One of the first indicators that Specialized was succumbing to market (or perhaps industry) demands and dipping a toe in the 650b market, was the release of the popular Purgatory all-mountain treads in a 650b form. This excellent all-rounder rubber is now available for mid-sized hoops, which is a brilliant thing as we happen to think Specialized tyres are some of the best out there (you can read our review of the Purgatory 29″ here) and we welcome the chance to fit them to other 650b bikes. The tubeless ready Purgatory is only available in a 2.3″ width for now, and the 650b version weighs in at 755g. We’re currently riding these on a set of Specialized Fattie SL wheels and the combo is excellent!
If you regularly travel with your bike (or if you’ve just got a bike worth protecting properly!) then you’ll appreciate just how much easier life is when you’re using a proper bike bag, as opposed to a cardboard box. The new Mega Bag from PRO is something of a hybrid between a soft bag and a hard bike case. It has a subframe that you secures your bike’s dropouts, then the wheels simply slip into the pockets on the side. There are numbers zip-up compartments inside too, perfect for stuffing your riding kit into to get the bag right up to that 32kg limit! The bag itself weighs 7.5kg, but it’s very well padded and with four quality wheels, scooting around the airport is easy too.
Bont are widely known for their high end, immaculately constructed shoes, so the addition of quality shoes at an entry to mid-level price point is very exciting. The Riot shoes incorporate technologies that have trickled down from their higher priced models- for example carbon composite construction to create a sole stiffer than Greg Minnaar’s neck, mesh inserts for ventilation, dual Velcro and ratchet closing system and replaceable sole guards- especially useful for scampering up those unrideable sections of trail.
The Bontrager Lithos helmet places the seemingly all-encompassing all-mountain/enduro crowd firmly in its sights, with more coverage out back than your average XC lid to assist you when things get a bit rowdy on the trail. Despite this, the Lithos remains quite light for its profile, with the medium coming in at 330 grams. Bontrager also claim to have the answer to one of the biggest problems for any regular rider- smelly helmet syndrome. The AgION Fit pads have moisture-wicking antimicrobial pads which Bontrager claim “completely eliminate odours”. This will be put to the test on an upcoming trip to Alice Springs which is sure to bring about an outpouring of bodily juices in the cranium region.
Speedwolf are a direct to you lights retailer, allowing them to keep their prices pretty low in comparison with similarly specced lights on the market. The Speedwolf IV is a 1500 lumen light that retails for $179, shipped free of charge straight to your door with a 14 day no questions asked return policy as well as a one year warranty- pretty impressive. Useful mountain biking features include adaptability to be run on both your handlebars and helmet, 5 hours of run time on high and the peace of mind that you can get the light wet as both the light itself and the battery are waterproof.
A couple of months ago we tested the Awaba 2.0 from Cell Bikes. Now we’ll be the first to admit that in the past, Cell haven’t exactly been near the top of the game in mountain biking, but the Awaba 2.0 really impressed us. The reason for the brand’s turnaround really comes down to one man, Dave Musgrove, and when you watch this vid of Dave shredding it up at Sydney’s Old Man’s Valley you can see why he knows all about creating a great handling bike.
The 2014 DH season came to a close with a bang in Meribel, delivering one of the best races of the year. Sam Hill returned to the top of the podium with a spectacular winning run, wildcard riders mixed up the usual standings and cheering fans wielding chainsaws, air horns and flags lined the Méribel course from top to bottom. Not to mention the crowning of a new World Cup Champion, Josh ‘Ratboy’ Bryceland.
The Parkin Bros were trackside, capturing all the spills, thrills and highlights from the last World Cup race of the season.
The seventh and final round of the 2014 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup wrapped up the overall series in Meribel, France this weekend after a fierce weekend of racing where Australia’s top riders featured heavily on the round and series podiums.
The UCI World Cup Series included events in seven countries, across four continents, with riders contesting rounds in the Olympic Cross Country, Downhill and Cross Country Eliminator disciplines.
On a very fast and rocky track that descended 550m in 2100m length, it was Sam Hill (Chain Reaction Cycles.com/Nukeproof) who shone on the weekend, winning the round and proving to the world that he is back to his best.
Hill is a dual World Cup Series winner (2007, 2009) and broke an almost four year World Cup race win drought earlier this month by taking first place in Mont-Sainte-Anne in Canada.
Following close behind was Adelaide-born Troy Brosnan (Specialized Racing DH), who rounded out a stellar 2014 by recording a career-best Word Cup Series performance of third overall, one point in front of friend and former teammate Hill.
Brosnan took the podium in five of the seven World Cup races on the way to his third place, winning in Fort William, UK and recording a third place in Leogang, Austria and Windham, USA.
The overall winner of the men’s downhill series was Josh Bryceland (Santa Cruz Syndicate).
In the women’s downhill, Australia’s Tracey Hannah (Hutchinson UR) finished fourth after an exciting World Cup season, which included podium places in five of the seven races, as well as winning the Canadian Open DH at Crankworx this year.
In the overall rankings, it was Manon Carpenter (Madison Saracen Factory Team) who held on for the win.
In the junior women’s, fellow Australian Tegan Molloy was the stand out star, earning the Junior World Cup Series winner crown.
Molloy recorded five wins from the seven races, riding to her best finish in the Series in Canada to finish 11th in the Elite field with a time of 5:32.750, an exceptional result from the young NSW rider.
In the cross-country, Australia’s Dan McConnell (Trek Factory Racing) secured back-to-back UCI World Cup Series podiums finishing third overall for 2014, after taking the podium four times across the Series.
McConnell had a best finish of 3rd place in Mont-Saint-Anne in Canada and only narrowly missed out on making the podium in the last round, coming in at sixth place.
World Cup series leader Julien Absalon (BMC) and World Champion Nino Schurter (Scott Odlo) remarkably won all seven events between them this year.
Absalon held on for the win, securing his sixth overall World Cup Series title.
In the Under 23 men, Australia’s Cam Ivory placed 22nd overall in a series including some challenges, a great result.
Australia’s Bec Henderson (Trek Factory Racing) had her debut year at Elite level and had an excellent year to finish inside the top 20. The highlight of her World Cup year was on home soil during the third round in Cairns, crossing the line in 10th place.
Jolanda Neff (Liv Pro XC) was the overall winner for the women’s Cross Country.
Starting on the Friday, and kicking off the final round of races in Meribel, was the Cross Country Eliminator, a 725m course that saw riders taking a gondola to the start line.
In the men’s overall standings, it was Australia’s Paul Van der Ploeg, the reigning World Champion, who would shine with a fourth place in the overall series.
Van der Ploeg had a solid World Cup season, medalling in each of the first three rounds and making the podium in four.
Fabrice Mels (Salcano Alanya) was crowned the elite men’s champion and Kathrin Stirnemann (Sabine Spitz Haibike) was victorious in the elite women’s series.
The trials UCI World Cup Series is currently at the midpoint, and Australia’s Janine Jungfels took the honours with an outstanding win in Meribel, taking the honours in the third round of the five race series.
The mountain bike world’s attention now switches to the World Championships, which starts in Norway on September 2nd.
Event Management Solutions Australia, Australia’s leading event promoters of the hugely successful SEQ Gravity Enduro Series is taking their Enduro format on a road trip this February. Starting in Mt Buller on February 1 the ROCKSHOX ENDURO CHALLENGE POWERED BY SRAM will see riders tackling a challenging series of stages with a combination of self powered and assisted liaison stages
Taking on some of the best trails that the Mt Buller resort has to offer with a minimum of 5 different competitive stages, both the technical skill and physical endurance will be tested. With the addition of live music at the finish and a full day of practice on the Saturday, it will be a full weekend of Enduro riding.
Five weeks later will see riders head to Queensland to take on the best that Toowoomba has to offer on Sunday March 8. In the backyard of EWS king pin Jared Graves, participants will be able to race on the trails that Graves trains on. Venue of recent Qld Enduro Championships and the 2104 Oceania Championships, Jubilee Park will give those visiting from out of Qld a taste of some loose and fast racing
Supported by RockShox and Powered by SRAM with Giant Bicycles as exclusive bike partner there will be over $10 000 in cash and product prizes on offer for both the pinners and the punters with heaps of random draw prizes for all involved from SRAM and RockShox, plus a bike from Giant.
EMS Australia has been developing (Gravity) Enduro events since 2009, fine tuning the delivery methods, including scheduling and timing aspects of the day to ensure that riders and spectators alike are treated to an enjoyable day of Mountain Biking. Recent learnings from the Enduro World Series have enabled us to further enhance this experience.
Utilising a new touchless timing system, riders will be able to view, stage and overall times as soon as they have completed all stages.
Full details and website will be released in September.
For Sponsorship and media enquiries please do not hesitate to contact
Cutting to the chase, SRAM/Avid’s run with the Elixir series of brakes over the past few years has been up and down. We’ve ridden plenty of good sets, but reliability has not been a strong point and consequently we saw a lot of brands move away from SRAM OEM spec (take Specialized for instance). But now SRAM are looking to put that all behind them, with the new Guide series of brakes.
If you’re thinking that the Guide lever body has a similar profile to the old Juicy series of brakes, then you’d be partially right. SRAM have moved away from the notoriously air-sensitive Taperbore reservoir system to a far more conventional reservoir design, ala Shimano, which should cope with the odd air bubble without going into an inconsistent meltdown. Look beyond the reservoir configuration and you’ll find that the Guides are a world away from the Juicys of yesteryear.
There are three variants of the Guide brake; the RSC version we have here puts all of SRAM’s latest braking innovations on display. The R stands for reach, which is adjustable using the large forward-facing dial on the lever blade. No longer do you require dexterous child fingers to twiddle the reach, and the problems with the adjuster fouling on other bar mounted levers, which sometimes occurred with the Elixirs, are gone.
The C stands for contact point. Spinning the round dial on the lever body gives you control over the amount of lever free stroke before pad engagement. Again, it’s far easier to use than the is-this-actually-doing-anything in-line system found on the Elixirs.
Finally, the letter S stands for SwingLink. The lever blade does not directly drive the master cylinder on this model of the Guide brake – instead, the lever actuates a separate link that then pushes the piston. What this accomplishes is a variable rate of leverage (much like Shimano’s servo wave), moving the four brake caliper pistons quickly at the start of the stroke, then more gradually deeper in the lever throw. The idea is speedy engagement, with better modulation of the power once the pads are on the rotor. Speaking of the rotor, SRAM have brought in a new disc pattern called Centreline, which aims to remove the warbling magpie sound effects that accompanied braking with the Elixirs.
On the caliper end of the line, you’ll find the exact same four-piston as graced the Elixir Trail series brakes. This end of the system never had an issue, so it has been continued on. The other models of brake in the Guide series are the Guide RS (no contact point adjustment) and the basic Guide R, which has a simpler lever construction without the SwingLink or bearings on lever blade pivot.
We’ll be testing these in the coming months, so we’ll soon find out if the Guide can lead SRAM’s brakes to the top of the market. Pricing is $239/end, excluding rotors.
Yeti has introduced the new AS-Rc cross-country bike, expanding its line of ride-driven products. Built for cross-country racers and trail riders, the AS-Rc rolls on size-specific wheels and delivers 100mm of optimized rear wheel travel. The AS-Rc will begin shipping immediately as a complete bike.
Australian Frame pricing is $3890
US Spec XO-1 $7990 AUD US Spec XX-1 Enve – $12,990 AUD
The super lightweight (4.2lb. frame and shock) and efficient suspension has been dialed for shorter travel with an updated and modified single pivot design. Yeti has worked closely with FOX to refine the suspension rate to give the AS-Rc a predictable feel that holds up while pedaling and retains composure when the trail begins to get rough. The new AS-R frame is designed using a carbon Dogbone link to add considerable stiffness to the chassis and sports Yeti’s progressive geometry (69-degree head tube angle, long top tube, low bottom bracket) that has been borrowed from their experience in DH and Enduro. Wheel size on the AS-R is optimized with 27.5” wheels on the Extra Small and Small frames, and 29” wheels on Medium through Extra Large Frames.
“We have been out of the cross-country market for several years, so it was important that we nailed the form, fit, and function of the AS-Rc.” said Yeti President and co-owner Chris Conroy. “The AS-R has been a storied bike in our line. We raced cross-country for nearly twenty years and have produced some greats in the sport. XC racing is in our DNA and we’re excited to reintroduce people to our heritage with a bike that showcases Yeti’s progressive geometry.”
Yeti Cycles is a rider-owned high-end mountain bike company, based in Golden, Colorado that has crafted race-bred and hand-built bicycles since 1985. The company has over twenty-five years of racing experience and focuses its product development on making racers go faster. If you visit their offices at noon, they won’t be there – they’ll be out riding. Visit www.yeticycles.com to learn more.
Wow, what a track for the final round of the UCI World Cup Downhill series!
From the looks of Claudio’s preview, it’s a very natural track, with plenty of un-ridden surfaces and it looks to be widely taped off. This all translates to exciting racing, with the riders able to make line choices and crafty decisions to get the most out of each run.
Tune in to RedBull.com for the finals, 1.50am, Saturday night Sydney time. Woo!
The quality of the team videos being produced now really is pretty staggering! The Trek World Racing team are leading the way with awesome post-race media.
“Trek World Racing today releases the third instalment of STORIES for 2014. The North American leg of the Mountain Bike World Cup is always full of surprises and comes well into the 2nd half of the season, and in the middle of summer. All of our riders were looking fast at both race venues, and scored some great top ten results both in qualifying and finals. Watch as Brook bounces back from crashing in Canada to a podium in Windham, and the other riders all score great results over the 2 rounds.”
Mountain biking in the Northern Territory is set to make its debut on the National Series race circuit.
John Pyper from the Central Australian Rough Riders (CARR) mountain bike club and Mountain Biking Australia executive officer Shane Coppin announced today that the Lasseters Easter in the Alice Mountain Bike Muster will be a part Australia’s National Cross Country Marathon Mountain Bike Series.
The Lasseters Easter in the Alice (LEITA) is a three-day, four-stage mountain biking event that utilises the mountain bike tracks around Alice Springs, NT. It is run by the local mountain bike club, the Central Australian Rough Riders (CARR).
From next year, the first stage of the LEITA will also be the first round of the National Marathon Mountain Bike Series. This is the first time in mountain bike history that the NT will host a round of a mountain biking national series.
Mr Pyper said: ‘This news is huge! It’s massive!’
‘The only other sport to hold a national series event in the NT that I know of is the Tatts Finke Desert Race.’ The Tatts Finke Desert Race, a two-day motorsports event, is part of the Australian Off Road Racing Series.
My Pyper said: ‘Adding Lasseters Easter in the Alice to the National Marathon Series will make our club-run event one the pre-eminent mountain bike events in the country.’
Mr Coppin from Mountain Biking Australia (MTBA) visited Alice Springs in the wake of this year’s LEITA event to discuss the recent mountain biking developments in the Red Centre and to discuss ways MTBA could support and further enhance that development. He was full of praise for the riding scene in Alice Springs and the Lasseters Easter in the Alice event, with its trademark emphasis on participation and Territory-style hospitality.
‘It’s a very active scene,’ Mr Coppin said. ‘There’s a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of support from council and local tourism bodies.
‘JP (Pyper) is a very passionate character, and he and the club are putting on a great event.’
Mr Coppin hopes the NT round of the National Marathon Mountain Bike Series will attract riders of all skill levels and abilities.
‘As executive office of MTBA, one of my goals is to host a national event in every state, to ensure that as a national body, we’re putting on a truly national series, taking mountain bikers to as many points across the country as possible.
‘MTBA recognises the challenges of hosting events like this in a place like Alice Springs. Linking a national series like this to a national holiday gives people a chance to travel to these places and to ride in these events.
‘I encourage riders to travel to Alice Springs to ride in the National Marathon Series and associated events.
‘The quality of the event and the hospitality you will receive in Alice Springs is impressive. I enjoyed my time in Alice Springs,’ Mr Coppin said.
About Easter in the Alice Mountain Bike Muster
The Lasseters Easter in the Alice MTB Muster is a three-day, four-stage mountain biking event, plus a kids ride. It is run by the Central Australian Rough Riders (CARR), and it is held in Alice Springs from the Saturday to the Monday of the Easter long weekend.
An afternoon of whips, trains and stoke has wrapped on Crabapple Hits, and a new King has been crowned at the Official Whip-Off World Championship at Crankworx Whistler. 14-year-old Finn Iles finished the day with a cheque for $2000 and the respect of riders, industry and fans.
“I’m unbelievably stoked,” said Iles. “I don’t even know what to say. It’s so awesome.”
It’s been a whirlwind week for Iles after receiving the go-ahead in the event..
“It’s been pretty exciting…when I found out I was in I was so stoked,” said Iles. “People were telling me that my whips were good enough to win, so I just tried to throw down as best I could and I ended up winning. I’m super happy.”
“Finn took it in stride when he was told he couldn’t get in but then everyone rallied behind him,” says mom Alison Iles. “We’re just so proud of him, it’s great.”
Coming in close behind Iles was last year’s winner Bernardo Cruz (BRA), with Andreu Lacondeguy (ESP) taking the third podium spot. Fourth and fifth spots went to Ryan Howard (USA) and Graham Agassiz (CAN).
A top female whip was also named – Casey Brown (CAN) earned the distinction, one she say’s she’s proud to have even though the field was small, with only two competing.
“I think a lot of people have this ‘women can’t jump’ kind of mindset,” said Brown. “But I’ve been doing it for such a long time, it’s probably my favourite things to do. You just show up and ride with a bunch of friends all day. You couldn’t ask for a better day really.”
A panel of five judges, including Tyler McCaul, Sven Martin, Duncan Riffle, Alan Cooke and Craig ‘Stikman’ Glaspell had the tough task of evaluating the whips. Glaspell said three things were a part of the final decision.
“The beginning of the whip, the actual whip and how they land – there’s some guys that are doing really sick whips but the take-offs a little sketchy and the landing’s a little sketchy. So kind of hitting all three is what we’re looking for.”
When asked why riders and fans get so stoked about the event, Glaspell said it’s a simple formula: “It’s not about perfection, it’s just about having the sickest whip.”
Crankworx has a new King and Queen of the pump track – Caroline Buchanan (AUS) and Barry Nobles (USA) each won their respective categories during the Ultimate Pump Track Challenge presented by RockShox at Crankworx Whistler. Their individual victories were made all the sweeter by how stoked they were for each other.
“To do it the same night as my teammate, Barry Nobles…he’s also my boyfriend so, fairy tale night for both of us and a long time coming,” said Buchanan. “We’ve both never been at the top of a podium together.”
“That’s the best part, and I mean, this is Crankworx,” said Nobles “It’s one of the raddest events all year.”
Buchanan was the first to celebrate, after beating Jill Kintner (USA) in both rounds of the big final. Kintner’s loss was definitely unfamiliar territory – she’d won the event for the past four year. There was much buzz around the possibility of a five-peat coming into this year’s race.
“Jill’s a veteran here, she’s won it five years in a row – unreal rider,” said Buchanan. This year I knew I had to get a really good start, death-grip the turns, leave nothing in the tank and I came away with the win.”
Taking the third spot was Anneke Beerten (NED) who won both rounds of the small final against Vaea Verbeeck (CA).
When it came time to the men to race, Nobles’ background in BMX clearly served him well. He beat Tomas Lemoine (FRA) in both rounds of the big final.
“Feeling pretty good. I’ve been in a few pump track events before and always cheese-it come finals, so it was good to finally make the finals and actually take the win.”
His countryman Paul Basagoitia (USA) took the third podium spot after beating Mike Day (USA) in the small final.
Men’s Results: 1. Barry Nobles 2. Tomas Lemoine 3. Paul Basagoitia
Mountain biking’s defining celebration is breaking new trail and setting the course for the future of the sport. Crankworx organizers announced today that world-class riding will kick off the 2015 mountain bike season with a brand new stop on the Crankworx circuit – Crankworx Rotorua. From March 25 to 29, 2015, the festival will alight in New Zealand for five days of two-wheeled competition, spectacle and celebration.
“We could not be more excited to be bringing Crankworx to Rotorua,” says Crankworx General Manager Darren Kinnaird. “The trails in New Zealand are out-of-this-world. Adding Rotorua allows us to grow the celebration and share what Crankworx is all about – it’s a gathering of the world’s best riders from all disciplines of mountain biking. It’s mountain biking at its most raw.”
Along with its latest festival, Crankworx will be transforming many of its biggest events into stand-alone series’, including the triple crown of slopestyle, a pump track challenge series, a dual speed and style series and a four-race Crankworx downhill series (two of which will be in Whistler). The Enduro World Series will also kick off the 2015 season in Rotorua as a part of Crankworx.
The dream was to find the right home for our third Crankworx stop so that we could continue to share events that showcase the best mountain biking athletes in the world. Rotorua is beyond perfect. This is a game-changer.
“The momentum behind Crankworx is continuing to charge forward – it’s become more than a mountain bike festival. It’s become a culture,” says Kinnaird. “We’re now able to offer athletes and the world a series of events to get stoked about. The dream was to find the right home for our third Crankworx stop so that we could continue to share events that showcase the best mountain biking athletes in the world. Rotorua is beyond perfect. This is a game-changer.”
Rotorua has become known as the home of mountain biking in New Zealand. Red Bull’s magazine, The Red Bulletin, ranked Rotorua’s Whakarewarewa forest in the top eight mountain biking destinations in the world in 2013 – the only Southern Hemisphere location to feature.
“We are so stoked to be bringing Crankworx to Rotorua. Where else can you watch the biggest names in the sport throw down, then ride alongside them in the same day?” says Event Director for Crankworx Rotorua and Owner of Mountain Bike Rotorua, Tak Mutu. “It’s a chance not only to showcase the trails that have brought people from all over the world to Rotorua, but also the dirt, the culture and the spirit of the people.”
Mutu, along with Deputy Mayor of Rotorua Dave Donaldson, have been in Whistler taking in the 11th year of the fest in Whistler.
“Sitting here at the foot of the trails of Whistler it is easy to see what an opportunity this is for both of us.” says Donaldson. “In terms of global exposure for mountain biking events, Crankworx is number one, so securing the third international location is a fantastic thing for Rotorua. We’re so excited about what we can bring to this festival and to the mountain biking world.”
Specialized are the boss. With their gap-free range of exemplary bikes, strong and visible marketing, thorough array of parts and accessories and their excellent in-house components, it’s no wonder these guys sit so high in the mountain bike food chain. What’s new for the next season? What can they improve on? For 2015 Specialized release a new Enduro, and do more than just dip a toe into the water with the 650b bikes.
We snagged a few quick test rides around the Gold Coast’s fast and zippy singletrack of Nerang, and and in between dirt time we perused the halls of the 2015 dealer show, and picked out our fave new rigs for next year. Here are our thoughts on the new bits and bobs from the bold crew from Morgan Hill, California.
Click on the smaller images for captions and details.
Highlights from the 2015 mens mountain bike range:
New Enduro with 650b wheels.
New wide profile Roval Fattie wheels.
Stumpjumper EVO with 650b wheels (released a few months ago).
New 380g dropper post with a slight 35mm of drop, the SXP, on Epic and Stumpjumper HT.
Low-tread aggressive Slaughter tyre on Stumpjumper EVO, Demo and Enduro range.
The Camber remains unchanged for 2015, aside from a couple of spec changes.
You’ll have to look hard to find SRAM brakes, with more Shimano and Magura on the vast majority of models.
There are five fat bikes…jeeeez.
Specialized have had a bike named ‘Enduro’ in their lineup for many years, long before it became a trendy buzzword, and the sport blew up on the international scene in a big way. The Enduro comes in two flavours, 650b and 29″, with a couple of carbon models and one aluminium framed versions available in Oz.
The downhill World Cup superstars Aaron Gwin and Troy Brosnan both raced the Enduro 650b at the first two rounds of the 2014 World Cup in Pietermaritzburg and Cairns. If they can whack a dual crown fork on an Enduro and light it up at World Cup level, we have no doubts that it’s up to the hardest riding we can deliver.
When Specialized released the Enduro 29, they focused heavily on keeping the bike’s dimensions short in the rear end, with the chain stay measuring a paltry 430mm thanks to the development of a special front derailleur mount (or by ditching it completely for SRAM 1×11 models). 29″ wheels on a 155mm-travel bike is a tough one to get right, but the end result was amazing, the bike never felt too big or too long.
Still, a bike with 29″ wheels still has its drawbacks, hence the smaller 650b option. Here at Flow, we ride medium size bikes, we love to jump, pump and let the bike hang out on the trails, slide a bit, pull manuals and hoon around. That’s where a smaller wheeled bike shines. What the 29″ Enduro gains over the 650b Enduro in traction and sheer rolling speed, it loses to its smaller brother in agility and playfulness. It’s your pick! To be completely honest, we often wish we didn’t have to think about wheel sizes so much. Will bikes like the Enduro all be 650b in the future? We hope so.
We took the 650b out for a razz, and holy moly did we love it! Our initial fears that on the fairly flat and buff trails of Nerang would not be enough to fully appreciate such a capable mountain bike, were banished when we let the brakes off and burned around the turns at reckless pace. So much suspension should really suck you of your pedalling energy, but we give this Enduro the thumb up.
Specialized offer the Enduro in the up-for-it EVO format too, with slightly more travel (180mm) and Rockshox BoXXer and an Ohlins coil shock too. In fact, it’s pretty much the exact bike that Gwin and Brosnan raced early in the season!
Carrying the same name as the world’s first ever mass-produced mountain bike, the Stumpjumper FSR is a bike that suits the traditional mountain biker, one who favours all-day rides, up and down all types of terrain. The good old Stumpy is a well-loved, comfortable and capable classic.
Starting at $3199 for the Stumpjumper 29, the FSR range is an eight-strong offering of well-specced bikes. There are six 29ers (including two EVO models) and two 650b EVO models as well.
The Stumpjumper EVO 650b was the first bike that Specialized announced would be rolling on 650b wheels. The news was received with mixed feelings, as we all know how strongly Specialized professed that 29ers were the way forward, and they had 29″ wheels across the overwhelming majority of their mountain bike range. But, hey presto, we have an Enduro, Demo and a Stumpjumper in 650b now. Maybe Specialized didn’t do themselves any favours with their somewhat awkward media release headlined “Bigger is better, except when its not”. But either way, we welcome 650b bikes to the catalogue.
Giving the purchaser the option of the same bike in two wheel sizes is both a blessing and a curse. Is there too much choice? Or is this the way the whole industry is going?
In the Stumpjumper 29er series, there are no real changes from 2014 aside from spec. The regular Stumpjumper 29 still has 135mm travel, and the two EVO versions (one carbon, one alloy) get a 5mm increase in suspension travel, a long fork, with a few key parts to boost its attitude, like meaty tyres and wider handlebars.
When it comes to the 650b bikes, there are again two options, in carbon or alloy. Instead of making expensive new moulds for the 650b, Specialized have actually added a spacer under the headset of a 29er Stumpy mainframe, to achieve the right geometry for 650b parts to be used, coupled with an entirely different aluminium rear end. Compared to most of the superbly refined range, especially the 650b Enduro, the approach of using a spacer to correct the frame geometry for 650b wheels feels a little underdone. In Specialized’s defence, we’ve been told that through simply using the spacer, they were able to achieve the right geometry without the costs of constructing a completely new frame. So that’s got to be a good thing for the consumer, as they aren’t cheap in the first place.
Construction aside, how did the 650b Stumpjumper ride? We took out the bright yellow Expert Carbon 650b out for a solid few laps, and we liked it for the most part. The geometry is quite unique though, in classic Specialized form, the bottom bracket is low, but this one had us banging pedals on the ground when climbing up rocky terrain. Too low? We think so. Our cranks were scuffed up after one lap.
The handlebars are fairly tall too, we’d drop them down or swap for a flat bar unless your local terrain is steep. On paper, the tall bars, low bottom bracket and a fairly sharp 68 degree head angle seems like an odd combination, but it rides well. The smoothness off the FSR suspension was a real highlight, and cornering the bike was a blast, with oodles of traction and a very confident and centred position with wide bars holding your body in a good position for any unpredictable terrain ahead.
The trails of Nerang are hard packed, with loose gravel and sand patches to catch you out. A few jumps here and there, and many flat turns. The Stumpjumper really was a hoot to blast about on, we’d love to keep one in our quiver for the long all-day rides. Just watch your pedals on rocks.
HT = hardtail. No rear shocks on this one; it’s got an eye for the buffed cross country race tracks.
There are five models in this racy series this year, only one of which is alloy. For 2105, the Stumpy HTs get a SWAT kit (allen key set mounted to bottle cage) and we see a FOX Terralogic fork creep back into the range on the Marathon Carbon. FOX’s Terralogic damping system is not too different to the Specialized Brain damper which many Specialized riders will be familiar with, using an inertia valve to keep the fork firm until you hit a bump.
It’s funny to say, but it’s the seat post on one of the Stumpy HTs that really got us going! The XCP dropper post is found on the Stumpjumper HT and a couple Epics, and with a slight 35mm of drop, it allows the rider just that perfect bit of freedom to move about when the trails are rougher or steeper. It’s a part-carbon post, in 27.2mm diameter, with a neat internally routed cable. Mmm, chapeau Specialized on that one! We think this is just the ticket for cross country racers who don’t need a 100 or 125mm dropper post.
The back end of this bike is gorgeous, with an allen key bolt-up rear hub axle in place of a quick release skewer and a pair of very thin seat stays, offering a bit of give and compliance to the ride quality of the lightweight hardtail.
Specialized Australia bring in a whopping nine models of the Epic in three variations. The three variants of the Epic differ slightly, but are based around the same FSR suspension with a FOX Brain rear shock. There is the mighty sharp angled and lean Epic 29 World Cup, the generously geared and SWAT equipped Epic 29 Marathon, and the regular Epic 29. It’s no wonder why the Epic is the only dual suspension bike to win a World Championship XCO race, these guys are bred for the race track.
There’s no 650b wheels on any Epic, they 100% lend themselves to the bigger 29″ wheel’s rolling efficiency and generous traction.
The World Cup model uses only 95mm of suspension travel front and back. In a world where 100mm of travel is as lean as you get from almost every other brand out there, the Epic World Cup doesn’t pretend to be anything but a pure cross country race bike. All World Cup models use a single-ring drivetrain, and without a front derailleur to worry about, Specialized can go to town in the name of stiffness, with a wide and remarkably fat chainstay. Behind the chainring the tolerances are tight, all in the name of achieving a stiff, and responsive pedalling bike.
We snuck out on the Specialized S-Works Epic 29, the top of the pile, $12500 bike for a couple laps of the buff Nerang trails. What does a bike that costs this much ride like? Not too bad… Ok, it’s a real delight. The low weight, quick wheels and snappy handling made for a fast feel that you’d expect from the most premium of bikes available. It’s not hard to see what you’re spending these type of dollars on when you’re actually riding it, believe us. The new Shimano 11-speed XTR paired with the RockShox RS-1 fork makes for a jaw droopingly gorgeous parts kit and with a Brain damper in the fork matching the FOX Brain rear shock, you can make it as firm or plush as you like with a twiddle of the dials.
Twisting and winding our way through the open forest, we relished in the momentum and efficiency of the low-weight 29″ wheels. The Epic is a super sharp handling bike, with class-leading efficiency and pure speed.
This was also Flow’s first ride on the wild new inverted fork from RockShox. Sure, it twists when you hold the wheels between your knees and pull and push the handlebars, more than a SID would, but on the trail its another story. The carbon legged RS-1 is so incredibly smooth, supple and quiet on the dirt. The fork really takes a lot of the sting out of the trail with the combination of both a good suspension action, and a little bit of ‘give’ in the chassis, in a good way. We’re still worried about the price and exposed inner legs to trail damage, but we love its look and feel so far.
The Epic would have to be our pick for the cross country races or multi day stage races in the calendar.
Now you can ride the bike that Troy Brosnan piloted to a World Cup win in Fort William this year. A 650b wheeled Demo 8.
Specialized have released a completely new S-Works Demo Carbon that is due early next year, but still honour the masses with two versions of the immensely popular aluminium Demo, tweaked to fit 650b wheels.
Aside from the upsize in wheels, the Demo is now available in a new sizing range called S3 Geometry. No longer are the bikes XS, S, M, L etc, where the length and height increases with each size. Instead, you you choose your length, and you choose your height. This has come about from riders going a size up on their downhill bikes for the stability of a longer wheelbase, and so now you can a long size without the seating position going higher if you don’t wish to.
FIVE fat bikes in the Specialized range for 2015. Isn’t that nuts? Like a tumour, it’s growing, and this just proves it.
The Fatboy Expert with a RockShox Bluto fork is a bit of a winner, and with decent suspension, the bikes don’t bounce about uncontrollably anymore. We might even test one…
[divider]Body Geometry and the Retül fit system[/divider]
Specialized bought the exclusive rights to the industry leading Retül Müve body fit system. If you see one of these at your local Specialized dealer, sign up for a proper fit. It’s a whole-body experience and will let you get the most out of your bike, in comfort.
The world’s first year-round, gondola accessed mountain bike park was officially opened at Skyline Rotorua last weekend.
Associate Minister of Tourism Hon Todd McClay, declared the park open this morning and top riders from around the country all descended on the trails to get a sneak peek before it opens to the public on Saturday 9 August.
Mr McClay says the Skyline Rotorua Mountain Bike Gravity Park was an impressive result of the government’s Tourism Growth Partnership investment of $225,000, which funded a portion of the park’s development in partnership with Skyline Enterprises.
“This is a world-class downhill mountain bike facility that will further cement Rotorua and New Zealand as an international mountain biking destination, which aims to attract significant international events,” he says.
Eleven dedicated gondolas each take four riders and their bikes to the top of Mt Ngongotaha where the trails start.
The Skyline gondola takes the hard work out of the park’s 200-metre vertical rise and allows for 3,000 runs a day. Eleven (out of 33 ) dedicated gondolas each take four riders and their bikes to the top of Mt Ngongotaha where the trails start.
The Gravity Park provides tracks for most skill levels with 8.5km of trails braiding down the side of the mountain, including multi-grade features, a 300m jumps section, and international-grade slope style and downhill lines.
The trails include Simple Jack (Grade 2 ), Daywalker (Grade 3 ), Hipster (Grade 4 ), Sprint Warrior, Moss Piglet and Ten Fifty One (Grade 5 ), with more track developments to come with the completion of international race lines by March 2015.
The mountain bike park has full-time patrollers, monitoring trails and providing advice and assistance as required.
Skyline Rotorua owns and operates the Gravity Park, with Multi Day Adventures contracted to project manage the build and design, with Empire of Dirt building the tracks. Multi Day Adventures will be offering on-site bike hire, repairs and mountain bike skills courses.
Skyline Rotorua general manager Bruce Thomasen says the Gravity Park adds to the business’ ongoing developments aimed at expanding Rotorua’s tourism offering.
“The trails make you just want to session it run after run, and get quicker and quicker – fast and flowing lines, into big berms and well-built jumps, with a bit of off-camber natural trail thrown in, just to keep you honest. The jumps at the bottom are like the icing on the cake, with big step ups, tables and structures, with more to come I have been told. This place is awesome.”
“Skyline Rotorua now offers a true destination experience, from adventure with the Gravity Park, the new Zoom Zipline, the iconic Luge and the Skyswing, through to more relaxed experiences like the nature trails, Volcanic Hills wine tasting, the Jelly Belly Store, Market Kitchen and the restaurant,” he says.
“We have invested in the Gravity Park to target the fast growth market of mountain biking, which has seen huge success right here on this site before. Skyline Rotorua has previously hosted the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in 2006, as well as two successful Rotorua Bike Festival Skyline Sprint Warrior downhill races. Both of which have seen a fantastic response from riders, the mountain biking community and the general public,” explains Mr Thomasen.
Skyline Mountain Bike Gravity Park is the second mountain biking venture for Skyline Enterprises, with the Queenstown operation (opened in 2011) offering riders access to Queenstown District Council trails from September to May.
Top New Zealand mountain biker Lisa Horlor rode the trails for the first time and says the Gravity Park is incredible.
“The trails make you just want to session it run after run, and get quicker and quicker – fast and flowing lines, into big berms and well-built jumps, with a bit of off-camber natural trail thrown in, just to keep you honest. The jumps at the bottom are like the icing on the cake, with big step ups, tables and structures, with more to come I have been told. This place is awesome.”
The park will offer everything from half day passes at $55, to full day, three day, three month, half year and full year passes at $899 (earlybird offer $799 till September 7) for unlimited gondola and downhill mountain bike trail access during opening times.
Marcelo Gutierrez has just won the the longest MTB downhill event IN THE WORLD, the Crankworx Garbanzo DH in Whistler, Canada. Rough as [email protected]$k, gnarly, and extremely exhausting – this is twelve minutes of absolute, full-on insanity. Marcelo had this to say about the Crankworx 2014 track: “Longest DH in the world… most physical, I would say is the roughest time I’ve seen it, Garbanzo DH is just insane. Tons of lines, millions of roots, bone dry, rocky, faaaaaast sections, sweet berms, pedaling sections, technical, tight corners, wide open corners, it has everything!!! I love it… Probably when racing it is actually really painful but nothing’s better after 12:24 of pain than crossing the line and getting that victory I was wishing for so bad!” Congratulations Marcelo, you’ve earned it.
Last night the GoPro Dirt Diaries happened at Whistler Olympic Plaza in front of a crowd of over 4000 people as a part of Crankworx Whistler.
A total of six videos put together by invited athletes and their selected filmmakers and teams screened in front of fans and a judging panel of five of the mountain bike industry’s most influential film professionals. The level of videos was stepped up again for 2014 and fans were wowed by some of the best riding and stories told to date.
The invited teams were Claire Buchar with the Summer Of Summit filming crew, Kirt Voreis with filmer Gunner Oliphant, rider Wade Simmons with Connor Macleod, Ross Measures with filmmaker Matt Dennison, rider Andrew Taylor with Long Nguyen and slope style rider Yannick Granieri with Jules Langeard.
At the end of the night, the top three finishers who took home $10,000 in total prize money were:
1. Ross Measures and Matt Dennison – $5000
2. Kirt Voreis and Gunner Oliphant – $3000
3. Claire Buchar and the Summer Of Summit Crew – $2000
One of Canada’s finest exports (the other is undoubtedly maple syrup), Devinci bikes are riding a wave of love at the moment, driven by the exploits of World Cup downhiller Stevie Smith. The new Spartan is Devinci’s 160mm-travel, 27.5″-wheeled, Enduro-ready machine and its origins flow directly from the World Champs race bike that Steve Smith rode in Pietermaritzburg last year.
The Spartan is built with a carbon seat stay assembly, but alloy everywhere else, thought a full carbon version of this bike will be coming to Oz in the very near future (see the vid below for more). Dave Weagle’s Split Pivot suspension design is well-proven now, delivering 160mm of travel via a Rockshox Monarch Plus shock.
Geometry is adjustable with a simple shock mount/chip system. In the slackest setting, the held angle is an outta-my-way 65.8 degrees, and 66.4 degrees in the steeper position. Full geometry is listed below, and the frame weight is around 3.5kg.
350 riders who came out to test their Enduro mettle at the SRAM Canadian Open Enduro presented by Specialized at Crankworx Whistler were met by, what many described as, the toughest course they’d ever done. At the end, two pro riders bested them all – Jared Graves (AUS) sat atop the Pro Men’s podium, solidifying his spot at the top of the Enduro World Series (EWS) point standings, while Cecile Ravanel (FRA) finished fastest in the Pro Women’s category, winning her first EWS race.
“It’s my first win and it’s the best one to win, in the best place,” said an elated Ravanel. “At the beginning of the season I said that I preferred to win one Enduro World Series race in Whistler than two or three others during my career.”
Ravanel’s win in 58:04 put her one step up from the two women who’ve spent most of this season battling it out for top spot – Tracy Moseley (GBR) finished the day in second place with a time of 1:00:11, while Anne Caroline Chausson (FRA) took third with 1:03:11 after a puncture slowed down her final run of the day on Stage Five.
For the Pro Men, the end of the day reflected the current EWS rankings, but certainly not the beginning of the day. Jared Graves’ massive run in the final stage was enough to earn him the top of the podium, a total time of 51:11 and enough to make up for some challenges he faced during the first four stages – a fork malfunction had been slowing him throughout the day.
“I was really battling through that for the first four stages,” said Graves. “But we got an opportunity to come back here and work on our bikes and get it sorted out. We just nailed a good last stage. It’s rad.”
In second place behind Graves was Nico Lau (FRA) who took second with a time of 51:13, while Curtis Keene (USA) rounded out the podium, taking third with a time of 51:27.
In total, winners in all categories walked away with a total of $25,000 – the richest prize purse in the EWS.
Before the winners crossed the finish line, the story for most of the day remained consistent – the course, that some renamed Crankzilla.
“I maybe spent eight hours on my bike today,” said Ravanel.”With the warm weather, it was crazy.”
The buzz around the course exploded when it was unveiled earlier in the week. In the five transitions, riders climbed a total of 2,442 metres over 36.53 kilometers.
Designers of this year’s course focused on technical style while presenting competitors with a cross section of Whistler’s finest. The resulting trails were well-received by riders, and will continue to benefit the community. Extensive work was done to re-route, upgrade and reactivate Crazy Train and Boyd’s Trail before the race, while Micro Climate, the trail used for Stage One, is a very recent addition to the Whistler Trail Network.
Looking to the future, the points Moseley earned for her second place finish keep her at the top of the women’s rankings of the EWS, while Graves’ win solidifies his spot at the top of the men’s.
“There’s only one round to go and I’ve got a good points lead now. It’s a big goal but…I couldn’t be happier right now. It’s sweet.”
The final EWS race of the season, Finale Ligure Superenduro powered by SRAM, round 7 of the series, will take place October 4-5, 2014.
Next up on the Crankworx calendar is the first of three DH races – the Garbanzo DH hits the dirt Tuesday, August 12, followed by the GoPro Dirt Diaries film competition.
Specialized have a history of taking women’s needs seriously. The company’s 2015 range of women’s bikes took up 30% of the floor space at the Australian and New Zealand launch, a firm statement about the variety of bikes on offer for different types of riders.
While some brands offer ladies a modified head tube length, reach and standover in comparison to their men’s line, Specialized bikes sit in–between the men’s sizes.
That is to say that a medium women’s frame has tube measurements that place it in-between a men’s small and medium. A female rider of average height will sit closer to the middle of the recommended height range for a medium frame, rather than at the top end of a small. Imagine that!
Other features of the women’s range include carbon lay ups better suited to the weight range of their intended users offering a more compliant ride feel. You’ll also notice slightly easier gearing, narrower bars, appropriate stem lengths, a parts selection that’s comfortable at key contact points and aesthetics designed for ladies who want to look fast and get their bikes dirty.
With the exception of two entry-level bikes, the women’s mountain bike range is sticking with the 29” wheel size for 2015. The new women’s XC dual suspension weapon, the Era, was the talk of the show. Racy women will consider selling every expensive possession they own for the experiences this high end, and surprisingly versatile bike, offers on the trails. For us, the biggest highlight was the Rumor Evo trail bike because it’s simply so much fun to ride.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time on the 110mm trail bike, the Rumor last year. This year, the range gets extended at the top end with an Evo model, which sees the travel bump up to 120mm and the angles slacken slightly as a result.
We’ve seen a few women reaching for a small sized Camber Carbon Expert Evo, ourselves included, for the longer travel and more serious spec than the 2014 Rumor range allowed. The Rumor Expert Evo sees similar spec to the Camber Expert Evo, but built around an alloy frame: SRAM X01 and a 120mm RockShox Pike fork being the two parts that draw most attention from prospective owners. It’s great to see Shimano XT brakes make their way onto this bike too. We love the smooth ride feel they offer and they’re well suited to smaller hands.
The low standover of the Rumor frame means riders don’t overstretch the tendons of the inner thigh when getting on and off the bike, something that becomes an issue for shorter statured folk when a bike is raised higher off the ground with 29” wheels. In comparison to our time on the Camber, we were able to squash our weight down further when riding technical descents, making the bike feel much more responsive and in control. Our centre of gravity felt more balanced allowing us to really play on the bike without having to force our riding position.
The rest of the Rumor range remains at 110mm travel and has a refined spec for 2015. Shimano brakes adorn all but the $2299 base model. The range tops out with a new Elite model coming in at $4,399. This one will run a RockShox Revelation fork, a 2×10 drive train, Shimano SLX brakes, a Command dropper post and also comes in a stealthy black.
There is still no model available in carbon, which is either because engineers are still finding a way to make the frame shape remain strong with this magic material, or because Specialized feel the market isn’t quite there yet. While we’re hanging for the carbon model as much as the next girl, riding the Rumor and a Carbon Camber back-to-back, we’d choose the alloy frame for the performance offered by the more intuitive-feeling fit.
While the Rumor Evo is the bike that grabs our attention for trail riding, the new dual suspension 29er, the Era, is the showstopper. The Era for women is what the Epic is for men: a high performance race bike designed with speed and winning World Championships in mind. In fact, Annika Langvad rode a pre-production Era to her Marathon World Champs victory a month ago causing much internet speculation about this new women’s frame.
Everything about the top of the line S-Works Era takes racing as seriously as the women who will ride it. SRAM XX1 build, light Magura MT8 brakes, RockShox RS1 forks, Roval Control SL carbon wheelset. And with gloss black decals over a matt black finish, it looks the part too. The Era runs 100mm travel at the front (90mm on small models) and 95mm at the back.
Again, the sizing of the Era sits between the men’s sizes and offers lower standover. The carbon layup reflects a lower weight range of the intended users, which, paired with such a blinged out, carbon build, gives the bike a much softer and more compliant ride feel than we expected. In fact, the finished product is so tight and agile, we wouldn’t be surprised to see riders on the small size choose it over the burlier Rumor.
Running the Specialized Brain front and rear and weighing in at a reported 10.1kg for the top of the line model, the Era has all the benefits of a racy hardtail buts lets you be less precise in line choice and take on rougher trails at a higher speed. This adds to the versatility of the bike. It’s one we’d love to do a tough stage race on for sure.
Pointing to the high-performance aims of the Era is a high flying price tag. The Black Beauty you see here will sell for $11,499. The Expert model is $7,199 and the base model is a $4,499, once again reflecting a race-ready build.
The Fate hasn’t changed a whole lot since we tested the 2013 model. It has undergone some welcome refinements in spec, which point to ever evolving parts selection available for a light and nimble hardtail. The suspension remains at 80mm keeping the front end nice and low.
The S-Works Fate gets the SRAM XX1 treatment, a change from the 2×10 SRAM and Shimano drive train it ran last year. A price tag of $8999 points to the zero comprise parts list Specialized use when assembling their top of the line bikes and the cost of extreme dieting.
While nine grand for a hardtail will make some riders open their eyes wider than the Great Australian Bite, you have to hand it to Specialized for continually bringing bikes into the women’s market that sit on a level playing field, in terms of spec, design and fit, with the men’s.
The Expert Carbon Fate is the model that attracted us the most. It’s a more modest build than the S-Works model, for a more modest spend ($4,499). That said, the build is everything most riders need: a carbon wheelset, RockShox SID forks (with the Specialized Brain), a 2×10 chainset, and a beautifully designed and fitting carbon frame. The Comp Carbon Fate will sell for $2,999.
Another new model for 2015 is the Jynx. This bike is the only one in the Specialized women’s range built around 650B wheels. The idea here is that this mid-size wheel is less intimidating for riders who are new to the sport.
The robust looking Jynx is designed for people who want to get out and discover what mountain biking is about. It’s more than capable on singletrack and equally comfortable for explorations on fire roads.
Three models are available, ranging from $649 to $899 for the Jynx Comp 650B.
Two new sets of shoes hit Australian shores for 2015. The Cadette will appeal to girls who want something that looks like a running shoe, but offers some of the stability of a cycling shoe. It also gives riders the option of running clipless pedals.
The 2FO Flat Women’s shoe is a bright looking shoe for ladies who like to ride flat pedals. The sole has been carefully developed to offer the right balance of grip and durability. An SPD option isn’t available yet for the ladies, but we’re hoping that’s not the case for long.
Keep an eye on Flow for highlights from the men’s range, including the new 650B Stumpjumper Expert Carbon and S-Works Enduro Carbon.
We knew the racing was going to be close at Windham, but nobody expected Josh ‘Ratboy’ Bryceland to be able to lay down such sizeable a winning margin on the short and high-speed American track.
Taking the win with an impressive 1.58 seconds, Bryceland secured his second World Cup win of the season, and the second of his career, from Specialized’s duo Aaron Gwin and Troy Brosnan. In the women’s field, French pocket-rocket Emmeline Ragot sprinted to the win by an even bigger margin of 2.88 seconds from Rachel Atherton and Tracey Hannah.
With dry and dusty conditions, mixed with such a short track, riders were pushing it right to the edge. Recap on all the action with this banger of an edit from the Parkin Bros.
Last week, Flow was fortunate enough to spend the day up in the rolling hills of Old Hidden Vale, a serene oasis of singletrack to the west of Brisbane. We were there to take a closer look at the 2015 line up from Advance Traders, the Aussie distributors of Norco, Merida and Lapierre. Old Hidden Vale is a key location in the Brissy mountain bike scene, home to a suite of races, and the kind of place you could easily lose yourself for a weekend of riding – put it on the list!
Here we bring you our pick of the 2015 Norco bunch, the bikes that got us most excited and which we hope you’ll take a shining to too. We took advantage of Old Hidden Vale’s fast, swooping trails to get familiar with the Sight C 7.2 as well, and we’ve included our first ride impressions below.
Of all the bikes on display, it was the Sight, Range and Revolver series that really grabbed us. Norco’s year-on-year refinement over the past four or five years has been pretty incredible to watch, and the brand has certainly lifted in our esteem. Here are our favourite models.
The Range series, now in its second season as a 650B-wheeled bike, is globally one of the brand’s biggest sellers. It’s the embodiment of an all-mountain machine; 160mm-travel at both ends, with geometry that blends balls-out descending with respectable climbing. There are both carbon and alloy models, and for 2015 they share the same geometry. In 2014, the alloy versions had more of a ‘trail’ focus with slightly steeper angles, but Norco have realised that riders on a budget (or just fans of aluminium) want to shred the descents too, so they’ve now given the alloy bikes the same ‘enduro’ geometry too.
The $5999 Range C 7.2, above, had riders clamouring all over it, and while we weren’t able to bag a test ride on it (mainly because we couldn’t stop ourselves from riding the Sight!), we we grabbed it for a closer look.
Combing a carbon mainframe and seat stay, with an alloy chain stay / linkage, the Range C 7.2 comes in at around 12kg. The construction and all black presentation is instantly appealing, and it’s specced to the eyeballs with some of the finest ‘enduro’ finery going. Geometry wise, the bike runs a 66-degree head angle, which is balanced enough to rail descents and still negotiate flatter trails or an uphill switchback without feeling like a barge.
As with most bikes in the Norco line up, the Range series employs Norco’s Gravity Tune concept, which essentially means the rear-centre measurement of the bike is shorter for the smaller sized frames and longer in the larger frames. As opposed to traditional bike sizing (which simply lengthens the front-centre or top tube measurement in bigger sizes), the Gravity Tune concept is designed to keep the rider position consistent across the size range.
While the C 7.2 was the show stopper, the Range series continues in fine form all the way down to a very attainable $2699 price point, maintaing the same geometry and travel throughout, with smart spec too. We think it’s the $3699 Range A 7.1 that’s going to fit the bill for a lot of riders. For this money, we’re yet to see a more refined all-mountain bike than this one.
The geometry and suspension design is proven, but it’s the clever spec that makes this bike a winner; putting a Pike on a bike at this price is just about unheard of, the FOX CTD shock is reliable and smooth, the tyres are excellent, the cockpit suited to task… there just aren’t any real holes in the bike at all. We’re certain that a lot of riders will ditch the front derailleur and go single ring, which will just make this bike lighter and lower fuss once again.
The $2699 Range A 7.2 hits a very tasty price point. Lower cost suspension (X-Fusion and Marzocchi) and the absence of a dropper post help keep the price down, but the frame is identical to the Range A 7.1 and all the key elements are there: stiff fork, excellent tyres, clutch derailleur, wide handlebar…. it’s all sorted.
One step down in terms of travel, you’ll find the Sight series. This 140mm-travel platform has had accolades heaped upon it by the cycling media, and we tested one last year in Rotorua. For 2015, Norco have continued to refine the Sight, and the carbon Sight C 7.2 is one of the nicest trail bikes we’ve seen for the new season. We spent more time on this bike than any other out at Old Hidden Vale and the improvements offered (particularly in terms of the suspension) represent a big leap in performance.
There is an awful lot that we liked about this bike, but nothing more so than the way it encouraged us to sprint flat out at every corner, just to see how fast we could get around it! It grips like a go-kart, accelerates like a much shorter travel bike, and has geometry that made us look for things to launch off everywhere – it’s just fun. We’ll definitely be looking to secure a full review on this bike in the coming months.
With 650B wheels, we feel that 140mm of travel is a real sweet spot for technical trail riding, as is the Sight’s geometry with a 67.5 degree head angle. The geometry is actually unchanged from last year, but the bike now comes with a shorter stem and a wider bar, and the better part of a kilo has been shed with a far more suitable tyre choice. On top of all this, the Sight C 7.2 gets a ridiculously good suspension package, with Cane Creek’s new DB InLine shock and a Pike RC fork.
Just as with the Range series, the Sight series trickles down to some pretty competitive price points with alloy-framed variants that share the same geometry. In the Sight series, it’s the $3599 Sight A 7.1 that we feel is going to be a favourite. The Shimano blend for the drivetrain and brakes is perfect, and the tasty Rockshox Revelation and KS dropper post just sweeten the deal.
One bike that had a perpetual cloud of admirers was the Formula 1-esque Revolver 9 SL, and it’s not hard to see why – it has the vibe of some kind of ‘concept bike’, but this is a full-blown production model. Sleek construction, complemented by the new inverted Rockshox RS1, lets you know this bike lives for the racetrack. The $5999 price tag seems a lot, till you consider the fork alone will set you back almost two and a half grand at retail.
As Norco’s cross country race series, there are both 650B and 29er Revolvers available – they haven’t committed to a single wheel size for this genre of riding just yet. We recently reviewed the 2014 Revolver 7.1, so we’re eager to review the 2015 29er equivalent.
Hold tight for all the highlights from the 2015 Merida range too, in the coming days, including their all-new 120mm platform.
DHaRCO is a new mountain bike clothing company born out of a desire to make products suited to Australian conditions. The result: custom fabrics suited to a warm climate, designs that riders will still reach for off the bike, and a functional simplicity, which comes into its own on the trails. Impressed with the cut, feel and visual appeal of the new range we sat down with DHaRCO Designer, Mandy Davis, to learn more about the work that has gone on behind the scenes.
Davis is a downhill rider and racer who calls Sydney’s Northern Beaches home. She started the brand because she couldn’t find any clothing that suited what she was after in terms of comfort and style.
‘I wanted something Australian I guess,’ said Davis, whose designs reflect the Australian surf culture’s success in blending form and function with bright colours and a casual, comfortable feel.
‘I wanted something that was more lifestyle, that you would be happy to wear walking down the street.’ Something she wouldn’t feel self-conscious in if she wanted to do the groceries at Coles on the way home from a ride.
Davis had a close look at existing products and noticed that they included several extra panels to make them ‘look’ sporty, without adding any real performance benefit. ‘I did some analysis and worked with some pattern makers and said, “Is there any real functional benefit from that?” And we came to the conclusion that it was mostly aesthetic.’
One thing we noticed immediately about the debut DHaRCO range is the soft but functional feel of the fabrics. Davis revealed that these are the product of a two-year design and research phase. She is a keen believer that you shouldn’t need a whole lot of bells and whistles on a garment, like complicated ventilation or adjustment systems, to compensate for the limits of the materials. A commitment to performance from the outset has resulted in innovative and practical fabrics that have been specifically developed for this Australian company.
There was a lot of crash testing involved in the development of the fabric for the shorts. The winning material is durable, has a soft moisture-wicking texture against the skin, a water and mud-repellent outer, and is constructed in a way that still feels very lightweight and moves well on the bike. The shorts appear to be the company’s biggest seller so far with people trying them on and refusing to take them off, ourselves included. In fact, we’ve even been known to work next to the heater in winter, just so we can keep these shorts on after a ride.
‘The other feedback is when people ride, they just don’t notice that they’ve got them on,’ added Davis. ‘And I think that comes from the fabric which is really nice. And the cut is just really simple. Again, same sort of thing, a lot of other shorts will have various panels and sections that make them look really sporty, whereas I’ve gone with a simple line and a simple cut.
‘I think you feel this when you’re wearing them. They just feel easy to wear.’ They’re definitely a product to look at for Australian riders who find the thicker fabrics of other baggies too hot to wear through summer.
The range also includes t-shrts, long sleeve jerseys, and jerseys with a three-quarter sleeve. ‘The jerseys, for example the men’s three-quarter, are really awesome for Australia,’ said Davis. ‘The back is pretty much all mesh, and then the same under the arms. It just gives really nice airflow. The girls’ designs have mesh side panels. And then there’s the Dri-Release, which is a quick-dry type of fabric with a really nice feel.’
Dri-Release is another fabric specifically developed for the company that has surprised us in terms of comfort and performance. It is used in the selection of men’s and women’s t-shirts that can be worn for a more casual look on or off the bike. We’ve been using them a lot for commuting as well, and like the soft feel, combined with fabric technology that doesn’t get whiffy after a couple of rides.
Another key distinction between DHaRCO and their competitors is that their women’s range provides riders with as many styles, and even more colour options, than the men’s range. This is something that girl riders will be particularly grateful for, and points to Davis’ reasons for creating the range to begin with.
‘You’ve got four choices in the long sleeve jersey and three in the three-quarter and three in the t-shirt. I think that variety sets DHaRCO apart,’ said Davis.
‘But the men’s stuff is equally really nice,’ she added. ‘The feel and the look are a little bit different to what’s out there. A bit more casual, a bit more down to earth, for the everyday person that wants to get out and ride.’
At just 16 years old, Remy Morton is undeniably one of the most incredible rising talents in Australia. If you’ve ever seen him ride a pump track or downhill, you’ll know what we mean when we say he’s one of the most stylish, effortless riders out there. This edit by Ty Bowmaker will open your eyes and make you wish you were 16 again!
Lapierre’s unique electronic ‘intelligent’ suspension system is not an easy concept to explain – it all makes a lot more sense when you actually ride a bike equipped with this system. Fortunately here at Flow we’ve had plenty of trail time on a wide range of e:i equipped bikes – including reviews of the Zesty 314 e:i, the Zesty AM 927 and more.
For 2015, Lapierre have greatly simplified the operation of the e:i system, ridding it of the unnecessary display unit and bar-mounted mode adjuster. You can read more about the changes to the system here.
Even still, Lapierre have clearly realised that explaining the e:i system in mere words is a bit of a task, and so they’ve just released this great vid that does a really good job of explaining what it’s all about and how it works.
Giant have just released two long travel gravity inspired 27.5″ machines for MY2015; the re-born 27.5″ 160mm Reign, and the updated 200mm 27.5″ Glory. These new eye-popping machines put a final nail in Giant’s 26″ MTB coffin and enforces Giant’s total commitment to the midsize wheel being their bike of the future.
Set in the magical backdrop of the Pemberton valley in Canada, Flow was invited to two days of information and bike riding on the new gravity machines. We got to both see and ride both bikes and put them through a brief test on the rough, dry and dusty trails. Flow spent more time on the Reign than the Glory and look for our First Bite on the Reign to appear real soon.
[divider] Here Comes the Reign Again [/divider]
Missing from Giant’s lineup in 2014 the Reign has returned, and better than ever. Striking in looks and aggressive in design, the Reign pushes the boundaries of all-mountain capabilities. Maybe even blurring the lines of what we think a downhill bike is. To add weight to that statement Flow caught up with Giant Enduro World Series racers Josh Carlson and Yoann Barelli just a few days prior to the official lunch in Pemberton, Canada and got their honest opinions of the new bike.
“It’s a downhill weapon”, stated Yohun. “You can really just point it and the bike will take care of the rest.”
Both Josh and Yoann were equally amazed at the Reign and its descending abilities and they also make mention of it’s all-day riding capabilities, as it’s something they generally have to do in their race environment.
Our test and show bikes were the top of the line Reign Advanced 0 with a carbon front triangle and aluminium rear end. We think the bike looked good with a bold new colour and decal scheme and clean lines enhanced with internal cable routing. Other features include the removal (or some may say reversal) of the OD2 steerer standard, 142mm rear end, 1x set-up, 50mm stem and 780mm bars. Aesthetically the bike looks a million dollars and at $7599 it should do too.
The 2015 Reign has been in development for years and is more than a re-hash of the previous models. Giant admitted that it took some time to get the geometry right and went to pains to ensure it actually rode well. It’s lower, slacker, and has a shorter rear end than its 26″ predecessor and the Reign comes with a custom 46mm offset fork (versus 42mm) to ensure that better ride. It’s with noting that this offset is custom to Giant at the moment.
For those who like the numbers here are a few (size M):
Head Angle: 65 degrees
Seat Angle: 73 degrees
Chainstay: 434 mm
Wheelbase: 1191 mm
Stack: 577 mm
Reach: 444 mm
We got to spend a couple of days on the Reign and we’ll soon have our first impressions posted in more detail however as a summary the new 2015 Reign is a really great bike, it’s that simple. It is an aggressive all-mountain machine, it munches up rocks and obstacles, descends very well, and actually wasn’t bad to climb (we even had climbing challenges on our rides). Yeah, we know, that’s what they say about every bike, but it’s true, we found that the Reign really can be ridden everywhere and felt surprisingly light. Did we notice the new wheel size? No, not really. We have been riding the tween wheels for a long time now and it’s not going to be noticeable. Also, of we’re going to be picky we’d fix the cable rattle noise that can be noticed (only occasionally) . We know it’s not a big issue but for $7500 we really would be looking for perfection.
It’s going to be interesting to see how the bike will fit into the Australian terrain but it’s definitely going to make you think about your next bike choice if you’re gravity oriented. It you’re an Enduro racer then this is a perfect bike, and if you’re sitting on fence of DH vs all-mountain/Enduro then we too think this is perfect.
Available in Australia will be 4 models of the Reign, ranging from $3299 for the aluminium Reign 27.5 2, up to the top of the range Reign Advanced 0 team at $7499. Also, note that the brakes on out test bike are Code’s however they will come spec’d with new SRAM Guide.
[divider]Glory, Glory Hallelujah[/divider]
The new 2015 Glory has grown bigger wheels however it’s also grown a longer shock (240×76), has a longer front/centre, but shrunk at the rear end and has a lower bottom bracket than its 26″ predecessor. It also has has some other changes to include revised cable routing, an integrated fork bumper, bearings on the upper shock pivot – amongst others.
The 27.5″ Glory has been in development for a few years however it was only after the World Cup in Leogang last year where the final touches to the geometry were completed for production. Constant feedback from the Giant team riders pushed the development to that last point as the new wheel size meant some difficult adjustments. In early blind testing the 27.5″ Glory was immediately quicker than the 26″ however the rider feedback was less convincing. So, Giant took the time to ensure that not only was the bike quicker on the clocks, but comfortable for the riders.
We got to throw our legs over the new Glory only briefly on a few lifted runs on the rocky trails of Pemberton and early impression are too juvenile to warrant lengthy comment. Yep, the bike was fast and fun, it took big hits, but more time on the bike will yield better information.
The Glory will only be available in aluminium and a carbon version is something we would have liked to have seen. Giant do counter this by saying that their Glory is actually lighter then other carbon downhill offerings but carbon is just sexy and who wouldn’t want a sexy DH bike?
The Glory will come in 3 models for Australia and be priced from $2899 – $5999.
Lenzerheide is a new World Cup Round for 2015 and for years to come apparently… Being a part of the track development is a new and exciting venture for Peaty, but does he feel the pressure to come through and provide the riders fans alike with a memorable course?
Steve has been down about his last couple of results, so it was amazing that all his sponsors pulled together in time to create a new bike for him to ‘find his flow’ again… Smaller wheels and a rigid rear end means you’re at one with the bike and have a lower centre of gravity which = more grip. Honest.
On a serious note though, who doesn’t want a V16 to mess around on?!
There’s been talk for a while now of a new bike for the Syndicate… Most of the top teams and riders have been on 27.5 wheels for a while now, so as a natural progression it was only time until the team was going to be rolling on bigger wheels…
Check out some exclusive first ride footage from out in Livigno during a test session with the full Santa Cruz team and Fox Suspension.
All this and more in this months episode of This Is Peaty!
A casual bit of big bike and slopestyle ripping from Garrett Robertson for your Friday. This is a seriously nicely shot video too, so take a minute to appreciate the way it’s put together – lots of creative angles and an edit that works really well with the chilled music too.