Santa Cruz Bronson CC (2016) review - MBR.CO.UK

"Quite possibly the best 150mm travel trail bike we’ve ever tested."

The year before last was a real turning point for Santa Cruz — it was in 2014 that it introduced its third generation VPP suspension layout, where small revisions to the orientation and lengths of the links had a big impact on the ride quality of its bikes.

 

The first model to roll off the assembly line with the refined suspension design was the Nomad. And like any first born it demanded all of the attention. Less fuss was made about the second bike, however, and even though Santa Cruz has launched numerous models since, we think the 150mm travel Bronson is the pick of the range.

Like most bikes in the Santa Cruz line, the Bronson is available in two carbon options and an alloy version. All of the Bronsons have the same geometry, and it’s only price and weight that separates them.

Thanks to the higher grade of carbon used in the construction of the Bronson CC, it’s roughly 280g lighter than the less expensive C version, without compromising on stiffness or strength. The last round of revisions to the Bronson saw Santa Cruz increase the reach measurements on all four frame sizes by 15mm, add Boost 148 dropouts and steepen up the seat angle for improved climbing. So while it’s not the latest bike in the Santa Cruz range, it’s still bang up to date.

Suspension

One of the key changes to the VPP suspension layout was to move the lower link above the BB shell. Not only did this protect it from rock strikes, it also allowed Santa Cruz to snip 5mm off the chainstay length. It was the changes to the upper link and resulting shock rate that had the biggest impact on the ride quality though. Gone was that mushy feel to the rear suspension, replaced instead by a tighter, reactive response that pretty much defines the Bronson’s punchy new attitude.

Pike fork might lack the kudos of the Lyrik or 36 but performs superbly

With a RockShox Monarch Plus RC3 rear shock and matching Pike RCT3 fork, getting a good ballpark set-up on the Bronson couldn’t be easier. And while the Pike isn’t as burly as the Lyrikon the Transition, or the Fox 36 on the Intense, the Industry Nine front hub takes full advantage of the bigger surface area of the Torque Cap dropouts to increase stiffness and steering precision.

Components

Santa Cruz has totally nailed the build kit on the Bronson CC, so you’d be crazy to change anything straight away. The SBC carbon handlebar has a great profile, and combined with their own grip, the width is approaching 810mm. Too wide for your local trails? Well, you can always cut it down. The Race Face Turbine R stem is a 50mm Easton Haven in all but name, so you know it’s first rate too.

Quality cockpit set-up adds to the precise feel of this Californian classic

We loved the flat profile of the WTB saddle, and with a 150mm Reverb fitted as standard, we had no issue getting it well out of harm’s way on the descents.

Even Santa Cruz’s choice of rubber is perfect for the UK, the harder compound Maxxis Minion DHR II rear tyre keeping the pace high, while the softer 3C DHF rubber up front still lets you stuff the Bronson CC into corners with supreme confidence.

Surely no one would ruin those stunning lines with a front mech?

Performance

The Bronson is the shortest bike in this test. It’s also the steepest. So you could be forgiven for taking a cursory glance at its vital stats and instantly writing it off as dated. To do so would be a massive mistake, however, as it’s quite possibly the best 150mm travel trail bike we’ve ever tested.

Maybe it’s the Bronson’s low bottom bracket height, or the perfect balance of weight distribution afforded by the slightly longer chainstays and shorter front centre, but whatever it is, the Bronson never seems to put a foot wrong.

Pump or pedal, and it is instantly up to speed. In that respect the Bronson is an ultra-reactive bike, but somehow it never feels like you’re riding on a knife edge. As such, your confidence soars with every ride as you quickly come to realise that this bike isn’t just easy on the eye.

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Verdict

If ever there was a trail bike that made everything feel effortless, it’s the Santa Cruz Bronson CC. Whether it’s powering up climbs, smashing corners, or darting between trees at breakneck speed, the Bronson CC is always encouraging you to press ahead and test your limits. It’s one of a rare breed of bikes that gives back with interest any effort you invest. Yes, it’s expensive, but there’s a sparkle to the ride of the Bronson CC that few bikes match. Don’t take our word for it though, get along to a demo day and experience it for yourself. Just don’t be surprised if you ride away burdened with £8K of debt.

Details

Frame:Carbon CC, 150mm travel

Shock:RockShox Monarch Plus RC3

Fork:RockShox Pike RCT3 Solo Air, 150mm travel

Wheels:Industry Nine hubs, Enve M60 rims, Maxxis Minion DHF/RII 3C/60a 27.5x2.3in tyres

Drivetrain:SRAM XX1 Eagle 32t chainset, r-mech and shifter

Brakes:SRAM Guide Ultimate, 180mm

Components:SBC 800mm bar, Race Face Turbine R 50mm stem, RockShox Reverb Stealth 150mm, WTB Volt Team saddle

Weight:12.88kg (28.4lb)

Sizes:S, M, L, XL

Size ridden:L

Rider height:5ft 10 in

Head angle:65.9°

Seat angle:69°

BB height:336mm

Chainstay:434mm

Front centre:760mm

Wheelbase:1,194mm

Down tube:704mm

Top tube:615mm

Reach:445mm

Contact:santacruzbikes.com

Bike Mag's First Look: Santa Cruz Hightower

First Look: Santa Cruz Hightower

The Tallboy LT successor takes cues from the Bronson, Nomad and 5010

February 02, 2016 By Nicole Formosa Photos: Gary Perkin 

Those paying close attention to the Santa Cruz Bicycles website may have noticed that the Tallboy LT 29er quietly disappeared from its online line-up last summer. In fact, many did. Last July, the forums lit up with speculation about the future of the beloved long-travel wagon-wheeler, and how Santa Cruz must have been forced by its new owners to pare down the line.

A wheel showdown in Patagonia. The all-new Hightower is available as a 29er or a 27.5+.

But while the trolls were exchanging virtual blows over the merits of various long-travel 29ers, an engineer/designer/product manager team in Northern California was in the midst of toiling on a new version of the bike, which has been revealed today under its new moniker: Hightower (named after Santa Cruz Demo Team employee and tall guy Eric Highlander).

The changes reflect the geometry philosophy that Santa Cruz has already employed in last year’s redesign of the Bronson and 5010: longer, slacker, lower and built around new VPP links and a ‘boosted’ front and rear end. Also, the Hightower is compatible with 29-inch wheels or 27.5+ with the addition of a flip chip that keeps the geometry consistent regardless of wheel size. Similar to the Nomad, the Hightower is one-by-specific–removing the front derailleur allowed designers to keep the chainstays short, while maintaining adequate chainring clearance and ample space for wide tires.

Although its DNA is linked to the Tallboy LT, Santa Cruz engineer Nick Anderson says that he didn’t use the previous platform as a reference point when he began the Hightower project a year ago. Instead, he started from scratch, armed with what he learned from developing two iterations of the Bronson. He tested numerous mules, some with up to 150-millimeters of rear travel, to find the sweet spot between rear-end capability and playfulness. Coincidentally, he landed at 135 millimeters, the same travel as the original LT, but that’s pretty much where the similarities between the two bikes end.

The Hightower’s ride characteristics are most similar to the Bronson–Santa Cruz’s popular 6-inch-travel trail bike–and it’s designed to be equally as capable, says Josh Kissner, Santa Cruz product manager.

“There are two sides to that. Inherently, with less travel, it’s going to be easier to bunny hop and throw around, all those things, but it’s a mean machine. The Bronson is still going to feel smoother on a rocky trail,” Kissner said.

In the ‘Low’ position, or 29er configuration with a 140-millimeter-travel fork, the Hightower sports a 67-degree headtube angle, 17.1-inch chainstays, a 74.3-degree seat tube angle and a 13.2-inch bottom-bracket height. In the ‘High’ position, or 27.5+ configuration with a 150-millimeter-travel fork, the bike’s headtube angle shifts to 66.8 degrees and the seat tube angle to 74.1 degrees, the chainstay length shortens to 17.06 inches and the bottom-bracket height drops by a slight 2 millimeters. The Hightower also has the 148×12 rear spacing and 110×15 front spacing and internal cable routing also seen on the new Bronson and 5010 models.

 

Developing a plus-size bike wasn’t initially at the top of Santa Cruz’s priority list with the Hightower–and they figure that the 29er will be the more mainstream choice–but with curiosity about the fatter tires growing, they opted to incorporate small changes that wouldn’t compromise ride quality. The flip chip in the upper link allows tire-size versatility without changing the bike’s personality, Kissner said.

A flip chip in the upper link allows the bike to switch between tire sizes without compromising geometry or ride characteristics.

Last month, Santa Cruz gathered a group of media in a stealth location in the remote Patagonia region of southern Chile to ride the Hightower on the potential course for a new four-day stage race that Santa Cruz will sponsor next year. The Rally Aysén-Patagonia will be a point-to-point race next January organized by Montenbaik, which also runs the Andes Pacifico Enduro. Santa Cruz figured that the uncertain nature of the route, which included everything from rocky doubletrack climbs, freshly cut, loamy singletrack flowing for miles through dark forest, dry, dusty flat gravel roads and bumpy, primitive cow trails, would be adequate for testing the capabilities of a bike billed for its versatility.

The first day’s ride began with a screaming scree-field descent that transitioned into a ribbon of fine-dirt that weaved through a dramatic forest of moss-covered trees, followed by ripping fast, loose 2,300-foot descent over 2 miles. I took it as a positive sign that I didn’t actually think about the fact that the bike was a 29er a single time while I was riding. I’ve had a complicated relationship with 29ers in the past. While I appreciate and benefit from the superior rollover, I’ve often felt like they are too Cadillac-esque. Thus, I usually gravitate toward more-manueverable 27.5-inch-wheeled bikes. But the proliferation of snappier, longer-travel 29ers–arguably ushered in by Santa Cruz with the original Tallboy LT in 2012–has changed the landscape and the Hightower fits right in with the blossoming category of 29ers with enough travel to get rowdy, and the angles to keep the ride lively.

The Highertower’s suspension is fairly progressive, so it can be ridden hard without bottoming out–we witnessed this firsthand when Cedric Gracia launched off a sizable rock face one morning and the shock, somewhat amazingly, did not blow its seals–and it helps keep a poppy feel that, along with the short chainstays, adds to the bike’s maneuverability.

I am not Cedric Gracia, though, so I was having trouble using all the travel in the Rockshox Monarch RT3 with sag set at 35 percent. Taking out two of the four stock spacers, however, made for a more linear ride. I rode much of the time with the shock fully open, switching to ‘Pedal’ mode only during tame gravel roads and the VPP platform pedaled quite well. This points to the revisions Santa Cruz has made to VPP, which now has a higher initial leverage ratio to improve traction and small-bump sensitivity.

On the final day’s ride, I swapped the 29er wheels for the 27.5+ setup, which particularly shined on the day’s steep, rocky doubletrack pitches. The 2.8-inch-wide tires monster trucked up and over traction-challenged sections when most riders were walking. Another section consisted of ‘uphill free-foresting,’ a term we coined for the climb/hike through the woods in which there was no actual trail to reach the final descent down Patagonia’s Gloria Peak. The fat tires steamrolled over the abundant forest floor debris as we weaved a path through the trees, and the increased traction from the wider tires, particularly when cornering, compelled me to lay off the brakes on the descent and let gravity take the driver’s seat. The only time I lamented the excessive rubber is when I was pushing up unrideable sections, although this may have been psychological since the weight difference is nominal–the top-of-the-line CC build I was riding with Enve wheels weighs 26.9 pounds, compared to 27.2 for the 27.5+ version, according to Santa Cruz.

The Hightower comes Sriracha Red and Matte Carbon/Mint in M, L and XL frame sizes and it will not be released under the Juliana brand, nor will it be available in an aluminum frame. It comes in three build kits, ranging in price from $4,500 to $7,800 with a $2,000 Enve wheel upgrade available on the two top 29er versions. The high-end CC frameset with Rockshox Monarch RT3 runs $2,900.

Be sure to read the May issue of Bike for a full review of the Hightower. For now, check out the gallery below for more photos.

VITAL MTB's Review of the New Santa Cruz 5010 and Bronson

Go here to listen to listen to a great interview with Josh Kisner from Santa Cruz.

When you're among the first to market with a 27.5-inch bike that rips, how do you go back and improve things? It's a constantly evolving process, and Santa Cruz looked to the success and capability of their Nomad while redesigning the Bronson and 5010 for 2016.

2016 Santa Cruz Bronson II Highlights

  • Use: Trail / All-Mountain
  • Frame: Carbon CC, C
  • Rear Travel: 150mm / 6-inches VPP3
  • Fork Travel: 150mm / 6-inches
  • Wheels: 27.5-inch


2016 Santa Cruz 5010 II Highlights

  • Use: XC / Trail
  • Frame: Carbon CC, C
  • Rear Travel: 130mm / 5-inches VPP3 (Travel Increased 5mm)
  • Fork Travel: 130mm / 5-inches
  • Wheels: 27.5-inches


Shared Updates

  • Updated Geometry
  • Lower Standover Height
  • Revised VPP Links
  • Revised Suspension Tune
  • 150mm Reverb Dropper Compatibility, 125mm on Small/XS
  • Side Swing Front Derailleur
  • Fully Guided Internal Cable Routing
  • 148x12mm Rear Axle
  • RockShox Front Suspension, FOX Rear Suspension


Geometry

At the forefront of the changes to the Bronson and 5010 are several key geometry updates. With one-degree slacker head tube angles, 20-25mm longer reach measurements, 6-8mm shorter chainstays, shorter seat tube lengths for better sizing flexibility, and a 0.8-degree steeper seat tube angle nearly every aspect has been improved for the hard charging rider. Thanks to a third generation VPP suspension design the suspension is now more up to the task, too.


First Impressions

Do all the claims really add up to better bikes? We're pleased to report that they certainly do. Santa Cruz doesn't mess around, and the bikes perform as stated.

Starting with the Bronson, Downieville, California offered up the terrain capable of smashing the bikes into bits, but they ate it up in stride. If we were to fault the former Bronson in one major area, it'd be its ability to perform under heavy hits and a bit of a dead, wallowy feel when pumping and turning. That's all gone with this new edition. Running 30-33% sag on the FOX Float X Factory DPS shock with an EVOL air can resulted in a bike that can be tossed around every bit as hard as a Nomad without harsh bottom outs, plus it's more apt to gain speed when you put some pump into it. Thanks to the revised leverage curve and EVOL can it's quieter over the small chunder too, allowing you to skip over the rough without any unwanted surprises.

Toss in some wider 800mm bars, tires with actual tread on them, and a bunch of other smartly chosen components and we were in dust roosting heaven, doing our best to keep up with Bryceland and crew while hooting and hollering all along the way.


Switching from the Bronson, it was immediately clear that the new 5010 offers a ride that's far more precise and spritely. On technical terrain the thing demands a rider that's attentive, but it'll bring a smile to your face as you blast the bonus lines on the side of the trail and pump your way up to silly speeds. The updates make it far more composed when the trail gets gnarly and all hell breaks loose - an area we previously noted for improvement.

Aside from that, it's business as usual at Santa Cruz, with a no bullshit approach to all the little details that make the bikes more enjoyable from a real-world perspective. Things like the fully guided and rattle free internal cable routing, 73mm threaded bottom bracket, standard shock mounts, ISCG-05 tabs, and perfectly molded frame protectors help them stand out from the trend chasers thanks to years of refinement and a well-trained eye for what really matters.

In Action

Watch as Ratboy treats the kalimotxo-colored Bronson II to some amazing riding in Madeira, complete with a catchy new theme song:


Build Kits, Pricing and Availability

From the entry level but trashable $3,599 Carbon C R AM to the high end and flashy Carbon CC XTR AM at $8,699, Santa Cruz offers the Bronson and 5010 in several complete models. There's also a carbon frame + shock combo available for $2,999.

Expect an aluminum version to drop in early 2016. Carbon bikes begin hitting stores in September 2015. Check out www.santacruzbicycles.com for complete details, and be sure to watch our Juliana Roubion II and Furtado II feature for a look at the women's equivalents.

Photos by Gary Perkin and Mike Thomas

Bike Magazine's First Look: Cannondale Habit

Photos by Sam McMain
Video by Scott Smith

The details are out on Cannondale’s new trail machine after a couple months of photos and speculation floating around on the internet. The bike was seen in the wild this past weekend at the Downieville Classic, where Team WTB/Cannondale rider Jason Moeschler pedaled it to a victory in All-Mountain World Championship. The new bike is called the Habit, and it slots into Cannondale’s line between the Scalpel and the Trigger, sporting the dressings of a short-travel trail bike.

First impressions

Cannondale sought to strike a balance with the Habit, aiming to create a bike that would suit both cross-country riders looking for something more capable and more aggressive riders looking for something with less squish and a bit more snappiness. After an afternoon riding the Habit, it seems like Cannondale has achieved its goal, although for our tastes the bike felt more skewed towards pedaling efficiency and lightweight than suppleness and downhill capability.

The Habit Carbon 1 we tested had a snappiness that was immediately apparent on climbs and flat ground. The combination of the bike’s geometry, low weight and 27.5 wheels meant that the Habit responded to pedaling input with quick acceleration and was easily maneuvered on climbs.

 

It’s no surprise that aggressive descenders won’t find the capability of their longer-travel trail rigs somehow jammed into the Habit’s 120 millimeters of travel. The same maneuverability and light weight that made the Habit a pleasure to blast uphill on had it feeling a bit out of sorts on technical downhills, and we couldn’t help but wonder if this bike wouldn’t have benefited from the stability and rollover offered by 29-inch wheels.

 

An afternoon isn’t enough time to really feel out a bike, but our short-term impression is that the Habit is a great option as a trail bike for a cross-country rider or a cross-country bike for a trail rider. The Habit’s snappy, poppy disposition make it a pleasure to rip uphill and on flowy, less-technical trails. It’s a bike that will encourage you to climb faster and have more fun without having to go in search of the gnarliest descent at your local network. Stay tuned for more on the Habit here on bikemag.com and in a future issue of Bike. – Jon Weber

 

 

Frame Details

The Cannondale Habit is built around an all-new 120-millimeter-travel chassis. Up front is a 68-degree head angle and a 120-millimeter-travel fork. Both the carbon and aluminum versions of the frame utilize Cannondale’s Zero Pivot seat stays, which are intended to compensate for their lack of an actual pivot with built-in vertical flex. The swingarm pivots move on thru-axles which are held in place by expanding collets and require no special tools for servicing. Cannondale’s argument for flex stays is based on weight savings (size large frame weight is just under 2,000 grams) and the lateral rigidity allowed by the pivot-free design.

 

Braking forces and vertically flexing seat stays don’t play well together, so Cannondale mounted the brake on the chainstay instead. The Lefty, which is featured on seven of the 10 Habit models, gets a 50-millimeter offset and a new damper tune, which Cannondale claims keeps the fork from packing up over chundery sections and also keeps it riding higher in its travel.

 

 

Geometry

 

Feminine Habits

The women’s Habits don’t get unique geometry, but do feature different contact-point components, as well as different paint jobs. The sizing range is more suited to shorter riders, with the women’s frames coming in extra small, small and medium, whereas the men’s frame runs small through extra large. There are two women’s models: $3,600 buys an XT/SLX build with a carbon front triangle and an aluminum rear end, and there’s an entry-level aluminum option for $1,750.

There’s a total of 10 different trim options configured around carbon or aluminum frames including the two women’s specific models and the slightly more-aggressive Habit SE. The version we rode was rolling on Cannondale’s new CZero carbon wheels, which feature an internal width of 23 millimeters and are likely to be seen on a few other models in Cannondale’s 2016 range. Pricing for the Habit starts at $1,750 and goes all the way to $12,250 for the Black Inc version. You can check out each model here.

Cannondale SuperSix EVO Hi-Mod Ultegra - first ride - Bike Radar

BikeRadar verdict

Not a revolution but the steady evolution of a truly excellent machine – and the improvements are worth every penny

At first glance you could be forgiven for thinking that Cannondale’s latest EVO is just a lick of paint and some fresh graphics ahead of its predecessors, which have been impressing us for years here at BikeRadar.

While there'd be no shame in that, the all-new EVO is in fact a ground-up redesign (or EVOlution, if you'll allow us a weak pun). So, why would Cannondale decide to do this to what remained one of the lightest chassis in professional racing circles – one with a huge list of palmares, not least of which being Sagan’s back-to-back overall green jerseys in the Tour?

2016 Cannondale Supersix


  • Highs: Simply stunning handling infused with compliant comfort
  • Lows: Finishing kit doesn't quite hit the heights achieved by the frame
  • Buy if: you want your next bike to blend a race ready ride position with superb comfort levels

Frame: BallisTec carbon chassis gets even lighter

Well first off, the Connecticut-based firm's engineers looked to further reduce weight. By implementing a more aggressive approach to their BallisTec carbon structure to both the frame and the fork they’ve managed to reduce the ‘system’ weight by another 70g.

With a frame that already hovered under 800g, that’s no mean feat.

Cannondale has achieved it by bringing in an all new fork design. Its slender proportions look similar to the previous fork, though it's claimed to deliver both increased lateral stiffness and a more compliant ride by using the Speed Save carbon layup design that was previously used on the chainstays.

The main frame is a little heavier at 777g (56cm) compared to 760g for the old one. But the fork is 280g as opposed to the previous 320g, the headset 66g compared with 80g (Cannondale has integrated the lower crown race into the fork rather than a separate part and the dedicated seat post is just 180g rather than 210g.

Take all these figures as a ‘whole’ chassis and compare them to the competition: Trek's Emonda SLR10 is 1312g and Specialized's S-Works Tarmac is 1718g. The new EVO, meanwhile, weighs in at just 1303g.

2016 Cannondale Supersix

 

As alluded to above, the bike's claimed to be more compliant too – and it’s easy to see how Cannondale has managed this. Drawing from the incredibly successful Synapse (our Bike of the Year 2014), the EVO gets a similar seat tube design. It doesn’t have the whole ‘power pyramid’ from the Synapse but does have a radically slender seat tube that flares massively at the bottom bracket shell, which now houses the wider BB30A standard.

The seat tube layup is directional, which allows the frame to maintain, or rather improve rigidity through the drivetrain (not somewhere the original lacked prowess) by a claimed 8.8 percent. At the same time the seat tube has more flex, combined with both sets of stays allowing more vertical movement and topped with a Synapse-spec super skinny 25.4mm seatpost.

The final claim, and perhaps the most interesting, is of improved aerodynamics. Now the EVO doesn’t exactly look like an aero bike, but for such things to be considered on an all-round race machine is a clever direction to take.

By using UCI regulation-swerving truncated aero profiles (TAP for short), Cannondale's engineers found under testing a saving of 70g of drag (or six watts over the older EVO) without any detriment to stiffness or weight.

Ride and handling: intoxicating responses and surprising comfort

We could have opted for a top-spec, all-singing-all-dancing model. But instead we’ve opted for the entry-level Hi-Mod bike equipped with Ultegra and rolling on Mavic’s Kysrium hoops.

Its what we (and plenty of you) are far more likely to buy. And of course, if a chassis is as good as its manufacturer claims then it shouldn’t matter what level of components it’s hosting.

Out on the road the new EVO feels at once familiar, though with a few significant differences. First I noticed a significant feeling of stiffness at the front end, with directional changes being met with an enthralling, intoxicating instant response – the EVO simply hits its mark every time.

When bikes are this responsive things can become a little nervous or twitchy, but with the EVO we never got to that point. It let me get to the limit – and past it – on familiar descents, helping me hit a miles-per-hour PB on our local test loop's most technical descent at the first time of asking.

Improved stiffness is, though, what you’d expect of a bike that's designed to win sprints, and ascend and descend with the best of them. The bigger surprise was just how silky the ride feels – something that full-on pro-race bikes haven’t been widely celebrated for in the past.

Getting to experience the EVO on home soil was a real advantage that skirted one persistent problem with bike launches. All too often, you can be seduced by a bike on Europe’s finest roads and slick smooth tarmac – only to find that when you ride it on more familiar battle-scarred surfaces, its not quite what you thought.

The EVO, I'm pleased to report, met the challenge of poor UK surfaces and potholes with aplomb. My immediate feelings were of being on board an ideal hybrid of one of the finest endurance bikes ever (the Synapse) and a ground breaking flyweight speedster (the EVO).

We expected the back end to do the job once we'd clocked the Synapse-like seat tube and the slender 25.4mm post, but add into the equation the one-piece continuous carbon seat- and chainstays and the whole rear feels active. It's not Trek Domane-smooth, but it does a wonderful job of ironing out corrugated surfaces.

My other major impression was of just how balanced the bike feels at the front and rear. The new fork feels as compliant as the back end over the rough stuff – so much so that I went hunting for increasingly terrible surfaces to beast it with.

I ended with a four-mile section of Salisbury Plain's gravel roads, usually reserved for military vehicles and ideal ground for testing ‘gravel’ or adventure bikes. On this the EVO still felt controlled and easy to handle – and bear in mind that our test bike was running Mavic Kysriums matched to 25mm Yksion rubber, but could have accommodated anything up to 28mm.

On one rocky rough descent I did manage to flat the rear. But that was at 40mph and not really the bike's fault; more the result of this overenthusiastic ham-fisted tester.

Over rolling terrain the EVO is easy to hold at a high pace. The balanced handling and smooth ride, with no significant buzz from bad surfaces, makes for a bike that’s a joy to ride far and fast – and most likely with a smile on your face.

Climbing on the EVO is as just about as enjoyable as getting through the pain can be. The pickup and response positively encourages you to get out of the saddle and go for it, with the chassis’ fly-weight and stiffness making it one of the strongest climbing machines around. Combine that with just how great it feels everywhere else, and this has to be in with a shout for being one of the best all-rounder road bikes into 2016 and beyond.

Equipment: solid rather than superb

While the Hi-Mod EVO chassis is outstanding, the equipment level of our Ultegra test bike is for the most part (perhaps unavoidably) merely decent for this level of bike.

The base model Kysrium hoops are solid performers, stiff, responsive and hardy. The Yksion 25c tyres meanwhile show Mavic’s continuing improvement in the world of rubber – they grip well in the dry but are noticeably slimmer than other 25mm models we’ve tried. We’d like to have seen Cannondale reach another rung up the Kysrium ladder.

Likewise, this bike deserves a carbon bar, though we can’t find much fault with the C1 alloy model aside from the grams gained – it's nicely shaped with a good compact drop. The slender carbon seatpost and Fizik Arione saddle, meanwhile, are classy additions.

The new iteration of the second tier Si crank has been lightened and improved by a new mid-range Spider ring. On the top SiSL model it’s the machined masterpiece 10-arm one-piece version; here it’s a new eight-arm spider.

It’s not that important, but the Spider ring certainly looks a whole lot classier than the previous EVO's off the shelf FSA rings and bolt-on spider. More crucially, the tooth profiles work well with the ever-dependable Ultegra groupset, meaning slick shifts up and down are the order of the day.

Verdict: great road bike DNA produces a worthy next generation

In all we’ve been massively impressed with the refreshed EVO. It’s managed to retain the DNA of the previous generation while adding better comfort and improved stiffness, especially through the head tube.

That’s in turn has improved the handling and responsiveness – so if you're looking for a bike with proper racing geometry infused with the comfort of a true endurance machine, then the new EVO in whatever spec (or price) you choose should be very high on your upgrade list.

Mizuno Wave Inspire 11

Mizuno Wave Inspire 11

The Wave Inspire has always had a unique spot on the shoe wall at your favorite store: it’s the one lightweight support shoe which consistently delivers the type of smooth, fast ride which Mizuno is known for. Our design goal with the new Inspire 11 was to build on the success of  previous models and to deliver that same kind of great running experience.

We took feedback from our runners on the parts of the Inspire 10 that they liked and we went back to the drawing board to create an even better iteration of a classic Mizuno favorite for the Inspire 11. The Inspire 11′s Double Fan Wave Plate will still provide exceptional protection and support, but the Plate itself is firmer. What that means for you is the Inspire 11 will have that same distinct snap back—call it a rebound effect if you will–that other Inspires, such as the Inspire 9, had. In other words, your transition from heel to toe will be noticeably quicker and more efficient in the Inspire 11.

The toe area of the shoe from where you spring into your next stride—in technical terms, the toe spring–is also improved. For the Inspire 11, we modified the toebox area and reintroduced the optimal toeoff of without giving it a rocker bottom type feel. With the modifications we made, the toe off into the next stride is virtually effortless.

Finally, we dialed in the classic Mizuno fit starting with our 3D fit design. We added a bit more midfoot integrity to the upper patterns that locks the foot in and allows the shoe to move as one with the foot. We also changed the Runbird on the side of the shoe from merely being cosmetic to much more functional. By stitching the Runbird onto the 11, it holds the foot in place better from heel strike through toe off.

Granted, most of these changes are relatively minor, but once you get the Inspire 11 on your feet, the improvements will add up into a much better, more efficient running experience. If we’ve done our jobs well, the last thing you should notice on your Inspire runs are the shoes you’re wearing.

Posted By: Bob "Wish" Wischnia

First Impressions: Santa Cruz Highball 27.5 CC XX1 - Dirt Rag

by Karl Rosengarth / June 1, 2015 6:38pm

As we reported in February 2015, Santa Cruz has added a 27.5 option to its 2015 Highball lineup. The original 29er model also received minor geometry tweaks, but in both wheel sizes, the hardtail remains true to its cross-country, racy roots.

The CC designation denotes an upgraded carbon frame that, thanks to some nips and tucks, shaves 280 grams compared to the base C model. My very first impression came when I hung the Highball 27.5 CC XX1 on our scale and rubbed my eyes at the 19.7 pounds on the display (w/o pedals). A sub-20-pound mountain bike is not front-page news, but even as a spoiled-rotten magazine guy, it’s not every day that I get to ride such a svelte steed.

On the trail the feathery carbon frame felt flex-free when cornering or accelerating hard. It’s almost expected that each new generation of carbon frame ups the light-yet-stiff ante, but I still find myself shaking my head when I stop to think about the engineering that goes into a bike like the Highball.

The Highball 27.5 CC is available in a frame-only option for $1,899 (all that gee-whiz technology doesn’t come cheap). Complete bikes start at $4,299 (with an XT kit) and max out at $6,799 for the XTR build—with our XX1 review bike not far behind at $6,299.

 

Highlights of the XX1 build kit include: Fox 32 Float 100 mm Kashima fork, SRAM XX1 rear derailleur and shifter, Race Face Next SL cranks and bottom bracket, Shimano XTR M9000 brakes (160mm rotors) and DT Swiss 240 hubs (142×12) laced to WTB Asym i19 TCS rims.

 

This is my first review bike with SRAM’s 1×11 gearing. So far the XX1 rear derailleur has flawlessly run the chain up and down the 10-42 cassette. The shift-lever’s action felt a little “heavier” than I’d expected, but I’ve gotten used to it and haven’t thought much about it since my first few rides.

 

The carbon Highball frame has provisions for a high direct-mount, bottom-pull front derailleur. Of course, the 1×11 model we have in for review requires no shifty bits up front. Rather, there’s a Race Face Next SL crankset that features a 32t narrow/wide spiderless chainring. Haven’t yet dropped a chain, and really don’t expect to.

 

The derailleur cable (or cables, depending upon the drivetrain/model) and rear hydraulic hose are internally routed, with the later getting its own internal guide tube, which keeps the hose from rattling. With the 1×11 drivetrain keeping chain slap in check, the Highball glides with ninja-like stealth.

 

Here’s a look at the underside, showing the detachable plate that allows access to the internal cable routing. Also note the external bearings of the threaded Race Face bottom bracket.


The size large 27.5 CC XX1 model that I’m reviewing has a 69 degree head tube angle, 16.7-inch chainstays, a 24.6-inch top tube, 12.4-inch BB height and 44.1-inch wheelbase. While this is not a full-blown bike review—that’s coming soon in print—I will say that my first impression is that the geometry translates into a well-balance ride.

The Highball’s snappy steering response and short rear make it a joy to flick around at low-to-moderate speeds—while at higher speeds the bike has a long-and-low feeling of stability that inspires confidence in sweeping curves, or when pointed straight down a chute.

I’m still racking up the miles on the Highball and will have more to say in print. In the meantime, pop over to the Santa Cruz website for all the gory details on the Highball lineup (they’ve even got an aluminum version for metal-heads).

Bicycling Magazine - Cannondale CAAD10 Women’s Force - 2015 Editors' Choice

The CAAD10 is a previous Editors’ Choice winner—and the women’s version packs the same racy punch.

What You Need to Know
Price: $2,060
Weight: 16.7lbs (48cm)
Info: cannondale.com

I didn’t expect to like this bike. I never loved aluminum. But the CAAD10 changed my mind about the material. I actually thought at first that I was on a carbon bike. At this price, this bike is a great find. Even though it has a slightly taller head tube, I could still get plenty aero. All of my rides on this bike were in groups, so I had lots of chances to volley back for slower riders and sprint ahead to hook back on to the group. The bike had really nice acceleration on the flat stretches, and the cornering was spot-on, even at high speed. The CAAD10 felt super lightweight on climbs, and I had no problem powering right up.—Beth Strickland

More fun than any of the carbon race bikes I've ever tested.—Leah Flickinger

My major takeaway from the CAAD10: It was fun. I don’t usually come home from one of our regular rides and say, “Wow, that was fun.” I'm normally more focused on how fast it was, or my QOMs, or who won the town sprint. But this bike let me forget about all that.—Elspeth Huyett

Bicycling Magazine - Cannondale SuperSix Evo Carbon SRAM Rival - 2015 Editors' Choice

The least costly of the three versions of the SuperSix Evo Carbon frame is still stiff, crisp, and has a smooth-shifting SRAM Rival drivetrain.

What You Need to Know
Price: $2,710
Weight: 17.6lbs (54cm)
Info: cannondale.com

I bought my first mountain bike in 1993. I didn’t do my homework, and I knew nothing about riding trails, but the moment I walked into the bike shop, I knew that the deep-purple, $500 Cannondale was the one I wanted—for no other reason than how it looked.

I've had a thing for Cannondales ever since, so it didn’t surprise me when my eyes looked past the pile of Editors’ Choice bikes and right to the SuperSix, with its beautiful blue and purple paint and no-frills appearance. Then I road it, and beneath the paint was a gutsy, sturdy, reliable machine. I felt natural on it, like I was hanging out with an old friend. This was the least expensive bike I tested, and I had just as much fun riding it as I did any of the others. It was also the only bike I rode without Di2, and despite having been spoiled by electronic, I quickly embraced the SRAM Rival shifting. Even compared with the higher-priced bikes I rode before and after it, the SuperSix held its own.—Jen Sherry

Definitely has a competitive bent—quick and responsive to a rider’s will, yet reassuringly stable and predictable at speed in a paceline. Fun to push this bike to my limit.—Brad Ford

Bike Radar - Santa Cruz 5010 Carbon C R AM Review

Santa Cruz’s new affordable carbon charger proves the frame matters most.

 

BikeRadar verdict

Super-stiff, dynamic driving, lightweight trail weapon with massive upgrade potential, at a bargain price

Santa Cruz has always been an aspirational brand, but its latest complete carbon bikes only cost slightly more than its flagship composite frames.

Can they cut that much cost without cutting corners, and is the chassis more important than the componentry?

  • Highs: Outstandingly stiff and light carbon frameset at an almost alloy price, VPP suspension suits the aggressive frame character superbly
  • Lows: Aggressively involving rather than lazily surefooted, basic kit works but you’ll be gagging to upgrade it

Frame and equipment: quality frame with decent kit and great upgrade potential

Bargain fans who want boutique kudos will be delighted that there are no external differences between the cheaper Carbon C and flagship Carbon CC frames. They use the same moulds but a lower grade of carbon, so each frame needs 200 to 250g more fibre (depending on size) to provide the same stiffness and strength.

As Santa Cruz’s premium carbon chassis are properly light, that means the 5010 Carbon C frame is still lighter than most at 2.5kg (5.5lb).

You get the same grease guarded, DIY adjustable collet bearings for the twin-linkage VPP suspension system, just with alloy rather than carbon linkages. You also still get a DT Swiss RWS 142x12mm rear axle threading into full-carbon dropouts, with the same Shimano direct-mount mech options too.

There’s no cosmetic or stiffness difference between the 5010 Carbon C and the flagship CC, it’s just a bit heavier

The disc brake mounts are carbon and there are ISCG-05 tabs on the threaded BB shell. Internal dropper post routing and neat rubber chain and frame protectors are all carried over, and the geometry and four size options are the same too. Despite being significantly lighter than the 3.08kg (6.8lb) alloy 5010 frame, the Carbon C is available as a complete bike with the same build kit for just £300 more.

It's fitted with Shimano’s Deore brakes and Shimano XT/SLX gears. Past experience suggests these will be ultra-reliable, though we can see many 5010 owners going single-ring straight away.

Critically, Santa Cruz fit top-quality Maxxis tyres and set them up tubeless on the wide WTB rims. That adds a noticeably more subtle and supple small-bump response and better traction to the RockShox Sektor fork. While the rest of the kit is fixed, you can upgrade the stock rigid post to a KS LEV Integra dropper for £200 (saving £100 on the RRP).

A frame of this quality has vast upgrade potential too.

Ride and handling: guaranteed good time

The 5010 has a more XC than DH feel and the VPP suspension is dynamic in character. Press the pedals and you effectively pull against the lower linkage, creating a firmer, more direct feel with each stroke. That gives it an advantage when chasing round tight corners, particularly uphill. You can tip the 5010 in fast, then drive it through with the rear end.

The hard drive feel combines with obvious frame stiffness to fire the 5010 up to speed. The flipside is that the suspension sags between power pulses – particularly in the small chainring, making the ‘trail’ setting on the shock vital for long climbs. Heading back down, the wide bar/short stem cockpit gives a precise power-steering feel and the frame is outstandingly stiff.

This creates a super-confident feel that goes a long way to compensate for the skinny fork legs. We never felt like we had to back off on aggression or speed heading into a sketchy section even if we had to hang on tighter to get through it.

RockShox’s Sektor teams up with tubeless Maxxis rubber for way more control than fork snobs would expect

Similarly, the Evolution series Float shock feels firmer and less sophisticated than the Monarch DebonAir when you’re rolling over the small stuff. Start walloping stuff hard though trying to carry speed across roots and rocks or blasting down a black run and it sucks up impacts far better than you’d expect from its 125mm (4.9in) stroke. The rear suspension is easier to set up than on the 150mm travel Santa Cruz Bronson too, so we were going full gas from the first segment of the first ride.

While the front end is less relaxed and comfortable than on the slacker bikes here at higher speeds, it’s stiff enough to muscle through, not freak out. The extension of the wheelbase at the rear keeps it stable enough to drop your heels and carve hard through berms or loose, chattery turns too.

It’s a bike that rewards you more the more you get involved, and whatever the geometry, suspension and component theory, it was the one we grabbed every time for a guaranteed good time.

Bike Magazine - 2015 Carbon Trigger Carbon 2 - Bible of Bike Tests

CANNONDALE TRIGGER CARBON 2 | $6,170 | CANNONDALE.COM

Cannondale augmented its carbon-fiber Trigger 29 with a smaller-wheeled sibling in order to cater to the 27.5-inch crowd. How- ever, great efforts were taken to ensure that the two different wheel sized bikes would retain key handling traits and in all other regards be identical.

So, they both get carbon fiber frames, Lefty forks, Fox Dyad adjustable-travel shocks, Shimano XT dual-ring drivetrains, Shimano XT Trail brakes, Mavic Crossroc wheels and tires and KS Lev dropper posts. However, the smaller wheels get more suspension travel (140 millimeters up front versus 130 millimeters for the 29er, and 85-140 adjustable rear versus 80-130), a slacker head angle (68 degrees versus 69 for the 29er) and a fork with more offset (60 millimeters versus 50 millimeters). Ultimately, this begs comparison not just with other brands, but also within the family.

Will riders prefer the big hoops or the small?

In the real world, as much as there are striking similarities between the two bikes, they are still very distinctly different from each other. More aggressive testers preferred the 27.5-inch wheels, stating they made for a more flickable, responsive ride. The old man of the group preferred the 29-inch version, claiming it felt calmer and more stable.

This aside, Cannondale did a remarkable job of creating a similar fit and feel in all other regards. The chassis is incredibly stiff; it’s free from any sort of wag or flex.

Regardless of wheel size, this bike handles well, climbs snappily in the ‘elevate’ short-travel mode, and descends with confidence in the ‘flow’ long-travel mode. It also means that both bikes share complex shock setup procedures, alongside proprietary forks that require bed-in time to achieve full travel and feel somewhat heavily damped. – Mike Ferrentino

Q & A with Bill Rudell, public relations manager – Cannondale

We had questions about the new bikes before we even got our test rigs, so we sent out a few queries—the kind of things we thought you might be asking yourself when you’re looking at this bike. Then we sent out another round of asks if any major questions or issues came up during testing. Here’s the feedback we received from Cannondale public relations manager, Bill Rudell.

Consider this a bonus feature—just a little something extra to chew on if you’re still hungry for information after you’ve watched our video reviews and flipped through the Bible of Bike Tests.
—Vernon Felton, Bible of Bike Tests Moderator

VERNON FELTON: Why produce both a Trigger 29er and a Trigger 27.5?

BILL RUDELL: The intent of the Trigger platform was to create the ultimate all-purpose (OverMountain) bike for the full throttle adventure rider – people who want to gas it on the climbs, then open it up and let it rip on the downhill, and who want the highest performance they can get across the widest spectrum of terrain. Some of these riders prefer the stability, momentum, grip and roll-over-anything-ability of the bigger 29er wheels, while others prefer a little more nimble, precise and quick accelerating bike. Since this is such a huge category, we wanted to create a bike for both rider types and heights. It’s no secret that some taller riders prefer 29-inch wheels and shorter riders like 27.5-inch wheels but we see lots of cross-over – smaller guys on 29 and taller on 27.5 – it’s all about what you like.

VF: What makes the bikes different (handling wise) from one another and who would be the ideal rider for each bike?

BR: Trigger 29 handling is designed to balance the inherent stability of the big wheels with a level of slow-speed nimbleness that generally isn’t found in longer travel 29ers. We gave the SuperMax 29 fork the biggest offset in the business (60 mm) which reduces the trail measurement. When paired with slacker head angles, this delivers both high-speed stability and low-speed agility, making it an all-around playful bike that can handle aggressive descents and technical climbs equally well. It makes a great Enduro machine on more pedally courses, and just eats up the miles on long adventure rides.

Trigger 27.5 loves to be ridden a bit more aggressively. It’s super flickable and the smaller wheels reward a riding style that is more quick and explosive. It uses a 50-millimeter offset SuperMax fork to keep ideal trail with the 27.5 wheels. Punchy climbs, technical descents or flowing singletrack, this bike is nimble and ready to shred.

VF: The marketing copy states “The new Trigger is a ground-up redesign based on the Trigger 29, but dialed in for 27.5-inch wheels.” What are some of the key differences between the two bikes? Obviously the geo is different (the 27.5 has a much slacker head angle, for instance), but does the 27.5 feature other less-obvious tweaks to the Trigger formula?

BR: Yes, the Trigger 27.5 is based on the 29’er design but, to get the most out of the smaller wheels, we had to completely redesign it. Every tube on it is different. We wanted to keep the ride and handling pretty similar between the two bikes, but play to the strengths of the different wheel sizes. One of the biggest advantages we have is that we make our own forks, so we can play around with offset (rake) to create the best handling for each wheel size. Increasing wheel size automatically increases trail, which can make for sluggish handling at slow speeds. Also, slack head angles –which improve handling at high speed – increase trail. By increasing the rake, we can compensate for both of these factors and bring best of both worlds handling to both wheel sizes.

The differences in the frames are:
- 27.5 has a slightly shorter top tube (1 centimeter in size large)
- 27.5 has a slightly slacker head angle (1.5 degree in size large)
- 27.5 has slightly shorter chain stays (1 centimeter in size large)

There is also a difference in suspension:
- Trigger 29 uses 80 millimeters in elevate mode & 130 millimeters in flow mode
- Trigger 27.5 uses 85 millimeters in elevate mode & 140 millimeters in flow mode
- Trigger 29 Lefty SuperMax has 60-millimeter offset
- Trigger 27.5 Lefty SuperMax has 50-millimeter offset (trail is both wheel sizes is the same)

What is the same:
- Both bikes use our new Trail-tuned damper with Wide Mouth piston to flow more oil and improve small-bump sensitivity
- Both bikes use our Zero Pivot seatstays, which save weight, increase lateral stiffness and help soften the blow if you bottom-out the rear suspension
- Both bike use our ECS-TC System (Enhanced Center Stiffness Torsion Control) which eliminates flex and play in the pivots and links for rock-solid stiffness and instant responsiveness
- Both bike use BallisTec Hi-Mod Carbon frame construction

VF: The less-expensive trigger models come equipped with “normal” Fox forks, while the higher-end bikes sport Lefty models. Right or wrong, some riders still balk at the Lefty. Thus, Cannondale could be seen as limiting the sale of the higher-end Triggers and, yet, you guys are sticking by your guns. You clearly believe in Lefty. Why? What makes it a better choice than, say, a Fox 34 or RockShox Pike?

BR: Yeah, it’s funny. Lefty’s been around for 15 years and still some people just don’t get it or think it’s a gimmick. Generally, they balk and are unsure right up until they ride one. The fact that Marco just won the Kamikaze on a SuperMax should reduce some of the balk, for sure. But absolutely, we love Lefty. We’re stubborn, but I can guarantee that we wouldn’t have championed it for a decade and a half if it didn’t offer serious benefits to the rider.

Lefty’s biggest advantages are in weight, stiffness and steering precision – it’s counter-intuitive but the single-legged Lefty is actually stiffer and stronger than traditional forks because of how it’s designed. The Lefty SuperMax delivers stiffness and strength that rivals dual crown DH forks, but is lighter than most regular trail forks. The other factor is that, rather than sliding on bushings, the leg rolls on strips of needle bearings, which means it stays completely smooth under all loads. Having that kind of stiffness and smoothness up front means you can brake later and harder into turns and pick more accurate lines through rock gardens, all while carrying way less weight. Once you get used to its capabilities, it can be hard to go back to “normal” forks. The only reason we don’t use them on every one of our bikes is just cost – all that technology is expensive so there is a threshold below which we simply can’t afford to spec them.

Singletrack Magazine Reviews the Cannondale FSi Carbon 1

There are many solid factors that a cross-country racer needs (or thinks they need) from their bike.

Cannondale FSi

It needs to be lightweight, it needs to be stiff and efficient, preferably with an instant lockout for climbs and sprints, and it needs to nippy enough in the trees to be able to power away from your rivals and crush their spirits. Cannondale’s hardtails (and Scalpel model) have long been favourites of the minimal body fat brigade and, so when Cannondale set about a redesign of the range, it knew that it needed something special to attract the race-curious, that wouldn’t alienate the existing fans.

 

One of the holy grails that race bike designers seek is the shortest chainstay length possible. With 29in wheels now being derigueur for cross-country racing, getting that back end tucked in is harder than with smaller wheels, due mainly to the front derailleur clashing with the rear tyre. While it’s possible to eliminate that front mech and run 1×10 or 1×11, Cannondale didn’t want to limit its options and force racers to accept a more limited range of gears.

So, it looked at alternative ways of getting that rear end short and decided to move the whole transmission 6mm outboard, both at the double chainset and at the rear hub, without affecting the Q-factor at the cranks. The rear hub sits 6mm towards the drive side; though, by running an undished rear wheel through an asymmetric back end, the rear rim sits perfectly in line with the front rim. An undished wheel is also a stronger structure.

Although this modification means that the bike takes non-stock rear wheels, the components it uses are freely available (and you could fit a regular dished rear wheel in there at a pinch, say in a race situation). Besides, it’s not like the Lefty front hub is that standard anyway… All this achieves a 429mm chainstay length (cue angels singing).

Moving away from the clever transmission for a second, the bike frame is a marvel in contemporary carbon frame manufacture, with big tubes where stiffness is needed and skinny, sculptured seatstays where more compliance is favoured. The frame still carries a lifetime warranty and a rider weight limit of 136kg.

Cannondale FSi


Up front, a new Lefty 2.0 gives 100mm of travel with precise steering, while its new upside-down design offers better bushing wear and a measurable sag-indicator. Other components are fitting for a top-level race machine (although there are two more spec levels above this one available), such as the Shimano XT/XTR transmission and XT race brakes. Mavic supplies the Cannondale-specific new XLR wheels, shod with Schwalbe Racing Ralph 2.1in tyres.

Trail notes

If you’ve not ridden a top-level race bike for a while, the FSi will shock you. Not just with its weight – a sylph-like 21.2lb – but with how normal it all feels. There’s not a hint of flex or sketchiness in riding the Cannondale as fast as you dare. Pedal harder and the bike shoots forward. Any concerns about the shifted transmission or the ‘missing’ fork leg are instantly forgotten as you just get on with riding around at an astonishing speed.

The SAVE 2 carbon seatpost does a good job of flexing under the rider to offer a tiny bit of comfort, which is more than the fork will do when locked out. Using a RockShox Reverb-style push-button lockout, the fork instantly transitions from giving 100mm of smooth travel, to completely rigid and offering absolutely none. (Our lockout lever arrived in dire need of bleeding as it would randomly lock and unlock, but it’s a five-minute job to fix and ours has been fine since.)

Other components have been perfect for the duration – the 2×10 gear selection is great and it’s great to see a race bike with proper, stopping brakes fitted. Too often cross-country racers get the tiny rotors and ineffective brakes, but the XTs on the FSi inspire the confidence to ride faster, knowing you can stop quicker.

Cannondale is keen to point out that the FSi isn’t just a race bike, and there’s some truth in that. Its 69.5° head angle and 100mm of fork travel puts it into the ‘nippy trail hardtail’ category, and even the 700mm bars don’t look too out of place in the trail centre car park. However, it’s on the racecourse, the training loop and flat-out, twisty woodland mates’ races that the FSi is going to really earn its keep.

Frame // Cannondale FSi carbon

Shock // n/a

Fork // Cannondale Lefty 2.0, 55mm offset, PBR Remote

Hubs // Mavic SLR

Rims // Mavic SLR

Tyres // Schwalbe Racing Ralph

Chainset // Cannondale Si, FSA rings

Front Mech // SRAM X0

Rear Mech // Shimano XTR Shadow Plus

Shifters // Shimano XT

Brakes // Shimano XT Trail (Race listed on spec).

Stem // Cannondale Si

Bars // Cannondale carbon 700mm

Grips // Cannondale foam lock-on

Seatpost // Cannondale SAVE 2

Saddle // Fabric, carbon rails

Size Tested // Medium

Sizes available // S, M, L, XL

Weight // 21.18lbs (without pedals)

Bike Magazine's Take On The Santa Cruz 5010

SANTA CRUZ 5010 CARBON S | $4700 | SANTACRUZBICYCLES.COM

It’s not every day that our test crew rides a bike that sparks an impassioned debate over the vagaries of punk rock in an increasingly corporate world. But that’s exactly what happened after we took the 5010 Carbon S on some hot laps around our drop-filled test loop.

We agreed that this bike’s essence embodies everything we’ve embraced about punk rock’s irreverent, rowdy roots: It is playful yet principled, upbeat yet always on the verge of speeding up the tempo, cranking up the distortion and sliding into corners with the reckless abandon of a 1980s skinhead slamming into the mosh pit at a Black Flag show.

Add to this its underground status as the third-generation, 650b version of Santa Cruz’s old Blur Trail, now living in the shadows of its more commercially popular brethren: the Tallboy, the Bronson and the Nomad. Riding the new 5010–whose very name is a clever route-around to its previous ‘SOLO’ moniker, which Santa Cruz jettisoned under legal pressure–felt as liberating as blasting the Dead Kennedys’ “Plastic Surgery Disasters” album after being subjected to hours of sugar-coated, corporate ‘post-punk.’

If our reactions on the trail were any indication, everyone felt the same way. Each of us was spotted screaming up climbs, out of the saddle, in eager anticipation of sending the 5010 off the drops on the descent in a maniacal effort to be the first to the bottom.

One tester attributed the fun factor to Santa Cruz’s resistance to the “mullet-schlong” trend of transforming 120-millimeter-travel bikes into 140-mil bikes just to keep up with the Joneses. By equipping this 5010 with a 130-mil RockShox Pike RC Solo Air fork and a 125-mil Fox Float CTD Evolution shock, Santa Cruz kept the bike light and snappy in the front end, and the 68-degree head angle struck a fair compromise between climbing and descending.

While one tester vehemently complained about the inability to upgrade the stock 2×10 drivetrain to a SRAM one-speed without having to spend almost $2,000 more, it didn’t stop him from kicking all of our asses up and down our test loop. – Brice Minnigh

 

Q & A with Josh Kissner, Product Manager – Santa Cruz Bicycles

We had questions about the new bikes before we even got our test rigs, so we sent out a few queries—the kind of things we thought you might be asking yourself when you’re looking at this bike. Then we sent out another round of asks if any major questions or issues came up during testing. Here’s the feedback we received from Santa Cruz product manager, Josh Kissner.

Consider this a bonus feature—just a little something extra to chew on if you’re still hungry for information after you’ve watched our video reviews and flipped through the Bible of Bike Tests.
—Vernon Felton, Bible of Bike Tests Moderator

VERNON FELTON: People often assume that travel alone dictates a bike’s ride quality. Thus, they might look at the 5010 and think it’s like every other trail bike, but that’s not really the case is it? Like the Blur TRc before it and the original Blur 4X before that, the 5010 runs a lower bottom bracket and a slacker head angle than a lot of bikes in this travel niche. What was Santa Cruz’s overriding goal when they designed this bike?

JOSH KISSNER: Like the Blur TRc, the 5010 is a 125-millimeter bike that is designed to be ridden hard. We really designed this bike for our home trails in Santa Cruz, which are fast- sometimes steep, and a bit too smooth to really take advantage of a long travel bike. We want something nimble and playful, but still stiff and stable enough to encourage aggressive all day riding.

VF: What engineering and design tweaks were made to the 5010 to make those goals (or riding traits) a reality?

JK: Our carbon technology makes it easy to make a frame that is stiff and strong enough for hard riding. We don’t have lower standards for this bike than it’s bigger brother the Bronson. The playfulness comes from its amount of travel, shorter chainstays, and progressive shock rate. The stability comes from the low bottom bracket and slack-ish head angle.

VF: Who is the ideal rider (or the ideal riding conditions) for the 5010? How does that rider differ, for example, from a Bronson rider?

JK: The 5010 is great for a wide variety of riders–it just depends on preference. Plenty of riders will be happy with the 5010 in the same terrain that other riders would choose a Nomad for, but want to be on a more nimble, responsive bike. The 5010 is as at-home in Santa Cruz, as it is in Sedona or the Midwest.

VF: What sets the 5010 apart from other bikes in the trail bike category?

JK: The 5010 has an incredible stiffness-to-weight ratio, thanks to our state of the art carbon manufacturing and one-piece design. The VPP suspension is fine-tuned from years of development, and offers excellent pedaling performance.

Bike Magazine - 2015 Cannondale Scalpel - 2015 Bible of Bike Tests

The Scalpel is a steep, fast and sharp-handling race machine. With more riders opting for bikes in the mid-travel range, though, the market for XC bikes is becoming increasingly competitive. Is the Scalpel ready for the competition? Watch the video to find out:

2015 Cannondale Scalpel - Bluestone Bike & Run

 

CANNONDALE SCALPEL 29 CARBON 2 | $5960 | CANNONDALE.COM

For the past 13 years, one bike has been synonymous with cross-country racing: Cannondale’s Scalpel. As its name suggests, the Scalpel is a fine-tuned instrument with razor-sharp handling.

Cannondale offers five 29er Scalpel models, ranging from the $11,920 Carbon Black Inc. model to the entry-level Alloy 4 version, which sells for $3,250. Our mid-range test model sports an all-SRAM X01 single-ring drivetrain, Magura MT4 disc brakes and Stan’s ZTR Arch EX 29 rims mated to a Cannondale Lefty front hub and a Formula rear hub. The Scalpel offers up 4 inches of progressive suspension courtesy of a RockShox Monarch XX rear shock and Cannondale’s own Lefty XLR 100 29 fork. Last, but not least, the bike sports a full carbon frame.

Cannondale is the standard bearer of ‘systems integration,’ a philosophy which holds that the biggest performance gains are realized when each component on a bicycle is designed to work together. While systems integration, with its raft of proprietary widgets, can make simple tasks like swapping stems a bit of a pain, the upside is clearly felt on this bike: The Scalpel weighs about as much as a pile of fly spit, yet boasts all-mountain-style frame stiffness. Stand on the pedals and the bike rockets forward. Big climbs are no big deal. Flex under hard cornering is nearly non-existent.

The flip side to those glowing comments is, as one tester put it, “If you slack off, fail to hammer or just sit and pedal, this bike can really bite you in the ass.” The Scalpel is in its element when ridden aggressively and at race pace. Sure, Cannondale sells a lot of Scalpels to riders who’ll never actually compete, but let’s be clear: If you dream of spinning lazy circles while meandering through meadows full of wildflowers and butterflies, you’re barking up the wrong tree here. The Scalpel isn’t a sketchy handler, but its steep head angle, short wheelbase and razor-tight frame don’t tolerate inattentive pilots.

Cannondale sells pricier, spare-no-expense versions of the Scalpel, but it’s hard to see why you’d need to upgrade. This bike is ready to pummel the competition right out of the box. –Vernon Felton

Q&A with Cannondale PR Manager Bill Rudell

We had questions about the new bikes before we even got our test rigs, so we sent out a few queries—the kind of things we thought you might be asking yourself when you’re looking at this bike. Then we sent out another round of asks if any major questions or issues came up during testing. Here’s the feedback we received from Cannondale public relations manager, Bill Rudell.

Consider this a bonus feature—just a little something extra to chew on if you’re still hungry for information after you’ve watched our video reviews and flipped through the Bible of Bike Tests.
—Vernon Felton, Bible of Bike Tests Moderator

VERNON FELTON: Who’s the ideal rider for the Scalpel? Do you see it strictly as an all-out race machine? That’s always been the common perception of the bike.

BILL RUDELL: Well, the Scalpel certainly has a long and storied history on the cross-country scene and it is still one of the absolute lightest XC full-suspension machines available. But what makes the Scalpel such a compelling bike is that, despite its feathery weight and racer pedigree, it’s also a hell of a fast and fun trail bike.

Cross-country race bikes usually sacrifice a solid feel and confident handling on the altar of lightweight efficiency. They can be lightweight, flexy little whippets that might be fast, but aren’t much fun. With Lefty System Integration and BallisTec Carbon construction, the Scalpel manages to be ridiculously light, its razor sharp handling is definitely racy and keeps you on your game while begging to be pushed, both up and down.

The Scalpel is a great bike for the hardcore XC racer to an everyday rider looking for an edge when things get rough; that’s why we offer five Scalpels in the line ranging from the Black Inc at $11,920.00 to the Scalpel 29 Alloy 4 at $3,250.00

VF: What sets the Scalpel apart from other contenders in the cross-country race niche, such as the Specialized Epic or Niner Jet 9?
BR:Both of those bikes (as well as many other contenders for the XC crown) are amazing machines – really well thought out, great riding bikes, but the Scalpel has an ace up its sleeve that none of our competitors do—our Si (System Integration) approach to bike design.

Rather than simply building a frame and then kitting it out with other companies’ stuff, we look at the bike as a complete system. Our frames are designed specifically around components like the Lefty fork, OPI stem/steerer, and HollowGram SiSL2 cranks, so we can optimize the entire system for weight, stiffness and ride-feel benefits, and it shows. The Scalpel has end-to-end system stiffness and a rock-solid feel that no other ultra-light XC bike can match, which explains why it appeals to both racers and trail riders alike.

Singletracks' Long Term Review of the 2015 Cannondale Trigger Carbon 27.5

Posted on December 12, 2014 by Greg Heil

The 2015 Cannondale Trigger Carbon 2 27.5 is a part of Cannondale’s new Overmountain lineup. All of the Overmountain bikes were designed to provide a 2-in-1 ride quality, thanks to their unique suspension design. When I heard that the Trigger was on its way over, I decided that the Crested Butte Ultra Enduro would be the perfect testing grounds to pummel this new bike and unique concept… and to see if it could stand up to the challenge.

Note: the front tire pictured here is an after market WTB Breakout, while the rear is the stock Maxxis Crossroc.

Build Kit

Before we get to the core of the Trigger–the suspension–here’s what you need to know about the parts spec: the Trigger Carbon 2 features a full Shimano XT 2×10 drivetrain with Shadow Plus rear derailleur, as well as bombproof XT brakes. Simply put, these parts are tried and true, and over the course of my review they performed admirably, and I experienced no issues. A dependable KS Lev dropper post, WTB Silverado saddle, and Cannondale C1 carbon riser bar with Cannondale lock on grips round out the cockpit.

The wheel and tire combination were both Mavic Crossrocs, and to be honest I was extremely underwhelmed with the Crossroc tires. They were too narrow, didn’t have very good tread, and didn’t want to ride well on the rim when mounted tubeless. I even burped a tire on a rocky wall ride on my first shakedown, which might actually be the first time I’ve burped a tire–oh joy! In my opinion, the Crossmax tires would be a much better fit, and the Crossmax wheels wouldn’t go amiss, either. However, with a different pair of tires mounted up, the Crossroc wheels performed well, even if they felt a bit under-gunned. If you’re going to push the Trigger more toward the all-mountain end of the spectrum, a beefier pair of wheels wouldn’t be a bad choice. But if you’re comfortable with long pedally and climbs and not blasting off big drops on the descents, the Crossroc hoops will be more than adequate.

The Carbon 2 build kit I reviewed retails for $6,170, with two models priced above it and the top-tier Carbon Black model hitting the registers at $10,830. There are also two models priced below this one, with the most affordable Trigger 4 alloy model retailing for $3,140.

With its stock setup, my size-medium Trigger weighed in at a very respectable 27.8lbs without pedals.

Geometry and Frame

The Trigger features 140mm of suspension, placing it squarely in the “trail bike” category. Riding a 27.5 trail bike was a new experience for me, but the shorter amount of travel, lighter build, and slightly-steeper geometry make it much more pedal-friendly, which is one of the reasons why I chose to race it during the Crested Butte Ultra Enduro. The Trigger sports a headtube angle of 68 degrees, an effective seat tube angle of 73.5 degrees, an effective top tube length of 59.8cm, 43.8cm chain stays, and a wheelbase of 115.1cm. All of these stats combine to create a bike that’s a fast, capable climber, yet one that can descend at high speed.

The Trigger Carbon 2 is fully-carbon (no aluminum rear triangle or chainstays here), and utilizes Cannondale’s BallisTec Hi-MOD Carbon. The carbon is covered with a beautiful glossy red paint that shines brilliantly in the sun.

Suspension: SuperMax Lefty Strut

While the frame is beautiful, the parts are dependable, and the weight is light, what really sets the Trigger apart from other bikes is its unique suspension set-up. Most visibly, up front the Trigger is rocking the new SuperMax Lefty. In short, the new SuperMax is designed to be lighter, stiffer, and better than ever before. My test bike came equipped with the 140mm model, which features the same chassis as the 160mm, but is internally limited to just 140mm of travel. The massive tubing makes the SuperMax extremely stiff, with a 36mm lower tube and a huge 46mm upper tube. However, even with these large tubes and dual crown, the single strut keeps its total weight down to 1,850g.

Since the Supermax has the same chassis throughout, if at some point in the future you wanted to convert the 140mm to a full 160mm, it’s relatively easy to do. According to Cannondale, “you would have to purchase a new 160 damper cartridge which fits right into the upper leg. Then you remove the lower air assembly, remove a 20mm spacer that sits in the bottom of the leg, and you’re all set.” Pretty simple. If this was my personal bike, this is an upgrade I’d seriously consider. And even if you think 140mm will be plenty, it’s great to know that the option is there if you need it.

This was my first time riding a Lefty fork, and I was unbelieveably excited! Spending some serious time on a Lefty has been on my bucket list for years, and now I was finally able to give it a go. At first, my brain had a hard time getting over the fact that my fork wasn’t a fork, but was instead a strut. But when I pointed the bike down the trail and just focused on mountain biking, it became clear that the SuperMax isn’t here just to make a visual statement, but it has a real job to do–and it does it superbly well.

The SuperMax rides just like you’d expect any other suspension fork to ride. It’s plush, yet firm when it needs to be, soaking up trail chatter and big hits alike. The unique Poptop lockout system is extremely easy to use on the fly: just slap the big red thing to stiffen it up, and push the blue bit to open it back up. Interestingly, while the Poptop does make for a much stiffer ride and a really great climbing feel, it does feature a blow off valve in case you forget to open it back up when you descend. While not ideal, the blowoff can save your ass in a bad situation, and will keep you from destroying anything on the Lefty internally.

Suspension: DYAD Shock

While the Lefty is the most visually-interesting suspension component, the DYAD rear shock is arguably the most revolutionary technologically. For starters, the DYAD is an incredibly-rare pull shock. Yes, that’s right: instead of pushing into the shock, the suspension pulls it out. Don’t ask me exactly how it works–it just does.

While that might be the DYAD’s weirdest feature, it’s not the most outstanding. The DYAD isn’t just one shock: it’s essentially two shocks in one. While complex shocks like the Cane Creek Double Barrel have adjustable valving that allows you to switch between long travel and short travel mode, the DYAD has two separate sets of air chambers, for a total of four different air pressures to adjust and two different sets of rebound speed to adjust. If you think that sounds complicated, you’re be right–but thankfully Cannondale has provided a handy cheatsheet to give you starting pressures to use as your base values, which you can then tweak according to your individual riding style.

The Trigger ships with its own shock pump. At first I was like, “what do I need another shock pump for? I already have too many of these!” But when I looked at this table of pressures, I understood: most standard shock pumps can’t physically provide pressures this high! The supplied pump, on the other hand, is specially-designed to handle high air pressures of over 500psi.

The benefit of having two completely-separate sets of air chambers is that the rear shock can consequently provide two totally different amounts of rear suspension: 140mm and 85mm in the case of the Trigger. Now, unlike a FOX CTD shock, switching to the short-travel “Elevate” mode doesn’t stiffen or lockout the shock. Rather, the short-travel mode is a fully-active 85mm that is individually tuneable from the longer-travel 140mm option. Especially for real mountain biking on singletrack trails, you really should never completely lock out your suspension. An active suspension, but with shorter travel, functions to provide better traction in steep terrain and soaks up small trail chatter, while providing a firmer pedaling platform than a full-length shock.

I personally found the short-travel mode invaluable on long climbs. Also, I really appreciated the individual tuneability. I set up the short travel mode with a stiffer and slightly-faster rebound rate, while I aimed for as plush of a ride as possible with the long-travel mode. Thanks to a handlebar-mounted remote, I switched between the two settings often.

While I loved the DYAD in Elevate mode, in the full-travel “Flow” mode I found that it left some performance to be desired. When I was riding the bike within the limits of its capabilities, the shock performed admirably and the rear wheel tracked superbly. However, when I pushed the Trigger too far, it fought back. The DYAD bottoms out extremely harshly, with a clunk and a jolt that would whip me forward. Also, I found the rear end to clunk severely on square-edged hits, with the bike almost getting caught on square rocks and stopped in its tracks.

I had a hard time determining the cause of this harsh bottom out. I tried tweaking air pressures and rebound/compression rates, and I wasn’t able to eliminate it. That said, during the course of my test I did ride this bike far beyond the intended application of a 140mm trail bike (keep reading for my general ride impressions), but I’ve done this with trail bikes before that just kept on plugging away, even when abused.

General Ride Impressions

I chose the Cannondale Trigger Carbon 2 27.5 as my race bike for the Crested Butte Ultra Enduro because of its unique combination of characteristics. With long miles and many thousands of feet of climbing, I wanted a bike that wouldn’t burden me unduly on the climbs, and yet would be able to descend the singletrack mountain passes at race pace.

Climbing

Thanks to the light weight, superb adjustability afforded by the DYAD, and the excellent geometry, the Trigger climbed like a champ! I tackled miles and miles of climbing aboard this beast, and I loved it as much as one can enjoy pedaling a bike up a hill.

Rolling Trail

In my opinion, rolling trail is where the Trigger truly excels. 140mm of travel is a good bit but it’s not a ton in the grand scheme of things. However, 140mm is perfect for maching along rolling, rocky trails, with pedally sections, descents, and a general good mix of everything. Hence the “trail” categorization: it’s for riding average trails.

Descending

I did indeed race the Trigger through 10 stages of the Crested Butte Ultra Enduro, and I posted some good times along the way! Thanks to an incredibly solid frame, bomber parts spec, and astoundingly stiff and responsive suspension strut (aka the Lefty Supermax), I was able to rip down the mountainsides through ridiculously technical, steep, washed-out trails, at what most people would consider unwise speeds. And the capability of the Trigger is confirmed when I say that this bike doesn’t really do well in this application.

“Wait, doesn’t do well at this? What do you mean?”

When ridden within its boundaries, the Trigger is a stupendous mountain bike. These boundaries can stretch a really long way, and include stupid-fast descents, drops, endless rock gardens, jumps–you name it. But when you push past the boundaries, you’ll know it. The rear shock will bottom out and squwak like there’s no tomorrow. The wheels will start pinging and groaning at you. And while the SuperMax won’t bottom out harshly, you’ll keep reaching for more travel up front and wishing you had it. I quickly pushed this bike past its boundaries while shredding double black diamonds in the Evolution Bike Park.

But let’s be honest here: this bike just isn’t meant to be ridden like that. While some other bikes will acquiesce to the rider’s demands when pushed past their intended use, the Trigger, on the other hand, will protest, complain, and refuse to go further.

But the Trigger is more than capable of tackling chunk like this, at high speeds, all day long. Photo: Nick Ontiveros / Big Mountain Enduro

Bottom Line

For standard trail riding with big climbs, long rolling sections of trail, and moderately-technical descents, the Trigger is a beaut’ of a bike! The outside-the-box suspension components set this bike apart both visually and tactilely. However, if you really want to push the envelope on stupid-gnarly terrain, I’d really recommend stepping up to the Trigger’s bigger brother, the Jekyll. But if you avoid trails that might force your spouse to collect on your life insurance policy or you live in an area where the descents aren’t measured in miles, the Trigger could be the perfect bike for you.

MSRP: $6,170

Garmin Edge 300+.

 The mapping screen from the edge touring

The mapping screen from the edge touring

Last month I picked up a new Garmin edge touring plus.  I chose this unit because it does the typical GPS functions (speed, time, distance, temperature, altitude...etc) in addition to having very intricate mapping software.  The edge touring allows you to upload your rides to training sites like Strava and Garmin connect and the unit will download courses and give you turn by turn directions.  By selecting all of the useful functions and pairing them with mapping while cutting out the "training" aspect, Garmin created a unit with a surprisingly low price of $299.95!  they also make this unit in a $249.95 dollar price point but the basic unit does not do heart rate and is not "shock proof" so I opted for the plus model.

I have just over 1000 miles on the unit and while I have not used the ride generation function I have uploaded maps, used it on and off road, used in for a 13 hour ride and even in 20 degree temperatures.  In all cases the Garmin has worked flawlessly.  The Edge touring starts up incredibly fast, typically fully functioning with in 20 seconds of being turned on which is  much different than some of their previous units that take several minutes to "locate satellites".

 The typical Metrics screen that can be customized to show between 2 and 8 ride metrics

The typical Metrics screen that can be customized to show between 2 and 8 ride metrics

The screen is very large making reading it a breeze.  It also has touch screen functions that are sensitive enough to work even for a gloved paw!  I will say that the auto start is not very reliable for mountain biking around our region because due to the steep climbs with low ascending speeds the Edge will pause and re-start over and over while moving at low speeds(1-3 MPH).

Overall I am very pleased with the Unit it has a fast processor with little lag and no freezing. the touch screen works well, the battery life is good, it is easy to use and read the screen due to its size.  I like that the Garmin comes with multiple mounts making it a breeze to use on all of your bikes!  Stop by the shop today and take a look at it or some of the other biking and running Garmins we stock.  We are happy to answer any questions! 

 

Check out Edge Touring plus on GARMIN SITE

 The altitude display which has feet of climbing and current elevation displayed at bottom of screen where it says "ride".

The altitude display which has feet of climbing and current elevation displayed at bottom of screen where it says "ride".

 

 

 

PINKBIKE's Cannondale Jekyll 27.5 Carbon Team Review

Reviewing a proven winner is no easy task. In the hands of mild-mannered Jérôme Clémentz, the 160-millimeter-travel carbon-fiber Jekyll 27.5 has proven to be one of the most successful race bikes on the Enduro World Series. The SRAM-sponsored shredder races with a two-legged RockShox Pike fork, but enduro racers here in North America have had no problems racking up wins running the single-sided SuperMax Lefty that Cannondale specs on the bike, and what’s more, WTB/Cannondale sponsored Marco Osborne recently trounced all comers at the Mammoth Mountain US ProGRT national DH race on his SuperMax-equipped Jekyll 27.5 Carbon Team. Proven performances earned in the exact realms for which Cannondale’s designers intended the bike to excel makes it tough for a reviewer, armed only with riding impressions and objective criticism, to beat it down to size.

Different Can Be a Good Thing

Criticism is one thing that Cannondale’s most successful trailbike has had plenty of – and very little of it is bounded in the realities of handling and performance. Most detractors point at Cannondale’s extensive use of non-standard components as their source of ire. Forget the fact that its 160-millimeter-stroke single-sided “fork” is lighter than any of its two-legged competitors and stiffer than many DH forks: “It just looks wrong.” Overlook that Cannondale’s headset never needs adjustment: “I can’t adjust it!” Neglect to admonish that Cannondale perfected the 30-millimeter aluminum BB standard with oversized, pressed-in bearings years before major players considered the concept: “It doesn’t have threads.” Forget that the Dyad-RT2 pull-shock turns a supple long-travel suspension bike into a sharp-pedaling short-stroke climber with a flick of a lever: “I can’t bolt a coil shock on that.” And, of course there is that one-sided front hub that allows the rider to change a tube or a tire without removing the wheel from the bike: “So, now I have a wheel that won’t fit on my DH or dirt-jump bikes?” For the record, the Jekyll is not the bike for those who dream that all production bikes and their associated parts will someday be globally cross-compatible, so customers can creatively mix and match parts like a Lego mountain bike builder’s kit.

For the open minded, Cannondale’s Jekyll is one of the few truly integrated bicycle designs – a well-appointed, carbon-framed, 160-millimeter-travel technical trail shredder that delivers race-winning performance and handling. The Jekyll’s non-standard parts were developed by Cannondale to permanently resolve nagging problems related to performance, efficiency and reliability that contemporary bike and component makers were either patching up or ignoring entirely. For example: Rather than providing a compromise shock tune with a lockout or traction option, the Fox-made Dyad RT2 shock provides two separate shock systems, each with its own damping and spring rate – a 160 millimeter circuit, tuned for technical sections and descending and a 95-millimeter option with a stiffer spring rate and slower rebound for pedaling and climbing.

That said, Cannondale is not fixated upon using dedicated components merely for the sake of differentiating its products. Look beyond the Jekyll’s dedicated shock, “fork” and headset arrangement, and the remainder of its components are items that most would expect to find on a premier enduro racing bike: WTB i23 rims, DT Swiss hubs, Schwalbe Hans Dampf tires, a SRAM XX1 drivetrain, a RockShox Reverb Stealth dropper post, Magura MT-7 brakes and a Gravity 740-millimeter carbon handlebar and 50-millimeter aluminum stem combo. Built accordingly, the complete medium-sized Jekyll Team, at only 26.86 pounds(12.21kg) ready to rock, is lighter than most trailbikes with much less suspension travel. MSRP for the top-drawer Carbon Team reviewed here runs $7580 USD, with and sizes offered in small, medium. Large and X-large. More affordable models range from the $6170 Carbon 2, to a pair of aluminum-framed models: the $3900 Jekyll 3 and the $3250 Jekyll 4.

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Jekyll 27.5 Carbon Team Details:

• Frame: Impact-resistant ballistic-type carbon construction, 160/90mm travel, single-pivot swingarm suspension, X-12 through-axle system, external cable routing, ISCG 03 tabs.
• Wheel diameter: 27.5-inch
• Fork: Lefty SuperMax, 160mm stroke, Carbon upper, aluminum lower, external rebound and lockout 
• Shock: Dyad-2, Air-sprung, two chamber, remote-controlled pull-shock, 160mm or 95mm travel options with separate low-speed rebound controls. “Enduro” high-speed compression tune.
• Headset: Cannondale integrated 1.5-inch pressed-in type
• Bottom bracket: Cannondale BB30 press-in type
• Drivetrain: SRAM XX1 eleven-speed with Cannondale Hollowgram BB 30 aluminum crankset, 30-tooth XX1 chainring.
• Brakes: Magura MT6 with 180mm rotors (MT7 four-piston brakesare the current spec)
• Wheels: WTB i23 Team rims, DT Swiss 305 hubs, and DT Swiss Competition spokes.
• Seatpost: RockShox Reverb Stealth dropper post, 100mm stroke.
• Weight: (Medium size tested) 26.86 pounds (12.21kg)
• Sizes: Small, medium, large. X-large.
• MSRP: $7580 USD
• Contact: Cannondale USA

Construction

Cannondale says that it makes the Jekyll’s carbon chassis using a special high-modulus material that is used by armed forces where armor protection is necessary – which implies that it has a higher degree of impact resistance than more commonly used high-strength carbon. With two decades of carbon fiber bicycles under their belts, Cannondale’s designers are not afraid to profile the Jekyll’s frame tubes as narrow or as wide as required. Up front, the frame’s oversized head tube contains Cannondale’s tried-and-true press-fit 1.5-inch headset system which requires no periodic maintenance or adjustments. The massive top tube tapers quickly to meet the slender seat tube, while the downtube widens dramatically to 85 millimeters midway to the bottom bracket junction to support the suspension’s carbon fiber pull-shock rocker link. Elsewhere, the single-pivot swingarm and seatstays are crafted in semi-rectangular shapes to maximize stiffness and strength without taking up valuable real estate where drivetrain components and DH-width tires must pass.

Hollow, 15-millimeter-diameter axles are used throughout the Jekyll’s rear suspension and the sealed ball bearings are widely spaced to maximize lateral stiffness and minimize the effects of free play, however miniscule, that naturally occurs as all bearings wear over time. The axles are clamped to the outer segments of the suspension rocker link and swingarm to further secure the system against unwanted flex and also to simplify disassembly and maintenance. 

At the rear of the bike, Cannondale designed massive, hollow carbon dropouts that house a pair of sealed ball bearings at each seatstay pivot, where clevis-type seatstay attachments further strengthen the pivot junctions. The aluminum derailleur hanger also attaches to the carbon dropout with a sturdy clevis mount. Cannondale employs the Syntace X-12 through-axle system which is secured with a six-millimeter Allen key. Threads on the drive side and a tapered collet on the left side lock the axle securely to the swingarm. 

Practicality and ease of maintenance may have been the motivations for Cannondale, with one exception, to choose to route the Jekyll’s shift housings and brake hoses externally on the frame. Clean looking screw-in aluminum guides collect the two hoses and one housing that run to the bottom bracket on the underside of the downtube where a tough rubber frame guard does double-duty, also protecting the control conduits from injury. The remote hose for the bike’s RockShox reverb Stealth dropper post tucks into the seat tube though a rubber grommet. Oddly, even though there is an empty, fourth slot in the downtube guides, the remote cable that operates the Dyad-RT2 shock is internally routed through the downtube. The only explanation is that Cannondale’s design team were not committed to a one-by drivetrain and made the call to leave a spot for a future front derailleur housing.

Geometry tweaks to make the Jekyll 27.5 a more capable AM/enduro bike include a longer wheelbase and a slacker, 67-degree steering angle for high speed stability; slightly longer top tubes across the sizing range to compensate for its 50-millimeter stem, and a steeper seat tube angle to enhance climbing ergonomics. The offset of the Jekyll’s Lefty SuperMax has also been increased to 50 millimeters to match the bike’s steering geometry with its mid-sized, 27.5-inch wheels. 

Detail oriented riders may appreciate that the simple profile of the Jekyll allows room inside the frame for a full-sized water bottle, and that the right chainstay has a large molded silencer/protector. Near the bottom bracket, a bonded stainless steel grind-guard prevents a derailed chain from destroying the carbon swingarm. Strangely, Cannondale chose the earlier, ISCG-03 mounting pattern for its dedicated chainguide tabs – but it’s there, nonetheless, for those who want the added security. Finally, if you absolutely need a front derailleur, Cannondale sells a direct-mount adaptor that fits threaded mounts on the right swingarm pivot – a handy item for any racer with a drivetrain sponsor that is keen on front mechs.

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Dyad RT2 Pull-Shock

Cannondale worked out a new, high-flow compression circuit and tuned the Jekyll’s Dyad RT2 shock to work especially well on fast, technical descents that are typical of European enduro courses. As previously mentioned, in lieu of a lockout or a low-speed compression boosting circuit like Fox and RockShox use, the Dyad’s remote handlebar lever can switch the pull-shock between two fully functional 90-millimeter or 160-millmeter-travel modes.

Those who want to check out the inner workings of Cannondale’s Dyad RT2 pull shock should check out Matt Wragg's Q&A on the subject. The short version is that the Dyad offers two separate damping and spring-rate functions in one shock mechanism. The pull-shock arrangement is not necessary to make the Dyad function properly, but it simplifies the suspension’s mechanical design and the shock benefits greatly by having all but one of its seals continuously lubricated. Dyad shocks have three chambers: the central pull-shock is basically a pump. When the suspension pulls on the pump shaft, depending upon where the remote lever is located, the pump forces shock fluid into one or both of the adjoining chambers. Each of the side chambers has an internal floating piston (IFP) and the air space that the floating pistons create functions as the shock’s air spring. In the long-travel mode, the pump fills both chambers and because the combined volume of the air springs is at its maximum, the Dyad shock’s spring rate is very linear. In short-travel mode, one chamber is closed off, which causes the pump to push a larger volume of fluid into a smaller air space. The combined effects create firmer damping, a sharply rising spring rate, and about a 50-percent reduction in the shock’s travel. Separate low-speed rebound circuits allow riders to fine-tune their rear suspensions for both short and long-travel modes. Small-bump sensitivity is tuned by adjusting the pressure of the Dyad’s negative air spring – an IFP located in the lower section of the pump. 

While deciphering the Dyad’s workings can make many readers dizzy, the damping controls are all the same bits that one finds in conventional shocks Fox Racing Shox partnered with Cannondale to engineer the Dyad RT2 and it has proven to be a reliable system. Cannondale also has done diligence by opening authorized service centers that can maintain and tune them. Two important Dyad RT2 facts that prospective Jekyll owners should know is that it should be run with at least 30-percent sag in the longer-stroke position and that you’ll need to bring the special high-pressure shock pump that Cannondale provides if you want to do trailside adjustments. Dyad shock’s normal pressures begin at 300psi (about 20.7 bar), which is the top of the red zone for a standard shock pump.

Three Things to Know About the Lefty SuperMax

How it manages to be torsionally rigid: The Lefty’s inverted tubular stanchion tube is necessary to provide a sealing surface. Inside, the stanchion is rectangular and instead of sliding on bushings, it rolls on four rows of needle bearings trapped between the stanchion and matching tracks in the Lefty’s carbon fiber upper. Unlike sliding surfaces like conventional fork bushings, the Lefty’s needle bearings roll freely with minimal lubrication. Additionally, its four-sided tracks arrest torsional flex far more effectively than the wimpy arches and oversized axles that are used to prop up the stiffness of conventional forks. 

Conventional damper: Inside the Lefty is a pretty conventional damping cartridge, similar to what you may find in many 160-millimeter forks. The 2015 SuperMax on our test bike has a new high-flow compression piston and both its compression and rebound valve stacks are tuned for higher speeds and proper descending. Two-legged forks typically use one side for hydraulics and the other for the air spring. The Lefty, however, splits the real estate inside the strut, with the damping cartridge occupying the upper section and the air spring housed in the lower, stanchion end. The damping cartridge requires only one special tool and is easily removed from the top for tuning or service.

Removing the wheel: The Lefty’s aluminum front axle is tapered, so it requires a matching hub. Many top wheel makers offer Lefty-compatible front wheels and hubs so Jekyll owners need not be concerned about future upgrades. There is no need to remove the wheel to change tires or fix a flat, but when you do have to remove the Lefty wheel, you’ll first need to unscrew the two fine-threaded 8mm screws that fix the brake caliper to the Lefty’s stanchion about two revolutions. The caliper mount will then lift off the screws and the brake rotor, which will in turn, allow the hub to move off of the axle. Unscrew the hub from the end of the axle with a five-millimeter Allen key and be sure to keep the hub and the exposed axle squeaky clean, because the bearings will be exposed and their inner races are a precision fit over the axle. After you reinstall the front wheel, replace the caliper mount. As long as you didn’t squeeze the front brake lever, the counter-sunk heads of the caliper retention screws should re-center the brake pads where you left them.

Those unaccustomed to riding a mountain bike with half a fork should probably throw on some lights and make their first outing on the Jekyll at night. Both of the riders who participated in this review admitted that it took three or more rides to stop looking down at the Lefty SuperMax and imagining that it was acting in ways that in reality, it doesn’t or simply can’t do. In truth, the Jekyll’s front suspension requires a break-in period before its needle bearings start to run freely and its low-speed damping falls into step with its two-legged competitors – about seven hours, says Cannondale, before the Lefty really starts to impress. Seven hours of riding is well beyond the scope of a parking lot test, so prospective clients may be put off by the initial harshness of the one-sided strut if they throw a leg over a fresh one for a first ride. True to their statement, though, the Lefty smoothed out considerably after the first few rides and we found that we needed to increase the air-spring pressure five to ten psi to compensate for the new-found suppleness.

Dialing in the Suspension: Setting up the Jekyll’s Dyad RT2 shock was made easier by the printed guide that was pasted to the frame, and also by the fixed sag gauge on the side of the pull-shock chamber. Because a pull shock relaxes in the completely retracted position, an O-ring on the shock shaft is not an option.


Beginning with Cannondale’s rider weight/shock pressure guidelines (320psi for the positive spring and 280psi for the negative side), the sag gauge measured 30 percent. At that setting, the Jekyll’s rear ride height felt a touch tall on steep descents unless the Lefty’s spring pressure was set higher than necessary. Dropping the spring pressure to get the shock to sag at least to the 35-percent mark and running the Lefty’s sag a little higher at 25-percent achieved a good balance for descending and technical trail work. Lesson learned during suspension setups was to be mindful of the negative spring pressure. Too low and the Dyad’s rebound circuit gets overwhelmed and the Jekyll will bounce when it lands a jump or bangs through square-edged hits. We learned to err on the high side of the negative spring chart and to set the long-travel side of the Jekyll’s suspension downhill soft – because we quickly discovered that we could rely on the super firm, short-travel mode for any substantial stretch of pedaling.

Climbing and acceleration: With a suspension tune that was admittedly biased for the downs, it should come as no surprise that the Jekyll felt a bit sluggish when climbing until the shock was switched to short-travel mode. At this moment, the tail of the Jekyll rises slightly, the bike’s geometry feels a tiny bit steeper, the rear suspension wakes up and the bike accelerates with more ease and a snappier feel at the pedals. The difference is not subtle. Some designs in the Enduro/All-mountain category, like the Pivot Mach 6 or Intense Tracer 275c, feel reasonably efficient while climbing or sprinting with the pedaling aids switched off. The Jekyll is not among them. It will accelerate and climb in the 160-millimeter mode if called upon, but beyond short stints to top rough climbs or to gap a jump, most riders will be reaching for the remote lever. That said, the lever is both easy and intuitive to operate – push the thumb-lever forward for climbing and simply tap the button at the end of the lever with any part of the hand to release it to full-travel mode. Cannondale designed the lever so it can be reversed and used on either side of the handlebar.

Technical skills: The Jekyll’s lateral and torsional rigidity up front makes short work of boulder drops and dicey descents where line choices are measured in inches. That said, there is enough handling in reserve to cover a multitude of sins should you blow your line and have to bounce and skid to safety. Cannondale’s choice of tires was a good one, with the 2.3-inch Schwalbe Hans Dampf knobbies able to find grip on a variety of surfaces, from dust to slick rock. Braking and climbing traction were definitely enhanced by the tires, but much of the credit is due to the Jekyll’s roomy feeling front center, which allowed test riders to keep pressure on the front tire while descending steeps and also to weight the rear wheel while climbing technical stints without the need for excessive fore and aft body movements. The Jekyll feels long and with the medium sized bike’s wheelbase at 46.4 inches (118cm), it is, so it feels much more balanced at speed than it does poking around at a tourist pace in the rough.

Cornering: With a tallish, 14.3-inch bottom bracket, one would imagine that the Jekyll would be less than smooth around the bends, but its length and weight-balance may override that aspect. Once riders learned to trust the Jekyll at speed and push it into the turns, our apprehensions melted. The Jekyll rider can push the front or slide the back tire with a degree of confidence, without dropping a foot – although I must admit to a few low-sides due to overconfidence and not dropping my foot. The downside was that in two months we nearly ripped all the edging blocks off both tires – which says a bit for the bike. To reach those sweet blocks of tacky rubber, we had to lean the bike pretty far over, because the narrow, WTB i23 Team rims further rounded out the profile of the already round Schwalbe tread pattern. Note to Cannondale: “Please spec wider rims, maybe the i25s, and add a rear tire with sturdier edging blocks like the Rock Razor.” 

Descending: Part of the reason for the untimely demise of the Hans Dampfs may have been the hours spent riding the local DH trails. Riding what is essentially a 160-millimeter, mini DH bike that weighs under 27 pounds and climbs with relative ease means that is possible to double the number of downhill trails that can normally be ridden in an afternoon session on a big bike, so the Jekyll got a lot of extra credit laps on trails that pushed it close to the edges of its design envelope. Pushing the Cannondale hard into rock gardens and skipping down stepped drops showcased the Lefty SuperMax's big-hit smoothness and steering precision. Riding at full volume plays well to the Jekyll's long wheelbase and DH rear-suspension tune. With the rider more or less centered between the wheels and a "fork" that stays up in its travel, the bike feels calm and controllable down the steeps. Turns out that the Jekyll also jumps pretty well and its suspension can shake off some pretty hard landings too.

Riding DH trails also highlighted the fact that the Jekyll was under braked for its capabilities. Our test bike was equipped with Magura’s lightweight MT6 brakes, which feature two-piston calipers and are normally used on lighter weight XC/trail machines. Cannondale indicates in its published specifications, that the Jekyll Carbon Team should have had Magura’s much more powerful MT7 brakes with four-piston calipers, which would have been the better choice. A phone call to Cannondale revealed that in fact, Magura did not have the MT7 brakes when our first-production test bike was built, so the MT6 brakes were substituted. All subsequent Jekyll Team Carbon models have the more powerful four-piston calipers and upgraded levers. 

Oddly, the MT6 brakes may have assisted us in keeping the Jekyll’s rear wheel in control down the steeps. Like most single-pivot-swingarm suspensions, the Cannondale’s tail end tends to stiffen up under braking. The softer bite and ease of modulation of the Magura’s MT6 brakes helped us to keep both wheels rolling and in control. We never ran short of power stopping the bike with the Magura MT6 brakes, but we had to use two fingers and squeeze harder than we wanted.

Component Report

Reverb Stealth dropper post: Good – still the one all dropper are measured by. Bad – only 100 millimeters of travel is not enough for a bike that descends as well as this one.
WTB i23 Team rims: Good – tubeless aired up with a floor pump, still running straight and well-tensioned. Bad – i23 is the new width for cross-country, not all-mountain.
Dyad RT2 shock: Good – full-time rear suspension, exactly what I want, exactly when I want it. 
Magura MT6 brakes: Good - Lighter than stink, good modulation on slippery terrain. Bad – lack of power and the direct-mount perch for SRAM shift lever needs more angular adjustment range to get the levers closer to the thumb. Note: Cannondale sent us a set of MT7s, and we will report back later. 
Lefty SuperMax strut: Good - Best Lefty ever, not as good as a RockShox Pike is for damping quality, but it kicks ass at speed, especially in the steering department. We could be happy with it.
Cockpit: Good - Comfortable WTB saddle, just-right 740mm handlebar width, and we liked the 50mm Gravity Light stem. Bad - Cannondale's lock-on grips spun on carbon bars.
Hollowgram BB30 crankset: Good – Competitive weight with carbon cranks and it can be trusted to take a beating, outfitted with SRAM XXI 30t chainring.
Hans Dampf tires: Good - One of the best all-purpose technical trail tires. Bad - Jekyll needs a better edging tire on the rear.

Pinkbike's take:

The Jekyll Carbon Team is the package deal that most would consider to be a competitive enduro racing bike. Look no further than Cannondale's Overmountain enduro team to find proof. It is lightweight enough to challenge any superbike with similar travel and its dual-range rear suspension lets the rider decide when energy conservation takes precedence over traction and control. Its single-pivot-swingarm suspension, while not sophisticated, is rugged and simple, with performance that is tough to beat on the downs where it matters most. On paper, the bottom bracket is too tall and its steering angle is too steep, but the Jekyll burns up corners and inspires confidence when smashing technical trails. Its chassis is long enough to hold a line at speed and while the Jekyll's stability may take away a measure of its singletrack appeal, most enduro racers or all-mountain shredders would happily sacrifice some low-speed nimbleness for the extra shot of confidence that the Cannondale offers up on the opposite end of the spectrum.

The Jekyll's downsides are not deal breakers either. Its suspension takes a while to achieve the correct balance before the bike can deliver the full measure of performance it is capable of. Its skinny rims are outdated in the realm of AM/enduro and, if the Magura MT6 stoppers are the correct spec, it is a under-gunned in the brake department. That said, step back a couple of paces, view the Jekyll Carbon Team as an entire package and the truth is that, without changing a thing, it has everything a good rider needs to crush some stages at the local enduro races, or knock out some infamous lines on the home trails. What the Jekyll can't do is answer all the questions you are sure to get about its unusual looks. That is, unless you let the trail do the talking. - RC

Cannondale Flux Baggies

A few weeks ago I picked up a pair of black and green Cannondale Flux baggies to usher in the fall riding season.  The first thing I noticed about these shorts is how well they are made! They are made of durable material with mesh windows that allow them to breathe, flat locked seams and the waist is very reinforced with 2 buttons; as well as an elastic/Velcro adjustment on each side eliminating the need for a belt!    Not only were they high quality but the chamois(the pad in the liner shorts) was removable making them an excellent option for wearing off the bike!

 

 Cannondale Flux Baggie $79.95

Cannondale Flux Baggie $79.95

I would say the chamois in the liner offers good support with a modest thickness and a higher density then most baggies making this a comfortable short, even for the two rides over 7 hours I have worn them.  The shorts have 3 built in zipper pockets, one on each thigh as well as one down on the leg.  These pockets and their zippers were positioned in a way that you never notice them at any point of the pedal stroke. Another bonus because on some other shorts the pockets create a stiff spot that can chaff on longer rides.

I would give these shorts two thumbs up.  They do a good job of breathing to let moisture out even in rainy weather they do not feel saturated or heavy!  The one negative(if you could call it that) is that they run big so you will most likely need a size smaller than normal!  Stop by the shop today and try on a pair!  You won't regret it!

 

 The Flux baggy in Action. 

The Flux baggy in Action. 


Bike Mag's Review of the 2014 Cannondale Scalpel 3

See what the crew at Bike Mag wrote up about the 2014 Cannondale Scalpel 3. Spoiler: They like it!

This aluminum Scalpel, however, is no pig out on the trail. It covers ground at a remarkable rate. Even the feeblest efforts on the pedals reap serious accelerations.
— Bike Mag

Cannondale’s line of Scalpel mountain bikes has long been a mainstay of the cross-country race scene. Like their namesake, the Scalpels have a reputation for precision. They are also, however, notoriously expensive. While you can still pillage your retirement fund to the tune of $10,830 for the top-tier Carbon Black model, Cannondale offers several more affordable models as well.

The most obvious distinction between our Scalpel 29 3 and its pricier siblings is its all-aluminum frame. At 28.6 pounds, the Scalpel 29 3 is not the flyweight model you might expect from a bike in this class. We tested a 23-pound carbon version a few years back and it was like riding a rocket made of pixie dust. By contrast, there’s no hiding the fact that this cost-conscious Scalpel is a few pounds heavier than some similarly priced competitors. This aluminum Scalpel, however, is no pig out on the trail. It covers ground at a remarkable rate. Even the feeblest efforts on the pedals reap serious accelerations.

Handling is still razor sharp as well. There’s not a weak, flexy link anywhere on this bike. Out back you have the 142×12 rear through axle. In the center, 15-millimeter axles in the rear swingarm and swing link pivots eliminate any potential wiggle. And up front, the crazy-stout Lefty fork makes the typical 4-inch-travel XC fork feel downright noodly. This is a cross-country bike with the stiffness of an all-mountain brawler.

The Scalpel navigates switchbacks and twisty sections of trail with relative ease thanks to the very tight wheelbase (44.2 inches on a size large) and the steep, 71-degree head angle. That said, standover clearance could be improved and while Cannondale clearly tried to keep the handlebar height low by spec’ing both a flat bar and a negative 15-degree stem, some riders will want the bars lower yet and may have a hard time making that happen.

The bikes ship with a few headset spacers installed, which, with a mallet and some cussing, can be removed for further stem slamming. However, when you factor in the 4.8-inch headtube, Lefty upper clamp and required HeadShok spacer, you’re still looking at some serious stack height. Shorter riders in particular might struggle with getting the fit just right. On the whole, though, the Scalpel 29 3 delivers.

Dirt 100 2014- American Classic Hubs

The chances are that you’ve never heard of American Classic, but they’ve been producing great quality wheels for donkey’s years now. As much as we like some of their wheels (they’ve been doing the whole Stan’s style wide but light thing for years) it’s their hubs that have really impressed us. Yes they’re light and have great bearings etc, but it’s the finer details that make them stand out from the crowd. For example the lightweight aluminium freehub body has a couple of small steel inserts to stop your cassette from digging in, and perhaps most interestingly the left hand spoke flange on the rear hub is much further inboard than the norm. Conventional wisdom is to go as wide as possible to increase triangulation, but the drive side can never move outwards so all that really does is increase the imbalance in spoke tension. American Classic believe they’ve struck the best balance, and many top wheel builders seem to agree.

* Also see Marks local review by Chris Michaels.


Read more at http://dirtmountainbike.com/dirt100-2014/dirt-100-2014-american-classic-hubs.html#ZW6L4QSJTDoJBecM.99