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By Matt Pacocha
Once home to the early 20th century’s famous Graf Zeppelin factory, the southern German town of Friedrichshafen now plays host to retirees and tourists visiting Lake Constance and – once a year – to what is becoming one of the world’s biggest bicycle industry trade shows.
Thursday marked the opening of the 16th Eurobike show, with more than 850 exhibitors from 36 countries showing their wares in an astounding 13 exhibition halls. Despite the ample space, navigating the aisles was already tough Thursday — and that’s before the show opens to the general public on its final day on Sunday.
Taking a cue from Interbike, its Las Vegas counterpart, Eurobike hosted its first-ever demo day in the village of Eichenberg, in the Austrian foothills above Lake Constance. Despite soggy weather in the morning, the turnout was such that some companies brought truckloads of bikes for the event. Scott USA showed up with 80 bikes, more than three times what it brings to Interbike’s Outdoor Demo, said Scott Montgomery, company vice president and general manager. Despite that, Scott tents were devoid of bikes for most of the day, testament to the fact that demo attendees were out on the roads and trails. Not a bad start.
Giant bicycle took over the restaurant in Eichenberg’s Gasthof Krone for demo day to demonstrate refinements to its Maestro line of suspension bikes for 2008. While the Maestro suspension system remains unchanged, the bikes themselves received major attention from Giant engineers and lost a lot of weight in the process.
Trance X, Reign and the new women’s Cypher W are each more than a pound lighter than the 2007 models. The Reign frame lost more than 600 grams. Most of the weight savings is due to a new un-pierced downtube, which is roughly 250 grams lighter than the “pierced” model, which required additional material to compensate for the unusual in-frame shock placement. The changes only affect the aluminum versions of the Maestro platform, and a Giant spokesman said they in no way affect the operation of the suspension system.
Trance X and Cypher W are new models that offer 5 inches of travel; the latter is a trail bike that caters specifically to a woman’s physique. Beyond the new downtube, the new bikes offer a couple of interesting new features, including the co-pivot, which pairs the lower shock mount and the mainframe’s lower pivot, and the new “single spar” rear triangle. The single spar refers to the link between the front end of the chain and seat stays; earlier models required two spars. This change improves stiffness and tire clearance while saving weight, according to Giant’s communication manager, Andrew Juskaitis.
The damp, muddy setting of a rainy Austrian meadow proved a perfect place for Belgium’s Ridley to introduce its latest cyclo-cross bike, the X-Fire. The entry-level X-Fire is the second full-carbon ’cross frameset to grace Ridley’s line, behind the top-of-the-line X-Night. At $1500, its retail price is $1000 less than the X-Night, and it is both lighter and stiffer, said Ridley’s David Alvarez.
Still, the X-Fire’s ride quality isn’t quite as refined as the X-Night’s, Alvarez added. And its geometry is focused on the U.S. market — it’s a touch shorter in length and the bottom bracket is 3mm lower, attributes that aren’t wholeheartedly accepted in Europe.
The Belgian company looks to have made a strong move with the new Chinese-made frame. It has good mud clearance and already has the approval of under-23 Belgian ’cross sensation Niels Albert, who finished last season on prototypes of the X-Fire. This coming fall, he and the entire Palmans Collstrop squad will race aboard the X-Fire.
Scott USA’s bike line sold so well in the U.S. this year, it’s tough to find any left in shops. The majority of Scott’s top-end frame designs, new for 2007, haven’t been touched for 2008, but they have been graced with new colors and, in many cases, new components. A new Red-equipped R1 Addict sits at the top of the brand’s road range. The R1 Addict will also be offered in Campagnolo Record and Shimano Dura-Ace models, satisfying every taste.
On the mountain side, Scott offers new bikes for cross-country and downhill. The Scale was refurbished this year, and its top model features an integrated seatpost, while the new Gambler line encompasses a two-size, ultra-adjustable, big-hit chassis that can be tuned for downhill racing or North Shore-style hucking. The bike has a choice of 8, 9 or 10 inches of travel. It has a headtube with an adjustable angle and two length options on its rear dropouts. Scott offers the Gambler line in two sizes, short and long, and claims that it can fit just about any serious gravity rider with just those two options.
Since ‘cross season is right around the corner, it is worth mentioning that Scott has revamped that line, too. There will still be two price points, but the frame and spec’ have changed for the better. The new hydro-formed 7005-alloy frame now employs a sloping down tube, which helps it fit a wider variety of riders better. I personally found last year’s design to be too short. Scott now spec’s a wide profile brake and a ‘cross specific chainring combination, both of which give the bike even more race credibility. The best feature is that complete bikes still hit great price points — $1400 and $1800.
Look unveiled a new mountain-bike pedal just in time for the fall ’cross season. It’s perfect timing, considering the first impressions the pedal leaves — it is simple and appears muck-proof. The Quartz pedal comes in three models that differ only in their material makeup. The design is reminiscent of Time, but it doesn’t use conventional springs — instead, engagement and disengagement depends on the elasticity of the metal front bails, which retain the cleat on each side of the pedal. Because there is no mechanical spring, there are no small mechanisms to clog up or trap mud. The top-end model – the Quartz Carbon Ti – features a 12mm titanium axle that rotates on three bearings housed in a carbon resin body. The entire package weighs just 99 grams. The second-tier model, the Carbon, shares the same carbon body as the Carbon Ti, but substitutes a 10mm steel axle for the titanium and only has two bearings; it weighs 115 grams. The 125-gram, entry-level offering shares the steel axle and dual bearings but has a fiberglass composite body and is simply called the Quartz.
For a company best known for producing stylish, muck-proof pedals, its latest redesign of the gravity-oriented Mallet pedal is probably its least exciting news. Sure, the totally new extruded aluminum body looks cool, and the grippy setscrews that flank its clip are an improvement over the old plate-style gripper. But it all pales in comparison to the company’s introduction of 10 new headsets and two new integrated spindle cranks, plus a sneak peek at a new line of wheelsets. News that the company is sharing license and design ideas with Maverick American while taking over the production and distribution of the Speedball seatpost attracted quite a bit of attention.
“It’s brilliant,” said Scott USA’s Montgomery, referring to the adjustable seatpost, which Scott spec’s on its Ransom trail bike. “I told Andrew [Herrick] this morning, ‘Great job!’”
RockShox SID turns 10
Big news for RockShox’s cross-country racing platform — the ubiquitous SID suspension fork has been redesigned for its 10th anniversary. The chassis, which we first spotted on Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski’s Gary Fisher race bike before nationals at Mount Snow, will replace the current design. While RockShox product manager Sander Rigney didn’t break down the entire line, he did offer a general overview of the new multiple-model SID line.
The redesign starts with shorter 32mm inner stanchion tubes that slide within a “Hollow Bottom” lower. The bottom of the inner chamber ends roughly 5cm before the end of the fork leg, which allows the entire inner workings of the fork to be shortened to save weight. The damper shafts and the new titanium motion control sleeve are shorte, and the damper’s oil volume is lower as a result. The magnesium lower legs also feature carbon-wrapped “Power Bulges,” a design intended to support the bushings first introduced in the Lyric and Totem forks, and short-post-style disc brake mounts. The damper features a new BlackBox Motion Control compression damper with external low-speed compression (via a carbon adjuster) and a shim stack for high-speed control. The rebound is a “dual flow” adjustment that monitors beginning- and end-stroke performance. Consumers and dealers will be happy to learn that the new fork’s inner workings are surprisingly similar to Reba, so maintenance and tuning can be handled without any additional tools or complicated service procedures. Information will be posted as it’s released on www.superlightintegrateddesign.com.
There’s plenty more stuff to see at the show. So check back in for another report tomorrow.