With a few exceptions, most bike companies seem to shy away from making true cross country race bikes, instead designing trail bikes that can be raced. The new Oiz from Basque bike-maker Orbea is decidedly not a trail bike. This is pro-level race machine, ready to decimate the competition when the ability to ride both up and down hill matters.
A group of international journalists were taken deep into the French Alps to learn about and ride the new Oiz. As an extra incentive, this media camp coincided with the UCI World Cup races in Meribel, and we were just a short gondola ride away from all the action including the downhill finals.
The previous Oiz, released in 2011 may have been one of the last 26-inch XC race bikes to hit the market. While it was rarely seen in the U.S. (I’ll admit to not even knowing it existed before this press camp) it was well liked by the 26-inch holdouts, and even saw some use in the pro women’s ranks with 27.5 wheels shoehorned into the frame. But with 26-inch wheels going the way if the dodo, and 29-inch wheels winning races everywhere, something new was needed.Tweet Print
Coming as a surprise, the entire fleet of media demo bikes for the recent Orbea Oiz launch was outfitted with 11-speed 2015 XTR, including four sets of the scarce electronic shifting M9050. We managed to put in a good ride on both groups.
Shimano originally announced the new XTR back in April, and we got a spin around a parking lot on prototype parts, and fondle clay mock-ups of what the production groups would look like. Things went quiet for months after that, with no set date on when the new parts would be ready for sale.
These parts are mostly still marked as prototypes, but we shouldn’t expect much to change between now and when they will show up on 2015 bikes and your local bike shop’s shelves. Don’t ask about prices, we still don’t have them. I’m not going to go over all the tech of the new group, if you need a refresher, blogs of on the M9000 are here, and M9050 is here. I’ll wait for you catch up.
Ready? Head full of numbers and words like FREEZA? Let’s clear the air with some real ride impressions, starting with M9000.Tweet Print
Hot on the heels of the the SB5c trail bike, Yeti releases a new cross country platform dubbed the AS-Rc.
As much as longer trail trail bikes are everyone’s favorite topic these days, not everyone wants or needs all that travel and slackness. This new AS-Rc should fill in the gap nicely between the trail bikes and ARC carbon hardtail.Tweet Print
Trek has been busy this year, with the Re:Aktiv shock technology we covered a few months ago. Now on the gravity end of things, we are seeing the anticipated release of carbon version of the well regarded 160mm Slash, and the Session splits into two models in both carbon and aluminum, the 26-inch Session Park and the 27.5 Session DH.Tweet Print
Raleigh isn’t a name you normally associate with mountain bikes. Though we have ridden and reviewed a few models, the brand is introducing a series of new full-suspension bikes for 2015, from entry-level to high-end. It is also expanding the Tamland line of gravel/adventure bikes with an aluminum sister model, the Willard.Tweet Print
Not all hydration packs are created equal. I’ve been using these three all-purpose adventure packs lately and evaluating the pros and cons of each. Get a detailed report below.Tweet Print
Across the board, the staff at Dirt Rag was more than a little surprised by this new suspension design. We knew there was a new 27.5 bike in the works, but we had no clue it would be so new and unique.
Yeti calls this new design Switch Infinity, or a “translating pivot”. As the suspension moves through its travel, the main pivot, mounted to a carrier that slides on two Kashima coated shafts, initially moves up, but at the inflection point, it moves back towards the bottom bracket.
The Auron is Suntour’s 34mm stanchioned entry in the enduro market, a 27.5 fork in a few damper configurations and travel lengths, topping out at 160mm. This is a basic RC damper with low speed rebound and compression clickers, a slick QR thru-axle, forged hollow crown, and magnesium lowers, adding up to 4.1 pounds with a cut steerer.
Competition is stiff in this segment, with the Fox 34 and darn near perfect RockShox Pike owning most of the market. I’m happy to report this fork plays in the same league on all levels: steering stiffness, damping adjustments and ride quality.Tweet Print
The new Crossmax Enduro wheel system is unique in that it’s designed around (and includes) Mavic branded tires, the dual-ply Charge and Roam XL. While the wheelset itself doesn’t break any new ground, it does use specific rim widths, spoke counts and lacing for the front and rear.Tweet Print
Liteville isn’t a brand you see much of on this side of the pond. A sister company to German component maker Syntace, Liteville makes just three understated models, which, when examined closely, display some of the finest design and engineering in the industry.
Rather than complaining about what wasn’t on the market, Liteville was formed to create bikes its founders wanted to ride, but weren’t available and the 601 is an obvious example, with a whopping 190mm of rear travel, adjustable geometry, and a full range of gearing capable of going up as well as down.
The 601 attracts very little attention on the trail because its flat black, ball-peened finish hides enough features to fill the rest of this page. Some highlights: super smart cable routing, model specific Syntace chain guide and a rear derailleur rock guard. Liteville designed specific aluminum tubing for each size and model, and the amount of shaping is nothing short of impressive. The 601 looks like the bicycle equivalent of an assault rifle; all business, and in the right hands, very dangerous.Tweet Print