Sunday, September 27, 2009

Interbike 2009 - Track Stuff

One of my recent discoveries in the cycling world - track racing.

So, with that in mind, I looked for stuff for the track. The first thing I saw was this helmet, a "city helmet" by Kask. I was looking for the following things - minimal ventilation holes, a rounded tail, and some kind of eye shield setup.

Kask helmet

The "aero" aspect of this helmet caught my eye. You can turn your head up, down, sideways, and the helmet should still remain kind of aero. It may lack ventilation for cooling, but in a short race, who cares?

The cool part: plaid padding ("Scottish" on their site)

The leather straps too, actually. I turned the helmet over to check for any ANSI or SNELL stickers. Since most of the helmets at Interbike were prototypes, they had some version of "for display only" on the inside. This one didn't have that, but it didn't have any ANSI or SNELL stickers either.

An Italian company, it seems there are no distributors in the US at this time. I'll see if I can't find any info, and will post an update if I do.

And if I forget, figure this. If I'm wearing one at the track next year, it passes some US standard. If I'm not, it doesn't.

Okay, bikes.

I strolled by the Jamis booth - last year I drooled over the Sonik, a complete-except-pedals track bike for $1250 or so. This year I glanced over at the MSRP card, my bleary eyes not working really well. Kevin saved me the trouble of stepping over to the frame - $1800. I decided not to take any pictures.

However, Fuji had a couple track related things on display, a bike and a frame.

The bike fit my budget, coming in at $1200 retail.

Heck, you even get an integrated post at $1200

The Fuji is a for-real track bike, with the right geometry, aggressive angles, and a no-nonesense build. I figure this'll be a hot bike for 2010, at least for the small population of track racers out there.

They also had a frame for those who wanted a little more cutting edge and didn't mind spending a few more bucks.

Aero tubes and massive stays

The frame alone retails for $2500, so just over twice that of the complete bike above. I figure, though, for a fancy frame like that, it's not bad. I can't justify such a frame for me - I'd be better off getting the bike above and a power meter of some kind. But if you have budget left for power, this would be a sweet place to start.

Another place to start would be the green machine displayed at the Museeuw booth. As Kevin pointed out, I thought Museeuw was the schnizzle back in the Mapei days, even to the point of riding around in a Mapei kit. Fast, I might add, since, as someone so rightly pointed out, you better ride fast if you're wearing a clown suit like that. Heck, I even raced in the shorts when I could get away with it.

Although we missed the man, I still got a good look at the frame.

What a green

Love the frame decal. Well, it's not really, but still.

"What kind of tubing is that?"
"Lion of Flanders"
"What the heck kinda tubing is that?"
"BAMF tubing, dude."

I didn't read the tech specs on it, nor take any expensive brochures. I figure there's flax in there somewhere, but that's just a guess. Whatever, this has got to be one stiff mofo.

Massive, and I mean massive stays.

The rear end screams "relentless rigidity". Imagine a nice 2600 watt acceleration, tapering to a 1800 watt pounding, rounded out by a 500 t0 800 watt gasp 60 seconds later. If you're putting down world class power, this frame looks like it'll eat it for breakfast.

I can't imagine that, come to think of it. I run out of imagination at about 1500 watts, with maybe 1000 watts for 10 or 20 seconds, and I think this frame would handle that fine.

No brake hole up front

The immense fork had no brake hole, no way of mounting a front brake. And that's the way it should be. A track bike should never have brakes. It shouldn't have the frame slop to get clearance for 25c tires, fenders, or mud. An track car doesn't have more suspension travel than necessary, it doesn't have to deal with a stereo; nor does a track bike. It's a bike made for racing on a track and that's it, so it should be built like that.

Finally a few bikes from Look. For 2010 they have introduced a nice, standard bike, the black beauty below. It's spec'ed out as you'd expect, with a few nice touches like a Thomson post. I have no idea what it'll cost.

Nice mix of stuff on this one.

Of course the one behind it was a bit more "interesting"

The straight top tube makes it the 496 or at least one that looks like it. I know nothing about it. Okay, I know little about it. I should point out that the gap between the rear tire and seat tube is due to the fact that the display bike has a long chain on it, or just the wrong gearing. A bigger ring or a shorter chain would allow you to move the wheel forward a good inch or so.

The 596

This one is a bit more interesting. $10k for the frame and stuff, give or take. It comes with a one piece carbon crank and bottom bracket (which slide through a 65mm tall BB shell), aero fork, post stub, and the adjustable carbon stem.

Nice fork

On an aside, I am absolutely convinced that these kinds of forks will appear on road bikes. I think that the head tube will be thinner, flaring out at the headset cups. Since the steerer tube doesn't have to fit inside the head tube, the head tube can be reasonably thin, thinner than even the steerer tube. A normal size steerer tube, sitting forward of the thin head tube, should give the front end good stiffness along with a more aero profile.

Having said all that, I didn't see anything to prove my point.

Big BB, aero shapes everywhere

Note: flash pictures make it look dark, no flash pictures capture the real light; this is a flash picture to capture the carbon texture.

This is one bad bike. I think the guys at NEV would laugh if I showed up with something like this, because I'm so bad compared to some of the other racers. I mean, seriously, if I showed up with a $14-15k bike after I went 25% slower in a 3k pursuit, you can imagine the smirks and giggles. But, yeah, it'd be fun doing sprints on this thing.

I'd have to trade in my car to buy this bike.


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