Flow’s Fresh Produce | New 1×12 Drivetrain, 2021 Forks, A Steel Hardtail & The $700 Saddle

A’hoy there to all you fine Friends Of The Flow, please do make your way in to the slickest, shiniest and newest edition of Flow’s Fresh Produce! Please wipe your feet before entering though. Or ideally just take those dirty riding shoes off altogether. Yep, you can put them just there. That’s a good spot. Thanks. Oh, a bottle of Hazy IPA! How did you know? Yes, we LOVE Hazy IPA! For that, we’ll be more than happy to treat you to a healthy dose of fresh new goodies, spectacular photos, and witty prose. Are you ready? Alright – here we go!

Since the last time we caught up, things have been absolutely full-gas over in Flowville, as we sink our teeth deeper into the tasty pie that is the 2021 bike & gear launch season. Santa Cruz has launched a new high-end full suspension bike, and it has neither a motor nor 29in wheels. Another big story was the launch of the new SRAM GX Eagle 1×12 drivetrain, which gets a healthy update along with an even humongous-er 520% gear range. Check it out here.

We’ve also finally wrapped up our Norco Sight VLT 29er long-term test bike, with some interesting findings at the end of several months of testing. And because so many of you asked, we put it head-to-head with the Merida eOne-Sixty to break down the differences in performance between these two long travel e-MTBs. If that’s a little too much e for you though, then refresh your palette with our review of the stupendously cheap Polygon Siskiu D6 – a ripping full suspension trail bike, if somewhat flawed.

2020 polygon siskiu d6 full suspension mountain bike
How good can a sub-$2K full suspension bike be? The Polygon Siskiu D6 threw plenty of surprises at us (good and bad) during several months of testing.

Amongst all that, we published a big story about the Warburton Mountain Bike Project. The much-talked-about trail network hasn’t exactly had the smoothest ride, so we got Colin Levitch to dust off his monocle and magnifying glass to seek out some clues and find out exactly what’s been going on. If you’ve been hanging out for Warburton, then you’ll find the full story fascinating.

Enough of that though, because right now we have a chock-full bounty of booty to get through. Feel free to make yourself comfortable at the Kitchen Of Flow so we can all get stuck in. As always, don’t hesitate to ping us a question in the comments section below, and be sure to tell us your thoughts on the newest test gear that has just turned up at HQ. Here we go!

Cotic BFeMAX Frame

cotic bfemax steel hardtail frame
Our newest long-term test frame; the brand new Cotic BFeMAX.
cotic bfemax steel hardtail
Built from steel tubing, the BFeMAX gets a straight 44mm head tube, and a very shapely oval-formed top tube.

UK-based Cotic Bikes has just launched its newest model called the BFeMAX, and boy-o-boy is this one tough looking set of pipes! The BFeMAX is based on the existing BFe, which is a burly steel hardtail designed for 27.5in wheels. The BFeMAX steps up the wheelsize to create a 29in hardcore hardtail that’s very much from the Church Of Slack & Long™.

To suit your trail-bashing needs, the BFeMAX will take a 120-160mm travel fork and you can squeeze in up to 29×2.6in rubber. You’ll find ISCG 05 chainguide tabs, a threaded BB, a Syntace 148x12mm thru-axle with a replaceable derailleur hanger, along with good old external cable routing. That’s all well and good, but the most important question remains; what should we build our new long-term test bike up with?

Deity Deftrap Flat Pedals

Modelled on the popular T-MAC, the Deftraps are a brand new flat pedal from Deity. Bringing the cost down significantly, the Deftraps feature a body that’s made from injection-moulded nylon fibre composite. This also brings the weight down to just 391g per pair (claimed), though like their more expensive metal counterparts, they still feature a concave profile and a large 113x103mm platform. You get 10 replaceable pins per side, two cartridge bearings and a DU bushing to support each axle, and they’re also rebuildable. Taste the rainbow – yiew!

Maxxis Dissector 2.40WT Tyre

maxxis dissector tyre
Fresh rubber for Mick’s Tallboy, the Dissector with high-end 3C Maxx Terra rubber.

We first got our hands on the new Maxxis Dissector tyre when it launched last year, but we’ve now got a more trail-friendly 29×2.40WT option for the front of Mick’s Tallboy. This is the foldable EXO version, and it features the 3C Maxx Terra triple rubber compound, with softer cornering blocks for berm-tearing traction and a firmer compound over the central blocks for improved speed and durability. Being a ‘Wide Trail’ tyre, this particular Dissector is best suited to a rim with a 30-35mm internal width.

Maxxis Rekon 2.40WT Tyre

To complete the combo, Mick’s gone with a faster-rolling Rekon tyre for the rear. This is also a 2.40WT size, so it sits perfectly on the 30mm wide DT Swiss XRC 1200 test wheels. While the tread pattern does look similar to the narrower Rekons, the tread is slightly chunkier and deeper on this Wide Trail size. Claimed weight is 800g for this dual compound EXO version, though worth noting is that you can also get this exact same tyre in a 3C version for another $20.

Maxima Plush Suspension & Serene Dropper Post Fluid

With a bunch of test bikes in need of some suspension and dropper post lovin’, we’ve received a few jugs of the good stuff from Maxima. Maxima Plush is a high performance suspension fluid that’s offered in a variety of ‘weights’ depending on the application, and it’s the same stuff that RockShox uses to fill its Charger dampers.

In the red jug, Maxima Serene is a brand new, high-viscosity fluid that’s specifically formulated for use in dropper posts. Again, it’s factory certified, so you know you’re using the right stuff. Droppers need lovin’ too!

Ride Concepts Vice Flat Pedal Shoes

ride concepts vice flat pedal shoe
Fresh riding kicks from Ride Concepts – this is the Vice.

Brand new from Ride Concepts is the sleek Vice flat pedal shoe. Designed with help from RC’s dirt jump, slopestyle and BMX athletes, the Vice offers more discreet stylings along with improved feedback for those who like a little more feel on their pedals. The outsole is built with Rubber Kinetics DST 6.0 High Grip compound, and features a new Fuzion profile for a tight hold on flat pedal pins.

You still get D3O padded footbeds for impact protection, a TPU toe cap, gusseted tongue, along with a durable suede upper, so it shares many of the technical features that we dug about the Powerline flat pedals we recently reviewed.

K-Edge Wahoo XL 35mm Mount

For those running short stems and wide bars, but still want to ride with a GPS computer, this XL mount from K-Edge is designed for exactly that setup. Machined in the US from 6061-T6 alloy, the XL mount clamps onto your bars just next to the stem, placing your GPS front and centre. The one we’ve got is designed to fit a Wahoo ELEMNT Roam GPS, but K-Edge offers a variety of receiver chips to accommodate Garmin, Lezyne and Cateye GPS head units, along with others.

2021 RockShox SID SL Ultimate

2021 rockshox sid sl ultimate fork
RockShox hits back in a major way for 2021 with the ultra-light SID SL.

Fresh at Flow HQ is the brand new RockShox SID SL fork that was announced only a couple of months ago. For 2021, RockShox has split the SID into two distinct versions; the 120mm SID (35mm stanchions) and the 100mm SID SL (32mm stanchions). We’ve already reviewed the 120mm SID, which impressed us with its supple performance, progressive DebonAir spring, and class-leading weight. Now it’s time to put the racier SID SL to the test.

2021 rockshox sid sl ultimate fork
Clean edges on the machined alloy crown. Very nice!

The SID SL we’ve got here is the Ultimate version, which comes with the super-light Charger Race Day damper, along with a beautifully post-machined crown to remove a few more grams. Being a World Cup-level race fork, the SID SL only comes in a 29in size with 100mm of travel, and you can only get it in a 44mm offset. Confirmed weight for our test fork is just 1,328g with a full-length steerer tube. Cut to 165mm, that weight drops to a frankly staggering 1,300g, which is over 100g lighter than the already very light Fox 32 Step-Cast we reviewed recently. Holy smokes!

SRAM G2 Ultimate Brakes

sram g2 ultimate brakes
Compared to the Guide, the G2 features new callipers with refined internals for smoother and more consistent performance. SRAM says there’s 7% more power too.

Last year SRAM launched the G2 brake as the replacement for the long-standing Guide. Aiming to elevate both performance and consistency, the G2 features an all-new calliper design that supposedly boosts power by 7% thanks to its stiffer alloy body. SRAM has also switched to phenolic pistons to help improve heat dissipation, and the seal and piston interface has been refined to ensure speedier and slicker retraction. It also means that as the pads wear down, the lever throw stays more consistent. That was a problem we encountered frequently with the old Guides, so we’re glad to see SRAM addressing it with the new G2.

There’s also a new stock Power pad compound that sits between the existing Organic and Sintered pads in terms of both compound and performance. The overall pad shape remains the same though, so there are numerous options when it comes to sourcing spare pads.

The G2 Ultimate gets a lovely carbon lever blade and a sealed pivot bearing for smooth actuation.

The lever is also new and features updated internals for a lighter feel. We’ve got a set of the G2 Ultimate brakes on test here, which feature a carbon lever blade with a sealed pivot bearing, along with tool-free reach and pad contact adjustment. SRAM also offers the G2 in RSC, RS and R versions, with fewer bells and whistles on the cheaper options.

Specialized S-Works Power Mimic Saddle

specialized power mimic saddle sworks
How a honeybee would build the perfect saddle.

Easily the most whacky item in today’s Fresh produce is the new $700 Mimic saddle from Specialized. Yup, seven hundred bones. It is an S-Works level saddle, so you’re getting FACT carbon rails and a carbon base, but it’s what’s above that carbon base that warrants the price tag.

The external silhouette will look familiar – it’s based on the existing (and very popular) Power saddle, which uses a flat snub-nose profile. The construction is all-new though. It’s designed with ‘Mimic’ technology that, in the words of Specialized, “utilises 3D printing from liquid polymer to create a one-of-kind honeycomb structure that offers superior sit-bone support and comfort“. So there you go! It is designed more for the road market – we’re not convinced it’ll hold up to being crashed on the dirt, but we’re still intrigued to see what the comfort is like on the trail. Might wait for the muddy trails to dry out first though…

Specialized Power Expert Saddle

Moving back to something a little more conventional, we’ve got the regular Specialized Power saddle. This is the Expert level perch, so it gets a carbon-reinforced nylon base with hollow titanium rails. There are three widths to choose from, so it’s possible to get the right support depending on the width of your sit bones.

Specialized Butcher & Eliminator GRID TRAIL Tyres

Specialized quietly updated the venerable Butcher tyre last year with an all-new tread pattern. The shoulder knobs are wider to increase cornering support, and the inner biting edges sit further inboard to smooth out the transition when leaning the bike over from turn-to-turn. It also gets the new Goldilocks-edition casing called GRID TRAIL, which has stiffer sidewalls compared to the existing GRID casing for better pinch-flat resistance, but less weight and more suppleness compared to the heavier BLK DMND casing.

To match the Butcher up front, we have an Eliminator for the rear. The cornering blocks are similar between the two tyres, but the central tread is more tightly spaced on the Eliminator, making it a little quicker rolling and better suited to hardpack surfaces. Probably does hectic skids better too. We have both tyres in a huge 29×2.6in size, with claimed weights of 930-960g per tyre.

Specialized Zee Cage II & EMT Cage MTB Tool

specialized zee cage emt cage mtb mount tool
Spot the multi-tool!

The Zee Cage isn’t strictly new, but it is one of the best side-entry bottle cages going. We’ve paired it up with the EMT Cage Mount MTB Tool, which is a compact multi-tool that tucks into a discreet holster on the underside of the bottle cage. The tool gives you 3, 4, 5, 6 & 8mm hex keys along with a T25 key, all within easy reach on the trail.

Shimano Deore XT M8140 Flat Pedals

shimano deore xt flat pedals
Shimano offers the XT flat pedal in two sizes, and you get both shallow and tall pins in the box.

Do flat pedals really win medals? Seeing as we primarily ride bikes for fun (and, well, work) we’re not so fussed about winning medals. Whatever the case may be, there’s no denying that flat pedals are becoming more popular amongst the trail and enduro crowd. To suit those riders, Shimano has the XT flat pedal, which comes with ten replaceable grub screws per side, per pedal, along with robust forged alloy platforms that you can get in both Small or Large sizes, depending on your shoe size.

Shimano XTR Trail M9120 SPD Pedals

If one would prefer to clip into one’s pedals though, then perhaps these would suffice? Shimano XTR pedals come in both Race and Trail varieties, with the Trail version shown here featuring a forged alloy cage surrounding the internal SPD mechanism. The cage is raised at the rear and is finished with machined traction grooves that are designed to support your shoes for a sturdier platform between foot and pedal. Claimed weight is 398g for the pair.

SRAM GX Eagle 1×12 Groupset

sram gx eagle 10-52t cassette 1x12 drivetrain
There’s a new GX Eagle groupset in the house! Or is that on the trail? Either way, some positive changes for the most common 1×12 drivetrain on the market.

As mentioned above, we’ve been testing out the new SRAM GX Eagle 1×12 drivetrain over the past couple of weeks, and so far we’ve been impressed with the improvements over the previous iteration. The derailleur in particular is more robust, and it shifts really well – even up into that monster 52T sprocket. Get the full rundown on the new GX Eagle drivetrain here.

Mo’ Flow Please!

Enjoyed that article? Then there’s plenty more to check out on Flow Mountain Bike, including all our latest news stories and product reviews. And if you haven’t already, make sure you subscribe to our YouTube channel, and sign up to our Facebook page and Instagram feed so you can keep up to date with all things Flow!

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