By Adam Newman
KHS 650b downhill bike
Regardless of what you think of the ‘tweener size, 650b is spreading across the industry, and it was only a matter of time before a downhill bike appeared. KHS seems to have gotten off the line first, with this one and only prototype model they’ve been testing. It’s built around 8.25-inches of rear wheel travel and a 62.5-degree headtube angle. We were told numerous tweaks were likely before any numbers become finalized, though there was a standard headset installed, rather than an adjustable unit.
Equipped with Stan’s NoTubes Flow EX rims and a Manitou Dorado fork, it’s a bike in search of a tire, as the 2.3 Kenda Nevegals don’t hold up to full-bore downhill riding. KHS said they were expecting to get their hands on new DH tires from Maxxis of Schwalbe soon. We’ll have more info on 650b tires in the coming days.
This is no show pony, either. It’s clear it’s been ridden, and ridden hard. KHS Factory rider Logan Binggeli is planning on riding it at the RedBull Rampage on October 5. When asked, KHS said there was an 80 percent chance of it making it to full production in the future.
Look is certainly best known for its road-going products, but few give credit to the French brand for pioneering the use of carbon fiber, first with lugged tubes and later with modern molds.
The 920 is an evolution of the hardtail mountain bike we saw last year (which was probably the only 26-inch hardtail we saw) with 120mm of rear travel, designed for cross country and marathon racing. The frame, swingarm, and rocker link are all carbon fiber, and entirely made in France.
Most striking is the use of what Look calls its A-stem, a novel unit adapted from the road line. The handlebar clamp end is ovalized, with a wedge insert that can be flipped and allows for a full 10mm of adjustment fore and aft. The tried-and-true single pivot rear end is also designed to allow for a small amount of flex in the chainstays.
The European manufacturing doesn’t come cheap though. Retail for the frame, shock, and stem is $5,500. But if you love getting attention, the 920 is a sure bet.
Look S-Trac pedals
We also spotted Look’s new mountain bike pedals, the S-Trac. The new design features the now common twin-bar design, and includes a platform attachment that adds a larger pedaling surface area for trail-minded riders.
We were told they would be available around January, with prices starting around $100 for the base version and moving up for the carbon and titanium model.
New Bell Helmets
Bell is making a big push back into the helmet market for 2013, most notably with the new full-face, the Full 9. Designed with input directly from Aaron Gwin – LOTS of input, we heard, more than any other athlete Bell has worked with – its full carbon fiber shell surrounds removable, magnetic cheek pads and an internal air bladder than can be inflated by emergency first responders to remove the helmet if the worst should happen.
The airbag technology is descended from motorcycle technology, and despite being a very different helmet, two of the Full-9’s available paint jobs mirror their moto cousins’.
Other cool features include an integrated audio cable system that can accommodate speakers from SkullCandy and others, and a removable camera mount on top that can attach GoPro or Contour cameras. And should your footage get a little too hairy, the mount is designed to easily break away and reattach, rather than destroying the camera.
The Full-9 weighs in at 1,050g and will lighten your wallet by $400.
All-mountain and enduro riders are demanding more protection from their helmets than normal XC units, and the new Bell Super offers a larger surface area that protects further down the back of the head.
The visor is removable or is adjustable up to 30-degrees to accommodate goggles with integrated strap guides. Under the visor are a series of air channels for cooling, similar to the ones found on the Full-9. Fine tuning the fit is accomplished with the Speed Dial rotating knob.
It weighs in at 390g and when it goes on sale next May, look for a price of $125.
Bell listened when its BMX sponsored riders told them they had a hard time finding a skate-style lid that fit well. After all, not everyone has a similarly shaped dome. The Segment is made up of—you guessed it—segments of foam that can better conform to a rider’s head. You can squeeze it in your hand and see how it moves, but it’s still fully safety certified. Price is $55 for the solid colors and $60 for the graphic versions.