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.
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
This post originally misstated the size of the front axle.
FSA’s top tier carbon K-Force comes in 29er and 27.5 and as such FSA says these are more than just two mountain bike options, they are actually perfect for four different disciplines crossing over into road use. The 29 is perfect for cross-country as well as doubling as a 700c wheel for gravel riding and ‘cross.The 27.5 can easily double as a 650b, which is popular for randonneuring.
An asymmetric rim profile has a 4mm offset, which according to FSA allows for 80-percent of the 24 spokes per wheel to be at maximum high tension. The hubs have a unique Preload Reduction Assembly (PRA), a trickle down from its high-end Vision road wheelset. PRA allows you to preload bearing tension with a tiny lock ring so no matter how tight you crank the skewer it won’t crush the bearings and increase rolling resistance.
K Force wheels are tubeless ready, wrapped with Stan’s NoTube’s tape. Retail price is $2,049, just below that is the carbon SLK at $1,799 and the aluminum Afterburner for $649.
Shimano XTR Trail
Shimano’s XTR Trail offering is a carbon laminated, aluminum rim that meets UST standards with a tape backing to cover spoke holes. Choices are 29 and 27.5 with a wider, 24mm internal diameter width compared to last year. New hubs have a larger axle for 142×12 rear and 15mm front. Retail is $1,500. And in case you’re wondering, Shimano still offers a tubular carbon 29er mountain bike wheel for a mere $3,500.
American Classic Carbonator
American Classic’s Bill Shook is a believer in wider is better. His new carbon rim, designed not for cross-country but specific to all-mountain riding and enduro racing has a 26mm inner diameter width and 33 outer width. Shook also choose to go the no bead hook way, saying that tubeless tires don’t need a bead hook to stay put. By doing this he could use the material to make thick, 3.5mm wide sidewalls that resist cracking without a weight penalty. Weight is 1,595 grams per set, good but not weight weenie light because they’re built for durability with 32, 14/15-gauge spokes per wheel.
American Classic is also introducing fat bike hubs.
American Classic was quick to get to work on a hub for the RockShox RS-1 fork.
HED was showing this sweet carbon B.F.D. (Big Fat Deal) carbon rim. It’s 100mm wide and weighs a mere 550 grams.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
MSRP is $1,195 for the frame.
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.
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.
It too retails for $1,195.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
While it’s certainly true that most of this year’s Interbike hype will be focused on buzzing categories like 130mm to 150mm travel all-mountain and trail bikes as well as the fat bike phenomenon, you can rest assured that manufactures haven’t forgotten hardtails. Walking through the outdoor Dirt Demo most makers had the classic frame style on offering.
What’s important to note is that while there are plenty of high-zoot, race ready machines with pro-level parts, the hardtail remains a lower-cost alternative for riders just getting into the sport or looking for a second bike.
Scott Scale 9.10 and 7.10
Scott has taken a novel approach by offing the same cross-county bike in either 27.5 or 29er wheel sizes for the same $3,800 price. As one of our favorite options out there, these two Scales have a HMF carbon frame with flattened stays to help absorb trail vibration. The rear dropouts can be converted to standard QR or 142 x 12. Best of all they come with a full Shimano XT parts package, from derailleurs and shifters to crankset and brakes. The company says this bike is rapidly becoming a favorite for riders involved in high school leagues because of its race-ready value.
Marin Rocky Ridge 7.6
Marin’s take on the hardtail is this aluminum framed all-mountain machine. It’s designed for riders who are specifically seeking out this kind of bike—those who don’t want to deal with the complexities and maintenance of rear suspension or looking to add another rig to the stable without breaking the bank. A slack 67.5-degree head tube angle and short 16.5-inch long stays assure it’ll handle like it’s full suspension Mount Vision sibling. At $2,600 it’s a feature-laden value with such niceties as a 130mm travel fork and SRAM X0 shifters and rear derailleur. What’s more, it even has an internally routed dropper post—something that’s rare on a bike at this price.
Van Dessel Jersey Devil
This new 29er hardtail is the first carbon offering from Van Dessel. It has internal cable routing and the rear triangle is designed to accept up to a 2.3” tire. Frame price is $1,200 with complete bikes ranging from $2,999 for SRAM X1 to $7,000 for Shimano XTR or SRAM XX1.
Niner Air 9
Redesigned for 2015, the beautiful aluminum Air 9 retails for $2,100 and features a Shimano XT rear derailleur, SLX crank and Deore disc brakes. It also has a RockShox Recon fork.
At the top end is the AIR 9 RDO. The new carbon frame sheds 100 grams compared to last year’s model and is ported to accept Shimano’s new electronic XTR group as well as Shimano and SRAM mechanical parts. Niner says the RDO line is consciously undergoing little changes to make it the complete package to earn a World Cup cross-country podium.