Big updates to Giant TCR and Defy carbon frames and more
Giant's Road Performance range gets a major boost for the 2012 model year with upgrades to all models and especially to the carbon range-toppers that will be ridden by the Rabobank team at the Tour de France starting Saturday.
The TCR Advanced SL model reduces in weight to 820 grams while increasing frame stiffness in the steering and bottom bracket areas where it really matters. What Giant is calling the OverDrive2 steerer and head tube combination in a tapered 1.5"- 1.125" format along with a beefed up bottom bracket area will improve lateral flexibility while the weight will be shaved by a refined manufacturing process using a clever new resin containing 'carbon nanotubes'.
The SL version of the TCR Advanced gets an integrated seat mast and routing for Shimano Di2 while a second model comes with a more conventional although still aero-section, widely-adjustable post. Both feature integrated sensors for Ant+ devices.
Giant TCR Advanced SL 2012
A further model called TCR Composite will feature the same geometry, not the OverDrive2 steerer and with less expensive carbon material to take care of the massively competitive £1,000-£2,000 sector of the road market, although there is still no confirmed pricing as yet.
The popular Defy format for longer-distance comfort has three models that correspond with the TCR frames, including the Defy Advanced SL which, according to Giant, is as likely to be popular with the professionals on longer stages as it will be for amateur sportivistes.
Cycling Weekly's Neil Webb just came back from Mallorca where he had the unusual opportunity to test back-to-back the different Giant Performance models using identical components, tyres and tyre pressures. There were also some interesting new Giant wheel sets and his report will follow shortly in the magazine.
Giant Defy Advanced SL 2012
Rapha Brevet Jersey comes with wind-proof vest
Clothing maker Rapha has launched a jersey specifically designed for long-distance events such as a Paris-Brest-Paris. The clever features include hi-viz and reflective stripes plus large rear pockets and a water-resistant zipped chest compartment for a Brevet card. A high-quality Merino wool fabric will cover most eventualities but the included sleeveless vest in signature Rapha pink provides a useful option for when the temperature drops and the reflective logos help in low light. Buyers also get three bonus sew-on patches included for £150, available now.
Titanium 'frame for life' from Kinesis
Frame maker Kinesis is known for its good-value alloy frames but there has not been a titanium frame until now. The new GF_Ti - for Gran Fondo Titanium - uses custom-drawn and butted 3AL/2.5V titanium tubing shaped externally to achieve the required strength, stiffness and comfortable ride for a top-quality road sportive frame. Slightly unusual but welcome in a frame that's intended as a 'lifetime' all purpose road model is that there are clearances for 25mm tyres and mudguards assuming 49mm brakes, and bosses for a rear 4-point luggage rack. For £1399.99, buyers get a top-notch Kinesis D21 carbon fork, integrated headset and 31.6mm carbon seatpost. Looks like a winner to us.
UCI may relax 6.8Kg bike weight limit
A UK trade magazine visited the Union Cycliste International (UCI) headquarters in Switzerland this week and came back with news that cycling's governing body is thinking about relaxing the 6.8Kg (15lb) minimum weight limit for racing bikes in competition.
BikeBiz Executive Editor Carlton Reid's almost hour-long video below shows new UCI Technical Coordinator Julien Carron, saying that the limit could be dropped if manufacturers could prove their frames and components were safe. "Proof would need to be supplied by independent labs rather than from self-certification from in-house testing. The testing protocols would need to be far in advance of the current CEN safety standards," said Carron. Dare we say, encouraging?
UCI Technical Co-ordinator Julien Carron
Reynolds debuts 'Eighty One' wheels at Tour
Although primarily designed for triathlons and time trials, the new deep Reynolds Eighty One carbon wheels will make their debut at the Tour de France equipping the Ag2r La Mondiale squad as part of a mixed pair of 46mm front / 81mm rear wheels for flat and rolling courses. At 1,400 grams for the mixed 46/81mm pair, the new wheels are available for tubular and clincher tyres, with the rear available in 20 spokes radial off-side/x2 drive-side and 16 spoke radial for the front. Hubs and spokes are made by DT.
New American Hawk bottom bracket brand debuts here
USA-made Hawk replacement bottom bracket sets have top-quality Folmer Technology bearings and are available to fit standard, BB30, or BB90 (Trek) for Shimano, FSA and SRAM chainsets. Prices depending on compatibility range from £56.99 to £82.99 but the best thing is the range of anodised colours for the visible cups. Distributors Veroli were impressed by the reviews in the USA market and stock is now in the UK.
Official TdF edition of Polar CS500 bike computer
Finnish Heart Rate Monitor specialist Polar's bike-specific offering, the CS500 is now available in an official Tour de France version for £224.50 or £262.50 including a cadence sensor. Apart from the special Tour de France yellow livery, the kit comes with a new super-secure dual-lock mount and increased memory capacity. The size of the display is notably easy to read, while still maintaining a slim, unobtrusive profile.
Miniature cast alloy cyclists from France
Every cyclist's computer monitor needs a 5cm tall petit rouleur sitting on top to cheer up coffee time and, who knows, maybe your own little peloton could enable re-enactments of famous racing scenes? There are certainly enough hand-painted options of classic national jerseys to satisfy all affiliations from Anquetil to Zubeldia. £7.95 each or £24.99 for a mini-echelon of four riders.
Le Tour: Music for the Tour de France
And finally, Rapha and ASO, the organisers of the Tour de France, have hooked up on a CD music compilation dedicated to summer, France and Le Tour. What Rapha describe as "a champagne-fuelled selection of French musical nuggets journeying through undiscovered library gems of the 70's, classic french pop, 60's psychedelia and contemporary Parisian house", it's a full 74 minutes-worth with tracks from the cheesy - Serge Gainsbourg - to the highly classy in Jean Luc Ponty. Plus it's all interspersed with classic commentary from Daniel Mangeas who has covered the race for French-speaking cycling fans since 1974. Vive la France! Vive le Tour!