Tech News August 26, 2005
Edited by John Stevenson
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SRAM hits the road
SRAM's proto brake lever/shifter
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
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,
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
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
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 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, 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
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
Speaking of titanium specialists branching out, Seven Cycles has announced
a custom carbon frame, the Diamas, just in time for this weekend's Eurobike
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
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.
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
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
"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?
Clothing for superheros
Or maybe Captain America?
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
"It's also fun," adds Moon, and who are we to argue.
More info: www.purehero.com