frame

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
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.