Rapha has launched a new flagship road shoe, the Pro Team. It’s described as the brand’s first shoe designed specifically for road racing and, most significantly, features a woven upper said “to deliver year-round comfort, power and performance.” Rapha says these shoes have been in development for two years and the eagle-eyed among you may have spotted the Pro Team race slippers on the feet of EF Education First riders through the early part of the WorldTour season. The Pro Team shoes join the Classic and Explore shoes in Rapha’s range – both were released last year and were the first shoes designed in-house by Rapha (the original Grand Tour and Climber’s shoes were developed with Giro). Whereas the Classic is an all-rounder and Explore is designed for gravel (or exploring, if you’re a multi-terrain rider who would rather not be pigeon-holed), the Pro Team is wholly focused on performance. Best cycling shoes 2020: top-rated shoes reviewed by BikeRadar Rapha’s Explore shoes are gravel-ready and not insanely expensive The Pro Team’s upper is made from a proprietary woven fabric called Powerweave. Simon Bromley/Immediate Media Rapha Pro Team shoes | key features One-piece, seamless Powerweave woven upper Boa retention system Carbon sole with heel and toe bumpers External heel cup Microfibre in-sole with adjustable arch support Purple, black and light grey colour options 267g (size 43) £260 / $355 / AU$450 / €310 Go, go Powerweave Knitted cycling shoes have been around for a while now – Giro launched the Empire Knit back in 2017 and a host of other big brands followed suit, including the likes of Fizik, DMT and Bontrager. While, at first glance, it may look like Rapha has followed the crowd by launching the Pro Team, this isn’t another knitted shoe. The upper is made from a woven polyester – not a knit – and that, according to Rapha, makes all the difference. Rapha worked with fabric technology company Avery Dennison to develop the Powerweave fabric used on the Pro Team. As you’d expect of any self-respecting product launch, this jacquard woven fabric is said, in Rapha’s words, to “set a new benchmark for cycling footwear”. What’s the difference between a knitted fabric and a woven fabric? In a knit fabric, one continuous yarn is looped repeatedly to create a braided effect; in woven fabric, multiple yarns cross each other at right angles. Rapha claims the Powerweave fabric provides a “glove-like fit” and improved stiffness over a microfibre or knit shoe. Simon Bromley/Immediate Media Closure comes via two Boa dials. Simon Bromley/Immediate Media The external heel cup wraps around the rear of the shoe, apparently reducing weight and providing a more secure fit. Simon Bromley/Immediate Media The Pro Team is described as Rapha’s first shoe designed specifically for racing. Simon Bromley/Immediate Media The Pro team is available in three colours: purple, black or light grey. Simon Bromley/Immediate Media And what does that mean when it comes to cycling shoes? The key difference is the amount of stretch, according to Rapha. Knit is inherently stretchy, particularly along its width. However, while a weave still has some stretch, it’s a lot less flexible. This, along with the low-profile of the upper, apparently helps produce a sculpted, “glove-like” fit, while offering significantly more strength and stiffness than a knit. It’s also enabled Rapha to create a rather jazzy jacquard finish. The weave on the upper is very dense – much more so than that of a knitted shoe – but Rapha says it will still provide some natural air conditioning in warm weather. It’s also received a hydrophobic treatment to add water resistance, although how that truly holds up in bad weather is to be seen. These look like racing slippers for fast summer rides, not the depths of winter. Box-section sole and Boa dials The upper may be the main talking point here, but let’s take a look at some of the other details on the new Pro Team shoe. Most significantly, this is Rapha’s first shoe to use Boa dials – the firm’s shoes have typically used laces or Velcro straps. Boa dials are extremely common on top-end shoes and offer the kind of on-the-fly micro-adjustability that you just can’t get from other closure systems. The heel cup wraps all the way around the back of the shoe – this, according to Rapha, ensures a more secure fit and reduces weight – while the top of the heel is pretty narrow. In fact, the back end of the shoe looks a lot like the Specialized S-Works 7. No bad thing, it’s a very good shoe. The sole is a full carbon fibre affair, as you’d expect, and Rapha says the trapezoidal cross-section is inspired by box-girder bridges. Whether you’re a box-girder or suspension bridge kind of rider, you can expect the sole on these shoes to be extremely stiff. The psychedelic styling of the purple Pro Team is sure to turn heads, but black and light grey versions are also available. Simon Bromley/Immediate Media There’s a full carbon sole, of course. Simon Bromley/Immediate Media The heel and toe box are protected by bumpers. Simon Bromley/Immediate Media The branding is typically Rapha, but we like it. Simon Bromley/Immediate Media The Pro Team shoes are provided with three options for arch support. Simon Bromley/Immediate Media In fact, Rapha describes the sole as “incredibly stiff”. At least there’s not the arbitrary, self-defined ‘stiffness scale’ conjured up by most shoe brands. There are also bumpers on the toe and heel to provide a little extra protection when walking or putting a foot down at a junction. The heel bumper looks like it’s replaceable via a screw under the in-sole. The in-sole itself has some typically Rapha branding on it – inspiring or not, it adds a little interest – and has an antibacterial, microfibre top which feels soft to touch, almost like velvet. The fit is customisable via three arch supports supplied with the shoes, with neutral medium and high options that Velcro onto the bottom of the in-sole. Claimed weight for the Pro Team is 220g per shoe for a size 42. We weighed our size 43 sample at 269g. Simon Bromley/Immediate Media Price, weight and colours The final questions are, how much do the Pro Team shoes weigh and how much do they cost? Claimed weight for a size 42 shoe is 220g per shoe but our size 43 sample weighs 267g on the BikeRadar scales. That’s the best part of a 20 per cent difference – not insignificant, even bearing in mind the single step up in size. As for the price, a pair of these will set you back £260 / $355 / AU$450 / €310, and if this purple colour doesn’t do it for you, there are also black and light grey options.
We first laid eyes on the RockShox MegNeg air can in prototype form back in 2018, under Sam Hill. Since then, it has become available to the public in 3 sizes, covering the range of RockShox rear shocks. Short for Mega Negative, the oversized sleeve increases a RockShox Deluxe or Super Deluxe rear shock’s negative air spring volume by up to 111%. Why would one want to do this you might ask? In short, it opens your rear suspension tuning up to a broader range of options. Generally speaking, it will likely be most beneficial for those who are looking for a bit more support in the early stage of their bike’s travel and a bit more bottoming resistance toward the end. Let’s dive in… Details 3 sizes: 185/210 x 47.5-55mm, 205/230 x 57.5-65mm & 225/250 x 67.5-75mm ~60 gram weight increase, depending on size and number of bands grease, lube, seals and four volume reducers included $90.00 USD The whole kit is pictured above. Aside from whichever tools are required to remove your rear shock, the only other tool you’ll need is a strap wrench, to remove your air can. The 4 bottomless rings shown on the right above are for fine tuning the negative air spring volume, similarly to how you’d use these to tune the positive air volume currently. MegNeg installed – I spent most of my time testing it on my Evil Offering. I also spent a fair bit of time riding with a MegNeg installed on my Trek Rail e-bike, to see how it would improve support on a bike that weighs a good 20 pounds more than my Evil. The Rail uses Trek’s proprietary Re:Aktiv damping with Thru Shaft, but that wasn’t an issue – MegNeg plays nice with these rear shocks as well, provided that there is clearance on the frame. For the bulk of this review, I’ll be expounding on how MegNeg worked on my standard bike, but it’s an upgrade well worth considering on an e-bike if you’re looking for a bit more pop with more support, less wallow and far fewer bottom outs – all of which are things that usually need improving on e-bikes in general. Setup When I first received my Offering I rode it in stock form with the factory recommended zero volume reducers in the rear shock. After finding that it had a tendency to bottom a bit too easily, I added a single reducer, and then another. Surprisingly, it still bottomed more easily than I’d like with one reducer but started to get a little harsh in its early travel with two reducers…Then, along came MegNeg for testing, tweaking and geeking. The range in MegNeg’s volume, relative to the positive chamber’s volume, goes from 211% with zero volume reducers to 164% with all four volume reducers installed. Knowing that I was looking for a feel just slightly better than what I could achieve with the stock can, I knew I wouldn’t need to set up at the extreme end, with zero reducers installed. Instead I started with 3, then eventually moved up to four… Pictured above is a chart plotting my Offering’s 55mm of shock stroke using the stock air can with two positive volume reducers, portrayed by the red line. The MegNeg with all four negative volume reducers installed in it is shown by the blue line. The takeaway is that MegNeg provides more midstroke support, while ending with roughly the same bottoming resistance. The most notable difference between the two setups is the increased support in roughly the middle third of the travel. *Note: once I installed MegNeg, I was no longer using any positive volume reducers. After most of the fine tuning settled out, my particular setup worked best by running the MegNeg with four negative volume reducers. Interestingly, this is as close is it can be to the standard can with two positive reducers, which was where I left off. It was different in some important ways however, which I’ll touch on shortly. The point being while MegNeg gives you a massive range of adjustment, it will appeal the most to the fiddlers and fine tuners. Because of the enormous volume in the negative spring, you’ll find yourself running roughly (read: very roughly) 20% more pressure with a MegNeg to achieve the same sag percentage. For example, I ran around 200PSI with a stock air can and about 240PSI with MegNeg in my Offering. Lastly, if I could pass on a couple small bits of tuning advice, I would say to change one variable at a time, control for sag by keeping it constant throughout the tuning process, and start with four negative bands installed then work your way toward the other, more extreme end. On the trail As noted under setup, after some dabbling I found myself settling into my starting point – at the least extreme end of MegNeg’s setup possibilities. This is largely because of the fact that the Evil Offering has a fair bit of progression and anti-squat built into its kinematics right out of the gate. With the new air can my bottoming subsided immediately, but no longer at the expense of the earlier compliance that I was looking for. Now, you might be thinking – “how did you get more compliance by firming up your mid stroke”? It’s understandable how that can sound contradictory on the surface, but essentially when your rear suspension tends to sit higher in the travel, that means there is more available travel to use. Often during suspension tuning, when a bike feels rough, riders will instinctively soften their suspension only to find the bike just gets even more harsh. This is because you are sitting deeper and have less available travel. Anyhow – for this bike, MegNeg truly was a magic bullet. Sitting up a bit higher in the travel improved the cornering, jumping, pumping and even climbing. The complete drop off of harsh bottom outs meant less distractions and happier ankles. So, a greatly widened range of tuning possibilities, better bottoming resistance and a more supportive mid stroke – this has to come at the expense of something, right? Well, yes and no…there are a couple of things you might want to be aware of before you drop in. First, if your bike’s rear suspension layout has loads of progression, MegNeg could limit its ability to achieve full travel. Second, it does require much higher air pressures overall and generally speaking less pressure is easier on seals and makes for improved traction. The other potential hangup is that if you are a heavier rider on a highly leveraged bike, you could find yourself inching toward the maximum recommended pressure as MegNeg requires higher pressures in general compared to the standard air can. However, the aforementioned describes a relatively small sliver of the market. Overall At the end of the day, given that plenty of us are spending many thousands of dollars on our bikes, $90 isn’t all that much money to cough up if you’re wanting to experiment more with your rear suspension in hopes of getting a little bit more out of it. Depending on your bike, setup and what you’re looking to accomplish, there is a very very good chance MegNeg could help you achieve that perfect balance you were after. All in all, it’s a rad little upgrade kit. www.rockshox.com
Hullo all you Flow Frothers, and welcome to the first edition of Flow’s Fresh Produce for the year 2020! Consider this a slightly belated Happy New Year from Mick & Wil here at FlowMTB, and we hope you all had a marvellous break over the Xmas holidays! For those of you enjoying your summer riding trips, we’d really rather not know. But we still hope you’re enjoying yourselves. Happy (belated) New Year from Mick & Wil! Please don’t judge – we’re athletes after all. Yes, we’re just a little tardy with our New Years wishes, but has anyone else noticed just how massive the start of 2020 has been so far? Because it’s been humongous! If you’ve been following us here at FlowMTB, you’ll no doubt have seen all of the new bikes released over the past couple of weeks, in what is traditionally the ‘off-season’ for all the big brand launches. After the last few weeks though, we’re not convinced there’s actually an off-season anymore. Not when we’ve had Specialized launch its new Levo SL lightweight e-MTB, or Pivot Cycles bring out its second generation Switchblade. Of course you’ll no doubt be aware that Santa Cruz has also finally decided to jump into the e-MTB game with the amusingly-named Heckler, which has caused quite the stir. And just this week Norco decided to unveil the brand new Sight VLT, which is very, very different to the previous version. We’ve had the chance to ride and rate all four of those bikes, so be sure to check out the reviews right here if you fancy. Wil testing out the impressively lightweight Levo SL from Specialized. Mick piloting the zingy Santa Cruz Heckler – the brand’s first e-MTB. Beyond all the bombshell bike releases, there’s been scads of other stories and reviews we’ve been busy beavering away on in the New Year, including Mick’s colourful feature on all the bikes & tech from the Cannonball MTB Festival. And if you’re looking for any inspiration for a riding trip this year, be sure to read Imogen’s Top-5 reasons for mountain biking in Alice Springs – some lovely photos and inspirational words in there to get you yearning for some outback adventures. Now that we’ve gotten through some of those early bike launches, we’ve had a moment to breathe and go through all of the new kit that’s turned up at Flow HQ for testing. And there is A LOT! So grab a cuppa, settle in, and get ready for a heady dose of shiny new kit. As always, give us a hoy if you’ve got any questions about any of the products you see here. Enjoy! Fox Speedframe Helmet Fox has completely overhauled its trail lid, which is now called the Speedframe. Drawing from the Dropframe, the Speedframe is an open-face trail helmet with loads of rear coverage and a clever dual-density EPS shell. The Fox Flux is dead! Long live the Flux! In its place, Fox has introduced a brand new trail helmet called the Speedframe. We like the new name, which helps to better align it with the full-face Proframe and the half-face Dropframe. The Speedframe maintains an open-face shell and is designed with trail riding in mind. There are 19 vents in total, including three vents over the brow, which kind of gives it a slightly ‘Specialized’ vibe. There’s a big ol’ visor that offers three firmly-indexed positions. Set it in the highest position, and you can stow your goggles up there too. Inside the helmet you’ll find the latest version of the MIPS protection system, as well as anti-microbial padding that can be removed and washed if your microbes are simply too powerful. Fox offers the Speedframe in two versions. We’ve got the more expensive ‘Pro’ model, which gets a snazzy FidLock chin buckle that uses the wizardry of magnets to bring it together. More importantly though, the Speedframe Pro gets the Varizorb shell, which combines two different densities of EPS foam into the one shell. You can spot this in the photo above – the light grey EPS foam is a softer density and is placed closer to the rider’s head, while the black EPS foam is a firmer density and is placed on the outer part of the structure for better impact strength. For $70 less, you can get the standard Speedframe helmet, which comes with the same overall shape and MIPS protection system. However, the standard Speedframe does miss out on the dual-density Varizorb foam though, and it also skips the FidLock buckle. Both helmets come in a tonne of colour options and in Small, Medium or Large sizes. From: PSI Cycling Price: $269.99 Ride Concepts Transition Clip Shoes Ride Concepts is still a relatively new name in the mountain bike footwear world, but the fledgling brand is having a red-hot crack at the big hitters with a solid line of both flat pedal and clip pedal shoes. The Transition is RC’s flagship clip pedal shoe designed for trail riding and enduro racing. You get laces and a big Velcro strap to tie it all down, while D3O inserts in the footbed and around the ankle provide impact protection. The 40mm wide cleat box is designed to accept all modern 2-bolt mountain bike cleat systems, and it’s surrounded by a textured rubber outsole that uses RC’s mid-density DST 8.0 compound. From: Lusty Industries Price: $274.95 Dynaplug Racer Tubeless Tyre Repair Kit For repairing a tubeless tyre puncture on the trail, we’ve found it hard to go past the quality and effectiveness of a Dynaplug. The US brand makes a host of different solutions for plugging a hole in your tyre, including the lightweight Racer option we have here. This double-ended tool is beautifully machined from solid billet 6061 aluminium and weighs just 23 grams. It’s slim enough to fit in a saddle bag, jersey pocket, or with your tube strap on the frame. You get three of the pointy-tip plugs and two blunt Megaplugs included. From: KWT Imports Price: $64.95 Dynaplug Megapill Tubeless Tyre Repair Kit Compared to the original Dynaplug Pill, the Megapill is, err, more mega? It’s bigger, that’s right. And it holds more plugs too. And it comes with a Megaplug in it – that’s the thicker tubeless plug that has blunt, rounded tip for sealing up particularly large punctures. Also inside the Megapill is the world’s tiniest shank for cutting off the rubber tail that’s left behind after you’ve done your plugging. And all of that comes inside a texturally-pleasing machined alloy case. From: KWT Imports Price: $99.95 Dynaplug Megaplugger Tubeless Tyre Repair Kit If you’re not so fussed on carrying a zillion plugs or you don’t need the fancy alloy case, the Megaplugger uses a lighter plastic housing. As its name suggests, it comes with the bigger Megaplug applicator, along with a couple of spare plugs in the box. Plus the cutest little yellow pipe-cleaner. Spare plugs can be bought separately in a 5-pack for $19.95 (pointed or bullet-tipped), and you can get a 3-pack of the XL-sized Megaplugs for $22.95. From: KWT Imports Price: $59.95 DHaRCO Tech Tee DHaRCO has a fresh season of riding apparel for 2020, including some snazzy new Tech Tees. Aussie mountain bike apparel brand, DHaRCO, has got a new season line of riding jerseys, tech tees, baggy shorts, and gloves. We’ve got one of the new stone-coloured tech tees, which are made from a fabric called Drirelease. Made up of 85% polyester and 15% cotton, Drirelease aims to provide the softer feel of cotton while better wicking moisture for vastly better breathability. You can get these tech tees from Small through to XXL and in a bunch of colour options. From: DHaRco Price: $59.95 DHaRCO Gravity Shorts To go with the new jerseys and tech tees, DHaRCO has revamped its Gravity Shorts with a new cut that supposedly fits truer to size than the previous version, which was known for being on the small side. Using a 4-way stretch fabric, the Gravity Shorts get a couple of zippered pockets and an adjustable waist with a Velcro cinch-strap on each side. Available in Small through to XXL in Black, Blue and the Camo we have here. From: DHaRco Price: $125.00 DHaRCO Connor Gloves We dig the jazzy patterns of DHaRCO’s full-finger gloves, including the flowery print on these Connor gloves. These have a streamlined fit and a minimalist construction for comfort and summer riding breathability. The synthetic palm is free of padding for a close fit on the grips, and the the thumb and index finger are supposedly smart-phone friendly. There are four other colour options, and all gloves come in Small through to XL sizes. From: DHaRco Price: $36.50 DHaRCO 3/4 Sleeve Jersey You too can look like Connor Fearon. Standing still anyway. Inspired by Connor Fearon’s race kit, the Fast Tropical print on this 3/4 jersey is an obvious match for those dazzling gloves. With an over-the-elbow length, the 3/4 jersey offers a touch more abrasion and sun protection than a regular short-sleeve jersey, but keeps things light and breezy. Quick-dry polyester helps there too, as do the side mesh panels, which are kept black for tasteful discretion. Like the Tech Tee, this bad boy goes up to a XXL size. From: DHaRco Price: $69.95 DHaRCO Gravity Pants An entirely new product for 2020, the DHaRCO Gravity Pants were designed in collaboration with Connor Fearon to provide full-length protection while still maintaining a close-fit for less flapping in the breeze. Not just for DH racing, these Gravity Pants are built light and stretchy enough for winter trail riding. These get the same 4-way stretch fabric as the Gravity Shorts, but that fabric runs all the way down to the ankles, where they taper in above your shoes. There’s room for knee pads underneath, and you get three pockets and an adjustable waist band. Sizes go from Small up to an XXL. From: DHaRco Price: $179.95 ODI F-1 Vapor Grips Lighter than a lock-on grip, and with more squish for added comfort. These are ODI’s answer to the popular silicone foam grips from the likes of ESI. Utilising ODI’s own A.I.R.E compound, these provide a nice squishy feel that’s supported by millions of tiny air bubbles trapped inside. ODI says you get a slower rebound for more control and more comfort, while a textured and dimpled surface gives you more to hold onto. As for weight? These come in at just 74g for the pair, which is a good bit lighter than a lock-on grip. From: Lusty Industries Price: $34.95 Lezyne Digital Shock Drive The Lezyne Digital Shock Drive is without doubt one of Wil’s favourite tools, which explains why he was absolutely distraught when he lost his 3-year old pump on the trail a few weeks ago. Thankfully he didn’t have to endure too many sleepless nights, as we’ve just had a replacement Shock Drive turn up at HQ to satisfy his trailside-tuning needs. A very compact digital shock pump, this little doohicky is small enough to fit into the stealth pocket of a pair of bib shorts. It has a nice, big display that reads to the nearest whole number, plus there are gold bits, which look sweet. If you want to tune your fork and air pressures accurately, ditch the bulky analogue pump and get one of these. From: PSI Cycling Price: $119.99 RockShox PIKE Ultimate Fork Mick’s custom-build Tallboy has just received a fork upgrade in the way of a new Pike Ultimate. One of the biggest stories so far in 2020 has been on this bike here – Mick’s custom-built Santa Cruz Tallboy 4.0. Equipped with a SRAM AXS drivetrain and Reverb dropper post, along with Zipp 3Zero Moto wheels and a Deity cockpit, it is one seriously good-looking piece of trail shreddery. If you haven’t read that article already, you owe it to yourself to check it out right now. The only part of the puzzle that Mick wasn’t totally happy with was the fork. To begin with, he built the Tallboy with a 140mm travel Fox 34 fork that had a 51mm offset. However, the new Tallboy is significantly longer and slacker than its predecessor, and is also optimised around a reduced-offset fork between 120-130mm of travel. While the Fox fork worked fine, the handling wasn’t quite right. To rectify its handling, Mick has just plugged in a 2020 RockShox Pike Ultimate fork with 130mm of travel and a shorter 42mm offset. Compared to the 2019 Pike, the latest model gets the revised Charger 2.1 damper, low-friction SKF seals and Maxima Plush damping fluid to provide smoother performance for greater traction and control. Currently this fork has the RCT3 damper, which offers adjustable low-speed compression damping and a 3-position lever to offer open, medium and firm settings. However, we’re about to get our hands on a Charger RC2 damper for even greater high-speed control. Stay tuned for an update on that one! From: PSI Cycling Price: $1499.99 Fox Flexair Lite Shorts Super lightweight and minimalist baggys from Fox, the Flexair Lite. For those who want the lightest and breeziest kit available, Fox has the Flexair Lite short. Built with TruMtion 4-way stretch fabric, these shorts have a very light and soft feel along with in-built ventilation via laser-cut perforations on the outside of each thigh. There’s a single zippered mesh pocket to keep your mobile phone or keys handy, otherwise everything is stripped back to the bare minimum, with a single ratchet closure system on the waist. A padded liner is included, but can be removed if you want to wear these with your favourite bib shorts. From: PSI Cycling Price: $149.99 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 Flow’s Fresh Produce | The Ultimate Pike Fork, Fresh DHaRCO Kit, Dynaplugs & Fox’s New Helmet appeared first on Flow Mountain Bike.
Shimano’s new RC5 road shoe offers a touch of S-Phyre glamour at less than half the price of the flagship model. We got the chance to fondle these new kicks at distributor Madison’s annual IceBike trade show, and lay hands on more 2020 kit for the first time. We’ve already taken a look at Park Tool’s new goodies, including some very useful looking brake bleeding kits, and a new biodegradable bottle from Elite. We’ve also ogled Genesis Bikes’ rather lovely 2020 paint jobs. Read on for more highlights from this year’s show. Shimano RC5 shoes The RC5 and RC5W (women’s-specific) shoes borrow heavily from the flagship S-Phyres. Matthew Loveridge / Immediate Media According to Shimano, a seamless mid-sole construction takes 3.3mm off the stack height. Make of that what you will. Matthew Loveridge / Immediate Media The sole is “carbon reinforced” rather than full carbon, and gets eight stiffs, the universal measurement (?) of stiffness. Matthew Loveridge / Immediate Media Shimano has launched a mid-range road shoe called the RC5 that bears a striking resemblance to the range-topping (and very expensive) S-Phyres. Priced at £139.99 and available in both men’s and women’s versions, the RC5 features a carbon-reinforced sole and a single BOA L6 ‘skeleton’ dial, the latter apparently being exclusive to Shimano. Latest deals Ryder Slyder tyre levers These neat little levers clip together for easy transport. Matthew Loveridge / Immediate Media Ryder was showing off its new tyre levers, which it hinted might be the lightest in the world, although we’ve no way to verify this claim. The levers feature reinforced tips for durability and they clip together for transport, and fit into Ryder’s nifty Slyder storage system. The levers are part of Ryder’s Slyder storage system, wherein various accessories clip to a bracket mounted on your bottle cage bosses. Matthew Loveridge / Immediate Media Lazer Chiru helmet The Lazer Chiru is a very affordable trail helmet. Matthew Loveridge / Immediate Media The Chiru is Lazer’s latest mountain bike helmet and it’s a very affordable one at just £30 for the standard model, and £50 for the MIPS version. Claimed weights are 300g and 350g respectively, and a whole range of colours is available. Latest deals Profile Design gravel and adventure aero bar Profile Design offers an aero bar for every occasion. Jack Luke / Immediate Media Unloaded, the arm rests spring up and out of the way. It takes minimal force to push the arm rests down. Jack Luke / Immediate Media The spring is clearly visible. Jack Luke / Immediate Media Long-distance gravel and adventure riders like to have as many hand positions as possible to stay comfortable on the bike, and many are now fitting aero extensions for a stretched out option suited to cruising at speed, as well as a potential performance benefit. Profile Design offers seemingly infinite aero options and the brand was showing off a full gravel rig fitted with a short one-piece aero bar and sprung arm-rests. Ridgeback MK5 cargo trike The MK5 is functionally more akin to a family hatchback than a typical cargo bike. Matthew Loveridge / Immediate Media Having dipped a tentative toe in cargo bike waters last year with the Cargo-E, Ridgeback has now launched a full-fledged e-cargo trike, complete with seatbelts for children and a cover to protect them from the elements. Cargo capacity is roughly four small children or one disgruntled bike journalist who manspreads. Jack Luke / Immediate Media The MK5 is powered by a Promovec motor and will cost £3,599. A quick spin outside Milton Keynes’ Marshall Arena demonstrated the comedy value of riding a trike on two wheels and the remarkably short fuse of one of the venue’s security guards. What kit are you looking forward to in 2020? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
Jazzy paintwork on mainstream bikes is one of our favourite trends of recent years (say no to boring black bikes!) and Genesis is well on board with its 2020 lineup, with sweet fade paint-jobs across a number of the key models. The Fugio is the jazziest of the lot with the 30 – the top-end model in the Fugio range – retaining its handsome yellow to orange fade. The Fugio 20 is the mid-tier bike in the range. Matthew Loveridge / Immediate Media However, it’s the ever so slightly more understated 20, the mid-tier bike in the Fugio range, that has really caught our eye. With a Fat Chance-like blue fade and handsome yellow decals, the bike is, without doubt, the best looking in the 2020 Genesis range. The bike is built with Genesis’ Mjölnir tubing. Matthew Loveridge / Immediate Media The top-end Fugio 30 is built with Reynolds’ 725 tubing whereas the 20 gets Genesis’ in-house Mjölnir custom-drawn chromo tubing. Other than the lower-spec tubing, the Fugio remains largely the same for 2020, with the same feature-rich frame that includes routing for both mechanical and Di2 drivetrains, dynamo light routing, a full complement of mudguard and rack mounts, and generous tyre clearances. On that last point, the bike ships with chunky 47mm-wide 650b WTB Venture tyres as stock but the bike will accommodate tyres up to 60mm wide for the smaller wheels and 40mm on 700c. For the rest of the build, the Fugio 20 is built around a SRAM Apex groupset and Genesis’ own in-house finishing kit. Latest deals The frameset gets a similar paint job. Genesis The Fugio frameset gets a similar paint job though it’s a blue to white fade. Latest deals The Volare, Genesis’ steel disc road bike platform, also gets a handsome fade paint job on the frameset options. The logos really pop against the black fade. Jack Luke / Immediate Media The Volare 953, which is built around Reynolds’ 953 stainless steel tubing, is the best looking of the bunch with an amazing black to brushed steel finish. The chrome logos really pop in the flesh (should that be ‘in the chromo’?) and we think it will build up as a truly classy looking road bike.
Norco’s new Sight VLT e-bike is designed for all-mountain use and builds on lessons learned since the Canadian company introduced its first full-suspension electric bike in 2019. The 2020 Sight VLT features 29in wheels and 150mm rear travel paired with a 160mm fork. There are three carbon and two aluminium models available in four sizes each, with geometry almost identical between the two materials. The aluminium bikes aim to bring the “electric all-mountain experience to more riders”, according to Norco, and is the first aluminium full-suspension e-bike launched by the company. Norco Sight range “matches each individual bike to the human who rides it” Shimano gearbox patent for road and mountain bike A Shimano Steps E8000 or E7000 drive system with 630 or 500Wh battery is fully integrated into the frame, with an optional (sold separately) range extender battery mount on the down tube. If you don’t opt for the 50 to 70 per cent increased range, there’s space for a full-size water bottle instead. Norco launched its Ride Aligned bike setup assistance app late in 2019; it can be used with the Sight VLT 29 to help get the bike working at its best in varying conditions, according to Norco. Norco says this helps provide “the same All-Mountain performance and handling as the 2020 Sight non electric platform, with authoritative climbing, eager descending, and high-speed confidence that can only come from the complete integration of rider fit, frame geometry, suspension kinematics and precise bike setup.” Norco Sight VLT 29 range Norco Sight VLT A1 29er e-bike costs £4,695. Norco The A2 is the cheapest in the range at £4,095. Norco Norco’s Sight VLT C1 is the top of the range Sight e-bike and costs £6,995. Norco Three carbon Sight VLT 29s are available. The C2 is priced at £5,995. Norco The carbon Sight VLT C3 is equipped with similar kit to the aluminium A1, but it comes in at £5,295. Norco All of the bikes in the Sight VLT 29 range feature Maxxis Minion tyres with sturdy DoubleDown casing – a nice touch for e-biking. SRAM and Shimano groupsets adorn the bikes at different price points, with specific e-bike forks and four-piston brakes across the board. There are five total price levels in carbon and aluminium, from £4,095 to £6,995, and the bikes will be available this month. All five bikes are pictured in the gallery above; otherwise, we’ve included the full specs of the flagship carbon and alloy models below. Norco Sight VLT C1 29 Norco’s Sight VLT C1 is the top of the range Sight e-bike. Norco The top of the range carbon C1 has a RockShox Lyrik Ultimate fork and SRAM GX parts mixed with a Shimano Deore XT crankset and Steps E-8000 motor. Frame: Carbon main frame, seatstays, aluminium chainstays, 150mm travel Fork: RockShox Lyrik Ultimate 160mm travel, e-rated, Charger 2 RC2, short offset Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe Select + Debonair trunnion mount, custom tune Shifting: SRAM Eagle GX, 12-speed Crankset: Shimano Deore XT Hollowtech II, FC-M8050, 165mm, 34t Cassette: SRAM Eagle Xglide 1230, 11-50t Brakes: SRAM Code RSC four-piston, 200mm discs front/rear Rims: DT Swiss E 1700 Hybrid e-bike rated wheelset Hubs: DT Swiss E-1700 sealed bearing, 15 x 110mm Boost (front) / 12 x 148 Boost (rear) Tyres: Maxxis Minion DHF WT 29 x 2.5in MaxxGRIP DD TR (front) / Maxxis Minion DHR II WT 29 x 2.4in MaxxGRIP DD TR (rear) Motor: Shimano Steps E-8000 Battery: In-Tube 630Wh (range extender compatible) Price: £6,995 / $7,499 / €7,799 Norco Sight VLT A1 29 Norco Sight VLT A1 29er e-bike. Norco The priciest of the two aluminium options, the A1 features the same motor and battery as the C1, albeit with some downgraded components elsewhere. Frame: Aluminum, 150mm travel Fork: RockShox Yari RC 160mm travel, e-Rated, Motion Control, short offset Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe Select + Debonair, trunnion mount, custom tune Shifting: SRAM Eagle SX Crankset: Shimano FC-E8000, 165mm w/34t Cassette: SRAM Eagle Xglide PG 1210 11-50t Brakes: Shimano BR MT520 four-piston, 203mm discs front/rear Rims: e*thirteen LG1 DH 29in Hubs: Shimano Deore HB-6010. 15 x 110mm Boost (front) / 12 x 148 Boost (rear) Tyres: Maxxis Minion DHF WT 29 x 2.5in MaxxGRIP DD TR (front) / Maxxis Minion DHR II WT 29 x 2.4in MaxxGRIP DD TR (rear) Motor: Shimano Steps E8000 Battery: In-Tube 630Wh (range extender compatible) Price: £4,695 / $5,499 / €N/A
[Press Release] – Norco Bicycles is excited to announce their next generation of electric All-Mountain full suspension bike. The 2020 Sight VLT 29 is an exciting evolution to the bike that received praise from both riders and cycling media – including being named “2019 e-MTB of the Year”. “It’s been just over a year since we launched our first electric full suspension mountain bike, and there’s been a lot happening at Norco since then.” said Product Manager Jim Jamieson. “Earlier this fall, we introduced Ride AlignedTM, and we’ve also seen the emergence of some exciting new e- MTB technology, like the range extender battery. The benefit to the new design and tech is really big – and riders really want a 29er – so we had to go for it to keep this bike on top!” The Sight VLT 29 features Norco’s exclusive Ride AlignedTM design system, providing the same All- Mountain performance and handling as the 2020 Sight non-electric platform, with authoritative climbing, eager descending, and high-speed confidence that can only come from the complete integration of rider fit, frame geometry, suspension kinematics and precise bike setup. By engineering the entire bike around a Shimano STEPS e-MTB drive unit with in-tube battery technology and an efficient power management system, e-MTB longevity and performance is brought to the next level. With the optional range extender battery (sold separately), you can add 50 to 70% more battery capacity to make All-Mountain rides even more epic. The new Sight VLT 29’s refined design and geometry hold the perfect line through high-speed corners, send gaps with ease and provide all the pedal assistance you need to open the door to bigger adventures, bolder routes, and increased accessibility to rides that used to seem out of reach. With five models that integrate e-MTB-specific components – including robust, easy-rolling 29-inch wheels with Maxxis Double Down casing tires, e-rated suspension forks and strong 4-piston brakes – the Sight VLT 29 now makes the next level of electric full suspension mountain bike performance available to more riders in both carbon and aluminum. The carbon frame is strong and stiff in all the right places, and built as light as possible. The aluminum employs the same engineering principals to duplicate the performance and handling characteristics built into the carbon bike with minimal weight penalty. The Sight VLT 29 is available in S, M, L and XL with 29” wheels in three carbon and two aluminum options. This new Norco model is scheduled to arrive in February 2020 and will be available at Norco Dealers and through www.norco.com in partnership with a Norco Dealer.
Flat-Pedal Shootout Over the past few years, flat pedals have become more popular among trail and enduro riders alike. While diehard racers tend to prefer the performance gains of clipless pedals, flat pedals provide more freedom to go foot out in corners or hike the trails with improved comfort and traction. The EBA Test Crew has been riding a variety of flat pedals and figured it was time to finally put them all to the test. So, without further ado, let’s dive into this seven-pedal showdown. Deity T-Mac pedal Deity is a premium component company supplying parts to some of our sport’s most daring athletes—case in point, the signature Tyler McCaul pedal, which can be seen on the bikes of many elite riders. Deity’s T-Mac pedals were the second thinnest and lightest in our test. The pedals offer a supportive symmetrical shape and a platform that measures 110mm × 105mm. The pedals are 14mm thick and feature 14 pins per side. Deity is known for making parts blend in or pop out, so they made the T-Mac pedals available in eight anodized colors. On the trail: Deity offers the coolest looking pedals with their symmetrical design and sleek lines. The T-Mac pedals offer the most pins per side for amazing traction, and the overall thickness falls in the middle of its contenders. Not only did Deity’s pedals hold up to our testing, they have also been proven to handle Red Bull Rampage drops. The symmetrical shape gave our test riders a planted feeling and made it easy to quickly place rider weight over the axle. The only downside of Deity’s T-Mac pedals is the cost. These are the most expensive pedals in our test. Some riders may be looking for a more budget-friendly option; however, if you want quality, durability and a great design, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better pedal. Price: $168.99 Weight: 409 grams Contact: deitycomponents.com Kona Wah Wah II pedal The Wah Wah II pedals from Kona Bicycles feature large sealed bearings that are 100 percent serviceable to ensure longevity and durability. The pedals share the same overall claimed length as the iSSi Stomp pedals seen later in this shootout, but, comparing them side by side, the Wah Wah II pedals seem ever-so-slightly longer. Bigger riders will find the 120mm × 118mm profile perfectly sized to handle their Sasquatch feet. The bearings are also a standout, providing a smooth feel, but we quickly found that the pedals aren’t compatible with most crank arm boots. The pedals have 8 pins per side and have a slim design at just 13mm thick. Kona made sure these pedals would add some flash to your ride by making them available in five different colors. Furthermore, Kona offers a composite Wah Wah pedal for riders on a budget. On the trail: Our test riders with bigger feet really appreciated the large size of the Wah Wah II pedals, and the thin profile Wahv provided clearance over rougher sections of trail. The Kona pedals had the fewest pins per side, but they didn’t seem to offer any less traction. Some of our test riders even preferred the Wah Wah pedals because they could easily reposition their feet while riding. All in all, Kona’s Wah Wah II pedals offer a sturdy build that will satisfy riders with larger feet. Price: $120 Weight: 430 grams Contact: konaworld.com iSSi Stomp pedal Another pedal company that seems to do it all is iSSi. The company offers a line of clip-less pedals designed to work with flat SPD cleats along with road pedals and flat pedals. The Stomp pedals from iSSi offer a large platform that measures 120mm × 112.5mm. These pedals are 18mm thick and have 11 pins per side. The pins can be flipped to change their height from 5.5mm to 4.5mm. Stomp pedals are constructed with two sealed bearings and one bushing to ensure durability and come in four color options, allowing riders to customize their bikes. On the trail: The Stomp pedal from iSSi offers a large platform that provides excellent traction. The full-length axles ensure these pedals are in it for the long run, and the adjustable two-sided pins offer customization. We opted to run the shorter pins on the sides of our pedals and the taller ones near the front and back. This combination gave us the ability to stomp our heel or toe for grip and easily reposition our feet when needed. Price: $115 Weight: 466 grams Contact: rideissi.com OneUp Aluminum pedal OneUp’s aluminum pedals were the thinnest and lightest pedals of the bunch and featured the most unique shape. Unlike some of the other pedals we tested with a concave platform, OneUp designed its pedals with a convex shape to aid in arch support. The pedals measure 115mm × 105mm and offer 10 pins per side. At just 12mm thick, OneUp’s pedals provided the most ground clearance, resulting in fewer pedal strikes. These pedals are available in seven colors as well as a composite option that cuts the price by more than half. On the trail: OneUp’s pedals quickly earned our respect for several reasons. First of all, these pedals are not only the lightest of the bunch but are the thinnest, too. They may not be the cheapest pedals in the lineup, but they’re not the most expensive either. The convex shape felt great while riding and allowed our testers to easily roll their weight forward and back. The pedals took plenty of abuse throughout our testing and kept spinning smoothly due to the large bearings. If your idea of a quality pedal is ultra-thin, lightweight and built tough enough for your next enduro race, then OneUp’s aluminum pedal may be the perfect pedal for you. Price: $125 Weight: 365 grams Contact: oneupcomponents.com Shimano Deore XT pedal Shimano’s clip-less pedals are known for being incredibly durable, so much so that we have used the same pair for over a decade with excellent results. Experiencing the legendary performance of these pedals has been limited to clipless pedal users until just recently. Shimano’s Deore XT flat pedals are made with trail and enduro riders in mind. They offer two different sizes, 10 pins per side and a thickness of 20mm. For our test, we opted for the larger size that measures 110mm × 115mm. These pedals are only available in one color option. On the trail: Considering Shimano’s long history designing pedals, we held the new XT flat pedals to the highest standards. These pedals had the thickest platforms out of all our test pedals and also seemed to be on the heavier side as well. On the trail, we immediately found a comfortable foot position with lots of grip due to their concave shape. The chromoly spindles seemed sturdy and on par with the quality, Shimano is known for. It’s not likely that Shimano’s XT pedals will reach the same level of stardom as their clipless cousins, but if you’re looking for a strong and durable pedal built to handle a decade of riding, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better set. Price: $99.99 Weight: 514 grams Contact: bike.shimano.com Crankbrothers Stamp 3 pedal Crankbrothers is a dominant force in the pedal market with its popular Eggbeater clipless pedal design. The company also works with many elite-level athletes to bring quality flat-pedal options to market. The Stamp collection offers the most options for flat pedals that we have ever seen. The base-model Stamp pedals are made from composite materials, while the pedals we tested are built with aluminum bodies and steel axles. Crankbrothers’ premium Stamp pedals are built with titanium spindles. Along with the long list of materials used to offer pedals at different price points are two size options. The smaller size works best for riders with size 5–10 feet, while the large pedals work for riders with size 10–15 feet. Our large test pedal measured 114mm × 111mm and was 16mm thick. Stamp pedals offer 10 pins per side and use bearings to keep them spinning smoothly. Stamp 3 pedals are offered in three different colors; however, more colors are available for other Stamp models. On the trail: Crankbrothers made sure every rider could find an affordable Stamp pedal by offering a wide selection of pedals ranging in price from $50 to $300. The Stamp 3 pedals fall into the middle of the price range, balancing the needs of the average rider. The pedals have a solid platform that grips well. Stamp pedals can be easily serviced, and the pins can be adjusted to meet riders’ needs. One complaint we had with these pedals (along with Deity and Shimano pedals) was that the pins can only be removed from the tops, which inevitably will be rounded off by the time they need to be replaced. All in all, Crankbrothers Stamp pedals are a good choice for those who want options in pedal construction. Price: $99.99 Weight: 460 grams Contact: crankbrothers.com HT AN14A pedal HT is well-regarded for its line of pedals that include clipless and platform options. The AN14A pedals were the smallest in our test, making them ideal for riders with small feet. At just 94mm × 95mm, these HT pedals are tucked away from rocks and roots while you are ripping down the trails. The HT pedals feature a profile that’s 17mm thick and provide traction with 10 pins per side. The pedals are constructed with dual seal bearings and DU bushings and are available in five colors. On the trail: The HT AN14A pedals received the most abuse throughout our testing and kept ongoing. These pedals are tough as nails and ready to go season after season. The HT pedals had the smallest platforms of the pedals we tested, and it was noticeable when our riders with Sasquatch-sized feet hopped on them. These pedals are also on the heavier side, coming in just behind Shimano’s XT pedals. The redeeming factors are durability and price. Coming in with the lowest price may make HT’s pedal an attractive offering for budget-conscious riders. Price: $80 Weight: 475 grams Contact: ht-components.com Verdict Deciding third place was a tough call. Both Shimano and Crankbrothers are well known for building pedals with lifelong durability, but the wide range of materials and color options offered by Crankbrothers make the Stamp pedals a great option for riders who want a more customized pedal. Shimano’s XT pedals have a less attractive appearance, but if they are as bombproof as Shimano’s clipless pedals, you can expect them to last year after year without issue. Rolling into third place in our shootout is Crankbrothers’ Stamp pedal. First and second place was a close call between Deity’s T-Mac pedals and OneUp’s Aluminum pedals. Although the T-Mac pedals were the most expensive, they offered the most confidence-inspiring design. The OneUp pedals, on the other hand, proved to be the lightest and thinnest without giving up durability. The Convex shape of those pedals allowed our riders to wrap their feet around them and dig the pins deep into their shoes. The T-Mac pedals are more ideal for foot-out riders who want to throw down a little style and then quickly and easily land right in the sweet spot of the pedal. Since we have to crown a winner, OneUp’s pedals take the lead by a small margin. THERE ARE SO MANY WAYS TO GET ELECTRIC BIKE ACTION In print, from the Apple newsstand, or on your Android device, from Google. Available from the Apple Newsstand for reading on your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch. 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