german

August 15, 2014

Issue Highlights:? LAGUNA HILLS, Calif. (BRAIN) — Do electric mountain bikes belong on the trails? As IMBA plans to discuss the question at next week’s World Summit in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, the August 15 issue of  Bicycle Retailer & Industry News  takes a look: A few suppliers are selling e-powered mountain bikes now, most major suppliers are selling them in Europe, and most plan to sell them in the U.S. soon no matter what IMBA’s policy may be now or in the future.

New BRAIN issue looks at electric mountain bikes

LAGUNA HILLS, Calif. (BRAIN) — Do electric mountain bikes belong on the trails?

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.








Accell: Good weather in Europe, sales of e-bikes prop overall profits

Company blames revenue dip in North America on severe winter and decline in overall market. HEERENVEEN, Netherlands (BRAIN) — Accell Group N.V. reported overall revenue gains for the first six months of the year.

Bionicon Hybrid Hoody review

While German brand Bionicon might be best known for its unique travel and geometry adjustable bikes, it also does a wide range of riding kit. This hooded top aims to be just as adaptable as its bikes, using a mix of merino wool along with nylon and Lycra for added stretch.

That, along with the multi-panel design and flat stitched seams give it a close and comfortable fit. The hood and waist are elasticated to enable you to cinch them down and exclude draughts. There’s a zipped chest pocket for extra secure storage, and the back is free from pockets so sits well under a pack. The slightly ‘Euro’ looks might divide opinion, but as well as this red and blue mix, black, brown and green versions are available, as well as a women’s option. The quality of fabric and construction is excellent.

It’s a bit thicker than a normal base layer, so tends to be too warm under a jacket unless the temperature’s really dropped. Used as an outer layer, the material doesn’t give a massive amount of protection from wind so it can get nippy, especially as the fabric tends to hang onto sweat and moisture. It seems most suited to milder summery afternoons or evenings where it keeps the chill off effectively without being overly warm. We did have a bit of an issue with smell, with a distinct and not particularly pleasant damp and woollen odour once our tester had worn the top for any length of time.

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








German e-bike brand, Grace, has U.S. distributor

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.

Silverback Signo Technica review

Silverback’s Signo Technica is the German brand’s new approach to a trail bike, combining a stiff, agile rear end with a front end that eats up impacts. How’s it done this? By means that’ll surely ignite yet more fireworks in the world of the wheel size debate – it’s mixed 650b with 29in.

Ride and handling: best of both worlds?

On paper, mixing the two wheel sizes kind of makes sense. Up front you’ve got the 29er wheel with its increased grip and ability to roll over lumps and bumps, giving you added control that you want from the front wheel. At the back, the smaller 650b wheel is sturdy, flickable and agile; grip back there doesn’t matter quite so much.

The Signo Technica is far from a bad bike. The 140mm RockShox Revelation fork, which can drop down to 110mm for steeper climbs, when combined with the 29in front wheel gives a ton of control. The 2.25in Maxxis Ardent tyres don’t have the greatest edge on them, but there’s plenty of grip in dryer conditions, and that big wheel does roll over terrain imperfections with ease. At the back, the 650b wheel skips over the ground, verging on being playful, especially if you ride with your weight over the fork. When the Ardent loses traction slips, drifts and skids are controllable, rarely chucking you off the bike.

At times, when front and back strike a harmony, the signo can be a joy to ride…:

At times, when front and back strike a harmony, the Signo can be a joy to ride

Silverback’s marketing bumpf claims that this bigger wheel up front setup helps ‘balance out the trail steepness’, what it calls 279 Dynamic Efficiency Geometry. What really happens is that you get a relatively high front end that works reasonably well on steeper terrain, but can feel slightly pedestrian on flatter sections. The Revelation’s Dual Position Air damper provides a decent level of mid-travel support, which is handy on steeper terrain. With 140mm of travel up front and nothing at the back, when the fork is pushed through its travel, it does steepen the frame’s angles, so that support is certainly appreciated.

We’re not convinced by the actual science behind the 279 Dynamic Efficiency Geometry; there’s certainly no mention of it making climbs steeper…

What the wheels do though is highlight the differences between the sizes. Regardless of which side of the fence you sit on, when the trail gets choppy, the difference in handling becomes apparent. While the front rolls over bumps, no doubt helped by the suspension, the rear feels like it gets caught up on edges, and needs a little extra persuasion to get over them. On technical climbs especially, the Signo Technica feels like a bike of two halves.

The stout construction, with the tapered back end, gives a stiff ride that’s a little unforgiving on the lower back. We tempered this by running the relatively large volume rear tyre at lower pressures.

Frame and equipment: trail fit kit

The geometry is all held together with Silverback’s Vanadium Flow frame, itself a well-put-together and nicely finished piece of kit. The main tubes are triple butted, and smooth welded. Aesthetically it works well – giving a more organic look – but the reasoning behind it, so says Silverback, is that there’s a greater weld area and less stress risers, both of which should make the frame more durable.

The signo technica's smooth welded and triple butted frame is a well made pleasure:

The Signo Technica’s smooth welded and triple butted frame is a well made pleasure

With a trail focus, all the frame features we usually look for are included. A 31.6mm seat tube is ready to take a dropper post (although there’s no provision for stealth routing), there’s a 142×12 Maxle bolt-thru rear axle, press-fit bottom bracket and tapered head tube (which, to be fair, pretty much every bike comes with these days), which keeps the frame tight and stiff. Cables are externally routed, which we prefer because it makes giving them TLC a whole lot easier. They’re also full length, which is ideal for keeping the crud out.

When it comes to the kit that Silverback’s bolted to the frame, it’s clearly done its homework. While some Euro brands are still stuck in the land of long stems and narrow bars, Silverback’s added a 60mm stem and 740mm bars – not quite as short or as long as you could go, but they certainly help you head in the right direction.

The short stem, wide bar combo helps keep steering snappy and responsive, and the bars give better control and keep your weight forward. The bars and stem, along with the post and saddle are own-branded pieces. The saddle and bars have a reasonable shape, although there’s no pressure-relieving channel on the saddle, and there’s a fair bit of backsweep (nine degrees) on the bars. Our only major spec issue is the bolted seat clamp. For a bike designed to hit technical trails hard and then pedal back to the top, it’s inevitable that your multitool will be lost in the bottom of your bag. Just fit a QR please!

Cockpit components are bang on the money, though some may not like the sweepy bars:

Cockpit components are bang on the money, though some may not like the sweepy bars

Shimano kit largely controls stopping and going. The SLX brakes are crowd pleasers, with their dependable power, backed up with Ice Tech pads and 180/160mm Centerlock rotors. The shifters and rear derailleur come from the XT stable, again providing reliable performance, the Shadow+ derailleur featuring the clutch mechanism keeps the bike nice and quiet.

To mix it up Silverback’s gone with a Race Face Evolve crank with 34T Narrow Wide chainring. With Shimano rings not benefitting from the chain retention properties of a narrow/wide design, this allows Silverback to build a Shimano geared bike without needing to add a chainguide. This setup worked well, with the 34/36 bottom gear being just low enough for the majority of our riding.

Shimano supplies the SLX hubs, and Stan’s the Arch EX rims. So long as you take care of the cup and cone bearings, Shimano hubs last well and the lightweight, tubeless capability of the mid-width Stan’s rims have given them an enviable reputation.

Summary: mixed messages

There aren’t many brands around that are mixing up wheel sizes – Liteville being the obvious other one out there. There are times – like on steeper trails and when razzing your local trail centre – when riding the Signo Technica you think it’s a work of genius, with both ends of the bike singing from the same hymn sheet. But at others it feels disjointed, making us wish it had a pair of identical hoops. Oh, and taking two tubes in your pack is a pain in the ass, so we ended up stretching a 650b tube into the front wheel.

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








Silverback Signo Technica review

Silverback’s Signo Technica is the German brand’s new approach to a trail bike, combining a stiff, agile rear end with a front end that eats up impacts. How’s it done this? By means that’ll surely ignite yet more fireworks in the world of the wheel size debate – it’s mixed 650b with 29in.

Ride and handling: best of both worlds?

On paper, mixing the two wheel sizes kind of makes sense. Up front you’ve got the 29er wheel with its increased grip and ability to roll over lumps and bumps, giving you added control that you want from the front wheel. At the back, the smaller 650b wheel is sturdy, flickable and agile; grip back there doesn’t matter quite so much.

The Signo Technica is far from a bad bike. The 140mm RockShox Revelation fork, which can drop down to 110mm for steeper climbs, when combined with the 29in front wheel gives a ton of control. The 2.25in Maxxis Ardent tyres don’t have the greatest edge on them, but there’s plenty of grip in dryer conditions, and that big wheel does roll over terrain imperfections with ease. At the back, the 650b wheel skips over the ground, verging on being playful, especially if you ride with your weight over the fork. When the Ardent loses traction slips, drifts and skids are controllable, rarely chucking you off the bike.

At times, when front and back strike a harmony, the signo can be a joy to ride…:

At times, when front and back strike a harmony, the Signo can be a joy to ride

Silverback’s marketing bumpf claims that this bigger wheel up front setup helps ‘balance out the trail steepness’, what it calls 279 Dynamic Efficiency Geometry. What really happens is that you get a relatively high front end that works reasonably well on steeper terrain, but can feel slightly pedestrian on flatter sections. The Revelation’s Dual Position Air damper provides a decent level of mid-travel support, which is handy on steeper terrain. With 140mm of travel up front and nothing at the back, when the fork is pushed through its travel, it does steepen the frame’s angles, so that support is certainly appreciated.

We’re not convinced by the actual science behind the 279 Dynamic Efficiency Geometry; there’s certainly no mention of it making climbs steeper…

What the wheels do though is highlight the differences between the sizes. Regardless of which side of the fence you sit on, when the trail gets choppy, the difference in handling becomes apparent. While the front rolls over bumps, no doubt helped by the suspension, the rear feels like it gets caught up on edges, and needs a little extra persuasion to get over them. On technical climbs especially, the Signo Technica feels like a bike of two halves.

The stout construction, with the tapered back end, gives a stiff ride that’s a little unforgiving on the lower back. We tempered this by running the relatively large volume rear tyre at lower pressures.

Frame and equipment: trail fit kit

The geometry is all held together with Silverback’s Vanadium Flow frame, itself a well-put-together and nicely finished piece of kit. The main tubes are triple butted, and smooth welded. Aesthetically it works well – giving a more organic look – but the reasoning behind it, so says Silverback, is that there’s a greater weld area and less stress risers, both of which should make the frame more durable.

The signo technica's smooth welded and triple butted frame is a well made pleasure:

The Signo Technica’s smooth welded and triple butted frame is a well made pleasure

With a trail focus, all the frame features we usually look for are included. A 31.6mm seat tube is ready to take a dropper post (although there’s no provision for stealth routing), there’s a 142×12 Maxle bolt-thru rear axle, press-fit bottom bracket and tapered head tube (which, to be fair, pretty much every bike comes with these days), which keeps the frame tight and stiff. Cables are externally routed, which we prefer because it makes giving them TLC a whole lot easier. They’re also full length, which is ideal for keeping the crud out.

When it comes to the kit that Silverback’s bolted to the frame, it’s clearly done its homework. While some Euro brands are still stuck in the land of long stems and narrow bars, Silverback’s added a 60mm stem and 740mm bars – not quite as short or as long as you could go, but they certainly help you head in the right direction.

The short stem, wide bar combo helps keep steering snappy and responsive, and the bars give better control and keep your weight forward. The bars and stem, along with the post and saddle are own-branded pieces. The saddle and bars have a reasonable shape, although there’s no pressure-relieving channel on the saddle, and there’s a fair bit of backsweep (nine degrees) on the bars. Our only major spec issue is the bolted seat clamp. For a bike designed to hit technical trails hard and then pedal back to the top, it’s inevitable that your multitool will be lost in the bottom of your bag. Just fit a QR please!

Cockpit components are bang on the money, though some may not like the sweepy bars:

Cockpit components are bang on the money, though some may not like the sweepy bars

Shimano kit largely controls stopping and going. The SLX brakes are crowd pleasers, with their dependable power, backed up with Ice Tech pads and 180/160mm Centerlock rotors. The shifters and rear derailleur come from the XT stable, again providing reliable performance, the Shadow+ derailleur featuring the clutch mechanism keeps the bike nice and quiet.

To mix it up Silverback’s gone with a Race Face Evolve crank with 34T Narrow Wide chainring. With Shimano rings not benefitting from the chain retention properties of a narrow/wide design, this allows Silverback to build a Shimano geared bike without needing to add a chainguide. This setup worked well, with the 34/36 bottom gear being just low enough for the majority of our riding.

Shimano supplies the SLX hubs, and Stan’s the Arch EX rims. So long as you take care of the cup and cone bearings, Shimano hubs last well and the lightweight, tubeless capability of the mid-width Stan’s rims have given them an enviable reputation.

Summary: mixed messages

There aren’t many brands around that are mixing up wheel sizes – Liteville being the obvious other one out there. There are times – like on steeper trails and when razzing your local trail centre – when riding the Signo Technica you think it’s a work of genius, with both ends of the bike singing from the same hymn sheet. But at others it feels disjointed, making us wish it had a pair of identical hoops. Oh, and taking two tubes in your pack is a pain in the ass, so we ended up stretching a 650b tube into the front wheel.

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








German custom builder Nicolai now has a U.S. distributor

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (BRAIN) — The high-end German mountain bike brand Nicolai is now being distributed in the U.S. by Nicolai USA, based in Arizona