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
Apart from wheel sizes and the number of gears involved, the biggest trend in the mountain bike industry in the last decade has been carbon fiber. You can get carbon anything these days: frames, rims, handlebars, brake levers, stems, seatposts, cranksets, chains… ok, maybe not chains, but the Gates Carbon Belt Drive is pretty close.
And while it makes for an excellent structural material, like anything you throw down a mountain as fast as you can, things can break. When you drop three months salary on a new mountain bike (what else would you spend that kind of money on?) it can be a bitter pill to swallow when you realize even the strongest carbon fiber has its limits. That’s where Ruckus Composites comes in.
With more than a decade of carbon fiber repair experience, Shawn Small and his team have made repairing or reviving carbon frames an art form, with exacting OE-style refinishes and modifications to carbon frames.Tweet Print
I think it’s safe to say that Specialized has created an instant icon. Simply put, the new Demo 8 is unlike any downhill bike we’ve ever seen. While it retains the classic FSR suspension layout, the pivot points were all moved as far down as possible, with the main pivot finding itself concentric with the bottom bracket. With the pivots out of the way, the seat tube was really only there to support the seat, and since that doesn’t have the structural requirements of linkage, it could be pared away to its minimum. The resulting asymmetric frame design is something that could only be possible with modern carbon fiber technology.Tweet Print
The stuff. All the things that I’m carrying. When it’s all laid out, it doesn’t look like much for a few weeks of living off the bike. But when I’m pushing it up a mountain road, it feels like a ton.
I’ve never cared about how much my race bike weighed. I’ve always felt that the main difference between a 20 pound mountain bike and a 27 pound mountain bike is about $2,000, and the fact that a heavier bike won’t break when you hit a rock the wrong way.
But this is different. When the dry weight (no food or water) of the whole setup is pushing 50 pounds, I’ve been doing everything I can to save weight. I even bought a kitchen scale to weigh crap. And I’ve been debating the little things: do I need a wool hat if I have a jacket with a hood? Probably not. Saved 150 grams.
Editor’s note: Montana is a former intern at Dirt Rag and longtime friend-of-the-mag, so we were especially proud when he completed the 2,700-mile Tour Divide this summer in his first attempt. Read his epic account of the trip here. You can also follow along with all his adventures on his blog, The Skrumble.Tweet Print
Bikes like the new Yeti SB5c pack a ton of technology, and usually carry a price tag to match. Lots of folks write to us criticizing the crop of new bikes that are, admittedly, pushing the price envelope at five, seven, even ten thousand dollars. Is that a bad thing for consumers? Not at all, I say.Tweet Print
We had seen it coming. There were spy shots and rumors tossed around about a full-suspension fat bike. In fact, the Bucksaw isn’t even the first one—several smaller brands have built bikes that qualified as “full-suspension”, but this one is different. This is a major brand making a big commitment to a new product segment, and bringing an advanced suspension design with it. Mike Riemer, Salsa’s Marketing Manager, said that Dave Weagle, the creator of the Bucksaw’s Split Pivot suspension, told him it was the most complex project he had ever worked on.
One thing is for sure, this is not a “stealthy” bike. From the big tires to the candy-colored paint, the Bucksaw is breaking a new trail in mountain biking. But how does it ride?Tweet Print
When GT unveiled its Force and Sensor bikes last year they were a big hit with their sponsored athletes, but for the rigors of the DH-level Enduro World Series tracks, they knew they had to offer something to bridge the gap between the 150mm Force and 220mm Fury downhill bike. Enter the rebirth of the Sanction, this time as a 27.5, 165mm platform that is designed expressly for the “e-word.”Tweet Print
If you don’t think e-bikes are a real mover in the bicycle marketplace? Look no further than the entry of Bosch in the marketplace to prove that some big brands are willing to invest serious resources in the growing market. For 2015 it has paired up with a few key brands to bring e-bikes with Bosch motors and control units—already a huge hit in Europe—to U.S. dealerships. Look for bikes from Haibike, Felt, and Lapierre, including this Overvolt FS900.Tweet Print
Last year we saw a prototype fat bike rim from Stan’s NoTubes, and while we figured a 26-inch wheel was in the works, today we saw the finished product: the Hugo is a 50mm-wide, tubeless rim with a unique cross section and options in all three wheel sizes.
We also got the details and a ride in on the new Grail disc road wheel that is perfectly suited to all manner of “road” applications and slots in between the IronCross and Alpine models.
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Trek hasn’t shied away from developing proprietary suspension products in its search for better performance. About five years ago, the Dual Rate Control Valve (DRVC) air spring system appeared on Trek’s full suspension bikes, and has remained part of its suspension designs ever since.
About the same time, Trek started talks with Penske Racing Shocks through a fortunate father-son connection, the father being a well-respected NASCAR engineer, and the son being a frame engineer with Trek.
I knew the Penske name had something to do with racing, but I was mostly familiar with the big yellow rental trucks. Penske is a whole other ballgame supplying high-end, bespoke suspension solutions to the fastest motorsports racing teams in the business, including six of thirteen F1 teams.
There are a few mountain bikers on staff at Penske’s Reading, Pennsylvania, “skunk works” where most of the suspension design takes place. Those riders realized that the “regressive” damping design developed for F1 racing would have some application for mountain bikes, and a partnership with Trek would be a perfect vehicle to deliver it to the mountain bike market.Tweet Print