We are well into the swing of things for the new riding season here in Australia, and there is plenty for Aussie mountain bikers to get excited about! A date has been set for the opening weekend for the new St Helens trail development in Tasmania, which you might have already read about in our weekly Flow Mail newsletter (if not, drop us a line via the Contacts page, and we’ll be sure to get you setup). It’s all kicking off in St Helens on Friday the 22nd and Saturday the 23rd of November, so be sure to get your skates on and book yourself a summer riding holiday to experience one of the hottest new destinations in the country!
And there’s more exciting news for Tassie this week, with the announcement that Derby has been awarded with the Enduro World Series’ ‘International Trail Of The Year’ for the raucous ‘Kumma Gutza’, as voted by the world’s fastest enduro racers and industry representatives. Of course, they’ve really only just realised what all us Aussies new all along ?
Back on the mainland, and Wil had the chance to ride the Red Hill mountain bike trails for the first time, where he was escorted by the crew from Canyon Australia, who are located about half an hour up the road from Red Hill.
There’s also been a wad of new 2020 bike releases recently, including Giant’s lightest ever mountain bike and the 2nd generation Specialized Kenevo, which as we discovered, is an absolutely hulking piece of kit. We also published what has quickly become the most-read news stories of the year, which identifies an emerging theme for production mountain bikes that are coming with a $10,000+ price tag. Wowsers! We’ve since had to add a few bikes to that story too, though we have a sneaking suspicion they won’t be the last…
Enough of the news though – let’s get stuck into the latest edition of Flow’s Fresh Produce!
2020 Fox 32 Step-Cast Factory Series Fork
Fox’s lightweight XC race fork has received a facelift for 2020 to improve chassis stiffness. Based upon the 32 Float fork, the Step-Cast (SC) version is pared right back to the bare essentials to chisel away as many grams as possible. Named after the stepped magnesium lowers, which are externally relieved on the inside face of the dropouts to reduce weight, the 32 SC is a purebred race fork that features just 100mm of travel, and with Boost hub spacing only. You do have the option of 27.5in and 29in sizes though, and you can also choose between a 44mm or 51mm offset.
What’s new for 2020? The crown assembly has been beefed up considerably. And unlike most new product releases, that means the 32 SC has actually gotten heavier. Though only by about 30g or so. According to Fox, this added material increases overall stiffness by 20%, which supposedly brings it inline with the regular 34 trail fork. This increase in stiffness is a good thing, as while we’ve found the previous 32 Step-Cast to be a very smooth and svelte performer, we’ve also found it to be on the twangy side when pushing hard.
You can get the 32 SC fork in a cheaper all-black Performance Series version, as well as the Factory Series model we have here, which gets the gold Kashima coated stanchions for slippery sliding. Inside is the new generation EVOL air spring, and the latest FIT4 damper with external low-speed compression adjustment. Fox also runs the lighter Kabolt thru-axle at the lowers, instead of the usual QR15 lever. Because grams. Speaking of grams, our test fork with a steerer cut to 165mm weighs in at a confirmed 1406g. That’s almost 200g lighter than the 34 Step-Cast fork that came off there!
- From: Sola Sport
- Price: $1,489
Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM GPS Computer
Wahoo has bolstered its line of GPS computers with the addition of the very slick ELEMNT ROAM (sorry for shouting and for our lack of vowels). The first GPS unit from Wahoo to get a colour screen, the Roam is designed to offer clever navigational abilities like the ‘Route To Start’ function, which is useful if you find yourself somewhat locationally-challenged and in need of a quickish return back to the start of your ride. There’s also a ‘Retrace Route’ breadcrumb function, where you can reverse the route you’ve just done to retrace your steps back to that singletrack turnoff you should have taken.
Being a high-end GPS unit, the Roam comes with all the Bluetooth, WiFi and ANT+ wireless connectivity you’d expect, including the option to pair with your phone so you can receive notifications on the 2.7in Gorilla Glass screen in front of you, without need to take your phone out of your pack or jersey pocket. The Roam and the associated app will also happily pair with partner apps like Strava, Komoot and Today’s Plan, and Wahoo claims you’ll get over 17+ hours out of the internal rechargeable battery.
- From: FE Sports
- Price: $599.95
K-Edge Adjustable Stem Mount
To fit the ELEMNT ROAM (shhh!) to a range of different test bikes, we’ve received a couple of slick machined alloy K-Edge mounting brackets. Shown here is the adjustable stem mount, which sits above your stem while attaching to the fork’s steerer tube. There’s a hinge in the middle for adjusting the tilt of the mount, and the plastic receiver chip can be swapped out to fit different brand computers – like those from Garmin, Cateye and Lezyne.
- From: FE Sports
- Price: $59.95
K-Edge Gravity Mount
Ideal for shorter stems found on Enduro and Downhill bikes, the K-Edge Gravity Mount replaces your standard headset top cap, allowing you to mount your GPS head unit directly to the top of the steerer tube. It’s CNC machined in the US from 6061-T6 alloy, and features the same modular design that allows you to replace the blue plastic Wahoo GPS chip with one to suit a Garmin, Cateye, or Lezyne GPS head unit.
- From: FE Sports
- Price: $39.95
SRAM Level Ultimate Brakes
Earlier this year, SRAM rolled out the replacement for the Guide 4-piston trail brake, which is now called the G2. Not long after, SRAM also rolled out the new version of its 2-piston XC brake, the Level, though you could be mistaken for missing that announcement as it was a pretty quiet release for SRAM.
Unlike the G2, the Level carries its name over, and actually carries over the same lever design as the previous version too. What has changed is the calliper.
Instead of being made from a single piece of alloy, the new Level brake gets a two-piece body that is bolted together. This supposedly increases stiffness, while affording more power too. The calliper is more open around the top for better cooling, and it comes with a larger friction puck and a more ‘aggressive organic pad compound’ as stock.
The model we’ve got here is the top-end Level Ultimate, which comes with a carbon lever blade, a sealed bearing lever pivot, and titanium mounting hardware. As such, the claimed weight is a feathery 318g per end. As to how they compare to the previous version? We’re taking a set of the old Level Ultimates off to bolt these new ones on, so we’ll have a direct comparison coming for you in the very near future. Stay tuned.
- From: PSI Cycling
- Price: $399.95 per end (excluding adapters & rotors)
SRAM Centerline 160mm 6-Bolt Rotors
Of course disc brakes are a little useless without something to grab onto, so we’ve put a set of 160mm SRAM Centerline rotors in between the Level Ultimate brake pads. These are a little heavier compared to the claimed weight of SRAM’s 2-piece Centerline rotors, but they also cost $40 less for the pair.
- From: PSI Cycling
- Price: $79.95 per end
Thule VeloSpace XT 3 Bike Rack
With a rapidly increasing number of riding adventures on the cards for summer, Wil’s just got his hands on a rear-mounting Thule bike rack that’s designed to take three mountain bikes weighing up to 60kg in total. Thule reckons the Velospace XT is one of the most versatile bike racks going, with the large and extra-long wheel trays designed to accommodate everything from a kid’s bike through to a fat bike. It’s modern geometry compatible too, with enough length to take a bike with a huuuge 1300mm wheelbase.
Adjustable wheel straps allow you to cinch each end of the bike down nice and tight, while independent rubber clamps hold onto your bike’s frame to keep it wobble-free on the back of the car. And if you need to access the boot, the whole rack can be tilted down and away from the car. Found yourself a new riding buddy or popped out another kiddo since first getting the Velospace XT? Thule sells a separate adapter that turns this into a four-bike rack, and there’s a cargo box that can be purchased separately too.
- From: Thule
- Price: $1,249
Shimano M7100 SLX Groupset
Also new at Flow HQ this week is Shimano’s latest SLX M7100 groupset. Somewhat flying under the radar when it was unveiled back in June, the SLX groupset was largely out-shadowed by the arrival of 12-speed Deore XT M8100. The thing is though, while both SLX and XT draw heavily upon the latest XTR 12-speed groupset, SLX comes in at about a third of the price. That makes it bonkers value for money, given it encompasses many of the same technologies. And from our early experience, the on-board ride quality is eerily close to Shimano’s top-end groupset. Check out all the individual component prices, confirmed weights and details in our first look story here.
- From: Shimano
- Price: $999 (1×12 drivetrain & brakes)
Mo’ Flow Please!
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