Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Interbike 2012 - Cool New Stuff From Shimano
In my days as a retail buyer, Shimano was often the first appointment I'd set at the trade show. I'm still most excited to see what they roll out and try to make them an early stop on my walking tour if the show when I'm there.
The latest version of Dura Ace (9000) has rightfully gotten some due attention - so let's take a closer look at some of the stuff sitting in the limelight.
Each generation of the Shimano wheels makes me a bigger fan. The early iterations fell short; but they have caught up big time and are definitely a "tone-setter" for much of the industry now. The fact that Zipp saw fit to try to slow the introduction of the carbon/aluminum laminate Dura Ace wheels with litigation a few years ago should be testament to Shimano's innovation and influence in this category.
2012 brings some re-vamped rim profiles; resulting in a generally wider cross section for the aero wheels. New-ish to the lineup is the C75 - a 75mm deep rim; available now in Tubeless as well as tubular formats. Turning on Shimano's proven, durable, and servicable angular-contact hubs gives this wheel a distinct advantage in the longevity column versus it's cartridge bearing competitors. Shimano still holds that their bearing configuration maintains lower friction load during cornering as well. Tough to attest to in real-world situations; but I have yet to see Shimano lead me astray.
Shimano has chosen to hide the spoke nipples on the C75 (photo above, left) but sticks with the external and more easily serviced spoke nipples on the C50, C35, and C24 wheels in the family. I still really like the hand-applied, reinforcing carbon layers around each of the spoke holes. When Shimano tested these rims before introducing the first generation they claimed that the carbon was actually the stronger portion of the rim and it was the aluminum that was first to fail (at far above normal load levels...). If it works; stick with it.
The WH9000-C24; C35; and C50 are still offered in tubeless and tubular versions. The tubeless version is of course still compatible with conventional clincher tires for those of you still waiting to take the plunge on tubeless. These rims are exceptionally light and while the total wheel weight is a little heavier than their competition; due to their lighter rims, they tend to accelerate quickly and have a snappy feel to them. (Click here for my review...)
I'm also really excited about the new WH-61 wheels; Shimano's new lower-priced tubeless offering. At around $500 these wheels are a great training/everyday option for those looking to spend less than the already value-priced WH-6700 wheels. These may make it into my arsenal too...
Another area where there are some cool new things coming our way. The new options in the SPD-SL series are very nice and include a new "blue" cleat with less float than the yellow cleat that comes with the pedals but still not locked out like the red cleats. As a fitter I like this option for those riders who are looking for a little more stability or positive feel but may need some float due to some lateral movement through the rotation of their stroke.
Also pictured is a new Leg Length Discrepancy shim. While there were others offered from different manufacturers; this is a nice addition as the nubs on the shoe side of the cleat align perfectly with dimples on the shim to allow for a slip-free connection.
Shimano has also added an additional amount of fore/aft adjustment to the cleat mounting slots in their shoes. Given the recent trends toward a more rearward cleat position than we had traditionally been using; this is a welcome change. The previous amount of adjustment didn't limit everyone; but this surely allows better cleat positioning for many riders without the use of additional hardware.
Another product I'm excited about is the new Click'r pedals. I honestly would consider these for my single-speed CX bike. The new pedal requires less effort to engage the cleat which is great for newer clipless users or riders who may want easier engagement for technical situations (city riding or technical trails). I also like the platform which seems like it might work well for bikes that might see use with clipless and street shoes. They're on my shopping list!
GLASSES & BAGS
Eh, *shrug* o.k.; if you really must. A few nice features, but nothing really earth shattering. I'll keep an eye on these lines for the next few years. My hope is that they go like the wheels did; where they were trying too hard in the early years and then came into their own to become industry leaders. Time will tell.
What are you excited about from Shimano for the new year? Dura Ace 9000 looks good with some trickle-up features from Ultegra...anything else? Let us know in the comments.
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