Redline is one of the few bike companies that uses the April Sea Otter Classic Expo to unveil its new cyclocross product line. The April date is ideally suited to showcasing the company’s new Conquest models, as the company aims to have models widely available well before the cyclocross season, while much of the industry unveils new bicycles at Interbike with their cyclocross models arriving after the season has started.
This year, the Seattle-based company is set to unveil its long-awaited carbon cyclocross frame at Sea Otter and has been circulating a pre-show ad that hints at its new frame.
The frame has been rumored to be several years in development, and while it certainly won’t be one of the first carbon options on the market, it just might be one of the more anticipated frames simply because cyclocross is such a big focus for company. One would expect that in waiting until now to release a carbon option, the company has studied competitor’s bikes and refined its own design.
While you can be sure Cyclocross Magazine will have full coverage of the carbon Conquest (we’re assuming that it will keep the long-standing name) cyclocross bike from next week’s Sea Otter Classic Expo, we’ve studied the pre-release advertisement from Redline, applied some image-enhancing wizardry, and have made a few observations and speculations on what we can decipher from our doctored-up photograph.
The new carbon Redline’s chainstays have a dramatic upswing near the rear axle, reminding us a bit of the Schwinn Paramount mountain bike’s chainstays from the early 90′s. The design may add more vertical compliance at the rear wheel, and could offer the secondary benefit of reduced chain slap.
The one area we’re most curious about (and is obscured in the photo) is the bottom bracket/chainstay junction. We’ve seen some interesting shapes in this area designed to clear mud, particularly on the carbon Stevens cyclocross bike (comprehensively reviewed in Issue 6 of our print magazine) and the carbon Fuji Altamira (under review now, see our Fuji Altamira spotlight from Dirt Demo here). We’re expecting Redline, with headquarters in muddy Seattle, to have taken advantage of the possibilities with a carbon monocoque design to create a mud-shedding design.
Fork and Headtube
The photo suggests that Redline oversized the lower race of the steerer and headtube – a trend that we’ve seen on a number of newer models from other companies. It’s unclear whether they’ve gone with a 1.25″ or 1.5″ lower race. The fork also appears to have a slight curve to it, perhaps similar to the fork on the Van Dessell Fult Tilt Boogie (previewed here and comprehensively reviewed in Issue 11). The photographed fork (or frame) does not appear to have disc mounts, but we’d be surprised if Redline, an early supporter of disc mounts (see this 2004 Conquest with disc mounts), doesn’t include them in their production model.
The cable hanger is above the headset, not fork mounted. It’s also unclear whether the fork has a piercing to allow for a fork-mounted hanger.
The carbon Conquest seatstays appear to have a gentle bend and taper to them, and at the seat collar they continue their lines, given the appearance of wrapping around the seat tube, perhaps similar in appearance to the Cannondale Super-X carbon cyclocross frame.
As is common with other Redline Conquest models, the top tube appears flattened on the underside for shouldering comfort, and the entire length of the top tube carries this shape, not just the center section.
Redline has typically opted to route its rear derailleur cables along the downtube, but at a unique angle as to minimize its profile when grabbing the bike (see our comprehensive review of the 2010 Conquest Team in Issue 8, available in digital format). Looking at the rear derailleur’s cable housing angle, it’s clear that the cable is not routed along the top tube (no cable housing or cables are visible above the top tube), but yet there’s no obvious cable along the downtube. While it may have been removed or hidden during Redline’s Photoshop work, two small protrusions along the downtube suggest Redline may have opted for internal cable routing, at least for the rear derailleur cable.
The photographed bike features deep-section rims (likely carbon) and Shimano STI levers. While it’s just an (admittedly over-analyzed) studio photograph, we’d frankly be surprised if Redline has chosen either type of component for their production spec. Redline has typically opted to spec their Team and Pro models with SRAM Force and Rival componentry and has often hand-picked parts to build a lightweight machine. We’re guessing the bike will still feature the lighter shifters of SRAM, despite Shimano’s recent cyclocross-specific component announcement. The same logic applies to wheels – given that the bike will likely come with clincher wheels, we doubt a production model will feature deep-section rims, carbon or otherwise.
Stay tuned as we will bring you full details and images of the Redline carbon cyclocross bike when we get the first actual look at the bike and many other cyclocross-specific components at Sea Otter, starting next Thursday, April 14, 2011.