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Gyrobike "It's Like Invisible Training Wheels"

When I started this blog, I never thought I'd be blogging about comfort bikes nor kids bikes. Well, here it is - a little tech for the little tike. A start-up company (GyroBike) using technology developed at Dartmouth College is looking to replace training wheels with a gyroscope. The g'scope is in the front wheel ($40) mountable to any kid's bike and works by turning the handlebars towards the direction the bike is falling. Pretty clever if you ask me. There is a short video on their website that you can check out.

If, however, your kids can never get the hang of two-wheeled bikes, I say stick with Big-wheels. I never knew a more fun time in my life.

Related articles:
GyroBike flywheel helps bicycles self-steady (

First hydraulic disc brakes. Now hydraulic shifters?! A US patent published 3 days ago (#7032475) from Shimano describes a shifting mechanism that uses hydraulics. Abstract:

"A hydraulic shift gear mechanism for a bicycle having a positioning mechanism for controlling the motion of the piston of a master cylinder assembly is described. The master cylinder assembly is in communication with a slave cylinder for operation of a derailleur. The positioning mechanism preferably includes a pivot shaft spaced apart from the handlebar, a rotating member rotatable about the pivot shaft, a push mechanism for rotating the rotating member in a first direction and a return mechanism for rotating the rotating member in a second direction. In a more preferred embodiment of the invention, an adjuster piston is threadingly engaged with the master cylinder assembly for adjusting the initial position of the slave cylinder."

Time will tell whether hydraulic shifters will ever see the light of day for bicycles. The success of hydraulic disc brakes may foreshadow that of hydraulic shifters.

Update: I just found this article on of someone modding their existing drivetrain to shift using a magura brake hydraulic system.

Related articles:
hidraulic deraulier? (

We have all seen those pictures of the Trek/Discovery team testing their equipment and positioning in the wind tunnels. They've got it down to an exact science (see Discovery Channels series The Science of Lance Armstrong if you haven't already). The last couple tours, Bontrager has been partnering with HED to produce some of the slickest bicycle wheels of the tour. From

"Steve Hed is probably one of the most brilliant aerodynamic guys in cycling," said John Balmer, Bontrager's director of product management. "Steve is able to look at something - I'm pretty sure he can actually see air movement - and predict things that take a number of rounds of software and wind tunnel tests to validate."

Aerodynamics has always been a factor for timetrials but who would have thought it played a significant factor in stage races? Hed and Bontrager did. Convincing Bontrager to go aero gave birth to the Aeolus wheelset. According to Bontrager wheel designer, Brad Addink, the team is able to use the Aeolus 5.0 wheels in almost any condition, in place of even the sexy XXX Lite tubular rims. Lightweight is not everything when it comes to racing:

"[T]he majority of riding is done in undulating terrain, not mountains, where aerodynamics trump weight"

Read more at >>

Spy shots: GF FS SS 29er

It's long been discussed that Gary Fisher would be replacing the beloved Sugar full-suspension line. On MTBR 29er forums, we have an insider that gives us the scoop on GF 29er news. At the Trek show back in August, we saw the first pictures of the new full suspension prototype. Then, in November, ride pics of the bike were taken while it was being tested. At Sea Otter, we saw Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski race the bike with a number of prototype bits (see Gone Crazy for Carbon). Now shots of the revised full suspension frame have been floating around the web, first with this 3D rendering of a highly manipulated tubeset, then 'Test Pilot' shots of this new inderation fully built 29er full susupension bike at Recently, spy shots from Trek's Waterloo factory were posted on showing another 'Race Day' bike built up as a single speed. The source says that the 29er version is as light as the 26er version ridden by Jeremy. Click here to see more pictures of the GF FS SS 29er.

Related articles:
Gary Fisher Race Day (
Gary Fisher and Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski work closely to develop Race Day platform (
MTBR gets the 2006 Fisher 29" Scoop! (
Gary Fisher Supercaliber 29 Ride Pics (
New Images of Fisher Supercal 29 Frame (

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Internal Gear Boxes Making a Comeback

When you surf over to SRAM or Shimano’s website, which button do you usually click? Mountain or road? How about comfort? This post over in the MTBR forums enticed me to click (for the first time) the comfort link on the SRAM website. The thread talked about the application of internal gear transmissions and whether these alternative gearing systems have a place in the future of bicycling. For example, Rohloff, has been developing their Speedhub internal gear box since 1996. Despite the fact that they actually work (and reliably) their popularity has been limited to only a few brave souls (actually, according to Rohloff’s website, 50,000 brave souls). Still, what’s 50,000 compared to the millions of externally geared transmissions sold? The two cons most see with the Speedhub is weight and cost.

Back to SRAM (and Shimano). The 2007 SRAM i-Motion 9 is a new internally geared hub – so new, that it’s not yet listed on the website (however, a 2007 manual in PDF form does exist). Over at Shimano, their comfort line is Nexus, again an internally geared hub. Why am I blogging about this? Because when I saw these, I saw the direction of where bicycle transmissions will go. Rather, I should say, go back; internal gear transmissions are making a comeback (that whole old-is-new thing again). Engineers today are finding ways of making this old idea work well again. Think about it: a bicycle with just as many gears but no derailleur, one chain driving two chainrings, “no derailleur drag, no chain suck, no chain drag” as one happy Nexus 8 owner professes. Think beyond the comfort bike and envision this on your XC race bike or cat 5 racing rig. Heck, downhill bikes (where weight is of no concern) have already embraced internal gear transmissions (GT iT1, Nicolai, g-boxx). Advances in material technology may one day allow this type of transmission to appear on pro tour bikes. With large companies such as SRAM and Shimano developing these systems for the mass market, along with smaller ones like Rohloff constantly thinking outside of the box, this last statement may one day see the light of day. As long as there are comfort bikes, internally geared bicycle transmissions will continue to evolve. Cost and weight will inevitably go down with time. The derailleur and chainring may be the equivalent to the horse-drawn carriage.

Related articles
Rohloff, Shimano, SRAM/Sachs and Sturmey-Archer Internal Gear Bicycle Hubs (
Are Internal Transmissions the Future (
Eurobike 2004 Photogallery (
Pictures from Shimano and Rohloff.

Keyword: Integrated

In the world of bicycle manufacuring, the name of the game is lighter weight and increased stiffness (see Lemond Triomphe - full carbon sub 1 kg). This seems to be the holy grail of developing parts for bicycle racing. The lighter the weight, the faster you accelerate. The stiffer the bike, the more efficient the power transfer. Over the last few years, we've seen manufacturers who have gone away with extra bolts and materials trying to combine seperate parts into one: integrated cranks and bottom bracket, integrated fork, headset, and stems, integrated frame and seatpost, dual control shifter and brake levers, tufo tubular tires, integrated spokes and nipples, integrated stem and handlebar, and integrated seatpost and saddles. Keyword: Integrated. One problem, however, with integration is that this leaves no room for adjustability and flexibility. Shimano cranks must use Shimano bottom brackets. If you bought XTR dual control shifters and want to switch out the brake levers, you're out of luck. Feel your integrated saddle is too far forward, too bad.

That's why I was very excited to see what the other big 'S' (SRAM) would develop after taking over bike companies Rock Shox, Avid, and Truvativ. At Sea Otter, they revealed their tweaked X.O. trigger shifters for '07. Integration with flexibility was obviously on the engineers' minds. Their new shifters (left) allow closer pairing with Avid brake levers and has a place for a Rock Shox Pop-loc switch. The shifters themselves have flexibility, too, allowing you to put brake levers on either side of the shifter clamp. The pull lever has a 30 degree range of adjustability. Integration never felt so flexible.

Related articles:
2007 SRAM Launch (
SRAM Launches bevy of MTB products at Sea Otter (

Robots, golf clubs, medical equipment, and now bicycle components? Industry Nine is a company from North Carolina, whose bike-geek engineers are attempting to reinvent the bicycle wheel. By integrating the spoke and nipple and building it out of aluminum they claim that their wheels have a lower rotational mass, thereby increasing acceleration = they make you climb like a billy goat. Plus, their freehub has a patent-pending 6 pawl system which makes for near instantaneous (3 degree) engagement. Industry Nine has a wheel for all your bikes, be it mountain, DH, 29er, or road, and all your tastes; they take custom orders. Check out their cool flash site.

Related articles/sites:
Industry Nine Puts New Spin on Custom Wheels (
What wheels are on this bike? (
New Industry Nine Wheels (
picture from

Not to be left off the carbon-train, Lemond is jumping into the arena with it's own offering of a full carbon frame model, the Triomphe. We knew that Greg Lemond's appearance at the Tour de Georgia couldn't purely be all for fun. He helped to launch the new professional line of Lemond bikes. These new bikes aren't just repainted and rebadged Trek OCLV frames (Chambrey), either. These are completely new, non-OCLV, "developed in-house", frames, with unique design features, such as asymetrical chainstays (a higher drive-side chainstay and a wider non-drive-side chainstay) to keep the rear from flexing while minimizing weight. Minimizing weight while maximizing output was the name of the game with the Triomphe. A 55cm fully painted frame weighs 950 grams.

This move to sell their own brand of carbon bike is surprising as this competes directly with Lemond's parent line of Trek OCLV bikes. The new frame is apparently the goal Greg Lemond has finally realized of minimal weight and maximum stiffness he was trying to achieve with the Ti/Carbon bikes. So, does this mean the end of spine bikes?

Related articles:
Lemond launches new all-carbon frame at Tour de Georgia (
FIRST LOOK: Lemond's Triomphe (
The all new 2007 LeMond Triomphe Series

Looking at the latest bikes and component offerings from the bike industry today, you'd think that carbon fiber grew on trees. Everything mountain and road from frames, cranks, chainrings, saddles, brakes, derailleurs, wheels, trainers, toilet seats, and ballcocks (hey, I found it on a cycling site) are carbon fiber. It's all about loosing weight, gaining stiffness, and making your riding buddy jealous as hell. Bontrager has been testing a 26" prototype set of carbon fiber wheels on Gary Fisher 'Race Day' bikes at Sea Otter. From, these prototype wheels are disc-only and tubeless. No suggestion as to the weight of these wheels, but if they are anything like their roadbike brothers (XXX) these will definitely be lighter than anything currently available for mountain bikes. I suspect the 29er crowd need not feel left out very soon. With Trek/GF/Bontrager so gung-ho about 29ers, I can't imagine they not offer a 29" version.

This wouldn't be the first time carbon wheels have been introduced to the mountain bike scene. We all remember Spin wheels and Spinergy Rev X Roks wheels. Reynolds also showed off a set of
carbon tubular wheels at Interbike recently, as did Cane Creek.

Time to read my bike mag on my new carbon fiber toilet seat...

Related articles:
Sea Otter Classic: Gary Fisher Race Day... (

I'm one who appreciates the classic look of stright, cylindrical tubing for bicycle frames. Form follows function. Some of these new carbon frames look absolutely horrible, and I wonder how much of that carbon has a purpose or is it just for looks. But every once in a while, there comes a bike that just makes me weak at the knees. The BMC Timemachine ridden by the Phonak team is a beautiful bike. It gave the win to Floyd Landis in the Tour de Georgia Stage 3 ITT Thursday. The frame has 3 patent pending innovations: the integrated fork, stem, and headset, an airfoil below the bottom bracket, and the cutout in the downtube where the front wheel sits. Plus, you've got to respect a frame that costs $12G ($20G full bike). The consumer version of the bike will also be 300 grams lighter utilizing a different weave of carbon.

Related articles:
Tour de Georgia highlights: BMC Timemachine video (
Picture from BMC

Electronics: the next bicycle frontier?

With the introduction of new shifting components from SRAM and FSA (see Let the Shifting Wars Begin), Shimano and Campagnolo will be forced to come up with new ways of keeping consumers riding their name brand. Will that next frontier in bicycle shifting include a battery? Too heavy, you say? With frame and component weights dropping every season, a road bike with electronic components meeting UCI minimum requirements is not too farfetched.

An electronic shifting group has long been a prototype in the Campagnolo camp. Heck, Mavic already produced an electronic groupo, the Zap, plus a wireless groupo, the Mektronic. Both Mavic groups have been met with mixed reviews, which ultimately led to their discontinuation. Despite this luke warm welcome of electronic shifting, Shimano has been testing an electronic road group being used by a Gerolsteiner team member. Unique to Shimano's electronic offering is a shifting display on top of the hoods (although I question how important this feature is). Rumors have it that the 'control mechanism' for the Shimano system will be incorporated into the seatpost. A search in the US patent office also reveals a recently acquired (Nov '05) patent (#6983949) of a special headset used to conceal electronic wiring. Shimano also has a patent (#7015598) dated as recent as Mar '06 of an electronic input device used for shifting a bicycle, an electronically operated derailleur (#6997835) and an electronic bicycle shift control device (#6959939).

Don't think that only Campagnolo and Shimano (and Mavic) have been testing electronic shifters. Another search in the US patent office indicates SRAM has had a patent (#6698307) for an electronic shifting mechanism since April '04. Things are definitely in the works for electronic shifting in the cycling industry.

Related articles:
User reviews the Mavic Mektronic groupo (
The empire strikes back (Shimano electronic shifting) (
2005? Electronic Record (
Campagnolo experimenting with electronic shifting (

It looks as though roadies will have quite the choice to make when it comes to outfitting their road bikes next year. The 2 component giants, Shimano and Campagnolo will finally get some friendly competition from SRAM and FSA. Both SRAM and FSA will be releasing new drivetrain componentry in the next coming months, SRAM sooner than FSA.

Pictures of the new SRAM Force components have been floating around the web for weeks. SRAM has also unwrapped a teaser website, with details of their new product. SRAM will try to distinguish itself from the rest with a new shifting mechanism: DoubleTap shifting technology where both up and down shifts are executed through a single pivoting lever. The derailleur will also utilize the 1:1 shifting ratio perfected in their mountain bike group. The Force lineup will be the top of the line SRAM road group with carbon used generously throughout, while the Rival group will be the less expensive option. SRAM suggest that the Force group will be as much as half a pound lighter than the current Dura Ace from Shimano. Teams such as CSC have already been testing the new group, possibly using them for '07 ( CSC on SRAM for 07?).

Less details are available about the FSA component group. News from Sea Otter indicates both a 10 speed road group and a 9 speed mountain bike group will be offered. The road group will have FSA's own offering of an integrated shifter and brake lever combo. It will be interesting to see what FSA comes out with, considering the strict patents protecting existing shifters already. How many ways are there to shift a bike? The source also hints at a new chain design?!

More options can only mean better products available for the consumer. These new components will give us more choice and freedom in choosing which way to shift (and brake). They will also force Shimano and Campagnolo to stay ahead of the game and continually improve upon their existing products. Let the shifting wars begin!

Related articles:
A Force to be reckoned with: SRAM... (
Mr. Zinn rides SRAM's new road groups (
SRAM unveils Force and Rival components (

I am addicted to this blogging thing. It's just too easy. I've created another blog for another passion of mine: bicycling. Specifically focusing on reporting and discussing bicycle tech. I suspect from the forums I've participated in, there are a number of cyclists out there who are as obsessed with bicycle components and technology as they are about riding their bikes. I am one of those obsessed with reading about, learning about, and trying (when the wallet allows) the latest high-tech bicycle parts. I also think that the cycling industry is unique in that many manufacturers actually listen to what the consumers want. The internet has bridged the gap between consumer and manufacturer allowing us (you and me) to dictate where the bicycle industry goes; we live in exciting times! I hope this blog will provide a medium for enthusists to read about, talk about, and share their passion for bicycle tech. Enjoy!

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