Tioga's Undercover Stratum Seat
Tioga's webbed Spyder Stratum and Spyder Outland (a more flexible Stratum with thin rubber pads) look out of this world, but their unforgiving appearance contradicts an extremely comfortable design, at least for my behind. I've been using the same Spyder Outland for over a year now, moving it between test bikes as required, but it still elicits weird looks and questions about how I'm able to function properly after sitting on it for three or four hours at a time. A seat's padding has very little to do with how comfortable it is - the shape and flex are what counts - but this is a hard point to get across when trying to convince someone that the gray-colored cheese grater I'm perched on really is comfortable.
Tioga knows that this is discussion is always going to be an uphill battle, which is why their new Undercover Stratum was born.
The Undercover Stratum is basically a Spyder seat with a thin layer of foam - Tioga calls it 'Bio-X Pad Ergo Foam' - applied overtop the flexible webbed shell to provide a bit more forgiveness, both for a rider's underside and his or her eyes. The shell is different from what the two current Spyder seats use, with the flex is tuned to work with the foam padding that's on top of it. The Spyder Stratum and Spyder Outland can feel a bit stiff where the rails attach to the rear of the shell, and up front over the nose, and the Undercover Stratum's additional padding should remedy this while still taking advantage of the design's low weight and the shell's built-in flex characteristics.
Claimed weights sit at just 150-grams for the carbon railed model that will cost around $200 USD, and 190-grams for an Undercover Stratum with hollow chromoly rails that will cost about $100 USD.
6D's Updated ATB-1 Full Face Helmet
6D's ATB-1 full face helmet gets an update to bring it in-line with Europe's EN1078 testing standard. The ATB-1 had no issues when it came to impact testing, but rather it came down to a field-of-view requirement that forced 6D to create a lower profile chin guard. So that's what they did, essentially knocking a good portion of the mouth piece's height away to have its top edge sit much lower than the original design. Having spent a lot of time in the ATB-1, I can say that I've never had an issue with the chin bar obstructing my vision, but that doesn't matter if Europe's testing standards call for something different and 6D wants to sell their helmets there.
The rest of the ATB-1 remains unchanged, including the helmet's ODS system that sees a number of strategically placed rubber dampers used between its inner and outer EPS shells, a design that essentially creates a sort of in-helmet suspension by allowing the inner and outer EPS foam shells to move independently of one another.
The result is a system that can not only better deal with straight-on impacts but is said to be able to also dissipate those low-angle collisions by allowing the two shells to shear in relation to each other.
Renthal's Data Acquisition System
There was a time when designing a handlebar was probably a relatively simple job. You know, before computers and testing standards and whatnot. Things are a bit different these days, however, and companies like Renthal are taking extra steps to not only ensure that their designs are safe, but also that they're performing as desired when it comes to flex. No, having a rock solid handlebar is not a good thing, and creating one with just the right amount of flex is even more difficult now that many feature a 35mm clamping zone.
Regardless of what you think of 35mm handlebars and stem clamps (they're silly, by the way), it's apparently a really easy way to make everything too stiff and unforgiving, which is why Renthal has been using a neat data acquisition system that measures the force being put through the handlebar via sensors plugged into each side of it.
People could push down on the fork in Renthal's booth, which was set up hard as a rock to exaggerate the force being fed into the handlebar, and watch the computer screen give a readout of what exactly is happening. A stiffer, less forgiving handlebar would transmit more force, whereas a softer, more flexible handlebar would make for lower readings, and the data acquisition system allows Renthal to tune this to their liking.