protein concept' than an on-the-bike energy food, each Rok contains 2g of whey protein and the chewy interior is housed in a hard protective shell that Clif says will withstand 200°F temperatures before melting.
Clif Shot Roks will arrive in stores around January and though they're not quite as tasty as the chocolate-covered Whoppers they resemble, we found the Peanut Butter Chocolate and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough flavors agreeable enough that they substituted for a proper lunch on more than one day while wandering the aisles at this year's Interbike show.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by James Huang/Cyclingnews.com