What's Cool In Road Cycling

Eurobike’12: Last Call!

Our last instalment of gear and gadgets from Eurobike 2012 comprises bits and pieces from Bont shoes, Prologo saddles, Thomson handlebars, & Citec wheels that stood out for us, and are worthy of note for you readers too.

Ozzie Lace Ups get techno.
Australian shoe-maker Bont has been manufacturing fully customisable footwear for a good few years now. The brand started out making high-end, skate boots for competition use in 1976 and started making cycling shoes in 2007 using the same mouldable technology it developed to produce solid, supportive footwear for the racing fruit-boot crowd. Since then, they have supplied cycling shoes to Classics winners, world champs and most recently, Tour de France winners and Olympic champions – much of the time, this has been outside of any sponsorship deals – riders often contact Bont direct; they want to use the shoes. Praise indeed.

Their latest shoe, the Vaypor T, came about from feedback and discussions with British Cycling about potential improvement to the shoe they had been using in the Velodrome – the T1. This original track shoe combined the flexibility and security offered by lace-ups with a Velcro cover to add a small amount of additional closing tension with lace security – no one wants a lace to get caught up in a fixed wheel drive chain!

For the new Vaypor T, they have added the ratchet closure from the Vaypor road shoe (used by Thor Hushovd to win his rainbow bands) to offer the additional clamping force the track cyclists crave during start gate or in the heat of a sprint battle.

Due to its orientation, the strap pulls the foot deeper into the heel cup, rather than squashing it down onto the sole as is the norm. While it’s all well and good for the pista riders, why are we talking about it on Pez? Bradley Wiggins and many other road riders use Bont’s full lace up Zero shoe for all their racing, preferring the flexibility offered in tension across the foot. This totally bespoke fit carries over to the Vaypor T. Throw in the extra cinching power of the ratchet and you get a shoe that should suit powerful road riders too.

As well as the new shoe, Bont showed they are bang up to date with styling with a plethora of new colour options on their standard Vaypor shoe. Like the Vaypor T, the bathtub sole and upper are heat mouldable in the home, thanks to the proprietary resins used. Quite simply, no other off-the-shelf shoe offers the potential for custom fitting of Bonts

As well as the on-trend neon’s above, expect electric blue to be a hot colour for 2013.

Prologo gets a grip
Prologo has quickly made a name for itself in the road saddle world and not content with resting on their laurels, they have teamed up with a South African company to licence some very interesting and grippy technology.

Already used in Formula One seats to reduce vibration, the technology that Prologo calls CPC (Connect Power Control), uses an elastic polymer to create a surface that’s formed of small, volcano-like structures. On top of the buzz reduction, and of more benefit to cyclists is the increased grip CPC offers. The picture above shows the strips in position on the time trial specific Zero TT but Prologo feels its likely to benefit all cyclists, not just testers and triathletes on the rivet.

The Scratch Pro and Nago Evo will be available with the non slip pads alongside the more obvious Zero 2 and Zero TT.

Alongside the saddles, Prologo also launched a glove using the same material. Non-slip and vibration reducing, it should offer plenty to the cyclist if it doesn’t come at a cost of increased bulk. In keeping with Prologo’s contact point business, they are working on a range of footbeds that will include the technology. If anything, this are perhaps the most interesting as they offer the potential to remove the road buzz modern super-stiff carbon soles transmit to the feet.

A close up of the non-allogenic and non-absorbent material clearly shows the volcanoes. Test shoe it retains 90% of its capacity to grip even when waterlogged.

Long Time coming – Thomson Bars
Due in stores from October 1st, the release of handlebars from revered stem and seatpost brand Thomson is one of the most eagerly awaited product ranges for a huge amount of cyclists with a penchant for engineering excellence and a clean aesthetic.

Not only does the launch finally allow for a full ‘collar and cuffs’ approach to bike speccing, but is the company’s first foray into the world of carbon fibre. Whilst the product will initially be made in the far East, the three different Toray fibres are used and a resin with nano-particles (but of course!) means there is nothing to be fearful of in terms of build quality, strength and lifespan. That said, Thomson still plans to bring manufacturing back across the Pacific by 2015.

Two drop bar models will be available – a road model and one named KFC-One – developed by Katie ‘f…n’ Compton. The road bar has a slightly wing-shaped top, with a ‘clamp safe’ area wide enough for clip on aero bars. The underside of the bar has minor channelling to allow for cable routing that doesn’t hinder comfort – a far safer option than narrow channels or internal routing and the required holes.

The drop dimensions for both the road and cross bar are identical across comparative sizes. Reach is constant at 78.5mm but the drop increases with the width – that said they are pretty close to a Compact drop rather than a traditional round, ‘classic’ bend or angular anatomic bar. In terms of width, the road bar will be available in 40-46cm (c-c) with the KFC-One cross bar up to 44cm.

And now for something totally different
Every year at Eurobike, there’s a Euro brand with limited international availability that really catches our eye. Super keen folk will be able to scour the internet to get hold of the stuff, but for the rest of us, this exotica will remain just that – unattainable but interesting. The brand for me this year was Citec.

Teutonic wheel brand Citec has it’s own unique, and, of course, patent protected, take on how to make the ultimate wheelset. At the heart of every wheel is their PowerBlock System but I’ll get onto that shortly. The product that actually caught my eye was their world beating deep section clincher wheelset. At 88mm deep, the 8000CX comes in at a mere 1539grams – yes, a clincher, and with reliable aluminium braking surface. I know of few tubular wheels this deep that come even close to this!

One key part of the low weight is the rim construction. The Concave System logo seen is Citec’s proprietary spoke/rim interface. This has allowed the Germans to remove a huge amount of material from the aluminum section of the rim thanks to the way the PowerBlock nipple is supported without the need for threading the aluminium.

The convex lower edge of the nipple rests against the concave rim’s inner surface and is tensioned through the rim. The carbon fairing is still structural and is supported by a lightweight foam core.

As you’d expect, the hubs are similarly unique. A similar nipple section threads into the flange that in itself is actually a separate entity to the hub centre. Separating the spoke loads from the lateral loads in this way offers improved bearing life and is also used by DT Swiss in the Tricon Series.

Fingers crossed, we’ll be able to get hold of a set of these wheels, to see if they hold up to all the claims. If it’s in the affirmative, they are likely to deserve some international acclaim that we here at Pez are perfectly placed to give.

Auf Weidersehn Freidrichshafen – same time next year?

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