Interbike – 2008

by Brian Mullin on September 27, 2008


Pastajet’s Interbike 2008 Top 5 Highlights

Interbike was a fun experience again, but it was very tiring. Long days followed by long nights writing up ride impressions and daily coverage of the show is exhausting. I rode as many bikes as I could at the Outdoor Demo, but there is only so much time in the day, to many people to visit and talk with, and it was in the 90’s and sunny, so heat exhaustion and hydration play another part of the entertainment. Indoors was this monstrous swatch of booths that is overwhelming, and it’s easy to get lost. One saving grace is that the exhibitors tend to keep the same booth area each year so it’s easier to find the next year. I tried to visit as many booths as I could and talk shop with each of the exhibitors but there are so many different exhibitors that it was impossible to take it all in.

The staff wanted me to come up with a list of my top highlights from the show. I did have a few celebrity types, I spoke to such as Phil Liggett, John Tomac, Tinker Juarez, Georgia Gould, Allison Dunlap and Greg Lemond but the products and the bikes and the exhibitors are the real highlights.
There were electric bikes galore at the show along with more commuter and cruiser bikes than I have ever seen. The cream of the crop of those commuter bikes was the Moots Comooter.

Sure it was expensive and only a select few can enjoy it tasty treats, but it’s totally tricked out and is pretty much ready to commute as soon as it’s put together. No need to figure out a part selection, it’s already blinged!

New Bikes
Although there were plenty of cool bikes at the show, I had to get a brief dirt demo ride in on the bike to really give it any new bike a thumbs up. My favorite new bike I rode at the show was the Turner Sultan 29er.

Turner Sultan

I rode around on the nasty gnarly terrain of Bootleg Canyon and the Sultan commanded all the terrain like it was riding on air. The DW Link suspension system which is new to Turner made it pedal like a demon and offered incredible traction without any bob. The Sultan rode up and down ledges and boulders with incredible composure and stuck like glue on any loose terrain.

15mm – the new axle standard
Plenty of us have written off the 15mm axle standard as a 20mm wannabe. After all there was nothing wrong with 20mm but there were plenty of issues with 9mm. Considering that 9mm is a road standard that morphed over into the mountain bike world it is really past it’s usefulness for the front end of modern long travel suspension that now exists. Fox, DT Swiss and Marzocchi now offer 9mm and 15mm variants of their forks and American Classic, Chris King, DT Swiss and others now offer 9mm and 15mm hubs. Therefore, even though it feels like Betamax syndrome to me, it appears that 15mm is here to stay. Obviously, the new Fox forks in 15mm are new and cool but my favorite new 15mm part at the show was the American Classic 15mm hub. The hub is a svelte 116g and appears to be made to AM strict standards.

Cool Tools
Park and Pedro’s had some very nice new tools on the market this year, but two of them are interesting enough to place as a tie for tools that I covet. Those tools are the Pedro’s Vise Whip

and the Parks Hydraulic Brake Piston Press.

The Pedros Vise Whip It is the worlds first locking chain whip while the Park Piston Press separates hydraulic disc brake pads when you can’t fit your rotor in. Two unique and cool tools.

There weren’t many newer tires out this year, it was mostly a refinement of existing models. The one tire that struck my fancy was the Schwalbe Fat Alberts.

I have always been a fan of the Albert series of tires and this a nice tweak to that series. The Fat Alberts comes as front and rear specific and comes in 2 sizes and should suit a variety of terrain, especially where traction is paramount.

Turner 5 Spot – 2009: Ride Impression

After I returned the Turner Sultan, I had to wait around a bit to get the very popular 5 Spot out for a test ride. As we all know Dave Turner revamped his entire bike line to use the DW Link suspension system. You can refer to my Turner Sultan post for more on the DW Link. I had ridden one of the TNT versions of the 5 Spot, so I was at least somewhat familiar with the 5 Spot’s characteristics. I took the 5 Spot up onto the lower portion of the West Leg trail. It has some pretty gnarly sections that really put a bike to a great test of its steering, braking and suspension. The 5 Spot showed an almost telepathic sense of steering, it went right where you told it to go. The 5 Spot has the typical Turner neutral feel and the rock solid read end. Can you say you have a stout rear end? On a few spots when climbing or descending the rear end liked to kick out from under me, but the bike did stay planted. The 5 Spot nicely took the mini ledges and rock ramps on the trail, and it flowed nicely along the tight singletrack. Like most Turners the 5 Spot is a big beefy frame so inherently it’s a bit heavy and on some climbs you could feel it the weight. That extra beef does give it a tad more stiffness when hauling downhill at a fast clip.

The demo 5 Spot was equipped with a FSA headset, stem and bars, Juicy 5 brakes, Maxxis Advantage 2.25 tires, a Fox Float RLC 140 fork and some other basic parts. I really like the Maxxis Advantage tire, they are good tires and even though the sidewalls are a tad thin they love rocky and loose terrain and roll quite well.

Turner has another great bike on their hands with the 5 Spot. The new DW Link suspension gives it more traction and makes it much better climber than it’s predecessors.The bike is neutral, has incredible steering response and a stout rear end (ok, I said it). The only issues were the rear end kick out’s and heavy weight.

5.5 inch travel with DW Link suspension
Aluminum frame with Fox RP23 shock
Frame Sizes: 13, 15, 17, 19, 21 and 23 inches
Colors: Blue Streak and Iron Glimmer
Weight: 6.7 lbs

Shimano Yumeya

The information on the Yumeya parts for Shimano’s XTR group has been leaking out for a while, and they now have a wildly done and dramatic website with a Kabuki dancer as an intro.

The parts consist of rear derailleur plate -7g, tension and guide pulley set -1g, cable fixing bolt and pulley bolt for rear derailleur -2.8g, cassette sprockets -15g, HG chain -10g, outer casing -10g/m, brake hose, connecting bolt for brake hose -6g, shift lever bracket band, outer adjust plate for shift lever, bolts for shift lever -4.2g, crank arm fixing bolt, lid for disc brake lever -3.5g, bolts for front derailleur -2.4g and brake caliper bolts -9.2g. A lot of the parts are strictly for bling and have no weight savings. Total savings=71.2g to ? (depends on casing length)

The parts have quite a bit of bling factor along with some weight savings. When I spoke with one of the Shimano reps, and he was unsure when the parts would be for sale, how much they will cost and whether parts would be sold individually or only as a kit. He was sure that the chain and the cassette sprockets would be sold separately, and I am sure they will not be cheap.

GoPro – Digital Video System

GoPro had their Hero video camera on display at the back of the Interbike show. It was quite the interactive and audio visual display back there with their staff modeling the different versions of the camera and on screen footage showing the camera in action.

The Hero camera system is a 5 megapixel sensor that can shoot 56 minutes of video and 5MP of photos using a 2GB SD card (not included). It is self contained in a small waterproof polycarbonate housing and weighs a mere 4.7 ounces. It uses 2 AAA batteries and comes with 16MB of internal storage.

They have a couple of models such as the Motorsports Hero ($199.99), the Wrist Hero ($139.99) and the Helmet Hero Wide ($189.99). The Helmet Hero Wide is the one most applicable to mountain bikers. They just added a 170 degree wide angle lens so you will get more of the trail in the video, hence the Helmet Hero Wide name.

In addition there are a couple of interesting options to let you attach the camera to the handlebars or seatpost (the Ride Hero $19.99) and the latest option is a chest mount (the Chesty $29.99) which might work really well for the rough terrain on a mountain bike where your helmet is bouncing around.

This guy reminded me of Tony Robbins, he really worked the crowd and loved what he was doing at the show.


Race Face – Next carbon cranks

Race Face had their new XC Next cranks on display along with their existing Next bars and seatposts. They were very nice looking carbon fiber cranks and the weave pattern really stands out. Weight is 750g. There is also a titanium bottom bracket spindle available for additional weight savings down to under 700g. It took Race Face 2 years of extensive R&D to perfect the cranks which they consider to be one of the lightest and strongest 100% carbon fiber cranks on the market.

They even have a trick single speed version.

Fairwheel Bicycles – Weight Weenie, KCNC and European parts

Fairwheel Bicycles out of Tuscon Arizona is one of the premiere weight weenie bike stores in the country. They carry an assortment of time honored light weight parts by AX Lightness, Becker, Carbon Ti, KCNC, New Ultimate, Schmolke and others. They have recently become KCNC-USA so they are the official US distributor of the fine Taiwanese companies’ products.

I won’t go into a lot of details, I will just let the pictures do the talking.

The very pretty and extremely pricey Schmolke carbon fiber products.


New Ultimate carbon fiber.

Some of the KCNC product suite, including the new skewers, seatposts and their cranks and pulleys.

Jason the owners very tricked out and lightweight bike.

Some chainrings from a company I had not heard of, Far and Near.

The outrageously expensive Carbon-Ti parts.

The very popular Becker carbon saddle, which is lightweight but is actually comfortable if it fits your butt.

AX Lightness Caron fiber saddles and seatposts.

Scrub Components lightweight rotors, made here in the USA. I will be testing a pair shortly.

Pedro’s Tools

Pedro had 2 new tools that I thought were pretty cool. The first tool is their Vise Whip, and it replaces your old chain whip tool. It is the worlds first locking chain whip, much like a set of Vise grips with a small groove cut in the vises teeth for the cog’s teeth to fit in. I played around with it on their tool bench, and it was pretty sweet.

The second tool was their Demi-Torque wrench. It is a micrometer styled torque wrench for 3-15 Nm adjustments.

I did see a very high tech torque wrench later in the day that is incredibly precise and expensive ($280-350). It was not a click type of wrench but used a sensitive strain gauge and would warn you if you applied to much torque. You can search the internet for the ‘1/4 In Dr Computorq3 Electronic Torque Wrench’. It is made by CDI Torque Products.

Per their blurb “The COMPUTORQ3 Electronic Torque Wrench is a simple to use digital readout wrench that displays real time torque values in any of four torque units, ft.lbs., in.lbs., Nm, Simply set the desired torque value and apply force until the green LED illuminates. Great for light industrial, automotive, motorcycle, watercraft and aircraft applications.”

Moots Cycles

I had a very nice personal tour of the Moots booth by Cathy Wiedemer. She walked me through the new Moots bikes and showed me a few of their new parts. Their new theme at Moots is “Why Ti”.

The biggest news is their commuter bike aptly named the Comooter. Call it a titanium townie! This is definitely a Robb Report kind of bike. It is meant for the upwardly mobile ‘BMW driving set’ person in the big city who wants to commute. The bike comes as a complete package, no framesets with this baby. It is decked out with Moots Ti bars, stem, seatpost and frame and has the always meticulous Moots welds. The drivetrain is the 14 speed Rohloff internally geared transmission, Schmidt generator hub powers a Schmidt front light and a Busch & Muller rear light, Hionjo aluminum fenders, tubular rear rack and Magura Louise disc brakes.
Sizes are 53.5, 55, 56.5 and 58.
MSRP $8750.00.

A 96er has been added to the Moots stable and is named Gristle. The Gristle has a 26 rear wheel and a 29 front wheel. The idea behind the 96er is to give one the speed and acceleration of a 26 inch wheel in the back and then a 29 in front for rolling over obstacles. It tries to bridge the gap between each of the wheel size strengths and weaknesses. The gristle comes in 3 varieties, the Gristle Z (Zirkel 4 inch travel), The Gristle YBB (1 1/8 inch travel) and the Gristle Rigor (hardtail).
Sizes are 16.5, 18, 19, 20 and 22
MSRPs: Rigor $2900.00; YBB $3075.00; Z $3350.00 (frame only).

The Mootour which is Moots versatile sport road bike has new stock sizes. No changes otherwise. This bike can go anywhere you want in the world with it’s coupler system it is incredibly versatile.
Sizes are 53.5cm, 55cm, 56cm, 57.5cm, 58cm.
MSRP $3125.00.

The Zirkel has been updated to bump up the travel from 3 inches to 4. No changes otherwise.
Sizes are 14, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 and 22.
MSRP $3275.00 (frame only).

The Psycho X crossbike has also been updated. The chainstays were tweaked to create better chain ring and tire clearance. The show bike was tricked out with some pretty sweet bling parts. It almost makes me want to start cyclocrossing.
Available in seven stock sizes from 50cm to 60.5cm.
MSRP $2950.00 (frame only).

Moots are now making a mountain stem called the Open Trail that is made for oversize 31.8 handlebars. That is a great addition to their parts since a lot of mountain bikers no longer use the skinny bars.
Sizes are 90 x 6, 100 x 6, 110 x 6, 120 x 6, 130 x 10.
MSRP $395.00.

On the seatpost side of things Moots has added a 30.9 size in addition to the current 27.2. It is not the other standard of 31.6 that I use, but it is one that a lot of manufacturers use.
3 lengths are 280, 340, and 380, straight or layback. Layback has a 16mm offset.
MSRP $285.00 – $305.00.

Toodler Learning bikes – for those who have kids!

Most of us learned on a bike with training wheels and at some point in time the training wheels got removed and our entertainment or torture began until we got the hang of riding a bike. What if you could remove the whole training wheel issue and let a kid learn balance while having fun and just enjoy riding without the pressure of training wheels. Enter the balance bike and its various tweaks. I must have not paid much attention but these balance bikes have been around for a while in Europe. Since I am now a Dad, I know the trails and tribulations my daughter went through to get off the training wheels and the balance bike seems like a great idea.

Basically, the balance bike has wheels, steers, has no pedals and sits really low to the ground. The kid feels secure, since they can keep their feet firmly on the ground if they want to. They pretty much do a seated walk or shuffle and learn steering, balance and coordination. They can walk, run, glide and coast and all these neuralgic activities help them transition to a real bike much quicker than the usual training wheeled method.

Here is the skuut companies’ version which retails for $89.99

And then one of the European original versions the LikeaBike which retails from $269-$395

Then the one I really liked had a spot that you could stick your feet up on while gliding, sort of like a scoter, the Kazam retails for $99.95.

And last but not least a beta unit that uses a gyroscope in the front wheel. The Gyrobike (not a pita gyro nor a bike) uses a gyroscope in the front wheel to stabilize the bike and the rider. The Gyrobike gyroscope should cost in the neighborhood of $60.


Magura has a few new items for 2009. They have revamped their Marta line (Marta and Marta SL) and added the new lightweight Marta SL Mag. The Marta line has the new EBT technology for fast and convenient brake bleeding of the completely integrated reservoir. There is a small port on top of the caliper reservoir cover that allows a quick connection and access to bleed the brakes. No longer do you have to remove the cover and play around with a messy more open system. I am looking forward to that myself, no more mineral oil all over the floor trying to get the brake bleed properly. The pistons and the pads are slightly larger as they more closely align with the Louise models’ pad sizing.

The new Marta SL Mag is made from magnesium and retains the same characteristics of its Marta siblings. They should be available in 2009. They weigh in a svelte 295g! I can’t weight (pun intended) to try these brakes out.

The Julie brake has been revamped and is now called the Julie hp. It has gained some of the new technologies from its more high tech brethren.

The newest addition to the fork line is the Magura Thor. It is an All Mountain 140mm fork with adjustable travel from 140mm to 100mm. It uses the Maxle 20mm QR axle and only takes 180mm and 200mm brakes. It has the wonderful Magura Albert Select Damping feature and a double fork brace for increased stiffness.

The Durin line of forks now has a Durin SL which is very light weight and the Durin Marathon which is a 120mm to 100mm adjustable fork.

Last but not least is the MX 190 rear shock, which is very much like the air shocks that semi-trucks use. It looks a bit odd, but it is supposed to work. Note, it will only be offered as a OEM option, so no third party applications nor public purchases now.

Xtreme Sports Interactive Emergency ID

During my usual wander around the immense Interbike show, I came upon this very small booth for a company named Xtreme Sports ID, whom had a very interesting and perhaps a life saving product?

Do you ever go biking, hiking, skiing, running, bouldering, etc by yourself? I think most of us do at one time or another. Sometimes we carry identification and sometimes we don’t. However, does your wallet have the proper person or number to contact easily available? How about a Doctors name and number? Maybe you have a medical condition? Xtreme Sports has an interesting solution.

Xtreme Sports makes a small rubber wristband that has a toll free phone number on it and a unique 8-digit ID that corresponds to the wearer. During an emergency, someone calls the toll number and enters the ID number. It then ties into the Xtreme Sports ID database, and it will give out information such as who am I, where do I live, emergency contacts, medical provider, medications and medical alerts, allergies, etc. That information is loaded into the database after you register your ID. The ID bracelet can be purchased for $8 and the yearly renewal is $5. You could even load the database up with your plans such as “Going out biking on Mt Falcon”. The same account could contain up to 6 users so that your entire family could be tied together. It’s a pretty cheap insurance policy that only requires that you have access to a phone, which in this day and age are ubiquitous.

Per the company’s verbiage “Our goal, at XTREME SPORTS ID, is to provide a stylish, secure, comfortable, and affordable form of Emergency Identification. Our product is simple and our mission is the same, provide peace of mind for today’s extreme enthusiasts. Do you surf, ski, snowboard, skateboard, hike, mountain-bike, cycle, rock-climb, kayak, run, kitesurf, or all of the above? Then we feel XTREME SPORTS ID can provide a secure alternative to traditional forms of identification. Why carry ID when you can wear it?”

Check with your LBS, they might even carry it? A sound peace of mind for yourself and loved ones.

An Update:

When you dial the toll free number and enter the id NUMBER on your phone you can then enter 1 (or other options) and it will say the persons name and spell it out, etc. They also have the ability to set it up so that an email can be sent out to a list or person.


Ashima Brakes

I met Wayne of Ashima last year when they were just starting to roll out their product suite. This year they have a whole line of disc and rim brakes pads, rim brake pad holders and disc brake rotors and a very new disc brake system. Their parts are being distributed by J&B Importers so their stuff should be easier to get this coming year.

They have some interesting features on their brake pads. In the disc world, they have a multi-compound pad called the SOS. Basically, the pad has an Organic section in the middle of the pad flanked on either side by sintered sections. I have not tried them, but it sounds like a great way to combine the 2 different properties of each of those materials into one pad. They also have some pretty trick rim pads that have multiple sections on the pad to do different functions. An example is the top of the line Pro Range-4Fun which starts off with a crud removal section, then a water removal section, then the maximum braking contact section followed up with a progressive rim release section. Whew!

They also make a very tricked out lightweight rotor called the AiRoToR which comes in 140 (67g), 160 (85g), 180 (105g) and 203 (137g) sizes.

The new and still in beta APVS (Ashima Power Valve System) brake system is pretty trick. It has 4 pistons, 2 pairs of axially mounted ones. Initial braking is done by a 14mm piston and then a 22mm finishes the job when higher loads are needed. It means it has the equivalent of 26mm pistons. There is another brake system on the way, my lips are sealed on it but it’s pretty amazing brake using a known technology.

Mavic Wheels

The Mavic booth was quite large, so I just zeroed in on their wheelsets. They have revamped a few wheels and added a whole slew of new ones.

The famous Crossmax SLR Disc has been lightened again to be 1520g. It now uses the Mavic Inter Spoke Milling 3D technology ISM3D to lower weight and give a more dynamic ride. It is also available in a 20mm version! Wow.

There is also the new Crossmax ST at 1635g and the Crossride Disc and the Crossride UB Disc, both of which are entry level wheels.

The Crossmax SX has been revamped with a new freehub and went on a diet. It now comes in at 1755g, 165g less than it’s predecessors.

There is also some new Enduro based wheelsets such as the Crossline, the Deemax and the Deetraks with colorful graphics on their sidewalls.

DT Swiss

There was not much new stuff from DT Swiss. They have also jumped on the 15mm bandwagon so they have revamped their existing lines to incorporate that new standard. You can now get their 240 and 340 hubs in 15mm flavors, their XR 1450 and EX 1750, X 1800 and X 2200 in wheels in 15mm and finally the XMC 130 and EXC 150 forks come in 15mm.

Here is a quick shot of a 15mm fork:

They also tweaked their forks a tad at the bottom of the legs. Notice they are post mounts for the brakes.

They have revamped the heavy duty Freeride wheelset named the FR 2350. It comes in a bright red color with some cool graphics. The front is a 20mm with 110mm spacing and the rear has the options of 10mm with 135mm spacing, 12mm with 135mm spacing or the downhill standard 12mm with 150mm spacing and obviously weighs in around 2350g. They were having complaints that the rims were too soft and they were getting chewed up from hard freeriding. The old FR6.1 rims were replaced with the new FR600 SBWT welded rim, it has a new profile and harder alloy to alleviate this issue. The Santa Cruz Syndicate has been thoroughly testing them.


Formula Brakes

The new hot ticket from Formula Brakes was their lightweight R1 model. They are supposed to weigh in at 270g. The R1 is a one piece forged PM caliper, and it uses an aluminum back plated organic pad. The master cylinder consists of a two piece radial master cylinder. The lever can be taken off easily without removing much of anything. The flip flop clamp style allows the lever to be moved to either side of the bars. The levers have a nice notch for your braking hand, and they seemed very ergonomic.

Available with a magnesium lever and in 160mm, 180mm and 203mm sizes.

There is an option for a lighter but more expensive rotors, the normal rim has a red internal spider and the lighter one has a sort of star shape and is the same material.

As a side note the Bianco and Puro brake systems will be discontinued.

Schwalbe Tires

Schwalbe has a couple of new tires on the market. One of the most interesting is the revamped Fat Albert. They come in a 26×2.25 and 26×2.4 sizes, and come in a Front and Rear specific version. The newly revamped tire has the new U-Block technology and the new Triple Nano compound. The filler particles for the Triple Nano has been changed in size from 200 nanometers to 10 nanometers. This means reduced internal friction, which lowers rolling resistance and smaller particles mean more surface area so grip is improved. The front is tweaked for handling and braking while the rear has been optimized for traction and curve control. It still retains the classic Albert series tread pattern and comes in a SnakeSkin, Double Defense (only in the 2.25 size) and Tubeless versions.

Fat Albert Front
26×2.25 – SnakeSkin 650g, Double Defense 695g and Tubeless 840g
26×2.4 – SnakeSkin 750g and Tubeless 960g

Fat Albert Rear
26×2.25 – SnakeSkin 650g, Double Defense 695g and Tubeless 840g
26×2.4 – SnakeSkin 750g and Tubeless 960g

Here is the front:

Here is the rear:

They even come in a box as a pair!

Another new tire is the Smart Sam and the Rocket Ron. The Rocket Ron is a racers tire, it’s very light weight with just enough tread.

Rocket Ron
26×2.1 – Evo 410g, Evo Tubeless 530g
26×2.25 – Evo 445g, Evo Tubeless 580g
26×2.4 – Evo 530g

For the 29er there is a Furious Fred 29×2.0 – 335g. Europe doesn’t quite get the North American 29er trend. I am hoping to have a Fat Albert for a 29er!

American Classic Wheels and Hubs

American Classic is now on the 15mm bandwagon. They have a few new hubs and wheelsets taking advantage of the new standard along with the current 20mm.

Here is the 20mm through axle disc hub: 216g, 32 hole drilling and 110mm spacing.

Here is the 15mm through axle disc hub: 116g, 32 hole drilling and 100mm spacing. A very light hub that pretty much blows away anything currently on the market. My Hope hub is around 180g for comparison.

The American Classic cassette body has an interesting innovation in which they have 3 steel inserts that alleviate damage to the cassette body, the cassette hits the steel and not the softer aluminum of the rest of the body.

The new All Mountain Disc wheelset, available in a 26 or 29er size: 1910g (not sure about this weight?) , QR, 15mm or 20mm front and QR, 12mm rear.

Here is the Downhill wheelset: 2080g, 20mm with 110mm front spacing and 150mm rear spacing

Ibis Cycles

I popped over too the Ibis booth first thing in the morning before they got too busy. It wasn’t hard to miss their booth since it was an old bright shiny Airstream trailer!

I had a nice long pleasant conversation with Hans Heim. We talked about suspension systems, the new 09 Fox RP23, the Fox 15mm Betamax standard, 650 wheels, 29er bikes and of course the new Ibis products. He had nothing but glowing reviews for the 2009 Fox RP23 rear shock. He really liked how they revamped the shock and how it now ramped up and acted through its entire range, especially the midrange. I really like the DT Swiss Carbon shock but he really felt I would prefer the new RP23, and that it was miles ahead of its predecessors and the DT Swiss. Therefore, that meant it was time for another test!

Here is a picture of an item that a whole lot of Mojo owners is waiting for with bated breath, the Lopes Link. Per the Ibis blurb “Developed with Brian Lopes. The Lopes Link retrofits to the Mojo and Mojo SL. The Lopes Link increases the lateral and torsional stiffness of the swingarm. Available in Nickel-Chrome, Blue and Red anodized. Adds about 18g to the frame weight and costs $79. Please note that production of the Lopes Link is still around one month out. So for me in non technical terms, the Lopes Link will get rid of that rear end slop!

I also got to talk shop about bicycle designs, architecture and motorcycles to the initial industrial designer of the Mojo frame Roxy Lo. Anyone who has seen the lines of the Mojo knows what a work of art it is! We talked about motorcycles like the Ducati 916, another drop dead sexy bike, and my Aprilia Tuono.

Ibis had 2 new bikes on display, not really new bikes but revamped old bikes. One is a crossbike called the Hakkalugi that has an interesting yellow paint job called Phlegmish Yellow, named for the Flemish people. The bike is still in it’s beta stage, but it is obviously a carbon frame, with a classic cross geometry, an Easton EC90 X Cross fork, canti mounts (it is a cross bike after all) and the hand job cable stop. Weight should be in sub 1000g. A final release date and weights will be announced later.

Of course a Flemish Flag Lion icon was added doing some spewing of Phlegm. Scott is warped!

The other new bike is not carbon but titanium. The Mojo Ti Ltd is made by Lynskey Titanium in the US to Ibis specifications. There are only 150 of them to be made. Although the picture shows brake bosses, they spec’s state that they will have disc brake tabs. Geometry should match the old Ibis and weight should hover at 1340g.

The Tranny’s should be ramping up for production shortly. I really like this orange color of this Tranny.

Not many other tidbits or secrets. Ibis is going to keep things a bit more under wraps so I can’t pass along anything that I am privy to! Although I told Hans I badly wanted a 29er, he said the design logistics would be a nightmare to tweak a 29er out of the current Mojo. Darn!

Ibis is going to be moving soon to a larger building in Santa Cruz.


Moots Gristle 96er – Ride Impression

I have never tried a 96er, so I was interested to find out what all the fuss was about. The 96er gives you the big 29er wheel up front with all of it’s advantages and the fast accelerating 26er in the rear with it’s strengths. However, does it work?

I am a great fan of all things Moots so what a better place to try a 96er than one of their new models, the Gristle 96er. The name comes from the John Candy movie “The Great Outdoors” where he eats a large steak named the “Old 96er” and after eating most of the 96 inch steak, he must finish off the gristle and fat of the steak to win a free meal for the family! Yummy. That would only come from the sick minds of the Moots boy, hey wait for a sec; I am also sick!

I took the Gristle up on the Bootleg Canyon’s West Leg gnarly trail for my test. I felt very comfortable when I sat on the Moots and started riding since it has a nice aggressive X Country feel to it. It also only took a split second to know I was riding Titanium, it has quite the feel, nothing else out there gives you that silk touch to your perceptions. The 26 inch wheel did accelerate faster but after riding 29ers if you have some decent leg strength the extra power and traction that a 29 inch wheel provides more than makes up for the extra inertia the big wheels require. On the technical spots, there were times that the 26 inch was really nice such as rolling up ramped ledges and big bumps. When you descended down the same sort of terrain a 29 inch wheel would have been nicer. The Gristle Ti front triangle really softened things up and it made the bike feel like it had a tad more suspension than it really had. Coming down the gravel road the Moots Ti stem really gave a nice softened feel to the hard stutter bumps. The Gristle comes in 3 versions, a hardtail, a YBB and the one I tested a 4 inch travel FS.

The Gristle was equipped with a Fox F29, Maxxis Ignitor 2.1 tire in front and Conti Explorer 2.1 in the rear, an XT drivetrain and brakes, a Moots stem and seatpost and other various parts. The front triangle is made from titanium by Moots and the rear triangle is aluminum and is built by Sapa Profiles to Moots high standards.

The Gristle 96er is a great Titanium bike that does give you the strengths of the front 29 inch wheel and the 26 inch rear wheel, but it also gives the glaring issue that I had which is the weakness of a 26 inch wheel. Perhaps I have become a 29er bigot? Overall the Moots Gristle 96er is a great titanium bike made one of the premier titanium builders in the world. It has that great titanium feel, it steers great, has a stiff rear end, is a fast climber and has a great aggressive geometry and the welds are typical Moots, works of art!

4 inch travel with MARC suspension (also available in YBB and Hardtail versions)
Aluminum frame with Fox RP23 shock
Frame Sizes: 16.5, 18, 19, 20 and 22 inches

29er Best of Show – Full Suspension shootout: Ride Impression

I didn’t get to test every full suspension 29er (pretty close though) that was at the dirt demo, but I think I made a pretty decent stab at a bunch of different brands, different suspension systems and obviously some varying geometry designs. I tested the Turner Sultan, the Pivot Mach 429, the Niner RIP9, the Ellsworth Evolve, the Ventana El Rey and finally the Moots Mooto-XZ. I had even tried the Turner Sultan a second time to get some more seat time with the bike. My butt was sore and my legs were beat from all those rides in the hot sunny weather.

It was nice to be able to do so many bikes in a short period so the brain was fresh with each bike ride. Cross comparisons were much easier.

None of the bikes did it all. They all had their strengths and weaknesses, some more glaring than others. Sorry to burst anyone’s bubble but no bike will ever be perfect.

I had to go by seat of the pants and gut instinct on each of the bikes and the bike winner had to be well engineered, have a certain feel, the suspension and steering must work properly and in synchronicity, the geometry needs to feel right and work with the rest of the bikes system, and it must have some fun and some personality. Yes, I came up with a Fun factor, call it what you will, but if I find myself humming and sort of singing to myself and not paying attention to the ride that is a big factor to me. Perhaps a “bike personality” might be the wrong word usage but one of the definitions of personality is “something apprehended as reflective of or analogous to a distinctive human personality”. People give their cars personality! The bikes also had to deal with the very rocky and abusive conditions of the Bootleg terrain.

If anything about the bike characteristics sounds interesting then take a bike for a test ride.
Refer to my more in depth reviews from this year show of the Turner, Pivot, Niner and Ventana for further information. Here are my mini impressions:

Turner Sultan – nice new design with tons of travel, did it all extremely well, neutral and compliant.
Pivot Mach 429 – Fun, a great bike that did most things fine, but it sure was a blast to ride.
Niner RIP9 – great design and very well rounded bike but a bit boring, kind of lacking in personality.
Ellsworth Evolve – to X Country for my tastes, harsh ride in the Bootleg terrain.
Ventana El Rey – a spirited sprinter, this bike likes to be stomped on, would be a great race bike
Moots Mooto-XZ – what can I say, a well designed and engineered bike that does it all well, and it’s Ti.

Therefore, the winner for my “Best of Show”…drum roll please…The Moots Mooto-XZ for a second year in a row!

The Moots Mooto-XZ railed down the trails, went right where you pointed it, didn’t get tossed around by much of anything, climbed like a demon, had a stout and solid rear end, had incredible steering and what really set it apart was the Titanium. It added a tad of softness and pseudo suspension to the bike without the usual suspension wallow, the words silky ride is what always comes to my mind. Congrats Moots you still have a winner.

As a consolation prize I elect the Pivot Mach 429. It was not the best bike out there but who cares since it was just to darn much fun to ride.

UFO Plast – lightweight elbow guards

As I was wandering around Dirt Demo seeking some shade and cold refreshments, and I bumped into this small booth that was carrying body armor. UFO Plast is an Italian company that started out making body armor protection for off road motorcycles, and they now make body armor for biking and snowboarding. As I was talking with the exhibitor I saw these intriguing looking elbow pads hanging on their tent.UFO

I had recently taken a nasty digger and left a good chunk of flesh from my forearm on an abrasive rock on a local technical trail and was looking at some body armor to help alleviate that type of issue from happening . The pads looked very lightweight and had just enough padding to protect the elbow and the forearm. A lot of the typical body armor is made with beefy plastic pads, and it’s a bit much for slower speed All Mountain and X Country singletrack terrain that most of us ride regularly. These pads had a bit of waffle foam padding that was placed right in the proper spots to protect the elbow and the forearm. To put the elbow pads on you inserted your arm into one end of the Lycra band and wiggled your arm until the pre-bent elbow slot popped into the proper spot, and then you cinched it down with one Velcro closure.

I went out for a few rides with them on and hardly noticed that they were there. I did not take a crash test to see if they would work, but a basic pound on the forearm was nicely softened. Even in the 90+ degree hot weather they were only a bit warm. The nice part is that you could easily put them in your pack for the milder parts of a trail and then put them on for the more technical portions.

This was a nicely made product that would suit a lot of singletrack riders to protect the elbows and forearms in technical terrain. I wish I had them when I took my digger last week.


Ok, this bike only applies if you have kids. All I could think about were my 6 year old daughter getting to go out for a real ride on a bike with her Dad, call me a softy, but it is tough to tell a kid that they can’t really go riding with you besides a stroll around the block. This unique bike will let your child actually partake of a real ride. How cool is that?

I had a nice conversation with the owner Chris Brown about the system. I didn’t ride this one as yet, but the gist of this bike is that it’s a tandem with the adult in the back seat as the “Captain” and the kid in the front as the “Stoker”. The Captain controls the steering, braking and drivetrain management. The front steering for the Stoker can be either disconnected from the system or connected so that get a feel for the steering that the adult is performing. The bike comes in a road and mountain bike version. Kids from 2-4 (in a toddler seat and obviously not pedaling) and 4-7 will fit the bike.

I can’t wait to do a long term demo with their mountain bike version. Looking forward to it Chris!


Pronghorn Racing: Part 1 PR6-LT – Ride Impression

I stumbled upon Pronghorn Racing bikes as I wandered around in a heat daze at the dirt demo. I was immediately intrigued by their interesting suspension system A.P.L.S. (anti power loss system) in which the shock sits on top of the top tube.

This was definitively a bike I needed to test. When you first sit on the bike it seems to sag down and wallow, but when you start riding, I noted that it really was quite static until it was needed. Not quite a hardtail since the sag allowed a good deal of plushness. Even so, whenever some extra oomph was required the system worked quite well. The PR6-LT had a very nice and smooth ride, was a decent climber and railer. It was a good bike with a unique suspension system that turned some heads.

The PR6-LT was equipped with a Fox RLC 140 (I assume a 150 would be ideal?), WTB Prowler and Wolverine tires and a basic part build. I was riding the 17.5 inch frame.

6 inch travel A.P.L.S. suspension
Aluminum frame with Fox RP23 shock
Frame Sizes: 16, 17.5 and 19 inches
Colors: Cosmic Orange and Electric Super Dust

Ventana El Rey – 29er: Ride Impression

I have never ridden any of Ventana’s bikes, but I had always heard great things about them and their incredible craftsmanship. I got lucky when Gregg, and I got to talk shop and BS with the man himself Sherwood Gibson a.k.a. Mr Ventana.

It was late in the day and the trails were finally starting to get a glimpse or two of shade after the brutal long and hot sunny day. To much sun and heat and my ass was getting sore after 30+ miles of doing demo’s. Ouch! Better than the one poor fellow who took a head digger earlier in the day, not a pretty sight to see his head wound oozing blood, ugh.

Anyway, to the ride! The El Rey felt very comfortable. It was like an old comfortable friend that was easy to hang out with. Kind of like one of those friends you haven’t seen in years and after a few minutes it’s like,they had never left. What I really liked about this bike is that it was a spirited sprinter, it liked to be stomped on, and you could really stand up and punch the pedals and haul. It also had great steering, wherever you pointed it went. This was a very carefully thought out bike and the frame was strong and well made.

The El Rey was equipped with a Fox F29 100 fork, Kenda Nevegals and a nice basic build. I love the 60 flavored color names Cosmic Orange and Electric Super Dust along with the “Electric Sex” TIG welds. I rode their 17 inch frame.

4 inch travel 29er
Aluminum frame with Fox RP23 shock
Frame Sizes: 15, 17, 19, 21, 23 and 25 inches
Colors: Cosmic Orange and Electric Super Dust

Niner RIP9 – 29er: Ride Impression

Niner bikes are obviously totally committed to building and designing 29er bikes. They make a whole slew of models from a single speeder to the demo 4.3 inch RIP9 that I tested. They were a super friendly staff who really went out of their way to make sure you tried any of their bikes you wanted and that the bike was set up properly for your demo.

On the trails the RIP9 did not disappoint. It was very neutral and did everything just right. There were a bit of harshness and some vague steering, but it did the job just fine. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but it just seemed to lack some personality, that extra little bit of panache was missing. To bad cause it was a well rounded bike that rode nicely. I was doing a bunch of back to back 29er rides so it was easy to get a bit critical.

The RIP9 had a nice build with the Fox F29 120mm fork, WTB hubs with Notubes Flow rims and Panaracer Rampage tires.

4.3 inch travel 29er with CVA suspension (the Niner url say’s it’s 4.5 inches?)
Aluminum frame with Fox RP23 shock
Frame Sizes: 16, 18, 20 and 22 inches
Colors: Hi Ho Silver and Atomic Blue (the demo was a nice Bronze color?)


Pivot Mach 429 – 29er: Ride Impression

I am a bit addicted to the wonders of the big wheeled 29ers and the DW Link suspension, so I was looking forward to trying out the Pivot 429. Last year at the dirt demo I felt that Pivot had some issues with their rear suspension, but I was told that their issues have since been resolved.

Might as well face it, you’re addicted to love

Geez, I have the Robert Palmer video stuck in my head now. The lipsticked women with the pale skin, heavy makeup, dark hair and seductive expression make me laugh. Yes they are playing the instruments, NOT. Anyway, I digress.

The Pivot Mach 429 is a very nice looking bike and the Code Red anodization is a pleasant color, just the right amount of subtlety. Even with all the strange swooping lines it all seems to fit well together. Where did they come up with the 429 name? Well, it’s a Mach 4 re-engineered as a 29er. First impressions on the bike seemed like it was a more XC oriented than I thought. However, that was deceiving as this was a very interesting design.

The Mach 429 just flew down the Bootleg Canyon trails like it was on rails. On the steep drops, the bike literally felt like it dropped out from under you with it’s quickness. I felt just a bit of harshness from the bike, but it wasn’t much. This bike was FUN to the max. I found myself sort of humming (literally and figuratively) along and not really paying attention much, just sort of enjoying the ride. The bike also liked to fly off little berms and jumps, doing weenie wheelie and catching air was a hoot. Did I just say hoot? The drivetrain was giving me a strange noise that I couldn’t quite figure out, but other than that it was a fun ride.

The demo Mach 429 t was tricked out to the maximum with the latest bling. It had the brand new 09 Magura Marta SL brakes, a Fox F29 100 fork, XTR drivetrain, DT Swiss 240 hubs with their X470 rims, Kenda Nevagals, Syntace seatpost, stem and bars. Very sweet build!

4 inch travel 29er with DW Link suspension
Aluminum frame with Fox RP23 shock
Frame Sizes: 17, 18.5, 20 and 22 inches
Colors: Code Red and Silver Bullet


Turner Sultan 29er – 2009: Ride Impression

Dave Turner teamed up with Dave Weagle of the DW Link fame and revamped his entire bike line for 2009 using the DW Link suspension system. I was very excited to try out this bike because I have been riding a DW Link Ibis Mojo for over 2 years I happen to think that the DW Link is one of the finest suspension systems currently on the market. The DW Link suspension has great anti-squat, little pedal feedback and exceptional traction. I love 29er’s and especially one with a DW Link suspension so it was time to demo the Turner Sultan.

And Harry doesn’t mind if he doesn’t make the scene
He’s got a daytime job he’s doing alright
He can play honky tonk just like anything
Saving it up for Friday night
With the Sultans with the Sultans of Swing

The demo Sultan was in a near virgin state since the bike had just come out, and it had not seen any real sort of use. “Oh, if it’s not a personal question, are you a virgin?” Leaving the main demo area towards the trails you first encounter a gravel road with the usual stutter bumps. I never felt the stutter bumps at all and the Sultan pedaled up without any wallow. Stutter bumps always give many bikes the fits, and although it’s obviously not real singletrack terrain it does show a bikes composure. On the trail the 4.7 inches of travel felt very nice indeed and the nasty rocky terrain of the lower was hardly desernable. It was like floating along on a velvet path! What was hard to deal with was the Maxxis Crossmark 2.1 tire on the rear in the loose rocky and gravely sections of the trails? It had very little traction and made some moves difficult. The Maxxis Ardent 2.25 front tire on the other hand was fine and held up well when railing and plowing along on the trails.

The elevated chainstay was nice, no chain slap to worry about!

The demo bike was outfitted with the Fox F29 120mm fork, FSA headset, bars and stem, Avid Juicy Ultimate brakes, the aforementioned tires and other basic part selections. The White gloss frame with the ubiquitous Fox RP23 was their 17 inch size a.k.a. the medium. The Aluminum frames are designed and engineered by Turner and built by Sapa Profiles in Oregon to Turners high standards.

The Turner Sultan was a plush ride (think soft and supple) that flowed over the trails, rocks and debris and did not send any unwanted jolts nor harsh feedback into the bike. The rear end had the typical Turner stoutness and I never the least bit of slop and the rear of the bike stuck like glue right where you put it. The bike had a great neutral feel and an uncanny sense of ease to ride. I was told that they have shortened the top tube just a hair and that was my only complaint, the cockpit felt a bit cramped to my old school tastes. Did it lack personality? That was very hard to tell since it just did things so matter-of-factly. I would love to do a long term test with this bike to get a better feel for this frameset. Dave you out there?

4.7 inch travel 29er with DW Link suspension
Aluminum frame with Fox RP23 shock
Frame Sizes: 15.5, 17, 19, 21 and 23 inches
Colors: Gloss White and Bronze Gilmmer
Weight: 6.8 lbs

UPDATE (Day 2):

I rode the Sultan on the gnarlier West Leg trail on a suggestion from Turner to really test the 29er suspension abilities. Actually, the rubber slider on the RP23 shock got close to falling off after my ride, so I think got the Sultan’s travel maxed out!

Dave Turner told me that he only shrunk the top tube by 1/4 inch, but it sure seemed more cramped to me than that. I might try a longer stem for myself, since I am a bit old school X Country brained and like a long top tube.

The Sultan did an exceptional job on the nasty rocky terrain on the trail. The big wheels rode over things and the suspension softened up anything that was left over. There was one spot where your weight gets you tossed over the front end and the bike sort of had a brain fart and couldn’t handle it. A few other bikes such as the 5 Spot and a 96er had no issues there. The more solid rocky terrain also suited the tires so my complaint from the previous day about traction issues with the tries was not a concern.

The extra suspension that the Sultan has over the other typical 29er FS (120 vs 100) really was sweet, and it was nice to have that softness. I still think the bike has a cramped cockpit? The Sultan does very well over nasty technical terrain, It’s neutral, has a stiff rear end, and although it’s a bit heavy and clumsy sometimes it climbs and obviously descends well. For some reason though it doesn’t bring the fun out of me? Perhaps a longer term test might help?


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Anonymous April 11, 2009 at 11:04 pm

Great site!
Keep up the good work!


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