mountain-king

Continental revamps its King Series mountain bike tires

ALISO VIEJO, Calif. (BRAIN) —  Continental said it has redesigned its King Series line of mountain bike tires from the inside out.

Continental expands Chinese-made tire options

KORBACH, Germany (BRAIN) — Continental has added a new line of Chinese-made tires to its offerings. The company will now have three bike tire product lines: the Premium line, which is all made in Germany; the new Performance Line, made in China; and the Sport line, also made in China.  The new line is intended to compete on price with other China-made tires in the aftermarket and to supply Asia-based OE customers.  Continental opened its new wholly-owned factory in Hefei, China, last year, and showed the Sport line at Interbike last fall .  The new Performance line currently includes three mountain bike models, the Mountain King, X-King and Race King.  Continental said the new line uses “PureGrip” rubber technology, which is derived from its Black Chili rubber compound. Tires with Black Chili will remain made exclusively in Germany.

Canyon Nerve AL+ 9.0 SL – first look

BikeRadar have just taken delivery of the top-of-the-range Canyon Nerve AL+ 9.0 SL. For ?3,149 the 150mm all-mountain bike has an impressive enduro-ready setup complete with enviable componentry and attention to detail.

Not to be mistaken with models from the similarly named Nerve AL range, the AL+?bikes cover the slacker and longer travel side of Canyon’s all-mountain offerings and comes in five versions, ranging from ?1,539 to ?3,149.

German company Canyon Bikes?have a reputation for offering premium-kitted bikes at a price point that others struggle to match, achieved by eliminating middlemen and selling direct to customers.?

An extensive hydroforming effort has ensured a stiff and strong frame without a weight penalty. Stiffness has been addressed at both ends of the bike, the front using a tapered head tube and the rear employing a 12mm thru-axle.?

Geometry has been revised for 2013. The result is a 67-degree head angle and 74-degree seat tube angle, chosen to improve both handling and efficiency.

The 32 TALAS fork and Float rear shock are from Fox and use CTD technology, providing the rider with fast and easy-to-understand adjustment for different terrain. Both ends also benefit from Fox’s Kashima coating, reducing stiction and ensuring a plush ride.

The Nerve AL+ 9.0 SL is a head-turning bike adorned with gold CrankBros components, from the black-and-gold Cobalt 3 wheelset down to the similarly themed cockpit.

The lightweight cobalt 3 wheelset adds bling appeal with its gold spokes:

Gold spokes add bling appeal

However, don’t be fooled – this bike is not a case of all the gear and no idea. It’s been carefully specced with the aggressive (and weight conscious) trail rider in mind – Formula’s T1 brakes offer stopping with a power-to-weight ratio that’s hard to match, and Continental Mountain King Protection tyres provide familiar traction.

Instead of opting for a double setup, Canyon have chosen to run a Shimano XTR triple groupset. This bucks the transmission trend that most all-mountain bikes are taking, but at least potential problems with chain slap should be limited by the rear derailleur’s chain tensioning Shadow Plus technology.?

While many manufacturers are offering particularly short stems and super-wide bars, Canyon’s Euro influences show through with the choice to spec the Medium test bike with an 80mm stem and 720mm?CrankBros Cobalt 2 (XC/race) riser bar.

Keeping things bang up to date, the Nerve AL+ 9.0 SL gets a RockShox Reverb Stealth dropper post (with internally routed hosing) topped with a Selle Italia Carbonio saddle, making this an enduro-ready ride.

A rockshox reverb stealth dropper post keeps things looking nice and clean with its internal hose routing:

Internal hose routing keeps things looking clean and tidy

Well thought-out frame protection features on both the down tube and areas prone to cable rub. The total bike tips our scales at?12.3kg (27.1lb).

For those worried about the limitations of direct-to-consumer sales, there’s good news for the UK market. In February 2013, Canyon opened their first office/service centre in Kingston, London, to better support UK buyers. They’ll be?running their very first demo day?there tomorrow, Monday 6 May.?

And here’s the full spec for the Canyon Nerve AL+ 9.0 SL…

  • Frame:?Canyon? Nerve?AL+
  • Shock:?Fox Float CTD Boost Valve w/ Trail Adjust
  • Fork:?Fox 32 TALAS 150 FIT CTD w/ Trail Adjust
  • Headset:?Cane Creek Series 40
  • Stem:?CrankBros Iodine 1
  • Handlebar:?CrankBros Cobalt 2 Riser
  • Grips:?Ergon GA-1
  • Brakes:?Formula T1
  • Shifter:?Shimano XTR, 10-speed
  • Crankset:?Shimano XTR
  • Cassette:?Shimano Deore XT, 11-36T, 10-speed
  • Wheelset:?CrankBros Cobalt 3
  • Front tyre:?Continental Mountain King Protection 2.4in
  • Rear tyre:?Continental Mountain King Protection 2.4in
  • Saddle:?Selle Italia SLS Kit Carbonio
  • Seatpost:?RockShox Reverb Stealth
  • Weight:?12.3kg (27.1lb)
  • Price:??3,149

For more information on Canyon bikes visit www.canyon.com.

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Continental goes all in with 650b – Sea Otter 2013

European bicycle, wheel and tire companies may have been slow to the 29er game but they’re certainly not sitting on their hands this time around. Continental is adopting the resurrected 27.5in format in a big way, producing its four most popular mountain bike treads in the ‘tweener size for 2014.

Continental’s 27.5in range will include the fast rolling Race King, the more versatile X-King, and two all-purpose trail treads: the Mountain King and the Trail King. Of those two, the Mountain King features a more rounded profile and bigger gap between the center tread and shoulder blocks for more of an ‘on-off’ cornering feel while the Trail King’s more squared-off shape and evenly distributed blocks should provide a more predictable and forgiving personality according to Continental North America brand manager Brett Hahn.

Continental is going Four 650b for 2014 (l to r): Race King, X-King, Mountain King, Trail King

The Race King will be offered only in a 2.2in width but the rest of the range will be available in 2.2 and 2.4in sizes. Continental also plans to release the new 27.5in tires in its tubeless-ready ProTection casing and ultralight RaceSport versions – both with Black Chili rubber compounds – plus lower-priced Sport variants with wire or folding beads.

All of the new 27.5in tires should be available in August and suggested retail price for premium versions is $64.95. Claimed weights are still TBD.

Meet the Kaiser Projekt

Continental also showed off its latest downhill tire, the Kaiser 2.4 Projekt, which was developed in cooperation with GT racer Gee Atherton. As compared to the existing soft-conditions Baron 2.5, the Kaiser Projekt 2.4 is meant as more of a all-conditions tire with a more linearly arranged shoulder tread and aggressively ramped center blocks for a faster roll.

Underneath, a two-ply casing with additional sidewall reinforcement helps ensure the tire will survive to the end of the run, too.

The new continental kaiser projekt 2.4 is a The Kaiser Projekt 2.4 was developed with Gee Atherton

As with all of its higher-end tires, Continental molds the Kaiser Projekt 2.4 with its Black Chili rubber compound, which has been tweaked for the specific application. Hahn wouldn’t characterize the compound as simply being harder or softer, however – and in fairness, our previous experiences with Continental’s Black Chili rubber does reinforce the idea that it behaves a bit differently than normal.

“We don’t play the durometer game,” he told BikeRadar. “We control the performance at the molecular level, not with hard or soft.”

The Kaiser Projekt is available now with a suggested retail price of $90. Claimed weight is 1,150g.

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Pinnacle Jarrah 4 review

Pinnacle are the house brand of Evans Cycles, and while we were going to test their Ramin 2 29er, it wasn’t available in time. However, the long-forked, hard-hitting Jarrah 4 26er comes with very similar componentry and is excellent value for money.?

Ride & handling: Beautifully nimble but tyres aren’t too corner-confident

It’s surprising what a difference a degree or so on a bike’s head angle makes. The steering is livelier than some other similarly priced hardtails: the head angle is relatively steep, plus the RockShox fork has a softer spring than some, which lets it steepen further. ?

You tend to adapt during the first ride, but the Jarrah is not quite the hard-hitting trail bike the 120mm fork may imply. Some budget 29ers are more stoical and stable in their handling, while the Jarrah’s steep front and smaller wheels make it lively.?

This keeps it surprisingly nimble on even the rootiest, rockiest and twistiest stretches, and the 29.6lb (65.3lb) weight helps with that too, but there’s no doubt it can feel nervous on descents when the fork is hitting stuff hard and diving through its travel.?

Pinnacle jarrah 4 hardtail:

Frame & equipment: XC32 fork stanchions make a difference on this 26er?

Evans have an excellent range of 26ers and 29ers to each side of the Jarrah 4. The Ramin 1 looks like one of the best-equipped ?500 29ers we’ve seen, and the next down-range 26er is the ?550 Jarrah 3. Both have Suntour XCR forks, which are not as controlled as the Jarrah 4’s RockShox XC32s. The lockout, preload and rebound damping dials on the XC32 are very effective too, and compression and rebound are plush and well controlled.

We’ve focused on fork performance, because it’s as crucial as the frame and wheels to gauge overall ride feel. The Jarrah frame, designed in the UK, is nicely built. The head tube juncture is reinforced, the QR seat clamp faces forward, and there’s one set of bottle bosses and mudguard bosses under the down tube.?Standover room is generous.

The seatpost and saddle are fairly basic and the drivetrain is a 3×9 Shimano Deore/Alivio mix. Shimano brakes, with a 180mm rotor up front, are excellent, and the wheelset is impressive – Shimano hubs laced to lightweight Alex XD Comp rims, shod with Continental Mountain King 2.2in tyres that roll fast, have a big enough profile to boost comfort but can be skittish on corners.??

This is a lively cross-country trail bike with a decent 120mm fork, and it offers a bit more cushioning than the average 100mm-forked XC bike. The fact it’s slightly better equipped than most ?700 bikes gives it extra appeal, but new or aggressive riders will prefer the more stoical handling of a big-wheeler.?

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



Genesis Latitude Ti review

Like its steel counterpart, the titanium Latitude isn’t officially available in 2013 – but you can still track it down.?

The Latitude Ti looks so similar?to the steel one that at first it’s hard – once the price tag is off – to tell it apart. Titanium is less dense and less stiff than steel, but increasing a tube’s diameter rapidly increases its rigidity (by the cube of the diameter increase, since you asked).?

The Latitude Ti’s main tubes – and especially its down tube – are noticeably fatter than its steel counterpart’s. They have to be, or the front triangle would have all the torsional rigidity of a sulky child, so this titanium down tube is both fat and impressively flared down at the bottom bracket. The stays aren’t noticeably different to the steel bike’s rear end, though. Curious.

Titanium’s lower density pays off, despite the increase in tube sizes. Our test Latitude Ti had a 700g weight advantage over the almost identically equipped 853 version. And it’s a difference you can feel out on the trail. The Latitude Ti has a tractable, sprightly gait that’s inspiring on climbs – it’s a feel that encourages hard effort at the pedals and rewards it with a friendly can-do feel at any speed.?

Yet in other ways it’s hard to separate the titanium from the steel. That fluid springiness is very similar, though the Latitude Ti doesn’t quite have the same ‘snap’ as the 853 under hard, out-of-the-saddle sprints. Vibration is a tad more muted, and it’s supremely comfortable for day-long epics. It’s plusher than steel, but it’s minimal.

Genesis latitude ti:

Test spec

  • Wheels:?DT Swiss X430 rims, Shimano SLX hubs
  • Tyres: Continental Mountain King, 2.2in
  • Crankset:?Shimano Deore XT, 22/32/42T
  • Cassette:?Shimano CS-M771, 11-32T, 10spd?
  • Gears: Shimano Deore XT
  • Brakes:?Shimano Deore XT
  • Other stuff: Genesis seatpost, bars and stem, Madison saddle

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



New Continental tires – Eurobike 2012

Some of the first products BikeRadar saw at the Eurobike 2012 Demo Day were the new road, mountain and cyclocross tires from Continental. Here’s what we found.

Lighter and tougher road models

Continental’s successful Attack and Force clincher tires will be joined in 2013 by a set of tubulars with similar front- and rear-specific designs, called Attack Comp and Force Comp.

Just as with the tube-type version, the new tubulars feature a 22mm width up front and a more generous 24mm out back. Continental says this provides better handling, more efficient power transfer, decreased rolling resistance and better wear.

Both tires are built with the company’s outstanding Black Chili rubber compounds and are reinforced with Vectran breaker belts. Claimed weight is 500g for the matched tubular set.

On the clincher side there’s a new Grand Prix GT, which offers a smoother ride with its sole 700×25mm size option. It also boasts enhanced puncture protection with three layers of bead-to-bead belting.

The new continental grand prix gt puts a heavy emphasis on durability and ride quality with a 25mm-wide casing and triple-layer, bead-to-bead puncture protection: the new continental grand prix gt puts a heavy emphasis on durability and ride quality with a 25mm-wide casing and triple-layer, bead-to-bead puncture protection

The Continental Grand Prix GT road tire, new for 2013

The original Attack and Force clinchers remain largely the same for 2013 but lose about 20g for the pair through revised tread shaping.

New MTB treads for racing

Continental also debuted a radical Speed King tire that’s solely aimed for racing on hardpacked (or paved) conditions. The new semi-slick is said to produce 18 percent less rolling resistance than the already-fast Race King, while the modest shoulder knobs and (very) subtle center tread still supposedly provide reasonable grip at appropriately low air pressures.

Despite the barely-there tread, Continental product manager Christian Wurmb?ck claims the Speed King will still last most riders about 1,500km. Claimed weight is just 430g in the lone 26×2.2in size.

Downhillers, on the other hand, will get the new Der Kaiser Rammstein Projekt (US$84.95) with pared-down center knobs for reduced rolling resistance but the same trapezoidal-shaped shoulder knobs as the standard Der Kaiser for tenacious and progressive cornering grip.

Continental aims the new der kaiser rammstein at downhill racers looking for a little extra speed. compared to the standard der kaiser, the rammstein features pared-down center knobs that roll faster but wear quicker: continental aims the new der kaiser rammstein at downhill racers looking for a little extra speed. compared to the standard der kaiser, the rammstein features pared-down center knobs that roll faster but wear quicker

The new Der Kaiser Rammstein Projekt

Additionally, two-ply construction and a new Apex sidewall reinforcement ward off flats while also lending extra casing support under high load. Claimed weight is 1,150g.

Elsewhere in the MTB sector?it’s mostly a story of expanded size ranges. For example, the Mountain King and X-King will now both come in a giant 29×2.4in to address the growing 29er trail bike market.

Meanwhile, the Race King will be offered in new 29×2.2in Sport, 29×2.0in RaceSport and 26×2.0in RaceSport variants.

And yes, Continental will offer 27.5in mountain bike tires, but for now only in the X-King tread and 2.2in and 2.4in widths. Both are?built on the ProTection Revolution tubeless ready casing and with Black Chili rubber.

Conti debuts production of cyclocross tubulars

We’ve been playing with prototype Continental cyclocross tubulars for more than three seasons now but the German company is finally ready to launch production versions. They will be using their own casings (previous ones were made by Challenge) and new tread designs adapted from the Continental mountain bike range.

At least for now, the new CycloXKing (US$124.95, UK pricing TBC) will be the sole tubular offering with a 700×32mm, 180tpi casing and a fast rolling, versatile tread derived from the mountain bike X-King.

Continental will finally offer a production cyclocross tubular called cycloxking, using a fast rolling but versatile tread design derived from the x-king mountain bike tire: continental will finally offer a production cyclocross tubular called cycloxking, using a fast rolling but versatile tread design derived from the x-king mountain bike tire

The CycloXKing tubular tyre

Most importantly, Continental will build the tread using its Black Chili compound. We expect it to provide similarly impressive levels of grip, speed, and durability as on other so-equipped tires. In fact, Continental specifically claims 30 percent more grip, 26 percent less rolling resistance, and five percent better wear than standard activated silica treads. Claimed weight is 390g and tires should be in stores by the end of September.

A corresponding clincher version – simply called CycloXKing – will be available in both 32mm and 35mm-wide sizes with claimed weights ranging from 320-450g. Suggested retail price is US$54.95 (UK pricing TBC).

Muddy courses will instead call for the new Mountain King CX, built with a tube-type clincher casing but a more aggressive and open tread designed to cut through the slop into the firmer ground underneath.

As with the CycloXKing, the Mountain King CX will be available only in a 32mm width. Claimed weight is 320g.

Eurobike 2012: New Continental tires

Some of the first products BikeRadar saw at the Eurobike 2012 Demo Day were the new road, mountain and cyclocross tires from Continental. Here’s what we found.

Lighter and tougher road models

Continental’s successful Attack and Force clincher tires will be joined in 2013 by a set of tubulars with similar front- and rear-specific designs, called Attack Comp and Force Comp.

Just as with the tube-type version, the new tubulars feature a 22mm width up front and a more generous 24mm out back. Continental says this provides better handling, more efficient power transfer, decreased rolling resistance and better wear.

Both tires are built with the company’s outstanding Black Chili rubber compounds and are reinforced with Vectran breaker belts. Claimed weight is 500g for the matched tubular set.

On the clincher side there’s a new Grand Prix GT, which offers a smoother ride with its sole 700×25mm size option. It also boasts enhanced puncture protection with three layers of bead-to-bead belting.

The new continental grand prix gt puts a heavy emphasis on durability and ride quality with a 25mm-wide casing and triple-layer, bead-to-bead puncture protection: the new continental grand prix gt puts a heavy emphasis on durability and ride quality with a 25mm-wide casing and triple-layer, bead-to-bead puncture protection

The Continental Grand Prix GT road tire, new for 2013

The original Attack and Force clinchers remain largely the same for 2013 but lose about 20g for the pair through revised tread shaping.

New MTB treads for racing

Continental also debuted a radical Speed King tire that’s solely aimed for racing on hardpacked (or paved) conditions. The new semi-slick is said to produce 18 percent less rolling resistance than the already-fast Race King, while the modest shoulder knobs and (very) subtle center tread still supposedly provide reasonable grip at appropriately low air pressures.

Despite the barely-there tread, Continental product manager Christian Wurmb?ck claims the Speed King will still last most riders about 1,500km. Claimed weight is just 430g in the lone 26×2.2in size.

Downhillers, on the other hand, will get the new Der Kaiser Rammstein Projekt (US$84.95) with pared-down center knobs for reduced rolling resistance but the same trapezoidal-shaped shoulder knobs as the standard Der Kaiser for tenacious and progressive cornering grip.

Continental aims the new der kaiser rammstein at downhill racers looking for a little extra speed. compared to the standard der kaiser, the rammstein features pared-down center knobs that roll faster but wear quicker: continental aims the new der kaiser rammstein at downhill racers looking for a little extra speed. compared to the standard der kaiser, the rammstein features pared-down center knobs that roll faster but wear quicker

The new Der Kaiser Rammstein Projekt

Additionally, two-ply construction and a new Apex sidewall reinforcement ward off flats while also lending extra casing support under high load. Claimed weight is 1,150g.

Elsewhere in the MTB sector?it’s mostly a story of expanded size ranges. For example, the Mountain King and X-King will now both come in a giant 29×2.4in to address the growing 29er trail bike market.

Meanwhile, the Race King will be offered in new 29×2.2in Sport, 29×2.0in RaceSport and 26×2.0in RaceSport variants.

And yes, Continental will offer 27.5in mountain bike tires, but for now only in the X-King tread and 2.2in and 2.4in widths. Both are?built on the ProTection Revolution tubeless ready casing and with Black Chili rubber.

Conti debuts production of cyclocross tubulars

We’ve been playing with prototype Continental cyclocross tubulars for more than three seasons now but the German company is finally ready to launch production versions. They will be using their own casings (previous ones were made by Challenge) and new tread designs adapted from the Continental mountain bike range.

At least for now, the new CycloXKing (US$124.95, UK pricing TBC) will be the sole tubular offering with a 700×32mm, 180tpi casing and a fast rolling, versatile tread derived from the mountain bike X-King.

Continental will finally offer a production cyclocross tubular called cycloxking, using a fast rolling but versatile tread design derived from the x-king mountain bike tire: continental will finally offer a production cyclocross tubular called cycloxking, using a fast rolling but versatile tread design derived from the x-king mountain bike tire

The CycloXKing tubular tyre

Most importantly, Continental will build the tread using its Black Chili compound. We expect it to provide similarly impressive levels of grip, speed, and durability as on other so-equipped tires. In fact, Continental specifically claims 30 percent more grip, 26 percent less rolling resistance, and five percent better wear than standard activated silica treads. Claimed weight is 390g and tires should be in stores by the end of September.

A corresponding clincher version – simply called CycloXKing – will be available in both 32mm and 35mm-wide sizes with claimed weights ranging from 320-450g. Suggested retail price is US$54.95 (UK pricing TBC).

Muddy courses will instead call for the new Mountain King CX, built with a tube-type clincher casing but a more aggressive and open tread designed to cut through the slop into the firmer ground underneath.

As with the CycloXKing, the Mountain King CX will be available only in a 32mm width. Claimed weight is 320g.



Lapierre Zesty 314 review

Slightly lighter for 2012 and with the already excellent OST suspension evolved even further, Lapierre’s Zesty is a truly outstanding ride, even if some of the componentry on the 314 model is begging for upgrades.

Ride & handling: Outrageously controlled suspension, superbly balanced weight distribution

The Zesty is saddled with a twisty fork, under-levered cockpit and plastic tyres, which makes the way this bike transformed the riding of most testers who tried it even more remarkable. Despite its 29.34lb (13.31kg) weight, it pedals with such stability yet consistent grip that it drops most others in its travel category (140mm) with ease on technical climbs.

Not only does it pedal and float the small stuff sweetly, the OST+ suspension sucks up squares edges with impressive economy and efficiency. It also controls the bike’s position and response so well that it seems to actually pump the Zesty forwards over punishing sections. 

It doesn’t matter if it’s the big boulder blocks of rougher trail centres or geological chunder on a gnarly bridleway, the Lapierre stays mobile and fluid where other bikes stutter and choke. Modifications to the shock rate for 2012 means it now handles the biggest hits better too, landing serious launches like a cat.

Consistent shock control, impeccable weight balance plus frame and rear end stiffness mean no stumble or stagger when you push it to the limits either. No hesitation, no heart stopping ‘what happens next?’ off-line horror â€“ just check your line, release the brakes, drop in, land and collect control instantly before driving straight out. 

Through every technical section it accumulates not just speed, but confidence, momentum and an unparalleled, insolent playfulness. We’ve watched everyone from enduro downhill racers hitting the lines and times they normally reserve for their big-hit race bikes to hardcore roadies suddenly ripping the descents like serious rad addicts on the Zesty and it’ll likely do the same for you.

Frame & equipment: Stiff chassis needs component upgrades to unlock its ultimate potential

The Zesty has undergone a subtle but significant evolution for 2012. The head angle is a degree slacker and the bottom drops for increased stability too. The chainstays are also significantly shorter, bringing them inline with the category average and increasingly 3D agility. Tubing is lighter in most areas but tighter at the pivots for a stiffer overall feel. Decent tyre clearance, tidy cable routing and carbon mech protector fin are all still present.

The OST suspension has been tweaked to create OST+. This moves the shock mount forward and adds a blanking block onto the rear of the can. This reduces the angle change in the shock as it goes through the stroke and creates a more progressive compression rate. It also means you can fit a longer shock and link to give 160mm of travel, like the bigger Spicy model.

The Fox fork rides well but the quick-release tips and Mavic wheels feel flexy when pushed. The bar is narrow and the stem long considering the chaos tackling capability of the chassis. Formula brakes and Shimano gears provide a superb stop/go combo. It’s worth noting that the 514 model adds a lighter, stiffer carbon mainframe and through-axle RockShox fork for an extra £600.

We like the balance of chunkier Mountain King II front tread and lower-profile, faster X-King rear on the Continental tyre combo but the hard compound is slippery when wet. The top level Black Chili version of the tyres (or another brand entirely) would really let the Zesty shine.

This bike was tested as part of What Mountain Bike magazine’s Bike of the Year shootout. You can read the full feature in this month’s mag, in shops now, and available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

Trail Bike of the Year preview

The testers reflect on this year’s crop of bikes



Orange Diva – First ride review

Like all the best bikes designed for women, the Diva shouldn’t be ruled out by smaller male riders. It’s a classy looker with a few detail tweaks that’ll make it a great choice for a lot of women riders, but the main emphasis is very much on ride quality.

Its relaxed handling makes it fun to ride on the most demanding trails and it’s well enough equipped to be a superb starter bike for those who are tempted by the occasional competitive outing. The Diva offers the perfect blend of uphill, downhill and technical singletrack competence. The weight is about average for a bike at this price and, while we’ve seen £900 bikes with better drivetrains, the rest of the parts are well chosen and there’s absolutely nothing that lets it down in action.

Ride & handling: Neutral and well-balanced

The Diva offers an easy going and forgiving ride: forgiving in the sense that it’s never too demanding on the handling front and feels fairly comfy over rough terrain. The sat-forward ride posture, emphasised by an inline seat post, helps you to work the suspension fork while the relaxed head angle allows you to run the fork soft without the occasional dive through the full 100m of travel on harder hits unduly upsetting the steering.

The 15in bike comes with a 55mm stem, which works well with the geometry assuming you want a bike with a short stretch from the saddle to the bars. But there’s loads of adjustment on the saddle rails and the handling still felt neutral with an 80mm stem fitted.

Frame: Ideal balance of strength, stiffness and compliance

The Diva’s 6061-T6 aluminium frame tubes are shaped to create the ideal balance of strength, stiffness and compliance. Geometry is slack enough for reassuringly neutral handling at the front end while a 74-degree seat angle accommodates the typically shorter female torso, spreading the rider’s weight right across the centre of the bike, for a comfy ride position and well balanced handling. 

Equipment: Well-built wheels and well-chosen parts

The RockShox Recon fork is air sprung, so it’s fairly light and easy to adjust to rider weight and ride feel preferences. Compression damping is factory-set and there’s a rebound damping adjustment dial at the base of the right leg.

Our 15in test bike came with 170mm cranks, skinny bar grips and WTB’s Speed She saddle. 2.2in Continental Mountain King treads are grippy in all conditions and have a big enough profile to boost comfort. We suspect the wishbone seat stays and 27.2mm seat post will also do their bit in helping to take the hard edges off bumpy terrain.

Componentry wise, it’s very well equipped: the wheels are well built with Mavic XM119 rims and Shimano Deore hubs, a 27-speed drivetrain twins Shimano’s ‘no-group’ cranks with an SLX rear mech, Alivio up front and Deore shifters, brakes are powerful Avid Elixir 1s.

This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike