Friday, April 19, 2024

Friday News And Views

Image courtesy of Rivendell Bikes

 A Corpulent Sea Otter Edition

Seven Speed Specific Hub From Rivendell:

I found this on Instagram recently. A seven speed specific rear hub from Rivedell. Why, in an era of 12 speed rear cassettes, would anyone want a seven speed hub

Well, if you asked that, glad you asked, because I can think of several reasons why you'd want this. 

First of all, and less obvious, these hubs have a shorter cassette body, just like the original 7 speed cassette hubs of the 1980's, and that allowed Rivendell to spec a wider hub flange spacing. This allows for a stronger, more reliable wheel, especially for carrying loads. Secondly, seven speed components, like the chain and cassette, have more material than current 11 and 12 speed chains and cassettes which is advantageous from a wear standpoint. Finally, if you get the right sort of cassettes, they can have shifting ramps that stand more proud from the cassette cog enabling better shifting under loads and longer wear as well. 

The Rivendell rear hub is available in silver and a light green anodized hue as shown. The cost is a reasonable $170.00 and they weigh  a claimed 314 grams. I'm not sure if there is a matching green ano front hub, and yes- rim brake only. This is Rivendell, after all. 

Image courtesy of Cane Creek

Cane Creek Debuts Invert Gravel Suspension Fork:

Monday of this week news dropped concerning the new Cane Creek Invert, a gravel suspension fork Cane Creek claims is the "first gravel suspension fork". 

Using a novel combination of a uni-crown style carbon crown and carbon steer tube mated to aluminum uppers and lowers, this fork utilizes an inverted telescopic design, thus the name, "Invert". 

Two models are in the range, one with lock-out, one without. The fork utilizes an air spring, oil bath lubrication, but no damper system as Cane Creek believes that things happen so quickly on gravel with regard to shock absorbing duties that a damper cannot keep up. In fact, their testing showed that a fork in prototype form utilizing a damper was not as satisfactory as one without. 

The travel is limited, as it is with all telescopic "gravel" suspension designs, to either 30mm or 40mm of travel. This forces the axle to crown to be at 425mm for the 30mm travel option, or 435 for the 40mm travel option. So, unless your gravel bike is designed for suspension forks, this will mess with your fit and handling to a degree. Most non-suspension designs for gravel will have an axle to crown of around 400mm, plus or minus a few millimeters.  

Cost is $1,099.00 for the Invert with no lockout, the lightest at 990 grams claimed weight, or $1,199.00 for the lock-out version which weighs a claimed 1,113 grams. 

Comments: Again, this is a telescopic fork, and I will refer you to what I wrote earlier about such forks HERE if you want my full-take on why these types of forks are not ideal for gravel use. I am not saying this, or any other telescopic gravel suspension fork will not work for gravel riders. I am saying this is not the best option for gravel. (See that link for why that is, if you want more on my thoughts) 

I will also point out here that - yes - the Invert has a service interval of every 50 hours for an "oil flush" and every 100 hours for "Full Service". So, keep that in mind when you are thinking about this option. Just to remind you, suspension stems do not have such limitations. Finally, while Cane Creek is to be commended for reducing the weight of this fork to a level that mimics a steel, uni-crown rigid gravel fork, the Lauf Grit weighs a claimed 936 grams right out of the box. Cane Creek is basing their claims on a cut, 165mm steer tube, so it is close to a Lauf but not quite, and the Lauf is maintenance free. 

Carbon Piedmont wheels Image courtesy of e'Thirteen

e'Thirteen Debuts New Piedmont Gravel Wheels:

Known more for their MTB components, e'Thirteen have just announced new Piedmont Gravel wheel sets in alloy and carbon. 

Utilizing straight-pull hubs with a 4 pawl, 3° engagement, the new rims are now 26mm inner rim width on the carbon and 24mm in alloy. The rims use a proprietary Quick Fill valve stem which is provided with the wheels.

The carbon rims have a 31mm profile height, are made from high-modulus carbon fiber with a hookless bead design, and have a lifetime warranty. The carbon rims weigh in at 340 grams each. Wheel set weight is estimated at 1400 grams for the set. 

The alloy rims have a 19.5mm profile height and weigh in at 415 grams each. The alloy rims are also a hookless design. Wheel set weight is estimated at 1500 grams a set. Hubs are identical on each set and the spokes are Sapim D-Lites at 24 count front and rear for both wheel models. The front hub is convertible with the supplied alloy end caps to be either 15mm or 12mm through axle compatible while the rear is a 142mm X 12mm only.

Prices are $1,679.90 for the carbon versions and $749.90 for the alloy versions. 

Image courtesy of Kona Bikes

Kona Ouroboros - Carbon Drop Bar Bike:

Kona announced a new model on Wednesday called the Ouroboros, a front suspended carbon framed "gravel/MTB" bike. 

Using the the Fox TC32 on the entry level $3,799.00 model and the Rock Shox Rudy XPLR Charger Race Day (really?!) fork on the range-topping $6,999.00 model, the bike will allow 40mm of front travel. There is a rigid fork model in between the front sus bikes at $4,799.00 which is also the only bike sporting a front derailleur (!!) All bikes feature wide gearing ranges from SRAM. 

Comments: This bike, I think, is the bike that someone from Kona tipped me off to last year, or was that 2022? Anyway, it was quite some time ago now. The point is, I've been patiently awaiting news of a new drop bar bike model from Kona for quite some time, and now it appears that it is finally here. 

There are certain things I see here that are great: Lower range gearing, big, 2.1" tire clearances, a decently low bottom bracket, and a slack, sub-70 degree head tube angle at a claimed 69.5°. However; by now you should all understand that I am not a fan of "under-traveled", 'gravel' suspension fork designs. Especially spec'ed on a bike aimed at mountain bikers who, for the most part, are not going to think 40mm of travel is enough when their forks are running three times that amount of travel, or more. And then you have the Salsa Cycles' Cutthroat, which actually does support a real MTB fork and has big tire clearances. 

So, in my opinion, this bike is kind of a weird fashion statement, and the real gem is the rigid bike. But maybe that's just me.....

But Wait! There's More! Apparently, according to a "Bicycle Retailer and Industry News" report released on Wednesday, Kona had set up their Sea Otter booth and then tore it back down at the behest of their company overlords, Kent Outdoors. (Kona was sold a couple years ago by the originator's of the brand) Reportedly a group call will have been held on Thursday with the entire Kona staff and then..... Who knows? Maybe the Ouroboros won't be a thing after all.  UPDATED 4/20/24: Scuttlebutt on the social channels, with some claiming insider info, are saying Kona has been shut down by it's owners. This is not verified public info., Late Saturday evening "Bicycle Retailer and Industry News" posted that the company would be put up for sale by its owner, Kent Outdoors. Se the article HERE.

Image courtesy of Munich Composites

More Wheel News:

More introductions concerning wheels happened this week. One of the most interesting to my mind was the acquisition of Munich Composites, a company from Germany, by the Cardinal Group and Boyd Cycling. This new arrangement will bring carbon wheel manufacturing to North Carolina where a state of the art facility will begin producing carbon fiber wheels made with continuous strand technology. 

The patented technique is said to produce a stronger, lighter rim without the use of sheets of pre-preg carbon which then has to be laboriously laid up in a mold. The technique utilized by Munich Composites braids the rim together instead. (See image) The company hopes to have rims produced in the  USA by mid-Summer.

Classified, the internal geared rear hub maker, has just announced that they are now partnering with Enve to offer their proprietary hub, cassette and shifting system in Enve wheel builds. The press release also said that the wheels would also be available on Enve carbon bike model "rolling chassis" options as well. Prices are, as one would expect, on the upper end of what wheels cost these days, but you are getting a partial drive train and shifting system as well. 

Image courtesy of Ritchey Design

Ritchey Design Offers New Butano Ridge Super-Logic Bar/Stem:

Ritchey Design announced a new carbon stem/handle bar with its latest offering, the Butano Ridge Super-Logic 

The design features internal cable routing which can be accessed by a removable cover, a "flattened round" shaped top section, and low weight, of course. The 44cm wide, 110mm length stem version weighs in at 417 grams. 

The Butano Ridge has a 17.5° flare and comes in a matte UD finish. Price in the USA is $599.00. See Ritchey Design for more details on options for sizes of this bar. Keep your eyes peeled for some other Ritchey news in the near future that I think many will be interested in. 

Image courtesy of Salsa Cycles

Salsa Cycles Debuts E-MTB's:

Salsa Cycles continues to roll out their electrified bicycle models and at Sea Otter they are featuring two new MTB eBikes.

The first, here shown to the left, is the Notch, a 160mm travel enduro bike which features a 65 watt/hr Bosch mid-mount motor producing up to 85Nm of torque. 

The other model is the all-mountain Moraine with 145mm of Split-Pivot suspension and a Fazua motor. Each model comes in two spec ranges and each model starts at $4,999.00 and tops out at $5,999.00. See these and other Salsa eBikes HERE

Image courtesy of Delium Tires
New Gravel Tire Brand Delium Debuts:

Another gravel tire brand hits the market at Sea Otter and their name is Delium Tires. There are some Delium MTB tires already out there, but these three new models are their first foray into the gravel market. 

To the left here we see the AllRounder, a tire meant for multiple surface types. If you thought it was a Gravel King you could be forgiven, but it isn't a Gravel King. 

The Delium AllRounder comes in 38mm, 43mm, and 50mm widths, all folding bead and tubeless ready with a medium dual compound rubber. 

The next tire up is the Delium SpeedX. This one excels on dry terrain and hard-packed conditions. This model has a triple-compound rubber with a softer, grippier center tread. It comes in a 38mm, 40mm, and 45mm widths. 

SpeedX image courtesy of Delium Tires.

The final tire in the new trio of gravel treads from Delium is the Loamer. This model is all about grip in looser dirt and - the company claims - wet dirt. 

This one has the dual-compound rubber like the AllRounder and also comes in the same sizes as the AllRounder. 

Casings for all three tires have what Delium calls a 'Dual Zone" construction with the side walls being a cut-resistant material and the top of the casing being a more supple construction for lower rolling resistance, grip, and comfort. All three models have 62TPI casings. All three tire models are e-bike certified and cost $49.99 each no matter the model.

Comments: "Tire tread designs are purely fashion". That's what one famous designer of tires told me one time, and well, I think the eye-test for Delium shows that they have hit on some "fashionable" looking tread designs. 

Delium Loamer. Image courtesy of Delium Tire.

That said, it is how a tire feels to ride that matters. If the tire doesn't do anything weird in terms of handling, if it feels good......what's not to like? Looks? Price? I'm going to take a stab here and say that if the Delium tires work out in terms of ride feel, looks, and weight, then the cost makes these pretty desirable. The sizes are right, the tread designs are spot-on, and the only thing missing is where you can get them at. 

About that: Hitting up their site, all three gravel tires are "pre-order" status only, and not all the sizes are available. (No 50's? Boo!) That's not a great start. 

Final Quick Hits: TIME has a revamped gravel pedal line. Looks nothing like the original gravel pedal from them and is essentially a two-sided Xtrac variant that is very expensive. Hope has a new aluminum 24mm internal width wheel with their signature hubs and new valve stems to match. Maxxis is making their Team Issue XC MTB tires available for a limited time. DT Swiss unveiled a ne 90T Ratchet free hub. 

Good luck to all the team at Iowa Wind and Rock this weekend. I hope all the riders are safe and have a great ride.

Whew! That's a wrap on this edition of the FN&V. Have a great weekend and good luck to all the Iowa Wind and Rock riders and volunteers!

1 comment:

Daniel said...

I really want to like that Kona (especially the rigid one) but man is it funky looking. It reminds me a bit of the Bianchi Arcadex.