Lightest products on show – Eurobike 2012
By James Huang in Friedrichshafen, Germany | Monday, September 10, 2012 3.00pm
The AX-Lightness Vial pairs its own frame with a smattering of startlingly light in-house carbon fiber components. Claimed weight as pictured here is just 4.9kg (10.8lb) James Huang/Future Publishing
The Germans are renowned for doing light weight bike componentry and frames, and what better place to showcase them than at Eurobike 2012. Here's our pick of the bunch.
AX-Lightness and Engage offer sub 11lb bike
AX-Lightness and its Asia-built subsidiary, Engage, have offered separate plethoras of feathery carbon fiber components and road frames in the past. But this year's Eurobike show saw the German composites specialists showcasing two complete builds for the ultimate in anti-gravity exotica.
AX-Lightness claims its made-in-Germany Vial road frame weighs just 745g for a medium yet still delivers enviable stiffness thanks to its extra-wide BB386 EVO bottom bracket shell and correspondingly wide, rectangular-profile tubing, tapered front end and asymmetrical rear end.
The bike is fitted with the company's own 3000 brake calipers, Morpheus crankset, Daedalus seatpost, 42mm-deep carbon tubulars and saddle – all in carbon fiber, of course. Claimed weight is just 4.9kg (10.8lb) without pedals or (supposedly) sacrificed everyday durability. Not surprisingly, that sort of boasting power will cost you – suggested retail price is €9,467.
The new Clade e11 features many of the Vial's selling points
Engage offers similar performance at more reasonable prices, showcased with the Clade e11 frameset and €2,480 asking price. The overall shape and features (such as the tapered front end and BB386 EVO bottom bracket) are carried over from the AX-Lightness version but the more mass manufacturing-friendly construction methods boost claimed weight to 795g.
The Engage Gavial carbon fiber brakes sport a similar design to the AX-Lightness 3000 single-pivot models, but with chunkier molded carbon fiber arms and a slightly heavier claimed weight of 130g per set. Even with manufacturing in Asia, though, the Gavials still fetch a heady €300.
German Carbon Group shows off the country's finest
The German Carbon Group conglomerate served up a smorgasbord of lightweight composite goodness.
Schmolke showed off its new oversized carbon fiber drop handlebar, which despite the larger diameter and increased stiffness is supposedly the same weight as the standard version – just 130-150g depending on size.
Meanwhile, the folks at Bike Ahead Composites touted the virtues of its molded carbon fiber mountain bike wheels, each with just six chunky hollow carbon fiber spokes, custom hubs in a multitude of fitments from Acros, and claims of outstanding stiffness and durability.
Bike Ahead will offer the new wheels in both 26in and 29in sizes, in tubular and clincher varieties. Claimed weights range from 1,169-1,379g per set.
Bike Ahead Composites' unusual six-spoked MTB wheels
Upstart company Haero Carbon arrived with two integrated aero bar models, one built around a flat TT-style base bar and another based on a more conventional set of road drops.
Both feature molded-in sockets with collet-type anchors for aero bar extensions, making for ultralight all-in-one cockpit setups for riders who prioritize gram-saving over a perfect position (adjustability is distinctly limited). Claimed weights range from 250-380g depending on configuration but prices are stratospheric, topping out at €849.
Sharing space in the booth was a company that wasn't actually German. A2J Technical Artisans – officially based in Luxembourg but with production outlets in Sweden – displayed a pair of stunningly lightly complete builds.
The 795g Rolo Limited Edition frame is offered with a fixed geometry but custom layup that supposedly produces the second-highest stiffness ever measured by test lab Zedler (second only to Rolo's own "super stiff" layup).
With a PRO integrated cockpit, Berk one-piece carbon fiber saddle and seatpost, Lightweight carbon clinchers, a Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 transmission and a Scapula F fork, Clavicula M3 crankset and Fibula brakes from THM-Carbones, claimed weight is just 5.6kg (12.35lb). Retail price is €18,000. We had to put that in bold.
Got a spare 18,000 Euros? The Rolo Limited Edition could be for you
The second Rolo showpiece was lighter but with a claimed Di2-specific frame weight of just 640g and supposedly better stiffness than Specialized's S-Works McLaren Venge.
Add in a set of Schmolke handlebars, another one-piece Berk seatpost and saddle combo, RAR carbon wheels, a Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 group and THM-Carbones' Scapula SP fork, Clavicula cranks and Fibula brakes and you end up with a complete bike weight of just 4.55kg (10.03lb). It also costs €18,000.
New drivetrain options from Carbon-Ti
Italian company Carbon-Ti put its wares up against Germany's best, including a trick one-piece X-Monoring for use with singlespeed or 1x mountain bike drivetrains. The machined titanium chainring incorporates splines for direct attachment to cranksets from SRAM/Truvativ, Cannondale or Specialized. Tooth options range from 32-36t in one-tooth increments.
Other new bits include updated hubs with bigger 17mm-diameter aluminum axles and more aggressively milled-down aluminum bodies. We also saw complete mountain bike wheelset builds using either Stan's NoTubes or made-in-Italy carbon fiber hoops, and an ultralight quick-release seatpost collar that weighs as little as 20g depending on size.
Machined aluminum from Acros, Reset and Tr!ckstuff
CNC-machined aluminum may conjure images of the mid-Nineties but the small batch production method was alive and well at Eurobike, particularly among several European brands.
German company Acros continued to push the virtues of its A-GE hydraulic mountain bike transmission, now with more front derailleur fitments, more flexible shifter mounting options and a limited edition blue anodized finish.
Also catching our eye were a burly headset and hub bearing press and external-bearing bottom bracket installation tool with a full-length aluminum guide to keep the two sides perfectly aligned.
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Acros is offering blue anodized A-GE hydraulic derailleurs in limited quantities
Just a few steps over were the folks at Reset Racing, who once again showed off an impressive range of radically aggressive flat pedals and colorful aluminum bottom brackets and headsets. More impressive, though, were the intricately machined tools for everything from precise suspension component air pressure tuning to servicing Truvativ's cult-favorite HammerSchmidt two-speed transmission.
Finally, Tr!ckstuff was again showing off its nifty Doppelmoppel mechanical-to-hydraulic brake converter, which we found to provide "power to burn" and excellent modulation. Hydraulic options from the likes of SRAM and Shimano are reportedly still a way off, so in the meantime converters such as these from Tr!ckstuff, Hopeand TRP are the only options available.
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