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PressCamp Notebook, Day 1

Published June 19, 2012

News from Saris, Niner, Hutchinson, Enve and Cannondale

PARK CITY, UT (BRAIN) Tuesday June 19 2012 3:04 PM MT—Lifeboat Events' PressCamp got under way Monday night here. About 30 journalists are meeting with about the same number of brands, checking out new products and testing them on local trails and roads.

Here are a few notes from Bicycle Retailer's first half day at the show. Watch for more this week.

Saris introduces virtual trainer options, delivers PowerCal

PARK CITY, UT (BRAIN) Tuesday June 19 2012 1:18 PM MT—Saris Sports is introducing a stationary virtual trainer system that works with a PowerBeam Pro rear-wheel trainer or the company's IC400 stationary bike. The company also is now delivering its low-cost PowerCal power-based training device, which it first showed last year, and two updated head units, the Joule and the Joule GPS.

Virtual training

The Pro Trainer virtual trainer is reminiscent of virtual trainers from CompuTrainer, Tacx and others, But Saris' offering comes with free courses and allows users to create and share courses for no charge (some other manufacturers sell courses). Users can create courses without leaving their desks, by using Google Maps, or they can create the virtual course by riding it with a GPS unit and, optionally, a video camera like a GoPro.

The route data, map and video can be displayed through a TV while the PowerBean or IC400 adjusts resistance to mimic the terrain up to a 16 percent grade.

The system will officially launch at Interbike this year. The software package alone is $349 and a PowerBear Pro will retail for $1,299.

Saris also will work with retailers or training studios directly to set up multiple trainers for group stationary classes.

$99 power meter?

The company also is now stocking its PowerCal chest strap, which is an ANT+-compatible heart monitor strap that transmits heart rate and calculated power to any ANT+ compatible head unit. The $99 strap runs heart rate data through an algorithm to calculate estimated power.

Saris originally showed the device to media last year. That version required users to conduct a 20-minute power test to calculate the algorithm. The product now being sold does not require the test. The algorithm was developed with scientists at the University of Colorado in Boulder and physiologist Allen Lim.

The strap will sell for $139 with a wireless speed sensor. If it is used with a GPS head unit, the speed sensor is optional.

For 2012 Saris has lowered the price of its PowerTap hubs, but getting started with a PowerTap still requires roughly a $1,000 investment. The PowerCal brings the cost of power training under $300.

"Power training will eventually be akin to what heart rate training is now," said Saris marketing director Tim Staton. "PowerCal creates an opportunity for dealers to have more conversations with customers about power training."

Sleeker head units

Saris redesigned its Joule computer head unit to look slimmer and more attractive, and it has added a GPS-equipped model.

Both units use a new 1/8-turn handlebar mount that strongly resembles Garmin's mounts (but is not compatible). The company makes a mount that puts the computer ahead of the stem (very similar to the Garmin-compatible mounts that Quarq and Bar Fly make). Saris also offers a stem mount that relies on O-rings, similar to Garmin's mount.

The Joule GPS retails for $269. The ANT+-compatible Joule 1.0 retails for $169.

Niner relaunches S.I.R. 9 with IMBA auction

PARK CITY, UT (BRAIN) Tuesday June 19 2012 1:53 PM MT—Niner Bikes is relaunched one of its first models, the steel hardtail S.I.R. 9. And the company is offering six special-edition IMBA-painted versions of the frame for auction. All proceeds from the auction will go to IMBA.

If you don't win the auction, the new S.I.R. 9 will be available in about 12 weeks. The frame has a triple-butted Reynold's 853 front triangle, with a custom-curved downtube. Niner sweated the details, with custom stay bridges and dropouts. The frames can be built for single-speed or derailleur use; an eccentric BB is used for chain tension adjustment. The frames are designed for use with suspension forks or a Niner carbon rigid fork.

The frame will retail for $999.

ENVE pushes everyday use for carbon wheels

PARK CITY, UT (BRAIN) Tuesday June 19 2012 1:59 PM MT—ENVE didn't have any brand-new products to show at PressCamp, but the company continues to grow and wants dealers to recognize that its carbon wheels are for more than just special events.

With a five-year warranty and an aerodynamic design that is said to be more predictable in crosswinds than previous deep rims, ENVE rims can be used for everyday riding and training, the company said.

"A concert violinist wouldn't practice on a crappy violin, so why should a bike racer train on anything less than the best wheels?" asked ENVE's Jason Schiers. Coaches and physiologists recommend athletes train on the same equipment they race on, he said.

"To truly hone their craft, they need to train on the same piece they will race with," he said.

Schiers said the dealers who have been most successful selling ENVE's wheels are those who have demo wheels to loan potential customers.

ENVE, based in Utah, has been growing rapidly, with about 65 employees now. All its rims are made in the U.S. and it is moving more of its component production back to the States over the next year, Schiers said.

Wider and faster tubeless clinchers from Hutchinson

PARK CITY, UT (BRAIN) Tuesday June 19 2012 2:08 PM MT—The road tubeless tire market is growing slowly but steadily as more wheel options become available, Hutchinson tire representatives said.

The company is adding two new tubeless road tires. The first is the Galachik, which at 250 grams is about 45 gams lighter than Hutchinson's previous lightest tubeless tire. The company said he 23mm-wide tire has rolling resistance "approaching or better than a tubular."

The new Intensive model is available in 25mm and 28mm versions. The 28mm was used by the Francois de Jeux team during the 2011 spring classics. The 295-gram tire will likely be a favorite of road riders who enjoy jaunts down rough pavement or gravel roads.

Hutchinson is best known in the U.S. as a road tire maker, but is known for its mountain bike tires in the rest of the world. In recent years the company's off-road tires were aimed at high-level cross-country racers — a viable market in Europe, but a small niche in the U.S., where riders often prefer wider, grippier tires.

But the brand has had a bit of a resurgence in the North American mountain bike tire market in recent years, and this year it will offer four tread designs for 29ers and three for 650b, as well as a selection of wider 26-inch tires.

The company also is making a push for its Serenity flat-proof tires for urban riders and commuters. Originally developed for bike-share programs, the Serenity features a squishy rubbery ring (think of a really big O-ring) in place of a tube, and a tire designed to fit the ring precisely. The $120 combination is good for about 15,000 miles of riding. The system is available in 700c and 26-inch versions.

While the Serenity could cut into retailers' inner tube sales and flat-fixing labor charges, keeping riders on their bikes should lead to more parts & accessory sales down the road, Hutchinson's reps pointed out.

Cannondale keeps some stuff under embargo

PARK CITY, UT (BRAIN) Tuesday June 19 2012 2:23 PM MT—Cannondale is asking journalists at PressCamp to refrain from publishing information about some of its new products until after its dealers are shown the products next week.

In the meantime, the company did show a variety of new bikes and will do a formal presentation of its new Evo women's road bike on Thursday.

Among the offerings that are public now are a women's hardtail 29er, the Tango SL. The aluminum frame uses a Delta V-style dropped toptube to improve standover height for women. The bike also has a beefy 1.5-inch head tube for front-end stiffness. The bike will be available in configurations retailing for $890 to $1,550.

The Althea is another new women's model, this one aimed at gravel road riders and commuters. The 700c-wheel bike has a Headshok suspension fork, upright bars, rack and fender mounts and a curved toptube for standover clearance. The Althea is intended for a sporty rider: It has a more upright position than a mountain bike, but it's not as upright as a cruiser or comfort bike and the bike is fairly lightweight (a boon for all riding and for carrying up stairs at the end of a commute).

Cannondale also showed its sexy Slice RS time trial bike, which is super narrow throughout and has a steerer tube in front of the headset for aerodynamics and front-end stiffness. The bike is UCI-compliant and will be available in August.

Please watch back this week for more reports and photos from PressCamp.

Steve Frothingham

Topics associated with this article: PressCamp

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