Interbike Roundup: Cutting-Edge Road Bike Technology
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While much of the road bike talk at Interbike revolved around aero-shaped carbon, there were a surprising number of fascinating little technology stories as well. From space-age steel to a bike that's “handmade by machines,” manufacturers are experimenting with all manner of materials and constructions to set their bikes apart. Presenting a few compelling road bikes from Vegas.
Wilier Triestina Zero7 This high-end road frame tips the scales at under 800 grams—light, but hardly the lightest thing on the market—though weight isn't the entire point. Wilier has injected an elastic film between the layers of the carbons, which they claim adds vibration damping properties and increases impact resistance over other carbon fiber layups. The Zero7 also sports the new BB386 bottom bracket, developed in tandem with FSA and a couple of other companies, a new integrated design that's wider and has a huge diameter for increased stiffness and power transfer. $5,500, frame only. Also of note is Wilier's new TT bike, the Twin Foil, which incorporates a wild dual-crown fork design reminiscent of big-hit mountain bikes and bucks the trend toward the narrowest profile possible with broad tubing up front.
Scott Foil One of the last big companies to enter the aero road market, Scott debuted their new Foil concept, which they say is more than just an aerodynamic bike. Scott has used an airfoil shape for the tubing, but rather than leave the pointy end of the triangle, which they say contributes to poor ride quality, they've lopped it off for a truncated, trapezoidal form. You get all the benefits of aero shaping plus the stiffness and responsiveness of round tubing; they claim a 5 percent increase in wattage output and 20 percent decrease in drag over their round tubing. So confident are they in the new technology that they are launching nine models of the Foil and doing away completely with their popular, time-tested Addict line.
BMC Impec The Swiss manufacturer showed prototypes of this high-tech frame at Interbike 2010, but it's taken the company a full year to get the bike to production. The Impec showcases a fundamentally different way of producing carbon. Not only is every tube made to measure, but then they are bonded together with joints, Shell Nodes in BMC speak, that are injection molded rigid composite clamshells that precisely encapsulate the tubing. The Impec is said to have one of the highest stiffness-to-weight ratios of any frame available, stiffer even than BMC's TeamMachine SLR01. To produce the frame, BMC constructed a whole new facility in Switzerland that puts the precision work usually left to artisans in the hands of machines, which accounts for the astronomical $6,000-per-frame price tag.
Fondriest SF1 Marrying classic styling with modern sensibilities, Fondriest has created a bike that promises a ride as arresting as its look. The bike's appeal comes from the Columbus XCR stainless steel from which it's built, which is not only the only seamless steel tubing available but also, by consequence, the world's most expensive steel tubeset. The lack of seams gives the material a very high strength-to-weight ratio so the tube walls can be made very thin, and a 56cm frame is said to weigh just 1550 grams. In addition to the gleaming polished look, the details are what make SF1 so special, for instance the tucked-away seat clamp that gives the look of an integrated post. At $4,900 for the frame, fork (a custom carbon variety), headset, and seat post, pricing is more antique than vintage.
Ridley Noah FB Having debuted the FB as a bare frame fresh from the molds earlier this summer at Bike Press Camp, Ridley had a complete build of their new flagship aero project in Vegas. The bike incorporates the gamut of this Belgian company's unusual wind-cheating technologies to offer what they claim amounts to 1.7 mph faster in a sprint and 20 watts less power needed to average 25 miles per hour compared with a standard frame. The big story are the integrated aero brake design, or Fast Brake system (hence FB), which integrates the brakes into the frame, with the front brakes built into the fork and the rear brakes built into the seat stays. The Noah FB is also built with RFlow fork and seat stays, which employ a split foil design, and RSurface adhesive treatments applied in strips in key points on the bike to further help route wind smoothly around the frame. $5,395 for frame and fork alone.