This article originally published on BikeRadar
The tide of new gear in Pietermaritzburg continues, this time with Adam Craig's (Rabobank-Giant) Giant XtC Composite 29er and its prototype Shimano carbon fiber tubular mountain bike wheels and Terralogic-equipped Fox 29er fork.
Rabobank-Giant's race tubulars use all-new carbon rims that, according to Shimano, are purpose-built for the project and not merely borrowed from the road range or rebadged from another company. While we didn't have calipers on hand to measure, they're visibly wider than Shimano's road wheels for better support of MTB-sized tires and also sport a braided external reinforcement layer at the spoke bed to better handle the rigors of off-road use.
Despite the racing intentions, Shimano doesn't seem to have overlooked ease of maintenance. The hubs – which look to be borrowed from existing XTR wheels – still feature rebuildable angular contact cup-and-cone bearings and the external nipples won't require tire removal if a wheel goes out of true.
Claimed weight for the 26" version is around 1,180g for the set while the 29ers creep up to about 1,300g per pair. Actual weight of the complete 29er wheelset with tires, rotors, skewers, and cassette was 2.98kg (6.57lb) and the complete bike in full-blown race trim was just 9.22kg (20.33lb).
Shimano representatives on site in Pietermaritzburg told Cyclingnews that these wheels are currently only available in prototype form for testing by key sponsored riders but we're hopeful at least the 29er variant will make it to production. While it may not sell in mass quantities for mountain bike use, we're hopeful of the 29er version's compatibility with more 'cross-appropriate rubber.
Adam Craig's machine also offered a preview of a new 2013 Fox 32 Float 29 fork with updated lower legs. As compared to the current version, Craig's fork features a more heavily sculpted arch and trimmed-down 15mm thru-axle dropouts, both of which we expect to shed a few extra grams. We unfortunately don't have details on the internals but Craig's fork was equipped with Fox's auto-locking Terralogic damper so we at least expect that option to continue moving forward.
Adam Craig's Fox 32 Float 29 fork has an updated chassis, with a more sculpted arch than the current model and trimmer 15mm through-axle dropouts