“Most compelling bikes of 2014.” Those are big shoes to fill. How, then, did we arrive with these two bikes?Tweet Print
Two modern, full suspension trail bikes that can handle a little of everything.Tweet Print
Let’s get this out of the way first: SLM stands for Super Light Mountain. They ain’t lyin’. The $5,799 SLM 1.1 is the flagship of the Fuji SLM fleet and its frame is made from C15, Fuji’s highest grade of carbon fiber. The end result is a 29er frame weighing less than 1,000 grams (nearly 300 grams lighter than the 2013 version). The size medium bike tipped Dirt Rag’s scale at 22.2 pounds (without pedals).Tweet Print
Two big-tire heavyweights go head to head.Tweet Print
This year marks drastic changes for Intense Cycles. With a new CEO, CFO and COO in place, company founder and owner Jeff Steber along with his original business partner Marv Strand both agreed, “This is a very exciting time, a reinvention of our brand.”
Steber added, “I designed a guitar before I could play one and I went into the mountain bike business with the same energy.” For the complete tale of how Steber almost went into the guitar business instead of bikes as well as the story behind Intense’s rise to fame check out our special 25th Anniversary Issue (#176), coming soon.
Intense was an early pioneer in downhill racing, not only in the amount of riders that rode its bikes but also in that the brand ushered in a new look. “Intense downhill racers began wearing motocross inspired gear instead of Lycra, specifically Shawn Palmer,” recalled Steber. “He changed the sport forever and this brought us a lot of attention. In 1996 when he won a silver medal at the World Championships, that’s when Intense arrived.”
Another pioneering move by Steber and the Intense brand was the embracement of 27.5-inch wheels. “We were one of the first to move to this wheelsize when the Tracer 275 came out in 2012”, Steber says. “I called it 275 because 650b sounded too roadie.”Tweet Print
From our neighbors to the north comes the Mutant, a hardtail 29+ monster hell bent on global domination! Hailing from Toronto, RSD Bikes (Rubber Side Down) is showing promise with its new line-up of hardtail trail bikes and the Mutant shows the company is willing to be among the first to put a 29+ bike to market.Tweet Print
After years of fits and starts the final wall holding back the flood of 27.5 trail bikes broke, as more than a dozen manufacturers brought new or redesigned models to market. One was something of an unlikely source: Breezer. Yes, Joe Breeze was a key player in the birth of mountain biking but in the past decade his brand had been largely devoted to practical city bikes and some 29er hardtails.
So I wasn’t the only one surprised when Breezer skipped past short-travel XC bikes and went all-in with the unveiling of a 160mm, 27.5 bike aimed squarely at big-mountain and enduro riding. And what moniker would grace such a groundbreaking design for the brand? None other than Repack, named for the world’s first downhill race that plunged 1,300 feet down a dirt road in Fairfax, California, in the late 1970s.Tweet Print
Let me answer this question first: no, this is not a Krampus with holes drilled in it. While ECR closely resembles its 29+ brethren, it is a completely different beast. The frame is different, the geometry is different, the build kit is different and the fork is different.
Built for loaded touring, exploring and “Escaping Common Reality”, Surly designed the ECR from the ground up with versatility and cargo capacity in mind. It has eyelets for pretty much anything you can imagine: Up to five bottle cages, three sets of Salsa Anything Cage mounts, mounts a cargo rack out back, fenders (if you can find some wide enough), lowrider or cargo racks on the fork, a Rohloff hub, even a Surly trailer mount. All of this is made possible with Surly’s stout 4130 steel tubing (‘natch) and unique rearward-facing dropouts shared with the Ogre and Troll models.Tweet Print
I have gotten fat this winter, and I couldn’t be happier.
Just before Christmas this neon dream of American-made aluminum showed up from the Khaki Santa (aka the delivery guy) and made my riding bright.
Fatback was built exclusively around fat bikes, and it has kept this decidedly American sport homegrown by partnering with Zen Fabrication in Portland to build all its aluminum frames here in the U.S. of A. It’s built from 6000-series aluminum with an oversized headtube, three sets of bottle cage mounts, an S3 direct mount front derailleur mount and a 31.6 seatpost diameter.Tweet Print
Call it fate. I recently purchased a Santa Cruz Highball frame and needed a fork to complete my build, and while I searched an email was forwarded to me from Fox looking for a tester for this fork.
The fork happens to be a Fox 32 Float 29, 100mm FIT Terralogic model, and yes, I’d like to test it. This model is available with either a 9mm drop-out or with an included 15mm thru-axle, which I opted for, and with either a tapered or 1 1/8” straight steerer. Kashima coated uppers, Terralogic threshold, rebound, and an air spring with updated damping for 2014 are all included.
The Terralogic technology was first introduced in 2004 and before that Fox partnered with Specialized to develop the Brain for its full-suspension rigs. If you’re not familiar, here’s the basics: when Terralogic is engaged, the fork rides as if it were locked out. Stand up, mash the pedals, pump the bars back and forth and there’s very little movement in the fork. When you hit a bump, the force from below activates the suspension by pushing the lowers up. As the lowers rise, a brass mass, which seemingly moves but really stays in place relative to the fork, reveals a piston for the oil to flow through and the suspension to become active. The amount of force needed for activation is controlled by a threshold adjuster. A return spring eventually pushes the brass mass back into place when the trail smoothes out, restricting again the flow of oil.Tweet Print