Interbike: More gear from this year’s show

New kit from Giant, Fulcrum, Blackburn and more

Giant’s off-road lineup for 2009

In addition to Giant’s revamped 2009 road range, the company has redesigned several key off-road models. A highlight of the range is the new Anthem X which is based on the Anthem cross-country racer but toned down a bit to make it more palatable for general consumption. 

Rear wheel travel has grown to a full four inches, the head tube angle has slackened to 71 degrees for more stable handling and the Anthem X is reputed to be five percent stiffer overall than the standard Anthem.

Yet weight has actually gone down 185g, due at least partially to the new forged two-piece rocker link and revised Maestro suspension layout, whereby the lower rocker and lower shock pivot on the same axle. 

For now, Giant will only offer an aluminum Anthem X, though based on prior history we would expect a carbon Advanced version to join the lineup for 2010.  The current Anthem and Anthem Advanced will carry over for 2009.

Racers will also have a new carbon hardtail option in the 2009 Giant XTC Advanced SL which has already seen battle under team riders such as Kelli Emmett. Light weight and stiffness were the clear goals here with the huge rectangular-profile down tube, oversized top tube, heavily reinforced bottom bracket area and tall chain stays, all crafted from raw T-800 carbon fibres.  

Claimed weight for the top-end XTC Advanced SL frame is just 1kg in a medium size while a more economical XTC Advanced model will add another 100g.

Updates to the successful Reign 6in-travel all-mountain platform are more subtle. Head tubes have been slackened from 69 to 68 degrees to better suit the intended heavy-duty trail use and all models will upsize to 15mm through-axle front hubs for improved steering precision and security. 

Fulcrum delves further off the beaten path

Fulcrum will bolster its off-road wheelset range with four new models for 2009. The new Red Carbon is intended for cross-country and all-mountain applications. Asymmetric carbon fibre rims bring the weight down to a claimed 1470g per pair while reducing rotational inertia by 15 percent over the current Red Metal Zero.  The carbon rim’s stiffer and stronger construction relative to the Red Metal Zero also allows Fulcrum to reduce the spoke count by four per wheel.

The 29in wheel movement has apparently finally begun hitting Europe as Fulcrum will launch two compatible models for 2009. The upper-end Red Metal 29 XLR uses an aluminum rim with an undrilled outer wall for easy tubeless compatibility plus six-bolt disc-compatible aluminum hubs with oversized 20mm axles for more stiffness. Bladed stainless steel spokes (28 per wheel) join everything together for a final weight of 1845g per set. The more economical Red Metal 29 SL bulks up to 2025g per pair.

Fulcrum will add its first freeride wheelset to its range with the new Red Fire. The tubeless-compatible aluminum rims measure a healthy 29mm in width and 25mm in height yet total wheelset weight is still a competitive 2200g, thanks in part to the machined inner rim walls. Stainless steel spokes join the rims to beefy sealed bearing hubs with the rear offering 12x150mm through-axle compatibility and the front with a standard 20mm through-axle fitment. 

Cross-country and all-mountain riders looking for a little extra stiffness up front can take solace in knowing that Fulcrum will offer its Red Metal Zero, Red Metal 1 and Red Metal 3 with a 15mm through-axle front hub for use with the latest crop of forks from Fox Racing Shox and Marzocchi.

Avid updates its long-running Shorty cantilevers

Avid’s ubiquitous Shorty cantilever rim brake gets a long-awaited remake for 2009. Published weight is now down to 157g per wheel (without pads) and a stiffer new skeletal arm shape promises better braking performance while allowing easier access to pad hardware. Central to the improvements is a claimed reduction in vibration which should cut down on howling and chatter, an issue that occasionally plagued the original Shorty.

Also in the pipeline is a new Shorty Ultimate brake. In keeping with the current Single Digit Ultimate stoppers, these use cartridge bearing pivots for slop-free movement and full CNC-machined construction. Unique to the Shorty Ultimate, though, is a novel switchable configuration that allows for both high and low-profiles in a single brake. There’s no word on claimed weights or costs yet and Avid has not said whether these will actually make it to market. 

New aero offerings from Syntace

Syntace’s new Stratos CX carbon base bar features slippery aero profiles (just 15mm yet 54mm deep) and sizeable outer pods that provide plenty of room for bigger hands. The oversized 31.8mm centre section is reinforced with titanium mesh to prevent damage from stem clamps and provide a secure purchase for aero extensions. Claimed weight is just 195g.

Speaking of which, Syntace equips its new C3 clip-ons with its unique Double Helix bend which it feels is more comfortable and provides better leverage than currently fashionable straight or S-bend extensions. Though there isn’t a lick of carbon to be found, the C3 is still reasonably light at 366g.

As is usually the case with Syntace, both the C3 and Stratos CX are offered in a wide range of sizes. The Stratos CX will come in 390, 410, or 430mm widths (outside-to-outside), all with 20mm of drop, while the C3 will be available in three lengths with adjustable widths throughout.

Syntace will also bring its superb P6 seatpost design down in price via an aluminum mast. Just like its carbon masted brother, the new P6 Alu includes a 53mm-long lower cradle for plenty of rail support, a shorter 30mm upper cradle for a wider range of fore-aft adjustment and angled bolts that are easily accessible and anchored with spherical nuts for perfect alignment. 

The P6 Alu will come in 27.2, 30.9 and 31.6mm diameters and up to 400mm in length. Claimed weight for a 31.6 x 400mm sample is 256g.

Blackburn wants everyone to get Fleas

One of LED lighting technology’s greatest draws is its compact size and few companies have capitalized on this better than Blackburn. The new Flea lights are among the smallest we’ve seen (each front or rear unit is less than 5cm long and only about 19g!) yet the four-emitter array reportedly packs up to 40 lumens of light. Both lights attach via a minimal hook-and-loop strap while the rear light also boasts a built-in clip for attaching to a bag or clothing.

Even more ingenious is the Flea’s charging system. The tiny charger measures barely 2cm and weighs just 5g and can draw its source power from any 1.5V battery. Tiny magnets connect everything together, the LED emitters flash dimly to indicate an active charge and built-in circuitry shuts everything off when the built-in battery is full.

Blackburn claims a new D-cell battery will yield over 30 charges but the system can also suck out any remaining juice from partially used batteries. Retail cost is US$29.99 (£19) each or US$54.99 (£35) for the pair.

Blackburn has also downsized some of its mini-pumps. The 16cm-long AirStik SL weighs just 60g yet is still built with a durable anodized aluminum barrel and shaft. The head accommodates Presta valves only but as it’s intended for road use we don’t anticipate this to be an issue. The US$24.99 (£16) retail cost includes a bottle cage mount, though given the pump’s diminutive size, users are more likely to just stuff it in their pocket.

In contrast, the new AirStik 2Stage isn’t particular small or light at 23cm long and 175g but Blackburn does equip it with a switchable high-volume/high-pressure two-stage air chamber for easier inflating of both road and mountain bike tyres. The AirStik 2Stage also comes with a Presta-specific head, although in this case it locks for more secure pumping. A bottle cage mount is included with the US$29.99 (£19) retail cost.

Acros moves on to US shores

Germany-based component manufacturer Acros isn’t a household name in the US consumers but, given the company’s diverse range of top-end products and apparently unyielding commitment to precision and quality, that may change in the near future. 

Acros produces headsets, bottom brackets, hubs, stems, seatposts, handlebars and even suspension forks and tools. Most of the rotating products are also offered with hybrid or even full ceramic bearings as standard. Rear disc-compatible mountain bike hubs reportedly weigh as little as 242g while the top road rear hub tips the scales at just 183g.

One of Acros’ most appealing attributes is the rainbow of anodized colors available for nearly the entire range. Hues include the usual black, silver and grey but also red, orange, blue and yes, even purple. Limited edition colors are also available through the Acros ‘Candy Shop’. 

3T offers a solution to slipping seatposts

3T claims its new Palladio seatpost is the ultimate solution for riders who have troubles with unwanted saddle movement. The unusual DiffLock head uses two separate saddle rail cradles mounted on to the ends of a splined central tube (picture the end of a Shimano Hollowtech II crankset spindle) which then matches up with a separate set of splines in the top of the seatpost mast.

If it sounds complicated, that’s because it is. The Palladio provides tilt adjustments down to half-degree increments but making those changes is fairly convoluted and requires a near-complete disassembly of the head. 

The unique arrangement makes it seemingly impossible for the saddle to move unless you want it to, even if the bolts loosen. This alone may be enough for some riders to justify the inconvenience, particularly given that most riders will only set the position once.

New Roks and packaging from Clif Bar

Clif Bar’s Clif Shot Bloks offer a tasty alternative to the usual array of bars and gels but their packaging hasn’t always been conducive to eating on the go.  New for 2009 is a far handier ‘fast pack’ that conveniently lines up each package’s six Bloks so you can easily pop them out with one hand. The new packaging is a small change but one that will likely be far better appreciated on the bike than on paper. Also new is a Mountain Berry flavor which will hit shelves in November.

Clif Bar also introduced a new line called Clif Shot Roks. Intended more as a ‘customizable protein concept’ than on-the-bike energy food, each Rok contains 2g of whey protein and the chewy interior is housed in a hard protective shell that Clif says will withstand 200°F temperatures before melting. 

Clif Shot Roks will arrive in stores in January and though they’re not quite as tasty as the chocolate-covered Whoppers they resemble, we found the Peanut Butter Chocolate and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough flavours agreeable enough that they substituted for a proper lunch on more than one day while wandering the aisles at this year’s Interbike show.

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