For a while there, the patient was touch-and-go. Assets were on the operating table. Little passion was moving through its blood. After its sale to BST Nano Carbon in late 2014, Ellsworth looked like it might not pull through. The 2015 lineup wasn’t released at all.
“We weren’t dead,” joked company founder Tony Ellsworth. “We were fermenting.”
Then, as it has done many times before, Ellsworth came roaring back to life—just in time for its 25th anniversary—with a new owner supplying much-needed capital and Tony Ellsworth still at the helm. Despite not having bikes in dealer showrooms, the team never stopped engineering, and for 2016 it has an all-new lineup with clean-slate designs built around its classic Instant Center Tracking linkage system.
A four-bar design, ICT is similar to the Horst-link design used by many brands, but it keeps the virtual pivot point in line with the chain forces, thus preventing drivetrain input to affect the suspension. Because of this, Ellsworth says, it runs a much softer tune on its Fox shocks, allowing the suspension to remain much more active during pedaling or braking.
The centerpiece of the new lineup is the Epiphany. Combining the traits of several previous models, the 2016 version is available in two frame materials and three wheel sizes. The 27.5 versions have 140 mm travel and are built for 150 mm forks, while the 27plus (pictured) and 29er versions have 120 mm of travel and 130 mm forks. To further differentiate the attitude, the aluminum bikes have a much slacker head tube angle for a more gravity-oriented ride.
All the bikes use identical ICT systems with smaller rockers that Ellsworth admits were slimmed down based on customer feedback that the massive rocker links of the past looked outdated. All the models also use a 148×12 Boost rear axle with hex-shaped ends that lock into the frame to prevent twisting. Making everything as stiff as possible can only improve the performance of the suspension, Ellsworth says.
Each of the Epiphany models will be available in a frame-only or in six spec levels, starting at $3,895 for the aluminum 27.5 and 29-inch models and $3,995 for the 27plus.
The new lineup also includes the Moment and Dare, which share a frame but are built into either 160 mm all-mountain bikes in the case of the former, or 200 mm downhill bikes for the latter. That same frame can also be set to 180 mm for freeride or bike park use. Switching travel isn’t as simple as flipping a shock mount chip though, so don’t plan to do it trail-side.
Other new models include a carbon hardtail Enlightenment in both 27.5 and 29er flavors, and the Buddha fat bike.
While the bikes aren’t entirely made in America, Ellsworth says it still prides itself on having one of the highest percentage of American-made content in its bikes in the industry. The carbon frames are made overseas but the aluminum frames as well as the rocker links and chainstays are made in the U.S.
SR Suntour recently announced two new rear shocks called the DUAir and UNAir. The company’s motivation is to deliver an affordable option that’s able to keep up with its forks. Not only will the DUAir and UNAir offer consumers reasonably-priced aftermarket options, but they’ll also offer SR Suntour the ability to provide bike manufacturers solid front and rear suspension packages.
With these new shocks, SR Suntour is launching an entirely new shim stack damper system including a patented new piston design.
This new piston offers a multi-stage compression circuit to handle both low- and high-speed compression damping. Take a look at the oil ports on the top of the piston. The long, kidney-shaped holes are the high-speed ports, while the small, round holes are the low-speed ports. Now, imagine the shim stack sitting on top of the piston. Under low-speed, low-pressure movement, the shim will flex only slightly. This opens the low-speed ports, allowing oil to pass. As shaft speeds and piston pressures increase, the shim stack will flex open more, exposing the larger oil ports as well. The harder the impact, the higher the shaft speed, the more oil the piston and shim stack is able to flow.
This damper will be offered in three different configurations; RC with external compression and rebound adjustment (DUAir only), LOR with adjustable rebound and a true lock out, and LOR8 with adjustable rebound and 80-percent lock out.
The new shocks’ main bushings have been redesigned to reduce friction and improve reliability as well.
While the UNAir and DUAir will share SR Suntour’s new damper, their intended markets are somewhat different. The UNAir offers a single air volume option and will be offered in sizes catering to the cross-country and light-duty trail end of the spectrum. Conversely, they DUAir will be offering in larger sizes and its four available “air pipes” allow manufacturers and end consumers to tune the progressiveness the air spring to meet the needs of specific frame designs and riding styles.
The UNAir with LOR or LOR8 damper will retail for $325.
The DUAir with RC, LOR or LOR8 damper and large air pipe (default) will retail for $350.
These new offerings from SR Suntour are highly tunable, which is perfect for OE applications. I’d expect to see a lot of these shocks on price-point bikes in 2016 and 2017.
Morpheus is proudly displaying an all-new downhill bike here at Crankworx and we caught up with company founder Michael Schwartz to get the lowdown.
This full carbon fiber rig is the first project where Morpheus sought expertise from outside the company to assist in frame design and suspension kinematics, “to make [the Conspiracy] a bike that goes against the other bikes in the category right now, we really had to seek help,” said Schwartz. “We worked with a new FEA program that’s used in Forumla 1 to test parts pre-season and that was extremely useful because we never had such a well-sorted bike from a first prototype.” Here, Schwartz is hinting at Morpheus’ previous downhill prototype, which the company ended up scrapping entirely because they couldn’t achieve the results they were looking for. “We wanted to accelerate the project because people have been waiting for a downhill bike for a long time from us,” Schwartz continued.
Well sorted, indeed. The Conspiracy’s fit and finish looks spectacular. It’s truly light-years ahead of the previous prototype and this sample was on-par with some of the best in the business.
During initial prototyping, Morpheus entertained the idea of making a bike that offer 26- and 27.5-inch capability. Ultimately, they decided on 27.5 because they were able to hit their geometry targets while also taking advantage of the inherent traction advantage of 27.5. Choosing one wheel size also simplifies construction significantly.
The Conspiracy’s geometry falls right in line with what’s developing as the “standard” range for bikes in this category; 17.1-inch chainstays, 13.6-inch bottom bracket height and a 63.5-degree head tube angle.
Notice that chainstay pivot? Yep, it’s a Horst Link, which is now free to use after the patent recently expired. Morpheus calls its suspension design Optimized Performance Suspension (OPS), but didn’t offer any further specifics.
Though it’s designed as a race bike, Morpheus sought to maintain a lively feeling suspension to maximize fun in the bike park too. Schwartz wanted a bike that’s at home smashing rock gardens and hitting the jump line.
Another of Morpheus’ key targets for this bike was affordability. As a smaller, consumer direct company, Morpheus has less overhead than many of the large manufacturers, so they’re able to offer a competitive package to the end consumer. The Conspiracy frame will retail for $2,495 with a Fox X2 shock and the standard build with a Rock Shox Boxxer, Vivid rear shock and mid-level Race Face components. Even the premium build, which is said to weigh less than 35 lbs., will retail for $5395 with a Fox 40, Fox DHX2 rear shock, Race Face Carbon components and DT Swiss wheels for $5,395. Expect bikes to ship in February of 2016. If all goes well, you might even see a few of these in action at Red Bull Rampage this year.
Photos by Justin Steiner
Giro has had a huge hit on its hands with the Feature, a great all-purpose trail helmet that doesn’t break the bank. The new Montaro builds on that success with several new technologies that make it more of a premium product.
The first key design priority on the Montaro was making it more easily compatible with goggles. Giro says it is one of the few half-shell helmets on the market that can perch a pair of goggles on your forehead below the visor. To make it work the visor tilts really far up with several detents along the way, making it unnecessary to lock it in place with screw tension at the pivots. The vents along the rear of the helmet are also lined with a rubbery plastic that helps hold the goggle strap, a nice touch.
Ventilation was another key aspect of the design, and the Montaro has Giro’s Roc Loc Air retention system that keeps the body of the helmet suspended slightly above your head, allowing air to move in and through more easily. If you do end up warming up and sweating, you should notice a lot less of it ending up in your eyes thanks to the super-absorbent brow pad that uses the kind of material you’d find in a ShamWow. If you pull it out and squeeze it in your hand a rather disturbing amount of sweat comes out.
Other features include a clip-in GoPro mount, easy to adjust straps and a MIPS liner on all models. There are eight colors and three sizes for the standard Montaro and three colors and two sizes in the women’s Montara version, which is otherwise identical. It will go on sale for $150 this October.
In actionTweet Print
Devinci launched a redesigned Troy here at Crankworx and we’ve just had our first look. The trail market has evolved quite a bit since 2013 when the Troy was originally launched. Over the years, Devinci has been seeing folks riding that bike harder and harder with wide bars and burly rolling stock. With this in mind, and taking cues from its big brother the Spartan, this version of the Troy is designed a little bit burlier than the previous version.
In keeping with the times, the new Troy offers a 20 mm longer front center across the size run, four mm shorter chainstays and much steeper seat tube angles (74.5 degrees in the low setting and 74.9 degrees in the high setting). Head tube angles remain largely unchanged at 67 degrees in the low setting and 67.4 in the high setting.
Suspension travel remains the same, offering 150 mm up front and 140 mm in the rear, though the Split-Pivot rear suspension kinematics have been modified to provide a more progressive ramp up at the end of stroke to better cope with larger hits.
The new Troy will be available in both aluminum and carbon models. Aluminum frames, as well as the carbon model’s aluminum chainstay and rocker link, are produced in Devinci’s Canadian factory.
We weren’t able to ride the new Troy, but we’ll be getting our hands on one for long-term review.
The Trek Fuel EX has been one of the most popular trail bikes in history but Trek wasn’t about to rest with “good enough.” After the folks from Waterloo added a 27.5 version last summer with the introduction of the amazing Penske Re:aktiv shock technology, the 29er model gets a full refresh with new features, new technology and new axle spacing.
Yes, it’s Boost. You could argue till your tires are flat whether we need Boost or not, but Trek can be credited with creating most of its inertia in the market, after it debuted on the Remedy trail bike. All 2016 Fuel EX 29 models have wider hubs for stiffer wheels and better handling, Trek says. (Except for the two least expensive models, the Fuel EX 29 5 and Fuel EX 29 7, which stick with traditional thru-axles.) The Boost spacing also allows the chainstays to be shortened from 452 mm to 434 mm.
Other changes include the disappearance of the DRCV shocks, since Trek says the new Fox EVOL version offered the proper spring curve without having to make custom units, thus allowing Trek to save some money and include the Re:aktiv damper technology on more models.
The new carbon and aluminum frames are equipped with “Control Freak” cable ports to route any combination of cables or Di2 wires inside the frame for a clean look. There is a port under the downtube that allows access to cables to zip tie them in place to prevent rattling.
While the new Fuel EX sticks with 120 mm of travel front and rear (except for the Fuel EX 29 9, which gets a 130 mm Fox 34) the geometry can be adjusted with the Mino link that is commonly found on Trek’s longer travel bikes like the Slash and Remedy. An eccentric plate between the rocker link and the seat tube, it allows riders to adjust the head tube angle half a degree and raise and lower the bottom bracket 8 mm. The steeper setting is close to that of the previous Fuel EX 29er, while the slacker setting gets the head tube angle out to 68.8 degrees. Like all Trek 29ers the Fuel EX is designed around a 51 mm offset fork, which used to be known as G2, but has largely become commonplace for 29ers.
The 2016 Fuel EX 29 will be available in six sizes from 15.5 inches to 22 inches
2016 Fuel EX 29 pricing
- Fuel EX 29 Carbon frameset: $3,470
- Fuel EX 29 5, aluminum: $2,090
- Fuel EX 29 7, aluminum: $2,670
- Fuel EX 29 8, aluminum: $3,050
- Fuel EX 29 9, aluminum: $4,200
- Fuel EX 29 9.8, carbon: $5,570
- Fuel EX 29 9.9, carbon: $8,800
Fuel EX history
Want to read more about how this model has changed over the years? Here’s some links from our archives:
- 2008 Fuel EX sneak peek
- 2008 Fuel EX first ride
- 2008 Fuel EX update
- 2008 Fuel EX post Punk Bike pondering
- 2009 Fuel EX first look
- 2014 Fuel EX 29 first look
If any one single model epitomizes “mountain bikes” it’s the Specialized Stumpjumper. One of the first mass-produced off road bicycles, it been a mainstay of the lineup since 1981. Its evolution has traced the course of mountain bike design, through various frame materials, suspension setups and user categories. There are no fewer than 19 different Stumpjumper models in the 2015 lineup, spanning both hardtail and FSR full suspension designs, so redesigning a bike as iconic as the Stumpy is no short order.
Riders familiar with Specialized and its products will find many familiar features in the 2016 Stumpjumper FSR, plus a few surprises. While the previous model was available in both standard and EVO models with more travel and a rowdier disposition, the 2016 model adopts the more aggressive geometries across the board. Essentially, all of the 2016 models are the EVO model. There are 10 models in total, both aluminum and carbon fiber, stretch from $2,900 to $8,900, plus four frame-only options.
Another feature many folks were hoping for was the adoption of the chainstay design from the Enduro model that keeps the rear center as short as possible, shrinking from 450 mm to 437 mm in the 29er version and 435 mm to 420 mm in the 27.5 version (which Specialized continues to refer to as 650b, even though most of the mountain bike industry has settled on “27.5”). Head tube angles are 67 degrees for the 27.5 model and 67.5 degrees for the 29er.
While many of the models are built with single-chainring drivetrains, others are offered with doubles and the front derailleur mounted on the “taco blade” adapter that was also first featured on the Enduro model. Travel sits at 140/135 mm on the 29er and 150 mm front and rear on the 27.5 model, which is no longer “adapted” from a different model as the 2015 version was. That travel moves through a custom-tuned Fox Float shock with Specialized’s AutoSag feature that makes setup a breeze.
Also featured on every single model is the new Command Post IRcc that is still controlled with a shift cable (internally routed) but does away with the three fixed positions and instead offers a dozen stops along its 125 mm of travel. While we are fans of the Command Post, we can’t help but wonder why Specialized doesn’t offer one with zero offset for the aftermarket, as all of its bikes are designed around a large 35 mm of rearward offset.
While hub standards seem to be all over the place right now, the 2016 Stumpjumper FSR sticks with the 15 mm front / 142 mm rear hubs, with one small exception: the Roval Traverse Fatty wheels have what Specialized calls 142+. It’s not *quite* a new standard, but close. While the overall hub spacing is the same, the freehub body is pushed outboard 2 mm [PDF]. This means a standard 142 mm hub will fit, but the 142+ hub probably won’t fit another bike because the cassette may interfere with the chainstay. The rims feature Specialized’s hookless tubeless bead and a 29 mm internal width.
The SWAT box
Specialized has been rolling out accessories with the SWAT label for a few years now (Storage, Water, Air, Tools), and they offer smart ways to carry essentials like tubes and tools. For example, there is a multi tool that clips into the frame just above the shock mount, a spare chain link and chain tool hiding under the top cap, and an optional cargo box that mounts to the bottle cage bolts.
The carbon fiber versions of the new Stumpjumper take SWAT to the next level with the introduction of SWAT box, a large cutout in the down tube of the frame that lets you hide things like tubes and tools inside the frame. The opening is roughly 2.5 x 4 inches and the compartment extends two thirds of the way up the down tube. The included tool rolls keep things from clanking around in there, and because the frame is specifically designed around the opening you armchair composite engineers out there can rest assured it is as structurally sound as any other bike frame. Those properties don’t translate to aluminum however, so it is only available in the carbon frames. And no, a beer can doesn’t fit. We tried.
On the trail
I had a chance to sample the 29er version of the new Stumpjumper FSR at our own Dirt Rag Dirt Fest this past weekend, and while it was hardly a long-term test, I came away with an impression of how versatile this bike could be. Usually 29ers with this much travel are really only happy with high-speed descending, but the Stumpy could have easily been mistaken for its shorter-travel cousin the Camber.
Sometimes hoping on a bike just feels right, and the XL I demo’d fit perfectly right out of the gate with nice wide bars and a comfortable cockpit. Getting the suspension set up with the AutoSag feature is brainless, but I would like to experiment with a bit more than the automatic 20 percent sag. Unlike many Horst-link designs that require a firm shock platform, the Stumpjumer renders the Fox CTD lever unnecessary with its built-in composure.
Our Tech Editor, Eric McKeegan, rode the 27.5 version. Here is his take:
“With the changes to the Stumpy, I somewhat expected to feel like the 27.5 version to feel like an ‘Enduro-lite’, but even with the slacker angles, things felt more trail than all-mountain. I’m not sure if the suspension kinematics have been changed, or it is the new Rx Tune for the rear shock, but I agree with Adam, I didn’t feel much need to flip the platform lever on the rolling trails of Raystowne Lake. I did lock out both ends for the pavement climb, and thought they could use a little more ‘lock’ to the lockout.
“I also agree on the fit, I’ve always been very happy with the way Specialized fits out of the box, and had no problems pushing the pace from the get go. Well, maybe not the get go, the brakes weren’t bedded in yet so the first corner was interesting, to say the least.
“The main thing I can say about my test ride? It was too short. I wanted more ride time.
“A few years ago we did a comparison test between the Stumpjumper EVO 29 and Stumpjumper EVO 26. Maybe it is time to return to that idea, with all three bikes…”
One more thing
Wait, there’s a third bike? While we didn’t get to sample one in person, there is also a new Stumpjumper 6Fattie coming, built around the same 27.5×3 wheels and tires of the new Fuze and Ruze models. To fit the wide wheels it uses the new 110/148 mm hubs and a few other tweaks. It will be available in both carbon and aluminum models later this summer.
This article originally misstated the head tube angle of the 29er Stumpjumper. It is 67.5 degrees.
Dropper posts have dropped a bomb on the bike industry, with many riders (this one included) believing they are the most significant mountain bike innovation since the suspension fork. But while they can transform your bike and your ride, they have their weaknesses. Reliability has been an issue with many models, and the thumb remotes have traditionally been less-than-awesome.
Now that single-ring drivetrains have freed up space on the left side of the handlebar, dropper remotes are starting to take their place under the bars. Some brands have already adopted this style. If yours hasn’t, the new ReMount adapter from Lindarets is a simple and light way to move the dropper remote from many brands from its vertical orientation to a horizontal one where the shifter used to be.
The adapter, which looks a lot like a mini bar-end, is made from Delrin, a thermoplastic that won’t damage your bars in a crash. It is 30 mm long, so you have ample space to adjust the remote’s vertical position. It weighs just 20 grams and costs $19 shipped.
What’s your take? Think it will improve the ergonomics of your dropper remote?Tweet Print
Subaru is one of the key sponsors of Sea Otter and it had a collection of vintage cars and bikes in its booth. It’s amazing how dated the mountain bikes look but the car from the same era seems commonplace.
The new GA1 grip from Ergon has been hugely popular, both with enduro racers and casual mountain bikers. Now it’s shape has trickled down into a less expensive version called the GA2. Plus it comes in a ton of colors.
Founded as a motorsports helmet company, Lazer put its know-how into the revised Phoenix+ full face. Weighing less than 1,000 grams it retails for just $99.
Hailing from Andorra, Max Commencal’s brand is making a big push into the U.S. with its consumer-direct sales model. The Meta HT AM hardtail is an aggressive trail bike with a big 150 mm fork and 27.5 wheels. With the dropper post and Pike fork it retails for $2,229.
As bike parks grow in popularity, providing a safe place for kids to push their skills, pint-sized gravity bikes are improving to keep up with them. The Supreme 20 is no toy, and it’s reflected by its $1,799 price tag.
Another consumer-direct brand, Mongoose is moving up-market, with nicer and nicer bikes. The Argus expert bumps up to 4.5 tires on 100 mm rims and adds a RockShox Bluto suspension fork. It’s price competitively at $1,799.
The Ruddy Expert is a new 27plus bike with the new Manitou Magnum fork and 27.5 x 2.8 WTB Trailblazer tires. It’s right in the heard of the “plus” market at $1,999.
The Selous is an all-purpose adventure/gravel/cyclocross bike with Shimano’s awesome hydraulic brakes. The carbon fork has the new 12 mm thru-axle that we’re likely to see adopted for road and cyclocross, so it’s ahead of the curve on compatibility. It retails for $1,899.
One of the few eyewear companies that is independently owned, Tifosi has introduced a creative Interchance system that allows the same arms to attached to different lenses and frames for a switchable look. For example, you can use the frameless shield lens for riding then switch the arms over to the full frame lenses for casual use. It’s available in all sorts of frame, arm and lens combinations too with prices from $99 to $149.
Known for its high performance race shoes, the newest Italian kicks sport a much more relaxed attitude. The MTB Epic has the same fit and feel as Sidi’s other shoes but pairs it with a lace-up upper and a softer, rubber outsole.
This looks like a great option for touring, bikepacking, or any ride where you might have to scramble off the bike.
We just got our hand on our first set of WTB’s 2.8 Trailblazer tires, which were on many of the “plus” bikes at the show, and in the WTB booth we spied this prototype of a second model, the Bridger. While the Trailblazer was designed for the 29er/27plus conversion, this looks like an all-out mid-fat specific tire with much more volume. Watch for more when it becomes available.
Move on to Part 4 of our coverage from Sea Otter 2015.