Tech Updates – Zipp, Rotor, First Endurance, Garmin, and Schwalbe

We can barely keep pace with the ongoing roll out of new cycling products. Fortunately the manufacturers are telling us about gear that’s available in bike shops right now (or very soon), so you can get tricked out and on the road for spring pronto.

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It’s official — we can barely keep pace with the ongoing roll out of hot new cycling products. Fortunately the manufacturers are telling us about gear that’s available in bike shops right now (or very soon), so you can get tricked out and on the road for spring pronto. It’s time to amp up the riding season, so check out the latest and hit the road.

Zipp grows from carbon fiber to clothing

Adding to their extensive line of carbon and aluminum aerodynamic equipment, Zipp is diving into cycling clothing. In partnership with Castelli and the Cervelo TestTeam, Zipp designed two jerseys and a bib short. And by the sound of it, the Team jersey is one I’d like to try.

The Zipp Team jersey is meant for everyday riding.

Zipp says the Team Jersey is an everyday jersey with an anatomic fit. Uniquely, the sleeves extend from the front of the jersey rather than the sides, optimizing the fit for on-bike comfort. I’ve been waiting for someone to try that! It’s meant for warm weather and will sell for $90.

For racing, the Aero Race Jersey is made of lightweight, form-fitting fabric for maximal aerodynamic benefit. Typically looser areas of the neck and arms are snugged up with Giro++ gripper and the back is a tight-knit mesh for ventilation. Zipp says that it’s meant for warm weather, but using base layers can extend the temperature range. Like the Team jersey, sizes range from small to double extra large, and this one goes for $120.

Finally, Zipp’s Aero Race bib short is modeled directly on Castelli’s Free bib short. With widely spaced bib straps, nonrestrictive leg grippers, and a pro level chamois pad, it’s race-bred to help you feel “free” and cool on the bike. Expect to pay $180 for the bib and $120 for the non-bib shorts.

First Endurance improves EFS drinks and adds flavors

I’m a huge fan of First Endurance Liquid Shot energy gel and Electrolyte Fuel System (EFS) drink, and not just because they sponsor the BMC, Bissel, and HTC-Columbia professional teams. I just like the electrolyte content, flavor, and consistency. Of course, up to now, both the Liquid shot and EFS drink only came in one flavor each: vanilla and lemon lime, respectively.

But things just got even better, now that First Endurance reformulated EFS and added three more flavors. Grape, Fruit Punch, and Orange add to the Lemon Lime flavor to make a family of four, and all of them offer EFS’s 1160mg (per 96 Calorie, 30 gram serving) electrolyte content. Plus, the new formula adds malic acid to the existing profile of amino acids and carbohydrates for claimed better fuel delivery. A 25-serving container costs $25.

Rotor Agilis cranks get upgrades for 2010

The Agilis is available in a two-chainring mountain bike version.

The Spanish fabrication wizards at Rotor are at it again, revising the Agilis crankset for both looks and performance. Who knew machined aluminum cranks could be taken a step farther? Agilis cranks now share their axle and crank clamp design with 3D crank (a system tested by the Cervélo TestTeam). The development also allows for a more conventional installation process.

Rotor’s clamping system uses a single oversized DTT bolt to do the job usually reserved for two conventional bolts. Happily for the ham-fisted, this system also integrates a replaceable threaded insert between the crank and the bolt, giving extra protection against product damage due to over-tightening.

Rotor says the updated interface and axle dramatically increases stiffness, fulfilling the expectations of even the most torque-ily gifted riders. And new graphics add even more appeal to the package.

Compact road, along with XC2 and XC3 ( double or triple mountain bike) cranks in the 175 and 172.5mm lengths are available now and 170s will be available in mid-April. Weights vary between models and lengths, but hover between 500 and 550 grams without chainrings or bottom brackets.

The cranks will sell for $325 for cranks only, without chainrings or bearings.

Argyle Style: New Team Garmin versions of Edge 500 and nüvi GPS computers

Garmin is offering their Edge 500 in a blue and orange argyle to match their ProTour team.

Garmin International has announced new limited-edition color schemes for the aerodynamic Edge 500 and nüvi navigation devices, unveiling argyle designs inspired by the iconic orange and blue patterns of professional cycling’s Team Garmin-Transitions. The argyle Edge 500 and a new, neutral Edge 500 in black and white will be launched at the Tour of California, included in team promotions and also made available at participating local cycling specialty retailers. The argyle nüvi models will be sold exclusively at Tour of California, May 16-23.

If you haven’t been paying attention, the Edge 500 normally retails for $250 and weighs just 60 grams. It features a high-sensitivity GPS receiver, requires no calibration and can be switched quickly between bicycles, and it connects wirelessly with ANT+ compatible third-party power meters. Edge 500 tracks speed, distance, time, GPS position, elevation, calories burned, climb and descent, among its many features.

The new argyle Edge 500 is packaged with Garmin’s soft-strap heart rate monitor, speed/cadence sensor, bike mount, AC charger and USB cable. The neutral Edge 500 comes with the bike mount, AC charger and USB cable, and it can be paired with the other optional accessories when purchased separately to best suit each specific cyclist’s needs.

Schwalbe announces new tires in advance of Sea Otter

Just ahead of the looming Sea Otter expo, Schwalbe is launching 29er versions of its Rocket Ron and Nobby Nic mountain bike tires, plus showing a new Ultremo HT tubular for road riding.

Schwalbe says that their Rocket Ron and Nobby Nic rank among the most popular mountain bike tires, and with 29ers slowly earning acceptance in Europe, it was time to create a 29” x 2.35” version of these tires. They form part of the Evolution Line combining Schwalbe’s grippy but fast Triple Nano Compound, an extremely flexible but sturdy carcass, and carefully placed U-blocks for cornering grip. In the new 29″ version, the Nobby Nic comes additionally equipped with a “snakeskin” that protects it from sidewall damage. It weighs in at 645 grams. Rocket Ron, on the other hand, is a dedicated race tire weighing a mere 520 grams, and will also be offered in a white, limited edition 26-inch version. These tires go on sale in April for about $75.

For those still riding 26-inch mountain bikes and bitten with the style bug, a white version of the Rocket Ron is on the way.

On the road, the new handmade Ultremo HT will be an exciting addition to the range of available tubulars. Schwalbe says the tires were extensively tested with great success by the Liquigas team last year, and is using them exclusively this year.

For Schwalbe, the key to the Ultremo HT lies in combining the traditional manufacturing techniques of Italian tire-makers with high-end materials. The tread’s Triple Nano Compound uses three different rubber compounds in the areas where they’re most needed: one for durability in the tread center, a softer one for extreme grip at the shoulders, and a base compound for low rolling resistance. A thin latex film protects the sidewall. The tread is composed of small pyramids with flattened heads, designed to increase the tread surface and enhance both grip and durability. In the casing, Schwalbe says that fine polyester fiber is more flexible than the nylon used more commonly. Adding to the elasticity of the tubular package is the latex tube sewn in. Finally, the Ultremo HT incorporates Schwalbe’s RaceGuard protective belt under the tread for puncture resistance. The tires will sell for $150 per pair.

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