“Never a dull moment hanging out with Kyle Strait and Cam Zink. Pit bikes, slalom tracks, dirt jumps, air bags… there’s plenty going on. We had a couple days to kill down in Southern California so we paid a visit to Kyle’s “Strait Acres.” He’s getting ready for Crankworx Rotorua coming up in a couple weeks so we set up a jump into an airbag so he could practice some tricks for Speed And Style. I hadn’t done a frontflip in a couple years so it seemed like a good chance to give that a whirl. Bubba Warren and Luca Cometti join in on the fun.” -Cam
That’s right folks, we’ve got big news out of Canada today with the arrival of a brand new electric mountain bike; the 2020 Norco Sight VLT 29. The good news? There are four models available, and not one of them costs over $10K. In fact, two of them are actually priced under $7K, which is pretty incredible given the specifications. The even better news? We’ve got the C1 model in for testing right now, and holy cow is this one beast of a bike! Here we’ll be taking a closer look at what’s new, how the Sight VLT 29er compares to its smaller-wheeled sibling, and what our first impressions are of riding this chunky-looking e-MTB. Norco has a brand new Sight VLT 29er joining its e-MTB range for 2020. Wait A Minny Mate – Doesn’t The Sight VLT Already Exist? Yes, yes it does! The current Norco Sight VLT (now known as the Sight VLT 27.5) has barely been on the market for a year, having arrived in late 2018. As you’ll read in our long term review it’s a bike that we didn’t take long to fall in love with thanks to its superb handling, lively suspension and generous battery range. Thankfully the Sight VLT 27.5 isn’t going anywhere – it’s just being joined by a beefcake brother. Surely Norco Has Just Thrown 29in Wheels Onto The Same Bike? Nope. The Sight VLT 29 doesn’t just have bigger wheels, it features an entirely new chassis. As we’ll get onto shortly, the geometry is quite different between the two. The Sight VLT 29 takes a lot of inspiration from the naturally-aspirated Sight, building on Norco’s ‘Ride Aligned’ ethos. Like the 27.5in version, the Sight VLT 29 uses a 630Wh In-Tube battery. Why Another Sight VLT Then? There are a couple of reasons. For a start, riders are simply asking for 29er e-MTBs. While we have thoroughly enjoyed the easier handling of the 27.5in wheels on the Sight VLT (and more recently the 27.5in Santa Cruz Heckler), there’s no denying the climbing and rollover benefits of a bigger 29in wheel – something that becomes more obvious the more technical the terrain is. Also, and in case you hadn’t noticed, Norco’s been on a bit of a blinder over the past 12 months. The Canucks have rolled out an all-new Optic, and they’ve also brought back the Torrent enduro hardtail in all its steel-framed glory. Then there was the release of the totally revamped Sight, as well as the arrival of Norco’s biggest and baddest e-MTB yet; the Range VLT. With that last bike (an absolute monster of an e-MTB with 180/170mm of travel, coil suspension and DH-worthy geo), Norco created a pretty significant gap in its full suspension e-MTB lineup. And so to fill that gap between the Sight VLT 27.5 and the Range VLT, we now have this brand spanking new Sight VLT 29er. As you’ll see, it does share a few things in common with the 27.5in version, though there are some significant differences too. The Norco Sight VLT 29er – Give Us The Lowdown First, let’s start by covering off what carries over from the 27.5in version. In terms of suspension travel, it’s exactly the same as the Sight VLT 27.5. So we’ve got a 160mm travel fork on the front, and 150mm of rear wheel travel courtesy of a four-bar suspension platform. The motor and battery system are also the same. There’s a Shimano STEPS mid-drive motor integrated into the frame, and a non-Shimano battery that is stowed inside that huge downtube. As with the Sight VLT 27.5, Norco has gone for a big 630Wh rechargeable battery, though unlike a lot of other e-MTBs on the market, it isn’t designed to be easily removable. This does mean the frame can be built lighter and sleeker. There’s 150mm of rear wheel travel via a 4-bar suspension design. Because of the motor, the chainstay length is over 20mm longer than the regular Sight. Up front is a 160mm travel reduced-offset fork and a beefy 2.5WT Maxxis Minion DHF. So What’s Different Then? Aside from the obvious wheelsize difference, the biggest change with the Sight VLT 29er is the geometry. Much like the new Optic, Sight and Range VLT models, the new Sight VLT 29 shares Norco’s new-school geometry concept with a significantly slacker head tube angle, a longer top tube, a steeper seat tube angle and a lower BB. Consequently, the wheelbase has expanded. Big time. For those wondering, here are some of the headline geometry figures of the Sight VLT 29 and how they compare to the Sight VLT 27.5; Head Angle: 64° (vs 66°) Seat Angle: 78.3° (vs 75°) Chainstays: 458mm (vs 440mm) Reach: 455mm (vs 440mm, Medium) BB drop: 25mm (vs 15mm) Wheelbase: 1246mm (vs 1184mm) We love the current Sight VLT 27.5, and thankfully it isn’t going away – the two Sight VLTs will coexist. For now at least. Given those differences, we can see why the Sight VLT 29 and Sight VLT 27.5 will coexist. For riders who want a more playful and easy-handling bike, the 27.5in version is likely going to remain the more logical option. For those who are chasing all-out speed and stability, the 29er appears to be the sled you’re looking for. One other thing to note on the geometry is that while it is very similar to the naturally-aspirated Sight (a bike that we just finished reviewing), the rear centre length is the same between all four frame sizes (the regular Sight has a different RC length for each size). This is purely down to the mid-drive motor, which unfortunately makes it impossible to change the BB location to extend or shorten the RC length. 2020 Norco Sight VLT 29 Geometry Moar Battery! Moar Water! Moar Alloy! Geometry aside, there are some other functional differences to be found on the Sight VLT 29. Whereas the current Sight VLT 27.5 is only available in carbon fibre, the Sight VLT 29 comes in both alloy and carbon variants. The addition of two alloy models helps to bring the cost of entry down significantly, with the cheapest A2 model coming in at $6,199. We’ve got specs and pricing on all four models below. One update that is likely to make many riders happy is the provision of a water bottle cage inside the mainframe – something that the current Sight VLT 27.5 misses out on. This has been achieved by twisting the rear shock by 90°, which helps to increase clearance for a bottle while still accommodating the shock’s piggyback reservoir. Also good news is the option of running a range extender battery pack. Just like the Range VLT, this additional 360Wh battery is designed to sit on top of the downtube and plugs into the frame just above the Shimano motor. The battery sells separately for $699 and increases total capacity to 990Wh, which is an extraordinary amount of juice. If you do choose to run a range extender battery, you will have to forgo the water bottle though. Unlike the 27.5in version, the Sight VLT 29 comes with water bottle mounts, and it’s also compatible with Norco’s aftermarket range extender battery pack. Which 2020 Norco Sight VLT 29 Models Are Coming To Oz? There are four different Sight VLT 29 models available in Australia – two carbon (the C1 & C2) and two alloy (the A1 & A2). Norco also makes a cheaper C3 carbon bike, but we won’t be seeing that one locally. Oh, and unlike all the other new bike releases we’ve covered for the start of 2020, not one of Norco’s Sight VLT models will sell for over $10K. Phew! We suspect there’ll be a lot of demand for the A1 model in particular, given its super competitive $6,999 list price. For your monies, you’ll get the same Shimano E8000 motor as the carbon models, a proper RockShox Yari fork, a piggyback rear shock, 1×12 drivetrain, 4-piston Shimano brakes and high-end Maxxis tyres, complete with the heavy duty DoubleDown casing and sticky 3C MaxxGrip rubber compound. Ticks a lot of boxes hey? Read on for a closer look at all four models that are hitting our shores over the coming months; The top-end Norco Sight VLT C1 29er is decked out with a Lyrik Ultimate RC2 fork, DT Swiss wheels and a Reverb Stealth dropper post. 2020 Norco Sight VLT C1 29 Frame | Carbon Fibre Mainframe & Seatstays, Alloy Chainstays, Four-Bar Suspension Design, 150mm Travel Fork | RockShox Lyrik Ultimate, Charger 2 RC2 Damper, 42mm Offset, 160mm Travel Shock | RockShox Super Deluxe Select+, DebonAir, 185×55mm Drive Unit | Shimano STEPS E8000, 70Nm Battery | In-Tube 630Wh Wheels | DT Swiss E 1700 Hybrid, 30mm Inner Rim Width Tyres | Maxxis Minion DHF DoubleDown 3C MaxxGrip 2.5WT Front & DHR II DoubleDown 3C MaxxGrip 2.4WT Rear Drivetrain | SRAM GX Eagle 1×12 w/Shimano XT 34T Crankset & NX Eagle 11-50T Cassette Brakes | SRAM Code R 4-Piston w/200mm Rotors Bar | Deity Ridgeline 35, 25mm Rise, 800mm Wide Seatpost | RockShox Reverb, 34.9mm Diameter, Travel: 150mm (S), 175mm (M), 200mm (L/XL) RRP | $9,799 The C2 utilises the same carbon chassis as the top-end C1, but specs a Shimano XT 1×12 drivetrain, a cheaper fork damper and a TranzX dropper post to lob a grand off the price. 2020 Norco Sight VLT C2 29 Frame | Carbon Fibre Mainframe & Seatstays, Alloy Chainstays, Four-Bar Suspension Design, 150mm Travel Fork | RockShox Lyrik Select, Charger RC Damper, 42mm Offset, 160mm Travel Shock | RockShox Super Deluxe Select+, DebonAir, 185×55mm Drive Unit | Shimano STEPS E8000, 70Nm Battery | In-Tube 630Wh Wheels | Shimano XT Hubs & e*thirteen LG1 DH Alloy Rims, 30mm Inner Width Tyres | Maxxis Minion DHF DoubleDown 3C MaxxGrip 2.5WT Front & DHR II DoubleDown 3C MaxxGrip 2.4WT Rear Drivetrain | Shimano XT 1×12 w/XT 34T Crankset & 10-51T Cassette Brakes | Shimano XT 4-Piston w/203mm Rotors Bar | Norco 6061 Alloy, 20mm Rise, 800mm Wide Seatpost | TranzX YSP-39JL, 34.9mm Diameter, Travel: 150mm (S), 170mm (M), 200mm (L/XL) RRP | $8,799 Prefer metal? The Sight VLT A1 is sure to become a best-seller given its $6,999 price tag and the fact that it comes with proper suspension, proper tyres and proper brakes. Plus it has the same motor and battery as the carbon models. 2020 Norco Sight VLT A1 29 Frame | Hydroformed Alloy, Four-Bar Suspension Design, 150mm Travel Fork | RockShox Yari RC, Motion Control Damper, 42mm Offset, 160mm Travel Shock | RockShox Super Deluxe Select+, DebonAir, 185×55mm Drive Unit | Shimano STEPS E8000, 70Nm Battery | In-Tube 630Wh Wheels | Shimano Deore Hubs & e*thirteen LG1 DH Alloy Rims, 30mm Inner Width Tyres | Maxxis Minion DHF DoubleDown 3C MaxxGrip 2.5WT Front & DHR II DoubleDown 3C MaxxGrip 2.4WT Rear Drivetrain | SRAM SX Eagle 1×12 w/Shimano FC-E8000 34T Crankset & NX Eagle 11-50T Cassette Brakes | Shimano MT520 4-Piston w/203mm Rotors Bar | Norco 6061 Alloy, 20mm Rise, 800mm Wide Seatpost | TranzX YSP-39JL, 34.9mm Diameter, Travel: 150mm (S), 170mm (M), 200mm (L/XL) RRP | $6,999 As the entry-point into the Sight VLT lineup, the A2 may well be one of the most capable e-MTBs going at this price point. 2020 Norco Sight VLT A2 29 Frame | Hydroformed Alloy, Four-Bar Suspension Design, 150mm Travel Fork | RockShox 35 Gold, Motion Control Damper, 42mm Offset, 160mm Travel Shock | RockShox Super Deluxe Select+, DebonAir, 185×55mm Drive Unit | Shimano STEPS E7000, 60Nm Battery | In-Tube 500Wh Wheels | Shimano Deore Hubs & WTB ST i29 Alloy Rims, 29mm Inner Width Tyres | Maxxis Minion DHF DoubleDown 3C MaxxGrip 2.5WT Front & DHR II DoubleDown 3C MaxxGrip 2.4WT Rear Drivetrain | Shimano Deore 1×10 w/Alloy 32T Crankset & Deore 11-42T Cassette Brakes | Shimano MT420 4-Piston w/203mm Rotors Bar | Norco 6061 Alloy, 20mm Rise, 800mm Wide Seatpost | TranzX YSP-39JL, 34.9mm Diameter, Travel: 150mm (S), 170mm (M), 200mm (L/XL) RRP | $6,199 The Sight VLT C1 comes with a SRAM GX Eagle 1×12 drivetrain, though a cheaper (and heavier) NX Eagle cassette. Compared to the 27.5in version, the Sight VLT 29 is considerably longer and slacker. It’s also lower in the BB too. First Impressions The model we’ve got our hot little hands on is the top-end C1. In terms of its overall shape and geometry, it shares a lot in common with the naturally aspirated Sight – a bike that I only just finished testing. The reach and head angle are identical between the two, but because the Sight VLT 29 has a slightly steeper seat angle, the cockpit does feel shorter and more upright in direct comparison. With the same bars, grips and 160mm Lyrik fork, the front-end feels reassuringly familiar. The saddle is an e-MTB specific number from Ergon though, with a pronounced scoop at the tail that’s designed to provide a stronger platform for your sit-bones while seated on steep, technical climbs. It’s comfortable, though I’ll be playing around with saddle tilt and fore/aft positioning to get it dialled in properly, as right now it feels like I have too much weight on the grips. One other key geometry difference is the rear centre length, which is over 20mm longer on the Sight VLT 29 (458mm vs 435mm). On the climbs, this helps to keep the front end from pitching, and it all feels very steady and calm. On the descents, the longer back end does give the electric version a bigger footprint on the trail, and it also helps to shift a little more weight distribution onto the front tyre. This is complemented by the extra weight of the battery and motor, giving the Sight VLT 29 an enormously planted feel at speed. Despite only having one solid ride on it so far, I’m already feeling very comfortable – something that took me a few rides on the regular Sight to achieve. 800mm wide riser bars from Deity, along with Ergon GE1 grips and SRAM Code R brakes. It’s a tough-looking cockpit, if quite messy with all those Shimano Di2 wires. For those wondering, our medium sized Sight VLT 29 weighs in at a not-feathery 23.43kg. Part of the weight comes down to the Maxxis Minion DoubleDown tyres, which tip the scales at 1.23kg for the DHF and 1.17kg for the DHR II. They also feature the mega-sticky 3C MaxxGrip rubber compound, which offers an insane amount of grip, albeit with a noticeably slower rolling speed. Not as big of a deal when you’ve got a 70Nm motor between the crank arms though. We’ll be testing the Sight VLT 29 over the coming weeks, and I’ve got a few big rides planned to see how it’ll handle a variety of trail types and conditions. Norco also supplied us with a range extender battery pack. According to the workshop scales, this weighs in at 2.3kg, which brings the total bike weight close to 26kg. Yeesh! However, it does give you nearly 1000Wh of battery to indulge in, which opens up some pretty cool riding adventure opportunities. Your suggestions are welcome! Stay tuned to the Flow website for the full review, though in the meantime, by all means shoot us through any questions you’ve got, and be sure to tell us your thoughts on the new 2020 Norco Sight VLT 29. The range extender battery pack sells separately for $699 and adds 2.3kg of mass to the bike. It does jack up capacity to 990Wh, which opens up some the possibility of bigger adventures. Mo’ Flow Please! Enjoyed that article? Then there’s plenty more to check out on Flow Mountain Bike, including all our latest news stories and product reviews. And if you haven’t already, make sure you subscribe to our YouTube channel, and sign up to our Facebook page and Instagram feed so you can keep up to date with all things Flow! The post First Ride | Norco Releases All-New Sight VLT 29er appeared first on Flow Mountain Bike.
There’s a general theme that runs throughout the road cycling world: aluminium is good, but carbon is better. From framesets to wheels, groupsets and finishing kits, if we can afford it, the temptation is nearly always to go for carbon. But that’s doing other materials a disservice, and there are plenty of times aluminium has proven itself equal to, or better, than its composite counterpart. Sit back and feast your eyes upon five products that prove carbon isn’t always best. Trek Emonda ALR Trek Emonda ALR frameset. Immediate Media The Trek Emonda ALR is proof that alloy bikes should still be taken seriously as an alternative to carbon. It’s prettier than many carbon frames, particularly in this sensual metallic purple flip paint job, which changes colour according to the viewing angle. The Emonda ALR is easily mistaken for carbon until you spot the welds at the bottom bracket, and it’s light too. We weighed a 54cm frame at just over 1,200g with all its hardware, and built it into a bike weighing 7kg ready-to-ride with alloy clinchers. There’s a disc version of the Emonda ALR too, but we have a particular affection for the rim brake model. This takes direct-mount calipers, the best rim brakes you can get. The Emonda ALR isn’t as good as a five grand carbon bike, but it’s a hell of a lot closer to one than you might imagine, and so much cheaper. If that doesn’t convince you, our very own senior writer, Matthew Loveridge recently reviewed his 2019 Trek ALR long-termer. Matthew has ridden a lot of bikes, and has a lot of opinions about bikes, so you can be assured that if he thinks it’s good, it’s going to be one of the best around. Any alloy handlebar Is carbon really the best choice for your handlebars? Immediate Media There are many easy wins when it comes to saving weight off your overall ride. We’re talking wheels, tyres and, obviously, the rider. However, one place you’re not likely to save much weight but are guaranteed to add a lot of expensive, and even risk, is with carbon handlebars. Sure those carbon bars look cool, and brands claim they’re stiffer, but does having marginally stiffer handlebars really make that much difference? Have you ever heard someone say, ‘I would have won that race if I’d had stiffer and marginally lighter bars?’ Well, we haven’t, and we doubt you have either. Pros have also often been seen forgoing carbon bars for their peasant-like aluminium cousins. This is because any tiny difference in weight is totally offset by an aluminium bar’s ability to survive a nasty crash. This particularly makes sense with pro bikes because they can now easily hit the UCI’s minimum weight limit of 6.8kg, so adding a bit of strength and security with an alloy bar is a no-brainer. Finally, if this point hasn’t enraged all the full carbon finishing kit aficionados enough, we think you could say the same about carbon stems. Just remember to let us know how angry that makes you in the comments. Aluminium cranks Carbon isn’t best when it comes to cranks. Immediate Media As we’ve already mentioned, the conventional wisdom within road cycling is that carbon is always better, but in the case of aluminium cranks, that’s simply not true. Case in point comes from the biggest groupset player on the planet – Shimano still sticks doggedly to aluminium cranks, despite the other big players going to carbon. We suspect the smart folks over at Shimano have thought long and hard, and put lots of money into making this decision, so you can be assured there’s a good reason behind this. We can only speculate, but the improved durability, equal or greater stiffness qualities, reduced costs, and sheer good looks could all play a key part in choosing aluminium over carbon. If you’re still not convinced, then look to the WorldTour, where plenty of teams use either Shimano or Rotor’s aluminium wares. They’re not complaining about the stiffness or weight of their cranks. Alloy wheels Aluminium brake tracks are often a better choice for rim-brake setups. Immediate Media This next point has become less relevant as the relentless march of the disc brake domination on road bikes continues, but there’s no doubt that back in the glory days of rim braking, an aluminium brake track would nearly always trump a full carbon one. Carbon wheels are lighter, and you can build them into more aerodynamic shapes, but for most of us, alloy wheels are more than adequate. They’re usually cheaper and brake far better over a wider variety of conditions. If that doesn’t convince you, perhaps a chap called Geraint Thomas can. A quick look on his Instagram account shows plenty of occasions over the years where he’s been riding wheels with aluminium on the brake tracks. View this post on Instagram Not a bad spot to warm down on Zwift @gozwift @ranchovalencia A post shared by Geraint Thomas (@geraintthomas86) on Jan 28, 2020 at 1:32pm PST Someone mentioned to us that he’s the winner of a fairly big sportive around France, which takes place every summer. We haven’t tried it yet, but we’ve heard it’s quite hard, so if it’s good enough for Papa Geraint, it’s probably good enough for everyone else as well. Shimano Dura-Ace 7810 pedals Shimano’s Dura-Ace 7810 pedal. Immediate Media This product has featured in another recent Top 5 video but it would be difficult to not include Shimano’s Dura-Ace 7810 pedal on this list These pedals were produced from around 2006 to 2010, and thanks to the aluminium body, we think it’s one of the best Shimano has ever made. Along with a full aluminium body it featured a stainless steel protective plate on top, which could put up with a lot of use and abuse if you were a budding amateur racer. The wide pedal platform also gave plenty of stability for getting the power through the pedals. WorldTour pros loved them too, thanks to their aforementioned durability and solid pedalling platform. Many riders would hold on to a pair and secretly use them over the then newer composite versions. In fact, a quick trawl through the BikeRadar archives revealed the photo above of Team Ineos rider Ian Stannard’s bike from 2013, with Dura-Ace 7810 pedals attached. This was a good couple of years after the pedal was discontinued, so it goes to show how good they really were. Perhaps if Shimano did a limited-edition release, we’d see plenty of WorldTour pros snapping them up for a life in the WorldTour peloton. What do you think of our list? Did we get it right? Or should we have picked something else? As always, let us know in the comments, and don’t forget to like and subscribe to our YouTube channel, and click the little bell icon, so that every time we upload a video, you get a notification.
In this tutorial Cam teaches you how to be efficient through a roller section. As he explains, the goal of going through rollers is being able to articulate movements and use your body to manipulate your bike. Cam provides an awesome step by step to proper balance, pushing and pulling through rollers, helping you save Read More The post Basics Part 1: Rollers – Manuals appeared first on BIKE Magazine.
It might be a basic thing, but being able to pump up your bike’s tyres is an essential skill as a cyclist. A lot of you will already know how to do this, but for those who don’t, the different valve types, pumps and more importantly what pressure to pump your tyre to can be a bit overwhelming. Let us guide you through the process. How to safety check your bike Cheap bike pumps | Inflate your tyres without breaking the bank Why should I care? Pneumatic tyres were invented to get over the bone-jarring ‘ride-quality’ of solid wheels. The air inside acts as a spring, providing suspension for you and allowing the tyre to conform to the terrain providing better traction and grip. Pumping up your tyres is a quick job that can easily improve your enjoyment while riding. Running the wrong tyre pressure will negatively affect the way that your bike rides and can also make your bike more prone to punctures. How does my tyre hold air? If you’ve never repaired a puncture before, you might not have considered how your tyres hold air inside. The vast majority of bikes will use an inner tube — a doughnut shaped tube that sits inside the tyre, with a valve for pumping it up that you see on the outside. The tyre, when inflated by the tube, is what grips the ground and provides protection from punctures. You may have heard of tubeless tyres, which forgo a tube and use a special rim and tyre to seal air without the need for a tube. These usually require tubeless sealant inside, which is a liquid that plugs any points where air is escaping. Tubeless tyres are more commonly found in mountain biking, but the technology is migrating to road bikes. The tubeless sealant also plugs punctures, and no tube means a much lower risk of pinch flats — that’s when your inner tube is pinched by the rim, causing a puncture. Tubeless tyres can therefore be run at lower pressures than those with an inner tube setup, for improved comfort and traction. At the very high end you also get tubular tyres — essentially a tyre with the tube sewn into it but you probably don’t need to worry about those for the moment. Tyre pressure Inflating your tyres to the correct pressure is an essential part of bike maintenance. Oli Woodman / Immediate Media Running your tyres at either too high or too low a pressure can be potentially dangerous as well as impact on the handling of your bike. We’ll discuss later what the correct pressure is, but for the moment let’s look at possible problems. If you run your tyres at too low a pressure the tyre can wear prematurely. Excessive flexing in the sidewall can lead to the casing cracking and the tyre becoming fragile. This could eventually lead to a blowout. Excessively low pressures also increase your susceptibility to punctures and may even result in your tyres literally rolling off the rim if you corner at speed (the pressure inside holds your tyre on the rim). An under-inflated tyre will rob your efficiency and leave you susceptible to annoying punctures. Oli Woodman / Immediate Media Damage can also be caused if the tyre deflects all the way down to the rim. This can result in dents or cracking, potentially compromising your wheel and resulting in an expensive replacement. Conversely, a too high pressure could result in your tyre blowing off the rim with explosive consequences. That pressure can also squeeze the wheel, because if it’s too high the compressive force on the wheel can be too high. In terms of handling, a low pressure can result in compromised handling with the tyre squirming under load. Your bike will feel difficult to control, slow and sluggish. A too high pressure can result in reduced grip and a harsh ride, leading to fatigue and in turn impacting handling in its own way. Why is my tyre flat? There are two likely reasons why your tyre is flat. Either you have a puncture or your tyres have just deflated over time. If you have a puncture, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide on how to fix a puncture. Glueless patches are great for a quick fix, while a more traditional kit is a versatile option when you have a bit more time. All tyre systems will leak air slowly because tubes aren’t completely airtight. For example, standard butyl tubes hold air fairly well compared to lightweight latex tubes, which leak comparatively quicker. Even tubeless setups will slowly leak air. Old tubes will leak more air than new ones, so if yours haven’t been replaced in a while that may be worth looking at. Less likely, but also a possibility (especially on older tubes), is that the valve is no longer sealing properly. The best way to check what’s going on is to try pumping up the tyres. If they hold air then there’s likely nothing more you need to do. If they don’t, then you likely have a puncture. And, if they leak air slowly overnight, either you have a slow puncture or simply an old tube that needs replacing. Latest deals on puncture repair kits What valve type does my bicycle have? The first thing you’ll need to know before pumping up your tyre is what valve type is fitted. The valve is the key part that keeps air in the tyre, but also lets you inflate (or deflate) the tyre. Schrader valve The Schrader valve is also used for car tyres. Oli Woodman / Immediate Media Schrader valves are more common on lower-end bikes and, in the past, mountain bikes. You might recognise them from your car tyres. The valve assembly is a hollow tube with a sprung valve that closes automatically and screws into the external body. A pin extends up from the valve and is usually flush with the end of the outer tube. It can be depressed to let air out. The dust cap on Schrader valves in an important part of the design that can help fully seal the valve if it is not completely air-tight. It essentially provides a secondary ‘backup’ seal. The sprung design of the valve is a little susceptible to contamination from dirt or grit so it’s important to protect it too. Presta valve Presta valves such as this one are longer and narrower than the Schrader type valve. Oli Woodman / Immediate Media You will only find Presta valves on bicycles. They originated on road bikes where the narrower valve (6mm vs 8mm for a Schrader) meant a smaller valve hole (typically the weakest part of a rim) on narrow road wheels. Nowadays they are seen on both mountain bikes and road bikes. Rather than use a spring, the valve is secured with a nut that holds it closed, though the valve itself is sealed ‘automatically’ when pressure inside the tyre pushes it shut. With a Schrader valve you can simply press the pin to release air, but with a Presta valve you first have to unscrew the little locknut. Don’t worry about the nut coming off the end of the valve body as the threads are peened to stop that happening. There seems to be myth that Presta valves deal with high pressures better — this probably isn’t true considering there are Schrader valves that can withstand many hundreds of psi (way more than you’ll ever need in your tyre). Presta valves are definitely a little more delicate than Schrader valves, it’s quite easy to knock the threaded internal valve body and bend or break it, so a bit more care needs to be taken. However, valve cores are easily replaceable with standard tools. In comparison, on Schrader valves this requires a proprietary tool. Presta valves may come with a lockring that secures the valve body against the rim. This can make them a little easier to inflate. The dust cap is not essential to seal it, but helps keep the valve clean. This is why it’s time to stop using Presta valves Dunlop/Woods valve The only other type of valve you may come across is a Dunlop (also known as Woods) valve. This has a similar base diameter to a Schrader valve, but can be inflated with the same pump fitting as a Presta valve. You’re pretty unlikely to encounter one, and we’ve only really mentioned it for the sake of completeness. Tubeless valve A tubeless valve can be difficult to distinguish from a regular Presta valve. Oli Woodman / Immediate Media Valves for tubeless setups are attached directly to the rim, rather than being part of an inner tube. More often than not they are Presta-type, though Schrader ones do exist. How to set up tubeless wheels How does a pump work? A pump gets the air in your tyre. The operating principle is simple; you increase the pressure inside the pump until it exceeds that inside the tyre. This ‘overpressure’ forces air into the tyre, increasing its pressure too. A pump is just a manually actuated piston. On a pump’s downstroke, a check valve (allows air-flow in one direction) seals the piston chamber, resulting in air being pressurised as the pump is compressed. That pressure increases until it exceeds that inside the tyre. At this point, a second one-way valve will allow air to flow from the pressurised pump chamber into the tyre. You extend the pump again, the check valve opens to refill the chamber with air and you repeat the process. To prevent the pressure in the tyre leaking back out, the second check valve at the base of the pump closes. If it wasn’t there, the pump would just shoot open again. Presta valves will close automatically, but the sprung Schrader valves are usually held open by a pin in the pump valve attachment (this means you don’t need any extra effort when pumping to overcome the pressure exerted by the spring.) The chuck is the part that attaches the pump to the valve and forms an airtight seal over the valve. One of two designs exist: threaded or push-on with a locking lever. Most pumps nowadays are also adaptable to either Schrader or Presta valves. They will either feature two different attachment points or an adjustable chuck that can be changed to suit both types. For larger pumps (and many mini-pumps too) the chuck is often on a hose, preventing your pumping force from damaging the valve. Pumps will often include a pressure gauge to check the pressure inside your tyre. How to pump up a bike tyre (Schrader valve) If you’ve got a Schrader type valve such as this one then the first thing you need to do is remove the dust cap (if there is one in place). Oli Woodman / Immediate Media Simply unscrew the cap anticlockwise to reveal the valve. Oli Woodman / Immediate Media Now attach the head of your pump. Oli Woodman / Immediate Media Inflate the tyre to a value between the minimum and maximum stated on the tyre sidewall and remove the pump. You’re done! Oli Woodman / Immediate Media How to pump up a bike tyre (Presta type valve) If your bicycle has a Presta type valve such as this one then you will first have to remove the plastic valve cap (if fitted). Oli Woodman / Immediate Media The plastic cap will reveal another threaded cap to the valve. Oli Woodman / Immediate Media Unscrew the thread but be careful to not damage it in the process. Oli Woodman / Immediate Media Now attach the head of your chosen pump to the open valve and inflate the tyre to a pressure that’s between the minimum and maximum stated on the tyre’s sidewall. Oli Woodman / Immediate Media Inflate the tyre to the desired pressure and remove the pump. Oli Woodman / Immediate Media Finally, close the valve by screwing it clockwise and reinstall the plastic valve cap. Oli Woodman / Immediate Media What type of pump do I need? We’d say that if you own just one type of pump, get a track pump for home use because it’s efficient, quick and easy to use. However, there’s no doubt that having an additional mini-pump for when you’re out on the road is rather useful – otherwise you risk being stranded at the road side in the event of getting a pump. We’ve already got a guide on choosing the best bike pump for your needs, but here a few recommendations for you to consider. Track pump The sky’s the limit with track pumps. They basically all do the same job, some with a more premium feel than others. From a budget Park Tool PFP8 to the absurdly expensive Silca Pista Plus, you’ll be able to find something that suits your needs. Latest deals on track pumps Mini pump Mini pumps work but are a lot more frustrating to use. Again, there are lots of options available from mini track-style pumps to tiny pumps that will fit in a jersey pocket. We tend to prefer mini pumps with a hose because that reduces stress (and potential damage) on the valve. Two of our favourites have been the Truflo TIO Road and the Lezyne Micro Floor Drive HP. Latest deals on mini pumps CO2 inflator One other possibility for your inflation needs are CO2 inflators. These use compressed carbon dioxide in a small cartridge to inflate or top up a tyre really quickly. Not something you would want to use on a regular basis, but perfect for an emergency repair. Best CO2 inflators Latest deals on CO2 inflators How to use your pump to inflate a bicycle tyre The first thing to do is attach your pump to the valve. Remove the valve cap, and regardless of valve type, we find it’s good to release just a little hiss of air to ensure the valve isn’t stuck and opens and closes cleanly. Either thread on the chuck, or push it on and lock it. If your tyre is completely flat it may initially be a bit of a struggle to fit the chuck as the valve has a tendency to push back into the rim. Simply hold the valve from behind by pushing on the outside of the tyre so that you can lock the chuck on properly. The lockring on Presta valves (if fitted) can also help, preventing the valve from disappearing by holding it in place for you. The connection to the valve should be air-tight. A little escaping air is normal when attaching the pump, but shouldn’t continue for long. If it does, remove and reattach the chuck. If it continues to be a problem it may be worth checking the rubber seal in the chuck to see if it is worn out and needs replacing. Remember to be gentle with the valves — they’re delicate. That’s especially the case if you’re using a mini pump without a hose. Make sure to brace the pump with your hand wrapped around the spokes or tyre to avoid transferring too much of the pumping force to the valve, which could lead to damage. When you start pumping make sure to use the full stroke of the pump. You’ll find that the majority of the stroke is taken up compressing the air to the point where it will then be pushed into the tyre. If you don’t use the whole length of the pump, the air won’t be pushed out of the bottom — you need to generate overpressure in order to move the air from the pump to the tyre. Instead, you’ll just end up with the shaft bobbing around doing nothing. With a track pump, don’t just use your arms, use your body weight for the downstroke and pumping will become a lot easier. You may sometimes find that the pump doesn’t seem to hold pressure, especially when inflating the tyre from completely flat. This may especially be the case with an older pump where seals may be slightly sticky. We find it helps to pump vigorously initially, to generate enough back-pressure (i.e. pushing back from the tyre side) in the system to ensure that valves are actuated properly and seal up, in turn inflating the tyre. Keep on going until you get the right pressure. When removing the chuck from the valve there is usually an audible hiss of air being lost. This is usually from the pump rather than the valve side. Pressured air in the hose and chuck is just escaping. Tubeless considerations If you have a tubeless setup, or tubes setup with sealant inside, then it’s worth taking a few extra steps to avoid gunking up your pump. Turn the wheels so the valves are at the bottom and leave for a few minutes so any sealant can drain out. Turn the wheels so the valves are at the top and pump up your tyres. The same goes when deflating tyres to prevent goop spraying everywhere. Best tubeless sealant Best tubeless pumps and inflators What pressure (psi) should my bike tyres be? The right tyre pressure is perhaps one of the most contentious subjects, but there are definitely a few guidelines that you can use. As a general rule, your tyre should be solid enough to prevent the tyre deflecting all the way to the rim, though compliant enough to provide some suspension — after all, the beauty of a pneumatic tyre is that you don’t have to have a bone-jarringly hard ride. Most tyres will have a minimum and maximum pressure rating printed on the side. It’s advisable not to go under or over those limits because manufacturers have specified them for a reason. Of course, that means there’s still a lot of room to play with pressure and what works for you. Traction For mountain bikes the problem is relatively easier, with the usual aim being to improve traction, cornering and shock absorption. As a general rule riders try to run as low a pressure as possible without having it so soft that the tyre squirms under cornering load or deflects enough for damage to occur to the rim. Trail Tech: Mountain bike tyre pressure – all you need to know Rolling resistance For road bikes it becomes a little more complicated because along with traction and comfort, rolling resistance (how efficiently a tyre rolls) is a major consideration as well. Contrary to what many assume, the new school of thought seems to suggest that harder is not necessarily faster. On all but the smoothest of surfaces, a hard tyre will not have as much suspension, and instead of the tyre being able to deflect and conform to irregularities — keeping the bike moving forward — you will get bounced around. On all but the flattest of surfaces softer tyre pressures can provide more comfort and be more efficient. Best road bike tyres: everything you need to know Tyre drop pressure chart. Frank Berto (Bicycle Quarterly) The most comprehensive research into this was underatken by Frank Berto, who put together a tyre pressure inflation chart. This testing determined that a 20 percent tyre drop (the amount the tyre compresses when load is applied, measured by the height from the ground to the rim) was the optimum balance. Incidentally, some manufacturers recommend a similar level of tyre drop, though the figure is open to some debate. This value does provide a good starting point to experiment with tyre pressures. The chart looks at individual wheel load — i.e. your and your bike’s weight on each wheel (40 percent front / 60 percent rear is a good starting point) — and calculates the pressure for each accordingly. How often should I pump up my tyres? You need not always get your pump/gauge out to check for tyre pressure. BikeRadar / Immediate Media It’s a good idea to check your tyres before each ride. Usually that just involves giving them a squeeze by hand to check the pressure. No, it’s not super accurate, but you’ll quickly get a feel for the pressure in your tyres and be able to tell whether they need pumping up or not. If you start to get really nerdy about it, you may end up investing in a pressure gauge, which can read the pressures in your tyres very accurately. That’s especially helpful for mountain bikes where a few psi can make a large difference to handling and grip, but equally applicable on a road bike to find the exact pressure that works for you. Take your first steps towards perfect pressure bliss. If you have any questions let us know in the comments below.
Find out what's going on in the curly bar world.( Photos: 8, Comments: 1 )
The current chassis for the RockShox Pike was first announced around Sea Otter (read: Spring) 2017. With that it saw roughly a 160 gram weight loss due to its new bones. The next year the fork’s main update was the Charger 2 damper as well as some SKF seals. Most recently, following the company’s “incremental enhancements…” motto, the Charger 2.1 was released as RockShox rolled out the Signature series suspension lineup. The main shortcoming of Charger 2 was that it suffered from a bit of spikiness and somewhat limited range in usable high speed compression damping. Charger 2.1 remedied that issue mainly by way of an updated shim stack, but the damper was also upgraded with an improved piston wearband and an SKF rod seal – both of which help reduce stiction and while making for better small bump sensitivity. The low speed compression also sees additional support via a new needle profile. Anyhow, now that we’ve had a good amount of trail time aboard the staple fork from this past Summer through our current Winter, here’s the report on long term findings. Details 27.5″ & 29″ 120mm – 160mm travel available Offsets: 37mm (27.5″), 42mm (29″), 46mm (27.5″), 51mm (29″) Boost hub spacing with “Torque Cap” fitment Charger 2.1 damper SKF seals Maxima fluid 1832 grams (120mm / 27.5″) $929 USD For the most part, the view from above looks the same, with the high and low speed compression adjusters remaining unchanged and the same arch as the last version. The Signature series forks feature gloss finish, with Pike being available in Silver as well as Black. Lyrik is offered in Red and Black. Above are some of the areas that this iteration of the fork found its ~160 gram weight loss a couple years back. Lots of relief in the arch, plus a shorter overall damping/air spring assembly which allowed for some less excess material at the bottom of the lowers as well. The updated seal head in Charger 2.1 features is now made by SKF, who as a brand, is about as good as it gets, and more of their seals are found throughout the current RockShox forks than ever before. Above left, the new fork comes with a RockShox branded fender, which is a really nice little perk. In fact all of the new Signature series forks come with them. On the right, if you’ve been paying attention for the last few years, you’re likely familiar with RockShox’ patented “Sag Gradients” which are laser etched indicators that make it a breeze to achieve your preferred sag. Lastly, the new forks ship with bolt on axles, which save weight…These days if you’re not carrying a tool, you’re a fool. On the trail This was my first fork with the Charger 2.1 damper and the difference was pretty easy to detect early on. Compared to the last Pike, it started out as just feeling a bit easier on my hands, then more improvements became increasingly obvious as I spent more time on it. When things got hectic, the fork felt a bit less nervous – its calmer demeanor likely attributed to the improved high speed compression, which in my view is the crowning achievement of the Charger 2.1 damper. On Charger 2, if I added much more than 1 click from full open on HSC, the fork got pretty rough. While at 180 pounds, I didn’t really need to add much more than 2 clicks from full open, I dabbled with going to 4 from open and was surprised at how manageable it stayed – that indicates that its range of adjustment likely far better for a broader range of rider weights and abilities. I’d be lying if I claimed to feel a discernible difference in performance from a single upgraded seal in the damper’s seal head, but the fork’s action was noticeably smoother overall, and every bit does count. Switching gears, we can talk about Pike Ultimate’s overall performance in the broader context, with less focus on comparisons to its predecessor. While the chassis is lighter duty than the Lyrik that it replaced, I thought it was very much up for the job on my Evil Offering, a 140mm travel 29″ bike whose disposition leans toward the aggressive end of the spectrum. Having ridden a standard Fox 34, as well as the lighter duty “step cast” model, I do feel that the Pike’s chassis offered improved rigidity and thus better handling, especially compared to the lighter duty “step cast” model. That’s not to say that it blows the 34 out of the water, but I do think it’s the better handler of the two. As far as action goes, in short I’d describe the Pike as a feeling a little more plush and the 34 as feeling a little firmer and racier. There is also the fundamental difference between the two dampers with Fox featuring a lockout and RockShox featuring more tunability in its high speed compression. As far as durability is concerned, all I’ve needed to do so far is your pretty standard “drop the legs, clean and lube the seals then put some fresh oil in the lowers service”. This can be done with a couple of allen keys and a soft mallet. A fresh overhaul of the damper is more in depth, but can be with relative ease by a solid mechanic with the right tools. Generally speaking though, there’s been no indication of premature bushing or seal wear and everything has continued to work admirably from Summer dust to Winter mud. Overall At the end of the day, this is a fairly standard RockShox/SRAM story that I often find myself telling about second and third year products…The last version of this fork was pretty darn good, but SRAM found room for improvement without drastic changes involved. For those who have a 2018/2019 RockShox fork, you’re not going to be left high and dry. Should you choose, you can upgrade to a Charger 2.1 damper. They’re a little pricey, but would be money well spent if you nailed it right around when your service interval called for a full damper bleed anyway. All in all with continuous fine tuning the Pike simply remains a damn good all around mid-duty trail fork. www.rockshox.com
Not everyone wants or needs a $10,000 mountain bike (or a $26,500 e-MTB with gold leaf graphics…), though lately it seems that that’s the only kind of bike companies have been releasing. In a thoroughly refreshing turn of events though, we’ve just received a new trail bike from Merida that is both free of a motor and entirely devoid of any carbon fibre. Indeed with its sensible parts package and alloy frameset, we reckon this is quite possibly one of the best value mountain bikes we’ve come across in some time. Merida delivers us a trail bike that doesn’t have a motor or a $10,000+ price tag. Less Marketing Fluff, More Value For Money If you’re not familiar with the name, we won’t blame you! Merida’s full suspension bikes do have a habit of flying under the radar, which might have something to do with the company’s distinct lack of marketing compared to ‘sexier’ brands like Santa Cruz and Yeti. That’s a shame, because Merida has been putting out some seriously good kit over the past few years. In terms of its designation, the One-Twenty slots into Merida’s mountain bike lineup as the versatile trail speedster. Aiming to bring together the efficient climbing performance of the 96 (the 100mm travel XC race bike) with the descending fervour of the One-Forty (the burly 140mm travel All Mountain rig), the One-Twenty is a straight-up trail bike. It rolls on 29in wheels and is equipped with 120mm of rear suspension travel with a 130mm travel fork up front. Named after its rear travel, the One-Twenty is a purist’s trail bike. 120mm of rear wheel travel courtesy of the proven Float Link suspension platform. Of course the One-Twenty isn’t strictly a brand new platform. The current generation frame was released for the 2019 model year, and you might recall that we did in fact test and review a One-Twenty 8000 only about six months ago. That was one of the top-end spec levels built around a high-zoot carbon frame, and it left us thoroughly impressed with its refined suspension performance and zippy character on sinewy singletrack. Having collected a string of awards throughout the year (including a spot in Wil’s Top 10 bikes & gear list for 2019), the One-Twenty marches on into 2020, albeit with a few key updates and spec changes that are aiming to take both performance and value to the next level. Last year we tested the carbon One-Twenty 8000 model. Now we’ve got the alloy version in for review. What’s On Offer For 2020? There are seven One-Twenty models available in Australia for 2020, starting at $2,299 for the One-Twenty 400, and going up to $7,499 for the One-Twenty 8000. The cheaper models utilise an alloy frameset, while the top two models get a full carbon fibre frame. New for 2020, all One-Twenty models that come with a RockShox fork have moved to a shorter 42mm offset, compared to the 51mm offset forks that came on last year’s bikes. At the same time, Merida has shortened the stem length to 50mm on all frame sizes, and we’re very keen to see how that plays out on the trail. Merida has changed to a shorter 42mm fork offset on most One-Twenty models. Is that a good thing? The Merida One-Twenty 700 – All Of The Mod-Cons The bike we’ve got on test here is the One-Twenty 700, which is the top-spec option with the alloy frame. For less than $4K, it’s a helluva package for the money, with impressive attention to detail on the areas that count. Just like the top-end carbon models, you’re getting 120mm of rear travel via a floating link suspension design. There’s a big volume RockShox Deluxe shock with a trunnion bearing mount to aid small-bump sensitivity, while a RockShox Revelation fork up front uses the same chassis as the pricier Pike, albeit with a simpler Charger RC damper inside. The drivetrain is mostly SLX, except for the XT rear mech and I-SPEC EV shifter. Merida has spec’d our Medium test bike with a 150mm travel dropper post and the impressively powerful 4-piston Shimano SLX brakes. While you’re getting a mostly SLX-based drivetrain, the shifter is upgraded to an XT unit, which gives you a punchier feel at the triggers along with a double-upshift function – something we have missed on the SLX 1×12 groupset we recently reviewed. Nice touch! As for the frame itself, it’s built from shapely hydroformed alloy tubing with a curved top tube to increase standover clearance. There isn’t a tonne of room around the rear tyre though, with the 2.35in Maxxis Forekaster being about the biggest size that Merida recommends for the back end. Otherwise it’s all well finished, with tidy bolt-up cable ports and thick rubber armouring under the downtube and over the drive-side chainstay. It could really do with more black on it though. 2020 Merida One-Twenty 700 Specs Frame | LITE Hydroformed Alloy, Float Link Suspension Design, 120mm Travel Fork | RockShox Revelation RC, 42mm Offset, 130mm Travel Shock | RockShox Deluxe Select+, 185x55mm Wheels | Shimano SLX 32h Hubs & Merida Expert TR Alloy rims, 29mm Inner Width, Tubeless Compatible Tyres | Maxxis Minion DHR II EXO 3C Maxx Terra 2.40WT Front & Forekaster EXO 2.35in Rear Drivetrain | Shimano SLX/XT 1×12 w/SLX 32T Crankset & 10-51T Cassette Brakes | Shimano SLX M7120 4-Piston w/180mm CenterLock Rotors Bar | Merida Expert TR Alloy, 20mm Rise, 760mm Wide Stem | Merida Expert TR Alloy, 35mm Diameter, 50mm Long Grips | Merida Lock-On Seatpost | Merida Expert TR, 30.9mm Diameter, Travel: 125mm (S), 150mm (MD), 170mm (LG, XL) Saddle | Merida Expert CC Available Sizes | MD, LG, XL Confirmed Weight | 14.23kg (Medium size w/tubes fitted) RRP | $3,799 Does less money equal less performance? Looking at the One-Twenty 700’s spec sheet, we’re not so sure… We’ll be testing the 2020 Merida One-Twenty over the coming weeks, so be sure to stay tuned to the Flow website for the upcoming review. Otherwise we’d love to hear what you think of this value-packed trail bike, and be sure to drop us any questions you might have in the meantime. Mo’ Flow Please! Enjoyed that article? Then there’s plenty more to check out on Flow Mountain Bike, including all our latest news stories and product reviews. And if you haven’t already, make sure you subscribe to our YouTube channel, and sign up to our Facebook page and Instagram feed so you can keep up to date with all things Flow! The post On Test | The 2020 Merida One-Twenty 700 Is A Mega Package For The Money appeared first on Flow Mountain Bike.