Although Amazon’s Black Friday deals aren’t due to properly start until Friday 22 November, there are plenty of early-bird bargains for cyclists online right now. If you’re a deal-mad cyclist then make sure you check out our other Black Friday pages: Best Black Friday bike deals 2019 Evans Cycles Black Friday deals 2019 Rutland Cycling Black Friday deals 2019 Wiggle Black Friday deals 2019 Sigma Sports Black Friday deals 2019 WAKYME Bike Light Set — £24.99 £21.07 The light can double up as a power bank thanks to the in-built USB port. Amazon If you’ve not got a massive budget but still ride your bike at night, this front light could be an ideal companion. It has a claimed maximum power of 1,200 lumens, a run time of up to 12 hours and can be used as a USB battery pack. Buy the WAKYME Bike Light with a 16% discount from Amazon SealSkinz 99 Waterproof Trekking socks — £39 £23.79 Keep your feet warm and dry with these waterproof socks. Amazon No one likes wet feet, period. Despite these being called trekking socks, they’ll be perfect on wet and cold bike rides and the fetching black/anthracite colour is reduced by £15! >Buy the SealSkinz 99 Waterproof Trekking socks with a 39% discount from Amazon Camelbak Classic 2.5-litre backpack — £53.99 £26 Big enough to carry the essentials and enough water for medium rides, the Classic is a great bag. Amazon Perfect for short rides, this light and compact bag has enough space for a hydration bladder and some key essentials. Buy the Camelbak Classic 2.5 litre backpack with a 52% discount from Amazon Chillafish BMX balance bike — £64.99 £40.78 Get your kids up to speed without stabilisers on this balance bike. Amazon Nothing beats seeing your little one take their first steps… except for when they swing a leg over a bike and ride without stabilisers. Fast-track their learning with this awesome-looking balance bike. In lime green you get just over £24 off! Buy the Chillafish BMX balance bike with a 37% discount from Amazon Clarks Elite MTB/hybrid brake pads — £7.99 £3.24 The perfect pads for stopping quickly. Amazon Stopping is essential, even for the most speed-obsessed, so grab yourself some cheap Clarks V-brake pads to slow down quicker. Buy the Clarks Elite MTB/hybrid brake pads with a 59% discount from Amazon Garmin Vivomove 3S hybrid smartwatch — £219.99 £179.99 The Vivomove’s face doubles up as a touchscreen. Amazon The Vivomove 3S smartwatch can track your day’s fitness activity, stress levels and your sleep. It’s perfect for the active cyclist who wants to avoid over-training. This delightful sand and rose gold colour combination has £40 off, too. Buy the Garmin Vivomove 3S hybrid smartwatch with an 18% discount from Amazon
When SRAM’s groundbreaking Eagle AXS wireless shifting system first arrived to market, it did so in the form of complete drivetrain packages and thus a rather steep price tag was attached. The advanced nature of the new componentry brought some inherent added costs, but being packaged as complete groups, parts such as flagship cranks and cassettes made the full kits an even more lofty upgrade. Enter the Eagle AXS upgrade kit…In the case tested here, an XO1 version with an “Enduro” focus compared to its “XC/trail” focused XX1 counterpart. For riders who have jumped on board with SRAM’s 12 speed Eagle drivetrains in the last couple of years and want to take things to the next level with AXS electronic shifting, this is the most ideal way to do so. For $1,000 the kit comes with everything you need to yank that shifter cable and housing out of your frame. Perhaps the best thing about it is that it’s truly plug and play with any Eagle drivetrain. Got a mish mash drivetrain consisting of an NX shifter, GX cassette and derailleur with Descendant cranks? No problem. You no longer have to drop in on a pricey set of XX1 cranks or a fancy $450 rainbow colored cassette to take the dive and ditch the cable. Included Rear derailleur Controller and bar clamp (matchmaker compatible) Battery and cover Charger Eagle AXS B-Gap tool Details Compatible with all SRAM Eagle drivetrains Controller uses widely available CR-2032 watch battery Stainless hardware Aluminum derailleur cage $1000 US The physical installation of the AXS upgrade kit takes all of 10 minutes for a seasoned mechanic. Simply pull your old shifter/derailleur off, yank your cable and housing out and say goodbye. The AXS smartphone application is very intuitive, with a clean and logical user interface. Setting things up on the app and getting the shifting honed in takes another 10 minutes or so. Like other Eagle drivetrain systems, using the B-Gap tool is absolutely critical for achieving proper shifting. Since AXS was released, SRAM’s stance has been that the weight averages out to break even with comparable non-electronic Eagle drivetrains and we’ve found that to be accurate. While there will be some difference in weight lost due to cable/housing on a size XS bike compared to an XXL, when you add the cable/housing back into the equation the variance comes within a few grams. For the nerds out there, mine came out to 74 grams, putting AXS at a whopping 4 grams lighter. In an attempt to have our testing emulate real world consumer scenarios, we bolted our Eagle AXS upgrade kit bits onto a well seasoned drivetrain, as the photo above clearly illustrates. On the trail We covered our first impressions and a great deal of the technical details on AXS in general when it was launched, here. We’ll also be following up on this article after at least 9 months of ride time to see how the kit fares regarding long term durability. As mentioned above, I started my time on the AXS Upgrade kit with a fairly well worn in drivetrain – I’d estimate that it was around a third to halfway through its life. One interesting and unexpected side effect that arose from this test was that despite mixing and matching new and used drivetrain parts (something that can sometimes result in slightly fussy shifting) the shift quality actually became substantially more polished once I bolted the electronic bits on. With AXS there is no cable drag, nor is there any tension issues, so the shift points are hitting precisely where they should. This means that you no longer find yourself in between gears. Speaking of being in between gears, in lieu of a barrel adjuster AXS has a “trim” function. Simply press and hold the black button at the bottom of the controller, then flick the paddle up or down one click at a time. This moves the derailleurs base position by a few hairs in one direction or another. For example, if your shifting is quick on the way up but lagging on the way down, a tap or two will correct things just like a couple turns of a barrel adjust would. With the all of that fine tuning talk in mind, I’ve found AXS to very much be a set it and forget it system – after the initial set up and break in, you no longer have to micromanage your drivetrain and worry about things like cable stretch. An interesting feature on the derailleur is the “overload” clutch protection. The derailleur senses impact and when bashed against something, it moves up toward the larger gears – away from harm. As the Santa Cruz area isn’t all that rocky, I have yet to bash it against any rocks, but I have smacked it against some saplings and had some rather large branches get tangled up with the derailleur without any consequence. One bonus with AXS derailleurs is that they have an additional 10mm of ground clearance compared to non-electronic Eagle derailleurs. On 27.5″ bikes, this is especially beneficial as they sit even closer to the ground than derailleurs on 29″ bikes. Some notes on the controller…After 20 years of conditioning, it did take some time for it to feel as intuitive as the mechanical shifters that I’m accustomed to, but along with some fine tuning of placement I eventually re-wired my brain and got along with it quite well. One thing worth considering is that by spending about 30 second on the AXS app, you can reverse the shift paddles’ respective duties. In stock form, pressing the lower paddle moves the chain to the larger, easier gears and pressing the upper paddle moves it to smaller, harder gears. Personally, this configuration just did not click, so I reversed it. My findings from chatting with a handful of folks is that it’s about 50/50, with half preferring the stock setting and half favoring flipping it…to each their own. As far as real world battery life goes, I had no interest in pushing things to the limit, but did find it to be excellent – in short, you’d have to really try to get stranded with a dead battery. Something worth considering is that you can always carrying a spare as it’s only ~25 grams and quite small. Additionally, if you’re in a pickle and also have a Reverb AXS seatpost and your derailleur gets dangerously low on juice, you can always swap batteries with the seatpost as the post will generally have longer life. Anyhow, before embarking on a trip to the Sierras, one kind soul was nice enough to remind me to take the battery out first. This is because the movement from driving will keep the system alert for hours on end and thus drain the battery prematurely. In any case, riding a few times a week I would go 2-3 weeks between charges…My rule of thumb was to re-charge every other drivetrain clean, and leave my charger on the workbench – in plain sight, right by my tools. SRAM claims a 20 hour ride time per charge, and the system gives you plenty of fair warning with a yellow indicator meaning you’ve got a couple more rides, then with red indicator saying it’s dire to charge things. Lastly, there is the matter of the battery in the controller. It’s a CR-2032, which is widely available at run of the mill pharmacies. According to SRAM it should keep things moving for “up to two years”. Like the derailleur, the controller will also use color coding to inform you it’s time for a change. However, it’s slightly different with a flashing red and then eventually a solid red light meaning is serious. In summary, the battery life is damn good, and SRAM has done a great job with indicators and warnings being intuitive and idiot proof. Overall While I’ve spent most of my time riding blown out dusty trails in Santa Cruz, I also went to the Sierras for a couple of big rides in Downieville, searching for more adverse conditions. At the top of the mountain I was greeted by bits of snow and a fair amount of mud. I also scored one freak rainy day in mid September at home. During my entire time riding this group, the derailleur actually hasn’t missed a single shift. As a bonus it has made noteworthy improvements to the overall shift quality of my drivetrain, despite not starting with an entirely fresh new setup. I’m hard pressed to find anything to pick apart with this group – with the only thing coming to mind being the minor matter of getting used to the new ergonomics. All in all, despite being pricier than the average shifter/derailleur combo, it’s also light years ahead in terms of shift quality, making it money well spent. The fact that the Eagle AXS upgrade kit plays nice with Eagle components at all platforms ranging from NX to XX1 makes it that much more accessible and worthy. www.sram.com
“I reckon you’re going to get lucky today. It’s been raining here for the last month, but today’s looking good.” Frankly, I’m not sure I was looking at the same sky as my host, Roger, at Ardwyn House B&B, as angry clouds bubbled away in the cauldron up above. Perhaps this is what passes for good weather in Llanwrtyd Wells, or maybe his expectations have shifted after what was a truly rotten early 2019 summer. Maybe we’d get lucky. He says the weather here, in the self-styled smallest town in Britain, on the southern tip of the Cambrian Mountains, is suitably localised; they could get snow in nearby Abergwesyn and not get a flake here. Wales’s secret: the Cambrian Mountains. Joseph Branston Roger’s words were still rattling around my brain when, with a turn of the pedals, drops of rain fell onto my sunglasses. As we turned onto a section of gravel before the first kilometre was out, the sky caved in and bitterly cold rain came tumbling out. Welcome to the summer solstice, mid-Wales style. Set for adventure There’s something less offensive about copping a soaking while bikepacking, as opposed to, say, the Sunday club run. The inevitability that it’s bound to happen? That this is an adventure and that getting wet can be filed in that draw? Or perhaps the biggest saddle bag you’ve ever had makes the best ass saver, shielding you from the muck-spreading that is riding a gravel bike in the wet, or the spare dry clothes stuffed into said bag, should you need them? Whatever the reason, I wasn’t as downbeat as I usually am while riding in the rain. The bones of today’s ride were devised by a local rider I got in touch with in 2016, when gravel riding was beginning to take hold in Britain. The ride never happened for various fails on my part, but I always kept the route in mind and it made sense to do it today, as part of a bikepacking tour, in an altered form. Dependent on terrain, gravel miles are double compared to road miles. Joseph Branston Back then I was still wet behind the ears when it came to the unique demands of gravel riding. The 100-mile route I’d requested – based on what I was used to on the road bike – was met with some words of warning. The 80-mile route we settled on in 2016 was, I’d come to realise, still too demanding as a single day’s ride for me (and photographer Joe, who was hauling around an indecent weight of camera equipment in his rucksack), particularly with the kit we were carrying, so we shrunk it down further to a pint-sized 36 miles. Still, in my growing experience of gravel riding, 36 miles with 1,200m elevation loaded with kit wasn’t insubstantial. Dependent on terrain, gravel miles are double compared to road miles A general rule of thumb – and this is very much dependent on terrain – is that gravel miles count double compared to the road. This new route had a bit of everything: fantastic, extended sections of genuine gravel roads, connected by rural, quiet tarmac roads (including the supremely testing Devil’s Staircase climb, which we’d accidentally stumble upon) and some tougher, but short, sections of more mountain bike terrain. Not a problem for the Scott Addict Gravel 20, which, in the six months I’ve been riding it, has shown itself to be a supremely versatile machine – I’ve ridden it, without modifications, in road gran fondos, gravel rides and now bikepacking trips and it really is a do-all bike. Travelling smart and light is important when bikepacking Joseph Branston Hidden beauty This part of Wales is one that might be easily overlooked, sandwiched as it is between the national parks of the Brecon Beacons and Snowdonia. In 1965, attempts began to designate it as a national park, though these failed eight years later. Work is ongoing in securing it as an area of outstanding natural beauty. “If you pick up a relief map showing the National Parks and AONBs of England and Wales, you will quickly notice one large upland area that has neither; that’s mid Wales,” says the Cambrian Mountains Society, an action group set up to further the region’s cause. “If you’ve never been there, you might well conclude – and who could blame you? – that mid Wales is some kind of barren, dull wasteland that deserves no protection. But you’d be wrong.” The Devil’s Staircase spits at you, gaining 151m in 1.3km... it’s formidable They’re right, this is spellbinding terrain. Straight out of the gate of Llanwrtyd Wells, the route took us onto the rough stuff, and fast up to around 500m altitude. Not good news for photographer Joe, who, with his camera equipment in a rucksack, was hauling what felt like the equivalent of a small child on his back. He wasn’t moving fast, though this could easily have been the result of the gastrointestinal effect of him eating kippers for breakfast, swiftly followed by a peanut butter nutrition bar, a queasy combination that I felt determined to stay upwind of. This gravel track, and the hundreds of miles of similar tracks in this region, exists because of the huge industry of logging in the area. Not all of the roads are open to cyclists, or the general public. As a general rule, if there’s a sign that explicitly prohibits cyclists, we’d never recommend riding down it, though several locals we spoke to said they do and have never had any issues. One sign we saw said ‘Strictly no mountain bikers, runners or horse riding’ – does that mean we’d get off on a technicality in this new age of gravel riding? The sting in the tail is the aptly-named Devil’s Staircase. Joseph Branston Abergwesyn brought down the curtain on the first section of gravel and onto the tarmac, though this section of road, which stretches 20 miles all the way to Tregaron is so narrow, remote and desolate that you won’t care one jot. Come the Devil’s Staircase, however, and you might: it spits at you, gaining 151m in 1.3km making it a formidable climb on a lithe road bike, let alone a loaded gravel machine – and even more so when your photographer requests repetitions on its steep switchbacks. Just shy of the summit of the steep stuff, you swing a sharp left and get back onto the gravel. A relief for some, not for others, the gradient at least levels out, though you may have to mount a gate, which isn’t easy on the upper body after your wrestle with the Devil. At this point the climbing began to take its toll. While never long, they come thick and fast and such is the concentration and lower speeds needed for gravel descents, you don’t take the momentum into the next climb like you would on a road ride. Momentum was also cut by a never-ending series of cattle-gridded gates, which necessitated ungainly heaves of the Addict above my head and over the gate – all part of the bargain of gravel cycling. Refill stops: there are no shops or cafes on this route. Joseph Branston The sun – and a warm sun at that – was out by now and such was Joe’s thirst he was forced to refill his bottles in a stream. As expected there wasn’t a single cafe or shop to refuel and rehydrate on the whole route, so don’t travel light should you try this route out for yourself. By now we’d arrived at the northern reaches of the Llyn Brianne dam, which regulates flow of water into the River Tywi. We’ve been here before down its eastern tarmac side but today would negotiate down its more circuitous – and gravelly – western side, which strays higher and further away from the water. Construction on it finished in 1972, coming at a time of increasing water shortages in west Wales, and at 91m in height at 280.4m above sea level, it’s the highest dam in Britain. A hydro-electric station was added in 1997 – apparently, it’s a big tourist attraction and the modest sprinkling of cars was pretty much the sum of vehicles we saw during the entirety of our ride. The Llyn Brianne dam in all its glory. Joseph Branston From here to the finish in Llanwrtyd it was more of what had come before – and we wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. We’re lucky to ride our bikes in all of the best places, but some rides still stand out. This was close to impeccable (any ride without a coffee stop doesn’t get 10 out of 10) but that serves us right for not packing a flask, we had the space. The Cambrian Mountains might not be a National Park, or an AONB, but it sure gets the seal of approval. Get the route Adventure Addicts Wales (This tour is private) Adventure Addicts Wales (2days) Grand Tour: guide to smart bikepacking The Scott Addict Gravel 20: “It really is a do-all bike“ Joseph Branston 1. Lighten the load While bikepacking isn’t about speed, travelling as light as possible always makes the ride more enjoyable, particularly on gravel roads. There is now a huge range of bikepacking luggage available, from the likes of Alpkit, Altura and Apidura. I had Specialized’s Burra Burra across the bike, and the Stabiliser Seatpack 10 is a highlight because you barely realise it’s there. Think about exactly what kit you need for your trip – over-packing evening clothing is a common mistake. If you’re camping, this kit will take up the bulk of your space (ultralightoutdoorgear.co.uk is worth a look to keep your weight down. Be warned, low weight is generally proportional to high cost!) Staying in B&Bs is the ultimate way to travel light. 2. Plan your route, but stay flexible Sketching your route on apps such as Komoot is a must, but be prepared for unforeseen events on the road that you might not spot on your computer. Given the mixed terrain of bikepacking, your path may end up blocked – a river may be too high to cross, or a gravel road might be prohibited to cyclists. 3. Be prepared for bike emergencies Given the remote terrain that you might encounter on a bikepacking trip, be prepared to be your own mechanic. On a road bike you might be used to getting away with just a mini pump and a spare tube, but out in the wilderness you need the skills and tools to perform your own repairs, to bike and body. Chain tools and first aid kits are essential items. 4. Load your kit correctly Tents and clothing are best in the saddle bag, to give added weight to the rear. A front handle-bar bag is best to keep light, so something that doesn’t weigh too much and isn’t going to rattle around. The frame bag is best for items you need easy access to with water bottles in their usual place in a cage.
We drive through an old stone gate and down a narrow winding road under a tunnel of trees wondering if we’ve got it completely wrong. The GPS had already led us astray a couple of times on the long journey. This is the type of setting where you’d expect to find a Bond villain’s lair, not the home of Atherton Bikes. At last, the trees clear and the road ends in the middle of a small industrial estate nestled in Wyastone Woods, an old deer hunting ground deep in Herefordshire and a stone’s throw away from South Wales. Round the back of the nearest building a small flight of steps leads down to a door with a tiny Atherton Bikes sticker next to the buzzer. We’ve made it to the right place. Breathing a sigh of relief, we press the button. The Atherton family are stalwarts in the mountain biking scene, but the announcement of their new venture, Atherton Bikes, at the beginning of 2019 was relatively unexpected. At the time, details were scarce, but we now know that they are using additive manufacturing to create their own bikes. However, Atherton Bikes aren’t the first to use this construction technique to produce mountainbike frames. A company formerly known as Robot Bike Co exploded onto the scene just over three years ago, however, with a frame price of £4,395 we did not see many of them out on the trails. Atherton Bikes have now taken over from where Robot left off, and the new company is using their racing experience to push this technology further. We’re excited to see if the family can bring this forward-thinking production process to the masses. The door is answered by a friendly face. Dan Brown, known as Brownie, is the director of Atherton Bikes and welcomes us in with a smile. “You found the right door then?” he asks. “The place next door makes Christmas jumpers. I guess you could say it’s a seasonal business.” We laugh and enter the Atherton Bikes workshop, where we’re about to witness something few people have ever seen before! Behind the door is a small, bright room. In the middle, a large metal frame jig hangs ominously on a tough-looking stand, ready to for the creation of the next Atherton frame. On the right side of the room is a workbench. Laid out on top of it like a selection of surgical implements are distinctive pieces of metal – custom, 3D printed, titanium lugs that form the heart of Atherton Bikes’ unique technology. The lugs in front of us will be built up in to a new Atherton Bikes A.150 29er frame right in front of our eyes. The titanium lugs are made by Renishaw Engineering, a specialist engineering company that more commonly works within sectors such as aerospace and Formula 1. It takes 16 hours and 3500 layers of titanium powder to create a set of lugs for a single frame. The titanium powder is sintered – effectively melted and fused by high powered lasers, layer by layer until the lugs are built up. This unique technique comes with two clear advantages. Firstly and most importantly it gives Atherton Bikes the ability to create custom geometries. In simple terms, the CAD model of the lugs can be updated automatically when fed with custom geometry and then manufactured specifically for that build. Secondly, it allows the shape of the lugs to be optimised for strength, as their shape is not constrained by traditional manufacturing techniques. Another benefit of this in-house construction is its environmental friendliness. These frames are made to order in the UK, which eliminates the risk of over-production resulting in excess batches of mass produced frames. This all means that Atherton Bikes can offer a bike that is designed for you, the customer. You will be able to choose between a geometry created by an online configurator that generates a geometry based on your key measurements (height, arm span and inside leg) or, if you choose to do so, you can pick up the phone and go fully custom. Atherton Bikes let you have the geometry of your choice at a modest extra cost. This is the real beauty of additive manufacturing – the flexibility and relative ease with which custom geometries can be offered. However, if you would rather not go down the fully custom route, the online configurator has been developed and tuned by the Atherton’s, meaning modern and capable geometry is on the menu. Although pricing has not been finalised yet, we were told that the frames will be competitive with the big brands on the market who offer high-end carbon frames. Either way, the lugs are printed at Renishaw before being heat-treated, having bottom bracket threads cut and surfaces such as bearing faces machined to final spec. Finally, they are brought to the workshop for assembly. The assembly process is broken down into several stages. First, the individual lugs are meticulously cleaned to remove any residue or contamination. This ensures the surfaces are properly prepared to form a strong bond with the carbon frame tubes. The next step is cutting the frame’s carbon tubes to length. The tubeset in front of us is being prepared for Atherton Racing rider, Charlie Hatton. The team uses specifically designed tubing made from unidirectional prepreg carbon fibre. We’re told that two different types of carbon are used in different load-bearing areas of the frame to provide stiffness and flex where needed. Once the lugs are clean and the carbon is cut, frame assembly begins. “You have to build them from the bottom up,” says Rob. “The tubes only match the metal lugs if they are put together that way. It’s a bit tricky at first but you get the hang of it,” he tells us. Piece by piece a new frame is born. It is a spectacular sight, numerous pieces of titanium and carbon fitting together in harmony to create a frame. It’s like watching a complex puzzle come together! Every frame is assembled in a dry run first (without bonding agent) and all the measurements and angles are compared to the engravings in the baseplate. If everything matches up, it’s time to move on to the bonding. The bonding process is critical – once started, you have to follow through and finish it within the working time of the glue. The job takes a number of hours to complete, but once this crucial step is finished a curing time of 4–5 days is all that is required before the frame is ready to shred. Next on the agenda is seeing and riding two complete bikes. Brownie tells us we will get to ride both the A150 29er and the A160 27.5” trail bikes. However, both rigs are still prototypes: the team are experimenting with stiffening the chainstays and finalising some other small details. Luckily, when it comes to testing and R&D, there are few places that are more suitable than the Atherton family’s own stomping ground. Located a couple of hours drive from Wyastone along beautiful country roads and over several mountain passes, lies Dyfi Bike Park. We pull up in the forest car park next to a monstrous black Land Rover which towers high above our hatchback. Dan Atherton (the oldest of the Atherton siblings and creator of Dyfi Bike Park) hops out of the Landy and welcomes us with a firm handshake. “Welcome to Dyfi!” Another Land Rover rolls up pulling a trailer. On it are four distinctive bikes. “Ready for some laps?” asks Dan and hops into the back. After a couple of runs, it is clear to see how this place has helped to shape the bikes we are riding. The trails are rough, technical and fast and these bikes allow a type of white-knuckle speed that we don’t often experience. The geometry is capable and balanced. The suspension feels supple, but ramps up towards the end stroke making both bikes coil shock compatible. The slightly rearward axle path of Dave Weagle’s DW6 link gives both bikes great speed through rough sections as their rear wheels can move backwards slightly when hitting obstacles. This prevents the bikes from hanging up on square-edged impacts. A handful of runs are not enough for a final review, but on first impression it is clear that Atherton Bikes mean business – these bikes are fast and capable. Unfortunately, we’re not allowed to take a bike home for review until they are production ready. However, you can bet we’ll be smashing out test laps on an Atherton Bikes sled at the first chance we get! We can’t wait! As the high-paced day draws to an end we finally get the chance to reflect on what we have witnessed in the last 12 hours. Is additive manufacturing the future? The ability to create bikes to order rather than shipping massive batches from overseas is certainly a big step in the right direction when it comes to sustainability, and the custom geometry option will appeal to a lot of keen riders. Only the future will tell if Atherton Bikes can make it work, and we are looking forward to seeing what is in store for them!
Paul Components really blue it here.( Photos: 24, Comments: 2 )
After previewing some tools at an event in Bali, Indonesia, Granite Design was kind enough to send out their latest tools for testing. Right out of the box, we were impressed with Granite’s ingenuity, as each product seems to carry a specific and well thought out function. Stay tuned for a full review, but in the meantime, here’s a run-through on the latest tools from Granite Design. Perhaps the most intriguing product is the ‘Stash’ Multi-Tool. A steerer tube storage solution, that doesn’t require tapping threads into your fork (thus preserving its warranty). The Stash tool is lightweight, and has a slim, compact design. Specs: 8-piece Multi-tool: 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, T25, Flathead Spoke key: 0, 1, 2, 3 with valve core removing function System weight (incl. multi-tool): 135gMulti-Tool weight: 57g Colors: Black or Orange Compatible with tapered and 1-1/8″ straight steer tube. Fits bikes with a bottom of fork crown to top of stem length of 150mm to 240mm. The multi-tool itself seems easy to use, and each tool bit moves with some friction, so as not to have another bit move into your way whilst tightening a bolt. For the additional tools you may need out on the trail, Granite Design formulated two options that stow away within the handlebar. One being a chain tool, with a spot to store your spare link, and also a tire plug kit, with room for extra plugs. Stash Chain-Tool Specs Dimension: 30 x 30 x 96mm (large cap) / 21.8 x 21.8 x 96mm (small cap) Fitting: Open-end grip or lock-on grip with 18 to 21mm orifice and 10cm straight section at the bar end Weight: 50g (incl. side cap) Color: Orange Chain Quick-link is not included. Stash Tire Plug Specs Dimension: 30 x 30 x 96mm (large cap) / 21.8 x 21.8 x 96mm (small cap) Weight: 35g (incl. side cap) Fitting: Open-end grip or lock-on grip with 18 to 21mm orifice and 10cm straight section at the bar end Color: Orange Both tools function using an expanding rubber gasket, allowing the tool to be tightened into place within the bar. Each tool comes with the necessary end caps to work with both a dual clamp grip, or single clamp grip. Shown above is what the tool looks like using a dual clamp grip. Simply loosen the allen-screw and the tool slides out. The only downside to using a single lock grip, is that to access the tool, unless you cut off the grip’s current end cap, one needs to also remove their entire grip before the tool can be accessed. Having received a 2018 Design & Innovation Award, the Granite Hex Stand, is a small portable bike stand solution. Specs Weight: 720g (1.6 lb) Max.Load: 20kg Dimensions: Open – 415(H) x 480(W) x 380(L) mm / Close – 415(H) x 110(W) x 85(L) mm Color: Black, Sliver, Red, Blue, Green, Orange Package includes Hex stand, carry bag and adapter for Shimano cranksets. The stand has an adjustable height via one allen key, and both the legs, and the peg for the axle quickly fold out of the way for storage. An extremely lightweight design, combined with compatibility for nearly any bike with a hollow crankset, makes the Hex stand a great option to keep in the car for trailside, or race weekend repairs. The included carrying case allows for safe storage and easy transportation. Stay tuned for our full review on the new tools from Granite Design. More at: Granite Design
The DownRock is a brand new, bird-flippin’, trail-rippin’ hardtail that has just been launched by the crew from Curve Cycling. Joining the Melbourne brand’s existing off-road lineup that includes the UpRock, GXR and GMX, the DownRock is pitched as being the most capable and the most naughty of the lot. We’ve just received a complete Curve DownRock for a full shakedown and review, but before we get it dead-filthy like, let’s take a closer look at this lovely mountain bike to see what makes it special. Aussie brand Curve Cycling is ready to unleash its new hardtail pinner; the DownRock. Ooh Shiny! That’s because it’s titanium mate! Ti-3Al-2.5V to be exact, and from first inspection, it appears to have been masterfully welded together with some extremely neat joins on display for all to see. Why titanium? Because it offers a unique blend of strength, weight and durability, and when it’s all put together, offers a zingier ride quality than alloy, while being lighter than steel. Plus, just look at it! That ain’t no painted frame… Nice short back end on our Medium test bike. That’s A Big BB Shell – What’s Inside? Up front, the DownRock gets a shapely tapered head tube to house a clean zero-stack headset. At the opposite end, cowled dropouts are locked down with a simple 148x12mm alloy thru-axle. Partway between the two, you’ll find a huge T47 threaded bottom bracket shell – a relatively new frame standard that aims to offer the ability to fit pretty much any crank axle size, without being forced to use really tiny ball bearings. This is particularly important for cranks with a 30mm axle, which take up most of the space inside a traditional threaded BB shell, leaving very little room for the bearings themselves. T47 (named after its 47mm internal diameter) allows for larger BB cups that thread into the frame, rather than press-in like PF92 and PF30 bottom bracket systems. Structurally, it offers more surface area for the downtube, seat tube and chainstays to weld to, which creates a stiffer and stronger junction in a part of the frame that experiences high loads. Up until now, T47 has mostly found favour with smaller frame builders, though with Trek recently adopting the standard for its new Crockett cyclocross bike, there’s a good chance we’ll be seeing it on more bikes, from more brands, in the future. It’s a threaded bottom bracket shell, but a bit bigger than normal. The T47 bottom bracket shell offers a big platform to join all those tubes together, and it also allows for a variety of different crank sizes to be used. The Big Fork, Fat Rubber & Long Dropper Club Being a hardtail that’s designed to seek out the good times, the DownRock is ready to accept 130-150mm travel fork. However, Curve specs both the frameset and the complete bikes with a 130mm travel RockShox Pike Ultimate fork. With that fork, you’re looking at a 65° head angle and a very healthy BB drop of 62-66mm, depending on the frame size. Along with the generous reach measurements, the DownRock puts a big fat tick in the long, low and slack boxes. Helping to take the sting out of the trail further, the DownRock is rolling on 29in wheels all the way from the Small through to the XL size. There’s clearance for up to a 2.6in tyre in the back, though our test bike has an e*thirteen rubber combo with a 2.4in All-Terrain up front and a 2.35in Semi-Slick out back. While the DownRock has been tested with a 150mm travel fork, Curve has optimised the geometry around a 130mm fork. High volume e*thirteen rubber front and rear, with a semi-slick out back. Along with modern geometry and high-volume rubber, dropper posts have been an absolute boon for the humble hardtail. With your arms and legs playing a bigger role in impact-absorption duties, being able to crush the saddle out of the way offers a tonne more room for moving around the cockpit while bending your limbs in preparation for the next huck-to-flat. To make the most of the latest crop of big travel dropper posts, the DownRock employs a short seat tube – our Medium test bike has a 410mm seat tube, and comes spec’d with a 170mm dropper. Larger frames get a whopping 200mm travel party post! This thing looks fun standing still! Size-Specific Seat Angle & Chainstays As you’ll see below, there’s been some serious attention to the geometry on the DownRock. After all, it’s one of the most important aspects of any mountain bike, and even more so on a hardtail. To begin with, there are five frame sizes, rather than the usual four. The ‘Extra Medium’ (love that name!) slots in between the Medium and Large frame sizes, and offers up more choice for riders who have a particular reach measurement in mind. Another aspect that Curve was eager to address is the rear centre measurement, which has been scaled proportionally for each frame size. So as the front centre (reach) gets bigger, so too does the rear centre (chainstay length). The idea is to maintain weight distribution as much as possible between frame sizes, while keeping the back end compact for responsive handling through the turns. At least, that’s the theory anyway. Short seat tubes allow for long dropper posts. With the saddle slammed, it’s got a total BMX vibe about it. Stubby 35mm long stem mates to a nice long top tube. Likewise, the seat tube angle is quite different between each of the five frame sizes. And indeed on the smaller frames the seat tube has more of a bend to it, whereas it’s completely straight on the XL frame size. This is all about producing a similar effective seat tube angle (a rather steep 75.75°) when measured from the stack line. It’s no doubt a more expensive way of producing a frame, because you need different tubing for the rear of the bike for all five sizes. But it’s cool to see Curve make that commitment to maintaining consistent sizing and rider fit throughout the range. This is something we’ve seen Norco do with its latest Sight and Optic models, and we’d like to see more brands share that same commitment. Curve DownRock frame geometry. Note the ‘Extra Medium’ size. Nice! Curve DownRock Frameset Features Ti-3Al-2.5V Titanium tubing Tapered Zero Stack headtube Designed to accommodate 130-150mm travel forks 65° head angle 75.75° effective seat tube angle Reach: 422mm (SM), 444mm (MD), 459mm (XM), 474mm (LG), 496mm (XL) Chainstay length: 420-445mm (size dependent) T47 bottom bracket shell Boost 148x12mm thru-axle dropouts Max tyre clearance: 29×2.6in Max chainring clearance: 32T (SM), 34T (MD-XL) Two bottle cage mounts Claimed weight: 2000g (XL size) A lovely tapered head tube hides a zero-stack headset. Room for up to 2.6in tyres back there. A post-mount disc brake and a bolt-up 148x12mm thru-axle keep the back end slim and tidy. Choose Your Own Hardtail Adventure Curve offers the option to buy the DownRock as a standalone frame that comes with a headset, seat collar and thru-axle for $3,299. There’s also a frameset package for $4,499, which adds in a RockShox Pike Ultimate RC2 fork and a Reverb Stealth dropper post. Or you can go for a complete bike, like the one we have here, which sells for $8,999. Here’s a closer look at the spec on the complete bike; Frame | Ti-3Al-2.5V Titanium, 0mm Travel Fork | RockShox Pike Ultimate RC2, Charger 2 Damper, 42mm Offset, 130mm Travel Wheels | DT Swiss 350 Hubs & Curve Dirt Hoops Wider 40 Carbon Rims, 30mm Inner Rim Width Tyres | e*thirteen All-Terrain TRSr MoPo 29×2.4in Front & Semi-Slick TRSr 29×2.35in Rear Drivetrain | SRAM GX Eagle 1×12 w/GX Eagle 32T Cranks & 10-50T Cassette Brakes | SRAM G2 RSC 4-piston, 180mm Rotors Bar | Joystick 8-BIT LT Alloy, 28mm Rise, 800mm Width Stem | Joystick Binary, 31.8mm Diameter, 35mm Length Seatpost | RockShox Reverb Stealth Dropper Post, 170-200mm Travel Saddle | WTB Silverado Pro RRP | $8,999 All cables and hydro lines run externally under the downtube with bolt-on guides keeping them in check. Is a modern hardtail like this enough to bring you over from your full suspension bike? So what do you folks think of the new Curve DownRock? Is this a hardtail you’d like to party on? Let us know your thoughts, and any questions you might have for us, in the comments below! We’ll be hitting the local test loops on the DownRock shortly, so get set for a full review coming soon. If you need more info in the meantime, head to the Curve Cycling website. And if you’re frothing on all this hot hardtail talk, be sure to check out our stories on the new 2020 Norco Torrent, and our recent feature on the custom steel hardtails from Tor Bikes in Beechworth. 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 Curve DownRock Is A Titanium Hardtail Built To Party 🤙 appeared first on Flow Mountain Bike.
Colnago has launched a brand new gravel bike called the G3x. Strongly resembling the V3Rs race bike launched earlier this year, the G3x is aimed at “both gravel and long distance road riding”. Colnago goes fully mainstream, dropping seatstays and grams with new V3Rs Best gravel bikes 2019: 27 top-rated picks Colnago hasn’t provided a great deal of detail about the new G3x, but it looks for all the world as though the bike’s designers started with the V3Rs, adjusted the geometry a bit, enlarged clearances and added some gravel-specific frame protection. For a size 52s (sloping), the G3x has 20mm longer chainstays compared to the V3Rs at 430 (presumably for tyre clearance) and 13mm more stack for a figure of 573mm. The G3x follows industry trends by going slightly longer than its road counterpart for a reach of 390mm on a 52s, 6mm more than V3Rs. It’s designed to take a correspondingly shorter stem, with Colnago estimating that riders will typically run one around 10 to 20mm shorter than they would on a road bike. The G3x shares many design cues with the V3Rs road bike but has different geometry and much bigger clearances. Colnago Colnago’s press release notes that the G3x’s bottom bracket is lower too, although at 72mm (just 2mm more than all but the smallest three sizes of V3Rs) it’s likely to be cancelled out by the larger rolling diameter of gravel tyres. It does contrast with the Prestige cyclocross bike, however, which gets a drop of 68mm across all sizes. Generally speaking, a lower bottom bracket is desirable because it lowers the bike and rider’s centre of gravity, but it does come at the expense of ground clearance, and increases the likelihood of pedal strikes. The G3x is designed to accept tyres up to 700×42mm or 650b×47mm, which seems to be pretty standard these days on gravel bikes at the racier end of the spectrum. The G3x has rubber protectors on key areas of the frame. Colnago It uses hidden seat wedge design that appears identical to that of the V3Rs, but adds rubbery protection to the driveside chainstay and the vulnerable lower portion of the down tube and bottom bracket shell. It looks like there are also bosses on the top tube for bento box style accessories and an extra set of cage bosses on the down tube. This green paint job is rather tasty. Colnago The G3x will be available in a single build in the UK, kitted out with RX-810 (Ultegra mechanical level) components from Shimano’s new GRX gravel-specific range, plus finishing kit from Deda and Prologo, and Pirelli Cinturato Gravel H 40mm tyres. This will cost £4,299.95 and is expected to be available in the next few weeks. Pricing in other territories is to be confirmed.