Hold on a moment, haven’t we already hung out this week? Did we not already gather around the Flow’s Fresh Produce sack mere days ago?
No, you haven’t suffered a severe case of déjà vu. And as far as we’re aware, it’s unlikely that you’re sprawling uncontrollably through the space-time continuum. Possible, but unlikely. So you can relax, our tightly-wound mountain bike friends! Indeed this double rainbow event is not a bad thing to feel anxious about, but a good thing.
Yes, we’re treating you to a second helping of Fresh Produce this week, partly because we’re feeling generous, but mostly because the postie has been extra busy dropping off packages at Flow HQ, and we’ve got some particularly fresh goodies that are desperate to be introduced to your eyeballs. So desperate in fact that this preamble must end here.
SRAM HS2 Rotors
SRAM has officially unveiled the HS2 rotor, which features a brand new design that’s said to reduce braking noise, increase power and improve heat dissipation. Compared to the current Centerline rotors, the new SRAM HS2 rotors are notably thicker at 2mm (vs 1.85mm). They also receive a different brake track profile, and recessed spokes that are lined with thermal dissipation paint. The result? SRAM claims the HS2 rotors will boost braking power by 7%, while reducing peak temperatures by 40° C.
Mick will certainly be putting those temperature claims to the test with a set of 220mm HS2 rotors on his Levo. In the meantime we can say that as well as offering more bite, we’ve also found the HS2 rotors to feel smoother under braking, with none of the vibration or pulsing that the Centerline rotors can exhibit.
The thicker construction does mean they’re heavier though. Here are the confirmed weights for three different SRAM rotors in our workshop;
- 180mm HS2 rotor – 169g
- 180mm Centerline rotor – 146g
- 180mm Centerline X rotor – 126g
While weight weenies will likely stick to the two-piece Centerline X rotors, anyone looking for more consistency and smoother braking out of their SRAM Code, G2 or Guide brakes will find appeal in the burlier HS2 rotors. And while we’ve only been using the HS2 rotors for the past couple of weeks, early impressions suggest they’re also tougher and more resistant to going out of true.
The SRAM HS2 rotors are due to arrive in Australia in October, and will be available in 160mm, 180mm, 200mm and 220mm sizes in both 6-Bolt and Centerlock configurations.
- Price: $75 – $99 AUD
- From: SRAM
Ergon GFR1 Factory Grips
Fresh grips from German brand Ergon, the new GFR1 was developed in partnership with Tahnée Seagrave as a high performance grip for gravity-fuelled riding. They’re on the thinner side with a 30mm diameter, and they feature an aggressive friction zone underneath for plenty of feel. Despite this, the use of the Factory rubber compound and textured siping on top are claimed to improve damping and comfort.
They feel tacky and tactile, and we dig the smooth, low-profile CNC machined alloy lock rings that use just a single 3mm hex bolt to secure the grips to the bar. Pay attention to the installation logos though, because there’s a left and right grip, and each has a top and bottom. We’ve got the Frozen Stealth colour here, though they’re also available in straight-up black and a FMD Racing edition with oil-slick lock rings.
- Price: $59.95 AUD
- From: Ergon
Ergon GA3 Grips
Ergon is well known for its highly ergonomic mountain bike and touring grips, which have found favour with long-distance tourers, XC riders and marathon racers. But while undeniably comfortable, those classic GS1 grips can often feel a little too awkward for high-velocity trail riding.
Designed to strike a compromise between a traditional round MTB grip and the uber-flared GS1 grips, the Ergon GA3 could just be the Goldilocks option. These grips offer increased wrist support from a subtly winged profile, while still providing a high traction base that you can actually wrap your fingers around.
First impressions are very positive – the increased support is noticeable, and we like how you can rotate the grip to help define your riding position over the front of the bike. There’s also decent damping from those slightly flexible wings, reducing the beat-down on our palms during longer, rougher descents.
As with all Ergon grips, the GA3 comprises left and right specific grip patterns, and you’ll want to take your time to dial in the angle to get the right amount of wrist support, without creating untoward pressure points. You can also get these in Small and Large sizes, and they come in a load of colour options, including the Nightride Blue we have here.
- Price: $49.95 AUD
- From: Ergon
Ergon SM E-MTB Core Prime Women’s Saddle
If saddle comfort is a priority for you, then Ergon’s Core technology is likely to pique your interest. Offered in several varieties (including the e-MTB model we have here) the Core range is defined by its unique sandwich construction and the use of the innovative Infinergy® material. This is the bumpy grey material you can see in the photos below, which is an E-TPU foam that is very similar to what you’ll find in high-end running shoes.
The Infinergy® layer is then sandwiched between two shells. There’s a firm base shell that supports the rider’s weight and the seatpost rails, and a flexible upper shell that’s designed to contort with the upper’s padding. For maximum comfort and damping, the upper is made from orthopaedic foam with gel pad inlays. Ooph, luxurious!
Designed for e-MTB use, this particular saddle gets a flared tail to provide sit-bone support for seated pedalling up steep climbs. It uses a women’s specific profile, though it’s also available in a men’s version, and both saddles come in two widths. It’s not particularly lightweight at around 400g, but if you’ve been suffering from Sorearseitis, and you love the idea of Cadillac plushness, the e-MTB Core Prime saddle is most definitely one to check out.
- Price: $209.95 AUD
- From: Ergon
Specialized Trail Rain Jacket
Warmer weather might be around the corner, but the Spring riding season holds plenty of splashy surprises for us in the meantime. To help ward off muddy spray and dastardly deluges, the new Specialized Trail Rain Jacket features a dropped tail, an over-the-helmet hood and fully taped seams.
The big story here though is the high-end Polartec NeoShell fabric. Using a membrane construction, NeoShell is designed to be waterproof, while still offering decent breathability to stop you stewing in your own juices. Because nobody wants that.
The NeoShell material is light and slightly stretchy, though there’s no internal face fabric so you’ll want to be wearing a long-sleeve jersey or base layer underneath. The fit is relaxed without being overly flappy, and Velcro straps allow you to cinch down the cuffs over your gloves. There’s also a clever 2-way main zipper, and a waterproof chest pocket that’ll fit a smartphone or several Tamagotchis.
We’ve got the green Altered-Edition colour here, which gets a snazzy marbled tie-dye finish. You can also get the same thing in Boring Black for $10 cheaper, and there’s a women’s specific fit as well.
- Price: $270 AUD
- From: Specialized
Specialized Trail Pants
We’re big fans of riding pants here at Flow. The additional protection when riding overgrown trails is a big plus, and keeping mud spray away from your legs and socks is just way more pleasant, particularly during the post-ride strip-down. Compared to the stiff and heavy moto pyjamas of old, the new generation riding pants are significantly lighter and more flexible, making them much more comfortable to wear for everyday trail riding. Case in point, the new Specialized Trail Pants.
Compared to the existing Specialized Demo Pants, the Trail Pants are made from a lighter and more breathable fabric that is also hella stretchy too. The legs are heavily tapered to reduce flappage around your calves, while still having enough room for low-profile knee pads. Elasticated cuffs keep the pants secure around your ankles, and away from your dirty, pointy drivetrain.
There are some nice details like the adjustable waist buckle and the zippered hand pockets, and you also get a third stash pocket on the side that’ll hold an iPhone XR snugly against your thigh. But it’s really the fit, flexibility and breathability that we dig so much about these pants, making them ideal for cold mornings and brisk evenings during shoulder season trail riding.
- Price: $200 AUD
- From: Specialized
PRO Internal Routing Tool
Internal cable routing may seem appealing, until you need to re-cable a derailleur or change out a hydraulic hose. To help nurture you through what can be a somewhat traumatic and sweary experience, the PRO Internal Routing Tool features a long and flexible wire with a magnetic head that allows you to guide the line through your frame via a corresponding magnet on the tool. Modular barbs can be used with both hydraulic hoses and mechanical cable outer, and all of the pieces are stored neatly in a fold-up mini-tool design.
- Price: $89 AUD
- From: PRO Bike Gear
PRO Quick Link Remover
More tools from PRO Bike Gear, this time in the form of a handy quick link remover. There’s not much we can really say about this tool, only that we don’t remember what life was like without it. Popping the quick link and removing the chain when cleaning your bike and degreasing the drivetrain becomes a zillion times more appealing with the proper tool for the job.
- Price: $41 AUD
- From: PRO Bike Gear
Bontrager Ion Elite R Front Bike Light
Remember the days of sealed lead-acid batteries? Halogen bulbs? An anaconda’s worth of coiled cables around your stem and downtube? Investing hundreds and hundreds of dollars for your first 24-hour enduro race? Gosh how times have changed!
For $159 AUD, the Bontrager Ion Elite R light packs in 1000 Lumens of power into a sub-190g package with not a wire or bottle cage-mounted battery in sight. You can plonk this straight to your bars with the included rubber strap bracket, or via a GoPro mount onto your helmet. Bontrager says you’ll get 1.5-hours of runtime on full noise, or up to 6-hours on low, and there’s even a daytime flash setting for making your presence known on the road commute.
- Price: $159 AUD
- From: Trek Bikes
Canyon Lux Trail CF 9
Last but certainly not least, we have the Canyon Lux Trail CF 9 – our newest test bike, and the newest mountain bike model from the German direct-to-consumer mega brand. Compared to the standard Lux, the Lux Trail pumps up the suspension travel with a 120mm fork and 110mm out back. It also gets a unique front triangle that is significantly longer and slacker than its racier counterpart. Along with a burlier build kit, it aims to up the versatility and fun factor for those who live for more than just racing.
The model we have on test is the top-end CF 9. Despite coming with DT Swiss XRC 1200 wheels, Shimano XTR brakes, a Race Face Next SL carbon crankset, Fox Factory suspension and a Transfer SL dropper post, somehow it still manages to come in at less than $9K. Better yet, there are three cheaper models that utilise exactly the same frame as this one, with prices kicking off at a little over $5K. That’s mighty impressive, at least on paper anyway. Before we get stuck into our review, be sure to check out the first look story on the 2022 Canyon Lux Trail.
- Price: $8,799 AUD (Plus Shipping)
- From: Canyon