Is Matte Black the new Black? Oh, and carbon cockpits.

Is matte black the new black? We went with nude carbon for the Wheelhouse because we didn't want to add the 200g or so of weight that paint and heavy decals carry, but could have opted either for gloss black or matte black. We chose matte, in part because we preferred the aesthetic, but also because it was a little less common than gloss black. Was being the operative word here. I named my first son Gavin a decade ago for the same reasons - I liked it and it was uncommon. But my epiphany was shared by parents across the country, and he has since had another Gavin in his class on three separate occasions (all of whom were different Gavins).

Now I'm not implying for a minute that other brands are following our lead. If they were, they'd be selling their top of the line matte black bikes for under $3K, not over $8K. But matte black is making a run on the outside right now, aiming to get a gap before turn 4. To wit:

Since we typically zig when the industry zags, does this mean we'll switch to gloss black in 2012? It sure doesn't - we like the stealthy look of the matte too much. But we will go to the other end of the visual spectrum for 2012 and offer the Wheelhouse in a gloss white version as well, for people who don't groove on the raw carbon look and don't mind the extra couple hundred grams. I'll have pics for you soon. 

The other trend I'm noticing on pro bikes is the increasing appearance of carbon fiber bars and stems. We know that carbon is more common in frame materials because it can be made stiffer than other materials and still offer superior vibration damping, and it does so with less weight, all which would also be appealing in a cockpit. But so far, the weight advantages of carbon bars and stems are justified by the considerable added expense. Maybe we can change that. No, we can't make carbon cockpits any lighter - that's not our style. But if anyone can make them less expensive to you, we can. We've just ordered some samples from the fine folks who supply our Wheelhouse frames and our carbon rims, and will soon begin testing carbon bars, stems and posts. If we like, then you may be able to pimp your ride with them for a lot less than what a carbon cockpit currently runs you. If we do go to production with them, our carbon cockpits will be available in your choice of matte black. 



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Mike, the other dimensions are stiffness and comfort. We'll know when we weigh and test the demos, but our goal is to try to exceed the stiffness of the lighter alloy bars (the ones around the 240g mark) at about the same weight. For example, the Pro Vibe Sprint that Mark Cavendish uses is plenty stiff, but is 297g. If a carbon bar shaves some of that weight off but maintains the stiffness of a heavier alloy bar, then it's an improvement. Right now, the going rate for such an improvement, as you point out, is $300 – $400. If the bar we're testing fits the bill, we might be able to sell it at about half the price of the alternatives. So you'd be comparing $89 for a 240g alloy bar to about $175 for a 220g – 250g carbon bar that is noticeably stiffer (and offers a little more vibration damping). We're aiming in the same direction with the stem.The seatpost is a little different. We already spec the Thompson Masterpiece post on our Max Perkins, which is a world class post – one of the lightest on the market at around 175g, even though it's alloy and not carbon. What we don't love about the Thomspon though is the bend in the post used to create the setback. We had customers on smaller bikes who couldn't run the post down low enough for their ideal riding position because of the bend, yet still wanted setback. So we're testing a carbon post, with the more traditional setback located at the clamp, at about the same weight to see how it measures up on stiffness and comfort. Our Wheelhouse, as you know, is engineered more for stiffness than plush coziness, and a carbon post could add a little comfort without sacrificing power transfer. That's what we're looking for.In the case of all of these components, we're looking to enhance the characteristics of our bikes – add or retain stiffness and power transfer, without compromising durability. (We have no interest AT ALL in selling a 179g carbon bar.) Or price, of course.

Mike May

I don't get the alure of carbon bars…I have a Bontrager cockpit:$89 for a 240gr alloy bar$299 low-end carbon at 235gr$349 high-end carbon at 179gr.$160 dollars to save 60 grams doesn't seem to be worth it IMHO (I run the $89 bar…). Though presumably a November carbon cockpit will have a much better price/weight ratio?


Yeah, but I might pay $2350 for it…if you also shaved a little extra with 12 pt font. Anywaaay, love the matte look of the Wheelhouse!


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