Hold on tight

I would be grateful if you could give me some assistance or if you can tell me if you have had other readers with the same issue regarding an attachment for the Thule 592 in-car rack.
I have recently purchased the rack but then bought a new Enduro, which as you know has the bolt-through forks (25mm thru axle) rather than the quick release style. I have seen attachments on the market but not for this type of fork.
Are there any products you are aware of which will solve this problem as it is causing a downer on the new bike
Andy Pugh

As luck would have it, an adaptor is available that will allow you to rack up your new Enduro in the boot of your car. US manufacturer Hurricane offers its Fork Up adaptor in a 25mm size specifically for Specialized Enduro owners. Cost is around £45 and it’s available from www.hurricanecomponents.com. Hurricane products are distributed by Hotlines (0131 445 2600) and sold via Chain Reaction (www.chainreactioncycles.com).
The original Fork Up was less than perfect because it could rotate in both the fork dropouts and the rack itself, which allowed an alarming amount of movement when a heavy downhill bike was mounted on top of the car. As you are simply stashing the bike in your boot and using the rack to keep it upright, you shouldn’t find this too much of a drawback.

Wide winter waterproofs

I am trying to find a pair of waterproof boots. I’m a size 42 but I have quite a wide foot. Previously I’ve had no problems with size 42 Northwave, Shimano and Spesh boots and shoes. But recently I’ve tried to find a pair of waterproof, preferably Gortex, boots and I couldn’t even get my feet in a size 8 Spesh or Northwave boot. I know my mate has got a pair of Shimanos from a couple of years back that seem to have a generous width, but I’ve not seen them advertised this year. Can you recommend a good brand, for about a hundred quid, that aren’t for people with skinny feet!
Stuart Lacey

Stuart, we’re not trying to be cheeky, but have you thought about trying a 43? The lasts — the moulds shoe companies base their shoes on — do change from time to time and it may just be that the companies you mention have started using different lasts since you last bought new shoes. Back in March we rated Shimano’s Gore Tex lined MW02 winter boots and gave them a nine. And they come in bang on budget at £99.99. For ultimate winter comfort, go with some waterproof socks at the same time. If you’ve had to go up a size to accommodate the width, the thicker waterproof socks might come in useful to take up some of the slack too.

For Meta or worse?

I wonder if you could tell me your thoughts on the new Meta 5.5? You loved the ‘07 bike with its slack angles, but what about this year’s version? I have been offered a ‘08 frame for a good price, but its head angle is steeper at 68.5 degrees. I am a long time subscriber and value your opinions. I know you have a 5.5 XT long-term tester and wonder what your initial impressions are, as I need to give the seller an answer. Lastly, I have entered the Megavalanche this year with the Meta in mind, (I know it’s probably going to be out of its depth especially with the new angles) but the alternative is to try and save for a Nomad, Patriot or Pace 506. I would like a bike I will ride for the rest of the year that can be built light for more normal use. Do you have any other suggestions — maybe complete bikes? I currently ride an Ellsworth Id, but I hate the mud clearance and high BB.
Lee, email

Having barely worn the hairs off the tyres on my longterm Meta 55 XT (look out for an introduction next month), it would be premature to pass judgement on how the new bike compares to the old. But, having passed a tape measure and angle finder over it there’s no doubt that the 2008 Meta has been repositioned in the marketplace. As you rightly point out, the new head angle is 68.5 degrees — that’s two degrees steeper than last year — and enough for me to suspect it would be a bit of a handful at the Megavalanche. Madison, Commencal’s distibutors, explains that the new geometry helps differentiate the Meta 55 from its new stablemate, the 666. Eureka! I hear you cry; perhaps that’s my perfect Megavalanche bike? On paper it looks good, but during our first ride of the 666 on some very Alpe d’Huez-like trails in Scotland last summer, we found that, even in the slackest setting (67.5 degrees) the 666 was unconvincing as a trail bike with a downhill bias. Since we rode that bike, Commencal has made changes to the 666, so we need to give it another thrash to really come up with a verdict.
All of which probably leaves you pondering plan B; the option of a Nomad, Patriot or Pace 506. In my opinion, any of these, especially built up with lightweight components, would make a great bike for tackling this formidable all-mountain event. But there are a couple of bikes you’ve missed off the list. If you can sniff out a good deal on a 2007 Specialized Enduro SL you could use the money you saved to buy a decent fork. Or, have a look at the 2008 Specialized Pitch; long, low, slack and without the troublesome E150 fork, it could be just the ticket.