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Earls Court, London, United Kingdom, October 9-12, 2008
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Part 1 - October 23: UK brands move forward for 2009
Condor's new look
London-based Condor has considerably updated its Leggero frame based on feedback from the Rapha-Condor-Recycling.co.uk team. The new version is virtually unrecognisable from last year's edition with a completely restyled and considerably stiffer main triangle. Beefier looking intersections join the newly tapered head tube to the top and down tubes and the seat tube now also carries a far more aerodynamic profile. As before, the frame is made from DCS SL high modulus carbon and retains the Dedacciai drive box rear stays.
Major changes are also evident in Condor's top-end carbon sportive frames, the Baracchi. Previously based on the Dedacciai Ribelle monocoque chassis, the frame is now made from separate tubes joined by carbon wrapping. Also noticeable is that the previous "Etape Profiles" graphics package has now been moved down the range onto the entry level Italia (which now comes with an optional shorter top tube to replace the women's specific Bellissima). The Baracchi now comes in a much simpler one-colour paint scheme with Condor's new font.
New paint and graphics are in fact spread right across the 2009 Condor range. The steel lugged Classico now comes in a clean cream colour with green and pale blue accents, and where the down tube font goes modern on the other frames it goes further retro here.
Going fixed has been the fashionable way of getting around London for quite a few years now and Condor has long been at the forefront of the movement. Condor's entry level steel fixie, the Pista, gets a fresh look courtesy of some new paint schemes, updated graphics and, by the looks of things, some pretty wild coordinating build options.
Subtle changes and new models for Enigma
Enigma has abandoned the extended seat tube of its range-topping Eulogy as a standard feature for 2009, citing reasons of practicality and transportation. The integrated mast visually set it apart from most other titanium frames, though, so Enigma will still offer it as an option. The Eulogy also gets beefier bespoke titanium dropouts for extra rear end stiffness which are also used throughout the Enigma range .
Enigma has always offered a women's specific model through its bespoke 'Lab' service but will now add it to the stock range for 2009. The Elle features a distinctly shorter and more sloping top tube as well as a slightly taller head tube than the rest of the range in keeping with most women's typically longer legs and shorter torsos. As before, the Elle is also still available made to measure.
Titanium is undoubtedly Enigma's favoured material but there are a few notable exceptions such as the TIG-welded Elite frame made from Columbus Niobium steel. Enigma has moved production of the ferrous frame in-house and while the majority of the company's titanium frames have semi-integrated head tubes, the Elite has a more traditional external headset.
In addition, Enigma displayed a full carbon frame called the Eikonic. This model is still in prototype form, though, and Enigma will decide on production once it has gauged customer opinion.
Finally, Enigma continues to extends its in-house brand of accessories. The company's own brand stem is available painted in the same colour as the frame - as seen on the Elite bike - and has also been mirror-polished by special request. New for this year is a full titanium stem and flat mountain bike bar.
Kinesis goes long and comfortable
Latching on to the current trend for long distance events and sportives, Kinesis adds the Gran Fondo model to its range complete with a more relaxed geometry and notably less aggressive position than a pure racing machine.
Kinesis builds the Gran Fondo with butted Easton GX2 scandium tubing complete with flared head and down tubes for extra front end rigidity and slender carbon seat stays for more long distance comfort. A bit of extra clearance leaves room for a set of full mudguards but still with standard brake callipers, albeit at the blocks' maximum drop. Double eyelets at the rear dropouts and braze-ons at the top of the seat stays also make for easy installation of a rear rack.
Kinesis' new KR510 frame sits roughly in the middle of its road range but nonetheless features a revolutionary new manufacturing method to form its heavily sculpted tubes. Unlike hydroforming whereby a pressurized fluid is used to expand the tube walls out against a mould, the Kinesis SPF process uses pressurized gas. Kinesis claims the swap allows for more radical moulds and more predictable wall thicknesses, thus yielding a lighter and stronger tube.
Also new for 2009 are two women's-specific models: the KR210 road frame and XC210 mountain bike chassis. In keeping with current industry trends, both naturally come with specific geometry but also some subtle flowery details in their paint schemes. Another frame to get a new look is Kinesis' range topping KR810, which now comes in white as well as bare carbon.
Pearson's carbon upgrades
Pearson claims its 2009 Carbon Pro range-topper is its stiffest yet thanks to a tapered steerer tube that widens to 1 1/2" at the fork crown. Though the front of the bike is as rigid as possible, Pearson says the curves on the frame's main triangle still provide enough flex and damp enough road vibration to make the ride comfortable. Claimed weight for a 54cm frame is sub-1kg.
Also new for '09 is a dedicated sportive machine called the Pavé. In keeping with other bikes in the segment, Pearson says the Pavé aims to combine light weight, stiffness and comfort with features such as a longer head tube for a more comfortable position.
Similar to the Pavé, but with different chain stays and clearance for mudguards is the Audax Pro. The frame is designed for either a tourer who wants a high performance bike, or a racer who wants to do his winter training on a quality carbon frame.
As a company based in the London area, Pearson naturally has a range of fixed wheel frames; currently the preferred way to get around the British capital. These fixies are based on the aluminium Touché, but also come in steel and carbon.
Qoroz: a new name in titanium
An entirely new brand of titanium frames was launched at the show in London, with the unusual name of Qoroz. With an all-titanium range of four frames, the new company claims to have created the ultimate machine for each discipline.
The Race Won is Qoroz' out and out race machine, built with aero-section tubes and an aggressive position. The company's other road frame, the Road Won, is more of a sportive model and is given a more forgiving geometry and more comfortable tube profiles for the rider who wants to put in long distances.
For time trials Qoroz has created the Time Won, built with aero shaped tubes and the only frame in the range with a semi-integrated head tube. Completing the range is a cross-country mountain bike frame, unsurprisingly called the Mountain Won. All frames are finished in the ubiquitous brushed bare metal, but with an interesting blue and white graphics band around the main tubes.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Ben Atkins/Cyclingnews.com