With practice cancelled last Friday because of poor weather, BikeRadar caught up with the few brave souls facing the rain in the paddock, looking for the inside track on their weapons of choice for this prestigious race: the final round of 2015’s Enduro World Series.
This radical beast is the Saker, a brand-new bike from a small UK firm called Arbr. The carbon machine uses an idler to eliminate pedal-kickback and chain tug. Combined with the hugely rearward axle path, this is claimed to provide a radically supple suspension action, according to Arbr’s MD Robert Barr.
The Arbr Saker: never heard of it? Well its radical design looks promising to us
Barr wasn’t here to compete in the EWS, but rather to put the bike through its paces on the savage terrain in the area. We took it for a quick spin around the square, and were surprised to find a fairly efficient pedalling bike, without the wallowy pedal-bob we expected for a machine claiming little to no chain-tug – which normally is used to counteract pedal-bob.
With a 465mm reach figure (for the large frame) and a 65-degree head angle, the geometry is right up to date too. The claimed weight is 29lbs for this well-chosen build you see here, and it should be available to buy in early 2016. We can’t wait to swing a leg over one!
Meggie Bichard’s Ibis Mojo HD3
Privateer EWS racer Meggie Bichard’s weapon of choice for most of this Enduro season has been her large Ibis Mojo HD3. Her super-wide Ibis 741 carbon wheels have suffered through this abuse (which included a Megavalanche qualifier run with a burped tyre) bearing nothing more than a few scars to prove it.
The bike’s Cane Creek DB inline shock, however, suffered the same fate as several of our test samples, leaking oil out of the damper. A Fox Float X2 takes its place, and Meggie is more than happy with the performance gains it offers.
A Fox Float X2 shock is a performance boosting upgrade for a broken Cane Creek item
Racing as a privateer involves a little improvisation from time to time, including a 30.9mm RockShox Reverb seatpost, which has been ‘shimmed’ to fit the 31.6mm frame with a bit of old number-board – some top quality bodging there!
Woody Hole’s Specialized Enduro 650b
Hope Technology’s warehouse manager has proven he practices what he preaches when it comes to proper product testing, as he enters the final round of the EWS with an unsurpassable points lead in the masters’ category. He’s achieved all this on his blinged-out Specialized Enduro, bejewelled with the latest Hope components.
An 11-speed cassette offers a SRAM-trumping 10-44 tooth gearing range, and works with SRAM or Shimano derailleurs, Hole insists. Hope’s latest Pro 4 hubs are graced with a new version of their floating rotors, featuring a spiral design, claimed to be stiffer.
Woody Hole's bespoke Specialized Enduro has carried him to the masters' overall title
Rear suspension is kept supple with an Ohlins TTX shock, which features a two-position high-speed compression adjuster that doubles as a climb switch with a third click of the lever. Hole says the soil shock boosts the (already impressive, in our experience) beginning stroke sensitivity of the Enduro, providing incredible rear-end traction.
Enrico Guala’s Ibis Mojo HD3
EWS top dog, AKA ‘the pope of Enduro’, Enrico Guala is riding this highly customised Ibis Mojo HD3, a popular choice at this race.
EWS co-founder, Enrico Guala with his Ibis Mojo HD3
A colour-matched DVO Diamond fork graces the front-end, while Onza treads provide the grip aboard the 35mm wide Ibis wheels. Chromag finishing kit and named brake leavers ensure Enrico doesn’t mistake his steed for any of the other Ibises around Finale this weekend.
Seb Stott’s Mondraker Dune Carbon RR
As BikeRadar’s man-on-the-ground in Finale, I’ve been testing out this large-size Mondraker Dune. At 6ft 3in (187cm), I normally opt for an XL ride, but this forward-geometry enduro weapon is one of the longest top-tubed bikes out there, and is all the better for it.
Stan's Bravo wheels on the Mondraker Dune RR provide a superb tyre profile with the Schwalbe Super Gravity treads
It’s stiff, light and efficient on the climbs, yet boasts superb suspension performance and confidence-inspiring, stable geometry when descending at speed. The Fox 36 fork has been fettled with extra volume spacers and eight to 10 clicks of low-speed compression to keep the front-end from diving on the steep and rocky trails in the area, and a Pro Atherton bar has been fitted too, giving a 790mm width and more rise than the stock bar, helping to keep the bar high on those steep chutes.
A brace of brand-new Stan’s Bravo carbon hoops are light and stiff, but will they survive the abuse of Finale’s brutally rocky trails? The light and long Mondraker has shown a huge turn of pace in Finale and back home in the UK, but it’s not all been plain sailing for me and my steed. Stay tuned to BikeRadar to find out more.