What's Cool In Road Cycling

2013 Interbike Tech Round Quatro

The 2013 Interbike cycling trade show is long over but this is Pez… And true bike geeks very simply can just keep geeking out on gear for a virtual eternity… here’s Ritchey’s Logical new bits, De Marchi’s old and new school and Felt’s new Aero solution.

We typically hit Ritchey Design in the first hour of the first day of the show, and this year they brought out a few nice twists. The first parts to catch attention this year are their new Zeta wheels rolling on all new Phantom Flange hubs.


The new front and rear hubs look like straight pull rollers that would be typically difficult to work with but that’s wrong on both counts…

These are actually j-bend hubs that use tool free shells to cover the spoke mounts.


And by tool free I mean that you can completely break down the rear hub without a wrench. This makes for very easy freehub swaps and also cuts wheel packing width nearly in half as you can pop the cassette and free hub out in a couple of seconds and removed that chunk of width from the equation. It might not mean much to some of you, but for those that have break-down bikes for travel, that cassette width subtraction is pretty dang handy.

This system also makes for a fast change of cassettes in the case you live in an area where you’re alternating gearing…


The rear Phantom Flange also has a 6 pawl design with double contacts for each pawl. And the spokes on the drive side are spaced a bit further apart (laterally) to increase the bracing angle and prevent rubbing at the point where the spokes cross…


And these lace to a tubeless ready rim with a fairly fat 17mm inside width.


All in the Zeta’s tip the scales at 1444 grams and sell for $949 and will be ready for December in the case you have a gigantic stocking that needs stuffing.

Ritchey also launched their take on monorail saddles with the clever Vector Evo Clamp and rail system.


This is a system that has been in the design works for a LOOOONG time… Since Tom played with a Cinelli saddle back in ’73…


While the thought has been there for a couple decades, it hasn’t been until recently that materials would have allowed for proper execution, but we’re there today.

The new version is a carbon reinforced thermoplastic rail that’s molded to a carbon reinforced nylon saddle shell. The rail is actually made in a slight inverted arch so as it flexes, it also maintains shape.


The rail is tuned to have notable flex without giving up stability. And rather than mating with the saddle directly, it’s formed into a sort of leaf spring at the rear (the “Vector Wing” that also flexes to absorb bumps.

Beyond bump damping, there is a bit of lateral flex designed into the rail and the wings to allow for a slight bit of movement to reduce hot spots as your hips naturally tilt slightly side to side.

The Evo clamp can be used with both carbon and Alloy Ritchey “Link” posts. The Vector Evo saddles are $149, the clamp is $19.95 and both should be available presently.

DE MARCHI have been at this clothing thing for a while, at least in the case that you feel that 67 years qualifies as “a while”…


This year sees the Italian brand still making the classics. The tradition line has some of the official replicas for teams like the ’67 Mainetti of World Champion Marino Basso, the ’51 Wilier of Antonio Bevilacua and Louison Bobet’s Bottechia Ursus Jersey from the ’51 Milan San Remo.


There’s an available limited production of 51 of the Bottechia jerseys available and they’re exact replicas of the original from the 100% tubular merino wool construction and mother of pearl buttons, all stitched on hand operated throwback equipment.

They can call these “official” replicas because De Marchi made the originals…

The limited is just a 50 buck mark from the non-limited editions, running $249 for the Limited and $199 for the standard Marino /Acrylic blend versions of the Bottechia, Wilier, Mainetti and a few others.


De Marchi actually have a whole range of “Traditional” items available, from jerseys to gloves to headwear…


That said, the company have been working pretty hard on the everyday performance wear and it shows. The Veloce Jersey is made entirely in Italy from Italian materials.


It is a super soft to the touch microfiber weave that is quick-dry and rates an SPF 50+…


You’ll note the ear phone cable loop above and there’s also a pretty handy small front pocket with a cable-out that is actually pretty handy for small music players etc.


There’s also a back panel on this jersey that is cut specifically to better support pockets.

The jersey retails for $189.

The Veloce shorts also get an updated performance cut with heavily shaped panels and updated fabrics that are quite a bit more stretch and compression focused…


I would guess at this point that the cat is out of the bag on segmented leg grippers being less restrictive while maintaining proper support and position…


And De Marchi continue to have a chamois that is among the nicest available…


In an age where top line bibs can run $4-500 bucks, the Veloce Bibs are a relative bargain for $229…

And the tech update carries through the range with outerwear like the Pieghevole Jacket (SRP $99)…


This features updated form cut panels for on bike positioning and the same front pocket for portable music / phone and cable loops. It also packs away to a fit-in-your hand size for easy shedding when it warms or dries up…

My favorite Jersey is actually called the Turismo, but should be called the hound or hound’s-tooth…


This is great conservative looking top with a standard full length zip, 3 normal pockets out back and a simple embroidered logo. Really nice looking and another relatively low price at $99…

What strikes me most here isn’t the quality of the clothing on offer. It’s expected of De Marchi and is competitive with other top of the line lever producers. The thing that stands out is the retail of all of the pieces here and especially considering that the bulk of it is made in Italy from Italian materials…

And the last on the list is actually the first on my list of stock production bikes that I’d like to try for 2013-14…

Felt Bicycles fully redesigned AR.


Easy to note the much bigger weave pattern here and it’s not all purely an aesthetic choice…

Felt decided to use carbon supplier Oxeon for 2013 and the big-box look here is incidental. The real benefit for using the “Textreme” material is that the wide layers are also very very thin… A quick trip to Oxeon’s sight gives a pretty reasonable graphic and the bottom line here is there’s less space for excess resin and the fibers are holding a more refined shape…


What this all sorts out to is that Felt are using more of this carbon in specific areas of the bike and while you’re seeing the 90 degree weave (squares) on top, Oxeon also make different angles (like say a diamond weave) because fiber direction will influence the stiffness and some areas are better at 90 and areas that you want to resist twisting would get a different weave.

The newer carbon makes up about 40% of the total carbon used but the cost of this 40% is actually more than the cost of 100% of an equal amount of carbon from the old model…

Felt have also upped their game in the use of modular molding of all of this expensive carbon. They’re using solid forms inside the tubes and designing the molds so that the forms can be removed, essentially molding from the inside out relative to older molding techniques that use a solid outside mold and blow pressure from bladders inside.

The net result is a very low residue / excess left over despite the complexity of updated aero profiles…


The AR also features an updated seat post design that clamps from the inside out…


Because the seat post doesn’t have the same crush consideration, the post it’s self can be made very light, but the clamping mechanism and the frame both require a bit more complexity and meat respectively to avoid failure.

A plus of a split seat post (the rubber is just a cosmetic / sealer) is that it can do what darn near no other aero section seat post or tube can and that’s allow for a little front to back flex.

Add to that 3T’s clamp with an elastomer sleeve…


… and you should have a pretty darn compliant post versus anything else with this type of cross section / shape.

All of this is going to come at a cost.

Felt have been fairly economical in the past, but they’ve made a BIG jump in tech and it won’t come cheap.

The AR FRD will run $12,499 for the full zoot Di2 version. Frame, Fork, Post will be available for what I think is actually a damn reasonable price for this type of tech/build at $3999. Standard AR frame sets (no Textreme carbon but still very good base materials) will run $2499…

The AR will come in several build levels and the base models are shipping now. The FRD will be some time closer to the first of 2014.

Have Fun,

Charles Manantan
[email protected]

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