Greetings fellow Flow Frothers, and welcome to the final edition of Flow’s Fresh Produce of the year! Yes, we’ve now officially entered it’s-nearly-Christmas-and-we’re-starting-to-panic-a-bit mode. But summer holidays are so close that we can almost touch them, and we cannot wait to get out there and get amongst it!
For those desperately in need of some light at the end of the Chrismas Tunnel™, did you see the news about Derby Fest returning for 2022? Exciting stuff, and we know that’s going to be a whopper of a weekend. If you’re thinking of heading to Tassie, then make sure you check out our feature on St Helens to get a feel for the riding and what you can do outside of riding too. For those who are either already on the other side of the ditch or hoping to plan a riding holiday for the new year, we’ve also been checking out what’s new in Rotorua.
Closer to home, we were stoked to get ourselves to Yackandandah in the Victorian High Country a couple of weeks back to test out the brand new Giant Trance 29. We’ve got a lot of love for this place, the vibe around town is so relaxed and welcoming, and the trails are an absolute hoot!
Meanwhile up in NSW, Jono has just wrapped up his review of the Norco Range – an absolute beast of a bike that one! Colin has also been flexing his journalistic muscles with a deep dive into the EES behind the Warburton Mountain Bike Destination. Be sure to check that one out for an easy-to-understand description of what’s gone on in Warburton, and what it means for the proposed trail network.
Despite us knocking on the door on the end of the year, bike companies are still firing out new models. There’s been the announcement of the new alloy Orbea Rise, and Canyon has also launched the brand new Torque, which looks considerably more versatile than its predecessor.
We’ve also received a mountain of new test gear, and we’ve endeavoured to squeeze as much of it in as possible in here for your viewing pleasure. Whether you’re looking for Christmas present ideas, or you just want to see what we’re testing out this season, we’ve got you covered. So grab a brew, sit back, relax, forget about the C-word, and enjoy the Santa sack-full of goodies in Flow’s Fresh Produce!
Bollé Lightshifter Glasses
While Bollé has been a household name in performance eyewear for a very long time, we’ll admit that we weren’t overly familiar with the brand’s latest offerings. That’s since changed after receiving a range of glasses to put to the test, which includes several varieties of Bollé’s high performance lenses that are designed specifically for cycling.
Shown here is the Lightshifter and the Lightshifter XL. Both glasses are built around a similar semi-frameless design, with the Lightshifter XL simply featuring a larger-fitting frame along with a broader lens. In comparison, the standard Lightshifter is smaller and quite a bit more snug – a little too snug for Wil’s noggin, which normally fits a medium-sized helmet.
Sizing aside, both glasses feature clever 3-position adjustable nosepieces and rubber-lined arms. However, it’s really the lenses where things get interesting.
Both Lightshifter glasses feature the Volt+ lens, which is Bollé’s mid-tier option. As well as being polarised, these lenses also get a high contrast filter that boosts colour by a claimed 30%. On the trail the colours are notably more vivid, with excellent distinction between textures and obstacles on the ground.
They also receive an oleophobic treatment to help shed water droplets and dirt, an anti-scratch hard coating, and an anti-reflective coating on the inside of the lens. The claimed light transmission rating is 13%, and so far we’ve found them to be suitable for bright sunny days. There are photochromic lens options available too, which brings us to our next pair of sunnies.
- Price: $199 AUD (Lightshifter), $279 AUD (Lightshifter XL)
- From: Bollé
Bollé Shifter Glasses
The Bollé Shifter offers a similar one-piece lens profile to the Lightshifter, albeit with a fully-enclosed frame design. While the field of view isn’t as seamless, the frame does help to protect the bottom of the lens. And in the event of a crash, you’re less likely to cut your cheek (yes, we’ve seen that happen!), making these perhaps a more suitable choice for mountain bikers. The overall fit is good, but unfortunately the Shifter misses out on the adjustable nose pads, which is a shame as we quite like that feature.
However, the lens on these glasses does step up to Bollé’s premium Phantom lens, which comes with all the bells and whistles. These lenses are made from a special material called NXT, which was originally developed for the windscreens in Apache helicopters. That tech has since made its way into consumer sunglasses, where it claims to offer superior optical clarity while being ten times more impact resistant than regular polycarbonate lenses. Good news if you ever end up in heavy enemy gunfire.
Toughness and crystal-clear clarity aside, the Phantom lenses are also photochromic, and in this example the light transmission can change from 15-47%, covering a very wide range of riding conditions from full summer sun through to overcast days. According to Bollé, the photochromic molecules are embedded in the lens material for improved durability, and it claims the transmission occurs faster too. Lastly, the Phantom lenses receive an anti-fog coating in addition to the anti-scratch and oleophobic treatment. We told you this lens had all the bells and whistles!
- Price: $299 AUD
- From: Bollé
Bollé Chronoshield Glasses
The biggest option from Bollé, the Chronoshield glasses feature an enormous one-piece lens that measures 65mm deep by 143mm wide. They also come with a removable sweat bar, allowing you to wear them close to your face with less chance of sweat dripping off your eyebrows and onto the lenses.
The aesthetic follows the current trend for cartoonishly-big glasses, which won’t be to everyone’s tastes. However, the coverage is amazing. They’re also really comfortable to wear, and they’re quite stable too. The arms curve around your ears with a pronounced hook, a design that we’ve found tends to result in less fit issues with the harness system on most mountain bike helmets compared to glasses with longer and straighter arms.
The Chronoshield also gets the high-end Phantom lenses, so they’re made from the special NXT material and feature anti-fog, anti-scratch, anti-glare and oleophobic treatments. They’re photochromic, so they adjust their tint based on the conditions, offering a range between 62-9% light transmission.
- Price: $299 AUD
- From: Bollé
Bollé Maddox Goggles
In addition to its cycling sunglasses range, Bollé also produces goggles. The Maddox goggles we have here are right at the top of the range, with a matte black frame and Phantom emerald green lenses. That sees them adopt the same technology as the Chronoshields and Shifters we have on test, so they’re photochromic with the ability to adjust to different light conditions, and they’re made from NXT for increased durability.
There’s dual density foam padding and a suspended frame with massive vents to increase airflow and help exhaust hot air. The lenses themselves have vents at the top, and there’s the same anti-fog, anti-scratch, anti-glare and oleophobic treatments as the Phantom lenses you’ll find on the other sunglasses.
- Price: $269 AUD
- From: Bollé
Giant Airway Sport Sidepull Cage w/Clutch 12 Tool
Giant continues to expand on its accessory and tool range with the introduction of the new Airway Sport Sidepull Cage and the Clutch multi-tool. The concept is similar to what we’ve seen from Specialized and Topeak, with the aim of carrying more stuff on your bike, so you don’t have to lug it around on your back.
The side-entry cage is available in both left and right-handed versions, and the Clutch multi-tool comes in a 9-bit and a 12-bit option. You can purchase the cage and tool separately, or you can get them together like we have here.
The Clutch 12 is quite comprehensive for a multi-tool, coming with 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8mm hexs, a T25, a flat-head screwdriver, valve core tool, chain tool, spoke wrenches and disc brake pad tool. It’s also stored securely inside its sheath via a dual-stage locking mechanism.
The only downside was that our usual Camelbak bottle didn’t fit particularly well inside the Airway Sport Sidepull Cage, being slightly loose and prone to bouncing around. We’ve had no such issue with the Fabric bottle shown in the above photo though, so some trial and error may be required when choosing the right bottle.
- Price: $99.95 AUD
- From: Giant Bicycles
Giant Path MIPS Helmet
$80 for a helmet with a MIPS liner? That’s exactly what Giant has achieved with the Path MIPS helmet, which is the cheapest helmet that we know of that comes with MIPS technology. It’s certainly not fancy – there’s no magnetic buckle, the visor is fixed, and it doesn’t get a full in-mould construction, so the foam is exposed underneath the helmet rim. It’s also only offered in two sizes: S/M (49-57cm) & M/L (53-61 cm).
The harness is adjustable though, and it’s pretty comfortable to wear. The best part? It’s claimed to have achieved five stars in the Virginia Tech helmet test, making it arguably safer than helmets that cost a lot more. Nice work Giant!
- Price: $79.95 AUD
- From: Giant Bicycles
Giant Shuttle Flat Pedal Shoes
The Shuttle is Giant’s flat pedal mountain bike shoe, which has been updated with a bunch of changes over the previous model. The biggest of which is the GRIPR rubber compound, which is new and said to be considerably stickier than before. The mesh upper also receives a new TPU skin for improved durability, and injection-moulded toe caps increase protection.
As with the previous Shuttle, the latest version uses a standard lace-up design, with a stretch mesh pocket at the top of the tongue for keeping the flappy bits contained while riding.
Giant offers the Shuttle flat pedal shoe in four different colours and sizes from EU41 to EU48. We’ve got the Black Camo option in a size EU44. The fit is casual and comfortable, though we’ve found them to be on the smaller side in terms of length compared to similar flat pedal shoes from Specialized, Bontrager and Shimano. In fact, we’d opt to size up to a EU45 for a little more wiggle room.
Giant states the EVA midsole is “super-cushy”, which means the soles are quite flexible. That won’t suit riders looking for a stiff shoe with heaps of support. But for those who are looking for more feel on the pedals, and for less experienced riders who are getting onto flat pedals for the first time, these are a good-value option to add to the list.
- Price: $164.95 AUD
- From: Giant Bicycles
Giant Transfer Gloves, 3/4 Jersey & Baggy Shorts
Giant is rolling out some fresh threads this season with new Transfer jerseys, baggy shorts and full-finger gloves.
Shown here is the Transfer 3/4 jersey, which is also available in short sleeve and long sleeve versions. It’s a super-light top that’s made from a lightweight and soft main fabric, with mesh panels utilised for the arms and around the back of the neck for improved breathability. The fit isn’t particularly tailored, and there’s quite a lot of stitching on show, but it’s comfy enough and priced well at $85 AUD.
The Transfer shorts are also great value for money given they’re made with 4-way stretch fabrics and feature a proper fly with a dual button closure. As with the jersey, the shorts are quite square in profile, but the waist can be adjusted via a metal hook on each side. They’re also available up to an XX-Large, providing a broad range of sizes.
And lastly, the Transfer gloves shown here provide a lightweight option that combines a mesh construction up top, with a perforated palm for increased ventilation. There’s a soft fleece microfibre thumb for wiping away sweat and boogers, and a simple elasticated cuff to keep things low profile.
- Price: $42.95 AUD (Gloves), $84.95 AUD (Jersey), $124.95 AUD (Shorts)
- From: Giant Bicycles
2022 Giant Trance Advanced Pro 29 1
Giant has also launched the second generation Trance 29, which has been updated with a brand new frame that features internal storage – the first time for any Giant mountain bike. It also gets an increase in rear wheel travel, and a geometry flip chip that turns this into one of the lowest and slackest trail bikes going. We’ve had the pleasure of testing the new bike over the past few weeks to see what it’s all about – check out our Giant Trance 29 review for the full story.
- Price: $8,699 AUD
- From: Giant Bicycles
Krush Shine Protection
Aussie brand Krush has just launched a new signature product with Caroline Buchanan. It’s called Shine Protection, and it’s an after-wash treatment that you can use on your alloy or carbon frame to get it looking fresh and new again. The bubble gum-scented and silicone-based formula is designed to leave a protective layer that reduces dirt build up in the first place, and it’s also safe to use on your fork, shock, dropper, post, cockpit and drivetrain. Best to avoid the brakes though!
- Price: $19.99 AUD
- From: Krush Oz
Maxxis Minion 20in Tyres
The venerable Maxxis Minion is now available in a 20in diameter for the mini shredders out there. And the name isn’t just for show either – these 20in tyres share the same classic tread pattern that has made the Minions so popular on trail, enduro and downhill bikes the world over.
Just like the full-size versions, these are designed to be run as a combo with the 2.4in Minion DHF up front and a 2.3in Minion DHR on the rear. How very pro!
An ideal replacement for the cheap tyres that typically come stock on 20in kids mountain bikes, the Maxxis Minion 20in tyres are available in wire bead and folding kevlar bead versions, with weight being the reason for the $10 difference. Could these be the grippiest 20in tyres on the market? Quite likely!
- Price: $44.95 AUD (Wire Bead), $54.95 AUD (Folding Bead)
- From: Lusty Industries
Deity Highside Bar, Copperhead Stem & Slimfit Grips
The 760mm wide Deity Highside bar is one of very few on the market offering such an outrageously high rise. Weighing in at 334g, the 80mm rise bars are right at home on a dirt jump bike and are available in either a 31.8 or 35mm clamp diameter.
As always, Deity hasn’t shied away from keeping things colourful, offering the Highside bar in stealth, white, red, green, blue, and orange. Original owners will have their Highside bars covered by Deity’s lifetime crash replacement policy, which is likely to come in handy when learning to get airborne. The bars feature a 9° backsweep and 5° upsweep with dirt jump riders as their focus.
On either end of our Deity Highside bar we’ve got the Slimfit grips, which are the thinnest option from Deity with a 30.5mm diameter. And at the centre of the bars is a sweet Copperhead stem. Exquisitely CNC machined from 6061-T6 alloy polished to a shiny finish, the Copperhead stem uses big 5mm hex bolts and a 55mm wide face plate for a sturdy hold. Also available in 31.8 or 35mm diameters, a whole range of colours, and in 35 or 50mm lengths.
- Price: $44.95 AUD (Grips), $124.95 AUD (Bars), $164.95 AUD (Stem)
- From: Lusty Industries
Troy Lee Designs Drift Jersey & Shorts
An all-new addition to the Troy Lee Designs range for 2022 is the Drift jersey and shorts. These are designed to be stretchy and lightweight, and so far we’ve found them to be a really comfy option on the bike.
There’s a unique approach to the fabric, with a lightweight knit construction around the bottom half of the jersey that aims to be highly breathable and quick to dry. The top half of the jersey employs lightweight nylon for protection, without being bulky or restrictive. In use, the new fabric doesn’t seem to absorb much water at all and as a result, it doesn’t tend to get heavy or sticky from sweat either. The top half that covers your chest is also specifically designed to be wind resistant, and it’s worked well to avoid wind chill on those colder days.
The Drift shorts use glue instead of stitching to bond 4-way stretch fabrics around the crotch, making for a comfy feel with no bunching. They’re also baggy enough to fit over low profile knee pads. The shorts feature a zip-up pocket on the rear of the waist, and one on the thigh. The waist is secured with a zipper and a press stud that has stayed firmly clamped shut on all our test rides. Similar to the jersey, the shorts use a quick-dry fabric that doesn’t get sticky or heavy when wet, which we’ve really enjoyed during a hot and humid start to the summer riding season.
- Price: $154.95 AUD (Jersey), $219.95 AUD (Shorts)
- From: Lusty Industries
SRAM XX1/X01 Drivetrain
Nope, your eyes aren’t deceiving you – what you’re seeing here is a SRAM Eagle drivetrain without any batteries or motors. It’s one of those old-fashioned systems that uses a mechanical shifter and derailleur that are united by a simple steel cable.
And why the heck would you want that antiquated technology on your mountain bike?
Well friends, this drivetrain is destined for Wil’s Specialized Chisel, where it will be replacing a SRAM GX Eagle AXS drivetrain. The reason?
Wank factor Weight savings. Wil’s hoping to get that bike below the 10kg barrier, and there’s a good chunk of grams to be saved by changing out the alloy GX cranks and the AXS derailleur, both of which are quite porky.
It isn’t all about weight though. The X01 cassette offers a noticeably crisper shift compared to the pinned GX version, and in our experience they last longer too. The XX1 shifter gets a lovely carbon paddle that offers angular adjustment, and the mechanical XX1 derailleur is also considerably lower profile than the electronic AXS version.
Wil’s also elected for a smaller 10-50T cassette ratio, given the Chisel is a lightweight XC hardtail and doesn’t necessarily need the lowest gearing possible. It should also stick out a bit less on the skinny alloy frame. Will the posh drivetrain help Wil achieve his weight weenie dreams? Stay tuned for an update coming soon.
- Price: $131 AUD (Chain), $234 AUD (Shifter), $461 AUD (Derailleur), $592 AUD (Cassette), $791 AUD (Crankset)
- From: SRAM
Kids Ride Shotgun Pro Child Bike Seat
Kids Ride Shotgun has just unveiled its newest invention for getting your mini-me out onto the trails. It’s called the Shotgun Pro Child Bike Seat, and it joins the original model that the Kiwi brand has become so famous for.
Compared to the standard version, the Pro model uses a different mounting system that avoids anything clamping down on your frame’s top or down tubes. Instead there’s a rail that clamps around your headset spacers at one end, and the seatpost at the other. The child seat then fixes onto that rail, with two footrests extending down on either side.
As well as pleasing riders who may have been concerned about clamping anything to their fancy carbon frame, the Shotgun Pro Child Seat will also suit modern e-MTBs with their huge downtubes and batteries.
There’s a whole suite of other improvements too, with fewer tools required for assembly and adjustments. The pegs are gone in favour of pedal-style footrests, complete with pins for extra grip. According to Kids Ride Shotgun, the Pro Child Bike Seat will handle kids from 2-5 years old, with a maximum load rating of 27kg.
Want to know what it’s like to ride with? Check out our first ride story for more.
- Price: $400 AUD
- From: Kids Ride Shotgun
Lazer Jackal MIPS Helmet
The Jackal is Lazer’s premium mountain bike helmet that’s designed to offer maximum protection with extended coverage. There’s a thick EPS foam core that’s shielded by a multi-panel polycarbonate shell, which wraps all the way around the underside of the helmet for increased strength and durability. Inside you’ll find a low-profile MIPS liner that’s designed to reduce rotational forces on the brain during an impact.
It’s certainly not the lightest helmet at 416g, which is heavier than the Fox Speedframe Pro MIPS (398g), the Bontrager Rally Wavecel (394g), the Specialized Tactic (386g) and the Giro Source (355g). A bit of extra material around the head is not necessarily a bad thing though, and Lazer’s safety credentials have been backed up by Virginia Tech, which awarded the Jackal with five stars.
Adjustment is provided by Lazer’s ATS system, which uses a large textured dial for tweaking the harness tension. There’s heaps of vertical adjustment too, and we’ve found it to provide a really comfortable and stable fit with no awkward pressure points. The rear basket is quite big though, and that can interfere with riding glasses that use long and straight arms.
Being a modern trail helmet, the Jackal is goggle friendly with rubber pads on the rear for keeping the strap in place. The visor is adjustable, and at its highest it leaves sufficient room to stow your goggles while climbing. The low-profile straps are soft and comfortable, and they lead down to a nifty magnetic buckle under the chin.
- Price: $299 AUD
- From: Lazer Sport
Specialized Trail Gloves, Long-Sleeve Jersey & Pants
Mick never though he’d wear pants while mountain biking, but the new Specialized Trail Pants have seen him change his tune. These aren’t your Dad’s old moto slacks though.
The Trail Pants are made from a very lightweight and highly breathable fabric that is flexible and form-fitting, tapering right down at the ankles to keep them flapping about on the trail. They’re not exactly summer wear, but we’ve found they’re good up to about 15°C, particularly if the trails are a bit splooshy after some rain.
The fit is terrific, though if anything the ankles are perhaps too tight, so a little extra care is required when taking them on and off. You get zippered pockets on each side, a small pocket at the rear, and a buckle up at the waist for adjusting the fit.
Mick’s also got the matching Trail jersey in an old school tie-dye finish that Specialized calls the ‘Altered Edition’. Designed for maximum sun protection, the long-sleeve jersey uses a new MiniR fabric that’s nice and breathable, with a 6% Spandex mix for flexibility.
Rounding out the new getup is a pair of Specialized Trail Gloves. Available in orange, black or grey, these get a thin Ax Suede palm with printed silicone grippers, a light compression stretch nylon fabric for the back of the hand, and a Velcro cuff to secure them in place.
- Price: $50 AUD (Gloves) – $110 AUD (Jersey) – $200 AUD (Pants)
- From: Specialized
Specialized Trail Air Gloves, Trail Cotton Jersey & Trail Shorts
For the hot summer arvo rides that are knocking on our door, we’ve also got some lighter weight kit from Specialized. Up top is the Trail Supima Cotton Jersey, which is basically a casual style, loose-fitting tech tee. Made from fancy cotton fibres that are mineral-washed to increase softness, it’s a lovely jersey with a super soft feel and an understated style that’s had us blending in seamlessly with non-mountain bikers down at the local burger joint. Compared to a polyester riding top, we’ve found it also remains stink-free for a lot longer.
Down below is the Specialized Trail Short, which utilises similar VapoRize fabrics to the Trail Pants. It’s got great stretch and flexibility to it, a nice cut that minimises bunching and scrunching, and simple adjustment tabs around the waist. These come with a padded liner short included, making them great value for what is a really nice pair of baggies.
Another new favourite of Micks is the Trail Air Glove. These are super-dooper light and designed for maximum ventilation. There’s no Velcro strap, just a thin neoprene cuff and a stretchy main fabric that feels like a second skin. They don’t scream durability, and crashy riders will want to look elsewhere, but if you’re after the minimalist vibe, these are brilliant.
- Price: $60 AUD (Gloves) – $100 AUD (Jersey) – $140 AUD (Shorts)
- From: Specialized
RockShox Flight Attendant
Also on test at Flow HQ is the new RockShox Flight Attendant system. Designed to automatically control the compression damping on your fork and shock, Flight Attendant uses a variety of sensors to determine what the rider and the terrain are doing, before making adjustments in real time. Using wireless AXS technology, it’s a much cleaner setup than Fox Live Valve, and there are a number of other key differences between the two systems. If you’d like to know more about it, be sure to check out our detailed story on RockShox Flight Attendant.
- Price: $12,999 AUD (YT Jeffsy Uncaged 6)
- From: RockShox