High-fiber diet: Carbon rules the house at Milan show
The 60th annual Milan International Bicycle Show fulfilled expectations of beautiful Italian designs in bicycles, components and soft goods. It also exceeded expectations of visitor interest. The aisles were constantly packed with passionate Italian cyclists who could not help but caress thecolorful two-wheeled creations in the booths. In general, the Italian show is better at showing off whatever is cool about our sport than other shows, and the visitors respond to it. There was even an entire hall devoted to road racing – including mass-participation Gran Fondo races. Paradigm-shattering
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By Lennard Zinn
The 60th annual Milan International Bicycle Show fulfilled expectations of beautiful Italian designs in bicycles, components and soft goods. It also exceeded expectations of visitor interest. The aisles were constantly packed with passionate Italian cyclists who could not help but caress thecolorful two-wheeled creations in the booths. In general, the Italian show is better at showing off whatever is cool about our sport than other shows, and the visitors respond to it. There was even an entire hall devoted to road racing – including mass-participation Gran Fondo races.
Paradigm-shattering innovations were rare, but continuous development and improvement, particularly of carbon fiber products and wheels, was abundantly apparent. Carbon fiber is still the belle of the ball, and the technology is now widely available to manufacturers who have never touched a piece of wet pre-preg fabric in their lives. Other than Pinarello, virtually every manufacturer’s top road model is now carbon to complement all of the models with carbon rear stays. Carbon fiber cranks, wheels, handlebars, stems and saddles also abounded, and Campagnolo even has a carbon headset top cup.
There were umpteen new pre-built road wheelsets on display, but many of them seem to be built more for their ability to catch the eye, rather than on sound engineering. Nonetheless, no bicycle maker will equip a bike with wheels built from standard hubs, rims and spokes; all of them know that the wheelset has to look cool.
One innovation that might conceivably take the industry in a new direction is Pinarello’s Dogma frame welded out of Dedacciai double-butted AK61 magnesium tubing. Says Fausto Pinarello, “We could have done a carbon frame like everyone else, but that would not have been news. This frame, because magnesium is very strong and much less dense than aluminum, stands up very well to all of our fatigue tests. And, at 1.1 kilos, it weighs over 100 grams less than our lightest previous model, and it is also great to ride.”
The curvaceous “Onda” (meaning “wave”) fork on the Dogma is not only visibly distinct and appealing, it is claimed to be as laterally rigidas current Pinarello carbon forks while being more vertically compliantfor greater comfort. The carbon rear stays have a similar shape, althoughPinarello says that there is no performance advantage, only an aestheticone, over current straight carbon wishbone stays. The same fork and seatstaywishbone are shared as well by the new Prince SL aluminum frame.
A subtle but significant innovation on the Dogma is Pinarello’s compact-drivecarbon road crank. It allows riders to avoid a triple by offering a 34inner ring.
Columbus and Dedacciai both are making it very easy forany framebuilder to build carbon frames, even in custom dimensions. TheColumbus XLR8R and Dedacciai Black Soul tubesets both have voluptuously-shapedcarbon main tubes with aluminum ends that can be welded together. The Columbusset has an all-aluminum seat tube, while the Dedacciai set has a carbonseat tube with an aluminum bottom end.
The Black Soul aluminum ends are pre-bonded on, while the Columbus aluminumends are cut at a 45-degree angle and are loose. The framebuilder spotglues them on for mitering and frame tacking, then removes them and finishwelds the aluminum ends to prevent heat damage to the carbon matrix orto the glue bond with the aluminum. The rear ends are also carbon, usingeither wishbone style chainstays matching the wishbone seatstays, or separatechainstays. The carbon rear stays (called Muscle by Columbus and BlackTail, Black Box or Black Twin by Dedacciai) can also be ordered with anyaluminum or steel main tubes.
Columbus’s zirconium-aluminum tubeset (also called XLR8R) uses zirconiumto prevent grain growth and consequent weakening during welding. To dampvibrations, the top tube and down tube each have three large dents nearthe head tube on each side. This is to increase the path length for thevibrations to damp the vibrations before they move as far through the frame.
Both Cinelli and Bike Ribbon premiered cork foam tapewith gel underneath to increase comfort.
Gaerne’s Carbon Podium Graphite road shoes have a faux-carbonupper to match their solid carbon sole.
Shoes of the future
Northwave’s new indoor Spinning shoe has a stretch upper similarto the new trend in running shoes. Northwave says it plans to broaden theconcept to mountain and road shoes.
Carbon stems and bars
The trend to carbon bars in inexorable, but philosophies vary widely.Deda. Cinelli and FSA both believe in one-piece stem/barcombinations. The new Deda Synapsi is flattened on top and has an includedSpinaci-type aero’ extension bar that is UCI-approved, while the limited-editionCinelli Ram includes white carbon on top and a carbon CheckPoint computermount. ITM, 3T, Thorius and Pinarello have separate carbonbars. Thorius’s aluminum bar has the same oval shape on top as the carbonbar but is claimed to be the world’s first hydro-formed handlebar.
ITM and Pinarello (along with Deda Spectrum) are rare in their adherenceto round cross-section bars, while the others are all pursuing oval shapesfor the bar tops. They forgo a stylish shape and possible ergonomic comfortin favor of more options of stem length and bar width and inclination.ITM’s Uniko stem, available in 31.8 and 26.0mm bar-clamp diameters, isa full carbon monocoque with no molded-in metal. It clamps to the steererand the bar with hidden single-bolt wedge pairs that are inserted intothe stem. The top cap is integrated into the stem.
Deda’s carbon Aero Black and Clip Black are a base bar and aero’ extensionbar with double grips.
Carbon heads and tails
Colnago’s annual display of its Ferrari road and mountain bikesthis year was accompanied by a Ferrari racing engine with carbon coversover the 40 valves and 10 cylinders. Meanwhile, the two new Colnago bikesare the Dream B-stay, the aluminum Dream frame with the B-stay bridgedwishbone seatstays of the C40, and the C40 HP, with a new diamond-shapedcarbon chainstays with holes in them. The HP (standing for High Power)chainstays are claimed to increase lateral rigidity without increasingweight.
New carbon posts are the striking white-carbon model from Selcofand two new Cinelli models. The round XLR8R post and the slingshot-shapedmonocoque Ram post both have a groove down the back to prevent the seattube slot from pinching the carbon. A soft orange plastic strip fills thegroove space and is scored to indicate seat height increments.
Sitting on carbon
FSA now has a carbon saddle to go up against Selle San Marco’scarbon Era and Aspide, Selle Italia’s carbon SLR and Flite and Fizik’sAliante.
Wheeling and dealing
Mavic’s Cosmos mid-price road wheel brings more of its Ksyriumtechnology down-market. Superlight SL and super-strong XL versions of theCrossMax UST tubeless wheel will be sure hits off-road. Downhillers getthe UST tubeless system as well with the new DeeMax UST.
Campagnolo’s much-awaited new Bora wheel is still not ready.It promises to be a deep-section version of the superlight Hyperon wheel,with the same radially-drilled carbon hubs and an all-carbon aero’ rim.
To give the wheels more distinctive looks, spoking patterns vary widely.Mavic continues to space its spokes evenly but chooses flat aluminum spokeson upper-end wheels. The others generally are doing wide, Rolf/Shimano-likespaces between groups of spokes.
Campagnolo continues with its use of pairs of spokes from one side meetinga single spoke from the other at the rim on some of its models. Fir,Gipiemme and Vuelta have lots of spoking variations as well.One Vuelta model seems to combine the worst traits of a standard wheeland of a Rolf or Shimano wheel without the beneficial ones. It has twospokes from one side meeting at a point on the rim, then a large gap alongthe rim to another pair of spokes from the other hub flange. It seems thatthe spoke pairs would yank the rim back and forth with not much to opposethose unbalanced pulling forces from each side. But it probably would lookcool on a bike to folks wanting that scant-spoke look.
Italians are nothing if not extremely concerned about style, and thereis no question that they make very cool-looking bikes and bike parts. Inmost cases when it comes to cycling, however, while style might be thefirst concern, practicality, strength and quality are also paramount tothe Italians, and we all benefit from bikes whose quality matches theirgood looks.
Dario Pegoretti found an old framebuilder with a big box of 50-year-oldstamped lugs to make his retro track bike. He did have to CNC-machine thefork crown, though. The Campagnolo Nuovo Record Pista gruppo is still newout of the box, and Pegoretti tied and soldered the wheels. He had to getthe somewhat rusty steel handlebar from an old Italian champion’s bike.
Troy Corser’s Ducati Bianchi bike looked cool up on its pedestal,but it was his Ducati motorcycle that the tifosi could not stop fondling.
San Patrignano, a drug rehabilitation center near Trento, Italy, hasset up a bicycle framebuilding shop as well as a fine woodworking shop.Dario Pegoretti is one of several framebuilders who volunteers histime to train former drug abusers to build bicycle frames as well as topaint them. In fact, Pegoretti’s luscious paint jobs are now done for himat San Patrignano. San Patrignano’s own frames include a decal on the chainstaythat says, “DRUGS DON’T WIN.”