By Luke Webber, somewhere on the Euro World Cup train…
US Olympic hopeful Heather Irmiger is making her way across the hectic UCI World Cup circuit on her usual bright pink bike, only this time around it's a brand new all-aluminum model also shared by team-mates Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski and Willow Koerber. Logistical constraints have meant that each team member could only take one bike to the first five races and the World Championships. For the majority of those European courses, a hardtail was deemed the best option.
Unlike Irmiger's 2007 aluminum hardtail which was a wholly custom build using a mix of various tubing (including some Klein Gradient road-specific pipes), the new machine is closer to a stock offering although consumers still shouldn't expect to see anything like it in the near future. Her new rig is actually a prototype '09 model built with 6066 alloy and far more dramatic tube shaping than we're used to seeing from the nameplate. In fact, the prototype's curvaceous multi-sided down tube bears a similar profile to that of the current Fuel EX of parent company Trek while the top tube employs the more familiar Gary Fisher hydroformed design cues.
In spite of the swoopy appearance, the new build otherwise seems fairly straightforward with TIG-welded joints, standard dropouts, a conventionally threaded bottom bracket shell and non-integrated post. As with every prototype, though, there is always a question mark over the outcome. Even so Irmiger was decidedly optimistic.
"Even with a new bike we still know it's going to work great!" she said. "It usually takes me about half a season to bond with a bike but I already like this one a lot."
Some of that familiar feel was undoubtedly due to the steering geometry which, at least currently, is nearly the same as what she used last year. According to our information, the company does plan to introduce the latest Genesis 2.0 geometry on its '09 production hardtails but the requisite increased-offset forks weren't available just yet.
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