Tech News August 27, 2005
Edited by John Stevenson
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Oops! Murphy's Law costs Ullrich German victory
Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) at
the Tour de France, with Xentis front wheel correctly orientated
- the white marks cut the air first.
Photo ©: Sirotti
Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) in
the final time trial of the Tour of Germany, with the wheel reversed.
Worth 30 seconds?
Photo ©: Mani Wollner
Did a combination of Murphy's Law and a mechanic's blunder cost Jan Ullrich
overall victory in the Tour
of Germany last week?
Take a close look at the front wheel in these two pics. It's a four-spoke
Xentis carbon fiber aero wheel, claimed to be one of the most aerodynamic
wheels available. Jan Ullrich's T-Mobile team is sponsored by Shimano,
but Ullrich himself is widely believed to have a clause in his contract
that allows him to use any equipment he likes - provided it's better for
the particular purpose than the sponsor's. So you better believe that
if he decides to use a Xentis wheel up front, he's certain there's an
advantage to using it.
Xentis wheels are designed to rotate in a particular direction. The spokes
are an airfoil shape, which means they will have less drag if they're
rotating in one direction than if they're going in the other.To help mechanics
install them properly, the wheels have painted markings on the leading
edges of the spokes.
Back to the pics. The top one is Jan Ullrich in the final time trial
of this year's Tour de France. The bottom is from the Tour of Germany.
Notice that the front wheel is orientated differently in the two pics.
In the Tour, the wheel was correctly fitted, with the painted markings
cutting the air first.
At the Tour of Germany, the wheel was the wrong way round.
While Ullrich won the stage
8 time trial, he finished second overall to Levi Leipheimer in the
Tour of Germany. The final margin was just 31 seconds. If the wheel had
been the right way round, might Ullrich have won stage 8 by a greater
margin, perhaps enough to win the race overall?
Gerald Possarnig of Xentis certainly thinks so. In an email obtained
by Cyclingnews, he said, "It can be assumed
that this error cost victory in the Tour of Germany. The 30 second deficit
Ullrich showed in the general classification indicates about a 20 Watt
difference in power over the race distance of 31km. We don't have measurements
to confirm this, but we can estimate that this mistake caused a 20 Watt
While it would be easy to blame Ullrich's mechanic for fitting the wheel
the wrong way round, let's not forget one of the classic formulations
of Murphy's Law: "If a component can be fitted in two ways, and one of
them is wrong, it will invariably be installed incorrectly."
[ Since the Cyclingnews tech desk doesn't
claim to be completely fluent in German, here's Herr Possarnig's original
comment: "Es steht zu vermuten, dass dieser Irrtum den Sieg bei der Deutschland-Tour
gekostet hat. Die 30 sec Rückstand, die Jan Ullrich in der Gesamtwertung
aufwies, bedeuten etwa 20 Watt an Mehrleistung über die Zeitfahrdistanz
von 31 km. Wir haben zwar keine Messwerte zur Verfügung, aber es lässt
sich abschätzen, dass dieser Fauxpas eben diese 20 Watt Verluste gefordert
Carbon MTB wheels from Bontrager
Bontrager carbon MTB wheel
Wheel guru Keith Bontrager is known to be a huge fan of carbon fiber
as a rim material for road bikes, so these pics of proto mountain bike
wheels with carbon rims aren't entirely surprising. But for anyone looking
to lose some weight off a racing mountain bike, they're still pretty exciting!
Details are currently sparse, but according to Gary Fisher team mechanic
Ben Coates, they're significantly lighter than Bontrager's current aluminium-rimmed
wheels (and Bontrager's Race X Lite MTB wheels are already some of the
lightest available); and they're stiffer. The spokes used in these wheels
are thicker than usual for Bontrager's lightest wheels, Coates said, and
the wheels still end up lighter. Bring on the version with 14/17 spokes!
Side view shows the rim shape
Close examination of the pics points up a few other details. These will
be disc-only rims, which makes perfect sense for carbon rims on mountain
bikes, given the marginal braking of carbon wheels on road bikes - with
no braking surface nobody will be tempted to build these rims into wheels
for a rim-braked bike. The hubs appear to be DT Swiss units (probably
240s) with Center Lock spline, like the current Race X Lite. These wheels
are using DT's adapater that mounts a six-hole rotor on a Center Lock
There's no word as to whether these wheels will work with UST tubeless
tyres or Bontrager's 'Tubeless ready' sealant system, but given Keith
Bontrager's liking for tubeless tyres, we'd be surprised if they're not.
More info: www.bontrager.com
On your back! Park Tool puts a workshop in a pack
Park Tool RK-41
In the first of what promises to be a deluge of new equipment from the
big blue tool company, Park Tool has announced the RK-41 backpack tool
kit, a complete set of tools contained in a special backpack that folds
out into a full-scale tool board.
Inside the Park Tool RK-41
"We designed it for professional team mechanics, but it also works for
that one guy in the group who brings his tools to the ride and ends up
wrenching on everybody's bike in the parking lot," said Park Tool sales
& marketing guy, Bill Armas who sounds like he was watched Cyclingnews
unload a half car-full of tools and workstand at mountain bike races lately.
The pack has an internal framework to contain the tool kit, and the tool
holdrs fold out to provide a tool board that can be parked (sorry) on
a table or car tailgate so they're easily to hand. The tool pallets can
even be removed to mount ona home tool board.
As the RK-41, the pack comes with 41 tools; it's also available as a
backpack only so you can fill it with your own tools.
More info: www.parktool.com
Zipp cranks - at last!
Zipp 300 cranks
Zipp announced its 300 model cranks at last year's Interbike show and
got lots of folks very excited at the prospect of a US-made, all-carbon
crank that weighed under 400g with rings. Almost a year later, Zipp has
announced that the 300 cranks are finally shipping, and back-ordered Zipp
fans should have received their cranks in the last three or four weeks.
The 300 crank certainly looks like it should be worth the weight, er,
wait. Zipp has upped the claimed weight a little - to 440g - but that
will still make the 300 the lightest production crankset we're aware of.
Zipp achieves this staggeringly low weight by dispensing with the aluminium
spine that supports most carbon cranks, and by making the pedal and bottom
bracket mounts in two separate components from a new 2000 series aluminium
alloy from Alcoa.
The Zipp 300 crank mounts on an ISIS spline bottom bracket and Zipp's
own bottom bracket is an optional extra. It's available in 170mm, 172.5mm
and 175mm lengths, is compatible with Shimano and Campagnolo nine- and
ten-speed transmissions and, of course, comes in any colour you like as
long as it's black.
More info: www.zipp.com
Slingshot introduces U.C.I. legal cyclo-cross frame
Bike maker Slingshot is known for its radical suspension frame that uses
a steel cable instead of a down tube, with a hinge at the top tube/seat
tube junction to provide cushion over rough ground. The design has been
used over the years for road, mountain and cyclo-cross bikes, but in the
latter discipline, Slingshot has always had a problem - its bike contravenes
UCI design rules.
To get round the problem Slingshot made conventional frames for its sponsored
cyclo-cross riders so they could race in UCI-sanctioned events. Now that
frame is available to everyone else as the DD-X, which Slingshot president,
Scott Templar says is designed to be the ultimate race machine, within
Slingshot's suspension frames had some other problems for cyclo-cross,
Tempar admits. "They are crazy fast and comfortable for cross, but the
compact frame and cable design made shouldering the bike a challenge,"
he said. The DD-X has a horizontal top tube with more room in the front
triangle to stick an arm through, and the top tube has been ovalized for
quick hand placement during high speed barrier dismounts, while the down
tube is round which allows the rider to quickly grab and shoulder in one
The Slingshot DD-X is priced at $1,250 for the frame and will be available
in limited quantities for 2005.
More info: www.slingshotbikes.com
Serotta to raffle first custom carbon for Phinney Foundation
If you can't afford to buy a custom carbon frame, you could win one.
Serotta Competition Bicycles will raffle the first of its new Meivici
carbon frames to raise funds for the Davis Phinney Foundation.
The new frame will be unveiled at the Interbike show, September 26-29
in Las Vegas, Nevada and the raffle will be drawn September 28. Tickets
are $100, and no more than 1000 will be sold.
The new frame's name is a composite word with Latin roots meaning 'my
victory' and Serotta is clearly excited about its new baby. Eponymous
company founder Ben Serotta says, "The Meivici is not the first all carbon
custom frame to hit the market, but it's by far the most rider tunable,
the most customizable in every way, making it hands down the best all
carbon bicycle ever built."
Serotta has had to move its offices out of the factory and into a nearby
farmhouse to accommodate new machinery for the Meivici, which will enter
full production in 2006. First though, Serotta will build a limited introductory
production run of 21 bikes between October and December.
For your chance to win the first Meivici, see the
Davis Phinney Foundation website.
More info: www.serotta.com
2nd annual handmade bike show
An impressive list of specialist framebuilders has signed up to exhibit
at the second annual North American Handmade Bicycle Show March 3 - 5,
2006 in San Jose, California, and show organiuser Don Walker has recently
announced a cocktail reception for Friday evening. This is a chance for
show goers to mingle with exhibitors in a social atmosphere and possibly
The 2006 show will be almost four times as large as the first show. "This
event is taking off so quickly," said Walker, "I expect all 100 booths
to be sold out before Interbike which is still almost 6 months before
our show dates."
The list of confirmed exhibitors to date is: Rich Adams, Ahrens Bicycles/Mike
Ahrens, Joseph Ahearne, Brian Baylis, Badger Cycles, Calfee Design/Craig
Calfee, Matt Chester, Co-Motion, Columbine Cycles/John Murphy, Columbus
Tubing, Nick Crumpton, Roland Della Santa, DeKerf Cycle Innovation, Mike
DeSalvo, Jenny Frayer, Henry James, Independent Fabrication, Jonny Cycles/Jon
Kendziera, Kaisei Tubing, National Insurance Professionals Corp, Patrick
Cycles/Greg Gardner, Bill Rider, Rivendell, Richard Sachs, Rock Lobster/Paul
Sadoff, Charles Schlessinger, Soulcraft, Spectrum Cycles/Tom Kellogg,
Strawberry/Andy Newlands, Bob Summersett, Jamie Swan, Sycip Design, Thursday
Bicycles, True Temper/Alpha Q, Don Walker, Vanilla Cycles/Sacha White,
Vulture Cycles, Mike Zancanato, Zipp Speed Weaponry.
More info (mostly about the first show): www.handmadebicycleshow.com
Leggerra & Teschner join forces
Two of Australia's top high-end bike companies, Teschner Bikes and Leggera
International, are to merge. The two firms have complementary skills with
Teschner being known for exceptional aluminium frames, and Leggera specializing
in carbon fiber. Leggera is relatively new on the cycling scene, but Teschner
this year celebrates 15 years of continuous and highly successful production.
The new company, Teschner-Leggera International will operate from Leggera's
new headquarters and factory located on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia.
While Teschner's bike have always been highly regarded, he has struggled
- as many small framebuilders do - to increase production. Leggera, on
the other hand, is a specialist in working with Asian manufacturers to
produce well-designed bikes in decent numbers.
"Over time we've built a solid world-wide reputation for our bikes" said
Teschner Bikes CEO Peter Teschner "as witnessed by the number of national,
international, world and Commonwealth and Olympics titles our bikes have
helped riders to achieve. Supplying in volume has always been an issue
for us. Leggera has the ability to produce in quantity the highest quality
product. We also share the dream of bringing the best Australian designed
bikes to the world market and equipping Australia's elite cyclists and
Commonwealth and Olympic teams."
To that end, Leggera has recently established a research and design office
in the factory of one of the largest carbon frame manufacturers in Asia.
"We now have a team of Australian technicians, engineers and designers
working with our supplier at the factory" said Leggera CEO Paul Farrell.
"This is a significant step forward - being able to design, build and
road test new products along with Peter Teschner, Australia's number one
Teschner's custom and production bikes will still be made in Australia,
however. The merger will bring Teschner's knowledge and experience to
Leggera's carbon line, and to the merged company's new line of parts and
accessories, but bike lines currently made in Australia will remain so.
The first fruits of the new collaboration will be on display at the Eurobike
show, and Farrell is hinting that a track bike will be front and centre.
"We have a very exciting prototype monocoque track bike currently under
test on the Gold Coast," he said. "The frame is immensely stiff whilst
with clever engineering we have managed to produce a frame at a significant
low weight that will certainly surprise our competitors and please our
customers." The new frame is expected to be available in time for the
beginning of the Australian track season.
More info: www.leggerabikes.com