A couple of perfect days into the Press Camp in Park City, Utah, and I am disappointed to say that I have not been able to ride the entire mountain yet. Too many trails to shred and not enough daylight to count them all. And, there is always the work aspect to put a damper on the fun - product meetings with my industry friends in the morning and then lift access in the afternoon. Sampling all those bikes? I can't wait to get home and relax.
Cannondale Enduro Bikes
Cannondale has been in the Enduro game since its inception in Europe, and while it may come as a surprise to some, its Jekyll and Claymore are among the best performing bikes in the genre. Cannondale calls its Enduro lineup 'Overmountain' which is as good of a descriptor as Enduro or All-Mountain. To underscore the versatility of the Overmountain lineup, Jerome Clementz (FRA) and Aaron Chase, Mark Weir, Ben Cruz and Jason Moeschler (USA) make up the Overmountain team - which is a pretty diverse group of athletes. Cannondale brought a fleet of demo bikes in anticipation of its 2013 global launch, scheduled shortly after Press Camp, so I had pick of the litter for test riding. I chose the Claymore 1, because it is as close to a park bike as there ever was - with 180 millimeters of suspension travel on both ends, dual-travel settings, gravity frame numbers and a weight figure in the low 30's. Before I show you the Claymore 1 though, have a look at the Jekyll Carbon 1. I think you'l like it.2013 Jekyll Carbon 1
The Jekyll is Cannondale's most popular dual-purpose shredder and the $7,499 USD Carbon 1 weighs well under 30 pounds, with remote-adjustable suspension travel from 150 to 90 millimeters in the rear and an adjustable-stroke, 160mm Fox 36 TALAS fork up front. Its Dyad RT2 three-chamber pull shock is novel looking, but quite effective, with a separate spring and damping system for its short and long-travel modes. Fox makes the damper, so there is guaranteed support for the system - and it has proven to be quite reliable since its inception.
Cannondale Jekyll Carbon 1 is its most capable bike for trail-oriented Enduro riders who want straight-line and climbing speed without sacrificing downhill shredability.
(Clockwise) Shimano XTR Shadow Plus shifting on the rear, Cannondale's nicely made down-tube guard, the Fox 150mm stroke 34 TALAS CTD Kashima fork, super grippy Schwalbe Hans Dampf tires, SRAM 22 x 36 crankset with the MRP 2X chainguide, and Shimano XTR ICE trail brakes (180mm - F, 160mm - R rotors).
With its RockShox Reverb dropper post and XC oriented cockpit, the Jekyll is more of a dedicated trailbike than its more gravity oriented Claymore brother - but it rocks the technical stuff nonetheless. The weight reduction of the Jekyll 1's carbon frame, combined with the pedaling benefits of the Dyad RT2 shock in 'elevated' mode makes it seem like its rider is cheating on the climbs. This would probably be the Enduro racer's first choice. Cannondale makes a female-specific version as well.2013 Claymore 1
Want a super-capable park bike that you can still climb mountains with? The Claymore 1 is as far as you have to look. Its geometry is slack, the seat angle is exaggerated to the rear so the saddle moves up to a DH position when the Reverb dropper post is slammed, and with 180 millimeters of suspension travel and DH sized brake rotors, there will be few, if any, control issues when pointed down the mountain. The Claymore 1 that I rode costs $4699 USD and is intelligently oufitted with a mix of top-drawer parts that makes it seem like a custom build. The Claymore 1 is not light by Enduro standards, but its sharp descending skills and dual-travel feature can be a decided advantage on technical courses. I discovered that, as long as you are willing to take your time, the Claymore is capable of topping long, arduous ascents in a painless, efficient manner - which leaves plenty of energy in reserve to enjoy the real reason that men pedal bicycles uphill.
DH-inspired geometry, massive frame tubes and 180-millimeters of travel on each end make Cannondale's Claymore 1 a capable descender that can handle anything at a bike park under an expert-level rider. With its relatively light weight, low gearing, and its on-the-fly adjustable Dyad RT2 shock and Fox 36 TALAS fork, you can rip the downhills with or without the assistance of an uplift.
Cannondale uses double bearings and wide-spaced, 15mm tubular axles to support the Claymore's rear suspension. Production versions will use a dual-chainring chainguide, although my test model didn't have one. Switching from full travel to 'Elevate' mode raises the bottom bracket height slightly, so the seat angle is better suited for climbing and the cranks are not banging rocks on the flats. Two shock mounting options allow Claymore riders to lower the bottom bracket and slacken the head angle by about a degree, so there is no need to buy a creaky AngleSet headset. My test bike was set to the lower position, which creates the steeper of the two head angle options, and it was plenty stable down the steeps here (most of the mountain's tech network is intermediate-level DH).
(Clockwise) 22 x 36-tooth chainrings give the Claymore a perfect gearing spread for ripping descents and crawling up technical ascents. The Fox-made Dyad RT2 shock has separate rebound controls for its short and long-travel modes, so once set up correctly, switching between the two options feels seamless. The Shimano XT Shadow Plus rear derailleur kept the chain on and in control in spite of the fact that the bike was missing its chainguide. The Claymore's Fox 36 TALAS fork needs little introduction, as it founded the long-travel single-crown revolution. All hail the long-travel RockShox Reverb seatpost.
After two enjoyable days on the Claymore, I'll go on record as saying that it is an absolute must-ride for anyone in the market for a capable park bike that can double as a daily rider. There are not many dual-purpose bikes that can cash that check. PB will be doing a full test of the Claymore in the near future. -RC
Hutchinson's Return to All-Mountain and Downhill Tires
Hutchinson has refocused on the most technical realm of mountain biking after a long (and successful) spell spent chasing World Cup, Olympic and World Championship victories. The Focus at Press Camp was primarily on three tires, each with high-volume casings and an appetite for speed in the technical sense. The Cobra is the smaller of the trio, with a fast-rolling multi-faceted tread pattern that is available in 2.1and 2.25 inch diameters. The Cobra is intended for hardpack surfaces where carrying speed on straights and through corners is of the utmost importance.
(From Left to right) Hutchinson's Fast-rolling Cobra; the all-condition Toro, and the dry-condition Cougar tires.
The Toro is the meatiest tread pattern we have seen from Hutchinson in recent history, bristling with tall, widely spaced tread blocks, and with stiff edging blocks. Toro tires are sold in different casings and diameters - single ply casings for trail riding and marathon XC, and multi-ply casings up to 2.6 inches specifically for DH and freeride. The tread is designed to maximize traction over the widest range of conditions, from wet to sandy. The third tread is probably going to the most popular - the Cougar has an aggressive tread pattern with elongated edging blocks for high-G cornering. The Cougar's crown tread is spaced moderately wide, with lower blocks that are angled to provide less rolling resistance. Hutchinson pegs the Cougar as a dry/rocky-condition tire and it also is available in single and multi-ply casings from 2.2 to 2.6-inches.Toro: All-Conditions
We were happy to see the Toro, as its large casing and bi-directional, widely spaced tread design has become the go to for most AM/trail riders. Hutchinson's Toro is quite similar to Schwalbe's Hans Dampf - the most popular contemporary tire design at the moment - so we are betting on it to be the most impressive performer of this trio.
Hutchinson remarks that the Cougar is a fast-rolling tire that many riders use in the rear, paired with a Toro up front. Its tread design mimics top performing dry-condition tires that do well in the Southwestern US.
All three models are made in 26, and 29 inch wheel sizes and Hutchinson is rolling out 27.5 versions as well. That said, the larger-volume two-ply DH casings are limited to 26 inch wheels because that venue has yet to accept a larger wheel format. All three are offered in UST tubeless or tubeless ready in most casing sizes and because Hutchinson pioneered tubeless in the mass market, you can bet that its tires will mount up easily. Cobra: Fast-Rolling
The Cobra is modeled after Hutchinson's successful Python XC tire. The Cobra's tread is more widly spaced, however and molded on larger-volume casing.
When asked about tread compounds, Hutchinson officials remarked that they use dual-compound treads, and with rubber as soft as 40 durometer for DH. For abrasion and sidewall protection, Hutchinson uses a special nylon fabric called Hardskin that is wrapped around the bead and up the sidewall of the carcass. Hardskin is recommended for DH/AM riders, or anyone who rides in terrain that shreds rubber.DZO: Wet-Condition Spike
Hutchinson's DZO is its DH racing rainy weather spike tire. Available as large as 2.6 inches, the crown blocks on its super-soft compound tread are pre-marked so that they can be clipped evenly if the track speeds up.
Hutchinson is racing World Cup DH and Enduros to underscore its committment to the sport's most advanced bikehandlers and the results look very promising. We will in putting Hutchinson's most aggressive tires through long-term testing, so keep an eye out for upcoming product reviews on the Cougar, Cobra and Toro. - RC
Niner Modernizes Retro
Niner provided demo R.I.P Nine and W.F.O Nine dual-suspension 29ers for Hayes/Manitou, and for its own display, brought its latest creation, the S.I.R Nine, which stands for 'Steel is Real.' The S.I.R Nine is a reissue of sorts, celebrating the steel hardtail 29er single speed that the company was founded upon. The new S.I.R Nine, however, represents a modern take on the simplistic approach that most hardtail makers choose. It incorporates a 142/12-millimeter through-axle in the rear, and up front, a 1.5-inch head tube accommodates tapered, or 1, 1/8-inch-steerer forks. The rear triangle is manipulated to make room for large tires while keeping the chainstay length on the short side of the 29er spectrum.
Niner Co-founder Chris Sugai poses with the IMBA-Edition S.I.R. Nine Hardtail. Only seven will be made with the beautiful color scheme that includes the IMBA logo and topo-map trail graphics.
Niner developed an eccentric bottom bracket insert that allows customers to convert the S.I.R Nine to a single speed or geared bike, and use any popular bottom bracket interface: BB30, Shimano PressFit, and external or internal-cup threaded type BB systems, are all covered by adapters that fit the frame's large-diameter bottom bracket shell. Bullet-shaped post-mounts are fitted to the rear stays to better adapt disc brakes and the Reynolds 853 steel tubes are bent to provide clearance for the for crown as well as some vertical compliance in the tail end.
(Clockwise) Niner's carbon fiber rigid fork uses a 15-millimeter through-axle and it matches the average length of a 100mm suspension fork to maintain correct steering geometry. It took a while to figure out how to bend a heat-treated Reynolds 853 down tube, but that was necessary to provide more strength in the head tube junction. The head tube accepts 1.5-inch cups, which means that any fork steerer will fit. Post-mount brake bosses are tastefully mitered and welded into the rear stays. Rotors up to 180mm are approved (rare for lightweight steel frames).
Speaking of adapters, Niner designed a rear dropout that uses cast stainless steel inserts that convert the bike from single speed to a geared bike in a matter of seconds. Niner co-founder Chris Sugai says that the S.I.R Nine is a 'quiver bike' - meaning that its owner will probably have one or more bikes in the garage, like a DH sled or an XC race bike. The S.I.R Nine is a step back in time for those who want to find a whole new world waiting for them on once-familiar trails. I wouldn't discount that there are a number of hardened single-speeders out there who are looking for more stiffness in the rear end and a stronger frame ethier. The S.I.R Nine frameset costs $999 USD and it passes the newest European strength and fatigue standards.
Niner's Special Offer
A look at the various inserts that Niner developed to adapt the S.I.R Nine frameset for single-speed or geared use. The system uses a RockShox Maxle 12-millimeter through axle.
Niner has put the first seven S.I.R Nine frames up for auction with a special commemorative paint scheme to raise money for IMBA's efforts to keep the trails open and provide more riding opportunities in the future. The S.I.R Nine will not be available until August 2013, so the only way to get one early is to participate in the auction. Every penny of the auction will go to IMBA, so your purchase will be money well spent for two reasons. The contest is on Niner's Facebook page
- or you can find it here.
Enve Composites AM Tubeless Wheels
Enve Composites didn't have to travel far to Park City - Enve's factory is down the hill near Salt Lake City. Founder Jason Schiers is pretty low key, so we talked mostly about carbon construction while looking at Enve's AM Tubeless wheelset. The $2550 USD price of the wheelset will scare off all but the wealthy or knowledgeable - and if you are the latter, here are the reasons that you may consider pounding an expensive carbon wheelset into rocks, roots and jumps:
Made in USA and proven on the World Cup DH circuit, Enve's AM Tubeless wheels are bike park durable and light enough for trail riding. Enve offers the AM Tubeless wheelset in 26, 27.5 or 29-inch diameters and ships the carbon wheelset with its own tubeless conversion kit.
First, they last a long time under hard use.The Santa Cruz Syndicate raced the AM wheelset for over a season on the World Cup circuit while Enve was developing molds for the DH wheels that they have been using ever since. The AM wheels outlasted aluminum hoops by a magnitude. Reportedly, the team often went through a pair of aluminum rims for every practice run at a WC event. One set of Enve rims would have survived the weekend, but the team used one pair for practice and one for the race run to be sure. Second, the inner diameter is 28-millimeters, so it adds a lot of stability to large-diameter tires, which translates to great handling. Third, they don't weigh all that much - the AM Tubeless rims weigh 405 grams in the 26 inch diameter, and the set weighs 1644 grams. Fourth, Enve builds the wheels with the best parts - DT Swiss Aerolite spokes, and with Chris King or DT Swiss hubs, so you know what your are buying at every step of the process.
Enve's AM Tubeless wheels can be purchased with Chris King or DT Swiss hubs, so they can be adapted to all axle types. The 28-millimeter ID rim is designed to be run tubeless. The patch in the rim is where the bladder that puts internal pressure on the carbon during the molding process is removed. The AM rim uses internal nipples that are curved to meet concave indentations at the spoke holes.
The keys to the durability of Enve's AM rims is a tightly controlled manufacturing process that is done completely in its USA factory, a lot of in house testing that is used to continually improve the rims, and a cast-in spoke interface that is unique to the industry. The spoke holes are actually cast into the rim as the fibers are laid up and cured in the molds. Reportedly, the carbon weaves itself evenly around the spoke holes to better support the tension loads. Also, the bed of the rim where the spoke nipples set has concave depressions that allow the nipple heads to face the hub flanges while pressing evenly on the rim. The combination of those factors allow Enve's wheel-builders (yeah, they are made individually, by hand) to bring up a lot of tension into the wheel. The rigid carbon rim maintains its roundness better than an aluminum one, and the extra spoke tension helps the wheel maintain its shape as well as to distribute impact loads more evenly between all of the components of the wheel - which is the key to any long-lasting wheel.Prices and Weights:
Enve does not recommend racing its AM wheels for DH, but it does offer a lifetime crash replacement for the original owner that cuts 50-percent off the MSRP. Add that to the probability that an Enve AM wheelset will be the only wheels you need for the life of your bike and it starts to make sense. How do I know this? I went through two sets of high quality aluminum wheels when I got my Pivot Mach 429, but I have been pounding an original pair of Enve's lightweight 29er XC hoops trough the boulders of my local trails for over three years since and they are true and tight. So, what does the time lost and money spent add up to if you have to buy three wheelsets over the duration of one pair of Enve AM hoops? That's the sales pitch. - RC
Running into old friends is assured at an industry gathering like Press Camp. As it turns out, Jill Hamilton, an ex downhill pro who was the driving force behind Haro's mountain bike program (when Haro cared about mountain bikes) is bringing back Shebeest. Shebeest was one of the first - (at the time, perhaps the only) female-only cycling apparel companies, founded by a New York fashion designer who fell in love with cycling and discovered that there was nothing available that remotely fit a woman's body. Caudia Ried had her Ah-Ha moment when she was restyling Wrangler jeans.
DH racer Jill Hamilton shows Shebeest's capri-length baggies and one of their most popular sleeveless tops.
Ried realized that to make the jeans look good and fit while a person was on a horse, she had better fit them to the models while they were saddled up. To this day, Wrangler is the undisputed leader in Western riding wear. Ried founded Shebeest and applied her ergonomic styling technique to women on the bike and found instant acceptance. Ried eventually sold Shebeest and after languishing for a while, the company ended up in the right hands. Shebeest focused on its core group of road and trail riders to reestablish itself in the market, and is now taking a serious look at the wilder side of the sport.
The Strada jersey is made from a tubular knit fabric that stretches in both directions to eliminate most seams. The 13-inch zipper is hidden and the crest design is woven into the fabric, not printed. The back (lower right) has a small crest and a hidden zipper pocket. Sizes XS to XL, in green berry and black - MSRP $80 USD.
Shebeast baggies are cut to be slightly more form fitting, and made from a tough, but comfortable stretch fabric in three lengths. An adjustable stretch waistband (lower left) is fixed by buttons on either side. The highly engineered liner (lower right) is made from a wicking material and has grippers on the legs. The liner's pad was developed by Shebeest's original designer. Available in three lengths, XS to XL - $80 to $90 USD.
Jill was proud that there is no cutie pink in the Shebeest lineup - that it has always been about looking both capable and feminine. That said, there has always been a playful side to Shebeest. Animal prints and bright color combinations show up throughout the line and every garment is cut to enhance the female profile. The 'S' curve in the Shebeest logo is based upon the cut of jerseys - a curve out for the bust and then back into the waist, and then a flare to let the bottom of the jersey lay smoothly at the hips. While there is not a lot in the Shebeest ensemble for the Whistler and World Cup DH woman, I saw some items that would be great on trail, or for a cool under-layer to wear when you are padded up on the big bike this Summer. - RC
The Hayes Cycling Group owns Manitou Suspension, and the factory was excited to say that its twin-piston damping system TPC has been redesigned to allow riders to custom tune its compression damping at home. Manitou's 'Absolute Plus damping kit contains all the bits you'll need including pistons, shims and retaining hardware, to tune the high-speed compression damper. TPC refers two separate damping pistons, one for rebound and another for compression. The pistons oppose each other so that the suspension fluid always passes through the pistons and damping circuits under compression. This means that vacuum bubbles will not form and damping forces will be more consistent at all shaft speeds. The compression piston is easily accessed at the top of the stanchion tube through the cap on the fork crown. Manitou officials say that, armed with the kit, any competent home mechanic will be able to tune his TPC Absolute Plus damperTower Pro
Manitou's air-sprung Tower Pro 29er fork has a new magnesium slider with a stronger reverse arch and shares the TPC Absolute damping system with internals that can be tuned by amateur mechanics. Stanchion tubes are 32 millimeter, which is a surprise considering that other fork makers are distancing themselves from the smaller stanchion tubes in search of rigidity. Manitou says, however, that its patented hexagonal axle interface and reverse arch slider design provide more torsional rigidity than conventional forks with 34-millimeter stanchion tubes and round axles. Manitou is placing the Tower fork in the popular mid-travel 29er range (up to a140mm stroke) and it has a 48mm offset to match the larger wheel geometry. If all goes as planned, the Tower fork will weigh only 3.74 pounds (1697 grams), and Manitou will have one of the lightest trailbike forks in the 29er category.
Those who ride 29ers and want a laterally stiff fork in the 140-millimeter travel range can add Manitou to their shopping lists. The Tower Pro reportedly weighs only 3.74 pounds and, thanks to a new lower casting and its HexLock axle, is said to be one of the most rigid 29er trailbike forks. The toolbox on the lower right is Manitou's new Absolute Plus home fork-damper tuning kit that has every part you'll need, including instructions, to get it done right.
Appearing on Tower forks, is Manitou's HexLock quick-release 15-millimeter axle. The axle uses a conventional quick release handle, but that is where the resemblance ends. The axle has a T-shaped tip that locks into a steel insert in the opposite dropout. Hex-shaped bits on either end of the axle slide into the dropouts and are cinched tight by simply twisting the handle 90 degrees and closing it. Hexlock takes a little fiddling to become comfortable with, but after that, it's a quick axle to remove and replace.Circus Expert
Not new, but worth mentioning to PB readers for sure, is Manitou's Circus Expert fork. Manitou says it has been the most indestructible fork it has produced with a single crown. The Circus is aptly named, as it was designed and is compression-tuned to be a dirt jumper. At 4.7 pounds, it ain't light weight, but that shouldn't matter all that much. The Circus is internally adjustable for 80, 100 or 130-millimeters of travel and it can be locked out for jump park sessions. The axle is a full 20-millimeters and uses Manitou's super stiff hexagonal dropout interlock. Steerers are available in 1, 1/8 inch or tapered.
Manitou claims that its Circus Expert dirt jumping fork has been nearly indestructible. The 20-millimeter hexagonal axle is similar in stature to the DH Dorado fork.
SUNringle' has been working overtime with Stan's NoTubes to develop a truly outstanding tubeless wheel lineup. The 24-millimeter OD 'Black Flag' series it its lighter weight more XC and trail-oriented range, and the wider 28-millimeter OD 'Charger' series is its all-mountain, make-it-happen wheelset. Both wheels use Stan's low-flange rim profile and come pre-taped with Stan's conversion kit and valve stems.
SUNringle' Black Flag wheels (left) and Charger Pro wheels incorporate Stan's NoTubes BST tubeless rim profiles. Presently both 26 and 29er wheels are available, with 650b (27.5-inch) on the way.
The advantage of the low bead flanges is that it gives the tire a rounder shape and additional volume, and at the same time, offers more lateral stability. Another plus is that less flange means less metal and thus lighter weight. Both the Black Flag and Charger wheels are sold in two builds: Pro and Expert, with the top-drawer Pro pegged at under $1000 USD. SUNringle' presently offers both wheel designs in 26 or 29 inches, with 27.5-inch versions coming on line in late Summer.
SUNringle' hubs use replaceable caps to adapt to any axle strategy. The left-side cap of the rear hub pulls off to reveal a slot that fits a clever tool that holds it in place while the user unscrews the drive-side cap.
Quick-change axle caps make it possible for SUNringle's Black Flag and Charger wheels to be configured to all popular axles including, 135 QR, 135 x 12 and 142 x 12mm. Up front, the end-caps simply pop off and on and caps are included for QR, 15 and 20mm axles. SUNringle' officials underscored the importance of creating a wheel that did not cost as much as a pro level bike, yet delivered pro level performance. Spokes are bladed wheelsmith items, with top-models featuring straight-pull hubs and spokes.
Charger Pro wheels get red-anodized hubs and round, straight-pull Wheelsmith spokes. The rims come pre-taped with Stan's Notubes sealing wrap and valve stems. SUNringle' had its new 650b Charger wheels (far right) on a Turner prototype available for test rides - it was very popular.
The four-pawl freehub ratchet design is slightly offset so that it engages every seven degrees - pretty fast in anyone's book. Weights are competitive as well, with the lightest Black Flag Pro at 1585 grams a pair in 26, and 1725 grams in 29-inch-wheels. The Charger Pro comes in at 1699 grams in 26 and 1840 grams in 29 inch wheels. Both models are laced 24-front /24-rear for 26 inch wheels and 28/28 for 29ers. Those wishing for more info will be happy to know that SUNringle' wheels should be arriving at PB headquarters soon for a more in-depth look.
Well, that's about it for Park City and Press Camp. I hope you enjoyed it, because I sure did. Pinkbike put in a lot of requests for test products while we were at the show, so expect to see more of the items featured in our previews, as well as some choice morsels that we have kept to ourselves. Until then, I have some riding to catch up on while the sun is still above the ridgeline and the lifts are running. - RC