Flow’s Fresh Produce | Rim Protection, Titanium Tubeless Tech, New Wheels & Wireless Upgrades

A’hoy there to all you Frothers Of The Flow! It’s great to have you back and to see all your lovely faces, even if a few of them are partially covered. We bring this zingy episode of Flow’s Fresh Produce from the business side of spring, which this year has evolved into peak bike launch season. There have been a tonne of new launches going off left, right and centre, not least of which includes the arrival of the new 2021 Specialized Stumpjumper & Stumpjumper EVO. We’ve been whooping and hollering aboard both bikes for the past couple of weeks, and there is a lot to get excited about here. If you’ve not watched it yet, be sure to check out our video on the two bikes below to see what’s changed, and how the two bikes have evolved into two very different platforms;

Lots of new reviews on the website, including our verdict on Giant’s new carbon trail bike, the Orbea Oiz, and the brand new Trance X E+.

Giant has also been mega busy, having launched both the new carbon Trance X and the motorised version, the Trance X E+. Check out those links to hear our thoughts on both bikes after riding them on our home trails.

Speaking of reviews, Wil recently delivered his verdict on the very impressive Orbea Oiz. He’s also just got his hands on a very special Project One Trek Supercaliber – if you’re keen to hear how it stacks up agains the Oiz, Scalpel, Lux and Epic, then stay tuned for that one – it’s gunna be juicy!

If you’re jamming on the XC tip, but you’re looking for something that doesn’t cost a kerbillion bucks, then have a gander at the new Specialized Chisel. On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, the freeriders and huckers amongst us will be frothing to hear that the Norco Shore is back for 2021! While it looks badass, it also terrifies us at the same time.

There’s lots of other fresh whips amongst the travelling Flow Caravan, including the very beefy Commencal Meta TR 29 and the newly rejuvenated Trek Rail, so there’s plenty to look forward to – be sure to keep tabs on the Review section of the website to keep up to date with all of those.

Right, all up to speed with what’s been happening in Flowland? Wonderful! Now it’s time to get you up to speed with all the new goodies that have arrived at HQ. Click your way up into 12th gear, get that scrolling thumb ready, and feast your peepers on the freshest of Fresh Produce – yiew!

Crank Brothers Synthesis AL Enduro Wheelset

crank brothers synthesis alloy wheelset
We dug the original Synthesis carbon wheels, and we’re eager to see if these sub-$1000 alloy versions deliver the same feels.

Around two years ago, Crank Brothers introduced the original Synthesis wheel range. The result of a heady collaboration between the founder of ENVE Composites, Jason Schiers, and the Aussie carbon wheel guru Mello Bouwmeester (who was specifically poached by the Selle Royal Group -the owner of Crank Brothers), the Synthesis wheels featured low-profile carbon fibre rims that were front and rear specific. The concept was to provide a compliant and smoother riding wheel up front, with a stiffer rear wheel for improved acceleration and handling response. And it worked – we loved the ride quality when we first tried out the Synthesis Enduro wheels.

Since then, Crank Brothers has sought to capture that same ride quality and package it into a more value-friendly package utilising alloy rims. To see if that goal has been achieved, we’ve just got our hands on the sub-$1000 AUD Synthesis AL Enduro wheelset.

Just like the carbon version, the Synthesis AL wheels get front and rear specific rims. The front rim has a 31.5mm inner width to support a nice big-bag tyre, and to improve compliance, it uses 28 x Sapim D-Light spokes. Meanwhile the rear wheel uses 32 x Sapim Race spokes to create a stiffer build, while the 29.5mm rim width is suited to a slightly narrower tyre.

The rims are sleeved and welded, and they’re made from 6013-T6 heat treated alloy. You get two options with hubs – we’ve gone for the standard build that uses Crank Brothers own 6-bolt hubs, or you can hop up to a set of Industry Nine 1/1 hubs for an extra $700 AUD. Otherwise the rims and spokes are identical between the two sets.

Maxxis Dissector EXO+ 3C Maxx Terra 29×2.40 WT Tyre

To go with the Synthesis AL wheels we’ve got some fresh Maxxis rubber. And we mean fresh! The EXO+ version of the Dissector is a brand new offering – it’s got a burlier casing than the regular EXO version, which should give it a little more pinch-flat protection. It’s still a competitive weight though – our test tyre weighs 925g. We’ve gone for the 2.4in Wide Trail size, which suit the 29.5mm rim width well on the rear Synthesis AL Enduro wheel, and it features Maxxis’ all-round 3C Maxx Terra triple rubber compound.

Maxxis Minion DHF EXO 3C Maxx Terra 29×2.50 WT Tyre

maxxis minion dhf
To go with the wider front rim, we’ve gone for a big 2.5in Maxxis Minon DHF in the slightly lighter EXO casing option.

Up front we’re fitting a 2.5in wide Maxxis Minion DHF tyre in the standard EXO casing for a little more volume and flexibility. This goes along with Crank Brother’s concept of getting a little more compliance and traction up front, and combined with the wider rim, we should be able to get the pressures down a bit lower compared to the narrower rear tyre. Though we’ve gone for a matching 3C Maxx Terra compound, the Minion DHF is available in a tonne of different options, including cheaper dual compound tyres, Double Down casings, softer Maxx Grip rubber, 2.6in widths – if you can think it, it’s probably already there.

Effetto Mariposa Tyreinvader Inserts

Constructed from high-density EVA foam, these inserts weigh less than 100g per tyre, making them one of, if not the lightest option on the market.

If you’ve thought about running a tubeless insert inside your wheels but have previously been put off by the weight, then these inserts will likely get your attention. It’s called the Tyreinvader, and it’s from Swiss brand Effetto Mariposa. Constructed from high-density EVA foam, these inserts weigh less than 100g per tyre, making them one of, if not the lightest option on the market. They’re sold as a pair in five different widths. We’ve gone for a set of the 50s (2.1-2.4in tyre) and the 55s (2.25-2.6in).

The concept is pretty close to the Huck Norris inserts – the rectangular strip sits inside the tyre above the bead, creating an additional layer of material between your rim and tyre during hard compressions. The goal is to reduce pinch-flats and rim damage by absorbing some of the impact energy. Unlike CushCore, the Tyreinvader isn’t designed to lock your tyre beads down into the rim, and there are no claims to any added damping or change in tyre behaviour. Instead, these are simply adding some protection, while coming in at half to a third of the weight of a CushCore insert.

Effetto Mariposa Caffélatex Sealant 1 Litre

cafelatex effetto mariposa
Foaming sealant you say? Faster reacting you say? Go on, tell us more then…

To go along with the Tyreinvader inserts, Echelon Sports also sent us some of the Caffélatex sealant. The claim with Caffélatex is that the sealant actually foams up on the inside of the tyre when it’s agitated – something that mountain bike wheels tend to do well. The foaming action supposedly spreads it more evenly around the inside of the tyre, so that the sealant is faster acting in the first place. Effetto Mariposa claims this sealant will plug holes up to 5mm on an MTB tyre, and because it’s so effective, you don’t need so much in the first place.

Effetto Mariposa Vitamina CL Sealant Additive

If you’re particularly worried about punctures, Effetto Mariposa has an intriguing product called Vitamina CL. Rather than just adding more sealant and making your wheels heavier, Effetto recommends adding this special polymeric powder (no it’s not drugs this time, we promise). Vitamina CL is designed to mix with the sealant, and the larger particles will help to plug bigger holes – up to 8mm apparently. You don’t need much – about 1/10th the volume of the sealant (so just 10ml of V-CL powder for every 100ml of sealant). That should see this 120g jar go a long way.

So why doesn’t Effetto just put the V-CL powder in the sealant to begin with? Well since the particles are quite big, they can cause issues with plugging up valve cores. Effetto says it can’t really be injected through the valve, so you’ll need to peel one side of the tyre off the rim, and add the powder in that way. With that in mind, it’s really designed as a race-day additive for extra protection. If it works, then for some riders, it could just be the added peace of mind they need.

ELK Titanium Tubeless Valves

Yes, these are titanium tubeless valves. Because why not? Whereas most valves on the market are made from brass, and many others are made from alloy, these are built out of titanium – the material that pricks up the ears of every mountain biker anytime it’s whispered in hush tones. Titanium makes them a bit lighter, but don’t expect huge savings on such a small product. The main appeal here is strength and long-term durability.

Believe it or not, these aren’t the only titanium valves on the market. They are however specifically designed for mountain bikes in that the heads are also drilled laterally, which makes these compatible with tyre inserts like CushCore. It also makes them harder to clog up over time.

Produced by Aussie brand ELK, the titanium valve kit includes two valves, two spare valve cores, anodised alloy collars and matching valve caps that double as a core remover/tightener. The 44mm valve length is designed to offer maximum rim compatibility, even with deep section carbon rims. No, they’re not cheap. But then, we do live in a world with $19,000 mountain bikes. And if you’re the sort of person who values well made products that are designed to last, then these will no doubt appeal.

Specialized Reusable Face Mask

‘Tis the season for staying safe and all that. For Wil, who resides in Sicktoria, mask-wearing is currently mandatory as a preventative measure against the spread of both COVID-19, cooties and bad breath. And since you can no longer wear a Buff/neck scarf, the timing of this delivery couldn’t have been any better. It’s a reusable 2-ply face mask from Specialized, which is made with a cotton outside and polyester/spandex inner layer, and features adjustable elastic straps. It’s very light and breathable, and it’s easy to stow in a pocket and whip out when needed. While these masks are currently being circulated amongst Specialized staff, athletes and ambassadors all over the world, it’s also available for sale for $15 in a variety of styles.

Stan’s NoTubes Tyre Sealant – 946ml (Quart)

stan's notubes tubeless sealant
More tubeless sealant, this time from the OG brand – Stan’s NoTubes. Is it still the best?

More sealant! Perhaps this is a sign from the MTB gods? If it is, then we’re ready for whatever they can throw at us thanks to a delivery of fresh sealant from Stan’s NoTubes. We’ve got the just-shy-of-1-litre jug, ideal for home workshops. It’s the original sealant and it’s still by far the most popular, but perhaps we’ll have to test it out on a couple of wheelsets alongside the Caffélatex stuff?

Stan’s NoTubes Tubeless Valves & Rim Tape

More workshop goodies to re-stock the shelves before a load of new test bikes turn up. There’s a huge 60 yard role of Stan’s NoTubes yellow tubeless tape. We’ve gone for the 30mm width (yes, weird metric/imperial mixing going on here, but hey, what did you expect from the bike industry?) though there are others available. To go along with it, there’s a set of Stan’s NoTubes universal tubeless valves.

RockShox ZEB Mudguard

rockshox zeb mudguard
Zip ties are so 2019.

Slightly delayed, but not to worry – we’re glad RockShox sent us out this ZEB-specific mudguard, as we’re about to come into the dusty season anyway. This heavy duty guard is designed to bolt on discreetly on to the back of the arch on the lowers, giving you protection without having to resort to unsightly cable ties. Oh you’re wondering what the ZEB is? Check out the full story and our ZEB review here.

SRAM AXS Rocker Paddle

Another new doo-dad, this time from SRAM. It’s the new AXS Rocker Paddle, and it’s designed to replace the stock shift paddle found on AXS wireless controllers. You can buy it on its own for $35, or you can buy a whole shifter with it. We were sent the Rocker Paddle on its own, and with a 3mm hex key, it takes about two minutes to install. The function is exactly the same – it still shifts gears, but the paddles have deliberately been separated to give them a more familiar, mechanical feel. Wil’s currently got one on that flashy Trek Supercaliber, and he’s digging the tactile vibe, which is likely going to suit riders on bigger travel bikes who want a more defined shift feel.

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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