Greetings, oh fellow frothers of the Flow! We trust you’re in good spirits, having completely forgotten what it’s like to work a full 5-day week after all of these lovely public holidays we’ve been treated to lately? Our fearless leader, the Marvellous Mick Ross, decided to take full advantage of the Easter break by embarking on an envious road trip around Tasmania, which has encompassed a swathe of must-visit locations including Derby and George Town.
Mick’s also checking out the brand new trails on the West Coast, which have been blowing minds thanks to the epic landscapes they’re situated within. Do yourself a favour and check out the bonkers drone-only video, as well as our huge West Coast Odyssey travel feature, and you’ll understand what all the fuss is about.
While Mick is away on hollybobs, Jono, Colin and Wil have been keeping the internet hamster well-fed in his absence. There’s been the release of the new Santa Cruz Megatower, and we’ve also wrapped up a juicy review and video on the brand new 2022 Canyon Strive.
You may have also heard the huge news that Crankworx is coming to Cairns, and we also have updates on the upcoming Port to Port, the Quad Crown race series, and a whole bunch of info about the much-needed improvements and additions to the popular Forrest trail network.
But wait, there’s more! More new stuff to be precise, in the form of brand new test gear that’s been turning up on our collective doorsteps over the past few weeks. So sit back, see if you can possibly relax just a little bit more after all those public holidays (no, you deserve it!), and enjoy this crisp edition of Flow’s Fresh Produce!
Fizik Vento Ferox Shoes
Fizik has released some very snazzy racing kicks in the form of the new Vento Ferox shoes. Designed to multi-task between XC, gravel and cyclocross, the Vento Ferox is the Italian brand’s premium off-road option that aims to deliver a supple and supportive fit with low weight and high stiffness.
Looking positively electric in this Lilac/White colourway (also available in black for shy types), we could have only assumed these shoes have been made from robot snakeskins sent from the future. It turns out we were incorrect however, as the upper is actually built around a polyurethane-laminated material that is then dressed with a woven translucent mesh. It’s flexible and perforated throughout for ventilation, though Fizik claims it is highly durable and tear-resistant compared to more traditional fabrics.
Both the toe and heel cups feature stiff inserts for protection, while the large Powerstrap and a single BOA Li2 dial provide a secure hold around your feet. Fizik says this allows you to adjust the instep and forefoot separately, with the BOA dial offering micro-adjustment in both directions. The fit is on the narrower side — it’s a narrower and lower volume fit compared to a Specialized S-Works Recon shoe, though it’s pretty comparable to a Shimano XC9.
Power delivery is positive thanks to the incredibly stiff X1 carbon outsole. This rates as a ’10’ on Fizik’s arbitrary stiffness index, and on the trail there’s certainly no discernible flex even when using minimalist lollypop XC pedals. It does mean they’re not great to walk around in off the bike, but racer types will be happy with the tradeoff for maximum power transfer.
That said, there’s a generous lathering of rubber coating on the outsole with moulded lugs for traction. The rubber also covers the mid-foot area, which is useful during stressful unclipped moments and general dismounts. You can also add toe studs for muddy cyclocross racing duties.
While Fizik claims the Vento Ferox shoes weigh 297g per side, our pair of size 44 test shoes came in heavier at 351g. That’s a bit more than the S-Works Recon (323g), though lighter than the XC9s (386g).
- Price: $519.95 AUD
- From: Fizik
Giant Recon E HL1000 E-Bike Light
Giant already produces a wide range of lighting systems for road, commuting and off-road applications, but this is the first time we’ve seen an e-Bike specific light that plugs directly into the battery of your e-MTB.
Designed to mount to the handlebar, the Recon E HL1000 light offers 1000 Lumens of power in a compact housing that’s manufactured from 6061 CNC machined alloy. There are two main CREE LEDs, as well as a 26-LED array that runs around the perimeter of the light body. At full power, Giant claims the Recon E HL1000 light will offer visibility up to 150m. You can also step the light down to low (500 lm) and there’s also a daytime mode (250 lm).
The head unit is sealed to an IPX6 waterproof rating, with two wires coming out the back of it – one that goes to the operating switch next to your grip, and another that goes into the frame and plugs into the bike’s main battery. Of course this means you no longer need a separate battery pack to run the light, giving you one less thing to remember to charge.
We fitted the Recon E HL1000 light to our Giant Trance X E+ Advanced test bike, which proved to be a surprisingly not-horrendous experience. It’s worth noting that the headlight is universal, meaning it will plug into any e-MTB, whether you’re running a Bosch, Shimano or Brose motor. Pretty neat!
- Price: $119.95 AUD
- From: Giant Bicycles
Park Tool TSI-1 Tubeless Sealant Injector
File this under ‘Tools We Didn’t Know We Needed Until Now‘. It’s the Park Tool TSI-1, which as you can probably tell, stands for Tubeless Sealant Injector. According to the big blue tool brand, the TSI-1 is designed to take the mess out of tubeless tyre setup by allowing you to inject sealant directly through the valve.
This means you don’t have to break the tyre bead each time you need to refill a tyre with fresh sealant, which is something that you need to do surprisingly regularly, especially in warm Aussie riding conditions. For those who aren’t running tubeless inserts like CushCore, it also allows you to easily check the sealant level inside your tyre – a useful procedure that you should do before heading off for a riding trip, or the night before a race.
The Park Tool TSI-1 uses an oversized syringe body that’ll hold up to 100ml of sealant, and it features markings to help you gauge the fluid level. A long thin plastic tube is locked in place with a silicone o-ring and a metal barrel nut, and once you’ve removed the core from your tubeless valve, this tube slides straight through and down into the tyre cavity.
While we’ve gotten along just fine up until now without the TSI-1, we’ve been pleasantly surprised at just how much cleaner it makes the whole tubeless installation process. The long tube makes it easy to suck sealant out of a bottle before injecting it into your tyre, and so far we’ve not had any issues with the syringe gumming up with dried sealant, though a spare o-ring is included in the box.
- Price: $34.99 AUD
- From: Park Tool
Muc-Off Silicone Shine
Also known amongst mechanics as ‘New Bike In A Can’, Muc-Off Silicone Shine is a versatile multi-purpose aerosol spray that can be used on a variety of different components. It’s primarily used as a post-wash treatment to restore your frame’s shiny finish, though it’s also designed to be sprayed onto suspension forks and shocks to reduce friction in between servicing, and you can even use it on your drivetrain to minimise the buildup of dirt and grease. Just keep it away from your disc brakes.
- Price: $24.99 AUD
- From: Muc-Off
2022 Specialized Stumpjumper Comp Carbon
Gosh, doesn’t this bike look fabulous in its matte sun-dried tomato red colour? For those wondering it’s the 2022 Specialized Stumpjumper Comp Carbon, and it’s currently the cleanest bike in the Flow test fleet. Rest assured however, we’ll be getting this thing absolutely filthy over the coming months!
Having tested the 2021 Specialized Stumpjumper Pro, we’ve been curious about how the less expensive models compare, and with the 2022 models having just arrived on Australian shores, we decided to get the Comp Carbon model in for a thorough shakedown.
The FACT 11m carbon frame is identical to that used on the $13,100 AUD Stumpjumper Pro. In fact it’s exactly the same as the $16,900 AUD S-Works model, except it uses an alloy shock yoke instead of a carbon one. So you’re still getting the brilliant integrated SWAT storage, adjustable geometry, tidy frame armouring and guided internal cable routing.
It’s equipped with Fox suspension with a 34 Rhythm fork and a Float DPS shock. You get a Shimano SLX 12-speed drivetrain, 4-piston brakes, a Roval wheelset and the new Specialized tyres with a sticky Butcher T9 front tyre and an Eliminator T7 on the back.
As to how it performs on the trail? Stay tuned for our review coming very soon!
- Price: $7,200 AUD
- From: Specialized
Syncros Squamish II Flat Pedals
As the in-house brand for Scott Sports, Syncros produces a staggeringly wide range of components and accessories, many of which seem to fly under the radar. That includes the new Squamish II flat pedals, which are the brand’s premium option for those of us who prefer not to clip in when mountain biking.
With a slim and minimalist design that looks a bit like a KitchenAid paddle, the Squamish II pedal body is made from die-cast alloy. The platform size is on the money with a 110mm length and a 105mm width. There’s no hefty inboard bearing bulge however, which provides an uninterrupted platform for your feet, allowing you to shift them closer to the crank arms if needed. Confirmed weight for our test pair is 425g, which puts them on the stockier side.
Inside you’ll find two sealed cartridge bearings, which are designed to keep the pedals spinning smooth while being cheap and easy to replace when they do wear out. The adjustable grub screws are similarly cheap and easy to source, though being made of steel they’re significantly more durable than the alloy pins that many other flat pedals utilise. And you also get heaps of spares in the box, which is ace. There are 10 grub screws per side, and their height can be adjusted to fine-tune traction levels.
- Price: $178.99 AUD
- From: Syncros
OneUp V2 Dropper Post
Having first started out producing a cassette-expanding booster cog (remember those!), OneUp Components has gone on to produce a suite of class-leading products that include its uber-thin-but-grippy flat pedals, compliant carbon handlebars, and clever hidden tools.
One of the brand’s most well-known products is its dropper post, the first of which was launched back in 2018. With a friendly price tag and the ability to adjust the drop travel via a simple shim system, the V1 post didn’t take long to become one of the most popular options on the market.
Since then OneUp has launched the V2 dropper post, covering even more seatpost diameters and drop lengths, all with a shorter stack height than the V1. The post is available with up to a whopping 240mm of travel, with the shortest option offering just 90mm. All posts can have their travel reduced by 20mm by using the in-built shims — a useful feature if you’re not totally sure how much drop your frame can handle.
In use the OneUp V2 Dropper Post delivers a smooth lever feel, the option to lock out the saddle height at any point in the travel, and a decently quick return speed. The textured grooves machined into the paddle offer fantastic ergonomics, along with lateral adjustability via the MatchMaker-style mount.
The cable-actuated system is simple, and it’s an easy post to pull apart for routine maintenance. Inside is an adjustable air spring and a cartridge-based mechanism that controls the posts’s movement. The cartridge is sealed and is designed to be easily replaced, which is something Jono did have to do with his current post after around 12 months of hard use. Unfortunately the cartridges aren’t user-serviceable, leaving a lot to be desired in terms of waste. Still, a replacement cartridge costs less than $100 and will get the whole dropper feeling like new again. We’ll be eagerly anticipating Jono’s experience of this monster 210mm travel V2 Dropper Post to see how the long-term durability stacks up.
- Price: $329.95 AUD
- From: OneUp Components
OneUp Components 42mm Stem
We’ve also received a new stem from OneUp Components, or to be more specific, a new stem length. OneUp already produces its beautifully machined stem in 35mm and 50mm lengths, but it now has this 42mm stem to split the difference in the middle.
Why 42mm? According to OneUp, it’s about more closely matching modern fork offsets, which are typically in the 42-44mm range. Matching stem length with fork offset is claimed to improve the overall handling, with the theory being that it provides a more neutral feel to the steering. This is a concept that many downhill racers have been applying for many years, including Greg Minnaar, who has been matching fork offset with stem length since the Honda G-Cross days.
To put that theory to the test, Mick has bolted the 42mm OneUp stem to his personal Canyon Spectral 29er. This bike is equipped with a RockShox Lyrik Ultimate fork that features a 44mm offset, so if we’re being pedantic, the stem length doesn’t quite match the offset, but it is closer than the stock bar and stem. Does it provide better handling? We’ll be spending some time playing around with a few different setups to find out.
- Price: $129.95 AUD
- From: OneUp Components
Canyon Fuel 600ml Bottle
Canyon’s Fuel bottle may look like an ordinary water bottle, but there are some important differences. Firstly, it has a slightly larger diameter of around 75mm, versus the 73mm diameter of a Camelbak Podium bottle. The larger diameter is designed to match up perfectly with Canyon’s own Sideloader bottle cage, providing a snug and secure fit.
Secondly, the Fuel 600ml bottle is shorter than most regular bottles offering the same volume. This allows it to fit into tighter spaces, as shown above on Mick’s Spectral 29 and the Spectral Mullet we tested recently. It’ll fit to non-Canyon bikes too, so if you’ve got some clearance issues, this could be the ticket.
If you do go for the Canyon Fuel bottle, we’d recommend matching it up with the proper Sideloader cage. Technically this bottle will fit in a standard bottle cage, and vice versa, but in our experience it’s not ideal as the fit ends up being sloppy.
You can also get the Fuel bottle in a larger 750ml size, and it comes in a variety of colours along with black and clear options.
- Price: $10.95 AUD
- From: Canyon