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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Tech News – August 26, 2005

Edited by John Stevenson

Got tech? Send press releases, news, and tech questions to the Cyclingnews tech desk.

SRAM hits the road

SRAM's proto brake lever/shifter
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Component company SRAM, known for its mountain bike derailleurs and shifters, chains and cluster is planning to introduce a 10-speed road bike component group some time next year.

SRAM also owns brake maker Avid, and Truvativ, a chainset specialist so the company already has almost all the elements needed to assemble a complete component group. At the USPRO criterium championships Sunday, Cyclingnews' Mark Zalewski got these shots of one of the 'missing links' that SRAM needs to complete the picture: road bike brake/shifter units.

While the layout of the lever is very similar to Shimano's, SRAM's folks at the USPRO crit were very careful not to let us see how they worked. The cable is clearly routed internally, but just which parts cause which shifts is a mystery. Shimano has patents on many aspects of its shifter/brake lever design, so SRAM will have to be careful to avoid infringement. That means that pivoting the entire lever blade is a no-no, for example.

SRAM lever from the other side
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It's tempting to guess that the inner lever moves in both directions (rather like the two-way motion of a Shimano mountain bike brake/shift lever) if only because there's no other obvious way it could work - as you can see from these two images, there's no Campagnolo-style button or other additional control inboard of the lever.

According to SRAM PR & media manager Michael Zellman, the new components will be "professional level. They will incorporate cutting edge technologies and materials. They will be race weight. Finished gruppo components will feature elegant and highly durable materials and superior ergonomics."

Zellman says the new group will be available in "calendar year 2006" and will include shift / brake levers, front and rear derailleurs, brakes, crankset, bottom bracket, cogset & chain.

Update: Cyclingnews reader Andy Reid from New Zealand suggests: "Going by the photos, I reckon downshifts will be acheived by moving the whole brake lever forwards, in the opposite direction to actuating the brakes. I assume this, going by the small pin that is visible on each side of the lever. Upshifts will be done by moving the secondary lever, inwards."

Interesting notion, and we agree that it might work well, especially from the hoods. It'd be interesting to see how well it worked from the drops in a sprint, though.

More info (okay, probably not yet…): www.sram.com

Smith ignites cyclists' view of the world

Smith's new Ignitor lens
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Eyewear maker Smith has announced a new lens tint that it claims is perfect for road cycling and mountain biking. The lens - dubbed 'Ignitor' - was designed to boost contrast and improve colour definition, originally as eyewear for golfers, but turned out to also work extremely well for other outdoor sports including cycling.

Smith's Greg Randolph told Cyclingnews, "We decided to get into the golf world and spent the last year and lord knows how much coin making a lens which would optimize the contrast of organic surfaces like grass and dirt for the golf player. Basically this lens was designed to do the same thing to the typical golf surfaces that polarized does to water. The golf pros loved it and then a couple of us around here starting riding in it and found that it was the best lens any of us had ridden in. I gave it to my pro MTB team and they all without exception started riding in it exclusively."

Smith Ignitor lens
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It's not too surprising that a lens designed for golf would work well among mountain bike greenery too, but what the next development seems to have surprised Randolph. "Then I took it to the Tour de France and put it on the guys over there and they never took it off," he said. "The entire race it is what they chose to ride in and all said it was the perfect tint - great in the rain and low light conditions and then when it got bright the grey-rose base tint made it soothing to the eye."

As well as the new colour, the Ignitor features a multi-layer mirror coating to protect against UV, and a hydrophobic coating to reduce adhesion by dirt, sweat, and grease. It's available for all Smith's Interchangeable Series eyewear and a pair will retail for US$30.

More info: www.smithoptics.com

Scott goes against the clock with Plasma

Scott Plasma
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Scott USA has extended the use of its CR1 carbon fibre construction technology - which joins carbon tubes in a process analogous to brazing together steel - to time trial bikes with its new Plasma frame, aimed at time trial and triathlon applications.

Scott is claiming a weight of just 980g for the new frame, which would make it one of the lightest dedicated time trial frames around. As well as the aero tube profiles that you'd expect, the frame features an integrated seat post with a saddle mount perched on the top. This saves weight by dispensing with the traditional overlapping seatpost, though it does create the issue that the frame will only fit one rider - and you don't want to get trimming the seat post wrong.

The Plasma also features internal cable routing and Scott's designers have sweated details such as lightening the dropouts and shaping the seat tube to follow the profile of the rear tyre. The frame will accommodate a tyre up to 28mm so it can be used for training as well as racing.

More info: www.scottusa.com

Litespeed offers carbon

Litespeed Pavia
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Litespeed, formerly known as a titanium specialist, is continuing to branch out into other materials. The company launched its first aluminium bike last year and is now about to introduce a carbon machine, the Pavia.

Available in late October, the Pavia will retail for $3499 as an Ultegra bike, and $1999 as a frameset. According to Litespeed's Herbert Krabel, the frame is made from a "very fine low density carbon - the finest carbon made today".

The Pavia feature's Litespeed's compact road race geometry and uses the company's own resin system in its construction, which Krabel says, "provides a great blend of lightweight ride performance and durability."

More info: www.litespeed.com

Custom carbon from Seven

Seven Diamas
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Speaking of titanium specialists branching out, Seven Cycles has announced a custom carbon frame, the Diamas, just in time for this weekend's Eurobike show.

The new frame was completely designed "from the ground up" by Seven, including molds and fiber orientation, according to the company's Jennifer Miller. Typical weight for a 55cm frame is 2.6lb (1180g).

Seven intends to start taking orders at the Interbike show in late September, with the first bikes available in early 2006. As you might expect when the words 'carbon' and 'costom' collide it's not going to be cheap. A frame and fork will set you back US$4,970.

More info: www.sevencycles.com

Luciano takes on the world

Luciano XCR
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Colorado Springs bike maker Luciano is planning to take its machines to the wider world in 2006, with a range of three very classy-looking bikes which will be launched at the Interbike show next month.

The range covers cycling's three main branches - time trials, road cycling and mountain biking - with the on the road Primavera, XCR mountain bike, and against-the-clock TT1.

Luciano TT1
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The three bikes of the Primavera line are built from Dedacciai EM2 front triangles with Blacktail 2 seat stays & shock-daping DAVS chain stays. The range starts with the $3,163.95 Primavera Comp with a spec based on the Shimano 105 group, and top out at the Dura-Ace-equipped Primavera Pro at $5,295.95.

The dirt range is similarly made up of three hardtails, the Deore LX-equipped XCR Comp at US$2,492.95 with Manitou R7 Comp fork; XCR Expert at US$3,420.95 with Deore XT and Manitou R7 Super and the top of the line XCR Pro with XTR, and Manitou R7 Platinum for US$4,746.95.

The aerodynamic TT1 time trial bike is built from hydro-formed 7005 tubing with integrated cable routing and an Easton carbon fork. Prices range from $2,754.95 for a 105/Ultegra mix spec with Easton wheels to $4,995.95 for Dura-Ace with Spinergy wheels.

More info: www.lucianousa.com

New magnesium from MgTEC

MgTEC Revolution MG1-01
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With carbon currently dominating the high-end frame arena, a material that looked promising a couple of years ago has been rather forgotten. Although Pinarello and Merida have continued to make magnesium frames the low-density metal hasn't taken off as a frame material the way, say, aluminium did in the 80s and early 90s.

But a couple of companies are introducing new magnesium frames for 2006 and one of them, Magnesium Techniques, LLC is working with European companies that have extensive experience in the material to produce its Revolution MG1-01 frame.

"The properties of magnesium provide the perfect optimization of weight, stiffness, and damping for riders," says Jose Matiauda, president of Magnesium Techniques, LLC. "The Revolution MG1-01 exploits these qualities and capitalizes on the experience of our European technology partners, Torex Extrusion Italia and Avus Racing, who have worked extensively with magnesium in the auto industry. We are able to use the latest computer simulation programs utilized by Torex Extrusion Italia and Avus Racing in Formula One and Motorcycle GP Racing to develop a bicycle frame that delivers a perfect ride to even the most demanding rider."

The potential advantage of magnesium comes from the very high strength-to-weight ratio of some modern magnesium alloys, combined with the metal's low density. In theory it should be possible to make a magnesium frame that's lighter than the lightest aluminium, but MgTEC claims that's not the only advantage. According to the company, "magnesium has vibration-damping characteristics that are unparalleled by any other material. This means that it has the ability to absorb and dissipate road vibration that is a key factor in fatigue and an uncomfortable bike ride."

If the mini-boom in magnesium that seems to be happening takes off, a few more of us might get the chance to check that out for ourselves.

More info: www.mgtecbicycles.com

Always wanted to be Spider-Man?
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Clothing for superheros

Or maybe Captain America?
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Here's something a bit out of the ordinary: cycling gear in the style of superhero costumes. PureHero is offering cycling and BMX jerseys in Captain America, Fantastic Four and Spider-Man styles offering "superhero fans ... access to great technical fabrics and sports and fitness styles, highlighting their favorite superhero's iconography," according to PureHero's Rob Moon.

"It's also fun," adds Moon, and who are we to argue.

More info: www.purehero.com