The editor of Singletrack gives his top ten most wanted bikes and components for 2015
Salsa Spearfish Carbon
I got to put a solid couple of days of pure singletrack riding in when the new Spearfish was launched last summer. The neat aluminium frame had been augmented with Dave Weagle’s Split Pivot suspension and the whole package rode very well. I admire the singlemindedness of the 80mm rear suspension – just enough to lessen the bumps without distracting you from the task at hand – which is to go very, very fast.
And now there’s a carbon version! The thought of some more weight saving (half a pound), more stiffness and neater cable routing is very appealing to the ‘would like to be faster’ racer in me.
It was a toss-up between this and the ‘fun trail racer’ GT Helion. The Sanction has been tweaked along the way by Dan Atherton into his ideal enduro/steep trail bike. With a long and low chassis, and a suspension system that owes a fair amount to the Fury DH bike, it looks to be an absolute belter of a 160mm enduro and big mountain machine. Can’t wait to have a play on one.
The Phantom only just missed out on being included in our recent ’29Gnarr’ bike test. The self-styled ‘Short travel, hard-hitting trail bike’ takes the concept that 29ers are only good as long-legged race machine. Taking a 120mm fork and 105mm rear end, the Phantom gets slack and low (68° head angle on the Large) and suddenly lets those 29in wheels plough through and over stuff rather than skipping nimbly over the top. It seems there’s one turning up soon (oh look, it has!), so we’ll get to see if this really can put the gnarr in 29er.
Surly Ice Cream Truck
What’s not to love with this great Tonka Toy of a bike? With everything oversized, the bike takes 190mm rear geared or singlespeed hubs (or a 197mm bolt-thru), a 132mm wide pressfit BB and a 150mm/15mm thru-axle fork. 100mm Surly Clown Shoe rims take 4.8in Bud and Lou tyres, yet the whole thing will still give you 20 gears through a Surly double chainset for longer jaunts than just playing in the snow. Coming in Jack Frost Blue, this looks no end of silly fun on any terrain – snow or no.
Rocky Mountain Sherpa
The Rocky Mountain Sherpa (not to be confused with the Stanton Sherpa) was first shown at the Sea Otter as a bit of a concept bike. Using 27.5in wheels, but with a 2.8in ’27 Plus’ tyre, the wheel size fit into a 29in frame and fork, but allowed the comedy large tyres to give the same amount of floatation and grip as the 29+ concept does, only in a more manageable size. It has some great potential and we’re looking forward to seeing this new plus size appearing more often.
Saracen Mantra Elite Carbon
Saracen has been slowly and steadily easing into the black stuff for a couple of years – with the carbon rear ends for the Kili and the Ariel last year and now the full carbon Kili that’s just coming out. This is Saracen’s first full carbon mountain bike frame and I think it combines the smooth lines of truly sculptural carbon along with a paint finish that really enhances that Formula1 look (specifically the McLaren silver and black look). Who said that hardtails can’t be drool-worthy?
Having been there for the first time round at non-round rings (with Chris Bell of Eggrings and Shimano) it’s interesting to see the focus come back to making chainrings that make better use of the terribly non-circular power brought about by two giant lumps of meat pounding up and down with the aim of creating forward motion. Rotor has been quietly going on about it for years, but it’s now being joined by more and more non-circular chainring manufacturers. With the prevalence of 1x chainsets making front shifting compatibilitiy less of an issue, it’ll be interesting to see what the takeup is in 2015.
Diamondback Mission Pro
Eric Porter is a great bike racer and down to earth chap who’s ridden for Diamondback for years in a number of disciplines. For the last few years he was riding Diamondback’s previous suspension platform, but this year he got an early version of the Mission frame and was jumping up and down with excitement about it. It’s a 160/160mm unapologetic enduro and big trail bike. Long and low, Eric’s a big fan and I’m looking forward to seeing what it’s capable of (probably a lot more than me).
Shimano XTR Di2
We kind of knew that electric gears were coming, having been launched (and widely accepted) on the road and in the cyclocross race scene, but the way that Shimano has done it has been impressive. Rather than just porting the road Di2 over to the mountain bike, Shimano has redesigned every bit of it for off road use. The shifter clicks are clickier; louder and more positive, the front mech is much stronger to cope with off road shifts and it all, obviously, runs on 11speed. What’s really clever, though, is the option for sequential shifting over two (or even three) chainrings and 11 sprockets using just one shifter. You can even dictate separate up and downshift shifting maps.
Ibis Mojo HD3
The frame of the Ibis Mojo HD, despite the pioneering carbon swoopiness of the original Mojo frameset, was starting to look a little dated after a decade. The 27.5 HD2 also looked like a bit of a stop-gap measure too, given that changing a carbon mould is no small job. But now, all hail the new Mojo HD3! The bike takes the great work that Ibis did with the original HD and the racy lines of the 29in, more XC, Ripley and combines them in a very muscular, purposeful way to create a trail and enduro race bike that begs to be ridden hard. Hubba hubba!