Pivot’s full-suspension “race” bike, the Mach 429SL carbon, has been updated for 2017. It’s not plus (but it does have a Boost rear); it’s not even 27.5. This carbon bike has 100 mm of suspension front and rear and—gasp—29-inch wheels.
The Mach 429SL is spec’d with the Fox Float Dual Piston System (DPS) shock custom tuned specifically for cross-country and endurance racing. The Float DPS shock features settings and a design that allows for a plush feel with a wide range of damping control while also offering an extremely positive “firm” position for fast climbs.
The new Mach 429SL carbon is available in more than 12 different complete bike configurations, starting at $4,200.
- Frame weight from 5.2 pounds (2.4Kg) and sub-23 pounds (10.4kg) complete
- 100 mm of dw-link suspension tuned for race and trail handling
- Full-carbon frame featuring Pivot’s proprietary hollow core internal molding technology
- Full length internal cable routing and Shimano Di2 integration via Pivot’s exclusive, Cable Port System
- Internal dropper post compatible
- Cold forged alloy linkages with Enduro Max Cartridge Bearings
- Fox Float Kashima Factory shock
- Highly durable rubberized leather downtube and swingarm protection
- Updated to Boost 12x148mm rear spacing
- Designed to work with forks from 100-120 mm in travel
- Every frame size has room for two water bottles
- Available in sizes S, M, L, XL for riders between 5’3″ and 6’4″
Rocky Mountain has brought back the Slayer, this time as an all-carbon machine with 170 mm front / 165 mm rear suspension and 27.5 wheels designed for enduro racing, bike parks and big mountains. It’s another entry in the almost-a-downhill-bike-but-can-still-climb category.
Rocky Mountain’s four-bar Smoothlink suspension has been tuned to eat up rough terrain and square-edged hits. It increased the anti-squat values to make sure the bike pedals efficiently. The Slayer also features shock-mount bearings for small-bump suppleness. Its rate curve provides good support at sag and a moderate ramp towards the end-stroke.
- Ride-4™ adjustability chip for geometry adjustments
- All sizes fit one water bottle inside the front triangle
- Can run Di2 and a dropper post concurrently
- Max type Enduro cartridge bearing pivots with simplified hardware, Pipelock rocker link pivot
- Shock-eyelet bearings for small-bump sensitivity
- Single-sided chainstay and seatstay pivots for a narrower rear triangle—eliminates heel rub, even with Boost spacing
- Metric shock, 230 x 65
- 1x specific
- Clearance for up to 27.5 x 2.5 inch tires, and compatible with 26+ tires (26 x 3.0)
- Full-length internal dropper post and lockout routing. Internal brake routing in the front triangle, internal tube-intube shift routing
- Oversized downtube ports for ease of cable routing
- New derailleur hanger design reduces hardware complexity
- Lightweight bolt-on axle saves 35 grams compared to a traditional Boost axle
- PressFit BB92 bottom bracket, ZS44 | ZS56 headset
- Post-mount 180mm rear brake
- Max chainring size is 36t
- Sizing: S/M/L/XL
The Slayer is available in four carbon models:
Slayer 790 MSL — $7,000
Slayer 770 MSL — $5,800
Slayer 750 MSL — $5,000
Slayer 730 MSL — $4,200
Jamis has expanded its lineup of hardtail plus bikes in both unisex and women’s-specific models. The new Dragon, Komodo and Eden Series bikes are designed for trail riding with 120 mm forks, slackened geometry, short rear ends and 3-inch tires.
The Dragon Series is made of Reynolds 520 steel and has been expanded to six models (four unisex and two women’s-specific). Dragonslayer will be available either in a 27plus or 26plus, while the women’s Dragonfly models move to 26plus.
The Dragonslayer sports a 68-degree headtube angle, 73-degree seat tube angle and 16.7 inch/425 mm chainstay length. The top-of-the-line bikes in the series will feature a FOX Rhythm 34 Float fork, WTB Scraper rims, a 1×11 Shimano SLX build and a KS eTen Integra dropper post.
All Dragon Series bikes feature adjustable sliding dropouts with 15 mm of range, thru axles front and rear, rear rack capabilities and multiple cargo/water bottle eyelets for bikepacking, plus oversize 44 mm head tubes, Boost hub spacing, tubeless wheelsets and internal dropper post routing.
The Jamis Komodo and Eden Series bikes are made from triple butted 6061 aluminum and feature Boost hub spacing, tapered head tubes, tubeless wheelsets and internal dropper post routing.
The women’s bikes have better standover clearance, come in smaller sizes—down to 14 inches—and are stocked with narrower handlebars and different saddles.
The steel models will range from $1,400 to $2,500. The aluminum bikes will range from $1,000 to $1,700. 2017 Jamis Plus bikes are expected in stock beginning at the end of September. All 2017 Jamis products including the new Plus bikes will be live and online with the 2017 Jamis website in mid-September.
Commencal has released an updated Meta, a downhill-oriented all-mountain/enduro bike designed around 160/170 mm forks and Boost spacing. The top tube length, seat tube angle and reach are the same as version 4, but the head angle is half a degree slacker (65.5 degrees) and the wheelbase a tad longer. A new, two-piece top tube is compatible with all rear shocks—the design promises more progressive suspension. There’s also now more clearance for large rear brake calipers.
The new Meta gets improved internal dropper post routing, a new downtube protector and more space inside the triangle for a water bottle (yep, there are mounts tucked in there). Finally, all Metas will come stock with nice-n-wide rims (25-30 mm inner width) to give you more tire contact on the trail.
Available in sizes small through XL, the bike is now available for pre-order. Six models are available (all with 170 mm front and 160 mm rear travel). Prices start at $2,200 for a SRAM NX1 1×11 build, SRAM Level brakes, RockShox Deluxe RT shock and a RockShox Yari RC up front (yellow bike pictured above). At the top of the line, you’ll get a shiny silver aluminum frame, RockShox Lyric fork, Reverb dropper post and SRAM XO1 Eagle 12-speed build for $4,600 ($100 less for a black frame).
The new Pivot Firebird features some of the longest reach measurements on a bike in this category, combined with super-short 16.95-inch chainstays, 65-degree head angle, 170 mm of suspension, Boost spacing, and clearance for 27.5 wheels with tires up to 2.5 inches wide.
The carbon frame can reportedly be built up with a weight of less than 28 pounds. Also new is the availability of a size XL in this model. There is no extra small, and the shortest suggested rider height for a small Firebird is 5’4″.
For comparisons on how the geometry changed, the old Firebird 27.5 had a 66-degree headtube angle, 160 mm of suspension and a chainstay length of 17.25 inches. Top tube length on a size large went from 24 inches to 25.12 inches.
The Firebird is being billed, without apologies, as a no-compromise enduro race machine. To aid that, Pivot utilizes DW-Link suspension. Dave Weagle, the brains behind DW‐Link and Chris Cocalis, Pivot’s president and founder, collaborate on every Pivot suspension design. Pivot used DW-Link to offer square-edged bump absorption that is claimed to rival the company’s DH bike while also pedaling more efficiently than the bike’s travel and geometry would suggest.
With the new Firebird, you also get internal cable routing, front-derailleur capability, 180 mm disc brake rotors and electronic shifting integration. There are eight available build kits on Pivot’s site, ranging from a Shimano XT 1×11 build ($5,000) up to a Shimano XTR Di2 build with carbon wheels, if money is no object ($9,900). The Firebird should be available now at your local bike shop.
The market expansion of plus-size trail hardtails with don’t-need-to-mortgage-the-house prices continues with the new Rocky Mountain Growler, a 120 mm, 27 plus hardtail. All models feature an aluminum frame, 1×11 gearing and 3-inch WTB Ranger tires. None of the models get a dropper post, womp womp, even though the top-end price point of this bike is comparable to plus-tire hardtails with droppers.
Notably, the Growler is available in six sizes, including XXS(!!). That and the XS will run 26plus wheels/tires, which makes a whole hell of a lotta sense.
Geometry highlights include a 67-degree headtube angle. On the XXS and XS, the bottom bracket drop goes from 58 mm to 40 mm, and the rear chainstay shrinks a bit from 440 mm to 430 mm. Rocky Mountain resisted the short-as-possible trend on many mini-fat hardtails, helping it stand out a bit against brethren such as the similarly spec’d Salsa Timberjack.
- Growler 750 — $1,700
- Growler 740 — $1,250 (pictured above in red)
- Growler 730 — $900
Intense added a new all-mountain bike to its fold, the Recluse. It has everything you would expect of a modern trail ripper: 150 mm front / 140 mm rear travel; 27.5 wheels with Boost dropouts; internal cable routing on a high-modulus carbon frame; fancy titanium hardware. It has the ability to run a front derailleur and still sneaks in one bottle cage mount.
The Recluse is available in five build kits from very nice to sell-your-extra-kidney nice. The base level “Foundation Build” still sports a carbon frame, a RockShox Pike fork, a dropper post and comes in the super-rad orange/pink frame color (as well as stealth black); not bad. If you want one, hope you have some extra coin. High-zoot Factory Build: $9,500; Foundation Build: $4,600. Everything else is in between. Sizes are small-XL with recommended rider heights ranging from 5’0” to 6’6”. Geometry charts below:
For the Canfield Brothers cultists, there’s a new steel hardtail on the block. Canfield updated one of its staples: the steel, get-rowdy 29er Nimble 9 to be Boost compatible, slacker and more sparkly.
The Nimble 9 combines the revered ride quality of a steel frame with a slack 66.5-degree head angle and stubby chainstays adjustable down to 16.25 inches via sliding dropouts, making it a candidate for singlespeeding and providing clearance for 2.5-inch tires.
Available in S, M, L and XL, the Nimble 9 frame retails for $749 and sells directly from Canfield Brothers.
Nimble 9 Boost Features and Updates
- 29er all-mountain bike
- 4130 chromoly steel
- Increased reach and shorter seat tube
- 66.5° head angle (w/ 140mm fork)
- Custom sliding Boost 148mm x 12mm rear dropouts, axle included
- Adjustable 16.25“ – 16.9” chainstays
- Stealth cable routing
- Sparkle metallic painted finish
- ED Black treated for superior anti-corrosion resistance
- Removable direct mount front derailleur block
- Two water bottle bosses
If you follow this stuff at all, you knew this one was coming from Trek Bikes: a carbon Stache 29plus. And you won’t have to wait long, with aluminum models available now and carbon models hitting your local bike shop in September.
The newly expanded Stache lineup includes two OCLV mountain carbon models—Stache 9.8 and 9.6—plus two Alpha Platinum aluminum models—Stache 7 and 5. You may also get a carbon frameset.
The new carbon frame of the 9.8 and 9.6 weighs about 400 grams less than its alloy counterpart and benefits from a more aggressive geometry with a 15 mm-longer reach and a bottom bracket that’s 5 mm lower.
Stache 9.8 is equipped with the all-new Rock Shox 29plus Pike, a SRAM X0/X01 build kit and a Bontrager Drop Line dropper post. Bontrager Line Pro 40 OCLV carbon wheels complete the lightweight build on the blinged-out, top-o-the-line model to tip the scales at 27.2 pounds.
The Stache 5 aluminum starter model gets a Manitou Machete 32 fork, Bontrager Chupacabra tubeless-ready tires, Race Face Aeffect crankset with a 30-tooth chainring, Shimano Deore shifting and basic Shimano hydraulic disc brakes.
All carbon and alloy models feature additional travel, with an increase in suspension from 110 mm to 120 mm. The carbon models will comes in sizes in 15.5, 17.5, 19.5, and 21.5 inches. The aluminum models also get an 18.5-inch frame size.
Pricing is as follows:
Stache 5 aluminum: $1,580
Stache 7 aluminum: $2,100
Stache 9.6 carbon: $3,000
Stache 9.8 carbon: $4,700
Carbon frameset: $1,580
Ed note: This is part of our initial bike test of three new hardtails introduced at QBP Saddle Drive 2016, each shod with 27plus tires: the aluminum Salsa Timberjack, carbon Salsa Woodsmoke and steel Surly Karate Monkey. Despite their obvious differences, we will draw some comparisons and distinctions among the three, so make sure to check out the other first ride reviews, too.
In case you’ve been under a rock for the last decade or so, a primer: The Surly Karate Monkey was one of the first production 29ers on the market. Surly bikes are not the fastest, lightest, newest, fanciest or most technically whiz-bang on the market. That’s probably why I like ’em so much (have to admit my bias, here). When I start to feel like I’m just being aggressively and excessively marketed to as an editor in the cycling industry, I take a break and ride my Surly. To be fair, I also own a modern carbon full-suspension trail bike that I adore, but I wear the mantle of steel-loving retrogrouch much better.
The new Monkey is slacker and longer. It sports a 69-degree headtube angle (formerly 72 degrees), a slightly shorter chainstay length, a wheelbase stretched by about an inch and a longer top tube. Seat tube angle is the same. The seat tube diameter bumps up to 30.9 for greater dropper-post compatibility while the frame comes stock with Surly Dirt Wizard 27.5×3.0 tires. I’m nuts for Dirt Wizards, especially since they were updated to be less tear-prone. They have grip, grip, grip for days.
Whereas the old Monkey was either rigid or built with a 100 mm fork, the new one will take up to a 140 mm fork. A 140 will raise the bottom bracket 17 mm and kick the headtube angle out to 67.5 degrees. The frame is loaded with even more braze-ons than ever. Yessiree, this is intended to be a bikepacker, a rigid singlespeed, a cross-country bike or a trail shredder. Or, all of the above. Choose your own adventure. Choose all of the adventures.
The new Monkey made me smile. It’s not better or worse than the two Salsa’s I also test rode at Saddle Drive: the carbon Woodsmoke and aluminum Timberjack. In fact, those other mid-travel 27plus bikes outshine the Monkey on several points. For $600 more (OK, yes, that’s a lot) you can get in on a carbon Woodsmoke with suspension or, for the same price as the Monkey, grab the Timberjack and get suspension.
Surly’s entry in this category is just different. If you want a plus hardtail, you have to find the one that suits your riding style and calms your inner demons. The Karate Monkey is my drug of choice. I would probably build it just like this Surly employee did. No, yes, this is exactly what I’d do.
Anyway, how does it ride? It rides like a Surly. The Monkey is still made of the company’s 4130 ‘Natch chromoly steel, but with slightly bigger tubing than previously used on this bike. It doesn’t have internal cable routing or weird tubing shapes. It’s not light but it’s mighty comfortable. Get off my lawn.
One of the Surly guys said the company strives for balance with its bikes. It didn’t try to do stuff like make the rear chainstays as short as possible just for the sake of making them as short as possible. The Monkey is intended to ride well in a multitude of situations, not just one or two. And that it does.
The bike is extraordinarily stable, almost to a fault if you’re intending to play. It’s not as flickable as some other bikes but rather trucks along with confidence, those big meats digging in all the way. To that end, it climbed far better than I expected. In fact, on the ride up the dirt service road, I kept looking around to see if I had a tailwind. No such luck. (I’m not very strong but I had just downed two shots of espresso; maybe that had something to do with it?) I caught up to two dealers also riding the Monkey who made the same comment: “This thing climbs really well!”
On flat to rolling singletrack, the Monkey felt a little sluggish. It’s weight and big tires means it’s a bit slow to get up to speed. The bike also doesn’t hold its momentum as well as other options. I felt that I was working it harder than the aluminum Timberjack and carbon Woodsmoke that I also sampled that same day on the same route in the hills of Northstar at Tahoe. Yes, those bikes have lighter frames. Still, if I were looking for a single hardtail that’s versatile, reasonably priced, comfortable and fun, I’d pick this one.
On the way down, the Monkey is a blast. I would have loved to have tried out a version with a suspension fork; I can image the addition of some squish would make this bike truly shine. I plowed it along the same intermediate DH trails I tested the other plus hardtails on and it held its own, rigid fork and all. It confidently led me down slow, techy sections that required taking it more carefully but was also just as happy being pushed hard through the chunk. With the help of the big tires, it hugged the dusty berms, despite being not as easy to throw around.
Some on the interwebs have called this a 27plus Krampus. Not so. The geometry numbers aren’t even close. The Monkey is more like a slimmed-down Surly Wednesday (read our full test of that bike), from which this frame borrows some tricks. One of them is a proprietary dropout called Gnot-Boost that offers spacing of 145 mm, allowing the steel frame to expand to fit 148 mm Boost hubs or pulled inward to work with a 142 mm hub. Surly is also now offering an add-on that allows you to transform the rear track dropouts to standard, vertical dropouts.
True to being a Surly, this thing is so versatile that I’m just going to send you to the Monkey’s homepage rather than trying to detail all the details, here.
The stock bikes are orange (geared/frame) for $1,400 complete, purple (singlespeed/frame) for $1,175 complete and black (frame only). Frame/fork can be had for $600. On the 1×11 geared version you get SRAM NX components, an 11-42 cassette, SRAM Level brakes, an Answer Pro Taper handlebar and a WTB Volt saddle (note that not all of that is pictured; the demo bikes at this event had different builds). The singlespeed will run 30×17 gearing. Go nuts.
Ed note: This is part of our initial bike test of three new hardtails introduced at QBP Saddle Drive 2016, each shod with 27plus tires: the aluminum Salsa Timberjack, carbon Salsa Woodsmoke and steel Surly Karate Monkey. Despite their obvious differences, we will draw some comparisons and distinctions among the three, so make sure to check out the other first ride reviews as we publish them.
OK, we know most of you think it’s ugly. You told us all over social media. We also know that elevated chainstays are not a new design, which you also rightly pointed out. But here it is, Salsa’s new carbon hardtail, the Woodsmoke, and it is sporting elevated chainstays in order to get them as short as possible while being able to squeeze in a 29plus tire. On the 27plus bike I tested, you’re looking at a chainstay length of 400-417 mm. (More specifics below.)
That funky rear end also means no chain slap and the ability to run a belt drive. Even though you can’t see it, there is indeed a hidden front derailleur mount (those two holes between the chainstay bend and chain in the below image). The large frame triangle leaves plenty of space for a frame bag—way more than I’m used to on the size small bikes I always ride.
Once, when you said “carbon hardtail,” the assumption was automatically that you were speaking about an XC race bike. That is not what this is, although the Woodsmoke can run a rigid or 100 mm fork. It’s also not just a trail bike, even though you can spec a 140 mm fork and big meats, should you so choose. It’s actually all of those things.
On the XC bike side, the Woodsmoke climbs remarkably well for having such a short rear. Part of that is its carbon frame; part of that is the grip of the tires. The 67.9-degree headtube angle is by no means traditional (and is different than the Trek Stache 29plus at 68.4 degrees) but was more manageable on climbs than I expected.
But the Woodsmoke leans more heavily on the trail bike side of its split personality. The 27plus Woodsmoke I pedaled comes with a SRAM GX1 build and a RockShox Yari RC Solo Air 130 mm fork. My Saddle Drive test route on the slopes of Northstar at Tahoe went like this: climb up a long, dirt service road; rip around on some rolling, rooty cross-country singletrack; descend on rocky, dusty, intermediate DH trails.
The bike was simply fast—too fast, sometimes. I got airborne more than once when I didn’t intend to. You can run out of suspension and control in a hurry because this thing just rips for a hardtail. It’s much quicker to get up to speed, and holds on to that speed much tighter, than either the Karate Monkey or the Salsa Timberjack.
The slacker geometry means it’s extremely exuberant and, if you ride it right, that geometry allows you to stay in control through some nuts situations. Let’s call the Woodsmoke good ‘ol jazz hands. Get out there and dance with reckless abandon, my friends.
The bike can accept 29plus, 29 or 27plus setups, made possible by Salsa’s Alternator 2.0 Dropouts (which also makes singlespeed setup simple). Since I wasn’t able to ride anything other than the 27plus, I present you with Salsa’s stated intent for each tire size:
- 29plus creates monumental rollover, traction and momentum
- 27.5plus delivers quick, punchy grip and increased line choice
- 29er boosts traditional cross-country and climbing speed
So who is this bike for? Almost anyone, it seems. Well, anyone with a good bit of spare cash. All this fun doesn’t come cheap, which is the bane of carbon. I am sort-of lukewarm on how carbon mountain bikes ride, to be honest. They make plasticky noises and can creak and rattle unnervingly. That said, the Woodsmoke benefits greatly from its carbon frame because it keeps the weight down when you’re building it up with a bigger fork, bigger wheels and bigger tires.
Depending on the build you choose, this bike will cost you either $,2000, $3,000 or $4,000. Add to that any extras you might want to occasionally alter the personality of the Woodsmoke and you’re well into the pricing territory of very good full-suspension bikes. My test bike desperately needed a dropper seatpost and grippier tires, for example. With those two things, it would have become a truly badass trail bike.
And that’s the thing. It used to be that if you wanted a really fun, playful, whippy bike, you almost certainly needed a full-suspension rig (or, a dirt jumper, I suppose) because that’s what was being built with this kind of slacker, more downhill-oriented geometry. If your trails aren’t super tech-gnar-chunk all day, every day, but you still want to flick and pop and juke and jive while you ride, this kind of bike should shoot to the top of your wish list.
You now have endless options and, with this bike, options within your option. This “trend” of longer-travel, short-rear hardtails is gaining steam on the heels of early attempts by companies like Kona and Surly, and I wholeheartedly endorse it.
As I said before, it’s worth noting that plus bikes do ride differently than your standard 2.2-2.4 tire—you can’t straight compare all hardtails. You will feel a bit of sag if you run low pressures on long climbs (kind of like a rear shock in trail mode rather than climb or lockout). The tires can bounce if you don’t get the pressure right. The noise those big meats make can sound like you actually have a flat because so much more rubber is contacting the dirt and gravel than you’re used to. You have to learn to block that out of you mind.
But all that contact equals grip equals fun times. That’s the deal with these 3-inch tires: confidence. They float over more chunk than you imagine is possible and they will claw you up and over all kinds of trail crud.
Woodsmoke 27plus geometry
For full geometry and build details across the line, visit Salsa’s website.
The plus tire juggernaut of 2016/2017 continues its roll now on a titanium Moots hardtail, the Farwell. You can run this bike 27.5 x 2.8 (that is max tire clearance) or up to a 29 x 2.25. The Farwell was designed around a 120 mm fork, 17.1-inch (434 mm) chainstay length, 68.5-degree headtube angle (68 on the XL) and a 12.6-inch (32o mm) bottom bracket height.
Options include internal electronic routing, fender mounts and rack eyelets, a polished or etched finish, an engraved head tube and color decal options. The frame and FOX 34 fork retails for $4,789. The build as shown goes for $7,900. See full details and options from Moots.
The Salsa Mukluk is all-new for 2017. We admittedly almost overlooked this beast. One does not really think about five-inch fatties when it’s 80 degrees and sunny on the site of a mountain bike park. Well, maybe you do.
The all-new Mukluk is available in both carbon (pictured) and aluminum. The stiffness of the carbon version was adjusted, but in the direction often not taken. Because the Salsa Beargrease is the company’s speed-focused fatty, the new Mukluk frame was actually tuned to be more comfortable and more compliant for longer days in the saddle. The chainstays shrunk to 430 mm, making them the shortest on the market on a fat bike.
Both frames have the Alternator Dropouts 2.0, allowing room for up to 4.7-inch tires (paired with 70 mm rims) on the carbon version with a chainstay length of 432 mm. You can still use Salsa’s Alternator 190 Rack with this setup. The aluminum version gets Alternator Dropouts 1.0 for 440 mm chainstays. By moving the wheel back for bigger tires, the chainstay grows to 450 mm.
Set this bike up with a 1x or 2x drivetrain—it will indeed take a front derailleur. The top tube got a bit longer to play well with 60/70 mm stems alongside the 69-degree headtube angle, 73-degree seat tube angle, 63 mm bottom bracket height and 100 mm threaded bottom bracket. The rear dropout grew to 197 x 12 mm.
The routing for derailleurs and rear brake housing are internal through the top tube and external down the inside of the seatstays. Customizable rubber grommets for the cable ports allow different drivetrain and brake setups. Stealth routing for dropper posts is also provided. Finally, the bike will also accept a 100 or 120 mm fork.
The Salsa Mukluk will be offered in five builds. Expect to see it in your local shop in October/November.
- Mukluk Carbon XO1 – $4,500
- Mukluk Carbon X1 – $3,500
- Mukluk Carbon GX1 – $2,700
- Mukluk ALU NX1 SUS – $2,500
- Mukluk ALU NX1 – $1,800
The go-fast-oriented Beargrease remains unchanged for 2017, but did get some rad new paint jobs across the four different models (three carbon and one aluminum). Photos courtesy of Salsa Cycles.
We’re at Saddle Drive near Lake Tahoe this week checking out new bikes from Quality Bicycle Products (QBP), the parent company of Surly, All-City, Foundry, Heller and Salsa. Salsa went all in, releasing all of the brand’s new-for-2017 bikes and updating most models across the range. Here’s a look at the two new 29plus bikes, both of which we’ll be riding later this week for initial reviews.
Entering the fairly small ring of carbon-framed 29plus hardtails is the new Salsa Woodsmoke. The goal was simply to create a highly versatile hardtail and, from the looks of it, that’s what we have here. The frame even has four—count ’em—bottle mounts for all of your whatever, wherever adventures.
The frame was designed to be friendly with 29plus, 27plus and traditional 29er setups. The looks-like-a-Trek-Stache chainstays (we had to say it before you did) got an elevated design to facilitate a short-as-possible-for-a-plus-bike length: 400 to 417 mm depending on the frame size. Those funky chainstays also allow for a front derailleur, multiple drivetrain possibilities and the elimination of chain slap.
This bike utilizes Salsa’s Alternator Dropouts Version 2.0, which allow the geometry to be properly adjusted for your chosen wheelsize. It also means singlespeed!
Those short chainstays mated to a relatively long top tube, 50 mm stem and the ability to take rigid or 100-140 mm forks, you have a weirdly and wildly versatile trail bike that has multiple geometry and ride quality possibilities. For example, headtube angles are as follows: 68.4 degrees (traditional 29er, 2.4-inch tires, 120 mm fork); 67.9 degrees (27plus, 130 mm fork); 67.8 degrees (29plus, 120 mm fork).
The 2017 Woodsmoke is available in five complete builds and five colors (red, white, matte black, khaki and green) and should land in your local bike shop this December:
- Woodsmoke 29plus XO1 – $4,000
- Woodsmoke 29plus GX1 – $3,000
- Woodsmoke 27plus XO1 – $4,000
- Woodsmoke 27plus GX1 – $3,000
- Woodsmoke 29 GX1 – $3,000
The stock bikes are spec’d with either 120 or 130 mm RockShox forks. See Salsa’s website for complete build kit information and the geometry breakdown of each bike.
We know that the high cost of carbon hardtails can really rub some riders the wrong way, which is why we’re always happy to see models like the Timberjack appear in bike company lineups. The trail-oriented Timberjack is a new aluminum hardtail that can either be a 27plus or traditional 29er with forks ranging from 120-140 mm and a price starting at $1,000.
The Timberjack also gets Salsa’s Alternator Dropouts, meaning you can fiddle with the rear-end length to adjust the way this bike rides. Those dropouts also allow flexibility on which rear end you’d like, from 135 mm quick release to 148 mm Boost hubs. Additional trickle down technology includes internal cable and dropper post routing and 1×11 gearing, plus three bottle cage mounts.
The Timberjack is available in both 27.5plus and 29 versions, each in two of these colors: dark red, matte khaki, dark blue, matte gray. Look for it in your local bike shop around October. See full build kit and geometry details on Salsa’s website.
- Timberjack 27plus GX1 – $1,400
- Timberjack 29 NX1 – $1,000
- Frame only in matte gray – $400
Rumors of the demise of the #steelisreal El Mariachi
have not yet been confirmed, but the bike was nowhere to be seen at this event are true; that model is done and Salsa no longer has a steel mountain bike (other than the Fargo touring rig, which now accepts 27plus but is stocked with a rigid fork and drop bars). There’s always the newly updated Surly Karate Monkey.
We’re at Saddle Drive near Lake Tahoe this week checking out new bikes from Quality Bicycle Products (QBP), the parent company of Surly, All-City, Foundry, Heller and Salsa. Because of the proliferation of cycling events across the country, these companies aren’t launching all of their new stuff right away, but we did get a look at a big update from Surly: the re-designed Karate Monkey.
If you ride a Surly bike and have owned it for some time, you’ve probably messed with it so that it’s no longer still stock. Surly said it used to smile and nod at the crazy modifications people did to its bikes but otherwise kind of let it be. Now, it’s embracing more and more of the customer-driven tinkering and adapting frames to better accomodate your whims.
The 2017 Karate Monkey got a bunch of tweaks, many of them borrowed from the Instigator 2.0 trail bike and Wednesday fat bike. The tubing is mostly new, including using Trumpet tubes from the Instigator 2.0 on the front triangle. From Surly: “The main triangle’s tubes are internally butted and some tubes are externally tapered, flared like a trumpet and ovalized to add stiffness and strength without adding weight.”
The new frame has internal dropper post cable routing and a 44 mm head tube for broad fork compatibility.
The Monkey’s geometry was adjusted to be slightly more trail-oriented, its numbers coming rather close to the Surly Wednesday fat bike. The headtube is slightly slacker and the top tube slightly longer than older versions. The longer front center also allows the Karate Monkey to now be available in extra small.
On the medium Monkey, top tube length is 582 mm (22.9 inches), standover height is 783 mm (30.8 inches), seat tube length is 419 mm (16.5 inches), 69-degree headtube angle, chainstay length of 423 mm (16.7 inches) and a fork offset of 47 mm. Full geo numbers below this story.
The new frame will accept up to a 140 mm fork. Seriously. A 140 will raise the bottom bracket 17 mm and take the headtube angle from 68 degrees with rigid/100 mm to 67.5 degrees. We expect to see more than a few of these built up with dropper posts and 120/130 mm forks.
The Monkey uses a horizontal dropout with a derailleur hanger that features “Gnot-Boost” spacing, which gives the rider the ability to run any mountain bike hub. You can build your Monkey with 10×135 mm QR, 12×142 or 12×148 Boost. The frame/fork will clear up to 27×3.0 or 29×2.5 tires.
On the 1×11 geared version you get SRAM NX components, an 11-42 cassette, SRAM Level brakes, an Answer Pro Taper handlebar and a WTB Volt saddle (note that not all of that is pictured; the demo bikes at this event have different builds). The singlespeed will run 30×17 gearing. Both builds utilize tubeless-ready Alex rims and tubeless Surly Dirt Wizard 27.5×3.0 tires.
The two stock complete models will be a purple singlespeed for $1,175 and a yellow/orange 27plus model for $1,400 (yep, no more stock 29er but you can still build it up as such). These bikes should be available in October/November. You can also just get a frameset in black.
Also, when poking around the Surly website, we noted that the good ‘ol fashioned Pugsley is now listed as available in a frameset, only. RIP, complete Pugsley.
It has happened and we’re not particularly surprised: Niner Bikes is now offering 27plus models in addition to its steadfast dedication to 29ers. The new JET 9 RDO and RIP 9 RDO were also treated to suspension bump-ups. The JET frame is now 120 mm and will be paired with a 130 mm fork if set up as a 29er, and a 140 mm fork if set up 27plus. The RIP frame steps up to territory formerly occupied by the Niner WFO: 150 mm on the frame paired to a 160 mm fork (29er) or a whopping 170 mm fork on the 27plus.
Frame suspension on both bikes is provided by Niner’s Constantly Varying Arc (CVA) system. It’s a dual-link setup with linkages that rotate in opposite directions, allowing the rear suspension to react to pedaling and terrain independently. Niner claims CVA is fully active at all times by also harnessing chain tension to counteract squat and bob.
JET 9 RDO
The JET frame was completely re-designed with rear Boost spacing and using a carbon production process that “squeezes out excess resin during the molding process,” which supposedly allows for closer tolerances on tube thickness and a lighter frame weight as a result.
The bike had its chainstays stiffened and shortened to 434 mm. The seat tube angle is steeper (67.5 degrees). The frame will take a double chainring up front, or you can go all in and run the bike with electronic shifting. The bottom bracket is a good, old-fashioned 73 mm threaded job, and there’s a little window under the bottom bracket for servicing and installing cables (which, evidenced by the photo, are not all run completely internally—a good thing, in our opinion).
A total of eight builds are available in either black or yellow: four builds for each of the wheel sizes so you can take your pick and not sacrifice anything else. MSRP ranges from $4,500 (Shimano SLX, RockShox Pike RC Solo) to $9,500 (SRAM Eagle, FOX 34 Float Factory Fit4, ENVE M60 wheels). All builds come with a dropper post and Maxxis Rekon (front) and Ikon tires (rear). The bike starts shipping in August.
RIP 9 RDO
The new RIP’s rear Boost spacing helps keep its chainstays short (439 mm) while providing for plenty of mud clearance around your 29×2.5 DH tires, should you want them. The frame also sports a 67-degree head tube angle and a 75.5 degree seat tube angle.
The RIP frame is compatible with 1x drivetrains, only, but shares its sibling’s 73 mm threaded bottom bracket shell, underbelly window for cable servicing and remove-the-excess carbon layup process. As with most new bikes in this category, Niner opted for a long top tube mated to a short stem. The 29er versions get a Boost fork.
A total of eight builds are available in either black or orange: four builds for each of the wheel sizes just like the JET. MSRP ranges from $4,700 (Shimano SLX, RockShox Lyric RC Solo Air) to $9,800 (SRAM Eagle XO1, FOX 36 Float Factory Fit, ENVE M70 wheels). All builds come with a dropper post and Maxxis tires (2.8 on the plus bikes, but they will take up to 3-inch meats). The bike starts shipping in August.
Blue Bicycles was once based in Georgia but is now in California. It was once struggling to survive but now has new life breathed into it. It was once only (or best) known for triathlon and cyclocross bikes but now has three different mountain bikes in its line. We took a peak at what’s coming in 2017 for Blue while at Press Camp in Park City, Utah.
Crew EX and Crew AL
The Crew is Blue’s new 11-speed, 27plus hardtail (pudgy tires not pictured because these bikes are pre-production). The EX is carbon and the AL is—you guessed it—aluminum. Blue first tried its hand at mountain bikes in 2009 but by the time it got its first 26er together, 29ers had come on the scene full-force and the company didn’t think it would be able to properly sell its small-wheeled bike. Now that new wheel sizes have (somewhat) settled (for now, at least), it was ready to jump in, again.
The carbon EX retails for $3,000 and comes with a FOX 32 SC fork, Shimano XT build, Hayes Prime Sport disc brakes and DT Swiss M wheels. The production carbon bike features internal cable routing, special seat stays designed for vibration reduction and is predicted to tip the scale at around 22 pounds.
The Crew AL still runs Shimano XT and the same Hayes brakes but steps down to a FOX 32 Performance fork and loses the special, flat seat stays to retail for $2000. An SLX build for $1,500 is also expected. Four sizes (small through extra-large) will be offered.
Crew AL M-140
The Crew AL M-140 is a full-on trail bike with 140 mm of suspension front and rear and 27.5 wheels. Suspension is handled by a FOX 34 Performance up front and a Float X Performance in the rear. Build kit is Shimano XT 1×11, Hayes Prime Sport brakes, a few in-house bits and a FOX dropper post. The bike will retail for $3100 and be available in only three sizes: small, medium and large. Expect to see a carbon model at Interbike in September.
Blue said it chose a 140 mm full-suspension trail bike to target the widest possible audience and complete its bike lineup.
Philly Fat Bike
Finally, the Blue Philly is an all-aluminum fat bike with a SRAM X5 (1×10) build kit, mechanical Tektro disc brakes, PF30 bottom bracket and four-inch tires. The bike is available in four sizes for $1,259.
Blue Bicycles also earned the Dirt Rag prize for “best USB drive of bike Press Camp.”
At this year’s Press Camp, Ellsworth previewed its newest bike, the Rogue Sixty. This carbon enduro/all-mountain rig will feature 160 mm of travel front and rear, 27.5 wheels, internal cable routing, aluminum chainstays, a 1x-only design, threaded bottom bracket, Boost spacing front and rear and Di2 compatibility.
Ellsworth added a house-designed shock bolt called the “Hex Key Rocker Locker” and a hex-taper rear axle for more stiffness and simpler maintenance. The latest iteration of the Ellsworth four-bar linkage rear suspension is designed for efficiency to be a great climber for enduro transfer stages (and, we guess, regular mountain biking) just as it’s designed to descend well. If you want to get into it, read about Instant Center Tracking here.
Four builds in three colors, each, will be offered, all with FOX suspension, Maxxis High Roller II tires and Race Face Turbine dropper posts. The Shimano XT kit comes in at $6,500. Pre-order starts this month with availability in September. Currently, no size small is being offered, only medium, large and extra-large.
At this year’s bike Press Camp in Park City, Utah, Cannondale released several new models, as well as existing model updates and an expanded women’s line for 2017. Keep reading for details on the new plus bike and refreshed carbon rigs.
Cujo 1 27plus
The Cujo is a new 27plus bike based on Cannondale’s other trail bikes (namely, the Beast of the East) that is designed to come in at a lower price point. This top-of-the line model will retail around $1400, with the rest of the range going down to $800.
The Cujo 1 will come with WTB Ranger 3-inch tires, Shimano Deore brakes, SRAM NX 1×11 cassette, SRAM GX derailleur and a tapered headtube. All models will get a 120 mm fork. Cujos 2 and 3 will come with 2x drivetrains. This bike will be available in July in sizes extra small through extra extra large.
Bad Habit 1 Carbon
The Bad Habit will now come in carbon with a new build spec all around that includes house-made 40 mm internal-width carbon Hollowgram rims wearing 3-inch tires, plus flat-mount brakes, Shimano XTR build, a LEV dropper post and 120 mm of travel front and rear.
This model will retail for around $5000. Sizes small through extra large.
Women’s Carbon Habit 1
The women’s Habit has been updated with new colors, an updated drivetrain, dropper post and a new high-end build kit at the top of the line (pictured) that features carbon cranks, a FOX dropper post, the Lefty fork, a Shimano XTR build and XT brakes. The bike will become available in the next couple of months.
Scalpel Si Carbon Women’s 2
Also showcased was the new Scalpel-Si for women, a carbon cross-country race bike that was designed around newer, more technical courses. We did a big story about the launch of this bike where you can check out all of the details and read our interview with Cannondale’s MTB product manager.
Featuring 100 mm of travel front and rear, the bike is slightly slacker than traditional XC race rigs. This one is outfitted with a Shimano XT 1×11 build, 160 mm brake rotors, simplified Di2 routing for upgrade-itis, Stan’s ZTR Rapid rims, remote shock lockouts, carbon crank and a Fi’zi:k Arione Donna saddle. The bike will retail for $4,260 as shown.
At this year’s bike Press Camp in Park City, Utah, GT released several new models and significant updates for 2017, including a plus bike, more women’s models, a sub-$2,000 full-suspension bike and a throwback bike you’re probably going to want. Read on for details.
The Pantera is a GT model not seen since the 1990s, but now it’s back as a 27plus bike to be offered in three builds. The Expert model seen here is the top build with tubeless 2.8 Schwalbe Rocket Rons on rims with a 40 mm inner width, a Shimano 1×11 setup with hydraulic disc brakes, 120 mm RockShox Revelation fork with Boost spacing, thru axles and a 69-degree head tube.
The Pantera Expert will retail for $1,620, meaning the two other models will ring up for less than that. Note that it has rear rack mounts for your pending off-road bikepacking adventures.
One trend for 2017 seems to be a move toward offering sub-$2,000 full-suspension bikes. (We might have to lower the price point on our annual test!) The Expert model pictured here sits at the top of the range and will retail for $1,620, with sibling prices dipping all the way to below $1,000.
The Verb features the same rear suspension design as GTs higher-end bikes (just with an entry-level rear shock) and is designed to sit between those bikes and GT’s hardtails. The Expert will come with a 2x Shimano Deore drivetrain, hydraulic disc brakes, an integrated headset, 120 mm air-sprung fork with full lockout, and an all-aluminum cockpit. GT calls this bike “upgrade-worthy” for the weekend warrior.
GT is working to expand its line of women’s-specific mountain bikes and has hired a former female pro racer to its design team. One step toward that goal is the new Helion for women. It’s the same frame and rear suspension design as the men’s/unisex Helion but features a lighter shock tune and different saddle, bars and stem.
The Helion Expert pictured here has 27.5 wheels, 110 mm of rear travel paired to 120 mm in the front (Fox Rhythm 34), hydraulic disc brakes and a 2×11 Shimano drivetrain. It also has a pretty sweet paint job. This Helion women’s Elite will retail for $2,130.
The GT Performer is a complete replica of a 1986 BMX bike, but with a long-enough seatpost and 26-inch wheels to facilitate cruising about town. It’s the bike you rode as a kid (or lusted after) now in an adult-friendly size. For $560, GT might just have your new bar bike.