frame

Mondraker Foxy Carbon RR review

Mondraker has been taking the world by storm with its revolutionary geometry, but when it came to materials, it was yet to broach the world of composites. No more, for it’s gone and made the Trail Bike of the Year-winning Foxy with an all-new full carbon frame.

Frame and equipment: radical diet

While it shares exactly the same extra long Forward Geometry, short 30mm stem and 140mm of travel at either end with the alloy bike, this carbon option – which we first cast our eager eyes over in the spring – is a different very animal.

It’s a stunning looking thing, with a much more attractive profile than the slightly hunchbacked looking alloy frame. As that bike proved, looks are unimportant when it comes to performance and the real magic is under the skin, or rather, within the skin itself. Moving to the black stuff has shaved a claimed 400g off the frame weight alone, giving our middle of the range RR model an all-up weight of 12.5kg (27.6lb).

Carbon fibre construction drops weight and improves looks at the same time:

Carbon construction drops weight and improves looks at the same time

Despite being the middle child, the RR comes with some pretty top bits – the SRAM 11-speed drivetrain is made up of X01 shifters and carbon chainset with X01 elsewhere too. It’s pretty much flawless in operation, though we did find that the 30T ring was a little too low for a relatively lightweight bike.

Mondraker has also opted for linked, bar-mounted suspension remotes on both the top line Kashima-coated Fox 34 Float fork and the Float rear shock – a bit of a cross-country touch on a rough and tumble trail bike. That makes the own brand 740mm width carbon bars quite a busy place once you add in the internally routed RockShox Reverb dropper post remote. Trying to remember which button does what can be a struggle, and we were half surprised the mass of cabling didn’t strain insects from the air.

The kashima coated fox shocks are controlled by a bar mount lever:

The Kashima coated Fox shocks are controlled by a bar mount lever

Aesthetics aside, it means the front and rear shocks can’t have their low speed damping adjusted independently. Instead you get just the three picks of very stiff Climb, a middle Trail or fully open Descend mode, losing the extra fine tuning adjustments in the middle setting that non-remote Trail Adjust models get. This means that if you want to adjust the balance of the bike, say run some low speed Trail damping at the fork to prop it up on steeper sections while keeping the rear open for maximum compliance, you’re scuppered.

Ride and handling: too potent for its own good?

The CTD remote setup seems especially bizarre given that the Foxy pedals well without such interference, and we left it in Descend for the vast majority of our rides. On the plus side, the 2015 model Fox 34 is a vast improvement over last year’s kit. It’s not as stiff as the new 36 despite being the same weight – Mondraker wasn’t aware of that fork’s development when speccing this bike – but there’s much less friction and support is improved without the harsh dive-to-ramp up of previous years.

The Stealth Carbon frame is an equally satisfying step up – it went through a number of iterations before Mondraker was happy with the result, and it shows. The bike has a nicely muted but not dead feel and trail buzz is reduced over its alloy sibling, while there’s no hint of flex from the frame.

On mild to moderate trails, the foxy carbon is a ridiculous blast:

On mild to moderate trails, the Foxy Carbon is a ridiculous blast

That’s all to the good, because the Foxy Carbon is quick. Ridiculously quick. The Zero suspension system feels taut under power, cutting out pedal bob very effectively but still sucks up the bumps – with the aid of its flawless, subtle-yet-planted Float shock – in a hugely effective way. The low-slung, long geometry effectively keeps your weight central, allowing you to shift weight forwards or back for maximum grip. It can take a bit of getting used to, but once there your cornering speeds are significantly higher.

Even when we found the limits of traction from the Maxxis Ardents, the bike carves through turns in a way that’s more akin to powder skiing, the low frame weight aiding changes of direction further. While front wheel slides are usually terrifying on most bikes, on the Mondraker breaking traction at the front is a less death defying prospect. Simply shift your weight slightly further forwards and it’s utterly controllable.?

On our relatively mild test loop, this mix of low weight, speed-enhancing suspension and corner crushing ability meant we put in times that matched and sometimes exceeded our best. Considering we’ve wrestled short travel race rigs around in clips and this is a 140mm trail bike shod with flat pedals that’s not just impressive, it’s bloody amazing.

Maxxis ardent treads are top performers, skinny crank brothers wheels less so:

Maxxis Ardent treads are top performers, skinny Crank Brothers wheels less so

However, a true trail bike should be able to cope with much more than a blue loop in style – and once we hit some more rugged natural trails, some elements of the build kit started to intrude on the party. The Crank Brothers Cobalt wheels may look trick with their odd paired spokes, but the 19mm internal width means the rubber they’re shod in gets slightly pinched. That’s no deal breaker – the alloy Foxy R has the same issue and we still loved it – but these wheels are also insanely flexy, something highlighted by the stiffness elsewhere.

Given a big enough berm and enough cornering speed, we got the tread leaving marks on the chainstay – and the Foxy has plenty of clearance. If you give the bike some gas down a rocky section, things quickly get out of line as the wheel flex fires you in directions you’d rather not go.

We also managed to kink the rear hoop noticeably; possibly a function of the speeds the bike encourages, but it also highlights that the wheels are a pain to true thanks to the large unsupported sections between the paired spokes. In their defence, they are tubeless ready from the box and the freehub and bearing quality issues that plagued Crank Brothers seem to be over, but it’s a bit like having a prizefighter with the legs of a toddler; if you can point it in the right direction you’ll smash someone’s head off, but that’s easier said than done.

Unless you're loaded enough to afford the xr spec, we'd suggest going for the cheaper r model and spending the difference on some wheels that can take a bit more hammer:

We’d suggest going for the cheaper R model and spending the difference on some wheels that can take a bit more hammer

While we’re griping, we’re not keen on the Formula CR1 brakes. The tangential pull lever can’t be run close in to the bar without power tailing off, and we had issues with brake rub and excess drag when they got warm.

We put our thoughts to Mondraker over these spec oddities. The company pointed out that for riders who want to push hard, it specs the top-end XR model with the much beefier Iodine wheels as well as a 160mm travel fork. The company also said that it’s working with Fox to get a better balance between the front and rear shock tunes.

For the time being though, the Foxy Carbon RR is a bit like the smart kid in school who goes off the rails just before exams. It’s got a whole load of potential and promise but when serious pressure is applied, things start falling apart slightly.

This is partly because the Forward Geometry is so inspiring that it encourages you to behave like a lunatic all the time. Keep it to the milder stuff and the lightweight wheels and bar mount remote work to make it ridiculously rapid. It’ll have you grinning like a maniac as you pedal until you’re sick.

Get a bit rougher though, and while the heart of the frame and suspension is very much in for the fight, the flexy wheels will have you backing down when you know you shouldn’t have to. It’s addictive but infuriating – and we’d recommend buying the R model instead and using the cash saved on some new wheels, or moving up to the XR if you have the extra funds.

This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.








Ghost AMR Riot Lector 9 review

Chances are if someone told you that their new range of bikes was called Riot you would be expecting some beefy, big travel, borderline downhill hell raiser, which makes the first sight of Ghost’s Riot Lector 9 frame something of a shock.

Once you’ve established that the company’s idea of rioting is hammering old-school-style technical singletrack flat out along, down and (particularly) upwards rather than laying waste to a black run descent then this Ghost is a seriously playful and standout-fast poltergeist.

Frame and equipment: hex-citing stuff

While the super-skinny brace tube between the flattened, steeply sloped top tube and skinny seatstays might look freakishly fragile, a second glance will show that there’s serious strength where it really matters. The hexagonal down tube is big enough to work as a front fender even with 2.25in rubber. The bottom bracket basket it expands into covers the full width of the BB95 bearings and you have to really peer down to even see there’s a smaller chainring tucked in on the XTR crank.

The carbon frame and ingenious ‘Riot’ linkage buried in the belly of the bike are designed to be BabelFish efficient at translating your effort into blistering acceleration and effervescent, ego-boosting pace.

There is a riot brewing in that lot… namely a riot link: there is a riot brewing in that lot… namely a riot link

There is a riot brewing in that lot… namely a Riot Link

Reading the onsite hype it seems like a lot of effort to create a floating shock with significant bottom stroke ramp up. That’s reinforced when you’re staring down into the belly of the bike trying to work out exactly what’s happening in between the downturned chainstay extensions and the bottom end of the Fox shock. It’s not a bike that we would recommend to riders who routinely leave their bikes long enough between washes to grow a garden either.

The XTR stop/go equipment is as flawless as ever and if you can wait just a couple more months you will be getting the all-new XTR group. The Haven wheels haven’t got the best hub reliability record though, and you could easily find a lighter and/or better-equipped complete bike for the money.

Easton rims are paired with high volume hans dampf rubber: easton rims are paired with high volume hans dampf rubber

Easton rims are paired with high volume Hans Dampf rubber

We have never been big fans of Ritchey’s Rizer bar shapes and felt the Ghost’s WCS Carbon Rizer 710mm bars could do with some more width to put some torque into turns. They’re usefully stiff though and the WCS 60mm stem means you can play about right on the edge of the plentiful front traction. The X-12 thru-axle rear end and Riot setup can also handle a decent drop without stumbling sideways or obviously losing composure.

Ride and handling: speed demon heaven – where the fork can handle it

As soon as we clipped in and put some pressure through the pedals it was obvious that the Ghost’s 26-tooth ring was going to be largely forgotten. In fact we never used it once throughout testing, even on maybe-I-shouldn’t-have-done-that-last-descent cramping crawls back up to the trailhead.

Deflate and cycle the shock and you soon find that this isn’t a typical Pace or Trek-style shock setup where the bottom end of the shock is pulled down and away as the top gets compressed. There’s a fractional drop of the bottom as you move through the first 30 percent (which is mostly sag) but then the rear of the shock doesn’t move again until 80 percent through the stroke. At that point the Riot linkage drives the rear of the shock upwards against the compression loads and creates a super high rising rate ‘stopping track’ effect on the travel.

The fox shock is driven from both ends for a progressive bottom out: the fox shock is driven from both ends for a progressive bottom out

The Fox shock is driven from both ends for a progressive bottom out

While this sounds (and looks) frighteningly complicated, what it means in reality is that the bike pedals extremely well even with the compression damper wide open. There’s some stiction in the solid state bearing bushes (rather than conventional cartridge bearing pivots) and upper linkage angle that reinforces the firm ‘platform feel’. That gives a psychological advantage going hard on smoother surfaces but it does create a chattery, occasionally traction scattering character over small bumps.

Once the linkage flips through and the shock turns more linear it carries that speed through decent size rock and log stoppers. This can be a recipe for a saggy feel at the rear but the chainstay pivot four-bar rear architecture helps with a rapid return to sag level. This meant the Lector never felt like it was wallowing about when we wanted to get the wattage down.

The linkage also reduces maximum stress loads on the linkage and rear stays too, which is why Ghost can make them so thin. Our medium sample was 500g heavier than Ghost’s claimed weight, and it’s the pedal response not the poundage that makes it a naturally high velocity weapon.

The Strava trophies on your post-ride download aren’t just going to be restricted to the climbs either. While we never bothered using the front shifter to drop us out of the big ring, the Reverb button above it got as much use as a fighter plane joystick trigger. It’s great to see more German brands embracing progressive geometry, and while the Riot isn’t particularly slack the easy mid-stroke makes it hunker down and stretch out if you drive down through your feet into corners.

Precision and poise from the frame is impressive on technical singletrack or when you’re stamping the pedals and smashing the climbs: precision and poise from the frame is impressive on technical singletrack or when you’re stamping the pedals and smashing the climbs

Precision and poise from the frame is impressive on technical singletrack

The bike’s long anyway and at 335mm from bottom bracket axle to ground it’s really low slung. That gives it great natural stability through high-speed corners even when the treads start to go sideways.

The 32mm legged Fox fork is the only obvious limiting factor if you’re into more aggressive riding. It’s smooth and supple when you get to the climbs and you can get round the linear damping crushing down in hard corners by keeping it in Trail mode.

Throw in some bigger hits and more random roots and rocks though, and the rest of the bike soon starts to push harder than the fork can cope with structurally and you start to trip over it as it twangs back and twists around in your hands. You will generally be able to keep it together down most local woodsy descents, but show it an open rocky hillside and an open throttle and the rest of the bike definitely deserves a burlier fork and much broader bars.

This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.








Whyte G-150 Works SCR review

Ian and Andy from UK innovator Whyte make for without doubt one of the keenest and most pro-active designer and brand manager teams in the business. Ever since the brand launched with the radical PRST-1 linkage fork bike 15 years ago they’ve seen their relatively small, UK only situation as a strength not a weakness.

They don’t have to think of a bigger global or even European market so can properly focus on the latest trends and vital touches for British riding. They also keep us constantly in the loop on their latest developments so it’s no surprise that their significantly evolved G-150 is one of the first 2015 bikes we got to ride.

They were already early into the 650b wheel fray with the G-150 last year, and Whyte’s trademark slack and low geometry and spot-on component selection made it a potentially standout machine. On the trail though, significant twist between front and rear end really choked its suspension performance so it never felt as surefooted and secure as it should have done. That made the words “It’s 25 percent stiffer” from designer Ian when he showed us the main pivot of the new bike even more significant.

Frame and equipment: single-minded approach

With even single figure increases in frame stiffness being a big deal for most frame manufacturers this shows two things: a) the old frame was definitely very flexible and b) Whyte has done something very significant. It’s easy to see the biggest difference too.

A redesigned shock mount aims to move lateral load from the monarch unit: a redesigned shock mount aims to move lateral load from the monarch unit

A redesigned shock mount aims to move lateral load from the Monarch unit

The previously narrow main pivot stance has been widened by 20 percent on the SCR frame because it’s now a totally single ring specific design. That means there’s no need for a big seat tube offset to make room for the front derailleur and the super-short chainstays are now symmetrical, with a big increase in size for the driveside section. There’s a new stiffer mainframe tubeset tying the front end to the tauter rear end.

Going 1×11 also reduces overall weight, simply by removing a lot of components from the equation. That means the alloy Whyte isn’t far off a lot of more expensive carbon bikes in terms of mass.

All the mod cons, including stealth internal routing, are present on the frame: all the mod cons, including stealth internal routing, are present on the frame

All the mod cons, including Stealth internal routing, are present on the frame

Ride and handling: G is for Gravity

Like all Whyte bikes we’ve ever ridden it pedals well too, with enough stability in mid-compression mode to stamp hard without it sucking up your effort. The top spec triple compound High Roller II rubber also rolls better than it looks like it will. The long front end means plenty of breathing space on climbs too so it’s fine for DIY gravity days without an uplift or heading out across the hills for wild thrills.

That’s not to say the Whyte is an instantly easy bike to ride straight from the shop. That long front end combined with the super-slack 66.5-degree steering angle does mean you’ll need to swing it the long way round on switchbacks. If you’re not used to a slack bike, the way it wanders on climbs can be irritating at first.

Point it downhill though and the numbers really start to add up. If you’re muscling it through sections at slow speed or driving hard through random ruts, roots and rocks there’s still some flex through the relatively light frame – particularly the unbraced seatstays and skinny shock linkage – compared with heavier category leaders. Let it run though and the front end naturally self corrects, the frame finds the path of least resistance and it’ll hook and hold a tighter line than you’d first expect.

RockShox’ pike rounds out a sram dominated build kit: rockshox’ pike rounds out a sram dominated build kit

RockShox’ Pike rounds out a SRAM dominated build kit

The RockShox Pike totally deserves its reputation as the benchmark enduro category fork, with an outstanding amount of control right across the range. Chewing gum-style stiction across small bump chatter? Corner-boosting confidence of super-stable mid-stroke damping? Slap-free catch and fast recovery of seriously big hits whether they come singly or so fast you’re just hanging on and hoping? Whatever questions you ask, Pike’s Rapid Return Charger damper has the answers.

The rear wheel also immediately feels a lot more planted through hard carving turns than the 2014 bike. We had some initial problems with the rear shock, but stripping down the extra volume air sleeve revealed it had been supplied with a full set of volume reducer rings. Pulling those out immediately created the baby bottom smooth stroke Whyte intended. This kept the back end glued to the ground over small stuff but sucked up cascades of successive drops, boulders or big single hits with seamless control.

The short back end makes it really easy to manual and get dynamic with your riding, encouraging you to properly get stuck in rather than sit there as a passenger. Steering balance is also spot on at speed with tons of traction feedback through the super-stiff 35mm bars. Really aggressive riders may want to add a couple of volume reducers back into the shock or run the mid-compression mode even on descents to stop the relatively linear back end squishing too deep if you really drive it through corners.

It’s worth investing some time and tuning knowhow to get the g-150’s rear end dialled to deliver its full potential

It’s worth investing some time and tuning knowhow to get the G-150’s rear end dialled to deliver its full potential

As you’d hope from a Works model the supporting componentry is ideal for pushing the G-150 to its maximum potential. The SRAM Rail wheels have proved seriously bombproof yet responsively light in standalone tests and repeat that impressive performance here. The High Roller tyres maximize grip in a wide range of trail conditions to underline the naturally agile and aggressive character with a seriously surefooted trail connection.

The new Avid Guide RSC brakes also put a fantastic amount of impressively consistent control and plenty of power at your fingertips. The RockShox Reverb Stealth seatpost and Fizik Gobi XM saddle are proven multiple award winning choices too. Whyte’s part of the bargain is also impressive, with generous tyre clearance, a new totally sealed seatpost clamp and lifetime warrantied pivot bearings all making it ideal for the kind of all-weather hammer its addictive riding character is likely to encourage.

Get this G-150’s suspension set up right and its handling balance and outstanding kit selection is an absolute blast to unleash on your local trails or take a top three place in the world’s most mental mountain bike race, the Megavalanche.

This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.








Whyte G-150 Works SCR review

Ian and Andy from UK innovator Whyte make for without doubt one of the keenest and most pro-active designer and brand manager teams in the business. Ever since the brand launched with the radical PRST-1 linkage fork bike 15 years ago they’ve seen their relatively small, UK only situation as a strength not a weakness.

They don’t have to think of a bigger global or even European market so can properly focus on the latest trends and vital touches for British riding. They also keep us constantly in the loop on their latest developments so it’s no surprise that their significantly evolved G-150 is one of the first 2015 bikes we got to ride.

They were already early into the 650b wheel fray with the G-150 last year, and Whyte’s trademark slack and low geometry and spot-on component selection made it a potentially standout machine. On the trail though, significant twist between front and rear end really choked its suspension performance so it never felt as surefooted and secure as it should have done. That made the words “It’s 25 percent stiffer” from designer Ian when he showed us the main pivot of the new bike even more significant.

Frame and equipment: single-minded approach

With even single figure increases in frame stiffness being a big deal for most frame manufacturers this shows two things: a) the old frame was definitely very flexible and b) Whyte has done something very significant. It’s easy to see the biggest difference too.

A redesigned shock mount aims to move lateral load from the monarch unit: a redesigned shock mount aims to move lateral load from the monarch unit

A redesigned shock mount aims to move lateral load from the Monarch unit

The previously narrow main pivot stance has been widened by 20 percent on the SCR frame because it’s now a totally single ring specific design. That means there’s no need for a big seat tube offset to make room for the front derailleur and the super-short chainstays are now symmetrical, with a big increase in size for the driveside section. There’s a new stiffer mainframe tubeset tying the front end to the tauter rear end.

Going 1×11 also reduces overall weight, simply by removing a lot of components from the equation. That means the alloy Whyte isn’t far off a lot of more expensive carbon bikes in terms of mass.

All the mod cons, including stealth internal routing, are present on the frame: all the mod cons, including stealth internal routing, are present on the frame

All the mod cons, including Stealth internal routing, are present on the frame

Ride and handling: G is for Gravity

Like all Whyte bikes we’ve ever ridden it pedals well too, with enough stability in mid-compression mode to stamp hard without it sucking up your effort. The top spec triple compound High Roller II rubber also rolls better than it looks like it will. The long front end means plenty of breathing space on climbs too so it’s fine for DIY gravity days without an uplift or heading out across the hills for wild thrills.

That’s not to say the Whyte is an instantly easy bike to ride straight from the shop. That long front end combined with the super-slack 66.5-degree steering angle does mean you’ll need to swing it the long way round on switchbacks. If you’re not used to a slack bike, the way it wanders on climbs can be irritating at first.

Point it downhill though and the numbers really start to add up. If you’re muscling it through sections at slow speed or driving hard through random ruts, roots and rocks there’s still some flex through the relatively light frame – particularly the unbraced seatstays and skinny shock linkage – compared with heavier category leaders. Let it run though and the front end naturally self corrects, the frame finds the path of least resistance and it’ll hook and hold a tighter line than you’d first expect.

RockShox’ pike rounds out a sram dominated build kit: rockshox’ pike rounds out a sram dominated build kit

RockShox’ Pike rounds out a SRAM dominated build kit

The RockShox Pike totally deserves its reputation as the benchmark enduro category fork, with an outstanding amount of control right across the range. Chewing gum-style stiction across small bump chatter? Corner-boosting confidence of super-stable mid-stroke damping? Slap-free catch and fast recovery of seriously big hits whether they come singly or so fast you’re just hanging on and hoping? Whatever questions you ask, Pike’s Rapid Return Charger damper has the answers.

The rear wheel also immediately feels a lot more planted through hard carving turns than the 2014 bike. We had some initial problems with the rear shock, but stripping down the extra volume air sleeve revealed it had been supplied with a full set of volume reducer rings. Pulling those out immediately created the baby bottom smooth stroke Whyte intended. This kept the back end glued to the ground over small stuff but sucked up cascades of successive drops, boulders or big single hits with seamless control.

The short back end makes it really easy to manual and get dynamic with your riding, encouraging you to properly get stuck in rather than sit there as a passenger. Steering balance is also spot on at speed with tons of traction feedback through the super-stiff 35mm bars. Really aggressive riders may want to add a couple of volume reducers back into the shock or run the mid-compression mode even on descents to stop the relatively linear back end squishing too deep if you really drive it through corners.

It’s worth investing some time and tuning knowhow to get the g-150’s rear end dialled to deliver its full potential

It’s worth investing some time and tuning knowhow to get the G-150’s rear end dialled to deliver its full potential

As you’d hope from a Works model the supporting componentry is ideal for pushing the G-150 to its maximum potential. The SRAM Rail wheels have proved seriously bombproof yet responsively light in standalone tests and repeat that impressive performance here. The High Roller tyres maximize grip in a wide range of trail conditions to underline the naturally agile and aggressive character with a seriously surefooted trail connection.

The new Avid Guide RSC brakes also put a fantastic amount of impressively consistent control and plenty of power at your fingertips. The RockShox Reverb Stealth seatpost and Fizik Gobi XM saddle are proven multiple award winning choices too. Whyte’s part of the bargain is also impressive, with generous tyre clearance, a new totally sealed seatpost clamp and lifetime warrantied pivot bearings all making it ideal for the kind of all-weather hammer its addictive riding character is likely to encourage.

Get this G-150’s suspension set up right and its handling balance and outstanding kit selection is an absolute blast to unleash on your local trails or take a top three place in the world’s most mental mountain bike race, the Megavalanche.

This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.








SwiftCarbon Evil Twin – brand’s first full suspension frame

SwiftCarbon has just unveiled the Evil Twin, its first full-suspension mountain bike frame, at Asiabike 2014. Designed for marathon and stage racers, this new competition-bred frame is based on the brand’s Detritovore hardtail frame and comes after 18 months of development. ?

“For a bike brand, the jewel in the crown – and the most difficult task in production terms – is a full suspension bike,” said SwiftCarbon founder Mark Blewett. “Even though I personally test ride all the models we produce, I know my expertise doesn’t go nearly as far as our pro riders’, so we really value their input. We asked them what they imagined as the perfect marathon bike and, while they gave many different responses, there was one common answer – make it like our hardtail!”

A look at the geometry suggests that the Evil Twin will exhibit similar handling characteristics to the 29in Detritovore hardtail, which we tested perviously and loved. According to SwiftCarbon’s head of design, Rene Baretta, his ideal is for the Evil Twin to replace the use of the hardtail in most situations: “It’s been designed to behave just like the Detritovore hardtail, just with more control and traction.”

Frame sizes will range from extra small to large (sizes run long). The extra small with use 650b wheels; all other sizes will roll on 29in wheels.

A one-piece carbon rocker connects to the toptube, giving more room for water bottles below:

The top tube driven linkage adds stiffness to the design

The Evil Twin has 90mm of rear wheel travel, courtesy of a single-pivot linkage and supplied and a RockShox Monarch XX remote lockout rear shock. According to Baretta, the shock rate curve offers responsive pedalling and plushness in the mid-stroke, ramping up progressively at the bottom of the travel.

Blewett hinted at a collaboration with suspension guru Patrick Morewood (co-founder of Morewood and now Pyga) when plotting out the suspension kinematics: “We’re friends, and friends like to chat and help each other out. He advised our designer Rene on the suspension, and we’ve passed on some of our experience in manufacturing with carbon fibre. It wasn’t a full-blown partnership, but he did lend a very useful hand.”

The Evil Twin will feature a mix of Mitsubishi-Rayon and Toray high-modulus carbon fibre in critical areas. Head of marketing, Neil Gardiner, says, “We set a target frame weight of under 2kg, wanting to keep it stiff at the rear end, but like a mountain bike should be, we made sure the layup keeps it robust and we were careful not to go too light.”

The full-length housing is protected and held along the downtube with this carbon cover, something that swiftcarbon claims make for easy cable replacement:

A carbon down tube cover protects the frame and cables. It is said to make servicing easier too

Little details seem to be well considered; the removable down tube bashplate that holds the cables in place, for example. Baretta says: “This one’s for the mechanics on stage races like the Absa Cape Epic – full-length housing keeps the muck out and all mechanics have to do to replace them is loosen the screws and pull them out and replace.”

Further cable routing details include the ability to run a stealth dropper post and an electronic drivetrain.

With box-section chainstays, PressFit30 bottom bracket, 142 x 12mm Maxle rear thru-axle and a tapered head tube, the frame should be reasonably stiff under power.

A closer look at the evil twin's details. apparently 'boze dubbel ganger' loosely translates to 'evil twin' in afrikaans:

Being able to fit two water bottles within the frame is a big thing for marathon racers

Lastly, the ability to fit two waters bottles inside the frame is a major bonus to serious racers. According to Neil Gardiner, all frame sizes will fit two bottles, but the two smaller frame sizes will likely need a side-pull cage and a smaller bottle for the second mount. This is achieved with a rear shock that mounts to a raised top tube, at the cost of standover height.?

Pricing is to be confirmed, but SwiftCarbon estimated US$3,500 for the frame. With ridable samples not too far away, we’ll be doing a full test on an Evil Twin soon.?








By admin on October 8, 2014 | Mountain Bikes
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Cotic Solaris frame review

Cotic’s Soul was the original posh steel hardtail revival machine that has since been much copied by several similar UK micro brands. Cotic made the obvious jump to 29in wheels relatively early too – and we were impressed when we first gave the Solaris frame the once-over back in 2012.

But plenty of water has passed under the mountain biking bridge since then – indeed, the Soul frame is also now available in an up-to-the-minute 650b re-rub. So does Cotic’s 29er now feel like a classic original, or has it been outclassed by the competition?

  • Highs: Stable, long wheelbase geometry and comfortable stretched position without sacrificing front-end stiffness
  • Lows: Dutiful and dull in feel rather than dynamic and agile. No chainguide mounts
  • Buy If: You want a stable, accurate 29er for roaming adventures

Frame and equipment: same difference

There are obvious similarities between the Soul and Solaris, including a steel frame with sloped top tube for low standover and wishbone back end, clean graphics and long top tube, short stem style geometry. Cotic hasn’t just taken the Soul drawings and stretched them though.

The complete bike is based around an equally solid and mile proof shimano xt groupset, which is offered in triple, double or hope narrow/wide single ring configurations:

The Solris is based around a rock-solid Shimano XT groupset

The ovalised top tube is bigger in diameter and 10mm longer to work with the standard issue 60mm stem. The down tube is double butted at the head and it gets the fat 34.9mm seat tube of the BFe hardcore hardtail, in the lighter weight 853 steel, for stiffness and shimmed dropper post compatibility. The seat tube is kept straight for easy seat dropping but that leaves the back end relatively long. We would definitely tick the 780mm bars option on Cotic’s build kit and then possibly chop it down, rather than opt for the 710mm flat bars of our test example, which looked and felt out of place.

Ride and handling: more solid than soulful

Apart from the bars everything about the Solaris fit felt sorted. The elongated top tube and layback seatpost mean it’s still got a decent reach with the 60mm stem if you are pulling up a long drag. It’s got a solid feel through the pedals and a tall bottom bracket reduces the chance of pedal strikes on rocky and rutted trails. The long front and back ends keep things stable rather than snapping out at either end and the turning centre is where you expect too. The stout tubes give plenty of feedback so you know what the tyres are doing early and the 120mm X-Fusion Slide fork is a predictable and trustworthy performer too.

To stop flex in the frame making the steering vague, cotic has oversized the seat tube and top tube diameters on the solaris compared with the soul:

To stop flex in the frame making the steering vague, Cotic has oversized the Solaris’s seat tube and top tube diameters

The steel tubeset is undoubtedly more forgiving than alloy, but the hunt for predictable accuracy has squeezed some of the life out of it compared with some peers. Where Niner’s ROS 9 seems to melt impacts and trail trauma and the Singular Buzzard feels pretty lively and keen under power, the Cotic thuds along with a noticeably less dynamic feel.

There’s little of the micro compliance that helps the tyres find scraps of traction at the ragged edge either, and we had to drop pressures significantly lower than our normal 30psi test level to put some smoothness and grip under its wheels.

While the steering is quick enough the long wheelbase and rear end make it hard to hustle through tight trails and it’s certainly not a whip or flick machine. The tall bottom bracket also makes it feel slightly precarious rather than planted if you’re drifting.

Specifications as tested:

  • Size tested: L (also available in S, M)
  • Weight tested: 12.34KG / 27.2lb
  • Frame: Reynolds 853 maintubes, Cotic butted chromoly steel rear
  • Fork: X-Fusion Slide, 120mm
  • Shock: N/A
  • Max tyre size: 2.4in

TRANSMISSION

  • Chainset: Shimano XT
  • Shifters: Shimano XT
  • Derailleurs: Shimano XT
  • Chain: Shimano XT
  • Bottom Bracket: Shimano XT
  • Cassette: Shimano XT

WHEELS

  • Front: Stan’s ZTR Arch EX rim, Hope Pro 2 Evo hub
  • Rear: Stan’s ZTR Arch EX rim, Hope Pro 2 Evo hub
  • Tyres: Continental Mountain King II, 29×2.2in

FINISHING KIT

  • Brakes: Magura Marta, 180/160mm rotors
  • Bars: Race Face Ride, 720mm
  • Stem: Cotic forged, 60mm
  • Grips: Velo, lock-on
  • Seatpost: Cotic layback, 31.6mm
  • Saddle: Cotic cro-mo
  • Headset: Hope
  • Pedals: N/A

This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.








Pyga OneTen29 review

If you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, you shouldn’t judge a bike by its head badge. Especially if the badge says it’s an orange 650b bike and it’s actually a green 29er. That’s one of the only glitches on the otherwise outstanding Pyga OneTen 29 – and if you like blasting techy singletrack we’re sure you’ll just laugh about it like we did.

Frame and equipment: enduro ready

Pyga has been around for a few years, since top southern hemisphere designer Patrick Morewood split with the bike company that carried his name and started a new one. Having loved the hard-as-nails short travel 650b we tested last year we were super-keen to get on its 110mm travel 29er as soon as possible. Within seconds of hitting our local singletrack, scything round the first bend then hopping into and manualling out of the normally tricky step-up chicane round a fallen tree it was obvious it was well worth the wait.

It’s a sign of the priorities of this machine that despite a cross-country amount of travel our sample came with a 40mm stem and 740mm bars, and they totally suit it. All three frame sizes are long for their height so they work really well with a short stem. The frame is also extremely stiff so there’s no danger of the big bars tying the inset bearing head tube and long shared seam top and down tube junction in knots, however hard you wrestle it.

The triangular section of top tube is locked against the distinctive extended seat tube with a big reinforcing gusset and another similar box section carries the rocker link pivot. The lower end of the seat tube expands into a big square section that swerves to the offside to create chainring clearance for the chunky forged chainstay front end. The main pivot is driven through the centre of this tube too and the stout chainstay tips are tied together with a Syntace X12 142×12mm screw-thru axle. The tapered seatstays use a double-sided mount onto the chainstay and align very neatly with the short stout rocker linkage.

The result is an seriously rigid unit, whether you’re judging it in terms of bar to bike, pedal to back wheel or bodyweight braced against a berm strength. The low bottom bracket trades more regular crank to ground contact with the potential to hold a carving line with rock solid authority.

Ride and handling: looking lively

Final build will obviously determine how much of that precisely planted frame potential gets transferred onto the trail. In this case there’s noticeable turning twist in the 120mm SID fork and the Stan’s Crest rims can twang off line suddenly under side loads. The frame still tells you exactly where/when that’s happening so you can push the limits of the pliable components with inspiring interactivity through feet and hands.

The lighter components also give the OneTen a surprisingly keen and lively feel for such a tough 12.8kg (28.2lb) machine. The carefully placed single pivot is designed to give excellent suspension stability with a single ring but still works well with the SLX double fitted here. The only time we got it to squat obviously was stomping the torque down with the shock in full open mode sprinting into a descent. Otherwise the slightly chain leveraged suspension feel gives a great balance of small bump and chatter-smoothing traction with instinctive feedback for exactly what’s happening under the back end.

The relatively steep head angle keeps the steering fast and reactive, weaving the 740mm bars through tight tree lines and climbing switchbacks with excellent flow for a 29er. This again feeds into the rich interactivity of the Pyga ride, creating a bike you just want to blast down, up, along or off the trail as fast as possible as often as possible.

If you’re happy to haul more weight uphill then the frame is cleared for up to a 140mm fork. When we plugged a Pike and sturdier Spank Oozy wheels in the Pyga was a different machine. The 35mm rather than 32mm legs and broader, stiffer rims transfer the frame precision right down into the dirt and makes the South African feel like it’s hit the gym hard.

Rather than skipping over rough sections and shaking its head under high braking and climbing loads it drops its shoulder and charges through. For the sake of slower, more deliberate steering through tight singletrack it erases worries about the SID twisting under and tripping up when braking hard or turning in tight. You’ll want a Schwalbe Hans Dampf or something similarly grippy up front rather than the fast but less aggro Nobby Nic.

The burlier build also lets you appreciate the effectiveness of the ‘active’ brake position, which keeps the back end balanced however hard you’re hauling the anchors. The slightly higher bottom bracket helps you stay on the power over more stuff too – and suddenly this is a bike that’s all about knee pads and serious descent lines.

What’s really impressive is the way the rear is totally comfortable in either situation. It’s a worn out clich? but by squeezing the shock between the rocker linkage and the extended tips of the chainstays – rather than the mainframe – the rear end really does feel bottomless.

Obviously there are limits to the 110mm of rear wheel travel, but they’re further away than you’d think and you have to work the bike hard to find them. It chops the tops off steps and sucks up large drops without stumbling. The rocker alignment means there’s a natural initial resistance to movement (which can be tuned by altering the sag level subtly) but otherwise the shock feels very consistent and neutral. As with most Monarch shocks it definitely feels damped rather than dynamic but if you want a more mobile and sensitive feel then you just need to add a larger volume DebonAir sleeve.

This is a minimum fuss, maximum ride machine that’s all about powering the big ring and dropping the Reverb to wring maximum fun out of every inch of trail, not toggling shocks and tiptoeing through tech sections like a lot of 110mm bikes.

  • Frame: Hydroformed 6066-T6 aluminium, 110mm (4.3in) travel
  • Fork: RockShox SID RCT3, 120mm (4.7in) travel
  • Shock: RockShox Monarch RT3
  • Drivetrain: Shimano SLX
  • Wheelset: Stan’s ZTR Crest rims on Hope Pro 2 EVO hubs, Schwalbe Nobby Nic Evo 29×2.25in tyres
  • Brakes: Shimano SLX
  • Bar: Truvativ J?r?me Cl?mentz BlackBox, 750mm
  • Stem: Sunline V1 AM, 40mm?
  • Seatpost: RockShox Reverb Stealth
  • Saddle: Massi ProDue
  • Weight: 12.8kg (28.2lb)
  • Head angle: 69.5?
  • Seat angle: 74.5?
  • Top tube length: 620mm
  • Seat tube length: 500mm
  • BB height: 335mm
  • Chainstay length: 443mm
  • Wheelbase: 1160mm

This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.








By Emma on September 7, 2014 | Mountain Bikes
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Eurobike Odds & Ends, Part 2

Espresso maker sets Italian booth on fire, baggy bibs for roadies, Lightweight's concept commuter and more.

Eurobike 2014 – High-end German exotica

The German bike industry has always been a star of the Eurobike show and this year’s event only further reinforced that trend. Carbon fibre once again is the primary material of choice for ultralight principals such as AX-Lightness, THM-Carbones and Carbonice, but companies such as Tune, German A, Trickstuff and Acros continue to demonstrate that aluminium still has its place.

Here’s some more details on a few highlights but be sure to browse through the image gallery for even more lustworthy bits and pieces such to whet your tech weenie appetite – and your wallet.

Staggeringly light road disc wheels from AX-Lightness

AX-Lightness showed off a range of astoundingly light road disc wheels, all built with carbon fibre clincher or tubular rims built in the company’s German headquarters.

Think road bike disc wheels have to be heavy? the ax-lightness u 28c d carbon clinchers supposedly come in at just 1,110g for the pair:

Road disc brake clinchers weighing just 1,110g per pair? Yes, please

Headlining the range are the P 24T ED tubulars, built around Extralite CyberFront and CyberRear six-bolt disc hubs and straight-pull, ultra-thin stainless steel spokes for a claimed weight of just 880g. Clinchers weigh as little as 1,110g per set.

AX-Lightness doesn’t seem to have skimped on the rim features, either. Both the tubulars and clinchers are available in 24mm and 38mm depths, while the clinchers are built with a tubeless-ready profile and have a generously sized 18mm internal width.

AX-Lightness equips its u 28c d carbon clinchers with a tubeless-ready profile:

AX-Lightness’s carbon clincher road rims are generously sized with an 18mm internal width. They’re also tubeless-compatible

AX-Lightness also continues its incredible Vial Evo carbon fibre road frame with claimed weights between 660g and 720g depending on size (although the one on display was only 650g). Efficiency of material is the name of the game here, with mostly round or modified oval cross-sections, relatively large tube diameters, and smooth transitions throughout.

Like the rims, AX-Lightness builds the Vial Evo in its German factory and the raw finish leaves nothing to hide. That said, the frame design may be form-follows-function but it’s awfully nice to look at nonetheless.

The ax-lightness vial evo carbon fiber road frame has a claimed weight of just 660-720g but this one is only 650g - and that's with a seatpost collar and rear derailleur hanger:

650g of carbon fibre goodness

THM-Carbones’ new Clavicula SE cranks break the 300g barrier

How light can carbon cranks get, we wonder? THM-Carbones has updated its long-running Clavicula and created the Clavicula SE, built with moulded carbon fibre arms and a carbon fibre spindle that supposedly weigh just 287g.

The claimed weight for a complete setup with bottom bracket and 53/39-tooth Praxis Works chainrings is an unbelievable 509g. That’s roughly 200g lighter than comparably configured top-end offerings from the big three and an even more incredible figure when you look at it in terms of percentage.

THM-Carbones' ultra-exclusive clavicula se carbon fiber crankset supposedly weighs just 287g for the arms and spindle. total weight including chainrings and a threaded bottom bracket is a staggering 509g - but retail cost is a similarly incredible ?1,270:

THM-Carbones’ new Clavicula SE cranks are unbelievably lightweight – and pretty

As compared to the original Clavicula – which will continue to be sold as the Clavicula Classic – the new SE boasts a more skeletal five-arm spider and a driveside arm that’s now hollow where it’s joined with the axle.

THM-Carbones has also built in a wide range of compatibility, too, with options to fit threaded, PF86, PF30, BB30, BBright, and BB386EVO bottom bracket shells.

Carbonice shaves off the grams

Looking to cut a few grams and got some money burning a hole in your wallet? Carbonice first established itself in 2008 with a carbon fibre braze-on front derailleur adapter that weighed a claimed 4.5g, but the company now has a fairly wide range of bits catering to hardcore weight weenies.

Carbonice was first founded with these 4.5g carbon fiber front derailleur braze-on clamps. other items quickly followed:

Try not to think too much about what these things cost

Examples include a 750mm-wide riser bar at just 124g, 10g Matchmaker X clamp setups for SRAM/Avid brakes and trigger shifters, a 5g seatpost collar and a 3g chain catcher.

As you’d guess, the prices aren’t exactly cheap. The handlebar will set you back €200, the clamps are €60, the seatpost collar is €73, and the chain catcher is €20. And that braze-on derailleur adapter? That’ll set you back a cool €50.

This carbon fiber seatpost collar from carbonice supposedly weighs just 6.6g - and costs ?35:

Naturally, you have to pay more to get less

Tune gets fat

Tune is perhaps best known for its hubs and this year the company has decided to concentrate on fat bikes – already a well established market in the US but a segment that’s apparently seeing steady growth in Europe.

The Fat Kong rear hub comes in as low as 240g – the same as many high-end conventional mountain bike hubs. Tune will offer it in both 170mm and 190mm widths for quick-release dropouts along with the corresponding 177mm and 197mm thru-axle variants.

Tune focused its attention this year on the fat bike market, launching new hubs as well as associated quick-release skewers and thru-axles. note the claimed weights, too - yowza:

Tune is banking on the continued growth of the fat bike market

The matching Fat King front hub weighs as little as 139g and will be available in 135, 142, and 150mm spacing.

Naturally, Tune saw fit to do a complete fat bike build to showcase the other items in its stable. Centered around a 9:Zero:7 Carbon Whiteout, the showpiece came in at just 9.1kg (20.06lb) without pedals.

Tune built up this 9:zero:7 carbon whiteout frame with a smattering of its own parts, and as expected, the result was exceptionally light:

9.1kg, all in

Lightweight’s surprise e-bike concept

Lightweight had its usual collection of silly-light carbon fibre road wheels (in both disc and rim brake varieties) at Eurobike along with its recently introduced Urgestalt road frame.

What came as a complete surprise to us, however, was the e-bike concept on display in its booth – a project commissioned by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

Longstanding champion of ultra-feathery wheels lightweight shifted gears for eurobike, instead showcasing this intriguing e-bike project:

Not many expected to see a concept e-bike in the Lightweight booth at Eurobike

Built around a carbon fibre frame and fork (naturally), the bike features a highly integrated design with the drive system, battery, lights and controls all forming a rather cohesive-looking shape. Hidden inside the chassis is a new type of drive system that uses a string of magnets situated around the rim, which are then accelerated as they pass through the frame.

Keep in mind that the bike is still in concept form but the designers claim a healthy 500-watt boost on top of the rider’s pedaling efforts plus a sub-15kg (33lb) target weight.

Lightweight's e-bike concept skips over traditional motors in favor of a novel drive system. magnets line the entire rim of the rear wheel, which are accelerated as they pass through the frame:

The rear wheel is driven via the magnets that are situated around the perimeter of the rim

Who knows if it’ll ever see the light of day but we’ll certainly never discourage anyone from aiming just a little bit higher.

Want more? Click through the gallery above to get your carbon fibre fix








Yeti introduces its newest all-mountain trail bike, the SB6c

FRIEDRICHSHAFEN, Germany (BRAIN) —Scarcely one month after launching the SB5c trail bike and just one week after it introduced a new cross-country race model, Yeti rolled out a third new bike on the opening day of Eurobike. The SB6c full-carbon frame is built around 27.5-inch wheels, has 6 inches of front and rear travel and is designed with aggressive trail riding in mind. Like the SB5c, its 5-inch-travel cousin, the SB6c is built on Yeti’s latest patented suspension design.