Sea Otter Classic: Downhill rigs, 29ers and carbon hardtails

New bikes from Giant, Niner, Ibis, Turner, Ventana and Norco

Giant and Turner unveiled new downhill bikes at the Sea Otter Classic, while Norco, a company normally associated with freeriding, had a new carbon road frame on display.

Niner's and Ventana's latest 29ers were looking good, while Ibis were raffling off a custom-built Mojo and showing off their new Tranny carbon hardtail.

Newfound Glory for Giant’s Jared Rando

Lurking in the Giant pit area was a new 2010 Glory downhill bike for team rider Jared Rando complete with a heavily revised frame and revamped Maestro dual-link suspension system. 

As on the recently launched Trance X and Anthem X, Giant have repositioned the rear shock and employed a novel co-pivot arrangement whereby the lower shock eyelet and forward lower suspension link share a common pivot shaft to reduce weight and complexity. The more open arrangement should also make for easier access for shock adjustments.

More importantly, Giant look to have opened up the rear triangle and moved the links further apart to make room for a longer shock. Coupled with the apparently reduced rear travel – 203mm (8in) instead of 224mm (8.8in) – the leverage ratio should decrease significantly for improved suspension quality. 

The current model’s tapered 1 1/8in-to-1 1/2in front end carries over but that’s about it. The swoopier hydroformed aluminium tubing is more heavily shaped than before for more efficient use of material, the rear derailleur hanger is stouter and the rear derailleur housing is now routed through the chainstay.  

We don’t have official specs yet but given the changes on hand this latest version is likely to be substantially lighter – and probably more capable as well.

Niner Bikes go big with 29ers

Niner Bikes continue to preach their 29in wheel gospel with a revised RIP 9, a 120mm-travel trail bike using the company’s novel CVA (Constantly Varying Arc) dual-link suspension and a wealth of clever touches that are said to improve chassis rigidity without adding any weight from last year.

Hydroformed tubing and a bundle of aluminium forgings and extrusions yield a 3.18kg (7.01lb) package including a Fox Racing Shox Float RP23 rear shock. The front end now sports a tapered 1 1/8in-to-1 1/2in head tube, replaceable rear dropouts will work with standard quick-release or RockShox’s Maxle through-axle, the cartridge bearing pivots are capped with red-anodised hardware and there is enough tyre clearance for meaty 2.35in rubber.

Niner's RIP 9 offers 120mm of travel using the firm's CVA dual-link suspension design

Niner also take their message to the longer travel segment with their latest WFO, which boasts a whopping 140mm of mountain-eating fun using the same CVA dual-link system. 

Though somewhat weighty at 3.63kg (8.0lb) for the frame and rear shock, the frame’s enhanced capabilities may make up for the extra mass in many situations. Strength and stiffness-enhancing features abound, from the tapered 1 1/8in-to-1 1/2in head tube and integrated ISCG05 tabs to a hydroformed S-bend down tube that leaves enough room for a piggyback rear shock, and optional 150mm rear hub spacing. 

At the other end of the spectrum is Niner’s new carbon rigid fork – with precisely 0mm of travel.  The new fork is built with carbon fibre from steerer to dropout – including the integrated post mount brake tabs – for a claimed weight of around 550g. 

Axle-to-crown measurement is 470mm and fork rake is a 29er-specific 45mm. Suggested rider weight is limited to 109kg (240lb) and Niner will boldly offer the new fork is a generous 10-colour palette. If you can’t find one to match your bike, well, perhaps you should answer your phone: 1990 just called and they’d like their splatter paint job back.

With 10 colours to choose from, chances are there's a Niner fork to suit your 29er

Five bucks gets you a new Ibis Mojo (assuming you're the lucky winner of Ibis’s raffle)

Ibis have donated a custom-built Mojo to raise money for the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship, a trail building organisation in Downieville, California. Ibis founder Scot Nicol says the group have donated over 22,000 hours of volunteer labour, maintain over 30 trails, have created 25 miles of new trail since the group’s creation in 2003 and also benefit from a close – and apparently fruitful – relationship with the local forest service.

The bike is based on a standard Mojo frame and has been set up by sponsored rider Brian Lopes as the perfect ride for the Downieville Classic. The premium build includes a Marzocchi 160mm-travel 55 RC3 fork and Roco TST Coil rear shock, an Easton Havoc wheelset, Hayes Stroker Gram hydraulic disc brakes with 180mm rotors, a Kind Shock height-adjustable seatpost, a complete Shimano XTR drivetrain and an Easton Monkeylite XC bar and Havoc stem.

Ibis have donated this Mojo bike to help benefit the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship

Naturally, Lopes also specifies his own signature-edition WTB Silverado saddle and signature-edition Kenda front tyre (a Small Block 8 is used out back for faster rolling).

Raffle tickets are available for just US$5 and Nicol says all proceeds will go directly to the SBTS. Tickets can be purchased at www.ibiscycles.com/raffle but act quickly as the draw will be held on 27 April.

Ibis's innovative Tranny is finally available and can be run geared or as a singlespeed

In other news, Ibis’s long-awaited Tranny is finally available. The carbon hardtail’s unique ‘Slot Machine’ construction results in an easily adjustable chainstay to provide easy geared/singlespeed conversions as well as convenient packing in an airline-regulation travel case. 

Recent additions include removable housing stops for an ultra-clean look plus a singlespeed-specific rear dropout that swaps the standard derailleur hanger for – you guessed it – a bottle opener. Claimed frame weight is about 1,350g (2.97lb) and retail cost is a surprisingly reasonable US$1,399.99

Turner DHR nearing completion

Dave Turner has pushed back the release of his highly anticipated DHR downhill race frame until January but from the looks of it, it may well be worth the wait.  

The new rig will offer 210mm (8.3in) of rear wheel travel courtesy of an all-new dw-link rear end that Turner claims will be snappier under power and offer better traction than the old single-pivot version.

The burly construction includes a 1.5in-compatible head tube with massive reinforcing gussets, gracefully curved conventional main frame tubes to maintain a reasonable weight, and a pair of girder-like plates at the frame’s midsection to both anchor and protect the rear shock and suspension links. 

Turner have put off their DHR until early 2010, but it looks like it'll be worth the wait

Head tube angle is a speed-hungry 64° and all pivots use Turner’s easy-to-maintain bushing system instead of typical cartridge bearings. According to Turner, the bushings have a substantially higher load-bearing capacity than typical ball bearings and are just as smooth if properly installed and maintained.

Target frame weight is 4.31kg (9.5lb) complete with a Fox Racing Shox DHX 5.0 rear shock. Pricing is yet to be determined.

Ventana bolster range with new 69er

Ventana will add a stout-looking new 69er hardtail frame dubbed ‘El Chivo’ to their range for 2010. The new frame features a number of Ventana trademarks such as a wraparound gusset at the head tube, looped chain- and seatstay yoke construction, a buttressed extended seat tube and characteristically clean and even weld beads.  CNC-machined dropouts adorn the rear end and the rear brake caliper is neatly tucked in between the stays for a clean look. 

Ventana have a new 69er hardtail called 'El Chivo' which has a unique rear end

Carbon fibre on the way from Norco

Norco will add a pair of carbon frames to the lineup for 2010: a carbon mountain hardtail and a carbon road frame.

Both frames boast a collection of currently popular features such as a BB30-compatible bottom bracket shell and an integrated seatmast while the road frame also adds a tapered 1 1/8in-to-1 1/2in front end for added steering precision and front-end rigidity.

Target weight for the hardtail is 1,320g while the road frame is pegged at around 1,200g. Norco say the new bikes will be available in early 2010 and pricing is yet to be determined.

Norco's road bike will feature a tapered front end and slender rear stays

The company's carbon cross-country hardtail is claimed to weigh around 1,320g

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