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Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, September 22-26, 2008

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Part 18 - October 17:  Shocks, lights, power! Pass me the tools, nurse...

By James Huang

Limited edition World Championship suspension components from Fox Racing Shox

Fox Racing Shox will offer limited numbers
Photo ©: James Huang
(Click for larger image)

Fox Racing Shox has had a stellar showing on the race circuit this year, particularly on the downhill side of things with the Animal Commencal team and the world's fastest family, the Athertons. Between Dan, Gee and Rachel, the trio has racked up five World Cup wins, two world championships and even a World Cup overall title – an impressive showing for any team for sure, let alone one where all three members are related.

As partly a way to celebrate the achievement, team sponsor Fox Racing Shox will bring to market a limited run of DHX RC4 rear shocks and 40 RC2 forks complete with internal tuning set up per the Atherton's preferred specifications. Just 200 individually numbered samples of each will be produced.

The limited-edition 40 RC2 is mostly identical to the stock version save for increased high-and mid-speed compression damping, but the DHX RC4 represents an all-new design based at least in concept on the existing DHX. The alloy shaft increases in diameter from 1/2" to 5/8", oil volume has increased and the new internal dimensions require lower pressures than before. In addition, there are also new external adjustments for high-and low-speed compression.

Light & Motion brightens up the night

The compact Stella single-LED lamp
Photo ©: James Huang
(Click for larger image)

Light & Motion has gone LED-only for 2009, but if its new Seca line of high-powered LED lamps is any indication, not many will lament the passing of HID from the company lineup.

Light & Motion claims an impressive 700-lumen output for its top Seca 700 model courtesy of six individually focused LED emitters that combine to produce a rather unique, and seemingly very useful, beam pattern. Unlike most beams that yield a bright hot spot in the center with even fall-off on all sides, the Seca beam is more like the bottom half of a bull's eye.

There's still the bright centre but now there is also a sharp cut-off up top coupled with a mostly even apron down below and off to the sides. The thinking here is that the bright centre delivers the long-range 'punch' that is so often lacking in LED systems, but also a diffuse flood that provides a better ‘big picture' view of the trail ahead of you. Run time on the Seca 700 Race model is a lengthy 3.5 hours on the highest setting while the Seca 700 Ultra jumps to five hours of burn thanks to a larger nine-cell battery.

The Seca's intriguing design language (with its coloured aluminum sink) also makes its way into the revamped Vega range. The battery is still fully integrated as in the previous version but the body is now distinctly broader and shorter than the old tube-like form. Output has jumped to 200 lumens for the top Vega 200 model while the less expensive Vega 120 still churns out a very useful 120 lumens of light.

Claimed burn time for both Vega models is two hours on the highest setting.

New iSport brings power meter technology down in price

iBike's new iSport promises to bring accurate power meter technology
Photo ©: James Huang
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iBike brings power meter technology to the masses with its new iSport model that commands a retail cost of just US$199. As with the standard iBike, the iSport doesn't actually directly measure power output; rather, it measures everything that you are working against - gravity, air resistance, etc - and then back calculates from there.

Though a simplified setup procedure omits exact baseline calculations such as rider drag, the iSport is still claimed to be within five percent accuracy of the major competitors in the segment, all of which cost far more. The bargain price also means that there is no software included and you can not download your workouts to a computer for later analysis. A US$250 upgrade nets users full iBike Pro capabilities, though, and there are also optional modules for cadence and heart rate.

Either way, the unit itself includes a built-in threshold test to establish a current fitness level and then recommends workouts from there to improve the score. Much as full-on gym machines establish target figures for users to match during a prescribed training session, the iSport will set target wattage and duration based on where you are now and where you want to be.

Will it work? We think so, based on our experience with other iBike models. Though the system is not without its quirks, even if it comes close to the claimed accuracy figures the US$199 price tag is incredibly compelling.

Along with the budget iSport model comes the high-zoot iBike Aero. When used alone, this compact unit not only provides the full power meter capabilities of the standard iBike Pro but also adds a so-called ‘snapshot CdA' that provides some information on your aerodynamic efficiency. If done properly, users can glean very useful information on changes in position or equipment that would otherwise require very expensive wind tunnel time.

By itself, the iBike Aero can only provide the CdA information when the rider is coasting. However, its ANT+Sport compatibility means that it can also be paired with a direct power measurement unit such as the Quarq Cinqo or latest Powertap models to provide continuous CdA information. According to DLP Racing team member Boyd Johnson, the continuous CdA figures can be particularly useful in competition when trying to bridge a gap or in breakaways.

At US$799, the iBike Aero is substantially more expensive than the iSport and the full feature set also requires a direct-style power meter, but the wealth of information that that the combination provides may be enough to justify the cost for serious riders.

Park Tool keeps up the pace with heaps of new tools

The new Park BBT-39 can be used
Photo ©: James Huang
(Click for larger image)

The onslaught of new products and technologies is hard enough on consumers who constantly feel the pressure to keep up, but the folks at Park Tool also have to develop the tools required to work on the stuff. Among the 25 new items on tap for 2009 is a handy press to separate hydraulic disc brake pistons, new four-sided ‘master mechanic' all-metal spoke wrenches, and a bearing tool for the latest crop of BB30 and BB90 bottom bracket systems.

Park Tool is also going deeper into the torque department with ratcheting ‘click-type' wrenches in two ranges: 3-15Nm and 10-60Nm. Both include storage cases and a bike-specific accompanying socket and bit set includes most of the items used day-to-day.

Other neat new items include a tabletop digital scale, digital calipers that display in metric, decimal <i>and</i> fractional standard, P-handle Torx drivers, a handy 15mm open/box wrench (with bottle opener, of course) for fixie riders and updates to existing crank pullers.

One of Park Tool's most interesting offerings isn't even a tool, though: Park Tool will host two two-day Tech Summit sessions in January 2009 in conjunction with Hayes, Shimano, Campagnolo, Fox, SRAM, Avid and RockShox to provide hands-on training on some of the latest gear.

Session dates are January 12-13 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and January 26-27 in Ontario, California. The US$195 registration fee will include all materials and breakfast and lunch both days and special hotel rates will be available for attendees.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by James Huang/Cyclingnews.com

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