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Las Vegas, Nevada, USA September 22-26, 2008
Part 20 - October 24: The giant line-up continues
By James Huang
Giant's off-road lineup for 2009
In addition to Giant's thoroughly revamped 2009 road range, the company has redesigned several key off-road models for the new year as well. Highlighting the range is the new Anthem X which is based on the existing Anthem cross-country racer but toned down a bit to make it a little more palatable for general consumption.
Rear wheel travel has grown to a full four inches and the head tube angle has slackened to 71 degrees for more stable handling. Though the Anthem X is more capable and reputed to be five percent stiffer overall than the standard Anthem, weight has actually gone down 185g due at least partially to the new forged two-piece rocker link and revised Maestro suspension layout whereby the lower rocker and lower shock pivot on the same axle.
For now, Giant will only offer an aluminum Anthem X though based on prior history, we would expect a carbon Advanced version to join the lineup for 2010. The current Anthem and Anthem Advanced will carry over for 2009.
Racers will also have a new carbon hardtail option in the 2009 Giant XTC Advanced SL which has already seen battle under team riders such as Kelli Emmett. Light weight and stiffness were the clear goals here with the huge rectangular-profile down tube, oversized top tube, heavily reinforced bottom bracket area, and tall chain stays, all crafted from raw T-800 carbon fibers.
Claimed weight for the top-end XTC Advanced SL frame is just 1kg in a medium size while a somewhat more economical XTC Advanced model will add another 100g.
Updates to the successful Reign 6"-travel all-mountain platform are decidedly more subtle but still expected to yield an appreciable impact. Head tubes have been slackened from 69 to 68 degrees to better suit the intended heavy-duty trail use and all models will upsize to 15mm thru-axle front hubs for improved steering precision and security.
Fulcrum delves further off the beaten path
Fulcrum will bolster its off-road range with four new models for 2009. Highlighting the line is the new Red Carbon wheelset intended for cross-country and all-mountain applications. Asymmetric carbon fiber rims bring the weight down to a claimed 1470g per pair while also reducing rotational inertia by 15 percent over the current Red Metal Zero. The carbon rim's stiffer and stronger construction relative to the Red Metal Zero also allows Fulcrum to reduce the spoke count by four per wheel.
The 29" wheel movement has apparently also finally begun hitting Europe as Fulcrum will launch two compatible models for 2009. The upper-end Red Metal 29 XLR uses an aluminum rim with an undrilled outer wall for easy tubeless compatibility plus six-bolt disc-compatible aluminum hubs with oversized 20mm axles for more stiffness. Bladed stainless steel spokes (28 per wheel) join everything together for a final weight of 1845g per set. The more economical Red Metal 29 SL uses shallower tube type-only aluminum rims and bulks up to 2025g per pair.
Fulcrum will add its first freeride wheelset to its range with the new Red Fire. The tubeless-compatible aluminum rims measure a healthy 29mm in width and 25mm in height yet total wheelset weight is still a competitive 2200g thanks in part to the machined inner rim walls. Stainless steel spokes join the rims to beefy sealed bearing hubs with the rear offering 12x150mm thru-axle compatibility and the front with a standard 20mm thru-axle fitment.
Cross-country and all-mountain riders looking for just a little extra stiffness up front can also take solace in knowing that Fulcrum will also offer its Red Metal Zero, Red Metal 1 and Red Metal 3 with a 15mm thru-axle front hub for use with the latest crop of forks from Fox Racing Shox and Marzocchi.
Avid updates its long-running Shorty cantilevers
Avid's ubiquitous Shorty cantilever rim brake gets a long-awaited remake for 2009. Published weight is now down to 157g per wheel (with all associated hardware but without pads) and a stiffer new skeletal arm shape also promises better braking performance, too, while also allowing easier access to pad hardware. Central to the improvements is a claimed reduction in vibration which had should presumably cut down on howling and chatter, an issue that had occasionally plagued the original Shorty.
Also presumably on the way is a new Shorty Ultimate brake. In keeping with the current Single Digit Ultimate stoppers, these use cartridge bearing pivots for slop-free movement and full CNC-machined construction. Unique to the Shorty Ultimate, though, is a novel switchable configuration that allows for both high- and low-profiles in a single brake.
There's no word on claimed weights or costs yet, however, nor has Avid officially stated that these will actually make it to market.
New aero offerings from Syntace
Syntace's new Stratos CX carbon base bar features slippery aero profiles (just 15mm yet 54mm deep) and sizeable outer pods that provide plenty of room for bigger hands (or probably cut as needed). The oversized 31.8mm center section is also reinforced with titanium mesh to prevent damage from stem clamps but also to provide a more secure purchase for attached aero extensions. Claimed weight is just 195g on average.
Speaking of which, Syntace equips its new C3 clip-ons with its unique Double Helix bend which it feels is more comfortable and provides better leverage than currently fashionable straight or S-bend extensions. Though there isn't a lick of carbon to be found, the C3 is still reasonably light at 366g on average.
As is usually the case with Syntace, both the C3 and Stratos CX are offered in a wide range of sizes. The Stratos CX will come in 390, 410, or 430mm widths (outside-to-outside), all with 20mm of drop, while the C3 will be available in three lengths with adjustable widths throughout.
Syntace will also bring its superb P6 seatpost design down in price via an aluminum mast. Just like its carbon masted brother, the new P6 Alu includes a 53mm-long lower cradle for plenty of rail support, a shorter 30mm upper cradle for a wider range of fore-aft adjustment, and angled bolts that are easily accessible and anchored with spherical nuts for perfect alignment.
The P6 Alu will come in 27.2, 30.9 and 31.6mm diameters and up to 400mm in length. Claimed weight for a 31.6 x 400mm sample is just 256g.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Giant Bicycles
Images by James Huang/Cyclingnews.com