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Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, September 24 - 28, 2007
Part 4: September 28 - Bring on the mud!
By James Huang in Las Vegas, NV
Hed Cycling does Pontiac: 'wider is better'
We're convinced that Minnesota-based aerodynamics guru Steve Hed sees the air in a wholly different way from most human beings as he somehow manages to push the wind-cheating envelope year after year (although apparently shirking household duties and home improvement upgrades in the process, according to Mrs. Hed).
Last year's wild-looking carbon hub-and-carbon rim concept is finally ready for production and now wears an official name: IFO (Identified Flying Object). According to Hed, the bulbous disc-shaped hub allows the 90mm-deep Stinger 90 IFO carbon tubular to deliver aerodynamic performance that is comparable to a full disc wheel but with greater handling stability in crosswinds. We don't have an exact weight, but can say that the sample we handled isn't terribly light. However, riders tackling windy courses that demand ultimate aerodynamic performance and don't involve too much climbing may prove to have a distinct advantage with Hed's new creation.
Hed also introduces two new rear disc wheels for 2008, both of which use similarly complex surface profiles to optimize aerodynamic performance and wheel strength and rigidity: the sidewalls bulge out just inward of the tire, then arc in towards the centerline of the wheel before curving back out slightly to meet the hub shell. The upscale Stinger is built with two structural carbon fiber skins and is fully hollow (there is no foam or honeycomb core), and a clever three-point attachment system at the hub allows for relatively precise truing during manufacture to ensure a straight wheel. The lower-priced Jet disc uses carbon fiber skins bonded over a standard spoked wheel. Both are only available for use with tubular tires.
As we spotted at this year's Tour de France, Hed debuts a deeper-section version of its venerable 3C three-spoke aero wheel. Hed affixes a Jet-like non-structural carbon fairing to a standard 3C to yield the 90mm section depth of the new 3C Deep. The thin 'cap' construction adds only negligible weight, and also allows consumers to upgrade their existing 3C wheels at a cost of US$805.
On the road racing front, Hed introduces the new Jet C2 and Ardennes models, both of which use a wider 23mm rim width that supposedly makes for smoother airflow when paired with typically-sized tires. In addition to the improved aero performance, the wider rim provides better sidewall support for decreased rolling resistance and more surefooted cornering, and may also deliver a smoother ride thanks to the effective increase in tire casing volume.
The 50mm-deep carbon cap on the Jet C2 wears a new squared-off nose for improved crosswind performance, while the Ardennes sports an all-aluminum semi-aero rim that is said to weigh just 415g. Hmm… an aluminum semi-aero clincher rim that's just 415g, gives more sidewall support, and adds tire volume? Can you say, 'cyclocross'?
Hed has been busy on the handlebar front, too, with an all-new carbon base bar and clip-on aero extensions that weigh just 490g for the complete package. The new clip-on is compatible with a multitude of different armrest pad shapes and brackets to accommodate nearly any aero position, and the pads easily flip up to reveal a surprisingly comfy hand position.
Gore Ride-On cables are back!
After a four-year hiatus (roughly three in Europe), Gore has introduced its Ride-On cable system line with an updated design that supposedly retains all of the good qualities of the first generation while improving on its weaknesses.
As with the original, the new Sealed Low Friction System is built around an extra-low friction PTFE-coated cable that runs through a full-length liner that protects the system from end-to-end (like, say, from mud…) when used with Gore's unique 'grub' accordion seals. According to Gore, that coating is now substantially more durable than before, and there is no longer a need to strip the coating off of the end of cable before clamping it. Housing ferrules have been upgraded to machined aluminum bits, instructions are much more clearly written and illustrated this time around, and even the packaging has been drastically improved so as to facilitate installation.
Housing and liner colors are respectively limited to black and clear for now (sorry, folks, no retro yellow liners just yet...), and Gore will offer kits to fit all major derailleur and mechanical brake systems. The only exception is Campagnolo brake levers with their slightly smaller cable seats, but that kit is apparently just around the corner.
Gore will also introduce a Low Friction System option, which uses the same specially-coated cable but without the full-length liner or grub seals, and non-sealed nosed aluminum ferrules protect the cable coating as it enters the standard housings. This system is aimed more at road cyclists or riders who want the low friction performance of the Gore system but generally live in less harsh climates that don't require a weatherproof setup.
Retail price on the Sealed Low Friction System cable set is US$65, while the Low Friction System set is slightly less expensive at US$49.
Craft clothing: not just for winter anymore
Scandinavian clothing outfit Craft is renowned for its cold weather gear but certainly looks to know a thing or three about summer heat, too. The new Elite Bib shorts include a drastically pared-down mesh bib section (including a large 'keyhole' in the back), a mix of its proCOOL and high compression fabrics, and lots of welded seams that eliminate unnecessary stitching. Impressively minimalist silicone leg grippers are reflective when turned outwards (as many riders do anyway), and Craft's variable density and four-way stretch Elite chamois promises to keep things comfy.
The matching Elite Jersey now incorporates a more aggressive 'race position' cut for better on-the-bike fit and is also built using Craft's proven proCOOL fabric. Arm openings are welded to eliminate stitching, and the heavily dropped tail includes a strip of silicone to keep things where they should be. A full-length front zipper allows for even more ventilation, and a full complement of rear pockets provide plenty of storage.
Naturally, Craft's winter collection bears the signs of a company that spends a lot of its time working to keep warm. The new Gore WS Thermal Bike Jacket sports a full Gore Windstopper front with Flex Fleece fabric throughout the body for protection from sub-freezing temps, along with a cinchable neck, unique internal cuffs, a brushed neckliner, 360° reflectivity, and a siliconized rear hem.
The matching Wind Control Bib Tight also uses a Gore Windstopper front, paired with stretch rear panels and a brushed interior throughout. Zippers at the ankles and lower abdomen facilitate ingress and egress, and pre-shaped legs enhance flexibility. Big reflective panels aid nighttime visibility, and Craft offers the tight both with and without a chamois depending on personal preferences.
Need to stay even warmer? Craft also revises its stellar base layer collection which now includes the extra-cozy proWARM line. Craft designed the pieces to provide excellent heat retention in cold conditions but still dump excess warmth during hard workouts (again, think cyclocross…) through careful use of body mapping technology.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by James Huang/Cyclingnews.com