Go fast bikes and grippy tyres this week
Yep, it’s your weekly sneak peak through the portcullis of castle MBR to drool at the exciting new products that have been catapulted over the ramparts.
Now the shock of January is really underway (wet and cold much?) we’re getting used to being back out on bikes and embracing the seasons. To help us on the way we’ve had deliveries of some much needed kit to help with the conditions.
KTM Scarp Master
We’re right in the midst of a big XC race bike test and currently have this lovely KTM Scarp in to thrash. The Scarp is KTM’s race ready rocket ship and it’s hard to mistake it for anything other than a KTM in that distinctive black and orange livery. This Master model has a full carbon frame (it makes use of flex in the wafer thin seat stays to provide the added movement). As it’s a XC machine there’s just the merest hint of suspension, with 100mm up front and 90mm out back; should be more than enough to take the sting out of modern race courses. Fox provides the bounce with a Float 32 Performance Step Cast suspension fork and a Float DPS Performance shock. Both of which are connected to a remote lock-out lever for those uphill sprint finishes. SRAM GX Eagle is here to provide the go but interestingly stopping is performed by Shimano’s XT M8000 disc brakes in a kind of ‘why can’t we all just get along’ move by KTM. Wheels and finishing kit are all KTM products.
Powa Products Dfender
Solid, stable and made 100% in the UK. The Dfender owes its existence to a chat Chris Porter had with Fabien Barel and his mechanic about what makes a good mudguard. Powa primarily made the Dfender to fit Fox forks but now also provide mount kits for some Rock Shox forks (thankfully including the Pike). It uses a solid rubber insert, shaped to fit the brace of different fork models, to prevent any damage to your fork when fitted. You can run them stealth-like, as we have here, or specify different coloured decals.
Specialized Hillbilly GRID 2Biss 29×2.3″
The Hillbilly, Specialized say, is recommended as a front tyre for intermediate to soft conditions (read damp to sloppy mud). One look at it’s widely spaced tread of solid looking, blocky knobs and it almost screams wet weather grip. The GRID version we have here has reinforced sidewalls so should take a kicking. Riding through deep puddles isn’t the time to find out your sidewalls can’t handle any hidden sharp rocks, hopefully this beefed up version should cope pretty well. Gripton rubber compound supposedly improves high frequency dampening, keeping the Hillbilly tracking the ground better than its rivals.
WTB Warden TCS Tough High Grip 27.5×2.3″
Now this is a mud tyre’s mud tyre. Long, spiky aggressive knobs with one aim in mind: finding grip when all others are slip-sliding away down the slope. The Warden TCS is one hell of a tough and robust tyre if the scales are anything to go by (1140g). But when your job is to get down the hill as fast as possible that extra weight will be worth it for all the grip this tyre should bring.
Bontrager XR5 Team Issue TLR 29×2.3″
Rocky and loose, loamy or wet; according to Bontrager the XR5 will perform on all. All we know is the angled knobs remind us of some other, highly regarded tyres. This 29er version is obviously tubeless ready and comes with Bontrager’s unconditional guarantee, so if you’re not happy you can try something else.
Bontrager Rally MIPS
Bontrager’s high-end MTB specific helmet comes resplendent with MIPS and a touch of camo. It offers extended coverage of the head without ending up looking too Enduro, so should appeal to a wide audience. A neat BOA dial engages the retention and the peak has a range of adjustment to help it fit in with the goggle wearers. Lots of colours are available but we like this blue and camo version best. It also comes with Bontrager’s new magnetic Blendr easy light/camera mounting system.
Bontrager Circuit MIPS
You can’t race a XC race bike without embracing the proper lycra-lout ensemble. Look at the start line of your average World Cup XC race and there’s nary a peak to be seen. The Circuit is just the ticket for a streamlined racing whippet such as myself (ahem!) and fortunately it packs in the safety features that just make it suitable for XC use. Alongside the MIPS system, the Circuit benefits from the BOA retention system and an in-moulded skeleton to increase strength without needing to shrink ventilation. Like the Rally the Circuit also comes with the neat magnetic Blendr camera/light mounts to increase its versatility.
Like a bike specific Swiss army knife, the RAP21 has enough gadgets to keep the wheels rolling through almost any eventuality. Alongside the usual plethora of hex keys and screwdrivers the RAP21 also features a CO2 inflator, 8 and 10mm spanners, bottle opener, spoke keys, disc brake wedge and chain tool. In fact there are twenty one tools (hence the name). It’s also available in a smaller fifteen tool version called, you guessed it, the RAP15. This does away with the two knife blade style parts and their associated tools.
Renthal Quick Bond Grip Glue
Okay, some riders are still using old-school, non-lock on grips, I’ve got a pair of ODI Longnecks on my XC race bike for example. This is because ‘normal’ grips are lighter and cheaper than lock ons. Both top reasons to keep using them. However they do have the downside of coming loose, especially in wet weather. And this is definitely ‘not a good thing’. This grip glue from Renthal promises to make that a thing of the past. It’s rapid setting so apply and quickly slide your grip in place and voila! No more slippy grip.
Righto, I’m off to shove some more wet shoes on the radiator.