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Las Vegas, USA, October 5 - 8, 2002
In this instalment Gerard Knapp puts on his shades for a look at Orbea, drops by Park Tool's retro-styled 40th anniversary booth and learns how to consume Extran's energy goo.
Orbea puts the heat into US market
One of the things about Orbea, Spain's long-standing bike-maker, is that it has the right combination of credibility and origin to get away with building outrageously-coloured bicycles, such as the dayglo orange which has become its trademark in the pro peloton. For any other company, it would be crass; for Orbea, it's OK.
At the same time, there is something uniquely egalitarian about Orbea's approach to making bikes. The company has a 70-year history of producing bicycles and it is part of the Mondragon Co-operative, a Basque industrial/financial co-op of more than 100 companies and 59,000 employees. Apart from being very affordable, the company also uses the EE paint scheme on their entry-level budget racing bikes, like the Vento. From a distance, only a trained eye could tell the difference between this model and the high-end Starship, until you take a closer look at the rear end of the latter model and notice its Zaccs carbon fibre rear end, made in-house by Orbea's Zeus components department.
Yes, the company is that large is makes pretty much everything, except the tubesets which it buys from Columbus. At the front, Zeus-made Zaccs carbon forks are used. Zeus makes a 510 gram model with an aluminium steerer tube, while the Zeus muscle fork weighs in at 375 grams and uses titanium mesh fabric and carbon steerer.
Orbea also builds MTBs and 'cross bikes, the former ridden to world cup wins by Spain's 2000 world champion Marga Fullana. The MTB range is somewhat abbreviated compared to the US and Taiwanese brands, but at least it's comprehensible. You want a light hardtail? Then there's the Kilo, the same as what Marga rides. The duallies offered by Orbea featured a very interesting rear suspension arrangement that uses a carbon rear triangle, while the shock link can be changed to alter travel from 75mm to 125mm.
The company has began to ramp up its efforts in English-speaking markets. It certainly has the depth, experience, technology and top-level riders to make life interesting for the more entrenched brands.
More information can be found at www.orbea-usa.com
Park Tool celebrates 40 years in business
To celebrate its 40th anniversary in the bicycle business in 2003, Park Tool had its staff working the booth at Interbike dress in clothing circa-1963, such as plain white shirts, black ties and trousers. The attire led to more than one suggestion that they tended to resemble Mormons, but that hardly fazed them because they also had a swag of new products on offer.
One of the featured new products was the TM-1 spoke tensiometer, which can measure the tension of each of the spokes in the wheel, as well as the relative tension between all the spokes in a wheel. It works on nearly all spoke types.
For the professional mechanic there is also the CRP-1, a universal crown race puller for removing the headset crown race from the seat of the fork, and a professional mechanic's floor pump, the PFP-2, which has a cast-alloy head that fits Presta, Schrader and Dunlop valves without changing internal parts.
For the home mechanic and rider, Park also introduced updates to its PCS-1 and PCs-4 home mechanic repair stands, which now offer adjustable height via a telescopic upright tube. There's also a new home floor pump coming, as well as a range of multiple-tool 'rescue tools', including one with a chainring nut wrench.
More information can be found at www.parktool.com
Boogie's tricks of the trade, part 29
Taking on fuel while racing or riding can be a tricky business, while carrying it can be a pain in the back - literally. So experienced pros like Rabobank's Michael Boogerd have learnt to use their teeth at critical times. Team staff also help their riders by breaking the corners of their Extran liquid packs and flattening them as much as possible. This allows riders to carry a more compliant shape in their back pockets, and also carry the food by their teeth, and also open by tearing away a corner. While most of us don't possess Boogie's teeth or riding ability, we do need to drink sticky stuff while out on the road.
Extran's 'liquid tailwind' has become one of the favoured drinks of the peloton and at Interbike the company showed off a new dried apricot chewy bar. Unlike others, it actually tasted like food.
More information can be found at www.extranusa.com/
Images by Rob Karman/www.roadbikephotos.com
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