market

Pro bike: Andy Blair’s Specialized S-Works Epic 29 WC

When it comes to achieving consistent results within the Australian mountain bike scene, Andy ‘Blairy’ Blair is a name often high in the rankings – whether that’s in cross-country eliminator (XCE), Olympic discipline, marathon or even enduro mountain biking. Blair’s first race for Australia was at the Cairns World Cup in 1996. At the time he was just 17; now, with more than twice that life experience, he’s preparing for his return to Cairns to represent Australia on the world stage.

Based in the nation’s capital, Canberra, Blair has easy access to a strong local race scene featuring the likes of Olympian and 2013 World Cup second-place finisher Dan Mcconnell. As a full-time engineer, Blair shares the same challenges as many of his local competitors: having to balance a career outside sport with the demands of being an elite athlete.

For 2014, the team Swell-Specialized rider and 2012 marathon national champion has shifted his focus to the shorter, faster format of cross-country Olympic (XCO) racing. Blair told BikeRadar: “I’ll be racing the opening two World Cup rounds in hope of qualifying for the Commonwealth Games. There’s only three spots available for the men and between the strong U23 field and the likes of Dan Mcconell, it’s going to be tough.”

“My national season didn’t go how I’d planned, I’ve been fighting a mystery virus since the first round in Adelaide and only recently have I been finding my speed – even though I don’t feel 100 per cent. I’m going to need a strong performance at the world cups to prove myself for Commonwealth Games selection.”

Andrew blair is a member of the swell-specialized racing team: andrew blair is a member of the swell-specialized racing team

Andy Blair of Swell-Specialized

BikeRadar took a look at Blair’s new 2014 race bike before a recent national XC round. Riding a mostly stock 2014 Specialized S-Works Epic WC, there’s little Blair has changed beyond the saddle, grips, tyres and brakes. We’ve previously reviewed this bike in detail and found it be a true ‘no-excuse’ race weapon.

At 10.11kg, it’s not a superlight rig, but keep in mind it’s a dual-suspension 29er in a large frame size. Furthermore, Blair’s marathon success has led him to run with reliability over ultimate low-weight.

The specialized brain technology sits remotely of the rear shock, bolted to the rear end, and ready to react to bumps from the rear wheel : the specialized brain technology sits remotely of the rear shock, bolted to the rear end, and ready to react to bumps from the rear wheel

Bolted to the rear seatstay, the Brain is remote of the rear shock – ready to react to rear wheel feedback

A standout feature is Specialized’s own Brain technology that keeps the suspension locked out against rider input but reactive to bumps beneath – it’s not new technology but something that continually gets better with each year’s revision.

As a SRAM-sponsored rider, it’s not surprising to see Blair with a full XX1 groupset and matching brakes. Blair’s frame is single-ring specific and has no capability to mount a front derailleur, enabling Specialized to further stiffen and lighten it with an oversized drive-side chainstay.?

With these special side-access bottle cages - two bottles can be held within the frame. there aren't many dual suspension frames on the market that can do this: with these special side-access bottle cages - two bottles can be held within the frame. there aren't many dual suspension frames on the market that can do this

Specialized is starting a war on the hydration pack: part of the new SWAT system allows for two bottles in this dual suspension frame

Although the stock bike includes Specialized’s new SWAT (Storage, Water, Air, Tools) box for emergency repair storage, Blair wasn’t running one. “I actually don’t have one, otherwise I’d probably use it. I always carry spares with me. It’s often quicker to repair your own tyre or chain than run to an allocated service zone, even on a 5km lap course.”

Blair is riding on a prototype specialized saddle - we believe it's a soon to be released s-works phenon: blair is riding on a prototype specialized saddle - we believe it's a soon to be released s-works phenonCould this be a new top-end Specialized Phenon?

The pre-production Specialized saddle is perhaps the most exciting item. It appears to be a new S-Works level Phenon saddle; Specialized’s mountain bike-specific saddle but with carbon rails and what we think could be an overall lighter construction.?

Complete bike specifications

  • Frame:?Specialized S-Works Epic WC – Size Large?????????????
  • Fork:?Custom RockShox SID World Cup 29 Brain – 95mm
  • Rear shock: FOX/Specialized remote Mini-Brain
  • Headset:?tapered sealed
  • Stem:?Ritchey WCS C260, 100mm, -17 degree
  • Handlebar:?Specialized S-Works XC flar bar, 685mm
  • Tape:?OzRiders foam
  • Front brake:?Avid XX
  • Rear brake:?Avid XX
  • Brake levers:?Avid XX
  • Front derailleur:?N/A
  • Rear derailleur:?SRAM XX1
  • Shift levers:?SRAM XX1 Gripshift
  • Cassette:?SRAM XX1 10-42T
  • Chain:?SRAM XX1
  • Crankset:?S-Works OS carbon, 175mm, 34T
  • Bottom bracket:?PF30
  • Pedals:?Shimano M970 XTR
  • Wheelset:?Roval Control SL 29 carbon
  • Front tyre:?Specialized S-Works Fast Trak, 2Bliss Ready, 29×2.2″, 26psi
  • Rear tyre:?Specialized S-Works Renegade, 2Bliss Ready, 29×1.95″, 28psi
  • Saddle:?Specialized S-Works Phenon (unconfirmed name – pre-production)
  • Seatpost:?Specialized carbon, setback
  • Bottle cages:?Specialized Zee Cage II Carbon Left ?(2)
  • Computer:?Garmin Edge 500

Critical measurements

  • Rider’s height:?1.83m (6ft)
  • Rider’s weight:?73kg (160lb)
  • Saddle height from BB, c-t:?891mm
  • Saddle setback: 85mm
  • Seat-tube length (c-t):?470mm
  • Seat-tube length (c-c):?432mm
  • Tip of saddle to centre of bar:?635mm
  • Saddle-to-bar drop:?100mm
  • Head tube length:?120mm
  • Top tube length (effective):?618mm
  • Total bicycle weight:?10.11kg (22.24lb)

See our gallery (top right) for a more detailed look at the bike.


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By admin on March 24, 2014 | Mountain Bikes
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

RockyMounts hires Verde for public relations

BOULDER, Colo. (BRAIN) — RockyMounts Inc. has named Verde Brand Communications as its PR agency of record.  “Verde is as entrenched in the outdoor, bike and snowsports culture as we are, and they understand the need to cast a wider net by targeting broad-market media,” said Bruno Maier, president of RockyMounts Inc

3T Exsero LTD handlebar review

Mountain bike bars seem to be getting wider and wider these days, but for riders who are less gravity focused, widest isn’t always best. The Exsero LTD handlebar from 3T is a flat bar designed for speed and distance, with a middle ground width of 700mm, as used by the likes of cross-country legend Julian Absalon.

Like most of 3T’s components, the Exsero is offered in three tiers of performance, at corresponding prices. The aluminium Pro, the carbon Team and the high modulus LTD, which is the one we’ve tested here. The three models weigh 215g (220g claimed), 178g (180g claimed) and 147g (160g claimed) respectively.

The LTD version is competitive with the best on the market in terms of weight, and also in terms of the price. It’s stiffer than most bars in its weight range, providing confident steering. The downside to the stiff construction is the minimal bump compliance or ‘give’ that you’d experience with some carbon handlebars.

At 700mm wide, it’s already on the narrow side of more modern widths, but is well suited to a focused cross-country bike. Aggressive riders will likely want more width, but that’s not this bar’s purpose.?

3T exsero ltd handlebar - 9 degree backsweep is a personal favourite of ours:

We feel the 9-degree backsweep is ideal for a cross-country bar and we felt right at home on this one straight away. 3T have used what they call an eccentric design, which lets you choose up to 3mm of upsweep or downsweep on the bar – we happily settled with a little upsweep.?

3T exsero ltd handlebar - guides are given for easy alignment: 3t exsero ltd handlebar - guides are given for easy alignment

Cutting guides along the bar make is easy to cut them down if you wish to, while clear guides at the clamping centre makes installation simple. A roughened surface at the centre provides greater security, less torque required to prevent slipping on the otherwise slick bar.

If you’re in the market for a new flat cross-country handlebar, you should definitely consider the Exsero. The hardest question? With minimal mass separating each model, how much is that weight worth to you?

Pricing for the three tiers:

Pro: ?49.99 / US$70 / AU$88

Team: ?94.99 / US$130 / AU$175

LTD: ?109.99 / US$160 / AU$197


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Trail Tech: Real mountain bikes for kids

We recently showcased some of the best 20in kids bikes on the market. These are great options for the vast majority of children looking to keep up with mom and dad. But there are a few additional, more trail-worthy bikes you may want to consider if you’re looking to spend some quality time with your young one on singletrack.

The price of admission, coupled with the fact that riders will outgrow these machines in a few short years conspire to make this a decidedly niche market, but if your budding trail shredder wants something capable of keeping up with you on the gnarliest trails, there are a handful of companies that produce pint-sized bicycles that can truly be called mountain bikes.

Lil Shredder – Prodigy, Icon and Phenom

Brian Stanton is a father and mountain biker who founded Lil Shredder out of necessity. “I started going to Whistler with my son when he was very young. There weren’t any good options out there, so I starting modifying bikes for him, putting disc brakes and suspension forks on 16in frames,” Stanton said.

It wasn’t long before Stanton took the things to the next level by producing kids bikes with off-road geometry, spec’d with quality parts that any parent would be proud to hang on their bike.

Stanton’s company produces a full suspension model called the Prodigy and a hardtail called the Icon. Both feature lightweight aluminum frames that are constructed in the United States. Both bikes also use an interchangeable dropout system that’s compatible with 16in and 20in wheels, so growing riders can get more mileage out of them.

The Prodigy frame with an MRP (formerly known as White Brothers) Rustler fork and a Fox shock retails for US $1,750. Complete builds start at US$2,550.

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The single-pivot Prodigy has 80mm of rear suspension travel

The Icon hardtail frame with Spinner fork retails for US$975. Complete build start at $1,895.

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The Icon has a claimed frame weight of 2.1lb (0.95kg)

Lil Shredder has also added a 24in wheeled model called the Phenom to cater to slightly taller riders. Like the Prodigy, it has a simple single-pivot rear suspension, though the travel is adjustable from 4 to 5in.

The 24in phenom has generous standover clearance and retails for us$1,350 for the frame and fork :

The 24in Phenom frame with shock retails for US $1,350

Kona – Stinky 24

Kona is synonymous with the freeride movement of the late 90s and early 00s and the Stinky is arguably the most iconic freeride mountain bike of all time.

The Stinky 24 was one of the first kids’ bikes built to withstand the tough love dolled out by young groms in bike parks. It features 100mm of front and rear suspension travel to help budding riders and tackle roots, rocks and tabletops.

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The Stinky 24 is still one of the best options available for kids who already know how to spell H-U-C-K

The Stinky 24 retails for US $1,699.

Commencal – Supreme 20 and 24

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Commencal makes two versions of the Supreme for up-and-comers

The Supreme 20 is a singlespeed with a light but durable parts kit. It has sturdy double-walled rims and a Fox Float CTD shock that serves up 100mm of rear suspension.

The Supreme 24 looks nearly identical to the full-sized model and has little league enduro world champion written all over it. The Supreme 24 has a whopping 140mm of front and rear suspension travel, hydraulic disc brakes and a nine-speed drivetrain.

Neither model is cheap: the Supreme 20 retails for US$2,799 / ?1899.99 while the Supreme 24 retails for US$3,099 / ?1999.99.

26in wheels are for kids

One happy consequence of this year’s 650b (27.5in) wheel onslaught is that there’s a glut of heavily discounted new and gently used 26in wheels, frames and forks and on the market.

We spoke with a representative from one online retailer who mentioned that 26in bikes and components are collecting dust on warehouse shelves while all things 29in and 650b are flying out the door.

If your budding rider is around 5ft tall then the world is your oyster when it comes to building up a new mountain bike.

Mountain bikes aren’t the only way to hone trail skills

Last but not least, if you don’t have easy access to singletrack, or you’re looking for a more affordable option, consider looking into BMX racing. It’s a great way to develop the skills needed to be a capable mountain biker at a much more beginner-friendly price.


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BikeExpo

Start: March 14, 2014 End: March 16, 2014 Location: International Exhibition Centre, Kiev, Ukraine www.bikeexpo-kiev.com info@kdm-international.com Ukraine is a wide consumer market with a population of 46 million.  With a high growth potential and a strategic advantage of proximity, Ukraine has become an important market for the bike industry.  BikeExpo Kiev  has become the leading showcase in Ukraine, offering to professional visitors and end-users the opportunity to learn about the latest trends, novelties and products on the market. Tel: 39 051 3540411; Fax: +39 051 3540423

Niner RLT – first look

Niner’s product releases are nothing if not predictable, predictable in the sense that riders know it will be a mountain bike and that it will have 29in wheels. Until now, that is. This 29er-centric brand is venturing into new territory with the introduction of the RLT, a disc-equipped gravel race bike that’s longer, lower and slacker than typical cyclocross bikes.

Niner’s RLT will be available in early 2014. The RLT frame with matching carbon fork will retail for $1,049. Complete builds will range in price from $1,999 to $2,999.

Click through the gallery at right for detailed images of Niner’s new gravel grinder.

Niner is the latest in a small but growing number of companies to recognize a distinction between pure-bred cyclocross race bikes and something better suited to the emerging North American gravel race scene.

Niner's rlt is the company's first drop bar model. it features low and slack geometry ideally suited to gravel road racing: niner's rlt is the company's first drop bar model. it features low and slack geometry ideally suited to gravel road racing

The Niner RLT is designed with gravel racing in mind

“Gravel grinders are not ‘cross bikes and vice versa,” said Niner product manager Barrett James. “The geometry of the RLT was not designed with cyclocross in mind, but that’s not to say you can’t take that to your local ‘cross race and have a good time.”

The rlt is slightly lower, longer and slacker than many cyclocross bikes on the market:

The RLT’s low bottom bracket is in line with many other North American cyclocross bikes, but the longer chainstays and slack head angles make for a longer wheelbase and handling that favors stability over agility.

RLT stands for Road Less Traveled and, as one might expect, it’s designed with versatility in mind. The RLT can accommodate tires up to 700×45 and has fender mounts on the fork and rear dropouts.

Other frame features include internal cable routing for the front and rear derailleur cables through ports on either side of the downtube, while the rear brake line runs along the bottom of the downtube. The RLT also has a port on the seat tube for a Di2 battery, should owners want to ditch cables for wires.

The rlt uses a press fit 30 bottom bracket. niner has an eccentric version that will allow riders to run the bike as a singlespeed: the rlt uses a press fit 30 bottom bracket. niner has an eccentric version that will allow riders to run the bike as a singlespeed

The RLT frame uses a Press Fit 30 bottom bracket. Niner developed an eccentric version for singlespeed use as well

Niner has a great deal of expertise in designing carbon forks. The RLT’s full carbon fork shares many aesthetic and structural similarities to the company’s rigid mountain bike forks. The RLT fork shares the same 45mm of offset across the six-bike size range.

Niner's rlt has a slacker head tube angle than many cyclocross bikes on the market - as slack as 70 degrees on the smaller frame sizes: niner's rlt has a slacker head tube angle than many cyclocross bikes on the market - as slack as 70 degrees on the smaller frame sizesThe RLT’s fork has fender mounts and dropouts for a standard 9mm quick-release

One might expect a company firmly rooted in mountain bike technology to lead the charge for thru-axles on bikes with skinny tires. According to Niner’s marketing manager, Carla Huckee, the company chose to stick with front and rear quick-releases because it expects that many customers will build up RLT framesets with existing mountain bike wheels.

Despite the fact that the RLT is more road bike than mountain bike, both the frame and fork are tested to the more rigorous mountain bike CEN standard. Claimed weight for a 53cm RLT frame is 1,395g.

Niner will offer the RLT in two color options, two complete builds, and as a frame with matching fork.

What’s next?

Judging from the progression of Niner’s past projects it’s safe to assume that there will be a carbon version of the RLT down the road. The fact that RLT is not intended specifically for cyclocross leaves the door open for the development of a ‘cross-specific Niner down the road.

For more information visit www.ninerbikes.com.


    

Niner RLT 9 – first look

Niner’s product releases are nothing if not predictable, predictable in the sense that riders know it will be a mountain bike and that it will have 29in wheels. Until now, that is. This 29er-centric brand is venturing into new territory with the introduction of the RLT 9, a disc-equipped gravel race bike that’s longer, lower and slacker than typical cyclocross bikes.

Niner’s RLT 9 will be available in early 2014. The RLT 9 frame with matching carbon fork will retail for $1,049. Complete builds will range in price from $1,999 to $2,999.

Click through the gallery at right for detailed images of Niner’s new gravel grinder.

Niner is the latest in a small but growing number of companies to recognize a distinction between pure-bred cyclocross race bikes and something better suited to the emerging North American gravel race scene.

Niner's rlt is the company's first drop bar model. it features low and slack geometry ideally suited to gravel road racing: niner's rlt is the company's first drop bar model. it features low and slack geometry ideally suited to gravel road racing

The RLT 9 is designed for gravel racing

“Gravel grinders are not ‘cross bikes and vice versa,” said Niner product manager Barrett James. “The geometry of the RLT 9 was not designed with cyclocross in mind, but that’s not to say you can’t take that to your local ‘cross race and have a good time.”

The rlt is slightly lower, longer and slacker than many cyclocross bikes on the market:

The RLT 9’s low bottom bracket is in line with many other North American cyclocross bikes, but the longer chainstays and slack head angles make for a longer wheelbase and handling that favors stability over agility.

RLT stands for Road Less Traveled and, as one might expect, it’s designed with versatility in mind. The RLT 9 can accommodate tires up to 700×45 and has fender mounts on the fork and rear dropouts.

Other frame features include internal cable routing for the front and rear derailleur cables through ports on either side of the downtube, while the rear brake line runs along the bottom of the downtube. The RLT 9 also has a port on the seat tube for a Di2 battery, should owners want to ditch cables for wires.

The rlt uses a press fit 30 bottom bracket. niner has an eccentric version that will allow riders to run the bike as a singlespeed: the rlt uses a press fit 30 bottom bracket. niner has an eccentric version that will allow riders to run the bike as a singlespeed

The RLT 9? frame uses a Press Fit 30 bottom bracket. Niner developed an eccentric version for singlespeed use as well

Niner has a great deal of expertise in designing carbon forks. The RLT’s full carbon fork shares many aesthetic and structural similarities to the company’s rigid mountain bike forks. The same 45mm offset fork is used on all six frame sizes.?

Niner's rlt has a slacker head tube angle than many cyclocross bikes on the market - as slack as 70 degrees on the smaller frame sizes: niner's rlt has a slacker head tube angle than many cyclocross bikes on the market - as slack as 70 degrees on the smaller frame sizesThe RLT 9’s fork has fender mounts and dropouts for a standard 9mm quick-release

One might expect a company firmly rooted in mountain bike technology to lead the charge for thru-axles on bikes with skinny tires. According to Niner’s marketing manager, Carla Huckee, the company chose to stick with front and rear quick-releases because it expects that many customers will build up RLT 9 framesets with existing mountain bike wheels.

Despite the fact that the RLT 9 is more road bike than mountain bike, both the frame and fork are tested to the more rigorous mountain bike CEN standard. Claimed weight for a 53cm RLT 9 frame is 1,395g.

Niner will offer the RLT 9 in two color options, two complete builds, and as a frame with matching fork.

What’s next?

Judging from the progression of Niner’s past projects, it’s safe to assume that there will be a carbon version of the RLT 9 down the road. The fact that RLT 9 is not intended specifically for cyclocross leaves the door open for the development of a ‘cross-specific Niner at some point.

For more information visit www.ninerbikes.com.


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It’s all downhill to U.S. for Switzerland’s iXS

FRIEDRICHSHAFEN, Germany (BRAIN) — Swiss gravity brand iXS is at Eurobike showing off its innovative line of protective gear, helmets and apparel for trail riding and enduro and downhill racing—all of which it will showcase next month at Interbike as iXS enters the U.S.

Shimano unveils new bike fitting system

The company says the system will drive dealer accessory sales FRIEDRICHSHAFEN, Germany (BRAIN) — Almost a year and a half since Shimano acquired Dutch company BikeFitting.com , the components giant gave a peek at its upcoming fitting system at Eurobike.  Set to begin rolling out at the end of the year, the system, which consists of a static measurement jig, position simulator and 3D motion analyzer, will enable dealers to take various measurements to help riders achieve a final comfortable and performance-enhanced position on the bike.  The system is equipped with a crank that measures the power output of the left and right pedal independently and presents the information in a unique graphic user interface.  “As you pedal it immediately starts reacting on the screen,” said Lloyd Thomas, who has worked with ProTour-level teams testing early prototypes. “What it gives me is left and right balance of power and direction so we can fine tune the fore and aft position of the seat, we can look at cleat placement, seat height, but we can also look at the stability of the foot.” The position simulator allows for precise adjustment and features a quick-release seatpost and handlebar clamp

Reflecting All The Things!

Josh over at Bike Safe Boston made this awesome fully reflective “safety” bike a while ago. I am late to the party but still think it is awesome.

This coating is different from anything available on the market today. When headlights hit it, the whole bike glows bright white, making it next to impossible for drivers to miss. I’m convinced that this sort of high visibility technology can save lives and make biking safer and more appealing for everyone. That’s why I joined the company that makes it—I want to be a part of the next frontier of bike safety.

Check out more about this cool tech here.