flow's fresh produce
09 Sep 2020

We take a closer look at some environmentally-friendly grips, a new do-it-all saddle, and a trifecta of tubeless tyre inserts

Greetings dear readers, and welcome to the Spring edition of Flow’s Fresh Produce for 2020! It’s been one helluva year so far, and we’ll happily give you a worn-out XTR M900 front derailleur if you can accurately predict what’s next around the corner, but we’re keeping our eyes on the trail ahead which is currently bathing in lovely warm sunshine, with bright wild flowers popping up on either side of that tacky brown strip of singletrack. Yep, winter is behind us, and that means good times on the trails are only just getting started!

There’s the new 2021 Trek Slash review, Mick’s long-term test of the Giant Reign E+, and Jo & Roz’s review of the brand new Liv Devote.

To get you all revved up for a fresh riding season, we’ve got a treasure trove of stories and reviews that have been unloaded on the Flow website over the past couple of weeks. For those who are counting down the days until they can escape the city, check out our review of the very fast, very smooth, and very versatile Liv Devote – lovely photos in that one to get you inspired! If you prefer your backcountry adventures motorised, then get a load of Mick’s long-term experience with the impressive, if slightly confused Giant Reign E+ Pro. And for those who are on the hunt for an upgrade for your current mountain bike, take a look at this DT Swiss wheel review, which includes two different long-term experiences; one from Mick, and one from Wil.

If you’re keen for a deeper read, be sure to check out Colin’s feature about mountain bike events in the age of COVID-19, and what the restrictions have meant for folks who make their living out of putting mountain bike events for us all. And for those of us who are likely facing a bit more time at home, be it pandemic or magpie-related, there’s our ultimate guide on Zwifting for mountain bikers.

Lots of new releases, including Shimano’s new motor, an exclusive Canyon, and the 2021 Polygon Siskiu T.

There’s been some big product announcements over the past month too. We’ve been secretly testing the new 2021 Trek Slash 9.9 – an absolute beast of an enduro bike, that turned out to be surprisingly capable elsewhere too. Shimano has rolled out its new EP8 e-MTB motor, and Merida was quick to follow with the announcement of its newly juiced up eOne-Sixty range. Merida also released a new hardtail, Polygon launched a brand new Siskiu T, Canyon debuted its lightest and most exotic mountain bike ever, and Schwalbe revealed an entirely new lineup of mountain bike tyres. Hooly-dooly that’s a tonne of new stuff!

But dear reader, we know it takes a lot to sate your appetite for the shiny new good stuff. Thankfully we’ve just finished unpacking a veritable truckload of new bicycle-related trinkets for you to feast your eyes upon, so go ahead and enjoy the very freshest edition of Flow’s Fresh Produce yieewwww!


Maxxis Aspen 2.40 WT Tyre

maxxis aspen 29 x 2.40 WT tyre
With growing demand for plump rubber in the XC racing world, Maxxis has released a new 2.4in Wide Trail version of its go-fast Aspen.

Big tyres are all the rage lately, even in the XC race world. Maxxis has responded by launching new 2.4in versions of its popular Aspen and Rekon Race tyres. Both tyres feature the WT (Wide Trail) designation, which means the casing and profile is optimised around a rim with 30mm inner width. We’ve got a set on test at the moment, which feature a lightweight and supple 120 TPI casing, dual compound rubber, and EXO sidewall protection. Confirmed weight for the 29×2.4in Aspen is just 729g, making this one very lightweight high-volume race tyre!


Maxxis Rekon Race 2.40 WT Tyre

Up front we’ve got the slightly more sensible Rekon Race, which gets a more generous tread pattern with stronger cornering knobs for greater traction on mixed surfaces. This Rekon Race is also in the 29 x 2.4oWT size, with a 120TPI casing and dual compound rubber. Confirmed weight is a touch more than the Aspen, at 749g on the Scales Of Broken Dreams™.


CushCore XC 29in Tubeless Insert

cushcore tubeless insert
CushCore inserts for all!

We’ve just received a care package from CushCore, which includes the new lighter weight ‘XC’ tubeless tyre inserts. The overall goal is the same as the standard CushCore Pro insert – to absorb impacts, protect your rims and reduce the chance of pinch-flats. However, the CushCore XC insert is considerably slimmer, and is optimised for tyres up to 2.4in wide and for rims with an internal width of 22-32mm. Because there’s less material, the XC inserts are also lighter by over 100 grams, coming in at 150g per insert on our scales.

You can buy CushCore inserts on their own or as a pair. Included in the package is a set of shiny green CushCore-specific tubeless valves.

  • From: Bike Box
  • Price: $145 AUD (single) – $269 AUD (pair)

CushCore Pro 29in Tubeless Insert

We’ve also got the good ol’ CushCore Pro inserts in a 29er size. Confirmed weight is 266g per insert, making these one of the heavier rim protection inserts on the market. There’s a lot of material overhanging the rim though, which is all about protecting it in the event of a hard rock strike. The foam itself is also designed to help absorb general vibration and feedback from the trail too, supposedly increasing rider comfort.

  • From: Bike Box
  • Price: $145 AUD (single) – $269 AUD (pair)

CushCore Gravel.CX Tubeless Insert

cushcore gravel.cx tubeless insert 700c
Skinny gravel tyres might just benefit most from some added protection and impact absorption.

A tubeless insert for a gravel bike? You bet! With those skinny gravel tyres, you could argue that running rim protection is even more important, particularly if you’re heading off the tarmac onto busted-up fireroads and rocky singletrack. The CushCore Gravel inserts are designed for 700c tyres from 33-46mm wide, and come in at 122g per insert, plus 6g each for the valves.

  • From: Bike Box
  • Price: $145 AUD (single) – $269 AUD (pair)

CushCore Bead Dropper

While CushCore is potentially a great idea for protecting your rims and being able to run lower tyre pressures, it’s also well known for being a bit of a CushChore when it comes to installation. To help out, CushCore developed what it says is the ultimate tyre lever – the Bead Dropper – which is designed to assist with pushing the tyre beads down into the channel of the rim. It all looks very easy in CushCore’s video, so wish us luck performing the same procedure at Flow HQ!


Bontrager Verse Elite Saddle

bontrager versa saddle
One saddle to rule them all? Bontrager hopes so.

Bontrager has released a brand new saddle that it is very excited about. It’s called the Verse, and it’s purportedly the most versatile saddle it has ever developed. Female or male, mountain bike or road bike, the Verse is designed to do it all. Featuring a full cut-out profile, the Verse comes in four (!) different widths to choose from, and there are three different trims; Comp, Elite and Pro. We’ve got the Verse Elite, which features Austentite metal rails that are apparently lighter than titanium.


Bontrager DropLock Remote

This is one nifty gadget that we know will be exactly what some cross country riders have been looking for. Developed by Bontrager and Trek, the DropLock remote puts a remote lockout and a dropper post remote all-in-one. The lower lever controls your dropper post, while the upper paddle allows you to engage or disengage the suspension lockout.

It’ll attach to both a fork and shock, or just one, depending on your setup. It isn’t compatible with three-position suspension systems, like you’ll find on a Scott Spark/Genius/Ransom or the Orbea Oiz, but it is compatible with two-position lockout systems like those found on Trek’s own Supercaliber, the Canyon Lux and Giant Anthem. We’ve just installed one onto a Trek Top Fuel, where it’s replaced a dropper post lever and a RockShox TwistLoc. Stay tuned for our review!


Bontrager XR Trail Comp Grips

Here’s a small but neat feel-good product for you. It’s a new lock-on mountain bike grip from Bontrager, which uses a single in-board clamp, textured rubber surface, and an intermediate 31mm diameter. What’s really cool though is that the internal plastic core is made from recycled plastic from reclaimed fishing nets. It’s manufactured in partnership with a crew called NextWave, which is all about rescuing plastic rubbish from the ocean, and turning it into a commodity. More of this please bike industry!


Bontrager Rhythm Mountain Tech Tee

bontrager rhythm tech tee wil apparel
Wil continues to search high and low for his fashion sensibilities.

We’ve got some rather fetching new threads from Bontrager too, including this logo-less Rhythm jersey. It’s made from a nice lightweight and breathable fabric with a semi-fitted cut, and it’s equipped with Polygiene to help control your otherwise uncompromising bodily stench – good news for when we’re allowed to drink a beer in close quarters again.


Bontrager Rhythm Mountain Bike Shorts

Matching the tie-dye teal jersey is a pair of navy blue Rhythm mountain bike baggy shorts. These are also made from a lightweight Nylon fabric, ideal for hot Aussie summer rides, but still durable enough for a bit of dirt-digging. There’s an integrated adjustable belt, a single phone-sized zippered pouch on the side, plus two handy holes for your dandy-hands.


Bontrager Evoke Mountain Bike Gloves

bontrager evoke gloves
Big gloves or small hands? You be the judge.

Excuse the baggy fit of these large-sized gloves on Wil’s child-sized hands, but we had to show off the sweet fade on these ‘Battleship Blue’ gloves. They’re the new Evoke gloves, which feature a stripped-back AX Suede Uno palm. There’s no padding at all for maximum grip feel, and they get elasticated cuffs for a light and seamless fit. Also available in four sizes and four colours.


Bontrager Circuit Full Finger Gloves

If you need a bit more cushion for your grippin’, the Circuit Full Finger Gloves should fit the bill. These have the same luxurious AX Suede Uno palm, but add gel and memory foam inserts for a little more vibration damping and comfort over the Evoke glove. They’re finished off with velcro wrist closure and snot-wipes. Just be sure not to share with your riding pals.


Specialized Levo SL Expert

Specialized Levo SL Expert e-mtb electric
Our Levo SL Expert comes in at just 17.7kg, which is insanely light for a motorised mountain bike.

Yes, that’s exactly the same Levo SL that Wil tested earlier this year during the launch of Specialized’s new lightweight full suspension e-MTB. To follow up on that test, Specialized has sent us out a Levo SL Expert Carbon for a bit of testing on home turf. We’ll be going deep with some range testing, while also taking a closer look at the customisability of Specialized’s Mission Control app.

Worth noting is that Specialized has launched a 2021 version of this same bike. It goes up in price by $800, but it also upgrades to a Fox 36 GRIP2 fork and SRAM X01 Eagle shifting with the new 10-52T cassette. You can check out the 2021 Levo SL Expert here.

  • From: Specialized
  • Price: $13,200 AUD (2020) – $14,000 AUD (2021)

Mo’ Flow Please!

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