Race Tech: MTB Nationals #1, April 2, 2007
Over in the pit area of race series sponsor Bear Naked - Cannondale (Bear Naked makes granola, for those of you who were wondering), the CT-based bike company showcased its newest model, the Taurine. Cannondale's first-ever full-carbon hardtail frame utilizes unidirectional high-modulus carbon fiber construction for a claimed finished frame weight of just 1.25kg.
Cannondale uses a tapered oversized down tube just as it does on its upper-end aluminum models, but the Taurine also incorporates fully integrated headset bearings and uniquely flattened chain stays that supposedly offer a bit of vertical give (not quite as dramatic as on the company's Scalpel, of course, but along the same idea). Naturally, Cannondale includes its proprietary Lefty fork and Si integrated crankset, yielding an astonishingly light 9.4kg (20.74lb) complete bike (actual weight without pedals, but with two bottle cages).
Fox Racing Shox isn't launching its new 2008 lineup until Sea Otter time, but that doesn't mean bits of it weren't out in public for the first major US mountain bike race of the season. We already showed you the new revision to the RP23 rear shock, but a new fork was also found on the Anthem Advanced of Team Giant's Adam Craig on the second day of the race.
Fox Racing Shox representatives weren't giving up much in the way of anything interesting, but we can tell you that Craig's new cross-country fork wore a new set of trimmed-down lower legs as well as a completely new crown, both of which suggest that Fox has shaved some weight from last year's models. Almost more interesting, however, was that the new lower leg casting was equipped with post-mount disc brake mounts, which we're guessing are being adopted by Fox across the board (yes, Manitou, we know… you've won the battle and the war).
Fox has also updated its handy little disc brake hose guide to make it vastly easier to install (ok, Manitou, we all admit now that post mounts are better, but we're still waiting for some sort of badly-needed proper disc hose management system from you…). Shop mechanics can stop searching on their hands and knees for that annoying little star washer, and there's now just one plastic bit to deal with. Finally, Craig's new fork was covered in gloss white paint, which should be much easier to keep clean than the current matte finishes.
Team Maxxis bikes were swathed with new gear during the first MTB Nationals race here in Fountain Hills, AZ, and it wasn't just isolated to tires. Team riders Geoff Kabush and Mathieu Toulouse attacked the Fort McDowell course aboard prototype Litespeed Sewanee titanium full-suspension frames that only mildly resembled the consumer versions.
Both Sewanee frames featured new titanium tubesets, including a diamond-shaped top tube, and an updated CLR (Constant Leverage Ratio) rear suspension system that offered 85mm of travel instead of the minimal 60mm on current consumer models. A pair of true Horst Link-style dropout pivots (meaning they are located on the chain stays, not the seat stays) is on hand to accommodate the additional movement and a barely-there seat stay bridge helps to keep the back end moving in plane.
On the significantly smaller bike of Team Maxxis mechanic Gary Wolff, Litespeed still utilizes the dropout pivots but foregoes the BB-located main pivot altogether in favor of flattened chain stays that apparently still yield enough vertical movement to keep the rear end working properly. Wolff's bike also ran without a seat stay bridge. All of the prototype Sewanee frames viewed in the Team Maxxis camp also wore unique replaceable bolt-on aluminum rear dropouts. We can't remember the last time we trashed a non-driveside dropout and can't think of a need for any other dropout styles on this thing (horizontal drops for a singlespeed application wouldn't work here), but so be it.
Equipment-wise, a handful of team bikes were also equipped with Hayes' new Stroker hydraulic disc brake. The tidy-looking new master cylinder uses a first-for-Hayes radial configuration, flip-flop versatility, and a comfortably broad aluminum lever blade with an integrated indexed thumbwheel for reach adjustment.
The caliper was also an all-new design with two-piece construction, rotatable banjo, and large window to help keep the pads cool. There was no leverage or contact point adjustment seen on the team's particular model, but given the 'Stroker Trail' designation, we wouldn't be surprised to find out that there is another version so-equipped already on hand. We didn't have the opportunity to ride the new brake, but a quick squeeze revealed a refreshingly snappy and buttery-smooth lever action and a firm feel. Stay tuned for more info soon.