Dirt Rag Magazine

Guerrilla Gravity launches Trail Pistol


Trail Pistol 1

The 29/27plus platform has another option, this time in the form of a aluminum frame made in Colorado. Guerrilla Gravity looks to take a slice of the shorter-travel market with this 120 mm travel frame, the Trail Pistol.

Trail Pistol 5

Eagle-eyed readers will notice the change to a Horst link/chainstay pivot. Why? Guerilla Gravity says: “Marketing, mostly. Before we committed to switching to the more popular platform, we made sure the same go-fast qualities as our single pivot Megatrail layout were maintained: excellent pedaling characteristics and mid-stroke support. As an added bonus, we were able to reduce braking influence by eight percent.”

The flip chip in the suspension linkage adjusts both the suspension leverage. The Plush mode works well with the more plush 27plus tires, and the Crush mode goes well with the 29er wheels. As a final note, pay attention to sizing on these bikes; most riders will size down. This is the only brand I would go for a medium frame at 6 feet tall.

Plush and Crush


Frame Highlights (via Guerrilla Gravity):

  • GG-style geometry: 120 mm travel, 16.9” chainstays, roomy cockpit. 66.6º head tube angle with a 130 mm travel fork (+/- .4º per 10 mm of travel)
  • Crush Mode: made for goin’ fast on 29-inch wheels
  • Plush Mode: maintains a consistent BB height between wheel sizes, steepens the head angle a degree, and reduces the progression in the suspension. Ideal for 27Plus wheels, but can be used as a less-aggressive mode with 29-inch wheels
  • No fork swap necessary to use either wheel size
  • Tire clearance: 29×2.6; 27.5×3.0 (both are actual measurements, not claimed since all tire manufacturers seem to use a different ruler)
  • Low standover for improved agility, especially on smaller frame sizes
  • The steeper angle is intended to maintain consistent geo as the saddle is raised and lowered
  • “Follow the Leader” standards: Boost 148 rear end and 210×50 metric shock sizing
  • Universal Syntace derailleur hanger and axle system and easily-accessed Enduro Maxx bearings
  • Frame storage: NUTS (Necessities Under the Saddle) Bracket and water bottle mounts

What’s it going to cost? Prices will range from $2,200 for a frame with a Deluxe RT3 shock or SRAM GX build for $3,000, up to a SRAM XO1 build for $5,500. See all the builds at Guerrilla Gravity.

You can get 27plus wheel sets and tires, build kit customization options and nine powder coat colors plus five decal colors on all models.

Trail Pistol 7

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Trek releases new simplified trailbike lineup: Remedy 27.5 and Fuel EX 29


During some discussions at Sea Otter this spring, Trek dropped hints it was working to simplify its trail bike line up. This was right before it dropped a new full-suspension fat trail bike, so I wasn’t sure how to take that statement.

These simplification ideas became more clear few weeks ago when Trek invited us to Squamish to ride new trail bikes. As of now, Trek has only three full-suspension mountain bike platforms (not counting that fat bike)

Top Fuel – 100 mm 29er

Fuel EX – 130 mm 29/27plus

Remedy – 150 mm 27.5

Yes, in a surprising move, the Fuel EX 27.5 and the EWS winning Remedy 29 are no longer. Well, you can still get a new Fuel EX in 27.5 wheels, but only in smaller sizes of the women’s bikes.

Fuel EX 29

Trek Fuel EX in Squamish, British Columbia, June 2016

This is the same frame as the Fuel EX 27plus we’ve been riding, but all 29ers have a 130 mm fork, vs the 140 mm on the 27plus bike. The 29er version comes in a lot more models compared to the EX 27plus’s three.

Fuel EX 5 WSD $2,199.99
Fuel EX 8 WSD $3,199.99
Fuel EX 9.8 WSD $4,999.99
Fuel EX 5 29 $2,199.99
Fuel EX 7 29 $2,599.99
Fuel EX 8 29 $3,199.99
Fuel EX 9 29 $3,999.99
Fuel EX 29 AL frame $1,889.99
Fuel EX 9.7 29 $3,999.99
Fuel EX 9.8 29 $4,999.99
Fuel EX 9.9 29 $8,399.99
Fuel EX 29 Carbon frame $3,299.99

We rode top of the line 9.9 (natch). Since I had plenty of time on the 27plus EX, I was happy to stick to the 29er wheels in Squamish. In fact, the few pairs of 27plus wheels Trek brought with them never made it on a bike while the media was there. It seems no one was that interested.

Right off the bat, the 29er  felt more like the EX of the previous generation, light and snappy.  Some of this might be attributed to the carbon rims and light tires, but after riding quite a few of these 29/27plus bikes in both configurations, the 29 inch wheels always feel faster to me.

The geometry of the new EX 29 is almost identical to the old Remedy 29, and the frame is actually stiffer. Which somewhat explains why the Remedy 29 went away. Put something like a Pike up front and some beefier tires and I would expect this thing to be a pretty serious ripper.
A quick rundown of the changes from last year’s EX:

More travel
-120mm->130mm rear / 130mm front
Slacker geometry
-68˚ headtube->67.7˚ (high) / 67˚ (low) headtube
Longer reach
-448mm->453mm (low position)
Lighter & Stiffer frame
– Straight Shot downtube for strength & stiffness
Knock Block Frame Defense
– Prevents frame damage from fork controls or brake levers

_MRP0976

We rode some steep stuff in Squamish, and the EX felt at home here. The longer front end and slacker head angle (I spent half of the day in each geo setting) are a huge plus on steeper terrain. We did a fair amount of climbing as well as descending , and the EX now feels like a bike that balances the two more evenly, where the previous EX still had a lot of XC-racing genes.

And that is where I came away surprised. This is a much more aggressive bike than the previous Fuel EX, and I wonder if that will leave a hole in Trek’s line up? The Top Fuel is more capable these days, and maybe we’ll see a version of the Top Fuel with a longer fork, beefier tires and a dropper to compete with the likes of the new Kona Hei Hei Trail and other lightweight, short-travel, trail bikes. This isn’t to say the Fuel EX feels slow, but not everyone needs or wants 130 mm of travel and a 67˚ head angle.

Most of this is speculation, as the trails of Squamish don’t lend themselves to a lot of navel gazing about the fractured state of trail bike genres in the summer of 2016.

_MRP1273

 

Remedy 27.5

Trek Remedy launch in Squamish, British Columbia. June 2016.

Trek Remedy launch in Squamish, British Columbia. June 2016.

No more 29er Remedy? Yes, and this is somewhat shocking. Tracy Moseley has been dominating the EWS circuit on a Remedy 29 for years, but with the Fuel EX taking  on the geometry of last year’s Remedy 29, Trek expects most riders looking for an aggressive 29er will be happy with the EX29. Time will tell. In the meantime, those looking for a 150 mm travel 27.5 bike should get themselves a test ride on the new Remedy. We’ve got a contender here.

More travel
-140mm -> 150mm rear
Slacker geometry
-68 / 67.5˚ headtube -> 66.5˚ / 66˚ headtube
Longer reach
-447mm ->458mm (19.5” size)
Lower bottom bracket
-341mm -> 336mm

This is returning the Remedy to its roots as a longer travel trail bike, with a few models coming stock with 160 forks. This puts it squarely in Slash territory. Which leads one to wonder about the future of the Slash….

Gee and Dan Atherton with Remedy in Spain 2016

Gee and Dan Atherton with Remedy in Spain 2016

Anyway, the new Remedy uses the same technology as the Fuel EX, including the Knock Block headset and Straighshot downtube to make a lighter and stiffer frame. Lots of pricepoints with this one, too.

Remedy 7 27.5 $2,999.99
Remedy 8 27.5 $3,299.99
Remedy 8 WSD 27.5 $3,299.99
Remedy 9 27.5 RSL $4,499.99
Remedy 27.5 AL frame $1,889.99
Remedy 9.8 27.5 $5,299.99
Remedy 9.8 27.5 WSD $5,299.99
Remedy 9.9 27.5 RSL $7,999.99
Remedy 27.5 Carbon frame $3,299.99

 

Trek Launch in Squamish, BC, Canada, June 2016

If you look closely at the picture above, you’ll see a new RockShox Deluxe rear shock with the red stick denoting it is equipped the Trek’s proprietary Re:Aktiv valve. This is a good thing. So is the Lyrik up front. SRAM handles most of the parts on this bike, including Guide brakes and 1×12 Eagle drivetrain. Hidden behind my leg is Bontrager’s new Line dropper post, which has an excellent remote, although it could use more than the stock 125 mm of travel, which is feeling short next to 150 mm (and even longer) posts.

Trek Launch in Squamish, BC, Canada, June 2016

I’m going to have to look into the “hows and whys” more later, but the RockShox rear shock seemed to be better at controlling bob than the Fox on the Fuel EX, while still sucking up the bigger hits like a champ. This bike just felt controlled, everywhere. I keep things below my limits (and way below the bike’s limits) as I am not a fan of pinning it at media events, but I was shocked at how well this bike scooted uphill and bombed down unfamiliar trails. I expected to miss the 29er wheels on some of the steeper and chunkier bits, but it wasn’t an issue. In fact, if I lived in Squamish, this bike would be my choice over the Fuel EX, even though the trails never open up enough to really take advantage of the travel and stability of  a bike like this, at least with my skillset.

My long term Remedy tester just showed up at the office, so expect a full review soon. We’ve got the RSL (Race Shop Limited) model, which has SE4 reinforced tires and a 160 mm Lyrik travel adjust fork. In other words, the enduro model. That extra travel kicks the head angle back to 66˚/65.5˚and a slightly higher bottom bracket at 346/339 mm. Maybe I just don’t have enough steep climbs, but this is another in a long series of bikes that I’ve adjusted the travel on the first long climb, forgot to return it to full travel on the first descent, and proceeded to leave it in the long setting and never think about it again.
Trek Launch in Squamish, BC, Canada, June 2016

Wrap it up, I’ll take it.

Trek is also offering a huge range of prices and aluminum frames that offer all the features of the carbon models at about half the price. There are even a solid selection of women’s bikes, for those that are into that type of thing. Some of the cheaper models don’t get a Re:Aktiv shock, but to Trek’s credit Re:Aktiv is found at even lower price points this year.

It is pretty easy to get wrapped up in all the tech-y buzz-words the Trek uses to market its bikes. ABP, Mino link, Re:Aktiv, Full Floater, Evo Link, Control Freak internal routing, etc. It is harder to talk about how well all of this works as whole. Trek has been slowly and quietly creating some very fine trail bikes, and this pair of bikes has no trouble holding it down against some of the best trail bikes I’ve ridden.These bikes are available NOW. Check out Trek’s website for more info.

 

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RockShox drops new rear shocks and 29plus forks


Last week RockShox announced new sizing for rear shocks, which it dubbed Metric Sizing. This has create some confusion among consumers, but the idea is to consolidate shock sizes into fewer options, while improving performance and longevity. RockShox isn’t alone here, with many other OE manufacturers following suit.

The Deluxe and Super Deluxe are the first offerings to take advantage of the new shock sizing. New scraper seals promise less maintenance and improved durability. Increases bushing overlap reduces internal friction under load. Combined with a new Counter Measure coil spring working to counteract the pressure of the IFP, and the built-in Debonair air can, new levels of plushness are said to be achieved.

R_SuperDeluxe_RC3_M R_Deluxe_RT_M

Also quietly released are 29plus suspension forks at both the Pike and Yari level. These are Boost only forks, with all the same performance and features as the the previous models. We are happily surprised to see this, as the 27plus juggernaut was looking like it might steamroll the 29plus wheelsize into niche status. We’re guessing a 29plus full-suspension trail bike is in the works from a major manufacturer, as it is rare to see a new fork like this get made without a serous OE commitment. Sea Otter will probably tell us if our hunch is true.

my16_rs_yari_275_rc_glblk_front my15_rs_pike_rct3_275_sa160_bu_0

 

Get your fill of info at sram.com.

 

Below is the text of RockShox press release about the new shocks for those who want to dig deeper, because this stuff gets real deep, real fast:

ROCKSHOX DELUXE | SUPER DELUXE
EMBARGO: APR 07, 2016

AVAILABILITY: OEM SPEC – SUMMER 2016

A NEW APPROACH IN REAR SHOCK DESIGN
INITIAL QUESTIONS
How did we get to the current stroke and eye to eye offerings?
As frame manufacturers pushed the limits of frame design new rear shock sizes were created without broad consultation within the industry, resulting in a complicated offering with many overlaps and performance compromises.
How did we get to the current hardware and mounting options?
Same process described previously. There are currently almost 90 varieties of rear shock hardware being used in the industry.

How are frame designers interfacing with rear shocks?

Bushings, bearings, proprietary mounting systems.
How much performance are we leaving on the table as a result of these compromises that have accumulated over the years?
A lot. This is why we adopted a new approach to rear shock design.

GOALS
Starting from a blank slate allowed us to establish ambitious goals:
Performance

How do we build the best possible rear shock?
Integration

How do we improve the integration of rear shocks into frame designs?
PERFORMANCE
PERFORMANCE ACHIEVEMENT 1:

BUSHING OVERLAP
Starting with a blank slate allowed us to extend bushing overlap between the moving elements of the shock. This greatly reduces system friction under load. Riders benefit from this with:
BETTER TRACTION
RESPONSIVENESS
INCREASED DURABILITY
AIR CAN BUSHINGS – 33% more overlap
PISTON/SEALHEAD BUSHINGS – 90% more overlap

PERFORMANCE ACHIEVEMENT 2:

IMPROVED SCRAPER
Seal consistency is critical for rear shock performance and longevity. The increase in eye-to-eye per stroke created through Metric Sizing allows Deluxe and Super Deluxe to feature an improved scraper seal resulting in the following benefits:
LESS MAINTENANCE
INCREASED LONG TERM DURABILITY
BETTER PERFORMANCE IN COLD TEMPERATURES

PERFORMANCE ACHIEVEMENT 3:

COUNTER MEASURE
Introduced in 2013 on Vivid and Vivid Air and highly acclaimed for its effects on shock performance at top-out, the Counter Measure spring works to oppose the effect of the IFP pressure, effectively lowering the initial breakaway force.

PERFORMANCE ACHIEVEMENT 4:

DEDICATED DEBONAIR CHASSIS AND BETTER TUNING SYSTEM
Introduced in 2014, the DebonAir air can option for Monarch and Monarch Plus was a stepping stone in improving the performance and feel of air shocks on all kinds of bikes. Deluxe and Super Deluxe take this to the next level by incorporating DebonAir in the air can design without any added weight or complexity.

The air volume tuning system on Deluxe and Super Deluxe capitalizes on RockShox’s Bottomless Tokens technology, adapting it to its rear shock platform in a clean and easy to use format.
INTEGRATION
INTEGRATION ACHIEVEMENT 1:

MOUNTING SYSTEM
“TYPICAL” VERTICAL MOUNT
Higher rotation at shaft eyelet (70-120 degrees)
Recommend use of Trunnion mount or shaft end bearing mount
Shaft end bearing mount is recommended to reduce overall suspension friction
Trunnion mount can reduce overall length by 25mm to allow for lower top tube height
“TYPICAL” HORIZONTAL MOUNT
Higher rotation at body eyelet (70-120 degrees)
Recommended use of body end bearing mount to reduce overall suspension friction
The Trunnion mount allows for a shorter eye to eye length while maintaining a specific stroke size (25mm overall length reduction over standard or bearing mount). Benefits are significant for smaller frame sizes, women specific models and bikes that are designed for low standover height.
Designed to be used in conjunction with frame mounted bearings at the mounting bolts.
Bearings eliminate friction caused by pivot rotation.
Smoother shock action resulting in better traction and responsiveness.
Available at both body and shaft ends.

INTEGRATION ACHIEVEMENT 2:

METRIC SIZING
SO…IS THIS A NEW REAR SHOCK STANDARD?
No. It’s a new set of sizes for rear shocks, developed and agreed upon by suspension and frame manufacturers, starting from a blank slate and with the sole purpose of allowing suspension manufacturers to create better rear shocks and frame designers to build better bikes.

SUPER DELUXE
CHANGING EVERYTHING
The directive was simple. Engineer a shock that does for rear-suspension performance what Pike did for forks. Simple? Don’t bet on it. A gamble? Absolutely. It required a complete change in the way we approach shock design. It meant focusing on performance first and leaving old constraints behind. And it gave us a clear path to develop the world’s lowest-friction shock — Super Deluxe. Metric sizing gives Super Deluxe significantly increased bushing overlap, which, together with a sophisticated new bushing profile, virtually eliminates friction in the shock. A new damper holds the shock high in its stroke and offers unparalleled traction. Unshackled from the old obstacles of shock design, Super Deluxe is free to tackle new ones — on the trail. This changes everything.

THINGS TO REMEMBER
Metric sizing and a sophisticated new bushing design allows this to be the lowest-friction rear shock we have ever made.
Super Deluxe has three independently tunable compression settings.
Increased bushing overlap allows for better sealing and decreased friction.
Mounting options: Trunnion mount, bearing mount, Standard DU.

FEATURES AND BENEFITS
Features increased bushing overlap and new bushing design which decreases friction, also increasing on-trail performance and overall durability.
New scraper seal technology increases durability, improves performance in colder temperatures and lengthens the intervals between required maintenance.

TECHNOLOGIES
Solo Air™

Rapid Recovery™ System

Sag Gradients™

METRIC SIZING™

DELUXE
REDEFINING A KING
How do you improve on the success of a rear shock that has received critical acclaim for its stellar performance and supple feel? It’s Simple. You rewrite the rules, throw existing design constraints out the window and focus solely on the best possible performance solution. We took the proven damping performance of our popular Monarch series and introduced it to our new metric-sized chassis. The result is truly Deluxe. With the incredible feel of DebonAir as its standard-bearer and three new mounting options, our new Deluxe is ready to redefine your ride.

THINGS TO REMEMBER
Metric sizing.
Incorporates proven damping performance of Monarch.
Mounting options: Trunnion mount, bearing mount, Standard DU.

FEATURES AND BENEFITS
Increased bushing overlap and sophisticated new bushing design decreases friction, which increases performance and durability.
New scraper seal technology increases durability, improves performance in colder temperatures and lengthens the intervals between required maintenance.

TECHNOLOGIES
Solo Air™

Rapid Recovery™ System

Sag Gradients™

METRIC SIZING™

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Underground Bike Works, a new John Parker joint


It was with some excitement that we read this press release. John Parker? Missy Giove? Frank the Welder? 27plus and 29plus bikes? Yes to all those things.

John Parker and the 29 plus proto

John Parker’s new bike company will debut at Sea Otter 2016. Here’s the press release that got us all excited:

John Parker, founder of Yeti Cycles, announced his return to the mountain bike industry by launching Underground Bike Works, his new mountain bike company. The new firm will launch at Sea Otter next month and will simultaneously launch a Kickstarter Campaign for the company.

“After selling Yeti I went underground. Now I’m back with a vengeance and will be using new technologies and distribution models. If you liked what I did at Yeti you’re going to love what I have up my sleeve at Underground Bike Works. If that don’t light your fire then your wood is wet,” said Parker when asked about his new bicycle company.

Underground Bike Works is launching the Kickstarter Campaign on April 14, 2016. The bikes that will be sold on the Kickstarter campaign are a 27.5 hardtail plus bike and a 29 hardtail plus bike. Limited production bicycles will be available, fabricated by Frank The Welder, one of John’s long­time partners and one of the best in the business. Additionally, Missy Giove will re­join John Parker and Underground Bike Works at Sea Otter this year and take part in the dual slalom race on one of Parker’s new bikes.

‘I’m excited about joining forces with Parker again. We have some really cool things planned for the future,” said Missy.

While attending Sea Otter please come by and join John and Missy, who will sign autographs on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 10:00 AM and again at 2:00 PM at booth 919.


It looks like Parker is getting the band back together.

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First Ride – Santa Cruz Hightower 27plus/29 inch trail bike


Disclaimer:

Junket- a free trip by a member of the press to a place where something (such as a new bike) is being promoted.

Let’s get that out of the way first. The new Santa Cruz Hightower was introduced to select members of the media on a trip to Chile for the first running of the Rally of Aysén Patagonia, a four day bike event. More about that later, just wanted to be clear that I’m well aware trips like this might be enough to cloud one’s judgment about a new bike. Fortunately, Santa Cruz isn’t making any turds.

hightower_web-1

Hightower!

The Tallboy LT quietly disappeared from the Santa Cruz line-up recently, so it came as no surprise that the new bike was a replacement. Mid-travel trail bikes with 29 inch wheels are a solid slice of the market, and Santa Cruz wasn’t about to miss out.

In a nutshell, the Hightower is a carbon-fiber-framed 29 or 27plus trail bike with 135 of rear travel, a 140 or 150 mm fork, the newest Virtual Pivot Point suspension design and thoroughly modern geometry.

hightower_red_29_hero hightower_black_275plus_hero

What is changed from the Tallboy LT? Save for the 135 mm of rear travel, everything is new. Imagine the attitude of the Nomad, Bronson and 5010, scaled for big wheels and even bigger days.

Head and seat tube angles go from 69.4/72.6 on the TBLT to a much more aggressive 67/74.3 on the Hightower. Bottom bracket height drops about a quarter inch to 13.27 and chainstays shrink from 17.7 to 17.1 inches. Top tubes and reach grow as well. This numbers are with 29 inch wheels, the 27plus option has very minor differences. Geo chart is found here.

How about those big tires? Since the 27.5×2.8 Maxxis Ikon/Recon tires are a little smaller in diameter than the 29×2.3 Maxxis Minions, those opting for 27plus get a 150 mm fork, and a small flip-chip in the upper suspension link gets moved to the high setting.

hightower_details_red_2 hightower_details_red_1

All bikes use the excellent RockShox Pike platform, but the air-spring design of this fork means there is no way to adjust travel without swapping out the air-shaft for a longer fork. So if you want to keep geometry mostly the same while swapping wheels, you’ll either need two forks, or spend the time swapping out the air-shaft. Or, just do what most of the Santa Cruz crew does, and run a 150 mm fork all time and deal with a bit more slack and a wee bit of bottom bracket height. Considering how often I scraped a pedal, and how I never, ever wanted a steeper bike, this seems like the winning plan. It wouldn’t surprise me if this is how all the bikes come in six months or so.

Hub spacing is 148/110 (Boost) for both wheelsizes. The bottom bracket is threaded with good-old English threading and ISCG tabs. Cable routing is a mix of internal and external. Rear derailleur and dropper go through the downtube, the rear brake is routed externally on the left side.

hightower_web-1-12

No front derailleurs need apply here; like the Nomad, suspension linkage and chainstay length leave no room for a front shifter. If the rumors of a single ring, 12 speed, 10-50(!) cassette group from SRAM prove to be true, those with deep enough wallets might never have to worry about sacrificing the range of a double for the simplicity of a single. In the meantime, the stock 30 tooth ring and 10-42 cassette seems like plenty of gears about 90% of the time.

(Aside: Some riders on bikes with no front derailleur compatibility are running a standard narrow-wide ring, a granny ring and no front derailleur. Shifting is via your hand, so it isn’t really enduro-approved, but an interesting idea for those rare times a single ring drivetrain isn’t enough range.)

hightower_details_black_2 hightower_details_black_1

Do I hear the question about an aluminum frame? I heard that question in my own head, and the answer is: nope. Carbon in CC and C versions only, with the frame only in CC, at $2,899 with Monarch LT. A shame, and it certainly keeps these out of the garage of many riders without a solid chunk of disposable income.

All bikes come with a 150 mm RockShox Reverb Stealth, either Maxxis Rekon/Ikon 27.5×2.8 EXO 3C TR/ or Maxxis Minion 29×2.3 DHR2 TR  tires, an 800 mm Santa Cruz carbon handlebar, and Santa Cruz Palmdale grips. Get your ENVE carbon upgrade on for $2,000, with M Series 60 Forty HV rims and I9 hubs, 29 inch only.

Colors are Sriracha Red or Matte Carbon & Mint

Hightower C – $4,599
  • S AM 27plus or 29
  • Carbon C frame
  • Rock Shox Monarch RT
  • Rock Shox Pike RC
  • SRAM GX 1×11 RD
  • Shimano SLX M675 brakes
  • SRAM MTH hubs
  • Easton AR 40/29.67/29.72 lbs.

Hightower CC – $6,499

  • XO1 AM 27plus or 29
  • Carbon CC frame
  • Rock Shox Monarch RT3
  • Rock Shox Pike RCT3
  • SRAM X01 Carbon 11sp RD
  • SRAM Guide RSC brakes
  • DT 350 hubs
  • Easton ARC 40 / ARC 27 28H
  • 27.96/ 28.05 lbs.

Hightower CC – $7,799

  • XX1 AM 27plus or 29
  • Carbon CC frame
  • Rock Shox Monarch RT3
  • Rock Shox Pike RCT3 150
  • SRAM XX1
  • SRAM Guide Ultimate brakes
  • Industry Nine 15/110mm 28H
  • Industry Nine 148×12 28h Rear hub XD
  • Easton ARC 40/ARC 27 28H
  • 27.18/27.26 lbs.

Hightower CC VPP Frameset with RockShox Monarch RTS – $2,899

  • Weight: 2,678g / 5.88 lbs.

hightower_black_275plus_hero

The Ride

The trip to Chile wasn’t solely about the new bike. Santa Cruz is throwing its support behind a new event in southern Chile, a not-quite-a-race called the Rally of Aysén Patagonia. A bunch of us media types, some of the Juliana team, various photographers and Cedric Gracia got a four day tour around Coyhaique, which is about 1,300 miles south of Santiago.

COYHAIQUE, PATAGONIA, CHILE - 19 January during the inaugural Aysen Rally Patagonia for Santa Cruz Bicycles launch of the Hightower. Photo by Gary Perkin

COYHAIQUE, PATAGONIA, CHILE – 19 January during the inaugural Aysen Rally Patagonia for Santa Cruz Bicycles launch of the Hightower. Photo by Gary Perkin

We covered all kinds of terrain. Shale scree fields. Dusty doubletrack. Hot gravel roads. Dozens of barbed wire fence crossings. Freshly cut loam. Miles of cow paths. Hike-a-bikes. Steep, loose singletrack descents. In fact, this may be one of widest-ranging, and highest mileage of any press event I’ve been to.

COYHAIQUE, PATAGONIA, CHILE - 19 January during the inaugural Aysen Rally Patagonia for Santa Cruz Bicycles launch of the Hightower. Photo by Gary Perkin

COYHAIQUE, PATAGONIA, CHILE – 19 January during the inaugural Aysen Rally Patagonia for Santa Cruz Bicycles launch of the Hightower. Photo by Gary Perkin

The Hightower took it all in stride. It has the downhill chops to be ridden quite hard, but pedals well enough that I could have happily ridden it without ever messing with the platform lever on the Monarch rear shock. I never really felt like I got in the grove down there, so I won’t even pretend that I even close to the edge of performance on this one. I can say it most have been stiff enough, because I never thought about it.

Climbing was great, although on the real steep stuff, those short chainstays take more work to keep the back wheel biting and the front wheel down. There is room for a bottle inside the front triangle on all three sizes.

hightower_web-1-6

We rode miles of new trail, with no idea what was around the next corner, and I came way impressed with how well this bike handled that type of stuff. Enough stability to ride out bad line choices, but enough fun-factor to be able to pull-up hard and hop over those hidden logs. It even did a fine job meandering around on the cow-path sections.

The parts kit is a no brainer these days, all these SRAM bits work very well. I only rode the 29er version, with ENVE wheels and XO1 kit.

I flew home with a 27plus version of this bike, and few rides on it make me think I’d want both wheelset. The 29er for most of the summer, and some aggressive tires for the 27plus wheelset for the sloppy season and snow.

Stay tuned for a full review, and more info on the Rally of Aysén Patagonia.

COYHAIQUE, PATAGONIA, CHILE - 20 January during the inaugural Aysen Rally Patagonia for Santa Cruz Bicycles launch of the Hightower. Photo by Gary Perkin

COYHAIQUE, PATAGONIA, CHILE – 20 January during the inaugural Aysen Rally Patagonia for Santa Cruz Bicycles launch of the Hightower. Photo by Gary Perkin

COYHAIQUE, PATAGONIA, CHILE - 22 January during the fourth day of the inaugural Aysen Rally Patagonia for Santa Cruz Bicycles launch of the Hightower. Photo by Gary Perkin

COYHAIQUE, PATAGONIA, CHILE – 22 January during the fourth day of the inaugural Aysen Rally Patagonia for Santa Cruz Bicycles launch of the Hightower. Photo by Gary Perkin

COYHAIQUE, PATAGONIA, CHILE - 19 January during the inaugural Aysen Rally Patagonia for Santa Cruz Bicycles launch of the Hightower. Photo by Gary Perkin

COYHAIQUE, PATAGONIA, CHILE – 19 January during the inaugural Aysen Rally Patagonia for Santa Cruz Bicycles launch of the Hightower. Photo by Gary Perkin

COYHAIQUE, PATAGONIA, CHILE - 20 January during the inaugural Aysen Rally Patagonia for Santa Cruz Bicycles launch of the Hightower. Photo by Gary Perkin

COYHAIQUE, PATAGONIA, CHILE – 20 January during the inaugural Aysen Rally Patagonia for Santa Cruz Bicycles launch of the Hightower. Photo by Gary Perkin

COYHAIQUE, PATAGONIA, CHILE - 19 January during the inaugural Aysen Rally Patagonia for Santa Cruz Bicycles launch of the Hightower. Photo by Gary Perkin

COYHAIQUE, PATAGONIA, CHILE – 19 January during the inaugural Aysen Rally Patagonia for Santa Cruz Bicycles launch of the Hightower. Photo by Gary Perkin

COYHAIQUE, PATAGONIA, CHILE - 20 January during the inaugural Aysen Rally Patagonia for Santa Cruz Bicycles launch of the Hightower. Photo by Gary Perkin

COYHAIQUE, PATAGONIA, CHILE – 20 January during the inaugural Aysen Rally Patagonia for Santa Cruz Bicycles launch of the Hightower. Photo by Gary Perkin

COYHAIQUE, PATAGONIA, CHILE - 22 January during the fourth day of the inaugural Aysen Rally Patagonia for Santa Cruz Bicycles launch of the Hightower. Photo by Gary Perkin

COYHAIQUE, PATAGONIA, CHILE – 22 January during the fourth day of the inaugural Aysen Rally Patagonia for Santa Cruz Bicycles launch of the Hightower. Photo by Gary Perkin

COYHAIQUE, PATAGONIA, CHILE - 20 January during the inaugural Aysen Rally Patagonia for Santa Cruz Bicycles launch of the Hightower. Photo by Gary Perkin

COYHAIQUE, PATAGONIA, CHILE – 20 January during the inaugural Aysen Rally Patagonia for Santa Cruz Bicycles launch of the Hightower. Photo by Gary Perkin

COYHAIQUE, PATAGONIA, CHILE - 20 January during the inaugural Aysen Rally Patagonia for Santa Cruz Bicycles launch of the Hightower. Photo by Gary Perkin

COYHAIQUE, PATAGONIA, CHILE – 20 January during the inaugural Aysen Rally Patagonia for Santa Cruz Bicycles launch of the Hightower. Photo by Gary Perkin.

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Inside Line: Yeti introduces new SB4.5c, a Switch Infinity 29er trail bike


The 29er trail bike market continues to heat up, and Yeti turns up the flames even more with the SB4.5c. This is Yeti’s first 29er to use its Switch Infinity suspension system. We covered the tech behind Switch Infinity here if you want to read more about it, but to sum it up: “As the suspension moves through its travel, the main pivot, mounted to a carrier that slides on two Kashima coated shafts, initially moves up, but at the inflection point, it moves back towards the bottom bracket.” At this point, Switch Infinity is well proven under Richie Rude and Jared Graves, who have been rallying the SB5 and SB6 in the Enduro World Series.

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The 4.5 stands for 4.5-inches of travel, also known as 114 mm, and the bike is designed around 130 or 140 mm forks. Geometry is fully modern with 67.9/67.4 degree head angle (130/140 fork), a 23.7/23.8-inch toptube in a medium frame, 13.0/13.2 bottom bracket height and 17.2-inch chainstays.

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“When we released the SB5c and SB6c, the number one question we heard was ‘When are you going to make a 29er trail bike?’ Truth is, we were already well into development and have been riding prototypes for nearly a year,” said Yeti’s President Chris Conroy. “The goal with the SB4.5C was to build a trail-specific bike with the firm pedaling platform and supple bump absorption that our Switch Infinity design is known for. Based on feedback from racers on our team like Jared Graves and Richie Rude as well as a range of local riders and dealers who’ve ridden it, the SB4.5C is exactly the bike we were trying make.”

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Yeti SB4.5C Features:

  • Frame Material: Carbon
  • Frame Weight: 5.4 pounds
  • Travel: 4.5 inches / 114mm
  • Rear Shock: FOX Float Factory DPS
  • Bottom Bracket: PF92
  • Rear Spacing: 148 Boost
  • Internally routed cables
  • Manufacturer Warranty: 5 years

Models / Availability

  • Yeti SB4.5c + XO1: $6,899 (September 15th)
  • Yeti SB4.5c + XO1 + Enve: $9,299 (October 1st)
  • Yeti SB4.5c + GX: $5,599 (December 1st)
  • Yeti SB4.5c + XTR + Enve: $10,499 (October 1st)

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Project titanium 29+ from Carver, Whisky, Syntace and Vee Tire


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The new Carver Gnarvester is designed specifically for  29+ (29×3.0 tires) and we got one in-house for a long-term review. We are building up this titanium frame with a selection of new and used components.

This is a pretty sweet chainstay yoke. What kind of word is yoke anyway?

Sliding dropouts with Paragon Machine Works sliders and a Shimano thru-axle.

Whisky No. 9 carbon fork.

Whisky No. 9 carbon fork.

15mm thru-axle up front.

First generation RockShox Reverb dropper. It worked last time I used but, but alas, it needs a rebuild to get running again. On the right is the Vee Tire Trax Fatty 29×3.00. Only the second 29+ tire that has made it to market, you can buy this now.

Wide Syntace W35 wheels. Offset rims, tubeless ready, pretty sweet.

We’ve also got a Carver MyTi carbon alt-bar and Hayes Stoker brakes to finish off the build, and a 1×10 drivetrain, as there are no allowances for a front derailleur on the Gnarvester.

Want to see where this project goes? Stay tuned!

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Inside Line: Jeff Jones unveils new Jones Plus model


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Jeff Jones has been toying with the 29+ concept for years, long before it became a reality thanks to widely available tires. After a lot of experimentation, he has unveiled his second model, aptly named Jones Plus. Built around a 29×3.0 tire, it bucks many industry trends in achieving what Jones said is a spirited ride.

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“I did not design this bike based on market research, a reaction to what other people were making, or because people were suggesting I make ‘this’ bike or ‘that’ bike,” Jones said in an email. “I realized that I do not need or want a bike that has the absolute shortest wheel base possible for every ride, and I knew that you don’t need to have a steep head or seat angle to have a responsive bike that is fast, efficient and comfortable.”

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While most bikes these days have steeper seat tube angles, shorter chainstays and longer front-centers, the Jones Plus is the opposite in nearly every respect. It has a massive 19-inch chainstay for huge tire clearance paired with a slack 71 degree seat tube angle and a shorter reach. The truss fork has a huge 76mm offset to quicken the steering from the 67.5 degree head tube angle, as well as a new 142×15 thru axle hub with front-specific rotor spacing. By adjusting the eccentric bottom bracket to its highest position, the bike can also be used with standard 29-inch tires.

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Unlike the original model, the Jones Plus will be available in two sizes, with either a 24-inch and 25-inch top tube. According to Jones the 24-inch size has a very similar fit to the original Jones and its 23-inch top tube. Another benefit of the bigger frame is the ability to carry larger loads in the Jones framebags that are purpose built for the bike by Porcelain Rocket. It also has multiple rack and fender mounting positions.

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Yes, it’s long, but Jones says that’s kind of the point—after all, the prototype was nicknamed the “Long Ranger” for a reason. He says that that length provides a ton of stability and traction, while the slack seat tube centers the rider between the wheels.

Carbon H-bar

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Even more recognizable than his frames are the Jones H-bars. This year he is introducing a carbon fiber version in both the Loop and the Cut styles. Due to feedback and confusion from customers, the Cut H-bars now feature extra room to mount shifters and dropper post remotes.

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Correction

This post originally misstated the size of the front axle.

 

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Review: Van Nicholas Zion 29


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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?

Find out in our long term review.

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