It may only be September, but the 2020 model year is coming in hot, with so many freaking new mountain bike and product releases that we’re struggling to keep up! Just in the past week we’ve seen Trek redefine its XC lineup with the brand new Supercaliber, while at the other end of the spectrum Norco has unloaded its biggest and baddest e-MTB yet; the Shimano-powered, 170mm travel Range VLT. We also got ourselves along to the Focus 2020 dealer show in rAdelaide, so if you haven’t already, make sure you check out our Top 7 bikes from the Focus 2020 range here. The 2020 Trek Supercaliber is absolutely wild! Make sure you check out the full story on this super-trick race bike here. As well as staying on top of new bike releases, thankfully we’ve been putting plenty of saddle time aboard them too. Wil got out for a gravity enduro race on the weekend aboard the Merida eOne-Sixty 9000 long term test bike, and Mick has been checking out the brand new Trek Rail – a new long travel e-MTB from Trek that he reckons his a huge step up from the Powerfly LT. If you’re not into electronics on mountain bikes though, fear not! We’ve just published our long term review of the Canyon Spectral AL 6.0, which Wil called a “bonafide hooligan bike“. Party on Wayne Amongst all that, we’ve been sent a barrel-load of new test gear, so here’s a closer look at the freshest and tastiest kit in the workshop at Flow HQ! 2020 Trek Fuel EX 9.8 The Fuel EX lineup is brand spanking new for 2020, and we’ve just received a 9.8 model for a proper long term test on home soil. In case you hadn’t heard, Trek has completely revamped its Fuel EX lineup for 2020. There’s a brand new frame, a move away from the Full Floater suspension design, and some notable tweaks to the geometry to bring the EX up to date with the competition. Suspension travel remains at 130mm on the rear, and the frame is still rolling on 29in wheels, though stock bikes will be coming with humongous 2.6in wide Bontrager tyres – like the XR4 Team Issue ones shown on this Fuel EX 9.8 here. Trek has upped the fork travel to 140mm though, and it’s slackened out the head angle to 66°, giving the Fuel EX a bit more muscle for descending. Also noteworthy is the big hole in the downtube on the carbon fibre models – ala Specialized SWAT. There’s a latch underneath the bottle cage that opens up the treasure chest within, and Trek includes a soft pouch for storing tools, spares, snackeroos, and anything else you want to stuff down in the hole. There’s a tonne of new features on the 2020 Fuel EX, so make sure you read Mick’s first ride review from the launch. This Fuel EX 9.8 is one step down from that top-end 9.9 model, and we’ve got it on test for a proper long term review on Aussie turf. Stay tuned for more! From: Trek Bikes Price: $6,999 Fox Dropframe Helmet Part full-face, part open-face, part kayaking helmet. Fox calls the Dropframe a “maximum coverage open face helmet“, and it’s easy to see why. Taking the trail/AM helmet design to the next level, the Dropframe sees the helmet shell extend down and around the rider’s ears for added protection around the sides and back of the skull. It’s about as close as you’ll get to a full face helmet, without having a claustrophobic chinbar. It also looks ideal for the new crossover market between mountain biking and kayaking. Compared to the recently released Giro Tyrant, the Fox Dropframe is a much simpler affair. It’s available in four sizes, but there’s no adjustable harness on this helmet. Instead, the bucket-like shell uses plenty of thick foam padding to keep the fit snug and secure, and additional pads are included in the box for dialling in the fit for your noggin. It gets more ventilation, particularly around your listening gear, and it has a big fixed visor to keep the lines clean. We’ll be interested to see how the Dropframe goes during the warmer months, so stay tuned for a comparison review against the Giro Tyrant. From: PSI Cycling Price: $ Fox VUE Goggles The VUE is a premium-level goggle from Fox with a clever interchangeable lens system. To match the Dropframe lid, Fox Head has also sent us a set of its premium VUE goggles. These feature a pre-curved, injection-moulded polycarbonate lens that offers a huge field of view, and the lenses are easily interchangeable thanks to the clever TruLock system. The VUE goggles get heaps of multi-density foam padding for a comfortable fit and for keeping the dust out, though clear tear-offs are supplied in the box in the highly unusual event that we end up riding in mud. Yuck! From: PSI Cycling Price: $ Fox Enduro Knee Guards The Fox Enduro is a lightweight, pedal-friendly, slip-on knee pad. And rounding out the enduro garb is a lightweight set of knee pads from Fox. Funnily enough, these are called the ‘Enduro Knee Guard’, though they’re designed to be sufficiently flexible and breathable for everyday trail riding too. Using a tube-style construction with open-eyelet mesh panelling on the rear, they’re designed to slip straight on over your legs, a bit like a knee warmer on steroids. Knee cap protection comes from Fox’s own F3 Amor plate, which is made from a flexible material not unlike D3O. The pad has various cutouts and channels to help it curve around your knees while pedalling, and it can also be removed when its time to wash and de-stink the pads. There are four sizes available from Small through to X-Large, and each pad features elasticated cuffs for a slip-free fit. From: PSI Cycling Price: $ DT Swiss 180 Straightpull Hubs The new DT Swiss 180 Straighpull hubs utilise SINC ceramic bearings and the new Ratchet EXP freehub system. This is a set of DT Swiss’ ultra-premium 180 hubs, which feature its own SINC ceramic bearings inside, and a heavily machined body that has had as much excess material removed from it as possible. The weight? Just 283g. For the pair. That’s insane! And cool, but that’s not the reason we’ve got these hubs. The reason is to check out the Ratchet EXP freehub mechanism, which is a brand new system from DT Swiss that is replacing the venerable Star Ratchet design in its high-end wheelsets and 180 hub series. We’ve got an in-depth article about the Ratchet EXP freehub system coming soon, so stay tuned to the Flow website for the full back story. From: Apollo Price: $439 (front), $809 (rear) Smith Optics Attack MTB Glasses Fresh shades from Smith Optics, which use the power of MAGNETS! US eyewear and helmet company, Smith Optics, has launched a new MTB-specific version of its Attack glasses. Like the Attack and Attack Max glasses, these feature removable arms that clip on and off the lens via the power of witchcraft a magnetic latch. Smith includes two lenses with the Attack MTB glasses – a mirror finish ChromaPop lens, and a low-light Amber ChromaPop lens. What’s ChromaPop? It’s a series of light filters that help to boost both colour and contrast so everything looks like it has an Instagram filter applied to it. We’ve used it before and it’s great. Until you take the glasses off and the whole world returns to its naturally bland state. So what’s new? The main difference with the Attack MTB glasses over the standard version is the additional frame coverage around the top and bottom of the lens. Mountain bike glasses can get a rough time, so the reinforced lens should help ward off some of the bumps and scrapes along the way. You also get a two-position adjustable nosepiece, and a clamshell case for storing the glasses and the additional lens. From: Smith Optics Price: $369.95 USWE Airborne 3 Hydration Pack More practical than a fanny pack? The USWE Airborne 3 is designed for minimalist mountain bikers. Fanny packs and bum bags may be all the enduro-rage at the moment, but no matter how good they might be, they all tend to bounce around when properly loaded up with water and gear. Providing a minimalist option for those who don’t want to ride with a huge backpack, but still want to carry a decent amount of water is the Airborne 3 from USWE. Coming in at just 449g, the Airborne 3 is designed to take up minimal real estate on your back, while still being more secure than a bum bag. Inside the Airborne 3 you’ll find a two litre hydration bladder, with a drinking hose that can be routed over the left or right shoulder. There’s three litres of storage volume on offer, so you can pack in a lightweight outer shell, food, spares, and your MiniDisc player. The piggyback pouch on the front clips on via four nylon buckles, and can be removed entirely. Like all USWE packs, the Airborne 3 gets the ‘No Dancing Monkey’ harness system, which promises bounce-free riding. From: Lusty Industries Price: $169.95 Specialized Ambush ANGi MIPS Helmet ANGi is now joining the Specialized Ambush helmet (and you) for the ride. The Specialized Ambush has been around for a little while now, but the latest version has been updated with the new MIPS SL liner, and a clever electronic device called ANGi. This little gizmo sticks onto the rear of the helmet, and uses a host of sensors to detect if you’ve had a crash. Under the rapid acceleration/deceleration that you might experience if your head hits the ground hard, the sensor triggers a warning to an app on your phone, and will then alert your selected contacts to let them know your last known whereabouts. How gnarly is that! In case you accidentally bumped the sensor and you’re not actually unconscious on the ground next to your bike though, you can cancel the countdown timer on the app to avoid accidentally alerting your significant other/family members/BFF. The ANGi unit relies on a compact CR2032 watch battery to send signals to your smartphone, and we’re told it lasts for ages before it needs replacing. Clever crash sensor aside, the latest Ambush also gets the MIPS SL liner system, which sees sections of the internal foam padding attached to the EPS shell via numerous rubber MIPS anchors. As well as being a bit lighter than the standard MIPS liner you’ll find in other brands’ helmets, the MIPS SL system also takes up less room inside the helmet. From: Specialized Price: $300 The post Flow’s Fresh Produce | A Brand New Trek, Magnetic Shades & $1200 Hubs! appeared first on Flow Mountain Bike.
It’s been a thoroughly bonkers Silly Season for 2020 mountain bike releases, with brands including Specialized, Giant, Trek, Santa Cruz, Merida and Norco having unveiled a deluge of new models over the past couple of months. Focus has also just joined the 2020 hype-wagon, and we had the chance to go through the mountain bike line during the Australian 2020 dealer show in rAdelaide earlier this month. Focus has just launched its 2020 range, so here’s a look at our pick of the bunch! So what’s new from Focus for 2020? Like pretty much every other brand on planet Earth, Focus is going heavy on electric mountain bikes. Though to be fair, the German brand has already been doing that for the past couple of years. Things are stepping up for 2020 though with the launch of the new Bosch-equipped JAM² and the new THRON², which join the existing Shimano-equipped JAM² and SAM² models. We’ll have a detailed story and video on those bikes coming soon, so stay tuned for that one. e-MTBs aside, the other theme that shone through for us during our ogle at the 2020 Focus range was just how good the value is here. At a time where brands like Giant and Merida are offering models that cost well over $10K, Focus is putting together some supremely well-appointed bikes for 2020. Perhaps related, you’ll notice that Focus hasn’t gone heavy with all-new models for 2020, like Norco and Trek have. Does that mean more new bikes are on the way, perhaps part way through 2020? We have a sneaking suspicion there might be, though time will tell on that one… In the meantime, strap yourself in for a look at some of the highlights from the 2020 Focus mountain bike range that are coming to our shores this season! 2020 Focus O1E 8.8 Tanwall tyres? Check. Full carbon frame? Check. Lightweight 120mm travel fork? Check. Initially suckered in by the killer combination of its ‘Heritage Blue’ paint job and those lovely Maxxis tanwall tyres, this Focus O1E 8.8 then blew us away with what might just be one of the best value packages on offer for 2020. For six grand you’re getting a full carbon fibre frame (including the one-piece swingarm), a Fox Performance Series suspension package, Mavic Crossmax wheels and a Shimano Deore XT M8100 12-speed drivetrain. That’s bonkers value! The O1E is of course already a well-known full suspension XC race bike, but Focus has actually split it into two distinct platforms. There’s the purebred race model with 100/100mm of travel, and a slightly burlier version with 120/110mm of travel. The O1E 8.8 shown here is the latter of the two, and it uses a longer stroke shock to get the extra 10mm out back, while the superb Fox 34 Step-Cast fork sits up front with 120mm of travel. Completing the trail package is a set of 4-piston Shimano XT brakes, a dropper post, and a 2.4in front tyre. Frame | Carbon Fibre, F.O.L.D Suspension Design, 110mm Travel Fork | Fox 34 Step-Cast, Performance Series, 120mm Travel Shock | Fox Float DPS, Performance Series, 165x38mm Wheels | Mavic Crossmax, 25mm Inner Width Tyres | Maxxis Rekon Race EXO 2.4in Front & 2.25in Rear Drivetrain | Shimano Deore XT 1×12 w/XT 32T Crankset & 10-51T Cassette Brakes | Shimano Deore XT M8120 4-Piston w/180mm Rotors Front & Rear Seatpost | Kindshock Zeta Dropper, 31.6mm Diameter RRP | $5,999 The 2020 Focus O1E 8.8 might just be one of the best value XC/marathon bikes available in Australia this year. 2020 Focus THRON² 6.7 The 2020 Focus THRON² is brand new this year, and offers trail riders a Bosch-boosted chassis with 130mm of travel. Brand new for 2020 is the Focus THRON² – a 130mm travel electric mountain bike that slots in underneath the 150mm travel JAM². Whereas the JAM² is more of an all mountain machine, the THRON² (anyone else thinking Game Of Thrones?) is pitched as more of a trail bike cruiser, with slightly less aggressive geometry, 29in wheels and nice high volume 2.6in wide tyres. It uses an alloy frame and integrates a Bosch battery pack inside the downtube, with the 4th generation Performance CX motor boosting your pedal power for the climbs. Frame | 7005 Hydroformed Alloy, F.O.L.D Suspension Design, 130mm Travel Fork | RockShox Recon RL, 130mm Travel Shock | SR Suntour Edge LOR, 190x45mm Motor | Bosch Performance CX Gen 4, 75Nm, 250W Battery | Bosch Powertube 500Wh Wheels | Novatec Hubs & Rodi Tryp 30 Rims Tyres | Schwalbe Nobby Nic Performance ADDIX 29×2.6in Front & Rear Drivetrain | SRAM SX Eagle 1×12 w/FSA 34T Crankset & 10-51T Cassette Brakes | Shimano MT420 4-Piston w/180mm Rotors Front & Rear Seatpost | Aluminum, 31.6mm Diameter RRP | $5,499 Bosch is back in a big way for 2020 with its new fourth generation Performance CX motor system. Smoother, quieter and more compact. 2020 Focus THRON² 6.8 The Focus THRON² 6.8 is a 130mm travel 29er trail bike that’s designed for those who like to go long. Stepping up the component level over the entry-level 6.7, the THRON² 6.8 comes in a thousand dollars more but pushes you up to a 1×12 Shimano SLX drivetrain, adds in a dropper post, and fits an enormous 625Wh battery inside the downtube. The chassis and Bosch motor are otherwise the same, and you’re getting air-adjustable suspension front and rear with a RockShox Recon RL fork up front. Quad-piston brakes with 200mm rotors and ADDIX-equipped Schwalbe tyres offer confidence-boosting control and traction. Frame | 7005 Hydroformed Alloy, F.O.L.D Suspension Design, 130mm Travel Fork | RockShox Recon RL, 130mm Travel Shock | SR Suntour Edge LOR, 190x45mm Motor | Bosch Performance CX Gen 4, 75Nm, 250W Battery | Bosch Powertube 625Wh Wheels | Novatec Hubs & Rodi Tryp 30 Rims Tyres | Schwalbe Nobby Nic Performance ADDIX 2.6in Front & Rear Drivetrain | Shimano SLX 1×12 w/FSA 34T Crankset & 10-51T Cassette Brakes | Shimano MT420 4-Piston w/200mm Rotors Front & Rear Seatpost | Kindshock E30i Dropper, 31.6mm Diameter RRP | $6,499 The THRON² 6.8 upgrades to a bigger 625Wh battery for more range. 2020 Focus JAM² 6.7 NINE For 2020 you’ll be able to get the Focus JAM² with either Shimano or Bosch motor systems. Interesting. For 2020 the Focus JAM² is now available with either a Bosch or a Shimano motor system. The Bosch-equipped model shown here is all-new, and features the Gen 4 Performance CX motor that offers smoother and quieter performance than previous versions. For now Focus will only be offering the Bosch JAM² models with an alloy frame, but our guess is that a carbon version can’t be far away. Compared to the THRON², the JAM² increases suspension travel to 150mm front and rear, and it gets more aggressive geometry for riding steeper and more technical trails. This entry-level 6.7 model features 1×12 shifting courtesy of Shimano SLX, while braking duties are handled by quad-piston MT520 callipers. Frame | 7005 Hydroformed Alloy, F.O.L.D Suspension Design, 150mm Travel Fork | RockShox Recon RL, 150mm Travel Shock | RockShox Deluxe Select, 210x55mm Motor | Bosch Performance CX Gen 4, 75Nm, 250W Battery | Bosch Powertube 625Wh Wheels | Novatec Hubs & Race Face AR30 Offset Rims Tyres | Maxxis Rekon EXO 2.6in Front & Rear Drivetrain | Shimano SLX 1×12 w/FSA 34T Crankset & 10-51T Cassette Brakes | Shimano MT520 4-Piston w/200mm Rotors Front & Rear Seatpost | Kindshock E30i Dropper, 31.6mm Diameter RRP | $6,499 The rear dropout uses an offset flip chip for switching between 29in, 27.5+ and 27.5in wheelsizes. Clever! 2020 Focus JAM² 9.6 PLUS Focus will be including the T.E.C battery pack with all carbon JAM² models for 2020, upping the value even further. The carbon fibre Focus JAM² remains as the lightest e-MTB we’ve ever ridden, and the good news is that Focus will be carrying that model through to 2020. The 9.6 PLUS model shown here sticks with the carbon mainframe and alloy swingarm, and it’s also powered by the Shimano STEPS E8000 motor system. New for 2020 though is the addition of the 378Wh T.E.C Pack – a piggyback battery that is normally sold separately to the bike. Adding in some serious value to the JAM² sticker price, the included T.E.C Pack doubles the available range, though for shorter rides you can remove it to drop the weight down. Frame | Carbon Mainframe & 7005 Alloy Swingarm, F.O.L.D Suspension Design, 150mm Travel Fork | RockShox Revelation RC, 150mm Travel Shock | RockShox Deluxe Select, 210x55mm Motor | Shimano STEPS E8000, 70Nm, 250W Battery | 378Wh Internal + 378Wh T.E.C Pack (Included) Wheels | Novatec Hubs & Race Face AR40 Offset Rims Tyres | Maxxis Rekon+ EXO 2.8in Front & Rear Drivetrain | Shimano Deore XT 1×11 w/XT 34T Crankset & 11-46T Cassette Brakes | Shimano MT520 4-Piston w/200mm Rotors Front & Rear Seatpost | Kindshock E30i Dropper, 31.6mm Diameter RRP | $7,999 Inside the downtube is a 378Wh battery, while outside is a 378Wh piggyback battery called the T.E.C Pack. 2020 Focus JAM 8.9 Nine The JAM is Focus’ 140mm travel trail bike, and for 2020 it’s coming out swinging with some serious value. While Focus is going heavy on e-Bikes for 2020, it isn’t all about motors and batteries. Take this JAM 8.9 Nine for example. Featuring 140mm of travel front and rear with 29in wheels and aggressive Maxxis tyres, the JAM is pitched as a versatile trail bike that’ll take a water bottle inside the carbon fibre mainframe thanks to the compact F.O.L.D suspension design. That all sounds pretty good, until you get to the price. For six grand, you’re getting a rather special package that includes a RockShox Ultimate fork, Mavic XA wheels, carbon fibre Race Face Next R cranks, a Shimano XTR 12-speed mech, and shiny Magura MT Trail disc brakes. Much like the O1E, this JAM could well be one of the most well-appointed bikes in its class for this year! Frame | Carbon Fibre, F.O.L.D Suspension Design, 140mm Travel Fork | RockShox Pike Ultimate RCT3, 140mm Travel Shock | RockShox Super Deluxe Select+, 210x55mm Wheels | Mavic XA 29er, 30mm Inner Width Tyres | Maxxis High Roller II EXO 3C 2.5in Front & Minion DHR II 2.3in Rear Drivetrain | Shimano SLX/XT/XTR 1×12 w/Race Face Next R 32T Crankset & 10-51T Cassette Brakes | Magura MT Trail, HC3 Lever w/200mm Front & 180mm Rear Rotors Seatpost | Kindshock E30i Dropper, 31.6mm Diameter RRP | $5,999 The JAM 8.9 Nine gets a Pike Ultimate fork and a Super Deluxe shock out back for some serious bump mitigation. 2020 Focus SAM 8.9 The big travel Focus SAM. *Note: Yellow stickers not included* For proper enduro bashing, you’ll be wanting to check out this bike – the Focus SAM. Utilising the same compact F.O.L.D suspension platform as the JAM, the SAM bumps up the travel to a monstrous 170mm front and rear. You’re getting aggro 27.5in Maxxis tyres, a piggyback Fox Float DPX2 shock, and the venerable Fox 36 fork up front. This particular model – the SAM 8.9 – gets a hybrid frame setup with a carbon front end and an alloy swingarm. Upping the value stakes is a combo SRAM 1×12 drivetrain that utilises GX and NX components, while Guide R brakes clamp down on huge 200mm diameter rotors. Frame | Carbon Fibre Mainframe & 7005 Alloy Swingarm, F.O.L.D Suspension Design, 170mm Travel Fork | Fox 36 Rhythm, GRIP Damper, 170mm Travel Shock | Fox Float DPX2, Performance Series, 230x65mm Wheels | DT Swiss E1900, 30mm Inner Width Tyres | Maxxis High Roller II EXO 3C 2.5in Front & Minion DHR II 2.5in Rear Drivetrain | SRAM NX/GX Eagle 1×12 w/Descendent 6K Alloy 32T Crankset & 11-50T Cassette Brakes | SRAM Guide R w/200mm Front & 180mm Rear Rotors Seatpost | Kindshock E30i Dropper, 31.6mm Diameter RRP | $5,499 The twin-link F.O.L.D suspension system keeps everything very compact, allowing you to fit a water bottle inside the mainframe. And that there, is an overview of some of the highlights to expect from the 2020 Focus mountain bike range. What do you folks think of the new bikes? What’s your favourite? And what do you think of the spec that Focus is offering for the money this year? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below! We’ll also be diving deeper into some of those new Focus e-MTB models, so stay tuned to the website and our YouTube channel for the upcoming video and article. The post Our Top 7 Bikes From The 2020 Focus Mountain Bike Range appeared first on Flow Mountain Bike.
Handily arriving at the start of our Australian spring is this shiny new test bike; the 2020 Merida eOne-Sixty 9000. It’s an e-MTB we’ve been thoroughly excited about getting onto our home trails, having had a taster of the new eOne-Sixty platform at the official launch back in June. There’s been a load of buzz around this bike since that launch, though admittedly not everyone was thrilled by the $12K price tag of the top-of-the-range 10K model we tested at the launch. The good news? There will be four eOne-Sixty models available for 2020, including this one; the 9000. Merida’s second generation eOne-Sixty platform has launched in a big way for 2020. We won’t be going into a load of detail about the new eOne-Sixty platform here, since Oli already did a fabulous job of that in the original launch feature (you can read the full story here). We’ll also be bringing you a broader range overview shortly, including a closer look at the eOne-Forty model too. In the meantime, here’s a short and sweet rundown of what’s special about this new e-MTB. The 2020 Merida eOne-Sixty In A Nutshell This is Merida’s second generation eOne-Sixty. The original model was a much-loved bike here at Flow, having made its way into our long term test fleet where it joined us on many an adventure around the country. It wasn’t perfect out of the box though, and we made a bunch of changes to its setup and specification during our time with it. Looking to address some of those shortcomings while taking advantage of newly available technologies, Merida unveiled the new eOne-Sixty platform back in June. The biggest change? From first glance it’s pretty obvious – this bike looks a kerbillion times better! The 2020 eOne-Sixty now gets a lighter and sleeker carbon fibre mainframe, which integrates the Shimano E8035 battery neatly into the downtube, giving a much cleaner look without the bolt-on style of the old model. It also allows you to fit a water bottle inside the mainframe, which earns a big tick from us. The eOne-Sixty gets a 160mm travel fork plugged in at the front, with 150mm of squish at the rear wheel. Shimano’s latest integrated battery sits inside the sleek carbon mainframe. Merida has retained the metal back-end though. Suspension travel remains the same, so you’ve got 150mm out back and a 160mm fork up front. However, wheel and tyre sizes have changed. There’s still a 27.5in rear wheel, but Merida has gone all on-trend on us with a 29in wheel up front. Depending on your personal feelings about wheelsize, that makes the eOne-Sixty either a mullet bike or a reverse mullet bike. Oh and you also won’t find plus tyres anymore. Instead, Merida has spec’d new-school 2.6in wide tyres front and rear. Geometry gets a wee massage, with the head angle slackening to 65.5°, and the seat angle steepening to 75.5°. Chainstay lengths remain at 439.5mm, because the welded alloy back end has actually been carried over from the previous model. That means you get Boost hub spacing, anti-slap rubber armour on the drive-side chainstay, and post mounts for the rear brake calliper that tucks it in behind the seatstay for a little extra protection. The eOne-Sixty has had its geometry massaged for 2020. What’s It Wearing? There are exactly six models in the Merida eOne-Sixty range for 2020. Two of those are alloy, and they’ll carry over the previous generation frame design. The other four pricier models use a hybrid carbon/alloy frameset that is all-new for 2020, which gets the refreshed geometry and integrated battery design. The eOne-Sixty 9000 that we’ve just received for long term testing is one step down from the big banger 10K model. While it uses exactly the same frame and Shimano STEPS E8000 drive system, it lobs off a cool three thousand dollars by moving to alloy DT Swiss wheels, and changing to a Shimano Deore XT 1×12 groupset, instead of XTR that comes on the top model. High-end alloy hoops from DT Swiss are e-MTB specific, with thicker-walled alloy rims, reinforced hub internals and stronger spokes. Particular highlights on this bike include the aggressive Maxxis EXO+ tyre combo, Kashima-coated Fox suspension, and four-piston disc brakes complete with 203mm rotors front and rear. Proper powarrr! There’s a swag of other neat details, like the integrated on/off button on the top tube, the removable 4/6mm allen key inside the rear thru-axle lever, and the rubber-coated downtube armour that protects the removable battery within. Along with the bike, Merida includes its own cute front and rear mudguards (and zip ties to cable them on), tubeless valves, a carbon fibre bottle cage, and a multi-tool that tucks into its own special pouch underneath the saddle. Nice details! There’s a 29in front wheel paired to a 27.5in rear wheel. Merida has spec’d 2.6in wide tyres at both ends though, complete with the burly Maxxis EXO+ casing. 2020 Merida eOne-Sixty 9000 Specs Frame | CFA Carbon Fibre Mainframe & Alloy Swingarm, 150mm Travel Fork | Fox 36 Float, Factory Series, GRIP2 Damper, 51mm Offset, 160mm Travel Shock | Fox Float DPX2, Factory Series, 205x65mm Drive Unit | Shimano STEPS E8000, 70Nm Battery | Shimano E8035, 504Wh Wheels | DT Swiss HX 1501 Spline One, 30mm Inner Rim Width Tyres | Maxxis Assegai EXO+ 3C Maxx Grip 29×2.5in Front & Minion DHR II EXO+ 3C Maxx Terra 27.5×2.6in Rear Drivetrain | Shimano Deore XT 1×12 w/Deore XT 34t Crankset & 10-51t Cassette Brakes | Shimano Deore XT w/203mm Rotors Bar | Merida Expert eTR Alloy, 20mm Rise, 780mm Wide Stem | Merida Expert eTR Alloy, 40mm Length Seatpost | Merida Expert TR Dropper, Travel: 125mm (XS), 150mm (S/M), 170mm (L/XL) Saddle | Merida Expert CC Available Sizes | S, M, L, XL Confirmed Weight | 22.09kg (Medium size, setup tubeless, without pedals) RRP | $8,999 Shimano’s sleek 12-speed XT rear mech keeps the back end nice and low-profile. New XT brake levers share the same handlebar clamp with the I-Spec EV shifter mount. Inside is a bomber Star Ratchet freehub mechanism. Give the rear axle lever a tug, and out it pops to provide you with a 4 & 6mm hex key. How neat! What’s Next? I’ve already had a couple of rides on the 2020 Merida eOne-Sixty 9000, including a local gravity enduro race on the weekend just gone. So far everything’s settling in nicely, though there’s a fair bit of tuning required on both Fox dampers, which offer a load of dials and levers to twiddle with to get everything just-so. I also want to play around a bit with the cockpit setup, which will be interesting since the stock Merida bar/stem use internal wiring for the Shimano STEPS control unit. We’ll have plenty of time to get to know one another though, and we’ve got some pretty epic rides planned for spring and summer that I am VERY much looking forward to. I’ll have an in-depth review coming down the line, but in the meantime, give us a holla if you’ve got any questions about the eOne-Sixty, and we’ll see if we can get them answered for you! Want to know more about the 2020 eOne-Sixty? Then make sure you check out the launch story here. And if you want to know how things ended up last time round with our long term eOne-Sixty long term test bike, have a gander at the story and video here. The new eOne-Sixty looks a kerbillion times better than the original version. As to how it rides? Stay tuned for the review! The post On Test | The 2020 Merida eOne-Sixty 9000 is an e-MTB with a mullet appeared first on Flow Mountain Bike.
Having successfully launched the Sight VLT last year (a bike that earned plenty of high praise in our review), Norco is set to up the ante this season with a new longer travel addition to its electric mountain bike range; the 2020 Norco Range VLT. But this ain’t just a longer travel version of the Sight – no siree! Norco has pushed the geometry envelope way out with the new Range VLT, added in the option of a range-extending battery pack, and curated a gravity rider’s component wish list to produce a self-shuttling e-MTB that’s designed to ride the nastiest, steepest, and fastest downhill trails around. Time to sell the downhill bike? Norco Goes Biiiiig With The Range VLT! Compared to the Sight VLT’s 160/150mm travel, the Range VLT pumps that up to 180mm on the front, and 170mm on the rear. The four-bar suspension design carries through, though, like the naturally-aspirated Range, Norco is spec’ing a coil shock for the Range VLT too. The coil is actually twisted 90° to offset the piggyback reservoir to the non-drive side of the bike. The reason? It provides more clearance in the mainframe so you can fit a water bottle or a spare battery pack. More on that last point in just a minute. The shock has been rotated 90 degrees to allow more space for a water bottle. Or a range extender. The Range VLT is rolling on 27.5in wheels, and the complete bikes come fitted with burly 2.5WT Maxxis Assegai tyres, with a Double Defence casing on the rear. There is clearance to run up to a 2.6in tyre in the back though if you’re looking for a bit more traction again. Geometry is about as futuristic and gravity-oriented as we’ve seen from Norco. The head angle is a DH-worthy 63.5°, and that’s paired to a reduced offset fork to keep the bike feeling more planted at higher speeds. Likewise, the front centre is humongous, with long reach measurements across the board. Looking to make the most of the motor assist on technical climbs, the seat angle is a very steep 77-78°. The Range VLT uses a smooth carbon fibre frame that’s locked and loaded with the Shimano STEPS drive system. What’s Powering It? There will be three Range VLT models on offer for 2020. The top two models come fitted with a Shimano STEPS E8000 drive system and a huge 630Wh battery that sits inside the downtube. While that means the battery isn’t easily removable, it does allow Norco to build the Range VLT frame with a straight and fully enclosed downtube, rather than having to hollow out part of the tube for a clip-on style battery pack. Only the base-level Range VLT C3 comes with the slightly-less-powerful Shimano STEPS E7000 motor (60nM) and a smaller 500Wh battery. However, Norco will be offering a separate range-extending 360Wh battery pack. This battery is designed to sit on top of the downtube, in place of where you’d fit a water bottle. For those doing the math, adding the range extender to either of the top two Range VLT models means you’ll have as much as 900Wh available. That’s a lot of juice! There’ll be a separate 360Wh battery pack that riders can purchase separately to extend the range of the…err…Range. How Much Is This Bad Boy? Starting at $7,499 for the C3, there will be three 2020 Norco Range VLT models coming into the country later this year. All three bikes will be based around the same carbon fibre frame with the In-Tube battery system and Shimano STEPS drive system. All bikes come with 4-piston brakes, SRAM 1×12 shifting, Maxxis Assegai tyres, a coil shock and a 180mm travel single-crown fork. It is worth pointing out that the Range VLT will only be coming in three sizes though: Medium, Large and X-Large. The seat tubes have been deliberately kept quite short though, so it’s likely that there’s a degree of flexibility with up and down-sizing available with the Range VLT. The top-dog Range VLT C1 model comes with high-spec RockShox suspension front and rear, along with DT Swiss wheels and the slick BikeYoke Revive dropper post. 2020 Norco Range VLT C1 27.5 Frame | Carbon Fibre, 170mm Travel Motor | Shimano STEPS E8000 Battery | Shimano In-Tube Battery, 630Wh Fork | RockShox Lyrik Ultimate RC2, Charger 2 Damper, 37mm Offset, 180mm Travel Shock | RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate DH Wheels | DT Swiss E 1700 Hybrid, 30mm Inner Rim Width Tyres | Maxxis Assegai 2.5in 3C Maxx Terra EXO+ Front & Maxx Grip Double Defence Rear Drivetrain | SRAM NX/GX Eagle 1×12 w/Shimano Deore XT 34t Crankset Brakes | SRAM Code RSC w/200mm Rotors Seatpost | BikeYoke Revive Dropper Post w/Triggy lever, Travel: 160mm (M/L), 185mm (XL) RRP | $9,499 It uses the carbon frame, same 630Wh battery pack and Shimano STEPS E8000 drive system, but the Range VLT C2 makes a few component changes to bring the price down by nearly a grand. 2020 Norco Range VLT C2 27.5 Frame | Carbon Fibre, 170mm Travel Motor | Shimano STEPS E8000 Battery | Shimano In-Tube Battery, 630Wh Fork | Fox 36 Float, Performance Elite, GRIP2 Damper, 37mm Offset, 180mm Travel Shock | Fox DHX2, Performance Elite Wheels | Novatec Front & DT Swiss H370 Rear Hubs w/E*13 LG1 DH Rims, 30mm Inner Rim Width Tyres | Maxxis Assegai 2.5in 3C Maxx Terra EXO+ Front & Maxx Grip Double Defence Rear Drivetrain | SRAM NX Eagle 1×12 w/Shimano E8000 34t Crankset Brakes | SRAM Code R w/200mm Rotors Seatpost | JD TransX YSP-39JL Dropper Post, Travel: 150mm (M), 170mm (L/XL) RRP | $8,699 As the entry-point into the Range VLT lineup, the C3 runs a smaller and lighter battery pack but gets the same radical geometry and carbon frame as the pricier models. 2020 Norco Range VLT C3 27.5 Frame | Carbon Fibre, 170mm Travel Motor | Shimano STEPS E7000 Battery | Shimano In-Tube Battery, 500Wh Fork | RockShox Yari RC, Motion Control Damper, 37mm Offset, 180mm Travel Shock | RockShox Super Deluxe Coil Select R Wheels | Shimano Deore Front & DT Swiss H370 Rear Hubs w/E*13 LG1 DH Rims, 30mm Inner Rim Width Tyres | Maxxis Assegai 2.5in 3C Maxx Terra EXO+ Front & Maxx Grip Double Defence Rear Drivetrain | SRAM SX Eagle 1×12 w/Shimano E8000 34t Crankset Brakes | Shimano MT520 w/203mm Rotors Seatpost | JD TransX YSP-39JL Dropper Post, Travel: 150mm (M), 170mm (L/XL) RRP | $7,499 Boost! So what do you folks think of the new Range VLT? Is this the e-MTB that’ll convince you to sell the downhill/park bike in favour of a self-shuttling approach? Certainly, on paper, this looks like one helluva gravity rig. With all that travel and that slack ‘n’ long geometry, Norco is definitely targeting the Range VLT at riders who’d rather pedal up instead of using a chairlift. Alongside bikes like the newly released Giant Reign E+, we’ve got a feeling we’ll be seeing a lot more of these long-travel e-MTBs coming in the near future… The post First Look | The 2020 Norco Range VLT is an electric mountain bike built for mayhem appeared first on Flow Mountain Bike.
Curve Cycling is a relatively small outfit based out of Melbourne, which over the past six years has established its name from producing carbon fibre wheels that are designed for everything from road racing, through to gravel, cyclocross, ulta-long distance bikepacking and mountain biking. The company has since broadened its product line to encompass complete bikes and frames built from steel, titanium and carbon fibre, but the wheelbuilding business still remains at the core of what Curve is best known for. The Curve Dirt Hoops came well prepared for a chilly Victorian winter with these neat rim-warmers. Down & Dirty With a keen focus on value and keeping the performance-for-the-dollar ratio high, Curve works with manufacturing partners in Asia to produce its carbon fibre rims, which are then handbuilt in its Melbourne-based workshop utilising high quality DT Swiss hubs and Sapim spokes. Up until recently though, Curve’s rims utilised what’s known as an ‘open-mould’ design, which means they’re basically a standard rim out of a catalogue that Curve purchases directly from of the factory. This is no bad thing, and there are plenty of small wheelbuilders out there who import rims directly from the factory to build up well-priced carbon wheels for their customers. Assuming you find the right factory and the quality is right, it can be a cost-effective way to get a great set of wheels. Though that’s worked in the past though, Curve has taken a slightly different approach with its new Dirt Hoops. The new Dirt Hoops are available as a complete wheelset, or rim-only too. Ain’t No Catalogue Rims Here Released earlier this year, the Curve Dirt Hoops are the brand’s newest off-road wheelset. Drawing upon the past six years of wheelbuilding experience, Curve has developed its own unique rim profile that aims to harness the benefits of modern high-volume tubeless tyres, while creating a vastly stronger rim than previous designs. The Dirt Hoops had been in development for well over a year prior to their release. The test process was as extensive and as wide-ranging as the staff pool at Curve Cycling, which included being walloped at Whistler Bike Park, belted at the 2019 National XCO Championships, and pummelled during the arduous 2018 Race To The Rock. The result is a set of wheels made to cover everything from long-distance bikepacking through to All Mountain riding, which Curve says is its most durable to date. Curve-sponsored rider, Jon Odams, getting wild on the new Dirt Hoops during the 2019 Reef to Reef at Smithfield MTB Park. Odams is running the lighter Wide 35 version of the Curve Dirt Hoops, complete with a DT Swiss 240 hub upgrade. Aussie Designed & Tortured Curve has had a number of its sponsored riders putting the new Dirt Hoops through their paces during the development process. That’s included super-endurance riders Sarah Hammond and Jesse Carlsson, and XC racer Courtney Sherwell, who finished 6th at the National XCO championships in Bright this year. Jon Odams has also been racing on the Dirt Hoops Wide 35 wheelset, which he’s had upgraded to DT Swiss 240 hubs to shave off a few more grams. Claimed weight on those wheels? Just over 1400g. 5mm thick carbon fibre hookless beads aim to provide more strength over previous rim designs. Curve furnishes the Dirt Hoops with its own tubeless tape and valves. Wide And, Err, Really Wide There are two options in the Curve Dirt Hoops range; the Wide 35, and the Wider 40. The number in the name refers to the rim’s external width, which as you’ve probably just realised, is bloody massive. Along with the 27mm depth, these wheels have some serious presence. The Wide 35 is pitched as more of an XC/gravel wheelset with a 25mm inner width that (according to Curve), will support 1.75-2.5in tyres. The Wider 40 is the burlier trail/AM wheelset, which has a 30mm inner width and will take 2.3-3.0in wide tyres. Both rims get 5mm thick beads, which is about as big as we’ve seen from any carbon rim on the market. In comparison, those new Zipp 3ZERO MOTO rims use 3.75mm thick beads, and that’s regarded as being pretty darn fat. Why the thicker bead? According to Curve, it’s all about impact strength and durability. Having identified this as an area where previous rims had failed, the Curve team decided to beef up the carbon walls to make them a lot thicker to help spread impact loads. The thicker bead also lessens the chance of cutting the tyre on a heavy bottom-out, which should reduce pinch flats. Those wide rims have some serious presence! Through Thick & Thin The rims themselves are constructed from 3K & Unidirectional Toray T700 carbon fibre and feature what Curve refers to as ‘Mo-Spo technology’. This refers to two things. One is the internal profile of the rim, which is reinforced with thicker layers of carbon fibre around each of the spoke holes. By adding extra carbon only around the inside face of the spoke holes, Curve is able to increase the rim’s strength under pulling forces from the spokes, without adding excessive weight. The other is the spoke holes themselves, which instead of being drilled like most carbon and alloy rims, are moulded instead. This is something we’ve seen ENVE champion on its own carbon fibre rims, and indeed it holds a patent on it too. However, ENVE’s patent is specifically around moulding the pocket for the spoke nipple, which sits inside the rim. That gives a very clean look, but coming from the world of bikepacking and bike shop wrenching, Curve’s design team didn’t want to do that. So the nipples remain external, where they’re more easily adjustable out in the field. For those who want to build their own Dirt Hoops, the rims are available on their own for $729 each. The Wide 35 comes in both 27.5in and 29in diameters, with a claimed weight of 365g and 385g respectively. The Wide 40 only comes in a 29in size, and has a claimed weight of 440g. All rims feature 28 spoke holes. Here you can see just how thick the carbon is around the hookless sidewalls, as well as the slight build-up of carbon around each spoke hole. Curve states an official max rider weight limit of 120kg. What About The In-Between Bits? As for the complete wheels, they’re built in Curve’s Melbourne workshop utilising Sapim’s CX-Ray bladed spokes and Secure Lock brass nipples. Curve acknowledges that alloy nipples are lighter, but prefers the durability and reliability of brass over the minimal weight savings of alloy. At the centre of the wheels is a set of DT Swiss 350 Straight-Pull hubs with an 18T Star Ratchet freehub mechanism. The 350s utilise slightly larger bearings than the 240s, while only being about 40g heavier. Curve does offer the option to upgrade to 240 hubs if you so choose, and it can also upgrade you to a faster-engaging 36T or 54T ratchet kit too. Being a DT hub, you also have the option of SRAM XD, Shimano HG, and Shimano Microspline freehub bodies, which offers a degree of future-proofing. Well, until another standard comes out anyway. Straight-pull DT Swiss 350 hubs are a smart choice on Curve’s behalf. Keep it tight! The bomber Star Ratchet freehub mechanism within. On a similar note, the hubs use a Centerlock disc brake spline, which means you can run them with Shimano Centerlock rotors, or 6-bolt rotors with an adapter. As for the straight-pull design, Curve went down this route since straight-pull spokes are physically easier to remove and replace than J-bend spokes. By that we mean that you don’t have to remove the rotors and cassette to replace a spoke – something that long distance bikepackers, adventure riders, and travelling mountain bikers will likely appreciate. How Do They Compare To The Competition? Curve is selling the Dirt Hoops complete wheelset for $2,198, which puts it somewhere in the middle of the price spectrum for carbon fibre mountain bike wheels. Confirmed weight for our test set of Wider 40 wheels is 1637g – impressive given the generous proportions of the carbon rims. The closest competitor would be the Giant TRX 0 wheelset, which comes in at exactly the same price and is only slightly heavier (1662g). Sitting on either side of the Curve Dirt Hoops is the $1,800 Bontrager Kovee Pro 30 (1500g claimed weight), and the $2,800 Roval Traverse SL Fattie (1735g claimed weight). We’ve spent a good bit of time abusing those three wheelsets, so we’ll have a good basis for comparison with the Curve Dirt Hoops. The Other Details While Curve originally started out selling its wheels direct to consumer, it now offers its products through a dealer network too. You can find more information about that via the Curve Cycling website. All wheels come with a 2-year warranty that covers you for any manufacturing defects that might arise. Curve is pretty confident in its product though, with a substantial 120kg max rider weight limit. Still, should you bust one up pulling a failed 360° tailwhip after being inspired by Red Bull Rampage video highlights, Curve has a crash replacement policy to get you rolling again. Our test wheels have been wrapped with a set of 2.4in wide Pirelli Scorpion MTB tyres, though we’ll be testing out a variety of other rubbers on here in the coming months. To see just how tough these new Dirt Hoops are, Curve sent us out a set of the Wider 40 wheels in a 29er size. We’ve currently got them setup with a pair of 2.4in Pirelli Scorpion MTB tyres, though we’ll be trying out a few other tyre combos in there over time. Here’s a closer look at all the tech specs; Curve Dirt Hoops Wider 40 Wheel Specs 3K & UD T700 carbon fibre rims Hookless & tubeless compatible profile w/5mm thick beads Available in 27.5in and 29in diameters Mo-Spo moulded spoke holes External rim width: 40mm Internal rim width: 30mm Rim depth: 27mm Designed for 2.3-3.0in wide tyres DT Swiss 350 Straight-Pull hubs 18T Star Ratchet freehub mechanism Centerlock disc brake mount 28 x Sapim CX-Ray bladed stainless steel spokes per wheel Sapim Secure Lock brass nipples 2-year warranty against manufacturing defects Claimed weight: 1595g Actual weight: 1637g (including supplied tubeless tape, valves, and Centerlock rings) RRP: $2,198 As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts – tell us what you reckon about these Aussie-designed carbon wheels. And if you’ve got any questions for us about the Curve Dirt Hoops, then make sure you drop them into the comments below! The post On Test | Curve Cycling’s Strongest Carbon Wheels Yet – The Dirt Hoops Wider 40 appeared first on Flow Mountain Bike.
In case you hadn’t heard the big news today, Trek has just released its new go-fast XC race bike; the Supercaliber. Having been in development for four years, it’s a significant bike for Trek, not least because of its totally unique IsoStrut suspension design. To celebrate the launch of its new World Cup XC weapon, Trek has partnered up with the very talented Jolanda Neff from the Trek Factory Racing team, in order to create a video to help introduce the bike to the public. Launch videos with pro riders are standard fare for big bike brands, but this wasn’t exactly what we were expecting… Not only do we love Neff’s superb acting skills, we’re also digging the fact that a big American brand like Trek isn’t taking itself too seriously in this video. This approach isn’t unlike those whacky videos that Specialized put out last year to market the new Stumpjumper and Turbo Levo, and we gotta say, we like it! Mountain bikes are fun, so it’s nice to see the marketing departments taking a lighter approach to their promotional videos. Trek’s new superlight XC full suspension race bike – the Supercaliber. Wanna know more about the bike itself? In a nutshell, this is Trek’s new flagship XC race bike, that is slotting right in between the Procaliber hardtail, and the Top Fuel XC/trail bike. The Supercaliber is also rolling on 29in wheels, but it uses a totally unique suspension design called IsoStrut, which partially integrates the rear shock into the top tube for a super clean and space-efficient setup (see the video below for a closer look at how it all works). This means Trek can fit two water bottles inside the mainframe – a particularly important feature for long distance XC riders and marathon racers. 2020 Trek Supercaliber Features New lightweight short-travel XC race bike OCLV Mountain Carbon frame w/Straight Shot downtube & Knock Block headset IsoStrut suspension design with Fox DPS air shock 60mm rear wheel travel Designed for 100-120mm travel forks 69° head angle 74° seat angle 430mm chainstay length Accommodates two water bottles inside the mainframe 1x specific frame design PF92 bottom bracket shell Control Freak internal cable routing system 31.6mm seatpost diameter Boost 148x12mm rear hub spacing 29in wheels only Max rear tyre clearance: 2.20in Sizes: Small through to XX-Large Price range: $6,500 – $13,750 Somewhat offsetting Jolanda’s superb performance, Trek also launched a boring marketing video on the Supercaliber. It’s actually quite useful to explain how the IsoStrut suspension works, so if you’re curious about how all the moving parts come together, check out the video just above. There’s a tonne of other cool details going on with this new race rig, so make sure you shoot on over to the full news story on the 2020 Trek Supercaliber here, which includes Aussie pricing, specs and geo for the new Supercaliber range. The post We already loved Jolanda Neff, but this video makes us love her more! appeared first on Flow Mountain Bike.
When Trek launched the new 2020 Top Fuel back in May, it certainly raised a few eyebrows – for multiple reasons. Having moved up to 115mm of rear travel, with a bigger 120mm fork and a slacker 67.5° head angle to boot, the latest Top Fuel has certainly notched up the capability stakes, but it’s also taken a dramatic U-Turn away from its previous World Cup XC racing intentions. And with the Top Fuel having morphed into more of a lightweight trail bike, that’s left a bit of a gap in Trek’s lineup for a thoroughbred, fully-suspended race machine. A gap that’s just been filled by this svelte number that has been four whole years in the making: the 2020 Trek Supercaliber. The new 2020 Trek Supercaliber is here to fill the spot as Trek’s superlight XC race bike. Supercaliber To The Rescue! Filling the void between Trek’s Procaliber hardtail and the latest Top Fuel, the Supercaliber is a brand new model for Trek. The name isn’t new though. It’s actually drawn from one of Gary Fisher’s earlier XC race bikes, of which there were both hardtail and full suspension variants. The thing is though; the 2020 Trek Supercaliber isn’t exactly either of those things. Using a sort of soft-tail design, the Supercaliber has just 60mm of rear-wheel travel that’s paired to a 100mm travel fork. Being a purpose-built World Cup XC race rig, it is only available in carbon fibre (specifically Trek’s OCLV Mountain blend), and it only comes with 29in wheels – all the way down to the Small size. The Supercaliber combines 29in wheels with aggressive geometry, a 100mm travel fork, and 60mm of rear travel via the unique IsoStrut suspension system. The IsoStrut design allows Trek to plonk two water bottles inside the mainframe – a big deal for long-distance marathon racers and XC riders. The frame features some familiar Trek technologies. There’s the Straight Shot downtube, which is there to increase stiffness and reduce weight by taking the shortest route from the plump tapered head tube to the 92mm wide bottom bracket shell. You’ll also find the Knock Block headset, and Control Freak internal cable management system. One unique feature of the Supercaliber though is its ability to fit two water bottles inside the mainframe – something that the Top Fuel has not been cable of. Running two water bottles is a big deal for XCO and marathon racers, and it’s a big reason why Trek have built the Supercaliber around an entirely new suspension system called IsoStrut. The Supercaliber frame is made exclusively from OCLV carbon fibre and features an enormous Straight Shot downtube, Control Freak internal cable management system, and the Knock Block headset. Let’s IsoStrut IsoStrut is the name for the sliding suspension strut that sits underneath and parallel with the top tube. It’s a bit of a head-scratcher at first, but it’s actually a relatively simple and space-efficient system. And it looks like nothing else on the market – something that’s a bloody mission to do these days. Bolted onto the frame is a round alloy rail – a bit like a fork stanchion. The carbon seatstays wrap around the seat tube and morph together into a carbon fibre carriage, which slides up and down this alloy stanchion. The carbon fibre carriage has two round bushings inside to keep it sliding smooth (again, just like a suspension fork), and there’s a wiper seal at each end to keep oil inside and crap outside (and again, just like a suspension fork). The carbon seatstays merge together into a one-piece carriage that slides up and down a single alloy stanchion. Sitting inside the top of the alloy stanchion is a concealed mini-shock. There’s adjustable air pressure, rebound damping, and a lockout too. Hidden inside the alloy stanchion is a mini rear shock. And driving the end of the rear eyelet of the rear shock is a pivot bolt that runs through the outer carriage. As the suspension compresses, the carriage moves forward to drive the end of the rear shock. Does It Twist? No. Or at least, Trek says it doesn’t because the stanchion is keyed – a bit like a dropper post. The pivot pin that joins the carbon carriage to the end of the shock has two big bushings on either side of it, and these bushings slide along bores that are machined lengthwise in the stanchion. This stops the carriage from rotating freely around the stanchion, and is what turns the IsoStrut system into a structural member of the frame. Here you can see the end of the rear shock inside the stanchion. The carbon carriage bolts to the end of the shock, while the machined bores on either side prevent the whole assembly from twisting. Moving further back on the frame, you’ll notice that unlike every other current Trek full suspension bike, the Supercaliber does not use an ABP pivot. Instead, Trek has employed very slender seatstays that are designed to flex throughout the rear travel. Those tubes are properly thin too, which means there’s likely a good bit of compliance beyond the bike’s mechanical travel, and also some vibration damping even when the shock is locked out. That black bolt on the underside of the carbon carriage is the lower shock bolt. Stupendously slim seatstays are designed to flex and add further compliance to the chassis. It also negates the need for an ABP pivot at the rear dropout. So the whole swingarm is a one-piece carbon fibre structure. Who Makes All This Wizardry? While the IsoStrut design is all Trek, the engineering know-how has been brought to the table by Fox Racing Shox, which manufactures both the alloy stanchion and the mini-shock inside. It’s loosely based on a Fox Float DPS shock, so you’ve got adjustable air pressure, rebound damping, and a lockout. There are even volume spacers for adjusting the progression of the spring curve. The whole thing can be unbolted from the frame for servicing, and Trek says that Fox distributors will handle both servicing and warranty support for all the moving suspension parts. The shock itself has just 32.5mm of travel, which, when translated through the linkage, creates 60mm of vertical travel at the rear wheel. Those doing the math will realise that this creates a very low 1.84:1 leverage ratio, which means operating pressures are likely to be quite low inside the air spring. Ooh, cutaway! Here you can see the mini shock that occupies the inside of the stanchion on the left. In the middle you’ll see two white bushings – these are what slide up and down the machined bores of the stanchion. 60mm Of Travel – Is That Enough? Good question. And we’re not sure, because we haven’t ridden it yet. 60mm of travel isn’t a whole lot – especially when most brands have settled on 100mm for their full suspension bikes. Then again, for elite World Cup athletes who regularly flit between racing their hardtail or full suspension race bike, a super-short travel bike like this might be the mid-way point that helps settle that decision. Jolanda Neff, Swiss mountain biking champion and Trek sponsored athlete, has been on the Supercaliber for most of the 2019 race season. “This has been that dream bike that I always wanted, but never existed until now,” said Neff. “I’ll be racing nothing else from now on.” Of course, she’s biased, but she seems to have gotten along with it pretty well, having earned a silver medal at the World Championships on the weekend. This photo shows how much the seatstays flex through to full compression with the shock bottomed out. So bendy! It Isn’t As Light As We Were Expecting Trek claims the Supercaliber frame weighs 1950g including the rear shock and hardware. Now that is light, but it isn’t the lightest full suspension frame on the market. That mantel still belongs to the Scott Spark RC, which has a claimed weight of 1779g. Very impressive given it was released over three years ago and has the full 100mm of travel. For reference, here’s a few of the other bikes playing in the same zone as the new Supercaliber; Scott Spark RC (1779g) Trek Supercaliber (1950g) Giant Anthem Advanced Pro 29 (1983g) Orbea Oiz (1992g) Specialized S-Works Epic (2000g) Canyon Lux CF SLX (2128g) But – and here’s the big but – not all of those frames will take two water bottles inside the mainframe, which is a big feature for the Supercaliber. So if we’re comparing on that level, it’s really only the Oiz, Epic and Lux that tick that box. Trek claims the Procaliber frame weighs 1950g including the rear shock and hardware. Steep & Sharp Geometry If you were expecting long, low and slack for a contemporary XC race bike from Trek, then you were wrong. Being a precision instrument for dissecting World Cup race courses, the Supercaliber is designed to be deadly sharp. As such, it gets a tight 69° head angle, a moderate 74° seat tube angle, and short 430mm chainstays. One thing that does stick out on the geometry table though is the fork offset, which is 42-46mm depending on the fork model. This is a turn-around for Trek from the previous 51mm G2 fork offset that it’s trumpeted for all the years that it (and Gary Fisher) have been making 29ers for. With most brands shifting back to a reduced-offset fork though, Trek has quietly followed suit with the new Top Fuel, Fuel EX, and now the Supercaliber too. On the note of the fork, Trek does point out that the Supercaliber will accommodate up to a 120mm travel fork. We’re not sure how it would handle with double the travel up front compared to the back end, but hey, the option is there. 2020 Trek Supercaliber geometry. What Bikes Is Trek Australia Bringing In? There will be four 2020 Trek Supercaliber models coming into Australia later this year, starting at $6,500 for the Supercaliber 9.7, and going all the way up to $13,750 for the Supercaliber 9.9 XX1 AXS. There is a standalone frameset too, but that won’t be coming to our shores. All of the Supercaliber models are running 100mm travel reduced-offset forks, wide-range 1x drivetrains, carbon wheels, and speedy 2.2in Bontrager tyres. One thing you won’t find on any of them though is a dropper post, which seems a bit of a shame given that more XC racers are choosing to run them. Dropper whinging aside, here’s a closer look at each of those bikes. The entry-level Supercalibre 9.7 uses the same OCLV carbon frame as the 9.9 model. It’s rolling on carbon Bontrager wheels, and you’re also getting SRAM NX Eagle shifting and a RockShox Reba fork for your hard earned cashola. 2020 Trek Supercaliber 9.7 Frame | OCLV Mountain Carbon Frame, IsoStrut Suspension Design, 60mm Travel Fork | RockShox Reba RL, Motion Control Damper, 42mm Offset, 100mm Travel Shock | Trek IsoStrut, Fox Performance DPS 2-Position Damper, 235×32.5mm Wheels | Bontrager Kovee Elite 23 Carbon, Tubeless Ready Tyres | Bontrager XR2 Team Issue, Tubeless Ready, 120tpi, 29×2.20in Drivetrain | SRAM NX Eagle 1×12 w/NX Eagle 32T Cranks Brakes | Shimano MT500 Seatpost | Bontrager Approved, Alloy, 31.6mm RRP | $6,500 How stealthy is this grey-on-black 9.8? Trek upgrades the Supercaliber 9.8 with carbon cranks, a Fox 32 Step-Cast fork and Deore XT disc brakes. 2020 Trek Supercaliber 9.8 GX Frame | OCLV Mountain Carbon Frame, IsoStrut Suspension Design, 60mm Travel Fork | Fox 32 Step-Cast, GRIP Damper, Performance Series, 44mm Offset, 100mm Travel Shock | Trek IsoStrut, Fox Performance DPS 2-Position Remote Damper, 235×32.5mm Wheels | Bontrager Kovee Elite 30 Carbon, Tubeless Ready, 54pt Rapid Drive Freehub Tyres | Bontrager XR2 Team Issue, Tubeless Ready, 120tpi, 29×2.20in Drivetrain | SRAM GX Eagle 1×12 w/Stylo Carbon 32T Cranks Brakes | Shimano Deore XT M8100 Seatpost | Bontrager Pro, OCLV Carbon, 31.6mm RRP | $8,000 Stepping up the bling factor, the Supercaliber 9.9 matches the Factory-Series fork with a Kashima-coated IsoStrut stanchion and a gold XX1 cassette. Suave! 2020 Trek Supercaliber 9.9 XX1 Frame | OCLV Mountain Carbon Frame, IsoStrut Suspension Design, 60mm Travel Fork | Fox 32 Step-Cast, FIT4 Damper, Factory Series, 44mm Offset, 100mm Travel Shock | Trek IsoStrut, Fox Factory DPS 2-Position Damper, 235×32.5mm Wheels | Bontrager Kovee XXX 30, OCLV Mountain Carbon, Tubeless Ready, 54pt Rapid Drive Freehub Tyres | Bontrager XR1 Team Issue, Tubeless Ready, 120tpi, 29×2.20in Drivetrain | SRAM XX1 Eagle 1×12 w/XX1 Eagle Carbon 34t Cranks Brakes | SRAM Level Ultimate Seatpost | Bontrager XXX, OCLV Carbon, 31.6mm RRP | $12,000 If you must have the best, then Trek have this bike for you – the AXS-equipped Supercaliber 9.9, which features wireless shifting and superlight Bontrager XXX wheels. 2020 Trek Supercaliber 9.9 XX1 AXS Frame | OCLV Mountain Carbon Frame, IsoStrut Suspension Design, 60mm Travel Fork | RockShox SID Ultimate, Charger 2 RLC Damper, 46mm Offset, 100mm Travel Shock | Trek IsoStrut, Fox Factory DPS 2-Position Damper, 235×32.5mm Wheels | Bontrager Kovee XXX 30, OCLV Mountain Carbon, Tubeless Ready, 54pt Rapid Drive Freehub Tyres | Bontrager XR1 Team Issue, Tubeless Ready, 120tpi, 29×2.20in Drivetrain | SRAM XX1 Eagle 1×12 w/XX1 Eagle AXS Carbon 34t Cranks Brakes | SRAM Level Ultimate Seatpost | Bontrager XXX, OCLV Carbon, 31.6mm RRP | $13,750 So there’s our first look of this new high-performance XC race bike from Trek. At the very least, we have to applaud Trek for coming up with something that’s genuinely different. When a lot of full suspension bikes are merging towards just two or three general frame shapes and suspension designs, it’s impressive that Trek has been able to pull off something so radically different. Enough of what we think though – tell us your thoughts! We’d love to hear your opinion of the new Supercaliber, and if you’ve got any questions, drop those into the comments too. The post First Look | The 2020 Trek Supercaliber has a new suspension design unlike anything we’ve seen before appeared first on Flow Mountain Bike.
It’s the start of spring here in Australia. The birds are singing, native flowers are blossoming, and the sun is coming out to warm and dry out the wet and mucky trails left behind after a cold and dark winter. Well, unless you’re one of those lucky Far North East Queenslanders, who have been enjoying beautifully warm and dry conditions over the past couple of months. We had a brief taste of their tropical paradise when we travelled up to Cairns for the Reef to Reef – a cracking 4-day MTB stage race that (most) competitors race together in pairs. Wanna know what it was like and whether you should plan a riding holiday for next year? Make sure you check out the story on the event here. JERONIMOOOOO! Giant unveiled its new Reign E+ e-MTB last month, and that’s got a lot of people excited. You might have also enjoyed yourself a winter escape to the northern hemisphere, like Jon Odams, who enjoyed a riding trip of a lifetime at the BC Bike Race in Canada. We are not jealous at all. Nope. Not one bit. For those looking for a little further inspiration through the tail end of winter, there’s been a swag of new bike releases to get plenty excited about too. Giant Bicycles continues its re-embrace of 29in wheels with the launch of the burly Reign 29er – a bike that we were lucky enough to test out at the launch. Trek has also released its brand new Fuel EX, which we reckon is the US brand’s best trail bike to date. Then there’s also that brand new $12K women’s specific superbike from Liv Cycling, the rollout of the 4th generation Santa Cruz Tallboy, and the debut of Giant’s longest travel e-MTB to date; the new Reign E+. Along with all the new bike releases popping off left, right and centre, we’ve had a load of new test product arrive at Flow HQ. To get you up to speed with some of the new gear we’ve got on the rotisserie wheel, here’s the early spring time edition of Flow’s Fresh Produce! 2020 Focus O1E 8.8 The Focus O1E 8.8 might just be the best-looking model in the 2020 Focus mountain bike range. Classy! Mick has just come back from rAdelaide, having caught up with the Focus Australia crew to see what’s new for 2020. We’ll have a separate highlights article coming soon to cover off some of the 2020 models, but we just couldn’t resist showing you guys this bike – the 2020 Focus O1E 8.8. Finished with a gorgeous slate-blue paint job and Maxxis tanwall tyres, it was easily one of the standout lookers from the show. Would you agree? Using a full carbon mainframe and swingarm, the O1E is Focus’ lightweight XC race bike. It has 110mm of rear wheel travel via the amusingly-titled F.O.L.D suspension design, and that’s paired to a Fox 34 Step-Cast fork with 120mm of travel. Along with the Shimano XT M8100 1×12 groupset, Mavic wheels, and the KS Zeta dropper post, it’s a mighty fine race package for $6K. From: Focus Bikes Australia Price: $5,999 Bontrager XXX Mountain Bike SPD Shoes New toe-tappers from Bontrager in the ‘Nautical Navy/Radioactive Pink’ colourway. How’s that for a statement! Bontrager has updated its flagship XC race shoes, giving them a rather bold look thanks to the ‘Radioactive Pink’ coloured upper and outsole. The outsole itself is 100% OCLV carbon fibre, which is designed to be both extremely lightweight, and extremely stiff. As in, 14/14 on the arbitrary stiffness scale. It’s then lathered with Tachyon rubber tread blocks for walking/hiking/tap-dancing traction, and there’s the option to run toe spikes for the cyclocrossers out there. To help mitigate heel-slip, there’s a hard plastic heel cup on the outside, and a no-slip lining on the inside. The XXX Mountain Bike shoe will be available in Australia in sizes from EU 39 through to 47. Each size features the inForm Pro LAST, which means they’re designed to be more snug and secure than a comparable trail shoe. To help you dial in the fit, you’ve got dual BOA IP1 ratchets. Bontrager has dropped the Velcro strap from the previous version, and instead routes the lower BOA cable further down the shoe. From: Trek Bikes Price: $549.99 Lazer Impala MIPS Helmet Lazer has a new trail helmet called the Impala, and it’s available in both MIPS and non-MIPS versions. The Impala is a new-school trail lid from Lazer, and it’s designed with more coverage around the sides and back of the head to increase protection over a typical roadie/XC helmet. Lazer has wrapped the EPS foam core with a generous polycarbonate shell that wraps around the underside of the helmet’s rim to protect the foam underneath. Being a modern trail helmet, the Impala comes with all the modern accruements; a big adjustable visor, goggle compatibility, and a plug-in GoPro mount that is supplied in the box. Our test helmet is the MIPS-equipped version, which comes in three colours as well as this Fire Engine Red. There’s a non-MIPS version for $179 that comes in five colour options. All Impala helmets come in Small, Medium & Large sizes, and feature the 360° TurnFit adjuster system. From: Shimano Australia Price: $219 Fox Float DPX2 Volume Spacer Kit Keen to fettle with your Fox DPX2 shock? This spacer kit allows you to alter the air volume inside, and therefore change how linear or progressive your rear suspension is. Tuning air volume is a relatively easy way to alter the feel of your bike’s suspension. Fox, RockShox and others employ plastic spacers or ‘tokens’ that are designed to clip inside the air spring chamber to reduce the volume inside. The concept is simple – the more spacers you have, the more progressive the spring curve is, and the less spacers you have inside, the more linear the spring curve is. Arriving in time for some suspension fettling with our Canyon Spectral AL 6.0 test bike, this particular kit is specific to the Fox Float DPX2 shock, and comes with five different sized spacers inside. From: Sola Sport Price: $59.95 Giant Control Tower Boost Tubeless Pump Giant now has a pump to match its name – this guy is bloody yuuuge! Spotted a couple of weeks ago at the 2020 Giant & Liv launch, this Control Tower Boost is a new floor pump from Giant that’s designed specifically for tubeless tyres. Using a secondary chamber that you can charge to 200psi, the Control Tower Boost can apply a huge rush of compressed air through your valves and into the tyre to help seat the beads onto a tubeless compatible rim – all without need for a separate compressor. The pump gets a huge analogue pressure gauge, and it’s constructed with an all-alloy barrel and a steel base for the most vigorous of pumpers. The Autohead will clamp down on both Presta and Schrader valves, with no need for any small parts to be swapped around. Just fit, flip and pump away. From: Giant Bicycles Price: $189.95 Specialized 2FO Clip Mountain Bike Shoes Specialized has unveiled its new 2FO Clip 2.0 shoes – designed for World Cup DH racers and trail riders. Released mere days ago, the new 2FO Clip 2.0 shoes from Specialized are designed to be lighter, sturdier and better ventilated than their predecessor. These feature a lace-up construction, a SlipNot rubber outsole, and long cleat pockets for getting your clip pedals in your preferred location. What are they like to ride? Check out Mick’s review of the new 2FO Clip 2.0 shoes right here. From: Specialized Bicycles Price: $220 Pirelli Scorpion MTB Tyres Pirelli is aiming to cover a wide range of riding conditions with its high performance Scorpion MTB tyres. Italian tyre manufacturer, Pirelli, has launched into the mountain bike game for 2019 with the new Scorpion MTB tyre. Aiming to simplify things for the consumer, the Scorpion MTB range splits into four unique tread patterns that are designed to excel in specific applications: Hardpack, Mixed, Soft and Rear. All tyres use Pirelli’s SmartGRIP rubber compound, which it reckons has some serious special sauce. For the rundown on the range and a closer look at the tyres we’re using, check out our first look of the Pirelli Scorpion tyres here. From: FE Sports Price: $89-$95 Bontrager Ion Pro RT Front Bike Light Bontrager’s 1300 Lumen Ion Pro RT light has a few neat tricks up its sleeve. It might be the start of spring, but that doesn’t mean night riding season is over – far from it in fact! To get us through some cool spring evenings, we’ve got a 1300 Lumen head light from Bontrager called the Ion Pro RT. Designed for either handlebar or helmet use, the Ion Pro RT has a single CREE LED that pumps out anywhere from 400-1300 Lumens, while featuring several flash modes too. The included handlebar bracket will fit handlebars from 25.4-35mm in diameter, while the internal lithium-ion battery can be recharged via a standard micro USB cord. Perhaps the coolest function of the Ion Pro RT light though is its Bluetooth/ANT+ connectivity, which means you can pair it to your Garmin head unit to keep track of battery life and power levels, or control it via a wireless Bontrager Transmitr remote (see below). From: Trek Bikes Price: $169.99 Bontrager Flare RT Rear Bike Light The Bontrager Flare RT is a compact tail light that can also be controlled wirelessly. The matching tail light is this Flare RT, which possesses 90 Lumens of power in a tiny little package that attaches to your seatpost or frame via an adjustable rubber bracket. Bontrager reckons you’ll get up to 15-hours of run time from this light on the lowest setting, though there’s a bunch of modes to choose from, including a daytime flash setting that we’ve been using religiously on our commute to the trails. Like the Ion Pro RT front light, this guy can be paired wireless too… From: Trek Bikes Price: $79.99 Bontrager Transmitr Wireless Remote …a handlebar remote that Bontrager calls the Transmitr. Using a CR2032 watch battery, this Bluetooth/ANT+ remote is designed to pair wireless with up to seven compatible lights. In our case, we’re just running it with the Ion Pro RT front light, and Flare RT rear light, and it’s come especially in handy while running the Ion Pro RT on the helmet. As well as turning the lights on and off, the remote can run through the various power and flash modes, all while keeping your hands on the grips. From: Trek Bikes Price: $69.99 Maxxis Dissector 27.5×2.40WT 3C Maxx Terra EXO Tyre The Dissector comes in both trail and DH versions, and in both 29in and 27.5in sizes. More new tyres here at Flow HQ! This time it’s the Dissector – the newest tread pattern from Maxxis, which was codeveloped with Troy Brosnan as a speedy rear tyre for racing World Cup DH. Maxxis is also producing the Dissector in a lighter EXO trail version, which is the one we’ve got on the back of the Canyon Spectral test bike right now. For further specs, confirmed weights and dimensions, check out our first look story on the Dissector here. From: Lusty Industries Price: $89.99 Curve Dirt Hoops 29 Wider 40 Wheels Curve Cycling has recently rolled out its newest mountain bike wheel called the Dirt Hoops. Melbourne-based Curve Cycling has two new sets of carbon mountain bike wheels: the Dirt Hoops Wide 35, and the Dirt Hoops Wider 40. Referring to the external rim width, the new Dirt Hoops feature enormously thick hookless beads for greater impact protection, and a substantial inner width that’s designed to support modern high-volume tubeless tyres. There’s a load of neat details on show with these locally-designed carbon wheels, so you make sure you keep your eyes peeled on the website for a detailed story on these coming very soon! From: Curve Cycling Price: $2,198 The post Flow’s Fresh Produce | Fancy Shoes, New Lids, Fresh Rubbers, Lights & A Giant Tubeless Pump appeared first on Flow Mountain Bike.
Norco’s big-forked hardtail is back, and it’s back in a very big way! The 2020 Norco Torrent sees the Canadian brand go back to its roots to produce a properly hardcore hardtail that possesses some seriously progressive geometry numbers. Equipped with an all-new 4130 chromoly steel frame, a huge 150mm travel fork and aggressive 29in rubber, this is one burly hardtail that you definitely don’t want to get in the way of. The Norco Torrent is back for 2020, but it takes a radical departure from the previous model with a steel frame, 29in wheels and much more progressive geometry. 4130 Chromoly Steel Frame Gone is the alloy frame of the previous model, and in its place is a double-butted 4130 chromoly steel frame. To manage that big fork up front, the top and down tubes receive additional gusseting around the straight 44mm head tube. Maximising standover clearance, the low-slung top tube is also reinforced where it meets the seat tube. Out back, the Torrent gets slender seatstays that are there to soak up vibrations and impacts from the rear wheel. With a focus on durability and ease of maintenance, Norco has kept the cable routing external on the Torrent frame, and the bottom bracket sticks to the old fashioned threaded variety. No press-fit cups here! As well as two complete bikes (see the specs below), Norco will also be bringing the Torrent HT frameset into Australia for 2020. With a retail price of $999, it looks like impressive value alongside other steel hardtails like those from Chromag. Gussets for the head tube. And another one for the seat tube. Slender seatstays out back. Properly Progressive Geometry Norco has been increasingly pushing the geometry envelope with its latest mountain bikes, and the Torrent goes ahead to take the Gravity Tune concept one step further. Up front you’ll find a raked-out 64° head angle, while the seat angle is a very-steep-for-a-hardtail 76°. Reach measurements are generous, coming in at 420mm (Small), 450mm (Medium), 480mm (Large), and 510mm (X-Large). Despite the huge front centre length, Norco has kept the chainstay length tight at 420-425mm, depending on the frame size. To get the back end so short with those huge 29×2.5in Maxxis Assegai tyres, there’s a tidy forged and dropped chainstay yoke, which takes up minimal space between the tyre and chainring. The 2020 Norco Torrent HT 1 is the top-end model, and features 4-piston SRAM Code brakes and a 150mm travel RockShox Lyrik fork. SRAM Code R 4-piston brakes. That's a neat thru-axle setup. Huge 29x2.5in Maxxis Assegai tyres front and rear. 2020 Norco Torrent HT 1 Frame | Double Butted 4130 Chromoly Steel Fork | RockShox Lyrik Ultimate RC2, 150mm Travel Wheels | Novatec Boost Hubs & Stan’s No Tubes Flow S1 Rims Tyres | Maxxis Assegai EXO+ 3C Maxx Terra 2.50WT Front & Rear Drivetrain | SRAM GX Eagle 1×12 w/NX Eagle 30T Crankset Brakes | SRAM Code R w/180mm Front & 160mm Rear Rotors Seatpost | X-Fusion Manic Dropper Cockpit | Norco 6061 Alloy 800mm Wide Bars, 50mm Stem & Fizik Taiga Saddle RRP | $3,799 The Torrent HT 2 drops a grand off the sticker price by shifting to SRAM SX shifting and a RockShox 35 Gold fork. TRP 4-piston brakes. RockShox 35 Gold fork. External cable routing throughout. 2020 Norco Torrent HT 2 Frame | Double Butted 4130 Chromoly Steel Fork | RockShox 35 Gold, 150mm Travel Wheels | Novatec Boost Hubs & Stan’s No Tubes Flow D Rims Tyres | Maxxis Assegai EXO+ 3C Maxx Terra 2.50WT Front & Rear Drivetrain | SRAM SX Eagle 1×12 w/SX Eagle 30T Crankset Brakes | TRP G-Spec Trail S w/180mm Rotors Seatpost | X-Fusion Manic Dropper Cockpit | Norco 6061 Alloy 800mm Wide Bars, 50mm Stem & Fizik Taiga Saddle RRP | $2,799 Both complete Torrents get Maxxis Assegai 3C tyres front and rear. Proper head tube badge – we like. How’s the metallic paint job on this bad boy? The 2020 Norco Torrent has only just been released, so you won’t find any information on this bike on the Norco website just yet. If you’ve got any questions for us about it though, make sure you drop them into the comments below. And as always, we’d love to hear your thoughts on this new slacked-out steel smasher, and whether Norco is on the money with its refreshed Torrent! The post First Look | The New 2020 Norco Torrent HT Is A Super-Slack Hardcore Hardtail appeared first on Flow Mountain Bike.
Here we have one of the newest mountain bike tyres on the market – the Pirelli Scorpion MTB. Now there are already a tonne of brands making mountain bike tyres right now, including (take a deep breath…) Maxxis, Schwalbe, Continental, WTB, Kenda, Hutchinson, CST, Specialized, Bontrager, Onza, Panaracer, Vee Tire Co., Goodyear, Vittoria, Terrene, aaaaaand Surly. Phew! And then there’s all the other ones that are escaping our memory right now. But even with all of those options currently saturating the market, everyone still tends to stand up and take notice when a brand like Pirelli decides to throw its hat into the ring. Pirelli is a well-established name in high-performance automotive rubber, but now it’s turned its hand to mountain biking too. Hello Pirelli Scorpion MTB Tyre! The Italian rubber specialist did just that earlier this year when it launched its very first mountain bike tyre, called the Scorpion MTB. Drawing upon its substantial reputation for producing high-performance tyres for F1 and automotive applications, Pirelli is bringing all of its knob-knowledge to the dirt to create an array of premium mountain bike tyres, all under the ‘Scorpion’ label. But while it may be the only name in Pirelli’s mountain bike lineup, there’s a bit more to the Scorpion than that. With four unique tread patterns, multiple sizes and two casing options, there’s a load of choice to be had. It’s actually a pretty simple system for choosing the right tyre though, so here’s our breakdown of how it all works out, starting with those four tread patterns. The Scorpion MTB is the only name in Pirelli’s off-road tyre lineup, but there’s actually four different tread patterns within the range. Choose Your Own Adventure Pirelli’s big story with its off-road range is that it isn’t calling anything an ‘XC tyre’ or an ‘Enduro tyre’. Instead, Pirelli is offering four different tread styles that are designed to excel in their own special way. The tread pattern is different for each tyre, and Pirelli is encouraging riders to consider their typical trail surface to pick the right tyre, and to mix ‘n’ match between the front and rear wheel. Here’s the dealio: Scorpion H (Hardpack): Pirelli’s lightest and fastest-rolling option, the Scorpion H uses an array of shallow, tightly-grouped tread blocks to provide a smooth and wiggle-free ride on firm and compacted trail surfaces, whether that’s dirt or rock. This speedy tyre is for the XC heads. Scorpion M (Mixed): Using slightly taller knobs with a little more space between them, the Scorpion M provides more traction on loose surfaces. This is the most versatile option from Pirelli, and it’s pitched at both XC and trail riders to be used primarily as a front tyre, but it can be run on the back too. Scorpion S (Soft): With taller knobs, and more space between them, the tread on the Scorpion S is designed to reach down into softer trail surfaces to search out for traction beneath. This makes it ideal for muddy winter rides, though interesting for us Aussies is that it’s supposed to perform equally well on trails covered in thick dust or soft loamy soil. Mmmm, loam. Scorpion R (Rear): With a focus on stability and providing grip under braking and climbing, the Scorpion R is purpose-built for the rear wheel. As such, it gets a wider array of tread blocks through the middle, with reinforced transition and edging knobs for stability under cornering. Pirelli suggests pairing this with a Scorpion M up front for a versatile combo that’ll adapt to a wide range of trail surfaces. The Scorpion M is an intermediate tyre that’s designed for mixed trail surfaces. The SmartGRIP rubber compound promises adaptable grip across a wide variety of conditions and trail types. SmartGRIP For Simpletons One thing that will also help the decision making process is the fact that each tyre is only available with Pirelli’s SmartGRIP rubber compound. The makeup of the rubber compound does actually vary from tyre-to-tyre, with Pirelli formulating the chemical concoction for each specific application. But instead of asking consumers to remember all of the compound options, it’s just calling each one SmartGRIP to keep things nice and simple. We like simple. Also of note is that the Scorpion MTB utilises this one single rubber compound for the entirety of the tread blocks. This differs to other high performance tyres, which often utilise two or three rubber compounds that are layered throughout the knobs – often with a firmer base rubber that’s capped with softer rubber layered over the top. According to Pirelli, this layered construction creates a problem as the tyre wears over time, with the softer outer rubber wearing away to expose the much firmer base rubber underneath. Its theory is that a single rubber compound will provide more consistent performance throughout the entire life of the tyre. The Scorpion R is a rear-specific tyre that Pirelli recommends running with the Scorpion M up front. The centre tread blocks are staggered in a wide array to provide the climbing and braking traction that’s unique to a rear tyre. Note how all the tread blocks are also linked to reduce tread floppage under hard loads. We don’t have much more information on the SmartGRIP compound, probably because Pirelli doesn’t want to give away too much of its special sauce. The company is happy to make some pretty bold claims about that special sauce though, stating that SmartGRIP creates “a mix that offers absolute grip, durability and smoothness”. Going further, it also reckons the rubber is ambivalent about whether the conditions are wet or dry. “It’s finally no longer necessary to select a different tread in the event of poor weather.” Pretty humble those Italians eh? Big Wheels & Little Wheels Pirelli will be offering all four Scorpion MTB models in both 27.5in and 29in diameters, with most options coming in 2.2in, 2.4in and 2.6in widths. Right now in Australia though, FE Sports (Pirelli’s Australian distributor) only has the Scorpion MTB range in the 29in diameter, in the 2.2in and 2.4in widths. We’re told that 27.5in tyres, and the wider 2.6in size, will be coming sometime later this year. The Scorpion MTB range also comes in a wider 2.4in size that’s better suited to trail bikes and rims with a 30mm inner width. Casing Options Once you’ve picked your tyre size and tread pattern, you’ll also be able to choose between the standard casing or the LITE casing. Unsurprisingly, the LITE version is lighter, with a thinner and more supple construction. If you’re racing, or your local trails aren’t so tough on tyres and wheels, then the LITE casing is the faster rolling option. For heavier riders and those who ride on rockier and more demanding terrain, the standard casing is the way to go. With the exception of the 2.2in LITE tyres, Pirelli also adds sidewall reinforcement to the Scorpion MTB tyres, with strips of 120tpi Nylon used to brace the sides of the tyre from being slashed open by hungry rocks and sharp tree stumps. The additional reinforcement also helps to keep the tyre more stable at lower pressures. The only tyre that you won’t get a casing choice with is the Scorpion R. Being a rear-specific tyre that’s designed to be more durable and more stable under load, it only comes in the standard casing. We’ve got the Scorpion M and R tyres in both a 2.2in and 2.4in combo. You can also choose between a standard or a LITE casing. We went with the standard casing, which is heavier but more robust. And What Do We Have Here Mate? We’ve just received a bunch of Pirelli Scorpion MTB tyres in for testing. Having been offered the full range, we decided to go with the Scorpion M as a front tyre, and the Scorpion R on the back. This is to suit our local dry and rocky trails, which vary from sun-baked hardpack through to sandy and loose-over-hard. We’ve got that combo in both 2.2in and 2.4in sizes, which will give us the opportunity to test them out on a variety of different XC and trail bikes. Read on for the full specs on each tyre. We’re running the Scorpion M as a front tyre on the front of our XC test bike. Pirelli Scorpion M 29×2.2in Tyre Medium profile tread pattern Designed for mixed conditions, from hard to soft, dry or wet SmartGRIP rubber compound Optimised for 25mm wide rims 120tpi Nylon casing w/120tpi sidewall reinforcement Measured width: 2.27in (57.82mm) Confirmed weight: 743g RRP: $89 The 2.4in Scorpion M plumps up nicely on the Curve Dirt Hoops, which have a 30mm inner width as recommended. Pirelli Scorpion M 29×2.4in Tyre Medium profile tread pattern Designed for mixed conditions, from hard to soft, dry or wet SmartGRIP rubber compound Optimised for 30mm wide rims 60tpi Nylon casing w/120tpi sidewall reinforcement Measured width: 2.44in (62.13mm) Confirmed weight: 914g RRP: $95 The rear-specific Scorpion R comes in at 773g for the 29×2.2in size. Pirelli Scorpion R 29×2.2in Tyre Rear specific tread pattern with medium profile Designed for mixed conditions, from hard to soft, dry or wet SmartGRIP rubber compound Optimised for 25mm wide rims 120tpi Nylon casing w/120tpi sidewall reinforcement Measured width: 2.25in (57.17mm) Confirmed weight: 773g RRP: $89 Using a more robust 60tpi casing with sidewall reinforcement, the 2.4in wide Scorpion R has a substantial amount of rubber. Pirelli Scorpion R 29×2.4in Tyre Rear specific tread pattern with medium profile Designed for mixed conditions, from hard to soft, dry or wet SmartGRIP rubber compound Optimised for 30mm wide rims 60tpi Nylon casing w/120tpi sidewall reinforcement Measured width: 2.45in (62.21mm) Confirmed weight: 900g RRP: $95 And there you go – that’s a bit of a rundown on the Pirelli Scorpion MTB tyre range, and a closer look at some of the tyres we’ve currently got strapped to our test bikes. Got any questions for us about the tyres? Make sure you drop them into the comments below! And if you want to check out further availability of the Pirelli tyre range in Australia, head to the FE Sports website. The post On Test | Pirelli’s New Scorpion Mountain Bike Tyres appeared first on Flow Mountain Bike.