Tech news for August 16, 2001

By John Stevenson

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


Giro Pneumo

Click for larger image
Coloured for Lance-a-likes
Giro's top-of-the-line, as-used-by-Lance helmet is a consummate exercise in style, ventilation and packing as many features as possible into a helmet without the weight getting silly.

Notable features include: Roc Loc 4, the latest incarnation of Giro's stabilising cradle; 19 vents connected inside the helmet by deep air-flow channels; minimal contact area with the head; and a detachable peak of the sort more usually found on mountain bike helmets.

Roc Loc 4 features a ratchet fit adjustment mechanism that's an absolute doddle to use. You simply put the helmet on and pull together the two buttons at the back. The ratchet's position on the back of your head can be adjusted up and down by moving its anchor inside the helmet. I wish fitting a helmet had been this easy back in my far-off bike shop days.

The peak is handy for shading your eyes from low morning and evening sunshine, and for keeping the rain off your classes when the weather's less pleasant. It's easily popped off, so if you consider a bit of plastic over your brow to be a dreadful mountain biker affectation you don't have to wear it, but it's certainly worth trying. I suspect it's a feature we'll see spread to other nominally road-orientated helmets.

Helmet fit is a somewhat personal thing -- everyone's head is a bit different after all -- but I found the Pneumo's shape was spot-on. In fact the S/M size is such an exact fit that squeezing a bandana under it was impossible, a slight inconvenience when you need to ward off the chill of a Sydney winter morning.

And you certainly do need to ward it off because the Pneumo's extensive venting lets it come howling through and swirling round your head. I can't speak from direct experience of hot summer rides in this helmet (though I'm sure there are folks out there who can -- let us know), but based on the chilled head I suffered at 6am this morning it's going to be my first choice of helmet when the thermometer heads north in a couple of month's time. Bring on summer!

More information: Giro's web site
Weight: 305g (S/M size)
Colours: yellow, white, blue, USPS red/white/blue (limited edition)

Bell X-Ray Pro

Click for larger image
Just look at the vents on that
Bell's answer to sister company Giro's Pneumo is the X-Ray Pro. It boasts several equivalent or identical features but its more angular and conservative styling should appeal to those who find the Pneumo's rakish looks too brash.

Like the Pneumo, the X-Ray Pro has 19 vents, deep internal channels, an optional visor and a simple-to-adjust stability cradle. The latter is the most interesting feature from a tech-geek point of view. Dubbed GPS (for 'Geared Positioning System') it's a toothed wheel that pulls equally on both sides of the head cradle when turned. Full marks for ease of use.

Our medium size sample was a slightly more generous fit than the S/M Giro, which is surprising as the Giro is supposed to go to size 60, the Bell to 58. Just shows that the only way to be sure a helmet fits you is to put it on your head. In use, it's comfortable and puts plenty of air over your skull -- like the Giro, it's not a head-warmer for cold winter mornings.

More information: Bell's web site
Weight: 287g (M)
Colours: White, blue, orange


We have met the Enemy…

After getting a foothold in bikes a few years ago by buying the Pro-Flex suspension mountain bike brand, K2 -- known for its skis and snowboards -- has been expanding into other branches of cycling. The company introduced a line of road bikes this year and has just announced a cyclo-cross model to bridge the gap between bitumen and dirt.

Dubbed the Enemy, K2's cyclo-cross bike features a double butted Kinesis aluminum frame and fork with disk brakes tabs; Avid Shorty brakes; and WTB wheels. It's also equipped with touring and winter training features such as rack and fender mounts.

The Enemy will be campaigned this winter by former U23 silver medallist Jonny Sundt at the Supercups and US UCI races; he will be joined for West Coast Supercups and other local races by Ingrid Spies. Also aboard the Enemy this winter will be the Team DEVO Junior and U23 squad.

More information: K2's website

Cyclemetrics FitStik Comp: increased warranty, lower price.

Click for larger image
Adopt the position
One of the things we love about cycling is nifty widgets, and this critter from Cyclemetrics definitely fits the category. The FitStik is a device that allows you to transfer your position from one bike to another accurately, so that you don't have to go through the process of tweaking position each time if you own more than one bike, or if you're taking out a loaner or hire bike.

The original FitStik was launched to very warm reviews at the end of last year; about the only thing anyone could find to complain about was the price: $119. The good news is that the latest incarnation, the FitStik Comp, is only $79.95. The new version's main rulers are made from custom fiberglass/phenolic laminates, and Cyclemetrics claims the extra strength of these materials over the previous hardwoods has allowed a warranty extension from one year to life.

More information: Cyclemetrics' website

SRAM awarded

SRAM's Two-Axis brake levers recently received a design distinction in the Consumer Products category of I.D. Magazine's 2001 Design Review. The August issue of I.D., The International Design Magazine, features SRAM's Two-Axis Brake levers, along with other distinction recipients from such renowned companies as Apple, Nike and Ford.

I.D. Magazine's 2001 Design Review makes awards in seven categories. Within each category, one design receives 'best of category', others receive design distinctions, and some receive honorable mentions. In the Consumer Products category, Apple's Mac G4 Cube received best of category, while SRAM's Two-Axis levers were honored with a design distinction along with Nike's Swift Suit and Communicate WX, BMW's Streetcarver, Ipaq's Pocket PC, and Ford's Th!nk Vehicle. The Two-Axis lever was featured with a full-page image and description.

I.D. Executive Editor, Jenny Wohlfarth writes in the opening Editor's Note: "The 178 designs you see in this issue of I.D. have endured several intense rounds of evaluation by a panel of distinguished jurors from across the country. Among them you'll find designs that are changing the way people live, work, play and interact."

More information: SRAM's website

Ride Lance's bike

It won't magically transform you into a Texan cycling god, but at least, according to Trek, you can ride exactly the same bike as Lance Armstrong. Talking to Belgian newspaper De Standard a couple of weeks ago, Trek Spokesman Bob de Wit said "The unique part of Armstrong's bike is that it comes from the factory. The exact same bike is available for anyone to buy in a shop." The bike costs 286,800 Francs (7110 Euro); the carbon fiber frame is 229,400 francs (5677). Anyone who wants to spend less money on a bike can buy a replica for 40,000 Francs (992 Euro).

The exchange rate with the US dollar is currently about US$1 = 44BEF

More information: Trek's website