This is the second part of the iceBike series. If, thanks to all the world-cup hype which has overtaken the home page, you missed part 1, here’s a link.
First up in this part is the brand new Saracen Myst downhill bike. This bike has been developed as a raceable bike straight out of the box but with a very reasonable price tag. We have ridden the prototype version of the bike, but this was the first time that we’ve seen the completed finished model.
The Myst features RockShox BoXXer Race fork up front and a Fox Van R taking care of the back wheel. The linkage was designed by Ryan Carroll (the suspension guru behind many bikes, including the rest of the Saracen range), and gives 8” (200mm) travel. It features a tapered head tube, 12x150mm bolt through rear axle and a 64 degree head angle. Size large weighs 43lbs, and has a 615mm top tube.
In terms of kit, the Myst has a Shimano Tiagra road mech and cassette, Deore shifter, Quad brakes and own brand hubs and rims to keep the price low. The complete bike will cost £2300, and the frameset (with an upgraded DHX RC2 shock) will be £1700.
A surprise entry from Genesis was a prototype full suspension bike, their first ever. Genesis are known for their hardtails, and this new bike looks quite special. It had a Fox DHX air shock (purely for experiment/testing) and 150mm DT Swiss forks on the front, although they recommend 140mm forks. The suspension is interesting, not only because of where it pivots, but also how it is controlled thanks to a very low leverage ratio. We suspect the frame gives 4 or 5 inches of travel, but the guys at Genesis were very cagey about details. Another special thing about this bike is the rear axle: they had used the new 142mm Shimano XTR (rather than the conventional 150 or 135mm, the new Syntace/Shimano standard) bolt through axle/hub. This makes it easier to locate the rear wheel (think something like the locating slots in 20mm fork lowers) with the improved stability of a 12mm axle. The Genesis reps described this bike as a ‘UK specific bike that defies conventional categories’, but saying that if they had to, they would label it a ‘trail bike’. We should also point that the bike had a very nice feeling 67.5º head angle. We’re pretty excited about it, and we are looking forward to trying out early prototypes very soon, but don’t expect to be seeing a finished version in the shops until this time next year. And don’t forget, this was just a prototype, so much so that they wouldn’t let us photograph it.
Shimano brought along their all–new 2011 10 speed XTR range, and this is the first time we’ve seen it in the flesh. It looks slightly different to what we’d thought, but it’s always hard to tell just from photos, but of course we were impressed. They had one of the previously mentioned 142mm hub/wheelsets, and it is going to be interesting to see how many bike/frame companies adopt this new ‘standard’. We predict that with the mighty Shimano backing this idea (and Syntace co–developing it), it will catch on. And the word on the street is that lots of companies are on board. But will this technology trickle down to the more affordable XT, SLX or Saint groupsets? We would imagine so, but we will have to wait and see.
The 2011 XTR derailleur now has a carbon outer and an alloy inner cage plate to keep weight low but strength high, and the knuckle is made out of thermo-carbon composite. The XTR ‘ice tec’ rotors use different materials as well – they have somehow bonded an aluminium inner to two sheets of stainless steel outer, which helps to dissipate heat more quickly and efficiently.
Shimano also had also made a few changes to their shoe range: the new AM41 replaces the AM40 as a flat pedal shoe. It has the same ‘Vibram’ sole as the AM40, but has new uppers. They say it’s maybe not as grippy as a 5:10 sole, but that it will last a lot longer. It also has the now traditional Velcro flap to keep your shoelaces neatly out of the way stopping them from getting caught. They will retail at £79.99.
Their SPD shoe, the AM45, has been updated too – with a brand new sole and larger cleat recess. It also has the Velcro flap, and will retail at £69.99.
The Commencal Ramones CRMO is running a 150mm RockShox Revelation fork, Avid brakes and Deore and XT shifters.
Lastly, the Commencal Meta 5.5 Carbon looks like it will continue the carbon Meta range in style, complete with internal cable routing, super lightweight Sram X0 cranks and 150mm Fox Fit forks.
Words and pictures: Alasdair Todd (Improved tea maker and editorial whipping boy)