Cycle show 2009, London: 8.10.09 - 11.10.09
Words by Tim Lee/Photos by Mark Sharon
This year's Cycle Show in London gave the masses a chance to have a sneak peek at what next year has in store for the world of cycling. An interesting affair it was too. From the Swarovski-encrusted low rider near the entrance to the BMX stunt show, the numerous test tracks, tech talk, star riders signing autographs (think Alberto Contador and Daniel Martin), various physical challenges and the odd film screening, there really was something for every cyclist out there. Oh, and there were actually some exhibits too! From the largest multinational brands to the most local of retailers, there was a huge array of bikes, parts, accessories, food, books, clothing, travel ideas, and anything else remotely relevant to cycling that ranged from outlandishly bizarre to boringly functional. Here are some of the high points...
Shimano- Di2: living up to the hype?
Shimano Di2 equipped TT Bike . Photo © Mark Sharon
The boffins at Shimano were out in force to continue spreading the message about the top-of-the-line Di2 (Digital Integrated Intelligence) electronic gruppo. New for 2009 but still largely in the domain of either those with a large wallet or quest to have the latest and greatest gadgets, The Daily Peloton got the opportunity to not only ride the most hyped new drivetrain product of the decade (sorry Campy fans, it beats the 11 vs 10 debate on this occasion) but also quiz the guys in the know about the 2010 version.
Shimano Di2 Front Derailleur Detail. Photo © Mark Sharon
Firstly the ride. The STI Dual Control lever is deceiving. It feels quite strong and robust, so the initial thought is to 'throw' the lever with a far reaching sweep of the index and middle finger. This was complete overkill! We underestimated how intuitive they were, because all that was required was a very light touch with the fingertips more so than push. The optional TT buttons for chrono extensions were very similar, perhaps even marginally lighter in their operating. The system is so refined that it may even be too subtle a change for some users who have become well accustomed to heavier mechanical changes over the years.
Although it is technically only possible to change one gear at a time, i.e. one gear for every touch of the lever, the ability to change several gears in the space of a split second still exists due to the shifting mechanism being so much quicker and more precise than that of a comparable mechanical setup. So, although strictly speaking the shifting still relies on a system of changing ramps and pins just like all other drive-trains currently available, with Di2 once you tap the lever (or press the optional button) the shift takes place- there is no having to hold the lever over for a split second to ensure that the shift has occurred. Thus it is effectively possible to jump up or down several gears; it's simply a case of tapping the lever several times in quick succession. And despite all attempts to 'confuse' the system by rapidly alternating between sweeping changes in both directions, it simply was not possibly to have Di2 'caught out' or found fumbling. Truly faultless (Ed. When it works!).
Shimano Di2 Shifters . Photo © Mark Sharon
But what about battery life? About 1000 miles on average. A small LED alerts the user to declining battery power. The front derailleur will be the first affected (as it uses more battery power than the rear due to the larger distance the chain has to move between the two chain-rings) in the form of progressively slower changes- IE growing delays between tapping the lever and the actual change taking place. Even then, there will still be 50-100 changes allowed before being stuck in whatever gear you are in when the battery finally dies. When it comes time to charge the battery, it is a matter of simply unclipping the small battery unit mounted at the base of the down tube just behind the bidon cage and plugging it in. A full charge takes less than two hours. The battery can hypothetically be charged 500 times but the Shimano guys report even the most prolific users still only needing replacements every three years. A replacement costs about $100 US.
Another advantage is that there is no servicing like in traditional setups where stretched cables require re-tensioning. Shimano basically told us that as long as the system is kept relatively clean it will avert any need to be serviced. By clean, they do not mean that it cannot get dirty but rather mean the odd after-ride wash down to keep it in reasonable condition. We were told that even high pressure hoses could not kill it either... If for some reason something does go wrong then take it into a registered Shimano dealer, who will have a diagnostic unit that checks all interfaces and thus be able to isolate the affected area. If a part is found to be faulty, it is typically replaced, not repaired.
Pinarello- The totally redesigned Dogma is back!
Pinarello Dogma 60.1 . Photo © Mark Sharon
Until now Italians could be accused of focusing more on trying to evoking emotions and chiming about craftsmanship as their big selling points. This contrasted the clinical precision and 'function over fashion' theme the Japanese are world renowned for. However Pinarello are telling anyone who will listen about what they believe to be the biggest revolution to frame design in recent times: asymmetry. Yes, Wilier and several other established companies from Pinarello's homeland have used this idea on the seat stays of their top level bikes but Pinarello claim to have created the first completely asymmetrical frame in the world. Enter the new Dogma 60.1.
Just as humans are a long way from being symmetrical, so too is the behaviour of a bike frame. Although the forces being put through the left and right pedals are grossly similar (small anatomical and physiologic variations apart), the pull of the chain is heavily biased to the right side of the bike- the side of the drivetrain. Ensuing analysis of frame flexing bilaterally by Pinarello's engineers elicited a difference of up to 2-3mm from one side to the other. Rather than simply altering tube diameter or wall thickness however, Pinarello claim that optimal frame behaviour requires modification to the structural symmetry of a frame.
This asymmetry has occurred at four points : 1) the left side of the top tube has been reinforced, 2) the right fork leg has been beefed up and is more angular, 3) the right seat stay is larger than the left, and 4) the left chainstay is reinforced at its front end and tapers to a thinner structure near the rear dropout. The right chainstay is the exact opposite.
The other key new feature is the frame material itself. The full name for the carbon is Torayca 60HM1K Nanoalloy. It is supplied by Japanese firm Toray, who also supply the world's largest aerospace and automobile companies with carbon. Carbon fibre is a thread-like structure made of individual strands of carbon (each 5-8 millionths of a mm wide) being pressed together. The 60HM pertains to a press force of 60 tons per cm2 being used to form the carbon fibre. The 1K simply means 1000 fibres per yarn. The nano component of the name relates to nano-scale elastomer particles being embedded in the carbon mesh that are designed to explode upon impact (IE when a frame receives a direct blow from a crash), thus sparing the fibres from breaking.
Finally, it would not be Italian if fashion was not considered. Perhaps appropriately then, there are no less than a dozen colour options available.
see Part 2 for more Cycle Show kit...
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