It’s the start of spring here in Australia. The birds are singing, native flowers are blossoming, and the sun is coming out to warm and dry out the wet and mucky trails left behind after a cold and dark winter. Well, unless you’re one of those lucky Far North East Queenslanders, who have been enjoying beautifully warm and dry conditions over the past couple of months. We had a brief taste of their tropical paradise when we travelled up to Cairns for the Reef to Reef – a cracking 4-day MTB stage race that (most) competitors race together in pairs. Wanna know what it was like and whether you should plan a riding holiday for next year? Make sure you check out the story on the event here.
You might have also enjoyed yourself a winter escape to the northern hemisphere, like Jon Odams, who enjoyed a riding trip of a lifetime at the BC Bike Race in Canada. We are not jealous at all. Nope. Not one bit.
For those looking for a little further inspiration through the tail end of winter, there’s been a swag of new bike releases to get plenty excited about too. Giant Bicycles continues its re-embrace of 29in wheels with the launch of the burly Reign 29er – a bike that we were lucky enough to test out at the launch. Trek has also released its brand new Fuel EX, which we reckon is the US brand’s best trail bike to date. Then there’s also that brand new $12K women’s specific superbike from Liv Cycling, the rollout of the 4th generation Santa Cruz Tallboy, and the debut of Giant’s longest travel e-MTB to date; the new Reign E+.
Along with all the new bike releases popping off left, right and centre, we’ve had a load of new test product arrive at Flow HQ. To get you up to speed with some of the new gear we’ve got on the rotisserie wheel, here’s the early spring time edition of Flow’s Fresh Produce!
2020 Focus O1E 8.8
Mick has just come back from rAdelaide, having caught up with the Focus Australia crew to see what’s new for 2020. We’ll have a separate highlights article coming soon to cover off some of the 2020 models, but we just couldn’t resist showing you guys this bike – the 2020 Focus O1E 8.8. Finished with a gorgeous slate-blue paint job and Maxxis tanwall tyres, it was easily one of the standout lookers from the show. Would you agree?
Using a full carbon mainframe and swingarm, the O1E is Focus’ lightweight XC race bike. It has 110mm of rear wheel travel via the amusingly-titled F.O.L.D suspension design, and that’s paired to a Fox 34 Step-Cast fork with 120mm of travel. Along with the Shimano XT M8100 1×12 groupset, Mavic wheels, and the KS Zeta dropper post, it’s a mighty fine race package for $6K.
- From: Focus Bikes Australia
- Price: $5,999
Bontrager XXX Mountain Bike SPD Shoes
Bontrager has updated its flagship XC race shoes, giving them a rather bold look thanks to the ‘Radioactive Pink’ coloured upper and outsole. The outsole itself is 100% OCLV carbon fibre, which is designed to be both extremely lightweight, and extremely stiff. As in, 14/14 on the arbitrary stiffness scale. It’s then lathered with Tachyon rubber tread blocks for walking/hiking/tap-dancing traction, and there’s the option to run toe spikes for the cyclocrossers out there. To help mitigate heel-slip, there’s a hard plastic heel cup on the outside, and a no-slip lining on the inside.
The XXX Mountain Bike shoe will be available in Australia in sizes from EU 39 through to 47. Each size features the inForm Pro LAST, which means they’re designed to be more snug and secure than a comparable trail shoe. To help you dial in the fit, you’ve got dual BOA IP1 ratchets. Bontrager has dropped the Velcro strap from the previous version, and instead routes the lower BOA cable further down the shoe.
- From: Trek Bikes
- Price: $549.99
Lazer Impala MIPS Helmet
The Impala is a new-school trail lid from Lazer, and it’s designed with more coverage around the sides and back of the head to increase protection over a typical roadie/XC helmet. Lazer has wrapped the EPS foam core with a generous polycarbonate shell that wraps around the underside of the helmet’s rim to protect the foam underneath. Being a modern trail helmet, the Impala comes with all the modern accruements; a big adjustable visor, goggle compatibility, and a plug-in GoPro mount that is supplied in the box.
Our test helmet is the MIPS-equipped version, which comes in three colours as well as this Fire Engine Red. There’s a non-MIPS version for $179 that comes in five colour options. All Impala helmets come in Small, Medium & Large sizes, and feature the 360° TurnFit adjuster system.
- From: Shimano Australia
- Price: $219
Fox Float DPX2 Volume Spacer Kit
Tuning air volume is a relatively easy way to alter the feel of your bike’s suspension. Fox, RockShox and others employ plastic spacers or ‘tokens’ that are designed to clip inside the air spring chamber to reduce the volume inside. The concept is simple – the more spacers you have, the more progressive the spring curve is, and the less spacers you have inside, the more linear the spring curve is. Arriving in time for some suspension fettling with our Canyon Spectral AL 6.0 test bike, this particular kit is specific to the Fox Float DPX2 shock, and comes with five different sized spacers inside.
- From: Sola Sport
- Price: $59.95
Giant Control Tower Boost Tubeless Pump
Spotted a couple of weeks ago at the 2020 Giant & Liv launch, this Control Tower Boost is a new floor pump from Giant that’s designed specifically for tubeless tyres. Using a secondary chamber that you can charge to 200psi, the Control Tower Boost can apply a huge rush of compressed air through your valves and into the tyre to help seat the beads onto a tubeless compatible rim – all without need for a separate compressor.
The pump gets a huge analogue pressure gauge, and it’s constructed with an all-alloy barrel and a steel base for the most vigorous of pumpers. The Autohead will clamp down on both Presta and Schrader valves, with no need for any small parts to be swapped around. Just fit, flip and pump away.
- From: Giant Bicycles
- Price: $189.95
Specialized 2FO Clip Mountain Bike Shoes
Released mere days ago, the new 2FO Clip 2.0 shoes from Specialized are designed to be lighter, sturdier and better ventilated than their predecessor. These feature a lace-up construction, a SlipNot rubber outsole, and long cleat pockets for getting your clip pedals in your preferred location. What are they like to ride? Check out Mick’s review of the new 2FO Clip 2.0 shoes right here.
- From: Specialized Bicycles
- Price: $220
Pirelli Scorpion MTB Tyres
Italian tyre manufacturer, Pirelli, has launched into the mountain bike game for 2019 with the new Scorpion MTB tyre. Aiming to simplify things for the consumer, the Scorpion MTB range splits into four unique tread patterns that are designed to excel in specific applications: Hardpack, Mixed, Soft and Rear. All tyres use Pirelli’s SmartGRIP rubber compound, which it reckons has some serious special sauce. For the rundown on the range and a closer look at the tyres we’re using, check out our first look of the Pirelli Scorpion tyres here.
- From: FE Sports
- Price: $89-$95
Bontrager Ion Pro RT Front Bike Light
It might be the start of spring, but that doesn’t mean night riding season is over – far from it in fact! To get us through some cool spring evenings, we’ve got a 1300 Lumen head light from Bontrager called the Ion Pro RT. Designed for either handlebar or helmet use, the Ion Pro RT has a single CREE LED that pumps out anywhere from 400-1300 Lumens, while featuring several flash modes too.
The included handlebar bracket will fit handlebars from 25.4-35mm in diameter, while the internal lithium-ion battery can be recharged via a standard micro USB cord. Perhaps the coolest function of the Ion Pro RT light though is its Bluetooth/ANT+ connectivity, which means you can pair it to your Garmin head unit to keep track of battery life and power levels, or control it via a wireless Bontrager Transmitr remote (see below).
- From: Trek Bikes
- Price: $169.99
Bontrager Flare RT Rear Bike Light
The matching tail light is this Flare RT, which possesses 90 Lumens of power in a tiny little package that attaches to your seatpost or frame via an adjustable rubber bracket. Bontrager reckons you’ll get up to 15-hours of run time from this light on the lowest setting, though there’s a bunch of modes to choose from, including a daytime flash setting that we’ve been using religiously on our commute to the trails. Like the Ion Pro RT front light, this guy can be paired wireless too…
- From: Trek Bikes
- Price: $79.99
Bontrager Transmitr Wireless Remote
…a handlebar remote that Bontrager calls the Transmitr. Using a CR2032 watch battery, this Bluetooth/ANT+ remote is designed to pair wireless with up to seven compatible lights. In our case, we’re just running it with the Ion Pro RT front light, and Flare RT rear light, and it’s come especially in handy while running the Ion Pro RT on the helmet. As well as turning the lights on and off, the remote can run through the various power and flash modes, all while keeping your hands on the grips.
- From: Trek Bikes
- Price: $69.99
Maxxis Dissector 27.5×2.40WT 3C Maxx Terra EXO Tyre
More new tyres here at Flow HQ! This time it’s the Dissector – the newest tread pattern from Maxxis, which was codeveloped with Troy Brosnan as a speedy rear tyre for racing World Cup DH. Maxxis is also producing the Dissector in a lighter EXO trail version, which is the one we’ve got on the back of the Canyon Spectral test bike right now. For further specs, confirmed weights and dimensions, check out our first look story on the Dissector here.
- From: Lusty Industries
- Price: $89.99
Curve Dirt Hoops 29 Wider 40 Wheels
Melbourne-based Curve Cycling has two new sets of carbon mountain bike wheels: the Dirt Hoops Wide 35, and the Dirt Hoops Wider 40. Referring to the external rim width, the new Dirt Hoops feature enormously thick hookless beads for greater impact protection, and a substantial inner width that’s designed to support modern high-volume tubeless tyres. There’s a load of neat details on show with these locally-designed carbon wheels, so make sure you keep your eyes peeled on the website for a detailed story on these coming very soon!
- From: Curve Cycling
- Price: $2,198