TUCSON, Arizona (VN) — New power meters from Quarq, new wheels from Zipp, and some sleek aero bars were all on the menu at SRAM’s latest launch, taking place this week at the base of Tucson’s Gates Pass. The spread was varied, ranging from a strengthening of the brand’s top-tier, go-fast products to a refreshing re-think of versatile, mid-range items.
Quarq outlined the details of its new Elsa and Riken power meters, which are set at price points $500 apart and are intended for non-Yaw front derailleurs. The Elsa looks to extend Quarq’s range further into the top end of the market, while the Riken gives up a few features and a bit of weight to keep its price 25 percent lower.
Zipp Speed Weaponry launched three wheelsets, two of which are tailored for the budget-minded rider, the Zipp 30 and 60, as well as a new version of the 404 designed to appeal to the smaller rider.
Quarq Elsa and Riken power meters
Quarq is streamlining its product line for 2013 with two new power meters, the flagship Elsa 10R, and entry level Riken 10R. Both power meters come with SRAM carbon crank arms, but the Elsa uses top-of-the-line Exogram arms, which help the Elsa save enough weight to make it lighter than the SRAM Red Quarq, which is the same price as the Elsa, at $1,995.
Both the Elsa and Riken are ANT+ equipped and use Omnical, which allows the user to swap chainrings without sending in the unit to be recalibrated. The Elsa also measures “Power Balance,” which is a metric that computes the forces of each crank arm based on cadence — a slightly imperfect measurement, but a neat one nonetheless.
While the Elsa weighs less and costs the same as the SRAM Red Quarq, Quarq marketing director Troy Hoskin pointed out that the Elsa is not intended for use with the Yaw front shifting of Red 2012. Hoskin said that the Elsa and the Riken are intended to be used with any non-Red 2012 10-speed drivetrain. The simple graphics of the Riken and the Elsa allow them to look at home on any bike, regardless of build.
At $1,595, the Riken 10R is the least expensive Quarq in the lineup, which includes the Cannondale Si and Specialized OSBB models in addition to the Red version. Quarq is also planning to discontinue its current mountain bike crank in 2013 for an updated version to be announced down the road.
Zipp 30 wheelset
The Zipp 30 wheelset is the little brother of the venerable aluminum 101. Taking many of its design cues from the 101, the 30mm-deep wheel is intended to hit a price point that helps riders justify everyday use. Unlike all of Zipp’s other rims, which are made in Indiana — including the new Zipp 60 detailed below — the 30 is made in SRAM’s Taiwan factory.
While the move of production allows the wheelset to be offered at lower pricing ($850 a pair), it also limits the amount of technology that can be poured into the wheels; most noticeably, Zipp decided against the use of a fully toroidal rim, which we’ve become accustomed to finding on every Zipp wheel. Instead, the Zipp 30 uses a hybrid toroidal rim shape, which has parallel brake tracks and resembles a light bulb as the inner rim bulges out an extra 0.5mm from the 20mm-wide brake track.
At 1,655 grams for the set, the 30 is no featherweight, even when compared to similarly designed and priced wheelsets such as the Easton EA90 Aero clincher, which is $800 and saves over 100 grams. Zipp claims, however, that the 30 is more aerodynamic than the EA90 and much of the competition — even wheelsets with deeper rims.
The wheels handled descents well on our initial ride. Despite the high overall weight, the hoops didn’t ride like anchors; rim weight is kept low, which is noticeable when accelerating on the climbs around Tucson. The 30 wheelset will be available in March.
Zipp 60 wheelset
The Zipp 60 wheelset is clearly a replacement to the now defunct SRAM S60 wheels, with the addition of a dimpled inner carbon rim. The 60 uses the same hubs as the Zipp 30s.
Mechanics will rejoice that Zipp continues to keep spoke nipples on the exterior of the rim, making for easier maintenance. The 60mm rim uses the same hybrid toroidal shape as the 30 and sports parallel brake tracks, much like the Zipp 404 before the introduction of the Firecrest design.
At 1820g a pair, the 60 is undeniably heavy. While the wheels will not make for nimble climbing wheels, the 58mm-deep rims will please triathletes and time trialists seeking an aero wheelset with an aluminum braking surface. The 60 will be available in March.
Zipp 404 650c Firecrest Carbon Clincher
Touted as the “lightest 650 wheel on the market,” by SRAM’s John Balmer, the new 404 650c is intended to breathe new life into the 650c bike segment. Zipp hopes that offering a 650c version of its popular 404 Firecrest carbon clincher will give bike manufacturers a reason to go back to producing 650c bikes in smaller frame sizes.
The introduction of a high-end 650c wheel is part of Zipp’s philosophy that fit is equally vital to overall aerodynamics as equipment, if not more so. This was a theme that Zipp and SRAM employees repeated continuously for the three-day event. Right now, Felt’s women’s line uses 650c on several models. At 1,465g a pair, racers will likely rejoice at the opportunity to update their wheels as most manufacturers have not offered a high-end 650c wheel in years. The 404 650c will retail for $2,725 and will be available in May.
Zipp Vuka Stealth Aero Bar
Just under a year ago, a Zipp launched the adjustable Vuka Alumina aero bar system at the Sea Otter Classic and this week Zipp upped its game on the high-end side by introducing its Vuka Stealth integrated carbon base bar and stem. The new setup is not only light and aero; it’s nearly as adjustable as the Vuka Alumina system.
The Vuka Stealth is 42cm-wide (outside-to-outside) and is offered in three stem lengths, which Zipp has dubbed Short, Medium, and Long. On the underside of the stems, we spotted actual lengths printed: 60mm, 80mm, and 100mm. Additionally, Zipp includes a 10mm spacer that pushes the bar out, providing 70mm, 90mm, and 110mm effective lengths.
Before installing the bar, Zipp insists that buyers consult a professional fitter and verify all measurements. To that end, Zipp is currently in development of an iOS app titled Zipp Fit, which will allow a rider to enter in all of his or her bike measurements. The Zipp Fit app will then tell the rider which bar, riser blocks, and spacers the rider will need to meet the prescribed fit. The app is designed around an iPad and should be ready this spring.
According to Zipp, the Vuka Stealth, which will retail for $1,070, proved just as aero in the wind tunnel as its current Vuka Aero bar, Zipp’s UCI-illegal 4:1 system. The Vuka Stealth is 3:1 and even saves some weight compared to the Vuka Aero. When compared to other aerobars on the market, the Vuka Stealth, at 695g claimed weight, is only slightly heavier than bars without integrated stems. Relative to popular setups like the Easton Attack and HED Corsair, the Vuka Stealth also has much more adjustability for the rider to fit the bar to themselves, and not the other way around.
The stack height of the arm pads is highly adjustable with four different: 0mm, 10mm, 25mm, and 50mm. The arm pads can be angled down or up to six degrees in either direction and can be canted toward the center of the bar or out, depending on rider preference. Zipp produces four different carbon extensions: straight, ski-tip, Vuka Race, and Race Vuka Shift. Each extension design will add about 135 grams and will set the rider back another $130.
Beyond being light, adjustable, and eye-catching, the Vuka Stealth is also easy to work on. Shop mechanics everywhere, us included, curse internal cable routing on a daily basis. Zipp has eased the pain with its “Rapid Routing” on the Vuka Stealth bar, and to our pleasant surprise, it actually works. Slide the brake cable housing in and the internal shaping curves the cable toward the bar hoods. It’s swear word free, and one might go as far as to describe it is “rapid.”