The good news is that the Southern Hemisphere is warming up, the bike parks are opening and days will soon be longer. The rest of us, not so much - unless you live in Phoenix, Arizona, which is really a Summer time-share resort built by Satan for his chosen minions. So, let's raise a glass to Winter lunch rides at Pivot Cycles and then get this show on the road.
November was a surprisingly good month for small, high-end bike makers. International racing got a boost from a German automotive giant, and we discovered a crop of kids who may be the next wave of Rampage competitors. There were some unhappy moments as well, but I'm getting ahead of the story. So, I offer you, the highs and lows of November, 2017.
"Grompage" kid's competition staged on old Rampage site.
The idea was to invite a bunch of pre-teen riders, who have skills to watch the Red Bull Rampage, and afterwards, attend an underground freeride gathering staged at the old Rampage site. Ranging from six to ten years old, Weston Lloyd, twins Luke and Alex Mallen, Finley Kirchenmann, Fred Lariviere and Boston Bryant competed in Mountain Ranks "Fanpage" and whip off competition. Mountain Ranks is an active lifestyle clothing company out of Park City, Utah that has staged the event there for a number of years. The young riders loved it. While they were showing off their skills
, they got to hang with the likes of Aaron Chase, Andreu Lacondeguy, and Cody Kelley, who showed up to jump with the lads. Prizes were given out to any kid who sent it... large or small.
Alex Parish throws down during the whip-off competition. - Steve Lloyd photo
Small Bike Brands
Three fresh bike designs debut from boutique builders.
Three of November's most popular tech posts introduced fresh frame designs from Pole in Finland, Deviate from the UK and Eminent, a start-up brand from the USA. PB readers never tire of tech, and this trio definitely delivered the goods:
is the promised savior of the rider-forward geometry pioneer that, after cancelling its first carbon project, published a treatise on the evils of carbon manufacturing and vowed to set things right with planet-friendly aluminum.
is a stunning looking frame that is CNC-machined in their home country from large plates of 7075 T6 aluminum. The frame is is then screwed and glued together in halves, like a plastic airplane model, to produce a strong, lightweight, hollow structure that will be sold unpainted.
Pole's "Machine" CNC-machined aluminum frame concept.
Luckily, aluminum is easily recycled because, after the machining process, I imagine that 99-percent of those aluminum plates ends up as scrap. Pole insisted it was possible to make an aluminum frame with the comparative weight and strength of carbon, so all eyes will be on this prize when it ships in March, 2018.
Deviate's Guide has a 600% range Pinion gearbox, anti-chain-growth idlers, and looks that could kill. - Deviate photo
Nerd Worship peaked on PB when UK bike maker Deviate Cycles
released the "Guide," a 160-millimeter-travel carbon AM/trail bike built around a 12-speed Pinion gearbox, but it doesn't stop there. The Guide's rear suspension has a triangulated swingarm with a high pivot, intended to maximize the suspension's action in rocky and rooted terrain. A double-idler system redirects the chain above and below the swingarm pivot location, which reportedly eliminates chain growth, while allowing for a rearward axle path. The low-mounted shock is actuated from a linkage below the swingarm, which should mask the mass of the bike, by keeping it low. Deviate's Guide
will debut in April 2018.
threw its hat into the all-mountain/enduro ring in early November with the 160-millimeter-travel Haste. Eminent
will sell and ship its bikes direct to its customers. The Haste strikes a modern profile. Based upon 27.5-inch wheels, Its carbon chassis showcases their AFS four-bar rear suspension, designed with full-length seat and chainstays that articulate on a short, vertical link at the rear axle.
A floating rear brake, combined with the suspension's relatively linear kinematics reportedly deliver ground-hugging traction without interfering with pedaling efficiency. Eminent's plan is to provide over-the-top customer service, combined with an MSRP that is measurably below the Haste's elite-level competitors.
Eminent Cycle's Haste was designed for the downs, but to pedal well enough to inspire a few more laps.
World Cup Series
Mercedes Benz signs three-year deal as title sponsor.
Mercedes Benz doesn't need to buy visibility at mountain bike World Cups - the pits and surrounding camps are littered with Sprinter vans. In a press reease towards the end of the month, the UCI made the announcement
that the German auto maker would be the title sponsor, and also will outfit officials with a fleet of their new X-Class pickup trucks and V-class "multi-purpose vehicles" (Sprinters). Welcome aboard.
Soft market forces Niner to seek Chapter 11 protection.
Anyone who has founded a bicycle business can tell you a story of a near miss with disaster, a bad year, or a decision that came back to haunt them. Niner's President and co-founder Chris Sugai realized over a year ago that they were running too lean to properly market their brand, and more critically, to bring their new designs to market fast enough to react to rapidly changing trends. Long-travel 29ers, for example, hit hard in 2017. I'm sure Niner wanted to jump on that one.
Sugai found an investor consortium next door in Colorado that agreed to purchase the brand, but to facilitate the sale, Niner had to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy to reorganize its debt. Reportedly, the transition will be seamless. Sugai will remain at Niner, as will its employees - and the brand will be recapitalized and back in full swing by January, 2018. That's good news, but it's still gotta sting.
Niner's call to action.
Ray's Indoor MTB Park Fans
Founder Ray Petro sustains spinal injury
Probably the worst news ever for mountain bikers is to have one in our midst sustain a life-changing injury. Famous indoor bike park founder Ray Petro suffered a spinal injury while trail riding and fortunately, was found unconscious by a hiker who sought help.
Ray brought mountain biking to the middle of an urban wasteland and in doing so, his wild scheme to build a wooden trail network inside an abandoned warehouse welded a community of riders together from all walks of life. Check out the story
and learn how you might be able to give him a boost on the road to recovery.