Interbike: Hitting pay dirt in Vegas

Rocky Mountain carbon hardtail; Ellsworth; Intense dirt jumper

The latest news we've scraped from the show floor at Interbike...

RockyMountain revisits hardtail roots

It’s been a while since RockyMountain made a name with its racing hardtails, but now it’s bringing a carbon platform to the established range with the Vertex RSL.  

Not surprisingly, RockyMountain’s goals for its premium race bike are high stiffness and low weight. While we don’t have official weight figures just yet (though it’s apparently the company’s lightest frame to date), the stiffness claims seem well founded with pronounced lateral ribbing throughout, a heavily reinforced seat cluster and an enormous down tube.

Details include a stainless steel chainsuck guard, continuous seat stay/chain stay assemblies that are hollow throughout (even at the dropout), and a new direct-mount front derailleur to allow for more material around the bottom bracket shell. In typical RockyMountain fashion, the dropped top tube offers plenty of standover clearance.

RockyMountain will offer the Vertex RSL as a complete bike with two models for men and one for women. They’re also offering the frame-only Vertex Team, which uses higher modulus carbon fibers. All of the Vertex models are slated to be available from this January.

New on the road side for RockyMountain is a carbon fibre time trial bike called the Solo 90 SST. Even though it’s their first foray into the aerodynamic arena, they’ve still managed to cram in the usual array of currently hot technologies. Expect to find a shielded rear wheel, dropped down tube, two-position seatpost and internal cable routing when the bike hits the market.

Ellsworth reaches for lower price point

Ellsworth hopes to tap into new markets with a new, lower-priced full-suspension rig called the Glimpse. But, unlike the rest of the Ellsworth line – which will continue to be US-made – the Glimpse will be built overseas. The upside is that complete bikes fitted with Shimano SLX will go for as little as US$3,299.

Rear travel is set at 130mm (5”) and Ellsworth’s excellent ICT (Instant Center Tracking) design is retained to give the company’s trademark pedaling performance. Slightly less fancy rockers will be used, though, and all Glimpse frames will be powder coated, not anodized. As a result, quoted frame weights are said to be just a bit higher than the current Epiphany.

Now, remember the ultra-stylish Ride cruiser? Well, Ellsworth not only keeps it in the 2009 lineup, but builds on it with two new Rides: the seemingly over-the-top Ride 2 tandem and the commuter-oriented Ride 3. The Ride 3 is available with either a NuVinci CVP or traditional three-speed internal hub, offering the now-familiar Ride look in a more utilitarian format. The geometry of the Ride 3 is based on the Evolve 29” mountain bike.

Commuter-friendly details include a chain guard, front and rear fenders, cable-actuated disc brakes, 700c wheels and even a custom kickstand. Anyone up for some errands?

Ellsworth will also expand its charity efforts after successfully launching its Project Pink initiative in 2006 to help raise funds and awareness for breast cancer. The new Project Rainforest will offer the same terms as Project Pink: for no additional charge, customers can opt for a special green anodized finish complete with a laser-etched tree frog on the top tube on nearly any Ellsworth frame (the new Glimpse is the exception with its powder coated finish). In return, Ellsworth will donate US$50 to a rainforest charity that is still to be determined.

Intense introduces dirt jump model

Intense has long fielded requests for a dirt jumper, but has never pulled the trigger on the project because of the prohibitive cost of producing it domestically. However, in 2009, Intense finally yields to demand with an overseas-made frame that retails for just US$700.

Though it won’t be built by the usual Intense hands, the new model bears familiar design cues such as the burly reinforced 1.5” head tube and monocoque top tube. The rear triangle is also tucked-in and both the chain stays and seat stays are appropriately oversized.

And, following the VPP suspension system launched at Sea Otter on the new Tracer, the Uzzi is due to get a similar second-generation system. Among the claimed improvements are reduced chain stay growth (reducing pedal feedback), better pedaling performance and more usable travel. Rear wheel travel is adjustable between 170-190mm (6.75-7.5”).        

The Uzzi is decidedly more heavy-duty than the Tracer, however, with its more aggressive reinforcing throughout. Though it offers more travel than the current SS Slopestyle, it’s also clearly more pedaling-friendly by adopting a more traditional geometry.

James Huang

Technical Editor, US
James started as a roadie in 1990 with his high school team but switched to dirt in 1994 and has enjoyed both ever since. Anything that comes through his hands is bound to be taken apart, and those hands still sometimes smell like fork oil even though he retired from shop life in 2007. He prefers manual over automatic, fizzy over still, and the right way over the easy way.
  • Discipline: Mountain, road, cyclocross
  • Preferred Terrain: Up in the Colorado high-country where the singletrack is still single, the dirt is still brown, and the aspens are in full bloom. Also, those perfect stretches of pavement where the road snakes across the mountainside like an artist's paintbrush.
  • Beer of Choice: Mexican Coke
  • Location: Boulder, Colorado, USA

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