How do we know?
Well, SPOKE got to see it, touch it and even ride some of it first hand recently when Crank Brothers marketing manager Jason First joined us and Ross Schnell on a two week road trip around the country (story coming up in SPOKE 37).
So the big change at Crank Brothers is a reassessing of the labeling of each model, right across the board on all products.
It's now been simplified down to the product name, with the addendum 1, 2, 3 or 11. Just like Spinal Tap's amps, 11 is obviously the best, then 3 and down. For example the top new Candy pedal is the Candy 11. With regards to the new naming system Jason states "it's really designed to simplify and streamline our entire product line as much as possible, so the product offerings and hierarchy of the groups are very clear to all our customers. This is our opportunity to hit refresh and simplify."
For their 2010 lineup Crank Brothers haven't just renamed a bunch of existing parts, they are in fact launching more new parts at once than they ever have before. First up in the new product line is an entry into the cockpit, with a bunch of new stems and bars. Continuing their innovative ways, the new stems are like no others that have gone before them. There are two model names, in three configurations; the Cobalt 3 (XC), and two different types of the Iodine, a 2 and a 3 (All Mountain). All three are forged from 7075 aluminium and feature Crank Brothers' new wedge/plunger technology; tighten a Torx bolt on either side and the two wedges tighten against the bar and/or steerer.
The Cobalt 3 stem uses twin wedges, one to clamp the steerer and one for the bar. No face plate, no extra hardware required. The wedges are secured inside the stem's body by elastic ties. The Cobalt 3 is a pretty darn trick stem and uses the least amount of metal possible. Aimed at XC and with no faceplate it's obviously suited to a lo-rise or a flat bar. It comes in 80 to 120mm lengths and four colourways. Weight for the 100mm model is 127 grams.
The Iodine 3 pictured is bound to cause the most commotion though. Like the Cobalt, the wedges tighten the stem onto the steerer but the unique sliding faceplate combined with a wedge to clamp the bar against it is so simple yet oh so trick. It's a bit burlier at 169 grams for the 100mm model, comes in two colourways and is available in lengths from 65mm to 120mm.
The other stem we rode, the Iodine 2 (not pictured here) used the torx/wedge system for the steerer clamp, but a more traditional 4-bolt faceplate for the the bars. Lengths from 65 to 120mm, two colourways and 175 grams.
Staying in the cockpit Crank Brothers have introduced handlebars into the mix. We managed to get our hands (get it) on the Cobalt 3 (above) and the Iodine 11 (bottom). The alloy Cobalt 3 (XC) is available in 700mm width (230 grams) and the one pictured features a 15mm rise, 6 degree back sweep and 5 degree up sweep. It will also be available in a flat version (195 grams).
The Iodine 11 as you have probably guessed from the picture is carbon (we're pretty sure it's made in the same factory as Santa Cruz's carbon frames from memory.) It weighs 160 grams for the 15mm rise, 680mm wide version, and an amazing 132 grams for the 600mm flattie. There are also Iodine bars for all-mountain riding in 2, 3 and 11 versions. They are obviously heavier for gnarlier riding, but the 11 is still only 175 grams. All three are 30mm rise. There's not too much you can do with a handlebar (or is there?) The folks at Crank Brothers have added a swanky little detail on the whole line and that is a laser etched guide for setting up your shifters and brake levers. Like the little lines you see on most bars on the clamping area, there are incremental marks for taking the guesswork out of setting the angles and inboard position of your controls. Why didn't anyone think of this before? Cool.
The Candy and Eggbeater pedals also come in the four levels. They feature redesigned bodies, in resin for the 1, with the 2 and 3 in CNC'ed alloy. The axle is claimed to be 150% stronger, and uses needle bearings instead of bushings, meaning easier servicing and longer life.
The Candy 3 is the lightest of the 1, 2 and 3 at 304 grams a pair, and the retention wings are investment cast steel.
The Candy 11 features a ti axle, cast titanium wings, needle bearings and an alloy body. It comes in gold to match the other 11 components. Ross and Jason were rocking these on their bikes, and they put them through some pretty nasty conditions and terrain with nary a whimper.
New lock-on grips come in two flavours. The Iodine is a knurled kraton rubber logo style, and the Cobalt a softer foam type. Both feature an ergonomic ridge on one side, which can be positioned either for the palm or fingers depending on your preference. The prototypes we tried were a little more plump than the intended production models, according to Jason.
The Joplin 4 adjustable height seatpost has been out for a little while already, and the increased 4 inches of travel and tighter tolerances make for a slop-free, more usable post. The clamp is reinforced and it has better seals. It comes with the under-seat lever or the easier to use bar-mounted remote lever.
The Cobalt 11 carbon post is another Crank Brothers work of art, featuring one-piece carbon construction and a unique one bolt clamping head. It comes in 350 and 400mm lengths, with recessed height markers.
There are also Cobalt 2 and 3 alloy posts, with the same unique head, straight or setback, and machined (3) or laser etched (2) height indicators.
Crank Brothers have upped the ante in design and innovation many times before, and they are continuing the trend with their complete component groups, Cobalt, Iodine, 1, 2, 3 and 11.
Look out for more info coming soon on all the other cool Crank Brothers parts as we get hold of them, exclusive to SPOKE.