Have your feet been good to you? Want to treat them right? Then take a look at Shimano’s new S-Phyre XC9 shoes, some supremely sophisticated footwear from the big S, aimed squarely at the cross-country race market.
We’ve been huge fans of Shimano’s XC90 shoes (read our full review here) but having got our hands on the all-new S-Phyre XC9 (in very FLUORO yellow, no less), we can tell you these are a big leap forward in terms of construction refinement and weight savings.
The S-Phyre is remarkably sleek, with the kind of seamless look that’s akin to a high-end road shoe, using a very supple, one-piece synthetic leather upper that really moulds to the shape of your feet.
Speaking of moulding, the S-Phyre shoes do not have the custom-fit system which was previously found on Shimano’s top level shoes. Apparently the custom-fit system added a fair amount of weight, and with the new one-piece upper and BOA laces, Shimano are able to achieve the same level of comfort and conformance to your foot as was possible with the custom fit system. Interesting stuff.
A degree of customisation is still possible with three different levels of arch support, adjusted via simple inserts that slip into the insole itself. This is a smart solution, much cheaper than having to buy new insoles if you have higher arches.
BOA laces are so hot right now the S-Phyre are BOA equipped. In our experience, the BOA laces offer more precise adjustment than a ratchet strap with less susceptibility to damage or getting gummed up with mud too. Anyone who has had to fight their way out of muddy shoes with the ratchets seized up will appreciate the ‘instant release’ spools, no doubt.
As a race shoe, the S-Phyre XC9 offers better power transfer than a fork in an electrical socket. Full carbon soles ensure every precious caffeine fuelled Watt is delivered to your pedals, and a low stack height keeps your foot closer to the pedal axle which makes for a more stable pedal stroke.
Like the ME7 Enduro shoes we’ve been riding lately, the S-Phyre shoes also get a Michelin rubber tread, which is grippy and also lighter than the previous tread configuration found on the XC90 shoes. We weighed our size 43 shoes at 335g each.
If you’re not a fan of the blistering fluoro, there’s black, or the classic Shimano blue available too, which we’re sure will be popular. As an extra sweetener, every pair of S-Phyre shoes comes with matching socks too – #sockgamestrong as our roadie friends would put it!
Slightly down the pricing totem pole you’ll find the XC7 shoes, which get many of the features of the XC9s, just with one BOA dial, not two, and a slightly lower stiffness carbon sole. The XC9s also have more extensive ventilation too, for keeping your feet cool when you’re on the rivet.
Pricing on the S-Phyre XC9s is $449, and they should be here in Australia by October, while the XC7s come in at $259 with a November availability.
This year, for the first time the Crocodile Trophy’s local partner, the Cairns Mountain Bike club is offering four public race stages, where everyone can get a “Taste of the Croc” as part of their “Gravitate Tropical MTB Festival”. The club will be hosting Stages 1+2 and the final Stages 7+8 for anyone who wants to join the Crocodile Trophy peloton on their racing journey – this is the chance to be part of this legendary event and to catch the racing bug – and a discount – for one future full edition of this stage race.
As the oldest mountain bike stage race of its kind in the world, the Crocodile Trophy is also one of the toughest that’s out there and to compete in it with racers from all over the world is as much commitment as it is an amazing experience. The Crocodile Trophy has its home in the heart of tropical north Queensland in Australia and goes for eight days from the jungle in Cairns to the Atherton Tablelands with bush singletracks in one Australia’s most popular MTB parks to the unique Outback and finishes on the breathtakingly beautiful Four Mile Beach in Port Douglas – all that via picturesque towns, the Skybury Coffee Plantation and Wetherby Cattle Station. This is one of the most versatile stage plans out there.
“We are launching this supporting event especially for Australian and local riders, so that they can be a part of the legendary Crocodile Trophy”, said Cairns MTB Club president, Frank Falappi. “If you’ve always wanted to ‘do the Croc’, this would be the ideal event to get into it.”
The stages are split over two weekends so it easy to do both with a holiday in between, he added. It certainly presents a great opportunity for a holiday in the tropics, visit the reef and enjoy the many attractions the Cairns and Port Douglas regions in Tropical North Queensland have to offer, agreed race organiser Gerhard Schoenbacher.
“For overseas amateur racers it’s the experience of a lifetime and even though we do get quite a few that come again and again, we know it’s a big time commitment. We’re hoping that this new supporting event will suit especially the Australian riders – if you’re a local racer, you really only have to take one day off- day the Friday for stage seven”, Schoenbacher explained.
The entry fee for two days is $220 and $390 for the four-day event, which will be a part of the club’s Gravitate Tropical Mountain Bike Festival. The club will support racers with shuttle services and has arranged lunches and feed zone access with the Crocodile Trophy organisers. To sweeten the deal, all “Taste”-racers will get a discount towards one full Crocodile Trophy registration, equivalent to your entry fee to the Taste the Croc race.
With a visit to Trek World we were greeted with hordes of amazing new bikes, it’s a big year for Trek with the new Fuel EX, Remedy and Slash. We appreciate where Trek are headed for 2017, simplifying the wheel sizes down to one per model. Check out what caught our fancy from the new range.
All the 2017 bikes are now up on Trek’s site here: www.trekbikes.com
Trek Fuel EX
The Fuel EX is a real winner for Trek, nailing that middle category of ‘trail rider’ and the 2017 model scores a massive overhaul with a whole host of new frame designs. The new Fuel is 29er only, gone is the 27.5″ option, 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.
The Fuel range is massive, starting at an impressive $2999 there are eight models available in carbon and aluminium, including two women’s versions. Topping out at the Fuel EX 9.9 29 with SRAM Eagle and a full carbon frame for $9999 it’s clear that the Fuel is a solid model for Trek Australia.
For 2017 the Fuel goes up to 130mm travel front and back, frame geometry is more aggressive and the frame is a whole lot stiffer.
We were fortunate to attend the official launch of the 2017 Fuel EX, Remedy and Slash in Canada, for the story on the new bikes in greater detail head to our launch feature here: TREK’S ALL-NEW REMEDY AND FUEL EX.
Project One Now
To make the new Fuel even more appealing, The Fuel EX 9.8 is a part of the Project One Now, for an extra $750 you have an extra three colour options to choose from. It’s essentially a trimmed down version of the highly customisable Project One scheme Trek offer for key models – with Project One Now it’s just the colour you can select, not spec changes. It’s usually around $1500 for a colour option in Project One, so Project One Now is a more affordable way for a little bit of unique individuality in a sweet bike.
A long time favourite at Flow the Remedy scores a big facelift too, stepping up in travel, stiffness and receiving an updated frame geometry for a more gravity/enduro spirit.
The four-strong lineup of Remedy models available in Australia begins at $3699 for the aluminium version and tops out at the Remedy 9.8 for $6799.
New for 2017 the Remedy is 27.5″ only, no more 29″ model. Travel bumps up to 150mm of travel and they all use RockShox rear shocks, and like the Fuel EX the frame is stiffer and geometry more aggressive.
For the full rundown on the changes to the 2017 Remedy, click through to our in-depth launch piece here: 2017 Trek Remedy.
The Remedy 9 Race Shop Limited in glossy red (below) looks like a real winner. An aluminium frame keeps the price down, but the spec is excellent, RockShock Lyrik, SRAM X1 drivetrain and Bontrager 30mm wide rims. One to keep an eye out for sure.
Trek Slash 29
Bikes don’t get any more badass than this. The new 2017 Slash 29 is a monster of a bike, with 29″ wheels wrapped in chunky rubber and Bontrager’s new 35mm clamp bar and stem.
Slash your type of bike? Don’t miss all the details in our 2017 Slash launch post here: 2017 Slash 29.
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.
There are two models of the Slash 29 coming to our shores, the 9.9 in glossy red with SRAM Eagle and burly FOX X2 rear shock and 36 fork, $8999. And the 9.8 below is quite reasonable for $6999 with RockShox bits and SRAM X1 drivetrain.
Now this thing is a bit of an oddity, but makes so much sense – Plus size bike built around 29″ wheels with 3″ wide tyres. We’ve had loads of experience with 27.5+ bikes from all sorts of brands, hardtails and dual suspension, but we’ve only ever ridden one 29+ bike, a Surly Krampus. While it was a cool concept that offered huge stability, it was just too big and long to consider for the type of mountain biking we enjoy.
We chatted with Travis Brown about the concept behind the Stache, why it’s a 29er and how they arrived at a final product with such a short rear end. Have a look at our chat with a legend here: Chatting with the legend – Travis Brown.
Trek have gone with 29″ over 27.5″ in a plus size as they believe if you’re going to want benefits of the big tyres, why not go all out and have the benefits of bigger diameter wheels too? But with 29″ wheels you run into a lot of issues with frame geometry, trying to fit it all in with a bike that doesn’t blow out to having a massive wheelbase was a challenge that Trek managed to overcome. The elevated chainstays allow the rear wheel to be brought closer to the bike’s centre, take a look at the overlap between the rear tyre and the chainring, like nothing we’ve seen before.
The adjustable stays also meant this bike can be converted to a single speed and can accomodate a wide variety of wheel sizes too, it’s a freaky wonder of a bike and we like it.
The Stache will come to Australia in three variants, starting at $2399 for the rigid version, $3299 for the green one below and $4499 for the slick carbon number.
We took the mid range Stache 7 for a quick blast around Stromlo with US mountain bike legend and hall of fame guru Travis Brown and we relished the huge traction but could not believe how short the bike felt. It’ll take some getting used to that’s for sure, a bike with 29″ wheels and 3″ tyres should simply not feel that agile so when we get one on review we’ll have to re-program our minds somehow. Pop a wheelie and you’ll know what we mean, 420mm chain stays is short for any bike, and you can adjust that down to a remarkable 405mm, crazy stuff.
While it does carry over to 2017 unchanged from the current model, we couldn’t keep our eyes off the top level Top Fuel 9.9 RSL. It’s a whopping $11499, and one of picks for the ultimate XC race bike. We took the Top Fuel 9.8 SL for a lap of Stromlo and obviously enjoyed the climb, but also had a blast on the way back down (we’d not hesitate fitting a dropper post to one though, we’re tragics).
There’s nothing quite like hooking through fast singletrack on such a fast handling bike, it’s not for the faint hearted though, unless you’re dead keen on racing we’d suggest the Fuel EX for a more trail friendly bike.
After the success of the inaugural McKayos in 2015, it will be back bigger and better on Sat, 24th September 2016.
The unique mass start mountain bike Gravity Enduro event, similar to the Megavalanche style event held in many European resorts, attracted 75 riders in 2016. Marketing & Communications Manager, Jo Prothero says ‘we are anticipating a much larger field this year, given the success of the inaugural event, so would encourage riders to register early to avoid disappointment’.
This unique event will start from the snowy slopes of Australia’s highest drivable peak, Mt McKay at 1,850m to the pristine shores of Lake Guy in Bogong Village at 660m.
Combining Snow, Dirt and Road, the course takes riders 22km through single track, fire trails and sealed mountain roads for a total descent of 1700m. A mass start on snow is sure to see some chaos from the starter’s gun as riders muscle for position. Fingers crossed for a freeze the night before.
The event is also a State Finalist in the Australian Event Awards for Best new event.
• Single Gravity Enduro mountain bike stage
• Single mass start on snow
• 22km course – including NEW 7km of single track
• 1,700m total descent
• Entries open to Individual competitors and NEW teams (one has to be female)
• $75 per rider or $300 for a team
• The event will be officially timed this year
• Winning awards presentations at Bogong Village after last riders has finished
• Competitors will be shuttled back to Falls Creek upon finishing the stage
Former professional road racer Michael England and Edwina Hughes have been crowned the champions of The Redback 2016, the six-stage, four day mountain biking stage race in Alice Springs across arguably some of the most amazing courses in the whole of Australia.
The field heading into the ninth year of the event (formerly the Ingkerreke Commercial MTB Enduro), was a mix of elite, top and aspiring riders including Specialized Australian MTB team member Shaun Lewis (2013 runner-up), two time Olympic triathlete Courtney Atkinson, Cannondale’s James Downing, local junior champion Luke Pankhurst and Tasmania’s Alex Lack.
As expected Alice Springs dished up plenty of sunshine across the four days of racing, and even some rain and thunderstorms today making the racing brilliant with tactics coming into play for those chasing or protecting general classification rankings.
Gladstone’s Michael England (33), race leader on an accumulated time of 09:12:49 said he had expected a big challenge, but had been working hard the last few months to get fit.
“It’s great to come out with the win, I expected a good placing, but you’re always unsure as to how everyone else is going,” England said. “I was keen to go well in the time trial; that was always going to be a decider, because there was an opportunity to make a lot of ground in riding well, as opposed to a mass start.”
England said he knew the sort of terrain and single track he was up for, but being shorter stages compared to the marathons he is used to, was quite excited to see how his body would go.
“It went pretty well, it’s all about recovery, straight after each stage; my main tactic was just don’t lose time.
“Road (racing) was a job, it was full time, and I’ve now got family, and I work full time. Mountain-biking’s a great mix; obviously the commitment’s there to bit fit, at the pointy end of the field but it’s good fun.
“I really enjoyed it; it’s been a great event to attend, it’s the first one for me, so yeah I’m really happy with how everything’s gone.”
Shaun Lewis (35, ACT) claimed three stage wins, but couldn’t make up the time lost with a broken chain 20 metres from the start of Friday’s Stage 4, to hold his position as leader in general classification. Lewis’ Stage 6 win today earned him the Tavis Johannsen Memorial Trophy.
“It’s been a very fun week, very enjoyable, and lots of fun. I’m very happy, apart from mechanical issues, which is part of bike racing. Normally snapping a chain only costs you two or three minutes to fix, but being right at the start of the race, you’re stuck behind all the traffic, but that’s all part of it. After the damage with mechanical, I just tried to win stages; that was the best I could do for the week.
“I really enjoyed the racing when it was close; it was pretty nail-biting to the finish which is good. And I thought the format was really good overall.
“The young guys are riding really well, Luke Pankhurst and Alex Lack; I was quite impressed by seeing him ride, his skills in the singletrack are really good, so when he was up the front he made it really quick, and a lot of fun; that made it pretty exciting.”
The lead on the women’s side of the draw was held tightly from the get-go by Tasmania’s Edwina Hughes (32), who out of the blocks claimed Stage 1, and backed it up with wins in Stages 2, 3 and 6 to win overall (10:38:36).
“I’m unbelievably happy, it was such a fantastic race, and to come away with the win is just the icing on the cake,” Hughes said.
“I felt pretty good coming into it, I was definitely quietly confident, but you never know coming into these things, how it’s going to go, and had luck on my side, with no mechanicals. For the first few stages, I just rode as hard as I could, and by the end of the second day I felt pretty comfortable with my lead, so I felt all I had to do was keep an eye on second place, and hope for the best.
“The trails were incredible, absolutely amazing; proper mountain biking trails, it just felt so wild. It was one of the friendliest races I’ve ever done; it was a really nice feeling out there on course. I’d love to come back, it was an amazing experience.”
Race Director John Jacoby from Rapid Ascent said the racing had been really good, with some exciting sprint finishes.
“We had beautiful riding conditions; a few warm days, but others sunny, with a cool breeze, and the perfect temperature,” Jacoby said. “Luke Pankhurst, overall junior winner was up there with the opens, and junior Zoe Cuthbert as well. The veterans and the masters categories were also super competitive; they were posting some really good times.
“They all loved the course, there are some great tracks out there, and the final stage today was probably the favourite; it captures some of the best bits of singletrack that Alice has to offer. It’s always great to finish on such a high. Thank you and well done to all riders.”
The Redback General Classification
1 – Prime (18-39) – Michael ENGLAND (5) – 09:12:49
2 – Prime (18-39) – Alex LACK (7) – 09:13:36
3 – Veteran (40-49) – Chris HANSON (3) – 09:14:39
The Redback General Classification Female
1 – Prime (18-39) – Edwina HUGHES (321) – 10:38:36
The Crankworx World Tour, born out of Whistler’s 10-day celebration of gravity-mountain biking, will grow to add another international location for summer 2017: Innsbruck, Austria.
Innsbruck is the only city in the world to have hosted three Olympic Games and have a history with the kind of competition Crankworx does best: defying gravity. Having staged the famous Air and Style Contest since 1993, several Boulder World Cups, and the UCI road biking World Championships, it is the perfect place to set up the fourth Crankworx World Tour stop.
“No other summer sports event fits so perfectly to Innsbruck as Crankworx. World-class mountain biking combined with a festival for real bike fans all over the world – it will definitely inspire Innsbruck, the capital of the Alps, in the same way as the participants and spectators will get fascinated by Innsbruck’s unique alpine flair,“ says Karin Seiler-Lall, Innsbruck Tourism CEO.
The 2017 calendar year marks a decade and a half of Crankworx competition, and the third year of the Crankworx World Tour. Innsbruck will become the fourth stop of this tour, joining Rotorua, New Zealand, Les Gets, France and Whistler, the Canadian home base of the tour.
“We’ve had a vision for a while to share Crankworx with some of the best mountain destinations in the world. It has been the defining celebration of this sport for some time, but taking our community out to new international locations for fans to connect with and ride alongside the athletes has really taken it to a whole new level,“ says Darren Kinnaird, Crankworx World Tour General Manager.
An ancient city with plenty of European ambiance, Innsbruck’s burgeoning trail system has also received strong reviews from those who have raced or ridden in the area.
“I have been riding a few different trails there and it’s insanely good riding. I was surprised by how many trails, good mixture—some flowy, technical and some big hills around. It’s a cool scene to go to,” said Colombian downhill star Marcelo Gutiérrez, who earned his fourth Garbo DH win this week.
Innsbruck offers a unique combination of urban and alpine lifestyle, and will likely combine both elements in its Crankworx stop, potentially even working in competitions like the pump track into the inner city scene.
“As Crankworx grows, we’re learning the locations and cultures we visit like to put their own spin on the festival and it’s definitely added to how we perceive mountain biking and its fans. We’ve been influenced by our stops in Rotorua and France, and never cease to be surprised by the number of fans who make the journey to other international stops, inspired by the athletes they’ve seen compete,” says Kinnaird.
Exact dates for all of the 2017 Crankworx World Tour stops will be released in the fall of 2016.
Mountain Bike Australia is pleased to announce the riders selected to represent Australia at the Downhill, Four Cross (4X) and Trials UCI MTB World Championships in Val di Sole, Italy, 3-11 September.
The team of 20 includes current and former world champions plus juniors earning selection on the team for the first time.
Janine Jungfels (QLD) became the first ever Australian to win a Trials world championship when she defeated the might of the Europeans in Andorra, Spain in 2015.
The current national champion was also named as Cycling Australia 2015 Female Mountain Biker Of The Year.
Reigning national elite men and women’s champion Troy Brosnan (SA) and Tracey Hannah (QLD) will carry the hopes of the team in the downhill.
Brosnan is currently second on the world cup standings, with Hannah third in the women’s, with both having finished second at the Cairns world cup earlier this year.
In the juniors, Jackson Frew (ACT) will be out to improve upon the bronze medal he won last year in Spain.
Three-time 4X world champion Caroline Buchanan (ACT) will mark her return to the mountain bike arena for the first time in three years, after she took out the 2013 world championships in South Africa.
MTBA President Russ Baker congratulated the riders selected to represent Australia in the 2016 World Championships in Downhill, Observed Trials and Four Cross.
“It is a great honour to be selected to represent your country. This team has a great mix of youth and experience, which includes current and previous World Champions. Their experience will be of great benefit to the new riders and to the whole team. My congratulations and best wishes to all the riders in the Australian Team, and my thanks to the families, clubs, supporters and sponsors who have helped them along the path to the pinnacle of their sport.”
Australian Team for the 2016 UCI MTB World Championships:
The new Firebird features some of the longest reach measurements in the sport, combined with super-short 16.95” chainstays and Boost spacing, and fits 27.5” wheels with tires up to 2.5” wide.
The Firebird is the no-compromise, Holy Grail of long travel mountain bikes – both an enduro bike that devours park runs and a technical climber that relishes huge lines and blazing descents. Building on its reputation as the bike for all-day missions on black diamond terrain, the Firebird now features Phoenix DH-inspired long reach measurements combined with a 65-degree head angle to deliver unmatched stability and handling.
“The Firebird is already known as long travel bike that can take huge hits and is also an incredibly capable technical climber,” said Pivot Cycles President and CEO, Chris Cocalis. “This new bike takes that reputation for enduro-versatility and ups the ante by incorporating our long and low geometry, and super short chainstays. This geometry really puts the rider “in” the bike, and adds up to an incredibly stable ride at high speeds and in super steep technical challenges.”
The Firebird, with 170mm of dw-link™ suspension, is the best choice for riders seeking a no-compromises bike for all-day missions on black-diamond terrain. The new carbon frame design enabled Pivot’s engineering team to drop weight (it is easy to build a complete Firebird under 28 pounds), increase strength and stiffness, and incorporate Pivot’s signature design features – the same double wishbone rear triangle and linkage design found on the Phoenix DH, Boost spacing, the Pivot Cable Port System for super clean internal cable routing and fully Di2 integration and ultra-quiet, low durometer rubberised frame protection.
Full carbon frame featuring leading edge carbon fiber materials and Pivot’s proprietary hollow core internal molding technology
Phoenix DH-influenced long and low geometry
Short 430mm (16.95”) chainstays
170mm dw-link™ rear suspension with upper clevis and linkage and double wishbone rear triangle
Fox Float Factory X2 rear shock*
Features a 170mm Fox 36 Factory fork
5 wheel compatible, fits tires up to 2.5” wide
Boost™ spacing front and rear
Front derailleur compatible with Pivot’s stealth E-Type mounting system.
180mm rear post mounts (no adaptor required)
Pivot Cable Port system for easy internal routing of shifters, brakes and droppers and full Di2 Integration
Internal dropper post compatible
Cold forged alloy linkages with Enduro Max Cartridge Bearings
New ultra quiet low durometer rubberized frame protection
Available in sizes S, M, L, XL for riders between 5’4″ and 6’7
Available in Pivot dealers, for more visit www.jetblackproducts.com
The 2016 Evocities MTB Series has now reached the halfway point with racing set to continue in Wagga Wagga on Sunday, 4 September 2016 with $6,000 in cash and prizes up for grabs in the fourth race of the series.
The ‘Wagga Evocities 6 hour MTB Enduro’ is an event for solo riders, pairs and teams being held at Pomingalarna Park on the western outskirts of Wagga Wagga.
2016 Evocities MTB Series Coordinator Tracey Willock said the fourth race will be an endurance format race, so it’s all about solos, pairs and teams doing as many laps as possible.
“The full circuit is a 13km figure of eight loop through natural bushland which will cater for riders of all levels and abilities with plenty to test and satisfy the more seasoned riders,” Ms Whillock said.
“Unlike most endurance rides where laps completed after the six hour mark are counted, Wagga Wagga’s race has an interesting twist. For this event, riders must be back in transition before the six hours are up in order for their last lap to count.”
“In addition to the solo riders, pairs and teams who race the full circuit, there will also be a 30-minute event for the under twelves run on a 2km course adjacent to the transition area.”
“The Wagga Evocities 6 hour MTB Enduro’ will have something to cater for riders of all ages and skill levels, not to mention there’s $6,000 in cash and prizes up for grabs,” Ms Whillock 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.
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.
Long before the EWS, open-face helmets with goggles or matchy-matchy kit, there was the Specialized Enduro. This was a bike that defined the category before there even was a category to define. The chicken and egg of the bike world, or something like that. And just like the sport of Enduro has been evolving, so to has the Specialized Enduro. Its latest incarnation is this stunning piece of work you see before you today.
This bike’s reputation is superb, for many years it has exemplified the versatile mix of insane downhill speed and steady climbing efficiency that the sport of Enduro demands. With Jared Graves on board Specialized now, the brand’s commitment to the sport of Enduro racing is more apparent than ever, and we find it hard to imagine a better weapon for doing battle on the EWS than the new Enduro.
We were lucky enough to get some time on the Enduro on some of our local trails ahead of the official launch, and we’ll be following this initial report up with a full review ASAP. For now, let’s take a look at what the Big S have created!
Options in all wheel sizes
Boost hub spacing
More robust and sensible construction
Expansion of Öhlins suspension partnership
650B and 29er/6Fattie options:
Time to delve into everyone’s favourite topic: wheel sizes! Specialized are covering all bases with the Enduro, so no matter what hoops you prefer, they have you sorted. For our test ride, we had a 650B with 2.6″ tyres, and 29er with 2.3″ tyres.
If you thought that 650B had won the day in the long-travel and Enduro racing world, that’s not the case. If anything, 29″ wheels are making a stronger push than ever into this realm. Take a look at the recent EWS Colorado podium if you want proof, where all three podium spots were taken out by 29ers! While we’re yet to see Plus sized wheels really blossom at the upper end of Enduro racing, it’s only a matter of time we feel.
Either way, Specialized have taken a very sensible approach with the new Enduro, offering the bike in a dedicated 650B version and a 29er version that can accommodate also accept 6Fattie (or 27.5+) wheels.
This approach makes a tonne of sense – why produce three different frames for the various wheel sizes, when you can produce two instead? Having said that, Specialized aren’t actually speccing any Enduro models with 6Fattie wheels right out of the box. If you want 6Fatties then it’s a swap you’ll need to negotiate with your dealer, but at least it is a possibility.
Interestingly, unlike some other frames which are designed to run either 27.5+ or 29er wheels (for instance the Pivot Switchblade or Santa Cruz High Tower) the new Enduro doesn’t use any headset cups or other geometry adjustments if you’re switching between wheel sizes.
You do need to be aware that swapping wheels will have an impact on the bike’s bottom bracket height – a 29er wheel with 2.3″ tyres gives you a BB height of 352mm, swap this for a 27.5 x 3.0″ 6Fattie setup and you get a BB height of 345mm (or 339mm if you use 2.8″ tyres).
Looking at wheel/tyre clearance, the 29er/6Fattie frame will accommodate 29×2.5″ tyres or up to 3.0″ with a 6Fattie setup. The 650B Enduro can accept up to a 2.6″ tyre without a worry, which is what we ran on our test bike.
Even more aggressive geometry:
The Enduro was already slacker than a fruit picking backpacker with a Bundy hangover, but things get more laid back once again. On the 650B bike you’re looking at a 65.5-degree head angle, while the 29er frame is half a degree sharper at 66-degrees.
Those short chain stays that have always given the Enduro such a playful ride remain. On the 650B frame they’re just 425mm, while on the 29/6Fattie frame they’re are a tad longer at 432mm (which is super given it’ll take a 3.0″ tyre). The move to Boost rear hub spacing is key in getting the rear end so short with such big rubber.
More bounce, more robust:
In both 650B and 29er formats, the Enduro gets a little more travel, pushing up into some truly downhill territory. There’s now 170mm at both ends on the 650B, while the 29er has 165mm rear and 160mm out front.
Practicality gets a couple of big wins: the Enduro has a regular 73mm threaded bottom bracket shell AND every single bearing in the suspension is now exactly the same size, making servicing at lot less complex.
The incredibly clean lines are enhanced by the move to internal cable routing. It’s done properly too, with carbon sleeves guiding the brake and gear lines through the frame, so you’re not left swearing and trying to coax a brake line through the guts of the bike. Both gear and brake lines are now routed over the top of the bottom bracket shell, which reduces the amount of movement in the lines as the suspension cycle, for less chance of cable rub or snagging on debris.
Front derailleurs are banished:
You won’t find a front mech on any bike in the new Enduro range. Actually, you have to look damn hard to find a front derailleur just about anywhere in Specialized’s 2017 line up! All new Enduros are 1x specific, with no option to run a front derailleur. The top dog S-Works models we rode had the amazing SRAM Eagle drivetrain, which with a 500% range makes a front mech redundant anyhow.
When we first saw Specialised’s SWAT Door down tube storage, we cringed. But it took just one ride to realise that it makes a huge amount of sense, and we’re big fans now. It’s great to see the SWAT Door making its way onto the new Enduro, letting you stuff all your spares inside the frame where they’re secure, protected and never left behind.
Take one look at the trends in Enduro racing, and you’ll quickly see fewer and fewer backpacks as riders look to lighten the load. Having the SWAT Door makes this just a little easier, and means no more floppy pockets or taping crap to your bike.
Öhlins Suspension Partnership:
Specialized’s association with those premium Swedish suspension gurus, Öhlins, continues. This prestigious partnership sees the Pro and S-Works models equipped with the amazing STX22 rear shock. We’re happy to see that Specialized has moved away from Cane Creek on their high-end Enduros – our experience with the Cane Creek was less than perfect. We’re very impressed by the simple but highly effective adjustability of the STX22. Because the shock is engineered for this bike specifically, it doesn’t need a huge range of rebound or compression adjustability as it’s valved appropriately from the get-go.
On the S-Works 29er Enduro you’ll also find the Öhlins RXF 36 fork too. We reviewed the RXF 34 not long ago (check out the review here) and it’s damn impressive. We think the benefits of the Öhlins damping will be even more apparent in this longer travel scenario too. For now, the 650B version misses out on an Öhlins fork, but we’re sure there’s a 650B incarnation on the way.
At the Advance Traders 2017 range launch, we were introduced to Lapierre’s e-bikes for the first time. E-bikes already divide opinion with more spite than religion and politics combined, but the Overvolt Carbon will probably take this debate to a whole new level with its wild styling. The Lapierre Overvolt Carbon might just take the cake as the most… well, we don’t even really have the words for it. It’s just crazy. Take a look below and you’ll know what we mean.
The one and only Nico Voullioz was deeply involved in the design of this bike – as many of you may well know, he’s been one of the leading advocates of e-bikes for a number of years now. Much of the design expertise he brought to bear actually stemmed from his time racing rally cars in the World Rally Championship. If there’s one thing he learnt during his rally career, it’s that the centre of gravity matters, which is why so much focus was placed in the Overvolt’s design in getting the mass of the battery and motor as low down as possible. If you can’t make an e-bike light, you might as well make it ride light! Carbon was used for the frame not for weight reasons, but because of the insanely complicated frame shapes needed to get the battery in this position.
Unlike most e-bikes, where the battery is housed on or partially in the down tube, the Overvolt’s amazingly sophisticated carbon frame cradles the battery so it sits right on top of the motor in a horizontal position. We didn’t ride this bike, but you see how it makes a lot of sense – e-bikes undeniably weigh a lot, so anything you can do to lower the impact this extra mass has on the ride will be a blessing.
The Overvolt is compatible with both regular 27.5 and 27.5+ wheels too, with a reversible drop out chip. We think the Plus format makes a tonne of sense on e-bikes, providing the grip to really make the most of all the torque.
Bosch provide the motor, and as we’re still completely clueless about e-bikes, it was nice to have two Bosch staff on hand to answer our questions, including our concerns about the Overvolt’s bulky head unit. Apparently an updated head unit with a much smaller display is coming soon, which will be much more crash friendly.
What’s been cooking in the Norco kitchen for 2017? Our favourite Canucks only recently treated us to one of 2016’s tastiest offerings, the Optic (read our review here), but what else is on the way for the new year?
The value-busting Fluid line gets a new Plus-sized offering. Good call, we say! Bringing the ‘mid-fat’ format into the dual suspension realm at this price makes a lot of sense, as less experienced riders really stand to benefit from the gobs of traction that 2.8″ tyres bring. With so much grip, conquering trails that can be off putting for a new rider is much less of an issue.
At $2799 the FluidFS 7.1 Plus seems like a particularly dialled offering. A SRAM NX drivetrain removes the clutter and makes for logical, zero-fuss shifting, and there’s a Trans X dropper too. WTB seem to be carving out a good niche in the Plus tyre market, and they provide the 2.8″ Ranger rubber. It was only recently that we tested the Torrent Plus hardtail (check out the review here) and really liked it, so we think this bike will be making its way onto our home trails for a review too.
One of our favourite all-mountain bikes is the Range (read our long term review here), and while this line doesn’t have any significant changes for 2017, some of the models have been refreshed with some great looking spec. The Range A7.2 in particular turned our head. It’s a striking looking bike, we really like the new all-black FOX Performance suspension against the loud frame graphics!
This particular model is a bit of a winner, we think. At $4599, the Deore level brakes do seem a bit below par, but the rest of the bike is on the money: FOX 36 with 170mm travel, a Float X rear shock, Raceface’s well regard Turbine dropper post, SRAM NX/GX drivetrain and some excellent Maxxis rubber to round it all out. As you’ll find, if you read our long-term Range test, this bike is a lot more capable as an all-round trail bike than its generous travel might suggest.
Ok, it’s not a mountain bike, but we like it a lot. Norco’s Threshold CX bike also carries over from 2016, with a few minor changes, including a much cleaner axle system. The previous version used Maxles front and rear, and they were pretty bulky. The full carbon frame and fork has clearance for up to a 40c tyre, so taking this thing off the cyclocross track and onto some rough fire roads won’t be an issue.
The Revolver is another bike that’s still relatively new to the Norco lineup, so there’s no great changes going on there. Once again though, Norco impressed us with just how sharp their graphics and frame finishes are. This Revolver FS9.2 is one of the best looking bikes of 2017 that we’ve seen so far. If it were joining our fleet, we’d ditch the fork lockout and add a dropper post, but otherwise it’s all set to do some damage to your mate’s Strava times!
Our final fave from the Norco 2017 line up is this little shredder! Fully adjustable air-sprung suspension, a 1×10 drivetrain with a chain guide, proper Shimano disc brakes and even Schwalbe tyres make us want to be five years old again.
Brisbane, you little heartbreaker! It’s always hard leaving the sunshine state mid-winter – the days up there at this time of year are just glorious. Flow just spent a couple of days up north taking a look at the 2017 range from Merida – here are the highlights!
We were lucky enough to spend a bit of time on the trails of Gap Creek while in Brisbane, putting in a few short laps on some of the 2017 bikes from Merida, Norco and Lapierre. Local yokel Mike Blewitt tips it in on board the Merida One Twenty, clearly he’s no stranger to the loose and dusty winter trails of Brissy.
We tend to underestimate Merida in Australia – maybe because it’s not a brand that necessarily resonates with ‘core’ mountain bikers. But that sure doesn’t mean we should tune out, because Merida sure as hell know their stuff. This is a brand with more manufacturing experience than any other on the face of the planet – at one stage or another, Merida have built bikes for over 70% of the ‘serious’ North American brands. They currently produce a staggering four million bikes a year across their four factories. Holy hell!
Merida have rolled out a couple of key new models for 2017, including a totally re-vamped One Sixty platform and an overdue refresh of their Big Nine and Big Seven hardtail too.
We think the new OneSixty is going to change a lot of people’s perception of Merida. Thoroughly modern Enduro geometry is combined some very sleek construction to make a bike that just looks right, before you even sling a leg over it.
The suspension system used by the OneSixty is now a variant of the Float Link arrangement that’s also found on the OneTwenty. Previously this bike used Merida’s VPK system, which had a lot of chain interference.
Other nice touches like a Trunnion mounted shock and Boost hub spacing let you know Merida are paying attention to the details with this one too. The pricing is going to seal the deal for a lot of folk too, at $4499. This is a bike we’re definitely going to be testing soon.
The cross country crew aren’t forgotten; the new Big Nine and Big Seven carbon frame is lighter than ever, at 900g, and gets geometry improvements galore with a slacker head angle, longer reach / shorter stem, shorter chain stays and Boost hub spacing.
The frame gets a BB92 pressfit bottom bracket as well, which allows for a much larger and stiffer junction at the down tube and bottom bracket. At the same time, Merida have given the frame compliant seat stays which are just 12mm deep, which is as thin as the UCI allows for racing apparently (something we didn’t know about at all).
Unlike many of the new crop of cross country race hardtails, the Big Nine / Big Seven has a 30.9mm seat post, not a skinny 27.2mm. Merida wanted their customers to be able to use a dropper post, and there are very few 27.2mm droppers on the market. They’ve preserved compliance in the post by flattening its fore/aft profile, creating kind of a funky cobra head shape. Merida’s head of design, Jurgen Falke, says it results in just as much compliance as a narrower post, but with less flex too.
Not only do we like the Bruce Wayne inspired stealth paint job on this bike, but it’s also the first bike we’d encountered to come stock with XT Di2 set up entirely for Synchro Shift mode. There’s two chain rings, but only one shifter, taking advantage of the very cool functionality that’s possible with Di2. (Learn more about Synchro Shift in our video here).
The first taste of the new 2017 Specialized range has been unveiled, and we like what we’re seeing. There’s a new super light hardtail, a women’s Camber plus a souped up Stumpjumer.
Judging by the teasers kicking around on social media, there’s a lot more to come too – we’re picking there’ll be new Epic at Rio (perhaps under Peter Sagan – yep, that Peter Sagan) and probably something new on Enduro front too. We’ll have to wait and see!
Here’s what Specialized are showing us for now.
New Epic HT:
In a sensible move (that will no doubt cause much wailing amongst the olden folk) Specialized have decided to move away from the Stumpjumper badge for any hardtails. Yes, the Stumpjumper name now has less of an association with the original Stumpy, the bike that ‘started it all’.
Fair call we think, having a Stumpjumper hardtail and dual suspension was just confusing! From now on, things with a cross country bent will get the Epic name (Epic FSR and HT), while the Stumpjumper name is reserved for trail bikes.
At 890g, the new Epic HT is the lightest frame that Specialized have ever made, and that includes road bikes too. When compared to their previous flagship S-Works hardtail, the Epic HT is a little slacker for more confident handling, it also gets Boost 148 hub spacing yielding a better chain line and more tyre clearance too.
As we mentioned above, it’s a no brainer to assume that some of the tech that has allowed the Epic HT to get so light will be incorporated into a new Epic FSR too – Jaroslav Kulhavy is making it pretty clear that something fresh or at least a unique paintjob is on the way!
A video posted by Jaroslav Kulhavy (@jaroslavkulhavy) on
Specialized have really been pretty influential in the women’s mountain bike market in recent years, and the incorporation of a women’s specific version of the Camber will reinforce this. Details are pretty scarce on this one so far, in terms of how this bike will differ from the 2016 Rumour which is already pretty closely aligned with the Camber.
Stump jumper FSR:
As you’d expect, the Stumpjumper FSR gets the Boost treatment. The extra room this generates new means you can squeeze the 27.5+ (or 6Fattie as Specialized term it) into the 29er frame now, which is cool if you want two have two different experiences with one frame. In the 650b format, you can fit up to a 2.6″ tyre as well, which isn’t shy of the new Plus dimensions anyhow.
“Home to me is everything familiar; where I know every street, every trail, every store and all my family is there. Its where I can just relax and focus on training and not worry about what hotel we are going to next” – Richie Rude
Featuring: Richie Rude
Directed by: Harrison Mendel
Cinematography By: Harrison Mendel and Rupert Walker
Edited By: Harrison Mendel
Sound Design: Racket Sound
Title Design: Studio Dialog
Still Photography: Paris Gore
Fresh from Bontrager is a wild looking pair of scuff-able, thrash-able, walk-able shoes for the trail rider. Here’s our two cents after a couple rides.
Wrapped in from what appears to be some sort of alien reptile skin, the Rhythm shoes look like no other shoe we’ve seen. The small hard plastic hexagon dimples give the shoe a tough armoured exterior, but the way they are independent from each other gives the robust material flexibility around the foot.
Boa dials are pretty hot right now, in place of heavy velcro straps or cruddy laces this system allows shoe manufacturers to get a bit creative with the way a shoe fits the foot. Then there’s the weight saving, and bad weather performance of the whole concept too.
The other distinctive feature you’ll notice is the height of the inside of the shoe, providing protection for your ankle from crank arms and the rear end of your bike. If you’ve ever copped a fast moving seat stay on the bone of your ankle you’ll know how it feels.
The cleat slots are long and rearward, gravity riders tend to slide the cleats back toward the centre of the foot, these shoes provide a very useable range for gravity and trail riders.
Underneath the sole is rubbery and very grippy, the midsole doesn’t miss out on grip too, you’ll appreciate that during those times when you’re not quite clipped in and standing on the pedal, no hard plastic sections to spit your feet off here.
Just walking around in the Rhythms we found them quite comfortable, the tread on the toe becomes quite shallow towards the front helping the foot roll forward as you take a step, and no heel slip was noticed.
You’ll certainly be labeled as a cyclist with these kicks on though, they might have a trail/all-mountain purpose but certainly not the casual looks with such funky materials, bright orange/red colour and the Boa dial.
The upper feels quite stiff during the first ride, we’ll see how that softens as the shoe beds in, hopefully it softens and conforms to the foot. We’ll be back with more thoughts after some more riding, but first impressions are good!
We’ll keep on giving the Rhythm shoes some trail time, stay tuned for more thoughts on how they hold up.
Pricing is $259, and available now from your local Trek dealer.