A load of mountain bike gear has landed on our desks this week, including the new DFender mudguard from POWA Products, which has been causing a stir on Facebook, a prototype wallet-friendly dropper seatpost from KS, clothing from The North Face and Altura, and 29er wheels from Charge.
POWA Products DFender mudguard
If you follow the World Cup downhill series, you may have seen the DFender on former world champion Fabien Barel's Mondraker Summum. Developed by Fabien, his mechanic Paul Walton and Mojo Supension Hoodoo's Chris Porter, it's a motocross-style front mudguard that clips to your fork brace to keep the crud out of your face.
Versions are available for Fox 32, 36 and 40 forks, with RockShox fittings to follow soon. There's a choice of three graphics packages – gold, silver and, as all the parts are designed and made in the UK, a red, white and blue Union Flag design. We've got several on test so we'll let you know how we get on. It doesn't come cheap though, at £59.
KS eTen dropper seatpost
The eTen is KS's new entry-level dropper post, with 100mm (4in) of travel. The remote version shown here is a prototype. When production units go on sale later this year, there'll be lever and remote options, both of which will come in a 385mm length only, to fit 30.9 and 31.6mm seat tubes.
Neil Wilkinson, from UK distributors Pure Racing, tells us: "Like all KS posts it includes the patented one-way bearing, which self-adjusts out play which all other brands experience. It uses the structure of the Dropzone post but with a simpler damper unit and a bit more weight. Price will be £120 for lever and £145 for remote models, which blows all other brands out the water!"
Wilkinson reckons there's a big gap in the market for value-orientated hydraulic dropper posts. Our favourite, the RockShox Reverb, costs £299.99, and even Giant's keenly-priced Contact Switch is £170. KS previously targeted this market with their budget i850 but the new eTen is much more refined. Weight on our scales is 730g; KS claim 664g for the non-remote version.
In other KS news, the top-end Lev dropper post we checked out last year is due to hit shops this summer. With the remote cable exiting from the collar rather than head of the post, and a claimed weight of just 450g, Neil reckons it'll set a new benchmark.
The North Face Muddy Tracks jersey
American outdoors brand The North Face are making a big push into the mountain biking clothing market. We were impressed by their Muddy Tracks waterproof when we tested it earlier this winter and this is its matching jersey, which has been redesigned for 2012. Features include a 1/3-length front zip, two zipped rear pockets and a smattering of reflective detailing. RRP is £50.
Altura Summit shorts
Almost as bright as the TNF jersey are these new Summit shorts from Altura. When it comes to shorts, mountain bikers tend to be a conservative bunch and opt for dark colours, but UK distributors Zyro tell us they've been inundated with orders for the bright blue Summits and they're actually outselling the black version for the first time ever. A brown version is also available.
The Summits have had a wholesale redesign for 2012. They're made from durable nylon, with spandex stretch panels for manoeuvrability. Features include zipped thigh vents, a reinforced crotch, an adjustable waistband with silicone print to help keep the shorts in place, a zipped pocket for your keys or phone, and the same great removable liner used in Altura's Apex shorts. They're available in sizes S to XXL for £59.99.
Charge Saucer 29er wheels
The Saucers are Charge's 29er wheels, with 20mm (internal) rims, sealed-bearing machined alloy hubs and double-butted stainless steel spokes. They're available in polished black or silver, and come complete with Charge rim tape and alloy/stainless steel quick-release skewers for £249.99 a set. Weight on our scales was 1,068g front and 1,253g rear for a pre-production set, but final weights will likely be different to this as they will use different spokes.
Niner Flat Top RDO Handlebar
29er Guru’s Niner have released an all new carbon handlebar, the Flat Top RDO. At its full 710mm width Niner claim a weight of just 156g, a healthy saving of 30 grams over the original carbon Flat Top. An offset centre bulge allows riders to choose between a drop or rise of 5mm and clever graphic design means that the bars look decent either way up. Various colours are available and each bar will be backed up with a generous 5 year warranty. Available now in the US for $199 whilst UK riders will have to wait till the end of March to get their hands on a set (UK price TBA).