Last week we showed you some exciting new mountain bikes hailing from California, the birthplace of the sport. Well this week it's the turn of machines from the UK, France and Spain, as the European manufacturers fight back.
The Bolt is the first full-suspension frame from DMR, British 'hardcore hardtail' pioneers and dirt jump aficionados. It's been in development for some time (we saw a prototype at Eurobike) but the production version should hit shops by the end of the month.
With 120mm (5in) of travel courtesy of a linkage-activated single pivot rear end, distributors Upgrade say the Bolt can be used for UK-style (ie. short but technical) downhilling, as a fun bike, for slopestyle and anything in between.
The emphasis is on stiffness rather than ultra light weight or super-plush travel – the bike's been designed to feel just like a hardtail when you lock out the rear shock. It comes with replaceable Swopout dropouts so it can be converted to singlespeed if required.
RRP is £899.99 for the Tange 4130 chromoly frame and X-Fusion 02 RL shock. There are plans for the CNC machined linkage to be made available in different anodised colours so owners can customise their ride.
Also new from DMR is the Omen four-cross frame, which was again unveiled at Eurobike but will now be available as a £1,500 complete bike as well as a £350 frameset. The race-ready spec includes a Marzocchi 4X fork, Truvativ Ruktion cranks and Tektro Draco hydraulic disc brakes, with MicroShift gears.
The £400 898 dirt jump frame, as used by Sam Reynolds, has a new tapered head tube for 2011 and is also available as a full build. For £1,100 you get a spec similar to the team bikes, with a Marzocchi DJ2 fork, Tektro Draco discs and a load of DMR finishing kit, including Cult cranks, Supermoto tyres, a Squid Pivotal saddle and V8 pedals.
Sunn have some interesting looking bikes in their 2011 range, not least the Tzar. This is a long-forked steel hardtail executed with typical Gallic flair and covered with suitably quirky graphics. We showed you the £1,100 S2 at Cycle 2010 but the top-end, £1,800 S1 is worth a look too, coming as it does with Truvativ's HammerSchmidt planetary gearing system.
HammerSchmidt hasn't really taken off in the two years since its launch but it offers both instant shifting and massive ground clearance. It's a fairly heavy system (although it does replace the cranks, front chainrings, mech and bashguard) but the Tzar S1 manages to weigh in at a claimed 12.5kg (27.6lb) – perfectly acceptable for a burly steel hardtail.
The frame is made from double-butted 4130 chromoly and comes with Sunn's The Plaque system – a choice of three plates that attach to the bottom bracket shell and allow you to fit an ISCG 05 chain device, HammerSchmidt system or Direct Mount front mech.
No Compromise Drop Outs allow you to switch between 10mm and 12mm axles or go singlespeed. Finishing kit includes a 150mm-travel RockShox Sektor RL Solo Air fork, Formula RX brakes with 180mm rotors and nine-speed SRAM X9.
Sunn's UK distributors I-Ride tell us that the French company are working on a new version of their legendary Radical downhill bike. Improvements over the current model will include the ability to run a standard instead of custom length shock, a tapered head tube, internal cable routing and a return to a steel rear end. Apparently the new bike is "a couple of months away".
Mondraker introduced their new Factor 120mm-travel marathon/cross-country bike at Eurobike and UK pricing has now been confirmed. The frame, which uses the Spanish company's Zero Suspension System and STEALTH alloy tubing, costs £1,300 with a Fox RP23 Boost Valve shock. Four full builds are also available from distributors Silverfish.
The standard Factor comes with a RockShox Ario RL shock and Recon Gold TK SA fork, SRAM X7 and Avid Juicy 3 brakes for £2,000. An extra £600 gets you the Factor R, which upgrades to a Fox RP2 Boost Valve shock and RockShox SID RLT fork, plus Shimano SLX. The £3,000 Factor RR comes with an RP23 Boost Valve, Shimano XT kit and Formula RX brakes, while the top-end Factor RR Ltd (£4,800) swaps to a RockShox SID WC fork, XTR and Formula R1Xs.
UK-based Kinesis have tweaked their Maxlight hardtails for 2011. The XC130 is now designed to take forks with up to 130mm travel, so it has a higher bottom bracket to increase ground clearance. There are stouter chainstays out back and revised tube wall thicknesses in the mainframe for a more lively feel. There are no longer any bottle bosses on the seat tube, so the saddle can be dropped fully. RRP is £340.
The entry-level XC3 has lost its V-brake bosses so it now comes in slightly lighter, and it also has new cable routing, under the top tube. Designed to take a 90-120mm fork, the frame costs £275. Both models have new colour options and graphics. They're available via Upgrade Bikes in the UK.