frame

Norco Bicycles 2015 – Sight, Range and more

In 2015, Canadian company Norco will be celebrating its 50th anniversary, celebrating with its largest range yet.?

In recent years, Norco has made a solid comeback to popularity with a range of highly competitive trail and enduro style mountain bikes that are accompanied by bikes for every other discipline.

BikeRadar?recently visited Hidden Vale in Queensland, Australia for a product launch put on by Advance Traders, Australia’s distributors for Merida, Lapierre, Norco, Met and a handful of other brands. We take a look at what grabbed our attention from Norco.

Both the Sight and Range models receive updated aluminium versions that borrow design features from the newer carbon versions. The Sasquatch name has made a return to Norco’s line-up, this time in the appropriate form of a fat-bike. And we were teased a totally revamped version of the Valence, Norco’s carbon endurance road bike.

Mountain bikes: Range, Sight, Revolver and Sasquatch

Part of Norco’s returned success in the mountain bike line-up is due to its ‘gravity-tune’ design. This is simply rider size specific frames where both the front and rear triangle grow in proportion to the frame size, unlike many other companies that just change the front triangle size and use the same rear triangle across three to five frame sizes. The concept gives a more balanced ride quality and handling across all frame sizes.

With a new frame for 2015, the range a 7.1 (us$tbc / au$3,699 / £tbc) brings the hard-hitting 160mm of travel to a lower price:

2015 Norco Range A 7.1 (US$TBC / AU$3,699 / ?TBC)

Serving the enduro and aggressive all-mountain market is the Range, a 160mm travel 650B platform that uses a Horst-link based suspension design. The Range frames feature custom tuned rear shocks with room for Piggyback shocks, integrated down tube and chainstay rubber guards and internal stealth dropper routing.?

For 2015 the carbon version receives some minor componentry updates, but the big news is in the new aluminium platform. This?version of the bike comes with a double butted and formed aluminium frame. The geometry receives a slight tweak to bring it in line with the carbon models, including a reduced standover height and a slacker 66-degree head angle.

Other frame features include a new external cable guide system that bolts securely to the frame, a new 142 x 12mm Maxle rear axle design that uses a new derailleur hanger setup. Additionally, the alloy models feature new pivot hardware, which can be tightened from just the non-drive side without having to remove the cranks for access.

The sight alloy gets a new frame which shares many of the features found in the carbon version. pictured is the sight a 7.1 (us$tbc / au$3,599 / ?tbc) :

2015 Norco Sight A 7.1 (US$TBC / AU$3,599 / ?TBC)

A little less enduro and a little more trail is the Sight, a 140mm travel 650B bike with a 67.5-degree head angle. For 2015 the Sight gets a more hard-hitting spec with shorter stems, wider bars, chunkier tyres and the top models receive a RockShox Pike 140 fork.

Just like the Range, the Sight continues with the same carbon platform as last year’s, but there’s a new alloy version that receives increased stand-over height, stealth dropper post compatibility and integrated rubber chainstay protectors.

The 2015 norco sight c 7.2 (us$tbc / au$5,999 / ?tbc), with a carbon frame and a hard-hitting suspension package:

The 2015 Norco Sight C 7.2 (US$TBC / AU$5,999 / ?TBC)

One model that really grabbed our attention was the Sight C 7.2 (US$TBC / AU$5,999 / ?TBC). This carbon version now features a RockShox Pike RC fork, custom-tuned CaneCreek DB Inline Air, SRAM X1 11-speed drivetrain and Sun Helix TR25 tubeless ready rims laced to DT Swiss 350 hubs.

The revolver 650b and 29in platforms continue with only componentry changes for 2015. pictured is the revolver 9 sl xo1 (us$tbc / au$5,999 / ?tbc) :

Norco Revolver 9 SL XO1

The cross-country race-focused Revolver continues with its choice of both 27.5 and 29in wheel sizes. While the frame isn’t new, the use of a colour matched RS-1 fork on the Revolver 9 SL XO1 (US$TBC / AU$5,999 / ?TBC) grabbed our attention.

The norco sasquatch is a new fat bike model that joins the company's bigfoot models. the sasquatch (us$tbc / au$2,699 / ?tbc) features suspension corrected frame geometry :

The Sasquatch is back

Joining the Bigfoot range of fat bikes is the Sasquatch, which features a new frame with suspension corrected geometry and tapered head tube. The Sasquatch uses a RockShox Bluto suspension fork and Shimano SLX drivetrain to bring in some trail style.

Cyclocross and Road: Threshold and Valence

In addition to the mountain bikes, Norco offers a wide range of road, cyclocross, fitness and urban bikes. The brand unveiled its new carbon cyclocross bike a few months back, the Norco Threshold.

The threshold is norco's answer to cyclocross racing, but the bikes still offer fender and bottle mounts for day to day versatility. pictured is the threshold 105 (us$tbc / au$2,599 / ?tbc):

The Norco Threshold is a new carbon cyclocross machine. Pictured is the Threshold 105

The Threshold features oversized down tube and large chainstays with a carbon pressfit bottom bracket shell in the centre to?help?transfer power, while out back, ‘ARC’ seat stays and a slender 27.2mm seat post are there to add compliance. The UCI approved frame has a claimed weight of 990g in a medium size at the top-end offering.

The bike looks ready for the muddiest of courses, with room for a 40c tyre and sealed internal cable guides that allow for full-length cable housing. Even little details like the clamp slot in the seat tube face forward to avoid mud spray going inside the frame.

A smaller 140mm rotor on the rear is said to provide more balanced brake control with the larger 160mm front rotor:

The Threshold is full of little details, the simple low-profile fender rack mount will please those seeking a ‘cross bike to commute with

To add a few further details on the Threshold, the frame features a 15mm thru-axle on the front with a 142 x 12mm axle to match on the rear. The post-mount brake mounts handle a 160 and 140mm rotor front and rear respectively, with the rear using a smaller rotor to help balance brake modulation. The derailleur hanger is said to be stiffer and stronger than previous designs and there’s an integrated chain catcher too.

Price point aluminium versions of the Threshold carry over the same geometry and feature a full-carbon fork, thru axles, Gizmo internal cable system. Norco claim the alloy makes a great commuting bike, with a flip-out pannier mount.

A teaser shot of the new valence endurance road bike. we scored last year's version with a 4.5/5, so we're interested to see if this new model can improve on that:

A sneak peak at the all-new Valence endurance bike

While we can’t spill too many details at this moment, Norco will have a brand-new Valence range, the brand’s endurance road platform. This uses many of the carbon technologies found in the Threshold such as frame size-specific tubing and ‘Armorlite’ resin, which adds impact resistance to the carbon. Other features will include Norco’s Gizmo internal cable routing system, stealthy fender compatibility and an integrated chain catcher.

For a closer and further look at the range, scroll, swipe or click through our gallery at top.








Canyon Lux CF 7.9 review

Canyon’s marathon machine positively encourages the kind of riding that results in ragged gasps of breath and fatigue-blurred vision. Don’t be fooled by the name – the only element of luxury in this bike from the German maker is that it’ll let you push for long enough to suffer for what seems like an eternity.

Frame and equipment: marathon mandate

In continental Europe, marathon racing remains very big news. There are huge numbers of races for the endorphin junkie, from the relatively small 100km events to massive, multi-day, mountain range crossing suffer-fests. With that in mind, it makes sense that the Lux isn’t an afterthought cross-country bike, but designed from the ground up to be as rapid as possible over huge distances.

RockShox' sid xx takes care of business up front:

RockShox’ SID XX delivers 100mm of travel up front

Pairing big wheels with 100mm of travel means there’s just enough give to keep you in the saddle and on line when you’re slumped with exhaustion without sapping energy from the start. The carbon frame has a short, stumpy head tube to enable you to get low over the front, while the rear does without a seatstay pivot to reduce weight, relying on the give of the slightly flattened stays.

There are thru-axles at both ends to keep your wheels pointing in the direction you want, while the frame abounds with neat details such as the alloy chainsuck guard, asymmetrical stays and very clever ‘Impact Protection Unit’ that prevents the top tube from being damaged by the bars spinning round in a crash. It’s even routed for a dropper post, should you wish to fit one.

A neat bolt-on bumper protects the carbon top tube from bar spinning accidents:

A neat bolt-on bumper protects the carbon top tube from bar spinning accidents

As we’ve come to expect from Canyon, the kit bolted to this base model is staggeringly impressive for the cash. When decked out in the Team Issue paintjob, it’s easy to mistake for the twice-the-price Team bike and, despite the cost difference, the frame is exactly the same. Where the top dog gets SRAM XX, the 7.9 gets a mixed SRAM X7/X9/X0 2×10 drivetrain controlled by Gripshifters. Suspension is also from the same family, with a RockShox Monarch XX rear shock and SID XX fork, both linked by a bar-mounted hydraulic lockout.

Ride and handling: casual users need not apply

Our abiding impression of the Lux was that no matter how much we wanted to take it on a gentle cruise, we’d come back drenched in sweat, hearts pounding and with a number more miles ridden than originally intended. It quickly scalped our best Strava times on trail centre loops and, despite the snappy 70-degree head angle, it was adept when pushed on more natural terrain – though in wet or damp conditions the limits of the hard compound 2.2in Continental X-Kings became apparent, despite the boosted big-wheeler traction.

Every time you get on the lux, prepare to go long and hard:

Every time you get on the Lux, prepare to go long and hard

The suspension is nicely progressive, with enough initial give to boost grip without excessive bob, though the natural spring of the pivotless stays did mean that tuning the rear shock’s rebound to get a controlled but not dead feel took time. The rear shock’s remote hose junction does interfere with the operation of the rebound knob, so adjustment itself is a bit fiddly and none too positive.

Up front, the SID fork was superbly supportive, the Motion Control damper with Rapid Recovery adding to the generally taut and agile feel. It’s enough to briefly convince you that you’re on a longer travel machine, at least until the long, skinny legs start to give.

Despite the speed-freak nature of the bike, keep the riding within reason and it makes for a rapid trail machine too. Should you wish to increase that potential, the fork can actually be boosted to 120mm by switching the air spring. Combine it with a dropper post and you would have an interesting race/trail hybrid that could well make your riding buddies despise you, unless they’re into hunting down breakaway riders like cannibals.

Gripshift is a love/hate thing, but it allows rapid multiple gear shifts with ease:

Gripshift is a love/hate thing, but it allows rapid multiple gear shifts with ease

The drivetrain offers typical gunshot SRAM shifting and while Gripshift is a love/hate item, it does make mass-downshifts for when you’ve suddenly hit a sharp uphill corner easy to graunch through the range. The more precision-inclined might still prefer triggers.

While the cockpit on our medium test model doesn’t push the boundaries of stretched out length at 585mm, especially in combination with the steep 74-degree seat angle, the 80mm stem and 710mm Ritchey bars do end up with a front weighted – though effective – position.

If you wish to size up, there are both large and extra large models available, while the uninterrupted seat tube means you can drop the saddle as low as you like. Talking of saddles, the Selle Italia X1 isn’t the most comfortable of perches, so those that prefer their suffering to be muscular rather than corporal may want to switch it out.

A few kit tweaks and you'll have a highly capable trail machine on your hands:

A few kit tweaks and you’ll have a highly capable trail machine on your hands

When people say a bike is love/hate, it’s not meant in the way the Lux conjures these two emotions. We loved riding it and how impulsively fast it made us push, but we hated the broken backed, exhausted and sweat sodden rider it transformed us into. It’s a cracking distance machine with a lively feel and with a few tweaks it’ll translate well to trail thrashing. The geometry is slightly conservative, but it works well in this application and there’s no doubt you’re getting a quality, well-featured frame with some superb kit.

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








Canyon Lux CF 7.9 review

Canyon’s marathon machine positively encourages the kind of riding that results in ragged gasps of breath and fatigue-blurred vision. Don’t be fooled by the name – the only element of luxury in this bike from the German maker is that it’ll let you push for long enough to suffer for what seems like an eternity.

Frame and equipment: marathon mandate

In continental Europe, marathon racing remains very big news. There are huge numbers of races for the endorphin junkie, from the relatively small 100km events to massive, multi-day, mountain range crossing suffer-fests. With that in mind, it makes sense that the Lux isn’t an afterthought cross-country bike, but designed from the ground up to be as rapid as possible over huge distances.

RockShox' sid xx takes care of business up front:

RockShox’ SID XX delivers 100mm of travel up front

Pairing big wheels with 100mm of travel means there’s just enough give to keep you in the saddle and on line when you’re slumped with exhaustion without sapping energy from the start. The carbon frame has a short, stumpy head tube to enable you to get low over the front, while the rear does without a seatstay pivot to reduce weight, relying on the give of the slightly flattened stays.

There are thru-axles at both ends to keep your wheels pointing in the direction you want, while the frame abounds with neat details such as the alloy chainsuck guard, asymmetrical stays and very clever ‘Impact Protection Unit’ that prevents the top tube from being damaged by the bars spinning round in a crash. It’s even routed for a dropper post, should you wish to fit one.

A neat bolt-on bumper protects the carbon top tube from bar spinning accidents:

A neat bolt-on bumper protects the carbon top tube from bar spinning accidents

As we’ve come to expect from Canyon, the kit bolted to this base model is staggeringly impressive for the cash. When decked out in the Team Issue paintjob, it’s easy to mistake for the twice-the-price Team bike and, despite the cost difference, the frame is exactly the same. Where the top dog gets SRAM XX, the 7.9 gets a mixed SRAM X7/X9/X0 2×10 drivetrain controlled by Gripshifters. Suspension is also from the same family, with a RockShox Monarch XX rear shock and SID XX fork, both linked by a bar-mounted hydraulic lockout.

Ride and handling: casual users need not apply

Our abiding impression of the Lux was that no matter how much we wanted to take it on a gentle cruise, we’d come back drenched in sweat, hearts pounding and with a number more miles ridden than originally intended. It quickly scalped our best Strava times on trail centre loops and, despite the snappy 70-degree head angle, it was adept when pushed on more natural terrain – though in wet or damp conditions the limits of the hard compound 2.2in Continental X-Kings became apparent, despite the boosted big-wheeler traction.

Every time you get on the lux, prepare to go long and hard:

Every time you get on the Lux, prepare to go long and hard

The suspension is nicely progressive, with enough initial give to boost grip without excessive bob, though the natural spring of the pivotless stays did mean that tuning the rear shock’s rebound to get a controlled but not dead feel took time. The rear shock’s remote hose junction does interfere with the operation of the rebound knob, so adjustment itself is a bit fiddly and none too positive.

Up front, the SID fork was superbly supportive, the Motion Control damper with Rapid Recovery adding to the generally taut and agile feel. It’s enough to briefly convince you that you’re on a longer travel machine, at least until the long, skinny legs start to give.

Despite the speed-freak nature of the bike, keep the riding within reason and it makes for a rapid trail machine too. Should you wish to increase that potential, the fork can actually be boosted to 120mm by switching the air spring. Combine it with a dropper post and you would have an interesting race/trail hybrid that could well make your riding buddies despise you, unless they’re into hunting down breakaway riders like cannibals.

Gripshift is a love/hate thing, but it allows rapid multiple gear shifts with ease:

Gripshift is a love/hate thing, but it allows rapid multiple gear shifts with ease

The drivetrain offers typical gunshot SRAM shifting and while Gripshift is a love/hate item, it does make mass-downshifts for when you’ve suddenly hit a sharp uphill corner easy to graunch through the range. The more precision-inclined might still prefer triggers.

While the cockpit on our medium test model doesn’t push the boundaries of stretched out length at 585mm, especially in combination with the steep 74-degree seat angle, the 80mm stem and 710mm Ritchey bars do end up with a front weighted – though effective – position.

If you wish to size up, there are both large and extra large models available, while the uninterrupted seat tube means you can drop the saddle as low as you like. Talking of saddles, the Selle Italia X1 isn’t the most comfortable of perches, so those that prefer their suffering to be muscular rather than corporal may want to switch it out.

A few kit tweaks and you'll have a highly capable trail machine on your hands:

A few kit tweaks and you’ll have a highly capable trail machine on your hands

When people say a bike is love/hate, it’s not meant in the way the Lux conjures these two emotions. We loved riding it and how impulsively fast it made us push, but we hated the broken backed, exhausted and sweat sodden rider it transformed us into. It’s a cracking distance machine with a lively feel and with a few tweaks it’ll translate well to trail thrashing. The geometry is slightly conservative, but it works well in this application and there’s no doubt you’re getting a quality, well-featured frame with some superb kit.

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








Trek urban, recreation and kids’ bikes for 2015

Trek has launched several new bikes recently, including the 10lb Emonda, the women’s Silque road bike and an updated Fuel EX range. There’s also new and updated bikes in the? family, urban and utility ranges, as shown at the Trek World Australia event recently.

For 2015, Trek will offer plenty of fresh colours, some smart electronic integration, more children’s options and some new tourers.

Urban bikes

The FX series is a staple of Trek’s range, and is built for fitness riding, combining city-bike comfort with road-bike speed. The top-end models (options TBA), including the 7.7FX, have a new ISO-speed equipped carbon frame – similar to that of the popular Domane – for greater comfort.

More basic models continue with aluminium frames, but all receive Duotrap S compatibility, an add-on, semi-integrated speed and cadence sensor that is both Bluetooth 4.0 and ANT+ compatible.

Much of the urban and fitness range is now compatible with the duotrap s system. a wireless speed/cadence sensor that is both bluetooth and ant+ compatible :

Many of the bikes now feature Duotrap S compatibility for speed and cadence tracking

The DS (Dual Sport) hybrid series continues with 700c wheels, front suspension and disc brakes on most models. These bikes are ready for off-road paths as well as city riding.

The 8.6 DS is one that caught our eye. It has a fancy polished look, Shimano hydraulic disc brakes, Shimano SLX gearing and handlebar operated hydraulic suspension lockout. All DS and Neko (the women’s version) models have Duotrap S compatibility too.

The headlight beams from the head tube and the lights are controlled by buttons underneath the top tube:

The Lync features integrated lights

The Lync is an all-new urban bike with integrated rechargeable lights. The god father of mountain biking – Gary Fisher – liked that this series simplifies the process of buying a bike, in that it’s just ready to roll.

The bike features built-in lights front and rear, which run off a central USB rechargeable battery. The front light is in the head tube, while the rear lights are placed at the dropouts on both sides, so they don’t end up being covered by pannier bags. The buttons for the lights are underneath the top tube, and the battery clips into the down tube. Other features include Bontrager’s new Blendr stem dock for fitting smart-phones or similar, and full-coverage mudguards at both ends.

Introduced last year, the CrossRip continues as a commuter built for speed. The dropbar, disc brake equipped series is ready for a range of riding from fast commuting to long road rides, or, if you swap out the tyres, off-road riding or cyclocros.

The Adventure series has grown for 2015. The steel-framed 520 continues, and there are also new models that serve specific purposes in the booming touring market, including the 920 Disc and 720 Disc models. The 920 Disc is built as an off-road tourer, with an aluminium frame and carbon fork, drop bars, large 29in tyres, SRAM 2×10 mountain gearing and sturdy racks front and rear. Similar to the 520, the 920 Disc has bar-end mounted shifters in the form of SRAM 500 TT units.

Lightweight road touring is booming, and for that trek has the 720 disc. the disc braked aluminium frame and carbon fork is designed to offer the handling and speed of a road bike, but with lightweight touring capability:

The 720 Disc is a new lightweight road tourer – the production front bag straps look nothing like those pictured

The 720 Disc is the road-focused equivalent, and has traditional road geometry and a lightweight aluminium frame. It’s built for fast-paced road touring. It features a new lightweight dry-bag system that places waterproof bags on either side of the fork.

This Shimano 105 equipped model features standard road shifters matted to TRP HY/RD disc brakes.

The chelsea 9 is a stylish urban bike for women. it offers basic 9-speed gearing, a solid basket and even a carry handle in the frame for geting up stairs. this model will retail for au$899:

The Chelsea 9

Trek calls its new Chelsea range a “sexy mashup of style and function”. This neat women’s bike features a carrying bar in the centre of the frame, along with a sturdy basket on the front, with a U-lock holder. For the men there is the District models, which offer a similar style-infused bike that looks ready for urban utility. All models have disc brakes and simple rear-only shifting.

Entry-level mountain bikes

Originally highlighted in our Trek Fuel EX preview, Trek is moving its entry-level models to what it’s calling ‘Smart Wheel Size’. Simply put, if you ride an extra-small or small frame size you get 27.5in (650b) wheels, while medium and larger sizes get 29in wheels. It certainly simplifies the ‘which wheel size’ decision.

The x-caliber 7 is a bike we tested previously and loved. for au$999 it has plenty to offer and looks even better than the model we tested: Bold

The Trek X-Caliber 7 gets a RockShox front fork

The X-Caliber, a bike we rate highly, has had its range reduced in favour of more expansive Marlin options. On the women’s side of things, the Cali range is also reduced to make way for more Skye options. ?

26in wheels aren’t totally dead yet – they still appear on the most basic (and cheapest) Skye 26 and 3500 Disc models.

Kids’ bikes

The krx is a road bike for the young ones. based on the madone aluminium series, this 26

The new 26in wheeled KRX

The new KRX is a small road race bike with an aluminium frame, based on the adults’ Madone. It’s recommended for ages 10 to 12 and has 26in wheels with 1in wide tyres, cantilever brakes and Shimano Sora gearing. It looks ready for the crit track.

The girls get one too, in the form of the neko. both the dual sport and neko will sell for au$569:

The Neko is a girls’ hybrid bike, aimed at ages 8 to 12

There’s also now a Dual Sport for kids 8-12 years old, featuring 26in wheels (adults get 700C) and disc brakes – this little rigid hybrid could be perfect if you’re looking for a speedier kids’ bike than the usual suspended mountain bike option. The girls’ Neko is a smaller version of the adults’ Dual Sport bike.

Click through our gallery above for a more in-depth look into the Trek 2015 range.








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
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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.