The Bike Place 2012: Santa Cruz and Isaac

Bike trade show season is in full swing, with dealers being tempted all over the country to come and have a poke and prod of what’s new. The Bike Place is a relative upstart in the order of things, having only begun in 2010 with a handful of independent distributors. They’ve now expanded to include over twenty distributors showing over fifty brands, with a Northern as well as Southern venue.

We headed up to Harrogate to take a look at all that’s new…

Santa Cruz

Blur LT

Launched in 2008, the original Blur LT has been getting on a bit. In that time, we’ve seen fairly substantial changes in what a 140mm trail bike is expected to do, so it was time for a bit of a refresh for the alloy version. Calling it a bit of a refresh is actually underselling it – it’s more of a complete redesign. One point in case is the addition of dropper post guides, a rarity five years back but becoming a must-have bit of kit for riders nowadays…

The head angle has been relaxed by half a degree to take it to 68° with a set of 140mm forks. Some ‘trail’ bikes may be slacker but it’s a good compromise for an all-rounder. The VPP linkages have been redesigned, with the lower link now offset in order to improve clearance with chain devices, something of a bugbear with VPP designs. The threaded grease nipples are now recessed out of the way to reduce the likelihood of them getting struck by rocks. The frame now also has full gear cable runs, something that’ll be extremely welcome to UK riders.

Frames are going to cost from £1,749 with a Fox RP2 shock. You can go and spend some time on the Santa Cruz bike configurating do-dah  to price up a complete bike build too…

Chameleon

Okay, nothing has really changed with classic alloy do-it-all Chameleon hardtail but we still like it. You can run it geared or singlespeed thanks to the EBB and it comes in this lovely shade of orange…

Blur LTc

No changes to the the Blur LTc frame but we reckon it looks rather nice in this colour scheme….

Very red.

There’s been a spate of new colours and graphics across the range, including a move to new, larger headtube graphics rather than badges on some models. We’re off to see Santa Cruz in Feburary to take a look at a number of new bikes then and apparently there’s a whole load of new colours and custom options coming.

Dickon of Santa Cruz distributor Jungle Products nipped to his local farmer’s superstore to get this cattle brand with the SC logo knocked up. It’s going to be used for branding bike stands, team riders and errant subscription managers…

Isaac

Proton XC frame

Isaac are a new arrival to these shores. They’ve got a long history in carbon fibre fabrication and technical development, starting with road frames and forks in 2001. In the past they have helped to develop a number of brand’s carbon fibre offerings but they started making their own branded frames, originally concentrating on the road and time trial markets. If you like a bit of skinny tyred action then some of the models will make you feel a little bit funny – they’re lovely.

This is the only mountain bike in the range, a 26″ wheeled carbon monocoque frame firmly aimed at XC racing, taking 100mm forks in the tapered headtube. There are some nice details such as the in-moulded frame protectors. Apparently a 29″ wheeled version is in the pipeline; probably a good idea looking at the current XC race bikes of choice…

NEXT: Schwalbe rubber, some very light bits and bikes, plus a Teutonic tech-fest…

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