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Eurobike 2012 tech: Heaps of lightweight carbon fiber and aluminum exotica

By:
James Huang
Published:
September 15, 2012, 17:52 BST,
Updated:
September 15, 2012, 18:54 BST
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).

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).

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This article originally appeared on BikeRadar

AX-Lightness and its Asia-built subsidiary, Engage, have offered a plethora of feathery carbon fiber components and road frames separately in the past but this year's Eurobike show had the heralded German composites specialists showcasing two complete builds for well-heeled riders looking for the ultimate in anti-gravity exotica.

AX-Lightness claims its made-in-Germany Vial road frame weighs just 745g for a medium size 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. Fitted with the company's own 3000 brake calipers, Morpheus crankset, Daedalus seatpost, 42mm-deep carbon tubulars, and saddle – all in carbon fiber, or course – claimed weight is just 4.9kg (10.8lb) without pedals and supposedly without sacrificing everyday durability, either.

Not surprisingly, that sort of boasting power will cost you – suggested retail price is €9,467.

AX-Lightness's Asia-built Engage division offers similar performance at more reasonable prices, however, which was showcased with the Clade e11 frameset and somewhat more attainable €2,480 asking price. The overall shape and features (such as the tapered front end and BB386 EVO bottom bracket) are carried over essentially unchanged from the AX-Lightness version but the more mass manufacturing-friendly construction methods boost the claimed weight slightly to 795g.

Similarly, the Engage Gavial carbon fiber brakes sport a similar design to the full-blown AX-Lightness 3000 single-pivot brakes 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 once again served up a smorgasbord of extreme lightweight composite goodness. Perennial booth member 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 built by Acros, and claims of outstanding stiffness and durability.

Bike Ahead will offer the new wheels in both 26" and 29" sizes, both in tubular and clincher varieties. Claimed weights range from 1,169-1,379g per set.

Upstart company Haero Carbon arrived at Eurobike with two integrated aerobar 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 aerobar extensions, making for ultralight all-in-one cockpit setups for riders that prioritize saving grams over achieving a perfect position (adjustability is distinctly limited).

Claimed weights range from 250-380g depending on configuration but prices are expectedly stratospheric, topping out at an incredible €849.

Sharing space in the booth was a company that wasn't actually German. A2J Technical Artisans – officially based in Luxembourg but with production in Sweden – displayed a pair of stunningly lightly complete builds.

The 795g Rolo Limited Edition frame is offered with a fixed geometry but custom lay-up that supposedly produces the second-highest stiffness ever measured by test lab Zedler (second only to Rolo's own "super stiff" lay-up. Complete 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) – with a retail price of €18,000.

Got a spare 18,000 Euros? The Rolo Limited Edition could be for you

Got a spare 18,000 Euros? The Rolo Limited Edition could be for you

Rolo's second showpiece was lighter yet 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 what you end up with a complete bike weighing only 4.55kg (10.03lb) – and costing another €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 a 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, 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 bits from Acros, Reset, and Tr!ckstuff

CNC-machined aluminum may conjure images of the mid-90s 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.

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 to us, however, 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 ways off so in the meantime, converters like these from Tr!ckstuff, Hope, and TRP are still the only options available.
 

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