Friedrichshafen in the bottom right hand corner of Germany, where the borders of Switzerland and Austria meet on the shores of Lake Konstanz, sees many companies launch their latest models to a lustful public. We were there to check out the latest, greatest and just the plain beautiful. So, without further ado, Pez gives you the Euro-Bikes.
Cipolini Does It Again
The man himself needs little introduction to the cognoscenti and still seems to crave the public adoration that saw him on grand tour podiums as a Lion King, a Roman emperor, a representation of the human muscular-skeletal construction and much else besides. It was in this vein that Mario himself launched his latest, range-topping machine.
As befits a model called Bond, it is accompanied by a launch video that is everything as borderline farcical as its initial thought might suggest: car chases, motorcycles, lakes and, of course, beautiful Latin ladies in bikinis! Frivolities aside, it would seem that the new bike is also attention-worthy.
Like every MCippolini bike before it, the Bond is 100% made in Italy. Conceived with Mario’s help in Verona, before the Milanese design the details. Then back to the capital of Veneto for the first construction phases before being shuttled across to Tuscany for final construction in il Rey Leone’s chosen home. It differs from previous MCippolini’s in that’s it’s not a monocoque.
The front triangle is a one-piece construction as before, but the chainstays are moulded in a single section that includes both the dropouts and a circular construction which wraps around the BB386 shell.
Featuring the latest in ‘standards, the frame hides cables internally, comes in mere grams over a kilo in a medium, and mixes T700 carbon with some higher modulous (dubbed UTS) fibres at strategic junctions. Five frame sizes mean there should be something for most folk.
The reason for the change in manufacturing methods was the idea of adding some comfort to the rear of the bike. Once the chainstays and front triangle are mated, the seatstays use MCippolini’s patented Bond-Atomlink technology to join the rear of the seattube. To be honest, other than a snazzy name, we could get little more info from the Italian brand on why there’s a patent, but it’s all pretty enough not to care right now.
And talking of pretty, Cipo also showed some new paint schemes of existing models.
The Tricolore emblazoned beneath the aero seattube screams style to us here at Pez.
Zed’s Dead – Long Live Zed – Felt Z2
Until this year, Felt was a racing brand, and even lower down the ranges, all the bikes could trace their routes to peloton bred machines . Not so any more.
From first glance, it’s obvious that this bike is aimed at riders after something less head down fast. Thankfully though it’s not just a tall headtube and short top tube reworked into an old design. Carbon re-working has increased the (steering quality effecting) lateral stiffness whilst adding some flex in the vertical plane. Simply put, it should corner better and give you less grief on the rough stuff.
Lowered chainstays and shaped dropouts claim to enhance the ‘vertical compliance’ of the Z2 series machines.
Named Inside-Out, Felt’s construction method claims to dismiss internal wrinkles during construction. Polyeurathane fillers are used during manufacture against which the fibres are laid rather than filling the frame with a bladder. Even though the aluminium bottom bracket fittings are not present in this cut-away, we can see a distinct lack of anything resembling a wrinkle.
We were told of acronym-laden lay-ups and fibre moduli but no amount of tech waffle matters unless the bike rides well. A quick demo day fling showed promise in this regard so there is hope. Pricing looks to be similar to current models and this new shape machine will be available down to a sub $2K level so real world riders will actually be able to see what the fuss is about.
Kona Gets in the Zone
Mountain bike brand Kona have been making a few road bikes for the last couple of years but this is the first time they have actually designed one from scratch rather than branding an open mould design. Sticking with their frame supplier Deddaccia, Kona wanted to create the sort of road bike that they as riders wanted to ride: fast, great handling but not a ‘racers’ bike. It had to handle well descending, but absolute stiffness under power wasn’t this bikes raison d’etre.
Unlike many ‘endurance’ machines, Kona’s Zone hasn’t gone down the route of contrasting bulbous downtubes with skinny stays and, as a result, the Zones have a very coherent aesthetic. From a quick once over – we weren’t able to throw a leg over the bikes – it looks a solid machine without much chance of unwanted front end flex. Kona claims the lay-up is where the comfort comes into play.
Seen here on the lower tier Zone 2 is one of our favourite parts of the Kona. Super-neat and entirely removable, the rack or fender mounts give the Zone series machines real versatility and mark them out as potential all year machines for serious riders after a winter training bike above and beyond that traditional basic machine other companies offer.
To match the mounts, there’s a huge amount of clearance at the fork crown and stays for either the fenders or big rubber if you want to turn the Zone Two into a gravel road mile-muncher.
If Shimano Ultegra isn’t high enough spec for you, there’s the Red Zone to get involved with. It shares the same frame as the Zone 2, but comes with SRAM’s Red groupo and some high flying Easton carbon finishing kit and tubeless wheels.
Giant Elephant in the Room
Slap bang in the middle of Giant’s booth was something the Taiwanese company obviously wanted to shout about, but bizarrely would tell no-one anything about.
Sitting in a glass case, all that Giant’s Andrew Juskaitis would tell us was it’s name – The Propel, and as we’d guessed from it’s shape, it was their new aero road machine. The model on display was a bike used by Theo Boss, and was part of the test mule program that will see a finished model launched sometime in early 2013.
As befits a wind cheating steed, the seat tube is sleek and shrouds the rear wheel.
From both the front and rear, the profile is ridiculously narrow. It will be interesting to see if Giant’s knowledge of Carbon allows them to maintain enough rigidity to maintain their fabled handling we’ve come to expect.
As well as the bike, we saw a computer screen with a rotatable 3D model, so here are a couple of screen grabs that show a tiny bit more detail than the ‘through the glass’ pictures. This is a launch we are looking forward to…
Jered Gruber has already shown you some pics of the new neon Willier paintjobs, but we couldn’t resist a few more – they really are that good.
Willier launched the Cento SR1 at the Tour under the Lampre ISD riders, but these are the first production paint-jobs. Simple proof – as if any were needed – that you can have neon and look super fly. You just need a bit of Euro style thrown in to either dilute or highlight depending on your predilection.
Head on, the extra wide tapered headtube and burly 1.5 – 1-1/8th steered fork offer some extra space for that bright paint.
From the reverse angle the dark satin black finish contrasts well and a Kamm Tail shaped, boxy downtube not only claims to reduce drag numbers but also incorporates a removable cable mounting plate. This is to allow easy swapping between electronic or mechanical shifting and facilitates easy threading of control wiring, whichever system you choose – bonus.
Sadly, as this twin foil proves – even stylish Italians don’t get the visuals right every time.