Mountain bike artistry on display
Kent Eriksen took home the 'Builder of the Year' honors at RMBS thanks in part to the diverse scope of his titanium bicycle range. Among the collection on hand in at the National Western Complex were road bikes, both geared and singlespeed hardtails, a time trial machine, and a particularly interesting dual-suspension rig with 650B wheels.
The titanium front end was mated to a faux-bar rear setup from Ventana and augmented with Eriksen's own titanium seat stay assembly. Front suspension duties were handled by Maverick's easily adaptable DUC 32 dual-crown fork and rolling stock consisted of new Stan's NoTubes ZTR355 650B rims and top-end Schwalbe Racing Ralph tires.
Groundup Designs had its own titanium creation on hand though with a decidedly different aesthetic. Builder Eric Baar decided from the start that he would use straight tubes exclusively so any requisite detours (such as for the stays) were accomplished with additional cuts and welds. Baar is also fond of pierced tube joints for additional stiffness and strength so both the top tube and down tube are treated as such.
Sliding dropouts of Baar's own design finish off the back end and even the riser bars follow the same design philosophy as the frame, being built of three separate sections of titanium tubing all welded together instead of the usual double-kink arrangement.
Paketa's latest mountain bike development was a 29" version of its magnesium-tubed hardtail. Machined box-profile yokes (which are also internally drilled for weight savings) anchor both the seat stays and chain stays to the front triangle and the CNC mill is again tapped for the versatile rear dropouts.
Paketa says that buyers can choose from sliding and fixed dropouts in geared or singlespeed varieties, and the mounting base is even slotted for use with a belt drive. If that's not enough, there's even the option for an eccentric bottom bracket shell, too.
In contrast, Victoria Cycles continues to fly the traditionalist flag with its lugged steel frames – though the 69er and 29er hardtails it showed off both featured non-traditional tube layouts. Instead of terminating at the seat tube, Salida, Colorado-based builder Dave Hill carried the seat stays all the way through to the head tube. On the 69er, the stays are dead straight – making for huge standover clearance – while the hardtail's stays arc gracefully forward and supplement a conventional top tube above.
Denver-based builder Chris Kopp's creations were notably more modern looking. According to Kopp, the custom 7005 aluminum tubes he uses on his 29er hardtail makes for a sub-10kg (22lb) complete bike, aided in part by the Reynolds carbon fiber rims but also by the tidy blue anodized finish (paint is surprisingly heavy). Frame cost is surprisingly reasonable as well at just US$1,375.
Lots of parts and accessories on the floor of RMBS
In addition to the aisles of eye-catching bikes and frames, RMBS also provided a good showcase for a variety of parts and accessories as well.
Rudy Project's upcoming Sterling flagship helmet boasts an exposed reinforcement skeleton and larger and more deeply channeled vents than what it has produced in the past as a result. The new retention system will be adjustable for height in addition to circumference, too, and the one-piece liner features mesh covers at the vents to keep out bugs and a notably light fabric. The US$220 lid will hit stores around November and Rudy Project plans to launch an "aggressive trade-in policy" around then as well.
Also on hand was Rudy Project's new Wingspan aero helmet with a shorter tail that designer John Cobb claims to be more aerodynamic across a broader range of body types than the usual long tail. Depending on the rider's priorities for the day (aerodynamics vs. ventilation) the front vents can be covered with the included plug and the lower rear cover can be removed. The Wingspan is expected to land on shop shelves around the end of November and will carry a US$300 price tag.
Long-time shoemaker D2 was in attendance with its collection of road, triathlon and mountain bike footwear. D2 says its 'best fit option' with 41 sizes, nine widths, and two last shapes will fit nearly everyone but riders with more particular needs can also opt for temporary last modifications to accommodate anomalies such as bunions, fully custom lasts, or even custom upper patterns for especially demanding situations.
All models feature reinforcing panels infused with carbon fiber and Kevlar, carbon fiber sole plates and custom cleat placement at no extra charge – and if you're not sure where the cleats should go, D2 has also developed a comprehensive guide (in print or computerized form) to determine the optimal position and a handy tool to ensure they actually end up there.
Over at the Hudz booth, the aftermarket brake hood manufacturer showed off the latest models to fit the Shimano's Dura-Ace 7900 and Campagnolo's most recent iterations. As with earlier Hudz, these are also offered in a diverse range of fourteen colors and two rubber compounds but the newest models also feature various ridges and squared edges to complement the trademark lower finger grips, all in the effort to improve ergonomics and reduce hand fatigue.
Maverick's highly anticipated carbon fiber DUC 36 fork is unfortunately still in development (now projected for release around the end of this year) but the all-new guts give us hope that it'll still be worth waiting for. Finally, compression and rebound circuits will be fully separated and externally adjustable and both will come with a wider tuning range. Travel will be internally adjustable from 150-175mm and as with the DUC 32, the DUC 36 will also be compatible with 650B and 29" wheels.
Also, an upcoming ISCG05 add-on will allow the fitment of Truvativ's HammerSchmidt two-speed crankset (or a proper chain guide) on to Maverick's Monolink suspension design.
Fancy one of those frame-mounted Euro-style wheel locks common on Belgian commuters? US importer Cantitoe Road is now bringing in Axa Basta's Defender lock, which easily mounts to any frame with conventional seat stays and also has an option for an extra cable to secure everything to a fixed object.
Add in Feedback Sports' handy digital caliper, Ergon's latest GX3 and GC3 ergonomic grips with integrated bar ends, new bags from Green Guru and Outlaw Earth, and Wheels Manufacturing's clever BB30-to-Hollowtech bottom bracket adapter and it all made up for a jam-packed 2009 show.
See you next year!