Avanti 2017 Range Highlights

The name synonymous with cycling design from Down Under, Avanti, is looking mighty sharp for next season. We dropped by the 2017 product range showing to see what is new, what has changed and what we’re most looking forward to.


Torrent CS 7.2

Our last experience with the Torrent was a good one, and a quick glance at the new version looks like it’s really brought up to speed and will satisfy the spec-conscious folks out there.

Read our review of the previous version Avanti Torrent CS here: Avanti Torrent CS 7.2 review.

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Top class, the new carbon framed Torrent is a seriously hot option for 2017. $5999.

While it retains the same frame, the new top of the line carbon frame Torrent is a completely new beast and totally on the money. Fork travel takes it up one notch to 160mm travel and is now the incredibly desirable RockShox Pike.

Out the back the RockShox Monarch with the high air volume Debonair air chamber handles 150mm of travel at the heart of Avanti’s long serving Tru4 four bar suspension linkage design.

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A 160mm Pike lifts the game.

Gone is the double chainring from the 2016 model in favour of a Shimano XT 11-speed drivetrain with e*Thirteen cranks and chain guide.

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Single ring, yeeha!

For a cool $5999, we think the Torrent CS 7.2 is mighty good value, and it’s certainly good to go right out of the box.

Torrent S 2

With the aluminium frame the Torrent S 2 hits the spot with a new singe ring drivetrain, RockShox Pike, DT Wheels and a KS LEV dropper post.

$4299 will get you a very capable bike for hard all-mountain riding or enduro racing.

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Subtle graphics on bright colours, the aluminium torrent is tidy.

Competitor

One of the oldest names in mountain biking retains its place in modern day with four new versions of wallet friendly bikes, from a womens and mens entry level hardtail, and new for 2017 there’s a 27.5+ hardtail and dually added into the lineup.

The Competitor S Plus caught our attention, aside from its new-look logo and bright red paint the parts look great. Shimano’s new SLX 11-speed single-ring drivetrain adds serious quality and meets the demands of modern day riders who prefer the simplicity of the new wide range drivetrains.

We’ve got the new Shimano SLX on review, take a look at the affordable groupset here: First impressions, Shimano SLX 11-Speed.

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The all-new Competitor S Plus 2, $3499 of trail shredding goodness.
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2.8″ WTB Ranger tyres, RockShox Pike, no excuses.
The new Shimano SLX 11-Speed drivetrain looks and feels very crisp.
The new Shimano SLX 11-Speed drivetrain looks and feels very crisp.
The Competitor Plus, $2599. Bargain!
The Competitor Plus, $2599. Bargain!

Competitor C

The Competitor first got its name from the cross country race track, and the 29er carbon hardtail is still a seriously good option for the racers with a lightweight carbon frame and a focussed parts spec.

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Avanti’s top-end XC racer, the full carbon Competitor C for $3999.

For the full range of 2017 Avanti bikes, keep an eye on the site, all the new bikes will be up there shortly. Until then, get on over to your local Avanti dealer and get hassling!

www.avantibikes.com

 

 

Bright to Get New Hero Trail, built by Dirt Art

Bright, already one of the most exciting mountain bike towns in Australia, is about to add another feather to its cap. Today it was announced that Tassie-based trail building legends, Dirt Art, will be soon starting work on a massive, new descending Hero Trail on the slopes of Mount Mystic.

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“We’re aiming to bring a level of trail building to Bright that has never been seen in Australia before,” said Dirt Art’s Simon French, “this is going to be Bright’s pinnacle trail.”

“Think Whistler’s A-Line and Crank It Up, brought to slopes of Mystic. Bright is a banging town, and we’re going to make the most of the elevation and incredible terrain there,” said French.


Want to learn more about riding in Bright? Watch the video below, and check out more coverage here to see why this is one of the best mountain bike towns going.


The whole trail will be shuttle-able, or can be linked into the existing Bright network for those who want to pedal up. The new Hero Trail trail will bring a totally different flavour to Bright, which is better known for its rooty, steep singletrack, opening up the trails to riders who are after a different kind of experience.

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January 2017 is the expected completion, but we’re hoping to make our way to Bright later this year to get in some early laps on the new trail, so stay tuned for video from the Hero Trail soon.

On a broader note, things are getting seismically awesome in this part of the world; Bright, Buller, Falls Creek, Beechworth, Mt Beauty (and the new trails of Wangaratta) all lie within a couple of hours drive, so this region is heaving with high-quality trails. Take a look at our Dirty Dozen videos an idea of what’s out there in the Victorian High Country.

See below for the offical press release from the Alpine Community Plantation.


Alpine Community Plantation is thrilled to announce Dirt Art as the successful contractor for the design and construction of Mystic MTB Parks most exciting trail project to date – the Hero Trail as part of the Alpine Events Park project.

Dirt Art were successful against a strong field of contractors from across Australia. They are a world leader in mountain bike trail design, consultancy and construction and bring with them a wealth of experience in delivering high quality innovative trail and a commitment to working with the local community.

Alpine Community Plantation Manager, Georgina Curtis said, “We’re very excited to be working with Dirt Art to deliver this project. We know it will result in Bright and North East Victoria’s newest must ride trail and will help build greater opportunities for tourism and event activity in our region”.

Dirt Art will hit the ground running and will be in Bright in early August to deliver consultation sessions with our project partners Alpine Cycling Club and HVP Plantations. These sessions will inform the design of the trail, including: where the trail will start, what sort of features will be included and how best to use the landscape to ensure the trail is sustainable.

Dirt Art Managing Director, Simon French adds, “Having had a long history working within the Bright region, and understanding the immense potential offered by the site, we were beyond excited to be awarded the Mystic Hero Trail Project. We plan to deliver something totally unique to Australian mountain biking, a flow trail on a scale never seen before in Australia”.

The delivery of the Hero Trail is stage one of the Alpine Events Park project and the beginning of an exciting period for the Alpine Shire. Construction of the trail is expected to be completed by January 2017, ready for the summer tourist and event season.

The Alpine Events Park is funded by the Alpine Shire Council and the Australian Government as part of the National Stronger Regions Fund. When completed the Alpine Events Park will bring economic benefit to the region through the attraction of large-scale event activity and additional visitors to the region each year.

Giant and Liv 2017 Range Highlights

2017 is a big one for Giant and Liv mountain bikes! After a strong roadie focus last year, the pendulum has swung back to the dirt, with a comprehensive overhaul of the Anthem and Trance lines, cool tweaks to the XtC, a new women’s trail bike and the first women’s specific 160mm bike on the market.

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The Trance Advanced 0, ready to shreddy, with a revised Maestro arrangement and tweaked geometry.

Anthem and Trance get a big overhaul

Key points:

  • Metric/Trunnion mount shocks with longer strokes provide improved sensitivity and damping.
  • Both bikes get longer reach, lower bottom bracket and shorter rear end with Boost.
  • Trance gets a 150mm fork.
  • Anthem gets a dose of ‘roids, with more travel, beefy forks and aggressive spec.
  • Almost no front derailleurs to be seen.

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Trunnion mounting and metric shock sizes let Giant run a longer stroke shock in less space.

Giant have given the Anthem and Trance their most significant overhaul in years for 2017, turning two of Australia’s most popular lines of bikes up a notch. Both bikes get the slacker/longer/lower/Boost treatment that’s become as common as Botox, but these geometry changes are really second fiddle to some significant suspension improvements. Giant’s Maestro system gets a big overhaul, totally reworked to take advantage of the new Trunnion mount and metric shock sizing. Read on for all the details!

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The Trance 1 is our pick of the bunch – an alloy frame with top-tier parts, including new carbon wheels, at less than $5000.

The problem with innovation, according to Giant’s Kevin Dana, is that “solving a problem people didn’t know they had, looks identical to building something no one needs.” That’s an interesting, and accurate, observation. We’ve all seen many genuinely positive innovations in mountain biking initially come under heavy consumer criticism, shot down as ‘bike companies selling us shit we don’t need or want’. More often than not, the critics change their tune once they’ve seen the new technology in action, or they’ve seen the innovation put to practical application on the trails.

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The Anthem gets the metric/Trunnion treatment too, for more travel and better sensitivity.

The new Metric shock sizing and Trunnion shock mounting system that’s at the core of the remodelling of Giant’s 2017 Anthem and Trance series certainly falls into this category. When Metric/Trunnion was announced a few months ago by RockShox, the response was, predictably “what’s wrong with the current shocks?” or “typical bike industry, coming up with another way to make current bikes redundant.” But something as simple as changing the way a shock fits or mounts into a bike has allowed Giant to make a host of cool improvements to the Anthem and Trance.

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The new rear axle sits flush with the dropout. Neat’o.

 

The key message is that with Trunnion mounting, Giant can fit a longer stroke shock in a smaller space. A longer stroke shock means a lowered leverage ratio, and subsequently lower air pressures, which has the flow on effect of improved small bump sensitivity and less damping loads. All up, it lets the shock work better! According to Giant, the Anthem requires 7.3% less air pressure than the previous model. For the Trance, the reduction is 3.3%. These aren’t big numbers, admittedly, but small changes can have a big effect. We’re looking forward to giving them a ride to put the theory into the field.

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It’s easy to see how much stiffer the new link should be when compared to the current two-piece design. The carbon link is found all new Trance and Anthem models.

An additional benefit is that the entire shock/suspension arrangement sits lower in the bike now too, lowering the centre of gravity and standover heights on small frames. There’s also more clearance internally for dropper post cables, which should make routing easier. Driving the new shock is a massive one-piece ‘Advanced Forged Composite Link’, made from carbon it’s stiffer and roughly half the weight of the previous alloy link. The carbon link isn’t just confined to the premium models either – it’s found on all new Anthem and Trance models, regardless of whether they’re alloy or carbon framed.

Giant are keen to stress that they were very early to the Trunnion mounting party; they began working on the concept with FOX and RockShox back in 2013, so there has been a lot of development to get the bikes and shocks to this point.

ANTHEM GEO
2017 Anthem geometry.
Old anthem geo
Previous Anthem geometry.

 

TRANCE GEO
2017 Trance geometry.
Previous Trance geometry.
Previous Trance geometry.

From a geometry perspective, the Anthem and Trance get some massaging. These changes are most pronounced in the Anthem as you’ll see above – most notably the head angle has been slackened by a full one and a half degrees.

The Trance on the other hand has less pronounced geometry changes. According to Giant, this is because their geometry already nailed that holy trinity of ‘longer, lower, slacker’ and was ahead of the curve back in 2014. “Our mistake was that we didn’t shout about it loud enough back then,” says Kevin Dana. Regardless the Trance’s numbers are now feature a 10mm longer reach, a 5mm lower bottom bracket. The Anthem is also 10mm longer up front. With the benefit of Boost 148mm hub spacing, Giant have been able to shorten the rear ends of both bikes by 5mm too.

No skinny forks to be found! It's all 34mm or 35mm legged forks for the Trance and Anthem.
No skinny legs to be found! It’s all 34mm or 35mm legged forks for the Trance and Anthem, with the exception of the base model Anthem 3.
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Giant manufacture their own excellent carbon wheels. The TRX hoops are 33mm wide, a huge improvement on the previous version.

Looking specifically at the Trance, Giant have maintained the Trance’s place in the range as their do-it-all trail bike. There have been a few smart spec changes to enable the bike to change a little harder, like a 10mm longer fork than in the past, up to 150mm. Giant have also paid close attention to feedback that the Trance needed some rims that were capable of matching its abilities (as we noted in our review of the Trance Advanced 1), and you’ll now find wider, sturdier wheels across the whole Trance range.

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More travel, a dropper post, stiff forks – the Anthem got game.

The changes to the Anthem platform are more comprehensive. It gets longer travel all round, going up to 110mm out back and 120mm up front. There are now dropper posts on all models too, excluding the base model Trance 3. Combine this with more supple suspension, longer reach and generally tougher spec, and the Anthem really moves from being a cross-country racing platform to a short-travel trail bike. In fact, the new ‘regular’ Anthem looks more like last year’s Anthem SX range! (Read our review of the Anthem Advanced SX here) We like this a lot – it opens up the scope of use for the Anthem, making it a much more versatile bike. Take the top of the line Anthem Advanced 0, for example. It now comes with a Pike up front, a dropper post and big Nobby Nic rubber – when you compare this to the 2016 model, it’s a huge change of direction and positioning.

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A 120mm Pike on the Anthem Advanced 0 – last year this bike had a 100mm travel RS-1.
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SRAM Eagle and Shimano 1×11 are everywhere. Front derailleur sales must be getting slow!
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It’s Boost front and rear for the Anthem and Trance.

With the Anthem now pointed in a slightly different direction, this opens the door up for a new dedicated cross-country race bike to emerge! We would be very surprised if we don’t see a new 29er, cross-country focused, 100mm-travel bike from Giant very soon. In their wholesale move towards 27.5”, Giant lost a lot of cross-country racers who continue to prefer the rolling speed of a 29er. We’re sure this is about to be addressed.

Both the Anthem and Trance get a new stealthy rear axle to match the Boost hub spacing. The clean lines of the bikes is also helped by the almost total absence of front derailleurs across the entire mountain bike range. We counted only a handful of models that weren’t using either 1×11 running or the new 1×12 SRAM Eagle drivetrain. With the new SRAM NX and Shimano SLX 1×11 drivetrains available at such good price points, Giant have embraced single-ring in a big way.

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The Reign frame is unchanged, but there are some very tasty looking models in the line up.
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With the new carbon one-piece link on the Trance and Anthem, the Reign already looks ready for an upgrade.

There are no frame changes to the Reign and lined up alongside the new Trance and Anthem, it already looks dated! It doesn’t take much imagination to work out there’ll be an updated Reign coming sometime soon, with the Metric/Tunnion shock, carbon linkage and Boost hub spacing to match the Trance and Anthem.


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The XtC Advanced is now 27.5+ compatible.

XtC gets Plus compatibility

Key points:

  • 27.5+ compatible.
  • Horizontal sliding dropouts for easy single speed conversion

In the world of hardtails, the big news is that popular XtC Advanced 29er can now be transformed into a trail-slaying fun bike with 27.5+ wheel compatibility. Internationally, Giant are offering the XtC in a couple of Plus variants, but at this stage there’s no certainty these will be coming to Australia. This is a pity, because we think these big-rubbered, dropper-equipped machines look awesome! Hopefully they make a mid-season appearance.

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Sliding dropouts for single speed use.

Horizontal dropouts make a surprise appearance as well. Single speeds certainly aren’t something we associate with Giant, but now if you do decide to grow a beard, burn your iPhone in a campfire and ditch your gears, you can!

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Very nice! The XtC is a gorgeous piece of work.
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Look at those stays!
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There won’t be any 27.5+ versions of the XtC coming to Australia just yet, but we’re hopeful they do make an appearance eventually.

Liv Range Highlights: The Hail women’s specific Enduro bike, and new Pique trail bike

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The Hail is the first women’s specific 160mm bike on the market.

Key points:

  • Liv offer the first women’s specific 160mm Enduro weapon, the Hail!
  • Pique trail bike 120mm all round
  • Liv bikes get all the same Maestro improvements as the Trance and Anthem

The Liv Hail is the first 160mm women’s specific bike on the market.Liv, the women’s specific brand launched by Giant a two years ago, is arguably the fastest growing bike brand in the world right now. And mountain bikes are playing a big role in the brand’s success, with over 300% growth in performance mountain bike sales since 2014. These are not modified men’s bikes, but completely standalone offerings, designed from ground-up for women. The geometry is different to what you’d find on men’s bikes (they don’t just get a shorter stem, narrower bar and different saddle), with a lighter suspension tune, a lower gearing range and other attentive details like shorter cranks.

Hail geometry.
Hail geometry.

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The most exciting development from Liv is the new Hail, the very first women’s specific 160mm Enduro bike to hit the market. This is a rapidly growing segment in the women’s market, but until now there simply haven’t been any genuinely women’s specific bikes to serve it.

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The Pique is available in four models.

With a full 160mm front and rear, Boost hub spacing and the same metric/Trunnion mount updated Maestro linkage as seen on the Trance, it’s a no hold barred weapon. Expect many of the design attributes found on the Hail to make their way across to the Reign in the future.

PIQUE GEO
Pique geometry.

The trail riding segment gets two new bikes as well. The Pique is an all-rounder 120mm platform, available in four models, two in carbon two in alloy. Again, it’s walking in step with the Anthem and Trance, with all the same frame and suspension updates.

The Embolden may make it to Australia eventually, but not yet.
The Embolden may make it to Australia eventually, but not yet.

Coming in at a lower price point is the Embolden, an alloy-only offering using the same suspension FlexPoint suspension system as found on the Giant Stance. At this stage the Embolden isn’t making its way to Australia, but we’re crossing our fingers it might make it as a mid-season release.

Trek’s New Slash 29 Enduro Weapon

Holy dooley, say hello to Trek’s new Enduro destroyer! The Slash 29 is a purpose built Enduro machine, and it has us in a violent headlock of love.

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Love at first sight.

Key points:

  • Slash is now 29er only!
  • Bikes don’t get more bad-ass than this
  • 150mm travel rear, with 160/130mm travel-adjustable forks
  • Stiffest dual suspension bike Trek have ever made
  • Will destroy any Enduro track on the planet

Trek Slash 9.9 in Squamish, BC, June 2016

We actually first saw this bike back at the Trek Fuel EX and Remedy launch a number of weeks ago, but threats and blackmail have kept us quiet till now. Trek kept this beast up their sleeve until right at the end of the launch, and it sure got a big response when Trek’s Casey Brown rolled it into the seminar room! The new Slash 29 has got to be one of the most menacing, sensational looking bikes we’ve clapped eyes on, especially in the bold team paint job.

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Casey Brown presents the Slash 29, the bike she’ll be racing on the EWS.

Let’s get this out of the way: this bike is 29er only. That’s right, in contrast to the trend towards 27.5″ wheels in the Enduro category, Trek have opted to go for big hoops on this monster. Why? Well the Slash is designed as an Enduro race bike, and Trek feel that for the job of winning races, a 29er is the best format. They didn’t go into this decision blindly, we might add. Over the past few years Trek have had two of the most successful Enduro racers on the planet on their EWS team (Leov and Moseley) both of whom opted for the Remedy 29er, not the 27.5 Slash or Remedy 27.5.

The Slash gets the Mino Link geometry adjustment - the head angle can be 65.6 to 65.1 degrees.
The Slash gets the Mino Link geometry adjustment – the head angle can adjusted from 65.6 to 65.1 degrees.

Slash 29 geo

 

And so Trek has taken that feedback, combined the big wheels of the Remedy 29 with the travel and laid-back geometry of the Slash, and created a weapon of mass destruction. This clearly isn’t going to be a bike to take for a rip around your local cross country loop, but we are itching to give it a run on the roughest trails we can find.

Trek Slash 9.9 in Squamish, BC, June 2016
Deep chain stays. With a single-ring only design, Trek have been able to keep the rear end stiff and short, at 435mm.
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160mm travel FOX 36 with 29″ wheels and 65.1 degree head angle. What won’t you be able to mow down?

Like the Remedy, the Slash gets the new Straightshot down tube, but the focus on frame stiffness doesn’t stop there with this bike. Trek claim the new Slash 29 is way stiffer than any dual suspension bike they’ve ever made, even the Session downhill bike, and when you look at the single-ring specific chain stays on this thing it’s hard to imagine they’re telling porky pies.

Removing the Full Floater lets Trek fit a larger shock, lower in the frame.
Removing the Full Floater lets Trek fit a larger shock, lower in the frame.

The keen eyed out there will have noticed the Slash has a different suspension configuration to other Trek full suspension bikes – there’s no Full Floater system (Trek’s usual ‘floating’ shock mounting). Instead, the shock is mounted to the down tube in a more conventional kind of design. This is a bit of a surprise move, but Trek have their rationale:

“We developed Full Floater years ago to address performance constraints associated with the air shocks that were available at that time. Since then, mountain bike shocks have evolved. More dynamic and responsive dampers, along with more refined air springs like EVOL and Debonair, offer the performance benefits our engineers sought to achieve with Full Floater.

“Using a fixed lower shock mount opens up the lower frame area, giving us more opportunity to design stronger, stiffer frames and chainstays. This also gives us more flexibility to accommodate larger, more capable shocks. All of these effects are experienced most dramatically on long travel bikes, like the Slash.”

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There are going to be two models of the Slash coming to Australia, both using the same carbon frame. The 9.9 pictured here, with SRAM Eagle 12-speed and a FOX X2/36 suspension package for $8999, or for $6999 you can pick up the Slash 9.8 with a RockShox suspension package and SRAM GX drivetrain.


$8000 Up for Grabs at Tamworth Evocities Round

Racing in Australia’s richest mountain biking series, the 2016 Evocities MTB Series, is set to continue with $8,000 in cash and prizes up for grabs in the third race of the series to take place in Australia’s country music capital on Sunday, 7 August 2016.

The ‘Tamworth Stan’s NoTubes 5 hour’ is an event for solo riders, pairs and teams being held at Tamworth Mountain Bike Park, a purpose-built international standard facility.

Series Coordinator, Murray Wood said the third race of the Evocities MTB Series will be an endurance format race, so it’s all about solos and teams doing as many laps as possible.

“Tamworth’s track is renowned for being a classic ‘whole box and dice’ purpose-built mountain biking track that riders love to race,” Mr Wood said.

“The full circuit will be 10 kilometres of purpose built, flowing mountain biking track with jumps, berms, rocks, gardens, chutes, creeks, gullies and bridges through a mountain with spectacular views of the city of Tamworth.”

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“In addition to the solo riders and pairs who race the full circuit, recreational teams can race a sub-circuit and for the primary school aged kids there will be a novelty kid’s event on the separate kids track.”

“The ‘Tamworth Stan’s NoTubes 5 hour’ will have something to cater for riders of all ages and skill levels, not to mention there’s $8,000 in cash and prizes up for grabs and the Westpac Helicopter Crew will be catering the day and raising money for the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service,” Mr Wood said.

The generous prize money is on offer with the support of Evocities MTB Series sponsors including Fairfax Media; QantasLink; Forestry Corporation; NSW Mining; Charles Sturt University; Macquarie and Orange Anglican Grammar Schools; Spinifex Recruiting; Maas Group Properties; and Prime 7.

Local sponsors of the ‘Tamworth Stan’s NoTubes 5 hour’ include Stan’s NoTubes, BC Bike Shop, Bicycle Central, Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service, Tamworth Building Supplies, ARB Tamworth, Onsite Rental Group, Country KTM, Sportsman’s Warehouse, Safety Quip Tamworth.

Online registrations for the ‘Tamworth Stan’s NoTubes 5 hour’ can be made at www.evocitiesmtb.com/entertamworth

To stay up to date with the series, visit www.facebook.com/evocitiesmtb or www.evocitiesmtb.com

About Evocities:

The Evocities MTB Series is supported by Evocities, a campaign that showcases the abundance of opportunities in seven of NSW’s leading regional cities due to the lower cost of living, stronger career and business prospects and enhanced lifestyle.

The seven Evocities are Albury, Armidale, Bathurst, Dubbo, Orange, Tamworth and Wagga Wagga. Living in an Evocity means less time commuting, working and stressing and more time for you and your family to enjoy NSW’s beautiful natural surrounds.

 

Crankworx Rotorua Lands an Enduro World Series Stop

The world’s elite international Enduro mountain bike racers return to the Whakarewarewa Forest this spring with the announcement Rotorua will, once again, be part of the Enduro World Series.

 

Part of the ever-expanding Crankworx Rotorua festival, the GIANT Toa Enduro brings more athletes, more stars and more industry power back to New Zealand as the eyes of the world tune in, and teams from around the world descend on Rotorua’s volcanic wonderland.

 

“The Enduro World Series is the epitome of sport,” says Crankworx General Manager Darren Kinnaird. “It’s adventurous. It’s competitive. And it is helping to grow a sector of mountain biking, which athletes can take part in at every level. This is where mountain biking is going and we’re thrilled Crankworx Rotorua will be able to host a stop this year.”

 

Dropping onto the area’s fern-crusted loam March 25 – 26, Rotorua’s famous “dirt gold” will have the honour of opening the eight-stop EWS season, as the GIANT Toa Enduro launches a circuit with stops in Australia, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, France, United States, Canada and Italy.

 

“Enduro riding and trail riding is Rotorua. That’s what we’re known for, and to have the world’s biggest enduro event here just feels right. Bringing in the EWS means Crankworx fans get to see all the top riders in the world sit on our cool shores and ride our cool trails,” says Tak Mutu, Crankworx Rotorua Event Organizer.

 

The extensive trail network of the Whaka Forest makes enduro racing a natural fit for Rotorua, and the discipline is already a highlight of the annual Crankworx festival.

 

Enduro is the fastest growing competitive discipline of mountain biking in the world. It combines a series of short downhill races, or stages, with cross-country liaisons, which see the athletes ride from the bottom of one stage to the top of the next; only the downhill sections are timed, with the fastest combined time determining the winner.

 

Featuring both professional and amateur riders, the EWS sanctions qualifying events in order for highly competitive amateur athletes to compete in the same event as the most elite riders. Qualifiers in New Zealand this December include Race 2 of the Giant 2W Gravity Enduro, run out of Rotorua by Neil Gellatly, as well as the Urge 3 Peaks Enduro in Dunedin run by Kashi Leuchs.

 

“Neil played an integral role in bringing our first EWS round to NZ in 2015, and the event sold out in just over two minutes,” says Mutu. “It was an epic event and we’re glad to see his contribution being recognized. He has truly helped ignite the sport here and elevate NZs position on the world race scene.”

 

Race delivery for 2017 will be coordinated by Tim Farmer, of Nduro Events, and the Crankworx Rotorua team, both local and international.

 

After a successful first and second year, Crankworx will expand to become a nine-day festival this spring—dates to be announced at the end of the summer.  The festival contributed $8 million to the Rotorua economy in 2016 and 4.6 million viewers tuned in internationally to its broadcast and highlight replays.

 

“It’s a natural progression to go longer to fit more events in,” says Mutu. “We will make sure anything outside our Skyline Gravity Park venue can handle whatever the weather throws at it, and we’ll be putting a good deal of focus on expanding the expo and social highlights.”


Mountain biking’s defining celebration descends on Skyline Rotorua Gravity Park each March. Crankworx Rotorua brings the world’s downhill, slopestyle and enduro legends together with the superfans, rising starts, industry innovators and the next generation of mountain bike riders for nine days of competition, concerts and mountain bike culture.

 

Anointed by dirt, powered by passion, the Crankworx World Tour travels to Rotorua, New Zealand, Les Gets, France and culminates in its Canadian home base of Whistler, B.C.

 

Tread among the gravity-fed. Join the bike-minded.
Crankworx.com

Enduro World Series Coming to Derby, Tasmania!

We can scarcely believe we’re typing these words, but it has just been announced that the 2017 Enduro World Series is coming to Derby in Tasmania! Round two of the EWS will take over this little gem of a town on 8-9 April, 2017 for the Shimano Enduro Tasmania.

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The stunning greenery of Derby is part of what makes it so unique.

This announcement is truly something special. Just a few years ago, Derby didn’t even exist on the mountain bike map, and now it’ll be welcoming the world’s absolute best for the EWS. Flow Mountain Bike - Flow Nation Derby-50

A huge congratulations goes out to all the folks who had the vision to transform this town and who believed in the potential of Derby. Already the reputation of the township has skyrocketed in Australian mountain biking circles, and now the world will get to see its beautiful terrain and amazing trails too.

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Riding beneath giants.

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If you’re not familiar with Derby, watch the vids below and then get booking your accommodation – you do not want to miss this! In fact, damn it, take two weeks off work and make a Tassie road trip out of it.


For more on Blue Derby, makes sure you check out our Must-Ride editorials:

Must-Ride: Blue Derby, Stage 3 – World Class Tassie Trails

Must-Ride: Derby, Tasmania

Flow Mountain Bike - Flow Nation Derby-172 Flow Mountain Bike - Flow Nation Derby-199

Read on below for more from the Enduro World Series about the entire 2017 Calendar.


The Enduro World Series is delighted to reveal its 2017 race calendar as it continues its mission to uncover the world’s best riding destinations.

The new season, the series’ fifth, will feature eight rounds across three continents, with the addition of three completely new and exciting venues.

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March will see the first competition of the year head back to familiar territory of Rotorua, in the North Island of New Zealand. Part of the Crankworx World Tour, riders competing in the Giant Toa Enduro will get the chance to once more explore this magical land filled with smoking geysers, lush rainforest and some of the most challenging singletrack the Southern Hemisphere has to offer.

The series will stay down under for round two as it then skips across the Tasman Sea to Shimano Enduro Tasmania. This wild and remote island off the Southern Coast of Australia will offer riders a real adventure as they explore the famous trails around Derby in the north east of the island. The area has become synonymous with world class mountain biking in recent years, and riders will get to experience everything from fern forests to granite slabs as they take in the stunning views on offer.

Round three sees the series travel north to County Wicklow in Ireland to revisit the Emerald Enduro. It’s the third time the EWS will visit Carrick Mountain, which is quickly gaining a reputation as one of the wildest races on the circuit thanks to the crazy fans who line the tracks in their thousands. This one day race has become an EWS classic and with good reason – the atmosphere can only be described as electric!

The island of Madeira is the setting for round four, the Enduro World Series Powered by Freeride Madeira. Lying in the Atlantic Ocean between Portugal and the Africa, this small island is home to some of the most diverse terrain on earth. From rocky singletrack down volcanoes to tight trails through native forests, riders will get to experience an incredible selection of both natural and purpose built trails that have recently helped put Madeira on the global mountain biking map.

Staying in Europe, round five will see the series land in France for the Natural Games Millau EWS driven by URGE bp. For the first time the EWS will join forces with the Natural Games, a celebration of adventure sports including climbing, kayaking and paragliding amongst others. Located in the south of the country, Millau will offer exciting racing on rocky, natural, ancient and technical trails that typify the riding style of the region.

It’s across the pond to Aspen Snowmass for round six, the Big Mountain Enduro Aspen Snowmass. Nestled in the high mountains of Colorado, this world famous resort is becoming as well known for its trail network as it is its ski runs. Racers can look forward to a mixture of classic high altitude Colorado singletrack alongside some man made fun in the Snowmass Bike Park.

It’s more North American adventure for round seven as the series lands in Whistler and straight into Crankworx, the world’s biggest mountain bike festival. The SRAM Canadian Open Enduro presented by Specialized is an annual fixture on the EWS calendar and with good reason – big crowds, big prize money and even bigger mountains in this most iconic of resorts.

Where else to end the series but on the shores of the Mediterranean in the beautiful Finale Ligure for the Bluegrass Finalenduro powered by SRAM. There’s a reason the series always finishes in this beautiful town in the Italian Riviera – Finale Outdoor Resort’s ever growing network of world class trails, huge crowds and the obligatory swim in the sea for whoever is crowned World Champion at this end of season extravaganza.

Chris Ball, Managing Director of the Enduro World Series, commented: “The series is always trying to push boundaries and discover new riding locations adding adventure into fantastic riding, great communities and brilliant organisers, and our fifth season celebrates this ethos. The three new venues will offer riders a new experience – the islands of Madeira and Tasmania are wild and remote and will prove the gateway to some unforgettable adventures. Then the Natural Games in Millau will be the first time the EWS has been part of a multi sport festival and I’m really looking forward to seeing enduro being included in this celebration of the outdoors. The venues we’re returning to are included in the calendar because they’re hard to beat; Ireland, Aspen, Finale and Rotorua are all incredible riding locations and I think 2017 is shaping up to be an amazingly exciting and fun year of racing.”

 

 

2017

#1 – March 25/26 – Rotorua, New Zealand
#2 – April 8/9 – Tasmania, Australia
#3 – May 13/14 – Madeira, Portugal
#4 – May 28 – Co Wicklow, Ireland
#5 – July 1/2 – Millau, France
#6 – July 29/30 – Aspen-Snowmass, USA
#7 – August 13 – Whistler, Canada
#8 – September 30/October 1 – Finale Ligure, Italy

Shimano Releases Two New Mountain Enduro Shoes

There are lot of players in the mountain bike shoe game now, so Shimano are having to work hard to stay a step ahead (shoe pun #1) – the unveiling of two new ‘Mountain Enduro’ series shoes hot on the heels (#2) of their recently released AM9 and M200 shoes proves that Shimano aren’t putting their feet up (#3).


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The ME7 gets a new neoprene ankle collar to keep crap out, and a reverse ratchet strap arrangement.

It was only a year or so ago that Shimano dipped a toe (#4…ok, no more) in the waters of the Enduro world, but already they’re following up with the ME7. (You can read our full review of the M200 here).

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The flap (also found on the AM9, AM7 and M200 shoes) remains, keeping the speed laces tucked away.

The ME7 continues to use many of the features found on the M200. M200 users will be familiar with the speed-lacing system, and the large flap for keeping things dry and protecting the laces. The sole gets the Torbal treatment, which allows a nice amount of foot roll laterally without compromising pedalling stiffness, perfect for aggressive riding where you tend to twist your feet about a lot.

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Michelin and Shimano worked together on the chunky sole and rubber compound.

New features include a neoprene collar around the ankle to keep crap out of the shoe, and the ‘reverse’ ratchet strap that has been used on Shimano’s road shoes in the past (it’s super neat, and means you don’t have any strap ends sticking out). But the more notable new addition is the Michelin rubber sole. Shimano and Michelin have partnered up to produce a very grippy, aggressive sole. We heard reports of riders ripping tread blocks off their M200s, so it’s good to see Shimano have taken the bull by the horns and really improved this area. We’re sure other Shimano shoes will follow suit with the Michelin collaboration too.

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The ME5.

The ME5 is follow up to the M163 (which we reviewed here) and is a little more low-key on the technical features front, more of a traditional trail shoe. It still scores the Torbal sole, and retains the ‘cross strap’ system which disperses pressure nice and evenly across the foot. It also gets the ‘zero dangle’ reverse ratchet strap. We like.

See how the new reverse ratchet system works?
See how the new reverse ratchet system works?

Both shoes are quite light for their category too; the ME7 is 375g and the ME5 is 385g for a size 43. Prices are approximately (and subject to change) $279 for the ME7 and $239 for the ME5.

 

McConnell, Bowden and Henderson Named For Australian Olympic Team

McConnell makes history as Bowden gets first chance on Olympic stage

Daniel McConnell will make Australian Olympic history in Rio as he becomes the nation’s first athlete to compete at three Games in the mountain bike discipline.

He is joined in Rio by one of the nation’s brightest prospects in the sport in 21-year-old Scott Bowden, who will make his Olympic debut at the Deodoro Mountain Bike Centre.

“Of course I am excited to represent Australia at the Olympics in Rio,” said McConnell.

HADLEIGH, UNITED KINGDOM - AUGUST 12:  Daniel McConnell of Australia in action in the Men's Mountain Bike race on Day 16 of the 2012 Olympic Games at Hadleigh Farm on August 12, 2012 in Hadleigh, Essex.  (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
HADLEIGH, UNITED KINGDOM – AUGUST 12: Daniel McConnell of Australia in action in the Men’s Mountain Bike race on Day 16 of the 2012 Olympic Games at Hadleigh Farm on August 12, 2012 in Hadleigh, Essex. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

“It is the biggest event you can do so to be able to compete in my third Games it means a lot to me and something I can share with everyone who has helped me along the way.”

Since finishing 21st at the London 2012 Games McConnell has risen up the world rankings and currently sits just outside the top ten.

“I have progressed quite a lot since London. I had to train so hard to make those Games and I’ve continued to train just as hard and keep that focus up ever since.

“My main focus at the moment is getting back to the form that got me to the top end of the sport and I’m putting all my energy into that, if I can get there for Rio anything is possible.”_LOW3002

McConnell’s partner Rebecca Henderson was announced to the Rio 2016 Team last week and McConnell is again looking forward to competing alongside her.

“This will be our second Olympics together which is amazing.

“To be able to experience this together is something we will remember for a life time and because it means so much to both of us it definitely motivates us to keep pushing the limits.”

Bowden rounds out the three-member Mountain Bike team for Rio and gets his first shot at Olympic competition in Rio.

“Making an Olympics from quite a young age was something I definitely dreamed of after watching it on television every four years.”_LOW2376

“Witnessing the hype around the Olympics when they were in Sydney in 2000 really resonated with me and highlighted the enormity of the sporting event and how it is so much more than that alone. Since then to be a part of that had been a big dream.”_LOW3393

Bowden first thought he could make Rio in late 2014 when he stuck with McConnell until halfway through the final lap in the opening round of the national series before finishing in second.

While the Olympic year not been all smooth sailing as he builds for Rio the young gun has posted a number of solid results.

“2016 hasn’t gone exactly to plan however I’d say the highs outweigh the lows, and the season obviously isn’t over yet._LOW2321

“Defending my U23 National title, claiming 3rd in the Elite division at the Oceania Championships and 7th at the first World Cup in Cairns have been among the highlights so far.

“I’m still super motivated and really looking forward to putting in plenty more hard work leading into Rio, and feel as though I’ve still got my best performance to come.”

If that personal best is to be produced in Rio, Bowden knows he will have to have a strong final few weeks prior to the 2016 Games.

“Three weeks before the race in Rio I will travel to Quebec, Canada and race World Cup #5 there before the final leg down to Rio._LOW2589

“This World Cup will serve as the perfect hit out before the final preparations for Rio and as an added bonus Quebec is on the same time zone as Rio so I should well and truly be over the jet lag.”

The men’s mountain bike competitors are among the final athletes to compete in Rio with the race taking place on the final day of competition in Rio.


Henderson proud to be back on mountain bike’s biggest stage

Rebecca Henderson is set to take to the rugged terrain of the Deodoro Mountain Bike Centre after she was announced as Australia’s women’s representative for the gruelling discipline at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

HADLEIGH, ESSEX - AUGUST 11:  Rebecca Henderson of Australia during the Women's Cross-country Mountain Bike race on Day 15 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at at Hadleigh Farm on August 11, 2012 in Hadleigh, Essex.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
HADLEIGH, ESSEX – AUGUST 11: Rebecca Henderson of Australia during the Women’s Cross-country Mountain Bike race on Day 15 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at at Hadleigh Farm on August 11, 2012 in Hadleigh, Essex. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

It will be Henderson’s second Games appearance after she made her Olympic debut in London where she finished 25th.

The 24-year-old from Canberra has had a steady rise up the rankings to her current place inside the world’s top 20, which was helped by a breakthrough bronze medal winning performance at the opening World Cup event of the 2016 season in Cairns._LOW2907

The result paved the way for another shot at Olympic competition.

“The Olympics in London was amazing,” Henderson said.

“It blew my mind in every possible way and it is what has kept me pushing towards Rio.

“The experience it gives you and the exposure it gives to your sport can really help the sport to progress.”

With another four years of competition under her belt, Henderson will be more readily able to embrace the challenges an Olympic Games throws at you.

“Last time there was so much focus on just being selected that I didn’t have a plan in place for if I was selected.

“This time I have been working towards the Olympic Games as one of my main focuses of the season and not had to stress about the selection.

“I also have the experience of the London Games as well as the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow – so I feel pretty comfortable about how the ‘Games’ operates. It was a lot to take in the first time.”

The Rio course will throw up plenty of challenges for Henderson and her fellow competitors with a number of rocky jumps and a 40-degree descent down a staircase of wooden beams standing in the way of Olympic glory._LOW2822

Henderson got the chance to head to Rio last October to get to know the course and believes it will be a fast and tactical affair.

“The test event gave me a good idea of the course, the climate and the lifestyle in Brazil.

“I think the course is great – it will make for great spectating and TV coverage which is a huge part of the Olympic Games – showing our sport to a wider audience.

“I don’t think it shows ‘raw’ mountain biking but definitely modern mountain biking with plenty of climbing and technical features. The course is fast so it should also be pretty tactical racing.”

With 50 of the world’s finest women’s Mountain Bike athletes set to hit Deodoro on the penultimate day of Olympic competition, on Saturday August 20, the racing doesn’t get any tougher for Henderson.

“I had the ride of my life at the Cairns World Cup and while I would not consider myself a medal contender in Rio but that doesn’t mean I won’t be giving 100% in my preparation and race in Rio.

“Who knows, I didn’t expect to podium in Cairns.”

Henderson kicked off the 2016 season with a number of wins in the national series before taking out the Oceania Championships.

After her World Cup podium in Cairns she secured anther top 10 finish against world class competition when she was eighth across the line at the La Bresse World Cup in France.

She finished 48th over the weekend at the Mountain Bike World Championships in the Czech Republic._LOW2878

Australia have never won a medal before in Mountain Bike with Mary Grigson’s sixth place finish at the Sydney 2000 Games the best finish by an Australian in Olympic competition.

Australia has also qualified two men for the Mountain Bike competition in Rio, to be held on Sunday 21 August, but due to an appeal these athletes will be selected at a later date.

Henderson, along with the other 24 cycling athletes (Track, Mountain Bike, Road) selected today, take the overall 2016 Australian Olympic Team to 301 from 22 sports, with an expected final Team of over 400 athletes._LOW2984

MTBA Announces 2017 National XCO and DHI Series

Mountain Bike Australia (MTBA) is excited to announce the 2017 National Series dates and locations for Cross-Country Olympic (XCO) and Downhill (DHI).

MTBA CEO Shane Coppin announced the 2017 National Series would see a split in DHI and XCO rounds.

“The upcoming 2017 season welcomes a range of new event partners and locations which we hope will be both exciting and enjoyable for all participants”, Mr Coppin said.

The 2017 XCO National Series will commence with a double-header in Orange, NSW on January 7th & 8th, hosted by Orange Mountain Bike Club. Kinross State Forest is one of NSW mountain biking’s best kept secrets. The mountain biking trails include over 20km’s of purpose built singletrack through lush pine forest and over varied terrain. The area offers a large percentage of singletrack suited to riders of all abilities, with a good combination of easy flowing smooth sections teamed with some more technical short and sharp hills, fast descents and a few fun surprises thrown in along the way.

The DHI National Series commences the following weekend of January 14th & 15th in Awaba State Forest, NSW. Awaba’s Monkey DHI track has long been considered the best downhill track in NSW. Hunter Mountain Bike Club has been one of the MTBA National Series strongest supporters and is looking forward to again supporting this event.

Rounds 3 & 4 of the XCO National Series will be held in Armidale, NSW on the weekend of January 28th & 29th with the series’ second double-header, hosted by New England Mountain Bike Club. Described as a “beautiful thing”, the University of New England Sports facilities provides the village and purpose built mountain bike tracks that are sure to provide great racing for the National Series.

February racing kicks off with the second round of the DHI National Series in Thredbo, NSW from February 3rd to 5th. Thredbo Mountain Bike has hosted a round of the National Series since 1992 and that legacy continues with Thredbo constantly upgrading its track and keeping it fresh. As a place to ride downhill, there are few destinations in Australia that get close to Thredbo with the Kosciusko Express chairlift providing the gravity assistance.

MTBA travel south to Mt Taylor, VIC for the final XCO double-header round on February 11th & 12th, supported by the East Gippsland cycling community. All new courses will be offered utilising existing sections of the XCO trail, portions of the all mountain and downhill track and some all new trails. The venue is looking forward to getting the World Trail treatment that will place it on the top shelf for racing venues in south-east Australia.

Round 3 of the DHI National Series will be held at Mt Beauty, VIC from February 17th – 19th. The park offers iconic tracks including Big Hill which has burned a place in the hearts of the downhill community. MTBA is very excited by the opportunity to return in 2017 for this event, hosted by Team Mt Beauty.

The final rounds of the National Series will be held in Toowoomba, QLD between March 10th & 12th. For the third year in a row, MTBA is taking the National Series to Jubilee Park, home of Toowoomba

Mountain Bike Club. This round of the National Series will also support the 2017 Oceania Continental Championships. The final round of the series will bring together both XCO & DHI, providing a spectacular end to the 2017 National Series, just one week before the National Championships in Canungra, QLD. This also provides a great opportunity for riders and their families to combine two great MTB events with a QLD holiday. MTBA are investigating opportunities to incorporate a family friendly destination activity to tie the two events together.

Our 2017 National Season provides a great mix of established and new locations”, said MTBA President Russ Baker.

“It will be great to return to Mt Beauty – the home of the 2006 National Championships – after many years. The season also offer riders the opportunity to earn valuable UCI points for those who plan on heading overseas for the World Cups.”

A full breakdown of the 2017 XCO & DHI National Series is below:Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 5.19.43 PM

MTBA reserves the right in conjunction with host venues to upgrade UCI category listings for the 2017 National Series. Any changes to UCI category listings will be communicated to members through the MTBA website and social media platforms.

The 2017 National Series will see more than 1,250 riders from across the country compete in events in seven different regional locations.

Cape to Cape MTB 2016: Take a Holiday, Ride Your Bike

Entries are well and truly open for Cape to Cape MTB 2016, in WA’s stunning Margaret River region. If you’ve been considering this four-day event, let us give you a nudge in the right direction!

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Cape to Cape encapsulated – friends, beaches, bikes.
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Some of the superb trail from Day 3 in the Margaret River pines.

Flow’s very proud to be associated with Cape to Cape – now in its ninth year, we feel it’s Australia’s leading multi-day mountain bike event, unique in the way it welcomes riders of all levels, and presenting the perfect blend of race and holiday.

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Cape Leeuwin, where the racing all gets underway.
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Did we mention the wine and beer?
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Rinsing off in Hamelin Bay, at the end of stage 1.

Over four days, Cape to Cape MTB traverses from its start at the dramatic Cape Leeuwin up to Dunsborough, taking in over 220km of great trails and awesome scenery along the route. This region is known for its natural beauty and its superb food, wine and beer, and Cape to Cape makes the most of this. Each stage finishes either by the beach, so you can rinse off in the Indian Ocean, or at a brewery or vineyard, which makes for a lovely, lazy afternoon of recovery with a drink in hand.

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Cheers!

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With all the stages generally completed by midday, it’s a very family friendly event too, giving you plenty of time to enjoy all that this region has to offer. There’s never a great distance to travel either, with each day’s riding beginning where the previous one concluded, so logistics aren’t complicated, making it a stress-free way to enjoy a stage race.

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The variety of trails and scenery is staggering.

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The course has been tweaked and refined with every year, and it presents a great mix of experiences. From the famed singletrack in the pines around Margs, to farmland roads threaded through vineyards, challenging pea-gravel, and even a bit of beach combing, there’s a huge variety of riding.

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The whole region really embraces the event. Groups of cheering locals keep you grinning.
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Margs life.

If you’ve never ridden one before, you’ll find that stage racing is a brilliant way to do an event too; each day is something new, so you feel like you’re going on a journey, and you soon begin to make friends with the familiar faces you ride amongst each day. It’s a format that naturally breeds banter and friendly competition. If you’re serious about your racing, then Cape to Cape plays host to one of the most competitive racers in Australian mountain biking too, with a stacked Elite and Masters field.

Cape to Cape 2015 Day 3-72

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The feeling of wrapping up four days of riding is hard to beat.

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We’re stoked to be heading to Cape to Cape again this year, and we can’t recommend this one highly enough. Get to it, and we’ll see you in sunny Margs in October! For more information, or to register, head to capetocapemtb.com.

Cape to Cape 2015 Day 4-50

Intense’s New 27.5+ Trail Bike, the ACV

Intense Cycles have a new toy coming our way soon. The ACV (Air Cushioned Vehicle) is the first Plus-format bike from the Californian crew, combining big rubber and trail bike numbers.

Claire Butchar and Chris Kovarik riding the Templeton Trail in Sedona, AZ.
Chris Kovarik putting the ACV’s big rubber to good use.

We’ve got high expectations for this bike; we were blown away by the Spider 275C (read our full review here) and we’ve more generally been stoked on the new Plus format too. So we’ve got a feeling that bringing the Spider’s smooth confidence together with 2.8″ rubber is going to be a winning mix.

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The Foundation build kit gets SRAM’s NX/GX drivetrain.
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Move up to the Pro kit and you’ll score Raceface NEXT cranks, DT wheels and an X01 drivetrain, plus Guide RS brakes.

Intense: “The new ACV ( Air Cushioned Vehicle ) is Intense’s adventure trail bike.  In the US Military, the ACV is a tactical transport vehicle or hovercraft that transitions through various terrain seamlessly. This is where 275+ trail bikes exceed.  The larger volume tires allow the bike to transition from hard pack to loose, rocky, rooty terrain at a much more comfortable pace.”

It seems that the ACV shares a lot of construction similarities with the Spider, including a monocoque carbon frame, Boost rear hub spacing, and adjustable travel (115-130mm). It’s also appears to be single-ring only, which should allow Intense to widen the pivots and make it all very stiff. The ACV will be available in two build kits options, both with a 150mm Pike; a Pro kit for $9499 and a Foundation kit for $6699. Full geometry is below.

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We’ll be trying to get one of these guys in our hands once they hit our shores.

Shannigans on and off trail

Fresh Product: DHaRCO’s New Apparel Range

We’ve got a real affinity for Sydney-based apparel company DHaRCO. Designed for hot Australian conditions with an emphasis on simple, clean lines, using an inspired colour palette, it’s fantastic gear.

_LOW4198

DHaRCO Gravity Shorts – Men’s and Women’s:

These are probably our favourite item in the DHaRCO range (along with the Tech Tees). We’ve been running these shorts for well over 12 months now, they’re the most regularly worn item in our mountain bike wardrobe.

_LOW4215

We feel they’ve really nailed the balance between lightweight breathability and durability.”We didn’t want to weigh these shorts down with unnecessary features,” said DHaRCO, “especially in Australian heat.” There are two sensibly-sized, unobtrusive, zippered pockets – one on the left leg, and one round the back, on the waist band, which is all you need. There’s no liner, so chuck them on over your favourite set of knicks.

_LOW4251

“We slimmed the fit down a little from last season,” explains DHaRCO. “The trail riding market has really taken to the shorts, and the slimmer cut is better for pedalling.” The same four-way stretch fabric found in last season’s shorts remains.

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Short Sleeve Jerseys – Men’s and Women’s:

The range of men’s and women’s short sleeve jerseys has also been expanded, both in terms of colour ways and styles.

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The fit of the men’s kit is now a little more relaxed, and there are two styles, one with mesh side panels and one with an entire mesh back, for warmer conditions. Both styles include a hidden zippered pocket which is perfect for a lightweight item like a car key, a bit of cash or key card. A slightly elasticised collar has been added too, for more comfort.

_LOW4227 _LOW4243

In the women’s range, there are two quite different cuts of jersey now – a  ‘standard’ slim fit jersey, and less technical Raglan cut. The standard SS jersey has all the features found on the men’s, including the hidden zippered pocket and mesh side panels, while the Raglan jersey has a simpler construction for a more casual vibe.

We’re keen to highlight DHaRCO’s role in helping improve the state of play for women’s mountain biking too. The women’s MTB apparel market is slim pickings at best in Australia, with many retailers unwilling to take on much stock. For DHaRCO, offering a proper range of women’s apparel was vital. DHaRCO got on the front foot, developing a complete line of women’s kit, and sponsoring female riders, and they’ve been rewarded with a strong following amongst female mountain bikers. “I’d say about 40% of our sales are in women’s apparel now,” says DHaRCO. “We’re also seeing a lot more mixed orders of men’s and women’s kit, so clearly more couples are getting into riding together too.”

DHaRCO have distribution in New Zealand, Canada, Switzerland and the US, but they’ll ship products worldwide from their web shop too.

Fresh Product: 2017 Lapierre XR

Fresh from France is Lapierre’s latest cross country race bike, the all-new 2017 XR. The carbon frame 100mm travel 29er scores a good dose of fresh updates for the new season and retains its unique frame aesthetic but takes it even further with a style we’ve not seen before.

Three versions of the XR are due to arrive on our shores:

XR 929 EI : $9999

RockShox RS1 fork.
RockShox Monarch e:i RT3.
SRAM Eagle XX1 12-speed drivetrain, carbon cranks and rear mech SRAM Level Ultimate carbon brakes.
DT Swiss XR 1501 UST wheel set.

XR 729 EI : $6999

RockShox SID RL fork
RockShox Deluxe e:i RT3 shock

Shimano XT 2×11 drivetrain (11-40T cassette)

Shimano XT brakes
Mavic Crossmax Elite UST wheel set

XR 629: $4999

RockShox Reba RL fork.
RockShox Deluxe RT3 shock.
Shimano XT 2×11 drivetrain (11-40T cassette) with SLX front mech Shimano BRM 506 hydraulic brakes.
DT Swiss rims and Formula hubs.

Lapierre XR 729 ei Damian McArthur (14)
Lapierre XR 729 e:i.

We’ll aim to get our hands on one of these when they arrive, but for now here’s the lowdown on the new XR from Lapierre.


Updated frame geometry: Frame geometry is heavily reworked around shorter, stiffer stems, with a reach that’s a full 20mm longer. The head angle is a degree slacker at 69 degrees, and the combined result is a front axle that’s further forward for improved stability on descents and less lift on climbs.

The seat tube has been steepened significantly to 74.5 degrees to keep weight over the front and boost steering accuracy, while the chainstays are 5mm shorter to keep manoeuvrability high.

New frame design is striking to say the least!
New frame design is striking to say the least!

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Trap Door Technology: Maintenance access across the frame is deliberately easy, plus the XR benefits from Trap Door Technology. TDT brings integrated Di2 fitting, and tucks batteries inside the downtube away from the elements – while allowing instant access for charging. TDT is sited very low, right alongside the bottom bracket, to centralise and lower the mass, and minimise its effects on handling.

Lapierre XR 729 ei Damian McArthur (8)
Access the internal wiring for Di2, cables, e:i Shock system and brake lines easily with the new Trap Door.

The full-carbon frame is also compatible with internally-routed dropper posts, and for 2017 it’s stiffer for its weight.

Boost Hub Spacing: Wheels are now stiffer and stronger too thanks to Boost axle spacing (148mm/110mm), while the shocks also gain lateral stiffness thanks to the greater bushing overlap afforded by RockShox’s new metric-sized Deluxe RL. The shock’s redesigned body also benefits from longer wiper seals for extended service times, reduced friction for more supple movement and space for significant internal upgrades. They’re built to ride high in their travel to maintain controlled, predictable geometry and excellent pedalling manners – ideal for the XR.Lapierre XR 729 ei Damian McArthur (20)

Still super-lightweight with its unidirectional carbon frame and rocker, the XR is now faster everywhere on the hill.

The range-topping XR 929 makes the utmost of all this new technology with more of the latest developments – specifically, SRAM’s new 12-speed Eagle drivetrain, RockShox’s super-stiff RS-1 inverted fork, and our renowned e:i electronic rear suspension.

Trek’s All-New Remedy and Fuel EX

Keeping secrets is hard. But for the past four weeks we’ve had to remain schtum about two great new bikes from Trek, which we had the pleasure of riding on the life-changing trails of Squamish, Canada. The experience of riding bikes like these, on trails like those, is something you want to broadcast from the rooftops, so bottling it up has been excruciating!

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Firstly, it’s our commandment that you go ride Squamish. Sell a kidney, leave your family, seek asylum – do whatever you need to do to get there. This little logging town might be somewhat overshadowed by the glitz of Whistler, but the trails are amongst the absolute finest we’ve ever ridden. It’s trail bike heaven – consistent climbs and mind-altering descents which seem to last forever – which made it the ideal terrain for us to slip the chain on Trek’s latest creations.

Speaking of which… allow us to walk you through the significantly altered Fuel EX and Remedy line-ups!

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Fuel EX Series

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Key points:

  • No more Fuel 27.5  (except for small and x-small sizes in women’s models)
  • Longer travel front and back
  • Significantly more aggressive geometry
  • Frame now stiffer than a frozen penguin

The Fuel EX has been the mainstay of Trek’s mountain bike line for yonks, and we’ve long been besotted with its smooth character and eagerness to bite off more than the average trail bike. However, in the last couple of years, Trek must have received some feedback that offering the Fuel in both 27.5 and 29er versions was getting a little confusing in the marketplace. As such, they made the call to go with the wheel size which they feel best suited the bike’s character: 29er.

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The Fuel EX 9.9 – a full tilt trail blitzer. 130mm travel, 29″ wheels, and far more aggressive than its predecessor.

We think it’s a good call. We’ve ridden both 27.5 and 29er versions of the Fuel extensively, and the sure-footedness and speed of the 29er is very appealing. Recent frame developments, like Boost hub spacing, have allowed Trek to make the Fuel 29er’s geometry a lot more playful too, so that aspect which we enjoyed about the 27.5″ Fuel now largely carries across to the 29er platform too. The only exception to this rule is to be found in the WSD (Women’s Specific Design) models of the Fuel, which have a 27.5-specific frameset in 14″ and 15.5″ frame sizes.

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The frame shapes are quite different to the older versions of the Fuel, including the sculpted head tube.

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While it won’t be making its way to Australia, Trek will also be offering the Fuel in 27.5+ format. (Apparently 29er Fuel sales are leagues ahead in Oz, we really like the big wheelers.) The 27.5+ uses the exact same frame as the 29er, just with a slightly longer-travel fork to correct the geometry. Trek see the Plus format as being more appropriate for intermediate level riders, and as such, they don’t offer a high-end version of the Fuel Plus.

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The DT skewer found on the EX9.9 is much cleaner than Trek’s original ABP axle. Note the size of the Eagle cassette – bigger than a 180mm rotor!

Travel across the Fuel range has been given a boost, up to 130mm at both ends (previously 120mm). While a 10mm increase doesn’t sound a lot, it is definitely noticeable on the trail. Also adding to the Fuel’s more up-and-at-em character is the use of 34mm forks across the line-up, whereas some models previously ran a slimmer 32mm noodle.

The new Fuel has more swagger and confidence than Jay-Z

But more so than the increase in travel, it’s the revised geometry of the Fuel that now lends it a more aggressive air. The head angle has been given a Xanax and it now settles in at a very relaxed 67-degrees. The Mino-Link geometry adjustment allows you to steepen things if you wish, up to 67.7 degrees. On the previous Fuel EX 29er, the head angle was 68.6 degrees, so the geometry is quite markedly different. In fact, the new Fuel’s geometry is very similar to that found on the current 2o16 Remedy.

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Mino link adjustment lets you choose either a 67.7 or 67-degree head angle.

In addition to the slacker head angle, the frame reach has been increased too, by an average of 5mm longer, and the chain stays have lost 3mm, to 433mm. That’s a lot of numbers; for the less numerically inclined, what it all means is that the new Fuel has more swagger and confidence than Jay-Z at the club.

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The Straight Shot down tube. Much stiff.

You can bet your first born that the Fuel will be getting pushed into some truly savage terrain, and so it’s lucky that frame stiffness has been jacked up to handle the demands. According to Trek, the next-gen Fuel is stiffer than the 2016 Slash. The key is the Straight Shot down tube (also found on the 2017 Remedy). Ask any engineer the lightest, strongest way to span two points and they’ll tell you to use a straight line, so that’s what Trek did. The massive, boxy down tube found on the Fuel shaves a few grams and gives the front end all the inflexibility of a climate change denier. Twisting is something you do on the dance floor, not on the trail.

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The new Fuel is crazy stiff. Don’t take out word for it? Then how about a bar graph?
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Here you can see both the new Control Freak cable system and the down tube bumper that serves as back up protection against the fork crown striking the frame.

In improving the frame stiffness, Trek did open up another issue however. With the extra width of the Boost fork crowns, and the extra girth of the downtube, clearance between the fork and frame became a problem. So Trek engineered a clever solution: the new Knock Block Frame Defense headset and stem. Again, the Knock Block is found on the Remedy too.

Essentially, the Knock Block system uses a small metal ‘stop chip’ bolted to the top tube that slots into a custom headset bearing cover and which prevents the headset from rotating past a certain point. In addition, the stem (and associated head set spacers) all have a ‘keyed’ arrangement that locks them together into the headset bearing cover too. The upshot is that your fork and shifters/levers are prevented from spinning round and smashing your frame in the event of a crash. Simple! In the extreme case you somehow snap the ‘stop chip’ off, the downtube also has a bumper to prevent damage. Phew. Should you wish to run a non-Bontrager stem, a specific headset spacer/adaptor is available to let you do so.

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The alloy-framed EX8 will retail for $4299 in Australia.

Australia will see the vast majority of the new Fuel EX Series headed to our shores, with prices starting at $2999 for the alloy-frame EX5, right up to $9999 for the truly special EX9.9 we had the pleasure of riding in Squamish.

WSD versions of the Fuel EX will be available in alloy (the EX8 pictured here, $4299) and the carbon EX9.8 ($6299)
WSD versions of the Fuel EX will be available in alloy (the EX8 pictured here, $4299) and the carbon EX9.8 ($6299)

Remedy Series

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Shred Monster. The new Remedy is a stellar all-mountain machine.

Key points:

  • All 27.5 – the Remedy 29 is gone
  • 150mm travel front and back
  • RE:Aktiv RockShox rear shocks
  • Slacker angles and longer reach
  • Same frame stiffness boosting measures as found on the Fuel

Just as Trek decided to simplify the Fuel lineup, they took a good look at the Remedy lineup and decided, “Dang, why don’t we just gosh darn get rid of the Remedy 29er?” And so, that’s what they did. From 2017, the Remedy will be available in 27.5 only. Given the success this bike enjoyed on the EWS circuit under Tracey Moseley and Justin ‘The Rake’ Leov, it’s a bit of a surprise to see the 29er go.

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Longer, slacker, stiffer, and more travel to play with too.
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For the first time, RockShox scores the RE:aktiv damper that was previously only found in FOX shocks.

The Remedy gets a jump in travel too, back up to 150mm front and rear. We say ‘back up’ because if you cast your mind back to the days of 26″ wheels you’ll recall the Remedy had 150mm travel then too. On the topic of suspension, the new Remedy also sees a new partner in Trek’s RE:aktiv shock technology, with RockShox now employing the regressive damping too – the Remedy 9.9 we tested was running a Monarch shock with RE:aktiv and we can report that it was fantastic. This is an interesting development, because Trek has a long history of developing custom shock technology with FOX, but not with RockShox.

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Burly 35mm forks up front across the Remedy range, with the Yari, Pike and Lyrik.

The fact the new Remedy is longer and slacker than its predecessor almost goes without saying – it’s head angle is now adjustable between 66.5 and 66-degrees. Reach has been pushed out quite a lot as well, by 11mm on a size 19″ (large) frame, and short 50mm stems are employed across the range. Braaaap, brrrraaap!

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Trek have introduced the Control Freak cable system across the range. It’s much nicer than their previous approach oh semi-internal routing.

As with the Fuel, the Remedy’s frame stiffness figures are higher than Charlie Sheen. With the employment of the new Straight Shot down tube and a Boost rear end, it now rivals the Session downhill bike for lateral stiffness. Pick a line, any line, and hold on.


Expanded Bontrager Components Line Up

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We like the simplicity and ease of service of the Drop Line post.

With the introduction of the new Drop Line dropper post, Trek’s in-house Bontrager components brand now has just about every item you could ever want to spec your bike with, and it’s all very good stuff.

The Drop Line post was on all the bikes we rode, and we think it’s a very solid contender in this crowded market. The post is air sprung, with a hydraulic cartridge, and is cable actuated. Adjustment is infinite, and it comes in the lengths with 100, 125 and 150mm of drop.

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Trek offer the Drop Line post with a great under-bar lever, or a shifter compatible lever too.

For us, the highlights include the very solid under-bar lever (an above bar lever is available for those running a left-hand shifter), the ease of servicing, and the fact that the cable is clamped at the lever end, not at the post (which makes life MUCH easier when install the post or changing the cable). In the muddy conditions we rode, we opted to pull down our post to give it a clean out at the end of the first day’s riding – an 8mm and 2mm Allen key were all the tools we needed, and the whole job took less than five minutes.

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Placing the cable with the head at the post end, makes setting up and installing/removing the post much, much easier than models with clamp the cable at the post.
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The Bontranger 35mm cockpit – there are carbon or alloy bar options.
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Note the keyed stem, to integrate with the Knock Block system.

35mm-diameter bars and stems are quickly becoming the norm, and Bonty are on board. Their new Line and Line Pro (carbon) bars and matching stems are lighter than the previous 31.8mm predecessors. The stems are, of course, compatible with Knock Block headset system too.

Apparently the 35mm bar/stem is no stiffer than the 31.8mm version, but it is lighter and stronger.
Apparently the 35mm bar/stem is no stiffer than the 31.8mm version, but it is lighter and stronger.
We cannot get over how good the Bontrager rubber is now!
We cannot get over how good the Bontrager rubber is now!

Bonty’s tyre range has surged ahead since Frank Stacy came on board, and we rate the XR3 and XR4 as amongst our top all-time tyres. The improvements have continued, and we could not fault the new XR4 or SE4 Team Issue rubber found on the Fuel and Remedy either. We’re looking forward to getting these tyres onto our home trails!


If there’s one thing we learnt on this media launch, it’s that Trek prefer riding to talking. Marketing chit-chat was kept to a bare minimum, letting everyone make the most of the stupendously good trails. Now you’ve heard all about Trek’s newest offerings, jump on over and read our first impressions about how the Fuel and Remedy perform on the trails!

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