Dirt Rag Magazine

Kona’s Independent Suspension – An Overview


Suspension designs are a complicated thing. As Kona says, it’s a game of millimeters. From its first full-suspension model in 1995 to its coming 2015 models, Kona has refined its single-pivot, linkage driven suspension designs for their ultimate application. There are three variations in the current lineup, and this cool video walks you through the design philosophy of each.

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Shimano opens new business center in CA


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Photos by Maurice Tierney and Shimano

In response to its rapid growth, Shimano American Corporation has expanded its Irvine, Calif., office building by some 48,000 square feet turning it into a massive 51,000 square foot distribution center. An entirely new, modern business center also opened directly across the street for Shimano’s marketing, R&D and inside sales staff.

A recent move by Shimano to go dealer direct with its products, which also includes Pearl Izumi and a host of fishing brands, not only means lower prices for the customer but a need to expand warehouse capability for shipping, receiving and storage. Even after a year the project is still being completed with a new fire sprinkler system being installed, new hi-tech conveyers being finalized and large storage spaces being prepared. Other changes to the former offices include a fishing rod and reel repair and warranty center for quick turnaround.

Shimano’s Marketing Manager Joe Lawwill, who raced professionally for over 10 years and won a Masters Downhill World Championship in 2002, showed us around the entrance to the new, highly modern Business Center. Visitors are treated to an action video loop on the main screen while a smaller interactive monitor showcases Shimano’s history in cycling.

Join us for a tour of the new facility.

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2014: the Year of the Single-Ring Drivetrain


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While it might seem a little premature to make such a prognostication, I’m going to do it, if for no other reason to get your attention.

There is little argument among people who have ridden them that SRAMs 1×11 drivetrains are a serious step forward in drivetrian evolution. What isn’t appealing is the upfront cost, and the replacement cost for that 11 speed cassette, somewhere in the vicinity of $300. So, what’s a mountain biker with champagne taste and an MD 20/20 budget supposed to do?

Read on to find out…

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Video: SRAM’s president discusses details of hydraulic road/cx brake recall


In what seems to be a trend this month, another CEO of a major cycling brand falls on his sword and apologizes to consumers. Here, SRAM’s president Stan Day discusses what led to the recall of all SRAM hydraulic road and cyclocross brakes and what steps consumers should take if they have them. For the latest on the recall, visit sramroadhydraulicbrakerecall.com.

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Inside Line: Mountain bike highlights from Eurobike


By Jeff Lockwood

It’s the end of August and we’re in Germany. That means it’s Eurobike time. Here’s a selection of some interesting mountain bike bits we’ve seen over the first day and a half of the show.

Breezer Repack

Joe Breeze was part of the Repack gang racing down Mt. Tam back in the 1970′s. Around the same time, he was also building some of the first mountain bikes before they were known as mountain bikes. In fact, the first fat tire bike built by Joe Breeze, the Breezer #1, is now in the Smithsonian Institute of American History.

Under the Breezer brand, Joe has kept right on designing and building bikes. Sensing that today’s enduro riders share the same spirit of adventure and fun of the sport’s forefathers, and to capitalize on it, Breezer has unveiled the all-mountain, 160mm-travel Repack.

The Breezer Repack 27.5” wheels 160mm of travel for Enduro riders

The three Repack models all feature 27.5” (650B) wheels, a Breezer D’Fusion hydroformed custom-butted 6066 aluminum frame, and the all-new patented MLink suspension system.

The pivot in this design is situated at the middle of the chainstays, which make the links longer. Breezer claims this creates a more rigid rear end for more efficient climbing, yet retain the ability to take all the downhill abuse enduro riders throw at it.

Breezer says the Repack bikes will arrive in January.

Vaude

Long known for their great bags and other cool outdoor gear and clothing, Vaude has jumped into the mountain bike shoe market for 2014 with the Taron MTB shoe series.

The three shoes in the Taron line retain the sleek styling Vaude is known for. Two of them are low-cut, while one is a waterproof mid-cut. There is almost no stitching on the top of the shoe, in favor of bonding at the seams. The soles of the shoes are inspired by mountain bike tires, and definitely look like it. There’s a nylon board inside the bottom of the shoe that makes it stiff for power transfer, yet the tire-like base of the sole, which is made in conjunction with Vibram, is soft and grippy enough for your off-the-bike sessions.

DZR

California shoe company DZR has a new shoe for those of the freeride and/or downhill persuasion. The Sense Pro features adjustable stiffness thanks to two different footbeds: one that’s stiff and one that’s not so stiff. The toe and heel of the sole are a bit more rugged than the middle of the sole. This allows less wear on the toe and heel, and more grip at the pedal interface.

DZR Sense Pro for the downhillers and freeriders

Two different sole compounds.

 

One footbed is stiff, while the other one is more flexible.

Juliana

Julie Furtado was one of the most successful mountain bike racers in the 1990′s. She was in the Olympics, and has been inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame and the United States Bicycling Hall of Fame.

More recently, she’s been doing work with Santa Cruz bicycles, and now we have the Juliana brand of bikes, which are for women. And they’re some sweet bikes. Let’s let the photos of these 27.5” bikes speak for themselves.

Kona

Fat bikes are getting a lot of curious looks here in Germany.

Mission Workshop

Mission Workshop is well-known for making some serious messenger bags, backpacks and other urban riding clothing. But their interest in cycling goes deeper than bikes ridden in and around the city. As their marketing guy, Lyle, told me, “All of us at Mission Workshop ride mountain bikes, and we wanted cool stuff to ride with.” And that’s how Acre was born.

A sub-brand of Mission Workshop, the Acre line of trail packs and apparel shares the same high-quality features and well-thought out design details.

 

The Hauser trail pack looks similar to Mission Workshop’s other backpacks in style, but their functionality is obviously aimed at mountain bikers with things like the ability to use a hydration bladder.

 

Capacity options (not the capacity of the hydration bladder) are 10 and 14 liters.

Instead of including a number of internal pockets for tools, etc., Acre decided to include a complete removable tool roll. Pretty cool.

WTB

What’s as light as carbon fiber, but a little more sensible to handle the abuse of certain types of mountain biking? What’s light enough for cross-country riding, but made for all-mountain riding?

If you’re thinking it’s the new KOM i23 aluminum rim from WTB, then you’re right!

Available in all mountain bike wheel sizes, the KOM rims feature the WTB Tubeless Compatible System (TCS). The TCS system combines the WTB rims and tires that is compatible with all international tubeless standards.

WTB minimized rim thickness wherever possible in an effort to get weights comparable to carbon fiber.

X-Fusion

The X-Fusion Hilo SL is a lighter version of their Hilo 125 dropper post. Like it’s heavier sibling, the slimmed down hydraulic SL offers 125mm of infinitely adjustable travel to stabilize your ride. It weights in at 450 grams with the included remote.

Cube Stereo Hybrid 140

Electricity is creeping into all areas of cycling, and the 140mm travel, 27.5” party is no exception. We’ve seen a lot of electric motors thrown into frames in all sorts of manner. However, Cube seems to have given some serious thought into this model.

The engine on the Stereo Hybrid is situated at the bottom bracket, but the pivot for the rear link is there, as is the seat of the shock eyelet. It’s all at a low position on the bike, so the center of gravity is lower. This means more agility.

Wood you?

Want a unique look for your wheels? How about these wood grain graphics? These are aluminum rims, but a wood grain graphic… even inside the rim.

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Inside Line: Santa Cruz gives us a single-pivot Solo, the Bantam


What a year for Santa Cruz, after releasing the Bronson, Solo and Heckler models earlier this year, the Bantam is the fourth new 27.5 model to emerge this year. (Seventh if you count carbon and aluminum models separately.)

Packing 27.5 wheels and 125mm of the tried-and-true single pivot suspension, it offers the same geometry as the Solo model at a lower price point with less maintenance. It sports the same 68 degree head tube angle, 17.1 inch chainstays and low 13.1 inch bottom bracket. Just like it’s big brother, the Heckler, it has a 142×12 thru axle, a threaded bottom bracket and ISCG tabs.

The new bike follows Santa Cruz’s model of offering similar bikes in both single pivot and VPP variety, e.g. Tallboy/Superlight 29, Bronson/Heckler, and now Solo/Bantam.

 

 

 

There will be two colors available: green and black, as well as two build kits at $2,599 or $2,899. 

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Inside Line: Rocky Mountain strikes with new Thunderbolt


Is it an XC bike? A trail bike? Rocky Mountain would say yes to both. The Thunderbolt’s 120mm of travel and 27.5 wheels bridge the gap.

When compared to the Element, Instinct and Altitude, the Thunderbolt’s Rocky Mountain heritage is evident, with a strong family resemblance. But unlike the brand’s dedicated XC offerings, the Thunderbolt is meant to be a more playful and aggressive bike for a wide variety of riding styles. Absent, however, is the Ride-9 chip found on its siblings, so the suspension is not as adjustable.

Most models of the Thunderbolt will use 142×12 E-Thru rear axles, internal cable routing, stealth dropper post routing and BB92 bottom brackets.

There are four models:

770: $3,999

750: $3,299

730: $2,599

710: $2,099

No word yet on availability. We’ll likely know more after Interbike.

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Inside Line: Breezer debuts 27.5 160mm Repack


Joe Breeze knows a thing or two about mountain bikes. He was an early pioneer in California with the likes of Gary Fisher, Charlie Kelly and Tom Ritchey and his eponymous bike company has built everything from commuter bikes to carbon mountain bikes.

Named after the first recorded mountain bike race, the Repack is aimed squarely at the hot trail and enduro market with 160mm of travel and 27.5 wheels. The suspension design is the new MLink, designed by the Sotto Group, an engineering firm that has designed suspensions for other brands, including Yeti’s Switch system.

Most modern full suspension platforms use a chainstay pivot either near the rear axle (e.g. Horst Link, Split Pivot) or near the bottom bracket (Santa Cruz’s VPP, Niner’s CVA). The MLink, however, places the pivot in the middle of the chainstay, allowing the chainstays to remain short while keeping the linkage stiff. It uses sealed cartridge bearings throughout.

Breezer says the MLink’s mid-link pivot rotates only three degrees. “Compared to short link systems’ large rotations, rapid accelerations, direction changes, and therefore, increased bearing wear, MLink’s fewer rotations translate into super smooth suspension travel and less stress on bearings and pivots. Compared to long link flexy systems, MLink allows for a rigid, triangulated rear end with riding forces diffused across widely spaced, low rotation bearings – supplying the stiffness essential for full suspension to function at its best.”

There will be three trim levels. The Team (pictured here) has a mostly Shimano XT drivetrain and a Fox Float 34 FIT fork and retail for $4,399. The Pro has a Shimano SLX build with a Fox Float 34 Evo fork and will retail for $3,599. The Expert has a Shimano Deore group with an X-Fusion Sweep fork and will retail for $2,899.

Look for the Repack to become available in January 2014.

 

Geometry

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Fist Impression: Scott Gambler


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.

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