Welcome to our traditional marker of the end of the week, a time for you to reflect on the past week’s achievements with a warm sense of satisfaction, or failing that, just be glad it’s over. The weekend awaits but first it’s time to gently ease yourself out of the week with a bumper sized lunch break…
Niner have been at the vanguard of the long travel 29er movement and their W.F.O9 (that’s Wide, Full Open – though we think they may have substituted that F word) has 140mm of rear wheel travel matched to the same up front. This is the only one in the country that we know of – it’s actually DC Cycles‘ demo bike which they’ve kindly lent us so we can spend a bit of time on it.
The frame is made from chunky hydroformed aluminium with a Zero Stack tapered headset up front. The back end uses Niner’s own 29er specific Constantly Varying Arc suspension design – it’s got floating links, kids – and thanks to neat interchangeable dropouts you can switch between 135mm and 142mm back ends to suit whichever wheels you like.
Price: £1,899 with Rock Shox Monarch shock
The Niner detail is all there – we like the bearing covers. The frame packs a loads of useful features too – Direct Mount front mech, ISCG05 chainguide mounts and dropper post cable routing. The bike comes with a RS Monarch shock, but it’s fully compatible with anything from a lightweight air shock to a piggybacked coil item should you wish to build some mad hyper-gnar machine.
Up front DC Cycles have specced this bike with a set of the latest Fox 34 TALAS forks, with an adjustable 140-110mm of travel. It’s rolling on some chunky Maxxis Ardent rubber and a build kit featuring Shimano XT drivetrain and Hope brakes, hubs and other bits and bobs. It’s all high quality, useable stuff – and the Rock Shox Reverb is the proverbial icing on the cake. It comes on the scales at 31.5lbs, which isn’t bad for an aggro bike with big wheels.
Camelbak Solvo 30L
We can’t help feeling that Camelbak are gunning for Brooks with this new addition to their range, the waxed canvas and full grain leather Solvo. It’s designed as a top end commuter pack that’ll last a lifetime but it’s not all retro construction; underneath the classic materials it uses the high tech Airtex material that you see on the rest of the Camelbak range. Inside there are loads of well organised pockets for everything from your tablet to your laptop to your bike tools. It also has removable side pockets for your phone and a waterbottle – though it’s obviously compatible with their bladders – and there’s a reflective rain cover for the really soggy commutes.
Sweet Protection Misty Mountain jacket
Pensive Matt and his new haircut are pondering whether to brave the summer conditions outside the office – but thankfully the lovely people at fresh-to-the-UK brand Sweet have sent this Gore Windstopper Active Shell jacket through. They’ve got a heritage in high end kayaking kit but they’ve recently moved into mountain biking products with a range of armour, helmets and clothing. The Misty Mountain jacket is said to offer windproofness and high water repellency along with breathability. There’s a nice high-volume hood to fit over your helmet and plenty of zipped storage and ventilation.
From: Sweet Protection
The Eagle of Toledo
Widely reputed as the Tour’s best climber, this is the story of the first Spanish racer to win the TdF, Federico Bahamontes. Coming out of the mayhem of the Spanish Civil war and turning to cycling as a way to make money to survive, Federico first used a bicycle to run black market goods under Franco’s dictatorial regime. He soon realised that there were better ways to make money from his bike and took up racing, winning the mountains competition on his Tour debut in 1954. Covering subjects from early doping (toad extract anyone?) to Federico’s appropriation for the regime’s PR machine, it looks like a fascinating read from journalist Alasdair Fotheringham.
From: Aurum Press
Craft Glow Women’s jersey
We’ve been sent a bumper load of kit from Swedish brand Craft. They’ve got a massive range of highly technical clothing, with complete laying systems for every kind of riding and condition you can imagine. Their women’s range is extensive and this is part of their ‘Protection’ outerwear line. It’s got a full length baffled zip (eh?) with multi panel stretch polyester construction, mesh ventilation panels and lined collar. Round the back you also get three pockets and a zipped compartment for keys, change or your favourite trinkets.
We should probably take this opportunity to welcome our new Credit Controller Lisa to Singletrack Towers, except she won’t let us show her face in photos. Hello Lisa!
Craft Body Control compression socks
If, like Aaron Gwin, you’re an above the ankle but just below the knee sorta sock person, then these compression socks will be just the trick – as Lisa demonstrates here (only joking, this is Matt’s lower half). They’re designed to ‘reduce muscle vibration and focus power’ but probably do an excellent job of keeping your toes comfortable as well, thanks to the no-slip lycra cuff at the top and ribbed construction that allows air to circulate.
Craft base layers
Like we said, Craft do a massive range of clothing – here we have some selected bits from their base layer range, with (from right to left) the Zero Extreme Men’s Crewneck, the Zero Extreme Women’s Roundneck, the Cool Mesh Superlight Sleeveless Men’s Vest and the Pro Cool Women’s T. If you can’t find a weight and style that’ll fill your base layer requirements then you’re certainly more of a fussy bugger than we are.