Shimano revises road shoes
Even in the face of new competition from the likes of Giro, fi’zi:k , Scott, and others, Shimano continues to dominate the shoe market in the USA. Shimano marketing man Devin Walton reminded me the other day that part of the reason Shimano remains so successful in footwear is because they’ve been doing it for so long. Walton pointed out that the first carbon soled road shoe was built by Shimano way back in the early 1990s. Since that first model, the R100, the company has pushed even farther with its own carbon and fit developments.
New for 2011 are revised R-315 and R-240 heat moldable road shoes. In both, the heat moldable material used in the upper is now lighter, thinner, and more pliable for improved comfort. The ratchet buckle is now sleeker and lower in profile. The top end, $350 R-315 shoe gets a new carbon sole shape and larger vents on the toe. The second tier, $240 R-240 shoes also get a new carbon sole but it’s not as heavily shaped as the more expensive, lighter R-315 sole.
Also improved is the women’s shoe line. Walton said that the women’s shoes are built on a female-specific last with lower volume toe box and narrower heel cup. The top end WR-81 gets new materials aimed at improving suppleness and comfort.
More ways to slow down from TRP
I talked to TRP marketing coordinator Matt McNamara for a few minutes about brakes. The small company makes a big impact on the high end of the sport in that many of the exotic-looking stoppers on modern time trial bikes are made by TRP. For example, the aerodynamic center pull front brake on Specialized’s original Transition TT bike is made by TRP.
But this time of year everyone is hot for cyclocross, and as such, the company is ready to meet riders’ needs in the mud as well. New for 2011 is the CX9. It’s built on 90mm long, machined aluminum V-brake (linear pull) style arms. McNamara said that the CX9s offer great stopping power and they don’t require an adapter to use with road levers. Longer arm V-brakes require more cable pull to provide power, and road levers typically used for ‘cross just don’t provide that. Now, these brakes provide good bite on less lever stroke.
TRP also showed a sleek carbon fiber aero brake lever for singlespeeds, a subtly revised R970 SL road caliper, and new graphics on the CR950 carbon ‘cross cantilevers. McNamara mentioned that many of TRP’s top cyclocrossers are switching from ultralight EuroX Mag brakes to the lower profile CR950 canti brakes because they the work better with the lever pull offered by Dura Ace 7900 levers.
We’ll check out some bikes later from Cross Vegas and let you know what’s in play under the lights.
Litespeed revises aerodynamic C-Series road frames
It’s still hard not to think of Litespeed and titanium as irrevocably intertwined, but these days the company is pushing hard with carbon road bikes. Even so, Litespeed director of sales and marketing Chris Hewings said that the Tennessee company is still building several thousand titanium Archon frames per year, mostly for sale in Asia. Unique, hand-built American bikes are popular there. Here in the U.S., carbon is king and the new C-Series road bikes look super hot. The Archon C1R is now top dog in the Litespeed line. With improved high pressure molding and higher quality carbon, the bike loses about 150 grams from its predecessor the CR1, which was introduced last year. Cable routing is now external but overall all the frame and tube shapes stay the same. A C1R frame and fork costs $3200.
In other models, the Archon C1 now comes Di2 ready with ports for internal wiring. Both the C1 and C3 now have traditional adjustable seatposts rather than the aerodynamic integrated seat mast of the C1R. The Archon C2 model is no longer in the line, replaced by the C1. Finally, there’s a completely new model called the M1. For just $2000, it’s built from unidirectional monocoque carbon fiber and spec’ed with SRAM Apex.