Trouble brewing in Taiwan
The Taipei Cycle Show has been on this week and, as Asia's equivalent of Eurobike, there has been the usual mass of everyday bikes and innovations on display to amuse the visitors and press from all around the world.
While it's not quite as prominent as Eurobike or America's Interbike for the sort of cycling products you read about in Cycling Weekly, Taipei is after all the capital of Taiwan where a great deal of middle-to-high-end gear is actually made, not to mention that Asia is a booming market for enthusiasts.
Indeed, the rush to buy bicycles in Tokyo in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake, the currency exchange disruption and damage to Japan's manufacturing infrastructure has had industry insiders speculating about bike availability and pricing implications for the rest of the cycling world.
Campagnolo: more cyclo-cross parts
The Italians meanwhile pressed on with launching the latest new parts to complement the cyclo-cross chainsets they launched back at Eurobike. The new CX cantilever brakes and Bora One CX wheels are specifically designed for use in the mud and although there's no UK pricing at this point, there should be availability in good time for the new 'cross season.
The CX brakes are available in black or silver finishes, weigh 138 grams including all the cables and are adjustable for rims with width 19-22mm, which equates to 19-35mm tyres.
The Bora One CX wheels weigh 1,350 grams for the pair and have special seals in the hubs to prevent ingress of mud and dust. Campagnolo claim the 50mm rim profile should help prevent mud accumulation.
There were also the first official '2012' announcements: the Athena and Centaur groupsets will remain mechanically unchanged but for new colour options. 'Deep Black' in addition to the shiny silver of Athena and a choice of 'Deep Black' or black with red highlights for Centaur.
The existing mid-price Khamsin wheelset will also get the black-and-red colour scheme treatment for 2012.
TRP Parabox cable to hydraulic convertor for 'cross
While we're on the subject of cyclo-cross, the TRP high-end wing of the Taiwanese Tektro brake company were showing a new product that had the representatives of Upgrade Bikes, the UK distributors of TRP, twittering and iPhone-snapping like proper enthusiasts.
The Parabox is a neat device that sits beneath the stem and into which plug the conventional brake cables from your standard road bike levers. From the other end emerge hydraulic leads for front and rear disc brakes. Hoorah, I say, not least because it now means I can attach hydraulic discs to my tandem while someone takes a few years to get around to making hydraulic dual control levers.
BioLogic busy in Taipei
Not surprisingly, the BioLogic brand was keen to show off at their home show. They had full cycling gloves with conductive contacts woven into the finger tips to enable the control of a touch-screen, a new app to convert your iPhone into a multipurpose bike computer and a front-wheel-dynamo-driven link to augment recharging in their already successful iPhone handlebar case.
Particularly appealing to me, though, is a new version of the iPhone case called ReeCharge. You get a built-in 1,400 mAh lithium polymer battery to help keep your iPhone charged on longer rides and there's also a mini USB charge-out port so that it can be used to charge other devices.
The app should be available to download at the end of March; the hardware available from UK Zyro stockists in June, prices to be confirmed.
Mavic rim surface treatment comes from UK
The 'Exalith' coating found on Mavic's Ksyrium and R-Sys wheel rims is the result of a collaboration with a British company.
Specialist firm Keronite from Cambridge has an exclusive deal with French company Mavic. Their process penetrates the rim to about ten microns and creates such a hard, long-lasting finish that even under long-term braking the surface will never show the traditional signs of wear.
Furthermore, the process enables a weight saving of about 10 grams per rim, compared to a conventional coating. Keronite's treatment can be applied to magnesium and titanium as well as the aluminium alloy found in Mavic's wheels.
Time triallists' delight Mk2
The distinctive helmet worn by Emma Pooley while winning her World Time Trial Championship last year, the Catlike Chrono Aero TT, has undergone major changes for 2011 to improve its comfort and aerodynamics.
According to the Spanish maker, the input from the Cervelo pro team helped them with the design of the wheel-adjustment retention system also found in their Whisper helmet, and with the practical use of the new optional visors in four colour densities.
According to the press release: "With this helmet Catlike has achieved superb aerodynamic features, including its boxed-in tail section. The volume has been reduced to the maximum and features a tail design that reduces turbulence behind the head, enabling smooth air penetration and flow."
The weight is now 400g with one size fitting heads 55-60cm. Price £169.99 with the new visor and £149.99 without.
Will Merlin fly here again?
Merlin Metalworks, the brand that did as much as any to popularise the use of titanium in high-end frame building, has been sold this week by the American Bicycle Group, the company that has owned it since 2000 and which also owns Litespeed and Quintana Roo.
The buyer is the USA mail order specialist Competitive Cyclist. Like the UK retailers Evans, Wiggle and Chain Reaction that have been on a bike-brand-buying spree of their own, the American companies also seem determined not to let the grass grow under their feet.
The www.merlinbike.com website today
The law of unintended consequences
As we scooped on Cycling Weekly last week, the UCI has posted the names of the first frames that conform to its new verification programme and which will sport the new 'approved by UCI' stickers when they emerge from production.
This week, in addition to the Scott Plasma Premium and Felt DA models on the UCI website there is a model - the 'Super Six Evo' which is presumably something Cannondale would otherwise have been able to spring on us as a surprise either at the spring classics or, more likely, the Giro d'Italia.
There is also a Pinarello designated 'FCM777' as well as a cyclo-cross frame made by the legendary United States custom builder Richard Sachs. We'll be keeping an eye on it for early news.