Dirt Rag Magazine

2015 Sea Otter tech roundup – Part 4


Ryde Rims

Ryde Rims showed up to our booth one morning with a new rim. Ryde was until recently known as Rigida, and is now going after a higher end part of the market.

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This is the Trace rim ($135), which will come in 22, 25 and 29 mm internal widths in both standard and asymmetric. A second series of rims, Edge ($85), will have the same width and asymmetry, but are a bit heavier. All rims will come in 26, 27.5 and 29, in any color as long as it is black.

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Tubeless ready with the addition of rim tape and a valve, these rims look to challenge NoTube’s dominance of the market. the website isn’t live yet, but bookmark www.ryde-usa.com for more info later.


 

Rever MCX1 Disc Brakes

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Rever brakes are aimed squarely at road and cyclocross bikes, not the mountain bike market. With the Avid BB7 growing long in the tooth, and most of the big money seemingly going into developing hydro discs for road, Rever should be able to serve the part of the market that is after a premium cable disc brake.

How premium? $150 a wheel. That  includes a 140 or 160 mm rotor, ISO and direct mount adaptors, stainless slick cable (uncoated, thankfully), two meters of compressionless brake housing, and all related hardware.

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The caliper is a dual piston system, with separate adjustments for each pad, plus a cable adjuster. Pads can be replaced easily from the rear, and can use an Shimano G-series type pad, so any option under the sun is out there for metallic, organic, or semi-metallic.

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Power is claimed to be reduced from a BB7, something that may be welcome on bikes with skinny tires and reduced traction. riderever.com


 

 

Marin 2016 steel mountain and adventure road bikes

Marin is celebrating 30 years in 2015, and half its booth was set aside for vintage bikes. The other half of the booth had these two new models built to celebrate three decades of building bikes.

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The Pine Mountain name isn’t new, and although this bike seems a little retro, it is entirely up to date. A steel frame and fork with sport a single chainring Shimano SLX drivetrain with a wide range 10 speed SunRace cassette. The Vee tires shown will be replaced by the new 27×2.9 Schwalbe Nobby Nics. This is a sharp looking bike for $1,100.

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Coming in at the same $1,100 level, this is the new Four Corners touring bike. Room for at least 40 mm tires, a quality steel frame and fork, triple bottle mounts, and disc brakes should make it ready for all kinds of adventures. The bags and racks are not included, nor is the big bottle of beer.


 

 

Jamis Dragon Slayer

There is still much love for the long-running Jamis Dragon. Not many steel hardtails, if any, have remained continuously in production. It currently has four models, in 27.5 and 29, and soon to be a fifth model in 27plus.

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With a Deore 2×10 drivetrain, Boost hubs front and rear, Vittoria Bombolini 27×3 tires and Fox Float 32 fork, all this thing needs is a dropper to be ready for some serious business. And you heard it right, Shimano will be supporting the Boost standard from now on, even though it began life as a SRAM/Trek project.

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Stoked to see the sliders, for single speed conversion, either on purpose or after roaching a derailleur out in the backcountry. The stays are right around 17 inches, a plus in my plus-size book.

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This is the first peek we’ve seen of the new Vittoria plus size tire in 27.5. Glad to see some well supported side knobs.

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The Dragon Slayer is ready to go long, with triple bottle mounts and rear rack braze-ons. Glad to see some versatility coming back to hardtails.


 

 

Manitou, Sun and Answer

The Hayes Bicycle Group has been through some ups and downs the last few years, but some new products and OE spec seems to be righting this ship.

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This is a cut-away of the new Magnum plus-size fork. We’ve been riding one on a Trek Stache and so far have been hugely impressed. Lots of tech from both the Dorado DH forks and Mattoc trail fork, but in a 34mm stanchioned packaged for either 27plus or 29plus. You’ll be looking at $900 for the Pro model, less for the Comp when it becomes available. Only two travels, 100 and 120 mm, 15×110 hub spacing and room for tires up to 3.4 inches.

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The Mulefut 50 is the skinnier brother to the well received 80mm fat bike rim. It’s tubeless ready (with rim tape to cover up those huge rim cut-outs) and Sun claims these are the lightest aluminum 50mm rims you can buy. These will set you back $140 a piece.

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Everyone seems to be talking short stem talk right now, and Answer adds to the chat with a 30 mm AME model. You’ll be able to get it in red, black or white in a 31.8 bar clamp. If 30 mm is too short, you can get one in 40, 50, 60, 70 or 80 mm. Any size or color for $80.


 

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Miss our earlier coverage? Click here to read all our tech coverage from Sea Otter 2015.

 

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Inside Line: First look at the new Specialized ‘6Fatty’ Fuze and Ruze


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Based on the success of its Fatboy, Specialized debuted the new Fuse (men’s) and Ruze (women’s) 27plus at the Sea Otter Classic, a platform the company has dubbed “6Fattie.”

Built from Specialized’s M4 level aluminum, the 67 degree head angle is slacker and more trail bike worthy than the Fatboy and the bottom bracket is also lower. Specialized says part of the reason the Fatboy handles so well is that it simply transferred its 29er hardtail geometry over to the fat bike. In fact, Specialized says that this 27plus bike now fills the hardtail trail bike void in the line-up. Cable routing is internal and all levels of both the Fuse and Ruze are 1x specific.

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The frames features Boost 148 rear dropouts and a 110 mm front hub and all models will come with an internally routed dropper seatpost. Perhaps the most visually enticing feature of the frame is its drive-side Diamond Stay that allows for short-ish 16.9 inch chainstays without sacrificing strength or effecting clearance. Cable routing is internal and all levels of both the Fuse and Ruze are single chainring specific.

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Three levels of both the Fuse and Ruze will be offered: Pro ($3,100), Expert ($2,100) and Comp ($1,600.) The Pro has a SRAM X0/X1 drivetrain, 120 mm travel RockShox Reba fork, custom tubeless ready, 38 mm Roval rims and tubeless ready 27.5 x 3 inch Ground Control tires and custom SRAM DB5 brakes with four pistons in the front caliper and two in the back.

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The Expert gets a Manitou fork and SRAM GX parts and the Comp an SR Suntour fork, SRAM X7/X5 drivetrain and TRP brakes (both of these have 45 mm WTB Scraper rims).

While both the Fuse and Ruze share most of the same parts and price points, subtle differences for the women’s version include a 100 mm travel fork and Specialized’s Women’s Trail Geometry. Availability is planned for May of this year.

 

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2015 Sea Otter tech roundup – Part 3


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Subaru

Subaru is one of the key sponsors of Sea Otter and it had a collection of vintage cars and bikes in its booth. It’s amazing how dated the mountain bikes look but the car from the same era seems commonplace.


 

 

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Ergon

The new GA1 grip from Ergon has been hugely popular, both with enduro racers and casual mountain bikers. Now it’s shape has trickled down into a less expensive version called the GA2. Plus it comes in a ton of colors.


 

 

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Lazer

Founded as a motorsports helmet company, Lazer put its know-how into the revised Phoenix+ full face. Weighing less than 1,000 grams it retails for just $99.


 

 

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Commencal

Hailing from Andorra, Max Commencal’s brand is making a big push into the U.S. with its consumer-direct sales model.  The Meta HT AM hardtail is an aggressive trail bike with a big 150 mm fork and 27.5 wheels. With the dropper post and Pike fork it retails for $2,229.

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As bike parks grow in popularity, providing a safe place for kids to push their skills, pint-sized gravity bikes are improving to keep up with them. The Supreme 20 is no toy, and it’s reflected by its $1,799 price tag.


 

 

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Mongoose

Another consumer-direct brand, Mongoose is moving up-market, with nicer and nicer bikes. The Argus expert bumps up to 4.5 tires on 100 mm rims and adds a RockShox Bluto suspension fork. It’s price competitively at $1,799.

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The Ruddy Expert is a new 27plus bike with the new Manitou Magnum fork and 27.5 x 2.8 WTB Trailblazer tires. It’s right in the heard of the “plus” market at $1,999.

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The Selous is an all-purpose adventure/gravel/cyclocross bike with Shimano’s awesome hydraulic brakes. The carbon fork has the new 12 mm thru-axle that we’re likely to see adopted for road and cyclocross, so it’s ahead of the curve on compatibility. It retails for $1,899.


 

 

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Tifosi

One of the few eyewear companies that is independently owned, Tifosi has introduced a creative Interchance system that allows the same arms to attached to different lenses and frames for a switchable look. For example, you can use the frameless shield lens for riding then switch the arms over to the full frame lenses for casual use. It’s available in all sorts of frame, arm and lens combinations too with prices from $99 to $149.


 

 

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Sidi

Known for its high performance race shoes, the newest Italian kicks sport a much more relaxed attitude. The MTB Epic has the same fit and feel as Sidi’s other shoes but pairs it with a lace-up upper and a softer, rubber outsole.

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This looks like a great option for touring, bikepacking, or any ride where you might have to scramble off the bike.


 

 

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WTB

We just got our hand on our first set of WTB’s 2.8 Trailblazer tires, which were on many of the “plus” bikes at the show, and in the WTB booth we spied this prototype of a second model, the Bridger. While the Trailblazer was designed for the 29er/27plus conversion, this looks like an all-out mid-fat specific tire with much more volume. Watch for more when it becomes available.

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Move on to Part 4 of our coverage from Sea Otter 2015.

 

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2015 Sea Otter Tech Roundup – Part 2


Raleigh

Raleigh had a two new prototypes at the show, both still in unfinished matte carbon.

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The Roker is a carbon fiber version of Raleigh’s well received Tamland and Willard gravel bikes. Expect the same geometry as the previous bikes, room for 40 mm tires, thru axles and three bottle mounts for those long dirt road excursions. Bikes my be ready as early as September, prices TBD.

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The Skarn is a currently an aluminum-only model, but this carbon version should drop some weight from both the bike and your wallet. Geometry is the same as the aluminum version, with a carbon main frame and seat stays. Look to see this at dealers starting in August. Tattoos not included.


 

 

SQlab

Known for its series of ergonomic saddles in many widths and sizes, SQlab also had some handlebars tucked away behind the dozens of saddles on display. Much like we all fit saddles differently, we also have the need for different bends and widths for handlebars to stay comfortable and in control.

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The top two bars here are technically “city” bars, and are probably on the narrow side for mountain bikes. The bottom bar is a the 311 aluminum bar, 740 mm wide, 50 mm rise, 16 degrees back sweep, and 5 degrees upsweep. It also has 10 mm of what SQ Labs calls “stretch”. This is forward “sweep” to get the grip area in about the same place as a bar with less sweep. They’re $105 and you can buy it now on SQ Labs U.S. importer, RadSport.


 

 

Tepui Tents

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I’ve always loved safari style tents that mount to the roof of your car (or more properly, a vintage Land Cruiser). I didn’t get a chance to bug the folks at Tepui for more than a few seconds, but I crawled up the ladder to check out the inside.

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Models start at $820, including a built-in 2.5-inch memory foam mattress, and they go up to around $2,000. This looks like an interesting option to something like a pop-up camper, or traditional cabin tent.


 

 

Koski Cruiser

Don Koski is perhaps not as well known as some of the early mountain bike pioneers, but that doesn’t make his contributions any less important.

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Don came by our booth with this beauty, his personal ride and a prototype of a bike he hopes to bring to production.

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Based on modern parts, including 27.5 wheels, disc brakes, a tapered head tube and a PF30 bottom bracket, so the retro looks are backed up with modern performance. The more I looked at it, the more I liked it, with small details at every juncture.

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In true retro style, the business card Don handed my doesn’t have a website on it, so stay tuned here for more info, as we hope to get a hold of one for review soon.


 

 

Correction

Yes, the Tepui tent is on a Land Cruiser, not a Land Rover. Though we think it would look equally dashing atop a Land Rover, especially one this this:

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Move on to Part 3 of our coverage from Sea Otter 2015.

 

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2015 Sea Otter tech roundup – Part 1


Polygon

A new entry to the U.S. market, Polygon expands its line up with a few more bikes.

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The Syncline 9 is a 27.5 hardtail race bike. The full carbon frame, XTR wheels and Di2 drivetrain and Fox Factory 32 fork make this a top-level racer right out of the box. $4,200 direct to consumer price.

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The Collosus N9 XTR is a new high end build Polygon’s carbon enduro frame. A Fox Factory 36, E13 wheels and a Reverb dropper should make this a killer ride at $6,000.

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Finally a new cyclocross race bike rounds out this high end trio of race bikes. The Bend CX has an Ultegra Di2 drivetrain, carbon cockpit and a even tubular wheels and tires. $3,500.


 

American Classic

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American Classic is well known for quickly adapting to changing standards. New Centerlock hubs will be available for Boost and standard axles, as well as the new road thru-axles coming down the pike.

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This new hubs is for the proprietary RockShox RS1 Maxle Ultimate standard with oversize axle and axle ends.

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And finally a selection of the new fat bike hubs for yet that other set of new standards.


 

 

Spot Brand

We happened to run into Andrew Lumpkin, Spot Brands CEO. He was wandering about with this prototype. Dubbed the Living Link, it looks much like a mini-link design with the lower rear pivot replaced by a titanium flex plate.

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We got to watch a pretty cool video the showed the flex plate swing through the travel, relaxed at the start of the stroke, bending a tiny bit, and returning to relaxed at the end of the stroke.

Obviously the claim is this new system will pedal well, while soaking up the bumps, and with a smart guy like Wayne Lumpkin (who founded Avid before selling it to SRAM) behind the design we are pretty intrigued.

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Expect this to be a ready for sale around this time in 2016, with at least two travel lengths to choose from. Between this and Speedgoat’s new design, it’s good to see suspension design be pushed further.


 

 

EVOC

Evoc wasn’t really showing off anything new, but the big news is ready availability of all packs and bike cases, something that was an issue in the U.S. until recently.

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This is the Trail Builder pack, which is for trail building (duh). Tool lash points, chainsaw sleeve, nail pouch, etc, this pack looked sturdy and ready to years of action.

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The new Pro bike travel case may be the most well-thought out travel case on the market. With separate pockets for each wheel, fork and bottom bracket mounts and pad and strap system to protect and secure the frame and handlebars, the Evoc bag will keep the world travel’s bike safe and secure. All this for a $590, an investment that could pay for itself the first time your bike falls off a conveyor belt on the way to your next vacation.

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This is a line up of the many shapes, sizes, and colors of Evoc hydration packs. There should be something for just about anyone, from Enduro racers in need of a built in CE back protector, to groms looking for my first hydration pack.


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Move on to Part 2 of our coverage from Sea Otter 2015.

 

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Turner unveils new 27Plus Sultan, revised Burner and a cyclocross bike


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Sultan 27plus

There’s no doubt this is the year of the 27plus bonanza, and Turner is one of the first brands out of the gate with a revised Sultan built around the new wheel size. With an overall diameter roughly equal to that of a 29er, modifying the design was simply a matter of making things a bit wider, naturally aided by the new wider 148 mm hubs and 110 mm forks. Don’t think of it as a fat bike, Turner says it is built to be a full-bore enduro machine with traction to spare.

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Burner 3.1

The Burner is the keystone of the Turner lineup, and we were enamored when we tested it a few years back. For 2015 it get subtle tweaks like a new tubeset, stealth dropper post routing and a shorter seat tube to make room for longer dropper posts. The aluminum frames are still 100 percent made in America.

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Cyclosys

It’s well known that David Turner has been a huge cyclocross fan for years, so it’s only natural that he bring his latest passion to his mountain bike brand in the form of the new Cyclosys. The versatile cyclocross/gravel bike is equally at home inside the tape or out on the open road, with plenty of clearance for 43c tires.

 

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Inside Line: Pacenti PDent Shorty Stems


With all the tire size and hub width standards getting pushed around lately, it might have been easy to overlook something as simple as a dent in a handlebar. But with the industry ready and willing to throw convention out the window these days, why not rethink bike sizing as well?

The PDent is Kirk Pacenti’s patent pending idea to allow for stems shorter than what is possible with current 31.8 and 35 mm handlebars. Since the bars will run into the steerer tube once the stem is any shorter than 32 mm or so, companies that wanted to experiment with even shorter stems had to resort to placing the bar clamp above the steerer tube. That is a simple solution to the shorter stem problem, but it pushes the clamp height up a good bit, which is an issue for modern bikes where riders want lower bars along with longer travel and bigger wheels.

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So the PDent was created, an engineered recess or dimple in the center of the bar that allows the bar to wrap around the steerer. Depending on the size of the dent, stems get get as small as 15mm. For now Pacenti is focusing on stems between 15 mm-30 mm. Lab tests proved the dimple doesn’t weaken the bar in any important way, and in fact the bars will break in other places long before the dimple is under enough stress to cause issues.

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This idea isn’t so much about the shorter stem, it is more about rethinking geometry. Top-tubes have gotten progressively longer, and with shorter stems, can get longer still.  The long front center that results from long top tubes results in more stability, particularly when combined with modern slack head angles. Pacenti is a proponent of going even further, with trail bikes getting even slacker and longer. In reality, what we are looking at are almost downhill bike numbers, but made rideable up and down with a steep seat angle.

Pacenti isn’t after cornering the short stem market with Pacenti branded stuff, although he will be selling them soon.  Instead he would like to licence this technology to stem and bar manufacturers, and in turn, bike companies, as these short stems are going to need bikes with even longer top tubes than are currently on the market. Although since modern standover heights are so low, most riders could ride a size larger to get the reach needed to make a shorter stem work.

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Are tiny stems the next big thing? It’s hard to tell at this point. Mondraker has been pushing the tiny stem thing for awhile, and even the Athertons experimented with similar ideas (before going back to more “normal” stem lengths). It should be interesting to see where this goes. Kona proved with its Process line that shorter stems are not a hinderance to all-around riding when paired with a long enough top tube, although those bikes use slightly steeper head angles and super short chainstays, two things Pacenti advocates pushing in the opposite direction.

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We are on the short list for media samples, so expect more info about how this all works later this spring.

 

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Inside Line: First look at Advocate Cycles 27plus hardtail


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Here at Dirt Rag we’re huge fans of classic steel hardtails, and today we got an introduction to a new brand with a unique business model that is giving back to the associations that support cycling. Advocate Cycles is a new venture from industry veteran Tim Krueger and its first product is the Hayduke, a 27plus steel hardtail with a trail bike attitude and impressive versatility.

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While the company will of course need to make money to operate, it vows to turn 100 percent of its profits back into cycling advocacy organizations like IMBA and the League of American Bicyclists. While it is still federally recognized as a for-profit company, it is regarded in its home state of Minnesota as a new status known as a Specific Benefit Corporation. These types of organizations are required to uphold “a material positive impact on society and the environment, taken as a whole, from the business and operations of the benefit corporation.”

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Built from Reynolds 725 steel tubing, it has a 44 mm head tube and BB92 botton bracket shell, and the rear end has rocker dropouts of Krueger’s own design that can be fitted with a 142×12 thru axle or the new 148×12 Boost Axle. (Read more about what makes Boost parts different here.) What’s nice is that the same 174 mm SRAM Maxle is used with all of the dropouts. Naturally it can be used a singlespeed as well.

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The Boost hub was created mostly to work with the many 27.5×3 tires that will soon be available, but the frame will also fit a standard 29-inch wheelset.

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One nice touch is that you can build up a Hayduke frame with all the standard parts currently used on 29ers, and if you want to switch to 27plus down the road you can swap out the dropouts for the Boost version and hit the trail. It will even work with a double crankset and the 3-inch tires if you use the Boost crankset.

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Other key details include a 68.5 degree head tube angle, 73 degree seat tube angle and 60 mm bottom bracket drop. It is designed around a 120 mm fork with a 51 mm offset and will be available in four sizes. The 31.6 mm seat tube has internal dropper post routing and a Thomson seat post clamp is included.

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The frame will retail for $750 and should be available later this summer. Krueger said the company has three more bike models it plans to roll out in the next few months as well. It will be interesting to see not only if the bikes will perform well, but if the company’s bold business plan will too.

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First look at the new Rocky Mountain Sherpa


We first got a look at the Sherpa concept last spring at the Sea Otter Classic, and now one year later Rocky Mountain is ready to introduce the bike to the world.

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Built around the 27plus tires—in this case WTB’s 2.8 Trailblazers—the Sherpa is loosely based on the Element 29er and contains much of the technology found on other Rocky Mountain bikes, including the SmoothLink suspension design. The inspiration for the bike actually came from WTB’s tires, Rocky Mountain said, and they found it fit perfectly with the kind of backcountry exploration that is becoming more popular.

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With 95 mm of travel in the rear through a new Manitou shock, the carbon front triangle is paired with aluminum rear swingarm with a standard 142×12 rear hub, not the new Boost hub. To fit the chain around the tire Rocky Mountain partnered with RaceFace to make a Turbine crankset with an 83 mm spindle to widen the Q factor a bit. Up front the suspension duty is handled by a Mantiou Magnum 120 mm fork (also new) which is Boost sized with a 110mm hub.

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Rocky Mountain readily admits that the concept isn’t for everyone, and won’t be replacing any other products in its lineup, but is an option for mountain bikers who love exploring as much as shredding.

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The Sherpa will be available in four sizes for $4,500.

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From Rocky Mountain: Early in Spring 2015 we headed down to Arizona for a few days of desert overland bikepacking. The roll-call included Olympian Andreas Hestler, freeriders Wade Simmons and Geoff Gulevich, renowned filmmaker Brian Vernor, and Rocky Mountain product guy Alex Cogger. The first goal was to escape the Pacific Northwest winter, and the second goal was to test our new Sherpa bike.

The Black Canyon Trail runs roughly 80 miles North to South. Beginning on a high plateau, it winds through rolling grasslands before descending into a landscape of Saguaros, Chollas, and other Sonoran Desert flora. We were treated to chilly nights and frosty desert mornings, but once that sun rose, wool layers were peeled and we had to contend with the steady, relentless heat of the day. The landscape we encountered was fully alien to us, full of incredibly beautiful things just waiting to stab you the moment you stray from the trail. Between the bullet-holes in everything and the buck-naked rider we ran into on day three, it was clear this trip was about getting weird in the desert.

 

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First Impressions: Trek Stache 29plus


Introduced a few years ago, the first Trek Stache was a conservative, if not somewhat boring entry into the 29er trail bike market. Well no longer. We were shocked when this 29plus trail slayer showed up on our doorstep a few weeks before it was officially announced today at Sea Otter.

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Looking more like a custom project rather than a production bike, the new Stache has a lot going on. The drive side chainstay is elevated, leaving room for that big tire and short chainstays (a tick over 16.75 inches at the longest setting). A 110mm Manitou Magnum fork (itself brand new) is raked out at 68.4 degrees and a long top tube and 760 mm bars should keep things under control. Even with those big tires, the wheelbase is a manageable 44.6 inches on our size 19.5 tester. Both front and rear are the new Boost hub spacing (110/148) and due to the short rear end and bent and shaped seat tube, front derailleurs are out of luck on this bike.

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Riders can also swap to either standard 29er or 27plus wheels while keeping geometry close to stock numbers by using a longer travel fork (140mm) and by adjusting the Stranglehold sliding dropouts. They also make the Stache an ideal singlespeed candidate and the elevated chainstay means a belt drive can be installed without a split in the frame. If you’re looking to build up tone of your own you will also have the option of a frame-only purchase.

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This new bike will replace the standard 29er version of the Stache, and most models will be at dealers as you read this. All models share the same aluminum frame in five frame sizes from 15.5 to 21.5. The Stache 9 (shown above) and Stache 7 will be 1×11 bikes with SRAM X1 or GX drivetrains and Manitou Magnum forks, while the Stache 5 will have Shimano Deore 1×10 with a Bontrager Bowie rigid carbon fork.

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Stache 9: $3,880

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Stache 7: $2,520

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Stache 5: $1,760

With just a few shorts rides in we can’t declare this bike a winner, but initial impressions leave us highly impressed. This bike is obviously not something that was the result of focus groups and marketing studies, and Trek gets a tip of the hat for taking some chances with a bike like this. It will be turning some heads.

 

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Exclusive: Dirt Rag test rides new prototype from Chris Currie and Speedgoat Cycles


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If the name Chris Curries sounds familiar, it’s for good reason. The bike industry veteran owned Speedgoat Cycles, a Pennsylvania bike shop that grew into a major player. When he sold the company he moved to Portland to shepherd his Asylum brand. Now he is the creative director at Stan’s NoTubes. While he’s been a busy guy on the surface, he has also been working on a side project for almost a decade. Without any formal engineering background he set out to design a bike with 5 to 6 inches of travel that pedaled better than anything on the market. After a few false starts and some bumps along the way, he now has his first rideable prototypes. He offered Dirt Rag an exclusive first ride.

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The linkage shown here as 160 mm of travel moving through two counter-rotating linkages that rotate in sympathy (unlike the Santa Cruz VPP system) and they are designed to keep the instant center behind the bottom bracket shell, so that the rear end essentially rotates around its own center. “Picture the front triangle perfectly still, and points of the swingarm’s movement tracing a kind of perfect ‘bow-tie’ shape,” Currie explained. The upper cam link is really only necessary for fine tuning of leverage ratios, as they change as its shape changes. Currie says other versions of the design wouldn’t need it.

The axle path moves rearward for about 90 mm of the suspension’s travel, which Currie says is right on the sweet spot. Currie says the leverage rate follows a sine curve, almost like a VPP suspension, going from 2.55 to 2.46 to 2.6—a minor rising rate then a minor falling rate. Currie says he has it finishing with a falling rate to counteract the naturally occurring rising rate inherent in air shocks.

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“Marketing departments know to talk about ‘low initial leverage ratios for small bump compliance’ and ‘firm end stroke’ or whatever to prevent bottoming,” Currie says. “When what they mean is, ‘The bike bricks at only 80 mm, so we had to make it really soft at first, just to be able to get full travel.'”

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The design “sags into its travel really easily—you can stand next to it and push down to compress the suspension—but is actually using a mellow rising rate up to that first 90 mm of travel,” he explained “Once you’ve blown through 90-100 mm of travel, you’ve hit something that needs undivided attention, so the system switches to a mild falling rate. The overall result is really linear and creates that ability to pedal well while staying really supple, but the concept is kind of multi-stage.”

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Currie says another advantage of the design is its flexibility. He says it can be easily adapted to suit everything from a short-travel cross-country 29er to a downhill bike. The bike you see here is obviously just a prototype and far from being a finished product. Things like cable routing, bottom bracket height and fit are far from being ready for production. Currie says the next batch of prototypes will have a 66 degree head tube angle with a 160 mm fork, a 74 degree seat tube angle and 16.9-inch chainstays. The head tube will remain at 1.5 inches so owners can fine tune their geometry with an adjustable headset like the Cane Creek AngleSet. For now they also have 73mm threaded bottom brackets and 142×12 rear axles.

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A single ride isn’t enough to fully evaluate a bike’s performance, but it does help to get a sense of its personality. I took the prototype to one of my favorite local trails and despite not fitting on the size large very well, I immediately felt at home. The linkage design pedals extremely well, with almost zero bob even without the aid of a climbing switch on the RockShox Vivid Air shock. Initially set to about 25 percent sag I realized I wasn’t pushing it hard enough, so I was able to drop to 30 percent and still get the pedaling performance I was looking for while making the most out of the travel. While many pedal-friendly suspension designs lack small-bump sensitivity, this linkage has an almost uncanny ability to glide over small, square-edge bumps. I’m certainly not prepared to make a final judgement, but my initial impressions were positive.

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So what are Currie’s plans for the bike? Ultimately he is looking for a brand or group of investors to license the design, not unlike what Dave Weagle has done with his suspension layouts. Currie admits that launching his own bike brand around it would be a larger undertaking than he is interested in, but he plans to have bikes available as a demonstration of its merit. The Speedgoat name will stick around as his brand name, but not the name of the design itself.

Update: Here’s the second prototype that is being shown at Sea Otter:

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Stay tuned for more as we keep track of what’s next for Currie’s design.

 

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Inside Line: Shimano brings 11-speed to Deore XT group


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Shimano’s flagship XTR mountain bike line made the jump to 11 speeds last year, and while we have certainly been impressed with its performance, it will always remain a bit of a halo product, out of reach of most mountain bikers. The new Deore XT group features many of the technologies first debuted in XTR M9000, but with a broader target audience. And while it does have a 1×11 setup that many riders are looking for these days, it also continues with double and triple chainrings for super wide gear ratios.

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It all starts with the cassette. The XTR 9000 cassette has an 11-40 gear cluster, as does the new XT M8000 version, but there is a new 11-42 option that is specific to the single chainring setup. Unlike the SRAM XD driver, the Shimano cassettes fit on a standard freehub body.

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The cranksets are available in both Press Fit and threaded options with aluminum arms. The single chainring has a specific, stainless steel tooth profile that Shimano calls Dynamic Chain Engagement, and is said to increase chain retention force 150 percent. It is offered in 30t, 32t and 34t.

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The double crankset has three chainring pairings to optimize shift quality: 34/24, 36/26 and 38/28.

Interestingly enough, the single and 36/26 double cranksets will be available with the +3 mm wider chain line to function with the new 148 mm Boost hubs, a technology that SRAM unveiled a few weeks ago.

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The triple crankset will allow for a massive range in gearing with its 40/30/22 chainrings.

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The rear derailleurs make use of Shimano’s excellent Shadow RD+ system with adjustable chain tension for fine tuning maximum stability vs. lower shift effort. Naturally it will also be available with Shimano’s direct mount option.

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The front derailleur adopts the design of the Side Swing design first seen in XTR. Featuring a different cable routing than a traditional derailleur, it allows for increased tire clearance. It will also be available in a number of more traditional mounting styles too.

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The new shifters promise increased performance with a new slick cable and better ergonomics.

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The XT brakes, one of the most popular options on the market, get even more refined with a sleeker design that takes up less handlebar real estate while still offering tool-free reach adjustment and an adjustable free stroke.

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The new XT M8000 wheels get wider, though they are still not as wide as much of the competition. There are Trail and Race versions, with a 24 mm and 20 mm internal width, respectively. They both use aluminum, tubeless-ready rims and are laced with 28 spokes front and rear. Not clear is if the hubs will be available in the 148 mm Boost version as well.

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The refinements continue with the pedals, also categorized into Trail and Race versions. The platform on each gets larger than its predecessor and the platform height is lowered by half a millimeter. Shimano says the Trail pedals have 11.7 percent more contact area with the shoe and the Race pedals 7.7 percent.

Stay tuned for our first ride report.

 

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