It would be a dream for most mountain bikers of the world…the chance to grow up on Vancouver’s North Shore. That became reality in Thomas Vanderham’s life as a young kid when his family moved to North Vancouver’s Deep Cove. The raw and unruly North Shore terrain was a perfect compliment to his natural ability on a bike, and he quickly rose to the highest ranks of a roaring freeride revolution. Thomas’ name became synonymous with his distinct style, creativity, and amplitude; attributes which landed him in countless film segments that have inspired mountain bikers across the globe. His impact on the sport has been present ever since. More than 20 years later Thomas still calls Deep Cove home and is as involved as ever in the sport of mountain biking. Like the trails of the North Shore, he has evolved- refining his craft along the way and balancing his duties as an athlete with that of being a father and a husband. Through it all, he has continued to find ways to pass his passion for mountain biking on to past and future generations of the sport.
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
Having never made it further west than Quebec, we thought it would be wise to cure this injustice by treating Amaury Pierron, fresh off his 2nd place finish in the World Cup overall, by shipping him off to B.C. Feeling ‘fresh’ after a week in Whistler with his crew, Steel City Media and co dragged him out of Garf’s one morning and into the truck. Destination Retallack. A nine hour journey littered with MTB history and ever changing scenery blew his mind (and nearly his ankle whilst messing around on the ferry), before arriving at the infamous lodge, nestled deep in the heart of the Kootenays. “I love it here, I might just stay” – AP 2019.
. Muc Off is expanding their product range with a technical clothing line. Famous for bike cleaning products, the British brand has recently included a range of backpacks in its catalog and now present a series of clothing products that includes a jacket, shorts, long sleeve and short sleeve shirts and gloves. Click on the name of each product for more information. Technical Riders Jacket A 3-layer rain jacket characterized by a stretch, waterproof and breathable fabric, with three pockets, waterproof zippers and a detachable and adjustable hood. Price: € 214.95 Technical Riders Shorts Made with the same 3-layer stretch fabric as the jacket, with waterproof zippers, elastic adjustment strap with Velcro at the waist and a large side pocket, as well as the possibility of attaching the Muc Off case on the back presented together with the backpack, using technology Soft. Price: € 97.95 Short & Long Sleeve Riders Jersey Price: € 55.95 long sleeve – € 48.95 short sleeve Rider’s Gloves Price: € 36.95 Muc Off
The thickest foam grips in the world just got thicker. These new Mega Fat Paw and Mega Fat Paw Cam grips are 11.5mm thick with an installed diameter of 40mm. For those following along at home, these provide even more cushion than our Fat Paw Grips, which were the thickest foam grips in the world before today. We made these grips extra thick because of the benefits provided by grips of this girth. The extreme diameter provides excellent vibration damping while reducing hand fatigue and finger numbness. Like all of our grips, our proprietary dual-density foam is tacky, durable, and conforms to the shape of your hand. Ergonomic grips with this unique cam profile lets you choose the position that best supports your hand position and style of riding. The 11.5mm grip thickness reduces hand fatigue and finger numbness, making it an ideal option for riders with large or gloved hands. Mega Fat Paw and Mega Fat Paw Cam grips are available on our website and wherever Wolf Tooth is sold or directly on the Wolf Tooth Components store.
. Commençal has added the SX version to the Meta TR range by providing it with more travel and some features that embody the bike’s identity, according to the Andorran brand. It has long been a multipurpose bike, suitable for different uses, from non-competitive enduro to freeride and even slopestyle. Details 29 “wheels 55mm rear shock stroke (TR 50mm model) Rear travel 140mm (model TR 130mm) Front travel 150mm (model TR 140mm) RockShox SuperDeluxe Coil Ultimate shock RockShox Lyrik Ultimate fork Brakes Shimano XT 4 pistons with 203mm discs 12-speed drivetrain Stem 40mm (model TR 50mm) Zero carbon components The Meta TR SX is available from today on the Commençal online store at a price of € 3,999.
Many brands claim to be for riders, by riders, with varying levels of truth to the statement. The one infamously ‘rider owned’ brand that truly embodies that ethos is Transition Bikes. The company is made up of people who really like to ride, and that’s confidence inspiring when you’re looking for a new bike. We’ve been spending a good amount of trail time on the new Transition Scout, and are here to share some details about the freshly revised bike. Read on for details, and a have a look at the video below for an overview of the bike. Specs Lifetime Warranty Full Carbon Frame 27.5 wheels 140mm rear / 150mm front Chainstay, seatstay, & downtube protection Top tube accessory mount Internal rear deraileur cable routing with guide tubes Matte Olive Green & Matte Midnight Blue colorways $ 6,599 – Xo1, 5,499 – GX (Tested), $ 4,499 NX, $ 3,199 Frameset The new Scout sports more chiseled lines and aesthetics than its predecessor, and we quite like the new industrial design. A more compact and tidy looking rocker link helps actuate the horst-link suspension platform. The attention to detail regarding the little bits, reminds us that Transition’s engineers actually ride, therefore knowing what they’d like to see on their own bikes. Downtube and chainstay protection is clean yet effective, and the plastic cable guide on the pivot works great. The top-tube accessory mount is a nice touch for adding something like this to your bike. A 150mm RockShox Lyrik Ultimate holds down the fort in the front of the bike. We’ve been using 3 volume spacers inside, but as we like to jump deep sometimes, we’ll likely add one more. The well proven RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate keeps things supple out back, and the 140mm of travel seemed to give a fairly bottomless feel. The Anvl cockpit was aesthetically pleasing, but was hard to setup at first…That was until we found the clever angle guide laser etched on the back of the stem, and corresponding line on the bars, keeping the frontal view of both bar and stem nice and clean. Code RSC brakes are a welcome choice of spec, as we’d be disappointed to see anything less on a bike this capable. That being said, for how rowdy this bike can get, a 200mm front rotor (rather than 180mm) might not hurt. We absolutely loved both the lever ergonomics, and the actuation of the OneUp dropper post. It’s a great overall design with user adjustability in mind and loads of travel given its overall length. Geometry In comparison to the prior Scout, the new bike features a slacker 64° head tube angle (prior – 65º), the bike reach is 10mm longer, has more tire clearance, and a broader sag range. Transition says that with 25-30% sag, the new Scout has a better wheel path that is less likely to hang up in the middle of the stroke. Speaking of rear suspension, the Scout gets bumped up from 130mm to 140mm. On The Trail The Scout is one of the first 27.5″ wheeled bikes we’ve tested in a while, and we were instantly reminded how nimble, and fun the step down from 29” can be. In regard to pedaling up to the trail entrance, it’s inherent that larger wheels excel, for a plethora of reasons. That being said, when comparing the Scout to other 27.5″ bikes, (or even some longer travel 29ers) the bike climbs really well. A short chainstay, longer reach, and 77.2 ° (medium) seat tube angle puts the rider in an upright and effective position for getting to the top. Airtime is the Scout’s friend, and its stability is likely why. Once we got our suspension settings dialed in, we found that there’s a lot of pop in the Scout’s Horst-link platform. A simple pull up on the bars sent us to the moon on jumps that typically feel a bit un-eventful. Slashing and sliding aside (which the bike loves), the Scout is a very capable descender. In the loose and steep bits, we felt in control, and when big hits reverberated through the bike, the suspension platform gave us a feeling that more than just 140mm was doing its duty out back. We’d be curious to try the same sort of bike from Transition in another travel combo, like 150mm – 170mm. Overall The mid-travel, medium wheeled bike begs to flicked about during loose descents, and seems not to mind the pedal back up in the slightest, so hats off to the Scout for reminding us why we love mountain biking. If you’re someone looking for the mountain biker’s mountain bike, the Scout could be the hot ticket. It’s a bike that is aimed primarily at fun, less so at racing the clock. More at: Transition
As we all know by now – and have known for some time – Troy Lee Designs is unveiling a new Daytona helmet…The D4. Worn by Brandon Semenuk in RAW 100 V5 as well as by all of the TLD athletes at Rampage, the new helmet is now available to consumers. Continuing the with trademark and legendary Troy Lee styling, the D4 manages to shed roughly a half pound from the weight of its predecessor, the D3 – all while being at least as safe and unquestionably more comfortable. It was a nice surprise to get home today to a package with this new helmet in it, just in time to snap some pictures at sunset. Details TeXtreme® Spread tow carbon fiber shell Featuring MIPS Brain Protection System – a helmet integrated, low friction layer designed to reduce rotational motion transferred to the brain from angled impacts to the head Ventilation channels work in unison with the headliner to promote airflow through the helmet Lightweight titanium D-rings and hardware Collarbone suspension system Innovative break-away visor screws In-mold PC around vent openings and exposed EPS increases strength and durability Quick Release XT2 3D cheek pads and X-Static/ XT2 washable liner create an optimized fit Plush helmet bag and an extra matching visor included CPSC 1203*, CE EN1078*, ASTM F1952 – DH, ASTM 2032 – BMX, *Varies by regional standards $550 USD 1000 grams claimed / 943 grams as tested, size Large 57 grams under claimed weight…Not bad! TLD
Crankbrothers have been enjoying a pretty remarkable turnaround in the wheel world over the last year or so. Just a few years ago, they were riding out a design that was unconventional, but without any real good reason. They’ve done a full 180º with their Synthesis wheels, which are unconventional, but for very good reason(s). To be quite frank, they’re the best carbon wheels that I’ve tested to date. Following up on their success, crankbrothers have applied the same concept to a line of more affordable alloy wheels, which are now available. More specifically, that concept is the idea of being “tuned” for front and rear specific duties through better design. I’ve been logging some serious ride time on this new, more affordable version during the winter months – follow along for a review of the new Synthesis Alloy E wheelset… Details Sizes: 27.5″(tested) & 29″ Available as singles $299 front / $399 rear USD Industry Nine 101 hubs *available with CB Synthesis “standard” hubs for $239 front / $359 rear SRAM XD(tested), Shimano HG & Microspline drivers available as standard 28 hole front / 32 hole rear 4º engagement Sapim D-Light front spokes, Sapim Race rear spokes 837 grams front / 1018 grams rear claimed. *878 g. front / 1059 g. rear actual. The front and rear specific approach is carried out in three ways – with a varying spoke count (28 hole front / 32 hole rear) and spoke gauge as well as with specific rim widths. Just like the Synthesis carbon wheels, the front and rear rims have 31.5mm and 29.5mm inner diameters, respectively. The front/rear specific spoke count helps encourage compliance up front and added strength and stiffness out back where the wheel bears more weight. The varying rim width helps provide the front wheel with a broader tire footprint, as you’re more apt to run wider tires in the front than the back of the bike. The graphics are clean, classy and part of the final surface treatment, rather than cheap decals. There are no eyelets in the nipple holes. This saves weight, and a rather strong case has been made that it’s actually a sturdier way to build a rim. The Industry Nine 101 hubs quickly became an excellent mid priced boutique offering that many wheel manufacturers are leaning on. They’re easily rebuildable by hand (read: no tools required), simple, smooth and bulletproof. I’ve had great luck with them in the past and have nothing bad to say about them. Their engagement is quite fast as well. Following recent trends in both the carbon fiber and alloy rim world, the Synthesis rim is neither very deep or very shallow, but rather it is right in the middle. They feature an asymmetrical shape for better spoke bracing angles and a stronger wheel build. Unlike most carbon rims these days, but keeping in line with most alloy rims, these do in fact have a bead hook. Tubeless tape and valves are included as standard. On the trail Suffice to say, it’s been a while since I’ve spent a bunch of time aboard aluminum rims, especially on a personal bike of mine. I opted to test the Synthesis E Alloy on my 27.5″ Yeti SB-165 which started with carbon fiber Roval wheels – it has been interesting going back and forth between the two wheelsets. Tubeless setup was a snap with a floor pump, and so was the cassette installation. All three of the popular driver bodies are available for both this version with I9 hubs, as well as the more affordable option with in-house crankbrothers hubs. At 1937 grams, the weight is quite respectable given how burly they are – they weigh in at roughly 150-200 grams more than the carbon wheels they replaced, but also come in at exactly half the price. As far as on trail feel goes, the Synthesis E Alloys were quite nice – particularly for an alloy wheelset. While they did lack that certain springy liveliness carbon exhibits, they felt really good – at the very least, they were far less “dead” than most alloy wheelsets. In fact, I’d argue that they took on high frequency trail chatter better than some of the stiffer carbon fiber options on the market which I’ve tested as of late. The difference in front and rear wheels’ construction was definitely perceptible on trail, mainly due to different spoke count and spoke thickness. I’d be lying if I claimed to feel a difference from the 2 millimeter variance in inner diameter widths, but on paper it certainly is a better approach. It also means trickier logistics and more SKUs to keep track of, so you’ve got to hand it to crankbrothers for going the extra mile. A 30mm inner diameter seems to be right where most brands want to find themselves for the average heavy duty trail/enduro rims these days. With the Synthesis E Alloys hovering right around there, they provided a nice tire footprint and good support in the turns. I tried them with a 2.4 and rear combo and a 2.6fr/2.35rr combo and thought the support was excellent with both. Anyhow, Santa Cruz isn’t known for being ferociously rocky, but I sought out some of our roughest trails this winter and even tinkered with pressures down in the high teens, which is way lower than I usually venture. As of writing this, despite my best efforts, I’ve yet to flat, dent, flat spot or knock these out of true. I also bashed a few turns a bit too hard and haven’t managed to burp my rear tire – side to side, the rear wheel is really really really stiff. Overall The Synthesis E Alloy wheels are a very utilitarian, mid priced option but are far from rough around the edges. In fact, they’re very well thought out. Sure you can find wheels out there that are cheaper as well as more expensive. Unless you dive into a custom build, you most definitely will not find a complete aluminum wheelset with this much attention so well spent on achieving specific front and rear ride characteristics. So the big question is…who do these wheels make sense for? I would think that a privateer Enduro racer would be all over them, as well as any rider looking for a damn good set of mid priced wheels that are no frills and built to last. www.crankbrothers.com
BC Bike Race is an ambitious feat for many of the 600 participants that attend annually. In 2019, 38 countries attended the 13th running of the event and the latest incarnation of the ‘Ultimate Singletrack Experience’. From super successful professional athletes engaging in aggressive battles for the title, all the way back to those who have never raced a mountain bike before – and everything in between – BC Bike Race is seven (7) big days of burly singletrack, it is like an all you can eat buffet of what mountain bikers dine on, but mountain biking has a different meaning for everyone. “We Are Mountain Bikers” is a short film by Robin Munshaw, shot on location in the amazing communities and on the hand built trails the 2019 racers experienced. “This film celebrates the diversity of our MTB culture and highlights the inclusive nature of our group. At the end of the day it’s not what you do, but how you do it that matters”, said Robin Munshaw The 2020 bike season is just around the corner, we invite you to kick back, grab your favorite beverage and draw some inspiration for your adventures ahead.