Team Jelly Belly presented by Kenda will be riding Focus bikes in 2010.
The German manufacturer, which also sponsors the Milram ProTour team, decided that Jelly Belly would be a good way to introduce their bikes to the U.S.
“For us being a new brand in the U.S. it was really important that we made a relationship with a team that could help us build the credibility that we have in the European market,” said Focus Bicycles USA CEO Scott Rittschof. “Jelly Belly, being the longest standing sponsor in the U.S. made it the obvious choice.”
The team’s primary training bike is the 2009 Focus Izalco, which is the same bike that Milram rode in 2009. Its race bike is the 2010 Cayo. Both bikes share the same geometry but the Cayo is an improvement upon the 2009 Izalco. Adopting the latest technology, the Cayo features a tapered head tube and a BB30 bottom bracket. The high modulous carbon Cayo frame weighs in at 1078 grams. According to Focus technical trainer Brian Dallas, the team should be receiving the 2010 Izalco frames this August.
“I think it’s a really hot bike. Cosmetically it looks good, I can’t tell you how it rides, you’ll have to ask the riders,” said team director Danny Van Haute.
After several days of long training rides the team is beginning to get a good feel for the ride quality. Brad Huff, Jelly Belly’s star sprinter, is happy with the frame’s stiffness and the overall ride feel. “I’ve had a chance to ride both bikes. The race bike is by far the best bike I’ve ridden. For a power rider like myself, I’m noticing the stiffness of the frame at the same time the comfort of the frame. The time that has been put into the production is shown in the quality of the ride.”
Mike Friedman, a former Garmin-Transitions rider and new addition to Jelly Belly, is more than happy about the new ride. “They’re using the BB30 bottom bracket, which is significantly different. The transfer of power into the rear wheel is really impressive. That sounds mundane but it’s true.”
For the race against the clock, the team will be riding the Azalco Chrono, which is one of the sleekest looking aero frames on the market. Designed by Swiss aerodynamics and fabrications guru Andreas Walser, this bike has several unique features and tube shapes.
“This Swiss bike maker has built bikes for some of the best in the world including, Ullrich, Vinokourov and Lance,” said Rittschof. “You see pieces of Walser’s bikes showing up in the market but this is the complete package. Walser was reluctant to do a production bike because his custom bikes have a narrow bottom bracket and rear axle spacing. This is the first version ever to be commercially viable. We’ve had people ride and review and say ‘how do you make skinny tubes that stiff?’”
The Izalco Chrono already earned its first win this season, piloted by Jelly Belly rider Jonathan Chodroff at the Valley of the Sun stage race in Arizona. The Jelly Belly team bikes weren’t ready yet, but Focus sent a stock frame for Chodroff to use, which proved to be sufficient.
“It’s a show stopper,” said Chodroff. “When I was warming up and cooling down people kept asking about the frame. The fit is good for me personally. They ride well and they look unbelievable. It just felt fast. It’s the proper geometry for a TT bike, where some other geometries were not thought out very well.”
On the bikes are CatEye computers, 3T bars, stems and forks, Kenda tires, RTS wheels, SRAM components, Speedplay pedals and fi;zi’k saddles.