The Dash Gizelle Disc + Strike.9
Nov 1, 2012
article & images by Nick Salazar
The guys from Dash Cycles have produced a lot of really, really cool things. It was a year and a half ago that I first sat down with Dash to preview some of their products. And even back then, I was impressed with what they were doing. But in the last eighteen months, Dash has taken their product lineup to an entirely new level. They've developed and released three groundbreaking triathlon saddles, continued progressing their lineup of awesome hubs, and continued to work on a number of top-secret projects, two of which I get to show you today. The first of these is a hybrid saddle called the Strike.9, which takes the split-nose concept from their triathlon saddles, but puts it into a more familiar road shape that makes it a compelling option for adopting a low position on a road bike. The second project is an amazing disc wheel called the Gizelle. I'm going to start with the disc, and then talk about the Strike.9.
The Dash guys have been working on this project for a long, long time. It was a particularly challenging project for the Dash Cycles team. To give you some perspective, they figured out the design and production of their three brilliant tri saddles in about three months each. But the Gizelle has taken well over 12 months all by itself. It's the first wheel Dash has made that doesn't feature a third-party rim. Previously, they were selling wheels built with their boutique hubs and third-party rims.
But this disc is a 100%, edge-to-edge, Dash original. And there's no denying it, this thing just looks cool. Dash had some specific goals they wanted to hit with this wheel. They wanted it to be light, but not at the cost of stiffness. It came out at 890 grams. The weight puts it right between the Lightweight Autobahn disc, and the Zipp Super-9, which are 790g and 990g respectively. Moreover, the bulk of Gizelle's weight is concentrated at the center of the wheel.
But the weight and stiffness metrics weren't the only thing Dash was shooting for with the Gizelle. Like many modern maufacturers, they performed CFD to help refine the shape of the wheel. They began with a true lenticular shape - a wheel profile whose width increased in a linear fashion from the brake track out to the hub. The idea there was that a lenticular disc generally has better stiffness than a flat disc, all else equal. But a lenticular disc also has more frontal area than a flat disc, and thus worse performance at zero yaw. So Dash developed a novel shape that I haven't seen in any other disc yet - it's half lenticular and half flat. That is, the profile begins by flaring out in a linear fashion, just like a lenticular disc. But about halfway to the hub, it just stops flaring out, and maintains its width like a flat disc, straight to the hub. The shape is ultimately a perfect compromise between a classic lenticular disc and a flat disc.
My bet is that this shape performs better at low yaw than a lenticular disc, but probably stalls out earlier. In any event, it's cool to see Dash designing with aero performance in mind. And although they don't have a dedicated aerodynamicist on staff, or the capability to publish exhaustive wind tunnel white papers, this is a very cool product. It's a disc, after all. That means it's gonna be pretty fast - it's hard really screw up a disc. And anyway, the hallmark feature for this thing is its weight, and its stiffness-to-weight performance. Definitely worth a look if you're in the market.
The other little gem I got to look at is Dash's brand new hybrid saddle called the Strike.9. Now, the name is NOT in line with the usual scheme from Dash. Every other numerical suffix in the Dash lineup denotes the weight, in tens of grams (the Tri.7 is 79g, the Stage.9 is 99g, the P.3 is 39g, etc). But the Strike.9 came in a little heavier, at 110g. That is still astonishingly light for a fully-padded saddle, but nevertheless, you should be aware of that fact if you're going to bust out your gram scale. And that's not the only unusual thing about the saddle. What sets it apart from the rest of the Dash lineup, and indeed other saddles in general, is in its construction and design philosophy. The Strike.9 is equal parts traditional road saddle and radical Dash tri saddle. The easiest way to understand what it's all about is to ignore the rear third of the saddle. It's basically there to make the thing UCI compliant, but it's not where you'd sit. Ignoring that section, what you're left with is a very traditional-looking albeit very short saddle, with a traditional triangular wing, and a very non-traditional split nose front. The result is a seat that's very good for upright road riding, and equally good when you roll forward and get low. That is, the traditional wing geometry makes it very comfortable for upright riding, and the split nose front means that if you slide forward and hang off the front, you won't be forced into a junk-crushing position.
That being said, I haven't ridden the Strike.9 - this is just a First Look. But it's a response to a question that Dash has gotten a lot: "are your tri saddles good for road riding?" For many people, the answer is yes, and if you ride the tri saddle appropriately, it'll serve you well on the road. But by designing a hybrid road saddle with split-nose construction, Dash is making it that much easier for reluctant roadies to get in on the action. I have no doubts that the Strike.9 delivers on its promise of a more traditional road saddle that lets you get super aggressive without getting uncomfortable. And as always, this thing is lighter than virtually anything else on the market.
Both the Gizelle disc and the Strike.9 have one element in common, which is that their boutique features come at a boutique price. The Strike.9 is a $465 saddle, and the Gizelle will set you back $3000. Those familiar with Dash product will find these price points are par for the course. But without a doubt, these are some of the most expensive goods you'll find in the cycling world. And yet, I have yet to find a Dash customer who didn't feel like they had gotten what they paid for. For more information on these and Dash's other amazing products, visit the Dash website.