This week we headed to Silverstone to check out the UK's Core Bike and The
Evolution Imports were in full force at The Bike Place expo showing off two of their new lines for 2012, one of which is the boutique brand Tomac. It’s good to see the guys from Santa Cruz, California back with a downhill frame again. The Primer 200 offers up 200mm (7.9in) of rear wheel travel and is constructed from butted 6069 aluminium.
All the downhill staples are there, including an 83mm bottom bracket shell, ISCG 05 chain guide mounts, a 12x150mm rear axle, 1.5in head tube and 64-degree head angle. There are three sizes to chose from but the bike will only be available in lime green – this might not be to everyone’s taste but it'll certainly help you stand out. The frame will set you back £1,899 (US$1,599).
Evolution's second new brand is Liteville. The German company are renowned for their world-class attention to detail and as well as making bikes are responsible for Syntace components, including the increasingly popular X-12 rear axle assembly. On show were two bikes, the 301 (pictured), which we tested back in 2010 and is soon to be updated, and the 601.
The 601, with a carbon wheelset, weighed in at a claimed 29lb, which ain't too shabby for a frame with up to 190mm (7.5in) of rear wheel travel. Further bolstering the appeal of Liteville's bikes is their 10-year warranty. This is fully transferable with the bike so even if you’re the third owner and something should break (which apparently just doesn’t happen), the bike is still covered. The 601 frame will set you back £2,050.
Extra had a huge stand at Core Bike and were proudly displaying Intense’s latest offerings – the Carbine SL and the new Uzzi. We saw both of these at last year's Interbike show but the Uzzi in particular is worth a second mention. Intense have amalgamated the old Uzzi and SlopeStyle 2 (which is soon to be no more), and created this new machine which should be the best of both bikes. You still get the Uzzi’s all-round ability but with a slightly more aggressive edge to it.
Out back sit Intense's adjustable G3 dropouts, with a 12x150mm rear axle to keep things stiff. Geometry has been tweaked slightly to accommodate a 180mm (7.1in) fork, the seat angle is slightly steeper than on the SS2 for improved climbing and there's provision for a front mech. This particular model weighed in at a claimed 32lb with Cane Creek Double Barrel coil shock – a very good weight, considering the new Uzzi delivers 165 to 177mm (6.5-7in) of rear travel. RRP is $2,399, with UK pricing TBC. Extra say the bike will be available from April.
This small Bulgarian brand have refined and expanded their range for 2012. There are new bikes in the Ram line-up and cleaner, neater graphics too. The AM.TWO.1 is their all-singing, all-dancing top-of-the-line all-mountain bike which boasts 150mm (5.9in) of rear wheel travel. There are various specs to choose from, with prices starting at just under the £2,000 mark and heading up to £3,299 for this particular version.
The AM.TWO uses the same suspension platform as Ram’s Nduro but with a little more travel and slightly slacker angles for those keen to ride wilder terrain at higher speeds. The head angle, for example, measures in at an on-trend 67.5 degrees.
Spec-wise, RockShox take care of suspension duty at both ends, with this particular model sporting a Revelation RL Dual Air fork with the all-important 15mm through axle which, when coupled with the tapered head tube, should make for a nice and stiff front end. Other highlights include the Mavic Crosstrail wheels, which we tested back in the summer and offer a great balance of strength and weight.
Ram also had their new DHX2 on display, which should please many downhill fans. This particular model (the DHX2.1) belongs to their elite team rider Robert Smith (not from the Cure) and features a top-of-the-line spec that'll retail for £4,999. There are two other
Ram have tried to create a bike with enough adjustability to cater for the wide of variety of tracks and terrain that you’re likely to encounter on this sort of beast. The 6061 aluminium frame has adjustable chainstays, an adjustable progression setting for the rear suspension and a 1.5in head tube that’ll ac
A stiff 150mmx12mm rear axle setup and 83mm bottom bracket
The guys at Ison Distribution were proudly presenting the new Identiti Mogul downhill frame. If you’re in for a bargain, keep reading – this little beast will only set you back £1,100, and that includes the top-of-the-line RockShox Vivid R2C rear shock. The frame is claimed to come in at 2.9kg (without shock), has 190mm of travel (7.5in) and sports a 64-degree head angle. Various colour options are available.
Alongside their new gravity bikes, which have impressed everyone who’s thrown a leg over them, Kona were proudly displaying their latest 29ers. The £2,850 ($3,099) Satori, which we first saw at Eurobike, offers up 130mm (5.1in) of travel which, combined with its big
Looking a little closer, it’s the small touches that help to confirm this: ISCG 05 chain guide mounts, a low slung top tube, tapered head tube and 142x12mm bolt-through rear axle. It's no surprise to hear it was the brainchild of Chris Mandell, main man behind the Entourage and Operator. Suspension wise, things look a little different to what we’re used to from Kona but the Satori simply uses a swing link version of the company's well-established 4-Bar linkage.
Avanti are still pretty new to the UK but the range is looking great for 2012, including their women's-specific model, the Motiv. We’ve already ridden the 140mm-travel Torrent and have been impressed. For 2013 it's set to get a 12x142mm through-axle at the rear along with ISCG 05 chain guide tabs to make for a more aggressive trail machine. Pricing TBC.
Our friends in the north are constantly fettling and tweaking their ongoing projects. At Core, Hope were showing approximately the thirtieth version of their cassette. This has an integrated freehub body to allow for the tiny nine-tooth sprocket, and five of the 10 sprockets are made from titanium to keep weight at a minimum. Also on display was the latest version of the cranks we first saw at last year's show. Woody from Hope said these probably won’t make it to production.
Hope's new pedals, however, should hit shops in the spring. They've undergone plenty of tweaks recently and their thin profile combined with a decent size platform and 10 pins per side means they should be great. Also due for a spring release are new machined bash rings and a seat tube mounted chain retention system. This isn't the chain guide we saw last year but a cyclo-cross inspired chain-catcher style device that, according to Woody, works well for mountain bike use, too.
It’s great to see Marzocchi back up the top of everyone’s wishlist once again and they've got some even better offerings for 2012. They’ve delved once again into the world of travel adjustment, this time with the 44 and 55 forks, which offer 30mm and 40mm of adjustment respectively.
Called STA, or Switch Travel Adjust, Marzocchi's new hydraulic system is said to work completely independently from the damping. The lever is easy to actuate and gives a firm but smooth click into place. Flick the lever and the fork will extend, with no need to pull on the bar.
Chain retention specialists e*thirteen were showing off their reworked range proudly. There are new wheels and pedals but it was the TRS+ dual-ring guide that caught our eye. This can be used with or without a bashring due to the shape of the lower guide. The lower roller is stepped and made from a stealthy plastic that should keep things nice and quiet. There's no word yet on pricing.
Check out our image gallery for more from the Core Bike and The Bike Place shows...