frame

BH Ultimate RC 27.5 XT review

Heavy rains kept us staring at this bike for over a week, as it sat inside our office just begging to be ridden hard. The BH Ultimate RC carbon hardtail is a cheaper version of the World Cup-proven Ultimate, a steed ridden by the likes of Olympic and World Champion Julie Bresset, Maxime Marotte and Stephane Tempier of the BH SR Suntour KMC mountain bike team.

As the Ultimate RC sat quietly, we looked to the sky impatiently. The bike’s sharp frame lines, enormous tube junctions – and proven performance – had us dreaming of fast, flowing cross country trails, ridden to the limit of our fitness.

The bh ultimate rc 27.5 frame is certainly highlight of our australian sample: the bh ultimate rc 27.5 frame is certainly highlight of our australian sample

The BH Ultimate RC 27.5 XT (Australian spec)

Yet as we gazed at the Ultimate RC 27.5, we began to wonder whether a few mediocre-lookig component choices on our Australian sample would be enough to compromise a setup otherwise based around what some of the world’s best use. We hoped these concerns would be unfounded…

Ride and handling: Stiff with no comfort trade-off – worthy of a world champion

The Ultimate is offered with either 27.5in or 29in wheels. Like Julie Bresset, we chose the smaller, lighter and faster accelerating 27.5in option. Once on the trail, we were greeted with a ride that’s confident tackling the steepest of climbs, yet holds its own through technical singletrack and fast descents.

In keeping with the chosen wheel size, our Ultimate RC was effortlessly flickable through corners and had plenty of personality when airborne or taken over technical obstacles. Sure, compared with a 29er it lacked the absolute ability to roll over everything while carrying its speed. But on stop-start terrain the 650b machine proved superb – despite its rather heavy Shimano XT hoops.

A nearly square down tube meets the wide bb92 bottom bracket before continuing on to the tall, yet narrow chain stays:

Using the full width of the bottom bracket, those large chain stays and wide bottom bracket remain free of flex

Under power, we found no hint of movement from the large, angular frame. From the massive head tube, continuing well into the down tube and top tube, to those deep chain stays that follow from the wide BB92 bottom bracket and square down tube, the Ultimate RC happily accelerated with every inch of power we put in.

The fit on the medium isn’t super aggressive: with a 585mm effective top tube and sensible 100mm stem length, it places you in a reasonably upright position that allows for easy directional changes. With a 70-degree head angle, the handling stays fast and reactive without coming over panicky. That said, our sample came with a 620mm wide handlebar, creating a twitchy character before we swapped to a more controlled 660mm bar.?

Thin swooping seat stays flow into the top tube, directly aiding in ride comfort: thin swooping seat stays flow into the top tube, directly aiding in ride comfort

Thin swooping seat stays flow into the top tube, aiding ride comfort

As with the BH Ultralight road bike we reviewed recently, the frame’s high torsional stiffness doesn’t result in a comfort trade-off. And despite a large 31.6mm alloy seatpost, the Ultimate’s thinly curved seatstays and large volume Schwalbe boots do a respectable job of numbing the fatiguing bumps, while allowing you to keep the power through the pedals over rougher terrain.

It’s on rough descents and rutted corners where our Australian sample started to show some weakness. Despite the frame’s tapered head tube, our model came equipped with a basic Fox Evolution 32mm series fork using a standard quick release and straight steerer tube. This marginal cost saving sacrifices front-end steering precision, something the frame doesn’t suffer from.

Frame and equipment: brilliant frame that deserves better components for the money

Given its Shimano XT componentry and basic Fox fork, it’s abundantly clear that plenty of the Ultimate RC’s considerable cost goes toward that stellar frame.

Constructed with a blend of high modulus T24 and T30 carbon layups, the Ultimate RC’s combination of sharp lines, curves and flawless finishing means it’s certainly worthy of future component upgrades.

BH's 'evo' brake mount is designed to improve braking performance and not effect ride quality : bh's 'evo' brake mount is designed to improve braking performance and not effect ride quality

BH’s EVO brake mount is designed to improve braking performance without affecting ride quality

Little frame touches include BH’s EVO direct-mount rear brake, situated on the chainstay, and the front derailleur’s direct-mount platform for crisper shifting.

The Ultimate RC also features externally guided full-length housing running beneath the frame, well away from pedalling interference. We quite like this from a servicing standpoint, especially the fact that each cable receives its own individual guide. Our only minor gripe relates to the front derailleur – its cable neatly appears through the chunky bottom bracket, but is exposed at an area that fills with crud.

A rear thru-axle – another thing the pros’ Ultimate offers? – would also have been nice. Arguably its omission isn’t crucial on a frame as stiff as this, but it still lags behind what many competitors are doing, and the wider 142×12mm axle allows for stiffer wheel construction.

The fox float evolution ctd fork works extremely well, but we'd expect a few more features given the price:

Quick release, straight steerer and narrow handlebars is so 2012

Indeed, aside from the the awesome frame, the Ultimate RC doesn’t always cover itself in glory. The component choices on our Australian sample seemed dated for 2014 and in some cases go against what we’d expect as standard on a ride anywhere near this price.

The Fox Float Evolution fork on our sample is a solid performer, but it lacks the sealed FIT cartridge damper unit, 15mm thru-axle and tapered steerer tube we’d expect at this level. One saving grace is the remote lockout switch, something that’s easy to use and quite useful in a race situation.

Plenty of noise came from the rear derailleur banging on the hollow chainstay, something easily avoided with a shadow plus clutch derailleur:

We were none too keen on the rear derailleur tapping away on the chainstay

The Shimano XT drivetrain isn’t normally something to complain about, but the noise we experienced from the rear derailleur banging on the hollow chainstay was unnerving, at least BH could soften the racket and include a chainstay protector.

The choice of chainring sizes was also something we thought as odd for a race bike – 38/24T gearing more commonly appears on 29ers. It does enable you to stay in the taller gear more often, but fast fireroads and roads had us wanting a little more at times.

The solid performing XT wheels aren’t doing anything for the bike’s overall weight, but one major benefit is perfect tubeless compatibility with the supplied Schwalbes – though strangely our sample arrived with tubes installed.?

620mm wide bars just aren't appropriate for a performance mountain bike, most pro riders use bars of 660mm or wider these days for greater control and leverage : 620mm wide bars just aren't appropriate for a performance mountain bike, most pro riders use bars of 660mm or wider these days for greater control and leverage

Standard mountain bike handlebar width is from 660 to 710+mm, so why does our sample have a 620mm width bar?

The alloy cockpit components all work, but – as mentioned above – the standard 620mm bars are far too narrow and will likely need replacing immediately. We also feel a carbon seatpost isn’t too much to ask given the price.?

In the end, the BH Ultimate RC 27.5 left us torn. The ride quality, handling and frame construction are superb – and equate to something we’d very happily pick come race day. But some of the Australian spec components are simply inadequate given the price.

If you’re happy to accept that further upgrades may be required for race day, then the Ultimate RC is one bike that won’t hold you back.

Please note that the exact spec does vary between different countries.








By admin on July 21, 2014 | Law, Mountain Bikes
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

BH Ultimate RC 27.5 XT review

Heavy rains kept us staring at this bike for over a week, as it sat inside our office just begging to be ridden hard. The BH Ultimate RC carbon hardtail is a cheaper version of the World Cup-proven Ultimate, a steed ridden by the likes of Olympic and World Champion Julie Bresset, Maxime Marotte and Stephane Tempier of the BH SR Suntour KMC mountain bike team.

As the Ultimate RC sat quietly, we looked to the sky impatiently. The bike’s sharp frame lines, enormous tube junctions – and proven performance – had us dreaming of fast, flowing cross country trails, ridden to the limit of our fitness.

The bh ultimate rc 27.5 frame is certainly highlight of our australian sample: the bh ultimate rc 27.5 frame is certainly highlight of our australian sample

The BH Ultimate RC 27.5 XT (Australian spec)

Yet as we gazed at the Ultimate RC 27.5, we began to wonder whether a few mediocre-lookig component choices on our Australian sample would be enough to compromise a setup otherwise based around what some of the world’s best use. We hoped these concerns would be unfounded…

Ride and handling: Stiff with no comfort trade-off – worthy of a world champion

The Ultimate is offered with either 27.5in or 29in wheels. Like Julie Bresset, we chose the smaller, lighter and faster accelerating 27.5in option. Once on the trail, we were greeted with a ride that’s confident tackling the steepest of climbs, yet holds its own through technical singletrack and fast descents.

In keeping with the chosen wheel size, our Ultimate RC was effortlessly flickable through corners and had plenty of personality when airborne or taken over technical obstacles. Sure, compared with a 29er it lacked the absolute ability to roll over everything while carrying its speed. But on stop-start terrain the 650b machine proved superb – despite its rather heavy Shimano XT hoops.

A nearly square down tube meets the wide bb92 bottom bracket before continuing on to the tall, yet narrow chain stays:

Using the full width of the bottom bracket, those large chain stays and wide bottom bracket remain free of flex

Under power, we found no hint of movement from the large, angular frame. From the massive head tube, continuing well into the down tube and top tube, to those deep chain stays that follow from the wide BB92 bottom bracket and square down tube, the Ultimate RC happily accelerated with every inch of power we put in.

The fit on the medium isn’t super aggressive: with a 585mm effective top tube and sensible 100mm stem length, it places you in a reasonably upright position that allows for easy directional changes. With a 70-degree head angle, the handling stays fast and reactive without coming over panicky. That said, our sample came with a 620mm wide handlebar, creating a twitchy character before we swapped to a more controlled 660mm bar.?

Thin swooping seat stays flow into the top tube, directly aiding in ride comfort: thin swooping seat stays flow into the top tube, directly aiding in ride comfort

Thin swooping seat stays flow into the top tube, aiding ride comfort

As with the BH Ultralight road bike we reviewed recently, the frame’s high torsional stiffness doesn’t result in a comfort trade-off. And despite a large 31.6mm alloy seatpost, the Ultimate’s thinly curved seatstays and large volume Schwalbe boots do a respectable job of numbing the fatiguing bumps, while allowing you to keep the power through the pedals over rougher terrain.

It’s on rough descents and rutted corners where our Australian sample started to show some weakness. Despite the frame’s tapered head tube, our model came equipped with a basic Fox Evolution 32mm series fork using a standard quick release and straight steerer tube. This marginal cost saving sacrifices front-end steering precision, something the frame doesn’t suffer from.

Frame and equipment: brilliant frame that deserves better components for the money

Given its Shimano XT componentry and basic Fox fork, it’s abundantly clear that plenty of the Ultimate RC’s considerable cost goes toward that stellar frame.

Constructed with a blend of high modulus T24 and T30 carbon layups, the Ultimate RC’s combination of sharp lines, curves and flawless finishing means it’s certainly worthy of future component upgrades.

BH's 'evo' brake mount is designed to improve braking performance and not effect ride quality : bh's 'evo' brake mount is designed to improve braking performance and not effect ride quality

BH’s EVO brake mount is designed to improve braking performance without affecting ride quality

Little frame touches include BH’s EVO direct-mount rear brake, situated on the chainstay, and the front derailleur’s direct-mount platform for crisper shifting.

The Ultimate RC also features externally guided full-length housing running beneath the frame, well away from pedalling interference. We quite like this from a servicing standpoint, especially the fact that each cable receives its own individual guide. Our only minor gripe relates to the front derailleur – its cable neatly appears through the chunky bottom bracket, but is exposed at an area that fills with crud.

A rear thru-axle – another thing the pros’ Ultimate offers? – would also have been nice. Arguably its omission isn’t crucial on a frame as stiff as this, but it still lags behind what many competitors are doing, and the wider 142×12mm axle allows for stiffer wheel construction.

The fox float evolution ctd fork works extremely well, but we'd expect a few more features given the price:

Quick release, straight steerer and narrow handlebars is so 2012

Indeed, aside from the the awesome frame, the Ultimate RC doesn’t always cover itself in glory. The component choices on our Australian sample seemed dated for 2014 and in some cases go against what we’d expect as standard on a ride anywhere near this price.

The Fox Float Evolution fork on our sample is a solid performer, but it lacks the sealed FIT cartridge damper unit, 15mm thru-axle and tapered steerer tube we’d expect at this level. One saving grace is the remote lockout switch, something that’s easy to use and quite useful in a race situation.

Plenty of noise came from the rear derailleur banging on the hollow chainstay, something easily avoided with a shadow plus clutch derailleur:

We were none too keen on the rear derailleur tapping away on the chainstay

The Shimano XT drivetrain isn’t normally something to complain about, but the noise we experienced from the rear derailleur banging on the hollow chainstay was unnerving, at least BH could soften the racket and include a chainstay protector.

The choice of chainring sizes was also something we thought as odd for a race bike – 38/24T gearing more commonly appears on 29ers. It does enable you to stay in the taller gear more often, but fast fireroads and roads had us wanting a little more at times.

The solid performing XT wheels aren’t doing anything for the bike’s overall weight, but one major benefit is perfect tubeless compatibility with the supplied Schwalbes – though strangely our sample arrived with tubes installed.?

620mm wide bars just aren't appropriate for a performance mountain bike, most pro riders use bars of 660mm or wider these days for greater control and leverage : 620mm wide bars just aren't appropriate for a performance mountain bike, most pro riders use bars of 660mm or wider these days for greater control and leverage

Standard mountain bike handlebar width is from 660 to 710+mm, so why does our sample have a 620mm width bar?

The alloy cockpit components all work, but – as mentioned above – the standard 620mm bars are far too narrow and will likely need replacing immediately. We also feel a carbon seatpost isn’t too much to ask given the price.?

In the end, the BH Ultimate RC 27.5 left us torn. The ride quality, handling and frame construction are superb – and equate to something we’d very happily pick come race day. But some of the Australian spec components are simply inadequate given the price.

If you’re happy to accept that further upgrades may be required for race day, then the Ultimate RC is one bike that won’t hold you back.

Please note that the exact spec does vary between different countries.








BH Ultimate RC 27.5 XT review

Heavy rains kept us staring at this bike for over a week, as it sat inside our office just begging to be ridden hard. The BH Ultimate RC carbon hardtail is a cheaper version of the World Cup-proven Ultimate, a steed ridden by the likes of Olympic and World Champion Julie Bresset, Maxime Marotte and Stephane Tempier of the BH SR Suntour KMC mountain bike team.

As the Ultimate RC sat quietly, we looked to the sky impatiently. The bike’s sharp frame lines, enormous tube junctions – and proven performance – had us dreaming of fast, flowing cross country trails, ridden to the limit of our fitness.

The bh ultimate rc 27.5 frame is certainly highlight of our australian sample: the bh ultimate rc 27.5 frame is certainly highlight of our australian sample

The BH Ultimate RC 27.5 XT (Australian spec)

Yet as we gazed at the Ultimate RC 27.5, we began to wonder whether a few mediocre-lookig component choices on our Australian sample would be enough to compromise a setup otherwise based around what some of the world’s best use. We hoped these concerns would be unfounded…

Ride and handling: Stiff with no comfort trade-off – worthy of a world champion

The Ultimate is offered with either 27.5in or 29in wheels. Like Julie Bresset, we chose the smaller, lighter and faster accelerating 27.5in option. Once on the trail, we were greeted with a ride that’s confident tackling the steepest of climbs, yet holds its own through technical singletrack and fast descents.

In keeping with the chosen wheel size, our Ultimate RC was effortlessly flickable through corners and had plenty of personality when airborne or taken over technical obstacles. Sure, compared with a 29er it lacked the absolute ability to roll over everything while carrying its speed. But on stop-start terrain the 650b machine proved superb – despite its rather heavy Shimano XT hoops.

A nearly square down tube meets the wide bb92 bottom bracket before continuing on to the tall, yet narrow chain stays:

Using the full width of the bottom bracket, those large chain stays and wide bottom bracket remain free of flex

Under power, we found no hint of movement from the large, angular frame. From the massive head tube, continuing well into the down tube and top tube, to those deep chain stays that follow from the wide BB92 bottom bracket and square down tube, the Ultimate RC happily accelerated with every inch of power we put in.

The fit on the medium isn’t super aggressive: with a 585mm effective top tube and sensible 100mm stem length, it places you in a reasonably upright position that allows for easy directional changes. With a 70-degree head angle, the handling stays fast and reactive without coming over panicky. That said, our sample came with a 620mm wide handlebar, creating a twitchy character before we swapped to a more controlled 660mm bar.?

Thin swooping seat stays flow into the top tube, directly aiding in ride comfort: thin swooping seat stays flow into the top tube, directly aiding in ride comfort

Thin swooping seat stays flow into the top tube, aiding ride comfort

As with the BH Ultralight road bike we reviewed recently, the frame’s high torsional stiffness doesn’t result in a comfort trade-off. And despite a large 31.6mm alloy seatpost, the Ultimate’s thinly curved seatstays and large volume Schwalbe boots do a respectable job of numbing the fatiguing bumps, while allowing you to keep the power through the pedals over rougher terrain.

It’s on rough descents and rutted corners where our Australian sample started to show some weakness. Despite the frame’s tapered head tube, our model came equipped with a basic Fox Evolution 32mm series fork using a standard quick release and straight steerer tube. This marginal cost saving sacrifices front-end steering precision, something the frame doesn’t suffer from.

Frame and equipment: brilliant frame that deserves better components for the money

Given its Shimano XT componentry and basic Fox fork, it’s abundantly clear that plenty of the Ultimate RC’s considerable cost goes toward that stellar frame.

Constructed with a blend of high modulus T24 and T30 carbon layups, the Ultimate RC’s combination of sharp lines, curves and flawless finishing means it’s certainly worthy of future component upgrades.

BH's 'evo' brake mount is designed to improve braking performance and not effect ride quality : bh's 'evo' brake mount is designed to improve braking performance and not effect ride quality

BH’s EVO brake mount is designed to improve braking performance without affecting ride quality

Little frame touches include BH’s EVO direct-mount rear brake, situated on the chainstay, and the front derailleur’s direct-mount platform for crisper shifting.

The Ultimate RC also features externally guided full-length housing running beneath the frame, well away from pedalling interference. We quite like this from a servicing standpoint, especially the fact that each cable receives its own individual guide. Our only minor gripe relates to the front derailleur – its cable neatly appears through the chunky bottom bracket, but is exposed at an area that fills with crud.

A rear thru-axle – another thing the pros’ Ultimate offers? – would also have been nice. Arguably its omission isn’t crucial on a frame as stiff as this, but it still lags behind what many competitors are doing, and the wider 142×12mm axle allows for stiffer wheel construction.

The fox float evolution ctd fork works extremely well, but we'd expect a few more features given the price:

Quick release, straight steerer and narrow handlebars is so 2012

Indeed, aside from the the awesome frame, the Ultimate RC doesn’t always cover itself in glory. The component choices on our Australian sample seemed dated for 2014 and in some cases go against what we’d expect as standard on a ride anywhere near this price.

The Fox Float Evolution fork on our sample is a solid performer, but it lacks the sealed FIT cartridge damper unit, 15mm thru-axle and tapered steerer tube we’d expect at this level. One saving grace is the remote lockout switch, something that’s easy to use and quite useful in a race situation.

Plenty of noise came from the rear derailleur banging on the hollow chainstay, something easily avoided with a shadow plus clutch derailleur:

We were none too keen on the rear derailleur tapping away on the chainstay

The Shimano XT drivetrain isn’t normally something to complain about, but the noise we experienced from the rear derailleur banging on the hollow chainstay was unnerving, at least BH could soften the racket and include a chainstay protector.

The choice of chainring sizes was also something we thought as odd for a race bike – 38/24T gearing more commonly appears on 29ers. It does enable you to stay in the taller gear more often, but fast fireroads and roads had us wanting a little more at times.

The solid performing XT wheels aren’t doing anything for the bike’s overall weight, but one major benefit is perfect tubeless compatibility with the supplied Schwalbes – though strangely our sample arrived with tubes installed.?

620mm wide bars just aren't appropriate for a performance mountain bike, most pro riders use bars of 660mm or wider these days for greater control and leverage : 620mm wide bars just aren't appropriate for a performance mountain bike, most pro riders use bars of 660mm or wider these days for greater control and leverage

Standard mountain bike handlebar width is from 660 to 710+mm, so why does our sample have a 620mm width bar?

The alloy cockpit components all work, but – as mentioned above – the standard 620mm bars are far too narrow and will likely need replacing immediately. We also feel a carbon seatpost isn’t too much to ask given the price.?

In the end, the BH Ultimate RC 27.5 left us torn. The ride quality, handling and frame construction are superb – and equate to something we’d very happily pick come race day. But some of the Australian spec components are simply inadequate given the price.

If you’re happy to accept that further upgrades may be required for race day, then the Ultimate RC is one bike that won’t hold you back.

Please note that the exact spec does vary between different countries.








Giant and Liv introduce revamped endurance road models

PITLOCHRY, Scotland (BRAIN) — Under uncharacteristically clear blue skies, Giant unveiled its all new range of Defy road bikes to editors who attended the 2015 on-road media event set in the Scotland Highlands last week.

Marin Rift Zone XC8 review

Despite 100mm of Fox-suspended travel at either end, light 29in wheels and flat bars, the Rift Zone isn’t an XC racer. Instead, Marin describes it as for ‘long distance and adventure riders’.

Frame and equipment: solid selection with a few niggles

The spec is strong, with a drivetrain that’s fully Shimano XT and a set of Shimano’s SLX brakes that give away little in power or feel to the more expensive XTs. Reach adjust for the levers is tool-free. Our bike had three rings on the XT cranks rather than the double shown on the site, but it suits the ride well.

Marin's revamped quad link suspension leaves more luggage room within the frame:

Marin’s revamped Quad Link suspension leaves more luggage room within the frame

The neutral rear suspension is the latest evolution of Marin’s Quad Link, and it leaves a lot more room in the frame for luggage/bottles/fingers to tweak shocks than previous versions. It also pivots on sealed bearings that are lifetime warrantied – a boon for high-mileage riders. The Float CTD shock has to make do with Fox’s basic Evolution damper, which means feedback is a little dull.

The Fox 32 fork gets a welcome upgrade to the mid-level Performance damper, though those long legs are fairly flexy despite the 15mm axle and tapered steerer. This, coupled with a set of light but similarly flexy Easton EA70 wheels, means the steering can get a little vague and twangy when pushed. With just 24 spokes each and a claimed weight of 1720g for the pair, the Eastons add useful accelerative pep despite the unremarkable 12.97kg (28.6lb) weight without pedals.

Ride and handling: a safe pair of wheels

The Rift Zone centres your weight well for most riding, but very steep, techy climbs can be a struggle. Here the wandering front is difficult to weight despite the very long 461mm chainstays, sharpish 70.5-degree head angle and downsloping 80mm stem.

On steep technical climbs, you may find yourself perching further onto the point of the rift zone's fizik saddle than you'd like:

On steep technical climbs, you may find yourself perching further onto the point of the Rift Zone’s Fizik saddle than you’d like

On the steepest gradients you must perch so far forward on the Fizik saddle that you’re in danger of being impaled on it, then wrap your elbows round your knees MotoGP-style to keep it tracking straight. The hard-compound Schwalbe Racing Ralphs don’t help, thanks to their love of spinning out on wet or hard surfaces – but then they don’t help much anywhere else.

The Rift Zone is stable, steady and comfortable, but push on or get loose and it gets a bit skittish. It never feels lively and inspired like Giant’s 100mm Anthem 27.5, but neither does it have the front-heavy nervousness of Specialized’s 110mm Camber. It’s a bike that ticks ‘medium’ for practically every parameter you can think of and, while it’s potentially too sensible for some, it’s arguably what you need for long miles in remote terrain.

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








Ibis Tranny 29 announced – versatile frame goes large

The Ibis Tranny was previously available with 26in wheels only. That version of the Tranny has now been retired, and replaced with one one of the worst kept secrets in the mountain bike industry – the Ibis Tranny 29.

The original Tranny was a versatile carbon hardtail frame, and featured a unique removable rear triangle, which enabled it to be packed smaller for transporting and, in addition, gave an adjustable chainstay length that made it perfect for singlespeed setup too.

This new carbon 29er frame carries over many of the unique features that made the original Tranny stand out from the crowd, and borrows further design inspiration from the Ripley 29.

A closer look at the ibis chain slot:

The slot machine provides an adjustable chainstay length

Key to the Tranny is the ’slot machine’ is a large sliding box junction behind the bottom bracket that enables the chainstay length to be adjusted, or the rear triangle completely removed for transport. We’ve used the Tranny in the past, and found the slot machine to be a very clean way to set up the tension of a singlespeed without the need for a sliding dropout or eccentric bottom bracket. The Tranny 29 also includes a rubber dust cover to protect the slot machine from the elements.

The geometry has been designed to run either a 100mm travel fork with 44mm offset for a more lively feel, or a longer 120mm travel fork with 51mm offset (Trek G2 style) for a ride closer to that of the Ibis Ripley 29, but with a lower bottom bracket height.

Thin seat stays should help to soothe the ride quality:

Thru-axle rear end and slender seatstays should help to keep the frame stiff, yet compliant

Unlike the 26in version, the new Tranny 29 can also be used with a Gates belt drive. Other frame features include a BB92 bottom bracket, carbon post-mount rear brake mount, 142 x 12mm Maxle rear axle and a tapered head tube.

With internal cabling space for dropper seat posts and derailleurs, a clean setup should be easily achieved – though an internally routed dropper post and/or rear derailleur must be set up with full-cable housing. Additionally, Ibis will offer changeable cable ports, so you could run blank ports if you’re not running as many cables.?

The Tranny 29 will be available in four frame sizes and claims to comfortably fit a 2.3in tyre. Claimed frame weight is 1.4kg (3.08lb): not super light, but reasonable considering the detachable rear end. Frame only, the Tranny 29 will cost US1,699 (UK price ?1599.99, Aus TBC) with complete bikes starting from US$2,999 (UK ?2899.99). More information and detailed pricing can be found at Ibiscycles.com.








Summer PressCamp gets a wintry start

PARK CITY, Utah (BRAIN) — With cold, wet and snowy weather canceling afternoon demo rides, the editors attending Summer PressCamp could only admire but not test the plethora of products unveiled as the event kicked off this week at Deer Valley Resort. Now in its sixth year, Summer PressCamp 2014 drew 27 vendors and 35 editors — its largest crowd to date.

Merida One-Forty 1-B review

It’s hard to keep track of what different categories mean these days, but Merida’s flagship mid-travel 650b bike is a solid multi-purpose trail machine with the emphasis on consistently high quality stop-and-go equipment rather than true all-mountain radical riding control and charisma.

Frame and equipment: niggles weaken all-mountain credentials

If you’re looking for a bike that comes under the old definition of all-mountain, where bigger 150-170mm travel, bit-of-climbing-but-a-lot-of-downhill beasts used to roam, then the One-Forty family is under-gunned for your needs. Despite the All-Mountain slogan on the triangular sloped and curved top tube the One-Forty B is more trail bike, with hardcore duties being handled by the excellent 160mm travel One-Sixty range.

The Fox TALAS travel adjust fork is actually 150mm at full stretch (down to 120mm at the flick of the fork top lever), but the 32mm legs with the extended dropout tips to make it 650b-compatible put its flex and twang behaviour into the cross-country end of ‘trail’ rather than the downhill end.

While the stem is an aggressively contemporary 60mm and the head tube sits at a suitably slack 67-degree angle, the 730mm FSA Afterburner bars offer adequate, rather than truly advantageous, leverage.

Fox 32 fork stretched to 150mm is light but twangy: fox 32 fork stretched to 150mm is light but twangy

Fox 32 fork stretched to 150mm is light but twangy

There are other details that niggle on a basically sorted frame. The front mech is a direct mount setup and the gear cables and dropper post hose are fed internally through the frame (at an awkwardly acute angle at the front end) but the bottom bracket’s an old-school threaded cup, skinny axle type. There are no chainguide mounts on the frame either, further undermining the One-Forty’s all-mountain credentials, though you can clamp a plate mount chainguide behind the bottom bracket cup.

There’s also not much room for mud between the large volume tread and wheel hugging Y front section that triangulates the stout tubed rear subframe.

Sun ringle wheels give easy tubeless compatibility thanks to the licenced stan’s rims: sun ringle wheels give easy tubeless compatibility thanks to the licenced stan’s rims

Sun Ringle wheels give easy tubeless compatibility thanks to the licenced Stan’s rims

Otherwise, the kit is mostly positive. The Merida’s stop and go componentry will score with high mileage fans as XT is pretty much the gold standard for going the distance whatever the weather or lack of maintenance. XT brakes are excellent for power and modulation, helping keep you upright when the front end starts to lose the plot in the steeps.

Sun Ringle Charger Expert hoops are comparatively light but broad enough to shoulder their massive Schwalbe Nobby Nic rubber and the Stan’s No Tubes licensed rim profile makes them easy to blow up tubeless to increase their impressive floatation performance. The PaceStar triple compound rubber mix rolls pretty easily too, once you’ve got the Merida’s mass moving.

Ride and handling: neither one thing, nor the other

The smooth fork and pliable rear suspension add to the easy-rolling trail isolation and easy progress, and 650b adds a palpable traction and speed sustain edge on rougher trails compared with 26in wheels. The 1-B handles decent sized drops and big rocks well enough, as long as you make use of the short-stroke Reverb dropper post to get back and shift the impact control emphasis to the solidly built rear end.

The front end, it must be said, feels, underpowered when pushing hard through corners or taking aggressive line choices, and there’s enough squirm and untamed movement under heavy braking to make steep descents a sketchy experience if you go in too hot and hard.

On a positive note the damping of the Performance grade internals is more composed than the Evolution forks we’ve suffered on many bikes around this price. The 32 chassis is also several hundred grams lighter than the next step up Fox 34 fork. While our sample weighed 200g less than Merida’s official weight at 13.62kg, it’s still a heavy bike for the 140mm trail category and that’s reflected in the effort needed to accelerate it, particularly upwards.

The one-forty 1-b's weight can make accelerating a slow process:

The One-Forty 1-B’s weight can make accelerating a slow process

The VPK (Virtual Pivot Kinematic) suspension feel means the Fox shock is best left in the firmer damped Trail setting when trying to transfer wattage to the rear wheel. There’s more bounce in the granny ring than the middle ring too so it’s worth toughing it out on climbs. The downside is that the lower linkage is a skinny offset piece that softens power transfer despite mainframe and sub-frame segments that are individually quite stiff.

In summary, this isn’t a bike that creates a particularly exciting or charismatic impression. There’s nothing dramatically wrong with it and it’s a smooth, surefooted and planted trail bike if you’re cruising the climbs and swinging comfortably through the trees rather than pushing the pace.

But it’s not an aggressively capable all-mountain machine, and it’s overweight for a cross-country bike. Ultimately that high weight, and the flexible front end, dull responsiveness and excitement compared to the best bikes you can get for this sort of outlay.

Indeed, given Shimano-specced steeds’ lack of obvious performance difference between top-end and entry-level gear, we’d recommend taking a look at the One-Forty 5-B. It comes with Deore rather than XT kit – but also gets a RockShox Sektor fork, which might not have the residual kudos of Fox but outperforms the 32 in smooth suspension and tracking stiffness. You’d have to add your own dropper post – and maybe upgrade the wheels – but that leaves a lot of change from the serious money you’d save.

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








Charge Cooker Maxi review

Fat bikes are a strange breed. While their original raison d’etre was for riding huge, snow covered slogs, they’ve rapidly gained traction for riding normal trails – and that’s where the Cooker Maxi fits in.

Charge is a demon for spotting a niche when it turns up. The Cooker Maxi manages to offer the look and feel of a proper fat bike, but comes in as a complete package for money that barely gets you a frame and fork from more niche manufacturers.

Frame and equipment: skilful corner-cutting

It’s achieved this by cutting down on the specialist kit. To give enough clearance for the 4in wide tyres, the extra wide bottom bracket does require special cranks, but they’re FSA Comets matched to SRAM’s X7 group, so you get a full 2×10-speed setup with a normal range of gears, just like on your trail bike. Instead of a super wide spacing on the rear hub, it uses a standard 135mm rear hub at the back and one of matching width up front.

The frame is made from Tange steel, so while the chunky tyres are anything but delicate, the slender tubing almost is, though at nearly 17kg, the overall weight is high. Both the frame and rigid fork are bereft of the usual number of braze on additional mounts for racks, guards and other adventure add-ons. Charge rightly assumes that most people buying a bike like this are in it for the novelty and grin factor.

Out on the trail, the cooker maxi's kooky handling calls for careful tweaking of tyre pressure:

Out on the trail, the Cooker Maxi’s kooky handling calls for careful tweaking of tyre pressure

Ride and handling: a leftfield experience

There’s certainly plenty of that. From the moment you feel the sheer amount of rotating mass in those densely treaded Vee Rubber V8 tyres through the initial resistance to movement and the rumbling, bouncing progress it begins to make a short while later, it’s obvious the Cooker Maxi is anything but normal. Cornering is an odd affair, with the lack of edge tread and weight of the tyres naturally conspiring to tighten any turn. You have to be wary not to let it tuck under and they need constant input to stay on line.

It’s instantly apparent that there’s a choice and compromise to be made in terms of tyre pressure. Too much and you’ll violently rebound off smaller obstacles, not aided by the lack of compliance in the frame and fork, despite the double butted tubing. Drop the pressure and that improves, but the additional drag becomes palpable and cornering response gets even odder as the sidewalls distort. Trying jumps and pops that a more normal bike would lap up becomes entertaining simply because of the utterly unpredictable nature of the Maxi’s response. Much like the rest of the bike, it’ll have you either loving or hating it.

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








Polygon Pave i7 urban bike review

With the growing popularity of two-wheeled commuting and the increasing number of cycleways popping up around the world, urban style bikes are becoming all the rage – and Polygon’s Pave i7 ‘utility bike’ is right on this global trend.

The Pave i7 is a sleek, stealthy?“utility bike”?ideally suited for the urban commando, featuring a carbon-belt drive with a seven-speed internal-hub gear system, and retailing at under AU$1,000 (UK prices TBC) through a direct-buy channel – it’s priced to go.

Weighing in at 12.34kg for the 50cm model delivered to?BikeRadar’s Asia-Pacific office in Sydney, the Pave i7 features a sturdy 6061 alloy frame and fork. Its biggest attention grabber, though, is the Gates belt drive, paired with a Shimano Nexus seven-speed internal gearing system that keeps the mechanical shifting components hidden from sight and also out of the elements.

Pulling the Pave out of its box, we were met with a preset torque wrench and small pedal spanner. (Polygon’s Australian online distributor, Bicycles Online, includes this – and it’s everything needed to complete the mostly assembled bike.)

This reviewer has always been a big fan of internal drive systems, so we were eager to take the i7 for a spin. The first thing we noticed right from the start was the Shimano trigger shifters were in reverse, compared with a normal mountain bike setup. This took some getting used to, and to be completely honest we were still getting it backwards days later.

Seven gears are hidden inside this rear hub. the downsides? internal geared hubs add weight, offer limited gear ranges and have additional resistance:

Seven gears are hidden inside this rear hub. The downsides? Internal geared hubs add weight, offer limited gear ranges and have additional resistance

Also blatantly apparent were the limitations of the?seven-speed setup. While fine for commuting and leisure riding in Adelaide, Austin or East Anglia, riders living in Sydney, Sheffield or San Francisco may find it simply does not have enough range when you’ve lost your grunt when forced to take hilly routes. This is less than ideal when creeping up roads with gradients closing in on double-digit percentages. After all, there is nothing worse than arriving at the office after just a short pedal and feeling the need for a shower.

However, on flat roads and rolling hills, we found the Pave i7 to be an exceptional ride. The longer lasting, lower maintenance belt-drive and internal gear systems provide a silent, almost seamless ride void of rattles and clicks often associated with chain-driven, multi-speed external gearsets. The belt also requires no oil, so say goodbye to messy grease stains on the legs or worse – your trousers.

The belt is tensioned via turning the eccentric assembly within the frame. unfortunately it's an extra component that can creak - as ours did:

The belt is tensioned via turning the eccentric assembly within the frame. Unfortunately it’s an extra component that can creak – as ours did

Unfortunately it wasn’t all perfect, with the crankset/bottom bracket on our test sample making some groaning noise under stress. A little grease fixed it right up, but this requires specialty tools – something to consider, because the bike is often sold online and shipped to your door in a box.

The Pave i7 floats effortlessly over the tarmac, especially with the 700×35c Schwalbe Citizen tyres mounted on Rigida alloy double-wall wheels. The Citizens are bulletproof and possess enough grooved traction channels to keep you both puncture- and worry-free on your daily commute, even under damp conditions. The Pave i7 feels both stable and responsive and, fitted with an Entity road saddle, its ride is anything but harsh.

Standard v-brakes work just fine, but a little rain will cause a quick loss in performance. disc brakes often more consistent performance and greater durability:

Standard V-brakes work just fine, but a little rain will cause a quick loss in performance. Disc brakes offer more consistent performance and greater durability

For stopping action, the i7 uses Tektro levers connected to alloy V-brakes, which are adequate, but not as precise as disc brakes, especially over rain-kissed roads.

With just two sizes available, the Pave gives up the precise fit offered by bikes available in a greater range. Even so, we were perfectly comfortable for shorter journeys – and the quick release adjustable seat post makes for a quick fitting process.

The final verdict is simple. At this price, with carbon belt-drive and Shimano Nexus hub gearing, Polygon’s Pave i7 is a fantastic buy if you live in flatter areas. If your home’s in more mountainous urban territory, however, you might want to consider Polygon’s pricier (AU$2,199) sibling, the Zenith Di2, which features Shimano’s Alfine 11-speed internal drive hub system and has disc brakes to boot.