Monday, May 21, 2007
No release date yet.
Friday, May 18, 2007
In the tech world, there's always something newer, lighter and lustier right around the corner. In the marketing world, thousands of dollars are spent to create a good buzz at just the right moment to drum up sales for the new stuff without cannibalizing sales of a company's existing product. Recently, SRAM may have gotten its tech and marketing wires crossed, as a 42-page document detailing its yet-to-be-released, top-end road group, Red, began circulating on the Internet well ahead of SRAM's planned launch.
This spring, all was well in the SRAM camp as new technologies were rolling out smoothly and the company got its products into the ProTour with Saunier Duval-Prodir. Recently SRAM began trickling out other product onto pro racers' bikes where it could be spotted by a trained eye.
At the Tour of Georgia, Road magazine editor Neil Browne spotted prototype DoubleTap shifters on Millar's team issue Scott Addict and posted the photo on his blog, www.neilroad.blogspot.com, under the title "Which one of these doesn't look like the other?" Note that the shift lever has a different shape than a Force or Rival lever. Browne has a good eye, but rest assured SRAM knew the lever stuck out like a sore thumb - it was in Georgia to be seen.
But every once in a while the best-laid plans go awry.
SRAM's plans for a later launch for Red had already started to spiral off course during the previous week at the Sea Otter Classic. In mid-April, Bicycling magazine contributor Joe Lindsey posted a link to a PDF document flying around cyberspace in his weekly Boulder Report column under the headline, "SRAM Launch: What's Here, What's Not." The live link came down roughly a week later.
Lindsey had posted a link to a 42-page document entitled "SRAM Technical Specifications MY08 MTB and Road Components," which appeared to be intended only for bicycle manufacturers and wholesalers.
"I'm not sure if it was the guy that runs the Light Bikes blog or what, but somebody got it and it was posted there originally," said Lindsey. "If you want to credit someone, that's where I first found it; in my story that's who I credited. I had heard a rumor about a document that was leaked, and basically I Googled it and came up with the document on Light Bikes."
The document outlines the specifications for Force, Rival and a new road group called Red. Within the document weights and material specifications are outlined in detail.
SRAM representatives will not deny or confirm any specifications that have been reported on the Red group. But this is where things get interesting. While the official company line is that the specifications of Red do not yet exist, SRAM's "Will you make the leap?" [www.willyoumaketheleap.com/seered/] Web site on May 4 confirmed the existence of the Red group and gave three details: The group will be under 2000 grams, available in October and will be a no-compromise, high-performance racing group.
On May 15, cyclingnews.com published a report on the new group based on its technical editor's research. The story was live for a short time in the early morning then was promptly pulled offline. Cyclingnews.com reposted a report on the topic this morning.
"There was some information - posted, released, whatever - online," said SRAM media manager Michael Zellmann. "None of that information is officially ours nor are we going to verify anything."
So is the PDF the real deal or something that unintentionally slipped into cyberspace? Or is this 42-page document just more clever marketing? Regardless, the juicy details about SRAM Red and its alleged incorporation of carbon, titanium and magnesium into all sorts of nooks and crannies makes for good reading.
Wednesday, May 9, 2007
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
Ivan Basso said Tuesday that even though he had planned to blood dope for the 2006 Tour de France, he had actually never taken banned drugs or used blood transfusions.
Basso readies to meet the press.
photo: Agence France Presse - 2007
"I have never taken banned substances and I have never employed blood doping," last year's Giro d'Italia told reporters in an emotional statement he read prior to the start of a press conference he had called.
"I did admit having attempted to use doping for the (2006) Tour de France and I am ready to pay the penalty for that," Basso said. "All my wins have been achieved in a proper and clean manner and I have every intention of returning to action and continuing with the job I love once I have paid the penalty."
The 29-year-old Basso, one of the favorites for this year's Tour de France was among dozens of riders implicated in the Operación Puerto doping affair.
Basso said he is willing to accept the consequences
photo: Agence France Presse - 2007
Police seized nearly 200 bags of blood and a collection of doping products on a raid on Fuentes's laboratory in Madrid. Police also seized Fuentes's diaries full of codenames of cyclists and documents which suggested the doctor had been paid to manipulate and store blood.
The 2006 Tour was deprived of its top names such as Basso and 1997 winner Jan Ullrich who were barred from competing after their implication in the Puerto case.
This year, all three grand tour organizers have been piling the pressure on cycling authorities to act against implicated riders in an effort to avoid a repeat of last year's Tour fiasco in this year's major national tours, the first of which begins on Saturday in Italy.
Basso had consistently denied any wrongdoing, but last week he parted company with the Discovery Channel team after CONI reopened its inquiry into allegations against him.
He was initially acquitted by CONI of any involvement in the scandal after the first hearing due to what Italy governing body for sport had described as insufficient evidence. But CONI reopened its investigation after German officials successfully connected nine bags of blood to Ullrich.
Basso, with lawyer Massimo Martelli at his side, admitted that he had had dealings with Fuentes calling them "moments of weakness which will stay with me for the rest of my life and for which I intend to pay the price."
"Yes, I am ‘Birillo,'" said Basso, referring to a codename that appeared in Fuentes's records.
"I am fully aware that an attempt at doping is tantamount to doping, but I am asking to be excused for this and that should be enough," he said. "All my victories were obtained in an honest manner and nobody can contest what I achieved in the 2006 Giro d'Italia no more than the other results I achieved during my career."
Monday, May 7, 2007
photo: AFP (file)
CONI said the 2006 Giro winner came to them of his own accord and offered to cooperate with their investigation and clarify his part in the scandal. Basso will face the media Tuesday at a midday press conference at Milan's Michelangelo hotel.
The 29-year-old Basso now faces a ban from cycling of up to two years and an additional two-year exclusion from riding on ProTour teams. If his doping is connected to his 2006 Giro win, authorities could also strip him of that title.
"He wasn't feeling good and he wasn't calm, and he wanted to lift a weight off his conscience," said Basso's lawyer Massimo Martelli. "During the interrogation he was shaking, but then he regained his composure to show great character."
Ivano Fanini, owner of Italian cycling team Amore and Vita, was happy to see Basso come clean.
"I knew it would finish this way and it could be a great chance for things to change," he said. "Basso has shown his intelligence and understands that this is the right road to take.
"He mustn't only think about saving himself, and I hope that what he has done proves to be important."
Basso, last year's Giro d'Italia winner and a pre-race favorite for the 2007 Tour de France, is one of dozens of riders implicated in the Puerto investigation.
The scandal erupted before last year's Tour De France when Spanish police uncovered an alleged blood doping network run by doctor Eufemiano Fuentes.
Police discovered bags of blood and doping products on a raid on Fuentes's laboratory in Madrid, along with codenames of cyclists and documents which suggested the doctor had been paid to manipulate and store blood.
Last year, Basso's implication in the scandal cost him his place at the Tour de France.
UCI president Pat McQuaid expressed his dismay at hearing the news.
"Most of all I am very sad that a talented rider like Basso seems to have been involved in some illicit practices," he said. "On the other hand I'm trying to look at this news in a more positive light. Our constant efforts, with our other cycling partners, to put cyclists under pressure are paying off.
"Right now it's not easy to break the rules," he added.
Last week Basso parted company with the Discovery Channel team after CONI had called him to a hearing to answer doping charges.
Up until now Basso had protested his innocence. He was initially acquitted by CONI of any involvement in the scandal due to what Italy's governing body for sport described as insufficient evidence.
But CONI reopened its investigation after German officials matched blood seized in the Puerto raids to 1997 Tour winner Jan Ullrich. Until now, Basso had refused to submit to DNA testing, but in recent weeks the pressure to do so was increasing.
Saturday, May 5, 2007
Weights and pricing have yet to be confirmed but this is what we know:
The brake weight 58grams with Ti springs for each end without brake pads The Levers weight 42grams. MSRP is set at around $440, for both brakes and levers.
If the brake work as well as the Extralite ones we have a winner on pricing. But the levers might not be very stiff at that weight. We will have to wait and see. Other brakes levers have been made lighter, byt frankly they sucked and were wet noodles!
Thursday, May 3, 2007
"This was the first product that helped re-establish SRAM as a performance brand," said Ron Ritzler, SRAM's road product manager. "Our goal at the time was to spare no expense and make the best derailleur in terms of weight, performance and durability. For this year we've changed the technology that makes up the cage."
The new X.0 rear derailleur has a cage modeled after the Force road rear derailleur and will be able to accommodate the new BlackBox ceramic pulleys (the older style X.0 derailleurs will not).
The outer half of the pulley cage is made from carbon fiber, but the inner half has been replaced with 7000-series aluminum. The update is said to bring stiffness to the lower cage along with more chain control. SRAM also claims that the impact strength of the cage has been increased by five times over the previous all carbon version.
The new hybrid carbon cage will also be found on the long-cage X.0 derailleur. Historically only the short and medium cage lengths were made with carbon. An outside vendor made the old composite cages, while the new design relies completely on SRAM's own carbon technology.
The B-bolt is anodized gold and laser-etched with the 20th anniversary logo. Regardless of cage length chosen, the new X.0 rear derailleur will cost $230.
Tuesday, May 1, 2007
The new XT — plenty of choice for 2008
In 1981, Yoshi Shimano, president of Shimano's U.S. sales office, noticed a weird new segment of bikes popping up in the U.S. bicycle market and immediately informed corporate headquarters in Japan that Shimano needed to be a part of this new "mountain" bike movement.
The new BL-775 brake lever incorporates Servo-Wave technology
XT turns 25 this year, and to commemorate the occasion it gets a facelift for 2008. While many of the improvements trickle down from last year's revamp of XTR, there are a couple of brand-new technologies in the mix.
"This is an adventure group in the sense that it's designed to be as contemporary as possible in its focus," said Devin Walton, Shimano's PR manager
The ST-M775 Dual Control lever does as well, both feature radial master brake cylinders.
"That's why you're seeing an even wider range and additional options over even what XTR offers. Options are sort of the result of XT's initiative of just being contemporary."
What's old is new again
When it was introduced in 1992, Servo-Wave was a mechanical cam-operated method of changing the XT brake lever's cable-pull ratio throughout the lever's stroke. The design started with a high ratio of cable pull to lever movement, then progressively reversed the mechanical advantage, providing more braking power. In addition to providing powerful braking control, the new system also permitted more rim clearance.
Shimano’s new RD-772 is called the Shadow rear derailleur for its narrow profile.
"The reason for even integrating the Servo-Wave is so that you can get the maximum amount of lever travel and leverage to get the most power," said Walton. "It's a blend between those two.
"What the Servo-Wave does is that it gives your pads clearance, but it moves the pads quickly through the first little bit of motion so the pads will contact [the rotor] as quickly as possible, and that's what allows you to get the most power out of the system."
Shimano’s new HB-M776 20mm XT hub hub can be purchased alone or in complete wheelset.
The XT group adopts XTR's goal of providing choices for all types of riders. Most apparent is the new Shadow rear derailleur, which is new to Shimano's mountain line and meant as an option for technical-trail riders.
The Shadow is based on the top-normal (standard style) spring design. Main features are a slender side profile (15mm narrower than a standard XT derailleur) and a redesigned mounting bolt and B-spring assembly, with a stronger spring, that work together to prevent the derailleur from knocking into the underside of the chainstay on FSR and other suspension designs. Traditional top-normal and low-normal rear derailleurs will be available as well. All three styles come with a choice of medium or long cages.
The new FC-M770 Hollow Tech II crank has a carbon reinforced steel middle chainring.
The XT rear hub is also upgraded with two extra pawls to quicken the engagement response time. The hub boasts a 10-degree engagement, twice as fast as the old version; it, too, relies on adjustable angular contact bearings. The rear hub has a new 14mm 7075-T6 aluminum axle. A standard quick-release wheelset will also be available. It features a narrower (19mm I.D.) rim in line with cross-country and racing applications.
The new XT cassette has pins that extend rearward to catch a chain before it damages spokes in the event of an over shift.
In the trickle-down category XT's drivetrain incorporates instant and two-way release technologies from XTR. This year's XT transmission featured two-way release shifter technology but not instant release. Instant release lets cable go on the push or pull stroke instead of waiting for the lever to return, while two-way release allows the cable release trigger to toggle for both push and pull operation.
The front derailleur features angled limit screws and a lighter cage with more tire clearance for use with tires sized 2.3 inches and above. It's available in three versions: E-Type and top and bottom swing. Both the top- and bottom-swing derailleurs come with one band size and use adapters to fit 28.6, 31.8 and 34.9 seat tubes.
The XT PD-M770 pedals look like XTR except for their logo and powder coat.
In final touches, Shimano added external pins to the rear cassette to catch the chain in the event of an over-shift and protect the rear wheel's spokes. The XT also group gets its own branded 352-gram PD-M770 SPD pedal.
The components should be available by mid-June.