A crack team from Mountain Biking UK magazine – sister brand to BikeRadar – have been scouring the pits at the Fort William round of the UCI Downhill World Cup, looking for new bikes and kit. Here’s what we’ve found so far, including new bikes from Nukeproof, Orange and Intense, and a prototype downhill fork from renowned moto suspension manufacturers Ohlins.
Nukeproof Pulse 2016
Nukeproof gave us a glimpse of their new downhill bike, an updated version of the World Cup winning Pulse. They were staying tight-lipped when it came to details, only saying that the more refined looking machine has a 62-degree head angle, is long, low and light, and has been built based on lots of input from their team riders. (www.nukeproof.com / www.hotlines-uk.com)
Orange were a lot keener to give us the lowdown on their new 324, which also had its official unveiling at Fort Bill. This new downhill rig sticks with the UK company’s tried and trusted single pivot suspension set-up, with the same down tube piercing shock design as the outgoing 322. But the wheels are now 650b rather than 26in, the old slab-sided swingarm has been replaced with a similar rear triangle to the Alpine 160 to increase stiffness and reduce weight, and the pivot position has been tweaked. The 190mm (7.5in) travel bike also has a wider 83mm bottom bracket shell and 150mm rear end.
Apparently the idea was to create an “everyman” downhill bike that was simple to set up and work on, with a nice predictable shock curve and suspension feel. Orange claim that, size for size, it’s actually 200g lighter than the 322 despite the bigger wheels. The complete bike seen here costs £4,200 with a RockShox Boxxer Team fork and Vivid R2C shock, a mix of Shimano and SRAM stop/go kit, and Schwalbe Magic Mary tyres on Halo Chaos wheels. The 324 will be available as a frameset too, with Vivid R2C, for £2,200. Key measurements include a 63-degree head angle, 344mm BB height and, on the large frame, a 620mm effective top tube, 445mm chainstays and 1,255mm wheelbase. (www.orangebikes.co.uk)
Ohlins downhill fork
Specialized were showing an S-Works Demo 8 fitted with a new inverted dual-crown fork from Ohlins, who already supply the bike’s TTX rear shock. Spesh say things have moved on considerably since this second generation prototype was made – apparently the coil spring has now been replaced with something lighter (no prizes for guessing what, though Specialized would only say they hadn’t opted for a hybrid spring), the adjustable rake system has been scrapped, and the 25mm axle and colleted crowns have also been rethought after it was found that they made the fork too stiff, stifling feedback from the trail.
Ohlins have also developed a replacement cartridge for Fox 40 forks, and there’s one in the pipeline for RockShox Boxxers too, which is currently being tested by Hope rider Adam Brayton. They’ve also made the TTX rear shock that was debuted on the Demo available in sizes to fit other popular downhill bikes, though the Santa Cruz V10 version is still being worked on. (www.ohlins.com)
Jason McRoy's Specialized FSR
In among all their shiny new Demos, Enduros and Stumpjumpers, Specialized had this all-time classic on display - Jason McRoy's old mid-90s FSR downhill bike, complete with enormous 56t chainring, extended travel (a whopping 76mm/3in!) back end and Onza rim brakes. Check out the way the spokes have been soldered for extra strength! (www.specialized.com)
Intense were displaying their new M16 downhill bike, in both stealth black and Ferrari red. The latter bike will be winging its way to our Tech Ed in Chief, Rob Weaver, for testing next week, so watch out for a review in the mag and here on BikeRadar soon.
This latest model in the Californian company’s classic M series line of downhill bikes sports 650b wheels and pumps out a whopping 215-241mm (8.5-9.5in) of travel via the VPP suspension design licensed from Santa Cruz. It’s got a 63.5-degree head angle, 365mm BB height and 445mm chainstays, and, on the large frame, a 616mm effective top tube and 1,245mm wheelbase. It’ll set you back £5,799 with a RockShox Boxxer World Cup fork and Cane Creek Double Barrel shock, SRAM X01 DH kit and Maxxis Minion tyres on Stan’s Rapid 30 Team wheels. (intensecycles.com / www.extrauk.co.uk)
Talking about classic bike brands, 1990s UK stalwarts Onza – not to be confused with the Taiwanese company releasing tyres under the same name – are back with a vengeance after several years concentrating on trials bikes, with two new steel hardtails and a range of components, including updated versions of their legendary Porcipaws and ULES grips.
Seen here is the Payoff – a 4130 chromoly 29er with a tapered head tube, BB30 bottom bracket shell, modular dropouts, internal cable routing and loads of mud clearance. The frame costs £375, with a complete bike with 120mm travel RockShox Revelation fork and 1x10 Shimano SLX costing £1,600. It’s also available in a 650b wheeled version called the Jackpot, the main difference being that the 29er bike uses a 27.2mm seatpost for comfort while the 650b bike comes with a 31.6mm RockShox Reverb dropper post, adding £250 to the price (the frame price is the same). The 650b bike has a fairly steep 68-degree head angle despite coming with a 150mm fork, with Onza saying they wanted it to climb as well as it descended. Both bikes will be available in around five weeks’ time (www.onza.com / www.todayscyclist.co.uk)
Rachael Walker's custom Hope/Juliana Furtado
One of the coolest looking bikes we saw at Fort Bill was Hope enduro racer/PR guru Rachael Walker's Juliana Furtado, complete with custom Sharpie doodling by MTB photographer Sam Needham and purple anodised parts.
Tahnee Seagrave's Devinci Wilson
Also looking pretty sweet was UK racer Tahnee Seagrave's Devinci Wilson, complete with pink highlights, decals and custom tyre graphics. She's teamed up with the CoppaFeel! charity to launch the #COPPARIDE initiative, which aims to encourage young women to look out for signs of breast cancer.
ENVE bars and stems
ENVE Composites have been working on these carbon stems, available in 40, 55, 70 and 85mm lengths. Weights start at a super-light 85g. They don't come cheap though, at £220. ENVE were also displaying a new HDH downhill bar, which is 810mm wide with a 46mm rise and black-on-black graphics. RRP is £150. (enve.com / www.saddleback.co.uk)
HT V2 pedals
HT had their new V2 clipless pedals on display. Lighter and with a more concave platform than the V1s unveiled earlier this year, they’ll be in use by Aaron Gwin and Troy Brosnan this weekend, and will set you back £120 a pair. (www.ht-components.com / www.ison-distribution.com)
Special edition CrankBros pedals
Sticking with the pedal theme, CrankBrothers are now offering three of their clipless models in limited edition colourways – the Eggbeaters are available in green or camo-with-an-orange-spring, the Candys in DVO emerald green or camo, and the Mallets in black or camo. The special edition pedals will cost £10 more than the standard versions, at £109.99. (www.crankbrothers.com / www.extrauk.co.uk)
Five Ten Freeriders
Also available in fresh colours are Five Ten’s Freerider Contact flat pedal shoes – an updated version of the Freerider VXi, with the same part-slick Stealth Mi6 sole but a more weather resistant upper. The new designs should hit shops in August for £100.
In good news for women riders, Five Ten are now bringing out all of their new mountain bike shoes in female-specific versions, and that means offering them with a narrower, women’s-specific last, not just ‘shrinking and pinking’ them. This includes two new women’s Freerider Contacts. (www.fiveten.com)
Box are best known for their BMX kit, although they’ve also been working on an MTB rear mech for a while now. On display at Fort Bill were some new components including some carbon bars with an unusual looking bulge that's said to increase stiffness. There's a choice of widths (700/760/780/800mm) and rises (15/30mm), with prices ranging from £119.99 to £139.99 and weights starting at 165g. They're being used by the Polygon team. (www.boxcomponents.com / www.todayscyclist.co.uk)
MRP old vs new
MRP had a blast from the past on their stand – a late ’90s System 2 Ultrasport chain guide, with clearance for 44 to 50t chainrings and weighing a whopping 550g. Compare that to 153g for their latest G3 Carbon guide (£179.99)! (www.mrpbike.com / www.ison-distribution.com)