German carbon wheel-meisters CarbonSports has made several small – but, it says, important – changes to a few wheels in its range. The unmistakable Lightweight Disc with its black-spoke-on-white-background finish was already one of the lightest and stiffest out there but new materials have made it even more so, according to CarbonSports. A DT 190 Disc with ceramic bearings now has a claimed weight of just 820g.
CarbonSports introduced all-carbon ‘Generation III’ spokes on its Lightweight Standard wheel last year and now makes the same improvement to the lightest wheel in the range, the Ventoux. While this has made little difference to the weight, the Ventoux is now a claimed 30 percent stiffer than before.
The 2009 Standard gets stiffer and stronger as well but this time by adding a few spokes. The optional ‘Sprint’ version increases spoke count to 20/24 front/rear and, as the name suggests, is aimed at powerful riders who really want their wheels to stay true under pressure.
To complete your Lightweight wheelset CarbonSports has produced a set of quick release skewers, too. Using Swiss-made aluminium and titanium parts they weigh in at just 34g per pair.
As we reported in the summer, CarbonSports is now offering a full custom painting service. For a premium of around 10 percent – and a six-week wait – CarbonSports will put any design you like onto your new wheels. The Lightweight stand had a few examples on display, including those used by Great Britain’s Emma Pooley at the Beijing Olympics.
Finally, as some wheelmakers have done already CarbonSports has launched “Service-up”, an insurance policy for your wheels. For around the same price as a custom paintjob CarbonSports will cover your wheels against damage, crucially including whilst racing.
Fulcrum follows Campagnolo to ceramic and tubeless
As a subsidiary of Campagnolo, it’s no surprise to see that Fulcrum has introduced many of the same upgrades for 2009. The Racing Torq chainset – which uses Campagnolo’s Ultra Torque bottom bracket design – is now available in an RRS version that includes the same CULT ceramic bearings as Super Record.
Fulcrum’s main business is wheels though, and more Campagnolo style upgrades can be found at the upper end of the range. The top two aluminium wheels, the Racing 1 and Racing Zero, are now available with carbon hub shells and the same 2-Way Fit rims as Campagnolo’s Eurus and Shamal Ultra. These rims are compatible with Road Tubeless tyres or standard clinchers and are the same weight as the previous clincher-only ones.
Fulcrum’s two carbon rimmed wheelsets, the Racing Light and Racing Speed, now come with carbon hub shells and – like the Racing Torq RRS chainset – CULT ceramic bearings for slightly lighter weight and smoother running.
Hutchinson expands Road Tubeless range
Hutchinson’s steadfast support of the Road Tubeless system is finally starting to pay off with more and more wheelmakers producing compatible rims. Buoyed with the victory of tubeless-equipped Philippe Gilbert (Française des Jeux) at this year’s Het Volk, the French company expanding its tubeless range from two to three.
The Intensive is billed as a longer-wearing and more durable tyre and pairs a smooth center with lightly treaded shoulders. According to Hutchinson, the thermoplastic-reinforced tread compound improves wear without yielding too much grip. Thanks to its expected lower price point, the Intensive should make Road Tubeless more accessible to more casual riders who arguably have the most to gain from the system anyway.
Tubeless-compatible ‘cross tyres are also on hand, just in time for the start of the season. The Piranha is intended for drier conditions and the Bulldog for mud. The existing Fusion 2 all-around and Atom lightweight Road Tubeless models will carry over for 2009.
In addition to road tyres, Hutchinson is also adding to its off road range with the new Cobra. The fast-rolling tread uses a densely packed array of small center knobs but relatively tall and open side knobs for surefooted cornering. Hutchinson will offer the Cobra in tubed and tubeless versions. The other big new MTB product is the new 29-inch version of the Toro.
Michelin lightens up and adds some colour
Michelin will grow its Pro3 Race family from one to three for 2009. The new Pro3 Light shares most of the standard version’s features, such as the Moto GP-inspired rubber compound, but omits the extra high density anti-puncture layer to save a few grams. This omission makes the Pro 3 Light less durable than the Race but takes the weight down to a claimed 185g per tyre.
In addition to the Pro3 Light, Michelin will also add the Pro3 Grip with a claimed 20 percent improvement in roadholding ability over the standard Pro3 Race.
Up until now, Michelin’s Pro3 Race tyres have only been available in its own digital blue and a rather sober grey. Though that scheme may suit the AG2R and Bouygues Telecom team riders that use it, regular consumers require a bit more choice. For 2009, they will come in a wider variety of colours that will include the standard varieties plus two neon colours: yellow flash and signal orange.
Continental goes wider for longer
New from Continental is another addition to the Grand Prix range. The Grand Prix 24 is designed for high mileage and comfort with its 24mm-wide section yet it’s still slim enough to be used as a racing tyre in most frames. The German company says that the Grand Prix 24 “leads the trend towards wide tyres in cycling”. According to numerous studies, larger casings can offer better grip and more comfort while actually reducing rolling resistance.
Like many of the other tyres in the Continental range, the Grand Prix 24 uses its highly acclaimed Black Chili compound and has a tread design similar to the existing Attack and Force. Cyclingnews has already secured a pair of Grand Prix 24s so look out for a full test in the near future.
Vittoria gets lighter and stronger
Italian tyre maker Vittoria has made several changes to its road range for 2009. Its top treads – the Corsa Evo CX tubular and its open clincher version – now have an even higher density casing rising from 290 to 320 threads per square inch. Also added is a new PRB 2.0 puncture resistant belt, which Vittoria claims increases puncture prevention by up to 40 percent while also making it lighter.
Further down the range are new Light and Tech versions of the Diamante Pro tyre. The Pro Light, Vittoria says, is the lightest tyre on the market with nylon casing at a claimed 170g for the 23mm version. On the other hand, the Pro Tech has a special Aquagrip compound for improved wet grip and tear-resistant ‘Mithril’ sidewalls for extra strength. Both use the same puncture resistant layer under the tread as the Evo CX.
Further still down the range Vittoria has introduced a tubular version of its popular Rubino Pro. The entry level Zaffiro range will include several models such as a hard wearing, quiet and cool running trainer version.