EWS: Round 6 Aspen Snowmass Results

Jared Graves speeds through the vegetation on stage 1. He got off to a solid start with a 2nd place but then suffered a couple of crashes

Round six of the Enduro World Series, the Yeti Cycles Big Mountain Enduro presented by Shimano Aspen Snowmass, will go down as one of the closest fought races in EWS history.

Sam Hill on his way to the stage 1 win. He then lost time on stage 2 and finished day 1 in 2nd position.
Richie Rude railing!

After four stages and almost 70 km of trail, Jared Graves (Specialized Racing) led Sam Hill (Chain Reaction Cycles Mavic) by just 0:00.32, but in the end the race no one could hold off Hill as he claimed the last two stages to win the race. Martin Maes (GT Factory Racing) fought back to take second place, with Graves finishing in third. Hill now leads the series rankings by 40 points, with Adrien Dailly (Lapierre) in second and Greg Callaghan (Cube Action Team) in third.

Jared Graves finds his form again and was in contention for the win all weekend but eventually ended up 3rd only 8 seconds off the win.
Martin Maes finished day 1 0.16 seconds behind Hill, and less than 9 seconds behind Richie Rude.

Speaking after the race, Sam said: “It was awesome, six amazing stages here in Colorado and I just had a good time and tried to stay as consistent as I could. I hadn’t raced an EWS here before so I wasn’t too sure what to expect and I wouldn’t have expected to win here. My goal now is to try and win this thing at the end of the year.”

In the women’s race Isabeau Courdurier (SUNN) took the first stage of the race, but no one could stop Cecile Ravanel (Commencal Vallnord Enduro Team) who went on to win three stages and win the race by over 47 seconds. Casey Brown’s (Trek Factory Enduro Racing Team) strong performance over both days saw her clinch third place. Ravanel cements her lead in the overall rankings, whilst Winton moves up to second place and Ines Thoma (Canyon Factory Enduro Team) moves back to third.

Isabeau Courderier started the day off with a win on stage 1.

Cecile said: “I liked the trails a lot better than last year, much steeper and more natural and I enjoyed being here. I hope to keep going like this for the rest of the year and take the overall series win.”

Cecile charged all weekend and took the win.

In the U21 men Killian Callaghan’s lead in the series rankings was bolstered by another win, with Duncan Nason of the USA in second and Max Leyson in third. In the U21 women it was Samantha Soranio who won every stage, Lia Westermann came second and Abigale Lawton third.

Karim Amour (BH-Miranda Racing Team) continued his winning streak to claim another win in Masters Men, Brian Lopes came second and Mike West third.

Team of the day was Rocky Mountain Urge bp, which leaves them second in the overall rankings behind Ibis Cycles Enduro Race Team, with Canyon Factory Enduro Team in third.

Jerome Clementz finished just outside the top 10 and sits in 5th overall

The series returns in two weeks for round seven, the Crankworx Canadian Open Enduro presented by Specialized.

Pro Men:

1. Sam Hill (AUS): 46:04.34
2. Martin Maes: 46:08.23 (+0:03.89)
3. Jared Graves (AUS): 46:12.55 (+0:08.21)
4. Damien Oton: 46:34.94 (+0:30.60)
5. Jesse Melamed: 46:35.82 (+0:31.48 )
6. Adrien Dailly: 46:41.67 (+0:37.33)
7. Francois Bailly-Maitre: 46:48.69 (+0:44.35)
8. Remi Gauvin: 46:50.08 (+0:45.74)
9. Curtis Keene: 46:50.25 (+0:45.91)
10. Florian Nicolai: 46:52.59 (+0:48.25)

25. Josh Carlson (AUS)
63. James Hall (AUS)
67. David Maud (AUS)
70. Mark Frendo (AUS)
82. Ryan Corless (AUS)
90. Lucas Pitt (AUS)
94. Murray Stephens (AUS)
DNF. Chris Panozzo (AUS)
Less than 9 seconds separated the Aussies, Sam Hill and Jared Graves.

Pro Women:

1. Cecile Ravanel: 51:21.30
2. Isabeau Courdurier: 52:08.69 (+0:47.39)
3. Casey Brown: 52:11.31 (+0:50.01)
4. Anita Gehrig: 52:31.28 (+1:09.98 )
5. Katy Winton: 52:32.34 (+1:11.04)
6. Andreane Lanthier-Nadeau: 52:44.98 (+1:23.68 )
7. Noga Korem: 53:05.96 (+1:44.66)
8. Ines Thoma: 53:49.09 (+2:27.79)
9. Carolin Gehrig: 54:05.57 (+2:44.27)
10. Raewynn Morrison: 54:20.99 (+2:59.69)

26. Leonie Picton (AUS)
Series leader and round winner.

Full results from Round 6 can be found here.

Giant / LIV 2018 Range Highlights

Reign Advanced 0 and 1.

The Reign Advanced 0 is savage. 13kg of fury.

Let’s start with the one everybody’s talking about, the new Reign. Already one of the most popular and aggressive 160mm bikes on the market, the new version is positively ferocious. It has a poise that makes you feel like it wants to head butt you – hell, it comes with a Maxxis Shorty front tyre, talk about aggro!

A new trunnion mounted shock with carbon link. While the coil sprung shock mightn’t be quite so convenient in terms of adjusting spring rates, it is plusher than a feather bed. A remote lock out keeps it all stable on the climbs.

Travel is still 160mm, but the move to a trunnion mounted shock means a longer shock and lower leverage ratios, for improved sensitivity and more damping control. Geometry is on the slaaaack side, with a 65 degree head angle, and even longer reach than its predecessor (460mm in a medium).

The Reign Advanced 0 is full SRAM spec, with a Lyrik, Eagle drivetrain and even a RockShox Super Deluxe rear shock. The use of coil shocks in this category of bike has been gaining momentum (Josh Carlson has been using a coil in his Reign for a couple of years now – take a look at our bike check with him here). The addition of a handlebar mounted lockout is wise. It’s kind of a best of both worlds solution – coil-sprung grip on the descents, with a firm lockout for fire road climbs.

Brighter than a radioactive frog, the Reign Advanced 1.

Interestingly, there are no more carbon wheels in the Reign lineup, with the high-end bikes now moving to DT rims. We never had a drama with Giant’s carbon wheels in the past, but in the Enduro race world, alloy rims are still seen as the safe option, so perhaps this is simply a nod towards the race crowd.

There are four models of Reign coming into Australia, two in carbon and two in alloy. Pricing starts at $3799 for the Reign 2 and tops out at $8999 for the Advanced 0. The luminescent Reign Advanced 1, in the picture above, is $6499.

LIV Hail 

LIV are cementing their advantage in this market, with a comprehensive line-up of big travel women’s bikes.

LIV are doubling down on their range of women’s specific trail bikes and Enduro bikes too, clearly determined to put their stamp on the hard-riding women’s market. The women’s specific segment is an interesting place at the moment, with a number of brands discontinuing women’s specific frames, while LIV keeps on growing their offering.

We were grabbed straight away by the Hail Advanced 0, which essentially has all the same intentions and burly spec as you’ll find on the Reign, but with slightly revised geometry and a lighter suspension tune. It’s heartening to see that just as with the Reign, there will be four models of the Hail coming to Australia too – two carbon, two alloy. At $5299, the stunning brushed-alloy Hail 1 is probably the model offering the best bang for the buck in the Hail line up.


LIV Pique

The Pique gets more travel up front for 2018. We love this model with its superb suspension and top notch spec.

LIV have given the Pique lineup a bit of curry too, adding 10mm travel up front (130mm front, 120mm rear now), pushing it into the trail bike realm, rather than strictly an XC bike.

We couldn’t walk past the range topping Pique Advanced 0, which has a very cool, slightly 80s inspired ‘fade’ decal kit which we love. It reminds us of 2017 Anthem SX actually, especially with the spec of a piggyback shock and big-bagged Maxxis Forekaster rubber. If you’ve got the budget to stretch to this bike’s $8499 price tag, we don’t think you’ll find many finer women’s specific trail bikes out there.

With the Pique getting slacker and longer-travel, we can’t help but wonder if we’ll see more of a cross-country race bike from LIV in the near future. With the recent release of the new Anthem 29er, you’d have to assume something is on the way. (Though whether or not it’ll be a 29er or 27.5 is anyone’s guess).

Trance 1

Cheers! The Trance 1 is a robust beast, but with money spent in all the sensible areas.

The Trance line up was comprehensively overhauled last year, and so there are no great changes for 2018, but the range does look great. We particularly like the working man’s bling of the Trance 1, which blends a tough and proven alloy frame with some high-end components.

For a little over $5000, you get an Eagle drivetrain, carbon wheels, and a great FOX Elite suspension setup, with the new DPX2 shock. The money is clearly being spent in the areas where it’ll have the most impact.

Anthem 29er 2

We’ve already had an in-depth look at the new Anthem 29er in our launch piece, but we were impressed to see that you can get rolling on the platform for less than $3500, with the alloy Anthem 29 2. A no-fuss SLX 1×11 drivetrain keeps the cost down without sacrificing performance (read our SLX review here), allowing money to spent on high-quality suspension, including a FOX 32 Step Cast fork. If you’re after a bike that’s race-friendly without spending a tonne, then this is a good contender.

It’s cool to see a lightweight Step Cast fork at this price point.

Revised dropper post, more tubeless out of the box

A new under-bar dropper lever.

Some welcome tweaks have been made to Giant’s in-house dropper post, which has a greatly improved under-the-bar lever now. This was one item we whinged about in our recent Trance Advanced review, so it’s cool to see this feedback taken on board. Apparently, the sealing is improved too.

More bikes in the range are now coming setup for tubeless too, which will be welcomed by bike shops. Rims are largely pre-taped now, with tubeless valves installed, so all that is required is a splash of sealant, and you’re set.

Fresh trail and downhill footwear

The Shuttle is a robust looking shoe, with a high cuff on the inside of the ankle to protect you from banging against the bike.

Giant have added two new shoes to their growing range of footwear, with the Line and Shuttle ($189 and $169). The Line is aimed at trail riders and the Enduro market and has been on the leg-ends of Josh Carlson a lot this EWS season. The Shuttle is more of a downhill shoe with extra ankle protection, but we can see its popularity crossing over into the trail market too.

Both shoes have a nylon sole and a pretty chunky tread too, for clambering about. While Giant weren’t keen for us to chuck them in the pool, apparently the material is highly resistant to absorbing water, so even when sopping wet they only weigh 30g more.

GPS units

Hello! At $299, the Neos Track is superb value.

Giving you more information at a glance than the NSA, Giant’s new Neos Track computer is going to rattle the cage of some of the bigger GPS brands. At $350, it’s crammed with features, including turn by turn navigation, Di2 integration, plus of course power and just about every other metric under the sun. Battery life is over 30hrs, so you can DOMINATE Strava next weekend, and the weekend after, and the one after that too.

Loosefest 2017: All The Action

*UPDATE* Scroll down for final day photos and highlights video.

All The Videos

Course Walk

50to01 lads warm up and have first sends of the big ones

Day 1 highlights

Josh Bryceland’s GoPro POV

Sam Reynolds’ POV – Watch his speed reach almost 90km/h!

2017 Highlights!

The FEST is a series of rider driven invitational events. It was created by a crew of the most talented and progressive professional freeriders, recognised around the world for their riding, track building and media production skills.  The original 6 FEST riders are Andreu Lacondeguy, Nico Vink, Makken, Nick Pescetto, Kurt Sorge and Graham Agassiz.

The FEST brings out the purest and most real essence of MTB Freeriding, which is about pushing the limits of the sport by always building new lines, and riding massive jumps in optimal conditions.

Nico Vink has been racing the World Cup circuit and building BMX trails for two decades, and the way we see it this is the perfect education for building a FEST Series line.

Nico Vink, taking freeride MTB to the next level
Day 1 on the ‘small’ line
Joel Anderson dangling a nac nac on the ‘small’ 45ft trick jump
Josh Bryceland keeping busy despite not racing World Cup DH in 2017
Some time to spot the landing
Loosefest visionary, Nico Vink
Sam Reynolds getting his Polygon very sideways

Remy Morton, all round shredder from Queensland who’s been racing World Cup Downhill in Europe had a big crash on Friday evening, going too far and nose heavy on the last hip. He is in a stable condition and in good hands and all the boys are sending him the best wishes for a smooth recovery.

All photos courtesy of Eric Palmer. Follow him on Instagram @afreakineric.

Video: DEATHGRIP – Best Track Ever – Schladming, Austria

*Language Warning: This DEATHGRIP Movie segment contains considerable overexcited swearing, both in audio and subtitled

DEATHGRIP is a Metis Creative  film in association with GoPro

Supported by Scott SportsLifeProof and Monster Energy

Further support provided by YakimaAdidas, DMR BikesTroy Lee DesignsDeity ComponentsFreeride Madeira and PinkBike

Produced in partnership with Raised By Wolves

Starring: Brendan FAIRCLOUGH and featuring: Brandon SEMENUK, Josh BRYCELAND,


 Download the complete DEATHGRIP movie now http://geni.us/DEATHGRIP

FOX Australia Introduces FFT – FOX Factory Tuning – Program

The program will provide a cheaper alternative to buying a new fork to have the latest technology.

Launching globally, the program will allow the consumer to communicate directly with FOX technicians to tune their existing parts and make upgrades instead of purchasing entirely new forks or shocks. By providing feedback to FOX, you’ll be able to emulate the process that we experienced first hand at our 2018 FOX Test Event.

What’s new with the 2018 FOX range?

Improvements to the air spring and dampers are the big changes for 2018, have a look at what all that means here: FOX 2018.

What can FFT provide?

Want the new EVOL air spring and 2018 spec damper inside your 2016 model fork? Don’t buy an entirely new fork, ship it off to FOX and update its guts instead. Want the neat new lockout lever in place of the clunky old system? Want a firmer tune in your fork or shock? Done.

While forks are relatively straightforward, rear shocks are more specific to each bike. FOX has been working overtime on collecting data from bike manufacturers to gain data on the settings required for each bike, so when the FFT program rolls out, you’ll be able to just specify the bike and year model to match the rear shock. No more measuring eye-to-eye lengths or stroke lengths, they’ll have it all in the system.

Upgrade your shock or just the internals.

Can my local suspension service centre or bike shop do this?

FOX will only provide FFT, that means in Australia through the FOX distributors SOLA in Sydney, and the plan is to set a centre up in Perth to help with lead times for WA customers too. With FOX managing the process entirely, there will be a warranty covering the process and genuine FOX parts used.

The 2018 air spring and damper upgrades to our 2017 spec bike made it feel very high end.

A bike store will also be able to handle the process for you too, with the same channel of communication available to them. That’ll come in handy if the consumer wishes to accompany the job with other maintenance or to handle the task of removing and fitting the fork or shock.

What year model FOX fork and shock can be upgraded?

FFT program can upgrade all 2016 and 2017 shocks to 2018 specs (DPS and X2 shocks – DPX2 are already and only 2018 – Float X not is part of the program but can still be tuned to customer requirements).

How much, and when?

FOX Australia are still finalising the pricing and launch date; we’ll be back with those details as they come available.

EWS: Jérôme Clementz Masterplan EP2 – The Season Begins

Welcome back! After following Jérôme’s off season training, it’s time for racing now! Discover how Jérôme managed the first 4 rounds of the Enduro World Series, where the world-class level enduro riders are competing.

For Jérôme, adjusting his training depending on the race you’ve done, is essential, that is why you will discover how he is analysing his results and explains what he wants to change to be better at each event.

Then after an intense racing program, he wanted to enjoy some riding in the Alps as the ski resort opens in June: his buddies and he go to for a fun road trip in the Alps!

Last but not least, Jérôme gives his thought about wheels size and attends the “mini bike” race at Crankworx Les Gets!

Jerome races the EWS on his new Cannondale Jekyll. Flow has one on test now; see the First Look here!

Elite Sprint Cup Championships: Stromlo August 2017

Rocky Trail Entertainment will be launching a brand-new event in August. With the Elite Sprint Cup, the event’s promoter is adding another mission to their cross-country portfolio by offering a very specific sprint-race format to a very targeted group of mountain bikers: the Elites.

“We want to find the fastest female and the fastest male rider in a tough, rough and hard battle”, says Race Director Martin Wisata. He explains that the Elite Sprint Cup was created to build up a stage for Australian Elite racers to promote themselves and to give their sponsors exposure to an excited mountain biking audience – the Rocky Trail racers.

“The races will be staged on a weekend in combination with existing Rocky Trail events, which gives the elite level riders maximum exposure to a cycling-loving crowd the day before the big Cup-race”, explains Wisata, his vision of a weekend. “You’ll have one day where amateur and junior racers can rub shoulders at the start line and out on track with some of the best riders in the country and then on the next day see those riders from the top end of the field smash it out among each other in a short-course sprint race, which will be very spectator-friendly”, he adds.

Rocky Trail said that they would like this to become a highly-respected platform where the best riders in Australia – and potentially international guest racers – can measure themselves against each other and talk it up in the cycling industry. Everyone can enter the Elite Sprint Cup and there will be two categories – male and female – racing for a prize money pool with an extra bonus paid out to the fastest U23 male and female rider.

To start off, the inaugural Elite Sprint Cup Championships will be held at Stromlo Forest Park on 27 August 2017, which is on the Sunday after the SHIMANO Mountain Bike Grand Prix Finale. For 2018 the plan is to develop the concept into a series across NSW and the ACT.

For more information, visit www.rockytrailentertainment.com/events/RTEelitesprintcup.html – online registration for participants starts at the end of July.

Video: VinnyT for Red Bull Rampage

“Taking part in Redbull Rampage has always been my ultimate goal. Since I started mountain biking I have dreamed about completing in Utah, riding the most amazing and challenging terrain there is. I wanted this video to showcase my skills and capabilities riding big bikes in a multitude of conditions. Many thanks to all of you who made it possible, in particular the team at Bikepark Châtel for their help preparing the big jumps.” VinnyT

Check out ShapeRideShoot on YouTube and Facebook.

Cairns World Champs: 50 Days To Go

Today marks 50 days to go until the 2017 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Cairns, held at Smithfield Regional Park, James Cook University from the 5 – 10 September 2017.

With only two UCI World Cup events remaining before the world’s best mountain bike riders make their way to Australia’s iconic mountain biking destination in Cairns, Australians are dominating in the Downhill discipline, currently holding the male and female number one UCI ranking.

Troy Brosnan placed 2nd at last year’s Cairns World Cup. He’s a favourite for the top step at this year’s Worlds.

Cairns local Tracey Hannah and Troy Brosnan are both in career best form and will arrive in Cairns assured of a boisterous show of local support.

Fans will be relishing the looming battle between home town hero Hannah and legendary Downhill rider and current world number three, Britain’s Rachel Atherton, which is shaping up to be one of the sport’s biggest showdowns in Cairns this September. Atherton, undefeated since 2014 until a heavy crash four weeks ago, has previously had the edge over her Aussie rival, but Hannah will bring a new level of confidence after her recent World Cup win and top of the table ranking.

Cycling Australia CEO Nick Green said the form of the Australian riders would ramp up excitement levels for spectators travelling to Cairns for the World Championships.

“All Australian mountain bike fans should be booking their tickets to Cairns. The upgrades to fan routes and zones in the rainforest will make it easy to get out on the course and cheer on Tracey, Troy and the other Aussie riders.” – Nick Green

Minister for Tourism and Major Events Kate Jones said the 2017 UCI Mountain Bike (MTB) World Championships provided an incredible opportunity to showcase Tropical North Queensland globally.

“The appeal of Tropical North Queensland is another enticing factor with the destination offering an array of adventure tourism experiences like mountain biking, and also known as home to amazing natural assets from some of the world’s oldest rainforests to the Great Barrier Reef.” – Kate Jones

The most notable change to the schedule is the shift of the two disciplines from last year’s World Cup format. This year the Cross Country (XCO) competition will be contested on Saturday 9 September while the Downhill (DHI) event will take place on Sunday 10 September.

Prices for adult tickets start from $15 and $40 for families with children under 10 FREE to experience explosive action from the worlds best Mountain Bike athletes.

Tickets can be purchased via the 2017 UCI Mountain Bike Championships website, visit – mtbworldscairns.com.au

Cairns has so many fun trails to ride between races

Travel packages are now also on sale via Flight Centre for those looking to travel to Cairns for the event.

For further information visit mtbworldscairns.com.au, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @UCIMTBAustralia or join in the conversation with #mtbworldscairns

Local support

Specialized Turbo Levo FSR Carbon

The Butcher 650b x 2.8″ tyres find traction on anything

They’re here to stay

To be frank, we’ve heard it all before. Every mountain biker and their Nanna quickly formed an opinion about e-MTBs when Specialized first launched the Turbo Levo. Grannies were divided into those who frustrated their offspring by continually confusing the terms “mountain bike” and “dirt bike”, and those who, until then, hadn’t considered the possibility of having the strength to ride up a hill since their broken hip took them out of contention for the 1996 Cairns World Champs. Social media comments swarmed with strangely similar rhetoric from passionate mountain bikers, along with those who screamed for legislation or feared widespread trail closures due to the predicted ensuing carnage.

Two years on and the Levo has arguably done more for building and opening new trails than damaging or closing any. Round 2 of this year’s Enduro World Series was hosted in Derby, Tasmania; trails built with pedal-assist.

While we have been fortunate enough to have spent almost a year getting to know the original Levo FSR Expert 6Fattie, many mountain bikers have now experienced the surprise of a barely panting rider passing them on a climb, and likely enjoyed the challenge of keeping up, or catching them on the descent (yes, it was probably us). The Coastal Crew, web edit royalty hailing from the Sunshine Coast in BC, Canada, upset the internet when they took the original Levo to the next level. Filtering out the haters, it was a revelation for many that a pedal-assist mountain bike could descend, corner and even jump like a ‘real’ mountain bike.

There are plenty of other brands making e-MTBs too. Recent sales growth in Europe is beyond any other category of bikes. Driven to stay on top, Specialized have continued innovating and now present the 2018 Levo range.

The Coastal Crew revealed just how capable the Turbo Levo is on demanding trails

Why carbon?

No one’s going to be ‘gramming a #weightweenie shot of them lifting a Levo with their pinky finger. Using the standardised unit of measurement for any bike related mass, the new carbon S-Works Levo drops frame weight by one bidon of your now near redundant electrolyte fluid. When you’re already manoeuvring 30+ bidons up, down and around your favourite trails with, let’s not forget, the assistance of a motor, just how much difference is one bidon going to make?

According to Specialized, the main benefits of utilising carbon fibre is improved ride quality from increased frame stiffness.

“The frame is 40% stiffer, laterally, in the rear end and 20% stiffer overall. Stiff, planted, and confident—awesome.”

As expected, the S-Works, utilising FACT 11m carbon fibre in the main frame and rear end, is “awesome”. What’s FACT 11m? Well, it’s another industry acronym followed by over simplified marketing jargon to differentiate the modulus (stiffness) of the carbon fibres used in the layup. Essentially, the higher the number, the lighter and/or stiffer the frame can be. The Expert and Comp Carbon models have an alloy rear end and the front end is made from FACT 9m carbon, so we can expect more modest stiffness stats and a not-so-full bidon of weight reduction.

If carbon isn’t your thing (carbon footprint; poor recyclability; fear of damage when locking it up with $400 commuter bikes in your office block’s bike cage – admit it, commuting on a Levo makes sense; or forking out over $6k on a bike, motor or not, isn’t on the cards) then the Levo is still available in men’s and women’s full aluminium frame versions.

A very stiff downtube, that houses 504Wh of pedal-assist power

What else is new?

From the start, Specialized wanted the Levo to be a trail bike; a category of bikes that is rapidly evolving. For example, plenty of riders now consider a 150mm fork standard issue on a “trail bike”. The 2018 Levo has come to the party:

“Long top tubes, short chainstays, and low BBs are staples of the Specialized mountain bike DNA, and the Levo FSR Carbon has modern trail specs to boot, with 150mm travel forks and Rx Tuned trail shocks for a more forgiving and trail worthy ride. 2.8″ Butcher GRID tires have also been added to maximise grip and keep power to the ground. More capable bikes, after all, require more capable brakes, so SRAM Guide RE and Code brakes have been added to confidently bring you to halt.”

Fork travel has increased 10mm, while rear travel has reduced slightly from 140mm to 134mm. Head angle has slacked around half a degree and bottom bracket drop (from axles) is not as low, but the reduced tyre size (3.0″ to 2.8″) sees BB height (from the ground) a tad lower. Chainstay length remains 459mm, which is about 2cm longer than what you’d expect on a non-levo trail bike from Specialized. These geometry, travel and spec changes, along with the improved stiffness in the carbon models, should see the 2018 Levo handle even more like the ‘normal’ bikes we ride.

The most sleek e-mtb just got sleeker. Hello, Levo Carbon!

All 2018 FSR Turbo Levo models come with the new Turbo 1.3 motor. While boasting 15% more power from new magnets and an all-new electronic unit, significant gains in the motor’s efficiency have been made through improved heat management. Specialized are willing to admit that there was room to improve on the original Levo motor:

“Let’s be honest, the previous motor could heat up and de-rate, which resulted in power loss. Aside from the entire system producing less overall heat, the new thermal pads, paired with the new motor software, ensure improved thermal balance within the motor. The pads inside the motor evenly distribute heat throughout the system, while the external pad simultaneously removes additional heat from the system.”

One of our favourite features from the original Levo is the absence of a kooky looking handlebar display. Simply turn it on at the battery, press + or – to choose power mode, and ride. The Mission Control app (iOS and Android) allows customisation of various settings, but we rarely use it and just ride.

The 2018 Levo now has a ‘Trail Remote’, located between the left-hand brake lever and grip, you can now switch between eco, trail, turbo, and new walk-assist power modes without reaching to the battery. Yes, it’s another thing on your bar plus a wire to connect it, but it appears neatly executed and a still avoids the fragility and clutter of a big display.

Trail Handlebar Remote, motor mode switch & walk-assist

For those who do want to geek out on the stats as they ride, the ANT+ and Bluetooth equipped battery allows pairing with ANT+ devices or utilising the updated Mission Control app which lets users analyse modes, current battery life, speed, distance, and rider input wattage. The main changes to the app are the new Infinite Tune feature and refined Smart Control:

“Infinite Tune makes for a completely customisable tuning process. Each mode can be endlessly tuned in its assistance level and max motor current output, completely independent of one another. This is something that’s unrivalled in this space.”

“Inside the Mission Control app is the Smart Control feature, this monitors and adjusts battery and motor output based on rider and ride input parameters. It also works from a smart algorithm that came from thousands of testing hours and a consultation with two Swiss universities (so you know it’s good) that determined when and how to manage power.”

So that means, now Smart Control is supported by Infinite Tune, the Levo will give you the power to ride even more trails, with the feel of the motor’s input tuned into your preferences. We’re mad keen. Are you?

Models and Australian pricing

LEVO FSR WMN ST* 6FATTIE – $6,000  *ST = Short Travel, 120mm front and rear. Available in SM, MD, LG and we’re confident most Specialized dealers would let men buy one if they ask nicely.

Very impressive for a first gen, but we’re itching to get a Carbon Levo dirty

Video: Affected

“It’s not very often I get new things, but when I do it motivates to push myself even further, as it signifies a new chapter.”
“Now I know I’m no shredder but I do know how much I love riding bikes.”
“I wanted to, in essence, create a light-hearted approach to encapsulate how MTB has affected my life since my good mate finally gave me the bug. The way it haunts your every thought, how sometimes you wake up and don’t know if you were dreaming or if it really happened.”
“Obviously, I’ve a landed myself a new rig and safe to say I’m frothing buckets at the prospect of getting back to the trails.”
How are you affected?

The Final Fling: Entries Open

Wild Horizons and Save the Children Australia are very excited to announce that The Highland Fling, one of Australia’s largest, longest established and most iconic mountain biking events, will be going ahead for its 13th edition on 12 November 2017. It is planned that this will be, after all those years, The Final Fling.

Wingello State Forest features incredible, flowing single track

The Final Fling will also be a major fundraiser for Save the Children Australia, raising funds to support the superb work they do for children and families in 24 countries around the world. In announcing the partnership, Paul Ronalds, CEO of Save the Children Australia, had this to say: ‘Save the Children Australia is very excited to be the charity partner of The Highland Fling mountain bike marathon. The funds we receive from the event will support our work in Australia and overseas, giving children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm.

We’re delighted to continue our extremely close relationship with Huw Kingston, founder of Wild Horizons – the organisation behind The Highland Fling. Huw is an Ambassador for Save the Children Australia and our largest ever individual fundraiser, so we are very pleased that he has seen fit to add another layer to this relationship.’

For many, the Fling isn’t the most serious ‘race’

Speaking on behalf of Wild Horizons, Huw Kingston was very happy about the decision: For over a dozen years The Highland Fling has brought together an incredible community of riders, supporters, sponsors, local community groups and local businesses to celebrate a festival weekend of all things MTB. It has put millions of dollars into the regional economy and offered a fundraising platform for numerous Southern Highlands community groups, the community in which we live. A number of factors saw us consider cancelling the 2017 event. We’d lost a couple of key sponsors for 2017 and had also had enough of the seemingly endless inefficiencies of our local Council. However part also related to my own personal priorities changing; a desire to spend even more of my energy engaging with the pressing issues of plastic pollution, children suffering disadvantage, and of course my own outdoor adventures and journeys.

However, when we announced the event might not happen in 2017, the groundswell of support was huge. In a bit of a light bulb moment, the solution appeared. Why not use the event as a fundraiser for Save the Children, an organisation I already have a very close relationship with? That, in conjunction with our incredible organising team, the support of the mountain biking community and the local Southern Highlands community surely meant we should do at least one Final Fling. A very worthwhile Fling!’

The Highland Fling attracts Australia’s best MTB marathon racers; Peta Mullens has claimed a handful of wins.

Hopefully the event will go out with a bit of a bang and raise a substantial amount for Save the Children Australia. In addition to the proceeds of the event going to the charity, there will also be plenty of opportunities for personal fundraising.

However amongst this good news is some sad news. In 2015 the Fling weekend grew to include the Bundy Run, a trail running event showcasing the delights of Morton National Park on the edge of Bundanoon. This young event attracted a new outdoor audience and saw a solid increase in numbers year-on-year. However the loss of that event’s headline sponsor last year due to their moving out of the running market (and our inability to attract a replacement) has meant that the financials do not stack up from a fundraising perspective. It is with a very heavy heart that we announce that the Bundy Run will not take place in 2017. We would like to thank all those runners who have supported that event in the past two years.

Wild Horizons would like to say a big thanks to everyone and in particular, our sponsors for bearing with us whilst decisions were made.

We look forward to seeing you at the Final Fling!

Entries for the 2017 Highland Fling are now open here.

For further information on the work of Save the Children Australia visit www.savethechildren.org.au

6-year-old Phuong Sophon in his 2nd grade lesson on writing and word recognition. Save the Children work with the Provincial Education Office in strengthening access to schools and improving the quality of education by giving technical support, capacity building as well as providing materials and furniture to target schools.

Trek’s New RE:aktiv Thru Shaft Shock

Trek has unveiled RE:aktiv with Thru Shaft, an all-new suspension design that improves response time and efficiency. RE:aktiv with Thru Shaft is the latest development from the brand’s partnership with Penske Racing Shocks, the global leader in custom motorsport suspension design, which began in 2014 to push bicycle suspension capabilities. The first collaboration resulted in RE:aktiv—a mountain bike suspension technology that responded to changes in terrain faster than any other shock on the market.

For RE:aktiv with Thru Shaft, Trek’s R & D team bucked the suspension status quo and developed a superior new design from the ground up. RE:aktiv with Thru Shaft eliminates the internal floating piston (IFP) that compensates for oil displacement in traditional dampers and the associated lag along with it.

As the IFP moves in a traditional damper, its seal causes a stick/slip effect that reduces responsiveness. RE:aktiv with Thru Shaft uses a damper rod that runs the entire length of the shock, eliminating oil displacement and the associated stick/slip effect caused by the seal necessary in a traditional damper.

The bottom line: the new design eliminates the need for an internal floating piston, the primary cause of lag. It provides unprecedented responsiveness—even when inputs occur in quick succession, as often happens while charging through short sections of trail littered with rocks and roots.

With extra-firm low-speed compression damping; supple and controlled high-speed compression damping; and a seamless transition between the two, RE:aktiv with Thru Shaft improves the all-terrain responsiveness that is RE:aktiv’s calling card. It responds to every input on the trail, delivering a seamless trail experience even as riders push their limits on technical terrain.

RE:aktiv with Thru Shaft is available on select Trek trail bikes, including Slash 9.8, Slash 9.7, Remedy 9.8, Remedy 9.8 Women’s, Fuel EX 9.9, and their respective carbon frameset options. These models can be viewed at trekbikes.com

World Cup XCO: Highlights Video & Results from Lenzerheide 2017

Great Britain’s Annie Last and Switzerland’s Nino Schurter both won their respective races at round four of the UCI XCO World Cup in front of a capacity crowd.

For Last, it was the realisation of a long-held dream but it wasn’t easy. The early pace of the elite women’s race was determined by the winner of round three, Yana Belomoina and the veteran Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå.

Annie Last claims her first World Cup win

Heavy thunderstorms the night before had taken their toll on the relatively flat and technical Swiss track leaving conditions were tricky.

As the battle wore on, it was Last who was on the move up at the sharp end and she held on to secure the first British World Cup XCO win for over two decades with Dahle Flesjå and Belomoina finishing behind.

Canadian Emily Batty finished 7th, 1:33 behind Annie Last

Last said, “I have had a tough couple of years, so even to be racing at the front felt incredible. It has not sunk in yet. Unbelievable, so happy.

“An hour and a half race was perfect and having that one lap shorter meant I could get going properly. Today I said to myself, ‘Ride your race, ride your race’ and it paid off.”

Dahle Flesjå added, “Very happy for Annie winning her first World Cup race ever. I told her she has a lot of years to look forward to. I am happy with second place.”

Wet and slippery conditions challenged the Elite racers

The elite men’s race got underway shortly after thunder and torrential rain had further ravaged the track with home favourite Schurter under the biggest pressure.

Dutchman Mathieu van der Poel and France’s Maxime Marrotte kept him honest early on, however his old sparring partner Jaroslav Kulhavy was the man who produced the biggest move late on.

The Czech powerhouse produced an incredible last lap, but he could not overhaul Schurter who held on for a three-second victory that keeps his unbeaten 2017 run intact with Russian Anton Sintsov third.

Schurter said, “It is amazing to win back home with so many people cheering for me. I didn’t have the best feeling at the beginning. Super slippery and I didn’t have the best tyres on.

“I saw Jaroslav coming second last lap and I was lucky that it was one lap shorter than it was supposed to be.”

Jordan Sarrou finished 6th, less than one minute behind Schurter

Kulhavy added, “Incredible race after that start. I like the technical sections of this track. I couldn’t race normally before, but today was a normal race and I am really happy with a podium.”

The series moves next to Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada for the penultimate round on August 5-6.

Elite Women’s result:

1. Annie Last GBR
2. Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå NOR
3. Yana Belomoina UKR
4. Jolanda Neff SWI
5. Helen Grobert GER

29. Bec Henderson AUS
61. Kathryn McIncerney AUS
65. Sarah Riley AUS

Jolanda Neff, Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå , Annie Last, Yana Belomoina, Helen Grobert – Elite Women’s podium

Elite Men’s result:

1. Nino Schurter SWI
2. Jaroslav Kulhavy CZE
3. Anton Sintsov RUS
4. Maxime Marotte FRA
5. David Valero Serrano SPN

84. Cam Ivory AUS
93. Sebastian Jayne AUS
96. Russell Nankervis AUS

Maxime Marotte, Jaroslav Kulhavý, Nino Schurter, Anton Sintsov, David Valero Serrano stand on the podium at UCI XCO World Cup in Lenzerheide, Switzerland

U23 Women’s result:

1. Kate Courtney USA
2. Sina Frei SUI
3. Evie Richards GBR

41. Holly Harris AUS

U23 Men’s result:

1. Martins Blums LAT
2. Maximilian Brandl GER
3. Nadir Collendani ITA

59. Callum Carson AUS
75. Tasman Nankervis AUS
93. Reece Tucknott AUS

Nino Schurter, another win toward a potential ‘perfect season’

World Cup DH: Lenzerheide 2017 Results, Highlights & Winning Runs

Elite Men:

1. Greg Minnaar
2. Troy Brosnan (AUS)
3. Danny Hart
4. Laurie Greenland
5. Philip Atwill

11. Jack Moir (AUS)

Elite Women:

1. Myriam Nicole
2. Rachel Atherton
3. Emilie Siegenthaler
4. Tracey Hannah (AUS)
5. Tahnee Seagrave

Junior Men:

1. Finn Iles
2. Joe Breeden
3. Sylvain Cougoureux
4. Moritz Ribarich
5. Nikolas Nestoroff
6. Patrick Butler (AUS)

8. Darcy Coutts (AUS)

Junior Women:

1. Paula Zibasa
2. Melanie Chappaz
3. Shania Rawson

Watch Greg Minnaar’s winning run below

Watch Myriam Nicole’s winning run below

Overall men’s standings:

1. Greg Minnaar
2. Troy Brosnan (AUS)
3. Aaron Gwin

5. Jack Moir (AUS)
12. Connor Fearon (AUS)

Overall women’s standings:

1. Myriam Nicole
2. Tracey Hannah (AUS)
3. Tahnee Seagrave

World Cup DH: Team Videos from Lenzerheide 2017

Team: Santa Cruz Syndicate

Riders: Greg Minnaar, Luca Shaw, Loris Vergier

Lenzerheide Track Preview with Greg Minnaar

Team: Canyon Factory Racing

Riders: Troy Brosnan (AUS), Mark Wallace

Fifth World Cup for the Canyon Factory Team, in Lenzerheide, Switzerland. Troy Brosnan did an amazing run and finish 2nd. Mark Wallace takes the 17th place. Next stop for the team, Mt St Anne – CANADA

Team: The YT Mob

Riders: Aaron Gwin, Neko Mulally

Last year in Lenzerheide Aaron Gwin came within 96/100ths of a second of winning his first World Cup on Swiss soil, and was highly motivated to take the victory this weekend at Round 5 of the World Cup series. A last minute crash on Thursday saw Aaron in the doctor’s surgery requiring 4 stitches to his right knee yet despite this injury, he went on to win the qualifying race and set the tone for the weekend. Mr Gwin meant business. On finals day, as the last man down, Aaron turned the interval clocks green from the outset, up at sector 1 and 2, and then impressively up by 1.5secs at sector four before a puncture brought his run to an end

Oh man, well, we battled through a tough weekend and got into the finals with a solid shot at the win. Unfortunately I cut a hole in the sidewall of my tire about ¾ of the way down the track. The tire was going flat quick but I pushed it as long as I could. I broke the rim soon after and then everything came apart a few turns later. That’s racin’, sometimes things don’t turn out as you’d hoped, but at the end of the day if you’re content with the effort that you put in, it’s still a positive. The crowds today were massive and it was so cool meeting so many people who appreciate what we do. Good times were had, and I wish we didn’t have to wait nearly a month until the next World Cup, can’t wait!! – Aaron Gwin – The YT Mob

Team: Norco Factory Racing

Riders: Sam Blenkinsop, Joe Smith, Henry Fitzgerald

As most World Cup riders would agree, it would not be fair to label Lenzerheide’s purpose built World Cup track as very ‘bike park’. It may have multiple berms and man-made features, but it’s a very technical and demanding track as well. Due to the high speeds, loose terrain, and top rock garden alone, it test both rider and bike at peak levels. You do not hear many comments about the track being simple or easy. The word wild and sketchy are more often shared amongst the top downhiller’s on the planet.

From day 1 of practice, it was all about getting a handle on the limits of the track. To be fair, this track seems to catch a few riders off-guard. More specifically, sometimes it hard to know whether one is going quick or not on this track. Maybe this is what makes this track so difficult mentally. It’s just hard to know whether you’ve got a hold of the beast or not.

Enter Friday’s qualifying, and all 3 riders were looking ready to rumble. Starting with Sam, just being outside of top 20 protection, there’s a pressure to have a run that satisfies both speed and preservation (of both rider and equipment). Despite a small leak in the rear tire, Sam was able to qualify 39th, he was moving on to the finals. Next up was Joe. With a steady charge, and run he considered less than ideal, he surprised himself with a season best 12th place qualifier. Very impressive, especially with a partial injury. Last up was Henry. Confident in his plan, using ‘modern technology’ (his LITPro GPS timing system) to improve continually improve his performances, the momentum was there. As we agree, numbers don’t lie. For Henry, we believe it’s been a key tool. With a time in mind, Henry came down with a solid run, and qualified for his first World Men’s Elite final. Well done.

For Saturday’s finals, there’s not much to say. All guys had a good practice, and with it being just being past the ½ mark in the World Cup season, strong finishes and points are on the line. With Henry up first, it was great to see him racing in the finals. Unfortunately, the top rock garden (maybe the toughest of the year) decided to pull him off his bike. Getting back up, he finished his run with a decent time considering a big fall. Hank finished up 75th on the day. Next was Sam, simply put, this track’s been tough over the years (never finishing inside the top 20). As some of you can appreciate, sometimes you just can’t get a handle of certain tracks or trails. With a steady run, Sam came down an impressive 6 seconds quicker than qualifying, finishing 33rd on the day. Last was Joe, steady and slightly conservative (his words) might summarise his run best. So this made his season best 19th place finish even more impressive. A good day.

The team is now off for a few weeks, besides Henry racing Canadian National Championships in 2 weeks, the remainder of the team gets a bit of a chance to rest and recover after a 6 week straight race tour. Next big events, Mont Sainte Anne World Cup, and Crankworx Whistler, including EWS Whistler.

Team: Team Dorval AM Nicolai

Riders: Mélanie Chappaz, Mariana Salazar, Benoit Coulanges, Maxime Ciriego

(Translated from French)
A rather mixed race; the day of qualifications went very well, all the pilots were motivated to do better Saturday at the final.
Unfortunately, the team had some bad luck on Saturday; Mariana Salazar fell on top and lost a lot of time to get his bike and go back. It ends in 13th grade.
Boys Benoit Coulanges & Maxime Ciriego know every 2 a puncture on the middle of the track and end up their run.
Despite everything, the good point of the week: Mélanie Chappaz finishes at a beautiful 2nd place very close to the first and she accentuates her advance on her opponents to the overall of the World Cup.
Now a bit of rest for the pilots before going to the French Championships at Carroz in a few weeks!

Aaron Gwin’s hopes of a win were slashed. Photo: Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull

EWS: Round 5 Video & Aussie Wrap Up

After a consistent season of top 5 finishes including a 2nd at Ireland’s Round 4, Australia’s Sam Hill came to Millau just 20 points behind number 1 ranked Greg Callaghan. Hill had yet another strong race, especially on day two. After a 5th place in Stage 6, the three-time downhill world champ was a favourite for the shortest stage of the race; however, a crash in a greasy left-hander saw him finish Stage 7 five seconds off the pace in 6th. He pulled it all together to take the win in Stage 8 though his two stages outside the top 20 saw local Frenchman, Adrien Dailly, win his second consecutive round and bunny hop Hill in the rankings to 1st overall.

Cecile Ravanel continued her domination in the Pro Women’s category by winning five of the nine stages, cementing her series lead made up of four round wins and a 2nd in Derby.

With a lot of fast Frenchies, 12 in the top 20 Pro Men, the next fastest Aussies were Josh Carlson in 63rd and Australian Enduro National Champ Chris Panozzo, 67th. Stage 1 saw Jared Graves slam his left arm into a rock and unable to continue to Stage 2. Despite the DNF, he’s ranked 14th overall and will be back for Round 6.

“I tucked my front end and sent the left side of my body into slab rock. Resulting in a loss of feeling in my left arm… this will only keep me off my bike for a few days and you better believe I’ll be hitting the next EWS in Aspen in full form and motivation higher than ever!” – Jared Graves, Specialized Racing Team

The UK’s Bex Baraona had a tough time in the stage 8 rock garden, this wasn’t enough to prevent her from finishing 8th overall.

With three rounds to go, there are still a lot of possible shifts in the overall rankings. Current Australian Downhill National Champ, Jack Moir, has only raced the first two EWS rounds due to his Downhill World Cup focus, but his top 10 results from Rotorua and Derby see him sitting in 27th. Panozzo’s three rounds see him in 47th and Carlson, who finished 10th in the 2016 EWS, is now a father of two and thus missed the first two rounds and is in 50th overall. World Cup downhiller Connor Fearon’s 20th in Rotorua has him 62nd and Flow favourite, James Hall, is in 65th after a 32nd in Derby and a few other respectable finishes.

Adrien Dailly was on the charge from the start winning the first stage and finishing the round in 1st overall

After only racing the first two rounds, Shelly Flood is the top-ranked Aussie woman in 28th overall and Philippa Norton is close in 33rd. Rowena Fry’s top 10 in Derby sees her in 37th.

The EWS categorises Juniors as Under 21, and as always there are some Aussies to keep an eye on. Blake Pearce has only raced Round 2 in Derby, but his 2nd place there has him rounding out the top 20 overall. Mt Beauty’s Ben McIlroy took the win ahead of Pearce in Derby and his 12th in Rotorua sees him in an impressive 12th overall. As Panozzo’s protege and reigning Enduro Junior National Champion, McIlroy is one to watch. Literally, you can watch him shred Thredbo’s All Mountain trail here.

The taste of home soil victory

Round 6 of the EWS is on the last weekend of July, in Aspen Snowmass, USA.

Video: Mountain Of Hell aboard the Polygon Square One

The Race

The race has an altitude drop of 2400m over around 25km, though that distance is approximate due to the open slather of line choices allowed by the sparse course marking posts. Fabien takes some ‘interesting’ options and despite the fatigue and unimaginable arm pump, manuals across the finish line in 4th place.

That’s a funky rear end. How will it ride?

The Bike

To even make it to the finish alive would require a half decent ‘enduro’ rig, but combining tobogganing with a podium finish is another level. We previewed the polarising Polygon Square One EX series a few months ago, and have just got our hands on one for a full review. Stay tuned over the coming weeks. Now to find a glacier…

Polygon’s 180mm, 27.5″ bike that is guaranteed to turn heads

Maydena Collective Membership Program

Why so excited?

We visited Maydena earlier in the year and what really struck us, was the size of that hill! 820 vertical metres from the town centre to the summit bar and cafe makes Maydena the tallest bike park in Australia. We won’t be riding to the top, either. A year round shuttle service delivers riders to the summit, where they’ll have 30+km of gravity fed trails to choose from on opening day, with another 90km planned over the coming years.

Imagine the airtime on an 820vm descent! That’s twice the elevation of Mt Mystic in Bright.

The bike park is being designed and built by Dirt Art, a company founded in Tasmania, who carry a lot of credibility when it comes to gravity oriented trails. The Hero Trail in Bright’s Mystic Mountain Bike Park quickly got our adrenaline pumping and Thredbo’s All Mountain Track showed us how a fun, flowing descent can just keep going and going. Keep in mind Maydena will be 200m taller than Thredbo, so we can’t wait to experience the variety of trails that Dirt Art create on such a canvas.

Maydena Bike Park is offering a limited number of lifetime memberships to their ‘Collective’. Astute riders who appreciate the epicness of Maydena have the opportunity to secure deals and special offers covering everything from a merch pack to uplift discounts and a VIP shuttle queue. Collective members can feel good too because their investment will help fund even better trails come opening day, which is scheduled for January 26th 2018.

A quaint little town, with something exciting brewing in those hills!

If you live in Tasmania or can see yourself heading there on a regular basis, we think the Maydena Collective memberships are well worth checking out. Find more details in the official press release below, including how you could be in the running for the ‘Golden Ticket’.

Maydena Collective Membership Program Launch

The Maydena Bike Park is a large-scale, year-round gravity-based bike park, located in stunning wilderness in Tasmania’s Derwent Valley, a 1:15 hour drive from Hobart. The park is being developed by renowned trail building company, Dirt Art. The park will provide a year-round uplift service, accessing an eventual 120+km of gravity-based trails.

Simon French, the man behind Dirt Art and some of Australia’s best gravity trails, proudly showed us his biggest project yet.

Maydena Bike Park is pleased to announce the impending release of the park’s highly- anticipated membership program, the Maydena Collective. The Collective program replaces a traditional season pass system with a unique lifetime membership program, which offers a large range of discounts and special offers. Collective memberships are available only in limited numbers, and once sold out the offer will not be repeated. Available at both a Premium and Standard price point, priced at $449.00 and $249.00 respectively, memberships provide a lifetime of discounts for the member with no ongoing membership costs. A full overview of membership inclusions, additional details and terms and conditions are available at www.maydenabikepark.com.

Fuel up for your descent at Maydena Bike Park’s summit building featuring a bar and cafe

All members who sign up before July 31st 2017 will go in the draw to have their membership upgraded to a ‘Golden Ticket.’ The Golden Ticket provides unlimited free uplift access for life, without the need to book. The Golden Ticket winner will also win an exclusive VIP ride day with Sam Hill.

Memberships sales are set to go live at 6pm on July 6th, via www.maydenabikepark.com.

All-New Specialized Epic

The paint job on this S-Works model is ridiculous, changing colour like a carbon chameleon.

From our perspective, it feels like cross country is on the ascendency again. The World Cup coverage of XC is superb, huge players like Iron Man and Red Bull are investing in top-tier cross-country events and athletes, and there are loads of brilliant new XC race rigs hitting the market too. In the past 12 months, both the Scott Spark and the Giant Anthem have had a complete overhaul, and now you can add Specialized to that list.

Hey! Where’d your Horst link go?

There are so many changes with the new Epic that we don’t really know where to start. Perhaps we could begin by pointing out that this bike is no longer the Epic FSR – it’s just the Epic. Why? Well, it no longer uses an FSR linkage. For the first time since god knows when, Specialized have ditched the Horst link, a design that has been underpinned their dual suspension bikes for decades.

Another look at that sleek and pivot-less rear end.

Instead, you’ll find a flex stay arrangement. Travel is still 100mm, but dropping a pivot obviously, saves weight, reduces a point of wear and potential flex, and makes for a super stiff rear end laterally. Even the alloy versions of the Epic use a flex stay.

For the first time, RockShox supply the Brain shock for the Epic. The layout and damping has been changed entirely from the previous version.

There have been some absolutely massive weight savings. The mainframe alone is 500g lighter than its predecessor. 500g! That’s like removing the shock, all the pivot hardware and the paint. And that’s just the front end. On the models with a carbon rear end, Specialized have shaved another 200g+. That’s the better part of a kilo chopped from an already light bike.

Specialized’s long-standing partnership with FOX for their Brain shock seems to have come to an end, with RockShox providing the new rear damper across all Epic models. The Brain system is totally revised too, both in terms of structure and damping. The Brain reservoir now rearward of the brake caliper, behind the rear axle. By our reckoning, this should increase the responsiveness of the inertia valve hugely. But what really grabbed us, is the integration of the shock, the linkage and the hose that joins the shock to the Brain unit. The pictures do a better job of telling the tale, but in a nutshell, the linkage forms part of the conduit from shock to Brain, with the damping oil actually running through the linkage. Insane. Brilliant. Sleek as hell.

The hose from the shock to the Brain valve is integrated into the linkage, which becomes an element of the shock itself.

With every iteration of the Brain, Specialized seem to strive to make it feel less intrusive when you don’t want it. While we haven’t ridden the new bike yet (we will soon!) Specialized claim the new Epic has a far more plush ride, closer to that which you’d expect from the Camber.

Of course, the bike uses Boost hub spacing, and like all new bikes, the geometry is slacker and has more reach than before. The head angle is now 69.5 degrees, a full 1.5 degrees more relaxed than the previous Epic. The Epic uses a custom RockShox SID Brain-equipped fork, with just 42mm of offset (compare that to the 51mm found on many 29er). It’ll be interesting to see how this affects the handling, it should make it very stable in theory.

The new cable routing deserves a mention too, running over the top of the bottom bracket shell (which is threaded, not press fit – hooray!), and there are provisions for running a dropper post too, which we think many people will. This bike has a much more ‘trail bike’ kind of vibe to it than earlier Epics, so a dropper would play to those strengths.

Apparently, we’re not going to be waiting long to actually get a ride on this bike too, with stock arriving in July 2017, but prices have been set as below:

S-Works (men’s and women’s) – $12,500

S-Works Epic frameset, including fork – $6500

Epic Expert – $6900

Epic Comp Carbon (men’s and women’s) – $5200

Epic Comp – $3800