Tech News: New Products for Spring
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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Tech News: New Products for Spring

by Patrick Brady at 10:45 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tech News
 
Sea Otter remains the place for mid-year launches

SRAM 2011The cycling world descended on Laguna Seca this past weekend for four days of bikes, bikes and more bikes. Now in its 21st year, the Sea Otter Classic brought together cross country mountain bikers, downhillers, dual slalom riders, road racers and even recreational road riders. With more than 300 companies exhibiting products and 50,000 cycling enthusiasts in attendance, it is arguably the biggest single cycling event in the United States, and one of the largest in the world.

Because the Sea Otter is six months removed from Interbike, many companies use it as the perfect opportunity for mid-year product launches. This year, most of the news was on the mountain side, with new bikes from Ibis, BMC and GT.

SRAM always uses the opportunity to announce some new products. While last year they introduced the incredible Apex group, this year brought new color ways in Red and Apex. The new Red Black is a racier (read PRO team looking) version of the Chicago company’s incredibly popular Red group. Graphics are bigger, bolder and, well, blacker.

Apex went in the other direction, with a new white color scheme. From calipers to hoods and derailleurs, Apex had many journalists commenting on how the group evoked Shimano’s Santé group from more than 20 years ago. Frankly, I think Apex looks way better and included some small touches that will make the group much easier to keep looking clean. The crank, for instance, is still black except for one white decal. The brake levers are still black and the rear derailleur cage and pulleys are still black. The front derailleur cage is silver. Coming to a July-hot day near you.

We also saw some prototype cyclocross chainrings. Judging from the big windows cut in them, they should clear mud easily, keeping the bike shifting well and from picking up pounds of nonfunctional mud.

For roadies, perhaps the single biggest piece of news was the arrival of a new helmet from Giro. The $250 Aeon is the long-awaited followup to the company’s incredibly successful Ionos and Prolight models. It’s fair to ask how one helmet can be a followup to two helmets but the fact is the Aeon splits the difference between the two most capably.

Take the Ionos. It weighs in at 322g. The Prolight shaves more than 100g to tip the scales at a measly 200g. The Prolight’s seemingly helium-filled lack of heft may have worked against it to some degree. Riders wondered how it could offer enough protection and weigh so little; Giro could do little more than assure cyclists that it had passed every necessary test. Some riders told me that the Prolight simply didn’t fit them as well as the Ionos. Worse, it wasn’t as well ventilated.

Giro AeonSo enter the Aeon. For starters, it’s much more adjustable than the Prolight, thanks largely to the Roc Loc 5 fit system. It bears a claimed weight of 222g, a figure backed up by a contact of mine at the über-precise Competitive Cyclist. The Aeon is nearly as light as the Prolight yet just as well ventilated as the Ionos. It’s as if they gave a Land Rover the speed and handling of a Ferrari Enzo.

We’ll be wearing one soon and will let you know if it’s time to hand off the Ionos to one of the local juniors.

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