Dirt Rag Magazine

First Ride: Surly Krampus


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Folklore describes the Krampus as a half-goat, half-demon Christmas wrecker that punishes children who are bad and will not be getting a visit from Saint Nick. If misbehaving is wrong, I don’t want to be right. The new Surly Krampus is too much fun for that nonsense.

The Krampus roared to life five years ago as one of the first plus bikes in existence. Since Surly also makes rims, hubs and tires, it can largely do whatever it wants, which is what it did with this bike. The Krampus turned out to be a harbinger of the overwhelming diversification we’d soon be mired in, and was due for an update.

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The most welcome and obvious adjustments to the new Surly Krampus are the use of tubeless-ready rims, thru-axle dropouts, adjustable Gnot-Boost spacing to allow for multiple hub widths, stealth cable routing for a dropper post (on a wider, 30.9 seat tube) and new tubing that cleaned up the head tube area and strengthened other areas without adding weight. For the bikepacking set, Krampus is now more welcoming to racks and cages, and will sell with the same braze-on-covered fork that other bikes get.

The original Krampus could take a 120 mm fork, but Surly was lukewarm on recommending it (not that Surly owners obey orders). It also meant you’d have to re-lace your front wheel to a different hub since the bike was stocked with quick release. Ugh, too much work. Anyway, Krampus now embraces the bounce, though the bikes will come stock with a rigid fork.

How else does this one differ from its predecessor? The head tube angle is half a degree slacker (now 69). Chainstays are half an inch shorter (down to 17.1). The new build kit includes a SRAM NX derailleur and shifter, SRAM Level brakes, a WTB Volt Saddle, updated Surly Dirt Wizard 29×3.0 tires and 11 speeds.

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Yadda yadda yadda; how does it ride? At this point, there are not many unique ways left to describe the ride feel of a steel hardtail. In a way, that’s a good thing. If you like steel, if you like fun, if you aren’t a weight weenie, if you like play, then you will like this Krampus. The ride is tremendous. Those huge wheels, huge tires and slackened geometry meant I was less careful than I might otherwise have been on completely unfamiliar terrain.

Krampus ate up the rocks, steeps, sand, dust, berms and slower riders. It’s far from the fastest bike I’ve ever ridden, but it was also far easier to handle than I ever expected. Slowed way down on ledgy, twisty bits of trail, I deftly kept it upright without tiring out my waif-like arms. Get one. I can tell you it’s gonna be great, believe me. Huge. You know what I mean.

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For a long time, I turned my nose up at the 29plus thing for one reason: I am 5’4″. I assumed there was no way a 15-inch frame wearing clown shoes could accommodate me comfortably. Despite the awkward look of my size small test bike–like a teenager whose feet grew to full size before their height caught up–the Krampus proved me wrong. I felt “in” the bike, immediately comfortable with how it rode and handled. If you have been pedaling hardtails for a while, this one won’t feel unfamiliar.

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The Krampus really could be your one mountain bike. The stock rigid fork with bottle mounts means it comes ready to travel. Add suspension and a dropper and you have a capable trail bike for all but the biggest hits or fastest cross-country races. That’s the beauty of the 29plus trail hardtail–to ride one is to have it all make total sense. These bikes occupy a middle ground that, rather than making them dull, makes them incredibly versatile. Depending on how you build it, you can fiddle with the ride characteristics to suit your desires. Install a carbon fork and lower-profile tires and this thing could really rocket if you’re willing to give ‘er.

I greatly enjoy my full-suspension carbon wunderbike, but it seems to have just a single purpose in life: go fast over gnar. It gets all pissy when you need to slow down or want to go on a gravel road ride, instead. A friend like the Krampus says, “Whatever you’re up for, I’m cool with it.”

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What does a Surly Krampus have over other brands? A good price, the ride quality of Surly’s CroMoly “Natch” steel, the bikepacking-friendly fork, the ability to find them in lots of bike shops and attitude. Lots and lots of attitude. Also, the Gnot-Boost rear is pretty cool since you can choose to use either a 10 x 135 mm QR, 12 x 142, or 12 x 148 Boost hub. Yes, it’s heavy. Yes, custom is all the rage right now. But if you’re ready to try steel, give this candy apple a bite.

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My primary complaint–or confusion, rather–is that the new Krampus is now a lot like the new Karate Monkey (read my first ride review of the 27plus version of that bike). Both the Krampus and the Monkey got the “lay-back, get-rad” treatment for 2017, each with a longer top, shorter stays and slacker angles. Uh oh, is this Surly following a trend rather than creating one? How do you decide between the two?!?

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Those changes pushed each machine into the trail bike category previously only occupied by the Krampus (and Instigator, but we’ll have to see what happens with that bike). Surly admitted the two bikes are now much more similar than they used to be, with wheel size the primary difference now that the Monkey no longer sports traditional cross-country geometry, which I am kinda bummed went away.

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I really, really hope Surly decides to sell this bike with a suspension option. Apparently, the rigid forks weren’t ready for prime time when Interbike rolled around, so all of the test bikes sported Manitou Machetes. I had a blast riding this setup, particularly because suspension is a huge factor in not needing to choose your lines so wisely–good for adventures on unfamiliar singletrack and faster descents.

The Machete, a 120 mm fork that impressively retails for under $400, felt excellent. I don’t have much more to say about the fork since it wasn’t the focus of my ride, but if you’re looking for a Boost option that is reasonably priced (for what it is), I don’t think you’ll be disappointed in the Machete.

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The stuff of Interbike: part three


Interbike’s indoor show is truly overwhelming; getting lost and being late and forgetting to eat are par for the course, as is the feeling that you can’t possibly cover everything. Here we bring you the most interesting things our editors saw from each day of the indoor show.

Feedback Sports Tools

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These tools have been teased for awhile, but the wait seems to have been worth it. The T-handle hex set is lovely to look at and feels great your hand. The set is a cool $130 but for most home mechanics these are the last hex wrenches you’ll ever need to buy.

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The ride Prep tool kit is also $130. It looks small, but some of the dual-purpose tools really pack a lot of function into this small TPU case.

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The big boy tool kit is the Team Edition. Other than a set of hex keys/T-handles, this is a incredibly complete set of tools packed into a small space. It also mounts to a work stand and is held very solidly in place with a few straps. This set might be the one the gets me to get rid of my collection of old, random tools and start over.

Thule Racks and Dry Bags

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New to the U.S. is Thule’s ProRide roof rack (it’s “big in Europe” like that band you’ve never heard of). This rack has tool-free attachment, a down tube clamp that makes securing bikes of all wheel sizes very easy, a torque indicator to prevent over tightening the padded clamps on the frame, and rear wheel trays to accommodate bikes of all persuasions. Thule says this model is more secure than those with an arm clamping down on the front wheel.

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Also on display at the show is Thule’s new Double Track Pro, a less-expensive hitch rack ($349) with trickle-down technology from the company’s high-end models. It fits both 1.25 and 2-inch receivers and includes a bolt that actually locks the rack to your hitch. The padded claw-like clamps swivel and slide to adjust for easy positioning on your bike’s frame, no matter if it has a weird shape or not. You’ll notice that adjustment and tightening levers resemble things you’d see on a bike, like quick-release skewers. That’s on purpose–Thule wants to make securing your bike a familiar operation. Weight is 35 pounds.

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Thule also updated its Chasm duffel bags, which will interest those of you who travel with your smelly, dirty riding gear. They are waterproof and include backpack straps. There are snaps on the sides of the bag that hold down the handles for when you check it with an airline. Those snaps also keep the handles out of the way when you’re using the backpack straps. The bags come in four sizes (40-130 liters) and multiple colors.

Wheels Manufacturing

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There seem to be a lot of tools at the show this year, including a few from Wheels Manufacturing. The bottom bracket tools are $22 a piece and come in sizes to fit all of Wheels’ extensive range of bottom brackets. The universal bottom bracket bearing press comes in home and shop versions for $35 or $75.

Zoic Shoes and Shorts

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Zoic is expanding its mountain shoe line. It had one model last year that more closely resembled a skate shoe than a flat pedal bike shoe. Zoic works with Osiris, which is a skate company, on the soles. Osiris adapts the rubber to have more grip for pedals. Zoic added three new models ranging from $80-$90. Each model gets a successively nicer upper material. Pictured above is the middle-o-the-line Prophet; the Prophet is the top model good for “shredding.” Padding is slimmer than Zoic’s older model shoe but still feels nice. Ventilation and toe protection are minimal. These feel more like dirt jumping shoes or casual riding shoes than serious trail or all-mountain kicks.

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Zoic is offering its Roam in a women’s-specific model in three colors. The Roam is the $85 middle model for all kinds of riding–largely geared toward commuters and beginner riders. The size run is fairly small (women’s 5-10) but the shoe is no different than the men’s Roam, so women with larger feet can jump to the men’s model. Also of note, Zoic’s men’s shoes only go down to a men’s size 8, so women with average to small feet are out of luck if they want the higher-end mountain shoe.

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Zoic also significantly expanded its line of mountain bike clothing, most notably on the women’s side. The shorts, in particular, look great, with multiple lengths, colors and fits (for example, the longest shorts have wider knee openings to accommodate pads).

 

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The stuff of Interbike: part two


Interbike’s indoor show is truly overwhelming; getting lost and being late and forgetting to eat are par for the course, as is the feeling that you can’t possibly cover everything. Here we bring you the most interesting things our editors saw from each day of the indoor show.

Crank Brothers pump and pedals

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Crank Brothers has been working on more than just its new dropper post. This is the Klic, a new pump with some nifty features. The hose stored inside the handle and pulls on and off easily due to the magnetic connection.  There are both high-volume and high-pressure for road and mountain bikes. In person, the fit and finish of these pumps is impressive. This is the most expensive of three models, and had a CO2 cartridge stored in the end of the T-handle. Retail starts at $37 up to $56 for the model shown.

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Mallet E pedals now come in an LS version, meaning long spindle. This came about due to requests from sponsored racers and consumers to widen their stance on longer-travel bikes.

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And for those of you who need the lightest enduro pedals for a weight-weenie Nomad build, you can pick up these Mallet E pedals: 11.4 grams of titanium-riddled goodness can be yours for $350.

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Finally, Crank Brothers presented a new series of multi-tools, the F-series. Simple and complete, there is a basic tool with 10 functions, the same tool with an magnetic alloy case with a bottle opener, and a final option that adds a chain tool and spoke wrenches.

Leatt Enduro 3.0 helmet

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Leatt, which specializes in protective armor is releasing a new enduro helmet aptly called the Enduro 3.0. Internally it features the brands unique take on MiPS technology with 360 Turbine and Armourgel. Armourgel stiffens on impact and the 360 “turbines” deform and rotate 360 degrees to absorb both vertical and rotational impact forces during a fall to help prevent concussions, unlike MiPS, which only rotates fore and aft.

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The chin guard is removable via two small buckles and the helmet also features a cool magnetic chinstrap buckle. Retail price is $240.

Bolle The One helmet

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Bolle’s new entry into the helmet market is The One, named as such for its versatility. It comes standard with a summer liner and also includes a winter liner. Since you remove the summer padding before installing the warm winter liner sizing and strap adjustment doesn’t change. The back of the helmet has a covered port that can be removed and fitted with a small taillight and the front has a custom shaped “sunglass garage” to easily and securely stow your glasses should you want to remove them. Retail price for this 280 gram helmet is only $130. The glasses shown here are Bolle’s new B-Rock mountain bike shade with a Trivex lens. The nose piece is multi-plane adjustable and have wire core temples for custom fitment. Prices range from $160 to $200.

Orbea Alama M-LTD

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New for 2017, this is the bike that Catharine Pendrel won an Olympic bronze medal on, albeit her’s had a Fox Step-Cast suspension fork. This production model is made from carbon with a rigid Carbo fork (both the frame and fork are Boost spacing). It comes with a gold SRAM Eagle drivetrain (34 tooth chainring), Avid Ultimate Carbon hydraulic disc brakes and carbon FSA accessories. It’s a looker and undoubtedly very fast in the right terrain.

Otso Voytek

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Otso Cycles is a new venture started by the people who bring you Wolf Tooth Components. The Otso Voytek is a carbon fat/plus bike that can run 26 fat (up to a 4.8-inch tire on a 100 mm rim), 27plus or 29plus tires. It has 20 mm of chainstay adjustment (430-450 mm) via a Wolf Tooth flip chip on the rear dropouts, and narrower-than-typical Q-factor achieved by an 83 mm bottom bracket width. Head tube angle is 68.5 degrees with a 120 mm fork and the rear spacing is 177 mm.

Five Ten shoes

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Five Ten launched two new pairs of shoes at Interbike for mountain bikers, the Freerider Pro and Hellcat. The other news is that the company will be rolling out more women’s models and colors. The women’s shoes are indeed different in that they have slightly tighter heel pockets and less volume. Five Ten is talking about itself as a rubber company that happens to make shoes: the sole rubber is proprietary and is made in California.

The Freerider Pro is an evolved Freerider with a low, tougher toe protection, increased outsole stiffness and a full-dot outsole. Extra cushion was added to the toe box and mid-sole area for increased shock absorption. The shoe weighs around 13.6 ounces and comes in four colors for men, two colors for women.

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Also new is the Hellcat Pro, a “gravity clipless” shoe featuring a Velcro straps to secure the laces, a perforated weather-resistant s upper, a vibration damping shank allowing for off-bike flex and on-bike stiffness and a full-dot sole. The shoe weighs around 12.8 ounces and comes in three colors for men, one for women.

DT Swiss wheels

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DT Swiss updated its 1501 line of mountain bike wheels to include more widths and more sizes. You can now get either 27.5 or 29 in these widths: 22.5 mm, 25 mm and 30 mm. Additionally, you can get 27.5 wheels in 35 and 40 mm. The 1501 is DT Swiss’ high-end aluminum wheel, with sets retailing for around $1,200. There’s too much variation across the different sizes and applications to detail everything here, so check out the DT Swiss site if you need to update your ride.

Pearl Izumi X-Project shoes

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Pearl Izumi has new and updated mountain shoes with a renewed focus on sole grip and additional flexibility for hike-a-bike situations. The new X-Project Elite and X-Project Pro shoe models feature a three-quarter length carbon plate in the soles that provide stiffness at the contact point but allow for additional shoe flex at the toe box and heel. Pearl found that the shorter carbon plate was just as effective as a full-length one, hence the reduction. The idea behind better walking performance is to make this shoe useful in multiple riding applications, from mountain biking to cyclocross to touring.

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The shoes also have rubber on the sole lugs, rather than just plastic, for improved surface grip. They also feature seamless uppers (the only seam is up the back of the heel). And by integrating the BOA closure in the shoe tongue area, the chance of clipping it on an object is reduced.

The Elite model (green and black) will retail for $275 while the Pro model (orange) will retail for $350. Both shoes also come in black and the Elite comes in two colors for women.

Rocky Mounts hitch rack

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Rocky Mounts launched a swing-away platform hitch rack that would be perfect on the back of your truck + truck bed camper shell. The MonoRail Swing fits a 2-inch receiver and holds bike wheel sizes from 20-29 inches. It provides clearance for fat bikes (including those with 197 mm rear spacing) and eliminates frame contact. The rack will sell for $530 (for two bikes–add a third bike tray for an extra $150) and comes with a lifetime warranty.

 

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New bikes of Interbike: Outdoor Demo


Devinci Marshall

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We reviewed the aluminum version of this bike a while back, when it was still called the Hendrix. Due to some international issues with that name, Devinci moved to Jimi’s middle name, Marshall, and added a full carbon version and a few more build kits. This is the top of the line Marshall Carbon SLX/XT. I was surprised to see the full 3.0 tires on this bike, as it seems most companies that are making aggressive plus bikes are moving toward 2.8 rubber.

I started the ride with slow slog up the sand fire road and found the Marshall to pedal like a camp. The big tires worked well when various shuttle vehicles pushed me off my line, but I managed to keep things moving forward.

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The Marshall is one of those bikes that gives mixed messages. The 110 rear, 120 front travel say cross- country, but the 67.5 head angle and 800 mm wide bars says FASTER FASTER FASTER. This made the Marshall feel a little clumsy in the tight stuff (narrower bars might have helped a lot here), but it got much more fun as I moved to faster, swoopier stuff. Which makes sense. Those big Maxxis Chronicle tires inspired a lot of confidence in the loose-over-hard stuff, but I did back off the speed a bit on the sharper looking rocks; there is a lot of sidewall to cut on these tires.

The carbon bikes are ready to go now, with this model at $5,130, a cheaper carbon spec at $4,070, and a pair of aluminum frame bikes for $4,419 and $3,360. Frames are $2,480 carbon, $1,770. All of Devinci’s aluminum frames are built in Canada, for those paying attention to those types of things. — Eric McKeegan

Surly Krampus

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At long last, Surly updated its five-year-old 29plus bike. Not that the Krampus really needed it–it was ahead of its time as a production trail hardtail–but it was refreshed with small geometry changes, a new “Andy’s Apple Red” coat of paint and Surly’s Gnot Boost rear spacing. Gnot Boost allows you to run whatever rear hub your heart desires: 10×135 mm QR, 12×142, or 12×148 Boost will all work. The bike will come stock with Alex MD 40 rims for tubeless tire setups.

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The frame geometry is a little slacker; the chainstays are a little shorter; the ride is more nimble; you know the drill. So what differentiates it from the updated, slacker Karate Monkey that’s also ready for a bikepacking adventure? Not a lot, actually, other than the wheel size. The Krampus will come stock with the same rigid fork covered in mounts (no suspension model is yet available, though it rode very nicely with a 120 mm suspension fork).

The new Krampus will retail for $1,500 (remember, that’s with a rigid fork) and be available in January or February. I took one for a test ride on the Outdoor Demo trails and will bring you our first ride thoughts soon. — Katherine Fuller

Ellsworth Rogue Sixty

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This bike represents the third incarnation of Ellsworth, under new ownership again after a recent quick purchase and sale by a carbon fiber company. It is also a huge departure geometry-wise for the brand, bringing it up to date with the low, slack and long that is becoming the accepted norm for trail and all-mountain bikes. There are now two Rogue models, the Sixty and the Forty. They share a frame, but the Sixty uses a longer stroke shock for 160 mm of travel, the Forty is set up for 140 mm of travel. Both bikes have forks that match rear travel.

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I rode the Sixty, and it is set up for aggressive riding, with a Float X shock, 36 fork, High Roller IIs, and even a chainguide and bashguard. The Rouge Sixty has a 66-degree head angle, 13.75 bottom bracket, 16.5 chainstays. Combine that with a 24.9 inch top tube for the large I rode, and you have what I would best describe as a bike that is easy to get along with.

While the suspension design looks different these days, it still retains the very-active feel that Ellsworth is known for, absorbing pumps big and small with little fuss. I was quickly comfortable taking on some rock gardens and speed, and the I felt very centered, making it easy to get loose in corners.

While a short ride isn’t enough to really make a decision on this bike, it certainly was the most modern-feeling Ellsworth I’ve ridden. We have plans to get one in for review, so watch this space for more news. — Eric McKeegan

 

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The stuff of Interbike: part one


Whereas Interbike was once the king of American bicycle industry trade shows, it now signals that the season of new product launches is winding down. The first two days of the event take place in Boulder City, Nevada, (Outdoor Demo) and are a little quieter this year than in years past. That said, we still found some shiny bits calling to us through the waves of heat gripping this dusty desert. Here are some of the new components that we checked out on the first day of Interbike 2016.

DVO Garnet dropper seatpost

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Suspension maker DVO is set to introduce a dropper post of it’s own (shown here is a prototype). The cable actuated post is air sprung and hydraulically damped with an external air valve to control rebound speed. Choose from either 30.9 or 31.6 diameters, routing will be availableinternally or externally and travel will be 125 mm or 150 mm. Claimed weight is 585 grams and cost is projected to be $400.

Pinion gearbox

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Pinion, which is available in Europe, is making its debut in the U.S. This 12-speed internal gear box is housed in the bottom bracket area to keep its weight low and centered under the rider. What’s interesting is that the design is based on a mini-motorcycle transmission, meaning its gears are lubed by 60 ml of synthetic oil. According to its designer (who formally designed transmissions for Porsche) you only need to change the oil once a year or at 6,000 miles, whichever comes first. To do that, just open the drain then refill with the supplied, pre-filled syringe.

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This design is claimed to have a wider gear range than SRAM Eagle available with no overlapping gears found on typical double ring drivetrains. Gear ratio is also claimed to remain identical through the whole range. Pictured here is the Gates belt drive version but a standard chain option is also available. Obviously this is an OEM product but expect to see it popping up as an option from many small to mid-range builders.

Ryders Fyre

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Imagine that! New glasses from Ryders. All joking aside, these are more than just new shapes, these are pretty crazy new lenses. They are photochromic, but they not only change from light to dark incredibly quickly, they also change tint color as they get darker, helping to increase contrast and help highlight terrain changes.

I put these on and kept taking them off and putting them on again. The optical quality is incredible. I was tempted to create a diversion and walk off with a pair. But, I didn’t. It was still early in the day and no one had offered me enough beers make bad choices yet.

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The lenses are highly impact resistant and have Ryders’ excellent anti-fog coating. All this super pacific northwest tech is not coming cheap, so expect to shell out around $230 when these go on sale soon.

Shimano ME 7 shoes

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Shimano has introduced the new ME 7 shoe to replace the previous M200–the ME stands for mountain/enduro. The biggest news is a new Michelin rubber outsole. It’s aggressive and sticky with a high grip compound for off-the-bike maneuvers but Shimano stressed it’s still a still sole designed with pedaling performance in mind first and foremost. The sole also has a new pedal interface specific to Shimano pedals for optimum performance and ultra quick click-in.

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Other upgrades include a more toe box reinforcement and toe box volume that’s increased by 15 percent. It also has a quick lace mechanism under the main Velcro closure and a reverse buckle near the ankle that inserts into another Velcro strap to eliminate excess dangle.

The shoe will retail for $200 and is shipping to dealers now. It will also be available at all REI locations in grey rather than black in two months.

Hutchinson 27plus tires

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The 27plus tire market continues to grow with two new-ish, tubeless-ready entries from Hutchinson. The Taipan and Toro all-conditions tires grew in girth with the “Koloss” models. Hutchinson made the tire sides more rigid to reduce the chances they will roll off your rims at low pressures. The rubber that contacts the ground was made softer and more flexible to better respond to terrain, again instead of popping off a rim. Both tires also feature Hutchinson’s “Hardskin” — a puncture resistant aramid fabric barrier.

Ready to #enduro? Put a Taipan on the back and a Toro on the front. These tires run around 900 grams per tire and will sell for $95, each.

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Crystal Ball: Bike trends to watch


It always takes a while to recover from the Interbike trade show but, once we did, three of us who oversee Dirt Rag sat down to discuss trends we saw at the show, what we’re excited about and what we think the near future holds for bicycles and cycling gear.

Katherine Fuller [online editor]: Let’s talk bike stuff. Is it possible for either of you to be impressed anymore at something like Interbike? Would you say you’re a skeptic or you think you can find some cool stuff each year?

Mike Cushionbury [Dirt Rag editor-in-chief]: Mostly a skeptic. Most of the big new things out there we’ve already covered online either as a first look or actually ridden it. Some big brands didn’t even have a space inside the show and their “new” bikes are models we have already gotten our hands on. No one does those massive product intros at Interbike like they did in the past.

Fuller: What what are you seeing as big trends in mountain biking going into next year? Are you excited about any of them in particular for any reason?

Eric McKeegan [tech editor]: There is much more evolution than revolution happening these days. I’m into mountain bikes just being mountain bikes again. The cross-country bikes are cross-country bikes; the DH bikes are DH bikes, everything else is pretty much a “trail bike” now. Ride them all day, ride them on gnarly trails, ride them with your kids. Whatever. It’s becoming less about going fast on a race course and more about having fun, whatever that means to you.

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Cushionbury: All-purpose road bikes (we need a new name for “gravel”) are big. The current trends are making it OK to be a mountain biker on the road. You can wear your baggies and helmet with a visor because, sure, you started on the road but in a few miles you might end up on singletrack. These multi-purpose bikes are also way more fun in general to ride than a traditional road bike. Plus, the cool thing is that the technology on “gravel” bikes is coming from the dirt, not the road.

Fuller: I should tell my husband he was an early trend adopter. He always wears baggies on road rides.

McKeegan: And droppers for drop bars. It will be the hottest trend in 2016. Just wait.

Cushionbury: I also see a lot more trail bikes that are based on a cross-country pedaling platform. We’re seeing good performance and great climbing with 130 to 140mm travel or even 150mm on a bike with 27.5 tires. How is something like that not the most fun “cross-country” bike you’ll ever ride?

Fuller: That seems like the sweet spot. Most of us don’t have ultra-smooth trails to ride all the time so why get stuck with race geometry, 100mm of travel and room for only 2.0-inch wide tires?

McKeegan: But on the topic of tires, I think that companies releasing fat bikes right now are on the wrong side of that trend. Fat bikes will go back to being special purpose bikes. I think “plus” bikes (2.8- and 3-inch tires) will become the bike of choice for beginner and intermediate riders looking for extra traction and the comfort provided by the visual of a big tire leading the way.

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We’re also starting to see electronic shifting and fancy electronically controlled suspension. SRAM claims you can get two years of life out of button batteries in the new road shifters, up to 60 hours for the derailleurs. But it is getting to be a “mature” market. Throw all the electronics you want at bikes these days; it won’t change the ride experience that much.

Fuller: Is that electronic stuff really better? What’s the point?

McKeegan: My girlfriend asked me the same thing … It is like the super powerful computers we carry around in our pockets. We don’t “need” them, but consumer electronics aren’t about need. What is the point of mountain bikes, anyway?

Fuller: Well, now, there’s a question. But I just don’t see how electronic shifting would enhance my ride.

Cushionbury: Some of our readers will tell you no one needs anything but a rigid singlespeed. But, technology is fun. SRAM’s wireless will see dirt. And the Fox/Shimano relationship will be a driving force. Whether or not dirt riders will accept it remains to be seen.

McKeegan: The nice thing right now is that we all get to decide what mountain bikes mean to each of us. Want a $400 rigid singlespeed? You are covered. Want a $10,000 carbon bike that can ride world cup downhill courses and the local singletrack loop? You can have that, too. But it can be overwhelming. Imagine walking into a shop and asking to buy a Stumpjumper FSR or a Scott Genius: you’ll have three wheel sizes to choose from.

Fuller: So what do you guys think is due for an update in bike tech? Could be anything. I haven’t seen pinion gearboxes taking off or any more super-fancy inverted suspension forks popping up, but we’re getting electronic shifting and more affordable MIPS helmets.

Cushionbury: Floor pumps. We need better floor pumps.

McKeegan: I’m liking all the various options for leaving the hydration pack at home. We’ll also see continued refinements across all tech, and we will see another hub spacing standard soon.

Fuller: Noooooo. No more standards.

Cushionbury: Ha. There’s the big peeve. Why is everything new a standard?

McKeegan: Many in the industry think Boost isn’t enough. But I think the industry will also have to dial some things back; it seems nuts to have full suspension bikes with 100, 120, 130, 140, 150, 160, 200mm of travel in a single lineup. And don’t forget all of the wheel sizes. The motorcycle industry actually tried 16.5-inch wheels for a while (versus 16 or 17 inches) so I don’t think even wheel size debates are dead, yet…

Cushionbury: I see brands becoming more and more integrated with their own proprietary parts so you can’t switch things anymore. It started with Cannondale and many are following suit. But I guess you can’t put Suzuki parts on your Kawasaki.

Fuller: But is the expectation of being able to do so the same on motorcycles?

McKeegan: I think the real question is, should it be the expectation?

Cushionbury: The aftermarket always finds a way to make stuff fit.

Fuller: I don’t think we’re going to resolve that one, so, softball question: What did you see that you wanted to go home with? I saw a lot of orange at the show. That made me happy.

Cushionbury: Giro’s purple shoes. Want.

Giro Grinduro Purple-2

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Interbike 2015 Wrap-Up Part One


Here’s just a small sampling of the new and interesting things we saw during the whirlwind week that is Interbike, America’s largest bicycle industry trade show.

Spank

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A handful of things stood out in Spank’s small, tucked-away booth. The company tries out new ideas in single product types before expanding them to the full line, and is now bringing its Vibrocore technology to its all-mountain/trail handlebars, the Oozy 760. Initially tested by Spank’s DH riders, Vibrocore is a low-density foam injected into the bars to significantly reduce the small vibrations that cause hand fatigue/numbness, arm pain and, for some, eventual nerve damage.

After undergoing fatigue testing, the Vibrocore bars turned out to not only be more dampening, but are nearly 500 percent stronger than Spank bars without the foam. At under $100, the Oozy 760 bar is an upgrade worth considering if you’re a regular on chundery trails. Weight: 235 grams. Rise: 5 or 15 mm.

Spank

Spank is also one of the companies hopping on the multi-size platform pedal trend this year. The new Spoon pedal will be available in three sizes as a result of feedback Spank was getting from women riders and youth riders about needing a smaller platform and a foot position closer to the axle for more stability and better riding form. The vast majority of riders will need the traditional Spoon but, if you play professional basketball or similar, there’s an extra-large pedal available for you, too.

Borealis

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Borealis bikes is a small fat bike-only company based in Colorado Springs, Colorado. It brought two new models to the show, including its first aluminum-frame model, the Flume. It still features carbon on the fork, seatpost and handlebars. The Flume will run a Sram GX 1×11 setup, can take up to 5-inch tires and is Bluto compatible. It clocks in at 29 pounds and $2199 and will start shipping this October.

Borealis

The Borealis Crestone replaces the Yampa and is “stronger, lighter, lower” than the existing Borealis Echo, which is more of a dedicated race bike. The Crestone was built to be as strong as a downhill bike and to ride like a trail bike, can take up to 5-inch tires and is hung with Sram one-by components. It comes stock with a Bluto, but you can also order it with a Lauf leaf-spring fork. Retails for $4950 (Sram X01) or $5850 (Sram XX1).

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Finally, Borealis has teamed up with Reynolds Wheels to create the Borealis ELITE carbon fiber wheelset. Made in the USA, these light and durable wheels are intended to feed an increasing demand for premium fat bike products. Retail is $2308 and they will be available this fall.

Bell Helmets

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This is the MIPS-equipped Bell Super 2R helmet: top-o-the-line in Bell’s new Joy Ride women’s collection. The chin bar detaches, giving the rider two helmets in one. It has an integrated break-away camera mount, goggle guide, adjustable visor and is ICEdot enabled. It will retail for $220 when available (soon).

Heller Bikes and the Bloodhound

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Anyone who believes fat bikes are due to slide out of popularity would have been forced to rethink that notion after seeing this year’s Interbike lineup where four-inch tires (or wider) were in abundance. Quality Bicycle Products (QBP), one of the industry’s primary distributors, launched a new, fat-tire-only brand at the show called Heller and debuted the all-carbon Bloodhound Rigid model. Built up with SRAM X5 components, Avid BB7 mechanical disc brakes, 4.5-inch tires and internal cable routing, the Bloodhound comes complete at $2,199.

Notable in Heller’s marketing is a lack of the term “fat bike” and no mention of riding its bikes on snow. Heller is calling its Bloodhound Rigid and Bloodhound Bluto trail bikes and nothing else. It will be interesting to see how Heller shakes out in the market alongside QBP’s other in-house mountain bike brands, Salsa and Surly.

Lazer

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Lazer is a Belgian company that is catching on in the U.S., partly thanks to its early adoption of MIPS technology. The company is now offering a sub-$100 MIPS helmet—the Beam at $75—and has extended the concussion-reducing technology to multiple lids, including road, mountain and kids models.

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The Lazer Revolution is a $165 enduro helmet (just under $200 with MIPS) with multiple visor positions, ridges designed to keep goggles in place, swappable ear pads and an accessory mount on the top of the helmet that was factored into the lid’s safety rating. Lazer sent the Revolution in for official safety certification with a GoPro mounted on the top and passed. If you snag your camera while shredding, it should rip off instead of aiding in your crash.

Coming in spring 2016, a lightweight bolt-on chin guard will be available for full coverage (pictured is the 3D-printed prototype). Lazer went with screws instead of snaps for the chin guard in order to have the helmet safety rated on a level equal to full-face DH lids, making it a “quiver-killer” helmet. The swappable ear pads will also be able to house the company’s planned bluetooth speaker system.

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The Lazer Descent is a ski/snowboard helmet that is also safety-rated for cycling, so check it out if you are seeking a dedicated winter commuting or fatbiking helmet. When things warm up, remove the ear pads and slide open the top vents. The helmet features Lazer’s built-in accessory mount (also good for a helmet-mounted light) and a goggle strap. The Descent retails for $160.

Lynskey

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Lynskey showed off its new-for-2016 Summit Series line of full-suspension trail/all-mountain rigs at Interbike. The 29’er version features 120 or 140mm suspension and the 27.5 comes with 140 or 165 up front. Both bikes come with Boost spacing, clearance for 2.5-inch tires, Horst link pivot design and are made in Tennessee. Each frame retails for $2,700.

Lynskey also brought 148mm Boost spacing and 2.5-inch tire clearance to its Pro 29 and Pro 27.5 hardtails. The Pro 29 also features Lynskey’s conversation-starting Helix downtube that looks like twisted metal. The explanation is that the shape combines a round tube’s compliance with a square tube’s stiffness for a unique ride and more efficient power transfer. Retail on the Pro frames is $2,250.

Moots prototype

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One-off, custom and small-builder bikes were big this year; it seemed that every component or accessory manufacturer display featured a bike you can’t purchase off the shelf. Moots got in that game with its Colorado-made prototype Mountaineer YBB+ bikepacking, mountain biking and all-around adventuring titanium rig. The bike rolls with a Boost rear, 2.8-inch tires, straight tubing to accommodate frame packs and special mounting bosses for the Porcelain Rocket frame bags it wore to the show. The YBB+ will go into a limited production run in January 2016.

9:zero:7

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9:zero:7 is a fatbike company out of Alaska that has been around for about eight years. This is its new aluminum model with 100mm carbon rims, the company’s new carbon fork and a Gates belt drive. This bike has a slacker trail geometry and is ready to rip at under 25 lbs (without pedals).

Vittoria

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These new Vittoria tires feature a one-atom thick layer of a carbon compound called Graphene. “Graphene-based composites produce stronger, lighter, and harder-wearing wheels and tires.” The knobs on the mountain tires reportedly won’t rip off. They remain more stable at speed and more durable. The stiffness is supposed to give you a nice carving platform when diving into turns. Get sideways!

Just for fun

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Myles Rockwell’s DH sled, circa 2000.

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Interbike: Fuji Auric 1.1 First Ride


Fuji is not usually the first brand that springs to mind when most riders think of mountain bikes, but full suspension has returned to the company product line and Fuji’s new Auric with M-Link suspension design just might begin to change minds.

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The M-Link suspension design was first introduced on Breezer’s Supercell and Repack. Breezer is a sister brand to Fuji, so it comes as no surprise the M-Link design found its way to the relaunch of Fuji’s full suspension bikes. (Beside the long-travel Auric, Fuji also released a 120mm 29er, the Rakan.)

I rode Breezer’s Repack at Outdoor Demo and was impressed with M-Link, but found the geometry to be steep for a long-travel bike. I expected to feel much the same way about the Auric, but geometry numbers don’t always tell the full story.

While the 67-degree head angle is quite steep compared to a Nomad’s 65 degrees, a long top tube (24.6 in large) and the resulting long front center would have me guessing the Auric was at least a degree slacker than it is. Combined with not-long chainstays (17.2), great tires (Schwalbe Rock Razor and Hans Dampf) and a comfortable cockpit, I was much more at home on the trails in Bootleg Canyon than anything I’ve ridden in recent memory.

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The M-Link had a best pedaling efficiency of any bike I have ridden on the Dirt Demo trails, and one of the best of any 160mm bikes I have ridden. This includes both sitting and standing pedaling. Most modern bikes are very good at seated pedaling but the bob-monster can still rear its head when up on the pedals and cranking up a steep climb.

Once the climb was over and the trailside photoshoot finished, I took off on a rolling descent. I expected the Auric to morph into a handful as my speed increased, but instead found myself riding a bike that constantly goaded me into increasing my speed. I had hit the jackpot of demo bikes: The suspension was set well for my weight; the bar width/height and stem length suited me; and the tires featured a great tread pattern and compound. This is a very rare thing.

I had a blast and actually extended my ride to get more time on the bike. Every time I get jaded from many years of doing this kind of work, something like the Auric comes along to remind me not to judge a book by its cover, or a bike by its geometry numbers. I wish I had time to shuttle up to the nearby DH trails as I have a feeling I would have liked it there, too. The Auric is a great combination of toss-it-around playfulness, pedal-ablity and some handling left in reserve for when the playfulness gets you to write a check your skills can’t match.

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Parts pick on the top-o-the-line Auric 1.1 is excellent—there is nothing I would bother changing—and has a few nice touches like a Praxis chainring, MRP chain guide/bash guard and Oval Boost crankset. The other three models also looked to be thoughtfully built.

I admittedly misplaced my notebook with pricing and availability info and will update this post when I track down the numbers and dates.

We are looking to get the 29-inch, 120mm Rakan in for review. If it rides as well as the Auric, I think Fuji might significantly be upping its profile in the mountain bike world.

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Interbike: Turner RFX v4.0 First Ride


The RFX has been out of the Turner lineup since 2007 but returns with a vengeance as a fully modern carbon fiber all-mountain bike.

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The Turner website is already loaded up with prices and build kits, with complete bikes starting at $4,573 for SRAM GX, up to $8,718 with XTR and Enve wheels. Frames are $2,995, and an “upgrade kit” consisting of frame, headset and Pike RCT3 Solo fork is an even $3,400. The bike I rode was a mash-up of parts Turner had lying around, but was a solid mix, including Enve M60 rims, Pike fork and Monarch Plus rear shock, KS dropper and Thomson bar and stem.

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Look closely at the pictures above. Do you notice anything (other than the prototype DVO suspension bits)? All cable routing is external. Take note, rest of the bike industry. The routing is clean, adaptable, and simple. No holes in the frame, no rubber cable adapters that fall out every ride, no service frustrations. And the frame has well hidden front derailleur mounts rather than the more typical direct mount.  The PF30 bottom bracket shell is another story. I guess we can’t have it all.

The new frame uses the proven dw-link suspension to control the 160 mm of rear travel. Geometry numbers are in the middle ground for bikes like this today, with a not too slack or steep 66-degree head angle, not too long 24.4 top tube in the large, 17.2-inch chainstays, and 13.4-inch bottom bracket height.

The Ride

David Turner is a bike guy, through and through, and from the first look in person at the new RFX, it looks like a serious and well thought out bike. Even with less-than-ideal tires, and narrower than I wanted handlebars, I had a great ride on the RFX.

Seated climbing is completely neutral, but getting out of the saddle can still create bob, something only partially mitigated with the platform lever on the rear shock. I’d like to spend some time trying to tune the rear shock a bit better to combat this, but really, other than climbing up steep sections of gravel road, I never thought about it.

On rolling sections of trail, the RFX feels quite neutral for such a bike bike. Not as playful and poppy as a Santa Cruz Nomad, but not overly stable or staid, either. In other words, it went about its business with a predicatble attitude and responded well to smooth or more spastic rider inputs.

I didn’t have time to shuttle up to the downhill course at Bootleg Canyon, so I didn’t really get a chance to open it up, but I don’t expect to see this being anything less than a ripper as speeds increase even as the riding position felt all-day comfortable to me. The dw-link disappears on the trail, with no mid-stroke wallow, and effective anti-squat to control bob, although that same aggressive anti-squat could cause the rear tire to scramble for traction more often than I expected.

The FSA headset Turner uses can be swapped to a offset model, for head angles  of 65 or 67 degrees if the stock 66 degrees is too slack or steep for your riding style/skills and riding area. No aluminum frame version is planned at this time.

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As one of many 160 mm bikes released for 2016, this bike stacks up well against the best offerings on the market. We look forward to more saddle time on this newest Turner.

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Blast from the Past: Dirt Rag’s Interbike ‘Dirtier Daily’


With hundreds of exhibitors at the Interbike trade show vying to attract attention, it’s no easy chore getting noticed. Back in 2000 and 2001 Dirt Rag managed to create a buzz by publishing a zine titled the “Dirtier Daily” that we distributed on the show floor.

Each evening, after the show closed, our staff and friends gathered poolside at the Vagabond Inn (R.I.P.) on the Vegas strip to scribble, rant, joke, cut and paste. More than few beers were consumed along the way. Eventually, a late-night run to Kinkos yielded a fresh stack of copies. The next morning we hit the show floor and distributed our four-page chronicle of the best and the worst of the Interbike experience.

The images below are scans of the actual Dirtier Daily issues. To see them larger, click the magnifying glass in the lower right hand corner.

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Interbike, #sockgate and women in cycling


Allow me to set a scene for you: It has been a long and arduous journey for women in cycling, from those who work with bicycles for a living to those who simply find joy when riding them. For decades, we haven’t been seen as equals or deserving of either employment or representation because we don’t measure up or shred hard enough or constitute a large-enough market. Still, those of us with decades-old passions for cycling, myself included, found avenues and bicycles and gear and just did what we loved, which was to ride.

Meanwhile, what we longed for was to be seen as “cyclists,” not as objects. All we really wanted was for bike shops and bike companies to acknowledge our existence even a little bit. Interested in women shopping with you? Be nice; it’s that simple. I don’t need to be treated like a princess or given wine when I walk in your door. I only request that you not be a dick to me.

#sockgateApparently, this is still sometimes too much to ask. It’s Interbike week and we were greeted yesterday morning with the news that official attendee bags had been stuffed with socks featuring the backsides of two women in barely there bikini bottoms. Interbike has since offered an apology (see below) and explained that the socks were shipped per a sponsor agreement and the attendee bags were stuffed by volunteers. (As of Tuesday afternoon, Interbike removed the socks from the remaining bags.)

It doesn’t really matter who is or was responsible for filling thousands of goodie bags with socks that are demeaning and exclusionary. What matters is their association with the bike industry’s biggest trade show. What matters is that someone, somewhere, thought that it was acceptable to officially represent the bicycle industry’s biggest, most “professional” event with a revealing graphic of butt cheeks, and that sucks. All one has to do is look around the Interbike show floor and realize this isn’t a bro-only industry anymore.

Prior to “sockgate,” I was on a high about my beloved bicycle industry. I just came from five years at the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) where I worked with a staff that is one-third female. In my tenure there, I had the privilege of getting to know the coaches of several rapidly growing women’s mountain bike clinics, the tireless female leaders of mountain bike advocacy groups across the U.S. and the participants of women-only mountain bike races. I was also beginning to notice more companies including women prominently in their print advertising.

Hell, I was just discussing my appreciation for the lack of scantily clad booth babes at this year’s Outdoor Demo, something I saw en masse in 2010—the last time I attended Interbike.

Considering the many good things happening for women in cycling, ass socks might seem like a small thing. But under the bright lights of what Interbike is—an event intended to help grow and expand this industry—ass socks are indicative of a pervasive misogynistic attitude that is continually excused and refuses to go away.

I spoke to industry veteran and marketing manager for Pivot Cycles, Carla Hukee, about this. “It’s not that this is just a one-time incident; rather it’s the fifteen-hundredth time something like this has happened,” she said. “These incidents are coming at us in a steady stream.” Hukee also pointed out that Pivot employs several women, which is a significant reason she is proud to be working there.

Pivot women

Exclusionary, demeaning marketing moves (beyond this one instance) need to be called for the bullshit that they are and that is why Pivot’s female staff was more than willing to gather at Outdoor Demo for the featured photo. They are proud of their professional status in the bicycle industry and wanted to show you that it’s not just men working on behalf of your favorite brands.

Interbike—to its credit—is making a significant effort this year to promote and recognize women in cycling. Interbike is hosting an indoor space called “The Women’s Collective” which I hope will be well attended and taken seriously. In conjunction with organizations like PeopleForBikes and the Outdoor Industry Women’s Coalition, attendees can choose from multiple panels, seminars and product line presentations (some of which we will report back on). The collective will also serve as a conversational space for women and men to discuss and learn about the state of the women’s cycling market.

But the socks also run counter to Interbike’s own 10-point “Manifesto,” which was published with the intent to “begin to take action toward a more sustainable future and a prosperous industry.” The document came into being following Interbike’s January 2015 Independent Bicycle Dealer Summit and specifically calls out women as one the the “greatest opportunities” for the future of the bicycle industry.

Should none of this move you emotionally, perhaps take a dispassionate economic view of the situation: 46 percent of outdoor participants are females (Outdoor Industry Association); 24 percent of all bicycle trips in the U.S. are made by women; and the number of “enthusiast” women cyclists (the most active) increased by 8 percent from 2000 to 2010.

(Source: PeopleForBikes participation statistics )

Simply put, if you don’t want to alienate a growing segment of your buyers, don’t scoff at the idea of purposeful inclusion and thoughtful marketing. Don’t shun a little good taste for the sake of a cheap laugh. Yes, we are in Las Vegas, a city in a state that has pockets of legalized prostitution. Does that make ass socks acceptable? Absolutely not. Just because you are forced to attend a family gathering with your racist uncle doesn’t mean you can suddenly turn on your black friend and demean him in front of others.

In remarkably timely fashion, the current issue of Dirt Rag—our first “personality” issue—comes out today at Interbike and features professional downhill and enduro mountain bike racer Amanda Batty on the cover. Her interview is a no-holds-barred discussion of the sexism, misogyny and double standards often found in cycling and its media.

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Over the years, Dirt Rag has learned much about what our readers expect, prefer and appreciate, and we’re pretty damn proud that they seem to be a level-headed, fun-loving bunch interested in shredding, imbibing and adventuring with male and female friends alike, not bothering to spend time objectifying women.

But in the year 2015, the Dirt Rag staff shouldn’t suddenly feel like outliers that the cover of our latest issue features a woman riding a mountain bike on a technical trail. It shouldn’t have to be seen as “taking a stand.”

I can claim no credit for the current Dirt Rag issue, but I’m immensely proud of my colleagues for taking it on. Before I showed up, the small editorial team steering Dirt Rag and Bicycle Times was fully fueled by testosterone but, clearly, it did not matter.

You should not need to have women around to view them—and support them—as riders rather than figures to be objectified.


In addition to this, please read what Christina Julian wrote on the Surly Bikes blog about this issue, especially if you still don’t think objectification of women constitutes a real problem for the bicycle industry. Julian is Surly’s marketing manager and her piece is personal, honest and compelling.

Here is what Interbike had to say:

Official post on the Interbike Facebook page:
“There was an unfortunate incident with socks in our OutDoor Demo bags. It was part of a sponsorship and the bags were stuffed by a third party organization. This was a mistake and is not how Interbike rolls. We have removed the socks from the bags and apologize.”

Comment from Justin Gottlieb, Director of Communications and PR for Interbike (found on a Facebook discussion feed):
“… We in no way meant to offend anyone and are sensitive to the issue at hand. We are researching the situation right now to see what happened, but it seems as though a 3rd party received and packed the socks in the bags without our review. Had we seen them, we would have never let them in the bags. We apologize for the mistake, and are pulling them out of all bags as we speak. Let me know if you have any other questions.”

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Inside Line: Continental releases new Baron Projekt enduro tire


Continental showed this tire last year at Eurobike, but it seems it is finally ready for production. We’ve been a fan of Conti’s Black Chili rubber compound, but have been noticing the casing and tread widths of its tire line aren’t matching up as well as we’d like with modern wider internal rim widths. The new Baron Projekt should change that. This is the only image supplied by Conti:

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The “Baron 2.4 Projekt” is an extremely grippy, agile and universal enduro race tire with high durability and puncture resistance. During the development period, Continental’s tire engineers optimized the tire tread as well as the size and the structure of the carcass. Its deep-tread, relatively exposed profile is the modification of the BlackChili compound, which has been adjusted to match the needs of enduro and freeride tracks, ensures reliable grip while not comprising the low rolling resistance, even on mud or lose ground. The 2.4″ carcass combines good rolling characteristics with inherent damping without gaining weight. An additional protection layer is incorporated around the entire carcass to reduce risks of punctures. The stable Apex inlay at the lower part of the carcass prevents it from collapsing in fast corners and helps protect the sides from slicing on sharp features in rocky or rooty sections.

I’m extremely interested in getting on a set of these as we enter the wet and slippy seasons. No prices or wheelsize info yet, we’ll update after we get in touch with Continental.

 

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Inside Line: Magura introduces Vyron dropper post with wireless remote


While we’ve seen a few prototypes from other companies, Magura is first to market with a dropper post with a wireless remote. While the dropper itself uses a conventional hydraulic mechanism, it is controlled via a small servo motor at the head of the post. We haven’t seen it first hand so we’ll let Magura explain it:

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“The first of it’s kind, Vyron wireless dropper seatpost from Magura uses the proven eLECT, cable-free, remote with ANT+ wireless technology—the same remote already utilized on Magura suspension forks and shocks. The exclusive wireless remote operation adds significant functionality and user-friendliness. With a quick press of the button on the handlebar remote, the saddle height drops smoothly by up to 150 mm—another quick press returns it to its optimal position for pedaling.

Because the Vyron needs no cables—an exclusively unique feature—it is incredibly easy to install or even switch between bikes. The seatposts battery only needs recharging after approximately 400 actuations or typically around two months’ use. A motion sensor in the seatpost puts it into sleep mode to save battery power when the bike is not moving, and Magura’s engineers have ensured that even if the remotes battery or the main rechargeable pack in the seatpost are almost empty, there are still up to 20 emergency actuations. A full recharge from empty is around 3 hours via a micro-USB port.

The Vyron’s eLECT remote can be mounted to your preference on the left or right side of the handlebars, placing the operating buttons close to the grip for instinctive on-trail operation and maximum ergonomic efficiency. The Vyron’s remote can also be easily mated with Magura eLECT suspension fork and/or shock units. All three buttons can be used to remotely control each eLECT unit used. Vyron uses Magura Royal Blood hydraulic fluid for a particularly maintenance-free system—and if it ever becomes necessary, bleeding the Vyron’s hydraulic system is remarkably easy.

The Vyron will be available early 2016 in two popular diameters–30.9 mm and 31.6 mm. Recommended retail price will be $460.

Technical details

  • Adjustment via air spring, hydraulic clamping via Magura Royal Blood
  • Remote operation: ANT+ wireless radio transmission from the handlebar – via an eLECT Remote, either just for the dropper seatpost or as a combined remote for seatpost, forks and/or shock.
  • Power supply: Remote: CR-2032 button battery. Seatpost: NiMH rechargeable battery with micro-USB charge socket. Charge time approx. 3 hours. A full charge is sufficient for around 400 actuations of the dropper, or around two months.
  • Travel: 150 mm (stepless)
  • Length (overall): 446 mm
  • Installation height (top of seat tube to saddle rails): 57-207 mm
  • Saddle clamp: 2 bolt system
  • Seatpost offset: 0 mm
  • Weight: 595 g including remote
  • Diameters available: 30.9 and 31.6 mm
  • Color: Black with laser markings
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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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Felt Bicycles' founder Jim Felt is an avid backcountry bow hunter and he created this e-fat bike to carry his gear to new hunting spots. We think cargo bikes are a perfect application for electric assist, and Felt has integrated the new Bosch e-motor on the new BruHaul longtail. Front and center in the 9Zero7 booth was this prototype suspension fat bike with room for 4.8 inch tires. It has 100mm of travel through a classic four-bar linkage. Expect it to be ready for production within a year. The standard 9Zero7 model gets some tweaks for 2015, including a new fork with 150mm spacing for an easy swap to the RockShox Bluto. Devinci had a bit of a bummer year with star rider Stevie Smith missing out due to injuries, but that didn't stop it from releasing a new generation of the Wilson. The Split-Pivot suspension gets revised with a new shock placement. In addition to fitting the 27.5 wheels, the key design goal was to keep weight as low in the chassis as possible. While only the seat stays are carbon fiber for now, expect a full carbon version within a year. For now all the aluminum parts are made in Devinci's factory in Canada. Shimano's new XTR Di2 group has folks rethinking how bikes will be designed in the future, and Shimano is fast out of the gate with the new Tharsis bar and stem. The wiring is cleanly integrated into the handlebar and stem, entering at the faceplate. The battery is hidden inside the head tube. The wiring then exits the steerer under the fork crown and can be routed into the frame or along the downtube. A lack of visible wiring keeps the new XTR cockpit looking super clean. We're always glad to see supporters in the wild. Can you spot the Dirt Rag sticker? We found this Big Dummy at the Surly booth.
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Chris Chance announces the return of Fat Chance Bicycles


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Few brands conjure the reverence in hallowed mountain bike circles as Fat City. Born in the early 1980s from the mind of framebuilder Chris Chance, the Fat Chance bikes were the gold standard in the early days of mountain biking.

In this middle of this week word began to spread around Interbike that Chance was at the show and a few social network accounts popped up with the classic Yo Eddy! logo and a simple message. I’m back!

I met up with Chance at the show and sat down to chat about what he’s been up to and what his plans are. He said he’s been thinking about coming back to bikes for a few years now, after spending nearly a decade working at Shiatsu massage in Marin County, California. He loves working with his hands and being able to do so while helping others feel better is a great experience, he said.

He first began seriously reconsider his departure from the bike industry after a journalist had tracked him down for yet another “where are they now” story. When Chance realized he would likely be welcomed back with open arms, he started the idea rolling in his mind.

“I just want to hop back in and see what happens,” he said, though he doesn’t plan to pick up exactly where he left off. “I don’t want to be an old fuddy-duddy,” he said, alluding to his interest in building not just from steel and Ti, but from carbon fiber and aluminum. Even ideas for full-suspension and road bikes are rolling around in his mind, he said.

There are no strict plans for the brand as of yet, but Chance welcomes input on where it should go. Expect to see one or two standard models in the next year, likely made from steel. “That’s what people know us for,” he said. That said, he’s created a quick survey on the Fat Chance website to let fans help shape the new products.

Response to the news of a Fat Chance return sparked a huge buzz at the show and online, but perhaps the most excited person is Chance himself.

“What a gift,” he said. “It warms my heart.”

 #fatchancebicycles

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Interbike Outdoor Demo: Speedplay readies Syzr mountain bike pedals


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Speedplay is one of the best-known players in the road bike pedal scene, but it hasn’t had nearly as much success with riders in the dirt. The Frog series has some loyal fans, but they are few and far between.

Speedplay hopes to change the game with the long-awaited Syzr pedal system. Just like its road-going cousins, the Syzr features adjustable float between zero and 10 degrees, as well as an integrated platform that doesn’t rely on the shoe’s lugs for stability.

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The two little rollers you see are ceramic bearings that help smooth the cleat release, while the wings help guide the cleat into position. Also the spring mechanism is on the forward edge of the pedal, rather than the rear like Shimano, which helps speed engagement.

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The grub screws at the left of the cleat pictured are used to adjust the float. The black portion of the cleat is stationary while the silver portion swivels.

There will be a model with a stainless steel spindle for $229 and a Ti spindle for $420 when they go on sale later this year.

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Chumba USA returns with American-made steel hardtails


For those who have been around the downhill and freeride scene for a while, the name Chumba should be pretty familiar. While it’s been laying low for a few years, it has been resurrected with new owners and a new focus on building fun, aggressive, American-made bike hard tails, with hints of more to come in the future. We got our first look at the three new models made in Austin, Texas, from USA True Temper and 4130 Chromoly steel tubing. Each will be available as a frame-only or in a few complete build options.

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Ursa

The Ursa his hard to miss, with its 29×3 Maxxis Chronicle tires (which have not been officially “released” but are on several bikes here at Interbike.) The frame uses a number of custom machined bits like the chainstay brake bridge and seatstay bridge. It has a 69.5 degree head tube angle and a 44mm head tube for straight or tapered steerer tubes.

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Unlike full fat bikes or it’s Surly Krampus forbearer, the Ursa is built around downhill sized parts, including a 150mm rear axle and 83mm bottom bracket shell. That should mean there are plenty of “normal” parts to choose from, but it gives more chain clearance on the small chainring around the big tires. There is an ISCG mount around the threaded bottom bracket shell too, giving plenty of build options. It can even run a dropper post.

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MSRP is $1,195 for the frame.

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Stella

The Stella is a “traditional” 29er frame, designed for everything from fast XC racing to bikepacking. Here you’ll find old-school touches like 70.5 degree head tube angle, a threaded bottom bracket and straight 1 1/8-inch head tube, which might limit your fork choices. Like the Ursa, the Stella has Paragon Machine Works sliding dropouts, available in either a 142×12 thru axle or QR option, so you can run single speed or gears.

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Out back you’ll find rack mounts if you want to load up and head for the woods, or you can choose Chumba’s Backcountry adventure kit with a set of made in the USA frame bags from Wanderlust Gear. To keep you comfy over the long haul it is designed to fit a 2.35 tire.

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It too retails for $1,195.

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Rastro

The Rastro is the trail bike, with 27.5 wheels, a long front center, short 16.7-inch chainstays, and a 67.5 degree head tube angle. It too has stainless Paragon dropouts, but they are a fixed 142×12.

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Chumba worked with Fox to choose to spec the 34 series fork with 140mm of travel. The 44mm head tube means you’ll have plenty of other choices to use too.

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With a 31.6mm seat tube it is dropper post ready and looks like a lot of fun. The frame will retail for $1,100.


Ursa Major

Not at Interbike but teased on the Chumba website is the Ursa Major, a full-sized fat bike. Stay tuned this winter for more on that!

 

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Interbike Outdoor Demo: First look at Ellsworth’s new Dare with 160, 180 or 225mm of adjustable travel


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There are big changes afoot for the storied SoCal brand, with a new owner and some new models on the way. Having been acquired by BST Nano Carbon, a San Diego-based composites manufacturer, Ellsworth is debuting the last of its Asian-made carbon fiber frames, as it will soon shift its carbon fiber production to the US alongside its aluminum bikes.

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The new Dare is a direct descendent of the previous model, but it is also designed to take on new terrains, as it can be set up in three different travel settings: 225mm, 180mm, and 160mm. Each setting has its own shock mount location and uses a different shock length eye-to-eye measurement.

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The classic four-bar Instant Center Tracking suspension layout remains, with a huge, machined aluminum rocker link with a carbon fiber bridge, paired to a carbon fiber seat stay.

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Pictured here is an early prototype with a carbon fiber front triangle that was air-mailed from Asia and just arrived last night. With the full Shimano Saint downhill build pictured here it sports a 63 degree head tube angle, 17.5-inch chainstays and a 14-inch bottom bracket. The aluminum and carbon swing arm is built around a 142x12mm axle for versatility and is plenty strong enough for downhill use.

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Because the same frame can be set up as an enduro/all-mountain bike, it also sports internal dropper post routing and a front derailleur mount, though on the final version it will be removable for a cleaner look. Speaking of look, any of the black you see here will instead be exposed carbon.

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The Dare will retail for $3,695 for a frame and shock when it becomes available at the end of the year, and will be available in complete builds as well. All new Ellsworth bikes now come with a lifetime frame warranty too.

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As part of the sale of the company, Ellsworth’s founder Tony Ellsworth will oversee the brand’s product design and work closely with BST Nano Carbon’s engineering and advanced materials team to create the next generation of Ellsworth bicycles. Ellsworth Handcrafted Bicycles’ offices and operations, previously based in Ramona, California, are now located in BST Nano Carbon’s state-of-the-art 65,000 sq. ft. R&D and manufacturing facility in San Diego.

 

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