By Eric McKeegan
Two summers ago, I got to fondle and photograph a Gambler at a Scott press camp. I didn’t get to ride it as the press camp’s local terrain was much better suited to the Genius bikes released at the same time.
I finally got to throw a leg over this bike, and on world class trails at Whistler. The Gambler is a bit a surprise from Scott. Scott’s trail bikes lean towards steeper XC geometry, but the Gambler is among the slackest downhill bikes on the market. Stock numers are a 62 to 62.7 degree head tube angle, depending on setup, and the included angled headset cups can take off another full degree for a true plow bike experience.
I hopped on a large 2014 model, with a Shimano Saint drivetrain, Zee brakes, FOX 40 RC2 with airspring, and DHX rear shock. All top quality stuff, and the new Schwalbe Magic Mary tires were perfect for the rainy day at Whistler.
I love riding downhill, but I’m not super fast. At heart I’m a trail rider, and I have a tendency to ride downhill bikes like trail bikes, steering too much, not taking the big lines, etc. This usually means bikes like the Gambler overwhelm me at first, as the slack and low geometry usually feels slow and ponderous at first. But the Gambler didn’t feel that way at all.
Maybe it was the bike setup, with the stays in the shortest setting and the BB in the high setting, and a great suspension setup for my weight, but everything felt right at home. Even on tight singletrack, full of wet bridge work, with fogged goggles, I was ready to charge whatever was in front of me. And out of all the downhill bikes I’ve ridden the Gambler was easiest for me to feel confident launching jumps, which is probably my biggest weakness as a rider.
With downhill season winding down, and thoughts turn to 2014, the Gambler is now #1 on my list for a long-term gravity bike review. I was pretty bummed my schedule at Crankworx didn’t have time for an all day session on the Gambler.
Floriane Pugin rocketed her Gambler to a podium finish in both the Fox Air DH and the Canadian Open DH at Crankworx last week.Tweet Print
By Eric McKeegan, photos by Adam Newman.
SRAM has been exemplary with trickling down technology from high-end groups to more affordable price points. Starting at $1,274 for the aftermarket kit, this isn’t the hoped-for X9 or X7 1×11 group many are hoping for, but it is a step in the right direction.
To be entirely honest, the XO1 group isn’t really that different from the XX1 group. The cassette is the same with a different finish. The carbon cranks are the same as the XX1 (and standard XO) with a differnet bolt-on spider, and the shifter appears to use many of the same parts as XX1, with aluminum replacing some of the carbon bits.
The cassette’s smaller 10 cogs are machined from a solid hunk of steel, and amazing feat when seen up close. The 42-tooth cog is aluminum. The finish is a mean-looking black, similar in appearance to the black stanchions on Rock Shox’s new forks. Yes this is a $400 cassette, but if you have a hard time understanding why that is, find one to examine off the bike, I still amazes me every time I see one.
The crank uses a 94 BCD four bolt spider, with chainrings from 30-38 teeth in even sizes. XX1 has a smaller BCD spider for chainrings down to 28 teeth. This smaller spider explains the minor weight savings for the crankset. Speaking of the crank, these carbon crank arms, orginially introduced on the XO group are one of the best things going. The bolt on spider means you can convert your current 2x crank to a 1x, or even use a one-piece aftermarket chainring. These cranks have been raced in DH, bashed around on demo bikes and generally used hard, I’ve never seen a broken set.
The shifter is obviously a sibling to the XX1 unit, and it appears to be lighter than XX1, according to the specs I’ve seen, I haven’t weighted either one personally. You can also go with a GripShift shifter, but I’ll ask you to keep that preference to yourself.
So far the 11-speed chains have proven to be strong and durable in our experience, and I expect the XO1 to perform the same way. I suspect the chains are under less stress since they are not getting pushed around from ring to ring up front.
The derailleur is also very, very similar to the XX1, with XO1 coming in at 30 grams heavier.
I got to ride the new group, but riding up the chair lift and blazing back down Whistler trails doesn’t do much to see how the system works under everyday use. I can say the chain retention is perfect, even on the blown out trails at Cranworx.
My thoughts on the new XO? With so few functional changes from XX1, I’ll go out on a limb and say this is going to be another awesome (and still expensive) drivetrain option from SRAM. As OE spec on a new bike, it might save just enough money over XX1 to score a nicer dropper, or upgrade to a carbon post. For aftermarket sales, unless you really need or want the 28-tooth ring (and aren’t willing to use an aftermarket option) XO1 might kill of most of the XX1 sales. There is no performance lost between the two groups, weight gain is minor, and the black XO1 cassette looks better too!
In other SRAM news, I rode the XO1 group on a new Lapierre Spicy stacked full of other new goodness from SRAM. The Pike felt amazing, and as long as the new Charger damper is reliable. This fork is the one to beat. We’ve got one on its way for long term test, and there might be a fight at HQ over who gets to ride it.
By Adam Newman
We’re still recovering from a week of madness at Whistler Mountain, but if you couldn’t join us, here’s a behind-the-scenes look at what you missed.
The mountains beckon on the bus ride from Vancouver along the stunning Sea To Sky Highway.
Aaaahhh… here we are.
The atomosphere is, shall we say, festive.
Everyone in the village loves gravity racing, and it doesn’t have to include bikes.
But if you need a bike, there’s never a shortage of options once you get here.
Though some folks push the definition of "bike" entirely too far.
Brandon Semenuk was pretty stoked on his new bike, the Trek Session Park, which he helped design for events like the Red Bull Rampage. Later he did break a smile after grabbing his second win at the Red Bull Joyride slopestyle comp.
Ryan Howard was a little more animated, hamming it up for the mountain bike press.
Speaking of which, here they are hard at work (aka tweeting about cats).
The parking lot with the fleet vehicles was a "mine’s bigger" contest. E-Rides was represented well.
Two all-conquering mountain machines. We should get one of these for the next Dirt Rag van.
Coolest dog on the mountain? We think so.
Next time you’re making excuses why you can’t ride, remember Chilean racer Adolfo Almarza who shreds the pro circuit even as a double amputee.
That’s it for now, but watch for more coverage in the coming days.
See you soon Whistler.Tweet Print
In just three days time BikePark Wales will open its doors to the public after five years of planning and construction. Today see’s the release of the final episode in the making of BikePark Wales triology “Go for launch” featuring guest riders Tracy Mosely, Joe Smith, Al Bond and Joel Moore.
This episode gives a great insight as to what the riding at BikePark Wales will be like. To find out for yourself, you’ll have to go check it out on Saturday, August 24.Tweet Print
By Adam Newman
Returning strong from bankruptcy in 2011, for next year RaceFace will get into the saddle game with the Affect, a mountain bike specific saddle weighing in at about 220 grams with Ti alloy rails and an approximately $100 price tag. Look for it in late fall 2013.
RaceFace is the latest brand to get on board with the new 35mm stem clamp standard. The SixC downhill bars measure in at 800mm wide with three different rise options. The Next series clocks in at 760mm, and even the XC-focused Turbo series has a 35mm option with the same 760mm width.
Naturally there will be RaceFace stems to match.
Devinci was showing off the new 27.5 Troy model, a 140mm enduro/trail bike with Dave Weigle’s Split Pivot suspension design. The internal cable routing pops out above the bottom bracket, leading to something of a housing crowd. The carbon weave look on the front triangle also isn’t something you see often these days. The seatstays are carbon while the asymmetric chainstays are aluminum.
While Steve Smith took the win in the Air DH race aboard his new Troy, above, we spotted a prototype Devinci under teammate Nick Beer. While the Troy and Dixon models have vertical shock mounts, this one, below, employs a horizontal RockShox Vivid Air, likely indicating an increase in travel, slotting in between Devinci’s trail/enduro bikes and the Wilson downhill sled. Look for it to be the perfect downhiller turned enduro racer’s xc-ish trail bike. (I kid. I kid.)
Banshee Bikes were "born on the shore" and naturally the booth was a popular stop in the Whistler Village. The Phantom 29er prototype pictured here was first spotted at Sea Otter, but it looks closer than ever to production. The frame sports 100mm of rear wheel travel and designed to handle 120mm-140mm forks. Unlike other short-travel XC bikes, the Phantom has a 67 degree head tube angle for more aggressive riding. Look for it to be production ready by spring.
Banshee also had this prototype 27.5 Legend in the booth, but it’s the only one in existence and hasn’t even been ridden yet. The Manitou Dorado fork has plenty of clearance for the bigger wheels, but the rear end sure is tight. The suspension is Banshee’s own KS Link with the replaceable dropouts and flip chips for adjustable geometry and convertible axle standards.
FiveTen has two new models for 2014: the Sam Hill signature edition Impact VXi and the Greg Minaar edition Impact VXi clipless. The new kicks are significantly lighter than the old style Impacts, and the new foam is non-absorbant, so you’re shoes won’t swell up like sponges on rainy days.
There will be a youth version of the classic Impact shoes as well, as 9-year-old FiveTen rider Jackson Goldstone tries on his for the first time.
EVOQ’s Liteshield line of bags have a closed-cell foam panel that protects your spine in the event of a crash, both from the ground and from whatever might be in your bag. Available in four sizes, there is an option for everything from XC to backcountry touring.
Not everyone needs fancy gear. DIY was in style at Crankworx. Or maybe it’s just a prototype…
One bike we didn’t expect to see at the bike park was Surly’s super-brand-new Instigator 2.0. The new bike has massive tire clearance with room for Surly’s new 26×2.75 Dirt Wizard tires or those oh-so-hot-right-now 27.5 wheels. The replaceable and convertible dropouts are new for Surly and can be fitted to handle most any axle system.
By Adam Newman
A few weeks ago we brought you news that Giant’s 2014 lineup would be almost entirely devoid of 26-inch bikes and a scaled-back selection of 29ers. The company firmly believes the 27.5 wheels are a future of trail riding and have equipped most of their mountain bikes, from the price point hardtails to the enduro-ready Trance SX, as such.
The mid-travel segment is the most quickly expanding market these days, as the bikes can be used for everything from casual weekend rides to enduro racing. The Trance models fall squarely in that not-too-big, not-too-small category with 140mm of rear wheel travel through Giant’s classic dual-link Maestro suspension system.
The Trance 27.5 1 model, pictured here, is equipped with a Fox Float 32 Evolution, a Shimano SLX and XT parts kit, and Giant’s own Contact Switch dropper seatpost. MSRP is $3,500. There is also a lower-priced version or it is available as a frame-only. The Trance Advanced is the same model with a carbon frame.
I grabbed one out of the Giant’s extensive demo fleet here at Crankworx and hit the popular Lost Lake trails just outside the village.
This was my first ride on Giant’s Maestro system but certainly not my first on 27.5 wheels. If you haven’t tried them yet, there isn’t much to say—they don’t require any brain re-calibration the way moving back and forth from 26 to 29 does.
With limited setup tweaks, the Trance stumbled a bit out of the block. The Maestro system stiffens up considerably under power but sank into its travel when off the gas. Setting the rebound to nearly full fast keep it up high in its travel. The fork took even more effort to wrangle, as a "proper" sag setup led to an astonishing amount of braking dive. Cranking up the air pressure kept it riding high, but left me with access to only half its travel.
Once all the squishing was sorted, the bike had that perfect "Goldilocks" feel that disappears beneath you. The 67 degree head tube and 17.3-inch chainstays are square in the middle of what you would expect to see on a 5-inch bike, and there are no handling quirks or surprises. Keeping the rebound damping fast gave the suspension a bit of life, but the Trance is definitely a bike that likes to stay on the ground instead of getting rowdy.
The only spots on the trails I had trouble with was charging up steep, technical, punchy little climbs, as the "smaller" 27.5 wheel just could roll over the small step-ups as well as a 29er could. When I rode the same sections on a 29er the next day it cleared them with far less speed and body english.
I was hoping get some shredding in though—this being BC and all—so I also grabbed a Trance SX off the rack. The SX uses the same 140mm frame but gets the burlier 160mm Fox Float 34 Evolution fork and a 1×10 drivetrain with a chainguide. With the spec pictured here, the $4,050 seemed a bit high compared to the regular Trance, as you get a bigger fork but one less shifter and derailleur.
The same suspension gremlins were present on the Trance SX though, and setting up the fork so stiff really took away from how hard I could push the bike. It also seemed a bit more wobbly and less adept at the tight and twisty Lost Lake trails that its smaller sibling. I didn’t have a chance to take it up the mountain to the bike park but it would certainly feel more at home on wide-open terrain with higher speeds.
If the fork issues were taken care of I would have likely come away with a better first impression. More extensive tuning could likely remedy braking dive. Since Giant has such a huge reach all over the world, I have little doubt the Trance will be a huge success as a very versatile bike that is going to keep a lot of riders satisfied.
By Eric McKeegan, photos by Adam Newman
Last year Marin was sold to a private European investment group. From the outside, this move didn’t change very much, but it allowed Marin to invest in more design manpower, and these bikes are the first of what Marin promises to be many new designs. All models below share 27.5 wheels, and Marin will not make any 26-inch full suspension models for 2014.
First up is the Attack Trail, utilizing the latest iteration of Marin’s Quad Link Suspension design. The 150mm rear travel is matched to a 160mm fork, with all three models using the impressive new RockShox Pike fork. An aggressive 66.5 head angle , 13.3-inch bottom bracket and 17.1-inch chainstays show Marin is paying attention to the current long travel market. As of now, only three, carbon-framed models will be available. Canadian prices are $4,190-$7,870, and we’ll get U.S. pricing ASAP.
Also new this year is the Mount Vision line. In person, the Mount Vision and Attack Trail seem very similar, in both looks and design intent. Dig in deeper, and the suspension design is revealed to be a single pivot system, with a linkage driving the shock, and a flex point built into the seat stay, eliminating the need for a pivot in that location. Front and rear travel is matched at 140mm, with Fox 34 forks.
Three carbon Mount Visions will range between $5,030 and $7,550. Alloy models, with a carbon rear end (needed to create the flex point) will run $2,950 or $3,990.
The Attack Trail is marketed as a trail bike, and the Mount Vision an "enduro" bike. This seems to be the opposite of what many companies and consumers are selling and using for enduro races. The lighter and conceivably more efficient Mount Vision seems much more trail-able to me, with the longer travel and slacker angles of the Attack Trail would fit in well at the enduro events I’ve attended.
If all the complexity of travel lengths and suspension have you down, take a look at the Rocky Ridge. The lack front end (67.5 degrees), short rear end (16.5 inches) and a low bottom bracket (12.7 inches) should make this bike a very capable trail bike. Two models, both with 130mm forks, will be available for $1,890 and $2,520 (Canadian).
Nice touches include internal dropper post routing, a bent seat tube for short chainstay clearance, a 1×10 drivetrain with chainguide, a front derailleur mount, and a 142mm rear hub. If you haven’t ridden a newer aggressive trail hardtail, you owe it to yourself to do so, and the Rocky Ridge looks to be a good place to start.Tweet Print
Words and photos by Adam Newman.
The week-long celebration that is Crankworx climaxes each year with the Canadian Open Downhill, a three-minute blast down some of the most technical riding on the mountain.
The highlight, of course, is Heckler’s Rock, where beer-soaked fans were pre-gaming as early as 10:30 a.m. for the 3 p.m. finals.
An ominous sign when walking down to the Rock.
We all know what fuels this party.
Even hooligans have rules, and this one was strictly enforced.
Well… I guess so, yeah.
Oh, yeah, there’s racing too.
The chairlift passes directly over Heckler’s Rock, and some passengers put on quite a show.
This guy doesn’t even have shoes on!
Canadian junior national champion Mark Wallace enjoying the home crowd.
Attempts to keep the track clean almost lead to disaster.
The guy in the jorts needs to put down the phone and pay attention.
Mitch Delfs shows he’s got the moves off the bike as well as on.
Nudity was the theme of the day.
You’ll find a few more obstacles on the Canadian Open track than you would at a normal DH track.
Loic Bruni wasn’t distracted by the on-course scenery.
Canadian hero Steve Smith rallied after an early crash to claim his second straight Canadian Open win.
And there was much rejoicing.Tweet Print
By Adam Newman
For nearly a decade Trek has been building dirt jump and slopestyle bikes for its sponsored athletes and mostly leaving consumers out of the equation. The Ticket Signature was briefly available as a complete bike, but with most riders preferring to build up their own ride depending on how they would use it, sales were sluggish.
Now, by combining the years of refinement on the Ticket hardtail and full-suspension models with Trek’s own Project One paint shop facilities in its office in Waterloo, Wisconsin, it will be releasing very limited runs onf special bikes under the Race Shop LTD label. Small production runs ("in the triple digits") means you better get to your local Trek shop in a hurry. First up are the three frames we saw today:
The Ticket DJ is the modern evolution of the dirt jump bike Trek has been building for years. Designed with the direct input of riders like Cam McCaul and Brandon Semenuk, it can be configured countless ways with ISCG tabs, sliding 142×12 dropouts and a derailleur hanger. It will be available in the spring, only in this blacked out paint, for $700.
The Ticket S was built to be the ultimate slopestyle bike, with 100mm of travel and 100mm-130mm forks. It matches the geometry of the hardtail so the athletes can switch bikes back and forth without having to adjust. The suspension uses Trek’s ABP linkage with a chip that allows for a small adjustment to the geometry, head angle and shock rate. It too will be available in only black, for $1,500, but will hit stores in late 2013.
The third bike is the Session Park frame. When Semenuk was preparing for the last Red Bull Rampage, he rode a modified Session with a custom swingarm that transformed the World Cup winning race bike into a more playful freeride bike. The rear travel has been shortened to 190mm while the shock rate has been made more progressive, and Semenuk said he runs his RockShox Boxxer fork at 190mm to match. The chainstays are also shorter at 420mm. It uses Trek’s patented OCLV carbon front triangle and will come in two sizes, medium and large. It will retail for $4,500 and be available in the spring.
Not into black? There will also be even more limited-edition versions of the C3 Project athletes’ custom painted bikes. First up is Ryan Howard’s stars and stripes Ticket S. Expect even more limited production runs, likely less than 100 units. When they’re gone, they’re gone, and Trek will decide which one to make next.
The Race Shop LTD program will also include other limited-edition goodies, including a straight up replica of Fabian Cancellara’s Paris-Roubaix-winning Domane road bike and the one-piece carbon fiber bar and stem used by the Trek XC race team.
Want to see the bikes in action? Check out Anthill Films‘ NotBad:Tweet Print
By Eric McKeegan, photos by Adam Newman
Let’s get the basic stuff out of the way about this company first. One: Ghost is a German brand, part of the Accell group (parent company of many brands, including Raleigh, Diamondback, Redline and others). Two: Starting soon, Ghost will be available, via a dealer network, across Canada. Three: No current plans for U.S. distribution.
OK, now let’s get on to the bike. This is the AMR Riot, a carbon fiber 130mm trail bike with 27.5 wheels. The rear suspension is a Horst Link design, with an extra link tucked into the bottom bracket area. It moves on Norglide bushings.
The first bit of the travel is on the regressive side of things, which helps keep suspension bob in check, getting more plush mid-stroke for more better bump absorption. That extra link changes the progression of the suspension over the last 20 percent of the travel as the progression ramps up aggressively, to the point where it’s nearly impossible to bottom out the shock.
The rest of the bike features all of the stuff we’ve come to expect on modern trail bikes, with nice little touches that show someone at Ghost is paying attention. The internal routing has multiple optional for entry plugs to get a custom set up depending out your cable routing needs, be it for 1x , 2x or 3x drivetrains, brake lever set-up (moto or standard) and dropper post choice.
The cables run inside the bottom bracket shell out through the chainstasy, eliminating the common ugly loop of cable under the BB. The BB92 press fit bottom bracket is standard enough, but a small plastic chain catcher keeps the chain from falling off the little ring. And finally the rear brake mount is a post style, but it is a separate aluminum piece that uses the rear axle as the rear mounting point.
The Riot will be available in five sizes. All sizes share a 68-degree head angle, 17.1 chainstays and 73.5-degree seat angle. The size large I rode has a 24 inch top tube, matched to a 60mm stem (which is stock for all sizes) was a fine fit for my 5 foot 11 self.
There will be three trim levels available, all with Shimano groups and Fox suspension. I headed out for a nice ride with Ghost’s Ruben Torenbeek. We spun down to the Lost Lake area in Whistler and got right to it on a technical climb. Right off the bat, I noticed the Riot is the the best pedaling FSR-style bike I’ve ever ridden. I never touched the CTD lever on the rear shock, and never felt the need to do so. Even with the dropper post slammed, out of the saddle the suspension behaved itself, resisting bob without feeling too harsh. It’s almost dw-link feeling, in a very good way.
Headed back down similar terrain, this was an easy bike to get used to, with very little time needed to adapt. I didn’t get info on the BB height, but it felt low enough to corner to corner aggressively, but not too low as to smash pedals and cranks while climbing.
Unfortunately, without U.S. distribution, this may be the only ride I’ll ever have on the Riot, which is a shame. From my short time on it, I came away impressed, and would love some more time on it. I’m a bit jealous of the people living within the global Ghost dealer zone.
- 130mm front and rear
- 27.5 wheels
- Full carbon frame
- Aluminum linkage parts
- RIOTLink suspension system, patented pending by Ghost Bikes.
- Disconnect Brake Mount, a new design brake mount where forces go directly into the X12 axle instead of the seat stays
- Frame weight: 2.1kg
- 3 models: AMR Riot 5/7/9
- Fully internal cable routing
- BB92 bottom bracket
- Tapered Headtube
- Reverb Stealth seatpost
- 68 degree headangle
- 73.5 degree seat tube angle
- 435mm chainstays
- Composite bushings