Tracey Hannah out of Crankworx
Now, this might appear to be bad news: crashing, getting concussed, and failing the Standardized Concussion Medical exam at Crankworx Rotorua was definitely bad news for Tracey Hannah. She would sit out the competition at Rotorua.
But, the good news you are waiting for me to get to is that positive steps are being taken towards riders' health. Gone are the days of "shake it off and get back on your bike." Head injuries are a serious issue and missing out on a ride or a race or two is much better than causing further damage. It's great to see the Crankworx organization stepping up and putting the necessary testing structure in place.
Offseason = over.
For racing fans, the long winter wait is over. Up ahead there are months of tech geekery from the pits, live streams to watch and results to analyze. World Cup XC kicked off in the Southern Hemisphere at Stellenbosch, South Africa, and Crankworx went wild in Rotorua, New Zealand, keeping the gravity and freestyle crowd happy.
There was more action from below the equator, with the premier EWS in Lo Barnechea, Chile. Add that to the enduro in Manizales, Columbia, and EWS racers got two new venues and one new country to add to their palmarés.
New products incoming at full speed.
Canyon's full suspension XC racer
A new race season also means fresh products and prototypes, along with Eurobike being moved forwards in the calendar to early July, means a rush to launch MY19 [Model Year] products before everybody else. In March, we saw Rocky Mountain's new Thunderbolt
, Ibis' new Ripmo
, Santa Cruz's new Blur
, Intense's Sniper
, and RockShox's 2019 Lyrik
It is also a good bet that any prototypes spotted at the races at this time of the year will be launched within the following months or at Eurobike: Scott's possible new Gambler, Pivot's 29" DH bike
, Gwin's under-wraps DH bike
, GT's all-new platform
, two new 29ers from Devinci, SRAM's wireless Eagle
and RockShox's grip-shift style shock actuator
are all likely to be official before we know it. The list goes on in what could be a record-breaking month for new stuff.
Schurter's winning streak comes to an end
The gold medal wearing Olympian had a perfect World Cup season in 2017. He was unstoppable and any real attempt to try and take him to the line was refused point blank. The closest of the have-a-go-heroes was Jaroslav Kulhavy, who managed to get within three seconds of Nino at Lenzerheide. The second step below Schurter was filled by a different rider at nearly every other race.
In Stellenbosch, Sam Gaze moved up to Elite from the U23 class. He didn't just chase the Swiss rider around the course like a mouse after some tasty Gruyére, he well and truly challenged him for the duration. Nino slipped a pedal on the finish sprint, but with a bike length in hand, I think the powerful Kiwi would have taken it to the line anyway. Round two will show if Nino was well and truly beaten, or if he is just having a slow start to the season.
Mr. Wolf release '100% puncture proof system
I've had a bee in my bonnet about punctures for a while now, mainly because I'm not intelligent enough to solve the problem and selfishly wish that somebody else would, for my own trailside sanity. I have been playing with the Mr. Wolf Banger system for nearly a year now with varying degrees of success – improving tire damping is definite benefit of the system, but I have still had punctures, followed by burped tires, followed by trying to ride home without repairing the tire to be greeted by a destroyed and flaccid foam lump that also consumed all the tubeless fluid.
But, Mr. Wolf are back with the SmartMousse,
a system that claims to be 100% puncture proof, a claim which I will instantly refute as there is still air
inside a tube beneath the foam insert and, although it's unlikely, you could
pop the tube. Weighing in at 500-640 grams each, they are not light, but I can see this system working with a very lightweight tire. For example, swap out a 1200g DH casing Maxxis High Roller for a 600g version with no tubeless fluid and (hopefully) no mess or messing around. This could leave you with no punctures, no weight penalty, great damping from the foam insert, and tire support from the foam pressing against tire casing. The downside would be rolling resistance, but it would likely be better than a DH casing tire anyway (and less money in your bank account) but, the Italian's are offering 12-months insurance against punctures. I can't wait to get my hands on one.