The Santa Cruz Syndicate are constantly testing new products as they maraude around the globe on their UCI World Cup campaign. Sometimes these products have subtle adapations that demand a trained eye to pick up on. Other times it’s a little more obvious.
The rat was out of the bag when Josh Bryceland won the UK National Championships on an unmarked vehicle in Innerleithen on July 20th.
So, while we’re unable to confirm ANY details about the bikes the guys are racing on in Mont Sainte Anne, we’re not going to deny that what you see here isn’t happening…
Michael Ronning continues to make us green with envy as he trots around Europe riding and racing in some of the most spectacular locations imaginable. He’s just sent us this edit with an email that simply read, “YOU GUYS GOTTA GET TO THIS PLACE.” One day, Ronning, one day!
It’s fresh new bike time of the year, now from the folks at Giant and their women’s specific brand, LIV. We see a few slight changes to the ever-popular Maestro suspension designs in spec and, fewer 29ers in favour of the 27.5″ wheel size, and we see the introduction of some of the boldest coloured bikes yet from the big G.
No more Overdrive 2. We raise our glasses to Giant for ditching Overdrive 2 on the mountain bike range for 2015. Gone is the slightly irritating proprietary stem size needed with Overdrive 2 system (1 1/4″ and 1 1/2″ upper and lower bearing sizes) that claimed to add stiffness to the front end. Sure, it may have added stiffness, but with Giant or Giant dealers not really carrying a full range of stems, changing a fork or stem length was perceived more hassle than the added performance was benefitted.
More bigger travel bikes to be announced. With two more bikes yet to be officially released very soon (hint at the bottom of this post), we bring you a few of Flow’s highlights from the 2015 range.
Click the smaller images for more detail.
[divider]Anthem Advanced SX 27.5[/divider]
New for 2015 is the Anthem SX 27.5, which is basically an Anthem 27.5 with balls.
The Anthem 27.5 is Giant’s short travel, high speed, cross country dually with an efficient 100mm of Maestro Suspension goodness. For very good reason, the Anthem has been so incredibly popular in Australia, with a hard to beat balance of the important elements in a good honest bike; looks, efficiency, weight, durability and value. Giant are really pushing the 27.5″ wheel size, and each year we see less of the 29ers in the catalogue. Still offering the choice though for consumers though, with two 29er full suspension bikes remaining for 2015, in both composite (Anthem X Advanced 29er, $4999) and the lower cost aluminium 29er (Anthem X 29er, $2799).
It grows a 120mm fork (in place of a 100mm fork) for a slacker head angle, wider bars, a shorter stem and meatier tyres. There will be two models, one alloy $2799, one the top end composite version pictured below for $4999. Hats off Giant for noticing what the savvier riders are modifying to their bikes, we see a lot of riders adding these style of components especially 120mm forks to their Anthems over the last couple years, making the bike shred just a little harder on fast and buff trails but not wanting to go bigger in rear wheel travel.
[divider]XTC Advanced SL 27.5[/divider]
The term ‘SL’ is given to Giant’s lightest mountain bike frame, the XTC Advanced SL. With a lighter composite layup and super minimal frame shape, this guy has one thing in mind, racing buff trails with maximum power.
Also going down the route of 27.5″ wheels even more for 2015, Giant’s 29er hardtail range is down to just two models in there Advanced composite only, using the older style frame with the more square shaped profile. We could’t keep our eyes of this one below, the attention to detail in the graphics and spec colour choices will not help you find it in the dark, so very black.
Giant cover the whole gamut of cycling, with no area unrepresented, including the entry level dual suspension market with this seriously great value and well-manufactured Giant Stance 27.5 with 120mm of travel.
Borrowing the frame shapes and styles from the Maestro range of the Anthems and Trances, the Stance cuts down in production costs with a simplified suspension design. A RockShox Monarch rear shock pivots around a single pivot and ‘flex stay’ arrangement (replacing one suspension pivot towards the rear axle with an area of flex in the aluminium frame) keeps the frame price down, but the component spec is still super capable for real off road riding. This bike ain’t just a comfortable ride, it’s decked out for the dirt, at an entry level price of $1599.
[divider]Trance Advanced 27.5 2[/divider]
The trail ready Trance series remains unchanged for 2015, but we couldn’t get past this red number for its bang for buck at wallet friendlier $3499. At 140mm of travel, the Trance series nail that all-day trail bike category, with most models with an adjustable seatpost as standard, and great geometry for shredding the rougher and trickier trails with confidence.
27.5″ wheels is the continuing theme for Giant’s range, and they are sticking to their guns on this size being the ideal wheel size.
[divider]Anthem Advanced 27.5 0[/divider]
The Anthem series also remains unchanged for 2015, with the 27.5″ wheels staying as the 29er Anthem options shrink to one alloy and one composite model. The 100mm of travel is managed by more RockShox than we’ve seen in years past, but the new Fast Black coating on the shock shaft boosts the sensitivity and smooth action of the shocks and forks.
This Anthem Advanced 27.5 0 would have to be one of the finest options for the cross country or marathon racer out there. Or if your focus is speed, and your trails are smoother then an Anthem could be your pick of the Giant bunch.
[divider]LIV, women’s specific[/divider]
For six years since Giant made a concerted push into making their women’s specific bikes that are more than a just smaller framed bikes with a paint job, Giant have created a whole new brand; LIV. For 2015 the LIV mountain bike range is very healthy, and we finally receive the Intrigue into Australia, 140mm travel dually that was previously only available in some international markets. The frame constructions for the Obsess composite hardtail, Lust 100mm dually and the new Intrigue but what we love most about these bikes are the fun, and vibrant graphics.
The Lust is womens specific from head to toe, we reviewed the 2014 aluminium Lust 27.5 2 and loved the capable, agile and well-specced bike that also looked so damn hot. With 100mm of suspension travel front and back, the Lust is based around the Anthem 27.5 platform, geared towards the cross country rider looking for the added control and comfort rear suspension gives.
Expanding on their parts, accessories and apparel to match the other big brands, we’ll see more Giant and LIV branded gear at a higher quality than before. A digital gauge floor pump will be available as well as a whole new foray into the footwear range. Lycra kit manufactured with the Australian brand, Jaggad and new-look trail gear.
So, keep your eyes peeled for more bikes to be announced soon.
McConnell and Henderson clinch bronze medals in exciting day at Cathkin Braes MTB Park in Glasgow.
Australian mountain biking duo Daniel McConnell and Bec Henderson found the podium in a thrilling day of cross country mountain biking at Cathkin Braes MTB Trails overlooking Glasgow.
Victoria’s McConnell clinched Australia’s first ever men’s Commonwealth Games mountain bike medal with bronze in the men’s event, while Canberra’s Henderson also claimed bronze in the women’s race, just the second medal for women in the discipline.
The men completed seven, and the women six, laps of a five-kilometre course of the Cathkin Braes Country Park, with thousands of fans flocking to watch races, despite dark clouds, periodic rain and blustery winds. The riders had to negotiate a tricky course that featured the Brig O’Doom, Broken Biscuits, and Clyde Climbs— all named by local schoolchildren.
In a nail-biting climax to a sensational men’s race, McConnell, 28, was out-kicked in the dying few hundred metres by the New Zealand pair of Anton Cooper and Samuel Gaze.
“Obviously I’m happy to walk away with a bronze medal, it wasn’t quite the colour I was after but I was just out-matched today by the Kiwi boys who rode really smart and tactical and I didn’t quite have the power to go with them,” McConnell said.
Earlier in the 35km battle which featured 33 riders from 18 nations, McConnell was forced to bridge a small gap created by a small group of leading riders a lap and a half into the seven-lap race. For much of the remaining five laps, McConnell went toe-to-toe with the lead group of four which included the Kiwi duo and Canadian Max Plaxton. The quartet became three inside the final lap, with the teenage Cooper attacking Gaze and McConnell with just 500 hundred metres remaining.
McConnell had no answer, with Copper crossing the line in a time of 1hour 38:26secs, three seconds ahead of Gaze with McConnell a further seven seconds back.
“It was a hard race, a fast course and I put all my eggs in that basket and it didn’t quite pan out, but I walk away with bronze so it’s not too bad,” McConnell said. “I had to put in a pretty big effort to bridge the gap, but I was still feeling pretty good and that was only the first lap-and-a-half. “It was a build up over the day, I really tried in the middle part of the race to break it up, but (with) the speed of the course there’s a lot of drafting and I couldn’t use where I’m strongest on the climbs to get the gap.
“(But) There’s not really an excuse today I just didn’t quite have the legs to go with them at the end,” added McConnell.
In other great results for Australia, Newcastle’s Cam Ivory finished in eighth, and Canberra’s Andy Blair in twelfth to finish a great day for Australian mountain biking.
Similarly to the men’s race, an Australian was faced with a battle against team mates, with Canberra’s Henderson, 22, outgunned by the Canadian duo of Catherine Pendrel and Emily Batty. 21 riders from eleven countries set out on the women’s race, with Pendrel, the 2011 world champion quickly establishing a lead of half a minute by the end of the first of six laps.
Together, Henderson and her Trek-Factory teammate Batty worked hard to pursue Pendrel but were unable reel her in. Pendrel cruised to cross in 1hr 39:29secs, just over a minuted ahead of Emily Batty who got over Henderson by twelve seconds.
“I’m so excited, this is my first Commonwealth Games and first medal and it’s such a privilege to be here and an amazing experience and I’m so happy, “ said Henderson who equalled Australia’s only medal in the Commonwealth Games mountain bike prior to day – Mary Grigson’s bronze at the 2002 event in Manchester.
“Catharine took off at the start and I was going to go with her and I thought ‘I don’t want to get caught in no man’s land’ but I kind of did,” she explained. “But I backed off and Emily caught up and we started working together to try to catch her.
“In the last two laps it was definitely on and I was there to defend the third place, I wasn’t going to let that go.”
Victoria’s Peta Mullens finished twelfth and Tory Thomas 14th.
This weekend at Mont Sainte Anne, Canada, two-time UCI World Cup Series champion Aaron Gwin will compete on an all-new, 200mm travel bike: The 2015 Specialized S-Works Demo.
“I’ve been on the bike for about a month now,” says Gwin about the completely redesigned World Cup bike he and teammate Troy Brosnan will be debuting at Mont Sainte Anne this weekend. “We got on it right after the National Champs because we wanted to get on it right away for comparison to the old bike on the same track.”
Gwin and Brosnan first got a chance to throw a leg over the new 27.5″-wheeled bike immediately following the 2014 USA Cycling Gravity MTB National Championships in Angel Fire, New Mexico, and found it to be a familiar, but faster, Demo.
“The thing I noticed right away was just how fast it was,” says Gwin. “It’s a really playful bike, but it’s a race bike through and through.” Gwin believes this bike “reacts quicker than any bike he’s ridden before.”
Utilising an asymmetrical design — producing the visually-absent seat tube on the non-drive-side — the radically-new approach to carbon frame construction is intended to lower the center of gravity and keep the frame as stiff as it has always been.
“You can plant it and change directions really quick because of how your feet sit on the bike” Aaron Gwin
“It accelerates fast because of the [lack of] weight and the stiffness.” Gwin says. “You can plant it and change directions really quick because of how your feet sit on the bike… there are not a lot of pivots so when you put force into the bike it reacts straight away.”
One of the interesting points Gwin makes about the new Demo is how the single-sided seat tube allows for easy in-and-out access to the rear shock.
“The switch was really easy and setting up suspension was easy,” says Gwin.”It’s something non-racers might not have to deal with very often. But anyone who races seriously knows how often you need to service, set up and remove your shocks. The access on the Demo makes it so easy, plus I just think it looks rad.”
A floating seatstay keeps the pedalling and braking forces separate, while the standard size 12×135 millimeter axle has been engineered to stiffen the rear end with a square design. However, Gwin says any stiffness gained in the rear end has not added weight. “It’s really light in the rear end, which allows the bike to stay agile. I really like a stiff bike so it’s great to not have to sacrifice any rigidity for the added agility.”
In this episode of Tales From The Soil, Nico Vink goes on a journey through the infamous Portes Du Soleil. He and his crew stop off at the new Airline in Les Gets and then head over the border to Switzerland for a session in Morgins. From fast downhill tracks, to smooth bikepark lines and big drops, this edit has it all. The Art Of Flow With Nico Vink | Tales From The Soil, Ep. 6
We wheeled out our Phantom camera to capture the agony and ecstasy of the riders at the recent Crankworx Les Deux Alpes Slopestyle contest.
The Phantom cam slows the action right down to 1,000 frames per second and so offers a unique perspective on the movements the riders have to go through when they lay down a trick.
Anthony Messere took a career defining first major win at Les Deux Alpes. Watch part of his winning run in super slo-mo above and enjoy the rest of the thrills and spills from what was a memorable contest weekend in France.
Flow was wandering the watering holes and local delicacy outlets of downtown Park City, Utah recently, when this rare mountain bike gem caught eye eye. Hanging on the wall of a dark and musky bar, with peanut shells littering the floor, and salty locals knocking back cheap beer and $5 burgers was a prototype Cannondale Gemini, with Anne Caroline Chausson’s name on the top tube. We thought we’d share the pics with Flow readers on this #throwbackthursday.
Anne Caroline Chausson may not need any introduction to some, but this French cycling legend has transcended the disciplines of BMX, downhill, four cross and now enduro racing with formidable skill, power and experience.
She won mountain bike races like these ones:
Junior downhill World Champion: 1993, 1994, 1995
Senior downhill World Champion: 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005
Senior dual slalom World Champion: 2000, 2001
Senior four-cross World Champion: 2002, 2003
World Cup downhill series winner: 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002
World Cup dual slalom series winner: 2000
World Cup four-cross series winner: 2002
Racing on the Cannondale team alongside Cedric Gracia, Anne was privy to some amazing prototype bikes with crazy designs that really pushed the boundaries of experimentation. There were some incredible engineers working at Cannondale at that time, namely a guy called Doug Dalton, who actually donated this bike to the bar in Park City. His zany passion for mountain biking has kept his name amongst the greats of the race bike development world.
Some of these crazy inventions made during this era never saw production, or even the race track. This guy in particular; The Cannondale Gemini used two rear shocks. Two!
The aim of this design was to have a bike that handled braking ruts, and ideally allow the bike to track to the ground better when braking over rough terrain. The red coil shock would handle the regular impacts, but their is a smaller short stroke FOX Float air shock tucked away under the red shock that was attached to a floating brake mount.
We would have loved to take this bike off the wall, turn it around (even give it a clean!) to show the brake side of the frame. But, no luck.
How cool is it!!?
[divider]Click the thumbnails below for more [/divider]
Head over to Vital MTB to check out a fantastic interview that Vital did with Doug. There are many more bikes that he keeps in his shed, featuring one of Cedric Gracia’s just like this one.
Trek claim to be the biggest bike brand in the world. Together with their accessories subsidiary Bontrager, Trek reportedly spend the most money within the industry in the pivotal area of research and development.
Looking at these claims, it would be an easy conclusion to make that Trek’s products should be well ahead of the game. Recently, Flow attended Trek’s interplanetary 2015 launch – Trek World – to find out just what this extensive funding and research has led to for their 2015 line-up.
[divider]Fuel EX series [/divider]
Trek World may be the official launch of Trek’s 2015 range, however new products have been trickling into Trek dealerships for months now. One of these early releases for the year was the Fuel 27.5. The Fuel used to be an outstanding 26 inch trail bike before it was given the bigger wheel treatment only two years ago, and Trek’s return to giving consumers a smaller wheel option came about after an outcry of public support for a 650b option.
The Fuel EX 27.5 rides a lot like the older Flow favourite, 26″ Fuel EX. Flickable, fun and generally looking to play more with the trail than its 29er brother. If you’re looking for a trail bike that’s fun to ride, can be thrown around a bit more than the mile-munching 29er and you’re not worried about lap times at the local XC course, the Fuel EX 27.5 is worth a look.
The Fuel EX range is in serious contention of being one the best trail bike range out there. Seriously, these bikes are amazing! Flow rode the 9.8 $5899 pictured here in volt green colour (available in both wheel sizes), a Shimano equipped Fuel EX and it’s managed to be even more impressive than Trek’s 2014 offering.
The major difference for this year’s model is the all new RE:aktiv rear shock, designed in conjunction with Penske Racing Shocks, the suspension gurus involved in Formula 1, NASCAR, and Indy racing. Put simply, this new suspension design incorporates ‘regressive damping’- where there is no compromise between low speed compression damping and high speed compression damping. The aim is to allow the shock to react to quick imposts, whilst retaining a firm pedalling platform to resist unwanted suspension bob. Leaving what would be a complicated description aside, the shock rides really, really well. On the first ride, the shock gave us so much confidence, especially coming into sections of the trail at high speeds and knowing your suspension is capable of handling the rough stuff, and climbing through chattery trails where the suspension performed exactly right, allowing the focus to be on the trail, not the bike.
The Fuel EX is available in both 27.5″ and 29″ wheels starting at $2799. The Fuel EX 9.9 29er below, is a real stunner for $9499.
[divider]Slash 9.8 [/divider]
Another key announcement at Trek World was the introduction of a carbon Slash 9.8. Trek have totally re-vamped the Slash range, aiming to increase their share of the booming all mountain/enduro market. The Slash features new beefy Bontrager Maverick wheels, which follow the new pattern of ultra-wide rim profiles, a Sram XO1 groupset, Bontrager 750mm wide carbon bars, Stealth Reverb dropper post and Shimano XT brakes. Adding to this excellent spec, Trek have decided to use the RockShox Monarch Plus RC3 rear shock (with piggyback reservoir), and… the RockShox Pike up front! This bike is seriously well-specced, and comes in at just under $6K, completely busting apart the myth Trek can’t produce well specced bikes at low prices. We’ll expect to see this lightweight shredder by the end of October.
So how did it ride? The bike felt light whilst climbing and through singletrack, with 160mm of travel being provided at just 12.6kg. Whilst this was the case, even with the fork dropped down into the travel with the Two-Stage adjuster the bike still felt a little reluctant climbing at anything more than a steady, social pace. As climbing like a cross country racer is not key focus for this bike it’s definitely to be expected to a degree, but it’s surprising that with the fork dropped to 130mm, consequently steepening the head angle, the bike still felt a little uncomfortable smashing through Stromlo switchback after Stromlo switchback with its slack and relaxed angles.
Descending, and negotiating tricky trails. That is what this bike is all about. When you point this bike downhill, it goes where you want it to. Through rock gardens, no problems, the RockShox suspension and Maverick wheels will handle that. Steep sections, no worries, the geometry is great for hanging right off the back and nailing the vertical stuff. This is such a capable bike that it was underdoing it riding on the generally buff and smooth Stromlo trails. It was begging for a trail made of sterner terrain. The downhill tracks were an adequate match for this bike, and it soaked up the high speeds, rough stuff and frequent flyer miles with aplomb. The only criticism that we had in our time on the bike when analysing its descending capabilities is that it takes a bit more prompting when popping off trail features, or jumping over a section of the trail. Don’t worry, it’s just a simple trade-off, the bike gobbled up hard landing and felt stable in the air landing where you expected it to.
[divider]Remedy series [/divider]
For the Remedy 29 in 2015 we see wider hub spacing for bigger tyres and increased chainring clearance, as well as an all new carbon frame – used for the top end 9.8 and 9.9 models. Trek have labelled the wider hub spacing only on true 29er ‘Boost148’, and claim that this move leads to a stiffer wheel as well as more tire and chainring clearance. Both the Remedy 29 and 27.5 switch to Sram 1x drivetrains for the higher end models in the series (9 and above).
Continuing with the dominance of Sram as a theme of this year’s models, Trek have decided to move away from Bontrager wheels with the higher end models and use the highly praised SRAM Roam wheels. The top carbon model, the 9.9, reportedly weighs in at 11.9kg at $9499. That is seriously impressive weight for a big travel 29er!
The Australian World Cup racing duo of Dan McConnell and Bec Henderson’s bike of choice – the Trek Superfly hardtail, are a mainstay of the Trek line-up. With the help of Gary Fisher, Trek have dialled in the geometry of these bikes to create quick handling and lively XC weapons. One change for the 2015 frame was to shorten the chain stays to further quicken the handling of the bike in the turns. In making this adjustment, the bottom bracket was lowered slightly, making the bike more stable at higher speeds. Other than these slight tweaks the frame hasn’t changed, but the spec of some models has been increased at no suffering to the retail pricing.
For example the Superfly 9.6, the cheapest carbon Superfly, still comes in at under $3000 but is now equipped with Bontrager’s tubeless ready Mustang wheels! Loving it! Again, as seen across all the mountain bike range, Trek have chosen to use Sram 1x drivetrains on the higher end models. Pictured here is the Superfly 9.8, $5399, due August with the SL frame (super light carbon layup and slightly different shapes).
Another point worth mentioning is the ‘Smarter Wheelsize’ approach to frame size versus wheelsize that Trek are taking for some of the lower end hardtails. The smaller frame sizes will use 27.5″ wheels, whilst 17.5″ frame sizes and above will come equipped with 29″ wheels.
In 2015 Trek have gone the 27.5″ route with their downhill weapon. The bike sports 210mm travel and longer chainstays for better high speed control. Another upgrade from the 2014 model is the full carbon EVO link that drives the rear shock. The carbon used in the Session is not a weight saving measure primarily, but a way in which to add strength to the frame. Judging by Brook MacDonald’s resurgence as a world cup force and Neko Mullaly emerging as a rider to watch in the future, this bike is obviously very capable, and very fast.
So there you have it. Trek truly have delivered some epic bikes for 2015, with great new technologies like the RE:activ rear shock, the carbon Slash and the introduction of 1x drivetrains across a number of models. After trying the new models for ourselves, we here at Flow think we’ll be seeing a few of these highly colourful bikes out on the trail!
Everyone knows Indonesia is a surfing paradise, but it turns out that it’s a mountain biking paradise as well. Just ask Tito Tomasi – he recently returned from an incredible MTB trip around the expansive archipelago that took him to Bali and Sumbawa. You can almost feel the islands’ amazing energy as Tito rolls through them.
The adventure started in Bali where Tito chases a trail around the Batur volcano. Then he heads on to Lombok island and the Rinjani volcano for a bigger challenge and a seriously fun ride. Finally, he rolls into Sumbawa and manages to catch a few decent waves. This trip was made possible by Lapierre bikes, SRAM, ION clothes, Urge helmet, POSCA coloring, Evoc, and Hutchinson tyres. Traveling Indonesia On A Mountain Bike | One World One Love with Tito Tomasi, Ep. 5
In late fall, we traveled to the high elevations of the San Juan mountains to explore the vast range and to test out our prototype suspension platform. Our trip took us to the southwest part of Colorado because the San Juan’s contain some of the most rugged terrain in Colorado and offer a loose network of trails — some fully developed, others just old mining paths filtering down the mountainside.
Fall in the Rockies is always epic, but the weather is variable. We encountered freezing temps and snow, but were rewarded with fresh loam and peak colors. In the end, after the trails were explored, weather was endured, flat tires were fixed, and a few beers were drunk, we found out what works and what doesn’t. Excursions like this are part of the feedback loop necessary to fully develop our suspension designs. SB5 Carbon & The San Juan’s. Proven Here.
Those crafty Colorado folk at Yeti have come out of nowhere with a wild new suspension design called Switch Infinity. Conceptualised by Yeti, manufactured by FOX Suspension, and built into a new Yeti SB5.
The popular SB platform with the Switch Pivot (SB66, SB95 and SB75) is a phenomenal design, just read the reviews, see them on the trails and look at Jared Grave’s results on his SB66. But the design was not without its flaws, it was often criticised for not handling sharp, square-edged impacts on rougher trails as well as other bikes, plus another big name frame manufacturer was rumoured to be concerned that the Switch was infringing on an existing patent. So, Yeti have thrown their best at a new design, and this is the outcome.
Combining the efficiency of the Switch on the existing SB bikes, with their crazy ‘rail’ system on the 303 DH bikes (which allows vertical wheel travel) the Switch Infinity is born.
We’ve ridden one briefly, and will be putting more time on one soon, but for now hear what Yeti have to say about the SB5 and stay tuned for a proper Flow review soon. We’re as curious as you are.
THE SB5C IS OUR INTERPRETATION OF WHAT A TRAIL BIKE SHOULD BE — LIGHTWEIGHT, GREAT PEDALING UPHILL AND A SCREAMER GOING DOWN. THIS BIKE WILL MAKE YOU SMILE.
We’ve taken all we’ve learned from our popular Switch Technology and merged it with our bump smashing 303 Rail Technology to come up with a completely new suspension design called Switch Infinity.
This new system allows the suspension to achieve seemingly contradictory characteristics. In the early stage of the travel it displays superior pedaling efficiency and excellent small bump sensitivity. As you move deeper into the travel, it is well supported and responds effortlessly to square edge hits.
What does that mean from a rider’s perspective? You can hammer away in all conditions, including rough, chunky ascents with zero loss in efficiency. You don’t get knocked off-line, and you have amazing traction. Point it down and it’s very fast. The controlled mid-stroke keeps the bike composed through rough terrain and g-outs, while allowing it to open up when encountering bigger hits deeper in the travel.
Our geometry has always been progressive and mirrors our gravity-influenced riding style — long top tube, low bottom bracket, and slack head angle. This allows the bike to achieve great front to rear balance when descending. When pounding the pedals uphill, you’ll appreciate the seat tube has been moved forward a bit to put the rider in the optimum pedaling position. It feels right from the moment you get on it.
And here’s the bell ringer — the frame weighs just 5.1 pounds and is very stiff, so you can hold your line no matter how hard you push.
Enduro World Series Round Four La Thuile is complete. What a weekend, the whole thing was such an eye opener – a really amazing experience. We had such a ball competing and riding in this part of the world, I met so many great people all out for the same thing.
I ended up 85th in Elite men which I was pretty happy with, before the race I thought maybe top 75 would be possible with a good weekend. I really underestimated the amount of people I would have to pass on each stage. Such a huge event and so professionally run with an Italian flavour and flair!
All in all an amazing trip, cant wait to do it again next year. Thanks to Giant Bicycles and everyone else for their support and to Flow for helping me share this experience.
Port Macquarie’s 24 Hour Solo MTB World Champion remains the JetBlack 12 Hour elite champion after claiming the title for the fifth time in a row at the event held at the James Estate Winery on the weekend.
Andrew Lloyd from Newcastle was second ahead of Michal Kafka from Sydney. The fastest woman overall was master winner Meredith Quinlan ahead of elite female winner Wendy Stevenson. It was the first time the long-standing endurance event had been held at the unique venue in the Upper Hunter Valley.
The goodness of the mountain bike trail at the James Estate Winery had been the talk of the endurance racing industry since the first Rocky Trail event there last year. But now, at the latest, it is clear that they have established themselves firmly on the map of Australian cycling destinations. For the first time the 11 km track with its combination of fun singletracks and fire trails with magnificent views of the winery and the Upper Hunter Valley was the venue for one of Rocky Trail’s major events, the JetBlack 12 Hour race.
Almost 400 competitors and more than 200 spectators were part of the event, which predictably saw Jason English race towards his fifth consecutive JetBlack 12 Hour elite solo title. Challenged by some of the best endurance mountain bikers in NSW and ACT, it had been the first race for the 24 Hour Solo MTB World Champion at James Estate. “All I can say is that I’m surprised”, said English during the prize ceremony after completing 22 laps in just over 12 hours. “I hadn’t expected a race track of such a high standard. It’s just perfect for lap racing with a good mix of technical singletrack and when you ride through the vineyards and even past the wine storage tanks, it’s very unique”, he added.
Andrew Lloyd from Newcastle, runner up in the elite 24 H Solo MTB World Championships last year, came in second behind Jason English with one lap down and a good half hour ahead of Quantum Racing team mate Michal Kafka from Sydney.
Notably, Singlespeed legend Brett Bellchambers from Canberra also claimed his fifth consecutive solo win in that division.
Magellan duo takes out line honours
Sydney-siders Paris Basson and James Lamb from Magellan Racing dominated the overall field all day and were the only team to complete 23 laps in the elite pairs division, taking the line honours. “I’ve been racing almost every Rocky Trail event this year and they just keep getting better”, said Paris Basson. “The atmosphere is just phenomenal! We heard the music on most parts of the track and the event centre was so well arranged, great food, great company – an awesome weekend out!” Team mate and solo endurance racer James Lamb agreed, “This was one of the best races I’ve ever been to. And this team racing thing is quite a challenge, man, you push each other to race as hard as you can, it’s actually tougher that I thought it would be.”
Another solo legend who found a taste for team racing at the start was Craig Gordon from Wollongong, who competed successfully for JetBlack’s BH Racing Team and took out the Team 4 Male Elite win. “I enjoy the group dynamic of team racing, we’re a good bunch of mates and I think you go even harder for that common goal – I’m happy about our win today”, the former 24 Hour Solo World Champion said.
Tough battle for overall female title
The elite and master female fields saw veteran women at the start line as well as 12-hour solo first-timers. As the day progressed, a battle between 49-year old elite racer Wendy Stevenson and the 42-year old Meredith Quinlan who competed in her age group (masters) erupted, which had spectators on the edge of their seats until the last lap. Stevenson had six minutes on Quinlan with an hour to go and was overtaken on the second-last lap. Quinlan dug deep and completed 17 laps, which was one more lap than Stevenson, who still claimed the elite women’s title of the day. Novocastrian Sue Pretto was the elite women’s second ahead of Alyssa Glyde from Canberra.
JetBlack 12 Hour to return to James Estate in July 2015
Mayor Martin Rush welcomed the event to be held in the Upper Hunter Valley, as he greeted the riders ahead of the race start, “It’s fantastic to see so many visitors to our region and hope that this event has found its new home at James Estate!”
Wine maker and trail builder Graeme Scott from James Estate and Race Director Martin Wisata from Rocky Trail agreed, “This is an ideal venue for the JetBlack 12 Hour race, we’re looking forward to seeing it grow and prosper in the coming years and to bringing more and more mountain bikers and their families into the region.”
The trails at James Estate are open for social riding all year and the trail head is located right next to the Cellar Door at Baerami.
Day one of racing done and dusted…well not that there was any dust it was pretty damn muddy!
What a humbling experience, with three huge stages with the first being over 10kms, taking me nearly 20 minutes! I managed to catch over 15 riders, making no new Italian friends, haha!
The track was pretty brutal after the whole womans field and 300+ riders in front of me had ripped their way down it. Getting to the start was hard enough with two chairlifts and a 40 minute climb in the rain! Stage two had us do a 45 minute climb plus a 20 minute hike-a-bike to the top of an amazing trail, with a mixture of taped open grass areas and steep singletrack.
Stage three ran pretty much from the top of the chairlifts which was nice and the track itself was pretty much a 15 minute full on downhill, so I was glad to see the finish line and a cold beer! Sitting in 90th, I just washed the bike and getting ready to do it all again tomorrow!
Michael Ronning of the Giant All Mountain Cartel is over in Europe right now, experiencing what racing the Enduro World Series is all about. After a quick stop in Finale Ligure (check out his edit great vid here) he’s now up in the Alps at La Thuile for round four of the EWS.
He just shot Flow a bunch of images from his first day on the mountain:
Ronning: “Holy [email protected]…talk about big mountains. I rode three of the six stages twice today – each stage has at least one thousand metres of vertical! Luckily all of these stages had chairlift access. There are three more stages tomorrow, though we’re not so lucky with the chairlift, two of them have an hour and a half climb to the top!”
If you only spend five minutes on the ‘net today, make sure it’s spent watching this. This has to be one of the most incredible trails we’ve ever seen, and the riding is amazing too.
What does your dream trail look like? Does it include loam-filled forests, steep terrain, huge rock slabs, and mountains all set against a beautiful ocean backdrop? In this episode of In the Dirt watch Pat Foster navigate one of the world’s most inspiring trails, hidden in the great Howe Sound of British Columbia. The filmmakers are calling it the Natural Line and it’s a screamer. Pat Foster Rides One Of The World’s Most Inspiring Trails | In the Dirt, Ep.
Bonjour, from the disgustingly scenic French Alps, where Flow has been invited to lift the lid on the 2015 Lapierre range.
For 2015 the Lapierre XR, Zesty and Spicy models will use e:i Auto, the next generation of e:i Shock. Frame construction and geometries remain the same as 2014 but a few spec changes will surely please those interested in these fine steeds. A full review will follow shortly, but first up let’s take a closer look at what e:i Auto is all about.
The main focus for Lapierre in 2015 is to improve on the whole e:i Shock system, their very successful electronically and automatically adjusted suspension system. e:i Auto is simpler, more discreet and from what we can gather the changes made will certainly iron out any of the issues that stopped the current e:i system from functioning correctly 100% of the time.
Electronic bits and pieces on mountain bikes are a hard sell to consumers. What’s the need, right? Well, let’s start by saying that there can be no hiding the fact that here are Flow we’ve been long fans of Lapierre bikes, we always seem to hang onto them for longer than usual. They tick so many of the most important boxes, especially when it comes to their very balanced and efficient rear suspension platform and ideal frame geometry for shredding trails with confidence.
Our most loved model – the Zesty – is a bloody kick arse bike for Australian terrain, it seems just right. But in truth we’ve had our fair share of issues with a few of the e:i bikes we’ve had on test. All the issues have been caused by two things; the computer connection, and the wiring inside the frame. We’re often asked how the Lapierre’s perform with the e:i Shock. We love it, when it works.
What is e:i Shock anyhow?
The system uses inputs from two different sensors – one at the front wheel/fork, one in the cranks – to determine the optimum setting for the rear suspension at any given moment. If you’re riding rough terrain, the system opens the rear suspension damping right up for the best bump absorption. If you’re pedalling along on undulating terrain, a moderate level of low-speed compression is activated. If you’re riding smooth terrain, the rear suspension is made firmer again. And all of this happens in 0.1 seconds.
It’s also able to be controlled manually – as did the original system – via the easily accessed button on the side of the system. An LED light changes from green, to orange and red to communicate what setting the shock is in.
[divider]What’s new with 2015 e:i Auto[/divider]
The bulky and plasticky head computer that sat on top of the stem is gone, so is the button console next to the grip. They’ve been replaced by just one small and unobtrusive button with one LED light sitting on the side of the stem – the LED indicates which mode you’re in.
The wiring connections and junctions between the sensors and battery inside the frame have also undergone improvements. These two factors alone immediately make us happy, and our faith is completely reinstated in the design.
Further simplifying the system is the removal of the front wheel magnet and without the display computer the speed, cadence, trip distance, time information etc is also gone. We won’t miss it, and everyone serious about capturing and monitoring data has a GPS type thingo or uses Strava on their phones anyway, so we doubt we’d be the only ones not missing these functions.
The battery changes shape and sits off the left side of the down tube, freeing up the area for a water bottle cage.
The cadence speed needed to activate the system has been lowered from 45 RPM to 30 RPM to accommodate for the impact larger diameter wheels and 1×11 drivetrains which often see a slower cadence. The system was originally developed when 26″ wheels were more common.
The automatic sensitivity settings have been reduced from five to three (the first three) furthermore simplifying the whole thing.
[divider]What’s new with the 2015 Zesty and Spicy range[/divider]
No more Formula brakes, in favour of more SRAM and Shimano.
All-aluminium seat stays on high end Zesty. No more carbon, plus they are narrower to reduce the heel rubbing experienced by many riders.
Easton wheels are gone from the range, replaced by Race Face and SRAM.
More RockShox spec, with the brilliant Pike through the range of Zesty AM and Spicy.
Michelin tyres on high end Spicy models, and the new generation (much tougher) Schwalbe Nobby Nics on Zesty.
New Fast Black coating on the RockShox Monarch rear shocks, giving smoother and more sensitive.
A revised spring curve and shock tune.
We can’t help wishing Lapierre had refined the e:i Shock system just a little bit more in 2013, these improvements we see now will surely future-proof the electronic system from the incidental problems that were experienced. The concept is flawless, it works remarkably well. Now it’s time to put some time on the new rigs to deliver our verdict.
In mountain biking circles, the whole shaved/not-shaved divide is pretty marked – are you a hairy wombat, or a sleek porpoise?
In their excellent ‘Win Tunnel’ series, Specialized take a more scientific look at matter of body hair. Sure, we know that this is focused on road riding, but it’s pretty damn interesting all the same!
Flow got a glimpse of the future last week when we were invited to take a sneak peek at the Scott 2015 range. This global giant of sport (not just cycling) always delivers a staggeringly broad and deep range, with incredibly light flagship models, exceptionally refined carbon frames and some of the most versatile bikes out there. Next year’s line up looks set to do it once again. Is it just us, or does the product cycle gets faster every year – it’s not even tax time yet! Here are some of the range highlights.
Of the bikes we had access to, it is only the Gambler which has undergone serious revision for 2015. This is no surprise, as the Spark, Genius and Genius LT have all had significant overhauls in the past few years. Nonetheless, Scott has pulled together a seriously stylish looking lineup, with some stunning lightweight cross country and trail bikes in particular.
SPARK series – 27.5″ and 29″
The world-beating Spark line continues to be available in two wheel sizes, with a 27.5″-wheeled 700 series, and the 29er 900 series. It’s not just the wheel size that differs between the two variants – with the smaller wheels the travel is increased to 120mm front and rear, while the 900 series runs 100mm. This makes a lot of sense, for many reasons; 100mm of travel helps keep the big-wheeler more responsive, allows a lower front end height, and the greater roll over of the big wheels requires less travel to rumble on through.
With 120mm, the 27.5″-wheeled Sparks have the capability to play double duty as a cross country race bike and as a trail bike too, which will ensure they continue to be a super popular machine for occasional racer. Add to this Scott’s killer ‘three-bikes-in-one’ Twinloc system, and you have a very versatile machine. This system (found across the Spark, Genius and Genius LT lines) reduces and stiffens the travel at the flick off a switch, and can lock the suspension out entirely if you push the lever through to its second position.
As in previous years, the Spark is available in a range of frame material configurations too. There’s the full IMP carbon frames, carbon front / alloy rear for the mid-priced bikes and then full alloy framed bikes are the lower end of the range. In a trend that we’re confident will become increasingly common, the 29er bikes are only available from size medium to x-large, while the 27.5″ 700 series runs from small t0 large.
We couldn’t take our eyes off the bumble-bee inspired Spark 900 RC, which looks stunning and weighs in at 9.9kg. The SRAM XX1 / Shimano XTR build kit is perfect. As with the other 29er Sparks, travel is rear travel is adjustable from 100-70mm on the fly,
One bike that was not on show (but which will be available in Australia) is the Spark 700 Ultimate Di2. As the name implies, it gets the full XTR Di2 treatment, plus a custom FOX iCD electronic lockout which runs off the same battery as the shifting. Even with all the electronics, this bike is said to weigh only 10.1kg, and it’ll be 27.5″ only.
GAMBLER series – Scott’s downhill beast makes the jump to big wheels
The big news on the downhill front is bigger wheels. It’s no secret that Brendan Fairclough and the rest of the Scott contingent have been experimenting with 27.5″ for some time now (we remember seeing test shots from at least 12 months ago), but now the larger hoops have made it onto the production bike.
While visually the frame looks pretty much identical, it has been re-engineered around the larger wheels to still facilitate some very short chain stay lengths even with 27.5″ rubber. Interestingly enough, the frame is ‘backwards compatible’ with 26″ wheels, though we can’t imagine too many folk will go down that route.
The Gambler retains its massive range of adjustability too, with the head angle alterable from 61-65 degree, 10mm of bottom bracket height adjustment and 19mm of wheelbase adjustment (from 421-440mm). Another subtle tweak has been made to the Floating Link suspension design. It still deliver 210mm of travel, but the kinematics have been tweaked to significantly reduce pivot rotation for better durability and less friction.
Two variants of the Gambler will be coming to Australia. The 710 here will retail for $7299. We don’t unfortunately have pricing on the 720, which comes with Shimano Zee and slightly cheaper suspension items.
Genius LT – more models available in Australia
Previously available in only very limited numbers, the Genius LT will finally brought into Australia in a fairly considerable manner for 2015. This is music to our ears, as we think this bike is a real gravity enduro weapon. With 170mm travel front and rear, the has enough to take on just about any trail. With the Twinloc system dropping the rear travel to just 110mm at the push of a button it’s a very versatile machine.
There are three versions of the LT making their way to Australia, from the incredibly light ‘Tuned’ version which is said to weigh just 12.1kg, through to the all-alloy 720 which we have featured here ($4799). Even the LT 720, kitted out with some fairly weighty parts, comes in at just on 14kg.
All three models feature the newly updated FOX 36 fork, Shimano brakes, stealth dropper posts and some of our favourite tyres on the market, the Schwalbe Hans Dampf.
Genius series – 27.5 and 29er options once again
For a number of years now, the Genius has been one of the leading long-travel trail bikes on the market. It doesn’t try to position itself as a really hard-charging bike, but instead focuses on bringing longer travel into the realm of lightweight, all mixed in with geometry that is evenly balanced between climbing and descending.
As with the Spark and Scale, the Genius is available in both 27.5″ and 29″ wheel sizes, with 150mm and 130mm travel respectively, though it’s the 27.5″ bikes grabbing the lion’s share of sales. Again, there are full carbon, full alloy and alloy/carbon mix frames in the line-up too, depending upon the model. Topping the range is Tune series Genius, which is a sickeningly light 10.6kg out of the box, but it’s the 710 and 910 models that we think are the real meat and potatoes of the Genius range, with their reliable XT drivetrain and Rockshox Reverb posts.
The $3999 Genius 740 (below) is the entry level steed in the Genius 27.5 range. All that’s missing is a dropper post and it’s set! If 29″ wheels are more your thing, the Genius 950 is a very reasonable $3499 too.
Scale series – amongst the lightest on the market
For the racers, the Scale is a hard one to look past, if only for the amazing off-the-shelf weight of some of the models. Again, there are 700 and 900 series bikes ( 27.5/29 ) available at a number of price points.
It’s Nino Schurter’s bike of choice, the Scale 700RC team replica, that grabbed our attention, for obvious reasons. It looks truly amazing, and at 8.6kg it’s crazy light too. Scott actually do offer an even lighter version, with the 700SL claimed to shed another 100g (for just another $2000 ).
Our favourite mountain biking mad bastard is back! Dan Milner heads to Scotland this time in his latest Trail Ninja video, for some loch-side singletrack and to hunt down ‘Morag’ the legendary beast that dwells in Loch Morar. This bloke knows not to take mountain biking too seriously, even when he’s in some serious situations.