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
I’ve always been drawn to unusual products and technologies. When the strangest gear shows up at Dirt Rag HQ I’m always first to raise my hand to try it. After all, that’s how cycling journalists like myself earn the big bucks. When I saw the Lauf forks at the Sea Otter expo I knew we had to get one in the pages of Dirt Rag.
Like countless great ideas, the genesis of the Lauf came over post-ride beers. The goal was to create the lightest possible racing suspension fork. Using the latest composite materials, the engineering team made it a reality, with the prototype winning its first race in June 2013.
Now, I’m not going to be winning any races any time soon, but I’ve been riding with a rigid carbon fork for a few years now, and the concept of the leaf spring Lauf didn’t seem so crazy to me. While it looks outrageous, the 60mm of suspension travel is accomplished by flexing the six composite leaf springs per leg.Tweet
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
Mountain biking requires a lot of gear, particularly if you’re, say, going on a multi-day road trip where you plan to camp and ride. When faced with the decision of which automobile to buy to haul around said gear, choices run the gamut from small and efficient to large and inefficient. Years ago, I bought a small, two-door hatchback that was efficient and great in the city. But, when packing for a camping and riding road trip for two, I simply didn’t have as much room as I’d like. Enter Yakima’s Skybox Pro 16 with, you guessed it, 16 cubic feet of storage.Tweet
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
I’ve been a drop-bar, off-roading rider for a couple decades, so the whole ‘gravel’ category is a little late-coming and a bit cliché for me. Who wouldn’t want to ride a properly-specced and comfortable performance bike anywhere and everywhere? Isn’t that the point of adventure seeking?
What’s new for me and others is the marriage of drop bars and disc brakes, which makes perfect sense for many reasons, including better speed control and less hand fatigue. I’m more comfortable on drop bars, and make use of all the hand positions afforded by the extra real estate, so having better control at the levers gives me more confidence. The Pivot Vault caught my eye as a modern carbon all-rounder to stack up against my 24-plus years of off-road riding experience, and it offers several interesting features.Tweet
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
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
SQ Labs is a sister brand of German engineering wunderbrands Liteville and Syntance, focusing mainly on fit points: grips and saddles. The 711 grip looks like the Incredible Hulk wrapped his mighty paw around a round grip and gave it a squeeze. It’s perfectly shaped to fit your hand as you hold it.Tweet
LOOK knows a thing or three about clipless pedals: the French brand was the first to make a widely adopted clipless road pedal in the mid-1980s. For 2013, it has redesigned its mountain bike offering with versatility and durability in mind.Tweet
By John Herron
I’ve ridden my share of XC wünderbikes over the last 20 years, but I wasn’t familiar with Van Nicholas, or its line of titanium bikes. Without much of an American dealer presence, the Dutch company relies on its website for selling to most of the United States, which left me to ponder: Can you reach Ti Nirvana from a dropdown menu?Tweet
If you have a serious bike obsession equal to mine, shopping for new bike products can break the bank. Thankfully, Nashbar is a competitively-priced company that carries a plethora of products, including bikes, like this offering, the $500 Bee’s Knees 650B Single Speed.
The Bee’s Knees is a simple, fully rigid singlespeed with working man’s components that, while on the entry-level side, will likely last a while. Notably, the Alex XD-Lite rims, Kenda Nevegal 27.5 tires and FSA Hammer headset all took a beating and remain ready to handle more.Tweet
A year or so ago I got my hands on one of Bionicon’s smart and simple chainguides, which works something like a chain tensioner to keep rattling at bay and create a larger chain wrap around a chainring. Now the German brand has simplified the design making it lighter, cheaper and easier to install. What’s not to like?Tweet
The mad mountain men and women at Pivot Cycles know dirt, and to show they’re not just chubby tire and suspension snobs, they now offer the Vault, a carbon fiber cyclocross and gravel bike designed for exploration on any surface.Tweet
By Karl Rosengarth and Eric McKeegan. Photos by Justin Steiner and Jon Pratt.
For all of Pittsburgh’s endearing qualities, its wet, pre-spring weather sucks. There are weeks on end when the trails are just too wet and muddy for responsible riding. The optimal solution is to load Dirt Rag’s “trusty” Ford E-Series van with test bikes and head south, where spring is already busting out all over (or is close enough to permit proper bike testing). This year’s spring trip wound its way south and east—to Wilderness Adventure at Eagle’s Landing, located in the mountains near Roanoke, Virginia.
The race to improve technical clothing for dirt munchers is in full force and Specialized has poured its mighty resources into its Spring 2014 apparel line, specifically targeted at trail, all-mountain and gravity categories.Tweet
“Most compelling bikes of 2014.” Those are big shoes to fill. How, then, did we arrive with these two bikes?Tweet
There’s no denying the superior warmth of natural goose down, but it doesn’t exactly play nice with moisture. A synthetic insulation handles perspiration and precipitation, but doesn’t compress as easily and doesn’t offer the warmth to weight. Enter DriDown, a down treatment process that treats the fibers with a hydrophobic polymer at the molecular level to repel moisture. It stays drier, retains loft better and dries faster than untreated down.Tweet