Tech news Gallery: The best tech from the 2023 Eurobike show, part five
Let’s give it up for the littler brands, eh?
One of the things I love about the enormity of the
Eurobike trade show is that it gives an opportunity for brands of all shapes and sizes to spend some time in the spotlight.
Ever heard of L-Twoo’s €595 electronic road bike groupset? Did you know you can get your custom wheels tied-and-soldered from the factory by Duke Racing? LAL’s Supre Drive is the mountain bike transmission you maybe didn’t even know existed, but now are wondering why it took so long. And what the heck is a Qvist?
This round of coverage is dedicated to the smaller players in the industry. They may not be Shimano, SRAM, Trek, Specialized, or whoever is playing with the other 800-pound gorillas, but they’re doing some really cool stuff nonetheless.
Want some more Eurobike coverage? You can find the entirety of our coverage from this year’s show
right here, and don’t worry; there’s still more to come. L-Twoo’s eRX electronic 2×12 drivetrain looks to be an extremely intriguing proposition, particularly given its incredible €595 asking price (including shifters, derailleurs, battery, and brakes). The shift buttons are very similar to Shimano Di2 in terms of layout and feel. Wondering how L-Twoo is getting around patents? So am I. Lever reach is adjusted through this small access hole. The hoods are quite nicely shaped, with slim bodies and a gradual taper. They’re well finished, too, and fit snugly with no noticeable squirm. The L-Twoo eRX is a semi-wireless system. Each lever has its own transmitter (powered by a common CR2032 coin cell battery), which sends signals to a receiver in the rear derailleur. Both derailleurs are wired to each other and powered by a single battery housed in the seatpost. L-Twoo’s hydraulic brake system uses mineral oil, not DOT fluid. The eRX rear derailleur looks quite straightforward with its slant parallelogram and carbon-reinforced lower knuckle. The long carbon fiber pulley cage is designed to accommodate an 11-32T cassette. The bulk of the electronic guts look to be pretty reasonably well tucked away from harm. Limit screws feature bigger-than-typical 3 mm hex heads. The styling of the front derailleur is a bit on the industrial side for sure, but tire clearance looks pretty decent given all of the bits are situated up above the linkage. Looks like the inner and outer links are aluminum, but the cage is thankfully made of steel. The matching brake calipers feature pads with little cooling fins. Nicolai’s Nucleon 16 Supre is a high-pivot 29er aluminum enduro bike – but that’s not what makes this particular model so interesting. It’s the first bike to feature the revolutionary Supre Drive derailleur system from LAL Bikes. The high pivot suspension layout makes the system look more complicated than it is what with that idler pulley up top, but I promise you the overall concept is very simple. Instead of having a conventional rear derailleur hanging down below the dropout that incorporates the shift linkage and both the guide and tension pulleys, the Supre Drive separates the tension pulley and moves it up near the crank. Meanwhile, the rear derailleur can now be safely tucked away in between the chainstay and seatstay, where it’s far less prone to impact damage. The rear derailleur itself is actually very normal with its slant parallelogram layout. It just looks weird because it’s missing a pulley and is in a different location and orientation. This seems quite a bit better, no? LAL Bikes has even engineered the Supre Drive rear derailleur to work with a Shimano shifter. German upstart brand Qvist brought to Eurobike the latest revisions to its intriguing new hub design. This looks complicated, but it’s not all that weird at all. If you’re familiar with the DT Swiss star ratchet system, that’s basically what you’re looking at here, only with a third dual-sided ratchet in the middle that floats in between the outer set. This effectively yields a double star-ratchet layout, but because two sets of teeth are offset from each other, you get double the engagement speed without having to resort to finer teeth. As compared to the original design, Qvist has added a second spring so that all three ratchets are somewhat floating. This means the central ratchet ring – which is also how torque is transferred to the hub shell – doesn’t move axially as much as it used to, which should bode well for long-term wear. How well will this system hold up over the long haul? Even with the updates, you’re still looking at a steel ratchet ring moving inside an aluminum hub shell, so only time will tell. Qvist says it’s spent much of the past year refining things like surface finishes and treatments, materials, manufacturing processes, and other minutiae. Qvist has added an additional o-ring seal in the hub shell to provide more protection against the elements. Shimano and SRAM have largely ceded the entry-level end of the marketplace, leaving a big opening for brands like Microshift. Its Advent X 1×10 mountain bike groupset gets an updated pulley cage configuration with a more forward-located upper pulley and a 20 mm-shorter cage that the company says provides more chain wrap for improved shifting performance. The 11-48T cassette doesn’t offer as much range as higher-end offerings from bigger brands, but when you consider the whole setup costs less than US$200 for the rear derailleur, shifter, cassette, and chain, it’s hard to complain too much. Microshift uses a ratcheting-type clutch in the Advent X rear derailleur, and it can also be easily turned on and off as needed. Details matter. It’s common for modern mountain bike rear derailleurs to have a somewhat extreme cable angle coming out of the shifter housing, so it’s nice to see Microshift has included a little guide bushing to smooth things out. Haven’t heard of Samox? You probably will soon. It’s an increasingly popular Asian brand that’s getting more OEM spec with each passing year. Much of the stuff looks pretty good, too, with lots of options in both aluminum and carbon fiber. TRP’s new lightweight two-piston cross-country hydraulic disc brake was on display at Eurobike – although it’s still so new there weren’t even graphics on it yet. This should be the new Slate X2, though. I don’t know if this gold-painted finish will be a stock offering, but if TRP made it, I’d bet people would buy it. TRP has partnered with Pinion to provide integrated drop-bar electronic shifting for the German brand’s 12-speed gearbox transmission. It’s always neat to see how things are made, such as these TRP cassettes. TRP’s new 12-speed cassettes are made in two pieces, and from two different materials. The largest two sprockets start out as a plate-like aluminum forging before moving on to machining and finishing steps. French brand Duke Racing has been a bit of an underground icon in privateer mountain bike racing, and the brand was supposedly one of the first to champion the idea of using a wider front rim with a narrower rear (although I know Mavic also pitched this at least as early as 2017, too). Duke Racing offers a number of custom build options, including tying-and-soldering. This is an old technique that was often touted as a way to boost wheel stiffness, but the motivation nowadays is more practical as it allows you to finish a run if you break a spoke or nipple since it won’t be flailing about. Duke Racing’s MadMax SP hubs are exceptionally light at just 207 g for the rear and 95 g for the front, particularly given the use of more durable titanium freehub bodies (which are heavier than aluminum) and larger-diameter cartridge bearings. KMC is best known as a chain brand, but it showed off a new cassette, too. It’s a lower-cost unit that supposedly pairs perfectly with the brand’s own chains (naturally), and it’s offered in 8-11-speed versions. KMC has done a neat job making its all-steel cassette look like it uses an aluminum carrier. Are you on the chain waxing bandwagon? Reusable aftermarket master links can be awfully handy. Finding one that’s compatible with a 12-speed chain is still tricky, though. White Industries arrived at Eurobike with a not-so-subtle reminder that polished aluminum always looks amazing. Hailing from the Saxony region of Germany, Actofive says its CNC-machined Signature crankset is one of the lightest available for enduro bikes. Actofive machines the Signature crank in two hollow halves that are then bonded together to form a hollow structure. You can just barely make out the bond seam here. Also from the Saxony region is Beast Components. All of the company’s wares are supposedly “handmade in Germany”. The Beast GR40 carbon fiber gravel wheelset features a 25 mm-wide (internal) hookless profile and a 40 mm depth for riders looking for a bit of an aerodynamic edge when riding on mixed terrain. Claimed weight for the bare rim is 420 g. The Beast Components seatpost features a carbon fiber shaft, titanium hardware, and a proven two-bolt head design. Even the 31.6 x 420 mm size is said to weigh less than 200 g. Pi Rope’s woven spokes use a mix of different fibers instead of just one material. Not surprising given the color, Vectran is apparently one of the primary ones. The idea behind the multiple fibers is to make the wheels less prone to going out of true at very high temperatures, and to help them maintain tension better over time. Sour Bicycles makes its chromoly frames on a quarterly basis in Dresden, Germany. This one features a machined semi-yoke for additional tire and drivetrain clearance, tidy dropouts that are made in-house, and totally normal fittings like the threaded bottom bracket shell, 27.2 mm-diameter seatpost, and partial internal cable routing. This Jagwire rotor looks pretty straightforward at first, but I’m particularly fond of the visual wear indicator. When this “J” is gone, it’s time to replace it. It seems everyone is trying to get into the lightweight road disc rotor game nowadays. Italian company Braking showed off the Lightwave, featuring a stainless brake track riveted to an aluminum carrier with claimed weights of 97 or 107 g, depending on size (140 or 160 mm diameter only). That’s only a hair lighter than Dura-Ace (and if anything, they seem to be slightly more expensive). Some of these brands are pitching their aftermarket rotors based on reduced weight; others on improved braking performance. But do they actually offer any real-world benefit? That’s hard to say. What did you think of this story?
😐Meh 😊️Solid 🤩Excellent