Sunday, January 10, 2010

Full suspension at Paris-Roubaix

The last couple of years have seen some vendors slowly introducing shock-absorbing materials in to road bikes available to the public. It seems like quite often, these bikes are first seen in public during Paris-Roubaix. A big deal was made of Hincapie's 2005 soft tail Trek, even though that bike design never was made available to the public. Far more successful are some of the dampening technologies, like Specialized's Zertz inserts, which are available in all sorts of bikes in their lineup. Every article that mentions these bikes, without fail, mentions the widespread adoption of Rock Shox forks by riders in Paris-Roubaix in the early 90's, and how Museeuw used a full suspension Bianchi in 1994.

There were actually a few others that were tried as well. An interview for France 2, with Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle and Greg Lemond gave us some interesting glimpses at a full suspension rig they both used for at least part of PR in 1994.


Full suspension Lemond front-end. Note the Grip Shift adjustment knob for the rear shock...

According to the information in the bottome part of the article here, these bikes were built by Clark-Kent, in Denver CO out of Titanium. The recollections in the article are, unfortunately, a little flawed - Duclos-Lassalle finished first in 1992 and 1993, and came in 7th in 1994.

Duclos-Lassalle was off this bike, and on to a Excell tubed Lemond within the first 1/3 of the race that day. Why, we don't know. I think its fair to assume something as simple as a flat that early in the race wouldn't necessitate a bike change - and given that watching 1994 footage closely suggests he changed bikes again in the latter half of the race, to another Excell tubed frame, makes it unlikely whatever went wrong was easily fixed.


Check out that crazy rear suspension system - reminds me of the Moots YBB soft tail.

This scanned clipping over at the Mombat site gives a closeup of a Lemond that looks very similar to the one shown in the interview - it doesn't appear to be the same frame, but its probably fairly similar. Air/Oil shock? Or maybe the white thing in the picture above is some sort of elastomer?


Requisite Rock Shox Paris-Roubaix. Mavic 451 brake.

Potential technical issues aside, looks like a very cool ride, and I'd certainly like to know where any of these ended up after the race.

3 comments:

Harry said...

Zerts is a dampening GIMMICK not technology

and the shock looks like an elastomer donut shock. Except I can't figure out why the body attaches to the frame in such a kludgy way

Jeremy said...

I should have qualified the term "successful" as "successfully marketed to the public". I've never been on a Zertz equipped Specialized, so I can't really say if they were successful in solving a problem that may or may not exist anyhow.

pinkfairy said...

Regarding the air/oil vs. elastomer question, the adjustment Grip Shift suggests air/oil to me. I can't recall any elastomer shocks that offered a lockout or on-the-fly adjustment. Too hard to crank it down. But, you know, it looks like a one-off or prototype so who knows what kind of kludge could be hiding in there.

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