Dirt Rag Magazine

New: Pivot Mach 429SL carbon


Pivot’s full-suspension “race” bike, the Mach 429SL carbon, has been updated for 2017. It’s not plus (but it does have a Boost rear); it’s not even 27.5. This carbon bike has 100 mm of suspension front and rear and—gasp—29-inch wheels.



The Mach 429SL is spec’d with the Fox Float Dual Piston System (DPS) shock custom tuned specifically for cross-country and endurance racing. The Float DPS shock features settings and a design that allows for a plush feel with a wide range of damping control while also offering an extremely positive “firm” position for fast climbs.

The new Mach 429SL carbon is available in more than 12 different complete bike configurations, starting at $4,200.



  • Frame weight from 5.2 pounds (2.4Kg) and sub-23 pounds (10.4kg) complete
  • 100 mm of dw-link suspension tuned for race and trail handling
  • Full-carbon frame featuring Pivot’s proprietary hollow core internal molding technology
  • Full length internal cable routing and Shimano Di2 integration via Pivot’s exclusive, Cable Port System
  • Internal dropper post compatible
  • Cold forged alloy linkages with Enduro Max Cartridge Bearings
  • Fox Float Kashima Factory shock
  • Highly durable rubberized leather downtube and swingarm protection
  • Updated to Boost 12x148mm rear spacing
  • Designed to work with forks from 100-120 mm in travel
  • Every frame size has room for two water bottles
  • Available in sizes S, M, L, XL for riders between 5’3″ and 6’4″

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Foundry launches XC race bike, the Firetower


Boost spacing and plus-sized tires burst into our collective consciousness so quickly and so definitively that a bike like the Foundry Firetower looks slightly odd in the current, trend-soaked world of mountain biking. But here it is, a brand-new cross-country race machine that lacks Boost, takes only a 29×2.25 tire and runs a 100 mm fork mated to a 70-degree headtube angle.


The Firetower features a Press Fit 92 shell, a blend of carbon fibers and will come in sizes small through XL at a price of $3,700 for Shimano XT and a RockShox Reba SL (the only build kit offered). While it will ship as a 1x build, the frame will accept a front derailleur. Whether or not you think this rig is already “old-school,” the Firetower certainly stands out in the newly crowded sea of plus-tire bikes.


One of the Foundry guys mentioned that this is an “affordable” race bike the company would like to see under NICA (high school) racers. We’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, but we disagree. That is a lot of coin these days for a bike like the Firetower. You, the consumer, will decide this one when it shows up in local bike shops around September.

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Cannondale shows off updated mountain line for 2017

At this year’s bike Press Camp in Park City, Utah, Cannondale released several new models, as well as existing model updates and an expanded women’s line for 2017. Keep reading for details on the new plus bike and refreshed carbon rigs.

Cujo 1 27plus

press camp bikes DR-23

The Cujo is a new 27plus bike based on Cannondale’s other trail bikes (namely, the Beast of the East) that is designed to come in at a lower price point. This top-of-the line model will retail around $1400, with the rest of the range going down to $800.

press camp bikes DR-24

The Cujo 1 will come with WTB Ranger 3-inch tires, Shimano Deore brakes, SRAM NX 1×11 cassette, SRAM GX derailleur and a tapered headtube. All models will get a 120 mm fork. Cujos 2 and 3 will come with 2x drivetrains. This bike will be available in July in sizes extra small through extra extra large.

Bad Habit 1 Carbon

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The Bad Habit will now come in carbon with a new build spec all around that includes house-made 40 mm internal-width carbon Hollowgram rims wearing 3-inch tires, plus flat-mount brakes, Shimano XTR build, a LEV dropper post and 120 mm of travel front and rear.

cannondale bad boy

This model will retail for around $5000. Sizes small through extra large.

Women’s Carbon Habit 1

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The women’s Habit has been updated with new colors, an updated drivetrain, dropper post and a new high-end build kit at the top of the line (pictured) that features carbon cranks, a FOX dropper post, the Lefty fork, a Shimano XTR build and XT brakes. The bike will become available in the next couple of months.

Scalpel Si Carbon Women’s 2

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Also showcased was the new Scalpel-Si for women, a carbon cross-country race bike that was designed around newer, more technical courses. We did a big story about the launch of this bike where you can check out all of the details and read our interview with Cannondale’s MTB product manager.

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Featuring 100 mm of travel front and rear, the bike is slightly slacker than traditional XC race rigs. This one is outfitted with a Shimano XT 1×11 build, 160 mm brake rotors, simplified Di2 routing for upgrade-itis, Stan’s ZTR Rapid rims, remote shock lockouts, carbon crank and a Fi’zi:k Arione Donna saddle. The bike will retail for $4,260 as shown.



Kona introduces new carbon Hei Hei bikes

For 2017, Kona has updated its full-suspension, cross-country Hei Hei with two 29er models in carbon: the DL and Race DL.


Kona Race

Hei Hei Race

Hei Hei Race geo

Kona increased bike stiffness and dropped the weight by giving the two-bike line full carbon frames weighing 1800 grams (just under 4 pounds). Kona’s own Fuse Independent Suspension—a design that eliminates a pivot at the chainstay seatstay—is now lighter and stiffer. The geometry continues to have a low-slung frame weight and good standover, highlighted by a rider fit that incorporates a short stem, long front center and compact rear triangle.

Kona Dl

Hei Hei DL

Hei Hei Trail geo

Both bikes feature Boost spacing and stealth dropper post routing. The Hei Hei Race DL was developed on World Cup XC courses. While the Hei Hei DL was built on the same carbon frame, it gets more travel up front (120 mm vs. 100 mm), a dropper post, chunkier tires and a more aggressive cockpit.

We have already been rolling on the Race DL for about a month and will bring you a full review in an upcoming issue of Dirt Rag. Start by reading our initial impressions of the bike for more details (spoiler: we like it).

The Hei Hei DL is currently available in North America, while the Race DL will follow in August. Both models are currently available in the EU and UK.



Review: Canfield Brothers EPO

Tester: Jon Pratt | Age: 45 | Height: 5’11” | Weight: 195 lbs. | Inseam: 31”

The Canfield EPO is a sexy carbon 29er hardtail born from the gravity-loving minds at Canfield Brothers. Its very name is meant to take a jab at the carbon hardtail 29er racing crowd. This is by no means a bike meant for your next cross-country race, but could be ridden in one if you really wanted to.

Canfield EPO-1

The EPO is Canfield Brothers’ first carbon bike, its lightest bike to date, and follows in the footsteps of the venerable low and slack Yelli Screamy. Designed for the rider who wants an aggressive 29 inch trail bike, without a weight penalty or loss of pedalling efficiency.

The EPO has a 66.8 degree head angle with a 140 mm fork, 67.9 degrees with a 120 mm, and 16.3 inch chainstays. The EPO also features a rear 142 mm x 12 mm Maxle, ISCG 05 tabs, brake mounts on the inside of the rear triangle, threaded bottom bracket and the ability to install a direct mount front derailleur if you want to run more than a single chainring.

Canfield EPO-3

Canfield Brothers doesn’t sell the EPO as a complete bike, so you get to pick and choose the components you most want. We built up the 3.2 pound frame with a full XTR kit, a sick Atomik wheelset, Fox dropper post and fork, and a Grid handlebar and stem from Gravity Components. Canfield does offer some components like wheels and forks at a package discount when purchasing directly from its online store.

Canfield EPO-2

So, I’ll cut right to the chase. This is an incredibly fun, capable hardtail that I would have no problem making part of my collection. Not only is it nice to look at, it just feels like it wants to be ridden hard. I like taking each new bike I review on the same loop in my local park to get a feel for how it compares to all the previous bikes I’ve ridden. Immediately I could tell Canfield had something special here.

Hardtails are inherently animated on rough trail, but the EPO felt a bit more stable than I had expected. The 74.5 degree effective seat tube angle, matched to a slack head angle centered my weight nicely up and over the pedals. It kept me feeling connected to the bike and trail, allowing me to really push the bike hard while maintaining control through everything from berms, to rocks, to climbs.

Canfield EPO-5

Fit is somewhat subjective, but for me the EPO was spot-on. There’s that fine line where a slack bike, great at descending, really gives up the ghost on climbs. A wandering front end can put a quick damper on my day. The EPO walked that line well. I never felt like it was out of its element. Let’s not forget those short chainstays. Getting this bike up and over logs, roots and rocks on trail was a piece of cake!

This was hands-down the most fun I have had on a hardtail to date. Truly a bike that just wants to be ridden hard.

Canfield EPO-4

The Canfield Brothers brand has always had mystique to it, with some very loyal followers. Besides a few rides here and there, this was my first chance to spend a good deal of time on one of its bikes. I now get it. And according to Canfield, the EPO allowed the company to experiment with molds, layups and other aspects of working with carbon to lay the groundwork for future projects.

After spending time on the EPO, “future projects” makes my mouth water. If you are like me, and have been looking for a hardtail that handles pretty much everything you can throw at it, I suggest you hunt down an EPO and take it for a spin. Frames, available as medium and large only, are black with red, white or blue accents and lettering.

  • Wheelbase: 46.4″
  • Top Tube: 24.8″
  • Head Angle: 66.8°
  • Seat-Tube Angle: 74.5º
  • Bottom Bracket: 12.6″
  • Rear Center: 16.3″
  • Weight: 26.4 lbs. w/o pedals
  • Price: $1,499 (frame only)
  • More info: canfieldbrothers.com



First Impression: GT Helion Elite

Editor’s note: This is one of six bikes we’ve gathered together that fall between $1,900 and $2,600. Read our introduction to see the other five and watch for our long-term reviews of each in Dirt Rag #182, due on newsstands and in mailboxes any day now. Subscribe now and you’ll never miss a bike review.

GT Helion First Impression—WEB (3 of 15)

GT’s new-for-2015 Helion lineup consists of five models ranging in price from the $5,420 Carbon Pro down to the $1,680 Comp model. Sitting one step above the Comp, you’ll find this $2,550 Elite offering.

GT develops all of their bikes utilizing “Centered on Rider” (C.O.R.) philosophy, which targets five specific areas when designing a bike: fit, function, tune, spec and geometry. With the Helion, GT was striving to develop a bike for the “everyday cross country rider.”

When Dirt Rag Tech Editor Eric McKeegan initially assigned the Helion to me for review, I was a bit skeptical about how much I was going to enjoy this short-travel rig. Having spent quite a bike of time on longer-travel trail and all mountain bikes over the last couple of years, my style and tastes have gravitated toward more aggressive bikes. But, assignments must be followed through, so off I went. Let me walk you through my first impressions.

GT Helion First Impression—WEB (10 of 15)

During last year’s $2,500 bike group test, I was continually impressed with the quality and performance of bikes in this price point. Out of the box, the Helion certainly held its own with the best of them. It’s a decently good looking bike with solid spec for the asking price. Details like the WTB ST i23 TCS rims, which are UST certified, are a very nice touch. Even though the stock tires are not TCS models, they’ll wear out and you can upgrade to tubeless versions.

GT Helion First Impression—WEB (4 of 15)

Up front you’ll find a RockShox XC 32 TK  setup at 110 mm of travel. With RockShox’s Solo Air spring, setup is a piece of cake using the air pressure chart on the back of the fork leg. Rebound damping is adjustable and the lockout is remote actuated.

GT Helion First Impression—WEB (12 of 15)

The 110mm of Pathlink suspenion travel is controlled by X-Fusion’s 02 RLR rear shock with adjustable rebound damping and remote lockout. Down on the middle pivot of the Pathlink, you’ll notice a sag indicator to help you find the proper air pressure for the shock, though it can be hard to see while you’re on the bike.

GT Helion First Impression—WEB (15 of 15)

Here’s a better view of GT’s Angle Optimized Suspension (AOS) design. The high main pivot (above the shock) creates a rearward axle path that should improve small bump performance. The downside of that high main pivot would be a lot of chain growth and resultant pedal feedback, but that’s where Pathlink comes in. As the suspension compresses, Pathlink carries the bottom bracket rearward with the swingarm to minimize feedback. That said, there’s still a little bit of chain growth, which provides anti-squat and a firm pedaling platform under power.

After my first ride aboard the Helion, it was clear I was underestimating the potential of this bike. It quickly because clear this test was going to be more fun than I had anticipated.


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