What's Cool In Road Cycling

2012 Interbike Las Vegas: Into The Fray!

New additions from Parlee, Giro, Vittoria, Foot Balance, and new attendees like WD40 and Simmons racing make up for some companies’ R&D being limited to adding the color lime green.

Perhaps the biggest chat rumor (at least for the snootier forums) for this year’s show revolved around the potential for a new top of the range custom frame from Boston builders Parlee Cycles. With a focus firmly in custom, new models for Parlee seem to come along about as regularly as unicorns, so it was fairly big news to learn that a new Z Zero will start to roll out of their shop in the next couple of months.

In typical Parlee fashion, the design is very conservative with all of the concentration being on build quality and tunable performance. At a glance it looks to be a lug free, round tubed bike, but a bit of closer inspection shows that they’re bringing some shape in to play.

The seat tube and BB shell are actually a one shot co-molded structure

Tapered and ovalized tubing will allow for more ride tuning than past models.

Carbon drop outs are standard and there will also be a disc mount option front and rear.

You would expect custom at this level to offer internal routing for Di2 and EPS…

That Parlee can actually add shaped tube sets and still manage a cleaner build is impressive given they were already one the cleanest, most conservative builds available. Up close the Z Zero has joints that resemble monocoque structures rather than a full custom bike with each tube sized specific for the customer.

Maybe the best example of the quality of the build and materials and the detailed effort production of the Z Zero is in the combination of weight and warranty… These things go hand in hand and Z Zero frames will start at near 750 Grams and will be warranted for life for the original owner. (note that weight includes the drop outs…)

SRP will likely be a bit north of the current Z1SL.

A few non-disc sizes should ship in the next 30 days and be in full swing by the Holidays. Disc versions are waiting for the final fork design and should ship in Q1, 2013.

See more detail at Parlee Cycles.

Funny timing here as I walked away from the guys at Parlee to meet up at Ritchey Logic, who had maybe the perfect stem on hand for the Parlee…

Their new Superlogic Carbon C260 is subtle in finish only…

This is the highest stiffness to weight ratio (and in fact the highest stiffness period) ever for a road stem at a company that’s built a few pretty solid products…

They blew out the diameter and use a the wider clamp of their Alu 260 (along with the reversed-from-most-designs threads in the stem plate rather than in the stem body) along with high mod carbon to build a beast.

It’s a beast relatively light on its feet at 120 grams and will hit the street in December at an SRP of $299.00.

Also in the ”Light on feet” camp are first time Interbikers Simmons Racing.

Tucked away in Cape Coral Florida, it might have made more sense that Simmons would have developed in cycling rather than have a foundation on the ice, but this top flight custom skate shop made a pretty reasonable jump to cycling a few years ago.

The lasts are as light as they look and are fully formed to a foot casting and then lined with a thin padding and finish layer to form around your foot.

The cleat mount is at once very sleek and solid, and they feature options for Speedplay as well as a combo plate.

Being from Arizona, you might logically think my first question was about ventilation, and Simmons have several different ways to address that, from molding / punching holes in their full foot covers to making fabric / leather uppers that are fully ventilated.

Prices vary (and they’re not cheap), but as I’ve said in the past, full custom shoes are the best kit money I’ve ever spent and nothing else is as important as your feet, relative to your cycling performance.

More at SimmonsCyclingShoes.com.

In the case that a grand or two isn’t what you’re thinking about spending on your feet, Foot Balance have refined their product and fitting stations and are a fairly straight forward option in the case that reasonably priced orthotics are more your thing.

You’ll stand on the scanner a couple of different ways so that your shop person can get your details…

You’ll select your foot bed depending on what activity you’re hunting (and also taking into account correction needs for foot tilt etc…)…

And the shop can get you sorted very quickly, walking out for around a hundred bucks with the properly custom formed bed.

The new retail unit is a complete system.

Including the scanner, the foam blocks to stand on while forming your beds…

As well as the computer for determining your needs and the built in bed heating unit to ready the foot beds for molding.

Several options (including heated) are available and the cost for retailer set up seemed pretty fair. Retail customers can be in and out of a fit, with product in hand in about 20 minutes and the retail price is a VERY competitive $79 dollars for a typical cycling pair.

Have a peak at their site for more info: FootBalanceUSA.com.

WD40 is easily the most recognized brand in cycling…

OK, maybe “in cycling” might be a stretch since they’re not quite yet fully up and running (that will be VERY shortly). But as international brand recognition goes, WD40 don’t have a bike based rival. With that in mind, not many shops will struggle to find a customer who hasn’t heard of the brand, but what is new is that the company is no longer just a water displacer / break free type solvent maker (they actually have a HUGE list of other products under their umbrella that you might not realize…

WD40 Bike is now a line of products specifically engineered for cycling, from solvents to Wet and Dry lubrications and Frame care. The R&D behind the brand is simply too strong to ignore and it’s a rare occasion when cycling is actually attracting a major player lately, versus repulsing one, so we’re looking forward to seeing how well these stand up.

You can find a lot more info at their bike-specific site WD40Bike.com.

Next up is the latest bean topper from the top toppers of beans, Giro’s Air Attack Shield.

Yes, this is the best road helmet custom paint platform ever.

Not at all difficult to figure out what Giro are going for here, given so much focus on aerodynamics (be it from companies doing actual testing and development like Giro, or others simply closing holes and stretching profiles and assuming benefit).

The Air Attack is pretty obviously all about cutting through the wind, but they didn’t completely abandon ventilation. There are very deep channels running full length here, as well as multiple vert-cut channels running up the sides that should act as intake and direct heat up to the main flow channels running front to back…

The retention system is also designed to help vent, as there are straps designed to lift the helmet away from the top of your head as well as holding it securely in place.

The magnetic eye-shield can be flipped up and out of the way for the pro’s in between sprinters’ jersey check points and you can humiliate your buddies by giving it a pull and reverse after crushing them in your street sign sprints.

Conversely, Strava-raging assholes can quickly go incognito with the shield after running everyone off the road while playing with themselves…

You can find a host of lids at Giro.com

Last on this round are a couple of upgrades from standard bearers Vittoria Tires.

If not the most established tire available in high end road cycling, certainly the Open Corsa are among the top couple and when the line has a change, it’s a fairly big deal. They jumped to 320 TPI a couple years ago and the latest change is taking the tire size up (as seems the trend).

Behold the Open Corsa 25…

Vittoria are also giving a bump to the Open Pave CG.

But for those of you looking for a bit better price point and a SUPER smooth ride, you should have a go at the Diamante Pro Radiale…

At reasonable pressures I can tell you that this tire has very good cush… It moves around a little more than their higher costing performance tires, but a LOT of you out there are very simply have a little different priority than going balls to the wall all the time. The Diamante is that pillow you’re hunting.

You can see a bit more at: Vittoria.com

More to follow from Las Vegas…

Have Fun,
Charles Manantan

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