April 9/99 1:08 am - Report from Taipei Show
Posted by Editor on 04/9/99
Taipei Report - Day 1
It is that time of year again - the first trade show of the season; the one where the manufacturers lay their plans out for the bikes that you will see in the stores next season. Taipei is the centre where many of the world's bikes are manufactured. Trek, Specialized, Rocky Mountain - they all come here to have bikes built.
After the first day of the show, we have some tidbits of information about what the plans are for the fall and winter:
Shimano - The official release isn't until April 23rd (and even then, Shimano doesn't want much reporting), and much of what we have isn't to detailed, but here it is: Probably the biggest new item is the disc brake that will be introduced later this year. It doesn't promise to be revolutionary, but it is from Shimano, so it will sell. On the component front, there are lots of upgrades for the mid-priced groups. STX RC is completely revamped, and goes to 9 speed rear. It will squeeze the LX group's usefulness, since the performance of STX RC will approach LX, while the price will be significantly less. Below STX RC (3 models down), Acera jumps to 8 speed from 7. On the road Dura Ace and Ultegra are reported to receive little change, but big changes are scheduled below them. RSX and RX100 are replaced with two new groups - one 8 and one 9 speed.
Sram - Lots and lots new here. 2000 will be the first year for the company after having fully integrated their purchase of the German Sachs component division they purchased last year. In the ESP line (non-Shimano compatible), a low end ESP 3.0 has been added. Available in 7 and 8 speed versions, it priced between Shimano TY40 and Acera. ESP 5.0 incorporates the straight cable pull of the DI.R.T. rear derailleur for improved shifting and a new shifter with easy cable change. The brake calipers are unchanged (the levers are an upgrade to last year's 7.0 model). The group is available in both 8 and 9 speed versions. Along with the rest of the ESP line, 5.0 gets redesigned hubs (new bearing surfaces and better ratchet mechanism).
7.0 gets similar changes to 5.0 (brake levers upgraded to old 9.0), but 9.0 is all new. The rear derailleur is lighter, with the Sachs-style straight cable pull. The shifter employees SRS (Speed Release Spool) Technology - spring assisted for faster downshifts and lighter touch upshifts. It also has a new optical gear indicator. The brakes are parallel-push, and are designed for quick setup and wheel removal/replacement. The hubs are available in an optional disc brake compatible version. 9.o SL get the same rear derailleur as 9.0, but in a short cage version; otherwise all the same upgrades as 9.0. Oh yeah, it is available in designer colour choices - red, blue or white.
In the Shimano-compatible line of shifters, the bottom starts with MRX Classic (old MRX170), then MRX IBS - both no changes. Centera (8 and 9 speed versions) above gets fit and finish upgrades, Attack replaces Plasma from last year (9 speed only), and Rocket is the new high end model, with SRS technology shifting.
The chains are all new for the entire line, coming out of Portuguese factory. The internal hubs - 3, 5 and 7 speed - are renamed Spectro, and get improved, lighter action shifting. The 3x7 system gets a new rear derailleur and shifter. Finally, for 2001, Sram hopes to have their crank program underway.
Manitou - This suspension fork company will branch out into rear suspension for 2000, introducing 3 models They will also introduce multiple models of the high end Carbon fork from this year. Every model will come with a disc brake mount, and lock out levers will be available on a larger range of forks. The suspension internals (TPC) are upgraded (Enhanced TPC, naturally) with something called position activated damping. There is a floating compression piston, which moves with the oil. Riders will notice that they can run the forks plusher, without bottoming out. The entry level price for Manitou forks is also expected to drop slightly. You can expect to see Manitous spec'd on more bikes than ever next year, with Schwinn increasing the number of models, Haro coming on board, and Trek and Specialized upping their commitment.