Competitive Cyclist
Orbea USA
Zero Gravity
Hed Cycling

Interbike show

Las Vegas, USA, September 26-30, 2005

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Part 9: GT/Mongoose/Schwinn, Fi'zi:k, Jagwire

By James Huang in Las Vegas


This prototype full-carbon frame from GT
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The prototype GTR Carbon downtube
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GT's iT1 incorporated
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Another benefit to the centrally-mounted gearbox
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GT's prototype DHi
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Schwinn's Fastback LTD is race-ready
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The acquisition of GT, Mongoose, and Schwinn by the big-box folks at Pacific Cycles may have worried a few people but their 2006 introductions suggest that the companies are not only still alive but are progressing quite well. Although the three lines may share certain technologies, they have developed a more unique identity from each other than in the past.


GT is firmly positioned as Pacific's technology and performance leader, and on display at this year's Interbike was a new full-carbon road frame which will likely be dubbed the GTR Carbon. This won't likely see production until the '07 model year, but the prototype frame had radically shaped carbon tubing.

Some of the most exciting bikes in their range were aimed squarely at the freeride and DH crowds. The much anticipated gearbox-equipped iT1 has finally hit production with a modified Shimano Nexus 8-speed residing in the center of the frame. Moving all of the transmission bits to the center of the frame makes for better weight distribution and also reduces unsprung weight for better suspension sensitivity, but more importantly allows GT's designers to position the chain line directly at the high, forward pivot point to neutralize pedaling effects. The gearbox also completely removes the fragile rear derailleur from a vulnerable area, and allows for shifting even when coasting. Rear wheel travel can be set at 7" or 9", and the burly build kit is set for serious abuse.

A prototype DHi downhill race bike was also on display and, like the GTR Carbon, is intended for a '07 model year release. Those of you who can wait for the new DHi will be rewarded with a radical new frame design topped by a carbon fiber seat mast assembly which also houses the Fox DHX 5.0 coil rear shock. The modified i-Drive system is beefed up significantly for DH use but the target weight for the complete bike is still just around 38lbs.


Mongoose is designated as the more "youthful and aggressive" of Pacific's three lines and offer a range of freeride and so-called "Whistler-ready" bikes that are purpose-built for the type of riding that is typical of the Vancouver-area ski resort. The big news from Mongoose this year is the development of a ready-to-race, dedicated 4X race bike called the ECX. This bike was developed with input from Eric Carter and is allegedly a virtual carbon copy of what he actually uses. Mongoose's version of i-Drive, called Freedrive, is used in a short 3" rear travel configuration that is specifically designed to tackle the event. Components are race-ready and include a Rock Shox Revelation 426 fork and MC 3.1 rear shock, Avid Juicy hydraulic brakes, SRAM X-9 rear derailleur and trigger shifter, and Kenda Nevegal tires mounted on a Sun Ringle wheelset.


Schwinn is Pacific's established leader with a long heritage behind the name. Mountain bikes are fairly limited in scope, but they do offer a very capable road bike line, which is highlighted by their flagship Fastback LTD. The compact N'Litened Platinum Label aluminum frame is enhanced with the addition of a carbon fiber top tube, downtube, seatstays, and chainstays to reduce weight and damp vibration. The component spec is top-notch all around and features a Mavic Ksyrium SL3 wheelset, FSA carbon post, stem, and K-Force Mega Exo 2-piece crankset. The seat is even a genuine Fi'zi:k Arione with titanium rails.



The carbon rails
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The classic Fi'zi:k Nisene
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Many Fi'zi:k saddles now incorporate
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Fi'zi:k is building on last year's success of their Arione Carbon by replacing the titanium rails of last year's model with true carbon fiber ones, resulting in the new Arione Carbon Braided. To provide some protection to the rails from the potential hazards of clamping in a post, Fi'zi:k adds a unique braided carbon wrap to the rails which should also keep them from slipping a bit.

The popular Pavè saddle, previously one which evoked a love/hate relationship, has been completely redesigned, with its new shell said to represent the largest improvement in comfort out of the entire 2006 range.

The classic Nisene mountain bike saddle has also been totally redone for '06 and now incorporates the company's proven Wing Flex technology. The shell is actually a completely new piece altogether and offers additional support where needed but with engineered flex in strategic locations. The new Nisene is also much flatter across the top than the old version and is more heavily padded.

In addition, some Fi'zi:k saddles now have a built-in port to accept a dedicated clip-on seat bag. This makes for a tidier appearance than strapped-on bags, and positions the bag a little further back from the post which may minimize chafing.



Jagwire's new Sleek Road Lite pads
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The Jagwire Elite Pad Press Tool
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Jagwire's new cable and housing system
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Jagwire has quietly been building up a large head of steam over the past few years with gobs of OEM spec in the brake pad and cabling arenas but are now aggressively going for aftermarket sales. Their Sleek Road Lite brake pads use a heavily modified aluminum cartridge pad holder that is reported to be even lighter than their carbon fiber version when fitted with titanium hardware. Speaking of brake pads, Jagwire also offers a shop-quality tool that is purpose-built to assist in removing and reinstalling road brake pad cartridges in their holders, especially Campy-style ones which are often excessively tight and occasionally nearly impossible to replace by hand. Unfortunately, one of Jagwire's most exciting bits won't be available until mid-season. Jagwire is currently working with Gore to redevelop their line of sealed cables. The new housing uses a series of links as with Nokon and Aztec systems, but the links actually snap together for easier assembly and reduced ghost shifting due to settling of the links.



For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by James Huang

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