Go Bag Essentials For The Gnar

I live in earthquake country and sadly I am more prepared to run out the door for a chance at some hero dirt than I am for a big shaker. But then again, maybe it just means I have my priorities straight. Because statistically I feel like I am more likely to get invited to a knobby tire adventure, than I am to be around for the “big one.” This might be foolish thinking and in the end I might regret my decisions, but it is much more fun shopping for new knobbies, than shopping for bottled water and C-rations.

Oddly, I have given this a lot of thought. Since I mostly travel with my road bike I am always trying to find some way to get in a little dirt when I am on the road. This means I have to beg, borrow, plead or rent my way onto a mountain bike. Below is the short list of things I try to pack to make sure I am not only able to ride, but am stoked when the opportunity arises.

Kali, Interceptor $180

Rolling over the top of a blind-pitch, headed to god-only-knows where, the last thing going through my mind is whether-or-not the person who designed my helmet knew what they were doing. Luckily, for me I’m wearing a helmet designed by protection nerd, Brad Waldron, at Kali Protectives. The Interceptor is one of many choices in the newish “enduro” helmet market, designed to give more protection than a weight-weenie cross country helmet, but not the no-holds-bar protection of a downhill helmet. The Interceptor has great coverage, style and plenty of ventilation for all day comfort and just the right amount of “holy shit, about to have an epic yard sale” piece-of-mind for your melon.


Five Ten, Freerider Pro Shoes $150

Sticky feet make for happy trails and the Five Ten reputation defining Freeride Pro is the perfect go-bag shoe. Pull them on, wear them through the airport, out to dinner and onto the gnar from the trailhead. The Freerider Pro is perfect for rolling all over the mountain and honing your mountain biking skills. If you’re not wearing Five Tens, what are you wearing?


Mission Workshop, The Hauser $215

Who knew staying hydrated could be so sexy. So very sexy. Mission Workshop’s Hauser hydration pack falls on the pricier size of packs to strap to your back during your shred and we know form is supposed to follow function, but in this case we wanted a Hauser long before we ever figured out if it was any good. Luckily, for us and for you, this is one quality ripping sack.

To start, let’s get the double bummer out of the way. First, the hydration ready bag, even at over 200 clams, does not come with a hydration bag. It seems a little silly to design a backpack specifically for hydration and to not include a bladder. Fortunately, for me I had one of Osprey’s Reservoirs on the way and can now attest it is one of the nicest and easiest to use bladders on the market. Second, this may not be the best backpack to pack on a scorching hot day. Although, we don’t get many of those here in NorCal, but having this in my go-bag as I prepare for a trip to the Arizona desert has me a little concerned. It just does not vent against the back as well as my Camelbak Mule.

Now on to what we did like about the Hauser. We already mentioned how amazing it looks, but with those good looks comes stellar construction. This pack is built to withstand any major yard sales, comes with an additional tool roll, has plenty of pockets for organization, is waterproof and we chose the larger 14 liter version which sits nicely on the back without hindering mobility. And we would remiss if we didn’t mention these beauties are made right here in the ol’ U.S. of A. and comes with a lifetime guarantee.

We like it. And we think it brings out the color in our eyes.


Shimano, Saint MX80 $60

These Shimano flat pedals are not the lightest or the thinnest pedals on the market, but they are reasonably priced and workhorses ready for anything you can huck off of or pedal up. The other nice part about packing these MX80 pedals instead of clipless is they will, arguably, make you a better rider. They will make you find a better balance on the bike, teach you to weight and un-weight more efficiently and will give you more confidence on a strange whip.


DynaPlug, Air Tubeless Repair $74.99

The hardest decision I have when putting my go-bag together is which tool, hell how many tools, do I “need” to feel comfortable on the trail with someone else’s bicycle. The first thing I make sure I have is some duct tape. I usually wrap a nice helping around a hand pump I bury deep in my bag. I then pack a giant multitool, with a chain breaker, into my bag. I love the tools from Lezyne, Park and Crank Bros. Which brings us to the DynaPlug Air and our love of all things DynaPlug and CO2. With this little wonder you just find the puncture, push the repair dealie into the punture and twist on the air. The air plugs the hole and fills your knobbies back to pressure at the same time. Of course, this won’t help if you have a side tear, but that is why I carry a tube, extra C02 and duct tape.


Silca, Maratona Gear Bag $180

I have been using my North Face duffel bag as my catch-all, stuff it full and go-bag for the last couple of years and I have had no complaints. The only problem being that although the duffel swallows everything I can think to throw into it, but that also means I can spend way too much time, sometimes in a panic, digging around in its gluttonous innards in search of this or that.

Along comes Silca’s new Maratona gear bag with a spacious amount of room and ample organizational opportunities. You have the option of three different carrying straps or make the quick conversion to make it a backpack. The Maratona is designed to meet airline carry-on regulations, so whether you are going around the corner or around the globe, your go-bag is ready to go.


Clif Bar, Crunchy Peanut Butter $1.79/ea, $17.88/box of 12

Sure they are better when they are fresh, but even an old Clif Bar is better than no Clif bar at all. Sure you could do a gel or a block or another bar, but I’ve been gnawing on Clif Bars so long they feel almost like comfort food. Ok, maybe not like a big bowl of mac-n-cheese, biscuits and gravy or a piece of pumpkin pie, but these bars have gotten me through plenty of oh-crap-I-am-about-to-bonk situations.


Light&Motion, Seca 1800 $350

Let there be light. With the days shortening, but the weather still within acceptable riding temperatures, it is the time of dawn and dusk patrols. It is also time to break out the blinky lights and headlamps. The Seca 1800 is an excellent choice for these extend the day jaunts. The quad LED array throws enough light to gobble up the dark and make you feel secure in your line choices on any trail you find yourself pedaling. We ran the Seca on our bars and we ran the Seca 1800 (as in 1800 lumens) on our helmet and didn’t feel like we were asking too much of it in either spot. Add in the fact this chubby, but lightweight light is waterproof and it will get you where you need to go, even if you should have gotten there hours earlier.


Giordana. Monsoon Jacket $380

The cycling rain jacket has come a long way in the last 5 or so years. Not that long ago rain jackets made for cycling were basically fancy garbage bags with zippers stitched in for good measure. You basically pulled it on and let the sweating begin. And lord forbid the rain eased before the ride ended and you had to remove your jacket… you were soaked through and through. The new generation of rain jackets is not only windproof and waterproof, but also “somewhat” breathable. The Monsoon jacket is cut plenty long, with great length on the elastic sleeves, taped seams and packs down to a surprisingly small footprint. I also love my Mission Workshop’s The Orion jacket, the Castelli Tempesta jacket and the Shower Pass Club Pro.


Kitsbow, Shorts $125

This is the first version of Kitsbow’s Base Shorts and I keep them at the ready for any last minute rides. They are beautifully constructed, bombproof and super cozy. I’ve put them permanently into my go-bag, knowing full well they are ready for anything the trail can throw at me. If my bits are protected and comfortable, I can always ride in a pair of jorts and a flannel shirt, so as long as I have my Kitsbow base shorts I am good to roll.


OMG, the New Shimano Dura-Ace Is Here

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The all-new Shimano Dura-Ace R9170 Di2 Hydraulic group. photo: Shimano

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Dura-Ace FC-R9100 crankset. You'll have the chainring choices of 50/34, 52/36 and 53/39 while crank arms will be offered from 165 to 180mm in 2.5mm increments. photo: Shimano

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Dura-Ace FC-R9100-P powermeter crankset. Notice the small black module near the top center of the crank arm. photo: Shimano

The Di2 electronic front derailleur. photo: Shimano

The Di2 electronic front derailleur. photo: Shimano

The Di2 electronic rear derailleur. photo: Shimano

The Di2 electronic rear derailleur. photo: Shimano

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The mechanical front derailleur, notice the lack of the long cable arm and much more compact design compared to the previous iteration. photo: Shimano

The mechanical rear derailleur. photo: Shimano

The mechanical rear derailleur. photo: Shimano

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Redesigned standard rim brake caliper, notice the quick-release assembly is now tucked in into the arm. Clean. photo: Shimano

Redesigned Direct Mount rim brake caliper. photo: Shimano

Redesigned Direct Mount rim brake caliper. photo: Shimano

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Dura-Ace R91000 Shift/brake lever for standard brake caliper and mechanical shifting. photo: Shimano

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Dura-Ace R9120 Shift/brake lever for hydraulic disc brakes and mechanical shifting. photo: Shimano

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Dura-Ace R91050 Shift/brake lever for standard caliper brakes and Di2 shifting. photo: Shimano

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Dura-Ace R91070 Shift/brake lever for hydraulic disc brakes and Di2 shifting. photo: Shimano

The new textured STI lever hood. photo: Shimano

The new textured STI lever hood. photo: Shimano

Flat Mount Dura-Ace hydraulic brake calipers. photo: Shimano

Flat Mount Dura-Ace hydraulic brake calipers. photo: Shimano

SM-RT900 Ice-Tech Freeza disc brake rotor. photo: Shimano

SM-RT900 Ice-Tech Freeza disc brake rotor. photo: Shimano

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Updated Dura-Ace SPD-SL pedal. Gone is the replaceable top plate and addition of hollow channels on both sides, presumed to shave more grams. photo: Shimano

And it’s a doozy.

You’ve seen spy shots, heard rumors, and might have even seen the official teaser (which more or less gave it away with the site aptly named www.duraace.com).

But yes, Shimano announced their new flagship road drivetrain group. The Dura-Ace R9100 series.

It’s still 11-speed driven with a metal chain, but the devil is in the detail, so let’s see what’s up with this grouppo.

Crankset

At first glance, it’s easy to point out that the FC-R9100 crankset has an (even) bigger crankarms, a darker finish (instead of the two tone silver/black) than the previous generation, but there’s much more under the hood. Returning are the four-bolt, Hollowtech II crankarm construction, but the chainrings profile has been reworked with a slightly wider spacing to accommodate frames with disc brakes and shorter chainstays. It’s also seven grams lighter and thank goodness the spindle remained the same at 24mm that we’ve come to love, or loathe, depending on who you talk to.

Integrated powermeter

Shimano is going to shake up the already crowded powermeter market a bit by offering their own power-measuring crankset, the FC-R9100-P. We haven’t seen much of the actual unit but we were told it’s a waterproof, dual-sided unit (powered by a single rechargeable battery) with an accuracy of +/- 2%. Communication will be done via your typical ANT+ and Bluetooth so you can use whatever head unit you have.

Mechanical system

On the cable-actuated side, the front derailleur (FD-R9100) has been reworked so that gone is the long lever arm. The light shift action remains but the action is much more compact, and cable management is said to be much easier.  Shimano has also integrated the tension adjuster right into the unit, so bye bye barrel adjuster. In the rear, the RD-R9100 borrowed the proven Shadow design from Shimano’s mountain bike derailleurs for a lower profile (no words on the possibility of any aero benefit – yet), direct mount capability, as well as better survivability in case of a crash (because shit happens). The hanger pulleys are also new, with a slightly longer toothing. To control the mechanical drivetrain, two models of STI levers will be offered. the ST-R9100 for standard caliper brakes and the ST-R9120 for hydraulic discs. The overall lever shapes remain more or less the same but with smaller detail upgrades such as textured hood tops (ala Campagnolo), and a claimed 14% shorter lever movement and 24% faster gear shift. It’s all about those marginal gains, dude.

Di2

Now that we’re done talking about the mechanical side of things, let’s talk about the Di2 system. Again, borrowing from the XTR Di2 MTB group, synchronized shifting is now available with the new Dura-Ace 9150 Di2 group. Besides the standard synchro mode where the computer shifts the front chainring while the user shifts the rear up and down the cassette, the new “semi” synchro model basically flips it the other way around where the user controls the front chain ring while the computer shifts the rear to keep a consistent cadence. Pretty novel concept, don’t you think? Hardware wise, the new rear derailleur (RD-R9150) will receive the shadow treatment similar to its mechanical brethren while the front derailleur (FD-R9150) remains largely the same.

Ultegra 6870 and Dura-Ace 9070 owners rejoice

New firmware is coming  to your existing 11-speed Di2 groups this November so the synchro shift option is there if you so please.

Two more things on Di2

The lowly but oh so important cable junction box got a makeover and now there’s the option of having it integrated into compatible frames and handlebar ends for a cleaner appearance. Sure beats having a tiny black box at the bottom of your stem. While Shimano didn’t go full wireless like SRAM eTap, Shimano is releasing a wireless junction box, the EW-WU111, made to enable programming of the Di2 system from a tablet or phone (instead of a pc), as well as to those who want to transfer drivetrain data to computers for better visualization.

Derailleur

Unfortunately, the clutched Shadow Plus derailleur did not make it into the group.

Brakes

As expected, Shimano didn’t stop making caliper brakes while launching their first Dura-Ace disc brake. And as if the previous Dura-Ace brake is not good enough, the new brake calipers have been updated for even more stopping power and clearance (thank you) for 28C tires. For the hydraulic brakes side of things, however, it’s completely new. The hydraulic caliper utilizes the Flat Mount mounting system for a smaller footprint while a wider pad clearance was made to further minimize rubbing. The most visually-striking part of the brake system, though, has got to be the new SM-RT900 Ice-Tech Freeza rotor. While the stainless steel braking surface remains, the rotor’s aluminum inner core now extends out as one continuous piece towards the center for better a 30% heat reduction. And similar to its predecessor, it will only be offer with Centerlock mount in 140mm and 160mm diameter, just big enough to double as a pizza cutter and throwing star (but don’t tell the UCI about that)

Chain

It’s the same CN-HG901-11 with the tool-free connecting link. Nothing new here.

Cassette

Not much different other than the new 11-30 cassette combo. Let’s hope the dreaded cracked cassette syndrome is done and over with.

Pedals

The overall design is the same as any other SPD-SL pedals but the new PD-R9100 pedals are now 24.5 grams lighter and now shipped with hollow cleat bolts (ProTip: Use good hex keys).

Wheels?

Well, that’s another department deserving of a separate post. But yes, there are redesigned hoops in various materials and forms

Price and availability

The full R9100 mechanical group will be available this September for $2029.92. The R9100/R9120 mechanical/hydro brake group will come at $2354.90; The R9150 Di2 group will $3046.85 whereas the R9150/R9170 Di2 with hydraulic brakes will cost the most at $3137.90. Yea, there’s actually four similar, but different groupsets this time around within the Dura-Ace family.


Bikes, Bags, and Shades, the Latest and Greatest From Summer PressCamp

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Midweek editor's ride led by all-around good guy Eric Porter. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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The behind of scene of every bike beauty shot. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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Product demonstration area at White Lighting. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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Koroyd engineering cores in various shapes and forms. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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Gerard Vroomen of OPEN showing his ONE+ superlight hardtail (with plenty of room for 3" tires) Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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Would love to see more company doing subtle paint details like OPEN. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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Custom Pinarello logo on this Mavic spoke. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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Filed under "cool stuff you cannot have" aka dual-sided Stages powermeter made for the US Olympic track pursuit team. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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The gravel crew in the afternoon. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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Start 'em young! Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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Love them Alpinestar gloves. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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For 2017 GT is also bringing back that Performer BMX you wanted back in 1986. You know you want one. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

PressCamp in Park City is still one of my favorite events of the year. The laidback atmosphere, killer rides, that ride party at Eric Porter’s House, the daily doses of epic breakfast bacon, and of course plenty of fun new gear to talk about. Here are a few of the highlights from the week-long meetings. We will have more individual highlights/reviews in the pipeline.

Cannondale

The vaulted SuperSix EVO Hi-Mod will be available this fall with disc brakes. While the bike looks almost identical to the caliper brake version sans the brakes, the frame is brand new given that you just can’t slap a brake caliper mount to the frame mold and call it a day. The geometry is the same but the disc frame will have a different layup to accommodate different loads generated by disc brakes.

photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
Cannondale SuperSix EVO Hi-Mod disc with Ultegra Di2. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

Even then, the weight penalty is minimal. Otherwise, the most noticeable differences are the utilization of the Flat Mount standard for the brake calipers, improved tire clearance up to 28C tires (the bike we were shown had 25C Schwalbe one tubeless clincher mounted to the Cannondale Hollogram carbon clinchers with a 19mm inner diameter), and the 12×100 thru-axle for the fork. What’s interesting, though, is that Cannondale kept the traditional 135×9 quick release for the rear wheel. The model we were shown, a SuperSix EVO Hi-Mod Carbon Disc with Ultegra, will retail for $6,200 and I expect more disc models at different price points will be available as well.

3T

Better known for their cockpit components such as stem, handlebar and seaports, the storied Italian component maker 3T carried a truck full of their new Exploro gravel road bikes and they did not disappoint. In fact, they were so good they would have easily won the best of camp if there was one.

3T Exlploro. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
3T Exlploro. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

The loaner I rode was mounted with 2.1×27.5 WTB Nano mountain bike knobbies (and it’s compatible with 700c for road and cross) and it blew me away in terms of how playful the bike was over the rocky dry terrain at Park City. Oh, and it’s an aero gravel bike designed with bottles, fat tires and mud in mind that 3T went as far as 3D printed mud for testing.

THM Calavicula SE crankset. Bling. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
THM Calavicula SE crankset. Bling. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
3T. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

Now, at $4,200 for the top of the line LTD frameset, the Exploro will definitely take up a good amount of your hard-earned moola but it’s one hell of a super gravel bike if you can only have one to do it all.

Fabric

It’s only been a short time since Fabric came to the US market and they have yet to disappoint with their ingenuity. New for 2017 are their lineup lights. In particular, the $39 R30 rear light.

New Illumination offerings from Fabric. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
New Illumination offerings from Fabric. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

Thirty lumens LED strip capable of running in 4 different modes off a USB rechargeable lithium battery rated for 8-9 hours depending on running mode, all housed inside a IPX5 water resistant outer case. Beneath the hood, Fabric added an accelerometer so the light will automatically glow brighter when the user brakes to slow down, just like the taillights on a car.

Ryders Eyewear

I must admit I am not familiar with Canadian sunglasses maker
Ryders Eyewear despite seeing their products at different places over the years. Sales of sports sunglasses is one tough competitive market but Ryders seems to have a lot of good technology neatly integrated across the board from their entry level model all the way to the no holds barred models.

(L-R) Aero, Seventh and Incline by Ryders Eyewear. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
(L-R) Aero, Seventh and Incline by Ryders Eyewear. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

A few details that caught my attention: Grilamid TR90 materials on all their non-metal frames that is super flexible. We tried to pull apart a frame without success, yet it was able to retain its shape after our post-presentation abuse. Second, integrated anti-fog in the back of the lens and hydrophobic coating in front to shed water. No more aftermarket mods!

Blue

Typically better known in the time-trial/triathlon scene but at PressCamp, however, Blue showed up with a slew of new additions to their 2017 line up and the Prosecco EX Carbon gravel bike is possibly one of the best value bikes from PressCamp. For $2,699, you’ll get a full carbon frame, hydraulic brakes AND Shimano Ultegra Di2 electronic grouppo. Also cool is the slippery looking Leigh carbon track bike, race ready straight out of the box.

Blue Prosecco EX carbon Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
Blue Prosecco EX carbon Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
Blue Lehigh track bike. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
Blue Lehigh track bike. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

GT

GT Pantera: Seems like brands are putting more focus on introductory/middle tier models this year at PressCamp and for that reason, GT reintroduced the Pantera back into their 2017 mountain bike lineup. Only this time with a sturdy new aluminum t6 frame, a competitive spec and most importantly 27.5+ wheels for comfort, maneuverability, and fun factor for the price ($1620 for the top of the line Expert model). It’s a very playful bike and I think it’ll be a hit next year.

GT Pantera Expert. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

Pinarello

Pinarello is now in the gravel market with the addition of the GAN GR and GRs, with the latter equipped with a elastomer rear suspension delivering 10mm of travel similar to the absorber found on their Paris-Roubaix proven K8-S machine. Both models are disc only and heavily features design cues from their top of the line F8 road frame, but with ample tire clearance and fender mounts as well as a lower price point ($2850 with Shimano 105 and $5250 with Shimano Ultegra.)

Pinarello GAN GRS gravel bike. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
Pinarello GAN GRS gravel bike disc with Shimano 105. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
Elastomer suspension with 10mm of travel to soak up the road chatters. photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
Elastomer suspension with 10mm of travel to soak up the road chatters. photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

Thule

Many associate Thule with being the brand that makes racks and accessories for your car but the Swedish company is much much more than just a one trick pony. Thule has developed products such as rugged phone cases, and luggage bags. What caught my attention was the Covert Camera Bag: a rolltop-style backpack that’s been the rage lately but the dedicated camera compartment had some of the nicest inserts I’ve seen. We will be reviewing one very soon so stay tuned for updates!

Thule Covert camera backpack Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
Thule Covert camera backpack Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
Nicely padded inserts for the camera compartment. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
Nicely padded inserts for the camera compartment. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

Smith

Smith, being the first to incorporate the novelty Koroyd material into bicycle helmets, is back with two new affordable helmets (with Koroyd, of course) called the Rover (for MTB) and Route (for road.) While the original Overtake and Forefront helmets saw a full wrap of koroyd around the helmet, it drove the price of the helmet.

(L-R) Smith Route and Rover helmets. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
(L-R) Smith Route and Rover helmets. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

For the Rover and Route, Smith was able to strategically place Koroyd panels in the areas where it would likely see impact, thus lowering the price point. I know the last few sentences were full of Koroyd. I, in fact, was treated to an interesting presentation directly from Koroyd, 45 minutes on a single material backed by data, Surprisingly, though, it was also one of the more memorable, and convicing presentations during the week that would make you want to wear nothing but Koroyd gear. It’s that good.

Ridley

Ahh, the slippery fast Noah SL, now better with disc. We tested a caliper brake version of the Noah SL a while back and had a great time with it. For the Noah SL Disc, Ridley designers went back to added thru-axle front and rear for security and stiffness. Ridley’s split aero fork remains and we expect the bike to be even more capable than its caliper brake brethren.

Ridley Noah SL Disc. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

Ellsworth

Six month is a long time in the bike biz and Ellsworth is back at Summer PressCamp with a new owner and a spiffy looking Rogue Sixty enduro machine with 160mm of rear travel. The iconic ICT suspension remains but founder Tony Ellsworth incorporated a 420mm short chain-stay, mil-spec dual row bearings, slack geometry, and hex taper-axles that should translate this carbon-framed bike into one sweet tight berm riding machine.

Ellsworth Rogue Sixty in orange and black Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly