Since the last edition of First Look Friday was published a little event called the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships happened in Les Gets, France.
Riders put it all on the line vying for the coveted rainbow stripes, only awarded to the winners of each discipline. Of course, the riders who become champions are on some of the industry’s top-tier and super-secret tech, some of which I spotted at the event.
First, and probably most importantly, is SRAM’s BlackBox prototype rear derailleur and drivetrain that was fitted to XCO gold medallist Nino Schurter’s Scott Spark. The derailleur appears to not need a derailleur hanger, instead bolting directly to the bike’s frame or axle. As soon as we know more, we’ll be sure to bring you updates.
We also checked out the outgoing men’s DH world champ Greg Minnaar’s Santa Cruz V10, which appeared to be running an all-new Shimano Saint rear derailleur.
Finally, we managed to look at Vali Höll’s Trek Session, also sporting some unreleased tech.
Up front, the 2022 women’s downhill world champion appears to be running a beefier-looking RockShox Boxxer fork, possibly with 38mm stanchions, upsized from the 35mm versions on the current fork. This would be bring the Boxxer closer to RockShox’s ZEB fork, which also uses 38mm upper tubes.
Of course the MTB World Championships has been in the limelight, but it’s not the only event we’ve reported on.
The Malverns Classic, a long-running event hosted in the UK, and one that BikeRadar’s sister title Mountain Biking UK sponsors, also happened last weekend. We trawled the festival to find new and unreleased tech highlights, and also brought you a rather spectacular retro mountain bike gallery.
If you were into fat tyres from the 1970s onwards, that gallery should bring back some fond memories.
Anyway, onto this week’s First Look Friday product picks. Keep reading to check out the latest tech to hit BikeRadar’s desks this week.
Lupine Alpha mountain bike light
Boasting a whopping 7,200-lumen output, the Lupine Alpha has enough power to match its rather fantastic €1,080 price tag.
Of course, at that price it’s not short of tech, with its features stretching beyond the magical maximum output figure and 840m claimed beam throw.
Lupine claims the Alpha’s optics have been tuned to deliver impressive illumination on the trail thanks to 22-degree and 18-degree lenses to control the LED’s output.
Although the sleek head unit is minimalist-looking, it hides Bluetooth smartphone connectivity, meaning a dedicated app can be used to tune the light’s output levels. It also takes advantage of that wireless connection to link to the included remote, ‘Peppi’, that is the primary control for the Alpha.
The head unit has a sleek battery life and mode LED indicator on the rear, while the separate battery pack also has a traffic-light style LED and audible charge indicator.
Combined, the Lupine weighed 735g on my scales (230g head unit, 468g battery, 20g clamp and 17g remote).
I included Lupine’s Alpha in this year’s mountain bike lights group test, so keep tuned for a full review on BikeRadar soon.
e*thirteen Grappler tyres
The Grappler tyre from e*thirteen is the brand’s latest model, and is aimed at the hardcore, gnarly enduro and downhill markets.
In order to meet the demands of the more extreme ends of mountain biking, e*thirteen has specced the Grappler with super-tough casings, and what it claims is an “exceptionally high grip tread”.
There are two compounds available, with the stickier MOPO version registering as a 42a on the durometer across the tyre’s entire tread for maximum traction.
The Endurance compound has 50a shoulder treads and 56a centre knobs to balance traction and rolling speed.
The tread pattern is reminiscent of the tyre that has become a stalwart on the cycling scene, the Maxxis Assegai. As well as imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, it’s also a great move by e*thirteen because the Assegai’s all-round grip is virtually unrivalled.
Along with the compound options, there are two casing types.
The dual-ply enduro casing has a higher 120 TPI weave (so less rubber can penetrate into the tyre carcass threads, resulting in a lighter construction) and an Aramid bead. The tread section is reinforced with an Apex EN insert.
The 29×2.5in Grappler Enduro MOPO compound tyre weighed 1,300g on my scales, while the Endurance compound in the same width and carcass dimensions came in at 1,321g.
The DH-casing tyre also has a dual-ply construction, but uses a thicker 72 TPI weave. An Aramid bead is present, but the Apex inserts are DH-rated. The 29in MOPO compound version weighed 1,440g, while the Endurance compound tipped the scales at 1,466g.
Keep tuned for full reviews of all four tyres on BikeRadar soon.
- From €64.99
DMT FK1 Enduro shoes
DMT’s FK1 Enduro shoe is a super-lightweight (659g, pair of EU42) knitted-construction flat pedal shoe with a Michelin OCX rubber sole.
The upper’s unusual knitted construction, DMT claims, is designed to create a fit that “adapts to your foot shape”. It’s also claimed to be highly breathable and wick moisture away from your feet.
A lack of seams cements the FK1’s comfort credentials.
Their toe cap and certain areas of the shoe’s upper, such as the heel, have increased protection to reduce wear and help prevent injury. The ankle collar is made from a soft microfibre material, and it’s elasticated to ensure a tight fit around your ankle.
Lightweight shoes – such as Five Ten’s Trailcross range – are certainly popular for the less extreme mountain bikers out there, but the lack of protection could be problematic for some enduro or downhill riders.
Keep tuned for a review of the FK1 to see whether they’ve hit the mark.
Look Trail Fusion flat pedals
These aren’t Look’s first foray into flat pedal territory, but are arguably a more dedicated effort focused on the MTB market.
The made-in-France composite platform measures 103x103mm at its widest points and is 18mm thick at its deepest, central point. This gives the pedal a convex shape, where the leading and trailing edges are 13mm thick.
They have eight rear-loading, replaceable pins, seven positioned around the pedal’s perimeter and one in the centre.
Spinning on a Chromoly axle, they use three bearings in total. These are sealed with a ‘premium seal system’.
Available in five lively colours (lime pictured) and weighing just 333g a pair, Look hopes the modest asking price will be enough to entice people to buy them.
- £44.90 / $55 / €49.90