2015 Highlights from Specialized

Specialized are the boss. With their gap-free range of exemplary bikes, strong and visible marketing, thorough array of parts and accessories and their excellent in-house components, it’s no wonder these guys sit so high in the mountain bike food chain. What’s new for the next season? What can they improve on? For 2015 Specialized release a new Enduro, and do more than just dip a toe into the water with the 650b bikes.

The women’s range makes up for a huge portion of Specialized’s catalogue, with a new Era (29″ wheel race bike modelled around the Epic) and a Rumor EVO all-mountain bike. Our first impressions of the women’s range is here.

We snagged a few quick test rides around the Gold Coast’s fast and zippy singletrack of Nerang, and and in between dirt time we perused the halls of the 2015 dealer show, and picked out our fave new rigs for next year. Here are our thoughts on the new bits and bobs from the bold crew from Morgan Hill, California.

Click on the smaller images for captions and details.

Specialized Vintage FSR 8

 

Highlights from the 2015 mens mountain bike range:

  • New Enduro with 650b wheels.
  • New wide profile Roval Fattie wheels.
  • Stumpjumper EVO with 650b wheels (released a few months ago).
  • New 380g dropper post with a slight 35mm of drop, the SXP, on Epic and Stumpjumper HT.
  • Low-tread aggressive Slaughter tyre on Stumpjumper EVO, Demo and Enduro range.
  • The Camber remains unchanged for 2015, aside from a couple of spec changes.
  • You’ll have to look hard to find SRAM brakes, with more Shimano and Magura on the vast majority of models.
  • There are five fat bikes…jeeeez.

[divider]Enduro[/divider]

Specialized have had a bike named ‘Enduro’ in their lineup for many years, long before it became a trendy buzzword, and the sport blew up on the international scene in a big way. The Enduro comes in two flavours, 650b and 29″, with a couple of carbon models and one aluminium framed versions available in Oz.

The downhill World Cup superstars Aaron Gwin and Troy Brosnan both raced the Enduro 650b at the first two rounds of the 2014 World Cup in Pietermaritzburg and Cairns. If they can whack a dual crown fork on an Enduro and light it up at World Cup level, we have no doubts that it’s up to the hardest riding we can deliver.

When Specialized released the Enduro 29, they focused heavily on keeping the bike’s dimensions short in the rear end, with the chain stay measuring a paltry 430mm thanks to the development of a special front derailleur mount (or by ditching it completely for SRAM 1×11 models). 29″ wheels on a 155mm-travel bike is a tough one to get right, but the end result was amazing, the bike never felt too big or too long.

AQ5A5851
The two Enduro Expert Carbons. 650b and 29″.

Still, a bike with 29″ wheels still has its drawbacks, hence the smaller 650b option. Here at Flow, we ride medium size bikes, we love to jump, pump and let the bike hang out on the trails, slide a bit, pull manuals and hoon around. That’s where a smaller wheeled bike shines. What the 29″ Enduro gains over the 650b Enduro in traction and sheer rolling speed, it loses to its smaller brother in agility and playfulness. It’s your pick! To be completely honest, we often wish we didn’t have to think about wheel sizes so much. Will bikes like the Enduro all be 650b in the future? We hope so.

We took the 650b out for a razz, and holy moly did we love it! Our initial fears that on the fairly flat and buff trails of Nerang would not be enough to fully appreciate such a capable mountain bike, were banished when we let the brakes off and burned around the turns at reckless pace. So much suspension should really suck you of your pedalling energy, but we give this Enduro the thumb up.

Specialized Enduro S-Works 26
Mansfield’s Shannon Raddemaker feels at home going fast on a 29er, but loved the agility of the 650b in the fast turns. Foot out, flat out.
Specialized Enduro S-Works 22
The flagship Enduro S-Works is a total dream. You don’t get much better than this.

Specialized offer the Enduro in the up-for-it EVO format too, with slightly more travel (180mm) and Rockshox BoXXer and an Ohlins coil shock too. In fact, it’s pretty much the exact bike that Gwin and Brosnan raced early in the season!

One of for the bike parks or calmer downhill tracks - the Enduro Expert EVO 650b, $6999.
One of for the bike parks or calmer downhill tracks – the Enduro Expert EVO 650b, $6999.

[divider]Stumpjumper FSR[/divider]

Carrying the same name as the world’s first ever mass-produced mountain bike, the Stumpjumper FSR is a bike that suits the traditional mountain biker, one who favours all-day rides, up and down all types of terrain. The good old Stumpy is a well-loved, comfortable and capable classic.

Starting at $3199 for the Stumpjumper 29, the FSR range is an eight-strong offering of well-specced bikes. There are six 29ers (including two EVO models) and two 650b EVO models as well.

Check out our review of the 2014 Stumpjumper Carbon Expert here.

The Stumpjumper EVO 650b was the first bike that Specialized announced would be rolling on 650b wheels. The news was received with mixed feelings, as we all know how strongly Specialized professed that 29ers were the way forward, and they had 29″ wheels across the overwhelming majority of their mountain bike range. But, hey presto, we have an Enduro, Demo and a Stumpjumper in 650b now. Maybe Specialized didn’t do themselves any favours with their somewhat awkward  media release headlined “Bigger is better, except when its not”. But either way, we welcome 650b bikes to the catalogue.

Giving the purchaser the option of the same bike in two wheel sizes is both a blessing and a curse. Is there too much choice? Or is this the way the whole industry is going?

Specialized Stumpjumper 28
The $7699 Stumpjumper FSR Expert Carbon EVO 650b.

In the Stumpjumper 29er series, there are no real changes from 2014 aside from spec. The regular Stumpjumper 29 still has 135mm travel, and the two EVO versions (one carbon, one alloy) get a 5mm increase in suspension travel, a long fork, with a few key parts to boost its attitude, like meaty tyres and wider handlebars.

When it comes to the 650b bikes, there are again two options, in carbon or alloy. Instead of making expensive new moulds for the 650b, Specialized have actually added a spacer under the headset of a 29er Stumpy mainframe, to achieve the right geometry for 650b parts to be used, coupled with an entirely different aluminium rear end. Compared to most of the superbly refined range, especially the 650b Enduro, the approach of using a spacer to correct the frame geometry for 650b wheels feels a little underdone.  In Specialized’s defence, we’ve been told that through simply using the spacer, they were able to achieve the right geometry without the costs of constructing a completely new frame. So that’s got to be a good thing for the consumer, as they aren’t cheap in the first place.

Construction aside, how did the 650b Stumpjumper ride? We took out the bright yellow Expert Carbon 650b out for a solid few laps, and we liked it for the most part. The geometry is quite unique though, in classic Specialized form, the bottom bracket is low, but this one had us banging pedals on the ground when climbing up rocky terrain. Too low? We think so. Our cranks were scuffed up after one lap.

The handlebars are fairly tall too, we’d drop them down or swap for a flat bar unless your local terrain is steep. On paper, the tall bars, low bottom bracket and a fairly sharp 68 degree head angle seems like an odd combination, but it rides well. The smoothness off the FSR suspension was a real highlight, and cornering the bike was a blast, with oodles of traction and a very confident and centred position with wide bars holding your body in a good position for any unpredictable terrain ahead.

The trails of Nerang are hard packed, with loose gravel and sand patches to catch you out. A few jumps here and there, and many flat turns. The Stumpjumper really was a hoot to blast about on, we’d love to keep one in our quiver for the long all-day rides. Just watch your pedals on rocks.

Specialized Stumpjumper Expert 5
650b v 29″? You decide, we can’t tell you. Agility and playfulness or massive speed and confidence? Or, are you short, tall, experienced or a beginner? Confusing, isn’t it…

[divider]Stumpjumper HT[/divider]

HT = hardtail. No rear shocks on this one; it’s got an eye for the buffed cross country race tracks.

There are five models in this racy series this year, only one of which is alloy. For 2105, the Stumpy HTs get a SWAT kit (allen key set mounted to bottle cage) and we see a FOX Terralogic fork creep back into the range on the Marathon Carbon. FOX’s Terralogic damping system is not too different to the Specialized Brain damper which many Specialized riders will be familiar with, using an inertia valve to keep the fork firm until you hit a bump.

It’s funny to say, but it’s the seat post on one of the Stumpy HTs that really got us going! The XCP dropper post is found on the Stumpjumper HT and a couple Epics, and with a slight 35mm of drop, it allows the rider just that perfect bit of freedom to move about when the trails are rougher or steeper. It’s a part-carbon post, in 27.2mm diameter, with a neat internally routed cable. Mmm, chapeau Specialized on that one! We think this is just the ticket for cross country racers who don’t need a 100 or 125mm dropper post.

The back end of this bike is gorgeous, with an allen key bolt-up rear hub axle in place of a quick release skewer and a pair of very thin seat stays, offering a bit of give and compliance to the ride quality of the lightweight hardtail.

Specialized Stumpjumper HT 7
The Stumpjumper Marathon Carbon. A race hardtail with a dropper post? YES!

[divider]Epic[/divider]

Specialized Australia bring in a whopping nine models of the Epic in three variations.  The three variants of the Epic differ slightly, but are based around the same FSR suspension with a FOX Brain rear shock. There is the mighty sharp angled and lean Epic 29 World Cup, the generously geared and SWAT equipped Epic 29 Marathon, and the regular Epic 29. It’s no wonder why the Epic is the only dual suspension bike to win a World Championship XCO race, these guys are bred for the race track.

There’s no 650b wheels on any Epic, they 100% lend themselves to the bigger 29″ wheel’s rolling efficiency and generous traction.

The World Cup model uses only 95mm of suspension travel front and back. In a world where 100mm of travel is as lean as you get from almost every other brand out there, the Epic World Cup doesn’t pretend to be anything but a pure cross country race bike. All World Cup models use a single-ring drivetrain, and without a front derailleur to worry about, Specialized can go to town in the name of stiffness, with a wide and remarkably fat chainstay. Behind the chainring the tolerances are tight, all in the name of achieving a stiff, and responsive pedalling bike.

Specialized Epic Expert WC 1
Best looking bike in the showroom? The Epic Expert Carbon World Cup 29. A very orange bike for $7199.

We snuck out on the Specialized S-Works Epic 29, the top of the pile, $12500 bike for a couple laps of the buff Nerang trails. What does a bike that costs this much ride like? Not too bad… Ok, it’s a real delight. The low weight, quick wheels and snappy handling made for a fast feel that you’d expect from the most premium of bikes available. It’s not hard to see what you’re spending these type of dollars on when you’re actually riding it, believe us. The new Shimano 11-speed XTR paired with the RockShox RS-1 fork makes for a jaw droopingly gorgeous parts kit and with a Brain damper in the fork matching the FOX Brain rear shock, you can make it as firm or plush as you like with a twiddle of the dials.

Twisting and winding our way through the open forest, we relished in the momentum and efficiency of the low-weight 29″ wheels. The Epic is a super sharp handling bike, with class-leading efficiency and pure speed.

This was also Flow’s first ride on the wild new inverted fork from RockShox. Sure, it twists when you hold the wheels between your knees and pull and push the handlebars, more than a SID would, but on the trail its another story. The carbon legged RS-1 is so incredibly smooth, supple and quiet on the dirt. The fork really takes a lot of the sting out of the trail with the combination of both a good suspension action, and a little bit of ‘give’ in the chassis, in a good way. We’re still worried about the price and exposed inner legs to trail damage, but we love its look and feel so far.

The Epic would have to be our pick for the cross country races or multi day stage races in the calendar.

Specialized Epic S-Works 12
Flow’s Mick Ross giving the $12500 Epic a little bit of a razz. Is this the first time this bike has seen baggy shorts?!
Specialized Epic S-Works 47
This is what a $12500 bike looks like. Holy sh*t.

[divider]Demo 8[/divider]

Now you can ride the bike that Troy Brosnan piloted to a World Cup win in Fort William this year. A 650b wheeled Demo 8.

Specialized have released a completely new S-Works Demo Carbon that is due early next year, but still honour the masses with two versions of the immensely popular aluminium Demo, tweaked to fit 650b wheels.

Aside from the upsize in wheels, the Demo is now available in a new sizing range called S3 Geometry. No longer are the bikes XS, S, M, L etc, where the length and height increases with each size. Instead, you you choose your length, and you choose your height. This has come about from riders going a size up on their downhill bikes for the stability of a longer wheelbase, and so now you can a long size without the seating position going higher if you don’t wish to.

Specialized Demo 3
The Demo 8 FSR II 650b, for $7499.

[divider]Fatboy[/divider]

FIVE fat bikes in the Specialized range for 2015. Isn’t that nuts? Like a tumour, it’s growing, and this just proves it.

The Fatboy Expert with a RockShox Bluto fork is a bit of a winner, and with decent suspension, the bikes don’t bounce about uncontrollably anymore. We might even test one…

Specialized Fatboy Range 13
The top-tier Fatboy is dripping with carbon. All for a fat $4999.

 

[divider]Body Geometry and the Retül fit system[/divider]

Specialized bought the exclusive rights to the industry leading Retül Müve body fit system. If you see one of these at your local Specialized dealer, sign up for a proper fit. It’s a whole-body experience and will let you get the most out of your bike, in comfort.

Specialized Retul 6
This thing looks like it’s built to torture you. Or power a blender.
Au revior, for now.
Au revior, for now.

 

Specialized Women’s 2015 Range Highlights

Specialized have a history of taking women’s needs seriously. The company’s 2015 range of women’s bikes took up 30% of the floor space at the Australian and New Zealand launch, a firm statement about the variety of bikes on offer for different types of riders.

While some brands offer ladies a modified head tube length, reach and standover in comparison to their men’s line, Specialized bikes sit inbetween the men’s sizes.

That is to say that a medium women’s frame has tube measurements that place it in-between a men’s small and medium. A female rider of average height will sit closer to the middle of the recommended height range for a medium frame, rather than at the top end of a small. Imagine that!

Other features of the women’s range include carbon lay ups better suited to the weight range of their intended users offering a more compliant ride feel. You’ll also notice slightly easier gearing, narrower bars, appropriate stem lengths, a parts selection that’s comfortable at key contact points and aesthetics designed for ladies who want to look fast and get their bikes dirty.

With the exception of two entry-level bikes, the women’s mountain bike range is sticking with the 29” wheel size for 2015. The new women’s XC dual suspension weapon, the Era, was the talk of the show. Racy women will consider selling every expensive possession they own for the experiences this high end, and surprisingly versatile bike, offers on the trails. For us, the biggest highlight was the Rumor Evo trail bike because it’s simply so much fun to ride.

[divider]The Rumor[/divider]

We thoroughly enjoyed our time on the 110mm trail bike, the Rumor last year. This year, the range gets extended at the top end with an Evo model, which sees the travel bump up to 120mm and the angles slacken slightly as a result.

Specialized Rumor EVO 25

We’ve seen a few women reaching for a small sized Camber Carbon Expert Evo, ourselves included, for the longer travel and more serious spec than the 2014  Rumor range allowed. The Rumor Expert Evo sees similar spec to the Camber Expert Evo, but built around an alloy frame: SRAM X01 and a 120mm RockShox Pike fork being the two parts that draw most attention from prospective owners. It’s great to see Shimano XT brakes make their way onto this bike too. We love the smooth ride feel they offer and they’re well suited to smaller hands.

The low standover of the Rumor frame means riders don’t overstretch the tendons of the inner thigh when getting on and off the bike, something that becomes an issue for shorter statured folk when a bike is raised higher off the ground with 29” wheels.  In comparison to our time on the Camber, we were able to squash our weight down further when riding technical descents, making the bike feel much more responsive and in control. Our centre of gravity felt more balanced allowing us to really play on the bike without having to force our riding position.

The rest of the Rumor range remains at 110mm travel and has a refined spec for 2015. Shimano brakes adorn all but the $2299 base model. The range tops out with a new Elite model coming in at $4,399. This one will run a RockShox Revelation fork, a 2×10 drive train, Shimano SLX brakes, a Command dropper post and also comes in a stealthy black.

Specialized Rumor 11
The Rumor Comp comes in fluro yellow for 2015.

There is still no model available in carbon, which is either because engineers are still finding a way to make the frame shape remain strong with this magic material, or because Specialized feel the market isn’t quite there yet. While we’re hanging for the carbon model as much as the next girl, riding the Rumor and a Carbon Camber back-to-back, we’d choose the alloy frame for the performance offered by the more intuitive-feeling fit.

Specialized Rumor EVO 9
The Rumor line elicits an effortless, stable riding position.

[divider]The Era[/divider]

While the Rumor Evo is the bike that grabs our attention for trail riding, the new dual suspension 29er, the Era, is the showstopper. The Era for women is what the Epic is for men: a high performance race bike designed with speed and winning World Championships in mind. In fact, Annika Langvad rode a pre-production Era to her Marathon World Champs victory a month ago causing much internet speculation about this new women’s frame.

Everything about the top of the line S-Works Era takes racing as seriously as the women who will ride it. SRAM XX1 build, light Magura MT8 brakes, RockShox RS1 forks, Roval Control SL carbon wheelset. And with gloss black decals over a matt black finish, it looks the part too. The Era runs 100mm travel at the front (90mm on small models) and 95mm at the back.

Behold, the Black Stallion. Era S-Works.
Behold, the Black Stallion. Era S-Works.

Again, the sizing of the Era sits between the men’s sizes and offers lower standover. The carbon layup reflects a lower weight range of the intended users, which, paired with such a blinged out, carbon build, gives the bike a much softer and more compliant ride feel than we expected. In fact, the finished product is so tight and agile, we wouldn’t be surprised to see riders on the small size choose it over the burlier Rumor.

Specialized Era 1 (1)
A far more compliant and versatile ride than we expected.

Running the Specialized Brain front and rear and weighing in at a reported 10.1kg for the top of the line model, the Era has all the benefits of a racy hardtail buts lets you be less precise in line choice and take on rougher trails at a higher speed. This adds to the versatility of the bike. It’s one we’d love to do a tough stage race on for sure.

Pointing to the high-performance aims of the Era is a high flying price tag. The Black Beauty you see here will sell for $11,499. The Expert model is $7,199 and the base model is a $4,499, once again reflecting a race-ready build.

Specialized Era Expert 1
The Era FSR Expert Carbon.

[divider]The Fate[/divider]

The Fate hasn’t changed a whole lot since we tested the 2013 model. It has undergone some welcome refinements in spec, which point to ever evolving parts selection available for a light and nimble hardtail. The suspension remains at 80mm keeping the front end nice and low.

The S-Works Fate gets the SRAM XX1 treatment, a change from the 2×10 SRAM and Shimano drive train it ran last year. A price tag of $8999 points to the zero comprise parts list Specialized use when assembling their top of the line bikes and the cost of extreme dieting.

Specialized Fate 16
The Fate Expert Carbon 29.

While nine grand for a hardtail will make some riders open their eyes wider than the Great Australian Bite, you have to hand it to Specialized for continually bringing bikes into the women’s market that sit on a level playing field, in terms of spec, design and fit, with the men’s.

The Expert Carbon Fate is the model that attracted us the most. It’s a more modest build than the S-Works model, for a more modest spend ($4,499). That said, the build is everything most riders need: a carbon wheelset, RockShox SID forks (with the Specialized Brain), a 2×10 chainset, and a beautifully designed and fitting carbon frame. The Comp Carbon Fate will sell for $2,999.

[divider]The Jynx[/divider]

Another new model for 2015 is the Jynx. This bike is the only one in the Specialized women’s range built around 650B wheels. The idea here is that this mid-size wheel is less intimidating for riders who are new to the sport.

The robust looking Jynx is designed for people who want to get out and discover what mountain biking is about. It’s more than capable on singletrack and equally comfortable for explorations on fire roads.

Specialized Jinx 12
The Jynx Comp 650B.

Three models are available, ranging from $649 to $899 for the Jynx Comp 650B.

[divider]Shoes[/divider]

Two new sets of shoes hit Australian shores for 2015. The Cadette will appeal to girls who want something that looks like a running shoe, but offers some of the stability of a cycling shoe. It also gives riders the option of running clipless pedals.

Specialized Shoes 3
2FO: Foot Out, Flat Out.

The 2FO Flat Women’s shoe is a bright looking shoe for ladies who like to ride flat pedals. The sole has been carefully developed to offer the right balance of grip and durability. An SPD option isn’t available yet for the ladies, but we’re hoping that’s not the case for long.

Specialized Rumor EVO 7
With a plush build around an alloy frame, the Rumor Evo still felt nice and supple on the trails.
Did we just slip a picture of a road bike in this article? The $8,999 S-Works Amira to roadies is what the Fate is to mountain bikers. Once again, we were very impressed with the out of the box fit.
Did we just slip a picture of a road bike in this article? The $8,999 S-Works Amira to roadies is what the Fate is to mountain bikers. Once again, we were very impressed with the out of the box fit.

Keep an eye on Flow for highlights from the men’s range, including the new 650B Stumpjumper Expert Carbon and S-Works Enduro Carbon.

Flow’s First Bite: Scott 2015 Range Tested

After previewing the oh-so-lovely Scott 2015 range in Melbourne, it was time to lift the altitude to lung burning levels, throw in some relaxing chairlifts, endless dusty singletrack, a seven foot wild moose and the golden opportunity to test any 2015 Scott bike we wanted. We were in Deer Valley, Utah for some seriously intensive bike testing.

With singletrack galore at our glove tips, Flow’s Mick Ross took a hit for the team in the name of journalism and put time on both wheel size Scott Sparks, a 27.5″ Genius and its bigger brother the Genius LT, and lastly the all-new highly adjustable 27.5″ wheeled Gambler downhill bike.

Scott 2015 tested 1
Deer Valley, just out of Park City in Utah was a damn fine place to burn some brake pads and test the limits of the new Scott range.

[divider]Scott Spark[/divider]

Scott offer wheel size as an option, meaning the exact bike is available in either 27.5″ or 29″ wheels, which could be a headache for smaller markets like Australia, with bike stores and the distributors managing double options for the Scale, Spark and Genius models. This is an interesting moment for the bike industry – along with Scott, Specialized, Trek and Lapierre also offer the same bike in two wheel sizes, whilst some brands (like Giant) on the other hand have wholly adopted the 27.5″ wheel across their entire range of mountain bikes.

Regardless, rhe 29″ Sparks have slightly less suspension travel front and back (100mm) than the 27.5″ Spark (120mm) to play to the strengths the larger wheel  We are seeing it more and more these days, where brands are helping the consumer decide on the wheel size by relating the decision to frame size. Below is a graph that Scott use to communicate the ‘sizes for sizes’ concept – food for thought, anyhow.

Screen Shot 2014-07-30 at 4.50.42 pm
Wheelsize as an option is confusing for some, but also adds more choice. Communicating the benefits to the consumer is the hard part.

Slight shock tune changes and new spec choices aside, next season’s Spark remains largely the same as the 2014 version but we were eager to spend time on them anyhow as we hold them very high on our list of preferred bikes for cross country . We seized the opportunity to take the Spark 700 Tuned and Spark 900 Tuned, the top level Spark identical in spec, size medium, in both wheel sizes out for a good old back-to-back wheel size comparison on a short and punchy test loop. Same tyres, same everything. Trying to forget any pre-existing opinions of the wheel size debate, we approached it like it was our first time.

Scott 2015 tested 13
High up above the tree line, where an adaptable and lightweight bike is a real joy.

Highlights of the 27.5″ Spark.

  • Heightened agility; The quick nature of the smaller diameter wheels translates perfectly into the Spark’s lightweight, flickable and spritely frame with crazy fast results.
  • Loves ripping around tight turns; Into and out of a slow corner, or tight squeeze between trees, the 27.5″ Spark jumps back up to speed with incredible responsiveness.
  • Promotes playful riding and jumping; Feeling a lot like the older 26″ wheeled Spark, this guy doesn’t mind a bit of airtime, manuals/wheelies or popping into the air and landing where you planned to with real predictability.
Scott 2015 tested 8
The 120mm 27.5″ wheel Spark.

Favourite aspects of the 29″ Spark.

  • Stable and comfortable; The bigger wheel – especially up front – gave us a reassuring feeling that there was more between us and the ground than with the 27.5″ Spark.
  • Loads of traction; When cornering, braking or turning the 29er exhibited more contact with the dirt, and hence increased traction.
  • Maintains speed like a perpetual motion machine; When you get moving, the Spark 29er stays moving. The bigger wheels love to be wound up and let go, maintaining speed is a real forte and very noticeable compared to its smaller wheel brother.
  • Scott 2015 tested 9
    The 100mm travel 29″ wheel Spark.

What would we choose, 27.5″ or 29″?

  • If your frame size is smaller, the 27.5″ makes sense regardless, and the same goes for a larger rider with the 29″ bike suiting best.
  • If you’re a medium size frame like we are, it’s time to give it real thought. Fun, or efficient? Not that either can’t be fun or efficient, they each have a strengths, not weaknesses.
  • Marathon or endurance races will be fantastic aboard a 29er, where the distance is gobbled up by the big rolling wheels. Also, for less-experienced riders, the confidence and sure-footedness of a bigger wheel is valuable.
  • If your trails are tighter, races shorter, or the reason you ride is pure fun, the smaller wheeled Spark won’t resist that hooligan within you coming out. It shall let you dart about the place pulling wheelies and pumping around the trails at crazy pace.

[divider]Genius[/divider]

It’s hard not to love the Scott Genius, with its category leading lightweight frame and the proven Twinloc system controlling an adaptable, supple and sensitive 150mm of rear suspension. It’s a real winner, plus since the move to FOX rear shocks last year, they just got more favourable in our books.

Like the shorter travel Spark, the Genius comes in two flavours, 27.5″ or 29″ with a few of models to choose from $3500 – $6300 in aluminium and carbon. We spent a great deal of time on the Genius 700 Tuned, the cream of the crop model, dripping in the finest components, and constructed from Scott’s HMX highest grade carbon magic material.

Scott 2015 34
The Genius. Smart.

On the trail, the Genius doesn’t ride like a lot of the other 150mm bikes, like the Trek Slash, Lapierre Zesty, or a Giant Trance SX for example. The Genius swings more toward the theme of a long legged trail bike, rather than a mega plush, slack ground-hugging bike, with a combination of sharper angles, upright seating position, and a suspension rate that feels firm and supported. Frame geometry is adjustable via a tiny and unobtrusive reversible chip at the bottom shock mount, which allows a little bit of an ‘attitude adjustment’; we ran it in the low/slack setting, but would opt for steeper head angled if the riding was to be dominated by tighter, slower trails or more climbing.

Scott insist on speccing a 32mm legged fork on the Genius, we’d love to see a 35mm leg RockShox Pike, or a FOX 34mm legged fork up front for a little bit more front end rigidity and confidence when turning the bike under brakes.

After spending time on the Spark and Genius LT we gravitated back to the 27.5″ Genius. It’s just so capable everywhere, up the climbs, down them and anything in between. It’s a true all-mountain bike, capable of letting you explore and ride anything. If you’re always travelling, or riding new trails, the Genius would be that perfect bike for arriving at a trail unseen, you will never be under gunned or over prepared.

Scott 2015 38
FOX and Scott have headquarters nearby each other in Switzerland, hence the collaboration with their proprietary rear shock, the Nude.
Scott 2015 tested 51
The Genius may not be the slackest 150mm bike in its category, but you could mix it up in a marathon race, as it is so efficient.

[divider]Genius LT[/divider]

Rejoice! The Scott Genius LT is coming to Australia. We’ll soon see three models ranging from $4799 for the Genius LT 720, up to the model we tested here, the Genius LT 700 Tuned for $8999.

The Genius LT, is a big rig. With a whopping 170mm of travel, big rubber and a healthy dose of burly components, this is the bike Scott’s enduro racers use. The Genius LT personifies enduro in every aspect, it’s a big rig capable of riding the roughest, steepest and fastest trails around the world. Be warned though, it needs real terrain and elevation to make the most of it. After seeking out the steepest and roughest black diamond trails in Deer Valley, we never got close to finding the upper limits of this mighty capable bike. But, we still got a very good idea what it is all about.

What the Genius LT does well is squashing a whole lot of gravity loving attitude and components into a super efficient riding bike. Just like the regular Genius and the Spark, it uses the Twinloc suspension, which does much more than lock out the suspension via a remote lever. The instant you hit that Twinloc lever, the bike jumps up, the suspension firms up and you get a real boost. It really feels like you’ve been given a push.

The frame geometry is also quite tuneable, an interchangeable headset is included with the Genius LT, and the lower rear shock mount is reversible too, to give the rider a healthy dose of options to tweak the bike to excel in the climbs, slower, faster or steeper terrain with some trial and error experimenting.

Scott 2015 tested 15
The big fella. Genius LT, which stands for long travel. 170mm of it.

[divider]Voltage[/divider]

Don’t get too excited yet, the Voltage ain’t coming to Australia. But maybe if we hassle the Scott distributor enough they may be able to put a special order in, or we’ll see them next year at least. Call it a freeride bike or a mini downhill bike, this guy would actually be a suitable choice for many downhill races at regional level.

Like a scaled down version of a downhill race bike, this chunky bike boasts a coil shock with a whopping 170-190mm of travel. It’s adjustable in its geometry and travel by reversing the lower shock mount, so it can be just as at home in the bike park throwing down tricks and jumps, or slacken it off for some higher speed downhill racing.

Scott 2015
Big improvements too the Voltage. Stiffer, adjustable, and compatible with 27.5″ and 26″ wheels.

[divider]Gambler[/divider]

The final test we did on the 2015 Scott rigs was the biggest, baddest bike in the range: the all-new Gambler. Up a wheel size for 2015 but that’s not all, with the frame completely different in almost every single aspect. The Gstaad-Scott team were racing these bikes at the Cairns World Cup in April this year, but went unnoticed as from a far looks a lot like the 26″ version.

Scott 2015 tested 31

The downhill tracks at Deer Valley were a pretty good test for the Gambler, with frightening rock gardens and heart stoppingly steep chutes everywhere. The Gambler loved it all, and confirmed our love for the 27.5″ wheel on a downhill bike. For example, take your average rock garden – just stay off the brakes, and you instantly notice that the wheels don’t get as hung up on the edges, or fall into holes. A bigger wheel is always going to help that, but when you put a big tyre on a 27.5″ wheel, you’re unstoppable.

We quickly became confident, and after a couple runs we were hitting the rock gardens at full pelt, smashing the bike into the sharpest, ugliest rocky straights we’ve ridden in ages. The Gambler is also dead quiet, the thud of the tyres is all you really hear when descending. That has always given us a little bit of a extra confidence boost, if the bike is silent the harder we will push.

Is big too big? With advice from the guys at Scott, we opted to run the Gambler in the shortest wheelbase setting, and highest bottom bracket mode. Then we lowered the fork crowns as low as possible, sharpening the head angle even further. Still, we found the Gambler to be a mighty stable, long and confident ride.

With a massive adjustability range from a 61° – 65° head angle and a chain stay length that is adjustable from 422 – 440mm, in the right hands it could be fine tuned to suit such a wide variety of terrain. Plus you can fit 26″ wheels into the frame, and then tweak the geometry to suit the smaller wheels, nifty!

The rear suspension is so incredibly supple off the top of the stroke, it helps the wheels glue to the dirt and the tyres maintain contact with the loose surface as you bounce around. Sure the tyres are great, but the traction that such a supple suspension feeling gives this bike is unreal.

Scott 2015 tested 48
Adaptability, traction and stability. The Gambler is a monster.
Scott 2015 tested 49
The high pivot (above the bottom bracket) is the key to the Gamblers rock-gobbling hunger.

 

 

In all, we found the revisions to the popular Spark, Genius and Genius LT to be a small but good step in the right direction. The Gambler is amazing, and is surely going to make for a capable and fast downhill bike for the gravity crowd. Fingers crossed the Voltage will land on our shores one day, as we’d love to hit up some freeride lines and big jumps on the downhill tracks over here.

Keep your eyes out for the full range on http://www.scott-sports.com soon.

Giant and LIV 2015 Range Highlights

It’s fresh new bike time of the year, now from the folks at Giant and their women’s specific brand, LIV. We see a few slight changes to the ever-popular Maestro suspension designs in spec and, fewer 29ers in favour of the 27.5″ wheel size, and we see the introduction of some of the boldest coloured bikes yet from the big G.

No more Overdrive 2. We raise our glasses to Giant for ditching Overdrive 2 on the mountain bike range for 2015. Gone is the slightly irritating proprietary stem size needed with Overdrive 2 system (1 1/4″ and 1 1/2″ upper and lower bearing sizes) that claimed to add stiffness to the front end. Sure, it may have added stiffness, but with Giant or Giant dealers not really carrying a full range of stems, changing a fork or stem length was perceived more hassle than the added performance was benefitted.

More bigger travel bikes to be announced. With two more bikes yet to be officially released very soon (hint at the bottom of this post), we bring you a few of Flow’s highlights from the 2015 range.

Click the smaller images for more detail.

[divider]Anthem Advanced SX 27.5[/divider]

New for 2015 is the Anthem SX 27.5, which is basically an Anthem 27.5 with balls.

The Anthem 27.5 is Giant’s short travel, high speed, cross country dually with an efficient 100mm of Maestro Suspension goodness. For very good reason, the Anthem has been so incredibly popular in Australia, with a hard to beat balance of the important elements in a good honest bike; looks, efficiency, weight, durability and value. Giant are really pushing the 27.5″ wheel size, and each year we see less of the 29ers in the catalogue. Still offering the choice though for consumers though, with two 29er full suspension bikes remaining for 2015, in both composite (Anthem X Advanced 29er, $4999) and the lower cost aluminium 29er (Anthem X 29er, $2799).

It grows a 120mm fork (in place of a 100mm fork) for a slacker head angle, wider bars, a shorter stem and meatier tyres. There will be two models, one alloy $2799, one the top end composite version pictured below for $4999. Hats off Giant for noticing what the savvier riders are modifying to their bikes, we see a lot of riders adding these style of components especially 120mm forks to their Anthems over the last couple years, making the bike shred just a little harder on fast and buff trails but not wanting to go bigger in rear wheel travel.

Fresh Product Giant 2015 34
One of the coolest bikes in the 2015 lineup, the Anthem Advanced SX 27.5, for $4999.

[divider]XTC Advanced SL 27.5[/divider]

The term ‘SL’ is given to Giant’s lightest mountain bike frame, the XTC Advanced SL. With a lighter composite layup and super minimal frame shape, this guy has one thing in mind, racing buff trails with maximum power.

Also going down the route of 27.5″ wheels even more for 2015, Giant’s 29er hardtail range is down to just two models in there Advanced composite only, using the older style frame with the more square shaped profile. We could’t keep our eyes of this one below, the attention to detail in the graphics and spec colour choices will not help you find it in the dark, so very black.

Stealth black XTC Advanced SL 27.5
Stealth black XTC Advanced SL 27.5 1, $4799

[divider]Stance 27.5[/divider]

Giant cover the whole gamut of cycling, with no area unrepresented, including the entry level dual suspension market with this seriously great value and well-manufactured Giant Stance 27.5 with 120mm of travel.

Borrowing the frame shapes and styles from the Maestro range of the Anthems and Trances, the Stance cuts down in production costs with a simplified suspension design. A RockShox Monarch rear shock pivots around a single pivot and ‘flex stay’ arrangement (replacing one suspension pivot towards the rear axle with an area of flex in the aluminium frame) keeps the frame price down, but the component spec is still super capable for real off road riding. This bike ain’t just a comfortable ride, it’s decked out for the dirt, at an entry level price of $1599.

Giant Stance, a very well built $1699 dually.
Giant Stance, a very well built $1599 dually.

[divider]Trance Advanced 27.5 2[/divider]

The trail ready Trance series remains unchanged for 2015, but we couldn’t get past this red number for its bang for buck at wallet friendlier $3499. At 140mm of travel, the Trance series nail that all-day trail bike category, with most models with an adjustable seatpost as standard, and great geometry for shredding the rougher and trickier trails with confidence.

27.5″ wheels is the continuing theme for Giant’s range, and they are sticking to their guns on this size being the ideal wheel size.

Fresh Product Giant 2015 44
A carbon trail bike for under $3500, bargainzzz.

[divider]Anthem Advanced 27.5 0[/divider]

The Anthem series also remains unchanged for 2015, with the 27.5″ wheels staying as the 29er Anthem options shrink to one alloy and one composite model. The 100mm of travel is managed by more RockShox than we’ve seen in years past, but the new Fast Black coating on the shock shaft boosts the sensitivity and smooth action of the shocks and forks.

This Anthem Advanced 27.5 0 would have to be one of the finest options for the cross country or marathon racer out there. Or if your focus is speed, and your trails are smoother then an Anthem could be your pick of the Giant bunch.

Fresh Product Giant 2015 10
Anthem Advanced 27.5 0, $6799

[divider]LIV, women’s specific[/divider]

For six years since Giant made a concerted push into making their women’s specific bikes that are more than a just smaller framed bikes with a paint job, Giant have created a whole new brand; LIV. For 2015 the LIV mountain bike range is very healthy, and we finally receive the Intrigue into Australia, 140mm travel dually that was previously only available in some international markets. The frame constructions for the Obsess composite hardtail, Lust 100mm dually and the new Intrigue but what we love most about these bikes are the fun, and vibrant graphics.

[divider]LIV Lust[/divider]

The Lust is womens specific from head to toe, we reviewed the 2014 aluminium Lust 27.5 2 and loved the capable, agile and well-specced bike that also looked so damn hot. With 100mm of suspension travel front and back, the Lust is based around the Anthem 27.5 platform, geared towards the cross country rider looking for the added control and comfort rear suspension gives.

Lust Advanced 2, $3299
Lust Advanced 2, $3299

Expanding on their parts, accessories and apparel to match the other big brands, we’ll see more Giant and LIV branded gear at a higher quality than before. A digital gauge floor pump will be available as well as a whole new foray into the footwear range. Lycra kit manufactured with the Australian brand, Jaggad and new-look trail gear.

So, keep your eyes peeled for more bikes to be announced soon.

Fresh Product: Trek, The World’s Biggest Bike Brand Unveil 2015 Range

Trek claim to be the biggest bike brand in the world. Together with their accessories subsidiary Bontrager, Trek reportedly spend the most money within the industry in the pivotal area of research and development.

Looking at these claims, it would be an easy conclusion to make that Trek’s products should be well ahead of the game. Recently, Flow attended Trek’s interplanetary 2015 launch – Trek World – to find out just what this extensive funding and research has led to for their 2015 line-up.

[divider]Fuel EX series [/divider]

Trek World may be the official launch of Trek’s 2015 range, however new products have been trickling into Trek dealerships for months now. One of these early releases for the year was the Fuel 27.5. The Fuel used to be an outstanding 26 inch trail bike before it was given the bigger wheel treatment only two years ago, and Trek’s return to giving consumers a smaller wheel option came about after an outcry of public support for a 650b option.

Fuel_27.5-6

The Fuel EX 27.5 rides a lot like the older Flow favourite, 26″ Fuel EX. Flickable, fun and generally looking to play more with the trail than its 29er brother. If you’re looking for a trail bike that’s fun to ride, can be thrown around a bit more than the mile-munching 29er and you’re not worried about lap times at the local XC course, the Fuel EX 27.5 is worth a look.

Fuel_27.5-14

The Fuel EX range is in serious contention of being one the best trail bike range out there. Seriously, these bikes are amazing! Flow rode the 9.8 $5899 pictured here in volt green colour (available in both wheel sizes), a Shimano equipped Fuel EX and it’s managed to be even more impressive than Trek’s 2014 offering.

The major difference for this year’s model is the all new RE:aktiv rear shock, designed in conjunction with Penske Racing Shocks, the suspension gurus involved in Formula 1, NASCAR, and Indy racing. Put simply, this new suspension design incorporates ‘regressive damping’- where there is no compromise between low speed compression damping and high speed compression damping. The aim is to allow the shock to react to quick imposts, whilst retaining a firm pedalling platform to resist unwanted suspension bob. Leaving what would be a complicated description aside, the shock rides really, really well. On the first ride, the shock gave us so much confidence, especially coming into sections of the trail at high speeds and knowing your suspension is capable of handling the rough stuff, and climbing through chattery trails where the suspension performed exactly right, allowing the focus to be on the trail, not the bike.

The Fuel EX is available in both 27.5″ and 29″ wheels starting at $2799. The Fuel EX 9.9 29er below, is a real stunner for $9499.

Fuel_29-3

[divider]Slash 9.8 [/divider]

Another key announcement at Trek World was the introduction of a carbon Slash 9.8. Trek have totally re-vamped the Slash range, aiming to increase their share of the booming all mountain/enduro market. The Slash features new beefy Bontrager Maverick wheels, which follow the new pattern of ultra-wide rim profiles, a Sram XO1 groupset, Bontrager 750mm wide carbon bars, Stealth Reverb dropper post and Shimano XT brakes. Adding to this excellent spec, Trek have decided to use the RockShox Monarch Plus RC3 rear shock (with piggyback reservoir), and… the RockShox Pike up front! This bike is seriously well-specced, and comes in at just under $6K, completely busting apart the myth Trek can’t produce well specced bikes at low prices. We’ll expect to see this lightweight shredder by the end of October.

Slash-27

So how did it ride? The bike felt light whilst climbing and through singletrack, with 160mm of travel being provided at just 12.6kg. Whilst this was the case, even with the fork dropped down into the travel with the Two-Stage adjuster the bike still felt a little reluctant climbing at anything more than a steady, social pace. As climbing like a cross country racer is not key focus for this bike it’s definitely to be expected to a degree, but it’s surprising that with the fork dropped to 130mm, consequently steepening the head angle, the bike still felt a little uncomfortable smashing through Stromlo switchback after Stromlo switchback with its slack and relaxed angles.

Slash-34

Descending, and negotiating tricky trails. That is what this bike is all about. When you point this bike downhill, it goes where you want it to. Through rock gardens, no problems, the RockShox suspension and Maverick wheels will handle that. Steep sections, no worries, the geometry is great for hanging right off the back and nailing the vertical stuff. This is such a capable bike that it was underdoing it riding on the generally buff and smooth Stromlo trails. It was begging for a trail made of sterner terrain. The downhill tracks were an adequate match for this bike, and it soaked up the high speeds, rough stuff and frequent flyer miles with aplomb. The only criticism that we had in our time on the bike when analysing its descending capabilities is that it takes a bit more prompting when popping off trail features, or jumping over a section of the trail. Don’t worry, it’s just a simple trade-off, the bike gobbled up hard landing and felt stable in the air landing where you expected it to.

[divider]Remedy series [/divider]

For the Remedy 29 in 2015 we see wider hub spacing for bigger tyres and increased chainring clearance, as well as an all new carbon frame – used for the top end 9.8 and 9.9 models. Trek have labelled the wider hub spacing only on true 29er ‘Boost148’, and claim that this move leads to a stiffer wheel as well as more tire and chainring clearance. Both the Remedy 29 and 27.5 switch to Sram 1x drivetrains for the higher end models in the series (9 and above).

Remedy_29-1

Continuing with the dominance of Sram as a theme of this year’s models, Trek have decided to move away from Bontrager wheels with the higher end models and use the highly praised SRAM Roam wheels. The top carbon model, the 9.9, reportedly weighs in at 11.9kg at $9499. That is seriously impressive weight for a big travel 29er!

Remedy_29-22

[divider]Superfly series[/divider]

The Australian World Cup racing duo of Dan McConnell and Bec Henderson’s bike of choice – the Trek Superfly hardtail, are a mainstay of the Trek line-up. With the help of Gary Fisher, Trek have dialled in the geometry of these bikes to create quick handling and lively XC weapons. One change for the 2015 frame was to shorten the chain stays to further quicken the handling of the bike in the turns. In making this adjustment, the bottom bracket was lowered slightly, making the bike more stable at higher speeds. Other than these slight tweaks the frame hasn’t changed, but the spec of some models has been increased at no suffering to the retail pricing.

SuperFly-1

For example the Superfly 9.6, the cheapest carbon Superfly, still comes in at under $3000 but is now equipped with Bontrager’s tubeless ready Mustang wheels! Loving it! Again, as seen across all the mountain bike range, Trek have chosen to use Sram 1x drivetrains on the higher end models.  Pictured here is the Superfly 9.8, $5399, due August with the SL frame (super light carbon layup and slightly different shapes).

Another point worth mentioning is the ‘Smarter Wheelsize’ approach to frame size versus wheelsize that Trek are taking for some of the lower end hardtails. The smaller frame sizes will use 27.5″ wheels, whilst 17.5″ frame sizes and above will come equipped with 29″ wheels.

SuperFly-13

 

[divider]Trek Session[/divider]

In 2015 Trek have gone the 27.5″ route with their downhill weapon. The bike sports 210mm travel and longer chainstays for better high speed control. Another upgrade from the 2014 model is the full carbon EVO link that drives the rear shock. The carbon used in the Session is not a weight saving measure primarily, but a way in which to add strength to the frame. Judging by Brook MacDonald’s resurgence as a world cup force and Neko Mullaly emerging as a rider to watch in the future, this bike is obviously very capable, and very fast.

 

So there you have it. Trek truly have delivered some epic bikes for 2015, with great new technologies like the RE:activ rear shock, the carbon Slash and the introduction of 1x drivetrains across a number of models. After trying the new models for ourselves, we here at Flow think we’ll be seeing a few of these highly colourful bikes out on the trail!

Fresh Product: Next Generation e:i Shock on 2015 Lapierre

Bonjour, from the disgustingly scenic French Alps, where Flow has been invited to lift the lid on the 2015 Lapierre range.

For 2015 the Lapierre XR, Zesty and Spicy models will use e:i Auto, the next generation of e:i Shock. Frame construction and geometries remain the same as 2014 but a few spec changes will surely please those interested in these fine steeds. A full review will follow shortly, but first up let’s take a closer look at what e:i Auto is all about.

The main focus for Lapierre in 2015 is to improve on the whole e:i Shock system, their very successful electronically and automatically adjusted suspension system. e:i Auto is simpler, more discreet and from what we can gather the changes made will certainly iron out any of the issues that stopped the current e:i system from functioning correctly 100% of the time.

LP-5437-Zesty-AM-527-EI

Electronic bits and pieces on mountain bikes are a hard sell to consumers. What’s the need, right? Well, let’s start by saying that there can be no hiding the fact that here are Flow we’ve been long fans of Lapierre bikes, we always seem to hang onto them for longer than usual. They tick so many of the most important boxes, especially when it comes to their very balanced and efficient rear suspension platform and ideal frame geometry for shredding trails with confidence.

Our most loved model – the Zesty – is a bloody kick arse bike for Australian terrain, it seems just right. But in truth we’ve had our fair share of issues with a few of the e:i bikes we’ve had on test. All the issues have been caused by two things; the computer connection, and the wiring inside the frame. We’re often asked how the Lapierre’s perform with the e:i Shock. We love it, when it works.

What is e:i Shock anyhow?

The system uses inputs from two different sensors – one at the front wheel/fork, one in the cranks – to determine the optimum setting for the rear suspension at any given moment. If you’re riding rough terrain, the system opens the rear suspension damping right up for the best bump absorption. If you’re pedalling along on undulating terrain, a moderate level of low-speed compression is activated. If you’re riding smooth terrain, the rear suspension is made firmer again. And all of this happens in 0.1 seconds. 

It’s also able to be controlled manually – as did the original system – via the easily accessed button on the side of the system. An LED light changes from green, to orange and red to communicate what setting the shock is in.

[divider]What’s new with 2015 e:i Auto[/divider]

  • The bulky and plasticky head computer that sat on top of the stem is gone, so is the button console next to the grip. They’ve been replaced by just one small and unobtrusive button with one LED light sitting on the side of the stem – the LED indicates which mode you’re in.
  • The wiring connections and junctions between the sensors and battery inside the frame have also undergone improvements. These two factors alone immediately make us happy, and our faith is completely reinstated in the design.
  • Further simplifying the system is the removal of the front wheel magnet and without the display computer the speed, cadence, trip distance, time information etc is also gone. We won’t miss it, and everyone serious about capturing and monitoring data has a GPS type thingo or uses Strava on their phones anyway, so we doubt we’d be the only ones not missing these functions.
  • The battery changes shape and sits off the left side of the down tube, freeing up the area for a water bottle cage.
  • The cadence speed needed to activate the system has been lowered from 45 RPM to 30 RPM to accommodate for the impact larger diameter wheels and 1×11 drivetrains which often see a slower cadence. The system was originally developed when 26″ wheels were more common.
  • The automatic sensitivity settings have been reduced from five to three (the first three) furthermore simplifying the whole thing.

[divider]What’s new with the 2015 Zesty and Spicy range[/divider]

  • No more Formula brakes, in favour of more SRAM and Shimano.
  • All-aluminium seat stays on high end Zesty. No more carbon, plus they are narrower to reduce the heel rubbing experienced by many riders.
  • Easton wheels are gone from the range, replaced by Race Face and SRAM.
  • More RockShox spec, with the brilliant Pike through the range of Zesty AM and Spicy.
  • Michelin tyres on high end Spicy models, and the new generation (much tougher) Schwalbe Nobby Nics on Zesty.
  • New Fast Black coating on the RockShox Monarch rear shocks, giving smoother and more sensitive.
  • A revised spring curve and shock tune.
5437-details-016
The new computer is tiny and out of the way, mounted just off the left side of the stem.
5426-details-011
Hardly visible at all from the other side.
5437-details-017
The battery is also a lot smaller, sitting off the left side of the down tube to allow the use of the bottle cage bolts. A big thumbs up for this.
The outgoing 2013 and 2014 e:i Shock bikes had a remote manual control button and a computer, no more for 2015.
The outgoing 2013 and 2014 e:i Shock bikes had a remote manual control button and a computer. No more for 2015.
LP-5369-XR-529-ei
The short-travel, and race-oriented Lapierre XR also uses the e:i Shock Auto system.
LP-5426-SPICY-527-EI-SHOCK
The enduro-ready Spicy receives the new modifications to bolster and simplify the electronic system.
LP-5417-Zesty-AM-327
The popular 150mm travel Zesty AM (27.5″ wheels) and 120mm Zesty TR (120mm) receives the updated e:i Shock.

Screen Shot 2014-07-06 at 5.50.13 pm

Lapierre Fresh Product 1
We spent good time on the Zesty AM and Spicy, stay tuned for a full evaluation on the updated system.

We can’t help wishing Lapierre had refined the e:i Shock system just a little bit more in 2013, these improvements we see now will surely future-proof the electronic system from the incidental problems that were experienced. The concept is flawless, it works remarkably well. Now it’s time to put some time on the new rigs to deliver our verdict.

Au revior for now.

 

 

Fresh Product: Pivot Cycles Release New Carbon Cross Country and Downhill Bike

The Pivot Mach 4 is the bike that started it all. From the racetrack to the trail, there has never been anything that has performed like the new Mach 4 Carbon. Now in its 4th generation, the Mach 4 Carbon rolls on 27.5” wheels, features 115mm of travel, and introduces the next generation of race/trail geometry—all paired with the lightest full-suspension frame we have ever made.

Pivot Mach 4C

Pivot 2015 15

Whether you are a pure XC racer looking for something nimble, with the acceleration of 26” wheels and the rolling speed of a 29er, or a trail rider that wants something fast and responsive yet stable, the Mach 4 has you covered. The dw-link suspension has been tuned to provide instant acceleration with hardtail efficiency, while delivering the incredible climbing traction that all our dw-link equipped bikes are famous for. The short chainstays, spacious top tubes, and the incredibly stiff carbon chassis all enable you to achieve your fastest time on the climbs. On the descents, the Mach 4 comes alive.

Pivot 2015

 

With ultra-stable front end geometry, a low BB height, and 115mm of travel, you can tackle some of the roughest trails with ease; cornering like the bike is on rails and slicing through turns like a Ginsu knife! But we didn’t stop there. The Mach 4 Carbon is the first Shimano Di2 compatible frame ever developed, featuring an internal battery mount in the down tube and all the required ports for clean internal routing.

Pivot 2015 2 1

Pivot 2015 2 2

 

If you are not running Di2 and prefer a more conventional set up, the Mach 4 has the cleanest cable routing in the sport, with ports for full internal routing (including dropper post), full length housing and options for 1X, 2X and Shimano’s new M9000 Side Swing front derailleur.

Pivot 2015 14

• 115mm dw-link suspension with race and trail tuning

• Full carbon frame featuring Pivot exclusive hollow box internal molding technology

• 27.5” wheels

• XS, S, M, & L sizing, with our X-small featuring the lowest stand-over clearance of any 27.5” suspension bike made

• Full length internal cable routing, and Shimano Di2 compatible with Pivot’s exclusive cable port system

• Dropper post compatible with internal routing

• Enduro Max cartridge bearings

• Custom tuned Fox Float CTD Kashima rear shock

• Frame weight from 5.1lbs /2.3kg

• Complete bike weights from 22lbs/10kg

• 2 sets of bottle cage mounts

• Rubberized leather downtube and swing arm protection

2014 Pivot Mach 4C from eXposureTheory on Vimeo.

We set out to build the lightest, fastest, most capable World Cup DH bike the world has ever seen. The end result: The new Phoenix DH carbon. The Phoenix features 27.5” wheels, an ultra-lightweight chassis, dw-link suspension, and the most forward-thinking features to ever grace a mountain bike.

2015 Pivot Phoenix Carbon

Pivot 2015 12

We have employed Pivot’s exclusive Hollow Core Internal Molding process, along with technology developed from our award-winning Mach 6, to develop a 7.1lb/3.2kg frame. This makes a true, 31lb/14kg, raceable DH bike possible. The combination of 27.5” wheels and dw-link design has allowed us to go longer, lower and slacker than ever before, resulting in a chassis that instills high speed confidence and control on the steepest descents, all while out-pedaling any other DH bike on the course. It is a truly lethal combination for the competition with proven success on the World Cup circuit.

Pivot 2015 10

 

Pivot DH factory team riders Bernard Kerr, Eliot Jackson and Micayla Gatto have achieved their best World Cup career finishes aboard the new Phoenix.

Pivot 2015 18

Pivot 2015 19

• 204mm dw-link suspension

• Full carbon frame featuring Pivot exclusive hollow box internal molding technology

• 27.5” wheels

• S, M, L, & XL sizing

• Adjustable +/- .75 degree headset option

• Full length internal cable routing with Pivot’s exclusive cable port system

• Dropper post compatible with internal routing

• Enduro Max cartridge bearings used throughout

• Fox DHX RC4 Coil-Over rear shock

• Frame weight from 7.1/3.2kg lbs (small w/air shock) or 8.1lbs/3.6kg (small w/coil shock)

• Complete Shimano Saint equipped w/Fox 40 fork, Maxxis DH tires, and pedals from 33.5 lbs

• Rubberized integrated downtube and swingarm protection.

• Carbon ISCG-05 tabs

• 157mm X 12mm rear end

• 107mm full carbon BB shell

• 180mm rear carbon post mounts

Pivot Phoenix Carbon from eXposureTheory on Vimeo.

Fresh Product: Big changes for Marin

Mount_Vision_C-XM_Pro-SMALL

The Mount Vision line is designed and built for epic super-D/enduro racing, where riders need the geometry of a trail bike but the weight and efficiency of a cross-country (XC) bike. These models offer long-travel suspension, with 140mm of fixed travel front and rear, and 27.5-inch wheels. Design features include a build that’s significantly lighter than our Attack Trail bikes, achieved with a simplified suspension system, fixed-travel 32mm chassis forks, and lighter components.

KEY FEATURES

Attack_Trail_C-XT_Pro-SMALL

The Attack Trail is designed and built for more classic all-mountain riding, with 150-160mm travel full-suspension chassis, and design features including low, slack geometry, short chainstays, smart component selections, and 27.5-inch wheels built with 21mm rims and 2.35-inch tires. The Attack Trail is built for rough backcountry runs.

KEY FEATURES

A new vision for Marin:

Respected bike-industry veteran VanEnkevort took the helm as CEO in late 2012 and swiftly began the work of driving Marin forward with the greater resources at his command as a result of the company’s acquisition by a private firm earlier that year. VanEnkevort and the team at Marin have revitalized the company from the ground up and the inside out, driven by love for the brand and the thrilling, majestic landscapes that inspired it. The new direction features crucial advancements, as well as a return to the heart and soul of Marin: bikes designed by a small collective of passionate riders who work and ride hard in order to give the cyclists of the world the absolute best.

“I couldn’t be more excited,” says VanEnkevort. “Marin Bikes California is intimately connected with its namesake, and our people and products reflect this. We all live and ride here, and we love it. We’ve challenged ourselves and dug deep for our fans—our dealers and customers—and we have high expectations for 2014. Not only are the bikes going to be better than ever; we’ve completed and will be launching a full redesign: logo, headbadge, design aesthetics, bikes, Web site, all of it. We’ve built a bigger, stronger company, poured resources into R&D, and embraced platforms like 27.5-inch wheels, the IsoTrac suspension system, and much, much more, offering greater performance and versatility to our riders. We can’t wait for everyone to see it all come together.”