Cyclo-cross industry icon Redline may have been late to the carbon fiber game but its upcoming Conquest Carbon frame looks like it may have been worth the wait. More importantly - and highlighting the all-too-frequent scheduling shortcomings of other new carbon 'crossers we've seen recently - Redline's Tim Rutledge says these new bikes will actually be available to consumers starting this July, providing racers with more than enough time to get their setups dialed in well before the first start gun goes off.
Frame weight is intentionally conservative at 1,200g for a 58cm size with paint plus 480g for the matching all-carbon fork. Rutledge says the frame could have easily been lighter but given the rough-and-tumble nature of 'cross, the company decided to infuse more impact resistance and overall durability instead.
Redline doesn't look to have sacrificed stiffness in any way, though, judging by the oversized tubing throughout, true BB30 bottom bracket shell, the tapered 1 1/8"-to-1 1/2" head tube, and correspondingly enormous fork crown though Rutledge stresses that the lay-up has still been designed to offer a reasonable ride that won't leave riders feeling even more battered than usual after a race.
Redline uses a BB30 bottom bracket for its new Conquest Carbon frame. Photo: James Huang
Redline looks to have done a good job of putting its extensive 'cross knowledge base to work in several areas. The BB30 bottom bracket sleeve is totally sealed from the rest of the frame interior to keep pooled water from killing the bearings, internal routing throughout helps protect the lines from contamination and makes for smoother frame surfaces while running barriers and run-ups, and the frame is almost completely devoid of a 'mud shelf' behind the seat tube.
There's also ample clearance for 34mm-wide tires, the fork is drilled for a crown-mounted housing stop if so desired, and the rear cantilever brake studs use a pierced design (similar to what we've seen in years past on Sacha White's Vanilla machines) for reduced post flex and better braking response, the semi-sloping frame design lends additional standover clearance without compromising shouldering ability, and the tidy rear brake hanger is integrated into the seatpost collar.
Redline's new Conquest Carbon is disc-ready, although there are no post mounts on the fork as yet. Photo: James Huang
That that seatpost collar can be swapped out for a hangerless version also points to another feature on Redline's new Conquest Carbon: the post mount disc brake tabs on the chain stay and the external zip-tie housing guides running along the down tube.
Rutledge says Redline doesn't have any complete disc-equipped bikes planned just yet for this frame but the company wanted to be prepared for whatever develops in this arena moving forward. For now, Redline has settled on the currently standard 130mm dropout spacing but the mold can be altered to 135mm later if need be. Currently, the fork does without any disc mounts whatsoever, though.
Geometry is essentially unchanged from other Redline 'cross racers so buyers can expect similarly sound handling traits, including Redline's trademark low bottom bracket for stable cornering. Redline has shortened the chain stays to just 425mm, though, which should yield slightly better climbing traction according to Rutledge. Due to mold costs, Redline also had to trim the 44cm and 61cm options available on its alloy models.
Redline will offer the Conquest Carbon frame in two builds: the Team for US$3,499 and the Pro for US$2,499. Redline will also offer a standalone frameset for US$1,599.
Redline have also updated their 29in-wheeled hardtails for 2012, with tapered head tubes and gusset-free down tubes. Photo: James Huang
This article originally appeared on BikeRadar.