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Connor Fearon on pace in Cairns


Hello and welcome to the 2015 MTB Buyers’ Guide, the inaugural edition of this fantastic new magazine! We’ve put together a bumper magazine packed full of the best gear money can buy on the market, at all levels and across all disciplines of mountain biking. Faster wheels from SRAM and ENVE, better drivetrains and advancements in braking from SRAM, lighter more comfortable helmets from Bell and Fox with MIPS technology, the finest threads, the best power-meters…the list goes on… It’s not all facts, figures and glossy pictures though with some in-depth product reviews on some trick items from suspension to braking, clothing and shoes to saddles, bikes to carbon wheelsets. We’ve also got some great stories well away from the showroom floor, from the SRAM trail house to a ride into the wilderness with friends to riding in the Arctic Circle, because, after all, that’s the end-game…we just want you to get there on the best gear!

The 2015 MTB Buyers Guide is proudly published by FreeWheel Media on behalf of Monza Imports. 6

2015 MTB Buyers Guide

All prices correct at the time of publishing, but are subject to change.

ROAM FARTHER. Fast climbs and fast descents—from sun up till sundown. Truly made for the modern mountain biker, ROAM wheels use a special balance of low-inertia design, weight and strength to excel on a wide variety of terrain. They’re durable enough for hours in the saddle, yet light enough for race day.

PERFECT BALANCE You don’t win by being the lightest. Or the stiffest. Or the toughest. You win by being the fastest. And that takes a wheel designed specifically for the modern mountain biker. At SRAM, we start with the demands of the terrain and work forward from there—carefully balancing each wheel’s design around five key attributes: weight, inertia, engagement, stiffness and durability. No matter where you ride, SRAM wheels will take you further. SRAM ROAM 60 | 50 | 40 | 30 WHEELS ARE AVAILABLE IN 26", 27.5" AND 29" OPTIONS

Photos: Sven Martin, Adrian Marcoux © 2014 SRAM LLC


Jerome Clementz aboard the new Trigger. Photo Ale Di Lullo 8

2015 MTB Buyers Guide

FIRST RIDE CANNONDALE TRIGGER 27.5 Sometimes in the bike industry, innovation exists to separate one’s product from another purely for a point of difference. Then, there is genuine innovation. Innovation that not only provides a point of difference stylistically, but also provides a point of difference in terms of performance. With a long history




testing, marketing, and selling products



ideas, US brand Cannondale is easily the first name that springs to mind when I think of mountain bike companies pushing unique technology. Sure you might not like some of the ideas they’ve come up with over the years, but you can’t deny the company’s hunger for marginal gains.

The 2015 Trigger range from Cannondale is a true testament to that spirit of innovation, with its new Lefty SuperMax fork, dual-chamber Fox DYAD shock and System Integration components. While the Trigger is certainly full of unique technologies though, the 2015 the line-up sees more of a gentle massaging and refinement of those technologies rather than Cannondale presenting a completely new platform. During the Summer Press Camp week in Deer Valley, Utah, I had the opportunity to get up close to Cannondale’s newest trail bike to find out what all the fuss was about with the company’s latest technicaltrail-tamer. Anyone who’s familiar with the Cannondale brand will know that the Trigger name isn’t new. The model was first introduced in late 2012, as a nimbler and shorter-travel version of the popular Jekyll ‘Over Mountain’ bike. Whereas the Jekyll is built for hardcore All Mountain crushing and Gravity Enduro racing, the Trigger is both lighter on weight and travel, making it a trail bike that can perform dual-duties as a marathon racer. Up until now, the Trigger has been offered in both 26" and 29" versions. For 2015,

Cannondale will still offer two wheel size options, but they’ve bitten the 650B-bullet and introduced a 27.5" Trigger that will replace the outgoing 26" model. While some brands are ditching the 29" wheel completely in all but XC hardtails, Cannondale will continue to offer the 130mm travel Trigger 29er in both alloy and carbon-framed versions for the foreseeable future (which will see many of the same improvements listed below). This is a similar move to brands such as Trek, who are continuing into the new model year with both 27.5" and 29" versions of the Fuel EX and Remedy platforms. Although each wheel size has its own pros and cons, I suspect that consumer demand over the next 12 months will dictate which pros are more important. On the topic of the wheel size debate, I asked Cannondale’s VP of Global Marketing, Murray Washburn, whether Cannondale would be expanding with 27.5" wheels into their XC line-up. Murray explained that Cannondale had already approached their World Cup XC riders to see whether they wanted a 27.5" race bike. Though the pros responded that they weren’t ready to give up the speed of a 2015 MTB Buyers Guide




29er in favour of a bike that might fit them better proportionally. As for Cannondale’s Enduro World Series champion Jerome Clementz? Well, Jerome has been involved in many test scenarios on different rigs with different wheel sizes, and while he’s found extra speed on a 29er, for him the extra manoeuvrability of a smaller wheel is more important on tight and technical Enduro race courses. That’s somewhat unsurprising given Jerome’s short stature, but it appears that Cannondale will be following suit, with the new Jekyll featuring 27.5" wheels. While there are many talking points for the new Trigger, I’ll start with the main one – the Fox DYAD rear shock. Manufactured by Fox Racing Shox in California, the DYAD is purpose built for Cannondale and is a key component to the Trigger’s dual personalities. Cannondale also employ the DYAD pull shock on the bigger travel Jekyll, though its purpose is much the same in that it provides two different travel modes: ELEVATE (85mm travel) and FLOW 10

2015 MTB Buyers Guide

(140mm travel). Aside from changing travel, each mode also possesses its own unique spring rate and damping control, which means that the Trigger essentially encompasses two shocks in one. A neat handlebar switch allows you to select the appropriate mode on-the-fly. For the 2015 Trigger 27.5 and 29 bikes, the DYAD shock gets a new tune compared to the 2014 bikes. A redesigned piston for the FLOW circuit is engineered to complement changes that Cannondale have made to the new SuperMax PBR fork. The new piston enables better oil flow for improved mid-to-high speed compression damping performance. The end result is more control and suppleness when taking bigger hits. Cannondale’s engineers have worked with Fox Racing Shox to optimise the sag point at 30% (instead of 40% on the 2014 Trigger), which results in more usable travel and increased ride height to avoid you clipping the pedals. Compared to the existing 29er model, the Trigger 27.5 runs a full degree slacker

in the head tube at 68-degrees, though it features a nearly identical ‘trail’ figure due to the shorter 50mm fork offset (compared to 60mm on the Trigger 29). This is designed to keep the steering feel similar between the two bikes. Interestingly, both bikes actually share the same wheelbase length, but the Trigger 27.5 puts more of that length into the bike’s front centre, with shorter 43.8cm chainstays out back designed to keep handling sharp in the tight stuff. Other numbers worth noting on the geometry table include the steep 73.5-degree seat tube angle that is designed to push the rider’s weight forward on the climbs, as the increasing use of dropper posts mean that the saddle can quickly be lowered out of harm’s way on the descents. Construction for the Trigger 27.5 follows the overall aesthetic of the existing Trigger 29 model, which favours a lighter and more compact rear-suspension arrangement than the huge rocker link design found on the outgoing Trigger 26. The Trigger 27.5

will be available in four different models in Australia; Three carbon bikes, and one alloy model, with prices ranging from $4,799 up to $11,999 for the wicked ‘Black Inc’ spec that includes ENVE carbon rims as stock items. A key part of the Trigger’s back-end rigidity comes from the new 15mm thruaxle system employed for the main pivot. Of course Cannondale use a clever acronym for this feature, which is handy because “Enhanced Centre StiffnessTorsion Control” isn’t particularly catchy, so they called it ECS-TC for short. Each side of the rear swingarm clamps down onto the axle to allow it to become a structural part of the swingarm. The ECT-TS also uses a neat expanding collet system to preload the bearings and eliminate any side-toside play. Whereas the alloy frame features a seat stay pivot just above the rear dropout, the carbon frame makes use of a fully rigid swingarm. The removal of the rear pivot

not only helps the Trigger 27.5 Carbon get down to a near-2kg frame weight (with the DYAD shock), it also helps to boost the bike’s rigidity. Combined with the ECTTS main pivot axle and the shorter chain stay length, the Trigger feels snappier and more direct than the 29 version. To allow the bike to cycle through its full 140mm of travel, Cannondale have built in a few degrees of flex through the middle portion of the seat stays. While I’d love to have a crack at explaining the behaviour of the DYAD rear shock in its two different travel modes, Cannondale have already done so very eloquently for us: “In ELEVATE mode, the shock behaves like a short travel, XC-like air shock. The FLOW chamber is completely closed off and only the ELEVATE side of the shock is active. All oil is routed solely through ELEVATE damping circuits. Damping and shock response is optimised for climbing and rolling terrain. Because the high-

speed, long travel damping is handled by separate circuit, pedalling performance is not compromised. In the ELEVATE mode, the Air spring volume is reduced and the spring rate gets very steep and progressive. This reduces travel for a snappy, efficient pedalling feel. ELEVATE controls unwanted suspension movement via spring rate, rather than with extra compression damping like traditional shocks. This allows free and fluid movement through the first part of the stroke, for smoother, faster rolling and improved traction.” “In FLOW mode, the shock behaves like a coil-spring DH shock. The ELEVATE and FLOW air chambers are connected creating a large volume air spring and all oil is routed solely through FLOW damping circuits. Air spring volume is dramatically increased, so the spring rate gets very linear and coilspring-like. This increases travel for a fluid, supple feel and bigger hit capability. The linear-to-progressive spring rate gives a predictable, controlled feel, and prevents 2015 MTB Buyers Guide




2015 MTB Buyers Guide

bottoming. All oil is routed solely through FLOW damping circuits. And since damping duties for other types of terrain are handled by the ELEVATE circuits, the FLOW circuits are optimised specifically around the needs of high speed, aggressive descending.” Those two travel modes are controlled by a super neat handlebar remote that consists of a large black paddle that engages the shorter travel Elevate mode. At the end of the paddle is a silver button that releases the cable to drop you back into full travel Flow mode. It’s a simple design, but it works well – especially when you’ve started a technical section in the shorter travel mode and you need quick access to full travel, a quick bump of the button gets you there. On the Trigger 27.5 Carbon Team model, the Magura MT6 brakes make use of a clever integrated shifter bracket to mount the SRAM X0-1 trigger shifter. Despite there being three different controls on offer for your right hand, Cannondale have done well to keep the cockpit relatively clean. Easily the most striking aspect of the Trigger 27.5 Carbon Team is the new Lefty SuperMax fork. Redesigned from the ground-up, the new 140mm travel fork employs a brand new chassis as well as new internals. The massive one-piece upper tube is crafted from carbon fibre, while the drop out and axle are forged from a single piece of alloy. All of this adds up to a fork that tips the scales at just 1.85kg, in a package that Cannondale claims to be as stiff as other brands’ downhill forks. The square lower tube and the classic rubber boot of the old Lefty fork is gone, and in its place is a round lower stanchion that allows the use of a simpler seal and wiper system. Because the Lefty is essentially a single-sided inverted fork, the main seal is constantly being bathed in lubricating oil, and Cannondale claim that the Lefty requires significantly less servicing than the competition. An integrated shield helps to protect the stanchion from rock strikes. Inside the fork, you’ll find the new Trail Enduro Damper, which has been redesigned for 2015 with a new Wide Mouth Piston, which increases oil flow, resulting in improved small bump sensitivity and high speed plushness. Combined with Cannondale’s patented hybrid needle-bearing technology, the suspension on the front of the Trigger is designed to move freely, regardless of load with a minimum of stiction. As mentioned before, the Trigger 27.5 and Trigger 29 run different length fork

offsets. This is achieved by using different length clamps for the upper tube, which push the single fork leg out to either 50mm from the head tube (27.5) or 60mm (29). Because Cannondale manufacture their own forks, they’ve been able to easily design and test different geometries for the Trigger to find the right balance in ride quality. It’s worth noting that on the new FSi hardtail range, Cannondale’s R&D team actually found a 55mm offset worked best for handling, and so the call was made to build the necessary tooling for another specific fork offset (which apparently the product managers loved…). You might notice that those fork offset numbers are a little longer than usual, with Fox and RockShox generally running about 10mm shorter in their comparable forks. The longer offset on the Lefty SuperMax fork, combined with the 68-degree head angle on the Trigger 27.5, is designed to provide heaps of stability on high-speed descending. The increased offset reduces the trail figure however, which sharpens up the steering at slower speeds for a more nimble ride quality on techy ascents. The medium test bike that I rode ran a stubby 50mm stem that felt super comfortable with the 60cm top tube length. This is a Cannondale item, as the steerer tube on the Lefty fork runs a full 1.5" diameter from top to bottom, rather than a tapered design like most modern forks. Cannondale have been running the 1.5" standard for quite a few years now, and I bet that in hindsight, many frame manufacturers wish the industry had gone with 1.5 rather than the newer tapered standard. As frames, wheels, forks, handlebars, and stems have gotten stronger and stiffer, the 1 1/8" stem clamp on Cannondale’s competitors’ bikes just looks a little too skinny in comparison. The Cannondale System Integration cranks on the Trigger 27.5 employ a hollow aluminium design along with a BB30 axle to provide masses of stiffness from pedal to chain. Another open standard that Cannondale helped to pioneer, the BB30 design allows for a 30mm crank spindle diameter rather than the usual 24mm design. Because of the larger diameter, the spindle can be built from alloy instead of chromoly, which aside from the increased stiffness, also means reduced weight. Cannondale also provide the machined spider for the XX-1 chainring, which in the case of the Trigger 27.5, is a dainty 30t size.

Get past the wow-factor of the Lefty fork and the DYAD rear shock, and you’ll find many neat details in the Trigger frame. Integrated rubber armouring over the driveside chain stay helps to deaden any chain slap, though the X-Horizon rear XX-1 derailleur pretty much eliminates that in the first place. As a further nod to the shop mechanics around the world that will be servicing the Trigger, Cannondale have specced full-length gear cable outer on the Trigger, with neat bolt-on guides along the underside of the downtube keeping everything neat and tidy. There is routing available for a Stealth dropper post, which each model of the Trigger has as stock. Because of the full-carbon construction, the Trigger 27.5 Carbon runs a PF30 bottom bracket, with the bearing cups pressed directly into the frame. The bike still comes with ISCG tabs though, so you can spec on some kind of chain guide for getting stupid-rowdy.

The Verdict While I did manage to get some saddle time aboard the Trigger 27.5, I’ll be waiting to complete some further longterm testing before I reach any specific conclusions. The Fox DYAD rear shock was setup off the Cannondale chart for my riding weight, which seemed to feel pretty sorted on the sprawling mountainside singletrack around Park City. The Elevate/Flow modes provided a noticeable change in the bike’s behaviour that goes beyond just a simple travel adjustment. The Elevate setting sees the bike riding higher in its travel, which positions you further over the bottom bracket to keep the power down on the climbs. In the Flow setting, the damping for the DYAD shock felt spot on for absorbing square-edge hits and high-speed chatter. I didn’t have much of an opportunity to play around with air pressures though, and I would have liked to experiment a little bit more with front suspension sag and rebound damping. Within a pretty short space of time aboard the Trigger 27.5 though, at 170cm tall I instantly found it more comfortable to ride than the Trigger 29 I rode last year. Although Cannondale have worked hard to emulate the Trigger’s handling in both wheel sizes, there’s something about the Trigger 27.5 that makes you feel more like the pilot rather than the passenger. It was certainly enough to grab my attention, and I’ll be looking to build on those thoughts further once we can get our hands on a Trigger 27.5 in the office.

2015 MTB Buyers Guide


FIRST RIDE GT HELION 27.5 In case you hadn’t noticed, 27.5" wheels have kind of been a big thing lately. And in my opinion, in an annoying kind of way. Nearly every major manufacturer has jumped on the mid-sized-wheelbandwagon over the past three years, turning the mountain bike market on its head at a time when companies were struggling to wrap their heads around fitting 29" wheels into longer travel full suspension frames. The 27.5" wheel size presented a convenient solution to that problem, with a slightly bigger diameter than a 26" wheel, but without the fitting constraints of a bigger 29er wheel. And so once the big players realised that the consumer was ready to accept the marketing message of the 650B/27.5" wheel – you know, the one that goes “it rolls over stuff smoother than a 26" wheel, but it accelerates faster than a 29er wheel” – they all got stuck into repurposing their entire dual suspension line-up with everyone’s favourite new wheel size. Of course I’m selling the benefits a bit short there (‘scuse the pun), because 650B wheels do make things easier to scale a frame down to smaller sizes when compared to a 29er mountain bike frame. And they also offer the opportunity to deliver a snappier ride quality than their bigger cousins. However, taking full advantage of the market hysteria and excitement that has sprouted from the uptake of the 650B wheel size, it seems that many brands out there are turning towards a pretty easy formula to take advantage of that extra 5% diameter. All you gotta do is lengthen the chainstays a tad over the 26" version, drop the bottom bracket a little, steepen the head angle a fraction, and ‘hey presto’ – you’ve got a brand new bike to sell!. The frustration behind all this hysteria (yes, we understand the hypocrisy of that statement since we are regularly guilty of contributing to it), is that all of a sudden the only important thing with a mountain bike is how big its wheels are. It’s almost as if consumers and bike companies 14

2015 MTB Buyers Guide

forgot about things like suspension performance, geometry, frame design – you know, the things that actually make a bike ride well. Yes, wheel size can change how a bike handles and rides, but it isn’t the be all and end all. You can build a great bike with 26" wheels, and you can build a crap bike with 29" wheels. And vice a versa. Thankfully however, in amongst all of the marketing hyperbole and the hundreds of comparison tests about ‘which wheel size does what better’, we’ve noticed what we think is a far more exciting trend in modern mountain bikes. It’s no secret that the 29er wheel has largely killed off 26" cross country bikes, or pretty much any hardtail or full suspension bike with less than 130mm of travel for that matter. Over the past couple of seasons, the dominance of the 29er wheel on the XC circuit has meant that we’ve been left with something of a gap in the market as the short-travel 26ers have vacated the scene. Thanks to the sparkly newness of the 650B wheel though, there are bike companies out there who are starting to revive those shorttravel XC bikes, and in the process, are also bringing a contemporary approach to both geometry and suspension. This trend is perfectly highlighted in new bike models such as the Pivot Mach 4 Carbon and the brandspanking, Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt MSL, which are short-travel XC bikes that bring considerably more to the table than just a 27.5" wheel diameter. And what exactly am I talking about? Allow me to explain with the introduction of GT’s latest XC-Trail bike, the Helion. The Helion is GT Bicycles’ brand-new 110mm travel XC dual suspension mountain bike. The Helion was revealed in Park City, Utah back in June 2014, where a global media contingent was invited to the summer resort of Deer Valley to learn all about the design ethos behind their newest XC machine. Unlike the Pivot Cycles Mach 4, the Helion isn’t necessarily a revival of an old model. With just 10mm more rear travel, you could

Mike Day putting the power down aboard the Helion. 2015 MTB Buyers Guide



Mike Day and Rachel Throop flowing some sweet single track in Monterey, CA

suggest that the Helion is a revival of the old Zaskar 100 full-suspension race bike. But in reality, its performance is so vastly different that there really is no comparison between the two models. Last year (also in Park City), GT Bicycles debuted two new trail bikes, the 130mm travel Sensor and the 150mm travel Force. Both bikes were built around 650B wheels and a new suspension design called ‘AOS’, which was a substantial revamp of the previous I-Drive suspension platform. I had the opportunity to test the new bikes on the many miles of singletrack in and around Park City, and in amongst the madness of chasing down Hans Rey and attempting to keep Dan Atherton in sight, I came away thoroughly impressed. The Sensor in particular, with its low bottom bracket and long front centre, provided a fun and cruisey ride through the twisty, aspen-laden trails, while making short work of the loose and exposed rocks scattered across the mountainside. It’s a ripping trail bike. While speaking with GT’s product designers and engineers during that launch, it became clear that the US company was very much in favour of the 650B wheel size. Being a company 16

2015 MTB Buyers Guide

with its roots firmly imbedded in BMX and mountain biking, that shouldn’t really come as a surprise, and even less so when you factor in the relatively underwhelming performance of their previous 29er dually, the Sensor 9R. In fact, GT were so much in favour of moving away from 29" wheels and towards 650B that for 2014, the only 29ers that remained in their line-up were a couple of Zaskar hardtails. So when I queried Todd Seplavy (GT’s Product Manager) a while back about the gap left by the Zaskar 100's departure, Todd simply smiled and said, “We’re working on it”. Twelve months on, his cryptic answer has been revealed with the release of the allnew Helion. Now, back to what I was originally on about. Yes, the Helion looks kickass and it’s got 27.5" wheels and a new suspension design. But a look at the geometry chart should give you a pretty good idea of why GT are referring to the Helion as the “Rebirth of XC”. Compared to the 100mm travel Zaskar 29er, the new Helion is lower in the bottom bracket, slacker in the head tube angle, significantly longer in the effective top tube length, and shorter in the chainstays. Overall

wheelbase length has grown though, and that’s even with the smaller wheels. GT have also lowered the bike’s centre of gravity by placing the rear shock lower down on the frame, while concentrating much of the linkage weight around the bottom bracket. Traditionally, XC bikes have had to employ a relatively short top tube length in order to run the 100mm+ stem lengths that racers and more roadoriented riders prefer, which combined with a steep head angle, provides super quick steering through the tight stuff. The problem with this setup however, is that the bike ends up with twitchy handling when pointed down anything that’s steeper than horizontal, and the short wheelbase makes the ride feel sketchy once the speedo creeps past 20kph. And so for anyone who isn’t Dan Atherton, we’ve found in the past that we’ve had to upsize to 130-150mm travel trail bikes to get the stable and confident geometry that we need and want out on the trail. What’s cool about the Helion and the other examples I listed earlier though, is that they’re bringing that ‘big-bike’ geometry to the world of XC in a package that’s lighter, pedals better, is snappier around the tight stuff, but

THE HELION IS REALLY PLAYFUL FOR AN XC BIKE doesn’t feel like a giraffe on roller skates when pointed downhill. They’re stable, fun, and confident – important traits for any mountain bike that you want to ride fast. Sure the 650B wheels are part of that equation, but it’s the modernised geometry that is making this new crop of short-travel 27.5" bikes a much more appealing choice for the vast majority of mountain bikers out there than the XC bikes of old. During GT’s product launch at Summer Press Camp, I had the opportunity to check out the 2015 Helion Carbon Team in all of its shiny XTR-carbony-Kashimacoated glory. Dressed up in an Atherton Racing-inspired paint job, the top-level Helion is a glorious looking machine that should have old and new-school GT fanatics in a head spin. As nice as it was staring and drooling over their display bikes, the GT guys eventually had to kick me out of their apartment. Lucky for me, GT had brought with them a full demo fleet of the new Helion Carbon Pro model to Press Camp. And so with several afternoons through the week cleared in my schedule, I decided to take full advantage of the lift-assisted trails in and around Deer Valley to put the Helion to the test. Before we get to that though,

let’s take a closer look at what makes the Helion platform unique, as well as a detailed look into which models will be heading Down Under this season. Like the Sensor and Force bikes, the Helion employs the new Angle Optimised Suspension rear suspension design, otherwise known as ‘AOS’. While it may look like there’s a lot going on, the design is relatively simple and it offers a number of key performance advantages over the previous I-Drive. In essence, AOS is a single pivot suspension design, with a linkage-driven rear shock. It uses a super high main pivot, which is located just above and forward of the front derailleur mount. The name of the design refers to the path that the rear wheel takes when it encounters a bump on the trail, which for lack of a better term, is ‘angle optimised’. Compared to the old I-Drive design, the AOS main pivot is nearly 50mm higher. During compression, the high main pivot sees the rear wheel axle move backwards and up, away from the bump on the trail, allowing the bike and the rider to maintain forward momentum over the rough stuff. Single pivot bikes that employ a main pivot closer to the bottom bracket tend to have a more forward-moving axle path, which can sometimes see the rear wheel

get ‘hung up’ on square edged hits. So why don’t more bikes use high single pivots? The problem with such a design is chain growth. The higher that main pivot, the more the rear wheel extends away from the frame. Because chains are not made of rubber, the extension of the rear centre of the bike sees the chain tug away at the front chainrings, which results in an awful sensation known as ‘pedal kickback’. The more chain growth, the more pedal kickback, and the harder it is for the suspension to work properly when you’re hammering on the pedals along rough terrain. So how does GT combat chain growth on a bike with such a high main pivot? Like the I-Drive system before it, the AOS system puts the bottom bracket on a floating linkage, which rotates away from the frame and towards the rear wheel as the suspension compresses. This minimises the total amount of chain growth to achieve a neutral feel at the pedals. GT call this the PathLink, and it’s manufactured from two forged alloy clamshells that are welded together and then machined into the final form. Where the AOS design differs from the I-Drive of old is that the PathLink also serves to compress the rear shock, while acting 2015 MTB Buyers Guide



as a key structural member in the overall chassis. Based upon my past experience on the AOS-equipped Sensor and Force bikes, the most noticeable performance attributes of the design are made apparent when riding really choppy terrain littered with loose rocks and square-edged steps in the trail. The high main pivot allows the rear wheel to get out of the way incredibly quickly, and it also allows the bike to pedal remarkably well for what is such an active design. A secondary benefit of the rearward axle path is that the growth of the effective chainstay length also sees the overall wheelbase length extend during a heavy compression. Whether that’s from a high-speed impact you encounter on a fast downhill section, or on the landing of a particularly big drop-off, what you notice is a slight increase in the bike’s overall footprint, and therefore its stability in those situations. It can take some getting used to, particularly if those impacts occur during a tight section of the trail or midway through a corner, where you don’t necessarily want the bike ‘growing’ in length. Given the shorter travel of the Helion however, I was interested to see whether this effect would be as apparent on the trail as on the longer travel Sensor and Force models. Aside from the new Helion model, it’s worth noting that you’ll see a bunch of different spec changes across the 18

2015 MTB Buyers Guide

board for GT in 2015. The product team at GT worked hard to get a number of key features onto each and every Helion model regardless of the price point, which include tubeless compatible wheels, air-sprung suspension front and rear, forks with tapered steerer tubes and QR15 dropouts, as well as lock-on grips and 740mm wide riser bars. The end goal was to make the $2,500 Helion Elite ride with a similar level of performance and confidence to the top-tier carbon models. To help achieve that, GT have also specced Shimano hydraulic disc brakes with 180mm centre lock rotors across the entire range, as well as largely Shimano 10-speed drivetrains that should keep bike shop mechanics everywhere around the country happy. The only area that the base-level Helion Elite misses out on is a 142x12mm rear thru-axle. But admittedly, something has to give for the sticker price.

The Bike Although the Helion Carbon Team is the halo model of the range, you’d be a fool to think that the Pro model won’t be the most popular of the carbon Helion bikes for this season. Coming in one step below the XTR Team-spec, the Helion Carbon Pro utilises the same FOC Ultra carbon frameset, but swaps the titanium-laced XTR bits for more utilitarian Deore XT components. A RaceFace Turbine crankset up front does wind up the trick-factor though, with its CNC machined crank

arms coming complete with a 32t narrowwide chainring, which works alongside the rear derailleur’s Shadow Plus friction clutch to keep the chain tight and secure. Just for emergencies, GT include an E*13 XCX upper chainguide to provide extra security for racing scenarios. Also included in the box with the bike is the brilliant E*13 EX 42t booster cog, which allows you to widen the range of the rear cassette from 11-36 to 11-42t. All you have to do is remove the 17t cog from the cassette, which frees up the necessary space to run the bigger 42t sprocket. If you don’t want to do that, you don’t have to, but I reckon it’s fantastic that GT give you the choice in the first place. GT have kept it all Foxy on the Helion Carbon Pro, but instead of the Factory Series Fox suspension found on the Team model, they’ve subbed in a less blingy Performance Series combo. The awesome thing about the Performance Series suspension is that while you do miss out on the gold Kashima coating, it still gets the FIT cartridge damper up front, and a Boost Valve damper out back. Playing to the Euro crowd, GT have specced a remote lever on the handlebar that simultaneously controls both the fork and rear shock’s CTD settings. This offers the rider the ability to turn the Helion into a fully rigid bike at the flick of a lever, but it does clutter the handlebar and the bike pedals so well in the Descend mode that it doesn’t really need to be run outside of

that mode on the rear shock. Not being able to independently adjust the fork to the rear shock is also a bit of a pain. The Path Link includes a neat suspension setup guide that is mounted to the central pivot yoke. It allows you to quickly identify your sag position whilst sitting on the bike, which is useful because the Fox shock is tucked away inside the main frame, where it’s quite difficult to check the o-ring position. You’ll find a standard 73mm threaded bottom bracket on the Helion, which GT say is for ease of service and reduced chance of creaking over a pressfit setup. The Ride Of course none of all that really matters unless the bike actually rides well, and so I spent as much saddle time as possible on a medium sized Helion Carbon Pro to try and find out if GT had nailed what they set out to achieve. With 110mm of travel front and rear, the Helion strikes an interesting middle ground between 100mm travel marathon haulers, and softer 130mm trail bikes like the Sensor. In terms of suspension, the AOS design works extremely well, smoothing out ripples and harder hits like it has more travel than it actually does. A decent amount of progression throughout the travel allows the rear shock to firm up and avoid bottoming out when you start pushing the bike a little past its comfort zone, but it also gives the Helion a poppy feel out on the trail. As mentioned earlier, the bike pedals plenty well enough without the handlebar remote, and you certainly wouldn’t be blaming the pedal efficiency for a poor result at an XC or marathon race. As for handling, with its 740mm wide riser bars and short stem, the Helion is really playful for an XC bike, which is a testament to how hard GT have worked with the overall geometry. Combined with the efficient suspension feel, it doesn’t take much imagination to feel like you’re on an adult BMX bike. The wide bars are a bit of a handful on really tight trails though, and they’re also less comfortable if you’re tackling longer races, where the wide stance can put a little too much strain on your shoulders and upper back. If you’re that way inclined, you could always trim the bars to 720mm and run a 10mm longer stem to open up your riding position. As it stands, the 60.6cm effective top tube length is plenty long though, so trust GT when you pull the bike out of the box and start eyeing off that short stem. As

they haven’t gone super-slack on the head angle, the bike maintains crisp steering up front, which is exacerbated by the short stem. Despite the quick steering, the long front centre on the Helion manages to steal you added stability without having to resort to a super-slack head tube angle. Compared to the 130mm travel Sensor, the Helion pedals better, is more playful, and is far zippier through the corners. As a rider with an XC background, the Helion just feels more natural in its handling, and the lower overall weight makes it easier to throw around. However, the sensation of hovering just millimetres over the top of the trail remains, with the Helion’s low centre of gravity and AOS suspension design giving the bike a super planted feel that made me want to push it way harder than the Continental X-King tyres would allow. Get some toothier and wider rubber on there, along with a dropper post, and I think you’ll surprise yourself with how hard you can push this little XC bike. Like the Sensor, the Helion is mega-stiff through the back end of the frame, and the front and rear wheels track well over the terrain with pinpoint accuracy.

The Verdict You can probably gather that I dug the GT Helion, and you’d be bang-on for coming to that conclusion. For me, the Helion struck a real chord. It’s light and efficient enough to feel comfortable pedalling around on all day long, but it’s playful enough to remain interesting. The combination of the modern cockpit with the bike’s dialled geometry really involves you as a rider, and it’s hard not to get egged on to stand up and hammer when on the Helion. I also dig that GT have been able to provide such a solid package across all the pricepoints, and it comes back to the company being just as focussed on the beginner rider as it is on the pros. As for those 27.5" wheels? Well they roll slightly smoother than an equivalent 26" wheel, but it’s such a minute difference that I pretty much group 26" and 27.5" wheels into the same category. I do go back to my original point about the new crop of 27.5" XC-Trail bikes though, where it’s so much more than a new-fangled wheel size that makes the Helion ride so well. Yep, the reason the Helion rides so well comes down to a whole combination of different things, including its active and neutral suspension design, trail-focussed geometry package, and mega-stiff chassis. Hats off GT. Hats off indeed. 2015 MTB Buyers Guide



2015 MTB Buyers Guide

FIRST RIDE ENVE M-SERIES WHEELS Mid 2014, US-based manufacturer ENVE Composites released its new line of carbon mountain bike wheels called the “M-Series”. Bringing with them a whole host of improvements, a hookless bead design, and lighter weights across the board, ENVE have sought to raise the bar on their already well-loved mountain bike rims. After getting all hot and bothered about the specs of the new wheels while watching Josh Bryceland kill it in their promotional video, it was time for me to see the new rims in the flesh at the PressCamp event in Utah. It was here that I also had the chance to talk with ENVE’s CEO Sarah Lehman and their marketing main-man, Jake Pantone, to find out more about the brand and their product development.

In amongst the interviews and the chance to check out the new swag, ENVE also organised a shuttle ride for us on the Thursday afternoon of PressCamp, where we had the opportunity to put the new hoops through the test wringer on a two hour long descent across the Wasatch Crest Range. If you’re currently weighing up the pros and cons of upgrading your mountain bike to a carbon wheelset, I strongly suggest you stop reading any further, ‘cos by the time you get to the bottom, you’re going to be heading to your local bike store to put down a serious amount of cash! Up until recently, the ENVE mountain bike line has simply split into XC, AM, and DH versions. While those models have been wildly popular all around the world over the past couple of years, many other brands have also been trying their hand at the carbon rim game and have been stepping up the competition against ENVE. Most notably, we’ve seen internal rim widths get bigger, and brands such as Specialized have also moved to a hookless bead profile on their Roval

carbon mountain bike wheels. Noting the trend to go wider, ENVE made the move to completely overhaul their mountain bike line, and have renamed them in the process. The rims are now recognised by a number that designates the split of downhill vs uphill riding that the rim is designed for. That means that the M50 is built for 50% uphill, and 50% downhill, while the M90 is built for 90% downhill riding, and is therefore heavier, wider, and stronger. It’s a pretty simple naming system, but it was a deliberate move by ENVE to minimise the pigeonholing that could sometimes come with the previous XC/AM/DH rims. The new M50 wheel utilises the lightest mountain bike rim that ENVE has ever produced. At just 330 grams in a 29" diameter, the M50 rim drops nearly 50 grams off the previous 29er XC rim, whilst opening up the internal rim width from 19mm, to 21mm. The most impressive feat with the new M-Series wheels is just how much stronger ENVE have been able to build them. As an example, the M60 rim features double the impact strength of 2015 MTB Buyers Guide



the AM rim it replaces, according to ENVE’s own in-house testing. That’s pretty impressive, but when you factor in the bigger profile and the lighter weight, we’re scratching our heads as to how they’ve been able to do it. Like the XC rim it replaces, the M50 is built for easy tubeless setup. However, you may notice one glaring difference between the new rim and its predecessor – the lack of a bead hook. As Specialized have been doing for the past 18 months, ENVE have made the move to a simpler, and lighter hookless rim profile. It kind of flies in the face of the past 100 years or so of rim technology on push bikes, but many industry folks began to realise that our motorsport cousins weren’t using bead hooks on their motorbikes or race cars, so why should we? While the concept of setting up a tubeless mountain bike tyre on a rim that doesn’t feature any built-in hooks to hold the tyre bead down in place may seem unsettling, our own testing with the Roval Control Carbon wheels has proven that the design is sound. The big positive for a carbon rim manufacturer such as ENVE when producing a hookless rim, is that that the whole structure takes a far simpler and easier design to mould. “Our beadless hook design has implications that include better tubeless performance, pinch flat resistance, and impact durability,” said Lead Engineer Brett Satterthwaite. “It’s a design that truly plays to the strengths of full carbon construction.” By that, ENVE means that the rim can be built lighter and the internal rim width can be wider. The new M-Series rims still use ENVE’s proprietary manufacturing technique, which 22

2015 MTB Buyers Guide

sees the external spoke holes moulded directly into the rim during the carbon layup process. There’s no drilling involved on this side of the rim, and the wheel relies on an internal spoke nipple so that the hole can also be smaller. A smaller hole = higher strength. The internal spoke holes are still drilled like a conventional rim though, which is one of the final steps in the rims production process. Strength is less of an issue on the rim’s internal rim bed, and the larger hole (compared to the smaller one on the rims external profile) allows for easier building and truing of the spokes.

ride quality with the new M-Series profile. Although carbon rims are often sought after for their stiffness, more manufacturers are realising that flat-out stiffness is not necessarily a desirable characteristic. This has been compounded by the increased rigidity of long travel forks such as the RockShox Pike and Fox 36, as well as the move to stouter stems, bars, and super-stiff carbon main frames. Once you throw a set of stiff carbon rims into that equation, you can see how it might be a handful to hold onto those wide handlebars when pounding through the rough stuff.

After learning more about the development of the M-Series wheels, I was given a chance to get familiar with a set of the new M60 27.5” wheels on a Turner Burner. Setup with 2.3" WTB Vigilante tyres, the wider M60 rim (23mm internal) gives a good platform for the fat tubeless rubber, though they’re not quite as wide as some other options that have recently come to market. ENVE are well aware of the recent trend for superwide rims on mountain bikes, but they’re not convinced by the hype, particularly as there are many tyres on the market that aren’t designed for use on a rim much wider than 25mm internally. For ENVE, it has always been about finding the balance between weight, strength, compliance, and width, with each aspect as important as the next. We reckon they’ve hit the nail on the head in that regard with the new M-Series wheels, which appear to be a positive refinement of the previous products they replace.

If there was one criticism we’ve had with the previous XC and AM rims from ENVE, it was that they could sometimes be too stiff, which was particularly noticeable on a lightweight race hardtail. With that in mind, the brand’s careful attention into tuning the stiffness and strength of the M-Series rims has clearly paid off. Not only have they been able to strip some weight off, they’ve also allowed for a little extra ‘give’ in the rim’s performance on rougher trails. This added compliance was noticeable on the Turner Burner test bike, which was a little gentler on me during the fast-paced descents down the Wasatch Crest trail. Further long term testing will tell if the durability of the M-Series rims can match the excellent track record of the outgoing XC and AM rims, but initial reports are very positive.

Having spent a good amount of time on the AM rims that the M60s have replaced, it was interesting to note the difference in

For a radical departure from what they know best, ENVE have focussed on their inherent strengths of being able to design, prototype, test, and build new concepts at their in-house production facility in Ogden.



HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT BIKE FOR YOU There’s no denying that as mountain bikers in 2015, we’re spoilt for choice. Never before have we had such a selection of options across a wide range of price points and disciplines. Value for money is improving every year, and with so many brands vying for our dollar, there has never been a better time to invest in a new rig for hitting up the trails. With all this choice, however, comes the tricky process of elimination when trying to decide what new bike should end up in your garage. How much suspension travel is too much? What wheelsize is best? Is a 1x drivetrain suitable to my local terrain? How much money should I put aside for upgrades? Here we take you through some of the important points to consider when choosing the right bike for you


While we might not like to admit it, at the end of the day a strict budget is going to limit the type of bike we can afford. We’d all love to get a full-carbon race bike with XX-1 and ENVE wheels for $2000, but the reality is that’s not going to happen! Be realistic about what you can afford, and don’t feel pressured to buy the absolute top of the range just because a salesman or a magazine says the bike is the second coming of Christ. There are a lot of great bikes out there across all price points, and thanks to trickle-down technology, entrylevel gear nowadays is incredibly capable. When determining your total budget, you should also consider how much you’ll need to spend on any accessories or upgrades from the point of purchase. Most bikes don’t come with pedals, so factor that into the price of the bike. Quality mountain bikes also require proper maintenance to ensure good performance and long-term durability, so make sure you consider ongoing service costs too.

Hardtail or Full Squish?

For the most part, your budget will determine whether you have the option of going to a full suspension bike. A


2015 MTB Buyers Guide

decent hardtail mountain bike will set you back around $1200, while a quality full suspension bike will kick off around $2500. It’s certainly possible to find cheaper options, but if you’re after something that is built to last, our advice is not to compromise on quality. As the old adage goes, ‘the sting of poor quality is remembered far longer than the thrill of a low price.’ A hardtail will be cheaper than an equivalent full suspension bike, but it’s also going to be lighter and simpler overall. Particularly for riders who are getting started, a hardtail tends to have more direct handling, and it will teach you to ride smoother lines too. For those sitting at the pointy end of the field, a hardtail will also provide you with better pedalling efficiency for sprinting up the climbs. If you have your sights set on a podium position at a 6-hour Enduro or a 50km marathon race, a hardtail is the faster choice for less technical courses. On the flip side, a full suspension bike will deliver you more comfort and more control in rough terrain. For all-day trail rides and long distance marathon racing, your lower back will welcome the additional comfort when you start

pushing past the 3-hour mark. Technical climbing is also better tackled on a full suspension bike, as the rear wheel is able to maintain constant contact with the trail for improved traction. This additional grip works for the descents too, where you have a larger margin for error over a hardtail, enabling you to travel faster and with more confidence. If your budget allows it, going to a full suspension bike will get you more versatility for tackling a wider variety of trails. Before committing to a full suspension bike though, have a think about the majority of riding you will be doing. Are

you generally riding smoother purposebuilt mountain bike trails? Are most of your rides 2 hours or less? Then a hardtail will be perfectly adequate for what you need, and the money you save over buying a full suspension bike can be spent on some new riding kit or an upgrade to tubeless tyres.

Boy Racer or Trail Cruiser? Another point to consider when purchasing a new bike is how serious your racing aspirations are. Although we might like to think that we’re pretty quick against the clock, few of us are actually

cracking the top-10 at an XCM event. Many Australian riders gravitate towards carbon hardtails and short-travel full suspension race bikes, because they’re typically the lightest mountain bikes you can get. Lighter equals faster right? Well, not necessarily. Of course you’ll be able to fly up the hills on a lighter race bike, but if it means that you’re freaking out on the descents and constantly baulking at technical sections, then you’ll be far slower overall. Total bike weight is only part of the equation. For 99% of riders, mountain biking is about having fun. With that in mind, having a bike that is geared towards giving you confidence

on the descents rather than all-out efficiency on the climbs is typically a good thing. A little more suspension travel, a slightly slacker head tube angle, and some fatter tyres can go a long way to giving you more speed and stability when the trail gets rough, if at the expense of some climbing speed. A good example would be the new GT Helion versus a Cannondale Scalpel. Both bikes sport a similar amount of travel, though the lighter Scalpel features a steeper head tube angle, stiffer suspension, and a more aggressive riding position that favours hard out racing. In the hands of an expert rider, the Scalpel is the better tool of 2015 MTB Buyers Guide



has well and truly dominated internet forums and marketing tag lines over the past 2 years. Up until a decade ago, mountain bikes were only available with 26” wheels. Then Gary Fisher came along with those enormous 29” wheels, which were laughed at initially, before being widely accepted as the fastest option for XC racing. Joining the fray more recently, we now have the in-between wheelsize known as 27.5” (or 650B). The pros and cons of each wheelsize have been discussed to ad nauseum before, but all you really need to know is this; the larger the wheel diameter, the faster and smoother the bike rolls over rough terrain. Conversely, the smaller the wheel, the more manoeuvrable and faster accelerating the bike is.

So how do you choose between three different wheelsizes? choice for those watching the clock. However, as the trail gets rougher and the rides get longer, the added stability of the Helion’s longer wheelbase and its slacker head tube angle comes into its own. Of course the Helion can still be raced hard, it’s just that it is a better all-round mountain bike.

How much travel is too much?

There is a balance to be achieved when it comes to suspension travel. You want enough to help you absorb hits on the trail and to provide you control when the going gets rough, but you don’t want so much that it detracts from the bike’s speed and ease of handling. Although modern suspension bikes are getting more effective and more efficient every year, there is such a thing as having too much travel. Once you go beyond 125mm (5”) of travel, the bikes chainstay and overall wheelbase length must get longer to accommodate the extra rear wheel movement. The head angle also gets slacker again to keep the bike stable at speed. However, all of this adds up to a bike that can be slower and harder to negotiate through tight singletrack. Think of it like trying to move a limousine through an underground carpark. Not a lot of fun at all! Thanks to the growing popularity of Gravity Enduro racing, many riders are being wooed by the allure of big-travel All Mountain bikes, such as the GT Force and the Cannondale Jekyll. Whilst these bikes are superb machines for their intended purpose (blasting down technical Black 26

2015 MTB Buyers Guide

Diamond trails at speed), they’re not ideally suited to general trail riding or long-distance XC. They certainly pedal well enough, but it’s their slack and long geometry that makes them feel like a cruise liner anytime you’re not travelling at warp speed. Make sure you consider where you’ll be riding, and how much of your ride time will be spent racing versus trail riding. Many riders are guilty of buying bikes for the type of riding that they want to do, and not necessarily the type of riding that they actually do.

Wheelsize: 26”, 650B or 29er?

Easily the most confusing aspect of modern mountain bikes, wheel diameter

Well first, you’re really only going to have a choice between 27.5” and 29” wheels moving forward, as 26” wheels are currently going the way of the Tasmanian Tiger. Secondly, not all bikes are available in both 27.5” and 29” options. There is of course plenty of crossover, but you’ll typically find that most XC bikes utilise 29” wheels, while longer travel bikes make use of the smaller 27.5” diameter. One bike that does offer a wheelsize option is the 130mm travel Cannondale Trigger, which comes in both 27.5” and 29” versions so that riders can choose the one that best suits their riding style. In our experience, the Trigger 29 rolls over technical terrain with more speed, and the larger wheels provide noticeably more

momentum when it comes time to commit to rocky A-lines. In comparison, the Trigger 27.5 is easier to jump with and flick around on tight corners, making it the better option if you love getting your wheels off the ground. Aside from ride characteristics, frame size and rider height also comes into the equation when discussing wheelsize. Shorter riders may struggle to get the right cockpit position on a 29” mountain bike, and likewise, taller riders might feel a bit ungainly on top of the smaller 27.5” wheels. As always, your best bet to clear the muddy waters around wheelsize is to test ride a handful of options and find out what suits you. However, we can’t stress enough that wheelsize isn’t the only characteristic that makes a mountain bike ride well or not. Don’t get too hung up on whether you should be on one wheelsize versus another – there are great bikes out there that perform well regardless of their wheel diameter.

Plastic or Metal?

When choosing a new mountain bike, you will typically be presented with an option between an alloy and a carbon fibre frame. Cheaper bikes utilise an alloy frame, while the top-of-the-range models will mostly feature carbon fibre frames. Carbon fibre is a newer construction method, which allows bike designers to build a lighter frame, while having much more control in terms of the ride characteristics. In a racing hardtail, this means the frame can be incredibly stiff around the bottom bracket and headtube junctions, while still offering compliance through the seat stays and seat tube. Compared to alloy tubing, carbon fibre frames usually test stronger overall too.

to produce some of the strongest and lightest frames on the market. Just because it says ‘carbon’ on the spec sheet, doesn’t instantly make it better than all alloy alternatives. In fact, the newest generation of alloy frames currently hitting the market have steadily begun to close the gap in both weight and performance stakes. New hydroforming and welding techniques allow for intricate tube shapes that mimic the flowy lines of carbon fibre, and internal butting helps to smoothen out vibrations on hardtail frames. Although carbon may have all the marketing pizzazz around it, we would take a high-end alloy frame over an

entry-level carbon frame any day. As with many aspects of a modern bicycle, when it comes to frame construction, you always get what you pay for.

Choosing the right frame size

Aside from selecting the right bike for your riding style, without doubt the most important aspect of buying a new mountain bike is sizing. You can have the best components in the world, but if the bike doesn’t fit you or it isn’t comfortable, then you might as well set your wallet on fire. There are many alternative theories available in regards to choosing the right

Bikes such as the GT Sensor are available in both carbon and alloy versions, with the carbon model dropping 600 grams off the alloy frame. This is a significant percentage of the bike’s total weight, but because there is so much more time involved in laying up a carbon frame at the factory, you’ll pay for the difference. Of course there are many variables within a frame’s construction aside from the raw material, and even then there are many different levels of carbon fibre. A good example of the complexity involved in building a carbon frame is Cannondale’s BallisTec carbon fibre, which uses a proprietary construction method 2015 MTB Buyers Guide



size bike, but as a starting point, your height will dictate what you need. The taller you are, the more seatpost extension you’ll need, and therefore the bigger the frame size you’ll require. Going into sizing a little deeper however, the key measurement with any mountain bike is the ‘effective top tube length’. This length gets longer as you go to a larger frame size. Combined with the length of the stem, you get a measurement called ‘reach’. Some people have longer arms and shorter legs for their given height, so they typically require a bigger frame size to get the reach that’s comfortable for them. Traditionally with road bikes, a bike fitter will employ different stem lengths to achieve the correct reach for the rider. As we know with mountain bikes however, changing stem length or bar width can drastically alter the bike’s handling. Increasingly we’re finding that riders will have to factor their cockpit setup into frame sizing. That means if you’re borderline between a medium and a large frame size, your decision can boil down to your riding style and cockpit setup. Do you want to run super-wide bars and a stubby little stem? Then go for a slightly longer top tube length. Prefer a more XC riding position with a long stem and narrow bars? Then you can choose the smaller frame size. There’s no exact science behind frame sizing, though plenty of riders will surely be happy to bombard you with their opinion. If you’re unsure, simply take two different 28

2015 MTB Buyers Guide

sizes for a test spin around the block, and the correct size will likely make itself apparent to you very quickly.

Testing, testing, testing

On the note of test rides, getting the opportunity to take a demo bike for a proper spin on your local trails is of invaluable help to the purchasing decision. Most mountain bike stores these days will own at least a couple of demo bikes that you can take for a test ride, and typically for a small fee, you can get a great insight into a particular suspension design or geometry style. Even if you come back from a test ride hating a demo bike, it’s still useful feedback that will allow you and the sales assistant to determine what other

Wheel Base:


Top Tube Length:


Chain Stay Length:


Head Tube Length:


Head Tube Angle:






BB Height:


Seat Tube Angle (Effective):


Seat Tube Angle (Actual):


Seat Tube Length:


Standover Height:


bikes you should be considering. If your local store doesn’t have any specific demo bikes available, taking a floor-stock bike for a spin down the road is still worth your time. In a short ride around the block, you’ll get a good feel for the fit of the bike and its handling. It will also give you a great opportunity to test out the service of the bike shop. Take note of how smoothly the gears shift, if the brakes are working properly, and if there are any general noises coming from the bike. If the mechanics have taken the time to build the bike to a high standard and if the sales assistant has taken the time to set you up properly for a test ride, then it’s likely a store that you’ll want to do business with.

2015 MTB Buyers Guide



Fox Bike build products that perform at the highest levels on any type of terrain and in any type of conditions. The 2015 collection takes their proven products and adds even more all conditions functionality to make every ride better, and keep you protected with helmets engineered to handle your fastest and steepest descents. Whether you ride steep and technical, fast and flowing or are hammering the long pursuits, we have the gear that will keep you pedaling all day long.


2015 MTB Buyers Guide

2015 MTB Buyers Guide




RRP $549.95

The Rampage Pro Carbon uses 2 shell sizes and 3 unique EPS dimensions. The result is the most comfortable and precise fitting helmet on the market. With a total of 17 vents and channels along with a highly ventilated mouth piece and chin bar, the Rampage Pro Carbon offers maximum airflow. High-Tech Dri-Lex™ interior liner, 3D molded cheek pads and compression headliner keeps you comfortable, dry and focused on the task at hand.


2015 MTB Buyers Guide


RRP $299.95

The new Rampage Comp raises the stakes in the mid level full face helmet market. Utilising the winning formula of the Rampage Pro Carbon into a super light fiberglass shell produces a helmet that is as safe as the Pro, but a lot more affordable.



Lightweight - only 300 grams 24 vents Airflow is increased 25% Sleek design



RRP $139.95

All Mountain coverage with a deep rear profile for maximum protection in a lightweight package. Large vents will keep you cool when the going gets hot.

Lightweight - only 300 grams 24 vents Airflow is increased 25% Sleek design


RRP $159.95

Fox's lightweight helmet weighs in at only 300 grams, boasts 24 vents for massive airflow and provides great protection in a sleek design. 2015 MTB Buyers Guide




RRP $74.95

Quick dry polyester main body with strategic mesh vents, flatlock seam construction and full coverage drop tail all in a relaxed fit. Also features an audio cord port.


RRP $64.95

All the features of the Indicator LS jersey but in a short sleeved variant, and like it's long sleeved bro, comes in a relaxed trail fit.

ATTACK ULTRA RRP 189.95 The Attack Ultra short is the flagship of the All Mountain/ Trail collection. No expense was spared inside and out to make this one of the lightest and most technically advanced shorts in the market today. The internal comfort of our top line Cytech chamois is matched by the stitch less and laser perfed performance to create a short that sets the standard in premium trail shorts. 34

2015 MTB Buyers Guide


RRP 99.95

Quick dry polyester Micro-Grid™ main body, Strategic mesh vents, Rear pockets with zipper stash pocket, Optics wipe at inside hem, Audio cord port at back pocket, Sublimated fade resistant graphics, Slim race fit, Rear loop audio interface, Silicone gripper inside rear hem, ull coverage drop tail, Relaxed trail fit



RRP $99.95

Softknit front with emboss main body, Quick dry polyester main fabric, Structured mesh back, Flatlock construction, Vent perforations at side panels, Zipper stash pocket,Optics wipe at inside hem.

RRP $169.95

Fox blazes a new trail again with the addition of the race focused Livewire short. Designed from the inside out for speed, the Livewire has the slimmest fit of any short in the line. If you didn’t know better you’d think you were wearing Lycra, and that’s the point – aero performance with the look and functionality of a traditional MTB short that is as comfortable off the bike as it is being ridden on the rivet. 2015 MTB Buyers Guide



LAUNCH ENDURO ELBOW PADS RRP $69.95 Lightweight, slip-on soft elbow pads constructed from perforated neoprene with abrasion resistant elbow and forearm area padding along with a lightweight forearm stretch panel for bind-free range of motion.


A pedal friendly, lightweight, slip-on soft knee pad that features an articulated, perforated neoprene chassis with abrasion resistant kneecup area padding. Lightweight rear stretch panel for bind-free range of motion and silicone gripper inside top hem to prevent slippage.


2015 MTB Buyers Guide

2015 MTB Buyers Guide




RRP $39.95

Fox's gloves may be their best known product and for good reason. The Demo is a lightweight glove with a flexible top hand and single layer Clarino palm. Silicone grip fingertips and a cuff less slip on design make these possibly the most comfotable glove you'll ever wear.


2015 MTB Buyers Guide


RRP $39.95

The Attack glove is combines light weight with a moisture wicking top plus a single layer Cool-Skin palm with absorbent micro-suede thumb, silicone grip fingertip and cuff less slip on design.


THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A PERFECT CRASH MIPS IMITATES THE BRAIN’S PROTECTIVE FLUID. The secret behind MIPS’ unique patent comes from the human brain. The brain is surrounded by a low-friction cushion of cerebrospinal fluid. MIPS gives the helmet its own low-friction layer between the EPS and comfort liner, to absorb much of the energy created by an angled blow to the head. The combination of the brain’s own protection and MIPS ensures maximum protection–simple and effective.


In laboratory tests, adding the MIPS layer reduced rotational acceleration by 20-35%, dampening crash forces and decreasing stress to the brain.



BROOKS Brooks England Ltd. have been in the business of cycle saddle manufacture for well over a century. In fact, the company is able to trace its proud lineage all the way back to the birthplace of their celebrated founder and namesake, John Boultbee Brooks. His innovative design for a leather bicycle saddle was filed with the Patent Office in the Autumn of 1882, the first of hundreds more over the decades to follow encompassing other innovative products for the cyclist. These included all-weather protective outerwear such as ponchos, sou’westers, hats, leggings and even shoes. With each splendid addition to the expansive range of goods, now gloriously including mountain bike saddles, Brooks Products established themselves far and wide as the benchmark of quality and style, becoming thus the byword in handcrafted goods for the contemporary cyclist for which they are known today.


RRP $209.95

The Cambium Range of saddles feature a hard-wearing, waterproof and maintenance-free upper made from strong, yet supple, vulcanised natural rubber, completed with a layer of organic cotton canvas. This revolutionary, uniquely flexible top is suspended upon a lightweight frame of stainless steel and aluminium to function much like a hammock, following the movements of the rider and absorbing shocks and vibrations to provide maximum comfort. 40

2015 MTB Buyers Guide


RRP $209.95

The first in our new generation of saddles. Frame in Tubular Stainless Steel and weighing in at 415g.


RRP $99.95

Over 700 members of the Brooks Community collaborated on the MT21, the multi-tool for travellers. Available with a leather cover in three colours. This practical set includes a plentiful assortment of 21 tools includes:


RRP $219.95


RRP $169.95

The succesfull C17 shape with an anatomic cutting. Frame in Tubular Stainless Steel,  400g.

7 Allen Keys / Hex Wrenches: #2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 3 Screwdrivers: Small Flat Head Screwdriver Phillips Screwdriver #2 (Medium Head) Phillips Screwdriver #1 (Small Head) 3 Torx Wrenches: T10, T20, T25 4 Spoke Wrenches: #0, 1, 2, 3 1 Chain Tool 1 Bottle Opener 1 Spanner for Brooks Saddles 1 Knife

The classic B17 shape in a racing width as designed in 1910. Frame in Black Enamelled Steel, 530g.



RRP $359.95

The classic Swift shape with a titanium frame, just 390g.

RRP $69.95

In 1909, Mr Brooks and his son filed patent N°7709 for improvements in adjustable spanners in the form of a rather clever and simple solution for those cyclists in need of box spanners in a variety of sizes. Our new patent is an innovation upon the original, simplifying the design and saving weight. Spanner sizes from 1-19mm are possible by sliding the two pieces. The smaller piece is also a functional tyre lever. 2015 MTB Buyers Guide



fi'zi:k is a racing brand. It represents beauty, speed, passion, freedom for those who race against each other, race against the clock and for enthusiast cyclists around the world who identify with the feeling of the fire of competition.

RRP $199.95

RRP $399.95



Shell: Composite Glass co-injected Nylon Wing Flex™

Shell: Composite Carbon – Wing Flex™– Tail Flex™

Shell: Carbon Reinforced Nylon Twin Flex™

Rail: K:ium

Rail: Carbon Braided 7 x 9mm

Rail: K:ium

Front Cover: Thermowelded Black Microtex

Cover: Black / Black Thermowelded Microtex

Rear Cover: Thermowelded Gummy Black Microtex

Thigh Glides: Black Cordura

Cover: Black Cordura / Black Microtex / Glossy Black details

Weight: 200g 42

RRP $199.95

2015 MTB Buyers Guide

Weight: 155g

Replaceable Tuner Insert Weight: 195g

RRP $179.95

ALIANTE GAMMA XM Shell: Carbon Reinforced Nylon Twin Flex™ Rail: K:ium Cover: Black Microtex Rear Cover: Black Cordura Scuff Guards: Black Weight: 259g 2015 MTB Buyers Guide




RRP $459.95

Materials: Kangaroo Leather/Nylon Mesh/Anti-scratch Leather


Buckle: Straps:

Insole: Weight:


Carbon Fibre / Removable Cleat / Skid Plate SL Micrometric Sail Cloth 3D-Flex Cycling Mouldable Insole 380 g (size 43)

RRP $369.95

Materials: Microtex Laser perforated / Anti-scratch Leather


Buckle: Straps:

Insole: Weight: 44

UD Carbon Fibre / Removable Skid Plate Boa IP1 fi’zi:k Cycling Insole 3D-Flex Cycling Mouldable Insole 350g (size 43

2015 MTB Buyers Guide

M5 UOMO RRP $259.95 Materials: Microtex / Nylon Mesh / Anti-scratch Leather


Buckle: Straps:

Insole: Weight:

Carbon Reinforced Nylon Aluminium Sail Cloth fi’zi:k Cycling Insole 378g (size 43)

SRAM RELENTLESS To be the best. It’s why you ride. It’s why SRAM build components. The perfect combination of precision and brute force. No obstacles stopping you. No limitations slowing you down. SRAM is in relentless pursuit of making the climb shorter, the trail smoother, the turn tighter, the descent faster. To give you the strongest, lightest, quickest bike on earth. To be the best.


2015 MTB Buyers Guide


Engineered for sprinting across flats and soaring up hills, these wheelsets were born for one thing—performance. Time to take your ride to new heights.

RISE 60 $1,299.95 (F) $1,399.95 (R) Available in wheel sizes: 27.5 and 29" Rim material: CARBON TUNED™ unidirectional and woven carbon fiber composite Rim profile: WIDE ANGLE ™, 21mm internal width, tubeless ready, hookless rim walls Spoke count: 24, stainless steel, 2 cross, SOLO SPOKE™ Durable, precisionmachined SPEEDBALL ™ bearings DOUBLE TIME ™ ratchet mechanism for durable, quick engagement Available in XD ™ or 10-speed driver body Axle compatibility: 9x100 QR, 9x10 QR OS 15x100 or 15x110 PS 29” (Front), 10x135 QR, 12x135 or 12x142 (Rear)

RISE XX $1,699.95 (F) $1,999.95 (R) Available in 29" only CARBON TUNED™ rim for tubular tires

Technologies: CARBON TUNED ™ , SOLO SPOKE ™ , SPEEDBALL ™ , DOUBLETIME ™ , XD ™ DRIVER BODY, SIDE SWAP ™ SYMMETRICAL, PREDICTIVE STEERING ™ for 29" Weight: 1385g (27.5"), 1430g (29") Wheel pair in lightest configuration

Butted stainless spokes for stiff responsiveness New DOUBLE TIME™ ratchet mechanism for durable, quick engagement SPEEDBALL™ CERAMIC precision bearings for light, extremely smooth action Front 15/QR or PS Rear Convertible to different axle types Available in XD™ or 10-speed driver body Technologies: CARBON TUNED™ TUBULAR, DOUBLE TIME™, SPEEDBALL™ CERAMIC, XD™ DRIVER BODY, SIDE SWAP™ SYMMETRICAL, PREDICTIVE STEERING™ Weight: 1285g (29") Wheel pair in lightest configuration 2015 MTB Buyers Guide



GUIDE BRAKES The new SRAM Guide brakes are packed with ride enhancing performance that make every new trail a trusted old friend. SRAM started from scratch, to create the perfect combination of braking reliability and control. Brand-new SwingLink technology provides more power, silky-smooth modulation, less deadband and better lever-feel than you’ve ever experienced. Pure Bladder and Timing Port Closure ensure consistent and reliable performance over time and in any condition. Steep-line confidence. Deep-corner dominance. Ride every trail like you own it.








$249.95 Per end

$189.95 Per end

$164.95 Per end

From $150.95





R – Reach Adjust

R – Reach Adjust

S – SwingLink ™

S – SwingLink ™

R – Reach Adjust

Dual-diameter fourpiston caliper

C – Contact Point Adjust

Tool-free Reach Adjust

Tool-free Reach Adjust

14 and 16mm pistons

Contact Point Adjust

MatchMaker X Compatible

MatchMaker X Compatible

All mountain power and control

Tool-free Reach Adjust MatchMaker X Compatible Lever Pivot Bearings Guide caliper Colours: Polished Silver Ano or Black Ano Technologies: SwingLink ™ , Pure Bladder ™ , Timing Port Closure Weight: 375g


2015 MTB Buyers Guide

Guide caliper Colours: Black Technologies: SwingLink ™ , Pure Bladder ™ , Timing Port Closure Weight: 380g

Guide caliper Colours: Black Technologies: DirectLink ™ , Pure Bladder ™ , Timing Port Closure Weight: 375g

The Guide four-piston dual-diameter mountain bike caliper provides confidence in a lightweight package with more usable power. And it’s a mere four grams of weight difference over SRAM's two-piston XC specific caliper models.





XX1 DRIVETRAIN The 1X ™ drivetrain that launched an XC World Championship, SRAM XX1 was built to be simpler, lighter and more durable than any other. Calibrated to work together, SRAM XX1 components deliver remarkable chain control and rapid, highprecision shifting. Which gives serious riders exactly the edge they need. Unstoppable.








XX1 GRIP SHIFT $249.95

XD™ DRIVER BODY From $134.95

CNC-machined 7075, two-tone anodized X-SYNC™ chain ring (28-30-32-34-36-38)— an integral component of the SRAM 1X™ drivetrain

X-HORIZON™ design reduces shift force and ghost shifting

SRAM 1X™ X-ACTUATION™ for precise and dependable 11-speed performance

Driver body design that lets riders tap the power and range of the SRAM 10-42 11-speed cassette and a 10-tooth small cog

Tall, square tooth design provides maximum chain control Sharp, narrow tooth profile and rounded chamfer edges help manage a deflected chain Mud-clearing recesses for the inner chain links and rollers Spider design allows for easier ring changes Carbon arms with forged aluminum spider Wide/narrow Q-factor cranks for BB30 and GXP Technologies: X-SYNC™, GXP, BB30 Weight: 670g (GXP, 175mm, 32-tooth ring)

TYPE 2.1 technologies: ROLLER BEARING CLUTCH™ and CAGE LOCK™ 12-tooth X-SYNC™ pulley wheels Large upper pulley offset automatically adjusts chain gap Technologies: X-HORIZON™, X-ACTUATION™, X-SYNC™, ROLLER BEARING CLUTCH™, CAGE LOCK™ Weight: 220g 03 XX1 TRIGGER SHIFTER $279.95 SRAM 1X™ X-ACTUATION™ for precise and dependable 11-speed performance ZERO LOSS™ engagement for fastest shifting Multi-adjustable trigger shifter


SPEED METAL™ shift indexing ROLLING THUNDER™ ball bearing technology JAWS™ lock-on grip technology Carbon cover Includes lock-on grip Technologies: X-ACTUATION™, SPEED METAL™, ROLLING THUNDER™, JAWS™ Weight: 143g (clamps, cable and JAWS™ lockon grip)

XD™ driver body is 6-8g lighter 07 PC-XX1 CHAIN $74.95 1X™ specific chain HARD CHROME™ finish provides maximum strength and wear resistance for improved chain life 11-speed power lock


Technologies: X-SYNC™, HARD CHROME™

XG-1199 CASSETTE $589.95

Weight: 252g (114 links)

XD™ driver body creates more stable hub connection


11-speed X-DOME™ cassette (10-12-14-1618-21-24-28-32-36-42)

Adjustable carbon pull lever and carbon cover

Bearing design and ratchet mechanism steadied by XD™ driver body

MatchMaker X compatible

Optimized Gear steps across entire range

Technologies: X-ACTUATION™, ZERO LOSS™, MatchMaker X Integrated

Technologies: X-DOME™, XD™ DRIVER BODY

Weight: 91g

Provides a more stable hub connection


Weight: 260g

2015 MTB Buyers Guide



XSYNC CHAIN RINGS Modern mountain bikers ride hard, over unpredictable terrain, in all kinds of conditions. So every detail matters. When SRAM’s engineers first turned their attention to X-SYNC, they began by examining the multi-speed, singlering systems that were already on the market. From inside and outside derailment to mud-clogged gear recesses, the rings presented clear opportunities for improvement. So the engineers started to design and redesign. Each iteration of the new chain ring went to the field for trial runs. And from all of this came X-SYNC, MTB’s first wide tooth, narrow tooth chain ring. But wide tooth, narrow tooth alone didn’t cut it. The SRAM team plowed ahead with a single goal in mind: to create a ring that contributed to the SRAM 1X drivetrain built around simplicity and durability. Every detail was scrutinized, leading to optimized square tooth geometry. To asymmetric tooth-tip offset. To sharp-tipped teeth that catch the chain at extreme offsets. Chamfers and radii designed for optimized guiding. Enhancements engineered to limit roller movement. And mud recesses that keep the chain clean and moving. All focused on the dynamic bike platform for XC, Trail, Enduro, and Gravity riding. And all part of an integrated SRAM 1X system precision-designed so that every aspect of X-SYNC works perfectly with the rest of the drivetrain. The original wide tooth, narrow tooth chain ring is the optimized ring for riders who never compromise.





FROM $114.95 X-SYNC ™ SRAM X-SYNC ™ 1X ™ chain rings provide the highest level of performance and durability. The SRAM X-SYNC ™ tall square teeth edges engage the chain earlier than traditional triangle shaped teeth. The sharp and narrow tooth profile, as well as rounded chamfer edges, help manage a deflected chain. To provide the best possible performance in muddy conditions, the X-SYNC ™ chain rings have been designed with mud-clearing recesses for the inner chain links and rollers. Engineered in Germany, X-SYNC ™ rings are an integral part of the SRAM 1X ™ drivetrain. Accept no imitation. 50

2015 MTB Buyers Guide

X-SYNC ™ Chain ring


1X ™ Chain



QUARQ SRAM's XX1 Quarq crankset delivers accurate quantifiable data for 1 x 11 SRAM drivelines and is available to suit both BB30 and GXP frame configurations. The training benefits using a power guage is greatly improved with a unit that provides accurate and detailed data, rather than just a feeling of improvement, there is a digital affirmation of the results and progress. Quarq power meters are for riders who seek results. Results like insights, breakthroughs and epiphanies. For higher peaks and finding the confidence of knowing exactly how and when to use the most important part of any bicycle. You.


FROM $1,949.95

• Carbon arms – 170 and 175mm • 156 and 168mm Q-factors • 104 BCD – 32, 34, 36, and 38-tooth chain rings sold separately • GXP and BB30 • Accelerometer cadence, multi-point active temperature compensation, LED indicator• Built hand-in-hand with the XX1 drivetrain – highest performance, integrated look • Designed for X-SYNC™ and compatible with XX1, X01 and X1 • Lightweight, LED indicator and replaceable CR2032 battery • Multipoint temperature compensation and complete (two legged) measurement delivers unparalleled accuracy and precision • Accelerometer for cadence – no need to install a magnet • All SRAM MTB Q-factors, crank lengths and bottom brackets • IPX7 waterproof rating (1 meter of submersion for 30 minutes 2015 MTB Buyers Guide


LOUIS GARNEAU The launch of the Louis Garneau business stemmed from the necessity for a cycling kit for the 1984 Olympic Games. Come 2015, the range is vast an encompasses some of the most technically advanced and comfortable MTB clothing and shoes you’ll find.



Ideal for hot summer days, the Equipe GT Series cycling jersey will keep you dry and comfortable thanks to super light and well-ventilated fabrics. Diamond fabric is an exceptionally light stretch knit with a diamondshaped construction that provides the fabric with good ventilation and moisture-wicking properties. The side panels of the jersey are made with Airfit Mesh, a stretchable fabric that provides flexibility and excellent moisture control thanks to a semi-opaque structure. The three back pockets provide storage for your ride essentials and are angled to allow easy access while riding, with a reflective trim that will make you more visible to motorists in low light conditions.

Ergonomic fit: : Pre-shaped to fit and support the body in motion Stretch trim on bib straps: Provides greater comfort 1 back pocket: Fits phone, MP3 player or gels Inseam: 28.5 cm Seamless inner leg: Reduces bulkiness and excess material that causes saddle bunching Powerband: Compressive cuff that reduces lower leg pressure and provides support without restricting circulation Flatlock seams: Eliminate irritation and reduce chafing Back reflective accents: Enhance visibility


2015 MTB Buyers Guide


RRP $399.95

100% Carbon T-FLEX: Designed to increase stiffness Dual density lugs: Offer both rigidity and traction and allow for better mud evacuation Removable studs under toe cup: Better adherence and protection to front outsole T-FLEX technology: Provides flexibility at the toe area for easy running and prevents heel pressure BOA L5 double rail quick attach system: Quick attach, distributed pressure and ultra light HRS-300 reinforced injected nylon: Secures the heel in place, optimizes fit, and reduces loss of power from slippage Microfiber and cycling mesh upper: Provides better support through a rigid upper One-way anti-slip spandex: Maintains heel in place Heel reflector : Improves visibility Cleat position indicator compatible with SPD cleats Shoe bag included Approximate weight (size 42/1 shoe) : 334 g


RRP $229.95

100% Carbon T-FLEX: Ergo Grip 2 outsole with removable studs: Provide excellent traction for walking and configured to maximize mud clearing BOA L4 single rail quick attach system and forefoot velcro closure: Quick attach, distributed pressure and ultra light HRS-90 with 0.4 mm membrane: Maintains heel positioning and reduces loss of power Thermoplastic toe protection Single density EVA insole: Enhances comfort Cleat position indicator compatible with SPD cleats Approximate weight (size 42/1 shoe): 355 g

2015 MTB Buyers Guide


LEZYNE Bringing you the highest quality designed LED light systems available anywhere, Lezyne is continuing to redefine the industry with their state of the art LED products. With years of LED experience and several innovative features Lezyne are focused on bringing you the brightest and longest lasting LED lights available. With their Infinite Light systems you are able to swap out the in use Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries on the fly, which extends your ride time in low light/no light situations. The USB recharging makes charging up your LEDs simple, easy and convenient. 54

2015 MTB Buyers Guide

MULTITOOLS From the shop to the trail, Lezyne Multi Tools are in it for the long haul. High-grade materials such as Full Carbon Technology, Titanium, CNC-Machined aluminum, Stainless Steel, and Chrome Vanadium provide you, the rider, with extremely durable yet elegant multi tool designs. Functional and versatile, the Center Pivot bits bring ergonomics and ease of use to the forefront when completing repairs. One piece I-Beam body design provides an extremely rigid and durable construction. RAP tools even have a compact LED light so you can easily see what you need to see while repairing on the fly. All of these great features come together offering you great performance, unparalleled quality, and extreme beauty designed for years of use.


RRP $34.95

Versatile, portable, shop quality tools

Lightweight, CNC machined aluminum body

Extremely rigid, one-piece, I-Beam body design Extra long, forged, Chrome Vanadium bits Select L-bend bits for hard to reach fasteners

Offset wrapped bit design allows for a compact tool profile Tools are available separately or as part of the Port-a-Shop Tool Kit


RRP $64.95

Lightweight, low profile multi-tools optimized for modern component groups CNC machined aluminum side plates

Forged, Center-pivot, stainless steel bits

Durable stainless steel fastening hardware

Forged aluminum chain breaker (8/9/10/11 speed chains)


RRP $159.95

Compact, cycling specific tool kit designed to take traveling. Kit includes tools for basic maintenance and repairs. Convenient, canvas padded carrying case with zipper closure. Labeled pockets keep tools organized and safe during transport

TOOLS INCLUDED in the Porta-shop: T Block Multi Block Allen Block Saber Levers Power Levers Chain Drive (8/9/10/11) Smart Kit Classic Kit Spoke Wrenches Mavic Mtb, (3.22, 3.45)

2015 MTB Buyers Guide



RRP $279.95

The ultimate high-performance LED light built for trail or road. Constant Lumens power management overdrives three LEDs at an ultra-bright 1,400 lms. Overdrive Race mode allow users to quickly switch between Overdrive and Economy. Infinite Light design allows for on-demand battery replacement. Rechargeable via Micro USB cable for ultimate convenience. CM mounts secure the light tool free - 31.8/25.4mm bars. Fast High Efficiency 2 amp charging with wall adaptor. Available as in standard and loaded kit packages.

KTV DRIVE RRP $27.95 ZECTO DRIVE RRP $49.95 Compact, aluminum bodied, LED safety light. Clip-On System provides versatile strap or clip mounting. Side Visibility lens extends beyond the body to provide 180 degrees of visibility. Intelligent Power Indicator LEDs monitor battery power and charging status. Integrated USB stick makes recharging convenient and cable free. Front produces 15 lm, Rear produces 7 lm. Available individually or as front/rear pair combination.


Motion detecting system triggers automatic shutoff of light after 3 minutes of inactivity, turns back on when in motion. High visibility safety light with three LEDs. Clip-On System provides versatile strapped or clipped mounting for your bike or clothing. Intelligent Power Indicator LEDs monitor battery power and provide side visibility. Rechargeable via Micro USB cable for ultimate convenience.

RRP $69.95

Compact, lightweight hand pump with overlapping handle, designed for high pressure tyre. CNC sculpted aluminum barrel, handle and piston, CM end caps. Equipped with the ABS Pen Gauge, precise and compact in-line pressure gauge compatible with Presta and Schrader valves. Includes a CM frame pump mount. Available in black and silver


RRP $119.95

CNC machined aluminum barrel and base, steel piston. Oversized, varnished wood handle. Oversized barrel, piston, hose, and fittings to reduce inflation time and can seat tubeless tyre beads. Large 2.5 inch gauge. Equipped with ABS Flip-Thread Chuck, Speed Chuck, ball/bladder adapters. 60 psi 56

2015 MTB Buyers Guide

The All-New Super 2R



WARNING: Bicycling is a dangerous sport which may result in serious injury or even death. For proper use of your helmet, please refer to the owner’s manual.









BELL HELMETS The technologies and capabilities of today’s allmountain bikes are light years ahead of where they were a few short years ago. Lighter weight, smoother suspension and new innovations such as dropper seatposts are enabling riders to tackle burly terrain at faster speeds. The 2015 Bell range of helmets were designed for this new era of progressive trail riding. It’s for riders who expect the lightweight performance of XC equipment combined with the confidence and stability of DH gear and everything inbetween.


2015 MTB Buyers Guide


RRP $299.95

True all-mountain performance is all about adaptability. It’s about being prepared to tackle any off-road challenge with confidence, comfort and style. With its game-changing removable chin-bar, the all-new Super 2R is two helmets in one. Remove and stow the chin-bar in your pack or on your rack on long climbs, then lock it in place when you’re ready to rip more aggressive terrain. It’s a quick and easy 1-2-3 set-up. Add in Overbrow Ventilation, TAG fit system and a new breakaway camera mount, and you have everything you need to conquer allmountain terrain.


RRP $179.95

Enduro racing, all-mountain shredding, heartpounding trail rides in backcountry terrain. This is the stuff Super was made for. It gives you full, extended protection with lower rear coverage than most of our competition – plus uncompromising comfort and ventilation to help you charge up the climbs. It’s loaded with technologies including cooling Overbrow Ventilation, integrated camera mount, and an upgraded TAG fit system that makes dialing in fit easier than ever. 2015 MTB Buyers Guide




RRP $599.95

You won’t find another helmet manufacturer with deeper roots in motocross. Much of what Bell engineers learned from creating its award-winning Moto-9 helmet went into the Full-9. Take that unrivalled experience, combine it with feedback from downhill and BMX champions, and you have the winning formula. Additional safety-oriented motocross trickle-down technologies include the Eject Helmet Removal System and magnetic cheekpads. Beyond that, the Full-9 includes features like Soundtrax, built-in speaker pockets and audio cable routing – plus slick mounts for Go-Pro or Contour cameras. Add in a lightweight carbon shell, a wide field of view, Overbrow Ventilation intakes and Velocity Flow Ventilation and you have the world’s most advanced helmet for DH or BMX.

OVERBROW VENTILATION The Overbrow Ventilation intakes work to actively usher cool air over the head via three ports on the brow of the helmet.


2015 MTB Buyers Guide



The Eject Helmet Removal System helps first responders to gently remove the helmet from a rider’s head, reducing the potential for secondary injuries.

Built-in speaker pockets and integrated audio cable routing, no goofy modifications needed!


RRP $299.95

You’ve seen high-zoot DH and BMX helmets with trickle-down motocross technology before. But you’ve never seen one like this. The Transfer-9 is a game-changer. It has years of Bell’s unrivalled moto experience deep in its DNA, and it’s designed for everyday shredding. That means you get many of the same features as the Full-9 at a price that’s built for everyday shredding.


RRP $149.95

Progression. It usually starts in the streets, and that’s where the new Full Flex was born. Engineered to inspire action sports athletes as they push new limits, it features full-cut style and protection with cutting-edge technologies – all packaged in a style that’s both modern and classic. The resilient EPP liner was specifically engineered for action sports, where crashes just happen. And the combination of two innovative technologies – FormFit and Double-Walled Construction – improves fit and protection.

EVENT XC RRP $129.95 Whether you’re toeing the start line at a local XC race, or hitting the trail for the first time, the last thing you want to worry about is your helmet. With its userfriendly fit features, comfortable cooling technologies, and off-road style, Event XC has you covered.

2015 MTB Buyers Guide


ALPINESTARS Built to withstand the toughest and longest MTB trails going, Alpinestars Enduro gear offers excellent levels of breathability, and durability. Race-inspired for performance – trust in Alpinestars when the going gets gnarly...


2015 MTB Buyers Guide


RRP (LS) 89.95 (SS) $79.95

Constructed from an advanced poly-fabric to promote moisture wicking and temperature control. Low open collar design Convenient internal terry cloth patch located on waist for cleaning eyewear. Easy-access pockets on either side incorporate Velcro速 for peace-of-mind closure. Hook on collar to securely fasten headphones. Available in short and long sleeve.


RRP $179.95

High performance Enduro shorts with a multi-material upper construction and rip-stop for maximised race performance and comfort. Elasticised crotch and rear yoke for added manoeuvrability. Seamless construction on the seat area for greater comfort. Rip-stop stretch textile reinforcements around lower hem for durability. Double seam reinforcements and seamless construction on the seat area for greater comfort. Soft mesh inner waist belt for comfort. Waist with front snap and side D-ring adjustments offers a highly customised to control the cooling performance of the shorts. Two front, deep pockets plus two zippered thigh pockets offer safe and convenient storage.


RRP $59.95

and durability. Perforated synthetic suede reinforcements on thumb area and palm for cooling Additional shock absorbing performance provided by neoprene padded knuckle. Poly-fabric patch to conveniently clean away dirt and grime. 2015 MTB Buyers Guide


ENVE WHEELS The ENVE MSERIES ushers in a new era of carbon mountain rims that are ride tuned for discipline specific performance; and plays host to new ENVE technologies that promise a ride experience second to none.


RRP $3499.00 (DT240)

50/50 - Descend/Ascend ratio ENVE made this rim specifically for the serious cross country racer who requires a no compromise race wheel that won’t let you down when you reach the top of the race course.



DT240 (CL):



1531g 28

Hole Count:













From $3449.00

(27.5/28H - DT240)

60/40 - Descend/Ascend ratio This wheel model pays tribute to the sport of mountain biking by honoring all the aspects of human powered ascents and technically challenging descents alike. This rim will elevate the fun factor to levels previously undiscovered.







DT240 (CL):




Hole Count:






374g 25mm 1433g 1543g 28,32

From $3399.00

(26/28H - DT240)

70/30 - Descend/Ascend ratio The M70 is light enough for uphill travel, but this rims pedigree lies in downhill racing. Sharing similar dimensions with its world cup proven big brother the M90, the M70 is built specifically for aggressive enduro and big mountain descents.









DT240 (CL):








Hole Count:




2015 MTB Buyers Guide






34mm 25mm 34mm


2015 MTB Buyers Guide




RRP From $3399.00

(26/32H - DT240)

90/10 - Descend/Ascend ratio The M90 is the re-embodiment of the venerable ENVE DH wheel that’s been ridden to multiple World Cup podiums and back to back World Championships by the Santa Cruz Syndicate. The M90 is stiffer, and stronger than any rim we have ever made. On top of the improvements made in ride performance and durability, the M90 is also tubeless allowing DH racers to enjoy the benefits of tubeless in a World Cup proven package. 32mm
















King DH:





Hole count:

RRP $399.95


RRP $349.95

Lightweight carbon construction and titanium hardware make this a perfect complement for the ENVE Sweep and Riser handlebars.

DIRECT MOUNTSTEM Designed to function in harmony with our world cup proven DH handlebars, the world’s only full carbon DH stem promises lighter weight, precision handling, and unprecedented strength.


The ENVE Mountain Stem is a perfect companion to the M-Series wheels and components. Featuring a choice blend of damping, stiffness, strength and weight, the ENVE Mountain Stem drives the desire to go further and faster.

SEATPOST RRP $369.95 RRP $349.95

An optimized shape capitalizing on the strengths of carbon fiber, paired with an efficient clamp design allows for maximum adjustment with single bolt simplicity.

MOUNTAINBARS Three configurations to ensure that you get the ride performance, fit, and feel that is just right for you, from 740mm XC at 180grams to pure DH, 800mm and only 235 grams.

RRP $239.95 - $299.95 66

2015 MTB Buyers Guide


Materials: Microtex Laser perforated / Anti-scratch Leather Outsole: UD Carbon Fibre / Removable Skid Plate Closure: Boa IP1

Insole: fi’zi:k Cycling Insole

Weight: 350g (size 43)

To discover more about shoes visit:




2015 MTB Buyers Guide


I had never heard of the Lofoten Islands until I was approached by an old buddy of mine and former racer Manfred “Mani-Shoot” Stromberg from Germany who was the photographer on this trip with German Enduro racer and photo rider Tobias Woggon. We had never done a trip together before, but my curiosity was sparked when they showed me some photos of Lofoten, these stunning and rugged looking islands above the Arctic Circle in Norway.

Snow, ice and cold temperatures come to mind when one hears about the Arctic Circle, but also the midnight sun, the Northern Lights and of course a bit of Viking history, who settled on the islands some 1300 years ago. Although the summers are short on the Lofoten, the days are very long and they are very unique and surprisingly mild, due to the Gulf Stream, that brings warm water and air to the Arctic waters of the Norwegian Sea. Turns out that there are only a few dozen mountain bikers on the islands, almost all of them live in the more populated central and northern part of the Lofoten where the terrain is much more gentle with rolling hills. We contacted one of the locals, Tommy Amundsen, who was happy to give us advice and showed us some of his favourite trails, but it turned out he had never even attempted to ride on the southern part of the islands, where our focus was. We read many guide books and hiking descriptions and the four of us planned to meet there in August 2013, too late for the midnight sun but still before the September weather would ring in another long and dark winter season. We met up in Oslo and flew from there 70

2015 MTB Buyers Guide

to Bodo, where we crossed the Arctic Circle. From there we took a ferry ride to Lofoten, where we finally arrived at 4am in Reine after traveling for nearly two days (and after missing the prior ferry by five minutes, which resulted in a additional seven hour wait). Reine is a quiet and picturesque fishing village, we had made arrangements to stay in a typical red fishing cabin, known as “Rorbu”, converted to provide the comforts of the modern traveller. We set out to explore some of the

trail didn’t even look promising or fun for a descent, which is usually the motivation for a hard hike. The other problem was loose stones, combined with other trail users provided a big hazard. Apparently some guy almost got hit on the head by a tumbling rock days before and a lady had fallen to her death after losing her footing on the steep trail. After ascending for over an hour we arrived at the ridge, the views lived up to the photos we’d seen, only the clouds kept hiding and revealing the bay below

Snow, ice and cold temperatures come to mind when one hears about the Arctic Circle, but also the mid night sun, the Northern Lights and of course a bit of Viking history, who settled on the islands some 1300 years ago. notoriously steep hiking trails on various day trips around Moskenesoya, the southern tip of the islands. I had brought my new GT Sensor 130mm bike, while Tobias was riding his BMC Enduro bike. Our first goal was to make it to the picture postcard spot, the Reinebringen Mountain, which grants unbelievable views over the fjords, countless lakes and ocean for those who take on the steep hike to the top. Getting up was not only steep, but the

in a constant game with our lenses. We continued further up the ridge, which had a good trail but eventually it stopped and we had to backtrack. I had hoped we could continue across the top to connect to some trails further down on the other side, but the terrain got too exposed to move forward without safety equipment. The downhill was great until we reached the steep part, which proved to be impossible to ride. I am constantly in search of steep

Turns out that there are only a few dozen mountain bikers on the islands, almost all of them live in the more populated central and northern part of the Lofoten where the terrain is much more gentle with rolling hills.

2015 MTB Buyers Guide


Not only did it rain sideways, but our trail literally turned into a river. It often made me wonder why the Vikings would have lived in such a harsh environment and how they coped with it, before they had highly technical outdoor gear and equipment like we had available.


2015 MTB Buyers Guide

and technical trails and to find my limits, I guess we found them that day, but that being said, the hillside we walked up and down, can hardly be described as a trail. I’m pretty sure no one before us had the crazy idea or determination to lug their bikes up and down this mountain. We used the second part of the day to meet up with our local contact Tommy and ride one of his favourite trails, near Leknes. This trail was about an hour’s drive to the north and the terrain was much more mellow and rideable on the uphill as well as the downhill. Tobias brought a fishing pole and off we went to catch some dinner. I knew Norway was known for fishing, but I never thought it would be as easy as throwing the line in the water and pulling it back out, each time with a fish dangling from the hook. Throughout the week this became a habit and Tobias turned out to be quite a cook. Later in the week we explored the trails to the Munkebu Hut, this must have been my favourite ride. We started not far from a village with the shortest name ever: “A”. Shortly after we had left the trailhead the trail traversed over a big cascading waterfall, we worked our way up the valley passing no less than 16 lakes that day. Even though we had to push and carry our bikes quite a bit on the way up, this terrain looked rideable at least downwards, even though it was still very technical. Trails in Lofoten are not defined and ancient as they are in the Alps, where most trails are old trading routes or military roads

2015 MTB Buyers Guide


that have been used and groomed for many years. The trails on the Lofoten Islands are just used by some hikers during their short summer, nobody maintains them much nor are they built to accommodate a Roman army or horse caravans with goods to trade, as a matter of fact, these trails often don’t go anywhere, except some view-spots in the mountains and in this case to a mountain hut, maintained by the Norwegian Mountain Club. It took us three hours to get there, including a few detours, and although the way down was faster it was just as exhausting. The trail was challenging and technical, upper body strength was required to maneuver our bikes across the rocky trail. But it was all worth it and at the bottom we had big smiles. The nice weather doesn’t always last and it started turning on us when we took the little ferry to Vindstad, a tiny settlement with about 15 houses on the other side of the bay. Turns out only one woman lives there permanently and looks after the sheep, apparently she


2015 MTB Buyers Guide

hasn’t left her hamlet once in 30 years, which is cut off by two big mountain ranges to the north and south and the open ocean to the west. We ended up exploring the whole area, including a high ridge that protects the settlement from the natural elements the Arctic Ocean would bring across. Once we crested the ridge, a beautiful big beach presented itself and a rather calm ocean. Soaking wet we ended up at the pier, waiting along with some other day guests for the only ferry of the day. The following days we explored some more trails on the mountainous islands, the Ryten was another east/west traverse, it rained so hard that even the sheep were seeking shelter, but it didn’t slow me down, even though it took some convincing for the rest of our group to push on. Not only did it rain sideways, but our trail literally turned into a river. It often made me wonder why the Vikings would have lived in such a harsh environment and how they coped with it, before they had highly technical

outdoor gear and equipment like we had available. Our last ride was not far from a village named ‘Bo’, I guess one can say we rode from A to Bo. As much as we can recommend this place for a visit, we kind of understand why most bikers here prefer to stay on the paved roads. No Way Norway.




KTV DRIVE PAIR LUMEN OUTPUT: Up to 15 lumens available- almost 10 hours of light (15 lumens front, 7 lumens rear) BUILT TO LAST: Compact sculpted aluminum body BE SEEN: Front and rear lights with 180 degree visability and 3 riding modes POWER UP: Rechargeable via integrated USB with Power Indicator LED monitor EASE OF USE: Clip-on system with versatile strap or clip mounting



ROCKSHOX Born out of a belief that the mold was meant to be broken. RockShox know one size does not fit all and that even the longest rides are too short to worry about your equipment. Their patented designs push the limits to bring the utmost in performance, control and adjustability to every product from the Charger Damper to the easiest to use thru-axle on the market, the Maxle, RockShox believe race-proven technologies shouldn’t just be for racers.


RRP $1,149.95 - $2,249.95

For nearly two decades, BoXXer has been piloted to the top step of the podium at downhill World Cup races and freeride events more than any other fork. With such a legacy, it’s no doubt the new BoXXer has already proven itself with Steve Smith’s World Cup overall victory and Kyle Strait’s Rampage win in 2013. The new BoXXer features the new Charger Damper, new air and coil spring systems, Rapid Recovery rebound, Fast Black stanchions and 27.5" options. And guess what: the lightest production downhill fork on the market is getting a whole lot lighter.


RRP $1,299.95 - $1,399.95

It is the new-school all-mountain and enduro riders’ weapon of choice. It has received critical acclaim by the global mountainbike media. It came out of the box and marched its way to an Enduro World Series overall title. And with good reason. PIKE was engineered to provide the plushest, most high-performance ride quality imaginable. Its Charger damper with Rapid Recovery keeps you riding high in the travel, where the feel is plushest, and maintains your bike’s natural geometry. Its stiffness to weight to travel ratios are unbeatable, meaning you get a lot more from a lot less. Better control from fewer and more intuitive rider inputs allow you to charge harder. Which equals time and energy for more laps. If all-mountain riding and enduro racing is how you describe a good day in the saddle, then PIKE should be on your ride.


RRP $499.95 - $599.95

When the Reverb dropper post was introduced in 2010, it instantly became the standard by which all other dropper posts are judged—and it continues to be the benchmark today. With infinite position control and return-speed adjustability, your saddle is always positioned perfectly for every riding style and trail condition. Reverb is hydraulically actuated, so weather and trail grime won’t change its consistent and silky-smooth feel. 76

2015 MTB Buyers Guide

Troy Brosnan during the Ft William MTB World Cup, Scotland. Photo Sven Martin 2015 MTB Buyers Guide


Andy Blair getting it done on the RS1. 78

2015 MTB Buyers Guide

FIRST RIDE: ROCKSHOX RS-1 As a SRAM sponsored athlete, Andy Blair was one of the first riders in the country to bolt on a pair of RS-1 forks; here’s what he had to say about the forks after nearly 6 months riding time on this revolutionary new suspension fork. The old adage “you shouldn’t try anything new for a big race” went completely out the window when my Rock Shox RS-1 arrived the week of the Port to Port race. I couldn’t get the fork mounted quickly enough and after a short test ride, I was really impressed by my first impressions of this revolutionary fork. With it bolted on the front of my S-Works Stumpjumper hardtail, on my first ride I felt like this fork had somehow allowed my bike to bridge the gap between my hardtail and my dually. I felt more in control on fast rough descents and definitely noticed its ability to stick the front tyre to the ground through corners. This was especially apparent on slow switchback climbs where you often don’t have a lot of weight on the front and the fork doesn’t usually do much work. In this setting, the plushness of the RS1’s small bump capability came into its own. With a win in my first outing on the RS-1 I had enough confidence to take it to the World Marathon Championships and the Commonwealth Games. In six weeks of travel and competition it didn’t miss a beat. Fast forward five months of riding on this fork and I’m still as impressed as I was with my first ride. Here is what I love about it:

The Bottomless Tokens I’ve historically set my forks up very stiff because I suppose I have a fairly aggressive riding style and I hate that feeling of them bottoming out. This has meant that I miss out on the advantages of having good small bump compliance. With the Bottomless Tokens (basically plastic blocks that go inside the air chamber to reduce the volume), you can easily tune the RS-1 to have the best of both worlds. You can control not only the stiffness (air pressure) but the way the fork ramps up in the bottom of the travel. It is such a beautifully simple innovation that has transformed the way I can tune my fork and what I can get out of it, enabling zero breakaway force but a good solid feeling when you hit something hard.

Mud Clearance In a brutally muddy stage of Port to Port, when other riders' forks were clogging with mud and stopping the front wheel from turning, mine was totally immune thanks to the amazing clearance and the lack of a crown. Buckled wheels and big tyres are also not a drama for an RS-1. You just keep pedalling.

The Feel The combination of the self-lubricating inverted seals, the location of the exposed stanchions being away from contamination and the uncompromising design and construction of the fork makes this one the stiffest and plushest fork I’ve ever ridden.

The Looks Check out the picture. Enough said.

ARTICLE:: ANDY BLAIR 2015 MTB Buyers Guide


SRAM GUIDE RSC BRAKE REVIEW The release of the new Guide brakes could not have come at a better time for SRAM. Although products like the PIKE fork and X0-1 drivetrain have been killing it lately, the brand has been in desperate need of a high performing brake system to compete with the likes of Shimano’s popular Ice Tech models. The Guides are actually the first offroad brake with a SRAM label, and they’re here to replace the outgoing Avid Elixir Trail series. So different is the Guide brake compared to the Elixir design that SRAM have ditched the Avid name altogether. Of course SRAM have drawn from Avid’s extensive technology bank, but they’re hoping that the re-branding exercise will provide them the fresh start they need with consumers. 80

2015 MTB Buyers Guide

Let’s make this clear though: the Elixir brakes are brilliant performers out on the trail…when they’re working. We’ve tested some that have been impeccable, and we’ve used others that have provided a few headaches. Unfortunately the unique Taperbore lever design has proven susceptible to trapping air bubbles, making them a difficult brake to achieve a perfect bleed with. Despite offering up buckets of modulation and power, the slightly squishy lever feel left room for improvement. Well aware of the existing idiosyncrasies with the Elixir brakes, SRAM set out to build upon the strengths of the previous design, while also addressing the noise and bleed issues that have turned some riders off in the past. SRAM is planning to steal back the market share by creating a quieter, smoother and more consistent performer in the Guide. There are three models in the Guide series. The $159 Guide R, the $189 Guide RS, and the model we have on test, the $239 Guide RSC. The difference in each model lies in the functionality at the lever end, where you get more adjustability as you go up in price. All

Guides share the same 4-piston caliper and are designed for XC, trail and All Mountain applications. In terms of weight and braking power, the Guide brakes sit between the super-light XX brake, and the heavy duty Code downhill disc brake.

Initial Impressions

Mounting up the Guide brakes across multiple test bikes has been a refreshingly simple process. The new hinged clamp design is not only friendlier on the handlebar surface, it also makes for quick installation. The levers are ambidextrous, making them super easy to swap left to right. If you’re running a full SRAM cockpit, you can also make use of the MatchMaker compatibility to bolt a SRAM trigger shifter and/or a Reverb remote to the same clamp. All of the Guide brakes feature a tool-free reach adjuster, with the indexed alloy dial positioned on the outer face of the lever blade. The previous Elixir Trails positioned this dial on the inside of the brake lever, which could cause fitting issues with GripShift units. The redesigned alloy lever blade is


now shorter too, making it stiffer and more ergonomic for single-finger braking. Internally, the new Guide brake lever is a very different beast to the Avid Elixir. Gone is the Taperbore master cylinder, and in its place is a more conventional timing port system. This relies on a standard cup seal to force oil through the hydraulic brake hose, while a redesigned bladder is profiled to evacuate air bubbles away up into the reservoir and towards the bleed port. This makes the Guide brake far more tolerant of sub-par bleeds, as any leftover air in the system is able to migrate away from the timing port and crucially, the hose. Adding to the Guides' consistency and reliability, the reservoir holds three times the volume of DOT 5.1 fluid compared to the Elixirs. Whereas the non-cylindrical shape of the Taperbore system allowed for a progressive delivery of fluid pressure, the Guide brakes rely on a mechanical solution to alter the relationship between lever throw and pad movement. They call this feature ‘SwingLink’, and it consists of a simple roller cam system that’s positioned between the lever and

the piston. Think of it like a rear suspension design whereby the linkage controls the suspension rate throughout the travel. As you squeeze the brake, the piston is actuated quickly to remove any deadband in the lever stroke. Once the pads engage the rotor, they slow down to help increase braking control, removing the grabbiness that some hydraulic brakes can display. SRAM point out that there’s more to braking performance than just power, and it’s the SwingLink that helps to deliver modulation and control of that power. It’s worth noting that only the Guide RS and RSC brakes feature the SwingLink design, with the Guide R brakes receiving a simpler DirectLink pivot system that is brought over from the previous X0 Trail brakes. At the other end of the hydraulic line, the 4-piston callipers should look familiar, as they’ve been carried over from the Elixir Trail brakes. They feature dual 16/14mm diameter pistons that also help to modulate power delivery. The top-loading sintered metallic brake pads remain, and the post-style calliper bolts up neatly without need for the old-style CPS washers. Providing the tabs on

your frame and fork are machined properly, this makes aligning the pads over the rotor a zillion times easier. Moving forward, SRAM will not be offering their brakes with rotors in the box. This is a smart move, as it allows consumers the choice to select the appropriate rotor size and hardware for their needs. However, the Guide brakes have been designed around the new Centreline discs, which have a more consistent braking surface compared to the previous HS1 rotors. This helps to reduce vibration under braking, resulting in quieter performance overall. They’re also better reinforced with 12 'spokes', making for a stiffer structure and one that is more resistant to expansion and contraction from temperature fluctuations. Centreline rotors are currently available in a 6-bolt pattern with diameters from 140mm up to 200mm. New generation products typically weigh less than their predecessors, but that’s not actually the case with the Guide RSC. There’s an extra 15 grams compared to the Avid Elixir X0 Trail brake, and the new Centreline rotor adds about 12 grams over the older 2015 MTB Buyers Guide


HS1 rotor. All up, our front brake with a 180mm Centreline rotor came in at 390 grams. That puts it around the same weight as the Deore XT brakes from Shimano.

On The Trail

Having first bolted up our test set of Guide RSC brakes back in August, we’ve had plenty of dirt miles to see whether the time and energy that SRAM have invested in the Guides has paid off. The first thing you’ll notice with the Guide brakes is just how smooth they are at the lever. Internally, an ultra-slick finish for the cylinder bore helps to reduce stickiness in the piston. The Guide RSC and RS models also feature a sealed cartridge bearing for the lever pivot, and the SwingLink gets a slippery Teflon bushing. All of this friction reduction is employed to eliminate any notchiness throughout the lever throw. The second thing you’ll notice is how solid the Guides feel as the pads engage. Forget the often-squishy feel of the Elixir brakes, as the Guides deliver nothing less than positive engagement. This gives you greater awareness of pad contact, and a greater ability to modulate the brakes power. Speaking of modulation, the Guide RSC has it in the truckloads. Of course there’s plenty of eye-watering power to be untapped as you squeeze the brake lever deeper into its stroke, but it’s the initial contact that feels so controllable. This made riding sketchy lines with a dusty and loose trail surface a whole lot more manageable. Panic braking on the Guide RSC brakes rarely resulted in locked wheels, which meant our tyres were in better contact with the trail more often. This trait was noticeable when jumping back onto a test bike with Shimano disc brakes, which felt grabbier in direct comparison. The Guides simply don’t give you the same “on/off” braking feel, and we feel that it’s here where SRAM have stepped it up over the competition. For the extra $120 per pair, the Guide RSC brakes add in an additional pad contact adjuster over the Guide RS. This large dial allows you to fine-tune the point at where the pads engage the rotor, which will please those riders who are particularly fussy with their lever setup. Along with the reach adjuster, the Guide RSC’s are incredibly easy to dial in to your preference. Our test brakes proved to be dead silent throughout the test period, with only a wet creek crossing causing a brief moment of brake squeal. Clearly the new Centreline rotors have done the trick. If you’re having noise issues with your current Avid brakes, upgrading to the Centreline rotors and a fresh set of pads is highly recommended. We can also attest to the measures that SRAM have implemented to minimise the affect of air bubbles in the system. After first installing and trimming the hydro lines on the Guide RSCs, we purposely decided not to bleed them, despite knowing there was some extra air that had entered the lines. Sure enough, those bubbles worked their way up into the fluid reservoir, where they remained trapped until we carried through a standard bleed procedure two months later. Despite the trapped air bubbles, the brakes retained their positive engagement and we experienced zero fade on extended downhill runs.

The Verdict

Avid’s products in recent years have had some issues, so the arrival of the new Guide brake has been met with considerable anticipation. We can happily confirm that it’s been worth the wait though, as the new Guide RSC brakes deliver on their claims of being a quieter, smoother 82

2015 MTB Buyers Guide

and more consistent performer. The 4-piston calipers offer up heaps of braking power, which we feel would be sufficient for downhill racing when paired with 200mm rotors. For trail riding however, most riders will find 160mm rotors front and rear to be more than sufficient unless you’re pushing 90+kg, in which case a larger rotor up front will be a good idea. Powerful as they are, the Guide RSC brakes' biggest strength is in their control and ability to modulate that power, which is important to riders of any skill level. The adjustments provide noticeable and usable changes in the setup, and the lever blade remained rock-solid throughout testing with zero slop developing in the pivot. Our only beef was that the reach adjuster could sometimes jam up a little, and while we didn’t experience any issues, the skinny bolt it’s mounted to does appear somewhat fragile. Otherwise everything held up as expected, with the classy anodised finish showing no signs of wear despite all the km’s we had racked up. There was minimal adjustment of the callipers required throughout testing, which is a sign of a solid rotor and plenty of pad clearance. While the Guide RSC’s aren’t exactly heavy, XC weight weenies will likely be hoping for a lighter 2-piston version, which we’re expecting isn’t too far away. If you can bear the extra 100 grams per end over the current XX brakes though, you’ll be rewarded with more power, more control, better reliability and quieter braking.

THIS IS YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A ZASKAR CARBON 9R ELITE WORTH $2699 A true piece of mountain bike history! From it's first iteration back in the 90's, the Zaskar has become one of the most well known hard tail frames within the mountain bike community. In 2015, the 29inch wheeled Zaskar retains it's all-mountain sensibility in a lightweight and tough carbon frame. Matched with a RockShox Recon Gold RL 29 fork with 100mm of plush travel, it's ready to tackle your trails and beyond. To enter, simply answer the following question. Q: Who is the long standing GT rider featured in the 2015 MTB Buyers Guide? Email your answer to with Zaskar Giveaway as the subject line before the 1st of August 2015. Make sure to include your contact details in the email. *Terms and Conditions 1. Entry is open to residents of Australia only. 2. Monza Imports employees and their immediate families are not eligible to enter. 3. One GT Zaskar Carbon 9R Elite ($2699 RRP) will be won by the first correct answer drawn on 4 August 2015 at Monza Imports Cycling offices, Altona North VIC. 4. The judges’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into. 5. The winner will be notified by email or phone on 7 August 2015. 6. The competition closes 1 August 2015 at 11.59pm with all last mail received on this date. 7. The promoter is Monza Imports.



DUAL INTEGRATED CROWNS Dual Crowns clamp to an oversize steerer above and below the headtube, distributing loads more evenly for a stronger and stiffer fork

ISOLATED DAMPER Sealed cartridge damper keeps air and oil separate for consistent, predictable damping

HYBRID NEEDLE BEARING SYSTEM This feature combines the friction-free action of our needle bearings with the all-weather sealing and additional support of a lower glide bearing. Smoother action under all loads and less maintenance than other forks

INVERTED DESIGN Like racing motorcycle forks, Lefty has the larger diameter fork tube on top, the best arrangement for fighting flex and increasing strength

Mark Weir


OverMountain Team Rider Loveable Lunatic

The One-Piece-Integrated lower leg and tapered 25mm-to-15mm axle are forged from a single piece of aluminum for incredible strength and stiffness

iction eliminate st d n a th g n and such rease stre ght flex, inc FER, STR on response fi si IF n to T e S y , it sp il R su b E a T LIGH , such fluid ique in its ise steering design is un c l a re ht. p ic d h c ra su ’s y vide — It’s so rig ro y p ft The Left e n L a c o s g rk o S No other fo ht weights. under load. credibly lig in h c su t a urability rock-solid d




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e s better. Th The best get Lefty e th to e at latest upd even stiffer features an p ultiple clam m structure, rk fo nger spacings, lo le terchangab rake, and in er p R dam XLR and PB controls

X 2.0


BIG. The Lefty goes ng kes everythi ta ax M Super at and re g y ft Le that makes lt: a it. The resu supersizes as ng ro st d an fork as stiff rks, fo H D own most dual cr t allos m an th yet lighter rks mountain fo


Jerome Clements and Mark Weir Photo Ale Di Lullo 86

2015 MTB Buyers Guide


From boundary-breaking, dual-travel, dual-geometry, two-in-one superbikes that redefine the “all� in all-mountain riding, to the light, responsive, versatile mid-travel full suspension bikes designed for fast trail riding, or the ultra-light, race-oriented hardtails for riders seeking the ultimate in efficiency and speed, Cannondale have you covered.

2015 MTB Buyers Guide


THE JEKYLL The Enduro platform that’s better anywhere is now better everywhere. Jekyll is the ultimate race weapon with upgrades from head (SuperMax front suspension) to tail (new Fox DYAD rear shock). With all-new geometry and 27.5” wheels, all-mountain shredders can climb like angels and descend like demons. Better still, you don’t need to be Enduro World Champion Jerome Clementz to take advantage of its dual, two-bikes-in-one personality.


RRP $8999

FRAME: Jekyll 27.5, 160/95mm, BallisTec Hi-MOD Carbon 

SUSPENSION R/F: 2015 Fox DYAD RT2 / SuperMax 2.0 Carbon PBR 160 27.5, 50mm offset  RD/FD/SHIFT/CRANK: SRAM XX1/X01/HollowGram Si XX1, 30t  BRAKES: Magura MT6, 180/180mm

WHEELSET: WTB Team Issue i23, tubeless ready, 27.5 /DT Swiss/Lefty SM COCKPIT: FSA Gravity Light/C1 Carbon/Reverb Stealth dropper  COLOR: Exposed Carbon w/ Black, Green, Matte 88

2015 MTB Buyers Guide



A steeper seat angle and longer top tube keeps the rider over the pedals and the front wheel planted on steep climbs, while a slacker head angle, longer front center and 50mm stem keeps things stable at speed.

Using fibers developed by the military for ballistic armoring, this high-strength carbon construction process yields a frame that’s lighter than aluminum and pound-for-pound stronger than steel. The alloy versions use our ultra sophisticated SmartFormed aluminum construction for a frame that’s light and strong.

SUPERMAX The all new 160mm travel SuperMax fork with 50mm rake brings a whole new level of steering precision and control to the Jekyll platform. The Enduro damper features our plushest high-speed compression tuning for big hits and super-fast response.

ECS-TC SYSTEM Clamped, 15mm thru-axles in the shock linkage and swingarm pivot, as well as double bearings at the rear dropouts eliminate flex and provide unmatched center-stiffness for complete control.

27.5” WHEELS The slightly larger wheel size provides the ideal blend of snappy acceleration, nimble handling and roll-over momentum.

TRAVEL 160mm to 95mm on-the-fly adjustable rear / 160mm front.

DYAD SHOCK Its unique dual-shock technology lets you transform your bike on the fly from long travel descender to short travel climber and back again, depending on your mood and whatever the trail is throwing your way.

DYAD RT2 Two-shocks-in-one technology, updated for 2015 with all new, Jekyll-specific damping and spring rates. More travel, a wider range of rebound adjustment and even plusher compression damping in FLOW mode for smoothing out big, high-speed hits and chatter.

2015 MTB Buyers Guide



RRP $7999

FRAME: Jekyll 27.5, 160/95mm, BallisTec Hi-MOD Carbon 

WHEELSET: WTB Team Issue i23, tubeless ready, 27.5 /DT Swiss/Lefty SM

RD/FD/SHIFT/CRANK: SRAM XX1/X01/HollowGram Si XX1, 30t 

COLOR: Exposed Carbon w/ Black, Green, Matte

SUSPENSION R/F: 2015 Fox DYAD RT2 / SuperMax 2.0 Carbon PBR 160 27.5, 50mm offset  BRAKES: Magura MT6, 180/180mm


COCKPIT: FSA Gravity Light/C1 Carbon/Reverb Stealth dropper 

RRP $5499

FRAME: Jekyll 27.5, 160/95mm, SmartFormed Alloy 

WHEELSET: WTB ST i23, TCS, tubeless ready, 27.5 / DT Swiss 

RD/FD/SHIFT/CRANK: Shimano SLX/Shimano Deore Hollowtech II, 40/30/22 

COLOR: Jet Black w/ Green, White, Gloss (01)- BLK

SUSPENSION R/F: 2015 Fox DYAD RT2 / RockShox Pike RC 27.5. 160mm, 51mm offset  BRAKES: Shimano SLX, 180/180mm 90

2015 MTB Buyers Guide

COCKPIT: Cannondale C1/C3/C3 

Marco Osborne Photo Ale Di Lullo



TRIGGER HAPPY Think you need a quiver of bikes? Think again. If you want a bike that excels on everything the mountain has to offer, get your fingers on the Trigger. With a flick of a switch, everything changes - travel, geometry, damping - transforming it from a near XC-race bike to an all-mountain stormer. So take control and take the Trigger anywhere you want to go. It’s the most versatile bike we’ve ever made and, quite possibly, the only bike you’ll ever need.


RRP $8999

Frame: Trigger 27.5, 140/85mm, BallisTec Hi-MOD Carbon  SUSPENSION R/F: 2015 DYAD RT2 / SuperMax 2.0 Carbon PBR 140 27.5, 50mm offset  RD/FD/SHIFT/crank: SRAM XX1/ SRAM X01/ HollowGram Si, BB30A, XX1 30t  BRAKES: Magura MT6, 180/160mm rotors WHEELSET: Mavic CrossMax SLR 27.5, tubeless ready  Cockpit: Cannondale C1/ C1/ RockShox Reverb dropper 

Color: Jet Black w/ Green, Yellow, Matte (01)- BBQ 92

2015 MTB Buyers Guide

ECS-TC SYSTEM Clamped, 15mm thru-axle in the swingarm pivot and doubled bearings in the link eliminate flex and provide unmatched center-stiffness for complete control.

ZERO PIVOT The carbon Triggers utilize our flexing Zero Pivot seatstays, which save weight and actually increase lateral stiffness over bearing pivot rear stays.

SUPERMAX The stiffness and steering precision of the Trigger’s SuperMax fork blows away anything else in the 140mm category. The Trail tune damper offers a great balance between XC efficiency and all-mountain suppleness.

27.5” WHEELS The slightly larger wheel size provides the ideal blend of snappy acceleration, nimble handling and roll-over momentum.

TRAVEL 140mm to 85mm on-the-fly adjustable rear / 140mm front.

ATTITUDE ADJUST Switching to the ELEVATE mode on the DYAD reduces the sag point, which raises the BB and makes the head angle steeper for a quick, efficient feel. FLOW mode drops the BB for a low, stable feel.

DYAD RT2 The DYAD shock provides the same two-shocks-in-one benefits and performance of the Jekyll, but dialed for the Trigger: the shorter travel (85mm) ELEVATE mode delivers near race-bike efficiency, while the longer travel FLOW (140mm) mode offers up a plusher, all-mountain feel.

ALL-NEW FRAME The new Trigger is a ground-up redesign based on the Trigger 29, but dialed in for 27.5” wheels. The BallisTec Carbon models are full carbon while the performance of the SmartFormed alloy versions highlights Cannondale’s aluminum expertise.

2015 MTB Buyers Guide



RRP $7499

Frame: Trigger 27.5, 140/85mm, BallisTec Hi-MOD Carbon  SUSPENSION R/F: 2015 DYAD RT2 / SuperMax 2.0 Carbon PBR 140 27.5, 50mm offset  RD/FD/SHIFT/crank: Shimano XT/X7/XT/SRAM S1400, PF30A  BRAKES: Shimano XT Trail, 180/160mm


RRP $4999

FRAME: Trigger 27.5, 140/85mm, SmartFormed Alloy  SUSPENSION R/F: 2015 DYAD RT2 / Fox 32 Evolution Float CTD-Fit 27.5, 140mm, 51mm offset  RD/FD/SHIFT/CRANK: SRAM X9/X7/X7/S1400 AM, BB30A 36/22  BRAKES: Magura MT4 180/160mm rotors 94

WHEELSET: Mavic Crossroc 27.5 WTS, tubeless ready  COCKPIT: Cannondale C1/C1 carbon/KS LEV Integra dropper  Color: Race Red w/Carbon, Black, Gloss (01)- RED

2015 MTB Buyers Guide

WHEELSET: WTB Frequency Race i19 27.5 TCS, tubeless ready/ SRAM X9  COCKPIT: Cannondale C3/C2 /X-Fusion Hilo dropper 

COLOR: Jet Black w/ Nearly Black, Green, Gloss (01) - BLK


2015 MTB Buyers Guide


SURGICAL SCALPEL Precise. Feather-light. Rock-solid. With its superior frame construction, stiff-and-smooth Lefty Fork and 29’er Race Geometry, the Scalpel is the most refined full-suspension XC bike in the world. Don’t fear the rough stuff or all-day rides— Zero-Pivot seat stays and ECS-TC thru-axles maintain your power so performance never takes a hit. Scalpel is the XC tool that gives racers and riders an edge on every trail.


RRP $9999

FRAME: Scalpel 29, 100mm, BallisTec Hi-MOD Carbon  SUSPENSION R/F: RockShox Monarch XX, 100mm/Lefty Carbon XLR 100 29, 45mm offset - Full Sprint  RD/FD/SHIFT/CRANK: SRAM XX1/XX1/HollowGram Si XX1, 32t  BRAKES: Avid XX, 180/160mm WHEELSET: ENVE CARBON TWENTY9 XC, TUBELESS READY/DT SWISS/LEFTY SL  COCKPIT: CANNONDALE OPI/FSA K-FORCE CARBON  COLOR: JET BLACK W/ GREEN, GLOSS (02)-GRN 96

2015 MTB Buyers Guide

REVERSIBLE HEAD TUBE SPACER To increase the versatility of the Scalpel, it comes with a 10mm head tube spacer that can be run either on top of the head tube for the most race-like handling, or on the bottom for a slacker head angle and more Trail-like handling. Does not affect front end height.

OPI STEM/ STEERER System Integrated 3D-forged stem and steerer are ultralight, flex-free and offer 15mm of height adjustability.

ZERO-PIVOT SEATSTAYS Through precise carbon lay-up, the stays are designed to flex vertically while remaining extremely stiff laterally and torsionally. This enhances suspension performance without affecting power delivery. Like the Jekyll, the alloy versions get ECS-TC double bearings in the dropout pivots in place of Zero-Pivot stays for smooth performance.

TRAVEL 100mm front and rear



No other fork can match Lefty’s winning blend of extreme light weight, precise handling stiffness and ground-hugging control.

Clamped, 15mm thru axles in the shock linkage and swingarm pivot eliminate flex and play, providing unmatched center-stiffness for optimum control and steering precision.

SUPERLIGHTWEIGHT DESIGN Available in BallisTec Carbon or SmartFormed Alloy versions. Add in System Integration of the Lefty fork, OPI stem/steerer and Hollowgram SL cranks and you get a complete bike weight our competitors can only dream of.

2015 MTB Buyers Guide



RRP $6999

FRAME: Scalpel 29, 100mm, BallisTec Hi-MOD Carbon  SUSPENSION R/F: RockShox Monarch XX, 100mm/Lefty XLR 100 29, 45mm offset  RD/FD/SHIFT/CRANK: SRAM X01/X01/HollowGramSi XX1, 32t  BRAKES: Magura MT4, 180/160mm


FEEL THE RUSH When you carve the perfect turn, clean that technical section, or power away from the group, there is no better feeling in the world. The Rush 29 combines the tacky grip and rollover-anything momentum of 29” wheels, with the playful handling, efficient pedaling and confident descending you need to take your riding to the next level. Hop on this high performance, high value, allaround trail shredder and feel the Rush.

RUSH 29 1

RRP $3199

FRAME: Rush 29, 100mm, Optimized 6061 Alloy   SUSPENSION R/F: Fox EVO CTD, 100mm/Fox Float 32 CTD 29, 100mm   RD/FD/SHIFT/CRANK: Shimano SLX/Deore/SLX/Deore Hollowtech II, 38/24  BRAKES: Shimano Deore, 180 front /160mm rear rotors WHEELSET: Stan’s ZTR Rapid 29, tubeless ready/Formula COCKPIT: Cannondale C4/C3/C3 

COLOR: Jet Black w/ Gray, Black, Matte (01)- BBQ 98

2015 MTB Buyers Guide


RRP $5999

FRAME: Scalpel 29, 100mm, BallisTec Hi-MOD Carbon  SUSPENSION R/F: RockShox Monarch RL, 100mm/Lefty PBR 100 29, 45mm offset.   RD/FD/SHIFT/CRANK: SRAM X9/X7/X7/S1400 BB30, 38/24  BRAKES: Magura MT2, 180/160mm

RUSH 29 2


RRP $2499

FRAME: Rush 29, 100mm, Optimized 6061 Alloy   SUSPENSION R/F: RockShox Monarch RL, 100mm/RockShox 30 Gold TK 29, 100mm  RD/FD/SHIFT/CRANK: Shimano SLX/Deore/Deore/M522 Hollowtech, 42/32/24  BRAKES: Shimano M445 hydraulic disc, 180/160mm

WHEELSET: Alex DC3.0 29/Formula  COCKPIT: Cannondale C4/C2/C3 

COLOR: Berzerker Green w/ Black, White (04)- GRN 2015 MTB Buyers Guide


THE FULLY INTEGRATED F-Si If you want breakthrough performance, you’ve got to break some rules. The all new F-Si isn’t just a new hardtail – it’s a fully integrated performance system, designed from top to bottom with just one goal - to dominate the extreme terrain of modern World Cup XC courses. Our System Integration approach to design and Ai (asymmetric integration) frame and drivetrain deliver traction, system stiffness, ride comfort and new-school handling that non-integrated designs simply can’t match. The future of XC is here.


RRP $9799


2015 MTB Buyers Guide



Designed specifically for the Lefty, this 3D-forged stem and steerer are ultralight, flex-free and offer 15mm of height adjustability.

The all-new SAVE seatpost has been redesigned to save almost 50 grams and deliver 20% more deflection.

SPEED SAVE MICROSUSPENSION By pairing precise tube shapes with sophisticated carbon lay-up, we are able to create areas on the rear chainstays and seat stays and seatpost that can deflect to absorb shock, while staying completely rigid laterally and torsionally. This enhanced vertical compliance greatly improves rider comfort and rear wheel traction, so you can ride faster, longer.

LEFTY 2.0 All new Lefty features an even stiffer structure with a unique 55mm offset for ultra precise handling and is offered in multiple clamp spacings for improved fit.



The Ai system allows for the shortest chainstays in the category (429mm), which moves the rear wheel forward to be more under the rider, resulting in exceptional lateral stiffness and race-winning traction.

The F-Si spider moves the chainrings out 6mm to match the rear triangle with no change in Q-factor. This enables the super short chainstays while providing ample mud clearance for the tire and maintaining double and single ring compatibility.


RRP $6499

FRAME: F-Si Asymmetric, BallisTec Hi-MOD Carbon, SPEED SAVE  FORK: Lefty 2.0 PBR 100 29, 55mm offset  RD/FD/SHIFT/CRANK: SRAM X01/X01/HollowGram Si, Ai, 32t BRAKES: MAGURA MT4 180/160MM 




OF XC It’s time to get back to the pure, simple joy of riding in the mountains. It’s time for the 2015 GT Helion. THE GOOD TIMES ARE BACK AT GTBICYCLES.COM/KissMyAOS



Marc Beaumont during the first round of the UCI MTB World Cup, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. Photo Sven Martin 104

2015 MTB Buyers Guide

GT'S GRAVITY PHILOSOPHY Whether he’s a Resort Rat or out there testing against the clock, the Gravity Rider needs a bike that can stand up to the rigors of gravity riding. The GT downhill rigs are built for the rider who is not looking to compromise performance in any way. A gravity rider will want to jump further and ride faster, and not want to back out. FIT

This is where the wide bar phenomenon started! DH riding is all about control and GT makes sure that they spec their bikes to give you the most control. Direct mount 30mm stems and 800mm wide bars will give you all the control you need only if you can hold on. You better start doing push and pull ups!


220mm rear travel with a DH specific designed ID system and 203mm in the front will give you a bike that will stick to the ground when you want it and will take flight as needed. GT has worked with the Atherton’s from day one on this project to make sure that the geometry was spot on. Yeah its alloy but it is still 300g lighter than the Fury Carbon from previous years. So if you are having a slow day it is probably not the bike.


The Athertons and Marc Beaumont have had complete input into the development of this bike. Everything from the geometry to how the bike should feel through every type of terrain possible was taken into account. What came out was a bike that is going to separate the men from the boys in the world of DH product development.


Key spec for 2015 GT Gravity models includes: - 200mm dual crown downhill forks - Powerful brakes w/ 203mm rotors - Wide bars – 800mm - Short stems – 30/50mm - Continental 6-ply downhill tyres - 27.5" wheels


INDEPENDENT DRIVETRAIN Developed in conjunction with the GT Factory Racing, GT took the original Independent Drivetrain™ and made a design specifically for gravity performance. They have made it their goal to bring you something unlike any bike that you’ve ridden; one that will drive you to progress and take it to your personal edge.


IMPROVED BOTTOM OUT RESISTANCE 10% suspension progressivity

IMPROVED PEDALING EFFICIENCY Reduced pedal feedback, increased BB and HT stiffness = more power to drivetrain with less flex, improved suspension sensitivity = better wheel tracking and traction

IMPROVED SMALL BUMP SENSITIVITY Reduced breakaway threshold (pressure required to initiate suspension activity)

2015 MTB Buyers Guide


RAGING FURY Designed with race-inspired geometry, plenty of travel, and a gravity specific Independent Drivetrain system, the Fury not only makes it to the top of the podium, but the top of the Worlds under Gee Atherton.


RRP $6499

FRAME COR Downhill Design, 6069-T6 alloy 27.5 frame, 210mm travel Independent Drivetrain™ suspension system FRONT SUSPENSION Fox Racing Shox with adjustable high speed/low speed compression & rebound REAR SUSPENSION Fox Racing Shox with adjustable high speed/low speed compression, rebound, & bottom-out CRANKSET Shimano Saint DRIVETRAIN Shimano Saint, Shadow Plus WHEELS/HUBS Stan’s NoTubes Flow EX, Shimano Saint Centerlock disc BRAKES Shimano Saint with 203mm IceTech rotors 106

2015 MTB Buyers Guide


RRP $5499

FRAME COR Downhill Design, 6069-T6 Alloy 27.5 Frame, 210mm Travel w/Forged Linkage, Pivots, 1.5” Head Tube, and 12 x 150mm Thru Axle Dropouts

CRANKSET Shimano Zee, FC-M645, 165mm, w/ 36T Ring

FRONT SUSPENSION Fox Racing Shox 40RC2 FIT 27.5, 203mm Travel, FIT damper,

WHEELS/HUBS Stan’s NoTubes Flow EX, 32H/ Shimano Zee hubs

REAR SUSPENSION Fox Racing Shox DHX RC4, 9.5”x3”, w/ Adjustable Rebound & Compression

BRAKES Shimano Zee, 203mm rotors



RRP $4299

FRAME COR Downhill Design, 6069-T6 alloy 27.5 frame, 210mm travel Independent Drivetrain™ suspension system

CRANKSET RaceFace Chester

FRONT SUSPENSION RockShox Boxxer with adjustable rebound

WHEELS/HUBS Jalco, Shimano

REAR SUSPENSION Fox Racing Shox Van with adjustable rebound w& compression

DRIVETRAIN Shimano Zee, Shimano Zee Shadow Plus BRAKES Shimano Zee, 203mm IceTech rotors 2015 MTB Buyers Guide


ALL MOUNTAIN PHILOSOPHY Steep climbs, high alpine singletrack, gnarly descents, and the possibility of having to put your bike on your back is what the All Mountain Rider lives for. He needs the most versatile -- and the most fun -- mountain bike. FIT

With a short stem, wide bars, and a long front center you will have the control that you need to have your bike be called All Mountain. Get ready to ride a bike that can get you there and back and then some.


With 160mm front travel and 150mm rear, and bad ass geometry, you have a bike that is very capable. Adding the Shimano 1x10 drivetrain, the 180mm disc rotors, and premium suspension gives the bike the ability to ride a super wide range of trails.


In developing the AOS Suspension System, GT engineers have controlled the wheel path, the angle of attack, pedalling efficiency, and suspension feedback, you will feel a ride that smooths out the terrain, is responsive, stable, pedals extremely well, and will have the wheel path of a DH bike.


Key spec for 2015 GT Gravity models includes: - 160mm forks with 34mm stanchions - Powerful brakes with 180mm rotors - Short stems – 50mm

BUMP COMPLIANCE A high main pivot allows the wheel movement in the direction of the impact, improving small bump sensitivity.

ANGLE OPTIMIZED SUSPENSION GT’s Angle Optimized Suspension is the only design that separates your pedal stroke from the actual suspension, so all the effort you put into pedaling stays with your pedaling and your suspension only reacts when you need it to. GT has used a high pivot for optimum shock absorption and maximized pedaling efficiency, paired to the PathLink which neutralizes any pedaling-induced problems and eliminates chain growth. Everything about the suspension is low. So you are centered above the bike and get handling and comfort like never before.

IMPROVED ROLLING 27.5 wheels and the pivot placement provides unparalleled roll over performance. 108

2015 MTB Buyers Guide

PATH LINK Complete drivetrain independence, maximizing pedaling and suspension performance.

EFFICIENT PEDALING PathLink minimizes pedal feedback for optimized pedaling.


2015 MTB Buyers Guide


FEEL THE FORCE Versatility is the name of the game with GT’s all mountain lineup. The Force X is purposebuilt to take you anywhere and everywhere you want to go on your bike. The AOS system is designed to get the most pedaling efficiency on the way up and, when paired with the 27.5" wheels, rolls over obstacles better than the Grave Digger at a monster truck rally. Built to take on everything, the Force X is your all mountain answer. Loaded up with our AOS system, over 150mm of travel, and 27.5” wheels, GT has built the perfect machine to put the whole mountain in your crosshairs.


RRP $5999

FRAME COR All Mountain Philosophy, FOC Ultra Carbon Frame, 150mm Travel AOS Independent System 1 1/8” to 1 1/2” Integrated Head Tube, and 12 x 142mm Maxle

Rebound & Compression Adjust & lockout

FRONT SUSPENSION RockShox Pike RCT3, 160mm Travel, 15mm Maxle, w/ Lockout & Rebound Adjust, Tapered Alloy Steerer

DRIVETRAIN Shimano Deore XT Shadow Plus,

REAR SUSPENSION Fox Racing Shox Float X CTD w/ Adjust Kashima, 7.5”x2” Air Shock, w/

BRAKES Shimano XT Centerlock IceTech rotors 203mm (f), 180mm (r)


2015 MTB Buyers Guide

CRANKSET RaceFace Turbine Basic, 32T Narrow Wide WHEELS/HUBS e.thirteen TRS+ 650b, Scandium


RRP $5199

FRAME COR All Mountain Design, FOC Ultra carbon frame, 160mm travel, 27.5 Independent Drivetrain速 AOS system FRONT SUSPENSION Fox Racing Shox with adjustable rebound & compression, lockout REAR SUSPENSION Fox Racing Shox Float X CTD adjust, with rebound & compression adjust CRANKSET RaceFace Evolve


DRIVETRAIN Shimano SLX Shadow Plus, Shimano SLX WHEELS/HUBS WTB, Shimano BRAKES Shimano Deore with Centerlock rotors 203mm (f), 180mm (r)

RRP $4399

FRAME COR All Mountain Design, 6069 hydroformed aluminum frame, 160mm travel Independent Drivetrain速 27.5 AOS system

CRANKSET RaceFace Evolve

FRONT SUSPENSION Fox 3 with lockout & rebound adjust

WHEELS/HUBS WTB, UST Tubeless, Shimano

REAR SUSPENSION Fox Racing Shox Float CTD with rebound adjust & lockout

BRAKES Shimano SLX Centerlock IceTech rotors 203mm (f), 180mm (r)

DRIVETRAIN Shimano Deore XT Shadow Plus, Shimano SLX

2015 MTB Buyers Guide



2015 MTB Buyers Guide

THE 27.5 STORY We know you have options when it comes to choosing a bike, and that’s why GT has made the decision an easy one. They have designed their bikes around a mid-size wheel, with the rider in mind. The 27.5” wheel provides greater rollover vs a 26” wheel without the added weight that comes with a bigger 29” wheel. It’s like a match made in heaven.

When you stop to consider all of the benefits you get from 27.5” wheels, perhaps the biggest one is frame geometry. Since GT didn’t have to compete with the challenges of a 29er wheel, they could design a geometry that allows you to enjoy the ride. GTs 27.5” bikes are a happy medium of the two wheel sizes, with better roll over, increased momentum, and more traction than a 26”, but with a smaller rotational mass, more agility, lighter weight, and better acceleration than a 29er. It really is the best of both worlds.


The 27.5” wheel also means a better fit for riders of all sizes. From an XS all the way up to an XL, the wheels fit the rider so they never have to compromise on ride feel.


In the end, the way GT designs their bikes is not just based on how fast they roll, because we know there’s a lot more to your ride than just going downhill. It’s also about how your bike performs when you’re accelerating, braking, and climbing. The 27.5” wheels seamlessly blend everything you need into one incredible ride, without the added weight that comes with a bigger 29” wheel.

2015 MTB Buyers Guide


THE SENSOR You push hard on the uphill so you can charge back down and do it all over again and GT has your back with the hard-charging full-suspension Sensor. So go ahead, get into an all-out brawl with the dirt beneath your wheels.


RRP $5499

FRAME COR Trail Design, FOC Ultra carbon frame, 130mm travel Independent Drivetrain速 27.5 AOS system FRONT SUSPENSION Fox 34 FLOAT 27.5 CTD FIT, 150mm travel, with lockout & rebound adjust REAR SUSPENSION Fox Racing Shox Float CTD BV, with rebound adjust & lockout CRANKSET RaceFace Turbine Basic DRIVETRAIN Shimano Deore XT, Shadow Plus WHEELS/HUBS e.thirteen TRS+ Centerlock wheelset BRAKES Shimano Deore XT with 180mm rotors


With a short stem, wide bars, and a longer front center you will have all the control you need on descents but without sacrificing climbing ability.


With a range of travel to suit your desired trails and 180mm disc rotors, and premium suspension that gives the bike the ability to rip on your favorite trails. 114

2015 MTB Buyers Guide


By controlling the wheel path, the angle of attack, pedaling efficiency, and suspension feedback, you will feel a ride that smooths out the terrain, is responsive, stable, pedals extremely well, and will have the wheel path of a DH bike.


- Lightweight brakes w/ 180mm rotors


RRP $4499

FRAME COR Design, FOC Ultra carbon frame, 130mm travel Independent Drivetrain速 27.5 AOS system FRONT SUSPENSION RockShox Revelation Solo Air, 150mm travel with lockout & rebound adjust REAR SUSPENSION Fox Racing Shox Float CTD BV, with rebound adjust & lockou CRANKSET Shimano SLX

DRIVETRAIN Shimano SLX & Deore XT Shadow Plus WHEELS/HUBS WTB, All Terra Centerlock BRAKES Shimano SLX Centerlock IceTech rotors 203mm (f), 180mm (r)



RRP $2699

FRAME COR Trail Design, 6069 hydroformed aluminum frame, 130mm travel Independent Drivetrain速 27.5 AOS system FRONT SUSPENSION RockShox Sektor Silver Solo Air, 130mm travel with lockout & rebound adjust REAR SUSPENSION Fox Racing Shox Float CTD, with rebound adjust & lockout CRANKSET Shimano Deore 3 x 10 DRIVETRAIN Shimano Deore XT Shadow Plus, Shimano SLX WHEELS/HUBS Alex, All Terra Centerlock disc BRAKES Shimano Hydraulic, with 180mm Centerlock rotors

RRP $3499

FRAME COR Trail Design, 6069 hydroformed aluminum frame, 130mm travel Independent Drivetrain速 27.5 AOS system FRONT SUSPENSION RockShox Revelation Solo Air, 130mm travel with lockout & rebound adjust REAR SUSPENSION Fox Racing Shox Float CTD BV, with rebound adjust & lockout CRANKSET Shimano Deore 2 x 10 DRIVETRAIN Shimano Deore, XT Shadow Plus WHEELS/HUBS WTB, All Terra Centerlock disc BRAKES Shimano Deore Hydraulic, with metallic pad & 180mm Centerlock rotors 2015 MTB Buyers Guide


HELION When GT started building bikes, it was all about hitting the trails with your buddies, not just gearing up for a long race weekend. We’ve developed the Helion for the XC rider who wants to go hard with friends and, sometimes, get rewarded with a cold beer instead of a medal. Stable, maneuverable, and lightweight, the all-new GT Helion is the ultimate blend of past, present, and future fun.


RRP $6899

FRAME COR XC Philosophy, FOC Ultra Carbon Frame, 110mm Travel Independent Drivetrain® AOS Suspension System w/Forged Linkage, Pivots, 1 1/8”-1 1/2” Integrated Head Tube, and 12 x 142mm Maxle FRONT SUSPENSION Fox 32 FLOAT 27.5 CTD FIT w/ Adjust Kashima, 110mm Travel, 15QR, w/ FIT Damper, Lockout & Rebound Adjust, Tapered Alloy Steerer


REAR SUSPENSION Fox Racing Shox Float CTD Remote BV w/ Adjust Kashima, 6.5”x1.5” Air Shock, w/ Rebound Adjust & Remote Lockout CRANKSET RaceFace Next SL Carbon, 32T, Narrow Wide DRIVETRAIN XTR 11 Speed WHEELS/HUBS Stan’s NoTubes Crest, ZTR Tubeless, 32H/ DT240 Hubs BRAKES Shimano XTR

The XC Rider wants more than just a race bike. He wants a bike built for good times on the mountain. Whether it’s a day long pedalfest with buddies, or a weekend of cross country competition, he’s about charging it and not tradition. 116

2015 MTB Buyers Guide


RRP $5299

FRAME NEW COR XC design, FOC Ultra carbon frame, 110mm travel Independent Drivetrain® 27.5 AOS system with forged linkage FRONT SUSPENSION Fox Remote FIT, 110mm travel, with FIT damper, remote lockout & rebound adjust REAR SUSPENSION Fox Racing Shox Float CTD Remote BV, air shock, with rebound adjust & remote lockout CRANKSET RaceFace Turbine Basic DRIVETRAIN Shimano Deore XT WHEELS/HUBS Stan’s NoTubes Crest, DT Swiss 350 Centerlock BRAKES Shimano Deore XT, with 180mm IceTech rotors

HELION CARBON EXPERT RRP $4499 FRAME COR XC Design, FOC Ultra carbon frame, 110mm travel Independent Drivetrain® 27.5 AOS System with forged linkage FRONT SUSPENSION RockShox Reba Solo Air, 110mm travel, with remote lockout & rebound adjust REAR SUSPENSION Fox Racing Shox Float CTD Remote BV, Air Shock, with rebound adjust & remote lockout CRANKSET RaceFace Turbine Basic DRIVETRAIN Shimano Deore XT Shadow Plus, Direct Mount WHEELS/HUBS Stan’s NoTubes Rapid 25, Shimano BRAKES Shimano Deore XT with 180mm IceTech rotors


RRP $3999

FRAME COR XC Philosophy, 6061-T6 Hydroformed aluminum, 110mm Travel Independent Drivetrain® AOS Suspension System w/Forged Linkage, Pivots, 1 1/8"-1 1/2" Integrated HT FRONT SUSPENSION Fox 32 FLOAT 27.5 CTD Remote FIT, 110mm Travel, 15QR, w/ FIT Damper, Remote Lockout REAR SUSPENSION Fox Racing Shox Float CTD Remote BV, 6.5"x1.5" Air Shock, w/ Rebound Adjust & Remote Lockout CRANKSET RaceFace Evolve, 32T Narrow Wide DRIVETRAIN Shimano XT 1x10 with e*thirteen 42T booster cog WHEELS/HUBS WTB STi23, UST Tubeless, 32H, Shimano SLX, FH-M678, Centerlock Disc, 12x142mm Thru Axle BRAKES Shimano Deore XT, BR-M785 Hydraulic, & RT-81 180mm Centerlock IceTech Rotors


RRP $2499

FRAME COR XC Design, 6061-T6 hydroformed aluminum frame, 110mm Travel Independent Drivetrain® 27.5 AOS system FRONT SUSPENSION RockShox XC32 TK 27.5 Solo Air, 110mm Travel, 15x100mm Maxle, w/ Remote Lockout & Rebound Adjust, Tapered Alloy Steerer REAR SUSPENSION X-Fusion 02 RL, 6.5"x1.5" Air Shock, w/ Rebound Adjust & Remote Lockout CRANKSET Shimano Deore, FC-M625, 38/24T, 2x10 DRIVETRAIN Shimano, Shimano SLX / Deore WHEELS/HUBS WTB STi23, UST Tubeless, 32H, All Terra Alloy Cassette Centerlock Disc, w/ QR BRAKES Shimano BR-M447Gloss HydroNavy w/ 180mm Centerlock Rotors 2015 MTB Buyers Guide



One of GT's most famous frames has been refined even further for 2015. The Zaskar represents the pinnacle of hardtail development.


RRP $3129

FRAME F.O.C. Ultra™ Speed Blend Carbon Frame, Triple Triangle™ Frame Construction, F.O.C. BB30 Shell, Dropouts, and 1 1/8” to 1 1/2” Tapered Head Tube, w/ 9R Specific Geometry FRONT SUSPENSION RockShox Reba RL 29, Solo Air, 100mm Travel, 15x100mm Maxle Thru Axle, w/ Rebound Adjust, PushLoc Remote Lockout, & Tapered Alloy Steerer

CRANKSET RaceFace Evolve, 32T, Narrow Wide DRIVETRAIN Shimano SLX/XT WHEELS/HUBS Stan’s Notubes Rapid 25, 29”, 32H BRAKES Shimano SLX



RRP $1999

FRAME 27.5 Speed Metal Ultra™ alloy blend hydroformed Triple Triangle™ frame construction FRONT SUSPENSION RockShox Recon Solo Air, 100mm travel, with rebound adjust, PushLoc remote lockout, & tapered alloy steerer CRANKSET Shimano SLX DRIVETRAIN Shimano Deore, XT Shadow Plus WHEELS/HUBS WTB, All Terra Sealed Bearing Centerlock disc BRAKES hydraulic with metallic pad & 180mm (f), 160mm (r), Centerlock rotors 118

2015 MTB Buyers Guide

RRP $1649

FRAME 27.5 Speed Metal Ultra™ alloy blend hydroformed Triple Triangle™ frame construction FRONT SUSPENSION RockShox Solo Air, 100mm travel, with rebound adjust CRANKSET Shimano Deore DRIVETRAIN Shimano Deore, SLX Shadow Plus WHEELS/HUBS Alex, All Terra alloy Centerlock disc with quick release BRAKES Shimano hydraulic, with 180mm (f), 160mm (r), Centerlock rotors


2015 MTB Buyers Guide





There is only ever one beginning and Intense was there. They were there when Shaun Palmer decided to “try out” mountain biking and drove the cross-over of downhill mountain biking from an obscure activity to the front pages of national newspapers. Shaun refused to wear the lycra suits that the other downhill guys were racing and instead wore moto-inspired baggy shorts and shirts. The world’s best downhillers, even when flying the colors of competing brands, still raced on Intense built chassis; Brian Lopes, John Tomac, Leigh Donovon, Mike King, Chris Kovarik, Greg Minaar, Sam Hill, Lisa Sher, Cheri Elliott, Vanessa Quinn, Sabrina Jonnier, Markus Stöckl and, of


2015 MTB Buyers Guide

course, Shaun Palmer. Intense Cycles have recently announced that Shaun has come back to the family.....not that he ever left. Intense have also signed long-time friend and former Intense racer (under another company’s badge), Brian Lopes this year. Brian is still one of the fastest guys on the planet going up or downhill, and Brian’s presence will be felt more and more in the new bikes we have coming in the years ahead.



THE TRACER 275 The Tracer is Intense’s 275 wheel-size 145-160mm trail bike that has become one of the top-raced bikes on the global Enduro circuit. For 2015, the carbon and aluminium bikes have the exact same geometry as the all-new Tracer Alloy uses hydroformed tubes that mimic its carbon big brother while shedding over a pound from last year’s version. The Tracer is now available in 3 builds for alloy and 3 builds for carbon.


RRP $14299 (ABOVE)

FRAME 27.5” Tracer Full Mountain Carbon Front and Rear Triangle, VPP Suspension Technology, Internal Derailleur, Brake & Dropper Post Routing, ISCG 05 Mount, 140 -160 mm adjustable travel CRANKSET SRAM XX1, 32T REAR DERAILLEUR SRAM XX1 X-Horizon Carbon, 11 speed BRAKES Shimano XTR Hydraulic Disc FORK RockShox Pike RCT3, 160- mm travel REAR SHOCK Rock Shox Monarch Plus RC3 WHEELSET 32 Hole DT Swiss 240 15mm Front Hub; 142x12 Rear Hub w/ XD Driver. 32 Hole ENVE M70 Rims, Tubeless Ready


RRP $8999 (RIGHT) FRAME 27.5” Tracer Full Mountain Carbon Front and Rear Triangle, VPP Suspension Technology, Internal Derailleur, Brake & Dropper Post Routing, ISCG 05 Mount, 140 -160 mm adjustable travel DRIVETRAIN SRAM X01, 11 speed BRAKES Shimano XT Hydraulic Disc FORK RockShox Pike RCT3, 160mm Travel REAR SHOCK RockShox Monarch Plus RC3 WHEELSET 32 Hole No Tubes 3.30 Hub 142 x 12mm Rear w/XD Driver, 15mm Front. No Tubes ZTR Flow Ex Team 275 Rims


2015 MTB Buyers Guide


RRP $8199

FRAME 27.5” Tracer Full Mountain Alloy Front and Rear Triangle, VPP Suspension Technology, Internal Derailleur & Dropper Post Routing, ISCG 05 Mount, Downtube Flak Guard Armour, 140 -160 mm adjustable travel DRIVETRAIN SRAM X1, 11 speed BRAKES Shimano XT Hydraulic Disc FORK RockShox Pike RCT3, 160mm Travel REAR SHOCK RockShox Monarch Plus RC3 WHEELSET 32 Hole No Tubes 3.30 Hub 142 x 12mm Rear w/XD Driver, 15mm Front. No Tubes ZTR Flow Ex Team 275 Rims

TRACER 275 ALLOY EXPERT RRP $7799 FRAME 27.5” Tracer Full Mountain Alloy Front and Rear Triangle, VPP Suspension Technology, Internal Derailleur & Dropper Post Routing, ISCG 05 Mount, Downtube Flak Guard Armour, 140 -160 mm adjustable travel DRIVETRAIN Shimano XT, 10 speed BRAKES Shimano XT Hydraulic Disc FORK 34 Fox Racing Show Float 27.5 CTD O/C Evolution REAR SHOCK RockShox Monarch Plus RC3 WHEELSET No Tubes ZTR Flow Ex Team 275, 3.30 Hub 142 x 12mm Rear w/XD Driver, 15mm Front

TRACER 275 ALLOY FOUNDATION RRP $5199 FRAME 27.5” Tracer Full Mountain Alloy Front and Rear Triangle, VPP Suspension Technology, Internal Derailleur & Dropper Post Routing, ISCG 05 Mount, Downtube Flak Guard Armour, 140 -160 mm adjustable travel DRIVETRAIN Shimano SLX, 10 speed BRAKES Shimano BL M506 FORK X-Fusion Sweep RL2 27.5”, 160mm REAR SHOCK Fusion 02 RL Air 200 x 57mm WHEELSET 32 Hole Intense Tuned, 142 x 12mm Rear, 15mm Front. Sun Inferno 27 Rims, 27.5”

2015 MTB Buyers Guide


CARBINE 29 The Carbine 29 is our 140mm travel 29er trail bike built for fun and speed with true grace and beauty that one would expect from an Intense. For 2015, it is offered in an all new graphic package and is available in two colors. The bike has been upgraded to have an all-new rear triangle with carbon-integrated drop-outs for a sleeker, more refined look and more rigid feel. The Carbine 29 is now available in four builds including this stunning Factory model. Of course there's also the 275 models...


RRP $13299

FRAME Carbine 29 Full Mountain Carbon Front and Rear Triangle, VPP Suspension Technology, Internal Derailleur, Brake & Dropper Post Routing, ISCG 05 Mount, Downtube Flak Guard Armor, 125 -140 mm adjustable travel FRONT SUSPENSION RockShox Pike RCT3, 160- mm travel REAR SUSPENSION Cane Creek DBinline Air 200x55 mm CRANKSET SRAM XX1, 30T DRIVETRAIN SRAM XX1 X-Horizon Carbon, 11 speed WHEELS/HUBS 32 Hole DT Swiss 240 15mm Front Hub; DT Swiss 240 rear hub, 142x12. 32 Hole ENVE M70 Rims BRAKES Shimano XTR Hydraulic Disc


2015 MTB Buyers Guide

2015 MTB Buyers Guide



RRP $8699

FRAME Carbine 29 Full Mountain Carbon Front and Rear Triangle, VPP Suspension Technology, Internal Derailleur, Brake & Dropper Post Routing, ISCG 05 Mount, Downtube Flak Guard Armor, CRANKSET SRAM X1, 30T REAR DERAILLEUR SRAM XO1, 11 speed BRAKES Shimano XT Hydraulic Disc FORK RockShox Pike RCT3, 160- mm travel REAR SHOCK Cane Creek DBinline Air 200x55 mm WHEELSET 32 Hole NO TUBES 3.30 HUB 142x 12 mm rear w/XD Driver, 15 mm front. NO TUBES ZTR Flow EX Team 29 Rim


RRP $8399

FRAME Carbine 29 Full Mountain Carbon Front and Rear Triangle, VPP Suspension Technology, Internal Derailleur, Brake & Dropper Post Routing, ISCG 05 Mount, Downtube Flak Guard Armor, CRANKSET Shimano XT, 38/26T, 10 speed REAR DERAILLEUR Shimano XT, 10 speed BRAKES Shimano XT Hydraulic Disc FORK RockShox Pike RC, 160- mm travel REAR SHOCK Monarch Plus R 200X55 HV MM Custom Tune, 200x55 mm WHEELSET 32 Hole NO TUBES 3.30 HUB 142x 12 mm rear, 15 mm front. NO TUBES Rapid 28 Team 29 Rims


2015 MTB Buyers Guide

CARBINE 275 The Carbine 275 carbon is offered as a complete bike only for a fantastic price so that you can have a perfect out-of-box experience. It’s a fully built trail bike at a great value. Available in a variety of colours, all of them flo-yellow.


RRP $5499

FRAME Carbine 275 Monocoque UD Carbon Front and Rear Triangle 27.5” Mountain Frameset, Downtube Flak Guard Armor, G1 Replaceable Dropouts w/ 142 x12 mm spacing, 130 -150 mm adjustable travel CRANKSET Shimano SLX, 24/36, 10 speed REAR DERAILLEUR Shimano SLX 10 speed BRAKES Shimano BL M506 FORK X-Fusion Sweep RL2 27.5”, 160 MM, 15QR REAR SHOCK X-Fusion 02 RL Air WHEELSET 332 Hole Intense Tuned, 142x 12 mm rear, 15 mm front, 6 Bolt Wheel Set, Sun Inferno 27 Rims, 27.5” 2015 MTB Buyers Guide



The Spider 29C is our big wheeled 130mm travel trail bike built for fire roads and flowy singletrack. For 2015, we have refreshed with an all-new graphic package and it is offered in 2 colours. The Spider 29 is now available in 3 builds including this beautiful factory model in Golden Yellow.


FRAME Spider 29C Monocoque UD Carbon Front and Rear Triangle 29” Mountain Frameset, VPP Suspension Technology, Internal Derailleur Cable Routing, Downtube Flak Guard Armor, ISCG 05 Mount, G1 Replaceable Dropouts w/ 142 x12 mm spacing, 115 -130 mm adjustable FRONT SUSPENSION RockShox Revelation RCT3, 130- mm travel REAR SUSPENSION Cane Creek DBinline Air 200x50 mm

CRANKSET SRAM XX1, 30T REAR DERAILLEUR SRAM XX1 X-Horizon Carbon, 11 speed WHEELS/HUBS 32 Hole DT Swiss 240 15mm Front Hub; DT Swiss 240 rear hub, 142x12. 32 Hole ENVE M60 Rims BRAKES Shimano XTR



RRP $8699

FRAME Spider 29C Monocoque UD Carbon Front and Rear Triangle 29” Mountain Frameset CRANKSET SRAM X1, 30T REAR DERAILLEUR SRAM XO1, 11 speed BRAKES Shimano XT Hydraulic Disc FORK RockShox Revelation RCT3, 130- mm travel REAR SHOCK Monarch RT3, HVI MM 320 S, 200x50 mm WHEELSET 32 Hole NO TUBES 3.30 HUB 142x 12 mm rear w/XD Driver, 15 mm front. NO TUBES Arch EX Team 29 Rims 130

2015 MTB Buyers Guide

RRP $8399

FRAME Spider 29C Monocoque UD Carbon Front and Rear Triangle 29” Mountain Frameset CRANKSET Shimano XT, 38/26T, 10 speed REAR DERAILLEUR Shimano XT, 10 speed BRAKES Shimano XT Hydraulic Disc FORK RockShox Revelation RL, 130- mm travel REAR SHOCK Monarch RT3 200X50 HV mm Custom Tune WHEELSET 32 Hole NO TUBES 3.30 HUB 142x 12 mm rear, 15 mm front. NO TUBES Rapid 28 Team 29 Rims


2015 MTB Buyers Guide


THE 951 EVOLVES The 951 has become the most coveted park bike throughout the world and we will continue this model for the 2015 season with new specification packages including this stunning DVO – equipped special edition. The 951 EVO DVO was specially designed by our development team to showcase the all-new DVO front and rear suspension system.


RRP $8999

FRAME 6061 Aluminum 27.5” DH Frameset, ISCG 05 Mount, w/150 x 12mm spacing, 215mm Travel DRIVETRAIN SRAM X01 DH, 7 speed - 10-24 cassette BRAKES Shimano Saint 203mm font/back rotors FORK DVO Emerald 27.5” Green w/Tapered Steer 200 MM Travel, 20mm QR REAR SHOCK DVO Jade Coil Shock 9.5 x 3 WHEELSET 2 Hole Spank Industries - Spoon hubs 150 x 12mm Rear, 20mm Front to suit 6 bolt rotors Subrosa 30AL EVO 27.5”, Oohbah(TM) Profile, 32H, ETRTO 584mm x 24.5mm, Polished Emerald Green


2015 MTB Buyers Guide

2015 MTB Buyers Guide


HARD EDDIE The Hard Eddie is our 29 inch hardtail built for pure speed and lightweight for fire roads, singletrack and weekend racing. For 2015, we have refreshed with an all-new graphic package and it is offered in this fresh arctic blue on carbon. The Hard Eddie 29 is now available in 3 builds including this beautiful Pro model.

HARD EDDIE EXPERT RRP $5999 FRAME 29� Hard Eddie Hardtail Frameset, Internal Derailleur Cable Routing, Downtube Flak Guard Armor, G1 Replaceable Dropouts w/ 142 x12 mm spacing FRONT SUSPENSION RockShox SID RLT, 100- mm travel CRANKSET Race Face Turbine, 38/26T, 10 speed DRIVETRAIN Shimano XT, 10 speed WHEELS/HUBS 32 Hole NO TUBES 3.30 HUB 142x 12 mm rear, 15 mm front. NO TUBES Rapid 28 Team 29 Rims BRAKES Shimano XT Hydraulic Disc


2015 MTB Buyers Guide


RRP $6699

FRAME 29” Hard Eddie Hardtail Frameset, Internal Derailleur Cable Routing, Downtube Flak Guard Armor, G1 Replaceable Dropouts w/ 142 x12 mm spacing FRONT SUSPENSION RockShox SID RCT3, 100- mm travel CRANKSET SRAM X1, 30T DRIVETRAIN SRAM XO1, 11 speed WHEELS/HUBS 32 Hole NO TUBES 3.30 HUB 142x 12 mm rear w/XD Driver, 15 mm front. NO TUBES Crest Comp 29 Rims BRAKES Shimano XT Hydraulic Disc


RRP $4999

FRAME 29” Hard Eddie Hardtail Frameset, Internal Derailleur Cable Routing, Downtube Flak Guard Armor, G1 Replaceable Dropouts w/ 142 x12 mm spacing FRONT SUSPENSION X-Fusion Trace RL, 100- mm travel CRANKSET Shimano CS-HG50-10, 11-36T, 10 speed DRIVETRAIN SRAM X9, 10 speed WHEELS/HUBS 32 Hole Intense Tuned, 142x 12 mm rear, 15 mm front. Sun Inferno 23 Rims BRAKES Shimano XT Hydraulic Disc 2015 MTB Buyers Guide




2015 MTB Buyers Guide

2015 MTB Buyers Guide




Every year as summer begins to bid

the Southern Hemisphere farewell, manufacturers in the mountain biking

industry start to roll out their latest and greatest wares. Marketing and PR teams go into overdrive, working

hard to spread the word and build in-

terest (or hysteria) among consumers

ahead of the arrival of the Northern Hemisphere summer season. Every year as summer begins to bid the

Southern Hemisphere farewell, man-

ufacturers in the mountain biking

industry start to roll out their latest and greatest wares. Marketing and PR teams go into overdrive, working

hard to spread the word and build in-

terest (or hysteria) among consumers

ahead of the arrival of the Northern Hemisphere summer season. 138

2015 MTB Buyers Guide

Like it or not, the machine of marketing, advertising, and sales is an important part of the sport of mountain biking. Quite simply, if ‘the man’ doesn’t sell product, there won’t be any new product for us to ride and enjoy. One of the many cogs in this process is us, the media. Be it printed magazine, web magazine, photographer, videographer, or blogger, we all play a role in the process of getting new products into the hands of the end user, you. Most of the big brands understand this well and put considerable effort into introducing journos to their latest bikes, components and accessories. These introductions often take place in some form of media launch, commonly referred to as a junket. In late February, SRAM hosted a dozen of the ‘world’s best’ media in Queenstown at the first of their Trail House product launches for 2014. The event was downhill orientated, focusing on the launch of the SRAM X01 DH drivetrain and the latest and greatest RockShox Boxxer fork (to read about the products, check out our write-ups on the

Spoke website). Here’s an insight into what went down during the week-long, inaugural SRAM media event in New Zealand—Trail House New Zealand. So, why New Zealand? Why go to the expense of shipping the necessary people, equipment, and media halfway around the globe? Tyler Morland, who manages PR and media for everything mountain bike at SRAM (and was at the helm of this event), says there were three reasons: timing, scenery, and the trails. SRAM needed a location where they could host an event early in the year and be reasonably confident in the weather. They wanted a backdrop that would yield inspiring and fresh imagery for marketing material, and of course they wanted outstanding riding that would provide a solid proving ground for their products and inspire their guests to wax lyrical. With New Zealand fast gaining a reputation as a world-class riding destination amongst migratory Pros and holidaying industry professionals, SRAM had gotten wind of the buzz and thus decided it was time to head south.

SRAM have been running their Trail House events for four years now and have them well dialled. To borrow an analogy from our own popular culture, the Trail House formula is like a good mullet, with just the right balance of business (up front), and partying (out back). The vibe is spot on; chilled but professional. From the PR and marketing team, to the product managers and engineers, to the mechanics working hard to keep our rides in tip-top shape, to the Pros (current and former), and the other media, everyone seemed to gel well. Mind you, it’s hard not to when you all share a common passion and you’re riding great trails in a beautiful setting. HQ for the week was a rented home on Fernhill, just a short pedal from Skyline Gondola, and an even shorter sprint in a rental van from the media accommodation. With majestic views from the deck out over Lake Wakatipu towards the Remarkables and great weather all week, we spent a good portion of our non-riding time here out in the sun enjoying fantastic food

(prepared by local hostess with the mostess Rachel) discussing bikes, components, trails, and the industry, our post-ride thirst satiated and our conversation lubricated by a steady supply of beer. The core ‘business’ activity took place on the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The first two of these days we started with an overview of the new products (XO1 DH on the Tuesday and Boxxer on the Wednesday). These sessions were run by the respective product managers (Chris Hilton and Jeremy Boobar) and gave us a solid introduction to the functionality of the new products, the conceptual thinking behind each design, and an insight into the process of developing and testing them. 2013 DH World Cup overall winner Stevie Smith was also on hand to answer any questions we had regarding his experience racing and testing the products as one of SRAM’s Black Box athletes. After a few hours of familiarising ourselves theoretically with the products we then headed over to the Skyline Park to ride and test for the remainder of the day. For this

process we each had two bikes. On day one we rode Devinci’s downhill weapon, the Wilson, fitted with the new X01 DH 7-Speed drivetrain and 2013 Boxxers. On day two we headed out on Intense’s 650b version of their flagship 951 EVO fitted with both the new drivetrain and the 2014 Charger damper-equipped Boxxer fork. Skyline was a great location for these two days as the quick gondola ascent and the range of trails made it easy to test a variety of terrain in quick succession and repeatedly. This was particularly valuable with the Boxxer as it gave us time to become familiar (or reacquainted) with the 2013 model on day one and compare the performance of the new fork on day two, while also tweaking and changing settings to dial in our preferred setup and to better understand the fork’s range of behaviour. With SRAM crew riding alongside us—or somewhere out in front of us—there was always someone on hand to answer questions and make adjustments should we need them. Over the course of these two days we were impressed by the performance of both products. 2015 MTB Buyers Guide


Above Left: The original X0 trigger shifter quickly became the tool of choice for downhillers thanks to its punchy action and thumb-only operation. The new model steps it up to 11. Above: The narrow-wide X-Sync tooth profile is key to chain security with X0-1 DH. Hollow carbon crank arms deliver wads of strength and stiffness. Above Right: Just like the X0-1 derailleur, only chunky. And with a super-short cage for better chain control. Above Far Right: Everything you need, and nothing you don’t. The 7-speed cassette ensures tight ratios and reliable shifting every time. Left: First debuted on the brilliant PIKE, the sealed Charger damper takes the BoXXer’s trail control to an all-new level. Below: No need to change coil springs, the World Cup BoXXer is air-sprung. The red Bottomless Tokens add tune-ability to the forks spring rate. Below Right: This is what you call a purebred race bike. With 216mm of travel, 27.5” wheels and a 62.5-degree head angle, the Intense 951 EVO proved to be a precision tool for dissecting the performance of the new BoXXer and X0-1 DH groupset.


2015 MTB Buyers Guide

The XO1 DH 7-Speed drivetrain made perfect sense as a downhill adaptation of the popular XX1 and simply performed as it should out on the trail. The addition of the Charger damper to the new Boxxer really has stepped up its performance. This was cleverly highlighted by SRAM by sending us out on last year’s model on day one.

the brilliant Botswana Butchery. The atmosphere was relaxed and good natured with none of the formalities that tend to accompany business dinners. We flew home the next day tired, slightly hung over, full of information, and confident that if SRAM continue to develop product as well as they mix business with pleasure, there’ll be plenty of successful seasons to come.

With the more formal testing and trialling complete, day three was a day of adventure and a chance to explore some of the other riding around Queenstown. First up were shuttles on the lower Remarkables downhill trails, followed by a short heli ride to the top of Coronet Peak and a blast from there down into Skippers Canyon via the fantastic Rude Rock trail and the new Skippers Canyon trail. We finished our final day’s riding with a welcome beer or two in the sun beside a stream at the trail end.

Thanks to all the crew from SRAM that brought the Trail House event to our fair shores, in particular Duncan Riffle for keeping us media riff-raff in line.

Our week at Trail House was capped off with a great meal at

The real stars of the show of course were the Boxxer forks and the XO1 DH groupset and we had a good poke around inside after we’d finished riding them. For the full tech-geek rundown on the Boxxer head to and for the XO head to



2015 MTB Buyers Guide


Words by Ross Measures

Images by Adrian Marcoux and Ross Measures


2015 MTB Buyers Guide

2015 MTB Buyers Guide


Our plan was simple: We wanted to experience a mountain bike trip that was all about getting out there, getting lost and getting it done. We’d all become accustomed to familiar trails and perfectly maintained bike parks. And usually, even when we ride new trails, we have locals along, keeping us from losing our way and often showing us the best lines. The goal here, though, was to find old-school adventure on rugged terrain in a completely unfamiliar location. This was about using our mountain bikes to get us from point A to point B in a limited amount of time and with minimal support. Bad weather, poor directions, bruised bodies and battered bikes — none of this was going to stop us. In the end, through the suffering and rain and cold, through the minutes and hours of uncertainty, we experienced a lot more than we’d ever anticipated. And we’re all a bit richer because of it.

Our trip began here. June 22nd

Golden Saddle Cyclery: Ty Hathaway’s bike shop is a refuge from the chaos of Los Angeles. Road bikes, mountain bikes and everything in between get ridden out the front door and into the hills above LA. Its rough-around-the-edges environment is a haven for those looking for something different. 26” Wheels are still going strong here. The team really came together when we all had to share some of the load from Ty’s bike box.

June 23rd.

The endless switchbacks and tunnels disoriented our sense of North, South, East and West. We arrived at Auberge col de Brouis¬—the sun was setting, and so was my mind as I battled the 20 hours of travel. The map is extensive, and the queue cards give us detailed directions of where we’ll spend our first day. They didn’t make a whole lot of sense, but I thought we’d figured it out. 144

2015 MTB Buyers Guide

June 24th

Cue cards with local knowledge guided our journey.

We’re not fully sure what we’re getting into today, even over breakfast we didn’t fully digest the map and instructions. All we really know for sure is that between now and tomorrow evening we’ll be living out of our riding pack. Looking at the map, the rifugio we’re staying at tonight is a long way from here, so I’m

Me, realizing the difference between where we were, and

where we were supposed to be.

guessing we’ll be getting some shuttles in between. The only advice our guide Ash left us with last night was to stay away from the Pyrenees Mountain dogs that guard the sheep in this region. So when Lyle was attacked this morning, everyone suddenly took Ash’s warning a lot more seriously. Lyle is shaken, but ok. His kit is ruined though. Hopefully we don’t run into any on the trail. We came here to get lost, but I hope that we’re only lost in theory—not reality. Two minutes into the ride and Lyle is on the ground. His derailleur hanger is broken. He’s having a great morning. One wrong turn and we’re heading back up the trail and debating on how to read the map. We came across a ruined home, fully strangled in millions of vines. I have never seen anything like it — it must be ancient.

When our driver pulled over to double check his map everyone piled out to get their next Instagram. Far below us were the never-ending switchbacks that travelled up to Col de Tende. Instead of taking this road, we crossed under the mountain in a narrow single-lane tunnel, and then travelled up to the Col via the Italian side, which offered vehicle access to the ridge. Fort Tabourde, Rifugio don Barbera. Our driver, Christian dropped us at the fort. He provided us with strictly en-Francais instructions. Thank god Adrian speaks French, because my 5 years of French language in school has proven useless. Adrian took the directions in and we were on our way. Only 4 kilometers to the rifugio At Fort Pepin we crossed an exposed snow bank, which spanned at least 200 feet. One wrong step and a 1000-foot slide lay below. After Lyle’s luck earlier in the day, all eyes were on his safety.

2 minutes into the ride, and Lyle was on the ground..


His deraileur hanger was broken.

A long descent meant we had a 10-minute, on-the-shoulder hikea-bike out of the ravine. It was gnarly in the 90-plus degree heat. There was an overhanging-certain-death corner above Breil-sur Roya that snuck up on me. I survived. Tyler made it look easy.

We climbed to Fort Pepin (2263m) without headache.

High up the Liguria border ridge road, we realized we were 9 kilometers into our 4-kilometer ride — and nowhere close to our destination. The view distracted us from this reality of our situation. And this was the point where the sun disappeared. I’m not normally one to panic, but I began taking a mental inventory of everything in my bag in case we were forced to overnight in the alpine.

June 25th

I can’t believe how last night turned out. We just kept pushing on through the snow until the road turned back downhill. We followed it all the way to the ridge above the rifugio, where Tyler ran into Eizo the innkeeper who was ready for a midnight rescue. I couldn’t tell whether he was surprised, relieved or angry. Either way he prepared us amazing risotto. We discovered that our shuttle driver had dropped us off nearly 10 kilometers from where he was supposed to have dropped us. We added to that by taking a wrong turn…or two. I’m okay with this; we experienced an incredible ride, no matter how lost we were. Eizo helps Tyler translate the set of directions onto our map. They seem easy to follow, right? The rest of us pull on our damp gear while drinking bowls of coffee for breakfast. Yes, bowls of coffee. Welcome to Italy.

We climb out of the rifugio, straight onto the military road along the French-Italian border. From the top we see the route we had taken from the forts into the mountains. It seems so far away. The descent from the Cine is grassy singletrack traversing the slope. We come to the ridge and make a wrong turn.

We got to the top, and crossed back over,

here we rode amazing singletrack through the forest, and then back out into the open.

The magic of Europe is found in the ever-flowing fountain of every small town square. We were given three options for our afternoon route to Rifugio Franco Allavena, and after our experience on the first day, we chose the quickest. It’s the first time that we arrive within the suggested amount of time. The closer we get to the rifugio, the trail becomes rockier, and the fog turns to light rain. It’s the first time we’ve seen any ominous weather. Ramon the innkeeper was pleasant and the Rifugio was large but empty of guests. The three-minute shower was a roller coaster of hot and cold. He served us linguine, pheasant, salad and pomme frites. Large Morettis all around.

June 26th

After two days of late starts, we realize there has been no suggestion of when we should actually start our rides each day. Today we’re beginning early, maybe 9:00 AM. Outside it’s cloudy with no rain, but the thunder in the distance is unnerving. The route today looks to be the longest that we’ve taken so far. I’m itching to get back out there, the riding yesterday was so different from anything I’ve ever experienced on my mountain bike. Everywhere we go we’re passing unnatural history — there are ruined castles and military infrastructure everywhere. It’s eerie to think about the things this region has experienced in the last couple millennia. Although without the world wars, many of the roads and trails we’re gushing over wouldn’t be here. Everyone’s digging into 146

2015 MTB Buyers Guide

the Nutella and bread — hearty breakfast for hearty rides. “ After two solid days on the legs, everyone was starting with dead thighs and sore calves. The road back out was 45 minutes of solid, gravel-road climbing back to the upper ridge that we would follow for much of the day. According to the directions, this was the ride that would also give us the most exposure, as we rode knife ridges. The directions warned of black “mineshafts” that are on the edge of the trail. They are apparently bottomless. We crossed back over into France. This was where the exposure began — and so did the rain. Here is where the rain hammered us the hardest. We didn’t even stop to throw rocks into the mineshafts. Just keep moving…. Eventually, in the shadow of Mont Torrage, we found an overhang. Lunchtime. Joining us under the overhang was a group of sweatpant-clad, wine-drinking Italians. They were underprepared for the weather, but I was jealous of their vino.

Just beyond, the exposure began.

So did the rain. The rocky singletrack, became rocky creekbed. It became lunchtime very quickly.

2015 MTB Buyers Guide


We ended up in the trees for the next portion of trail,

and at some point the rain stopped

it was too late, we were soaked.

We camped on top of the mountain above Sospel,

where we had a roaring campfire. I piled up my soaking-wet gear as close as I could get it without it toppling into the flames.


2015 MTB Buyers Guide

At this point we knew we were looking for Marker 437, and we were told that it might no longer be there. Because of this, we spent a solid hour terrorizing cows, riding through their shit and, of course, ruining our now soaking wet lifeline, the map. In the process we stumbled upon a battlement set on the peak of a knife ridge. I can’t even imagine sitting up there during the war — so exposed. We backtracked a bit and found our trail. Towering cliffs above and below. We dropped almost 2,700 feet in no time at all. The trail was relentlessly steep; we were on the brakes forever. But the coffee in Fanghetto was getting closer by the minute. Twelve hours in the very wet saddle, 4,100 feet of climbing, and 25 miles, but we weren’t finished yet. At the café, we received our next set of instructions. As the sun disappeared we dropped into the dark trail. Unlike the trails we have ridden this week, this trail is months old, not centuries. It had loam, lots of it. We were squinting to see where we were going for almost 20 minutes before riding into a creek bed. All around us were fireflies, a million of them it felt like. Tonight we are going to camp on top of the mountain above Sospel, we’re going to have a campfire, which we can hopefully dry our shoes in front of—I might be getting trench foot at this point.

June 27th

Last night was surreal, as we slept beside a monstrous battlement. Far below us were the lights of Sospel, where Ash had taken us in for dinner at his home. We had a roaring campfire, and I piled up my soaking-wet gear as close as I could get it without it toppling into the flames. My shoes and chamois are dry, my socks and gloves are fresh and, apparently, breakfast this morning will be at the English hotel in Sospel — sausage, eggs, bacon, ham, beans, toast and Wi-Fi. I plan on three helpings of each. The trail we’re riding this morning is right out of the campsite and straight down to the restaurant. Later this afternoon, we plan to descend all the way to the warm Mediterranean. It doesn’t get much better than this. Last night the fire was awesome, I melted my shoes, but they were dry come morning. Fresh chamois and I was good to go. We climbed to our final descent, where Ash joined us. On the way up we acquired a new friend: a Pyrenees mountain dog who had decided he liked Ty and followed us. Lyle was unimpressed.

I had 3 helpings of each.

2015 MTB Buyers Guide


While we were only truly lost once, I felt lost in time the whole week. Every day we rode something different, experienced something new, or saw something that was incredible. The history that we were able to see along our routes was just surreal; never in North American could we even imagine to see, let alone explore, some of the bunkers and castles we were able to venture inside.

Map and Directions

Acre Supply Hauser Pack (14L)

Near the bottom of the trail, we passed through an abandoned mansion on the hill. 150

2015 MTB Buyers Guide

The view from the balcony was incredible.

Ash guided us on the final descent to the mediterranean.

It might have been the rockiest descent of my life.

This descent might have been the rockiest of the trip. My hands are really sore as I write this. And it was long, really long. While we were in the sun, it was cloudy below us, obscuring our view of the Med thousands of feet below. The most docile group of cows arrived, stumbling through the rocks and slipping in their own shit. A crazy Italian guy screamed at them as he pushed them along the trail. Near the bottom of the trail, we passed through an abandoned mansion on the hill. The view from the balcony was incredible. How this house hasn’t been repurposed or restored is insane. At this point, even though it looked like we were close to the sea, we were still so high above. Super yachts were on the horizon.

Eventually, the clouds disappeared, and

we could see our final destination.

something new, or saw something that was incredible. The history that we were able to see along our routes was just surreal; never in North American could we even imagine to see, let alone explore, some of the bunkers and castles we were able to venture inside. I feel incredibly lucky to have had the chance to take my mountain bike across the ancient roads and trails of the Alpes-Maritimes. It’s humbling to know how hard the people who built the trails and roads must have worked, creating lifelines through incredibly rugged terrain. I am sure they could never have imagined the type use that we got out of them this week. We’re back at Auberge col de Brouis for the night. I am going to finish this beer, and then pass out for at least 12 hours. I am sleeping in tomorrow.

Menton was our final terminus. We all put our legs in the sea. Band Aids and garbage floating everywhere. Gross, but fuck it, we didn’t care about that. We rode so much today. It was amazing, just an amazing end to our adventure. The clouds finally cleared as we neared the sea and entered back into civilization. It was strange: Suddenly the sound of traffic on the highway was irritating, and the cabanas and crowded beach felt claustrophobic. Unfortunately, It didn’t last long though, as my body re-acclimatized to the city life. That brief moment, though, was a feeling I won’t soon forget. While we were only truly lost once, I felt lost in time the whole week. Every day we rode something different, experienced 2015 MTB Buyers Guide


Interview: Shane Taylor Photography: Outerimagecollective / Marathonimages / Auroraimages A win at the Flight Centre Epic, currently second place in the Maverick MTB series and within striking distance of Shaun Lewis with a good result at the Highland Fling, top 10s in pretty much everything else you have entered this year…is this a breakout year or just the culmination of a few years of consistent build up? Nah, I’ve actually placed a $500 wager with on the Wombat [Shaun Lewis] to win that series. He is pure class and has it wrapped up with three consistent results already. The way things will pan out with the best of three from four mean that I will get 3rd or 4th at best. [James finished the Fling in 9th, putting him in 4th overall in the Maverick MTB Series] The Flight Centre Epic was a good day and I had good form, but ultimately I also had the least amount of bad luck. I’m a realist and know how strong I was in that race against the other guys. I’m not the fastest or strongest, but will always finish a race no matter what. I’m not sure whether it is a breakout year or whether it is probably a combination of a few


2015 MTB Buyers Guide

things… I’ve changed a bit here and there, implemented a few other things into the mix…but it is also a bit of a cumulative effect that you can gain from all the work done over the course of the years provided it has been in a consistent and sustainable manner. I was talking to ex Drapac Cycling Pro, Tom Palmer, about the ‘form factor’ and he has a theory that good form goes in an 18 month cycle. That is a pretty interesting concept and makes you wonder sometimes. Last year I had a shocker for about six months early in the year. I couldn’t figure it out at the time, but looking back through the training records I noticed a few things like some crashes that occurred that may have taken longer to heal from, some things I didn’t do in training, and some high pollen days that simply affected how I was riding. You’re clearly a man who loves his gadgets. Is it all about power meters, heart rate, TSBs and rigorous analysis or are you just as much about the feel and ‘the vibe’? You must be mistaking me for my teammate Andrew Hall! He is a full on Jedi master when

it comes to that sort of stuff. Did you know that he co-formed a startup called Today’s Plan to allow you to track and demystify all that sort of stuff? He’s a freaking genius! For me though, I tend to go on hours and distance for the week. There are also a few key workouts that I like to do during the week to get the lungs opened up. I’ve got this theory that the fastest average speed tends to win most races, so the game is just trying to piece together all the elements to get to that point. Favourite gadget at the moment is? It’s a package deal! My Samsung Galaxy S5, Magellan 505 GPS and my Toshiba Satellite Ultrabook take care of everything with regard to digital connectivity and productivity! Similarly, as a connoisseur of fine twowheeled steeds, what is it about the Cannondale bikes that gets you a little hot under the collar? Admittedly, the team bikes that come from the factory with treats like ENVE wheels and XX1 make them pretty darn desirable. Hands down it is the geometry and ride quality, without question. I was really excited

2015 MTB Buyers Guide


when they engaged the services of Peter Denk back in 2009 or so. He was responsible for the Scott Scale, which was an absolutely brilliant bike when it emerged on the scene. At Cannondale he engineered the superlative Flash, which ultimately became the F series. The 2015 F-Si is going to be an absolute gamechanger. The re-design that they have done will make it ride like a 26er, with the qualities that the 29er wheels provide. I have to mention that the Cannondale Evo road bike is my mistress though!….that bike is divine in every single way. There is a lot of magic happening in the frame construction that makes that bike a real joy to ride. The spec on the bikes the team have are nothing short of sensational! The ENVE hoops are bulletproof and would easily last for five years or more, which is not a bad return on investment for a set of wheels. And seriously, what else can be said about SRAM XX1? It is beautiful, works effortlessly, and has opened the doors on 29er frame design to make the ride qualities better through frame re-engineering. Anything that works well without you having to think about it is brilliant. I am incredibly fortunate to have Cannondale, SRAM and ENVE as major partners of the team and I know that I can always rely on my equipment to both look good and perform well. Any particular bike setup quirks? What tweaks do you do from standard? The Cannondale bikes are superb straight out of the box but I never roll stock that is for sure! I will always strip a new bike right down and rebuild it for starters, making sure that everything is greased and prepped appropriately. This year on my F29er I put on a Leonardi minus 20 degree stem, threw in a bunch of ceramic bearings, replaced all steel bolts with Titanium bolts, stripped down the wheels and rebuilt with new spokes in a particular lacing pattern that I like and made the tyres tubeless. There are a few other tweaks that I do but these are G14 classified and not for the faint hearted!! With regard to ride qualities I run the fork fairly firm with a super quick rebound to make the bike whippy and ride how I like it to. Tyre pressure is set relatively low also, though that is always going to be course dependent. 154

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What’s the deal with the whole 2602 #PRO thing? Unlike some people, Hally and I do not take ourselves too seriously and we like to give out a good sledge here and there and have a lot of fun with the guys we race with. One of the highlights from last year was doing up a 'Men of 2602' calendar featuring us both looking extremely awesome, as we had both previously pursued international male modelling careers, and sending it to the female partners of guys we race against. We got some good feedback on that one! For those outside the safety net of the Australian Capital Territory, 2602 is a tract of land that exists in Canberra that has been home to many fast dudes over the years. If you live here, or have lived here, then there is a very high chance that you will be above average on a bike. I have no idea where the #PRO thing came from, but ultimately it is just a stir and another dig at a few riders who shall remain nameless! Most feared opponent on the start line of any race? I respect and will not discount anyone who turns up on race day. You just don’t know what they will have in store and how motivated they are to race. I did that once back in 2008 and will never, ever make that mistake again. Having said that, I was genuinely afraid of one rider that turned up to one of this year’s XCM classics. He was good for 5 minutes on the fireroad, but then I feared that he would struggle a bit to hold the pace once the trail turned skinny. He blew up on the next fire road and Anthony Shippard and I gave him

some helpful advice as we went past him. Last I heard, he was racing on the road for one of the teams in the NRS! You’re one half of the Cannondale-Sugoi Factory racing team and the question that everyone will want to know is, who has the better moves on the dance floor? Is it your worm or Hally’s sprinkler? Seriously? Come on man, we are both white dudes who work in IT….I actually had to Google what the ‘sprinkler’ was. Now I have a meeting with HR on Monday... Yeah, I actually retired from dancing in 1994 as I have zero ability on the dance floor. However, I must say that 1990 was memorable for the Lambada, NKOTB, MC Hammer, and Vanilla Ice and luckily for everyone there was no social media back then! How did the Cannondale-Sugoi factory team come about in the first place? And what are the team goals moving forward? I was riding for Cannondale Australia through a deal that I put together with them and Hally was riding for the Radical Lights Factory Team that also represented the Cannondale brand. I worked with Hally to set up a team that would focus on the events that had the most entrants in order to maximise exposure for our backers. Cycling Sports Group (CSG) looks after Cannondale, GT, Schwinn, Mongoose and Sugoi….so you can see the tie in for Cannondale and Sugoi. The main goals are to have a Thai meal in as many cities as we can where there is a race going on, be in the mix on race day, represent our sponsors well, and enjoy the journey. With the move of managing the CSG brands going to Monza Imports, 2015 is going to be pretty amazing and I have some great plans for the team next year. Hopefully this all pans out as fully intended. Watch this space! Do you guys race as a team? Is there internal competition as much as there is against everyone else or are you both genuinely stoked for each other’s success? Yeah, we do occasionally race as a team, as we are both up for the chop [share in prize money - Ed] if it is offered. We will usually discuss it in advance and see if there are any opportunities to work together in any particular way to influence a result. There are races where we will race against each other as

2015 MTB Buyers Guide


He got 3rd in the U23 class and made Hammerhead look very smooth. I hope that the Russians look after him for 2015.

well, but ultimately as long as I beat him then I am happy! I’m just kidding!! We are both genuinely happy for each other’s successes on the bike, but I cannot ever allow him to beat me at a short track or an XCO, just as I am sure that he will not be happy if I ever beat him at a 7 hour or a 24 solo! On the odd occasion here and there on training rides we will do this thing where we will half wheel each other in order to help each other with apparent weaknesses that may exist. We definitely try to make each other better through that technique! This one time, at Sushi Train in rAdelaide, we even had a competition to see who could eat the most after a morning smashing each other through the hills! There are lots of photos of you doing the one handed wheelie on your twitter stream. Are you the next Sagan or is Sagan the next JD? #WheelieWednesday is a real phenomenon on the social media platforms. Get across it people! And it’s not just Twitter. Instagram, being all about the photo, definitely gets some good stuff up on a Wednesday also! Plus, you know that the #hashtag is the real deal because even Facebook has now come to the #party with them. However, it is probably a little underutilised in the LinkedIn scene as of now. Give it some time… Just between you and me, I have been doing wheelies since 1982. I think the first time that I did a no-handed wheelie was in 1992 after first seeing Ben Monroe doing these at a downhill round at Yarramundi….A #protip is having a slightly pitted and extra tight headset. That way the front wheel stays straight! Wheelies do rock though. They are actually pretty useful if you need to get your front wheel up over a log or something out on the trail. Everyone should get out on a grassy field on a mellow slope and practice these! Sagan is very talented. Did you see him race the World Cup at Stromlo in 2008? 156

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What keeps you busy when you aren’t riding bikes, talking about bikes, reading about bikes or blogging about bikes? Although I’m not sure how much time that actually leaves in the day. I have a day job thing going on if that is what you are referring to?! I do things with ORACLE databases, ESRI Geographical Information Systems and Bentley ProjectWise applications as a Data Scientist and Service Delivery Manager. I turn data into information for people who make decisions in the asset management arena and I love what I do as working with data is fascinating and so many insights and trends can be gleaned from what it is saying. What does a typical training week look like for you? Geez man….define ‘typical’!! It is really difficult to do that to be honest. It changes a little bit depending what time of the year it is and whether or not I suck at anything and need to sort that! Monday: I do have Mondays off, so that is always typical! Tuesday: Hills or gentleman’s bunch ride Wednesday: Sprints or hilly bunch ride

Thursday: chugger Thursday! No intensity

Friday: Fairly brisk road bunch ride – or sleep in Saturday: Roadie bunch ride plus extras Sunday: MTB ride

During summer I will also race the local dirt crits because I always like supporting the local club, CORC, and I try and give back a bit of advice and mentoring to the junior riders. I tend to tell them to observe everything from everyone and take the best 10% they see. A bit like what Tiger Woods does with his approach. There is not one single person that has all the answers or the complete package, therefore it is best to draw on multiple sources. I was really fortunate when I was starting out to have some amazing riders to gather knowledge from. Pete Smith, Ben Monroe, Ian Downing, Shane Pearse, Luke Stockwell, Laurie Cranley and Graham Allbon were all riders that I was able to grab incredible insights into how to ride a bike.

And how does that routine change if you’ve got a big race coming up? A day gets dropped for travel, and the weekend gets changed to a 1-2 hour recce followed by the 4-5 hour race. If it is an important race then I might rearrange some of the week, but I find it is better to always keep doing stuff in one form or another. I might also have a day off to ensure that I am fresh. Do you fastidiously plan your entire season or do you keep it a bit flexible so that you can adjust for ‘life’? I like to have the entire season mapped out with the races that I want to do so that I can figure out what needs to be done at most points of the year, but it is often a dynamic beast. At best I reckon that you can pick 2-3 races a year that you can properly peak for, the rest you are essentially training through with maybe a slight recovery day to be semifresh for….it’s tricky as everyone is different. Last year I crossed the line at the Husky 100km, then 4 hours later I was on a plane to London to attend a conference – that was a week long trip and a long time off the bike… I actually hired one of those Boris Bikes and rode along the canals for training on a couple of days! The rest of the time I tried to ride the bikes in the gym as, naturally, being the UK, it was raining. Then when I came back, I had a week before the Highland Fling. So with all that in mind, I sorted the training to have a good one at the Husky and see what the Fling brought! I got through the Fling, but it wasn’t great, so you definitely have to be flexible and set your expectations accordingly at times. Favourite race on the calendar and why? This has got to be the Back Yamma Bigfoot. It is a standard September event for me. The course is fun, it signifies the start of the warm weather and some of the two wheel drifts go on for minutes!!! It is a pretty chilled out event and reminds me a lot of the early days I had racing as a junior back in Brisbane. What race is at the top of your bucket list? I don’t have a bucket list to be honest. If I want to do something, I will more than likely just go ahead and do it! From a racing point of view, I really wanted to do the Giant Odyssey, Flight Centre Epic and the

Ingerreke Commercial Mountainbike Enduro stage race in Alice Springs during 2014. That probably won’t change for 2015. We have some pretty amazing races in Australia to choose from. Do you even Strava? I actually do have an account, but it is mainly so that I can stalk other riders and see how their form is going… But, I don’t use Strava to actually chase KOMs. I tend to just rock up to races and put a number on. I am almost absolutely certain that is the concept that Strava is trying to push… Along with other forms of social media you can garner a lot of useful information about what people are doing with respect to training and their subsequent form! As far as I can tell, you’re rabid about racing everything from XCEs right the way up to 24s (no solos though yet?) and stage racing, is there a method to that madness or do you just #froth for anything on two wheels? Look, it is pretty simple…. I really like racing the bike and would race every weekend if I could. But there has to be a bit of method to it all otherwise you will either fry yourself or be pretty underdone. Having said that, some of it is simply down to when the race promoters actually put their events on! So you then have to structure stuff around that. I actually prefer to race the longer races in the cooler months and that is possibly due to being a ranga, plus I tend to really like the cooler conditions as there is usually no pollen because all the plants are either dead or dormant! I’m allergic to pine forest pollen when it goes mental during Spring, which as a mountain biker can be a little annoying! I think you need to be a little mentally unhinged to do a solo 24, and whilst I am probably a perfect candidate for that, I get a bit bored of riding after about five and a half hours. That is plenty for me! Although I suspect this question alone could take up the whole word limit, what are your favourite riding tunes? Feel free to break them up into categories if you’d like such as pre-training ride, during training ride, pre-Saturday race, post-pre-Sunday race breakfast etc. I love music! It’s like religion and politics isn’t it? My music taste sucks just like everyone else's! I have about 2000 songs in my collection and they will all get a spin during the year at least once. However, the bands that are in the '50 recently played' folder include classics from Guns n Roses, Def Leppard, Heart, Jack White, Destiny’s Child, Aerosmith, Slash, The Eagles, Steel Panther, Soundgarden, Nirvana, Jay Z, Bon Jovi, Velvet Revolver, Metallica, Beastie Boys, Everclear, Prince, Oasis, Nickelback, Skid Row, Motley Crue, ACDC, Snoop Dogg, Kanye West, Hilltop Hoods and Van Halen… If I really want to get amped, especially if I am driving to a race, then I will put on the following (in this particular order – that is so important!!):

2015 MTB Buyers Guide


a series If I was going to win put on ing: low fol the I would offer eased e – to get the depth of the field incr Set prize money down to 10th plac top 10 position. and make it prestigious to get that time – for racing back to back at any one 2. Only have two weekends of ons logistical and financial considerati ce got this to amp up the series. Real Insuran 3. A dedicated marketing team but the . Maverick has the races dialled, component pretty spot on in 2012 marketing is a little light on. view, but the es. Nice from an academic point of 4. Get rid of the ‘weighted’ scor need over you le to know what placing algorithms make it next to impossib result. another rider to keep your series


ACDC: Back in Black

gets underway, then I will see what events are part of it and may adjust accordingly.

Metallica: Whiskey in the Jar

A series is nice to have, mainly as icing on the cake, but it is not absolutely essential as there are many superb standalone races that exist to keep me focussed.

Velvet Revolver: Slither

Steel Panther: Eyes of a Panther

Motley Crue: Kickstart My Heart Guns N Roses: Paradise City

Grant Johnston and I have been plotting for ages to jet off to Vegas for a new year’s eve gig to catch the Gunners or Crue. Imagine if the original line up of Guns n Roses got back together and did a reunion concert! Probably never going to happen though as Slash and Axl hate each other! If I want to chill out then I will put on some Lana Del Rey and maybe some Concrete Blond which helps me to switch off sometimes. What’s the plan for next year? What are going to be your major goals or will it depend on what events are part of which series?

Next year will be fairly similar to this year I reckon. The dates are starting to trickle in as we speak and the calendar is sort of taking shape a little bit. I will definitely race the XCM classics which include Capital Punishment, Flight Centre Epic, Convict 100, Wombat 100, Giant Odyssey and the Highland Fling as a base point. From there it is just a matter of then selecting a few other key races, a stage race or two and a few favourites. Of course, IF a series 158

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On that, what do you think needs to be done here in Australia with respect to the XCM scene? Is a consolidated series in everyone’s best interests or does it not really matter until there is some serious cash on the line anyway? I think that the XCM scene is incredibly strong here in Australia. You have well established events run by seasoned promoters that know what they are doing and they deliver. There are many events that pull in over 1000 riders and clearly show what people enjoy doing. When you think about it, an XCM is just a standard Sunday ride where you piece together the ultimate loop from door to door taking in the best trails around. Well, that is what it is for me anyway! A dedicated series gives the events a fair bit more hype and quite a few riders get an intensified focus with an ‘overall’ objective on the line. That goes for all riders, from an Elite rider wanting to win the series, to a weekend rider who wants to beat his mate for bragging rights.

It’s all going to boil down to available dollars and resource alignment in order to piece something together. Anthony Shippard and I discussed this about a year ago whilst he was working with the owners of well established events to create a Marathon series for 2014. Ultimately, this was the catalyst for the Maverick Series evolving to where it is today. Anyone in particular you’d like to thank for supporting you thus far?

Of course! Mountain bike racing is so incredibly hard and the support is what makes it possible to do it week in week out. Anyone can check out my bike clothes or my blog to see which brands that I am grateful for, but, it is the human relationship management side of things that makes it all happen in the first place. So, I have to put out a massive thank-you to the awesome bike industry guys in: Trev, Al, Stephen, Noel, Tom, Hayden, Chris, Paris, Danny, Dave, Duncan, Tony, Randall, Andrew and of course my wingman Hally. I’d also like to thank anyone who has ever yelled\cheered\sledged at a race (or even on social media). It is always greatly appreciated! Thanks again Shane for this fantastic opportunity to talk about the important life issues. See you out on the trails!

The refinement of tubeless mountain tyre technology paves the way for rim manufactures to design rims free from the handcuffs of sloppy and imprecise tyre fitment. The key to a good tubeless system is a tyre and rim that works harmoniously to create a seal at the tyre bed of the rim. By eliminating the “hook� from the top of the rim sidewall, we are able to produce rims to more precise dimensions, allowing riders to run lower tyre pressures without the risk of unpredictable air loss. Other benefits associated with our beadless rim design include greater pinch flat resistance and rim strength.




21mm 21mm



23mm 23mm



25mm 25mm




Distributed by Monza Imports ENVEComposites












32mm 32mm






29mm 29mm






27mm 27mm







Beadless Tyre Retention

W W W. E N V E . CO M

REVIEW LOUIS GARNEAU T-FLEX 2LS SHOE These are their top shelf mountain bike shoes, so I was very keen to see if the T-Flex’s were packing the necessary punch to step up to the table. At about 330g per shoe they are actually quite svelte. For comparison, I have a set of Shimano XC60’s, not top end but not entry level either, and they are about 150g heavier for the pair. The fit was slightly on the smaller side too. Where I usually run 44.5 or a 44 with a wider toe box, a 45 in these was spot on.

First Impressions I’ve never had a pair of shoes feel so fantastic straight out of the box. Details like the one piece upper, quality insole and integrated toe reinforcement hint at a significant amount of design and careful thought that has gone into crafting these shoes. The upper is super supple too and conforms to the foot perfectly. The party piece of course is the dual BOA lacing system. Having never used a BOA setup before I was concerned about the potential for damage out on the trail. They have a very low profile that should see them stay out of harm’s way and, if the worst does happen, you can source replacement dial kits at a pretty reasonably price. Using the BOA is a snap, pull the dial out a couple of mm to release the system and the titanium wire is free to spool open, pop the dial back in and turn to ratchet the wire closed and secure your foot. The only concern I really have now is how to go back to Velcro and buckles. All of the other features you would expect to see on this type of shoe are there too, unidirectional fabric in the heel cup to stop your heel from slipping, grippy lugs for dismount work and a carbon sole for stiffness. Not too stiff though, the T-Flex part of the name refers to a concept whereby the front portion of the shoe has some flex designed into it to aid both walking/running while also preventing hotspots. I haven’t done any significant running in these (and I hope not to) but I am happy to confirm that on on the second count at least the claims are spot on. I raced in these for 5 hours from new and didn’t have a single foot related complaint. Now if LG could only make a saddle…

Our Take

Although there were a couple of loose threads on the inside lining after the first half dozen hours or so, once these were removed there has been no further signs of degradation. They do everything as advertised with a minimum of fuss and manage to look damn fine in the process. Hard to ask much more than that is it? Shoes are one thing that you can’t really skimp on no matter how much time you spend in the saddle. They only come in black too which is, as everyone knows, is the new black. If you can’t quite stomach the RRP either, the good news is that LG’s next model down, the T-FLEX LS-100 comes with almost all of the same features but in a more friendly $250 package. They miss out on the second BOA and don’t appear to have the same level of integration (read: increased weight). Hard to see your feet being disappointed either way, these are a truly quality piece of kit. 160

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Utah based company ENVE have been making drool-worthy carbon components for some years now. Despite the fact that carbon rims are becoming more and more common on mountain bikes these days, you can guarantee that ENVE wheels will be a talking point when someone is eyeing off a steed. Instantly, the big bold logos on each rim scream “fast”, “light” and to some extent, “expensive”. The kids call this ‘bling’. REVIEW - ROSS WILKINSON

Previously, ENVE offered three mountain bike wheel options: cross country (XC), all mountain (AM) and downhill (DH). For 2014 ENVE has redesigned and realigned their mountain bike wheel lineup and has rolled out the M Series, which includes the M50fity, the M60forty, the M70thirty and the M90ten, breaking down the division between XC/AM/DH slightly further. In designing the M Series range, Enve has tuned each of these models specifically to suit the proportion of downhill riding to uphill riding…AND the typical tyre width AND tyre pressures AND suspension travel adopted for that type of riding. The M50fifty wheels are XC-only oriented and are tuned for a rider who will typically spend equal time descending and ascending (hence, “50fifty”), run 1.9 to 2.25” tyres and will have up to 100mm travel. If you do a little more descending or have a little more travel (or 27.5” wheels, as the M50fiftys are only available in 29”) you might prefer the M60forty wheels, which are tuned for a rider who will typically spend 60% of the time descending and 40% ascending, run 2.1 to


2015 MTB Buyers Guide

2.25” and will have 105-150mm of travel.

that these tyres were on to stay.

Having ridden and raced a set of ENVE 29’er XC wheels for nearly two years, I was getting a little excited when I unpacked the new M50fiftys out of the box. How could a wheelset that I already adored get any better?

My first roll on the M50fiftys was nothing short of a thrill. Maybe it was just one of those days where everything just feels right, the wind is always behind you and even the climbs have a gradual descent. But it wasn’t “just one of those days” as every ride after that day with these wheels was the same.

The rim profiles across the M Series are new for 2014 and have been specifically designed for each model. The M50fifty rims are 330 gram a piece with a 21mm inner rim width, a 27mm outer rim width and 28mm rim depth. But probably the biggest change to the rim profile for 2014 is that they are now hookless (similar to the new Roval wheels from Specialized). This apparently does two things: first it provides a tighter and more reliable seal with the tyre so you can run lower pressures without burping and get a better tyre profile, and second, less material is required in this part of the rim, meaning ENVE can shed weight and/ or use more carbon elsewhere in the rim profile to increase impact strength and lateral stiffness. From the outset, I was particularly interested in seeing how the hookless rim would work in the real world, as I always thought the hook on a rim was for keeping the tyre on. As far as shedding weight, ENVE have managed to cut another 100 grams out of the wheelset. The M50 is available in three hub configurations, DT Swiss 180 (claimed weight of 1,289 grams), DT240 (claimed weight of 1,361) and Chris King (claimed weight of 1,471 grams). The set on test came with the middle of the road, tried and tested DT240 option; not as light as the DT180s, not as bling but lighter than the Chris Kings. Setting up the wheels was super easy. ENVE includes its own tubeless rim tape and valves, which is important as the rims are quite deep and most generic valves will struggle to fit all the way through the rim. Still being very skeptical about the hookless rim system, it was with a deep breath (and maybe some closed eyes) when I fitted my first tubeless tyre. BANG! Straight up, without an issue (dare I say even easier than the previous “hooked” version?). It was with quite a bang too with the tyre bead snapping in hard, which actually gave me even more confidence

From ten minutes into that first ride onward, all I could think was that these wheels were like cheating. Straight up, bike doping for your bike. The low weight combined with the stiffness that ENVE wheelsets are famous for meant the bike kept wanting to accelerate. Even in tight and technical trails it was super easy to get the bike back up to speed. Left to right, right to left, zig zagging through the singletrack was effortless. Having the agility of the 26” bike with the outright speed of a 29’er was just a blast. This continued to be the theme every time I rolled these wheels out of the garage. It must be said that the DT Swiss 240 star ratchet rear hub is probably one of the most reliable systems around, but every now and then I noticed a bit of lag in the drive engagement. Not the sort of thing you notice most of the time, only when you’re on the gas accelerating hard out of corners. This is due to the relatively low engagement points on the ratchets but can easily be fixed by upgrading to the 36 tooth version, and is something that would be nice to have on these wheels out of the box, given the sticker price. At the end of the test my initial concerns regarding the hookless system are dead and buried. I found that not only did I have zero issues with burping tyres on the trail, I also had less air loss in general when compared to previous tubeless wheels I have used and one tyre I used for a while wasn’t even tubeless specific. To make sure my theories were correct, I decided to throw caution into the wind and run the M50fiftys tubeless in my cyclocross bike and go do some racing. With the DT Swiss 240 hubs, converting the wheels from 15mm and 12 x 142mm to standard QR is a piece of cake by simply switching out the

end caps. A set of 700 x 33mm Racing Ralphs were thrown on and we were ready for racing. Despite this being a review for 29” mountain bike wheels, I have to say I had one of the best days racing cyclocross on the M50fiftys. Once again, super-fast acceleration, the bike felt nice and light when hopping barriers and the extra compliance in the new wheel design is obvious when ridden in a bike with zero suspension. The pressures in the tyres were run at the low to mid 30s and once again, no burping. Clean out your desk hooked tubeless rims, you’re fired. Over the past few months I’ve thrown just about everything at these wheels. From beating them to death down local trails, to racing cyclocross and even racing the BC Bike Race in Canada, which features 310km of the most technical singletrack you will ever ride. The M50fiftys have performed flawlessly. On the downside they look a little beaten as the decals mark and scratch very easily but decals are replaceable and ENVE will even do custom decals to match your bike. The rear wheel now has a small deflection in it that can easily be trued, but this requires removal of the tyre and rim tape due to the internal pillar nipples. This is a bit of a pain in the ass, which will either leave you running them with a small wobble or getting a bit messy with sealant and replacing the rim tape. At $3,500, these wheels are a serious bit of kit and they aren’t going to appeal to most people. But if you’re the type of rider that likes to invest in your gear, wants quality hand-built carbon wheels and enjoys the warranty and aftermarket support that ENVE have to offer, then one of the new M Series wheels could be for you. If you are after 27.5” wheels (the M50fiftys are 29” only), or if you want something further along the All Mountain spectrum while still coming in at an XC race weight, consider the M60forty wheelset comes in at a very modest 1,433g (27.5”) on DT240 hubs with a 23/29 internal/external rim width (available in 27.5” and 29”). Now I just need to find a buyer for my current ENVE XC’s… 2015 MTB Buyers Guide



I had never described shoes (cycling or otherwise) as ‘delicious’ until I slipped on the Fi’zi:k M1 shoes. The box arrived, I ripped the shoes out, slipped my foot in, fastened up the lower Velcro straps (high-tech sailcloth fed through titanium loops) and cranked up the micro-adjust buckle. I didn’t take them off for hours. I didn’t even ride my bike, I was just hanging out. I tried to think of other ways to describe the M1 shoes, but could come up with nothing better than ‘delicious’. The Fi’zi:k brand has been around for many decades. In the last two decades, however, Fi’zi:k has become known for its premium saddles. More recently, the company has expanded its horizons to focus on the other two ‘touch points’ on a bicycle and has started producing a range of shoes, road handlebars and bar tape. The M1 Uomo shoe on test here is the top of the line mountain bike shoe from Fi’zi:k and sits above the M3 and M5. All shoes in the range are made in Italy. Like a lot of Italian made items, the M1 shoes are a beautiful product, but as well as looking the goods in black with flashes of silver, a lot of thought and technology has gone into them. The heel and toe box are made from anti-scratch cowhide leather. The inside (crank-side) panel is made from supple kangaroo leather while the outside is nylon mesh with the exception of a strip of cowhide on the widest part of the foot to protect the outer side of the shoe. Fastening is taken care of by two Velcro straps and a micro-adjust lever, which pulls the kangaroo leather (from three titanium loops) over the tongue (did I mention that there is an Italian flag on the underside of the tongue?) and across to the nylon mesh. The lower Velcro straps and the upper strap that attaches to the plastic ratchet strap are made of a sailcloth material which looks trick and won’t stretch. The length on the top strap can be adjusted for a perfect fit with the micro-adjust buckle. Inside the shoe is a heat-mouldable inner sole. Fi’zi:k have partnered with French company, Sidas Technology, to develop a sole which is customisable in three areas: the longitudinal arch, metatarsal button and heel cup. These three areas have three different mouldable materials, in particular, a low-rebound foam over the pedal axle to reduce numbness. Underneath, a 164

2015 MTB Buyers Guide

full carbon sole is covered by generous amounts of rubber and lugs for studs. A nice touch is that the plate under the ball of the foot (which the cleat fixes to and which covers about a third of the shoe) is replaceable. The shoes weigh in at just over 400 grams each (size 43). This is in the ballpark for a top-end shoe, although it’s far from the heaviest and a long way off the claimed 310 grams. As noted in the intro, when these shoes were taken out of the box and put on the foot all the technology in the Fi’zi:k M1 came together. In particular, the suppleness of the uppers matched with the sturdy ratchet and wide Velcro straps resulted in a snug but comfortable fit, while the carbon sole was rock solid. Out of the box, the heat mouldable inner soles provided positive support. The heel cup was sturdy but was not as firm or aggressive as other brands of shoe. The fit of the M1s was perfect for me, other than a tiny bit of heel lift while walking and flat out sprinting. I didn’t have an opportunity to mould the inner soles before the test (as the test was done prior to the footbed machine arriving in the country), but there was little need to as the fit out of the box was close to perfect. Generally speaking, the fit of the M1s is pretty neutral and will fit most riders other than those with particularly wide or narrow feet. On the trail the M1s continued to impress. The suppleness of the uppers matched with a rock-solid carbon sole and supportive inners were highlights throughout the test. When the power went down, the foot was held snugly in place and when the hours ticked on and the temperature rose, the shoes remained comfortable, supportive and didn’t overheat. In particular, there was a

six hour ride which came early on in the test with hour-long climbs and 30 minutelong descents, hike-a-bike sections and some river crossings. The M1s didn’t miss a beat. There were no hotspots or pinches, the tread provided good traction when off the bike and the cowhide sections took a number of beatings from rocks to logs, but didn’t scuff up at all. A couple of months down the track and the Fi’zi:k M1s are still performing well. The black uppers (clearly the most sensible option for mountain biking) have faded slightly but still look great. The cowhide upper has managed to stay fresh looking, despite copping a decent amount of trail abuse and they fit even better than they did out of the box now that they have worn in. The only cosmetic blemish is that the sailcloth on one of the straps has frayed a little (easily fixed with a snip of the scissors). While these are probably the most comfortable bike shoes I’ve worn, the suppleness in the uppers comes at the expense of some stiffness in that area, although not in the sole, which is rock solid. Those wanting a pure XC race shoe might want to look elsewhere for something with a more aggressive heel cup and more solidly constructed uppers. Also, as I got further into the test I found myself cranking the Velcro straps up to the point where the male/female (for want of a better term) Velcro sections joined. There was a little ridge at this point, which meant you couldn’t just crank the strap. This was a minor thing and will probably affect only a small portion of buyers, but it started to bug me after a while. Overall, the Fi’zi:k M1 shoes live up to the price tag as a top end shoe. They are more comfortable than any other shoe I have ridden and for day in day our riding, they tick pretty much all the boxes.


MANGANESE RAIL SADDLE The Fi’zi:k Thar is claimed to be the world’s first 29er-specific saddle. Yep, you read that correctly, 29er specific. So what makes it so 29er specific? According to Fi’zi:k, the challenge with 29er geometry is in being able to get sufficient weight over the front wheel for climbing. As 29ers have a taller front end, this means less weight on the front tyre, which leads to less grip and more ‘wandering’ of the front wheel along steep uphill pinches. With that in mind, the Thar features 95mm long rails (25mm longer than standard), which are designed to maximize fore/ aft adjustability to get the saddle further over the bottom bracket. Along with a sloping profile and a flat nose, the Thar is built from the ground-up to enhance your climbing position on a 29er. We’ve been longtime fans of Fi’zi:k saddles, with models such as the Gobi, Aliante, and Arione finding their way into many of our testers’ heart over the past decade. The company is well known for making a good perch, having handmade each of their saddles in Italy since 1996. So when a distinctive-looking Thar showed up for testing, we weren’t entirely sure whether it was going to continue, or put a hiccup in, our love affair with the Italian brand. Initial Impressions The Thar is available with either Manganese (tested) or lighter K:ium rails. Our test saddle was an early prototype, but at 240 grams it still tipped the scales pretty close to the claimed weight. The Thar uses a supple Microtex


2015 MTB Buyers Guide

cover, along with medium-density foam padding that sits somewhere between the uber-firm Tundra and the more plush Aliante. The base is made from a carbonreinforced nylon shell, which features in-built flex throughout that is adjustable by swapping in one of two ‘Tuner Inserts’ into the nose of the saddle. The Thar is a fairly stubby little seat at 265mm long and with a shorter tail than usual. The reason behind this is to maximize rear tyre clearance when the Thar is fitted to a 29er with a dropper post.

On the Trail The Thar is a tricky seat to setup initially, due to its in-built flex and the sloping profile. On our first ride we noticed that we were sliding down the nose of the seat. After tilting the saddle up slightly at the front though, things were much more stable. However, we still found ourselves moving around atop the saddle’s enormous platform. There are no grooves or channels in the profile of the Thar, and without a scoop to the tail, your sit bones can initially struggle to find the perfect pedalling position. It’s kind of like transitioning between clip-in and flat pedals (with flats, it takes a while for your muscle memory to determine the ideal spot to plant your shoe down onto the pedal body, and we found the same thing with the Thar saddle and our bums).

Once we got used to the vast platform on offer though, the Thar quickly became a natural fit. The foam density is perfect for most trail riding applications, and the flat nose allowed us to get right over the front of the bike for climbing. We didn’t make use of the 95mm rail length, but we can see this adjustability being advantageous for riders with particular set up requirements, particularly shorter riders. In this regard, while we understand the marketing behind it, we think that the Thar should be considered for 26” and 27.5” bikes. Any bike with a tall front end could benefit from the Thar saddle, as it allows you to get down lower for those real stem-kissing climbs. Aside from setup, our only complaint was with the white portion of the Microtex cover, which was quite slippery in comparison to the black portion. It also has a slightly annoying stitch line that the saddle could do without.

Our Take The Thar is a superb saddle, which does exactly as advertised (and probably a little more, in that we would recommend it for bikes other than 29ers). We’ll admit that we were skeptical to begin with, and especially after the longer setup period, but the more we rode with the Thar, the less we thought about it. And that’s exactly what a good saddle should do.

2015 MTB Buyers Guide



2015 MTB Buyers Guide

REVIEW ROCKSHOX PIKE 26 Waaaay back in 2002, Rockshox revolutionized the suspension world with the release of its Psylo range of forks. The forks came with 30mm stanchions, a lockout/compression adjustment, the travel was adjustable from 80-120mm, and……wait for it, they came with a quick release 20mm through axle. The Psylo revolutionised the mountain bike world by heralding the beginning of the allmountain bike and all-mountain-specific forks. Fast forward three years and things got beefier. The original Pike was the ultimate lightweight all-mountain Fork, featuring Easton EA-70 32mm stanchions, a Maxle 20mm QR axle, the Motion Control dampening system, in either a remote, or non-remote option, and 95-140mm of adjustable travel on the coil or air versions of their U-turn adjustable models. It was light, it was stiff, and it was bullet proof. The Pike had it all, and then some. But time marches on. Technology comes in leaps and bounds and only a few years later the Revelation became everything the Pike once was, only lighter! And so the Pike disappeared off the radar, but in doing so, it left behind an important legacy. That is, until the Rockshox research and development department invited the Pike back into the range.

Out of the box

So what’s new? Well, a lot has changed since 2002. To start with, the new standard for forks is a tapered steerer and almost every decent bike now has one. This is one of the best new innovations in front end stiffness. Secondly, the standard in axles across the board is now 15mm on everything short of full blown DH. An asymmetrical lower leg casting is surely also worthy of mention, with more material on the brake side to account for the greater forces, and less material where it is not needed. The lowers feature the new Maxle Lite, a bolt-thru QR that requires no tools to lock, open or adjust the position of the cam lever. To adjust, simply push in the end and twist. The air system comes in either a Solo air in either 160mm or 150mm configurations, or Dual stage air with a 30mm adjustment for alteration of head angles for climbing. The chasis is also worth a mention here, which is beautifully sculpted and light, yet incredibly stiff. This brings us now to the Charger damper. The new dampening system is a fully selfcontained unit, that uses an expansion bladder

to provide a sealed environment for the oil displacement throughout the full range of travel. This also means that there is no air in the system and allows the shim stack to do its thing, un-affected by aeration of the oil, thus giving a much more consistent overall damping performance. It features three lever settings; performance, pedal, and lock. The Charger’s shock absorption performance is the priority and the lock-out is a bit of an after-thought. To be honest, the performance is so good, that the third setting is mostly just along for the ride. Rebound dampening is also forging new ground with Rockshox new Rapid Recovery, keeping the fork riding high in its travel, allowing the fork to utilise the plusher initial travel to its maximum advantage. The Pike tops all this off with an impressive 200 hour service interval. It would seem that this is the new benchmark for fork dampers to match up to, and no doubt we will see it make its way into more forks in the Rockshox stable soon enough.

The ride

This is the plushest Rockshox of all time. I swapped my Lyrik for the new Pike, so to ride one then the other was an invaluable comparison. Once I cut the steerer and fitted the star nut, the Pike weighed in an impressive 1.76kg, a whopping 340g lighter that the Lyrik. First impressions were pretty positive, as the Pike feels super responsive straight out of the box. The three settings on the charger damper all do their job perfectly. The open setting feels plush under either high or low speed compression and laps up hard-edged hits like nothing I have experienced this side of a Honda CR 250 over the stutters! Once you pump the air chamber to your desired pressure, the fork responds with the perfect amount of compliance for the task at hand, no matter what the terrain; rocks, drops, roots,

or all of the above, the Pike just takes it all in its stride. Switching to the trail setting the Pike is most well behaved in either seated or standing pedalling positions and is ready for action when the need arises. The climbing setting ain’t going anywhere without a monstrous hit in the front wheel. Even pushing down on the front whilst climbing has the Charger damper laughing in your face. Overall, with the Pike’s sleek looks, super light weight, and fantastic performance, many will be thankful for the Pike’s return to the RockShox range.

2015 MTB Buyers Guide


Jerome Clementz in Autumn flight.


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Cannondale Australia


MTB Buyers Guide 2015  

Welcome to the 2015 MTB Buyers’ Guide, the inaugural edition of this fantastic new magazine! We’ve put together a bumper magazine packed fu...

MTB Buyers Guide 2015  

Welcome to the 2015 MTB Buyers’ Guide, the inaugural edition of this fantastic new magazine! We’ve put together a bumper magazine packed fu...