New Wheels in the Zipp Line!
With a lot of excitement building around Zipp’s new Firecrest 808 and 404 wheels, it was great to see the new line-up at Interbike. Zipp’s current 404 and 808 wheels are toroidal in shape, with a noticeable bulge behind the tire to reduce turbulence where the rim and tire meet. With the new Firecrest shape, the wheel loses most of this noticeable bulge, maintaining a wider profile throughout, with only a slight taper where the wheel meets the tire. Here is a comparison of the new wheelshape to other 808 models.
This new design has multiple benefits, one of which is controlling airflow around the back half of the wheel. Zipp has found the Firecrest shape to be faster at a 10 degree wind angle with more dramatic benefits as the angle of wind is increased. According to their research, the 404 Tubular is 9 sec. faster in a 40k than the previous shape and the 808 tubular is 15 sec. faster at the same distance. This makes the Firecrest 808 faster than some wheels that are 90mm in depth.
Both models have also become more stable in crosswinds because the focal points of side forces on the rim have been moved nearer to the steering axis. The Firecrests are more stable than previous models and even some wheels with shallower depth.
As you may have guessed, the wheels are also stronger due to the increased width. By widening the rim, the lateral stiffness has increased for sprinting and cornering. A wider design also offers more tire protection and places more rubber on the road while cornering, without additional rolling resistance. Below is a glimpse of the new Firecrest 808 profile.
Suggested Pricing for these wheels are as follows: 808 Firecrest Tubular: $2500 404 Firecrest Tubular: $ 2300
Also exciting was the release of the 808 Carbon Clincher. Like the 404 Carbon Clincher previously released, these wheels have an exclusive heat-resistant resin as part of their structure. This ensures consistent rim temperatures, preventing changes in tire pressure that could affect performance and handling. The 808 and 404 Carbon Clinchers also utilize the new Firecrest shape discussed above. Although the carbon clinchers will eliminate some of the hassles that tubulars can cause (e.g. addressing a flat during racing), they will contain a few downsides. The 404 Carbon Clincher is 279 g heavier than its tubular counterpart. Likewise, the 808 Carbon Clincher is 240g heavier than the equivalent tubular version. With additional weight, both carbon clincher options will be a hair slower to accelerate and climb.
Suggested pricing for these wheels are as follows: 808 Carbon Clincher: $ 2950 404 Carbon Clincher: $ 2700
Overall, as shown below, Zipp had a very impressive presence at Interbike. Their new line-up and the quality of their products vastly separated them from the competition.
Power Pedal, Elusive or Almost Ready to Launch?
Powermeter pedals have been something discussed and experimented with for years in the industry. Until this year, there has been little hard evidence that this technology will become a reality anytime soon. Look and Polar collaborated together to develop the KeO Power pedal system which we saw on display at Interbike this year. If they meet their Spring 2011 launch deadline, it would be the first of such systems on the market.
Why might this be something of interest? Installation is very easy since it is built directly into the pedals. It is also easily swappable from bike to bike, allowing you to use whatever wheels and crank set you desire. The system utilizes eight strain gauges on each pedal axle and a power transmitter that is fixed to the backside of the pedal on the crank arm. The internal aspects of the pedal are shown below:
This set-up offers a constant measure of power that is plus or minus two percent accuracy according to Polar. Retail pricing has not been finalized yet, but Polar has quoted anywhere from $1,900 – $ 2,300 for the pedals and transmitter.
For the head unit, this system is going against the trend of ANT+ and is utilizing Polar’s current W.I.N.D transmission. This means that the only compatible heads are the Polar CS600X, CS600, or CS500. Current models of these heads will be compatible with the power pedal without any software downloads.
Wait, I Thought You Didn’t Want to Use the Brakes While Racing?
Vision created some buzz at Eurobike when they first unveiled their new triathlon / time trial based aero shifters (picture below).
While at Interbike, we were able to check out these new bar-end shifters and discover how they felt. The Metron uses two distinct motions to shift through the gears. The levers are designed to allow shifting with the smallest amount of hand movement while in the cockpit. To control the rear derailleur, squeezing the lever allows you to downshift (make it easier); while clicking the top of the lever allows you to up-shift (make it tougher). To control the front derailleur, the left shifter uses the same motions, but reversed. Like a Shimano road shifter, the Metron can jump three smaller (easier) gears in the rear, but only up-shift one cog at a time.
When we tried out the shifters, we thought that they felt crisp. Clicking the top of the lever took a fair amount of hand strength. Hannah and I thought that it was fairly difficult to compress the end of the lever, but Kevin found it fairly easy. When we spoke to a Vision representative, he stated that the tension in the lever could be adjusted. Since we were not able to pedal a bike with the new levers, our observations were based on feel alone.
Spice Up Your Town Cruiser with a Nantucket Basket:
We are now going to carry a variety of different Nantucket Baskets in store after viewing the entire line in Vegas! These baskets are all handmade from willow trees, extremely durable, and are woven in a way that is conducive to everyday use. The natural elements and daily wear simply can’t affect these baskets. Plus, they are stylish and will add some flair to any bike!
A Dutch Bike for Three
Kevin and Hannah were able to have a ball at the Gazelle booth. Gazelle, a bike manufacturer out of Holland, makes the Cabby (pictured below) which is capable of holding two children in front up to a total of 165 lbs. With a 165 lbs. max load capacity, the bike can also be used to transport an adult also! We couldn’t resist but to try it out in the middle of the show floor with Hannah loaded up front. With a wobbly start, Kevin quickly figured out the handling of the bike and was cruising in circles with Hannah. The quality of the bike was so good that it was almost added to the Thompson household arsenal for city transportation!