A Robot bike, Basque carbon, and a Noah’s Ark worth of kit in Fresh Goods Friday 389

by Wil Barrett 5

Look! Do you see that?

Eh? What am I supposed to be looking at?

wil pyrenees spain mountain
Anytime now spring, anytime…

It’s spring! Can’t you see it? Right there? It’s right there! And wowee, is it beautiful!

Nope. Can’t see it. Honestly, I ain’t got no idea what the heck it is that you’re babbling about.

Well it’s spring! You know, that thing that just happened three days ago on March 20th? The day that everything changed and we said goodbye to that really long and awful winter where it was cold and there was that Snowmageddon thing and the country went to shit and then there was Snowmageddon 2.0 that was a little less worse but still really shit and all the motorways and airports and workplaces in the country basically became unusable but it’s ok now because we can say hello to spring and to all of the new wildflowers and the blue skies and the dry trails that don’t have any mud or snow anymore and the cold windy weather and horrible trail conditions have gone and we don’t have to worry about that now because it’s spring and everything is not shit anymore?

……

orange flat pedals stage ice snow mud wet flat pedals
You can almost feel the warming glow through the screen.

Yeah, so things haven’t quite panned out like that this week. Sorry about that. The nation may have crossed a metaphorical boundary into a new season of warmness and rejuvenation, but the weather gods have themselves some other ideas. So don’t be be putting away the woollen mitts and waterproof trousers just yet…

While we might be whinging about the weather (possibly egged on by a few lack of zzz’s amongst the editorial team this week thanks to DUN-DUN-DUUUUUN……DEADLINE WEEK!), there’s no need to dwell on such inevitabilities. Especially given it’s Friday.

‘Cos you all know what that means right? It’s……..FRESH GOODS MOTHER-FLIPPIN FRIDAY!

And with no fewer than three bikes and a Noah’s Ark full of other goodies, boy-o-boy do we have a bumper week for you!

So let’s not waste anymore time, and let’s get stuck into episode three hundred and eighty nine!

 Robot R130

robot r130 titanium carbon
If Robots could ride a bicycle. SHIT! Can they?? That’s TERRIFYING.

Bike number one this week is the striking R130 from Robot Bike Co. The R130 is the newest full suspension bike from Robot, and it’s based around 29in wheels with 130mm of rear travel via the intricate DW6 suspension design. We actually got a good gander at one of the first production samples last year at Fort William (check out the story here), but this is the first time we’ve had one to get properly down and dirty on. And down and dirty thee shall be getting.

robot r130 titanium carbon
OH LORD JUST LOOK AT THAT TITANIUM

Like the R160 we tested last year, the R130 also uses the same construction method that relies on titanium additive manufacturing (pssst – it’s basically fancy 3D printing!) to create each metallic lug for the frame. The lugs are all made in one go, and they’re all custom to each and every frame. From there, the round carbon fibre tubes are then cut to length according to the customer’s preferred geometry and frame sizing, and are plugged into the lugs and glued in place.

Basically you tell Robot your height, inseam and wingspan, and your preferred geometry figures, and they’ll make a bike that is tailor made to you. How kind of them!

robot r130 titanium carbon
Fancy titanium lugs form each junction point, and have round carbon fibre tubes plugged into them.
robot r130 titanium carbon rockshox deluxe
There’s 130mm of rear travel via a RockShox Super Deluxe shock.

The rear suspension offers up 130mm of travel via a complex multi-pivot DW6 suspension design. The end result on the trail is not dissimilar to the current DW5 platform found on other bikes such as those from Pivot and Ibis, but Robot employs this specific arrangement to allow for customised chainstay lengths, without altering suspension kinematics as you go shorter or longer on the rear centre measurement.

The rear shock is a RockShox Super Deluxe that is grasped by bearings both on each side at the top of the body, and at the bottom eyelet too.

robot r130 titanium carbon
Threaded bottom bracket shell and gorgeous internal cable routing ports.
robot r130 titanium carbon
Boost 148x12mm dropouts.
robot r130 titanium carbon
Mmm…

The Robot R130 is destined for an upcoming magazine group test, so this won’t be the last time you see it. Will it be as good as the R160? Will it be even better? We intend on having a very good time attempting to find out. Stay tuned.

Orbea Oiz M-LTD

  • Price: £6599
  • From: Orbea
orbea oiz mint toothpaste
You’ll never forget to brush your teeth with this bike around.

Also up on the chopping block is this minty-toothpaste Oiz from Basque-based brand, Orbea. Like the R130, the Oiz is rolling on 29in hoops, but that’s probably where all similarities end.

This is a much lighter and much racier machine that’s moulded from high-tech carbon fibre to produce a stupidly lightweight XC whippet that’s built for World Cup and marathon racing. Orbea claims a frame weighs just 1.7kg, though we’re guessing that’s without the shock. Still, that’s about exactly the same weight as the two bottles of beer I drank last night while typing this.

orbea oiz mint toothpaste
Pivotless carbon swingarm aims to be light, stiff in the lateral direction, and flexy in the vertical direction.

To chisel those grams, the suspension design uses a single-pivot setup with a flexible seatstay jobber, and a very neatly mounted rear shock that burrows into the underside of the top tube via a compact carbon fibre swing link. Along with that bolt-up rear axle, it’s all very integrated and clean.

orbea oiz mint toothpaste fox kashima
Rear shock hidey-hole.

Travel sits at 100mm front and rear, and the riding position just looks like utter pain. We’ll be handing this bike over to a tester who is daring to take on a rather long distance off-road event in the near future, which is likely to push the limits of both his equipment and his body over several days of torturous hell. We’ll keep the surprise going for a little longer, but you’ll find out soon enough if the Orbea (and our tester!) survives…

Specialized Ambush Helmet

specialized ambush helmet wil
Vacant expression model’s own.

Last week Wil went riding with the crew from Specialized on some pretty incredible trails around Ainsa in Spain, at the foot of the Pyrenees. The gang hooked him up with some fresh kit to use and abuse, including this (white for now) Ambush trail helmet. It’s got loadsa coverage at the back, a reinforcing skeleton inside, and a multi-density EPS foam construction that’s wrapped with a polycarbonate shell. Comes in three colours and three sizes.

Specialized Stormproof Backpack

specialized stormproof backpack wil
As ice cold as spring.

Unfortunately not available in the UK, but available in the US and elsewhere on Planet Earth is this waterproof backpack from Specialized. It’s all blacked out with waterproof fabrics and zippers, and has 23L of storage space to hold things and stuff. There’s a laptop sleeve inside, so that’s probably a good start on the things part. You’ve got a roll-top closure, a magnetic sternum buckle and an adjustable harness that is light on for mesh padding to avoid getting waterlogged.

Santa Cruz Reserve 27 Carbon Wheels

wil santa cruz reserve wheels
Surprised that they’re somehow round.

Having visited California a couple of weeks ago where he got to test out the new Santa Cruz Blur and Highball, Wil ended up checking another piece of luggage for the return trip back to the UK. Inside the box was a brand new set of Reserve 27 Carbon wheels, which – believe it or not – Wil built himself in Santa Cruz’ factory. Well, when we say ‘built himself‘, we mean he sort of helped string the hubs to the rims on a crazy spoke-lacing machine, put them into a huge auto-truing machine, and then watched one of Santa Cruz’ expert wheel builders to get rid of all the hops and wobbles. There’s a bit more to it than that, so keep a look out for the full story and the video of the machines in operation.

santa cruz reserve carbon wheels
STICKERZ!!

The Reserve wheels were debuted last year as an optional upgrade on Santa Cruz mountain bikes, but they’re now also available aftermarket too. They come in a variety of widths and diameters, with a tonne of sticker options, though easily their biggest selling point is the lifetime warranty. That warranty covers your standard stuff, but it also covers the rims if you break one riding. We’re not 100% sure if Santa Cruz will replace the rim even if you do it like Danny MacAskill did but they seem very confident in them either way.

Santa Cruz x Camelbak Bottle

santa cruz bottle camelbak wil
Photoshoppers, consider this an open invitation.

Don’t want £1800 carbon wheels? You could just buy 180 of these bottles maybe? Made by Camelbak for Santa Cruz, it’s the wee 620ml option (21oz) with the squirty bite valve thing and the cavity for putting liquids into.

Santa Cruz Eddie Beanie

santa cruz beanie wil
Santa Cruz Beanie. Deadline eyes.

More Santa Cruz merch for getting your California hipster on. Wil declined on that particular look for this shot, and just went for the 4-hours-sleep-a-night look instead. He’d play a great junkie in a Netflix series no?

Santa Cruz Long Sleeve Trail Jersey

wil santa cruz jersey
We’ll be honest, the spirit fingers need work.

If you’re reading this and you own a mountain bicycle, there’s a small chance it is a Santa Cruz bicycle. And if you’re not currently on the local police watchlist, chances are you also wear clothing whilst you are mountain cycling. And so here is the perfect solution for your two specific needs. A Santa Cruz jersey. It’s like they knew and everything!

Santa Cruz Short Sleeve Trail Jersey

wil santa cruz jersey
Yes Wil, we all know you went to Santa Cruz. Dick.

Have arms and like other people to be aware of it? Santa Cruz also has a short sleeve version for you to do just that. Or you could be Wil and wear a long sleeve underneath and ruin EVERYTHING. Santa Cruz make a bunch of these in different colours, though Wil got the special gooseberry/bloody mary edition. Because special.

Santa Cruz Parallel Pullover Hoodie

wil hoodie santa cruz
Comfortable, yet creepy.

Speaking of the local police watchlist, how’s this discreet display of a brushed fleece Santa Cruz Pullover Hoodie?

Seriously, that Netflix series needs this man in it.

wil handlebar
It was inevitable really.

SQlab 30X Carbon 16° Handlebars

  • Price: £249
  • From: SQlab
wil sqlabs handlebar
Swoopy carbon handlebars for the sweep-lovers.

Just in case you thought you were safe, SQlabs delivered us this lightweight baseball bat for breaking knee caps carbon fibre handlebar for mountain biking. It’s for our young James, who’s jazz-hands are on the lookout for some swoopy handlebars that don’t cock his wrists in the wrong direction.

sqlabs carbon handlebar
Big bars, big sweep.

They’re made from the carbon fibre and measure a full 780mm wide, so they’re certified Rad™. There are multiple rise options (15mm, 30mm or 45mm) available, and we’ve gone for the middle 30mm option with the 16° backsweep. Because there’s so much sweep and they’re so wide, the bars actually kink forward first at the stem before they move back towards the grips.

SQlab 30X Carbon 12° Handlebars

  • Price: £249
  • From: SQlab
sqlabs handlebar wil santa cruz
Practicing a no-footed Can-Can. Or is that a Can’t-Can’t?

The other set of SQlabs in our possession is this more modest 12° version. Also 780mm wide, these come in the same three rise options and are also made from carbon fibre. Claimed weight is just 235g.

sqlabs carbon handlebar
Huge 45mm rise on these bad boys!

The whole idea with these bars is to put your wrist in a more natural position – just like how they sit when they’re hanging by your side. The concept will be familiar to bikepackers and long-distance tourers, who often favour the big-sweep ‘moustache’ style bar for those comfort reasons mentioned. As to how that translates to a high-speed, flat-out trail/enduro rider? We’ll put these into James’ enormous beast-hands and get back to you in the near future.

SQlab 80X ltd Stem

  • Price: £144.95
  • From: SQlab
sqlabs stem
Beautifully organic-looking stem from SQlab.

Here’s the matching stem to go with those carbon handlebars. Also made by German brand SQlab, the 80X ltd stem is a super high-end forged 7050 alloy stem that uses titanium bolts and nice wide handlebar clamps. Available in 10mm increments from 50mm long through to 90mm.

SQlab 711 Grips

  • Price: £22.99
  • From: SQlab
sqlabs grips
Ergo grips that promise not to be too distractingly ergo.

And for the other end of the handlebar is a set of SQlab 711 grips. Using a single locking clamp at the outer edge of each grip, the 711 grip gets an ergonomic shape with flared tips that are designed to support more of your palm for added comfort, though not quite full-Ergon style. Our favourite feature? They use a 5mm hex key to lock them onto your handlebar – no stupid tiny hex keys required – BOOM!

SQlab Ergowave 611 Active Carbon Saddle

  • Price: £119.95
  • From: SQlab
sq labs saddle
Shapely saddle from SQlab for James’ shapely arse.

Saddles are probably what SQlab is best known for, and it makes a tonne of different options depending on the shape of your butt. The main feature on the 611 Active saddle is its use of different durometer inserts that allow you to tune the ‘flex’ of the shell, with soft, medium and hard inserts arriving with the saddle in the box. Aside from the distinctive shape that looks like its had an ice cream scoop taken to it in the middle, this saddle features carbon fibre rails that help to bring it under the 200g weight barrier.

Northwave Enduro Mid Cedric Gracia Shoes

cedric gracia shoes spd
You too should put your name on things in case you lose them. Practical man that Mr Gracia.

Moving onto the Italians, who have provided us with some fresh new kicks that are apparently owned by some bloke called Cedric Gracia. The model we stole from Mr Gracia is called the Enduro Mid, and it’s from footwear specialist Northwave. The Enduro Mid get a slightly taller upper that covers the inside heel bone, and the breathable mesh upper uses a single Velcro strap and a ratcheting dial for adjustments.

northwave enduro mid spd shoes cedric gracia
Chunky Michelin rubber outsoles for grippings.

Michelin rubber outsoles promise traction on the pedals, and on the ground. Just look at the heel and toe of those shoes! Inspired by Michelin mud tyres, the healthy tread pattern looks to be about as UK-friendly as we’ve seen from this kind of all mountain/enduro clip-in shoe. And given how dry ‘spring’ has been already, these look like they’re going to be rather useful.

Catlike Leaf 2C Helmet

catlike helmet
The Leaf is a trail helmet from Catlike.

Spanish brand Catlike is well known for its alien-like helmet designs, and the Leaf is no different. This is a more trail-friendly option with a little more coverage around the back of the head, but retains those distinctive ovular shaped vents over the front and top of the helmet. Claimed weight is 310g, and its available in medium or large and a variety of super-enduro-fluoro colours.

catlike helmet wil
Which is more cat-like?
catlike helmet gross fingers weird
AAAAARGH WHAT IS THAT?!

Crankalicious Pineapple Express Bike Cleaner & Mud Honey Foaming Bike Wash

crankalicious bike cleaner wash
Warning: for washing one’s bicycle only.

Winner of best product name for this week’s Fresh Goods Friday goes to Crankalicious’ juicy-looking Pineapple Express bike cleaner. Apparently featuring a “a luscious tropical aroma“, we reckon if you inhale enough of that you too will probably forget about how disappointing spring has been so far.

Anywho…

So you dilute this one part to three parts water, then simply spray it onto your filthy bike, let it sit for a bit, then give it a scrub with a brush, then hose off. And TA-DA! Clean bike. Also part of the ‘Remove’ range from Crankalicious, Mud Honey is designed to be less aggressive and more dilute cleaner that you can use all over the bike. Dilute a couple of capfuls in a bucket of water, and use a sponge to get your bike all scrubba-dubbed.

Birzman Pump Up Tubeless Inflator

birzman tubeless pump inflator
Big ol’ tubeless inflator from Birzman.

With a big 1.2 litre volume, the ‘Pump Up’ tubeless inflator from tool brand Birz…..ok. Just hold on tight for just one moment…

Oh that feels better! Sorry, just had to get that out.

birzman tubeless pump inflator
Nice CNC machined finish on the Pump Up inflator.

Right, onto this tubeless inflator. It’s from Birzman, and it’s got a big old canister that can be pressurised to 220psi to use as an aid for inflating stubborn tubeless tyres. Just whack your pump on, inflate to charge, then put the head onto your tubeless valve and open it up to let a blast of air into the tyre to help seat the beads onto the rim. It’s made from lovely CNC machined alloy, is compatible with existing floor pumps, and features a threaded valve head for use with either presta of schrader valve heads.

Rather Be Riding Mudguard

singletrack mudguard
Custom-printed mudguards from Rather Be Riding.

Based out of Cannock Chase, Rather Be Riding is a small rider-owned company that makes a range of your cutout-style front and rear mudguards, and also offers custom-printed options for clubs, teams, and bigger riding groups. Designed to strap onto most standard forks of the forward-arch variety (though possibly reversible for the Manitou & DT Swiss fans?), it’s made to keep the mud out of your eyes, and also away from your fork seals.

chipps mudguard fender
We got a message sent to us from Rather Be Riding, but sadly it broke during transit. We’ve managed to repair the message though – thanks Matt!

Rad8 x Mudhugger Photochromic Glasses

  • Price: £89
  • From: Rad8
chipps rad8 glasses mudhugger
‘Is this thing ON?’

UK-based Rad8 has sent us a fresh set of sunnies to try out. Luckily they’re photochromatic and are nearly clear in their most transmissive state, which is ideal for dreary grey (read: British summer) conditions. Designed in collaboration with Mudhugger, the 504 style and function remains the same, but it’s been given the matte black treatment for those folks like Chipps who are shy about their fashion choices.

Dynaplug AIR

dynaplug air co2 tubeless
Tubeless tyre plug tool AND a CO2 inflator IN ONE – what kind of sorcery is this??

Biggest tool of the week goes to Andi for breaking two bikes during one photoshoot this very snazzy Dynaplug AIR. As far as we’re aware (please correct us if we’re wrong), this is the first product of its kind – a CO2 inflator that integrates with a tubeless tyre plug. The idea being that you can stab your punctured tyre with the Dynaplug, then thread on a CO2 canister, which passes its compressed gas through the rod of the Dynaplug, and inside the tyre. Providing it works, you’ll have been able to repair and inflate your tubeless tyre, all without having to touch the valve. – HOW NEAT IS THAT!

Ibis Hakka MX SRAM Rival

ibis hakka mx cyclocross gravel sram rival
It has curly bars, but this is probably more capable off-road than your first mountain bike.

No need to readjust your set – this is indeed a curly bar bicycle. But as is more and more the case these days, the line is getting somewhat blurry, and the Hakka MX from Ibis Cycles is designed for far, far more than just riding on bitumen. Labelled as a ‘Swiss Army Knife’ the Hakka MX is designed for gravel, road and cyclocross action, and features clearance for up to 2.1in 650B tyres, or 700x40c tyres. We’ll be testing this one for grit.cx, so keep a look out for some detailed info and photos coming soon.

And herein concludes this week’s edition of Fresh Goods Friday! Well done for getting through all of that shwag with us, and well done for getting through the first super-mediocre week of spring – here’s to more of both!

On that note, we’ll leave you with a little rework of Lana Del Ray’s track West Coast, so we can all drift our way through into the weekend imagining we’re on a Californian coastline. Enjoy!

ST Out.

Read our Direct To Consumer bike test in Singletrack Issue 118, out on 5th April 2018.

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Comments (5)

  1. I must say, absolutely superb modelling job by Wil. 😀 And the SQLab stuff looks very much worth further investigation.

  2. Northwave Enduro Mid Cedric Gracia Shoes could not be any more EURO if they tried

  3. Just got some of those 12 degree SQLab in the cheaper alloy, only one ride so far and seem very good and much reduced wrist pain over long distance.

    Look forward to hearing how you fare with the posh carbon jobbies.

    James

  4. Cheers for the plug
    Glad to see royal mail treated it with care ; )

  5. Hey there fatbikeandcoffee. I’ll be getting them fitted and holding on asap. 12 degree sweep and 16 degree sweep is different from the norm and after a year of grip and nerve issues I am very interested to see how they feel.

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