We’ve been riding a lot of the new WTB tires lately and have been really impressed with both the new tread designs and the ease of use of the new TCS tubeless system. Today we look at the Bee Line, 27.5 XC tire and the Vigilante, a full-bore enduro and all-mountian tread.Tweet Print
Kore’s Mega handlebar occupies a unique place in the market right now; at 251g it’s one of the lightest aluminum bars in 740-760mm width range, and is lighter than many carbon bars in the category despite being far cheaper.
This 31.8mm bar is available in 20 and 30mm rise options, both with 5 degrees of upsweep and 8.5 degrees of backsweep. For 2014, width grows from 740mm to 760mm.
I really dig the polished silver look of my test bar, and appreciate the generous backsweep. Despite its weight, the Kore Mega was plenty stiff. For the price, the $60 Mega is mega-good.
Giant Bicycles made a bold move this year by committing most of its line-up to 27.5 wheels. From hardtails to full-suspension, across the board you’ll see the middle wheel size. Though Giant didn’t totally eliminate 29ers this year (you can still find one or two versions each of Anthem, XTC and Trance, compared to a total of about 28 different 27.5 models) it has been spoken many times that the company is in the process of phasing them along with 26ers out completely.
While the Trance Advanced 27.5 with 5.5 inches of travel became available initially, we were able to secure the very first 4-inch travel Anthem Advanced sent to the U.S., Giant’s flagship cross-country race bike. Yes, it’s pricey, but as outfitted, it showcases Giant’s advanced carbon technology and ability to also make high-end accessories from the resin material, from the cockpit bits to a remarkable wheelset with carbon rims. The Anthem line starts at $2,250 for the aluminum-framed 3 model.Tweet Print
For gravity riders and racers, Cane Creek’s Double Barrel coil shock has long been the be-all-end-all, the place you arrive at when you’ve reached enlightenment. This sentiment explains why there’s been so much buzz surrounding the Double Barrel Air, which utilizes the same Twin Tube damper technology licensed from Öhlins.Tweet Print
Knolly Bikes’ CEO and chief designer, Noel Buckley (hence the correct pronunciation: noll-lee), not only has a degree in engineering and physics, but was born and bred on the trails of Vancouver. This is quite apparent in Knolly’s lineup of bikes built for the rocks and roots of the North Shore. From the Red Bull Rampage tested Podium and the all-mountain monster Chilcotin, to the relatively tame Endorphin, all are built to take a bit of abuse. Don’t let my choice of words fool you, the Endorphin would hardly ever be classified as tame in some other manufacturers’ line ups, but at 140mm, it’s the shortest travel bike Knolly offers.Tweet Print
By Shannon Mominee
Can you spot the dog in this photo?
How about the dog in this photo?
The blaze orange Track Jacket from Ruffwear definitely makes it easier to spot my dog, Roman, in the woods and makes him more visible on night walks. And even though he’s not hunting, there are hunters in the woods that we hike and mountain bike in, and I’d rather they see my dog than mistake Roman for a deer or other game. Read the full storyTweet Print
By Shannon Mominee
Trek’s Fuel is one of the most popular full-suspension bicycles on the market, and for 2014 the company hopes to expand on that success by offering the option of 29-inch wheels. We recently got one in for a long-term review. Read the full storyTweet Print
By Justin Steiner
There’s been much hubbub in recent months about Yeti’s newest flag- ship trail bike, the SB-66. At first glance, it seemed strange that Yeti might keep their venerable 575 alongside this new 152mm-travel machine, given their similar geometries and travel figures. Yeti’s Chris Conroy described the differences and the reasons for having both bikes in the Yeti lineup: “The 575 is plusher, the SB-66 will feel more ‘performance.’ Those are subjective descriptions, but the SB-66 will pedal better than the 575. Riders interested in comfort and being able to blast through rock gardens with a more muted feel would prefer the 575. On the SB-66 you will feel the nuances of the trail more.”Tweet Print
By Trina Haynes
The $1,100 Eva Comp is one of three women specific 29ers from Raleigh for 2013. While it’s true that women don’t necessarily need a “women specific” bike, they do have a few known benefits: shorter top tubes, to accommodate a shorter torso and longer legs as well as a lower stand-over height than any of the men’s frames I’ve ridden. As someone who has knocked her pelvic bone off the top tube once… ok, maybe twice. I am pretty jazzed about the vag-drop.
With only a handful of rides on this lovely lady (zing!) I can already feel the difference and benefits in the geometry. First and foremost, a more comfortable, upright riding position takes pressure off my sometimes, delicate back while boosting confidence and control over the front of the bike. The wheelbase makes for decent rear response and frame feels pretty smooth when the ride gets a little craggy.
Having only ever ridden on mechanical brakes before I’m stoked to have the opportunity to play with the Tektro Draco Hydraulic Disc brakes. The brakes are one of the highlights over its two siblings, as well as the Rock Shox XC32 fork and SRAM X5 drivetrain.
Keep an eye out for my full review in Issue #172, due on newsstands and mailboxes in a few weeks.Tweet Print
By Karl Rosengarth
Don’t call it a comeback. Titanium bikes never went away. However, that whooshing sound that titanium heard in the 1990s was carbon fiber ascending to the top of the frame material food chain.
Back in the day, titanium mountain bikes graced the catalogs of a number of big brands. Who can forget the Tomac signature Raleighs of the early ’90s?
But times have changed. and stock Ti bikes have become scarcer than 150mm stems. For the most part, the magic metal has settled into a niche—namely, custom and high-end framesets from boutique brands (with high-end price tags).
Fast forward to 2013. Lynskey is out to change titanium economics with its recently launched Silver Series—the company’s most affordable line of bikes. By minimizing the manipulation of the straight-gage titanium tubing, and offering only stock sizing (with a single build kit) Lynskey is able to offer Silver Series bikes for significantly less than upscale models. Made-in-the-USA Silver Series framesets go for $1,299 (both road and mountain). The complete MT 650 that I’m testing goes for $2,840 (with Shimano XT kit, sans pedals).
Lynskey fabricates Silver Series frames in the same factory and using the same equipment as their upscale and custom frames. Silver Series frames have smaller diameter tubing, with no butting, which helps save cost. Stock frame sizing allows Lynskey to buy raw tubing in larger quantities and to build bikes in bigger "production runs" which is more economical.
My bike came from the initial production run, and was built with a conventional 1 1/8" head tube and headset. However based on feedback, including input from Dirt Rag, Lynskey has since made a running production change to a tapered head tube. We’ll soon be getting the updated MT 650 frameset to test as part of this review.
With the direction that the suspension fork market is trending, it could eventually become difficult to find top fork models in straight 1 1/8" steerers. Switching to the tapered head tube should make the MT 650 much more appealing to any shopper considering a lifetime investment in titanium.
Lynskey’s MT 650 is a hardtail with 120mm of travel up front. My size large (19") tester weighed in at 25.2 lbs. with the XT kit (w/o pedals). In addition to the XT drivetrain, the bike sports an X-Fusion Velvet RL2 650 120mm fork, an FSA control center, and Vuelta MTB Pro DX 650 wheels.
With its 69 degree head angle, 23.7-inch effective top tube and 16.9-inch rear center, the bike’s handling felt predictable and well-mannered from my first ride. The MT 650 is neither a slack play bike, nor a twitchy race steed. It slots somewhere in between, with non-quirky, neutral handling (I mean that as a compliment). The peaceful, easy feeling was enhanced by the fact that my 5′ 10" frame was in a comfortable trail riding position, not too stretched out, which is the way I like it (with 100mm stem).
In addition to shredding the local singletrack, I’ve completed two races atop the MT 650, one with the X-Fusion Velvet fork converted to 100mm travel (internal adjustment required). As expected, the steering response with the reduced travel felt snappier. It allowed me to flick my way around last-minute course corrections at race speed. While the handling didn’t feel overly nervous in 100mm mode, I simply preferred the more relaxed, but not slack, vibe of the 120mm mode (which also worked just fine for racing). The MT 650 comes with the fork set at 120mm, and my recommendation is to not mess with a good thing.
The MT 650 frame took the edge off the harsh stuff, and provided a hint of resilience, without feeling like a wet noodle in hard corners. I haven’t detected any significant flex at the BB when stomping up punchy climbs or while sprinting. I’ve certainly ridden chromoly hardtails that felt flexier than the MT 650. Quite frankly, I’m digging the frame’s balance point of stiffness and compliance. This is a smooth-riding bike that holds its line through the corners and has some giddy up.
Look for my full, long-term review of the MT 650 in an upcoming issue of Dirt Rag. Subscribe today and you’ll never miss an issue.Tweet Print