Tech news for November 30, 2001

Edited by John Stevenson

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Tracy hits the road
Gerolsteiner's new Kleins
Suspension licensing grows
Profile-Design recalls aero bars
The Pennzoil Solution

Tracy hits the road

Click for larger image
Paul Tracy and vehicles
Photo: © Paul Tracy

Car racer Paul Tracy has a long association with bikes. Back in the 90s he even fronted a couple of downhill races in Yeti colours, and a Yeti sticker was seen on his racing helmet as recently as 1999. But it seems he's recently gotten into road bikes too, according to Scott Mellin of Fondriest importer P4 Group:

"During the Interbike 2001 Show a young man walked into our booth and said, 'I've looked at every bike in this show and you have absolutely the finest frames.'"

"After a while I figured out that the man was the CART race car driver Paul Tracy. Paul lives in Las Vegas and is a total road bike nut. So after some discussion, we agreed that Paul needed a new Fondriest Carb Level U107. Paul called the other day and told me, 'this is the best riding bike ever.'"

"He also sent me some photos from the last CART race in Australia. Check them out."

You can see Fondriest bikes without accompanying cars, Canadian car racers or his friends at Fondriest's website.

Gerolsteiner's new Kleins

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Klein Q-Pro carbon
Photo: © Klein

Further to our story in today's news on the Gerolsteiner team, here's a look at the frame the German squad will be riding in 2002.

The Klein Q-Pro Carbon is the successor to Klein Quantum Pro, using a new aluminium alloy that Klein calls ZR 9000, and high modulus carbon fiber seatstays and fork. Depending on which of the numbers on Klein's website you believe, a complete Q-Pro carbon with Bontrager wheels and Dura-Ace group weighs 16.4 or 16.5 lb, but what's a tenth of a pound between friends?

Of his company's relationship with Gerolsteiner, Klein top banana, the eponymous Gary Klein said, "It has been incredible to be a part of this team as they have grown," said Gary Klein. "When I first started to work with Gerolsteiner, it was clear they had great potential. To have challenged the team to become one of the best in the world, and then see it really happen, is a great reward."

The Klein Q Pro Carbon is the team paint scheme is available through Klein dealers, along with Gerolsteiner-Klein team jerseys, shorts and casual apparel.

More information: Klein's website

Suspension licensing grows

If there's one trend that's marked the development of suspension mountain bikes in the last few years it's been rapid experimentation and even more rapid abandonment of designs that don't work. Take a look at a typical selection of dual suspension bikes and where there were a dozen different ways suspending the rear wheel a few years ago, there's now just a handful.

Missing in action are designs like the original AMP 'Macpherson Strut', and the Unified Rear Triangle has vanished from high end bikes. We're left with a couple of multi-link configurations like Specialized's FSR and Giant's NRS, and an assortment of single pivot designs.

So what do you do if you're a bike company that needs to add a dual suspension design to its offerings but you don't necessarily have the resources to start with a clean sheet of paper and thread your way through the minefield of patents that surround the more successful designs?

Increasingly, it seems, you license an existing design, and just recently this is what Kestrel, Colnago and Seven have done. Kestrel and Colnago have adopted the Specialized FSR design, while Seven have gone for Rock Shox founder Paul Turner's Maverick Mono-link.

It's startling to realise that the FSR design has now been around since 1991. I remember riding one extensively in about 1993 and frequently scaring myself with how much better the suspension was than the brakes (Shimano LX cantilevers), the tyres (grey rubber Specializeds; not one of that company's better ideas) and my reflexes.

The FSR was developed with Horst Leitner of AMP and in 1998 Specialized bought several important patents from Leitner, including the 'Horst link' that in effect makes many multi-link suspension designs work well. Since then, Specialized has licensed the Horst link to numerous companies and the FSR to about eight.

Click for larger image
Seven's Maverick-derived Duo
Photo: © Seven Cycles

Specialized is one of the bike industry's giants. At the other end of the scale, Maverick is a tiny company headed by the man who kicked off the suspension fork revolution, Paul Turner. After leaving Rock Shox, Turner founded Maverick American as a for-hire design house that would have the flexibility to develop genuinely innovative stuff. Maverick's Mono-Link frame was unveiled to rave reviews in mid-2000 but until recently has only been available as the Maverick ML-7. With a fork and a few other bits an ML-7 will set you back US$3,589.00 or if you have really deep pockets, Seven's titanium version is US$3,195 for the bare frame.

More information: Specialized's website
More information: Colnago's website
More information: Seven's website
More information: Maverick American's website

Profile-Design recalls Carbon X and Carbon Stryke aero bars

U.S. company Profile-Design LLC has issued a recall notice asking for consumers to stop using "Carbon X" TM and "Carbon Stryke" TM aero bar left and right forearm bracket pairs, also known as "ZB brackets". Approximately 8,400 of these products are believed to have been sold since May 6, 1999, but Profile is concerned that the bracket on one of the aero bars can loosen, with potentially distastrous results. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has already had a report of one cyclist crashing because of this problem.

According to the recall notice, "Only 50 percent of these products have been sold in the U.S. The U.S. CPSC will monitor this recall in the US for effectiveness...This recall only involves the ZB brackets of the Carbon X aero bars sold from August 1, 1999 through present and the ZB brackets of the Carbon Stryke aero bars sold from May 6, 1999 through present."

Profile advises that "Consumers should stop using the aero bars with the recalled ZB brackets immediately and obtain two replacement ZB brackets (left and right) from Profile-Design free of charge. Removal of the recalled ZB brackets and installation of the new ZB brackets only takes about 5 minutes using a 4 and 5 mm hex or "Allen" wrenches. Consumers should call Profile Design's recall hotline at (888) 800-5999 ext. 161 Monday through Friday 9:00 am to 5:00 pm Pacific time to obtain the replacement ZB brackets."

More information:

The Pennzoil Solution

Cyclists spend small fortunes on fancy-dandy lubricants to keep our steeds running sweet and smooth. Is it money wasted? Jon Anderson thinks so, and tech-in-cheek alternative: The Penzoil Solution