Bontrager gave us something to be excited about with the release of their new carbon wheels at very appealing prices. When we’re used to seeing carbon wheels trickle up to and well over the $2000 mark, these for under $1700 were worth a look.
The rims are 30mm wide, they use a robust plastic rim strip to seal the internal rim area and roll on nice hubs, the freehub has 108 engagement points and has a very sophisticated feeling and sound.
How do they compare to the aluminnium wheels?
Swapping from the 35mm width aluminium Wheelworks Flite Wide wheels to the carbon Bontrager wheels had quite a dramatic effect, while they are lighter they are also a lot stiffer. The narrower 30mm Bontrager wheels are very responsive to your actions on the bike, and you can really feel how stiff they are when you push the bike around sideways into a corner or hammer hard on the pedals.
Coming off the 35mm wide Wheelworks they certainly don’t feel any near as smooth, in part due to the softer feeling material and the bigger air volume from a wider wheel, the Norco felt more supple and more planted with the Wheelworks. The change to the Bontragers has given the Norco a more racey and fast feel with more trail feedback transferred up to hands.
It has us wondering what we’d pick as the better wheel out of the two, smooth and grippy, or fast and stiff? Full review coming shortly.
SRAM XX1 Eagle, the best drivetrain going?
It’s hard to argue that SRAM is driving ahead with mountain bike drivetrains causing Shimano to chase, it’s a competitive segment and we really enjoy watching it play out. SRAM Eagle solved any debate over the gear range that’s comparable to a double chainring setup, but for us, it’s more than just the range we like about Eagle. The shifting is ultra-crisp, the chain and chainring are dead quiet and it handles its enormous spread of gears without a hiccup.
Shimano XTR TRail Brakes, fickle but fantastic.
In the braking department, it is the XTR Trail brake that really seals the deal for the best trail bike brakes going. While they too are not without their inconsistencies, when you get a good set working well they are hard to match. It’s the power and heat management that edges out the SRAM Guide Ultimates in our opinion, most evident on long descents where you’re constantly on the brakes.
A water bottle cage that fits.
The Specialized cage fits the tight space for a water bottle just right, and the side-access was the only way.
The Remedy comes in two wheels sizes, we went for the 27.5 one, it sits in between the 120mm travel Fuel EX and 160mm travel Slash. A real all-rounder with a buttery smooth rear suspension and relaxed geometry, it’s the type of bike that strikes a good balance between long and short travel. Perfect for travelling in search of new trails, not afraid of the rougher trails, and still efficient enough to keep up with the cross country bandits.
Coincidentally it’s the same bike that National Enduro Champion Chris Panozzo rides, although his goes much faster. Check out his unique build and setup here: Panozzo bike check.
We’ve been tinkering and modifying the Remedy from its stock spec, with a current weight of 12.6kg let’s take a look at what’s been going on under the hood of the ‘Pine Lime Express’.
The FOX Float 36 fork with its beefy legs is an uncommon sight at only 140mm travel, typically we’d see this travel category dominated by the FOX 34, with the 36 found on 160-180mm travel bikes. Not a bad thong at all though, it’s one of the stiffest steering front ends around, you really can put your weight over the forks and push them so, so, so hard.
The fork’s sensitivity isn’t the greatest though, especially when the rear suspension is smoother than butter melted on a silk tablecloth. A known trade for bigger diameter legs is increased surface area which often translates to more stiction, and being a non-Kashima level the fork on this bike does feel a little wooden when compared to the FOX 34 we reviewed recently.
We’ve fitted two air reducers in the spring side to add progressiveness to the stroke, the little plastic spacers are easily fitted but not supplied with the bike, we sourced them from FOX and popped them in to tune to our liking.
Anyone who’s spent time on the Trek suspension bikes that use the Full Floater linkage system will agree, it’s one of the most sensitive and supple designs out there. After many years of Trek’s tight relationship with FOX they’ve been able to achieve the desired air spring that makes these bikes really tick without the need for their now superseded DRCV (Dual Rate Control Valve) rear shocks, the new large volume EVOL air cans on 2016 FOX Float rear shocks is exceptional.
The Remedy’s rear suspension is a system that certainly does require you to use the blue lever on the shock to your benefit, not in a bad way at all, it’s just so plush if you leave it open for anything but the descents it feels a little soft underneath you. To it’s credit, Trek’s proprietary RE:aktiv rear shock damper works so well in ‘trail mode’ that we spend most of our time in that middle setting, it’s still more sensitive to small impacts than your regular rear shock thanks to their unique damping system.
Shimano XTR and Di2:
The Remedy was lucky enough to be chosen for the ongoing review of Shimano’s super XTR Di2 electronic shifting and M9020 groupset. With the wheels and brakes also badged with the three letters that spell ‘oooooh, fancy’, the Trail series of XTR with its powerful brakes and wider rim wheels have been ridden hard.
There’s no doubt we’ll see more electronics in the future of mountain biking, Shimano are bound to trickle down the technology to lower price points like on the road cycling domain with Dura Ace and Ultegra, and SRAM mustn’t be far off with a mountain bike version of their wireless road cycling drivetrain, Red E-Tap. Electronics enable things to happen at speeds that are unachievable with hand, and wires can travel places gear cables cannot.
The shifting on this bike is exceptional, super precise and never have we needed to tune the gears, the battery lasts for months and on those trails where you are shifting gears under load nothing compares to the precision and consistency of XTR Di2.
While the Remedy doesn’t have any specific integration for the Di2 wires like some of the latest high end cross country bikes (Trek Top Fuel, Pivot Mach 4 etc) it’s turned out quite nicely. By using a couple of the rubber grommets and plugs that are supplied with the Trek road bikes specced with Di2 Ultegra or Dura Ace we’ve been able to make it look neat and secure.
One long wire travels from the rear derailleur through the chainstay and pops into view under the rear shock, then its back into the down tube where it exits alongside the rear brake and Reverb line before connecting to the computer. The battery is inside the fork steerer, made possible by the Pro Tharsis Di2 bar and stem.
PRO Tharsis Trail Di2 cockpit:
Nothing is neater than Di2 with internal wiring, and with Shimano’s component line working so close with Shimano on the dedicated cockpit, the result is the cleanest bike possible.
The Tharsis bar and stem take the Di2 to the next level, providing internal routing of the wire in through the bar and the battery inside the fork’s steer tube.
The bars were trimmed down from a whopping 800mm wide to 760mm.
Schwalbe have successfully produced a very effective dual air chamber system for your wheels, in an effort to increase traction while reducing wheel damage and risk of flat tyres.
While it added 420g to the existing tubeless setup we had already, it’s been a super interesting test of an impressive product. We’ve been running between 10-14psi in the outer chamber and 75 in the inner chamber with great results.
We talk about Procore a lot, discussing its strengths and weaknesses, what bike it suits and what type of rider it will appeal to most. We’ll be delivering our conclusion soon!
With an in depth review coming to Flow shortly, we’ve fitted Absolute Black Oval rings to both our Trek Fuel EX 9.8 27.5 and the Remedy.
It’s odd to ride at first, with a slightly lumpy feeling pedal stroke that is quickly forgotten about during the ride, but with more oval rings becoming popular, the benefits in the theory were worth exploring.
The chainring uses a narrow/wide tooth profile, and it’s all very secure, no dropped chains at all. But the XTR cranks don’t exactly match the black chainring so it’d better be worth it, or it won’t be on for long.
The word from Oval is: “Our Oval chainrings work because a rider does not produce power evenly through a pedal stroke; they maximise the part of the stroke where power is produced and minimise resistance where it isn’t. Oval rings make the spin cycle a lot smoother and are easier on legs while climbing. Believe it (or not), but a round chainring doesn’t transfer torque to your rear wheel as smoothly as an Oval one. You will actually feel your stroke to be more “round” with an Oval shape than with a round chainring.” – Oval.
Today Shimano releases a selection of new products and features making their way into the component manufacturer’s 2017 road and MTB line-ups.
Mountain bikers benefit from new 11-speed drivetrain additions with the following new products:
1×11 chain ring with Dynamic Chain Engagement.
Wide ranging 11-46T cassette compatible with XTR or DEORE XT 1×11 set ups.
QUICK-LINK for 11-speed chains.
Elsewhere additions at the mid-range level include:
New gear combinations for 2×11 and 3×10 cranksets.
New hydraulic disc brakes at the middle and entry level.
And a disc brake rotor lock ring promising easier assembly.
New XTR and Deore XT 1×11 speed chain rings have been developed thanks to studies with world level cross-country and trail riders in all conditions, from the dry and dusty conditions of the Americas and southern Europe to the heavy mud of winter-time northern Europe.
Efficient chain management was the goal and the new XTR (SM- CRM91 and DEORE XT (SM-CRM81) chain rings do this by introducing a concept called Dynamic Chain Engagement (DCE).
The modified tooth profile on the CRM91 and CRM81 DCE chain rings are designed to provide superior chain retention, lower driving sound and increased durability. Steel plated teeth on the XT version provide greater durability, while strengthened aluminum teeth on the XTR version keep the weight down.
The new cassette for 1×11 riders offers a super-wide 11-46T range providing optimal gear choices for Enduro riders. The target weight of the CS-M8000 cassette is 450g and it’s designed to work across XTR and Deore XT platforms.
To provide greater flexibility Shimano now introduce an 11- speed chain QUICK-LINK (SM-CN900-11).
It is designed with tool-free assembly in mind for quick on-the-trail repairs, although for rapid assembly of multiple chains a professional assembly tool (TL-CN10) is also available.
New gear combinations offered on new 2×11 and 3×10 cranksets are focused on lower gears for riders riding in steep mountainous areas.
The DYNA-SIS 11 FC-MT700 34-24T crankset features HOLLOWTECH II crank arms. Meanwhile the 3×10 MT500 crankset provides 40-30-22T rings and a 2-piece crank arm with a stiff, solid and robust construction.
Sitting just below ACERA level, Shimano introduces two new non-series M365 and M315 hydraulic disc brakes. The M365 comes with a lighter aluminium lever and both brakes offer technology adopted from top-of-the-range disc brakes such as noise-free stable braking performance, and quick and clean bleeding.
Complementing the new M365 and M315 disc brakes is a new lock ring style for 160mm or 180mm SM-RT10 rotors, designed to simplify handling and operation for workshops and manufacturers.
Two new tools provide quick and easy maintenance for rotor installation, either the TL-FC36 outer serration wrench or the TL-LR11 inner serration socket tool.
When Shimano Australia asked us if we’d like an entry to the opening Enduro World Series round in Rotorua, we snapped it up faster than Jared Graves out of the gate. But we needed a bike.
Sure, we could’ve used a review bike or one of our own personal fleet, but we wanted something special.
The Pivot Mach 6 is a bike that we’ve always liked (you can find our review of last year’s model here: http://flowmountainbike.com/tests/tested-pivot-mach-6-carbon/). One hundred and fifty five millimetres of DW link rear suspension pedals better than just about anything, whilst still gobbling up the hits when the trail points downhill.
With the frame sorted, the next step was suspension. Up front we opted for the Rockshox Pike RCT3 (which we’ve also tested: http://flowmountainbike.com/tests/tested-rockshox-pike/). This Pike needs no introduction, having been widely accredited as the new standard for fork performance. The ability to dial in a supple ride whilst still retaining control over the big hits makes the Pike a winner.
The rear suspension is handled by Fox. the Float X CTD with Trail Adjust is a shock we’ve been lucky to spend alot of time on (you can find our long term review here: http://flowmountainbike.com/tests/tested-fox-float-x-ctd-wtrail-adjust/). Despite the infuriating rebound dial, the Float X is an absolute ripper for Enduro racing. The smoothness of the entire stroke is remarkable, and the trail adjust allows you to fine tune your suspension past the regular CTD settings.
We didn’t have to worry about the drivetrain or wheels. Shimano Australia were nice enough to strap on a succulent mix of XT and XTR components. The eleven speed XTR drivetrain is a standout, providing lightening quick shifting and a wide range 11-40 tooth cassette.
The wheelset, also supplied by Shimano, is the ever reliable XT hoops. Light, strong and dependable, we feel these are perfect for some Enduro abuse!
Being able to stop on a dime definitely gives you the confidence to push harder. Shimano XT brakes were an easy choice.
Our choice of dropper post was the KS Integra -a reliable choice that should require little maintenance. The post is also cable actuated, making repairs far easier than if a hydraulic system was used.
To round out the build we’ve decided to run Maxxis High Roller II tyres. The High Roller rolls quickly, but still provides enough cornering bite when required. For the fast, ‘hero dirt’ conditions of Rotorua we feel this is a good choice.
With Crankworx Rotorua fast approaching, it’s time to get out and get acquainted with our new Enduro weapon! We’ll be keeping you posted with our progress on the bike, so keep an eye out.