The Amgen Tour of California has come and gone; and has left in it's wake a plethora of new products and prototypes - some of which have made it into the "daylight" for the first time.
Of specific interest is the new line of Bontrager Shoes which I've written about on my other site, here. Bontrager has applied its "InForm" comfort-oriented fit philosophy; which it debuted on their InForm series of saddles last year, to footwear. I had a chance to try them on at Trek World last August and I was impressed. I'm really excited to fit some clients to some and see their reactions - because these are not your "normal" cycling shoes. By building the shoe to accomodate custom orthotics and using a proprietary, customizable footbed by eSoles the InForm shoes offer very competitive fitting options right out of the box. The "derby" cut of the upper (where the opening for the tongue of the shoe is cut all the way down to the toe) creates a greater amount of versatility to accomodate a broader range of foot widths without having to create a separate line of shoes for wide or narrow feet like many brands have done.
My previous postings (linked above) have some pictures and good information about the shoes - but for more, check out this story (and recent photos) at VeloNews.com.
The AToC also marked an important milestone for my friends at Parlee Cycles. The Fly V Australia Cycling Team is a new partner with Parlee and marks an important re-entry into professional bike racing.
What's that? You don't remember Parlee being a sponsor for any other pro team in the past? Well, they weren't. But their Z1 model was a popular choice a few years ago for pros to have custom built and then re-labeled with their official sponsor's logos - Tyler Hamilton being one of the most commonly cited examples riding a Look-badged Z1 for a season; riding it to 2nd place in the Giro d'Italia in 2002.
The Fly V team will be using Parlee's stock Z4 model for road duties - proving that the Massachusetts-based boutique carbon company's "base" model is fully capable of withstanding the rigors of pro-team punishment. But, probably the biggest news is the broad unveiling of the new TT model - which has been making trade-show appearances (and winning awards) for a few years now and finally started shipping to consumers in 2008. The Fly V squad's TT bikes will be the first view a lot of people get of the actual production version.
I had a chance to talk with Bob Parlee about the TT bike about a year ago at the North American Hand Made Bicycle Show in Portland, Oregon as I was helping to man their booth. You see, Bob's experience with composites and fluid-dynamics; which he honed as an accomplished designer and builder of America's Cup class racing boats is part of the secret of Parlee's success with bicycles. There are very few builders - large or small - that have as vast a knowledge of these two areas as the namesake of Parlee Cycles. Bob understands that a lot of the bicycles consumers see and buy have fancy shapes that look fast and stiff and efficient - but looks aren't everything.
In the particular case of the Parlee TT, Bob designed the frame based around low speed NACA proven sections to be low-drag at a variety of yaw angles for maximum aero efficiency and used the internal lay-up schedule to determine the frame's stiffness and ride quality. In boat racing - all of those dips, bumps, jogs, and swoops that might make a shell look cool can make it slower and weaker in the water. Well, water just behaves like dense air; so why shouldn't the same principles apply? Use the outside to make it fast. Use the inside to make it stiff, comfy, and well-mannered. It will be fun to see how Fly V performs on their sweet rides this year.
For great stories with lots of photos on both bikes - head over to Bikeradar.com and VeloNews.com!
-Bikeradar.com: David Kemp's Fly V Parlee TT
-VeloNews.com: Phil Zajicek's Fly V Parlee Z4
And, of course, for your own look at a Parlee - check out Bike Gallery! The 2008 floor models have been marked down and are ready to find new homes! Contact me or leave a comment for more info.
Thanks for reading!